Monday, May 10, 2010

Hey There, Hi There, Ho There!

Long time no see, huh? I promise I have been busy baking but I also have a bit of other life events on the burner as well, hence the lack of blog posts! Just wanted to give an update and a promise that I will return...because really, your life felt incomplete without my posts right?
  • This past week was fully of craziness as my partner and I finally got our scholarly project/thesis signed off on, printed and sent for binding! Honestly, what a weight off my shoulders as I had been dreading that project since I began the Occupational Therapy Program!
  • Also, last Friday I turned in the final two papers of my college career! I am officially done with assignments and just need to walk across that stage on May 15th! Whoo hoo!!!
  • This past weekend I hosted breakfast for several of my classmates as we celebrated "Springfest." Springfest is an annual tradition at our university which consists of a party in the park. My bestie and her BF came up for the event and we had one last hoorah as irresponsible college students!
  • This week will be spent getting all my documents signed off on so I can apply for my temporary occupational therapy license! I accepted a position at our local hospital and will begin June 7th! I cannot wait to have a job after 5 years of schooling!
  • Also, I am hosting my graduation party this Saturday and am excited for some family members to come and celebrate this long awaited day with me! One of my besties and I are planning on making cupcakes for dessert and are making extras for favors! So cooking prayers will be needed!
  • Finally, I will be studying for my boards over these next couple weeks so I am hoping to put my full attention towards those which may mean that my blog posts will be a little scarce! But please, hang in there with me and I hope to be back in full force during June when life, hopefully, mellows out!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cherry Cheesecake Cupcakes


Awww...cheesecake. I feel that nothing can make a busy week of homework, presentations and papers better than cheesecake. I also continue to build my love for cupcakes. There are so many varieties that I have barely touched the surface but boy, am I excited to explore!
These were very tasty and I loved the cherry topping! They start off with such a simple elements but combined it's incredible! Plus...aren't they cute as sin! They just scream summer to me.

Cherry Cheesecake Cupcakes
Ingredients
Filling:
1 package (8oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 c sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Cupcakes:
1 package plain yellow cake mix
1 package (3.4 oz) vanilla instant pudding mix
1 c whole milk
2/3 c vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
24 vanilla wafers
Topping:
1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners
Prepare the filling: Place cream cheese in a small mixing bowl and blend with an electric mixer on a low speed until the cream cheese has softened. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla and continue to beat on low until the ingredients comes together. Set the filling aside.
Prepare the cupcake batter: Place the cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil, eggs, and almond extract in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides.
Place 1 vanilla wafer in the bottom of each cupcake liner. Spoon cupcake batter on top of each vanilla wafer until about 2/3 full. Gently dollop a heaping teaspoon of filling on top of each cupcake. The cup will be very full. Do not shake the pans. Place in oven.
Bake cupcakes until they are golden and spring back when touched, 18-20 minutes. Remove pans from oven and cool on a wire rack. Lift cupcakes from pans and place on wire rack to cool.
Dollop a generous amount of cherry filling on top of each cupcake when ready to be served.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pizza Bites

Sometimes I hate to admit that the hubs is right. Maybe someday I will learn to take more consideration into his advice because if I had, I would have been enjoying these little one-bite-wonders months ago! This is another one of those recipes I dreamt of but was too intimidated to try it because it looked difficult. I think it was the pizza dough on this one that turned me away. But since I discovered that I can take the left handed approach (aka. shortcut) and use frozen bread dough, I have been a happy camper and much more willing to try new recipes.

These are SO good! Honestly, I have made them twice since we first tried them. The hubs loves them and therefore, I'm love them as well...and I'm not even a peperoni fan! Best part!?!? They are so simple, I end up making them when I am crunched for time or lack the energy to make anything else. This time, I just heated up a little extra spaghetti sauce from the other night to dunk mine in and they were delish!


Pizza Bites
Source: Annie's Eats

Ingredients

1 loaf frozen bread dough (thawed)

4 oz. mozzarella cheese, cubed (about 20-24 pieces)

Sliced pepperoni

For the topping:

Olive oil

Garlic Salt

Italian Seasoning

Grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 9 inch pie plate or cake pan with cooking spray. Divide pizza dough into 20-24 roughly equal sized pieces. Take one of the dough pieces, flatten with fingers, and place a cube of cheese sandwiched between 3 or 4 slices of pepperoni. Pull the edges of the dough together and pinch closed. Place seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.

Lightly brush the tops of the dough balls with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic salt, Italian seasoning and grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Serve warm, with dipping sauce as desired.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Scrambled Egg Breakfast Pizza


Remember how I said the hubs was upset that the breakfast pizza I made didn't 'look' like pizza? Well, I decided to try again and I'm so glad I did. I think we hit the jackpot on this one! It has all of his favorite things, white based sauce, scrambled eggs and BACON! He raved about this pizza and was actually telling other people about how good this pizza was! I felt so honored but I did have quite the struggle to get a decent picture of the pizza. Sorry, it tasted MUCH better than it looks, I promise.


Scrambled Egg Breakfast Pizza
Ingredients:
Favorite pizza crust (I used a loaf of frozen bread dough)
1/2 c part skim ricotta cheese
6 eggs
1/4 c milk
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 c shredded monterrey jack cheese (I used a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella)
1-4 c bacon crumbles (I used 3 strips of bacon and it was not quite enough...I'm thinking 5 slices next time)
Directions
Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. In a small bowl, add eggs, milk, salt & pepper to taste. Whisk together to break up eggs. Pour egg mixture in skillet and scramble eggs. Once scrambled, allow to cool about 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Spray a round baking sheet with cooking spray and spread your pizza dough out into a circle about 12 inches or so. Spray dough with cooking spray (or brush with olive oil) and spread a thin layer of ricotta cheese, leaving about an inch of dough on the outer edge.
Top with scrambled eggs, bacon crumbles, & shredded cheese.
Bake for approximately 13 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites

I'll admit that I'm a little late to the party with these tasty treats. I've honestly had the ingredients bought for a month or better but was too nervous to try and make them. Something about using yeast and letting the dough rise was just beyond my capabilities (remember when I said I have a short attention span?). But the other day, when I was home alone (hubs is out of town) and we didn't have school (because we are 'cool' seniors and get days off to work on our thesis) I decided I would give them a try. I decided if they were a complete fail then I wouldn't have to fess up to making them ;)

But to my delight, they turned out perfectly! They were SO good! I love anything bite sized that I can dip, so these were perfect. All of a sudden, I was wishing there was someone I could share these with so they could understand my enjoyment...but sadly, I didn't tell anyone I was making them. Vicious cycle isn't it?

Oh well, now I get to share them with you. Please, please, if you are a coward like me, don't be scared to make these! They were quite easy with the most time consuming part being the boiling of the bites. I honestly feel like I checked something off my bucket list by using yeast (sad list if this is one of the items).

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites
Source: Pennies on a Platter

Ingredients
1 package active dry yeast (or instant yeast)
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar, divided
1/4 c warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 c warm milk (110-115 degrees)
2 1/2 to 3 c flour
1/2 c finely chopped ham
1/2 c shredded cheese of choice
6 c water
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1-2 tablespoons coarse salt

Directions
Combine the yeast, 1 tsp brown sugar, and warm water in a large bowl. Set aside until foamy, 5-8 minutes. (if using the instant yeast, skip this step and just add the flour). In another bowl, stir together the remaining 2 Tbsp brown sugar and warm milk until dissolved.

Add 2 1/2 c flour and milk mixture to the yeast. Stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Add the remaining flour as needed. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times, forming a smooth ball.

Brush the inside of a large clean bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm, draft free area for about 2 hours, until dough has doubled in size and bubbles appear on the surface.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust your hands and rolling pin with flour. Roll one of the four sections into a 12x4- in rectangle. With the long side facing you, gently press 1/4 of the ham and cheese into the bottom third of the dough, and roll as tightly as possible, starting with the end that has filling. Cut into 12 1-in pieces and transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining 3 portions of dough.

Let rest, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 minutes. (Again, if using instant yeast, you can skip this step.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the baking soda and reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Boil pretzels in batches, cooking about 20 seconds each, turning once. They should be slightly puffed. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them back to the baking sheets.

Bake until puffed and golden-brown, about 15 minutes.

Brush warm pretzel bites with melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bird Nests


I am so excited for some of the posts coming up! I have some good things in store and feel like I need to get this one out before I completely miss the 'Easter boat.' I am still trying to use up Easter candy and I remember these from years ago. I thought they were the most amazing little things. Now, I find out how easy they are! Next year, I even plan to make them BEFORE Easter!
Bird Nests
1 2/3 c butterscotch chips
3/4 c creamy peanut butter
sprinkle of kosher salt
2 1/2 c chow mein noodles
3 c mini marshmallows
chocolate candy eggs (I used Whoppers)
Directions
Line a baking sheet with wax paper.
Melt butterscotch chips and peanut butter together over medium heat. Gently stir in salt and marshmallows. Once melted, stir in low mein noodles. Mix well.
Spoon onto prepared baking sheets, shaped into bird nests and add eggs to nest.
Let stand until firm.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Double Chocolate Chip Muffins


I will make these again and again and again. I am completely hooked. At first glance I figured they looked good. So the other day I made them for brunch and had one fresh out of the oven. It was goooood! I promptly packaged up all but 4 of the remaining muffins to be given away (I did NOT need these sitting in my house). One of the friends whom I gave them to commented on how moist they were. Temptation then got the best of me because sure they were good out of the oven but uber moist? Umm, kinda maybe? But oh my goodness was she ever right. They moisted up significantly after being packaged. I didn't know that was possible. They went from good to amazing!! I love these things!

Double Chocolate Chip Muffins
Source: Cupcakes! From the Cake Mix Doctor

Ingredients
1 pkg chocolate cake mix
1 pkg instant chocolate pudding mix
1 container (6oz) low-fat vanilla yogurt
3/4 c water
1/2 c vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2c semisweet chocolate chips (1 bag)
Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 28 muffin wells with liners.
Place cake mix and pudding mix in a large bowl. Mix together and make a well in the center. Place the yogurt, water, oil and eggs in a small mixing bowl and stir with a fork to break up the egg yolks. Pour the yogurt mixture into the well of the muffin mix. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together with a wooden spoon to combine. Fold in the chocolate chips and gently stir just until mixed.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.