Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gourmet Mac and Cheese

The first meal I ever made was Mac and Cheese and one of my favorite birthday gifts was when this glorious creation came in a huge bucket! I hope my mac and cheese skills have improve because I remember a time when I added so much milk that it was more of a soup...and my mom never said a thing! She just ate it and told me it was great...now that's love!
Now that I have 'grown up' it is a meal that I make frequently for the hubbs but I have been looking for something more. This is the third baked mac and cheese recipe I have tried and this is the only one I plan to make again because, it was amazing! Very quick and easy because you just toss a bunch of stuff into a pan and bake for 30 mins! What more can you ask for?
Hubbs approval rating: Initially after seeing cottage cheese: "What are you trying to feed me?!?!" After tasting: with a sheepish grin "It's actually really good, filling."
Gourmet Mac and Cheese
Taken from IceCream&Wine

8 oz. package elbow macaroni ( I used Penne because that was what I had in the cupboard)
8 oz. package shredded sharp cheddar cheese
12 oz. container cottage cheese
8 oz. container sour cream
1/2 cup Italian cheese blend (parmesan, asiago, fontina)
Directions:Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add pasta - cook until done and drain. In a 2.5-quart baking dish, stir together macaroni, shredded cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, Italian cheese, salt and pepper. You may sprinkle additional cheese on top before baking.Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until top is golden.
Feeds 4 hungry people

Monday, December 28, 2009

Peanut Butter Blossoms

I hope everyone had safe travels over Christmas! We got 'stranded' back in our hometown and had 28 inches of snow waiting for us when we returned home! Boy, was that fun.

Onto the food, when I think Christmas, I think peanut butter blossoms. I'm not quite sure why this magical cookie only makes an appearance around Christmas but I sure enjoy them when they do! This is another recipe from the Hershey's Christmas magazine and they turned out delightful. These cookies are so easy to make and quick to bake! My sister and I made them at the end of the day when we were tired of baking but knew these had to be done! Saved the best for last.
Hubbs approval rating: "One of my favorites."
Peanut Butter Blossoms
Taken from Hershey's Christmas magazine
48 HERSHEYS KISSES brand milk chocolates
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
granulated sugar
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove wrappers from chocolates.
2. Beat peanut butter and shortening with electric mixer on medium speed in a large bowl until well blended. Add 1/2 cup of 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 additional 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; cookies will crack around edges. Remove to wire racks and cool completely.
Yields: about 4 dozen cookies

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

After borrowing my Mom's stand mixer to complete all my Christmas baking....I am so excited and blessed to receive a beautiful KitchenAid Stand mixer in the mail today!!

I want to wish everyone the MOST amazing Christmas filled with friends, family and fun! I will be back with this, 'blogging thing,' after Christmas with all the other yummy goodies made during my sister's stay.

Drive safe!

Oreo Truffles

I love oreos. I love cream cheese. I love chocolate. So what happens when all three are combined? Pure bliss! I have heard so many positive comments about these delicious little balls of heaven that I had to make them. They were so simple and so fast! Plus the taste...oh my goodness, the taste! These will be added to my favorite's list and utilized whenever a great treat is needed. I love that they are all individual as they trick me into thinking portion control!

I would like to say a huge thank you to my guest chef....my 12 year old sister E! I was so blessed to have her come and stay with me for 3 days for a bake-a-thon! These truffles were her first experience of using almond bark and she caught on quick. She sure had great attention to detail with using both sprinkles and drizzle.

Hub's approval rating: "I can't eat anymore chocolate! My teeth hurt!"

Poor guy, I've filled him so full of sugar his teeth can't take it anymore. So my sister and I were the official taste testers on this one and they were amazing! Just as good as I had imagined!

Oreo Truffles
Taken from All Recipes
1 (16 ounce) package OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, divided
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 (8 ounce) packages chocolate almond bark, melted

  1. Crush remaining 36 cookies to fine crumbs; place in medium bowl. ( Cookies can be finely crushed in a resealable plastic bag using a rolling pin.)

  2. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. ( I used my stand mixer and it blended very quickly.

  3. Roll cookie mixture into 42 balls, about 1-inch in diameter.

  4. Dip balls in chocolate; place on wax paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover chocolate can be stored at room temperature for another use.)

  5. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover truffles, covered, in refrigerator.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Red Velvet Cake balls

I saw these delicious little treats on Bakerella and was so excited to try them. I had been completely in dark about red velvet cake until a good friend's beautiful winter wedding where guess what was served?? Red velvet CAKE! I was also looking for new and different Christmas goodies and with their minimal ingredients and fool proof instructions, I was set. The hubs and I hosted a small Christmas party for our closest friend's and everyone was sent home with goodie jars. These cake balls were by far the favorite and will be added to my annual baking list. I made them with white almond bark simply because I liked the sharp contrast and the taste, but you can make your own judgement call.
Hubs approval rating: "I love the almond bark and the cake is really good, even though it's red, that's kind of strange." Haha...that's his version of a positive.

Red Velvet Cake Balls
Adapted from Bakerella

  • 1 box red velvet cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)

  • 1 can cream cheese frosting (16 oz.)

  • 1 package white almond bark (regular or white chocolate)

  • wax paper

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.

2. Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting. (I mixed it in my stand mixer and it came out perfect without any mess.)

3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. (If dough is having trouble staying together put in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. Should make 45-50. )

4. Chill for several hours in the fridge or freezer if you are in a time crunch.

5. Melt almond bark in microwave per directions on package.

6. Roll balls in almond bark and lay flat on wax paper until firm. I used 2 forks to cradle the ball to avoid prong marks from the forks and to ensure easy release from utensils.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Heath Bits Cheesecake

I have always been a HUGE fan of cheesecake and it's thick, rich goodness. My mom and I have been known to drool over cheesecake and we even have a routine of the proper way to savor cheesecake. Now, I have tried to teach the hubbs this important sequence of events but he doesn't quite get it. He doesn't 'appreciate' the cheesecake. Poor men, they miss all the important things in life.

However, I have been intimidated of making my own cheesecake because of the crust. I don't care for the idea of crushing up cookies, adding butter and hoping it all holds together. But I got an amazing Hershey's magazine and this recipe was calling out to me. It was also very simple and quick to make. The Heath bits really helped cover up any blemishes.

Regrets: I need to perfect my method of cutting cheesecake. I sort of 'butchered' it and as a result, the pieces are choppy.

Hubbs approval rating: " Yeah, pretty dang good. Really rich and filling."

Heath Bits Cheesecake
Take from Hershey's Christmas magazine

Vanilla wafer crust (recipe follows)
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 container (8 ounces) dairy sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups (8 ounce package) HEATH milk chocolate toffee bits, divided

  1. Prepare VANILLA WAFER crust. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Beat cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl on medium speed of mixer until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sour cream and vanilla; beat on low speed until blended.
  3. Pour half of cheese mixture into crust. Reserve 1/4 cup of toffee bits for topping; sprinkle remaining toffee bits over cheese mixture in pan. Spoon in remaining cheese mixture.
  4. Bake 1 hour or until filling is set. Cool 15 minutes. Sprinkle reserve toffee bits over top; with knife, loosen cake from side of pan. Cool completely; remove side of pan. Cover; refrigerate leftover cheesecake.

VANILLA WAFER CRUST: Combine 1 3/4 cups of vanilla wafer crust (about 55 wafers, crushed) and 2 tablespoons sugar; stir in 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter or margarine. Press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of 9 inch spring form pan. Refrigerate about 30 minutes .

Friday, December 18, 2009

Attempting this, "Blog thing"

So here I am. After reading (some may say stalking) several other cooking blogs, I have been inspired to start one of my own. One that chronicles my attempts to fall into that 'perfect wife' category. One that depicts my attempts to multitask and accomplish amazing feats, be it cooking, cleaning, organizing, decorating, studying or entertaining. One that makes me feel more worth of being my mothers' daughter, because you see, I am one of those girls that thought my mother had it all together.

The food listed in this blog will not be of Julia Child's french cuisine but rather a creative take on basics like Mac & Cheese. I have a picky husband who hates marinara sauce and chunky potatoes so I am forever struggling to find foods that will please everyone. I will not spend 20 minutes to get the perfect picture or smooth edges. I rather hope to inspire other 'average' chefs to feel successful within their own realms. So I encourage you to judge by taste instead of by looks. I will list a hubs approval rating at the end of each item as I figure if I can win him over, it should be a hit with others.

This leads to who I am. Well, I just so happen to feel the need to describe myself in bullet format.

  • Clumsy left handed girl; I was created backwards and continue to pay for it

  • Newlywed

  • College student-the never ending task of achieving my masters

  • Slightly OCD when it comes to cleaning and smells

  • Loves to cook; lacks endurance or attention span for complex instructions; hates the dishes

  • Poor speller, so try not to judge the grammar

There are of course many other words that describe me (kind or not) but those are all that are important for my purposes here.