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.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mini Cherry Lattice Pies


Oh these are just too freakin cute! I am falling more and more in love with my mini muffin pan with every recipe I make. I am also a huge new fan of the blog Picky Palate . I have around 10 of her recipes starred in my googlereader and had to stop myself at that, otherwise, I would have added everything in her blog! It has also been a secret new goal of mine to bake a pie. I say secret because I'm not a big pie fan and pretty much swore to myself that I would never make one! It's slowly creeping into my interest for the sole fact that I love the look of a lattice top. Hopefully, these have cured my desire for a little while as I weed through the other 100's of desserts I have on my, 'to make' list.
The original recipe called for peanut butter and jelly instead of cherry, but I'm in spring fruit mode and not a huge fan of PB&J so I opted for a little change. The lattice tops didn't turn out quite as cute as I had hoped because when they were baking, they rose and lifted the tops. I softly patted a couple of them down when they came out of the oven and it helped. Overall, the slightly wonky tops didn't throw off the yummy taste and I strongly encourage you to try these when you have a pie craving!

Mini Cherry Lattice Pies
Source: Inspired by Picky Palate
Ingredients
1 roll Pillsbury pie dough
1 small jar of cherry pie filling
1 egg white whisked with 1 teaspoon of water for egg wash
powered sugar for sprinkling on top
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll pie crust onto a lightly floured surface. Use a 2 1/2 in round cutter to cut out circles in dough (I used my 1/4 c measuring cup). Lightly press dough rounds into a greased mini muffin tin. Roll remaining scraps of dough to an even thickness then use sharp knife to cut thin 1/8 inch strips to create lattice tops.
Spoon 1/2 tablespoon of cherry pie filling into each of the pie crusts. Using the pie strips, form lattice top. Cut excess dough from edges and brush tops lightly with egg wash. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from tins with the tip of a knife. Dust with powered sugar and enjoy!
Yields 12 mini pies.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mini Frittatas with Ham and Cheese


I feel that all my brain power has been used up these past two weeks between sitting in a review course all weekend, putting the finishing touches on our Scholarly Project, submitting our Program Plan, Functional Job Analysis, Case Study and my Assistive Technology topic paper....and I still have that dang weighted blanket to finish. I cannot wait for school to be done!

So that's my excuse for not giving these little one bite wonders the proper introduction they deserve. These were very tasty and a huge hit with the hubs! Plus, they took less than 5 minutes to mix up and get into the oven! You really can't beat that. A great appetizer or brunch item!

Mini Frattatas
Ingredients
Cooking spray
1/2 c finely chopped onion (I used dried minced onion)
2/3 c chopped reduced-fat ham
1/3 c shredded reduced-fat extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I left it out)
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 large egg whites
1 large egg
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium high heat. Add onion and ham to saute. Remove from heat and let cool while combining other ingredients. Combine eggs, pepper, thyme, cayenne, and cheese in a large bowl. Stir with a whisk until combined. Add ham and onion mixture. Spoon mixture into 24 miniature muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Each cavity will hold about 2 teaspoons. (Don't worry, they will puff up). Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until set.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Toasted Turkey and Cheese Sandwiches


Some of the most simple things taste the greatest. This sandwich is one I threw together one night when I wanted a grilled cheese but needed something with a bit more substance. I would recommend an electric skillet for these because it will warm the entire sandwich from within and melt the cheese to perfection, all without burning the outside! Feel free to add a slice of tomato or onion to the sandwich for a little more flavor and crunch.

Toasted Turkey and Cheese Sandwiches
Source: Mrs. O

Ingredients
2 slices bread (Sourdough would be great!)
2 slices mozzarella cheese
2 slices American Cheese
2 Slices thick Turkey breast lunch meat (or whichever thick sliced meat you like)
2 tablespoons butter
Directions
Heat electric skillet and spray with cooking spray. Apply 1 tablespoon of butter to one side of each slice of bread. Layer 1 slice of mozzarella cheese, 1 slice of American cheese and 1 slice of Turkey breast on each slice of bread. Combine layers to create a sandwich. Place on electric skillet and cook until golden brown on each side. Enjoy!
Makes 1 hearty sandwich

Reeses Peanut Butter Egg Cookies

Any extra Easter candy laying around the house? I have TONS! I really think that I could keep a small elementary school on a sugar high for days with my arsenal of Easter candy! So in an attempt to use up some of the Easter candy I came across this amazing recipe. I love cookies but I am very picky about my cookies. They must be soft and chewy. Guess what?? These cookies fit the bill and I love the cookies base as much as I loved the mix in! I cannot wait to try other mix-ins of my other excess Easter candy like Reese Pieces and Peanut M&M's.

Reeses Peanut Butter Egg Cookies
Source: Picky Palate
Ingredients
2 sticks softened butter

1 c packed brown sugar

1 c granulated sugar

3 tablespoon corn syrup

2 large eggs plus 1 egg white

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

3 1/2 c all purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 c chopped Reeses Peanut Butter Eggs, around 12 eggs. Or since Easter is over :(, you can use regular Reeses Peanut Butter cups

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, beat together butter, sugars and corn syrup until well combined, it will be light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly add to wet ingredients along with the chopped Reeses Peanut Butter Eggs. Mix only until combined. Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop dough onto a baking sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes or so until transferring to cooling rack.

4 dozen cookies

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Smothered Burritos


It had been far too long since I had eaten these burritos and now that I have, I'm not sure I can stop. Honestly, with my head held in shame I will admit that I made these on a Sunday night because I knew the hubs was heading out of town and I would get the left overs...I ate them for supper on Sunday...lunch on Monday....AND supper on Monday. I only quit eating them because...well they were gone! Yep, their amazing and the cheese melts sooooo good and runny and stringy....yum!


Smothered Burritos
Source: Mrs. O's mom

1 (16oz) can refried beans
1 lb hamburger
1 pkg taco seasoning
1/2 cup water
6-8 flour tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup taco sauce

Brown hamburger. Add beans, taco seasoning and water. Cook until bubbly. Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. Spread on tortillas and roll up. Put in a greased 9x13 in pan. Mix tomato sauce and taco sauce in a separate bowl. Pour over top of rolled tortillas and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and bake until cheese melts. Serve with lettuce, onions, black olives and sour cream.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Turtle Brownie Cups


These are my version of crack. I know, it's not funny to joke about drugs but honestly...they gave me a high. It included a happiness on my lips and satisfaction in my tummy. These are a, "YOU MUST MAKE THESE NOW," kind of ecstasy. Honestly, I ate 3 in one day....and out of pure shame I stopped myself at that.
I came across these cupcakes when I was searching out ideas for my graduation party. One of my favorite girlies (Mrs. K) and I are planning to make a variety of cupcakes for our graduation parties and the testing began with these.
Myself and Mrs. Korynta
Just a tip: you can either make your own Dulce De Leche or you can find pre-made dulce de leche in the Mexican food section of some grocery stores (I've only had luck at Walmart in my area). I used pre-made for these.

Turtle Brownie Cupcakes

Ingredients
1 fudge brownie mix
1 stick melted butter
2 eggs
1/4 c water
1 cup dulce de leche
24 pecan halves
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place paper liners into a 12-cup muffin pan. Spray liners lightly with oil (I used cooking spray) as the brownies like to stick to the liners.
Combine brownie mix with melted butter, water and eggs until well mixed. Scoop batter into muffin cups, filling them about 1/2 full. Put a teaspoon or two of cold or room temp dulce de leche on top of each brownie cup.
Bake for 20 minutes or until done.
Remove from oven and let cool completely. Use dulce de leche to glue on 2 pecan halves on each top. Drizzle remaining dulce de leche on tops of brownies.
Enjoy and try to limit yourself....it will be hard I promise!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Easter Basket Cupcakes


Have you caught on yet that I love cupcakes? At some point, I plan to make a calendar of 365 different cupcakes that way, you could have a sweet inspiration everyday! Well until then, I will slowly be building up my list of successful cupcakes. They lil guys I made for class treats on our final day of class before Easter. I thought they turned out pretty cute. My decorations were a little big in comparison of the cupcakes but I had to go with what I found in the store! I also decided to make the cupcake portion into rainbow cakes! Check out this great tutorial on Omnomicon for a how to guide on making rainbow cakes!

There isn't a real recipe that will accompany this post as I just used a regular white cake for the cupcakes and then a classic almond buttercream recipe for the frosting. The fun is in the decorating! I also rolled the cupcakes in regular sugar for a little extra detail. I think it really added a fun texture to the frosting that I loved. Don't know if I needed the extra sugar kick though.....


Idea was inspired by Bakerella

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pink Champagne Cupcakes


Before I discovered the slimming effects of black, I was a pink to the heart kinda girl. My mom would joke that my entire closet, bedroom, locker and car were as pink as one could get. I even remember piling all the stuff I was hauling up to college for my dorm in our living room and only 3 items weren't pink; the totes (they were my mom's and coming home), my textbooks and my toothpaste! You can imagine how excited my husband was when we merged our belongings for our first apartment!

Anyways, with Spring in full force, I have seen all kinds of adorable pink desserts that just scream, "Make me!" Far be it from me to deny them this honor. I made these cupcakes for class treats and was a little worried about bring Champagne to class. Yes I know, we are all of legal drinking age, but I didn't want to be that crazy girl bringing alcohol to class! Luckily everything turned out good and they were well received! These make great little Easter treats as well with the pastel pink!


Pink Champagne Cupcakes
Source: Betty Crockers, "Cupcakes, cakes, and more" pg. 36

Ingredients
For the cupcakes:
1 box Betty Crocker super moist white cake mix
1 1/4 c champagne (cheap will do, I think my bottle was $5 or so)
1/3 c vegetable oil
3 egg whites
4 or 5 drops red food coloring (I used a little pink Wilton color gel)

Champagne Frosting
1/2 c softened butter or margarine
4 c powdered sugar
1/4 c champagne
1 teaspoon vanilla
4-5 drops red food coloring (or pink color gel)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place baking liners into 24 regular sized muffin cups.
In a large bowl, combine dry cake mix and champagne. Add oil, eggs and food color. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

Bake 17 to 22 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

In a medium bowl, beat frosting ingredients with electric mixer on medium spread until smooth. Frost cupcakes.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Overloaded Cookies and Cream Cheesecake

So, I got a little excited when making this cheesecake (Hello!?!?! It's cheesecake, I think we have already determined my weakness for this dessert) and proceeded to add the entire package of Oreo's. Upon review, I found out I wasn't suppose to. Result.....Overloaded Cookies and Cream Cheesecake! This made for a pretty rich dessert....very good but very rich. You won't hear me complaining but some 'weaker' people may prefer the original Oreo recommendations ;)


Overloaded Cookies and Cream Cheesecake
Slightly adapted from Philadelphia Cream Cheese Classic Recipes

Ingredients:
Crust
1 cup chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs (about 12 cookies)
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Filling
3 packages (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened
3/4 c sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
16 chocolate sandwich cookies, quartered, divided
Directions
Crust
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix crumbs and butter in the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan. Bake for 10 minutes, if using a silver pan or bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes if using a dark pan.

Filling
Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed. Add eggs and mix on low just until blended. Fold in 12 quartered cookies. Pour over crust. Place remaining cookies on top of batter (This is where I went wrong and add the REST of the cookies, i.e. the rest from the package)
Bake at 325 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until center is almost set. Bake at 300 degrees if using dark pan. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake and cool before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.




Friday, March 26, 2010

Breakfast Pizza


This is ANOTHER recipe that my mom would make occasionally when I was younger. So when I started cooking for my then boyfriend/now husband, I was so excited to serve him this. He was all jazzed too because he had been raving about a breakfast pizza that he had tried at a gas station (ick, only boys eat that food don't they?) However, when he came to dish up his 'pizza' he was upset because it, "doesn't look like pizza." I cook my breakfast pizza in a 9x13 inch pan because that's how the recipe told me to do it and I usually screw up when I don't follow the recipe.

Besides they make rectangle pizza don't they?

Anyways, if you think that you simply cannot eat breakfast pizza without it being in a pizza pan, then make it in a pizza pan. Really, it will taste the same and that taste is amazing!

I have made this for potlucks and it goes SO fast. Best part is, it's so easy!

....still can't believe my pizza lost to gas station food....

Breakfast pizza
Source: Mrs. O's mom
Ingredients
1 tube crescent rolls
1 lb pork sausage
1 cup frozen shredded hash browns-thawed
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
5 eggs
1/4 c milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown sausage. Pat crescent rolls into lightly greased 9x13 in pan (or pizza pan). Crumble on sausage. Add hash browns. Sprinkle on cheese. Beat together milk and eggs. Pour over top. Bake for 30 minutes

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mini Cheddar Garlic Popovers


These were good. Like pretty dang good. And pretty dang simple. I made these for brunch one weekend and think they would be amazing paired with a great soup so you could dunk them. But then again, I love to dunk things.

Mini Cheddar Garlic Popovers

Ingredients
3 tsp oil
3/4 c milk
1 egg
1 egg white
3/4 c flour
1/2 tsp- garlic salt (or any garlic seasoning)
1/3 c cheddar cheese (shredded)

Direction
Preheat over to 425 degrees. Spray 24 mini muffin cups with cooking spray. Add 1/8 of tsp oil to bottom of each cup. In a small bowl combine the milk, egg and egg white, mix well using a whisk. Add the flour and garlic seasoning then mix well, once fully combined stir in the cheese. Warm the muffin pan in oven for 5 minutes. Once heated, divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove popovers from the pan and serve warm.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cheesecake Cookie Bars

These are my absolute MOST favorite bars of all time. They are easy to make and incorporate my two favorite things; cheesecake and cookies! I have brought these numerous times to potlucks or for class treats and I have left empty handed every time. Yes, they are that good. Rich and good.
Cheesecake Cookie Bars
Source: Pillsbury

Ingredients
2 (18 oz) packages of chocolate chip cookie dough, divided
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Let dough stand at room temperature for 15 mins to soften. Press 1 1/4 packages of cookie dough into bottom of a 9x13 in pan. Combine other ingredients in a medium bowls and pour over cookie mixture. Break up remaining cookie dough into small, flat pieces and place over top of cheesecake mixture.
Cook for 35 minutes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hamburger Soup


Spring has arrived so I kind of missed the boat on making this amazing soup but I figured better late than never! This is a soup that is best served with fresh baked bread on a cold night. It has amazing powers that instantly make your nose run and if you weren't cemented in your chair eating this soup, maybe you would go catch it. The liquid portion of this recipe is mainly a guesstimation (mixture of a guess and an estimate, a term that my high school science teacher swore would get us through college exams) so fell free to add more vegetable broth. This time my 'soup' was a little more 'runny casserole' but it was good none the less.

Hamburger Soup
Source: Mrs. O's mom

Ingredients
1 lb hamburger. browned and drained
1 med onion sauteed with hamburger
1/2 c celery chopped
1/2 c carrots chopped
1/4 c barley (instant)
1 can stewed tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
8 c water
6-10 ounces vegetable broth (this is where you can guesstimate, anywhere between 1/2 to a full can)
1 envelop Country Vegetable soup mix
1/2 c macaroni

Directions
Combine all ingredients-except soup mix and macaroni-in a large stock pot. Cook for 1 hour on med/high heat allowing for a simmer. Add soup mix and macaroni and cook for an additional 1/2 hour.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Brulee


Strawberries are my favorite fruit so anytime I can incorporate it into a recipe I am in love. I have also been trying to try some new breakfast recipes that aren't as heavy as a casserole. This oatmeal brulee was the perfect dish both because it was light and I got to use the kitchen torch the hubs gave me for Valentine's Day!
I thought this oatmeal was very good but it defiantly taste like original oatmeal. I am more of a maple and brown sugar kind of gal. So next time, I think I will try adding more brown sugar to bring out the taste.

Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Brulee
Source: Annie's Eats

Ingredients:
3 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Swirl of honey
1 banana, sliced thin
6-8 strawberries, sliced thin
Granulated sugar

Directions:
Combine water and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the oats and reduce to medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes while stirring occasionally and allow liquid to become mostly absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and honey.
Divide oatmeal between serving bowls. Top with sliced bananas and strawberries in an even layer. Sprinkle the sliced fruit with granulate sugar in thin layer. Heat with a kitchen torch until the surfaces are golden brown. Serve immediately.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Coca-Cola Roast


School has been so busy lately that I am searching for the easiest recipes possible without sacrificing the taste. Enter crock pot, the most efficient method to cooking the juiciest meat. Also, with the crock pot bags, there is no simpler clean up. Exit, happy college housewife. This recipe has been made so many times in my family and they don't come much easier. This roast is also the reason we registered for an immersion blender for our wedding and is still the only meal I have ever used it for! That needs to change....but anyways, this roast is great and the gravy that comes after it...ohhhh even better!

Coca-Cola Roast
Source: Mrs. O's mom and there are also several varieties floating around the Internet

Ingredients
1 roast- any size
1 12 ounce can of coca-cola
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 medium onion

Directions
Place roast in crock pot.
In a medium bowl, combine soda and soup. Place immersion blender in the bottom of the bowl and press on. Mixture will foam up (hence the need for a medium bowl). Pour over roast.
Slice onion and place on top of roast.
Cook for 6-8 hours on low heat.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chicken Yum Sticks


The hubs loves salt. I mean LOVES salt, as in, he adds salt to his McDonald's fries which are already overloaded and thirst inducing. It's a wonder the man doesn't need to be hooked up to a water IV to keep his body hydrated. So when I was meal planning for a weekend visit from our favorite couple, my best friend Kari and her amazing boyfriend Mitch, I remembered these salty wings that my mom use to make. I have past visions of these being served on New Year's eve with my dad and I sitting down to devour a bowl of them. The flavor is mind boggling salty heaven, which was a perfect combination for the night. They are also very easy to make with the prep working being completed the day before. Just bake, serve and enjoy!

Chicken Yum Sticks
Source: Mrs. O's mom

Ingredients
20-25 chicken fryer wings
1 cup water
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 c pineapple juice
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Ginger
Directions
Break apart chicken wings at first and second joints (unless already disjointed). Mix all ingredients above and pour over chicken in a large shallow dish and cover. Refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with tin foil (to make clean up easier). Bake uncovered on a flat cookie sheet. Bake for 45 minutes or until tender and brown.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bacon, Egg and Toast Cups


Since the moment I laid eyes on these, I just knew I had to make them! We love breakfast foods but hate the mess and time required to use the electric skillet to make bacon, eggs and then toast. These little devils only dirty 1 fry pan (or I used my large soup pot to decrease the splatter) and a muffin tin. It was some of the easiest clean up I have ever done. When I saw this recipe I thought, "Yeah, I can probably screw it up," because I have been having quite a time with recipes lately. But guess what? I didn't and am so excited to make them again. I really can't explain how easy these were and how great they tasted! Plus, I think they are cute as sin!

Bacon, Egg and Toast Cups

Ingredients
6 slices of bacon
6 slices of bread
shredded cheese
6 eggs
salt and pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 6 wells of a muffin pay with nonstick spray.
Cook bacon via your preferable method. Leave the bacon slightly undercooked as it needs to be bendable and will finish in the oven. Dab dry the grease after bacon is cooked on a plate of paper towels.
Cut out 6 circular rounds using either a 3 inch cookie cutter or the top of a glass. Place bread in muffin wells.
Wrap bacon around outside of muffin wells.
Sprinkle with shredded cheese.
One at a time, crack eggs over another bowl discarding half of the egg whites. Place yolk and other half of whites on top of shredded cheese. Be careful not to break the yolks!
Bake until eggs are cooked thoroughly or to your liking (6-10 minutes for runny and a little longer for hardened yolks) and bacon is crispy.
Run knife around edges and use another knife or fork to ease cups out of the muffin wells.
Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Pesto Penne


Since the hubs has been working out of town lately, I have been left with just little ole me to feed. It barely seems worth cooking for. However, the other night while I was rummaging through the cupboards, I came across my penne noodles and they just screamed, "EAT ME." So, I did and I loved it. This is my own little creation of ingredients I had in my kitchen. I think this would be great with some garden tomatoes or black olives as well. This makes two servings.

Pesto Penne
Source: Mrs. O

Ingredients
6 ounces penne noodles
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp pesto
1 tsp minced garlic
a sprinkle of shredded Italian blend cheese to garnish

Directions
Prepare penne as directed on the box. Drain. Place noodles in a medium bowl, stir in pesto, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Stir until evenly distributed. Lay shredded cheese over warm noodles. Allow to slightly melt or place in microwave for 10-15 seconds. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

S'more Bars with Peanut Butter Cups


I had a bag of peanut butter cups left over after making the hubs peanut butter cake and despite vowing not to attempt anymore S'more recipes, I did and am quite happy I went back on my word! These tasted really good and were incredibly easy to make! My only complaint is that the crust was really crumbly. Next time, I plan to make it with more of a cheesecake crust base and maybe that will help soften it up a bit, then again, don't the bases of S'mores always break when you eat them? These may have renewed my love for S'mores!

S'more Bars with Peanut Butter Cups
Source:
My Adventures in Food
Ingredients
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 c sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c graham cracker crumbs
1/3 c flour
Pinch of salt

Toppings
15 mini-peanut butter cups
2 c mini marshmallows
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a 13x9 inch pan with non stick spray.
Cream together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla in a bowl. Mixture will look slightly curdled. Stir in graham cracker crumbs, flour and pinch of salt. Set aside 1/4 c of the mixture.
Press remaining mixture into the pan, this layer will be quite thin.
Bake for 12 minutes or until golden around the edges. Remove from oven and set oven on Broil setting.
Top the base with peanut butter cups, marshmallows, and chocolate chips. Press toppings into crust slightly, but do quickly because chocolate will melt. Sprinkle the graham cracker mixture over the top. Broil just until the marshmallows toast. Only a minute or two.
Cool bars for at least 30 minutes before cutting. Coat a knife with non stick spray to avoid sticking when cutting the bars.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fudge Ribbon Cake

It is finally spring break and I am so excited to have a few days off! My plans for spring break are pretty uneventful because my partner and I hope to mostly wrap up our thesis! That will be such a good feeling. I do plan to throw some fun into the week though as we have a girls shopping trip planned to the outlet mall (hello, Coach store!) and I have quite a few new recipes I want to try! I haven't been spending much time in the kitchen lately due to school and the hubs has been working out of town during the week, so suppers have consisted of cereal or Jimmy John's.

I began my return to the kitchen in pursuit of filling my craving for cheesecake. I found this recipe and decided to give it a try. It was very easy and tasted pretty good!

Warning: Use spray on the bunt pan. I was in a hurry and left out this step...it did not end well and resulted in me remaking the cake. When I was teenager I remember having multiple fights with my mom because I REFUSED to use cooking spray on the pans, insisting that it made no difference. I think it was my attempt to rebel and ever since then, when I cook, I typically do not use cooking spray. Well mom, are you happy?!? I don't think I will forget again.


Fudge Ribbon Cake
Source: Bake Me More

Ingredients for the cake:
1 box chocolate cake mix, plus ingredients called for on the box
1 8oz package cream cheese (I used 1/3 fat)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for the ganache:
3 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli chips)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees. SPRAY 10 inch bunt pan with no-stick cooking spray
Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Beat cream cheese, butter and cornstarch in a medium bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk, egg and vanilla until smooth. Pour evenly over cake batter. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes and remove from pan. Allow to cool and apply chocolate ganache.

Ganache directions:
In small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. In separate bowl, combine 3 oz of chocolate and 2 tablespoons of butter. Pour hot cream over chocolate. and let stand until melted, about 5 minutes. Stir, if not all lumps are dissolved, place in microwave for 10 second intervals. Let ganach sit until think but still pourable. Pour ganache over cooled cake. Let set for 30 minutes or until glaze is set before serving.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Course 1, class 4

Well course 1 of cake decorating has wrapped up. I have to admit, it was more stressful that I thought it would be. Mostly a result of my mistakes but I had such difficulties with my frosting! This week it was great for spreading but would NOT make roses! Oh well! I decided to go with strawberry filling and a white cake. I then flooded the top of the cake with strawberry filling. Little did I know...the filling did not want to stay on the top and made the black frosting bleed...making it look even more scary! When I finished this cake during class I thought it needed a little extra on top...hence the Till Death. Hope you get my sense of humor.....





Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cream Cheese Corn


Once upon a time, a 18 year old Mrs. O (back when she was Miss M) flew the chicken coop and ventured into the world as a college student. Home sick as could be, she decided to make one of mother hen's best recipes, cream cheese corn.

"What a simple recipe," she thought. After several conversations via the tin can and string, she had gathered her ingredients (shucked the corn, churned the cream and I don't even know where the sweetened milk comes from?!?!) and was ready to go. But poor naive Mrs. O (or Miss M, whichever you prefer), did not plan anything to accompany her yummy corn and proceeded to inhale the whole pot as her meal.

"Ohhhhh never again," she said as she laid sprawled across the kitchen floor rubbing her belly.

And from that day on, Mrs. O learned the value of moderation and sharing food with others, or a BAD tummy ache will be the punishment!


Cream Cheese Corn
Source: Mother Hen aka Mrs. M
Serves 4-6 hefty side servings (DO NOT EAT ALL BY YOURSELF!)

Ingredients
1 regular size bag of frozen yellow corn
1 4 oz bar of cream cheese (used fat free)
1 14 oz jar sweetened condensed milk (I used fat free)

Directions
Prepare corn according to package. Do not drain. Leave over the heat and melt in the cream cheese. Then add jar of sweetened condensed milk. (My mom uses the whole can, I use about half. Depends on how sweet you like it.)



Monday, March 1, 2010

Blueberry Streusel Muffins


One of my favorite memories growing up was when my mom would have the day off (usually the first or last day of school) and she would make us breakfast! Until she became her amazing Carmel rolls, 'blueberry muffins with the crunch on top,' was always the most popular request. Funny thing was, they were from a box! Those muffins never disappointed but for the past couple years I have been unable to find them in the store! Tragic, I know. Lately, I have been searching for some tasty breakfast foods that I can take to class with me and I can't stop thinking about those muffins! I did a quick search and of course I found a recipe on Annie's Eats that looked like it could do the trick! These were very easy and made amazing, moist cupcakes! I made a double batch and even had them for supper one night when the hubs was gone. Best part is, you don't even need to spread butter on to make them delicious! Great huh, I consider that calorie counting ;)

Blueberry Streusel Muffins
Source: Annie's Eats
yields 16 muffins

Ingredients
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
2 cups blueberries

streusel topping
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons and 4 teaspoons flour
4 tablespoons butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line 16 muffin wells with liners.
2. Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. In a 2 cup measuring bowl combine vegetable oil, eggs and milk, enough to fill the bowl. Combine with flour mixture and proceed to fold in blueberries.
3. Fill muffin tins to top.
4. Make the steusel topping by combining the listed ingredients and mix well with a fork until mixture becomes crumbly. Sprinkle generously over muffins.
5. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Reese's Peanut Butter cake

Wow, school is crazy! I am sitting here with a bunch of backed up posts and hope to get a couple more out this week.
This cake was pretty much amazing. It was rich and definitely tasted like peanut butter. Since Reese's Peanut Butter cups are the hubs favorite candy, I made this cake for the hubs on Valentines day and boy did he eat!
I was impressed how easy it was to make this cake and how visually appealing (I thought) it turned out.
I followed the recipe exactly so I am just going to link it back to the original. Enjoy!

Reese's Peanut Butter cake
Source: Annie's Eats

Monday, February 22, 2010

Donut Muffins


I started out the Valentine's Day menu with these delights to tide us over and prepare for a large supper. These were easy and quick but lacked the donut taste I was looking for. They were very good, so don't get me wrong, but I think that because they are baked they lacked that extra goodness.

Donut Muffins
Source Mac&Cheese

Ingredients
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Coating
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup super fine sugar or powdered sugar

Directions
Lightly grease a muffin tin with vegetable spray
Combine sugar and egg until light in color. Add vegetable oil, milk and vanilla to sugar mixture.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Pour into liquid mixture and stir.
Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool in muffin pan for 10 minutes or so and remove from pan. Dab tops of muffins with butter and roll in sugar.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Peach Crunch Cake

Believe it or not, I can control myself around chocolate. Yes, I think it is one of God's gifts to man but it is also something that I can take a couple bites of a set aside. Now fruit desserts on the other hand, are a major weak spot. One of my all time favorite desserts, besides cheesecake of course, is my Grandma L's apple bars! Amazing! A pan of those little devils never last long. The other day I had a mouth watering craving for a fruit dessert and came across Bakerella's recipe for Peach Crunch cake. I made it, ate it, gave some away and polished off the dish by the weekend. Ouch! Like I said, bars, cookies and cakes can get stale but I planed my day around when I would get to have another piece of this amazing treat. I anticipate myself making this several more times and probably for a couple pot lucks...served warm...oh my goodness, I am struggling not to make this again right now!
Enjoy, I dare to say that you will not regret making this!


Peach Crunch Cake
Source: Bakerella

Ingredients:
24.5 ounce jar of sliced peaches in light syrup (The jar I found was a little bigger and used it all. Still good)
1 yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) cut into tablespoons or smaller
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place ingredient in a 9x13 and layer ingredients in order as listed above, starting with the peaches.
Cook for 40 minutes
Can serve warm or cold and with or without ice cream. But believe me, warm with ice cream...ahhh...did you hear my stomach growl?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Crock Pot Taco Soup


The hubs has been working out of town during the week and with my crazy school schedule, I have found myself rarely making time for supper or having anything more substantial than cereal. I took this as a time to make something for myself, something that he wouldn't normally eat. The recipe I decided on was Crock Pot Taco Soup and I'm pretty dang glad I did. I was quite happy with the way this turned out and I couldn't have asked for an easier recipe.

Crock Pot Taco Soup
Source: Adapted from AYearOfSlowCooking

Ingredients:
2 cans of kidney beans
2 cans of pinto beans
2 cans of corn
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1 can tomatoes and chile's
1 packet taco seasoning
1 packet ranch dressing mix
1 lb browned ground hamburger
1/4 tsp garlic salt
shredded cheese, sour cream and black olives to garnish

Directions:
1) Brown meat, drain fat and pour into crock pot
2) Sprinkle seasoning packets and garlic salt on top of meat
3) Drain and rinse the beans and add
4) Add the entire contents of the corn and tomato cans
5) Stir, cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5.

Wilton Cake Class, Course 1, Class 2

Three friends and myself recently began the Wilton cake decorating course. After receiving a set of decorating tips for Christmas and not being able to manipulate them, I knew a course would be my best chance for success! Class 1 we learned what supplies we needed, a demonstration of how to frost a cake and a quick preview of some of the things we are going to learn in the following sessions. For Class 2, we got to bring a cake to decorate! I began the night before by attempting to make a rainbow cake. I was SO excited for this cake! However, just like so many other recipes I try, I always manage to fail once before succeeding, hence the picture below.
My rainbow cakes ;(


I believe that I did not cook them long enough because they FELL apart when I tried to remove the pan and place on the wax paper. Up side, (there always has to be an upside, right?) they tasted really good and when I have more time I plan to attempt again. At that point I will list the recipe!

Onto plan B at ten o'clock at night...I made another cake. Just a basic cake mix, Devil's food. When I get a little better at decorating, I plan to make a cake from scratch, but at this point in the semester and in the middle of the week, it just wasn't happening.

The class was a blast and can't wait for the next one. I do have to miss class 3 though as I will be out of town for an internship, but I plan to have one of my friends show me what they did in class and I will try to post that cake later.

My first decorated cake!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cheesy Sausage Penne




I have been on this cookbook buying spree. Despite having oodles of recipes saved to my google reader, I keep finding magazines with good looking food. The latest one I picked up was Taste of Home's Casseroles, Slow cookers and soups. Initially paging through, I came across at least five different recipes I wanted to try. The first one I made was this little delight. I was a little hesitant at first because you don't mix in the cream cheese/sour cream combination. However, after you dish up and stir it around a little, yum! Now, I thought this was pretty tasty and when one of my best friend J (shown below)was over, I decided to pawn some off on her, so we had it for supper. She was shocked by how good it was and more impressed by how easy it was! I'm winning them over one at a time....

Cheese Sausage Penne
Source: Taste of Home's Casseroles, Slow Cookers and Soups

Ingredients
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jar (26 ounces) spaghetti sauce
1 package (16 ounces) uncooked penne pasta
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
4 green onions, sliced
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

*I used fat free cream cheese and sour cream and it tasted great!

Directions
1) In a large skillet, cook the sausage and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat' cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
2) cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile, in small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream and onions.
3) In a greased shallow 3-qt baking dish, layer half of the pasta and sausage mixture. Dollop with half of the cream cheese mixture; sprinkle with half of the cheddar cheese. Repeat layers.
4) Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Miss J and I; one of the greatest friends a girl could have ;)




Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chocolate Turtle Cake

Happy Valentines Day!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful day full of love and appreciation for their significant other! In our household, we celebrated last night with dinner, a movie and exchanged gifts! The hubs scored HUGE brownie points because he got me a kitchen torch and the cutest apron decked out in pink polka dots, rhinestone buckle and embroidered, "Domestic Diva."

I got him a movie and baked a cake. Wow, that boy is hard to buy for!

This Valentine's Day was our eighth 'love day' together! It does not seem like we have been together that long...yet I can barely remember my life before him. Valentine's Day is always one of my favorite holidays because it brings with the lowest amount of stress. I know some people feel that it is a Hallmark holiday, and to each their own, but I don't think it's a bad idea to have an extra day each year to tell each other how much you love them!
Today we celebrated by me cooking a meal, funny how that has become my idea of a good time. We rented movies and I enjoyed listening to the hubs laughing at them as I was in the kitchen. I made us a full meal of turkey, ice cream potatoes, cream cheese corn and homemade buns. It was my first attempt with a turkey and let's just say, "it was falling off the bones."

For dessert I made, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup cake, which I will post in a few days because that is the hubs favorite candy!

Now onto the actual post!

I know that this breaks one of the biggest rules in the cooking world but I LOVE box cake mixes. Maybe it because of my minimal skills, poor attention or limited patience but I have yet to make a cake from scratch that I like as much as a cake mix. Eek! I know, I will probably be banished to some far away cooking island, left with only a spear and my imagination, being forced to create a Wilson-like friend to speak to for the rest of my days. Horrible, I know. In time, I do hope to enjoy made-from-scratch cakes more than I do mixes but until that day I found a nifty little cookbook by Miss Betty herself titled, "Ultimate Cake Mix Cookbook." The entire book is filled with bars, pies, cookies and cakes that have some sort of mix as their base. I think the recipes are amazing and perfect for a quick fix!


Chocolate Turtle Cake
Source: Betty Crocker's, Ultimate Cake Mix Cookbook


Ingredients:
1 package Devils food cake mix
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 bag (14 ounces) caramels
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup chopped pecans
1 bag (6 ounce) semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 cup)


Directions:
1) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of 9x13 in pan.
2) Make cake mix according to box using water, oil and eggs. Pour half the mixture into the pan. Bake 25 minutes.
3) Meanwhile, heat caramels and milk in 1 quart saucepan over medium heat about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until caramels are melted. Pour and spread caramel over warm cake in pan. Sprinkle with pecans and chocolate chips. Spread with remaining batter.
4) Bake 30 minutes. Run knife around side of pan to loosen cake. Cook completely, about 1 hour. Serve with ice cream. Store at room temperature.
5) To reheat, place piece of cake in microwave for 10-20 seconds and serve with ice cream.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Boston Cream Pie cupcakes


My husband has amazing control when it comes to food. He is blessed with amazing metabolism, an active job and the ability to say no when it comes to sweets. The last time I made BostonCreamPie, I talked him into trying a piece, just a piece to get a taste. Over the next two days, at least twice a day he'd say, "Can we have some pie?" Despite my love of this cake, I couldn't keep up with him! He was heading out of town for a couple days due to work and about half the cake was left. For the sake of my own thighs, I knew I did NOT want to be left home with this cake. So I told him, "Eat what you want tonight because I am throwing whatever is left." Little did I know that he took that as, "I need to eat every last bite!" I don't think I have ever seen him eat so much and his tummy ache later proved to him that it probably wasn't the best idea.

Ever since his overdose, I have been searching for more recipes, preferably in a cupcake form to help him not eat to much! I came across this one and I honestly don't think you could find an easier recipe. I am in love!

Boston Cream Pie cupcakes

Ingredients:
1 butter yellow cake mix
1 3 0z box French Vanilla instant pudding
1 cup half and half
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup powered sugar
1 1/2 cup chocolate ganache, I used thisone

Directions:
Prepare yellow cupcakes according to the box.
While baking, prepare the vanilla custard filling by combining the instant pudding mix and the half and half in a medium bowl. In a stand mixer using the whip attachment, combine cream, vanilla and powered sugar and whip at medium speed until soft peaks form. Gently fold in the pudding mixture to the whipped cream until it is full incorporated.

When the cupcakes have cooled, place the tip of the pasty bag inside each cupcake and pipe in filling, being careful not to overfill, as it will crack the cupcakes.

When all cupcakes have been filled, prepare your ganache. Dip the tops of the cupcakes in the ganache. Place glazed cupcakes on a cooking rack to dry.

Drain and pat dry maraschino cherries. While the cupcakes are slightly wet from the glaze, place a cherry on top to garnish and cover the hole created from filling.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mini Ham and Cheese sandwiches


These were pretty dang tasty. Initially, I was intimidated to try these little devils but when I was planning our weekly menu last week, I decided to take the plunge. However, when I returned from the store and was looking at 24 buns, I realized that it was WAY to much for the hubs and I. Sounds like party time to me, right? So, I decided to serve this as girls night and they were great. I was unable to find the Hawaiian rolls and had to go with some larger buns, so I can only imagine how amazing they would be with the smaller bun! I think the marinade would soak in even better and really soften the whole bun.

Mini Ham and Cheese sandwiches
Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
1 1/2 tbsp grated dried onions
1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp honey mustard
2 (12 ounce) packages Hawaiian rolls
1 pound cooked ham slices
12 ounces sliced swiss cheese

Directions:
In saucepan, mix butter, poppy seeds, onion, Worcestershire sauce and mustard, stir until blended and melted. Pour 1/2 of mixture into bottom of baking dish.

Place ham and cheese onto sandwiches. Arrange rolls in single layer in baking dish, spreading them around to soak up the sauce in pan. Pour rest of sauce over tops of sandwiches, cover dish and refrigerate up to 24 hours for sauce to soak in.

Preheat oven in 350 degrees, bake rolls for 10-12 minutes or until rolls are lightly browned and cheese is melted.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chicken Alfredo Lasagna Rolls


So, I picked up a tub of Ricotta cheese. Then I didn't know what to do with it. It was almost like a Christmas miracle that this recipe came across my google reader because it was delicious. A warning though, it truly is a cheese filled delight and 1 will, more than likely, be plenty for a hungry adult. I followed the recipe exactly except the hubs is afraid of eating anything green so I left the spinach out. If I made it again, I would add it because I feel that it would break up the immense cheese flavor! I reduced the recipe by half for the two of us and that is the recipe I am posting below.

Chicken Alfredo Lasagna Rolls
Source: JennandFood

Ingredients:
Rolls
6oz. chicken breast, poached and shredded
6 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
6 lasagna noodles, cooked according to the package

Sauce
4 tablespoons
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
shake of dried oregano

Grease 8x8 in pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl combine the chicken, ricotta and Parmesan cheese. Spread the mixture down the center of each noodle, leaving an inch and a half at each end. Roll each noodle and place in pan.

For the sauce, melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Whisk in the cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the Parmesan cheese, garlic and oregano.

Pour the sauce over each noodle. Top with the 2 oz. of shredded mozzarella cheese.

Bake uncovered at 350 for 20 minutes.