Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Teriyaki Burgers

This week I have some quick dinners planned and since we had an unusually warm day last Saturday (70 degrees!), it made me want a burger on the grill. We didn't actually get to grill on Saturday because we were out and about taking advantage of the warm weather - getting Christmas lights down, going to the zoo and running other errands. Unfortunately the cold weather is back, so these burgers were made inside. They still turned out great and made a very easy and quick dinner served with a Dole Asian salad kit.

1 pound ground round (I used the lean 96/4 ground beef and it kept together very well. Only flip once!)
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced


Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Divide beef mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.

Prepare grill.

Place patties on grill rack; grill 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

Nutritional Information
Calories:175 (35% from fat)
Fat:6.9g (sat 2.5g,mono 2.9g,poly 0.3g)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Cinnamon Rolls

As a special Christmas treat, I made breakfast! You might have noticed this doesn't happen often. I'm just not a fan of breakfast food, unless you're offering me Golden Grahams, or some other yummy cold cereal. Aaron has requested sausage gravy & biscuits a few times now, so I did give in (and cheat) and buy a package of gravy mix. It's been sitting in the pantry for a month or more now. I decided Christmas morning would be the best time to make it for him. Christmas Eve we are busy traveling everywhere. But, Christmas day, we don't have to be anywhere until the afternoon. Plus, it just worked out better since we'd be having a late lunch/early dinner with the family.

I got some Jimmy Dean sausage and made homemade buttermilk biscuits. If you like that sort of thing, here's what he ate:

Wait...you thought you were going to read about Cinnamon Rolls, didn't you? Sorry, I got off track. I didn't want sausage and gravy, nothing about that sounds appetizing. Usually, I go for something sweet. What could be sweeter than cinnamon rolls? It didn't stop there. I then battered it with egg and milk and turned it into French Toast. Topped with cream cheese icing, I ate and remembered having this sugar-coma-inducing breakfast at the Cookie Jar restaurant in Fairbanks, Alaska. I've been skipping random meals all week for this one. Merry Christmas Everyone!

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients: (This is 1/2 the original recipe. I got 20 cinnamon rolls out of it.)
2 cups whole milk (I used 1%)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar, divided
1 pkg active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter

Mix milk, vegetable oil, and 1/2 cup of sugar in a pan. Scald the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point.) Remove from heat and let it cool 45 minutes to 1 hour.

When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in package Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute and then add 4 cups of flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let sit for at least an hour.

Next, add 1/2 cup flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir mixture together. From here, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it—overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. (I made 2 evenings in advance and it was fine.) Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to rise out of the pan, just punch it down. (I noticed this morning the lid had popped off the bowl!) Or, of course, you can just go ahead and make the rolls.

Sprinkle surface generously with flour and roll the dough into a thin rectangular shape. Brush 1/2 cup melted butter on top, then sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar over the butter, and finish with cinnamon (just eyeball it).

Starting with the wide end, roll the dough tightly (I did this wrong - which is why my cinnamon rolls just keep winding and winding into that center spiral.) With a sharp knife, cut into 1 inch slices. Place in a butter pan and let rest 20-30 minutes. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

I topped with leftover cream cheese buttercream.

I've Been Tagged

I've been tagged by Stephanie, from Macaroni & Cheesecake! Here are 7 random facts about myself. But first, the rules:

1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.

2. Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.

3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.

4. Let each person know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Ok, here's my 7:

ONE: I am second oldest of 5 kids. I have an older sister and three younger brothers. We're all 2 years apart.

TWO: I talk to our 3 cats like they are humans and can understand. I even assign them household chores (like laundry and vacuuming) since they are home all day, just lounging around. No, they don't do any of the chores. Slackers.

THREE: I've only been pulled over for speeding twice, but neither time got a ticket.

FOUR: I don't like lobster. It's ok, but I'd much rather have a hot dog.

FIVE: I've never been to Florida or Gatlinburg, the 2 default vacations of anyone from Ohio it seems.

SIX: I can wink with my left eye, but not my right.

SEVEN: I love reality TV. Survivor is still my favorite. I started watching the second season and I have never missed an episode. If you try to talk to me during the show, I get mean.

I'm tagging 7 people. If you've already done this or don't want to - no problem!

Brooke - Dessert First
Katie - KT in the Kitchen
Vicki - Vicki's Healthy Eats & Sinful Treats
Jen - Beantown Baker
Maryanna - Taste & See
Wifeplzak - Big City Cooking
Elizabeth - Elizabeth's Edible Experience

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

French Dip Sandwiches

Last night I finished up the last of my Christmas shopping for Aaron. Since he is off work for Christmas break, the best time to wrap his gifts would be when he's still sleeping in the morning. So, I got up a few minutes early this morning, got ready for work, and got busy wrapping. I finished everything, cleaned up, and rushed out the door for work.

1 p.m. came around and I started to think of everything I need to do tonight, including dinner. In the rush this morning, I completely forgot I wanted to do an easy crockpot dinner tonight. I planned to make french dip sandwiches to use up some rolls we had from meatball subs a few days ago.

I had 2 choices at this point. One - I could call Aaron and see if he's up for trying to get it started and take my chances. Or two - scrap it and go out. Well, I've spent enough money lately and we already have the stuff to make it, so I decided to be brave, say a prayer, and give him a chance. I sent an e-mail with detailed instructions on where to find everything, including things like, you know...the crockpot.

He reported back successfully with one *almost* snafu - he opened a can of chicken broth instead of beef, but realized it before pouring it in! Good save, good save. He even added a little bit of minced garlic, worcestershire sauce, and instead of the condensed french onion soup, he used a dry pouch of french onion soup mix.

So now, as you can see, this recipe is so easy a Caveman Aaron can do it.

After the beef has cooked, slice it up, top with cheese if you want, broil until brown and melted, and then dip in the extra sauce.

Now I just have to come up with something to make with the open can of chicken broth.

Source: Allrecipes.com

4 pounds rump roast
1 (10.5 ounce) can beef broth
1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed French onion soup
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer
6 French rolls
2 tablespoons butter

Trim excess fat from the rump roast, and place in a slow cooker. Add the beef broth, onion soup and beer. Cook on Low setting for 7 hours. (we did the high setting for 4.5 hours)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Split French rolls, and spread with butter. Bake 10 minutes, or until heated through.

Slice the meat on the diagonal, and place on the rolls. Serve the sauce for dipping.

Chicken, Mushrooms and Artichoke Hearts with Cheese Tortellini

I had a half of a bag of cheese tortellini in the freezer I needed to use, so when I saw this recipe from For the Love of Cooking blog, I starred it to make for dinner this week. It was very easy, quick and tasted pretty good.

I modified a bit, though. I did not use the marinade listed, nor did I marinate the chicken for an hour. Instead, I used a bottled marinade - Lawry's Garlic & Herb with Lemon - for 30 minutes. Then, I grilled up the chicken, removed from the pan to cook the mushrooms. I added a couple splashes of white cooking wine to the mushrooms so there would be more sauce and not leave the tortellini dry.

This is great for a quick weeknight meal. We both liked it a lot and I was happy to get Aaron to eat pasta! (He thought teriyaki sauce would make it even better, so he dumped some from a bottle onto his plate....ugh...ruined imo, but he had seconds.) I'd like to make this again with fresh herbs and tomatoes from our garden next summer.

Marinade Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
3-4 leaves of basil, chopped
Zest of one lemon, chopped finely
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil (for cooking)

Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound them, with a mallet, until they are 1/4 inch thick. Place chicken into a large zip lock bag and add the olive oil, minced garlic, chopped basil, lemon zest, sea salt and pepper. Mix so the chicken is evenly coated with marinade. Let it marinate for at least 1 hour.

Heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add chicken breasts and cook for 4 minutes then flip. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes or until juices run clear. Remove from heat and let sit for at least 5 minutes before slicing into bite size chunks.

8 oz of button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (I used canned)
1 handful of grape tomatoes
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
Cheese tortellini, prepared per instructions
Juice of 1-2 lemons (to taste)
1-2 tbsp butter
5-6 basil leaves, chopped (I skipped)
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste (I didn't think any salt was needed)

Cook the tortellini per instructions. While the pasta is cooking, add mushrooms to the hot skillet you cooked the chicken in. Add more oil if needed (I didn't need to). Sauté for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Add the artichoke hearts, tomatoes and minced garlic to the pan then stir frequently for 60 seconds. Add the tortellini, chicken chunks, lemon juice, butter, Parmesan, basil, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Chewy Dark Chocolate Granola Bars

A while back my grandma asked me to find her a good granola recipe. I found this recipe from Big City Cooking and it could not have been any easier. I made up 2 big pans of this recipe, cut into bars and wrapped individually so she can freeze them and take them out as needed. I tasted a broken bar and it reminded me of a cliff bar in the softness and texture. I can see myself making these, and other variations of granola bars often.

3 1/2 c. oatmeal
1 c. rice crispies
1 c. flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. melted butter
1 mashed banana
1/2 c. honey (I used 1/4 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of corn syrup because I didn't have enough honey!)
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 c. Dark Chocolate M&M's
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9" x 13" pan.

In large bowl, mix everything except the chocolate raisins and nuts. Add those after the oatmeal mixture is well mixed.

Press into pan. Bake for 18-22 min, until golden brown. Cool 10 min, slice. Cool completely before removing from pan.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Cake & Cream Cheese Buttercream

Here's a carrot cake with cream cheese buttercream. This was probably the easiest and fastest cake I have made yet. The icing went on very easily. I will be making more cream cheese frosted cakes.

Cream Cheese Buttercream:

8 oz. cream cheese
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix together - this consistency worked very well for frosting the cake and piping the curls, but you can see it was a bit soft for the border.

Poinsettia is made from fondant and painted with gold luster dust.

Pampers Cake

Here's the latest cake I made for a baby shower for Aaron's coworker. This is a strawberry cake iced in buttercream. The diapers are twinkies wrapped in fondant. I have to thank cakecentral for this creative idea again. If you need a fast and easy shower cake - this is it!

Corn Salad with Tomatoes & Feta

Friday we had our Christmas party at work. I didn't want to use my crockpot and sometimes have a hard time trying to think of something that will be good for a potluck when it needs to be brought in the morning, no oven, etc. That's why I was happy finding this recipe for corn salad. It's simple, healthy and it's served cold or room temperature. Works for me!

I used vacuum packed canned corn this time, but will definitely be making this next summer with fresh corn on the cob. It'll be even better. There was none left at the end of lunch time!

Source: A Chow Life

4 ears of corn, husks removed
2-3 tblsp. unsalted butter
4 tblsp. olive oil
3 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. coarsely chopped fresh thyme
1 bunch green onions, green portions only, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2-3 cups halved cherry or grape tomatoes
8 oz. feta cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Juice of 1/2 lime, more to taste if needed
3 tblsp. finely slivered fresh basil


Holding each ear of corn by its pointed end and steadying its stalk end on a cutting board, cut down along the ear with a sharp knife to strip off the kernels, turning the ear with each cut. Alternatively, remove the kernels with a kernel cutter. You will need about 3 1/2 cups corn kernels. Set aside.

In a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm half the butter and 1 Tbs. of the olive oil until nearly smoking. Add half the garlic and sauté, stirring constantly, 20 to 30 seconds. Add half the corn and sauté, stirring occasionally, until golden and just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add half the thyme and green onions and sauté for about 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining butter, 1 Tbs. of the oil, and the remaining garlic, corn, thyme and green onions. Transfer the mixture to the bowl. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

In another bowl, combine the tomatoes, cheese, the remaining 2 Tbs. oil, salt and pepper and toss gently to mix. Add the tomato mixture, the lime juice and basil to the cooled corn and toss to mix. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper and more lime juice. Serve at room temperature.

(adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Spanish Rice

To go with the Green Chile Chicken, I decided to make Spanish rice for the side. Surprisingly, I've never made it before. I went to allrecipes.com and chose the highest rated recipe and here it is. Just an FYI - this make a LOT of rice. Way too much for 2 people. We each had some with dinner and I made up 3 leftover containers of chicken with rice and STILL had extra rice.

The only change I made to this was to add an extra can of the mild green chiles, chopped. Mostly it was a mistake because I read the recipe wrong. It says to use a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles. I did that, and added the extra can for some reason. Not necessary, but it still tasted good.

If you're not sure...ask someone else to taste it first:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup uncooked white rice
1 onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cups water
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles
2 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt

Heat oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Saute rice, onion, and bell pepper until rice is browned and onions are tender.

Stir in water and tomatoes. Season with chili powder and salt. Cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed.

Green Chile Chicken

I recently came across this blog - For the Love of Cooking and found myself starring almost every recipe in my Google reader. It seems we have a lot of the same taste and everything was sounding good. This will be the second recipe I've made from it. I have yet to blog the first one for corn salad. It's coming soon, though!

As you may or may not know, we have some kind of Mexican dinner at least once a week. It's my favorite and since I make the menu...it just kind of works that way! I really liked this becuase it was a little different than the wraps, tacos, lasagnas I've normally been making. This was super easy to put together and tasted just great! I could not find the whole green chiles, halved, so I used a small can of chopped green chiles. I also tried making this from memory, and just now realized I never used mayo. Sorry for the bad pic, I didn't feel like setting up my light box. I was in the middle of baking cakes, making dinner, cleaning - just didn't want to mess with it.

4 chicken breasts
2 eggs
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
1-2 7 oz. cans whole mild green chiles halved
1 2.25 oz. can of sliced black olives
1/2 cup of cheddar, shredded
1/4 cup of monterey jack or cotjia cheese, shredded
1-2 tbsp of mayonnaise

Mix eggs & spices into a bowl. Trim chicken of any fat & slice each breast into 2 chunks. Dip chicken into egg mixture & add to a hot pan sprayed with cooking spray (or olive oil). Cook 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and place in a baking dish. Cover each chunk of chicken with a green chile half. Mix cheese and mayonnaise in bowl. Sprinkle on top of chicken and green chiles. Top with black olives. Cook for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Snowman Oreos

Another super cute idea I saw on cakecentral. Dip about 2/3 of each oreo in white chocolate and let set up. Then, dip the other 1/3 into colored chocolate and let set up. Decorate with royal icing. Easy!!!!

Checkerboard Cookies

I've never made checkerboard cookies before and not sure I will again. They are cute, and taste good, but mine turned out kind of flat, so they were more like rectangles instead of squares. I'm a little too impatient to do all of the rolling, measuring, cutting, stacking again. I did make one log into a swirl instead of checkerboard, which was faster since you don't have to cut equal strips and stack - Just roll flat, layer, roll into log, and slice.

I'm not sure if they would have been flat if I had sliced and baked them the same day I mixed the dough or not. I made the dough the weekend before, wrapped it and froze it until I needed it.

Source: Martha Stewart

Makes about 4 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 large egg

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes. Add vanilla extract, lemon extract, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, scraping down sides of bowl.

Turn dough out onto a clean work surface; it will be loose and crumbly. Knead dough by pushing small amounts away from you with the heel of your hand for 1 to 2 minutes. Divide dough in half. Sprinkle cocoa powder over one of the halves. Knead until cocoa has been fully incorporated.
Place each half of the kneaded dough between two sheets of plastic. Using a rolling pin, shape dough into two 7-inch squares, about 3/8 inch thick. Using a sharp knife and a ruler, slice each square into nine 3/4-inch-wide strips.

Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water. Cover work surface with plastic wrap. Place three strips of dough on plastic, alternating white and chocolate strips. Brush tops and in between the strips with egg wash. Gently press strips together. Repeat, forming second and third layers, alternating colors to create a checkerboard effect. Wrap assembled log in plastic. Repeat process for second log, reversing color pattern. Refrigerate 30 minutes, or freeze 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. line a baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper. Slice each log into 1/4-inch-thick slices; place on baking sheet. Bake until done, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven, and let cookies cool 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container up to 2 days.

Chocolate Mint Candies Cookies - Part 2

These are the cookies that were my favorite last year, and possibly again this year. I have yet to try ALL of the kinds we made! I made this recipe last year and already blogged about it here, but I wanted to give an update since I didn't have a photo before. I also had to make a last minute change - I forgot my Andes Mints on baking day! I didn't really want to run out and buy more, or go all the way home to get them, so I used the other half of the Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips and it worked out great. Immediately after baking, I sprinkled some on top of each cookie, then went back and swirled it around.

Peanut Butter Munchies

Cookie #2 from the baking marathon - Peanut Butter Munchies. These came out really soft and chewy - my favorite type of cookie. The peanut butter filling was pretty crumbly when trying to wrap in chocolate, so I wasn't sure how it would come out, but they are great. I'd definitely make these again!

Source: Better Homes & Gardens

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda; set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl beat together butter, the 1/2 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, and the 1/4 cup peanut butter with an electric mixer until combined. Add egg, milk, and vanilla; beat well. Beat in as much of the dry ingredients as you can with mixer. Stir in remaining dry ingredients by hand with a wooden spoon. Form chocolate dough into 32 balls about 1-1/4 inches in diameter. Set aside.

3. For peanut butter filling, in a medium mixing bowl combine powdered sugar and the remaining 1/2 cup peanut butter until smooth. Shape mixture into 32 (3/4-inch) balls.

4. On a work surface, slightly flatten a chocolate dough ball and top with a peanut butter ball. Shape the chocolate dough over the peanut butter filling, completely covering the filling. Roll dough into a ball. Repeat with the remaining chocolate dough and peanut butter filling balls.

5. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Lightly flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in the 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.

6. Bake cookies in preheated oven for 8 minutes or until they're just set and surface is slightly cracked. Let cookies stand for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool. Makes 32 cookies.

To Store: Place in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

Saturday was my big cookie baking day. Together with a friend, we baked from 8am until 10:30pm, so you can imagine how many cookies we made! I'm going to blog about the ones I mixed up at home and the ones I have recipes. It turns out everything I made was chocolate - not really planned that way, it's just what sounded good as I was browsing recipes.

First up: White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread
Source: Better Homes & Gardens

These were fun to make and turned out really pretty. I didn't add the chopped white chocolate into the dough . Instead, I found Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips and mixed 1/2 bag into the dough. After they were baked, I dipped half into the white chocolate and rolled the sides in the candy cane sprinkles. They are very minty between the chips and sprinkles. I really couldn't taste the cherries at all!

1/2 cup maraschino cherries, drained and finely chopped
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cold butter
12 ounces white chocolate baking squares with cocoa butter, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 drops red food coloring (optional)
2 teaspoons shortening
White nonpareils and/or red edible glitter (optional) (I found candy cane sprinkles at Target)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spread cherries on paper towels to drain well.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in drained cherries and 4 ounces (2/3 cup) of the chopped chocolate. Stir in almond extract and, if desired, food coloring. Knead mixture until it forms a smooth ball.

3. Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a drinking glass dipped in sugar, flatten balls to 1-1/2-inch rounds.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until centers are set. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

5. In a small saucepan, combine remaining 8 ounces white chocolate and the shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted. Dip half of each cookie into chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. If desired, roll dipped edge in nonpareils and/or edible glitter. Place cookies on waxed paper until chocolate is set. Makes about 60.

6. To Store: Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Facts
Calories 87, Total Fat (g) 5, Saturated Fat (g) 3, Cholesterol (mg) 9, Sodium (mg) 28, Carbohydrate (g) 9, Fiber (g) 0, Protein (g) 1, Vitamin C (DV%) 0, Calcium (DV%) 1, Iron (DV%) 1, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake

This is another cake I made for the Open House. This one is the recipe from the back of the Hershey cocoa can. It's decorated in all buttercream.

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings.

ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

Pistachio Cake

Tis the season for green cake! I'm talking about Pistachio cake. Here is a simple doctored cake mix recipe I used from allrecipes.com. The cake is very moist and dense. Normally this would be made in a bundt pan, but I wanted to decorate it for an Open House for Aaron's work, so I used two 8 inch square pans. I also made a filling of pistachio mousse from a box of pistachio pudding mixed with cool whip.

I meant for this cake to look like a tin of chocolates, but wasn't very happy with how it turned out as it was a little difficult to get square edges. Maybe a round cake would have been more forgiving. Needless to say, I need a lot of fondant practice.

1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix (I used a french vanilla cake because I already had one on hand)
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
7 drops green food coloring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan.
In a large bowl mix together cake mix and pudding mix. Make a well in the center and pour in eggs, water, oil, almond extract and green food coloring. Blend ingredients, then beat for 2 minutes at medium speed.
Pour into prepared 10 inch tube pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly pressed. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Southwestern Potatoes

Southwestern Potatoes

We just finished having dinner, which included these southwestern potatoes. I've had these starred in my reader (from Amy at Sing for Your Supper) for a couple of months now and am just now getting around to trying them. I'm always looking for new ways to cook potatoes, since Aaron doesn't like au gratin (freak! I know), and these were awesome. I made 4 small potatoes and should have used a bigger pan so I could spread into a thinner layer to let them crisp up a little more, but they were still excellent! I also omitted the bacon and used Montgomery Inn BBQ sauce. I did mean to have with a little fat-free sour cream in the end and completely forgot. Oh well..next time!

package bacon bits (the real kind - not "bacon flavored bits")
2 unpeeled large potatoes, scrubbed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 sour cream, optional (for dipping)

Line 2 large baking sheets with foil and preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Cut potatoes into 1/4 inch slices. Toss the potatoes, olive oil, garlic salt and pepper in a big ziploc bag to coat the potatoes. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes. Brush with barbecue sauce, then top with the shredded cheese and bacon bits. Bake until the cheese melts, about 3-5 minutes. Top with sour cream, if desired.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Black Bean-Tomato Soup with Cilantro-Lime Cream

It was 16 degrees here this morning, so soup was sounding really good for lunch. Lately I've been on a grilled cheese kick, and naturally Aaron wanted tomato soup with it. I don't know why, but I cannot stand tomato soup. It makes no sense. I like tomatoes and anything with tomatoes for the most part, but just cannot eat it - maybe it's only the canned stuff I find so nasty. Cookinglight had this recipe for black bean-tomato soup, so I thought that was different enough from straight tomato soup that it would be good.

The flavor was great, but I should have blended it a bit longer, as it still had tiny bits of beans and tomatoes and I think I was expecting it to be perfectly smooth. Aaron, on the other hand, absolutely loved it. He said this ranks up there with Italian Wedding Soup for him, which is his favorite.

I'm sure I'll make the soup again and blend it longer. It's sooo easy to make, I should have saved it for a busy weeknight.

2 center-cut bacon slices, chopped (I left out)
1/2 cup chopped onion (about 1 small)
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added organic diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice


1. Cook bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, reserving 1 teaspoon drippings in pan; set bacon aside. Add onion and celery to pan; cook 5 minutes or until celery is tender. Stir in 3/4 teaspoon cumin, chile powder, and garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in bacon, pepper, beans, tomatoes, and broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Place half of bean mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining bean mixture; process until smooth. Keep warm.

2. Combine sour cream, remaining 1/4 teaspoon cumin, cilantro, rind, and juice in a small bowl. Drizzle cream over soup.

Nutritional Information
Calories:123 (31% from fat)
Fat:4.3g (sat 2g,mono 1.6g,poly 0.4g)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Beef Teriyaki

This is my first post using the new lightbox I got for Christmas! I love it! We can eat dinner at 8 pm and still have enough light for decent shots. Why am I using a Christmas present already, you ask? Because I saw the box on the porch when I got home last night and knew what it *must* be. When I saw it still sitting in the hall tonight, unopened, I made a comment to Aaron to ask why he hadn't even opened my gift to check it out. So, he said I should just have it now. After all, he got his gift early, too. Ok, twist my arm. I guess I'll open it if you insist! You might be seeing lots of updates in the next few weeks so I can use my cool toy.

I don't think I've ever had beef teriyaki, but this recipe from allrecipes.com looked easy and healthy enough to try, so I added it to our dinner list this week. Overall I'm going to rate it a 7. I used fat-free broth, low sodium soy sauce, extra minced garlic, and even a couple splashes of bottled teriyaki sauce we already had. I think it was missing something, but I can't really figure out what would have made it better. Maybe it wasn't sweet enough? Reading reviews after dinner (you should really read them before making the recipe.), I see that some people added pineapple to sweeten it up some. I'll make this again, using more broccoli (I only had about 2-3 cups) and try the pineapple.

1 pound boneless beef sirloin steak (3/4 inch thick) (we used eye of round steak, it was much cheaper)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 (14 ounce) can beef broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 cups fresh broccoli florets

In a saucepan bring water to a boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice beef into very thin strips.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cornstarch, broth, soy sauce, sugar and garlic powder. Mix thoroughly.

In a large skillet, over medium/high heat, saute the beef strips until browned and juices evaporate.

Stir broccoli and cornstarch mixture into meat. Cook until mixture boils and thickens, stirring frequently. Serve over the cooked rice.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cake Time!

Here is a cake I made for my father-in-law's birthday tomorrow. He collects clocks. I wish the cake had been taller or I could have made a second layer, but I think it turned out kind of cute!

Made with chocolate cake, chocolate buttercream, regular buttercream, and a black gel liner.
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