Sunday, November 14, 2010

Snickerdoodle Bundt Cake

This is my new go to recipe! I am a speech pathologist and it was Radiology Week (we do some tests in Radiology and they are always so helpful) so all us speechies were supposed to bake something to take to them. I have been "trying" to watch what I eat so I haven't done too much baking lately. If I was good at "portion control" I could bake more but I am only good at "losing control" when it comes to good food...especially baked goods! Anyways, I searched all my favorite blogs and found this recipe and I am so glad I did. It was delicious. As you will see by the lack of picture of the actual bundt cake the "dismount" from the bundt cake pan to the drying rack was a little bit of a disaster (blessing in disguise because I was able to sample more). I will explain ways to prevent that at the bottom of the post. Next time you need to bake something or just feel like splurging on some quality calories you will not be disappointed with this one!


Snickerdoodle Bundt Cake
Adapted from Dozen Flours

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup white sugar


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup white sugar 
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup full-fat sour cream, at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 325F. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Mix together really well and set aside.
2.  Using a spray product like Pam with flour (I used shortening which was a disaster) generously spray a 9 inch Bundt pan, being careful to cover all the areas including the center tube. Gently dust the entire inside of the pan with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. You should only need 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the mixture. You want to try and evenly coat the inside surface of the pan, including the tube. Save the remaining sugar and cinnamon mixture.
3. In a medium sized bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside
4. In a large bowl beat just the butter on medium speed for one full minute. Add the white sugar and mix for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and blade and add the brown sugar.
5. Mix for 2 minutes until the mixture looks light brown and uniform in color. Add the eggs one at time, beating each for a full minute. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream; beat well.
6. Spread half of the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Sprinkle with 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter. Spread the rest of the batter into the pan and sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture over the top.
7. Bake in the preheated oven for 55-65 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test (when inserted into the cake it comes out clean). Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Suggestions/Things I learned:
- The recipe said to allow cake to cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. The pan was still pretty warm and I of course attempted to flip it anyways which didn't work out to say the least. Make sure the pan is not hot to touch and you have given it enough time to cool before inverting.
- I really don't know how Dozen Flours dusted the pan so great...mine looked nothing like hers (click the link to see her pictures...she is very talented). I would definitely not use shortening though and stick with Pam flour spray

-Brittany

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas

I feel some shame as a type this post. I don't know if it is more because my last post was "Microwave Poached Eggs" or because my last post was September 5th. I will say I have been cooking BUT some of those recipes will not be shared. Let’s just say they weren't the best! Anyways, with that said I have a very delicious recipe to share today. My husband has been requesting enchiladas for months and I was a little scared to attempt these. I changed a few things to make them "healthyish" but they were incredible!!! AND if you buy a Rotisserie chicken like I did....not too time consuming. So here goes, after 1 1/2 months away from the kitchen I present to you......Chicken Enchiladas!



Chicken Enchiladas
Adapted from All Recipes
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (or a Rotisserie Chicken)
1 onion, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
1 clove garlic minced
3/4 cup cheddar cheese
8 (10 inch) flour tortillas (we used wheat tortillas made fresh at Central Market)
1 can (10 oz) Enchilada Sauce
1 cup of your choice salsa (can make it mild or spicy)
1 cup sour cream (I used fat free)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium, non-stick skillet over medium heat, cook chicken until no longer pink and juices run clear. Drain excess fat. Cube the chicken (I just shredded from the Rotisserie Chicken) and return it to the skillet. Add the onion, sour cream, cheddar cheese, parsley, oregano and ground black pepper. Heat until cheese melts. Stir in salt, green pepper, garlic, enchilada sauce and salsa.
3. Pour some enchilada sauce on the bottom of the pan. Roll even amounts of the mixture in the tortillas. Arrange in a 9x13 inch baking dish (seam side down). Cover with remaining sauce and 3/4 cup cheddar cheese. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Things I learned:
- Worth it to skip cooking the chicken and just buy the Rotisserie
- You could really add anything you wanted (or take away anything) with this recipie and it will be delicious!

-Brittany

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Poached Eggs in the Microwave

So this isn't one of those..."I spent most of the night, trying to impress people" kind of recipes. This was a big morning for my husband and me when we realized how incredible this little trick is. We love having eggs in the morning...especially since our little "life-style change" (aka eating healthy...my husband refuses to call it a diet). Anyway, if you want a quick/healthy/easy breakfast in the morning just microwave yourself a poached egg!



Poached Eggs in the Microwave
Adapted from The Kitchn
1 egg
1/3 cup water
Approximately 1/3 tsp vinegar


Equipment
Microwave-safe mug or small bowl
Microwave-safe small plate
Slotted spoon

1. Crack the egg into a microwave-safe bowl or mug
2. Mix the vinegar with the 1/3 cup water and pour into the bowl or mug with the egg
3. Cover the bowl or mug with a microwave-safe plate. Place in the microwave and cook on 80% POWER for 60 seconds. Check the egg. If it is not done yet, return to the microwave and cook on 80% POWER in 20 second bursts.
4. Remove from the water with slotted spoon

The Kitchn has great step by step pictures!

-Brittany

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Crisp Crab Cakes

My hubby and I decided to try this whole eating healthy thing. I mean it is only been a couple of days but so far we have both been doing pretty good. I decided to try this recipe I found in the food network magazine. If you follow the directions exactly it's only 220 calories for 2 cakes. I made a couple mistakes in my attempt. For example, putting in the full cup of breadcrumbs at once instead of just half.  This lead to the cakes breaking apart when I was cooking them....not ideal! I also accidentally sautéed the vegetables in 2 Tablespoons olive oil vs. 2 teaspoons which I'm sure added more calories. In spite of those mistakes the crab cakes were delicious! You could also serve this broken up over a salad (easy for me since the cakes I made were already broken up) or on hamburger buns.



Crisp Crab Cakes
Adapted from Food Network
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced **
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons nonfat milk
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
Dash of hot sauce 
1 pound lump crab or crab claw meat, picked over
1/4 tsp salt
Dash of pepper
Olive-oil cooking spray

1. Heat 2 teaspoons (not tablespoons) olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallions and bell pepper and cook until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Cook slightly.
2. Mix 1/2 cup panko, the egg and milk in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, lemon juice, Old Bay and hot sauce; fold in the crabmeat, panko mixture, and scallion-bell pepper mixture, 1/4 tsp salt and a pinch of pepper. Shape into 8 patties and refrigerate 30 minutes.
3. Coat the crab cakes with the remaining 1/2 cup panko. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Mist the crab cakes with cooking spray and cook, sprayed-side down, 3 to 4 minutes. Spray the tops, flip and cook 3 to 4 minutes more minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

Things I learned:
** Scallions are the same thing as green onions
* Old Bay seasoning is found with the fish/crab and not the other spices at the grocery store

-Brittany

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wheat Peach Shortcake Cookies

If I could re-name these cookies I would name them Peach Biscuits. I mean they are great for dessert but I can't wait to have them for breakfast with a cup of coffee! My hubby and I picked up some incredible peaches at one of the fruit stands on the side of the road and it made them that much better! Even though the recipe calls for 2 cups chopped peaches, throw some more in there....the more the merrier!!



Wheat Peach Shortcake Cookies/Peach Biscuits
Adapted from Delish Blog

2 cups pitted and roughly chopped, ripe peaches
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup half-and-half

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the chopped peaches with 1 tablespoons sugar and set aside.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it between your fingers (or mix with a pastry blender) until it looks like coarse crumbs. Gently stir in the half-and-half, followed by the peaches.
3. Scoop up about 2 tablespoons of dough and drop onto prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing the cookies 2" apart. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until beginning to brown on the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Best served immediately, but can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 day. 

-Brittany

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fig-Glazed Burgers with Red Onion Jam

Well this was a risky recipe! Mainly because I was cooking for 6 and it is definitely a unique combination. I mean red onion jam and fig preserves for burgers? I really can't express how good these burgers were! With fresh herbs and Muenster cheese....delicious! Southern Living said the fig preserves and the red onion jam really balance each other out and I completely agree. Next time you are grilling burgers please try this recipe. You won't be disappointed!

Fig-Glazed Burgers with Red Onion Jam
Adapted from Southern Living
Red Onion Jam
4 cups thinly sliced red onions (about 2 medium)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Cheeseburgers
Vegetable cooking spray
1 1/2 pounds ground round
1 egg
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons fig preserves (approximately)
4 (1/2 oz.) Muenster cheese slices
4 hamburger buns, toasted

1. Prepare Onion Jam: Saute onions in hot oil in a large nonstick skilled over medium-high heat 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low; stir in sugar, vinegar, and thyme. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until onion is very tender. Keep warm. (You can also make this ahead of time and heat up before serving).
2. Prepare Burgers: Coat cold cooking grate of grill with vegetable cooking spray and place on grill. Preheat grill to 350 to 400 degrees (medium-high) heat. Gently stir together ground round, one egg, fresh oregano, salt and garlic powder. Shape mixture into 4 (1/2-inch thick) patties.
3. Grill patties, covered with grill lid*, 5 minutes on each side. Top with preserves and cheese; grill 2 minutes or until beef is no longer pink in center and cheese is melted. Serve burgers on buns with desired amount of Red Onion Jam.

*If you are grilling impaired like me try out a Grill Pan...it works great!
We served the burgers with corn on the cob!

AND don't forget to send us your address Lisa!

-Brittany

And the winner is....

Thank you so much for those who commented and our followers! We put the names of our followers and the names of the people who commented in a hat....the winner is:

Lisa

Please email your address to Lbchefs@gmail.com so we can send you the cookbook! 




Sunday, July 25, 2010

Taste and See's Giveaway


Like I mentioned in yesterday's post, today is our wedding anniversary. What better time to share something special with y'all than on a day of celebration! We are giving away a copy of Clive Berkman's cookbook (our friend and chef who prepared all of the food for our rehearsal dinner), Creating Empty Bottle Moments. This cookbook not only has amazing recipes, but it is also is a mini-biography of Clive's life. Clive is inspirational, loving, and a great man of faith. If you love cooking and great stories this is a must have even if you don't win it!!

In order to enter yourself into the giveaway, you can do one of three things....

1. Comment on why you would like to win the cookbook
2. Blog about our giveaway on your blog and leave us the link
3. Become a follower of Taste and See Blog.

Check back on Sunday August 1st when we will announce the winner. 


When you check back on August 1st, if you are the winner email you address to Lbchefs@gmail.com and we will send the cookbook to you!


-The cooks of Taste and See

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

My husband and I are celebrating our one year wedding anniversary tomorrow.  It is hard to believe how  quickly time has gone by. This year has been full of joy, laughter, adjustments, and many blessings. For the rehearsal dinner, Brad asked one of his good friends, Clive Berkman, to cater. In an attempt to reminisce, I have chosen one of his easier recipes, spinach and artichoke dip, to make this week from his cookbook Creating Empty Bottle Moments. Clive is an outstanding chef with a huge passion for food, people, and most importantly Christ. I hope you enjoy.

DSCN7936+-+spinach+dip+in+dish.jpg















Ingredients
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
2 10 ounce boxes of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry through a colander
12 ounce jar of artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
2 cups of heavy cream
1/4 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup of chicken broth
2/3 cup of fresh-grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup of shredded white cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs
Sea salt and pepper


Lightly saute the garlic and onions in half the butter over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the flour and the rest of the butter. Mix well, and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
Add spinach, artichokes, broth, and creams. Cook over medium heat (stirring well) for 5 minutes. Add the cheese, and season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic, and cook them until they're lightly toasted, about 1 minute. Stir in 1.2 cup of panko breadcrumbs, season with sea salt, and cook another minute.
Pour the artichoke-spinach mixture in a well-buttered ceramic or Pyrex dish. Sprinkle it with crumbs, and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until the crumbs turn golden brown.

-Laura

Come back tomorrow for the unveiling of Taste and See's first giveaway!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cherry Clafoutis

I am so excited to share this recipe because it was SOOOO easy and SOOOO good! This was my first attempt at a French recipe and I was impressed. I will say that I have trouble pronouncing this one. It's pronounced CLA-FOO-TEE but I'm pretty sure I said it different each time someone asked me what it was! The only mishap was putting it in the oven which resulted in quite a mess all over the oven and pitting the cherries. I definitely pitted the cherries while watching a little online TV. Didn't realize I was splashing our WHITE computer. SHHH...my husband doesn't know. I cleaned it up quite nicely. So besides those little kinks this recipe is hard to mess up because it is so easy and so good!



Cherry Clafoutis
Adapted from Food Network

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, thinly sliced, plus more to butter the dish
1 pound (2 cups) fresh cherries, pitted**(or one 10-ounce bag frozen cherries, thawed and patted dry)
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup 4% cottage cheese
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 11-inch round baking dish and spread the cherries evenly over the bottom.
2. Whisk the eggs, half-and-half, cottage cheese, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the flour in a bowl until combined. Pour the batter over the cherries, sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and scatter the sliced butter on top.
3. Bake until puffed and golden around the edges, about 40 minutes. Cool slightly, then dust with confectioners' sugar.

I served it with vanilla ice cream.

Things I used for this recipe:
** Cherry Pitter (works great...I was impressed)
11-inch round dish (this is actually 10.5 but its hard to find an 11 inch)

-Brittany

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cuban Black Beans

I must say I am so blessed to have a husband that will eat about almost anything. Not only are his tastebuds easy to please, but they are also cheap! I, on the other hand, prefer bold flavors. The other night he requested rice and beans so I looked for a recipe that would be able to satisfy both of our buds. This recipe from Cooking Light is good and inexpensive. Hope you enjoy!



Ingredients
Vegetable cooking spray
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped green pepper
2 cups no-salt-added tomato juice
3 (15 ounces) can black beans, drained
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can no-salt-added whole tomaotes, undrained and chopped
1 (8 ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 (4 ounce) jar diced pimiento, drained
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 cups cooked instant brown rice (cooked without salt or fat)
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Coat a large Dutch over with cooking spray; add oil. Place over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion and green pepper; saute until tender. Add tomato juice and next 7 ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until vegetable are tender.
Place 1 cup rice in each individual bowl. Spoon 1 cup bean mixture over rice, and top each with cheese.
Yields: 8 serving

What I learned:
1. 8 servings will last you a long time and each serving costs less than $2
2. Beans and rice doesn't have to be bland

-Laura


Be sure to come back next week as Brit and I are planning our first giveaway!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Banana Cake

What's the best thing to do with brown bananas? Make banana bread of course. I was a little bored with banana bread and wanted to try something that could pass as dessert. I found this recipe once again on All Recipes and it had great reviews. It turned out really good. It was very moist and honestly tasted pretty similar to banana bread however the sour cream is what made it different. Great recipe that I definitely recommend.


Banana Bread
Adapted from All Recipes
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sour cream*
1 1/2 cup mashed bananas
1 1/2 cups cake flour **
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light. Add eggs and beat well. Dissolve the baking soda in the sour cream and add it to the butter mixture. Beat well. Add the mashed bananas and mix in. Add cake flour and mix well. Stir in vanilla extract.
3. Pour batter into the bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until done.

* I used fat free sour cream
**I used whole wheat pastry flour which made the cake not taste too sweet

-Brittany

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Grilled Flank Steak

There's nothing more that I like than a good flank steak. I have been experimenting with flank steak for some time now and this is the best steak (with so much flavor) to date. I could seriously eat this every night! Unfortunately, it is a big treat for my husband and I to buy steak since we are on such a tight budget. But it only came out to be $2.50 per person (since we had leftovers the following night). Thats not bad at all! So I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.



Marinade
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
juice of 1/2 a lime
salt (to taste)
freshly ground black peper (to taste)

Other ingredients
Flank steak (I just asked the butcher for enough meat for 2 people)
salt and pepper to rub on before putting on grill

Score the surfare of the steak with 1/4 inch deep knife cuts, about an inch apart, across the grain of the meat. Marinate the steak with the above marinade for at least 2 hours. When you are ready to grill the meat, rub it down with salt and pepper. Place steak on HOT grill. You want the grill to be really hot so you will have a crust. Grill for 4-6 minutes on each side. (I did 4 minutes for me because I like it bloody, but hubby did his for the full 6 minutes). The best way to cook flank steak is medium rare any more cooked than that and you take the chance of it being chewy. Let it sit for 10 minutes to rest. Cut meat against the grain in thin slices.

- Laura

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Homemade Black Bean Veggie Burgers

I noticed our little recipe blog was lacking in healthy food...maybe that explains the 10 pound weight gain this year! I am always out for things that taste really good AND they aren't terrible for you! I know it's a hard concept to understand but I know those recipes are out there. Well, this is one of those recipes. It was delicious! I was full after dinner but it wasn't one of those guilty fulls where you know you just gained 2 pounds in one sitting. This is another Allrecipe.com recipe and I highly recommend it! My husband and my parents thought they were great. I doubled the recipe so we had leftovers. I made some homemade sweet potato fries to go along with which I will share later this week!


Homemade Black Bean Veggie Burgers
Adapted from All Recipes
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 green pepper cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 onion cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 eggs
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce or hot sauce
1 cup bread crumbs

1. If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking (which is what we did) preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil a baking sheet.
2. After the black beans are drained and rinsed pat dry them with a paper towel to get the extra moisture out. Then mash the beans in a medium size bowl with a fork or spoon until thick and pasty.
3. In a food processor finely chop the green bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Strain the green pepper, onion and garlic in a small strainer to remove any excess water. Then stir into the mashed beans.
4. In a seperate small bowl stir together the eggs, chili powder, cumin and chili sauce until well blended.
5. Stir the egg mixture in with the bean mixture. Add bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and hold together. Divide mixture into four patties.
6. This step is optional. After I divided the mixture into patties I covered the baking sheet and put it in the refridgerator for 30-45 minutes. This helped them stick together more.
7. If grilling place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet and bake about 10-12 minutes on each side. I added cheese about 1-2 minutes before I took the patties out of the oven.

Serve with avocados!

-Brittany

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pecan-Peach Cobbler

This was my first attempt at a Southern Living recipe. I am a big fan of using recipes with pictures...very rarely will I cook something unless I can see what it looks like. Well the picture is what drew me to this particular recipe. I have been wanting to make a pie (which is on my Cooking Bucket List) so I figured probably better to start out with a cobbler especially since it was for a Family Reunion. Maybe my expectations were too high because the picture looked so good but lets just say my rendition was not pleasing visually! In fact, pretty much no one at the reunion ate my cobbler...with the exception of my mom and husband. Let me tell you though this cobbler was DELICIOUS!! If people could have just gotten past the outward appearance I think they would have been pleased. Anyways, try this recipe for your next get together and you will get lots of compliments for sure! I have included the Southern Living picture as well as my attempt so you can see the difference. I still have lots to learn!!!

My Attempt

                                                              

The Southern Living Way


Pecan-Peach Cobbler
Adapted from Southern Living
12 to 15 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced (about 16 cups)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups sugar
2/3 cup butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 (15-oz) packages refrigerated piecrusts
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
5 tablespoons sugar, divided

1. Preheat oven to 475. Stir together peaches, flour, nutmeg and 3 cups sugar in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Spoon half of mixture into a lightly greased 13x9-inch baking dish.
2. Unroll 2 piecrusts. Sprinkle 1/4 cup pecans and 2 tablespoons sugar over 1 piecrust; top with other piecrust. Roll to a 14x10-inch rectangle. Trim sides to fit baking dish. Place pastry over peach mixture in dish.
3. Bake at 475 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Unroll remaining 2 piecrusts. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar and remaining 1/4 cup pecans over 1 piecrust; top with remaining piecrust. Roll into a 12-inch circle. Cut into 1-inch strips, using a fluted pastry wheel (which I had to go buy). Spoon remaining peach mixture over baked pastry. Arrange pastry strips over peach mixture; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned.


Things I learned/Suggestions:
1. If the pecans aren't chopped finely enough they will tear the dough when you roll the pastries together.  
2. When the cobbler is finished it can be pretty runny. After mine cooled down I put it in the refrigerator overnight and then reheated it in the oven which helped it set more.
3. Use a Le Creuset baking dish to make it look better :)

-Brittany

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sauteed Sesame Chicken

Before I begin I must apologize for my lack of blogging. My mom has been in the country the past two weeks so I haven't been doing much cooking. And when I did cook on the rare occassion my husband advised me not to put my recipes on the blog as they weren't up to par. At least he's honest :) Mom has returned to the war zone so I am back in the kitchen. We were both in the mood for chinese so I made sauteed sesame chicken (with a little help) which is much healthier than the breaded, fried version you find in the restaurants. On a side note, you can always ask the restaurant to sautee your chicken. My personal opinion is that it tastes much better. Hope you enjoy!
      


Marinade (I just threw some ingredients together so I don't have the exact measurements. I will put them in order from most used to least used though)
Sesame seed oil
Light soy sauce
White pepper
Salt

Sauce
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon white vinegar
teaspoon of chili paste
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Cut fat off from 3 chicken breasts and then cut into chunks. Marinade chicken for 30 minutes. Saute chicken with the marinade until tender and fully cooked. To make the sauce while cooking the chicken combine all sauce ingredients in a heated wok or saute pan. Boil sauce and whisk continuously. Once chicken is cooked, pour sauce over chicken. Serve and enjoy!

I also have the fried rice recipe that I will share shortly.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Homemade PIzza

Can I just tell you how much I love pizza. Anyone who really knows me can confirm that! I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner...I LOVE IT. I used our bread maker to make the crust and it turned out good! I still am searching for the ultimate pizza crust recipe because this recipe wasn't as good as I think it needs to be. Really it was so fun to make and I will hopefully be trying some more variations! You really can do whatever you want with this recipe. Use different cheeses and toppings to make your favorite pizza. I will try another dough recipe that doesn't involve a bread maker pretty soon!


Cheese Pizza

For the dough:
(medium)
1 cup water 80-90 degrees)
3/4 tsp honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 2/3 cups bread flour*
9 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 3/4 teaspoons Yeast, active dry, instant or bread machine
**may use all bread flour rather than using part whole wheat flour

1. Place ingredients in the order listed in a bread pan fitted with kneading paddle. Then all you have to do is put the pan in the Bread Maker and let it do all the work for you (takes an hour and 45 minutes for a medium). I used Cuisinart Convection Bread Maker.

Toppings:
8-10 ounces your favorite shredded cheese (I used a mix of mozzarella and cheddar)
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
Sprinkle Italian seasoning over the top of the pizza

1. Put a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. (the stone needs to be very hot before the pizza is put on it)
2. Sprinkle flour over a pizza board. With your hands covered in flour take the dough out of the bread pan and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough. If the dough is sticking to the rolling pin just put flour on the pin. Roll out your pizza so the crust is the size you want. Throwing it in the air does help thin it out!
3. Cover the pizza with the tomato sauce leaving 1/2 inch for the crust. Sprinkle the cheese and toppings and then add the italian seasoning.
4. Slide the pizza onto the hot pizza stone and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crust has lightly browned.

Tools I recommend to be a pizza connoisseur:
Baking Stone
Pizza Peel Board
- A bread maker or a food processor can be used to make dough

-Brittany

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Quick and Easy Mexican Chicken

This is a great recipe. It was quick and easy (hence the title) and good for the effort that was put into it. This  is also a low fat dish and you can really influence the flavor by picking out your favorite type of shredded cheese and salsa.


Quick and Easy Mexican Chicken
Adapted from All Recipes
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups salsa 
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Heat a greased skillet to medium. Rub chicken pieces with garlic, salt, pepper and cumin to taste and add to hot skillet. Cook until brown on both sides and no longer pink (10-15 minutes)
3. Transfer meat to 9x13 inch baking dish, top with salsa and then cheese and bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes (until the cheese is bubbly and starts to brown).

Serve with mexican rice or over buttered noodles....we just ate green beans with it!

-Brittany

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Two for One Deal

I am so excited to share this recipe with everyone! I mean how often do you get a Two for One deal when you are baking? A little bit of a carb overload (hence my high cholesterol...I'm trying to cut back) but so worth it! For Mother's Day we had a little family gathering at my grandparent's. Everyone was supposed to bring something and since I am a grown up now I thought it was time for me to pitch in. I of course decided to bring some dinner rolls (I really am addicted to bread). I went all out for this one...including the kneading and rising part. According to Laura, I am now a "suzie homemaker" I guess. After all the kneading and rising, (which was super easy by the way) I started rolling the dough into rolls. After about 32 rolls (only 10 people were coming to dinner) I still had half of the dough left. So I had to think of something. Option A= making 64 rolls OR Option B= sticking with the 32 rolls and using the extra dough to try homemade cinnamon rolls! Well I of course chose option B and it was a success. 32 dinner rolls and 15 cinnamon rolls later I present the Two for One Recipe!

Dinner Rolls

Adapted from All Recipes
2 1/2 cups warm milk
4 teaspoons active dry yeast 
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons salt
6-7 cups bread flour (just depends on the consistency of your dough)
1/2 cup butter, melted

To make the dough:
1. Pour milk into a large mixing bowl, and sprinkle yeast over the surface. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Beat in the sugar, eggs, 1/2 cup softened butter, and salt; blend thoroughly. Gradually stir in the flour to make soft dough (I ended up using about 6 cups of flour). Cover bowl, and set in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
2. Punch down the dough/knead, cover the bowl, and allow to rise again. Repeat this step two more times.
3. Break off 1 1/2 to 2 inch size pieces of dough, roll lightly into round shape, and place in prepared baking dish, edges touching. Repeat to make approximately 32 dough balls. Cover and let rise until doubled in size.   ***at this point set aside the other dough for the cinnamon rolls
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
5. Bake rolls in preheated oven until tops turn golden brown, 10-15 minutes. When rolls are finished baking, drizzle melted butter over the top and serve warm.

For the Cinnamon Rolls

Adapted from All Recipes
Use the other half of the prepared dough AND...
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
(can add chopped pecans if you like nuts)

1. Roll the dough into a rectangle (approx. 17x10 inch). Mix together the sugar and cinnamon (and pecans if you want them). Spread melted butter all over the dough. Sprinkle the sugar mixture to cover the whole rectangle.
2. Starting at the long side, roll up the dough. With a serrated knife slice into one inch slices and place in a 9x13 buttered pan. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes (I actually skipped that part).
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

Because this was a last minute addition I didn't have the ingredients to make icing so I just sprinkled some more of the sugar mixture over the cinnamon rolls once they were placed in the baking pan. Also, try substituting 1 cup brown sugar for the 1 cup of white sugar.

Things I learned:
- when blending the ingredients for the dough (before you add the flour) it works best to use an electric blender to make sure there are no butter chunks
- when you are kneading the bread make sure a put flour on your hands to keep the dough from sticking.
- You can place the dough in the refrigerator overnight for a slow rise (takes about 8-10 hours). That is what I did after I had rolled the dough into balls and it worked great. I just put the rolls in the oven in the morning and made the cinnamon rolls with that extra dough (that had also been in the refrigerator overnight rising)
- Here is a great Video to show you how to roll the cinnamon rolls (with icing)

-Brittany

Cheesecake Squares with Chocolate Chip Crust

Let me start off by saying that these are a must bake. I have attempted cheesecake several other times and it has never turned out as good as these. I must warn you though, it's not like the oversized New York style Cheesecake in which a fork is a necessity. It is like the name says, a square; something you can make bite-sized and serve to a large group of people. I have made them for a baby shower so I will let you know how people respond to them in a couple of days! Hope you enjoy!




Crust
1  1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter a 9″-square baking pan. Line pan with parchment paper, leaving enough to extend over the sides. Butter the parchment paper.

Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter until crumbs are moistened. Stir in chocolate chips. Press crust mixture into bottom of pan. Bake for 6 minutes. Set pan on wire rack to cool.


Filling
10 or 11 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar just until smooth. Add egg and vanilla extract, beating just until blended. Pour batter into baked crust. Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls over the top of the filling.

Bake about 30-35 minutes, or until set. Transfer to wire rack. Let cool for at least an hour in the pan. Put pan in refrigerator for several hours or if you are in a hurry in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut only once squares are chilled. 



Things I learned
1. Cheesecake looks really weird when you first bring it out of the oven, but once you let it cool and sit in the refrigerator for awhile it will look like normal cheesecake.
2. If you are making them for a gathering, take ALL of them or else you will end up eating them. 


-Laura 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sweet Beer Bread

I've been wanting to bake bread for the longest time. I mean you aren't really a suzie homemaker until you know how to make bread right? Well, I guess I'm a half suzie homemaker now that I've made beer bread. Why half? Because there is not need for to knead and rise, knead and rise. All you do is combine 3 ingredients and pop the dough in the over. So simple! The only trick to this bread is knowing what you want before you make it. If you want something light, try a light beer. If you want to make it heavy and yeasty (is that a word?) use a heavier darker beer. If its spring or summer try a flavored beer like strawberry. And if it's fall, try a pumpkin flavored beer.  I used a dark ale beer and it turned out so good. The hubby thought it was te best bread he had ever tasted! Hope you enjoy!



3 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup white sugar
12 oz. beer
1/4 cup of melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first three ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into a greased 9x 5 pan. Put in oven for 45 minutes. Take bread out and pour/brush butter over bread. Bake for 5 more minutes. You will know when the bread is done when a toothpick comes out clean.

What I learned
1. Making bread can be so easy.
2. Beer bread makes for great toast in the morning.

-Laura

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Chicken on the Ritz

This will be one of the easiest/tastiest little meals you make! If you love chicken and Ritz crackers this is the recipe for you. I am kinda cheating this week because I have made this several times but it is one I have to share! Another reason to love this recipe is because it is impossible to dry out the chicken...well not impossible but very hard to do because you dip the chicken in butter. The butter keeps the chicken moist! It sounds pretty unhealthy but if you use the right kind of butter...not too bad right?? Serve with something green!

Chicken on the Ritz
4 boneless chicken breasts, skinned
1 stick butter ***see below for the "healthy" butter
1 sleeve Ritz Crackers (I use the whole wheat kind)

Preheat the oven to 350. Crush Ritz crackers on wax paper. Line the bottom of baking dish with crushed crackers. Melt butter in a bowl. Roll chicken breasts in butter, then roll in Ritz crackers and place in baking dish. Bake 40-45 minutes or until done.

"Healthy Butter"
Earth Balance - made with expeller-pressed oils to help raise good cholesterol while lowering bad
Smart Balance - made with fish oils and flax seed giving you some good fiber
Yogurt Butter - lower saturated fat

-Brittany

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spicy and Sweet Candied Pecans

The other night my husband and I went to one of our favorite steakhouses in Houston, The Taste of Texas. Since we are on a budget (no steak for us!) we ordered the salad bar and split a chicken sandwich :) I could go on and tell y'all how amazing this salad bar is, but I won't take the chance of boring you. Anyways, the salad bar featured candied pecans which truly made the salad. I attempted to replicate the recipe; however, they still need a little tweeking. But I must say they came out so good. These pecans also make great topping for ice cream, a yummy snack, or a sweet gift for any special occassion. Hope you enjoy.

2 cups pecan pieces or halves
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tbsp real maple syrup
2 tsp kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the pecans on the baking sheet and toast them in the oven until slightly browned and fragrant (about 10 minutes). Stir every couple of minutes to prevent burning and evenly cook. While the pecans are toasting, prepare the coating mixture. Melt butter and put into a bowl. Stir in the brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne pepper. Once the pecans are fragrant, remove form oven and pour the hot nuts into the coating mixture. Coat evently and pour them back onto the foil-lined baking sheet. Make sure to spread them evenly. Bake for another 10 minutes, again stirring every couple of minutes. Remove the nuts from the oven and allow to cool and crisp on baking sheet.

Things I learned:
1. Don't cook pecans in your toaster oven. They will burn, even if you are careful!
2. Pecans are too hot to eat right after the come out of the oven :(

-Laura

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blackberry Shortbread Bars

Last weekend I had a bachelorette party to go to for my sweet friend, Tess. Each of us girls going were asked to bring a snack and I was assigned a sweet. I was so excited because my hubby has recently begun to complain about the number of treats I always have around the house and I now had a good excuse to make a dessert. If you can't tell I love baking. It is always so fun to see the finished product and it always puts a smile on people's faces. So with all that said, I looked for several days for the perfect sweet that wouldn't be too heavy (because we were going to be in bathing suits on lake austin), would be somewhat healthy (because I'm with a bunch of girls), and, ofcourse, would be delicious (because why waste your time if it's not going to be good!) That's when I decided to make Blackberry Shortbread Bars. Shortbread sounded light and not to heavy, blackberries are healthy for you, and, well, they looked so gosh darn good in the cookbook, Peace meals by the Junior League of Houston.  How could you not like the combination of two classics- fruit cobbler and a bar cookie? Apparently, everybody including myself enjoyed them, but who knows, they could have all been lying. So try it out for yourself. It makes for the perfect spring dessert.



Crust:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled (the chilled part is very important. See below)
Filling:
2 eggs, whisked
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
16 ounces frozen blackberries, thawed and drained

Crust: Preheat over to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with butter or cooking spray; set aside. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor for about 45 seconds. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and process with the flour mixture for 30 seconds or unti lthe butter is evenly distributed but the mixture is still crumbly. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the crust mixture to use as a topping. Press the remaining crust mixture firmly into the ottom of the prepared pan. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown; allow to cook for at least 10 minutes before adding the filling.

Filling: Combine the eggs, sugar, sour cream and four in a large bowl. Fold in the blackberries. Spoon the fruit filling evenly over the crust and sprinkle the reserved crust mixture over the filling. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Let cool for at least 1 hour before cutting into bars.

Things I learned:

1. A food processor does not mean a mini processor like mine.
2. When the recipe says chilled, put the butter in the freezer for awhile before you use it or else the crust won't be crumbly and flaky.
3. Don't complain to your husband that he doesn't help enough in the kitchen when he politely turns down an offer to help you make a dessert for a girls weekend.
4. Enjoy being with friends and laugh a lot.

-Laura

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tofu and Vegetable Stir-Fry

Can I just say how much I love Chinese food. I don't really know why...maybe it's because my maiden name is Wang but I could have it for every meal!  Luckily I married a man who has the same love for Chinese food. We have made/tried several stir-fry combos but this was one of our favorites. I found this combination in a Food Network magazine.




Tofu and Vegetable Stir-Fry
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
12-ounce package extra-firm silken tofu, cubed
1 egg white
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups Stir-fry vegetables (I cheated and bought the pre-cut frozen, you could do all kinds of fresh vegetables)
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons oyster
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 cloves mixed garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 minced scallions
pinch of salt and sugar (each)

1. Whisk one egg white, 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Toss with the tofu; cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
2. Drain the excess marinade from the tofu. Heat 1/4 inch peanut or vegetable oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu and cook until brown on both sides - do not stir. Transfer to a plate; discard the oil and wipe out the pan.
3. Heat the pan over high heat, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons oil, then 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tablespoon minced ginger, 2 minced scallions and a pinch each of salt and sugar; stir-fry about 30 seconds. Add the vegetables, starting with the ones that take the longest to cook; stir-fry until crisp-tender.
4. Add the tofu and sauce then stir until the sauce is thick and the vegetables and protein are cooked through, about 3 minutes. Thin with chicken broth if needed. Garnish with sliced scallions, peanuts, or sesame seeds.

Things I learned:
- Do not stir tofu...you can see in the picture it gets a little mushy and breaks apart
- Forgot to get ginger at the store..to replace use cinnamon and nutmeg with paprika

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mint Tea

Spring is here and its a perfect time to always have fresh ice tea around the kitchen for you and your guests.  My husbands grandmother growing up always made the boys Mint Ice Tea. We tried it for the first time on our own last night and it came out pretty good. I would have appreciated a stronger mint flavor, but it was still very refreshing!




8 cups water
2 tea bags (I use Lipton, but any kind will do)
Sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
10-20 mint leaves

Boil 4 cups of water. Put 2 teabags into pitcher and add boiling water. Add mint leaves and sugar. Let steep at least 10 minutes. You may strain leaves out if you like but we kept ours in. Add remaining 4 cups of cold water and serve over ice.

-Laura

Garlic Chicken Pasta with Prosciutto

I know, I know. You're probably impressed by the name of this tasty dish. But please don't judge this meal by its title. It really is simple (especially with a helpful hubby) and tastes like something you would eat at an expensive Italian restaurant. This recipe is adapted from The Junior League of Houston's Cookbook, Peacemeals, which has amazing recipes and ideas. Enjoy!


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
10 to 12 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
4 ounces prosciutto, cut into small pieces (I had my local grocery store cut a couple of slices for me in the deli)
1 tablespoon butter
12 ounces farfalle pasta
1/2 cup fresh basil chiffonade, plus additional for topping
*to "chiffonade", just roll basil like a fruit roll up and cut into strips.
1/2 cup prepared fire-roasted red bell peppers, cut into thin strips (I left this out as we currently don't have a grill convenient to roast bell peppers)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano- reggiano cheese, plus additional
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and add to the skiller. Saute until lightly browned on one side and then turn. Add the garlic and continue cooking until the garlic is soft and golden, being caregoul not to burn, and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the tomatioes, prosciutto and butter; saute for about 5 minutes more. While the chicken is cookin, bring a large pot of water to a boil; cook the pasta ccording to package directions for al dente. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and cut into bite-sized pieces. Return the chicken to the skillet, stir in the basil and saute until the basil is wilted. Drain the pasta and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the chicken-tomato mixture, roasted peppers, cheese and red pepper; toss gently to combine. Top with additional basil and cheese, and serve immediately.

Tips for perfectly cooked pasta
1. Do not rinse cooked pasta; the little bit of starch that is left at the end will add body to the sauce. Instead immediatly toss the hot pasta with sauce to let it soak up the flavor. I have also heard that rinsing cleanses the pasta of what nutrients it contains.

-Laura

Monday, April 12, 2010

Applesauce & Cinnamon Cupcakes

As a wedding present I got this awesome cookbook called 500 Cupcakes. This was the first recipe I tried and I was super impressed. They are more like muffins though and make a great breakfast. You can also change or add whatever you would like. Any kind of nuts, raisins, or.... well I'm still new to this, whatever else you would add to cupcakes/muffins. I made some with and without pecans (not a raisin kind of girl) and I will say I prefer with the pecans. This was a great recipe and I will be using this cookbook a lot more!


Applesauce & Cinnamon Cupcakes
Adapted from 500 Cupcakes, makes 1 dozen
1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter, softened
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp. superfine sugar
1 cup self-rising flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup (3.5 oz) chopped pecans
1/2 cup (3.5 oz) golden raisins
1 small red eating apple, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. granulated sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan (or use paper cups). Place the butter, sugar, flour, and egg in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and pale, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the applesauce, cinnamon, pecans, and raisins.
2. Spoon the batter into the cups. Lay the apple slices on top and sprinkle with a little sugar. (**see below for apple slices)
3. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Then remove the cupcakes and cool on a rack. Serve warm.
4. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

**To slice the apples I used an apple divider and then sliced them a couple more times until they were thin enough

-Brittany

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Baked Spaghetti

Ok so once again I'm not doing too well with blogging. I have a few things I've made so hopefully this week I can post them all! Now on to the delicious baked spaghetti. I love homemade lasagna but it takes too long to make when you want something quick. Spaghetti is quick but sometimes it's just too boring. Cue Baked Spaghetti!! Not only is it an easy recipe but it makes so many portions it's perfect if you are having people over or if you want lots of leftovers. Add some garlic bread and a salad and you got yourself the perfect little Italian dinner! Diverti!! (pretty sure that means enjoy in Italian)



Baked Spaghetti
Adapted from Allrecipes.com
1 (16 ounce) package angel hair spaghetti
1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
2 (24 ounce) jar meatless spaghetti sauce
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
5 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups ricotta cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the spaghetti sauce and seasoned salt; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, Parmesan cheese and butter. Drain spaghetti; add to egg mixture and toss to coat.
3. Place half of the spaghetti mixture in a 12-in x9-in. x 2-in.  baking dish (brush bottom of baking dish with spaghetti sauce). Top with half of the ricotta cheese, meat sauce, and then mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Uncover; bake 20-25 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

-Brittany

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Let me tell you...after lent I will be making these cookies again! They were incredible. Tim and I were missing an important day for his dad back in Springfield, MO and we wanted to send him a little care package. Cookies of course needed to be included but I hate how so many cookies get hard after they cool down...well maybe that's just because of the cook! I found this recipe on a great blog called Dozen Flours. She has some incredible recipes and I'm excited to try some more! Anyways, these cookies did not get hard. Even the next morning they were still soft and absolutely delicious!


Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Dozen Flours
1 cup shortening (not butter flavored)
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons hot water
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups (1 1/2 bags about) chocolate chips
1/2 cup of nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Cream together the shortening and both sugars. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one. Then add the vanilla. In a little bowl, mix the baking soda and hot water together and mix well. Add to the batter and mix. Add the salt and the flour and mix until well combined and no pockets of flour remain. Add the chocolate chips and nuts (if you're using them).
2. Drop tablespoon sized dough onto Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until edges are slightly golden brown. Let the cookies rest on the baking pan for a minute or two until they firm up slightly. Cool on a wire rack until room temperature.
-Yields about 5 dozen 3 inch cookies

Things I learned:
- When the cookies are browned on the edges it means they are ready
- A silpat or parchment paper keep the cookies from getting too brown on the bottom (and make for an easy cleanup)

-Brittany

Cheese Ravioli with Tomato and Artichoke Sauce

So...it has been a while since I have posted BUT that doesn't mean I haven't been cooking! I've got some great recipes I have tried and I'm super excited to share them.  I will say that I was pretty proud of myself with this one (Don't worry...I'm not getting a big head). I was proud of myself because when the sauce was ready and I tried it I knew it was missing something AKA it didn't taste very good.  I was disappointed initially, but I thought there has to be something to add that could save dinner! I added a few things AND......it was DELICIOUS! This recipe was super fast to make as well. Some nights I don't get home from work until after 6:30 and I was able to whip this up in 20 minutes. My hubby was quite surprised when I announced that dinner was ready!


Cheese Ravioli with Tomato and Artichoke Sauce
2 (9 ounce) packages fresh cheese ravioli 
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can peeled, seeded tomatoes chopped
1 (6.5) ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts 
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup tomato sauce
Grated Parmesan cheese to top


1. Cook ravioli according to package directions. (I used provolone and mushroom ravioli..very good!)
2. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a large nonstick skillet, heat one tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add tomatoes, artichokes (chopped), green onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and tomato sauce. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are warmed through. Remove from heat.
3. Drain pasta well. Transfer pasta to a large bowl, and toss with 1 teaspoon oil. Add half of the sauce to the ravioli; toss gently, but thoroughly to mix. Transfer ravioli to a large serving platter. Pour remaining vegetable sauce over ravioli. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Mistakes: Did not toss pasta in oil (skipped over that part when I was reading). Had to do it after some of the sauce was added :)

Things I learned/Tips:
- Instead of buying garlic and crushing it we just keep a jar of the already minced and chopped garlic. Works great and is a lot quicker (Thanks Nathan and Julie)
- With recipes like this I could have added some more fresh veggies...mushrooms, onion, green pepper, etc
- Trying to work on my presentation...the pictures don't look too appetizing!

-Brittany

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding

Can I just say how much I love banana pudding! One of my favorite desserts I have decided...especially after trying this recipe. Tim and I decided to give up dessert for lent this year so I knew I wanted to make something really good before Ash Wednesday (took me awhile to post this). We are not Catholic but I like the idea of sacrificing something you enjoy for God. I will make a note though for the sake of our little blog...if I do happen to make a dessert for whatever reason I can try 1-2 bites. I mean I can't recommend something if I don't know what it tastes like! Anyways, on to the Banana Pudding! It is all made from scratch so put away that instant vanilla pudding you got out because if I made it from scratch, ANYONE can make it from scratch!!! I will most certainly be making this again.

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding
1 cup sugar
2 heaping tablespoons all purpose flour
3 egg yolks (beaten) (save the whites for the meringue)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 bananas, sliced
1 box vanilla wafers


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl add 1 cup of sugar, 2 heaping tablespoons flour and mix together.
2. Then add 3 beaten egg yolks, 1 1/2 cups milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Mix together until well blended.
3. Pour contents into a saucepan, add 1/2 stick butter and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat until it has thickened to a pudding consistency. Stir often being careful not to scorch the pudding. Remove from heat.
4.  In a square (or circle) baking dish, cover the bottom and sides with vanilla wafers. Place sliced bananas on top of wafers and around sides of the dish (see picture below). Pour in pudding and add more wafers and bananas to the top.
5. Top pudding with the meringue (directions to follow) and place in 375 degree preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until meringue browns

Meringue
3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar


1. Beat the egg whites at high speed until they form soft peaks.
2. At high speed, gradually add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and beat until stiff peaks form.
3. Spread the meringue over the pudding, sealing it at the sides of the dish, and bake as instructed above.

(what the pan lined with vanilla wafers and bananas looks like)

Things I learned:
1. You really have to watch the pudding closely to make sure it doesn't burn on the stove
2. Meringue is made of egg whites and sugar...who knew??
3. To make the "peaks" of the meringue I used a spatula and just dipped it in the meringue a little and lifted it up until the peak was formed.

-Brittany







Monday, March 1, 2010

Texas Sheet Cake

It has been a week of celebrating as we have had 3 birthdays of family and friends this week. Therefore, I have had several opportunities to perfect a family recipe for Texas Sheet Cake. Texas Sheet Cake has become a tradition in the Talbert household. Every time we go to visit Brad's aunt and uncle, his sweet sweet aunt makes us this yummy cake. For those of you who are not Texans, this is a super moist and always pleasing cake. Again it is really easy and also my all time favorite cake.


On this cake, I used walnuts on half with those in mind that don't like nuts (timmy!)

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup water or fresh brewed coffee (i highly recommend using coffee)
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
cinnamon to taste (optional)

Chocolate Frosting:
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
3 tablespoons buttermilk
2 1/4 sifted confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans or chopped walnuts (i used walnuts which I toasted to bring out the flavor)

To make the cake:
Grease a 15x10, jelly roll pan, or a 13x9 inch baking pan. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt (put in the cinnamon here if you would like to use it); set aside. In a medium saucepan combine 1 cup butter, 1/3 cup cocoa, and 1 cup water (again use coffee for a richer chocolate flavor). Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. With an electric hand-held mixer on medium speed, beat chocolate mixture into the dry mixture until thoroughly blended. Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Beat for 1 minute (batter will be thin). Pour batter into the greased pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven about 25 minutes for the 15x10 or 35 minutes for he 13x9, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Pour warm chocolate frosting over the warm cake, spreading evenly. Place cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly before cutting. Makes 24 delicious servings!
To make the frosting:
In a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup butter, 3 tablespoons and unsweetened cocoa powder, and 3 tablespoons buttermilk. Bring to a boil. remove from heat; add 2 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until smooth. If desired, stir in 1/2 cup coarsely toasted chopped nuts.

-Laura

Monday, February 22, 2010

Orange Roughy in a Mushroom Sauce

For our first Valentine's Day as a married couple we decided to stay at home and cook together. It turned out to be really fun despite the size of our kitchen. Believe it or not I have never made fish before so I decided to give it a try. We attempted to find Halibut to make but it was nowhere to be found so we found this great recipe for Orange Roughy. It was easy and delicious! There are some changes I have made when posting this recipe because there was WAY too much pepper. I don't really know if I am "chef" enough to change a recipe but I feel pretty confident about this one. One thing we did find out AFTER we purchased the fish is that Orange Roughy is close to being on the endangered species list. SO with that said maybe wait to make this one until the Orange Roughy has made a come back...unless you feel okay with eating an almost endangered species!


Orange Roughy in a Mushroom Sauce
Adapted from Allrecipes.com
3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 1/4 cups finely chopped onions
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon pepper
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
salt to taste
12 ounces plain nonfat yogurt
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 pounds orange roughy fillets (2 large fillets)
3 tablespoons Italian seasoned bread crumbs
paprika to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Coat with cooking spray.
2. In a medium saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium heat, cook and stir the mushrooms and onions about 4 minutes. Season with lemon peper, Italian seasoning, and salt. Remove from heat, and allow to cool about 10 minutes (you could also put in the refridgerator for 5-10 minutes to help cool). Blend well in the yogurt and parmesan cheese.
3. Arrange each orange roughy fillet in the prepared baking pan over about 3-4 tablespoons of the musroom mixture. Top the fillets with the remaining mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with bread crumbs.
4. Bake 30 minutes or until the fish is easily flaked with a fork. Season with paprika and serve.

We grilled some asparagus to go along with our fish.

-Brittany

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cowboy Stew

Thanks Brit for keeping me accountable for our weekly recipes. Since I missed a week here or there, I am trying to catch up which in returns mean more simple recipes! This recipe even though it only takes about 15 minutes to make and is super easy is also very filling and satisfying. It's warm, perfect for winter days. And since there is able to be a huge cold front this is the perfect choice. I must credit Susan (the most amazing cook ever!), my bible study teacher, as she is the one to create this recipe.

Cowboy Stew
2 lbs ground beef
1 onion chopped
48 oz ranch style beans
2 cans minestrone soup (Progressive is a good choice)
1 can rotel tomatoes (you choose how spicy or not spicy you want your stew to be)

Brown meat with onions. Once browned add other ingredients. Serve hot. The End...that's all you do...seriously...it's worth trying!

This recipe is so easy I don't really have any helpful tips.

-Laura