Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ok...let's give this a try again.
Life has changed for me. I now have a sweet 7 month old baby girl, Makenzie, in addition to my growing-up-too-fast 3 year old boy, Colton.  I'm hoping to use this blog still as a food blog (I love new recipes) but also as a way to connect with those who don't live near us (and those who do :-))

With my new interest in Pinterest, my love for cooking/baking has returned after 9 months of being very sick. Let me tell you all, my husband makes a mean grilled cheese. And that's basically what we ate for the 9 months I was pregnant.

Alrighty, on to the good stuff. The ooey-gooey good stuff. The chocolatey good stuff.

During tax season for my CPA of a husband (which has finally ended!!!!),  I thought I would make him a little treat. I asked him what sweet treat he wanted. Anything he wanted, I would make it. Cheesecake, raspberry tortes, triple layer chocolate cake. He chose...chocolate chip cookies. Plain jane chocolate chip cookies. So rather than using my go-to recipe (on the butter crisco stick package) I thought I would change things up a bit. First, I got his permission to make bars instead of cookies. Then, I found a recipe that added cream cheese (my favorite addition to many cookies). The result was a 9x13 pan full of crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside bars.
*Warning: Second helping cannot be avoided. No matter how much weight you have to lose from pregnancy...

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Adapted from

1/2c butter, softened
4oz (1/2c) cream cheese, softened
1/2c sugar
1 1/2c brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp almond
3 1/2c flour
1 1/2tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips (2-3 cups)

Cream butter, cream cheese, and sugars 3-4 minutes until well creamed.
Spray a 9 x 13″ pan with nonstick spray or line with parchment, then spray again. Stir in the eggs one at a time, until well incorporated. Stir in vanilla and salt. Add flour, baking soda, and chocolate chips and stir until about half-mixed. The dough will be very thick. You may need to use your hands finish mixing in the flour. I did.
Pat the dough into the prepared pan.
Bake at 350 degrees 27-30 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the center is just set. Let cool in the pan before slicing.
Makes 24 bars....or so...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Catering Menu...or...How to heat your house above 90 degrees in the middle of the summer.

I'm know you missed me :-) Today I catered a lunch for a website launch party at my husband's work. I had a lot of fun deciding on the menu and preparing all the food. Colton even took a big nap this morning. Without my little man running around my feet I was pretty relaxed about everything.
This afternoon, well that's a different story. I'm just not getting the dishes done...Colton is running around with a bucket on his head, a beach ball in his hands, a shovel down his shorts and yelling "BaaBaa" like a sheep. I'm laughing too hard to do the dishes. Of course, this excuse won't last forever. But then I'll have to get the mail, wash the floors, scrub the toilet, catch up on 3 years of scrapbooking, plan our 10 year anniversary vacation (our 3rd anniversary is in 2 weeks), paint the extra room, chizzle an ice sculpture, get the picture. If only dishes would do themselves. I guess I'll just have to wait until after Big C goes to bed. Then I'm sure my darling hubby will help with them...right??

Here are a few of the recipes from today. The menu included Smoked Sweet and Spicy Pork, Honey-Roasted Red Potatoes, Mandarin Orange Poppy Seed Salad, Italian Garlic Bread, Lemonade and Brownie Cheesecake. You too can have this menu at your next catered event! :-)

The Pork Loin:
I did not follow a recipe for this. I just followed my heart (kidding, kidding).
I rubbed a store bought pork spice rub on it and smoked it to about 130 degrees the day before.
The next morning I cut the cold pork loin into pieces and brushed on a sweet glaze. I used a pre-made one, but I sometimes make my own using some sort of fruit preserve. I baked the pork loin in the oven at 350 degrees until the thermometer reached 160. Right before serving I dumped on a little glaze for flavor and prettiness.

Red Potatoes:
Again, no real recipe here. Maybe I should make one up. But basically I quartered size "b" red potatoes and mixed them with some honey and dry mustard.
Taste as you go, you're smart. You'll know when it's just right. You can add some oil to make it a little more "runny."
Spread the potatoes on a baking sheet lined with foil (the honey hardens and can be really hard to get off) and roast at 375 for about 40 minutes, stirring halfway.

On a side note, Colton is now walking around trying to balance a paper plate on his head. I wonder if he's trying to hide the fact that he's 15 months and still bald...

Brownie Cheesecake:
Sorry, no recipe here either. But I have great guidelines for you:
Follow the directions for mixing a 9x13 brownie mix (fudgy, preferably). Pour mixture into a greased springform pan and bake according to directions on package, maybe slightly less.
Next, make your favorite 2 or 3 cream cheese cheesecake (a 4 cream cheese cheesecake would be too large, unless you only put in 1/2 the brownie) Pour over baked brownie bottom and bake according to cheesecake directions. That's all. Basically 2 desserts in one.

If you have any questions, ask away. Unless you're asking for secret ingredients, I'll be happy to help!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

In the Good Ol' Summertime

Summer is fast approaching. Just a few more concerts at school, too many snow make-up days and summer will officially be here for me. I'm looking forward to spending time outside with Colton, getting that long-awaited tan, and going to the beach (def.-"lake beach" for my California friends). But I also love the foods that come with summertime. Last time I talked about grilling, but there is so much more. There is fruit. Fresh fruit. Not faux-frozen fruit but fantastic-fabulous-fresh fruit. Here in Iowa we unfortunately cannot get fresh fruit year round. So summer is the time to stock up-both by overeating delicious fruit and freezing them. I prefer to flash freeze my fruit..if you don't know what that is ask me sometime. So far I've been finding recipes for mango salsa, strawberry cobbler, raspberry rhubarb pie, pineapple upside down cupcakes, grilled peaches and bananas, and blueberry bread. But today I'm going to post a recipe that can be made all year round. Apple pie!!!! I know what you're thinking..."apple pie is delicious, but its kind of boring. You really didn't need to use 4 exclamation marks. And apples are a fall fruit." But I love this recipe because you really can make it whenever. You only need 2 apples. Think of the time you'll save peeling and slicing. You might even find time to shower! I love when I find time to shower. So does my husband. And my students.

This is a twist on the traditional apple pie- it's an Apple Cream Pie. It's like having the ice cream "built into" the pie. But of course, if you're like my family, you'll still have a generous scoop with this pie. And probably some Cool Whip too. So enjoy this recipe that is American as baseball; cheering for the White Sox. (sorry, honey)

Apple Cream Pie with a Light Glaze

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tart apples - peeled, cored and sliced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 package pastry for double-crust pie
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter, softened
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, milk, cream, and butter. Heat until butter is melted, stirring occasionally. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, 2 tablespoons milk, and vanilla; stir into saucepan. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool slightly. It will also become more clear as it thickens.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the apples, flour, and cinnamon. Mix well. I like to use my apple/peeler/corer/slicer from pampered chef. If you would like one, I can hook you up with a great pampered chef consultant.
Line a 9 inch pie pan with pie dough. Pour thickened filling mixture into pastry-lined pie pan. Arrange apple mixture evenly over filling. Top with second crust, seal and flute the edges. Cut slits in top crust. I like to use any leftover crust and cut it with a cookie cutter and lay the cutouts on the pie. Except some people think my music notes look like fish.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and apples are tender. Cool for at least 30 minutes.
In small bowl, combine confectioners' sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 tablespoon softened butter. Blend until smooth; pour evenly over warm pie. Refrigerate before serving.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Back again, time to grill!

Sorry I have MIA for a quite a while. I'll try and keep this entry short and get right the recipe. Life has gotten so busy lately. Between taking on the subbing job, starting up my jewelry business, preparing for Solo and Ensemble, church stuff, and our family being sick, food has kind of gotten put on the damper for a while. When I'm sick all I really want are french fries and ice cream. Let me rephrase that...french fries dipped in ice cream. When I was pregnant with Colton I fought quite the battle with morning sickness. Therefore, I ate what I could hold down. And that was french fries and ice cream. Now that our family is feeling over the flu I get to put a little more thought into what we'll have for supper. Or at least what my husband should grill...

I love this time of the year. The weather is finally turning warm (albeit windy) and we can spend time outside. And that means grilling. I love the flavors of the grill, the variety of what you can grill (meat, potatoes, veggies, even pizza), but most of all the fact that my husband grills. I wouldn't even know how to start our grill. That means I can just buy the meat and he takes care of the rest. Sometimes he even buys the meat. Plus, it's still early in grilling season so we're not sick of grilling yet (at least I'm not). That means I don't have to worry about messing up supper, or not having the right ingredients on hand, or making a meal that tastes bad. The pressure is off. I can sit back, drink the milkshakes that I made with our Ninja Blender, and watch my husband take care of supper. Ah, what a great time of the year.

Chipotle BBQ Burgers topped with Slaw
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce (I use more)
1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chiles, canned in adobo sauce
(-with seeds scraped out if you want to lower the heat level.)
1 teaspoon minced garlic (I use the kind in the jar)
1 pound ground beef
1 arge egg
Cooking spray
2 cups cabbage-and-carrot coleslaw
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 hamburger buns
Combine first 6 ingredients. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add patties to pan; cook for 4 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer registers 160°. Or Grill.
Combine coleslaw and next 6 ingredients (through pepper) in a large bowl; toss well. Place 1 patty on bottom half of each bun; top each serving with 1/2 cup coleslaw mixture and top half of bun.
*If you'd rather not have coleslaw on your burger, I often just put a little BBQ sauce and lettuce on mine.
Serve with peaches and milkshakes :-)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Adding some chipotles in your cheerio life

Sorry if my posts are coming a bit slower lately. I started a maternity leave subbing job that goes for about a month. With that said, I have a confession...

My house smells like Cheerios. Yes, Cheerios. Well, Great Value Toasted Whole Gran Oat Cereal to be exact. I'm sitting right by the box. (Starting this subbing job has made me just about full time again, although I'm not going to use that as an excuse to not clean...just yet.) My son has starting eating quite a variety of foods. But we always seem to go back to the cheerios for a snack. Why? Those little baby puffs come a variety of flavors, but cut into our grocery budget quickly. I suppose I could have a house that smells like fruit loops...but honestly, cheerios are simple and easy. They don't spoil, they don't get crushed in his diaper bag, and he loves them. And on certain days, he eats a lot of them. A LOT.
When he was a baby I looked up baby food recipes/baby snacks and planned to be a mother who gave her son a variety of good, wholesome foods so he would grow up being a healthy, non-picky eater. Riiight, then I came out of the colic coma I was in for about 4 months. And for now, throwing out a handful of cheerios onto the floor for him to chase after and eat while I am giving a few hours of lessons each day works. Well. Very well. I justify it by saying that they have fiber, which he needs to keep So my apologies if you stop by and smell my cheerio-house. For my latest recipe I decided to choose one of my favorite spicy recipes: Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup. Because sometimes you have to add a little chipotle into your cheerio life :-)

Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup
3 cups chicken stock
1 pound chicken
1 tablespoon oil
4 slices thick bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 chipotles in adobo, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons sauce (these will be a can in the Latino aisle...use gloves when chopping)
1 28-ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
4 cups corn tortilla chips, lightly crushed
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 lime, cut into wedges
1/2 red onion, chopped
Fresh cilantro

Bring broth to a simmer and add the chicken (cut if they are thick). Poach for 6-7 minutes.
While the chicken poaches, heat oil in a pot or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook it until crisp then remove it with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain off the excess fat, leaving 2-3 tablespoons in the pan. Add the onions and garlic to the skillet and cook them for 5 minutes. Stir in chipotles and tomatoes.
Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid, dice it then add it to the tomatoes and chipotles. Pass the poaching liquid through a strainer then add it to the soup pot as well.
Place a pile of crushed tortilla chips in the bottom of each soup bowl. Cover it liberally with cheese then ladle the hot soup down over the top. Serve it with lime, raw onions and cilantro at the table.
*If you choose not to worry about poaching the chicken, you may cook and shred/cut it first and just bring the stock to a boil before adding it to the pot.
**This had the potential to be very spicy. If you'd rather have it less spicy, or edible :-), cut the peppers open and remove the seeds before adding them.
***I love adding things in this soup. I have added chili powder, taco seasoning, cumin, corn, green chili peppers, salsa, sour cream...whatever your family loves!

Friday, March 12, 2010

For your lazy (or busy!) days

It's been a dreary week here in NW Iowa. Rainy, on the verge of being snowy all week long. Cloudy. Muddy. Windy. Foggy. Slickery. We've had it all this week. Except for sunshine. At least the dirty snow is melting a bit. Because I had no plans this morning I decided to take advantage of the dreary weather. After sleeping in this morning, I got up, put on my big fluffy robe and slippers and made some amaretto coffee. I then took my hot cup of creamy coffee, fat free pastry and curled up with a good book. After finishing my coffee, I then worked out and burned a few hundred calories. I cooled down by sitting in the sunroom, listening to the rain and finishing my book. I then took off the chill of the morning by soaking in a bubble bath. I am now ready for my day. Unfortunately, at this point I was woken up by my crying baby boy and realized that none of this had happened and it was only 6:17 am. I should've realized it was all a dream when I was eating my fat-free pastry. Some things will just never happen.

Instead I've had one of "those" mornings. Yes, I am in my robe (still). I have had my coffee. But not much else has been accomplished. I have played all morning with my cranky teething son. I even let him win our "who can crawl to the ball rolling across the tile floor first" game.

Most people turn to their slow-cookers on days when they are very busy. I, on the other hand, like to turn to my crockpot on my unmotivated days. There is nothing better than the smell of a delicious dinner cooking all day long (with little clean-up!) So here's a recipe that cooks while you're mean working out to your 57 minute step aerobics video!

Slow-Cooker BBQ Beef Sandwiches
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons prepared Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (4 pound) boneless chuck roast
Hard Buns (the kind you get from the grocery store, not your step aerobics video)

Season roast with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place chuck roast in a slow cooker. Mix together the first 6 ingredients. Pour mixture over chuck roast. Cover, and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours.
Remove chuck roast from slow cooker, shred with a fork, and return to the slow cooker. Stir meat to evenly coat with sauce. Continue cooking approximately 1 hour. Serve on buns. I like to thicken the juice up a little and used it as a dipping sauce on the side (aujus style)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A side dish for all seasons

Sorry it has been a little while since my last recipe. I really love hearing from everyone who tries the recipes, whether or not you like them. But especially if you like them. My next recipe that I'll share comes from my Christmas dinner menu. And it comes from my love for pineapple. I love all things pineapple (who lives in a pineapple under the sea...) Yet I'm not such a big fan of cutting it up. That's why a sweet pineapple cutter is on my belated Christmas /early birthday /St. Patrick's day list. When cutting a fresh pineapple I find myself scraping for every last good edible piece. That is probably because I've already eaten half of it, my mouth is burning from the citrus juice and now I don't have enough for the recipe. Good thing canned pineapple is usually a good back up.
Pineapple should be used for more than just a fruit salad. Pineapple is a fruit that you should be creative with. Who would have thought to put it on a pizza? (Genius!) Mix it into your Mojito. Pineapple contains a protelytic enzyme bromelain, which breaks down protein. Pineapple juice can thus be used as a marinade and tenderizer for meat. That's right, I can google! But seriously, if you have a tough piece of meat, pineapple makes a great marinade. It really goes well with pig. Think Hawaiian Pig Roast. It also makes a great side dish. I made this simple side dish to go along with a pork tenderloin that I baked for our Christmas dinner. So don't be afraid of venturing out of the fruit salad and into the main dish, or the side dish as the case may be.

Pineapple Casserole
1/2 c. margarine
1/2 c. white sugar
4 eggs
ground cinnamon (I don't measure it, I just dump)
ground nutmeg (a little less than a dump, it's up to you)
6 slices white bread, torn (thicker bread is better)
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a medium-sized casserole dish. (If you want to use a 9x13 dish, add a few more slices of bread.)
In a mixing bowl, cream together margarine with sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir bread and crushed pineapple into the mixture. Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish.
Bake 60 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned.