Wednesday, July 28, 2010

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

I'm back...you 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, blog...you 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

Ingredients:
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
Directions:
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
Ingredients:
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
Directions:
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 things...um...moving. 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
Ingredients:
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
Salt
4 cups corn tortilla chips, lightly crushed
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 lime, cut into wedges
1/2 red onion, chopped
Fresh cilantro

Directions:
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 napping..er...I mean working out to your 57 minute step aerobics video!

Slow-Cooker BBQ Beef Sandwiches
Ingredients:
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)

Directions:
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
Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Eli's Cheesecake-thank you!

A BIG thank you to Eli's Cheesecake. They sent me their Burnt Caramel Flan cheesecake in the mail. I even shared! :-) Here are a few pics of the cheesecake:


From my old home Chicago. I do miss this cheesecake. My husband actually toured their factory on a business trip!

Can you see that beautiful caramel color? It was so smooth and creamy. Thank you again, Eli's!
(more pics to come later of us enjoying the cheesecake!)





It's Amore!

Pizza. Could there be a better food out there? Kids love it, adults love it. Even the pickiest person can find some form of pizza that he/she loves. Ordering out for pizza can ensue a large debate among family members. Pizza Hut or Aurelios? Giordano's or Connie's (both my favorites!) Pizza Ranch or...well, out here nothing can really compare to Pizza Ranch, right? Pizza can be dangerously flat or so deep that you can't open your mouth wide enough (like my beloved deep dish Chicago pizza). There's New York style, so large you have to fold it (think mall-style). Then there's pizzas that are meant to be baked folded, such as calzones. Thin, regular, skillet, deep...oh the crusts. And sauce - sweet? tangy? spicy? red saucey? And of course the toppings. Oh, the toppings. My favorite is ham/canadian bacon and pineapple (much to the chagrin of my father)- the Hawaiian as it is known to the world, or Sweet Swine as it is known to the Pizza Ranch world. The wacky taco pizza. The ever-faithful pepperoni and sausage. My family's favorite growing up - pepperoni and green pepper. My favorite frozen - supreme (with most of the black olives picked off). Extra cheese? No cheese (for those on a diet)? My favorite food from my trip to Europe: Margherita pizza. (well, after gelato, that is).
I won't even go into the fork/no fork debate.
When having pizza, I think that homemade is the best. You can substitute anything and everything to make it truly your own. Here is my favorite American/Mexican version of the classic Italian-born pizza.

BBQ Chicken Calzones
Ingredients:
Bacon
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 cups shredded, cooked chicken breast meat
1 cup barbeque sauce
1 loaf of frozen bread dough, thawed (I guess it wouldn't be frozen then, huh?)
1 cup or more shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
Preheat oven to the temperature indicated on the bread dough package.
Cook bacon in skillet over medium high heat until crisp. Remove, place on paper towel and crumble when cooled.
Add the onion and shredded chicken to the bacon grease. Fry over medium heat until onion is tender. Stir in some of barbeque sauce, and remove from the heat. Mix in the cooked bacon.
Roll the bread dough out onto a greased cookie sheet or stone. Press out to an even thickness. Spread the chicken mixture out to within 1/2 inch of the edge. Drizzle the remaining BBQ sauce over the filling. Sprinkle the cheese and cilantro over the top. Fold the dough over the filling, and press the edges together with a fork to seal.
Bake for 25-30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until browned to your liking. Cool for a few minutes before eating.
*I used an egg wash with some Italian seasoning mixed in on the dough before putting it into the oven.

Friday, February 26, 2010

My dreams of sweet treats

I'm looking into new business opportunities. I am the type of person who would like to try everything at least once. Our budget may not always permit that, but it's fun to dream. Here are some things that I would love to do. *Warning-shameless plug ahead*
~I'm starting to sell jewelry again (contact me by e-mail if you're interested in having a party!) Okay, shameless plug over.
~I would love to get certified in Kindermusik and teach those classes.
~I would love to open my own voice studio.
~I would love to sing opera again. (Although I don't think my husband would like this option. My son sure thinks its funny when I sing opera though.)
~I would love to be a professional scrapbooker, although right now most of my pages are copies of magazines/idea books.
~I would love to be a writer.
~I woud love to take a vacation someplace warm. I know, I know, that's not a business opportunity. Think of it as more of a hint...right honey?
~And, like my blog intro says, I would love to be a pastry chef. I would love to open up a little coffee/sweet treats/sandwich shop. Besides the money and location, one thing that is stopping me is time. Not because I don't think I could make the time for it, but its the time that I would have to get up in the morning. Does anyone know of a coffee shop that opens up at 9am or 10am instead of 6am or 7am? Because that would be awesome.
Here's a sweet treat for your home coffee shop from my Grandma H. These literally melt-in-your-mouth. I once made a few batches of these in my dorm room sophomore year to bring along on a choir tour. I brought ice cream buckets full of them. They were gone by the second day of tour. I hope you enjoy them as much as my fellow choir members did!

Grandma's Sugar Cookies
Ingredients:
1/2 lb. of butter (must use butter!)
1 c. sugar
1 c. powdered sugar
1 c. oil
2 eggs
4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream butter and sugars, mix in the rest of the ingredients. Chill in refrigerator. Roll into balls. Dip the bottom of a glass or measuring cup (smooth, unless you want a design) in sugar and press down slightly on the cookie balls.
Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes.
This recipe yields a lot of cookies, dependind on the size of your cookies.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Don't know why I love what I do"...or "Yea, Chicago and almonds!"

I love almonds, almond-flavoring, amaretto, banket, and everything that involves almond paste. I'm not quite sure why. It's not like I'm from northern California and call them "aaamonds." I'm from Chicago. I should love deep-dish pizza with a giant sausage on it (which I don't). I should love Eli's cheesecake (which I do, duh). I should love Italian Beef (Yes to that. Jimbooos only). I should love Chicago-style hot dogs (I'm still not quite sure what the Chicago-style is on a hot dog, but if it's at a baseball game, I'll eat it. Go Sox! (And Cubs for my ailing grandpa!)). Okay, enough with the unattainable food talk (and the parantheses).

This recipe is for almond bread. I love it because its just a little bit different than regular quick-breads. Plan ahead if you're going to make this because you have to soak some grapenuts and refrigerate overnight. Yep, that's right. Overnight. Also, this recipe yields 2 loaf pans. You can divide it in half if you wish to make one. But seriously, you have the grape nuts, so just soak them while they're fresh. In my experience, no one really eats grape nuts (except my dad) so they're going to get stale anyways.

Almond Bread
Ingredients:
1/3 c. grape nuts
3 c. milk
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. melted butter
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder
3 c. flour
1 c. almond paste
1/2 c. chopped nuts

Directions:
Soak grape nuts and milk together in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and combine the rest of the ingredients.
Add in the grapnuts.
Fill 2 loaf pans 3/4 full.
Bake in oven for about 45 minutes.
*These loaves freeze well too.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Artisan Bread

Okay, with all the new cookbooks I just got, one that I haven't tried yet is Artisan Bread. I read through the intro and recipes in this book, but have not tried them yet. The reviews are great and I am so excited to try it out. Before I start making the bread, I wanted to do some research. I came across this great giveaway, and thought I would let you know about it. It comes with the book and GREAT materials to help with breadmaking. You can check it out at: http://www.momsbyheart.net/2010/02/giveaway-artisan-breadmaking-set-115.html
If I win, I will give away the book I already have for you to try!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

How does your garden grow? (wishful thinking)

It's been too long since I have posted a dessert. I thought of posting this favorite cake recipe of mine while researching possible veggies to grow in a small garden this spring/summer. We moved across town last summer and there is a very small plot of earth that I can use to grow wonderous veggies. Or at least try to. I do not have a green thumb. I have a black thumb. When living plants see me coming they attempt to shrink back into the ground for fear of a slow, dehydrating/overhydrating death. I'm not quite sure why I kill things, it just sort of happens. I've never really told anyone this...because it is kind of embarrassing living in an area where so many people live off of the land and I, well, can't :-( To my inlaws: It is probably a wise idea (except for the occasional ride in large farm vehicle) to keep me far from your corn and soybeans. And hogs, just in case.
So anyways, I'm finding from internet research that zucchini is easy to grow. I don't know if I like zucchini recipes enough to grow it in my garden though. It doesn't have a ton of nutritional value, some Vit. C and B6, and a little fiber. But you would have to eat a lot of it. Yet it does make a very moist cake. For now, I think I'll just stick with the Dutch mooch for getting zucchini's when I want to make this cake!

Zucchini Chocolate Cake
Ingredients:
1/2 c. margarine, at room temp.
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
5 Tbsp. cocoa
1 c. choc. chips (ss or mc)
1/2 c. veg. oil
2 eggs
1/2 c. sour cream
2 c. shredded zucchini
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Cream together the margarine, oil and sugar.
Add in eggs, vanilla and sour cream.
Add dry ingredients and then add in zucchini.
Spoon batter into a greased 9x13 pan.
Sprinkle chocolate chips over top.
Bake for about 45 minutes.

*This cake is very easy and fast to make. It is also very, very moist and lasts quite a while in the fridge if you can't eat it all. To make a low-fat version of this, substitute artificial or all-natural sweetener, egg substitute, applesauce, ff sour cream, and mini chocolate chips.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sweet Chicken and Bacon recipe

It's Thursday afternoon and I am done for the week. Woo-hoo! Although I love giving lessons, directing choirs and teaching little kids music, it's also nice to know that I can sit back and relax for a few days. Of course, that is after I clean the house, do the laundry, iron, plan the meals for next week, finish up lesson plans, pick out and order music for our next concert, baby-proof the house (now that Colton is crawling), catch up on e-mails, clip coupons...well, you get the picture. Life is running in full force right now. On top of everything else, it is tax season for my CPA husband and Colton is teething like crazy. So as I was looking for quick and easy-yet-still-delicious meals, I came across one of my favorites. I got it off of a recipe website, although I'm not sure which one, and altered it just slightly. It's a chicken recipe, which my diet and I love. My husband also loves it, even though he prefers "real meat." I don't know if Colton will love it, but we'll have to wait since it contains honey and he already has a super-sensitive tummy. But I bet he will love it someday. As his daddy would say, "Son, this meal has bacon in it. Bacon is one of the major food groups."

Honey Mustard Mozzerella Chicken
Ingredients:
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3/4 cup honey - I just squirt or spoon over until it looks like enough.
1/4 cup prepared mustard - I often use spicy brown or dijon
lemon pepper to taste -I use a lot of this
4 slices bacon
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Sprinkle the chicken breasts with lemon pepper.
Place the chicken breast halves in a baking dish, and drizzle evenly with some of the honey and all of the mustard.
Wrap a piece of bacon around each chicken breast.
Drizzle with the rest of the honey.
Bake chicken 25 minutes in the preheated oven.
Remove and sprinkle evenly with cheese. Continue baking 10 minutes, or until chicken juices run clear, bacon is crisp, and cheese is bubbly. Sometimes I will broil it for a just a little bit also.

*This is very good because the honey and mustard caramelize while baking, MMmmm.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls...to go with the chili

Moving to Northwest Iowa back in 2002 to attend college, I had no idea that a simple meal of soup/chili served at the commons (cafeteria) would change the way I viewed cinnamon rolls forever. To me, those gooey rolls were strictly for breakfast or dessert. But here they came up with the genius idea to serve them with the meal! Instead of crusty bread or crackers, I now had a sweet, savory cinnamon roll alongside my spicy chili. The perfect compliment. (second only to, "have you lost weight?") I have scoured many different versions of the sticky bun. I found my favorite when searching for a low-fat version (sorry, grandma). It is very involved, but very delicious! And good for you! Okay, maybe not good for you, but not as bad as some others, especially those from the mall. So, if you have a few hours to spare, try these out. They also freeze well, so you can have them whenever you want. Breakfast, lunch, dinner...or as I was recently told the order of meals in Iowa: Breakfast, coffee time, dinner, lunch, supper, snack and for any other function it's lunch. :)
(disclaimer: this is by no means a recipe of my own doing. I found this recipe and follow exactly as I found it)

Cinnamon Rolls
Ingredients:
Butter-flavored cooking spray
2 tablespoons light butter from a stick, divided
1 cup fat-free milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup artificially sweetened fat-free vanilla yogurt
1 egg plus 1 egg white
1 package (¼ ounce) active dry yeast
4 cups unbleached flour, divided + additional for work surface
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons corn syrup
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting:
1½ cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons reduced-fat (Neufch√Ętel) cream cheese from a block
3 tablespoons light butter from a stick, softened
½ tablespoon fat-free milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

First up, the frosting:
In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla. Mix on low speed with an electric mixer fitted with beaters or stir with a spoon for about 1 minute, or until combined. If using a mixer, increase the speed to high. Beat or stir vigorously for about 30 seconds or until smooth. Allow the frosting to set for at least 10 minutes. Place in an airtight plastic container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Just before using, stir well with a spoon. Makes about 3/4 cup, enough for 8 restaurant-size rolls or 15 standard-size rolls
Each serving of frosting has: 119 calories, 1 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat, 2 g sat. fat, trace fiber

Next up, the rolls:
Lightly mist a large bowl with cooking spray. Set aside 1 tablespoon butter to soften.
In a large microwaveable measuring cup or a medium microwaveable bowl, combine the milk, granulated sugar and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Microwave on high power for 2 minutes, or until the milk is hot (130°F). Add the yogurt. Whisk until the sugar dissolves (some small lumps of yogurt may be visible). Add the egg and egg white. Whisk to beat well. Add the yeast. Whisk until dissolved.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook(s) or in a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and the salt. Mix or stir by hand with a wooden spoon to blend. Add the milk mixture. Mix on medium power or stir vigorously to blend. The mixture will be very sticky. Add the remaining 2 cups flour, mixing or stirring until absorbed.
Turn the dough onto a floured work surface. (A plastic dough scraper is helpful for getting out all the dough and starting the kneading.) Knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Add scant amounts of flour as needed. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Place in the reserved bowl. Lightly mist with cooking spray. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the corn syrup, brown sugar, the remaining 1 tablespoon cinnamon, and the vanilla. Stir to blend well. Set aside.
When the dough has doubled, gently punch it down and place it on the lightly floured surface. Knead for about 1 minute. Dust lightly with flour. Cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Lightly mist an 11-inch by 7-inch nonstick baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
Using your hands or a floured rolling pin, press or roll the dough into an 18-inch by 12-inch rectangle. With a butter knife, evenly spread the softened butter over the dough. Drizzle on the filling. With a knife or spatula, spread it evenly to the edges. Starting at one shorter side, roll the dough, jellyroll fashion, into a tube, ending seam-side down. Cut into 8 equal pieces. Place, spiral-side up, in the reserved dish.
Cover the dish with a damp kitchen towel and place in a warm spot. Let the rolls rise another 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake for 22 to 28 minutes, or until very lightly browned but slightly doughy in the center. With a spatula, transfer one roll to a plate. Using a butter knife, spread 1½ tablespoons of frosting over the top and ½ down the sides. Repeat with the other 7 rolls.
Makes 8

Each roll: 442 calories, 10 g protein, 88 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 3 g sat. fat, 3 g fiber

Drive-Through: To enjoy fresh rolls first thing in the morning, assemble the rolls the night before and then cover them loosely with plastic wrap instead of a damp towel. Refrigerate overnight and the rolls will rise while you sleep, so you can bake as soon as the oven is warm.

Or if you'd like to have the luxury of eating them whenever the mood strikes, consider making a batch or two and freezing them after baking and cooling. (Freeze the frosting separately.) Pack in an airtight plastic container. When you crave one, wrap it in aluminum foil and bake it in a preheated 250°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is warmed through.

Even Better: Make the dough following the recipe directions, but roll the dough out into a larger rectangle about 22½ inches by 11 inches. Roll the dough starting with one of the longer ends. You'll end up with a roll that is 22½ long. Cut into 15 equal pieces. Place the rolls in a 13-inch by 9-inch nonstick baking dish. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes. You'll have 15 standard-size cinnamon rolls. Spoon 2 teaspoons of the frosting on top of each. Each roll contains 235 calories, 6 g protein, 47 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat, 2 g sat. fat, 1 g fiber. You'll save 578 calories, 29 g fat, 6 g sat. fat.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Guest Post! Orange Cashew Chicken Stirfry

This recipe comes my friend and Pastor's wife, Lael. From her I have learned that you can change your husband's mind about how food is cooked. From her you can learn that there is more to cooking than sodium-filled cream soups. Although, I do love a good creamy, cheesy, chicken casserole that feeds a crowd! Enjoy her healthier take on this Asian recipe. She even includes the calorie count! Perhaps you should pair this with the caramel macchiato cheesecake. Not because the flavors go so well together, but because one low-fat recipe and one high-fat recipe cancel each other out, right??
*For those who have never heard of it, bok choy can be found at HyVee.

Orange Cashew Chicken Stirfry

Ingredients:
1 cup instant brown rice (she uses regular white rice)
1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges
1/4 cup chopped cashews
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup chopped bok choy (if you haven't used this vegetable before, slice both the stem and the leafy part of the vegetable and toss it all in--really good and really good for you!)
1/4 cup minced chives

Directions: Cook rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, drain oranges, reserving 1/2 cup oranges and 2 tablespoons juice (save remainder for another use). In a small bowl, combine the cashews, broth, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and reserved juice; set aside. In a large wok or skillet, stir-fry chicken in oil until no longer pink. Add cashew mixture; cook 1 minute longer. Add the bok choy, chives and reserved oranges; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork; serve with chicken mixture. Don't overcook or the cashews will get soggy!
Yield: 3 servings.



Nutrition Facts: 2/3 cup chicken mixture with 2/3 cup rice equals 389 calories

Award-Winning Chili

There is a story behind this post. A long story. Full of reasons for which I am not bitter...right. This is my dad's chili recipe. It is the way chili should be made. It is not chili-soup. There, I said it. If you are looking for soup with a little bit of ground beef and a some chili powder, look elsewhere. Don't get me wrong, there are some chili-soups that are very good. But they are soup. Not chili. So remember, if you enter this chili in a contest, make sure it is not a chili-soup contest. And don't enter it in Hull. Unless you know a lot of people. The judges will probably love it. The people will probably be scared of it. Do yourself a favor and go farther east. The people of Sheldon like this chili. The people of Chicago like this chili. I hope you will love this chili.

Papa Dan's Chili, or Kelly's Kicken Chili (you may choose)
Ingredients:
6 Tbsp chili powder, divided
3lb ground beef
2lb coarse ground beef
1lb ground pork
4 cubanelle peppers, seeded (if you can't find this, I substitute an extra pablano and a jalepeno or two)
1 pablano pepper, seeded
4 medium onions
2 green peppers
4 cloves crushed garlic
2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes with green chilis
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes with jalepenos
1 28-oz can stewed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
2 tsp dry mustard
1 1/2 tsp celery salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp ketchup
2 tsp worchestershire sauce

Brown meat season with 2 Tbl chili powder and remove from pot with slotted spoon. Chop the peppers and onion and saute them in beef fat with another 2 Tbl chili powder. Add in garlic, cooking everything until softened. Add cans of tomatoes into the veggies. Add meat back to pot and add rest of seasonings, including the rest of the chili powder. Simmer until meat is tender and flavors blend. If it is not hot enough add hot sauce, if it is too hot add more ketchup and tomato paste and water.

*Notes: The originally recipe calls for 3 stalks of celery. I always forget to add that in. I also used a little bit of chipotle chili powder (1 1/2 Tbsp) in place of the regular chili powder. If you can, buy the chili powder in bags in the Mexican food aisle, it is much better than the kind in the spice jars.

Enjoy!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

One of the many reasons to live in Iowa:

....ham. Plenty of pig to go around.
Wow, I've been keeping up with this for 2 whole days now. That's pretty good for me! Here's my next recipe. It's one that I grew up with, and one that I always requested and still request when I go home to see my parents. Hamballs. You read that right. Hamballs. Sweet and Sour Hamballs to be exact. They are soosooo good. And easy. They get even better after spending a little time in the fridge. These are a terrific make-ahead dish. Don't get scared of the fat that hardens when you put it in the fridge or freezer. Fat=Flavor. Normally I try to cook healthy, like I said. But not for this. Don't even ask me how many weight watchers points one meatball is. If you do want to make it healthier, cool it down, then skim off of the fat with a knife.



Sweet and Sour Hamballs
Ingredients:
1 lb. ground ham
2lb. ground beef
1 c. milk
3. wheat or corn flakes
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt

Sauce:
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. vinegar
1 can pineapple tidbits (including juice)
1 tsp. mustard

Mix hamball ingredients together. Makes about 60 small balls, or 40 if you make uneven ones like me. Bake at 350F for 1/2 hour. Add sauce, bake for another 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cheesecake, of course!

I love a good cheesecake. You can often find my springform pan in use. This past week my Father-in-law threw a surprise birthday party for my Mother-in-law. (I won't mention her age, but she is officially twice as old as me.) So, I made the food for this get together. It was fun, sweet and sour meatballs, bbq cups, fresh salsa, fruit salad (not mine, but still delicious!), cupcakes and cheesecake. Living so far from a Starbucks, I made this cheesecake in hopes of combining the two favorites of mine (caramel macchiatos and cheesecake) The coffee flavor is not too strong, so use stronger espresso if you want more of a coffee flavor. I hope all of you reading my blog love cheesecake as much as I do. If not, then try this recipe that I made for the party. I think it is my favorite cheesecake so far...

Caramel Macchiato Cheesecake
Ingredients:
10 graham crackers, crushed
3 tablespoons butter, melted

4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 1/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or caramel flavoring)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup strongly brewed coffee or espresso

Heavy Cream
Caramel Syrup

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch springform pan (I like to use Pam for baking).
In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press onto bottom of springform pan. Bake about 5-10 minutes until firm.

In a large bowl, beat room temperature cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and beat until smooth. Pour in milk, blend, and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, extract, espresso and flour until smooth. Pour filling into prepared crust.

Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Don't open the oven to check on it. Turn the oven off, and let cake cool in oven with the door slightly open for a few hours or overnight. To prevent cracking I leave in the oven as mentioned, and put a pan of hot water on the rack below, similar to a water bath. Chill in refrigerator.

For a topping I made my own whipped cream from the heavy cream and caramel (be sure to chill the bowl and beater in the freezer before whipping) and drizzled caramel ice cream topping on top of that. Chill even longer for best flavor.

For Friends and Family

...this blog is for you! I plan on sharing pictures of food as well as of our little family. I would love feedback on recipes, including lots of sharing of recipes of all kinds. Dinner/Lunch/Supper/Brunch/and Desserts (oh, the desserts!) Still though, I plan on keeping the few precious secret recipes a secret.

Starting up...

Hi all!
Greetings from Northwest Iowa, land of the pork and beef. And corn. And soybeans, which I think smell like fried chicken. With that said, welcome to my new blog! Like the description says, I am a foodie. To prove that, I just received 5 new cookbooks in the mail this past week to add to my growing collection. I also having a growing collection of online recipe boxes. I am not a strict recipe follower. If I am looking for a meal, I take a little of this recipe and a little of that and combine the ingredients I think would go good together. I am by no means a professional chef. In fact, I am a music teacher. But first and foremost I am a wife, a mother, and a believer. I hope you enjoy my blog and recipes!