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
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

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
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

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:
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
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

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
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

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 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
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

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

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)
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.


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
1 lb. ground ham
2lb. ground beef
1 c. milk
3. wheat or corn flakes
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt

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
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

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!