Tuesday, September 28, 2010

S'mores Cookies

Ah, what could be better than gathering around a campfire, roasting marshmallows, making some good ol' s'mores?

These cookies, that's what!

These delicious morsels are prepared in your own air conditioned, bug free home...hopefully it's bug free anyway!  And making them gave me the opportunity to use the muffin top pan I got at the Goodwill not long ago.

I found this recipe at My Baking Addiction, and I knew they'd be a hit.  I took these to a friend of mine who later contacted me to say she'd be sharing with no one!  

Make, and enjoy.

makes 18 large cookies in the muffin top pan

2 sticks softened butter
1 Cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla
4 Cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 Cups chocolate chips
3 regular size Hershey’s Chocolate Bars
3 Full Graham Crackers
5-6 Large Marshmallows cut into fourths

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place butter and sugars into a stand or electric mixer; beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla until well combined.
2. Place flour, salt and baking soda into a large bowl; mix then slowly add to wet ingredients along with the chocolate chips. Mix until just combined.
3. Scoop a heaping 1/4 Cup of cookie dough into muffin top pan cups. Press down then gently press chocolate bar squares, graham cracker pieces and marshmallow slices on top of cookie dough.
4. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until edges are just turning brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan. Serve with milk and enjoy

Note: This recipe can be prepared without the muffin top pan. Just flatten out your cookie dough slightly onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and press your s’mores toppings over the dough.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Raspberry Almond Blondies

 Raspberries were on sale so I just had to grab some, not really knowing what I wanted to do with them.  After searching around a bit I decided I wanted to make these bars I first saw at A Singleton in the Kitchen.

These are delicious, not too sweet. Perfect for breakfast I'd say.  I think they'd be great with a dollop of whipped cream right on top.  But alas, I had none.

Here's the recipe for ya.

Raspberry Almond Blondies
9 tablespoons (1 1/8 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sliced almonds, (3 ounces), toasted
1 pint raspberries
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a buttered 8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to hang over sides. Butter lining (excluding overhang); set pan aside.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, and set aside.
Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; cream on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until combined. Add flour mixture, and beat on low speed, scraping down sides of bowl, until well incorporated. Mix 3/4 cup almonds into batter.
Pour batter into prepared pan; spread with a rubber spatula. Scatter berries and remaining 1/4 cup nuts over batter in pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted into blondies (avoid center and edges) comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, 55 to 60 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before cutting into squares.

*I saved a little of the batter to smear over the top after sprinkling the berries on, that way they didn't get that dried out thing going on while baking.  

Friday, September 24, 2010

Buitoni Pasta Review

Hey folks, what's up? What a busy week!  Just a quickie tonight to share with you the pasta I got to try through Foodbuzz's Tastemaker Program. 
But before I do that I wanted to mention a worthwhile cause I was told about today by a nice family I met at work. 

  Their little girl has battled leukemia and is now working to raise money for an organization called Hope Kids that supports kids with cancer.  

Here is the link for you.

If it's something you have personal experience with our somehow feel led to donate, they would greatly appreciate it.  The fundraising ends tomorrow night (saturday) I believe.

 On with the pasta.  I'm way behind on this, I believe I ate this several months ago.  but the memory remains. 

This is the Quattro Formaggi Agnolotti from Buitoni's Riserva line.  It was really so delicious it didn't need much done to it at all.   After I prepared it I just sauteed it in a little butter and topped it off with pepper.  What could be easier?  

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cannoli Pie

I was in need of a yummy dessert today, but it had to be easy.  So I started looking around for such a thing and ran across something that I thought might fit the bill at Cooks.com.

 It seems like is a very adaptable recipe that one could add many different flavorings, or candies or nuts or whatever.  You could use whatever kind of pie shell you like (I  used one regular and one graham cracker). It might even be fun to get those little individual sized pie crusts.  

The recipe makes 2 pies, so I separated the filling into two equal parts and put mini chocolate chips into one, and in the other I chopped up a white chocolate bar with vanilla beans that I saw made by Ghiradelli.  

I highly recommend this one, we all loved it!

Here is the recipe as I found it at Cooks.com.  Besides the additions and changes I mentioned above, I also added a good sized splash of Kahlua which seemed to add something really nice to the flavor.

Cannoli Pie 

3/4 lb. Ricotta cheese
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
4-6 sm. Hershey bars with almonds
1 1/2 pts. heavy cream (that's 3 (8 oz.) containers)
2 graham cracker pie crusts (chocolate is best)

Chop Hershey bars finely. Gently mix Ricotta, sugar, vanilla, and Hershey bars. Whip 1 1/2 pints heavy cream until very stiff. Fold in 3/4 of  whipped cream into cheese mixture. Pour into pie shells. Top with remaining whipped cream and Hershey bar. Refrigerate.  (I chilled mine about 2 hours).


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Simon Says....Quiche!

Oh that silly boy of mine. He can get some of the strangest notions in his head.  And he's quite persistent with them.  I can remember we had a period of time where we had to go outside and say goodnight to Luna (the moon) and sing the goodnight song.  Heaven forbid if the moon wasn't showing.  Then there was the time we had to pretend our chicken legs were mutton.  Most recently he's had quiche on the brain.  I have no idea why.   So when I ran across this recipe with a lovely picture at Indigo's Sugar Spectrum as Simon was peering over my shoulder, it was all over.

As it turns out, Simon picked a very tasty and easy meal. That's my boy...always looking out for mom :)

I didn't do the hasbrown crust, just baked it in a regular pie crust, but I'm sure the hashbrown version would be great.


3/4 of a bag frozen hash browns, shredded
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 cups cooked diced ham
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

Squeeze any excess moisture from the potatoes and combine them with the melted butter or margarine in a small bowl. Press this mixture into the bottom and sides of an ungreased pie pan

Bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 25-35 minutes, edges should be brown.
Remove pan from oven and arrange the ham and cheese evenly over the potatoes. In a separate small bowl, beat together the eggs and the cream. Pour this over the ham and cheese..
Return pan to oven and bake for 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 30 minutes, or until the custard has completely set.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Upcoming CSN Fun

I'm very pleased to once again have the opportunity to work with CSN Stores and will soon be reviewing a product from one of their many marvelous online stores.  They have an awesome selection of dutch ovens, and if I didn't already own one that would be a very likely choice.  But I have no doubts I'll be able to find a great product to share with all of you.

And on a personal note, I have killed yet another digital camera.  Seriously, how can one person be so clumsy!!  And why can't they make some sort of padded or rubber case to put cameras in like they do for cell phones?  (those were both rhetorical questions, unless you really do know of such a case)

Anyway my non-suckish husband...

 only briefly snarled at me then sent me forth to Sam's to purchase a new camera to keep taking pictures of food, and maybe sometimes the kids.   

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sweet Tea Pie and Milk Punch

First, thanks to everyone for your kind words about our doggy.  They were all very much appreciated. 

So I've got a couple more recipes for you from the cookbook "Screen Doors and Sweet Tea".  

The first is the much acclaimed Sweet Tea Pie

 I was really excited to make this because it sounded so unique.  But for me it turned out to be an epic fail.  I must have done something wrong because the filling turned out way runnier than I would have expected. 

 And even if it had set up just right, I think it would have been way too sweet for me.  I really didn't get the "tea" flavor coming through either.  Make it if you feel led to, maybe it will turn out better for you.
(btw, if you do make this, be aware that I just happened to read on someone's site before I started, that the crust ingredients are double what they should be.  Something that slipped past editing I suppose.  So cut those first 3 ingredients in half for the proper amount of crust)  

6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
8 large egg yolks
¾ cup strong steeped orange pekoe tea, cooled
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons cornmeal
½ teaspoon salt

Make the crust. In an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until well combined. Add the flour and mix until the dough forms a ball. Pat the dough into a 9-inch pie pan. Chill until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Make the filling. In an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until light. Add the yolks one at a time, beating at low speed until well incorporated. Slowly add the tea, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the flour, cornmeal, and salt and mix well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Bake for 45 minutes of until set. Cool completely on a wire rack, and then chill for 2 hours before serving. Garnish with candied lemon peel, sweetened whipped cream, and mint leaves.

Secondly, is Martha's (the author) recipe for Milk Punch.  That girl loves her bourbon!  This stuff...I like.  

Milk Punch
Serves 1

1 ½ ounces good bourbon or brandy
2 ounces half-and-half
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
Drop of vanilla extract
Ice cubes
Freshly grated nutmeg

Combine the bourbon, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly until the mixture is cold and frothy. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with a grating of nutmeg.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Good Bye Little Puppy Friend

I couldn't decide whether or not to blog about this, but we've got no secrets between us. So I'll just go for it. But you'll be stuck looking at these pics because I've gotta work the next couple of days (my work days are 12 hours so there's no cooking on those days).

  We lost our friend Cody today. He was somewhere around 15, maybe almost 16.  

 He adopted my husband back when we lived in Arkansas. My first words to (or about) Cody were "Get that dog off my bed".  Well, up until he couldn't jump so good, he got on my bed whenever he darned well pleased. 

Aside from adopting grown men, some of his adventures have included being friends with a 3-legged dog, killing a possum with said 3-legged dog.  Suffering a fractured pelvis as a result of being hit by a car and almost losing the ability to dance. (but not quite)

Putting up with having not one, but two squawling little weird looking creatures being brought into his home, who later grew big enough to drop cheerios on his head, so he became friends with the weird creatures.
Riding cross country to move to Arizona with his adopted person in a little Ford Ranger, only to have the truck break down when it was just about 4
 hours from it's destination.  

Life was pretty steady and predictable until about 2 years ago when one of the cheerio-droppers opened the side gate and Cody slipped out for a 4 day adventure in the 'burbs of Phoenix.  He was rescued by an animal lover who had a pool, fed him stinky food, and bought him some bling.  (We found him through a site called Fido Finders, and I'm sure when we showed up he thought "Oh crap, I thought I had it made!") 

Over the past 2-3 years, old Cody had slowed down more than just a little. Not too interested in doing any dancing, barking at vacuum cleaners, or killing possums.  Just mostly wanted a (low to the ground) place to sleep, and few yummy morsels to be tossed his way, and love of his family.  He had been in renal failure all summer, and it's hard to tell when the time was right.  But today was definitely that day.  Hopefully old Cody had a happy life and knew that we were glad to be his people.  


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Two Examples of My Cluelessness

Catchy post title, eh?  I guess when it comes to baking and cooking, if it's not something pretty basic I don't have a whole lot of idea what I'm doing.  But sometimes it's fun to try anyway.  

Example #1:  I had been wanting to try fresh figs, as I'd never had them. Finally found some at Trader Joe's, but they only were available in a one pound container.  Anyway I tried them, pretty good I suppose...

...but now I had all these little figs and I hated for them to go to waste.  I started wondering if I could preserve them somehow and after reading a little bit here and there, I was able to come up with a way to make a bit of a jam out of them.  

I had planned to freeze it but only made enough for two little containers so that didn't really seem necessary.

I really liked this, better than the fresh figs (could be all that sugar, perhaps).  I had some on my toast this morning, and found it yummy!  

Here's what I did, in a nutshell.  
 Stem and half (almost) one pound of figs.  Place them in large saucepan and mash them all up.  Add (almost) one cup sugar, a splash of lemon juice, and 1/2 cup water.  Bring to boil over medium-high heat, turn heat down and simmer about 1/2 hour.  Stir occasionally.  Badda-bing, it's jam!

Example #2:  Last week I ate at an Italian place that served this innocuous looking cake called Italian Almond Wine Cake.

It looks a little blah and bland I know, but it packed a lot of flavor.  I emailed the restaurant to ask if they would share their recipe. I guess they're a little busy to be sharing trade secrets with the likes of me, so I was on my own.  
I googled the heck out of "Italian Almond Wine Cake" and really couldn't find anything very similar.  I did find something called Italian Wine Cake at cooks.com. (click for recipe)

It was pretty good, the cake was very soft and moist.  And I loved the glaze.  But it just wasn't quite what I was looking for, no almond for starters.  I guess I'm stuck going back to La Piazza Al Forno to get my cake fix. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sunday Musings and 3 Day Slaw

Happy Sunday to all of you, I hope you're having a nice Labor Day weekend.

Business first...remember my most recent cookbook giveaway?  The lucky platypus who won is...

Hope to hear from her soon so I can get her winnings out to her! 

I did something kinda crazy lately and did something I usually don't do.  I went and bought a brand new cookbook!  

 That's "Screen Doors and Sweet Tea" by Martha Hall Foose, in case you can't see that little print :)

So here's the deal...I had seen so many references and recipes from this book on many of your blogs out there, I had to check it out myself, and check it out I did.  At the library.  Thinking there would be a handful of recipes I'd want to jot down. But no...I wanted to jot almost everyone (except most of the fishy ones, or ones with turtles or deer; I mean where am I going to get turtle for pete's sake)
So I checked my pay pal account and sure enough I had just enough money that had trickled in from Foodbuzz that I was able to order that bad boy from Wal Mart.  

So now I'm thinking, since I own the thing, maybe I should make a project out of it.  Nothing as strict as the Julie/Julia project.  But maybe just my lazy Sunday project.  Why Sunday?  Because lately when I'm off on Sunday, I've been spending it in the kitchen.  My kiddos spend every Saturday night at grandma's and I have Sunday mornings and most of the afternoon to do with as I will.  (don't worry, I'm not missing church, we do that on Saturday :D)  

So I've made a little badge like so...

and if you see it, it means I've been doing a little Sunday cooking out of my new cookbook.

So after blathering on about it so, I'd better offer up a recipe to make it worth our while.  

We're planning to have the inlaws over tomorrow for ribs and such, so I thought I'd make this slaw for the occasion. 

 My husband despises slaw so I never make it for just us.  Hopefully it's not genetic.  The author promises this will keep well for three or more days.    Although it's nothing really groundbreaking, I love this slaw...it's sweet and tangy, cold and crunchy.  And I love the onion added in there.

1 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp celery seeds
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 small head green cabbage, shredded
1 small white onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
1 cup shredded, peeled carrots

In small saucepan over medium heat, combine vinegar, sugar, mustard, celery seeds, and salt.  Bring to a boil stirrings until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from  heat and add the oil.  Cool until just warm to the touch, about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl or resealable food storage bag, combine the cabbage, onion, bell pepper, and carrots.  Pour the warm dressing over the cabbage mixture.  Cover and marinate for 8 hours, refrigerated, or up to three days.  

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Seven Sporadic Questions: A Blog About Food

Happy September everyone! Hope everyone is having a great month so far.  

I'm tickled to have Teresa from A Blog About Food as this month's feature for Seven Sporadic Questions. 

 I think that's just the perfect blog name, and recently I've been drooling over her homemade ravioli (inspired by her daughter), and her Liege waffles...yum!

On with the questions...

1. What inspired you to start blogging?

After I got married I got really into cooking, particularly for big groups of people. Finally a friend of mine suggested that I start a food blog. I was really hesitant, but eventually thought it would be a fun way to keep some of my favorite recipes catalogued. It took a while to get my blog on it's feet, and it's still a work in progress, but I've come to really enjoy it!

2. What's your favorite thing to make for a crowd? 

I try to keep it fairly simple and something that will please everyone (including kids). These are a few of my faves.


3. What's your favorite thing to make for just you? 

I adore lunchtime. I usually wait until my kids are down for a nap, then I crank my music, crack open a Diet Coke and take my sweet time making lunch, chopping veggies, and preparing ingredients. My favorite lately has been a BLT salad, I really can't get enough of it, especially with blue cheese and avacado. Here's the link! 

4. If you could invite 3 famous people (living or dead) to dinner, who would they be? Any particular reason? 

It probably sounds really cliche, but probably Ina Garten, Paula Deen and Adam Richman (from Man vs. Food).

I love what they cook (and eat), but I also really enjoy their personalities on TV. I feel like we could spend a lot of time laughing, while having great food conversations, my favorite kind! 

5. When you think of your childhood, do any favorite dishes come to mind?

My mom really perfected her craft as a home cook. I grew up on all the comforts of homemade casseroles, pot roasts and soups. Two of my favorites were her Hawaiin Haystacks and her Chicken and Rice casserole (http://ablogaboutfood2.blogspot.com/2009/04/chicken-and-rice-casserole.html.) I still love them today! 

6. What do you have in your kitchen that you just couldn't do without? (besides your stove/oven of course)

I never seem to have enough cutting boards. I swear, by the end of the night every single cutting board is in the dishwasher, if I haven't already hand washed it. That and my garlic press, I'm pretty sure I'd be lost without them!

7. What's your favorite part of blogging? Do you think you'll keep doing it for a while? 

The people! I really feel like I have a fun group of foodie friends all over the world, so many great personalities all with one common interest. I also love how blogging constantly pushes me to try new things. I've made things that even a year ago I never thought I'd be capable of (or like!). Sometimes life makes it hard to maintain my blog as much as I'd like, but I'm going to try to keep it up and running as long as possible!