Tag Archive | cooking

Let them eat cake!

blueberrycake

Doesn’t everyone love cake? Everyone has at least one that they like. Even Dear Husbands Brother, who doesn’t like sweets, Loves Angel food cake. Anyway, THIS cake….. this cake is sunshine and summer and refreshing! It is Lemony and sweet, with bright pops of blueberry combined with the creamy smoothness of a lemon cream cheese frosting. I didn’t use the full 2 cups that the recipe called for because I didn’t have enough, but I definitely will next time. The blueberries soften and burst open in the cake as it is baking, but don’t completely  blend into the cake.

The recipe I used is from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. However I used all cake flour. I just like the tenderness that cake flour lends to a cake.It retains its moisture really well.  I did mist the blueberries in water and toss them in all purpose flour before folding them into the cake batter. And, yes, you want to fold them in. If you use a mixer or a beater, it will break the blueberries up and leak into the rest of the cake. Also they are more likely to sink in the cake because you will mix the flour right off the blueberries. As for my cake…. I dint have enough blueberries. I will definitely be using more next time.

blueberry slice

My blueberries did sink some, but for the most part held their place. You can SEE the moisture in this cake. It is simply delicious. It is so light tasting and fragrant yet the cake itself is a little on the heavy side from the moisture. It pairs beautifully with an African coffee like Sumatra,Ethiopia or Veranda Blend from Starbucks*. It goes equally well with a lemonade or an Earl Grey tea. Personally I go with coffee, but that’s just me.

Unlike most of my cooking exploits, which usually start with a search on Pinterest, this recipe was shared with me via Facebook by a sweet friend. She is a fan of my baking, lol, and wanted me to bake this cake for her birthday. The problem lies in that we live about 10 hours from one another. I told her I would make it for her next visit, but I just couldn’t resist trying out the recipe. I figured it would make a good dessert for the dinner I was planning. Dear Husband had requested a bacon wrapped SOMETHING and i wanted to make a Shells and Cheese recipe I had seen on Pioneer Woman‘s blog.

shells and cheese

I left out the bacon and peas this time, but I plan to use them next time….Maybe with a pork roast entree or something. This dinner however we were having a bacon wrapped chicken breast that I coated with a brown sugar and garlic mixture.

chicken

I, of course, forgot to take a picture of the chicken after it was baked, but here it is before I slid it into the oven. Let me tell you, though, that while these were baking…. oh my GOODNESS! My house smelled so good! You could smell the crisping bacon and the garlic and the sweetness of the brown sugar….It makes my mouth water…And let me tell you, it tasted even better than it smelled!

I served the chicken up with steamed broccoli and the creamy Shells and cheese pictured above. It was a hit all around. Simply delicious.

To make the chicken, I sliced a chicken breast in half length-wise. I laid a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter, laid the 4 pieces of chicken flat and covered with another sheet of plastic wrap. Then I pounded the chicken to about a quarter of an inch thick. Doing this does 2 things. It tenderizes the meat and it also makes it easier roll up later. I then spread the brown sugar-garlic mixture (recipe will follow) all over  one side of each piece of chicken. I then put approximately 1/4 cup of shredded cheese on top of the mixture on each piece of chicken. Then, very carefully, roll the chicken up around the cheese and then rub more of the mixture on the outside of the chicken. I then laid 2 slices of regular bacon side by side and wrapped the rolled chicken in the bacon. The bacon holds the chicken together so there is no need for toothpicks or skewers to hold things together. Do this to all the chicken and places them on a prepared pan. As you can see in the above picture I use a rack on top of a tinfoil covered cookie sheet. Just spray the rack down with cooking spray and you wont have issues with sticking. Slide the pan into the oven set at 400 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. You want the bacon to get crispy, the sugar to melt and caramelize the garlic and the bacon. SO GOOD! If you try it let me know how it goes! You can use pretty much any cheese or mixture of cheeses you like as long as it is sharp and melts well. Here is the mixture I used. It is perfect for 2 Chicken breasts split in half, so if you are making more, this is easily doubled or tripled.

Brown sugar and Garlic spread

2/3 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup minced or crushed garlic

3 tbsp of melted butter

1 tsp of onion powder

1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper (or more, depending on how spicy you want it, I just wanted a little heat with the sweetness of the sugar)

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together well, add the garlic and butter and mix well.

I used the back  of a regular spoon to spread the mixture on the chicken. It worked well and controls the amount you are putting on at a time. Let me know if you try it! I am happy to answer and question you have or respond to any comments! Happy cooking!

*I am not in any way paid to promote Starbucks. I did work for them several times, which is why I know more about their coffees.

 

 

Springtime and Easter Dinner

Flowers and Delicious Food!

Easter food and pretty Flowers

Happy Easter!! I know its a little late but you know how holidays are!

I have to say, I think that I have cooking full meals for holidays on my own down to a science. I think the prep work for this meal took me a little under 2 hours! After that its just a whole lot of baking and waiting….roasted turkey

Now, in my house, we have 2 proteins for these types of meals and a variety of sides. The only thing I forgot this year was a side of bread (Gasp!). I had been planning to make pretzel rolls.

This Turkey was so tender!! I have been making my turkey the same way the last few times and i haven”t had any issues with it being dry at all! I take a spoon and slide it between the meat and the skin, and put a compound butter in the space created.

Compound Butter:

1 stick of butter

2 tbsp of minced garlic (fresh)

1 tsp Rosemary, dried (or 1 tbsp fresh)

1/2 tsp thyme, dried (or about 2 tsp fresh)

a little salt an fresh ground pepper

a splash of white wine

Put all ingredients in a food processor (I use a Ninja) and pulse until everything is well blended.

I take this mixture and shove it under the skin and massage it into the meat anywhere I can get it.  I then spinkle salt and fresh ground pepper directly on the skin and rub it in.  I take the remainder of the compound butter and rub it all over the outside of the turkey. THis helps with that nice, golden colored, crispy flavorful skin that we all strive to achieve.

Next I quarter up a sweet onion and 2 medium apples ( I use Gala or Granny Smith). I put as many of the pieces as will fit in the cavity of the turkey and place whatever is left in the pan on the outside. Last, But most certainly not least, I pour white wine into the cavity. Do this gently and pour slowly! Only tilt the bottom of the turkey up enough to pour in the wine. If you stand it straight up the wine will go straight through! LOL. You should only use about half a decent sized bottle.

I baked my turkey at 325 for about 3 hours…He was under 10 lbs so that was about what was needed. The last 30-45 minutes I had to place a piece of aluminum foil over the turkey to keep the skin from browning to much. as you can see in the above picture, it was nearly fall apart tender! So delicious and fragrant…my tummy is grumbling thinking about it…. maybe I will have some for lunch….

baked ham

I also made a small ham for some variety. I generally buy the precooked, presliced ones that only need reheating. I make a glaze of brown sugar, cinnamon pineapple chunks and a splash of pineapple juice all blended together and poured over the ham before heating…It is delicious, and the quantities of ingredients is completely to your taste.

deviled eggs

I don’t know about you, but deviled eggs are a staple for Easter in my house!

greenbeans

Fresh green beans, steamed and tossed in melted butter, salt and pepper.

sweet potatoes

Sweet potato mash with a candied pecan topping, baked to a crisp finish. The perfect pairing for the baked ham.

potatoes au gratin

And the final side, Potatoes au Gratin. This dish is so good… You could eat it by itself. It is also very rich, so only a little is needed

This Dinner was a success and I definitely enjoyed making it. The only thing missing was the remainder of my family… We weren’t able to make it down to Florida this time but there is always next year!!

As far as the flowers up here go though! Mother Nature was definitely celebrating Easter as well. She pulled out all of her finery for sure! there are so many flowering trees and, well, just flowers everywhere! there are tiny white and purple flowers on the ground, along with wild growing daffodils..

tulip

This beauty is a red tulip that just sprouted up along my fence line….it is all alone there, but so vibrant and beautiful!

appleblossom

These Flowering trees are all along the canal path and trail that I walk with Goldilocks almost every day. I am not certain what they are but they may be Crab apple trees… the flowers and leaves look about right.

TULIPTREE

This tree is on the corner near my house.. It is absolutely gorgeous. I have no clue what it is, but the flowers look like tulips and the petals are a faint pink with a darker pink near the center. Just beautiful! and very fragrant.

Well, that is all for now. If you have any questions or want other recipes from our dinner I would be happy to share, Just leave a comment!

Thanks for reading!!

 

 

It has been a VERY long time….

It has been nearly two years since the last time I posted. There have been a LOT of changes in my life. First things first, I still love to cook and bake like a crazy person and am currently putting together recipes and and doing a lot of thinking about a business plan for opening a bakery.

As for the changes, they are HUGE. I’m mean, life changing huge. First change, shortly after the last post I made, the hubs told me he wanted a divorce….yeah, super fun! Four kids and he wants a divorce. Ok, well….

Fast forward about 2 years. The 3 bears live with their father and goldilocks lives with me. That’s not the way it should be! Is probably what most people are thinking. It’s not ideal, but it is the only way that things would work for everyone involved. The boys wanted to love with their father, and honestly, even with the amount of child support I COULD have gotten, I would still have not been able to survive. Numbers is something that I am good at. Iran and re-ran numbers trying to get it so I didn’t have to separate my children, but it just wasn’t going to be enough. I wanted to make sure ALL of my babies were taken care of the way they should. 

Now, I am currently engaged to a wonderful man, I have a great new job, and am working towards completing some goals that could take my life in a wonderful direction. I will be able to do more for my babies and be successful too. Goldilocks is 3 now! She is talking up a storm, has an adorable personality and is simply beautiful. My oldest bear just turned 11! I feel like they are all growing up so fast, but I am thankful that they are all healthy and happy. That is my life goal, to make sure they stay healthy and happy and grow up the right way. I want to give them the life they deserve (doesn’t every parent?) and I am doing my best to do that. 

I will be adding more cooking and baking blogs soon, so stay tuned……..

Well, I guess…..

I am going on a diet. There. I said it. On a public forum, no less. So, guess what, readers? While I have a back log of things to post about, I will also be adding recipes for the things that I posted. Aren’t you excited??? The recipes are going to be like extra posts. I will put the picture and recipe on a post all by itself and it will have its own category so that you cooks and bakers out there can find them easily :). I just can’t cook and bake these delicious non-diet foods and not indulge in them! It’s just too hard. I have to taste things so I know what they actually taste like and so if they can be improved, I know what to change and what to leave alone. Ok, rant over…on to the deliciousness that I made the other day at the request of my sweet hubby :).

I have made this dish before, and knew that if I ever made it again, there were some things that I wanted to change to bring it closer to the the original. I am talking about Panera Bread’s Sanoma Stew with their Dry Cheddar Jack Biscuits. If you have ever had this delicious goodness, you know what I am talking about. It is creamy, savory and satisfying, with the extra kick of the cheese in the biscuits that melt just a little as you break them up in the stew….my mouth is watering just thinking about it! Well, My best friend and I used to (notice the past tense here) go there every Saturday on our Girls Night Out and get a bowl of this stew. I mean EVERY time! We absolutely adored this stew! It was like manna from heaven. Then one night, when we were desperate for something to eat (we had been playing a little to long), we stopped in at the closest Panera and were all set to order a bowl. To our surprise, it had been removed from the menu! Gasp! What were we supposed to eat now?? The only thing that kept me from walking out was the fact that I was to hungry to drive anywhere else! I asked why they didn’t serve it anymore, and they told me it was a seasonal item…..ggrrrrr, ugh, and all other unhappy sounds. We were SSOOOOO not happy!

Right then and there I decided that I was going to try to recreate it at home. I had already figured out the that the “biscuits” were actually savory scones. Easy Peasy…I knew how to make scones, I just had to figure out the right flavor profile. The cheese was obvious, Cheddar and Monteray Jack cheeses, but the other ingrediants were a little more involved. The first time I made the scones, they were good, but they weren’t…right? I guess. After doing a little more research (a.k.a. reading LOTS of savory scone recipes) I discovered something that my scones were missing. These recipes called for an egg to be whisked into the cream…..I didn’t do that! I made perfect sense to me, though. That was definitely what my scone was missing texture-wise. Anyway this is the batch that came out perfectly, taste, texture and all things delicious in a savory scone!

   I was so excited that they came out so well! They smelled right, just like the ones from Panera and they were pretty, even with the oozing melted cheese. I honestly don’t know what Panera does to keep their cheese from melting but I really don’t care. Those bits of cheese were the fast track to adding thier flavor to the stew 🙂

As for the stew, well, that was way more involved. Luckily for me, I had managed to get my mom to have some of Panera’s stew before it dissappeared. I remembered her making the comment that it tasted a lot like our Chicken Pot Pie filling. That did it for me. I knew that recipe by heart so I knew I need those basic ingredients, but I also knew there was a little more to it than that. I knew I need to cook it for a LONG time. I knew that I needed to make sure that the chicken was cooked and flavorful before I even added it to the rest of the stew ingredients. I knew it had to be creamy, but not to chowder creaminess. Like the scones, the first time was close but not quite there, even though it tasted good.

The second time, which my hubbs requested turned out MUCH better. I tweaked a few things and cooked this stew about 8 hours longer than the first time (I cooked it all night in my Crock Pot) so by the time hubby had it for lunch it had been cooking for about 14 hours. I had prepared it the night before, prior to hitting the sack. It was sheer perfection! It was creamy, flavorful and, well, see for yourself:

original idea from Panera BreadMy hubbs was blissed out after the first bite. He liked it so much he made sure he took it to work for his dinner, along with several scones 🙂 I love when he loves what I made. It makes me feel like all my work was worth-while.

It was Wednesday, so afore-mentioned Best Friend was coming over for dinner, so she had some as well.  She could tell that I had tweaked it (she had some of the first try)I was so happy that it came out so perfectly. I think it is time to leave that recipe alone…I guess I should write it down 😉

As I mentioned above I will be posting some of the recipes for the things that I have posted, adding more as I go so, Stay Tuned…..

Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!!!

So..I don’t know how many of you know that such a day exists, but it does, and it is TODAY!! Actually, to be honest, I didn’t know it existed either until earlier this afternoon. Which was after I made these:

Malty, Chocolatey goodness

(Click here for the Recipe)

   Malted Chocolate Chunk cookies. If you like malted chocolate balls (that sounded a little dirty..), this is your cookie. My mom is a huge fan of the afore-mentioned candies, and she really liked these :). Now, it wasn’t until later when I was perusing my favorite site, Pinterest, that I saw posted in a few different places that it was a cookie Holiday! Whoopie! Who doesn’t love a reason to eat a cookie? I found it funny that I had already made the cookies ;).

      Today is also My oldest Bear’s Birthday 🙂 This is his last year in the single digits! Gosh, I feel old now 😦 Oh, well…Anyway, my family usually celebrates birthdays together, and this is usually on a Sunday after church. Well, the Sunday closest to his birthday also happened to be Mother’s day this year. Of course I didn’t really mind sharing the day with the child who made me a mother to begin with. My Mom didn’t either 🙂 This was the perfect excuse to make this cake:   I had asked Bear #1 what kind of cake he wanted and he wanted coconut. It was a match made in heaven! It was just the excuse I needed to make this cake! I got the recipe from here. Make sure to read the comments at the bottom of that post for some helpful hints, should you decide to make the cake, which I advise whole-heartedly. The cake comes out soft and tender, the topping is just delicious and it is easy to make! Definitely a crowd pleaser in my family. Birthday Bear was happy with it as well, which was what really mattered.

I have quite a back log on things I have made so I will be posting about them soon. I hope you will go enjoy a chocolate chip cookie in any of its forms! Stay tuned…..

We bought a Zoo

very cool :) Ok, well, we didn’t buy it. We did go to the zoo :). Our friends from further south than us came up for the day and wanted to visit our zoo (which is beautiful, by the way), so we did! I also had prepared several yummy things for us to have for our meals.

For the zoo, I had picnic food ready; chicken salad sandwiches and potato salad. The friends were impressed 🙂 and all I could think was “wait till you see what I have planned for dinner!”

We had a good time walking around the zoo, my kids love it and Goldilocks is getting to the age that she actually notices the animals. Of course, everything is a “te-te” (kitty) or a “ze-ze” (Daisy, my mom’s dog’s name). I am just glad she is actually noticing the animals!

Back to the food… After we had walked around the zoo for about 4 hours, we went home. My friends had been up since about 5:30, so they were ready to take a little power nap. This was fine, because it gave me a chance to clean up the mess from breakfast that morning and finish preparing dinner.

Dinner that night was a hit! I made Chicken Florentine meatballs in a light sauce served over pasta with from-scratch English muffin bread, toasted and slathered with an herbed butter. For dessert I made a decadent Chocolate truffle cake, which got rave reviews both at the table and via a picture-post that my friend decided to put on Facebook 🙂

Alright..I guess that is enough drool inducing for today….I will post again soon with more of my creations, So Stay Tuned……

My crazy life…

So, I have been a busy mommy the last week! It has been crazy! I have been cooking and baking and creating up a storm :). This past Saturday I had a birthday party to go to (My friend Courtney’s little one, his first birthday!!) and My friend Robin’s baby shower on Sunday. Well, let me just say that this was a week of no money…you know those right? The ones where you have just enough money to pay all the bills, and pay for the Groceries, but that is it? This was one of those weeks. It didn’t matter, really. My pantry was full and the bills are paid, so all is well :). There isn’t a need for anything else.

Anyway, So I now have these two functions to attend, no money for gifts and not really sure what I was going to do! Then I had an epiphany. I could make the gifts :). Now, it was deciding what to make. Robin is having a baby Girl, so that was easy, I could make her a dress. I have made lots of things for Goldilocks, so I had fabric and the know how, and even a cute pattern. I printed the pattern out (it was one I had saved on the computer) and started rummaging around for just the right fabric. I found what I wanted and, since Goldilocks was napping which is the best time to do this kind of project, I began cutting. I had to stop when Goldilocks woke up, but finished it up when she went down for her afternoon nap. Here is the finished product :

When she pulled it out of the bag, I could see that she truly loved it! She didn’t know I made it. She had already gotten several other outfits, but this one took the cake for her apparently. Her exact comment was ” I think I just found my going home outfit!” I cannot tell you how gratifying that was to me. I was so worried that she wouldn’t like it….Well, she put all my fears to rest. Her sister spoke up and asked me where I bought it (here was where the truth was going to come out), and I told her I had made it. The exclamations from the ladies in the room were nearly deafening! None of them, except Courtney (who was also there) and Robin even knew me and therefore knew that I am crafty ;), so everyone was genuinely surprised that it was my creation. I was just glad that Robin liked it 🙂

As for Courtney’s baby’s gift, that was a little bit more difficult, as far as coming up with something good. I had a plain white onesie that I considered doctoring up and giving to him, you know, by appliqueing something cute onto it. I changed my mind when I saw a really great pin on Pinterest for homemade play dough. This is not the kind from when we were kids, that was crumbly, dry, didn’t last very long and had to be refrigerated. This play dough comes out beautiful, smooth and feels like store-bought. I used gel food coloring to get nice rich color. here is the link to the recipe : http://www.kristanlynn.com/2011/09/best-play-dough-recipe.html. She uses food coloring in the mix when she is heating it, but I kneaded the color in after it was cooked ( because I wanted 4 different colors). I guess it really doesn’t matter when you do it, just remember to knead the color in well if you are going to do it my way. Otherwise you end up with little pockets of dense color that will stain your hands.

The really nice thing about this play dough is that it stays pliable for up to 6 months. As long as you take care of it (i.e. put it away once playtime is done) and keep it in a cool dark place (not the refrigerator, more like a pantry of cabinet) it won’t dry out. It is great for small children as it is non-toxic. It is made out of “edible” ingredients, although it will taste bitter if eaten, so it won’t hurt anyone if baby decides to put some in his mouth. Courtney thought it was a perfect gift, and I had yet another success with a homemade gift!

I have a few yummy things that I made, but I will post about them later. One of them is a sweet that we have all grown up loving! If you want to know more, Stay tuned……