Friday, December 3, 2010

Chicken Divan...with inpromptu ingredients.

When I was a kid my mom used to make chicken divan a lot.  I remember disliking the exotic taste of the curry at first, but over time it grew on me.  Now I consider it comfort food.  I was craving some comfort the other day and decided to make some.  After my visit to the Costco to pick up a rotisserie chicken I realized I didn't have any cream of chicken soup to start the base of my sauce.  DAMN!!!  Lightening fast thinking...make my own cream of chicken!  And that is just what I did.  I don't think I will EVER use cream of chicken again. 

Chicken Divan - made up style:
1/2 Rotisserie Chicken - I always get mine at Costco and they are GIANORMOUS so I only used half. 
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon corn starch
2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup cheese
2 cups broccoli - frozen or fresh

Preheat oven to 350 degree F. 

Cut up half a rotisserie chicken into small bite sized pieces and set aside. 

In medium saucepan melt butter.  Add flour and cook for a minute.  Add milk, cornstarch and curry.  Allow sauce to thicken.

Add cheese and  stir until melted. 

 In medium to large baking dish combine chicken and broccoli. Pour sauce over top and stir to combine.

 Cook for 25 minutes.

When I type the recipe out it sounds all thought out and professional, but it couldn't be farther from the truth! When I realized I didn't have the cream of chicken I went to making a roux. I was only going to add one cup of milk because I was going to make a smaller batch, but then thought better of it when I saw how much sauce that would give me. I decided that AFTER I had added the milk. I was worried that making more roux would mess up the recipe at that point so I opted to add cornstarch to thicken it up. BINGO!!! I REALLY liked the taste of the sauce. Canned sauces are handy when you need them, but if you can avoid them...DO!!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Perfect Little Muffin Pan

O.K., I'm going to make a shameless plug for Pampered Chef.  In part because I started selling Pampered Chef, but more importantly, BECAUSE THIS PAN FREAKING ROCKS!!!!  Pampered Chef has a silly number of appetizer recipes you can make in this pan.  On future posts, I'll highlight some of my favorite appetizer recipes.  Today I'm going to share my first made up recipe I created in this pan for Thanksgiving appetizers.

So my Dad is pretty crazy about Brie en Cruet.  He gets a big round bite of Brie, puts some kind of jam on top and wraps it all up in puff pastry.  It is good, but I wasn't have a large crowd at my house for Thanksgiving and I wasn't sure about the palates of some of my guests.  As a result, I created the following recipe.

Mini-Brie en Cruet:
2 packages refrigerated Pillsbury croissant dough
1 pie slice of brie - my favorite is Presidente
1 small jar of your favorite jam - I used a raspberry habenero jam for a little KICK!

Open croissant package and cut the already pre-cut slices in half.  Push them into place in your mini-muffin pan.  (Pampered Chef also sells a wooden dowl to help you with this task.) - Sorry, I can't help myself. :)  Cut the brie into squares small enough to fit into pan without overflowing from the croissant dough.  If you are not keen on the rind around the brie, you can cut it off.  Spoon a small amount of jam on top and close the croissant dough around cheese and jam like it is a package. 

Cook according to instruction on croissant dough package.

Another option for this SWEET pan is the obvious...MINI-MUFFINS!  Now that my daughter is eating everything we are eating this is a FABULOUS option for kid sized muffins.  Today I made blueberry oatmeal muffins in this pan.  I love them because they are small and bite sized (and we all know food in cute shapes and small sizes taste better) and my daughter loved them because they fit her hand well.

Bisquick Sweet Muffins
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cups Original Bisquick mix
1/3 cup sugar

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Prep your muffin pan with cooking spray.  In medium bowl, beat milk, oil and egg with wire whisk or fork until blended.  Stir in Bisquick mix and sugar just until moistened.  Spoon batter into muffin cups.

Bake 8-9 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy your bite sized goodness!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Jesus Pie!

Jesus was a Shepherd...and this shepherd's pie ROCKS...THE WORLD!!!!  I came up with a rather hair-brained idea of cooking a chicken, a pork roast AND a beef roast at the same time in a gianormous roasting pan.  The whole idea was to maximize my Mommy Time and spend less time on meals.  I was worried after I cooked up the meat that when I used it in another dish it would be overcooked and not taste good.  Oh goodness, was I WRONG!!!  The beef roast I used for this dish was HEAVENLY!!!

I searched recipes for left over beef roast and found a recipe by Paula Deen for a Shepherd's Pie.  I was worried when the recipe called for 14 tablespoons of butter.  SERIOUSLY...come on Paula Deen.  That is an utter JOKE!  So I modified the recipe.

Rock Your World Shepherd's Pie:
1/2 red onion, peeled and chopped

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 pounds leftover pot roast, cubed
Salt and black pepper
5-6 medium red new potatoes
1/2 stick butter
1 1/2 cups milk
2 1/4 cups instant biscuit mix
1 1/2 cups niblet corn or mixed vegetables

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Pot Roast Layer:
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute onion in olive oil. Add pot roast and cook until browned. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

Potato Layer:
Place potatoes in pressure cooker and cook for 9 minutes at pressure until fork tender. Drain potatoes and transfer to a mixing bowl.  Scrape skins off potatoes and smash to a consistency you like.  Add 1/2 cup heated milk, 1/2 stick butter, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Whip until mixed. Adjust thickness by adding more milk, if desired.

Biscuit Layer:
Combine biscuit mix and 3/4 cups of milk.  Mix until combined. 

Spray a 9 by 9 by 2-inch pan (or any similar casserole dish) with cooking spray. Layer mashed potatoes halfway up the sides of the dish.

Next, spread a layer of corn or mixed vegetables on top of the potatoes. Then add the layer of pot roast and onions. 

Spread the biscuit mix over the meat. Bake for approximately 35 to 45 minutes or until top is golden brown. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

I'm not kidding you...this is one of the best meals I have had in a LONG time!  AWESOME!!!!!  Do I hear angels singing? :)

Pure and Simple

I love fast and easy meals loaded with TASTE.  This dish is the ticket!  Alex made a rendition of this recipe on one of our first dates.  I am not normally a fan of Salami, but it TOTALLY rounds off this dish with a perfect salty flavor.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  I was so impressed with Alex's coking abilities after this meal. :)  It has become a staple at our house. 

Simple Salami and Pasta:
1/2 box fettucine
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 small zucchini, sliced into thin strips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 lb Salami, sliced into thin strips
1 Tbsp capers (optional)

Cook fettucine according to directions on box.  In a saute pan add olive oil and cook zucchini for 3-5 minutes at medium heat.  Add garlic and heavy cream.  Cook until cream is heated through, 1-2 minutes.  Add salami, capers and cooked fettucine.  Toss dish to ensure everything is completely covered with cream.  Serve immediately.

The next time you want to impress, pull out this recipe and knock 'em dead.  :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Caprese Chicken?

There is a KILLER little Italian cafe in the Avenues neighborhood of Salt Lake that served me my first EVER Caprese sandwich with a gianormous piece of fresh mozzarella, thick slices of roma tomatoes, full leaves of basil and a to-die-for olive oil and balsamic vinegar to it top off between soft pieces of ciabatta bread.  This recipe reminds me of those sandwiches. 

I was looking for fresh ideas for dinner and stumbled upon a pretty cool website called  They have weekly recipe ideas for those in need of me!  A lot of the recipes on this site remind me of the dishes I had growing up, like tuna casserole, beef stroganoff and meatloaf.   

Baked Pesto Chicken with Angel Hair Pasta
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
½ cup basil pesto
2 plum tomatoes, diced
shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Cover cookie sheet with foil.

Put pesto and chicken in bowl. Toss until chicken is covered.  Place in cooking dish and top with diced tomatoes.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Sprinkle with cheese
Bake another 3-5 minutes.
Serve with a box of angel hair pasta.

To fancy up this dish a little I added two teaspoons each olive oil and butter to the angel hair pasta and a 1/2 cup grated parmesean cheese.  This is one of my new FAVORITE recipes!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Casserole, Chicken and Rice style!

Admit it...sometimes all you want is a straight up casserole, whether it be tuna casserole or one of those recipes from the Campbell's soup can. :)  I was in just that kind of mood when I made up the following recipe.  In college I used to buy those boxed recipes that you just added chicken to complete the meal to impress my boyfriend.  HA!  Funny enough, I was trying to recreate those meals. 

Chicken and Rice Casserole
2 cooked chicken breasts cubed
2 cups wild rice, cooked
1+ cup of cheese, to your preference
1 can cream of chicken
1 can cream of celery....I recall the recipe in college always had cream of mushroom, but Alex doesn't like mushrooms.  So use your best judgement.
3/4 cup salsa
1 medium onion...or less, keep on reading.

Combine all the ingredients in a baking dish. 

Set oven to 400 F and cook for 30 minutes until bubbly.

This recipe was SUPER yummy...except for one REALLY ought to cook the onions BEFORE you mix them with all the other ingredients.  I also added WAY too much onion.  I had to pick it out to keep it from over-powering the rest of the dish.  But, you live and you learn...which hopefully you learn from my mistake!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Harvest Time - APPLES II

I had a specific recipe in mind when Alex and I went to the Happy Apple Orchard to pick apples.  What better at harvest time than APPLE PIE!  A couple of years ago for Christmas my sister gave me a compliation of canning recipes.  I don't know where those recipes came from, so I just want to make it clear that this is NOT my recipe and I don't know whose it is, but it ROCKS!

I haven't done much canning outside of jams, as I am afraid of screwing it up.  A couple of years ago I made spiced peach jam.  I did something wrong because the pectin didn't make it set and I ended up with 12 jars of spiced peach syrup...which was yummy, but I digress.  This recipe was super easy, tastey and I didn't even break a jar when I used my pressure cooker to seal the jars!  WHOOHOOO!!!

Apple Pie Filling
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
10 cups water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
5 1/2 -6 pounds apples or 24 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples

In large pan blend first 4 ingredients.  add salt, stir in water.  Cook and stir until clear, thick and blubbling--sort of foamy.  Add raw apples to syrup as it is cooking and heat through.  Add lemon juice. 

Pack apples in jars leaving 1" head space and fill with hot syrup.  To seal, process in steaming water bath, 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts.

The easiest option for sealing these is to add the apples and syrup while they are still hot and turn them upside down until cool.  This is how I can my jams.  This time I opted to seal my cans using a pressure cooker.  I have a medium sized pressure cooker and was able to can three jars at a time.  I placed three pints sized jars in the pressure cooker, made sure they were not touching, filled it with 1 cup of water and placed the lid on it.  Once the pressure was established, I 'cooked' the jars for 5-6 minutes then turned the stop top off and allowed the pressure to reduce naturally. 

VOILA!  Now I have apple pie filling anytime I want it!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Harvest Time - APPLES!

This weekend we went to Happy Apple Farms in Penrose, Colorado picked apples.  What an awesome experience.  You get to pretend you live on a farm, walk out to the orchard and pick some yummy apples.  For those who want to enhance their experience...they have tractor rides to the orchard.  The best part of this fantasy...when you are tired and hot and want to can.  :)

When we got home, I was on the hunt for apple recipes.  What is sweet, smooth, can be spread over nice warm bread and reminds you of fall?  APPLE BUTTER!  Be forewarned, Apple Butter does not have actual butter in it.  Apple Butter is extremely well cooked apples mashed into the consistency of jam.  A couple of recipes I saw actually called for apple sauce instead of apples...I guess if your lazy...just kidding.  Whatever it takes for you to make this yummy concoction. 

I found this recipe on  This is a new web site for me and I was pretty skeptical, but the recipe ROCKED!  A MUST HAVE tool is an apple peeler. 

Yes, it looks like a medievil torture tool.  As a result, you should keep tabs on where your hands are while using it so you don't lose a digit or more likely, cut yourself.

Place the apple on the prongs and twist the crank so it approaches the peeler and CRANK!
The peeler with peel, core and cut the apple into a nice spiral.  You can also remove the knife that cuts the apple into a spiral so it only peels and cores the apple.

Apple Butter in the Crock Pot
12 medium Granny Smith or other cooking apples peeled and cut into fourths

1-1/2 cup packed brown sugar shopping list
1/2 cup apple juice shopping list
1 teaspoon ground allspice shopping list
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg shopping list
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves shopping list
Mix all ingredients in crock pot. 
Cover and cook on low for 10 hours (I put it on high for 5 hours and stirred it occassionally so it didn't burn around the edges).  Mash apples with potato masher or large fork.  Cook uncovered on low for 2 hours stirring occasionally until mixture is very thick.  Cool 2 hours.  Spoon apple butter into container. 
Cover and store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks.
The apples we picked were not Granny Smith apples, but worked just fine.  I suspect the taste with Granny Smith's would be AWESOME!  Alex and I tried this out on toast, but I was dreaming of freshly baked homemade bread.  I DIG the flavor of this recipe over variations I have made in the past.  I'm planning on making this as Christmas presents for friends.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Slow Cooker...Jamaican Jerk Style

My mother-in-law gave me a Cuisine at Home Slow Cooker Menus cook book and it ROCKS!  Cuisine at Home offers healthy recipes with GREAT cooking tips in their magazines.  Alex really digs Jamaican Jerk seasoning so I thought I would surprise him Barefoot Contessa style (you know how Ina Garten always surprises her husband Jeffery with some yummy meal when he comes home from business trips?) with a Jamaican Jerk-Chicken Sandwich.

I am so-so when it comes to Jamaican food.  I dig all the spices in the food, but sometimes it is a little unusual on my taste buds.  This recipe was AWESOME!!!!!  FREAKIN' EASY, too!!!!  If you are thinking cole slaw is blech...think again.  The coleslaw on top of the sandwich COMPLETES this recipe.  Notice the coleslaw is on the side in the picture...I couldn't fit it on the sandwich for a pretty picture, but we DID eat the coleslaw on top of the sandwiches.

Jamaican Jerk-Chicken Sandwich
3 Tbsp purchased Jamaican Jerk seasoning
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp each kosher salt and black pepper
2 bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed - I couldn't find bone-in and it turned out GREAT
4 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
1 cup breked coffee
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
3 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp seeded and minced jalapeno chile pepper
1 Tbsp minced garlic
6 ciabatta rolls
Mango Coleslaw

Combine jerk seasoning, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Coat chicken with seasonings.  Place chicken pieces, bone side down, in a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker.

Stir together coffee, lime juice, molasses, jalapeno, and garlic for the sauce in a measuring cup with a pour spout. 

Add sauce to the slow cooker.  cover, cook on low-heat for 4-5 hours.  Remove chicken from slow cooker.  Remove and discard bones, then shred chicken. 

Return meat to the slow cooker, mixing with sauce in the slow cooker.

Serve chicken on sliced ciabatta bread topped with Mango Coleslaw.

Mango Coleslaw
1 pkg coleslaw mix
2 fresh mangos, peeled, pitted and diced (two cups)
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp minced jalapeno chile pepper
2 tspminced lime zest
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp each kosher salt and black pepper

Combine coleslaw mix, mangos and clinatro into a bowl. 

Whisk together sour cream, mayonnaise, lime juice, lime zest, jalapeno, garlic, salt and pepper;

stir into coleslaw mixture.

Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes

Apparently the new rage is baking with bacon. (?)  Yes, I said baking with bacon.  Some friends of ours visited a bakery in Boulder, Colorado that sells chocolate bacon cupcakes and of course, I HAD to test them out.  I figured the salty sweet combination would ROCK!  It was unique for sure, but I don't think I will be making these babies again any time soon. 

My only concern with this recipe was baking the bacon INTO the cake batter.  Bacon is supposed to be crispy and I was worried the bacon would become soft during baking.  It did.  I think I would have preferred to ONLY have bacon on top as a garnish.  The chocolate cake recipe without the bacon is AWESOME!!!! 

I used the Hershey's Chocolate Frosting recipe from th back of the Hershey's cocoa box. FREAKING AMAZING!!! I'm not kidding you, this is the BEST chocolate frosting I have EVER had!!!! So if the whole bacon cupcake thing didn't meet my expections, at least I found a killer chocolate cupcake and frosting recipe. ENJOY!

Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes
12 slices bacon

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs
1 cup cold, strong, brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 3/4 cup cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the eggs, coffee, buttermilk and oil. Stir just until blended. Mix in 3/4 of the bacon, reserving the rest for garnish. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly.

Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack. When cool, arrange the cupcakes on a serving platter. Frost with your favorite chocolate frosting and sprinkle reserved bacon crumbles on top. Dust with additional cocoa powder.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Taste of Santa Fe

Alex and I just got back from a trip to Santa Fe.  Oh GOODNESS, do I LOVE that town!  I think it is most appropriate for cities to put in place ordinances requiring builders to stay with the same general design when constructing buildings.  It gives the location a unified feel.  I dig it! 

While we were in Santa Fe we hit several FABULOUS restaurants, museums, shops, cathedrals, art galleries, ancient indian dwellings and a SWEET outdoor concert featuring Cuban music.  I wanna move to Santa Fe!  Since I can't do that right now, I'll settle on a reminder of the yummy food we had.

On our first day cruising around Santa Fe we visited a restaurant called, Cafe Pasqual.  The main dining room was a decent size and they were able to fit an inordinate number of people for the lunch service.  They offer organic soda's, organic food AND a kick ass cookbook so you don't have to miss out on the experience. 

The first recipe that caught my eye in Cafe Pasqual's cook book was the Chorizo Quiche with Cornmeal Crust.  I LOVE chorizo.  And if this cook book isn't cool enough, they have a recipe to make your OWN chorizo!!!  SWEET!!!!!

Chorizo Quiche with Cornmeal Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
1 large organic egg - you can use the straight up hormoned eggs if you don't have organic. :)
1 teaspoon ice water, plus more if needed

Chorizo Filling:
3 large organic eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
8 oz chorizo sausage, crumbled and uncooked - I JUST BARELY noticed this says to use uncooked chorizo.  I cooked mine up because I didn't think it would cook fully in the quiche otherwise.
1/2 cup chopped green onions, green and white parts
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

To Make the Crust:
Lightly butter a glass baking dish 9 inches in diameter by 2 1/2 inches high.  Put the flour, cornmeal and butter into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Process in short bursts until it has the consistency of small peas.  Add in the egg and egg yolk and process again for a moment.  Turn this mixture out onto a work surface and add in just as much ice water as it takes to work the dough into a firm ball....I didn't need to add any additional water because it was pretty warm when I made the dough and the butter was all the moisture I needed. :)

Flour your work surface and a rolling pin.  Roll out the dough until it is 1/8 inch thick and fit it into the glass dish.  Crimp th edges of the dough and refrigerate the crust for at least 20 minutes before baking to allow the gluten in th edough to relax.  Prepare the filling while the crust chills.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Put the eggs and the heavy cream into a bowl and which together.  Add the chorizo and green onions and which again.  (I highly suggest cooking the chorizo before hand - I think it is weird it doesn't require it.)

Preheat the crust for 5 minutes (it is funny to have to re-type a recipe after I have made it, because I TOTALLY missed this step when I was making it), then sprinkle the bottom of the shell with half of the cheese.  Pour the filling mixture over it and top with the rest of the cheese.  Sprinkler the top with the cayenne pepper.  Bake for about 40 minutes, until the custard is set, the top is a light golden color, and a knife inserted into the center comes out cleen.  Allow for about 30 minutes of cooling time.  Serve while warm.  DON'T SKIMP ON THE COOLING TIME.  When mine came out of the oven it was all puffed up.  It needed the full 30 minutes to sink and set completely.

I was kind of surprised this recipe didn't have any salt and pepper in it.  I added a tiny bit while I was cooking it.  I LOVED the cornmeal crust on this quiche.  What an ingenious idea!  The ingredients for this dish are so simple, I was a little surprised at the burst of flavor when I tasted it.  This is DEFINITELY going into my repetoire of recipes for future use!

Sunday, July 4, 2010


I have started a 4th of July tradition of making individual cherry pies to help celebrate the festivites.  This is the second year in a row I have made the yummy goodness.  When I was a kid we used to go to the Hostess store and pick out our favorite pie flavor.  They had cherry, blackberry, blueberry, vanilla and chocolate pudding pies....Oh, the memory of having one of those pies in my small childhood hand.  And now it ROCKS that I can make ANY flavor I choose.  YES! 

It took me awhile to perfect this recipe.  Many of the recipes out there require you to deep fry your pie.  Yeah....I don't deep fry ANYTHING anymore.  This is a total side note....but today we went to the arts festival here in Colorado Springs and they were serving giant corn dogs.  The novelty of a giant corn dog was more than I could handle and I purchased one.  Oh goodness, did I get sick to my stomach!  UG!  Deep frying is BA-A-A-A-D!  Back to pies....I figured if you bake real pies, why couldn't I back my individual fruit pies?  BINGO!

4th of July Fruit Pies!
Cherry Filling:
4 cups cherries, rinsed, stemmed and pitted

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Combine cherries, sugar and lemon juice in pan and cook down until the cherries have released some of their juices, about 10-15 minutes.  Add almond extract and cornstarch.  Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes until the juice becomes a thick sauce.  Allow sauce to cool before use.

At this point you can use the premade pie crusts from the grocery store, or if you feel adventurous, you can use my recipe for pie crusts.  Roll out the pie crust and cut into 3-4 inch circles.  I used a regular cereal bowl to ensure my circles were all the same size.  Spoon about 8-9 cherries with sauce into the center of the pie crust and fold the crust over on itself.  Crimp the two edges together to create a seal.  Do your best not to let the filling seep out the edges or you will get a bad seal.  Cut a small whole in the pie and place on a cookie sheet.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees and cook for 11-13 minutes.

Glaze:  From Rebecca Rather Rather Sweet Bakery cookbook
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all together and whisk out lumps.  Use a pastry brush to brush over warm pastries.  Allow pastry to cool before serving.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

To fondant...or not to fondant....

My daughter's birthday is coming, like I mentioned before, and I have been testing out fondants and icing recipes to figure out which is the best one.  Because my little girlie only turns one once...and her first taste of yummy sweetness has to be FABULOUS!!!

I have never used fondant before and was pretty nervous about it.  I found several webs sites that instruct you on how to make and use fondant, but the one I liked the most is  The writer doesn't talk down to you and I found the information VERY helpful.   The recipe for buttercream frosting is OUTSTANDING!  I think I am going to use it EVERY time I need frosting.  I have had a life long relationship with cream cheese frosting, but I think I can now say...creamcheese frosting has its place.  **

The recipe for fondant on the whatscookingamerica site is a marshmallow based recipe.  Someone had told me about this kind of recipe in the past, but I thought they were up in the night about adding marshmallows to frosting!  They weren't. :)  While I LOVED the texture of this recipe...which made it very easy to use...the taste was WAY sugary!  I even had Alex take it into work for his co-workers to taste and get their honest opinions.  They agreed on the sugary front.  They also weren't so keen on the texture.

But look how cute and professional the cake turned out!  However, notice the right side where I tried to fold the fondant into itself.  The whatscookingamerica web site suggested using Crisco to smooth the folds, but it didn't work too well.

The second recipe I tried out was from  I was skeptical about this recipe because the reviews either loved it, or hated it.  I think this recipe is really the lesser of the two evils...the evils being the laymans fondant. :)  The consistency reminded me of play dough.  It wasn't as easy to work with and tore easily...but the TASTE WAS OUT OF THIS WORLD!  It was PERFECTLY complimentary to the buttercream frosting I got from  And when it comes to cooking...yeah, it is cool if it looks nice, but if it isn't yummy?  Why bother eating it. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Strawberry Salsa

Summer is the BEST time of year for fruit.  *Sigh*  I wish summer could last all year!  I wanted to take advantage of the FABULOUS fruit by making a strawberry salsa.  I first you think...'Strawberry Salsa?  Onions, jalapenos, and STRAWBERRYS?  BARF!'  I'm not trying to ruin the strawberries, but enhance their yumminess in new dish. :)  This is almost the exact same recipe I use for straight up pico de gallo, but with strawberries instead of tomatoes. 

I PROMISE....this recipe ROCKS!!!

Strawberry Salsa:
Pint of Strawberries
1/3 Red Onion
1 Jalapeno
1/3 cup Cilantro
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

Dice strawberies, red onion, jalapeno and cilantro into a bowl. 

Add salt and pepper, olive oil and balamic vinegar.  Let marinate for at least an hour before serving.  Serve with tortilla chips.

This would actually be GREAT over salad greens.  I added some avocado to the salsa when I thought about the salad angle.  Very tasty!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ladybug ATTACK!

That's right!  Our home has been overrun with ladybugs!  Ladybug cupcakes, that is.  My daughter's first birthday is right around the corner and I have been testing out several recipes for her birthday cake.  Since we are inviting all of her pint-sized buddies over for a birthday party, I thought I would try out some miniature desserts. 

A girlfriend of mine made these cupcakes for my baby shower when I was pregnant with Kate.  She found the recipe on  Those folks at are pretty clever when it comes to ULTRA CUTE cakes and cupcakes. 

Because the decoracting of these babies is rather labor intensive, the recipe calls for store bought cake mix, frosting and cookies.  I suppose if you wanted to go over the top, you could make the cake and frosting from scratch...however, I don't suggest it.  The novelty of these cupcakes is what makes them YUMMY!

Ladybug Cupcakes:
•1 can (16 oz) vanilla frosting
•Green food coloring
•12 unfrosted cupcakes baked in green paper liners*
•½ cup green decorating sugar
•12 green gumdrops
•3 Tbsp granulated white sugar
•Red food coloring
•½ cup red decorating sugar
•12 Mallomars
•½ can (1 cup) chocolate frosting
•24 brown M&M's Minis
•1 Tbsp chocolate sprinkles
*Green paper liners can be purchased at

What you'll need:
•A rolling pin or a heavy bottle
•Kitchen shears or scissors
•1 resealable sandwich-size plastic bag (Ziploc)

For the leaf cupcakes:
1.Tint 1 cup of the vanilla frosting green with the green food coloring.
2.Spread the green frosting evenly on top of the cupcakes.
3.Place the green decorating sugar into a small bowl. Roll the edge of each cupcake in the green sugar to coat.
4.Using a rolling pin or a clean, heavy bottle, roll out the green gumdrops in the granulated white sugar to flatten. Using kitchen shears or clean scissors, cut each flattened gumdropinto 2 leaves. Arrange the leaves on one edge of a cupcake. Repeat with the remaining gumdrops and cupcakes.

For the ladybugs:
1.Tint 1 cup of the vanilla frosting with the red food coloring.
2.Spoon the red sugar into a small bowl.
3.Cover each Mallomar with red frosting. Roll each frosted Mallomar in red sugar to coat completely.
4.Place one sugar-coated Mallomar on each leaf cupcake.

For the decoration:
1.Spoon the chocolate frosting into a resealable plastic bag and snip a small corner of the bag. Pipe a line of chocolate frosting down the center of the red cookie; pipe an oval onto the front of the red cookie for the ladybug's head.
2.Place 2 brown M&M's Minis on either side of the chocolate line; stick 2 chocolate sprinkles upright into the ladybug's frosting head.
3.Continue with the remaining cupcakes.

This recipe was so labor intensive that I omitted the rolling out of the gumdrops...SERIOUSLY!  I found some sour patch candies that cut them into the shape of leaves...that was insanely time consuming for 24 cupcakes.  I also used Oreo Cakesters instead of Mallomars.  I am not way too keen on Marshmallow unless it is on a s'more. :)  I 86'ed the sugary sprinkles too because I wanted to keep the expense to a minimum...I'm so cheap. 

I took the cupcakes to a Memorial Day BBQ and they were a HIT!  YEAH!!!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Veggie Mac 'N Cheese

My daughter is starting to eat more finger foods and I have been trying to feed her more of the food Alex and I eat.  It's amazing how you start to evaluate your meals when you know your child is going to be eating it too.  Mac 'N Cheese is a childhood favorite of every kid.  My personal favorite was the stuff in the box...UG!  One thing that has become very important to me with my daughter is to ensure she is eating unprocessed foods.  I have made her baby food since day one...(1) because I like to cook and have all the handy gadets, (2) it is CHEAP! and (3)  It hasn't sat on a shelf for who knows how long and I know what is going into her food.   Don't get me wrong, I'm not an organic zealot, I just like to know she isn't eating a lot of processed foods.  Me on the other hand...I eat WAY TOO many processed foods.  Hence the need to evaluate what things she is getting off my plate.

I found this PHENOMENAL recipe for Veggie Mac 'N Cheese at  It has all the cheesy goodness of Mac 'N Cheese...much more cheesy goodness than the boxed stuff...and it is packed with veggies.  I honestly can't get over how much I dig this recipe. 

Veggie Mac N cheese

1 1/2 cups dried tubular pasta, such as elbow macaroni
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/4-inch slices
10 oz. of frozen or fresh broccoli, stems sliced, florets separated
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup low-fat plain cottage cheese
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard (country style)
1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
4 to 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded (depends on how cheesy you want it)
4 oz. part-skim mozzarella cheese, coarsely shredded
1 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray or margarine.
2. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 4 minutes. Stir in the carrots and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the broccoli and cook for 2 minutes more. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and return the pasta and vegetables to the saucepan. Stir in the peas.

3. In a food processor, combine the cottage cheese with the reserved liquid from the cooked pasta. Add the mustard, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Stir into the pasta and vegetables. Mix in the cheddar and mozzarella and pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
4. Bake uncovered until the top is golden brown (about 20 to 25 minutes), then let it set for 10 minutes to firm up. Serves 4. Note: This dish can be prepared a day before it is baked.

I was kind of afraid of the whole cottage cheese part when I saw this recipe, but it replaces the need for making a roux.  Very ingenious on the part of the recipe-makers. :)  This was the first time my daughter had pasta, so she was kind of trepidatious.  But I suspect she is going to be shoveling this stuff into her mouth in a couple of months.