Sunday, November 25, 2007

Weekend Baking

Blondies and Brownies

I had some helper's in the kitchen and we decided to make so blondies and brownies. These turned out to rave reviews. When deciding what to add to the blondies I asked "chocolate chips or M&M's" my 3 1/2 year old niece looked at me puzzled and then said "BOTH". So that is what we did. Dark Chocolate M&M's and Nestle Chocolate Chips. I used the basic blodie recipe from my Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook. Below is the recipe I used for the brownies. I didn't use nuts in this batch.

Baker's One Bowl Brownies

4 squares BAKER'S Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
3/4 cup (1-1/2 stick s) butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. va nilla
1 cup flour
1 cup coarsely chopped PLANTERS Pecans

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Line 13x9-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Grease foil.

MICROWAVE chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and pecans; mix well. Spread into prepared pan.

BAKE 30 to 35 min. or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove brownies from pan, using foil handles. Cut into squares. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.

Soup Soup

I again wanted to spend some time in the kitchen making some soup. I saw this tomato soup recipe and thought it sounded amazing. I had some red skins left from Thanksgiving so I did a little altering to my regular potato soup.

Roasted Tomato Soup

(From the "What's Cooking" Nest Website)

3 lbs ripe tomatoes cut in half
1/4 c. plus 2 T. olive oil
1 T. kosher salt
1.5 t. pepper
2 c. chopped onion
6 garlic cloves
2 T. butter
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
3 c. chopped (canned) tomatoes, with their juices
1 28 oz. can of peeled Plum Tomatoes with basil (I added this not on original recipe)
2 c. fresh basil leaves
1 t. fresh thyme leaves (I omitted and added some pasta seasoning in it's place)
4 c. chicken stock

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Toss tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread tomatoes in 1 layer baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.
3) In an 8 quart stockpot over medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic with 2 T. olive oil, butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes until the onions start to brown
4) Add the canned tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock.
5) Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 min.
6) Pass through food processor.

Red Skin Potato Cheddar Soup

8 slices of Bacon diced

1 C Onion diced

1 C Carrot diced

1 C Celery diced

5 Garlic Cloves

8 C Red Skin Potato (cut into chunks)

4 C Chicken Broth

2 C 2% Milk

¼ lb Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Cook the diced bacon in large pot until crispy. Add onions, garlic and celery and cook until onions are slightly browned add carrots and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and mix well. Add chicken broth and cook until potatoes are tender. Place mixture into food processor in batches. Add milk and cheese and heat until cheese is melted in.

Salt and Pepper to taste (will need quite a bit). Serve with shredded cheddar sprinkled on top.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Leftovers= Frittata

Turkey &Brie Frittata with Red Skin Hash Browns
All leftovers
1/2 Cup Finely diced red onion
1 Cup Finely diced leftover turkey
Sautee in Oven safe frying pan
Scramble 4 eggs with a little milk. Pour into the pan and allow to cook for a few minutes. When just about set add sliced brie to the top. Allow to set a little more. Place pan under the broiler for about 5 minutes until nicely browned.

In another frying pan add leftover mashed potatoes and flatten out and cook until crisp for hash browns.

Thanksgiving Dishes Part 3 THE TURKEY!

The Main Dish

So I started with a 19lbs butterball turkey. I decided to attempt a brine since I had brined a chicken a few weeks ago and the results were fabulous. I purchased Williams Sonoma Apple and Spices Turkey Brine and prepared per directions. Brining a 19lb bird is quite and undertaking. But I was up for the challenge. The turkey brined for about 20 hours overnight in the fridge. After brining rinse the turkey really well. I was cooking my turkey in a bag.
1. Pour some flour into the bag.
2. Place the turkey in the bag and fill both cavities with quartered oranges, onions and whole garlic cloves.
3. Rub the turkey with Mediterranean Medley Dry Rub (I received this in a gift package with some other ingredients, I have used on chicken before, it is outstanding. This is the link I found on google.
4. Drizzle honey all over the turkey.
5. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for about 2 hours and 45 minutes. The temp needs to be checked regularly to make sure it isn't overcooked.

The reviews of the turkey were outstanding. I actually forgot to take any pictures of the turkey but I have one of my uncle slicing it so we will see if this shows the final product well enough.

The Gravy

Well I will not say that my gravy turned out great. But it was pretty impressive for the first attempt. Gravy is something that will need some more practice. I did learn some lessons in the process. They gravy is pretty good, but too thick because of too much flour. This is the basic process I started with.
1. Add 1 small jar of store bought turkey gravy.
2. Add 3 cups of chicken stock.
3. Gradually add flour to increase the consistency.
4. Add a slurry (corn starch and cold water) to thicken.
5. Add in some fresh turkey drippings.
6. Continue to heat stirring frequently.

My mistake was that I didn't realize how quickly the gravy would thicken as it cooled. The taste is good but it definitely needs some more liquid. I may try to "fix" the leftovers today just as a challenge. So I will give my self a B grade on my first gravy attempt.

Thanksgiving Dishes Part 2

Sweet Potato Side Dish
This was by far my favorite dish I made this year. I made it up as I went along and I am very impressed at how yummy this turned out.

6-7 Medium Sweet Potatoes

Poke each potato 4-5 times with a fork or knife bake in oven at 425 for about 1 hour (stick a fork in to make sure they are soft on the inside).

Once slightly cooled remove all the skins and place into large bowl.

¼ Cup Butter
1/3 Cup Honey
¼ Cup Maple Syrup
Mash all ingredients together.

Place into casserole dish. (I made this a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator)

1 Cup Crushed Pecans
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

Fork together the pecans and brown sugar and pour over the top of the sweet potatoes. Place in the oven to reheat and form a slight crust on the top. For me in was about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.


1 1/2 Cups chopped Celery

1 Cup diced onion

2 tsp dried sage

In a Dutch oven with preheated Olive Oil saute the above ingredients for a few minutes. Add in the following:

3 diced apples (golden delicious, small sized apples)

1 package of Pepperidge Farms Herb Stuffing Mix

Stir the above ingredients together. Then add

3 Cups Chicken Stock

2 Cups Apple juice

Keep stirring the mixture until you get your preferred consistency.

Add in the following

1 cup of toasted chopped almonds.

1/2 cup of raisins

Place the mixture in a baking dish and heat in the oven until slightly crispy on top. For me it was about 30 minutes in a 35o degree oven.

Garlic Mashed Redskins

Nothing too fancy here. Mashed potatoes are one of the easiest dishes to make. They are also pretty hard to screw up. For my Thanksgiving Mashed I boiled red skins with skin on until tender. I mashed with the typical butter, milk, salt and pepper. I also added in some fresh minced garlic.

Corn with a twist

To spice up frozen corn add finely diced red onion and red pepper. Salt & Pepper to taste. Place in baking dish add a little chunked butter and microwave for 5 minutes.

Cranberry Dressing with a Pop

1 can whole cranberry sauce

3 sliced and diced clementines

Allow to sit overnight to allow flavors to blend.

My Thanksgiving Dishes Part 1

Dale and I hosted Thanksgiving this year. I have made turkey's a couple times before, but never done the whole Thanksgiving meal myself. My Mom brought some green bean casserole and a pumpkin pie. But I handled the rest. I will go in order of preparation.

Apple Pie
I was going to make a Dutch Apple Pie, but half way through I decided to just to traditional. I used Pillsbury roll out pie crust for both pies.
5 1/2 cups of Golden Delicious Apples (peeled, sliced and diced)
3 TBS of Flour
1 Cup Sugar
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
Mix all ingredients together and pour into 9" Pie shell.
2 TBS butter (in little chunks)
Dot with butter. Place second pie crust over the top and flute the edges. Cut in X in the top to allow for venting. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and sugar.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and the apple mixture is bubbly inside.

Mixed Berry Pie
Costco sells a frozen mixed bag of berries. It has Raspberries, Blueberries and Marionberries.

4 Cups of berries
3 TBS Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1 TBS Lemon Juice
1 tsp cinnamon
Mix all the ingredients together and allow to thaw for about 45 minutes.
Place 1 crust in a 9" pie plate. Pour the berry mixture in the pan dot the mixture with chunks of butter (1 TBS). Place the second crust over the top and flute the edges. Cut an X in the top to allow venting. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and sugar.
Bake for 15 minutes in 450 degree oven. Reduce the temperature after 15 minutes to 350 and bake for an additional 35-40 minutes or until the edges are slightly browned and the contents are bubbling. (This recipe was adapted slightly from "Applegate River Blackberry Pie" from "Retro Pies" Cookbook)

Dinner Rolls
This recipe was adapted from 2 recipes. It was from the Honey Whole Wheat Bread recipe I mentioned in a previous post and a classic roll recipe from a church camp I used to work at during the summers in college.

1 oz yeast
2 ½ Cups Warm Water (110 degrees)
1 Cup honey
2 tsp. salt
½ Cup melted butter
3 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
5 Cups AP Flour (may need a little less or little more depending on how it feels while kneading)

Dissolve the yeast in warm water. Add honey, salt and melted butter and mix well. Add whole wheat flour and blend until mixed well. Add in flour 1 cup at a time. Leave 1 cup aside for the kneading (dough should be sticky). Allow dough to rise (double in size). Knead the dough, adding flour as you go. The dough should not be sticky at this point. Form dough into balls to make rolls. Place on greased baking sheet less than an inch apart. Allow the rolls to rise for at least 1 hour. Can be left over night in the refrigerator.

Bake 350 for 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned

Rub melted butter on the tops of the rolls with a pastry brush just after removing from the oven.

Makes about 40 rolls.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

This recipe is originally from The original calls for 1/3 cup of honey. From suggestions given the honey should be increased so I use 2/3 cup. I have made this a few times and decided to again this past weekend. This is a really good and easy bread recipe. I have altered before into rolls and those turn out great too.


2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup honey

1/3 cup vegetable oil

5 cups all-purpose flour


Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add honey, and stir well. Mix in whole wheat flour, salt, and vegetable oil. Work all-purpose flour in gradually. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for at least 10 to 15 minutes. When dough is smooth and elastic, place it in a well oiled bowl. Turn it several times in the bowl to coat the surface of the dough, and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Punch down the dough. Shape into two loaves, and place into two well greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise until dough is 1 to 1 1/2 inches above pans.

Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes.

Potato Soup

Potato Soup

8 slices of Bacon diced

1 medium Onion diced

1 C Carrot diced

1 C Celery diced

5 Garlic cloves minced

8 C Potato cut into small pieces (5-6 medium)

4 C Chicken Broth

2 C 2% Milk

1 ½ C Flour

Cook the diced bacon in large pot until crispy. Add Onions and allow to cook for a 2-3 minutes. Add Celery, Carrots and garlic. Sautee for 5 minutes. Add the Potato and Chicken broth. Cook until potatoes are tender (about an hour). Add Milk and Flour and blend with immersion blender (or hand mixer). Allow to cook for about 10 more minutes.

Salt and Pepper to taste. Serve with shredded cheddar sprinkled on top.

Chicken 5 Bean Chili

I have made this before with rotisserie chicken but never recorded the recipe. I used chicken breasts this time.

Chicken Chili
4 Chicken Breasts cut into bite sized pieces
(I sprinkled with 2 tsp of Emeril's Southwest seasoning to marinate)
Saute the chicken in some olive oil
After chicken is cooked add the following
1 can each chili beans in sauce & diced tomato "chili ready"
1 can each chili beans & Garbanzo beans
2 cans each diced tomato, tomato paste, black beans, red kidney beans & white beans
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
1 tsp green pepper sauce
Simmer for 2 hours.

Squash &Zucchini Cakes

I bought yellow squash and zucchini and wasn't sure what I should do. I got some suggestions to do a fritter and then found this recipe. They were tasty, but I made them too large. I also cooked on a griddle with canola oil instead of butter. This recipe is from Paula Deen on the Food Network.

Paula Deen's Squash & Zucchini Cakes

Cream of Broccoli & Asparagus Soup

So I had some fresh broccoli and asparagus that I didn't think I would use before it went bad. So I got to thinking and thought that the combination would be good. This is the recipe.

Cream of Broccoli & Asparagus Soup

¾ cup diced red onion

1 cup diced celery

(sauté for a few minutes in butter and olive oil and salt & pepper)


4 cup broccoli pieces

2 ½ cup asparagus pieces

Cook for about 5-10 minutes


5 cups chicken broth

Simmer for about 30 minutes until the veggies are tender

Place all ingredients in blender (in batches)


2 cups milk

1/3 cup flour

Simmer for 10 minutes

Add some pepper to taste

Add ½ package of cream cheese

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mail/Internet Order Places

Hi I thought I would post some Raves of some of the places I have tried. Sometimes you wish to send something and can't think of ideas. Here are some. Enjoy!

Dale and Thomas Popcorn
I first saw this in Reader's Digest. I also found out that it was one of Oprah's favorite things. They have many flavors and are very tasty.

Dancing Deer Baking Company
I was sent brownies from here before and they were delicious. They came in the coolest wooden box.

1800 Bakery
I purchased a birthday cake that I sent to someone. It came with the cake, utensils, candles. It got rave reviews.

Pro Flowers
I have purchases flowers online for my Mom and Mother in Law often. I have found these to be the freshest flowers you can get. The prices are inline with the others.

PB Loco Peanut Butter
They have all sorts of different flavors. This also got rave reviews.

Serendipity 3 in NYC
I received a yummy frozen hot chocolate mix from here. It came in such a cute package.

Garden Fresh Salsa Company
This is a Michigan company. Their products are in the mid-west. I don't know how far they go. But these are the ultimate tortilla chips.

1154 Lill Studio
Design your own handbags and wallets. These are awesome gifts. I was given one of these as a bridesmaid gift. I also have sent these out to others. So fun to design!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Shredded Carrots Galore

I needed to "practice" grating with my food processor. I bought the 11 Cup Processor earlier in the summer, but with moving haven't had much time to use it. So what should I shred?? How about some baby carrots. So I ended up with 6 Cups and couldn't think of anything else to do with them but make a carrot cake. But because I had 6 and the recipe only calls for 3 I decided to make 2 batches of cake. The second batch I made 1/2 into 12 cupcakes and 1/2 into a loaf of bread. Here is the basic recipe from Betty Crocker's Cookbook: Bridal Edition


1 1/2cups granulated sugar
1cup vegetable oil
2cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
2teaspoons ground cinnamon
1teaspoon baking soda
1teaspoon vanilla
1/2teaspoon salt
3cups shredded carrots (5 medium)
1cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Cream Cheese Frosting

1package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4cup butter or margarine, softened
2to 3 teaspoons milk
1teaspoon vanilla
4cups powdered sugar
1.(I combined this frosting recipe with another and omitted the milk and used 1/2 cup of softened butter)

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom and sides of one 13x9-inch pan or two 8-inch or 9-inch round pans with shortening; lightly flour. In large bowl, beat granulated sugar, oil and eggs with electric mixer on low speed about 30 seconds or until blended. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, 1 teaspoon vanilla and the salt; beat on low speed 1 minute. Stir in carrots and nuts. Pour into pan(s).
2.Bake 13x9-inch pan 40 to 45 minutes, round pans 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool rectangle in pan on cooling rack. Cool rounds 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
3.In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla with electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, on low speed until smooth and spreadable. Frost 13x9-inch cake or fill and frost round layers with frosting. Store in refrigerator.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

House Pics!!

Pardon the "non-staged" pictures. But I thought since I had taken some pictures I would post some.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Thank you to my coworker's garden!!!!

A slew of cherry tomato and a couple zucchinis made this recipe. I was so happy with this dish I made it twice in 3 days.
Sauté the following in Olive Oil
1/2 red onion diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 diced/sliced zucchini (small pieces so they cook quick)
Couple hand fulls of Diced cherry tomatoes
I had about 1 1/2 Cups of leftover rice that I added.
Then I added Chicken broth and parmesan cheese to make a creamy risotto type dish.

WC Platinum Chef Challenge

This was my first Challenge. The ingredients were *Grapes*Basil*Rice*Avocado*Black Beans.
I was excited for these ingredients. I had two dishes that are in my regular rotation that include these.
#1 Avocado Tomato Side Salad (I guess I should get a clever name for this). I have made this a few times and needed to tweak it a bit to include the grapes.
Makes 2 servings
1 avocado sliced
1 medium tomato sliced (I have used yellow tomato in the past)
dried basil sprinkled on top (We dry our own)
splash of balsamic (so how do I incorporate the grapes you ask?) So I just used the food processor to make a grape balsamic dressing. It was really tasty!

Black Bean Burritos (Again this is something in the regular rotation)
1 can of black beans drained and rinsed
1 can of corn
1 packaged of frozen Trader Joe's Brown Rice
2 TBS of Shredded Cheddar Cheese
World Harbors Fajitas Seasoning
Put all ingredients into a sauce pan and heat until the cheese melts and the rice is rehydrated.
Scoop ingredients into Whole Wheat tortilla shells. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Cookie Cookies Cookies

Here are the cookies I made
1. Bakingblondes wonderful coconut toffee cookies (with chocolate chips instead of toffee)
3. Snickerdoodles
4. Peanut Butter Oatmeal Rounds with Chocolate Chips
5. Chocolate Crinkles

This was the first time baking in my new oven. I used the convection setting. 1 and 2 turned out perfect. The BBFCC cookies are excellent! Bakingblondes cookies are fast becoming my favorite (even though I adjusted the recipe I will still give her the props).
Problems came with 3 and 4. Some how the oven turned off. I guess I need to figure out the buttons a little better. But what resulted was a very flat snickerdoodle and some slightly over cooked peanut butter oatmeal rounds. But I figured out the oven issue and the chocolate crinkles turned out pretty well.
LESSON LEARNED BUTTER CANNOT BE SUBSTITUTED FOR SHORTENING!!! (fine I get it!! ) This assisted the snickerdoodle spread.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

My new Kitchen sink!!

This is a look at my new sink. :)

About the new house

We decided to buy a house that is new construction. The house was built up to the point of drywall and then the original buyers backed out. So the design of the house was set, but all the interior options were ours to make. The builder made it easier for us by having limited choices. I liked it better this way. I couldn't imagine making every decision from scratch.
We decided to buy a new bedroom set and a dining room table. Any other needed furniture will be down the road. The bedroom set is pictured below.
We close on 8/15. I am getting super excited. Most of the major things are complete (plumbing, counters, cabinets, floors). We are getting carpet tomorrow. Tonight we do the walk through with the builder.
Now it is time to get some landscaping done. I am getting some quotes this week.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tonight's Dinner

We had Ahi Tuna, Hawaiian rice, and brown sugar/honey glazed carrots. I marinated the Tuna in teriyaki sauce that was blended with some pineapple juice and then grilled to rare. The rice was the brown frozen rice from Trader Joes (plain). I chopped up some red onion and pineapple and sauteed with the rice. I tossed in some toasted almonds. The carrots were baby carrots that have been quartered, placed in foil pouches and sprinkled with a bit of brown sugar and honey, closed up and then grilled.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sunday Night Dinner

We had shrimp tacos for dinner with a black bean and corn salad.
For dessert we had grilled peaches with a mixed berry sauce topped with a dollop of Cool Whip Light.

For the tacos:
2 Avocados
1/2 yellow tomato
1/2 red tomato
1 lime
tsp of chopped garlic
salt and pepper
Marinated in Tequila Lime and Grilled
Whole Wheat Tortilla Shells

Black Bean Salad
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can corn (rinsed and drained) [I used frozen but the equivalent of 1 can]
1/2 yellow tomato diced
1/2 red tomato diced
1 small green pepper (home grown so very small) diced
1 small spicy pepper (very finely diced)
1/4-1/2 cup store bought fajita seasoning
Few splashes of hot sauce

Friday's Dinner

I made BBQ Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts. These were marinated in lemonade concentrate and then coated in Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce and Grilled to perfection.
On the side were grilled onions marinated in a bit of red wine and some Montreal Steak Seasoning (One of my favorite Secret ingredients).
I sliced zucchini into long thin strips covered in Olive Oil, garlic, and Salt and Pepper.
I grilled both the onions and the zucchini along side the chicken.
I sliced whole wheat bread in half and topped with a little tomato tapenade that was given to me as a gift.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Let's Talk about my new kitchen

This is the granite sample we are going to have in our new kitchen. It is called VERDE BUTTERFLY!

My First Entry

Let's see how easy this is to use! Well this is my favorite bottle of wine.