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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Juice Box Wings

Another dish featured at my 24x24 party was this one, which represented "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close", a movie that I'm pretty sure would have me bawling about 10 minutes in.   The star of the film is a boy who lost his father in the World Trade Center on 9/11.  Enough said.

Through my research on the film I found that he drank a lot of juice, so, I thought I'd incorporate that into whatever dish I chose.  These wings were perfect since they were a finger food, like many of the others...and how could you possibly go wrong with wings in the first place anyway?

These are a big crowd pleaser and honestly, my 3 year old daughter could throw these together.  Easy is an understatement.  Yum!

Juice Box Wings
2 pounds chicken wings
2 cups orange juice
2 cups soy sauce
2 teaspoons garlic powder

Combine all ingredients, making sure wings are completely coated.  Marinate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place wings and juice in baking dish and bake for about 60 minutes.

Linked to: Tastetastic Thursday

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Here's what I got from Lidia!

I'm taking a recipe break today to show you what has happened since I won Lidia Bastianich's contest!

Check out my loot!  6 cookbooks, all SIGNED by Lidia herself...3 beautiful baking/casserole dishes (one of which dinner will be served in tonight)...4 boxes of Lidia's pasta (not shown) and 2 jars of her sauce (this will be one time I'll allow the jarred variety in my house!)

Then, yesterday, my winning Pasta e Fagioli recipe was posted on her website!  Click here to see it on there.  My first time published...woohoo!

It also landed on her Facebook page again, and her team tweeted about it as well.

Next week, Lidia and I will chat via phone for about half an hour.  I CANNOT WAIT!  I have so many things I want to talk to her about!  If you had the opportunity, what would you ask her?


Monday, February 27, 2012

Mini Croques Monsieur

Well, by now we know which picture took home the Academy Award.  I have no idea if this dish accurately represents the winning film, but I didn't want to stay up until the end of the show and then write my post :)

If you read my blog post yesterday you got a recap of all of the dishes I made for my 24x24 party.  The first recipe I'm sharing is what I made to represent the film "Midnight in Paris".  This delicious sandwich is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and is very easy to make.  I'm wishing I had one right about now, as I sit here and watch Billy Crystal kick off the show...

Stay tuned for more of my party recipes in the next few weeks.  Hope your favorites took home Oscars last night!

Mini Croques Monsieur
slightly adapted from Kitchen Illiterate

12 thin slices cut from French baguette
fontina cheese (use whatever cheese you like, but I HIGHLY recommend fontina)
dijon mustard
3 eggs
salt and pepper

Beat eggs in a bowl and add salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Assemble sandwiches by spreading mustard on each side of bread, then add cheese and ham.  Melt butter in a skillet.  Generously immerse sandwiches in egg and place in skillet.  Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until cheese is melted.  Serve immediately.

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Foodbuzz 24x24: A Tribute to the Best Picture Oscar Nominees of 2012!

I was so excited when I received the email from Foodbuzz that my 24x24 proposal had been accepted this month!  Planning a menu and party around a theme is always fun, and I had a blast with this concept.

For those of you not familiar with 24x24, it's a virtual party sponsored by Foodbuzz each month, where 24 bloggers' proposals are chosen to be executed in the same day.  Since the assigned party date was the day before the Academy Awards, I thought it would be fun to come up with an event based on it.  Then I thought, why not devote one dish to each movie nominated for Best Picture?  Awesome.  Except, I hadn't seen any of the movies...

Frank and I have never been big movie goers...and now our trips to the theater are to see whatever Disney film is playing.  But, we love watching movies at home, and I LOVE watching the Oscars...especially the Red Carpet portion :)  So, I did a little research on each film and came up with rough ideas for each of them, finalized the menu, went shopping, and got to work.

My family got together and enjoyed the feast (like we do most weekends anyway!) while listening to tunes from our favorite movie soundtracks.  The dishes were mostly of the picky/finger food variety, which was what I wanted, since there were 9 of them.  I wanted everyone to enjoy a little portion of each.

All of the recipes will be featured in the next few weeks, but the dishes were as follows (alphabetized by movie title):

For "The Artist" - Crostini with Goat Cheese and Olive Tapenade.  I went with something black and white since, well, that's what the movie is :)

For "The Descendants" - Pineapple Coconut Ice Cream.  It brought us right back to Hawaii.

For "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" - Juice Box Wings, based on the juice boxes that Thomas Horn's character is seen drinking throughout the movie.

For "The Help" - Chocolate Pie.  If you read the book or saw the movie, you definitely know why this dish was a no-brainer.

For "Hugo" - Herb Mushroom Quiche with Puff Pastry, shaped as hearts to match the key ring that is significant in the film.

For "Midnight in Paris" - Mini Croques Monsieur.  When in Paris...

For "Moneyball" - Salty Sweet Candied Peanuts.  A fun spin on ballpark food!

For "The Tree of Life" - Death By Chili.  I thought a comfort food dish was fitting based on the movie, and made an extra batch of my chili that won FOUR awards at a competition I was in the week before the party!  Much more to come on this...

And finally, for "War Horse" - Raw Kale Salad with Walnuts, Pecorino & Lemon, a farm to table dish which is appropriate for this movie's theme.

We had a great time - it really was a lot of fun!  I can't wait to share all of the recipes with you.  Enjoy the Oscars!

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Broccoli Soup

I got super excited when I saw the theme for the next recipe swap.  Soup.  Love in a bowl, in other words.

I also got super excited when I saw Sarah's recipe that I was assigned.  Yum.  Not that this week has been soup-friendly weather (um, hello 60 degree weather in February, NJ!) but really, is there ever a bad time for soup?

I don't think so.

And yes, I did add the unnecessary cheese on top.  I suggest you do the same.

Broccoli Soup
from A Taste of Home Cooking

2 pounds broccoli, separated into florets and chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts only, chopped
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 quarts chicken broth
fresh lemon juice to taste
salt and pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add onion, celery, leek and broccoli with a little salt and pepper.  Saute until onion is soft, about 10 minutes.  Add flour and stir to combine.  Cook for about 4 minutes.  Gradually add broth to pot, whisking to work out any flour lumps.

Bring soup to a simmer and and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Puree soup using a stand or immersion blender.  Stir in lemon juice, add cheese, and season to taste.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ginger Soy Glazed Tilapia

Lent is here, which means that for many of us, meatless meals are in demand.

So once again, I turn to good ol' tilapia.  This dish was a big winner in our house!

Easy with a capital E.

Ginger Soy Glazed Tilapia
heavily adapted from Epicurious

4 tilapia filets
canola oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons sliced fresh ginger
chopped scallions

Season fish with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in a skillet and add fish to pan.

While fish is cooking, add remaining ingredients to a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, allowing it to thicken a little bit.

Remove fish from pan and plate.  Add sauce on top and sprinkle chopped scallions over it.  Serve immediately.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes

Last year, when my adorable nephew turned one, I made these beauties.  This year, his mom requested simple yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting, but of course I had to make them just a little bit festive.


It's as simple as adding some sprinkles to the batter and on top of the delicious frosting - the same two recipes I used for Frank's cake.

Can you believe how big this bundle of love is getting?  I think it's pretty safe to say he loved his cupcakes.

Then again, what little boy wouldn't love a cupcake on a Buzz & Woody plate?

Happy 2nd Birthday, Nicky!

                  Sweets for a Saturday

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Caramel French Toast

Happy Fat Tuesday!  How will you be indulging today?

Chances are, if you're REALLY hardcore about celebrating, you'll need a serious breakfast to start repairing the damage in the morning.  So, before beginning the festivities today, whip this up and stick it in the fridge.

You could even enjoy it as a midnight snack :)

Have FUN!

Overnight Caramel French Toast
from Mr. Breakfast

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
12 (approximately) slices bread (I used challah)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Grease a 9x13 baking pan.  Bring brown sugar, butter and corn syrup to a boil.  Remove from heat and pour into baking pan.

Add approximately 6 slices of bread (or enough to cover pan).  Combine sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, then sprinkle mixture over bread.  Top with remaining bread.

Beat eggs, milk, vanilla and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon together.  Pour evenly over bread, making sure all is coated.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for around 30-35 minutes.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Crockpot Sausage, Peppers & Onions

It's crockpot time again!  Can't get enough of these easy dishes that make my life on office days a lot more simple.

I've made this several times before and although it goes against all things crockpotting, I have to say...don't skip the browning the meat step.  It makes the meal MUCH better.  It only takes about 10 minutes, and this time around I actually did it the day before.  Easy!

We ate this two nights in a row...sandwiches the first night, over pasta the second night.  Like I said...easy!  And of course, delicious.

Crockpot Sausage, Peppers & Onions
3 pounds Italian sausage, cut into 1" chunks
3 bell peppers, cut into strips
2 large yellow onions, sliced
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon italian seasoning
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 cup dry white wine

Heat a little oil in a skillet and add sausage.  Cook until brown on all sides, then add to crockpot along with the rest of the ingredients.  Cook on low for approximately 4 hours.  Serve on bread or over pasta.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Fig & Gorgonzola Stuffed Pork Chops

This is another one of those "come up with something to get rid of stuff" meals.  My pork chops were defrosting and I had some gorgonzola cheese to use up.  So, I immediately reached for the dried mission figs in my pantry (yep, you guessed it - Trader Joe's) and came up with one of the simplest dishes ever.  And the taste, well, is far from simple.

The amount of time needed in the skillet will vary, depending on the size of your pork chops.  As you'll see, there's no pan sauce here, and as long as you don't overcook your meat there's definitely no need for one.  They're juicy and delicious all on their own.

You could easily sub lots of things for the stuffing...it's all about what you have in the house.  Be creative! Just remember that you may need to add spices or other extras if your ingredients are more bland than what I used.  Mine were so powerful, I needed nothing else.

Fig & Gorgonzola Stuffed Pork Chops
2 thick boneless pork chops
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
1/4 cup chopped dried mission figs

Slit pork chops horizontally through the middle, about 3/4 of the way through, creating a pocket.  Season both sides of chops with salt and pepper.  Mix figs and cheese together in a bowl, then divide mixture evenly among each chop.  Pack it in as far as you can to keep mixture from falling out.

Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat.  Place chops in and leave on each side for approximately 5-7 minutes (time will vary depending on thickness).  DO NOT overcook!

Remove chops carefully from pan and serve immediately.

Linked to:  Fig Blog Hop

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Honey, Walnut & Cranberry Granola

I realized it had been a while since I made a new type of granola.  Plus, I bought my first bag of flax seed (is it sad that I was somewhat excited about this?) and thought this would be a nice way to start using it.

I threw together what was in my pantry that I consider "granola friendly" and was very pleased with the end result.  Been loving it with my morning yogurt!  Yum.

Honey, Walnut & Cranberry Granola
3 cups old fashioned oats
3 tablespoons flax seed
2 cups walnuts
1/3 cup honey
3 tablespoons unsalted melted butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Combine all ingredients except cranberries in a large bowl and mix.

Line baking sheet with parchment and spread granola evenly on it.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes, mixing it around halfway through.  Let cool completely, add cranberries and mix.  Store in airtight container.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tilapia Francese

Tilapia is a beautiful thing.  And it can be turned into many beautiful things.

And what makes it even more beautiful is that it takes just minutes to make.


Tilapia Francese
slightly adapted from Vero Italiano

3 pieces tilapia
1 egg
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste

Place flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper.  Beat egg with 2 tablespoons of water in a bowl.  Gently place tilapia on plate and coat lightly with flour on both sides.  Place in egg wash, then back in flour.

Add butter and oil to hot skillet over medium heat.  Place tilapia in pan and cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side.  Add lemon juice and wine and cook for another 5-7 minutes.  If sauce gets too thick add a tiny bit of water.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Top with lemon slices and chopped parsley.

Linked to: Tastetastic Thursday

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day! (What's Baking?)

Well, unless you don't own a computer, you are fully aware of all of the Valentine's Day related posts that have been bombarding the blogosphere the past few weeks.  I think I'm the only one who didn't participate in the madness (what is wrong with me?).

So, I figured I'd make up for it in two ways.  I decided to:

1- choose a non-edible item for Valentine's Day...one that has also been bombarding the internet!
2- choose a non-edible item for our What's Baking? challenge this month (hey, they had to baked!)

Like I said, unless you don't own a computer...

Bella and I baked these adorable crayons yesterday for her classmates.  Believe me - if we were allowed to give out edible treats for their party today, I would have been ALL over that.  But because a few of her classmates have severe allergies, it isn't permitted.

I don't know if it's because I'm the least creative, crafty person out there, but I had a hard time with these!  There are several reasons why...but, rather than embarrass myself by listing them, I'll give you a few tips at the end of this post that may make this project easier for you.

And by the way, these should not be considered solely for Valentine's Day...I think they'd make great birthday favors, or a rainy day project with the kiddies.  You could also make different shapes depending on the theme you're working with.

Sandra from She Cooks and Bakes challenged us this month to make special Valentine treats, with the option of using related colors.  As you can see, these crayons definitely cover that :)

Heart Shaped Crayons
as seen everywhere on Pinterest...for more pictures see Sillie Smile

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Soak crayons in warm water and peel off paper.  Break crayons into smaller pieces (and don't forget the crayon scraps all over the house!) and place in each muffin mold.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes.  The crayon mixture will be very jiggly when you take the pan out.  Place in a very cool area (I put it outside) and let cool and harden completely.  Pull sides of mold away from crayons and gently pop them out.

Wrap or package them however you like.

I used a silicone Wilton pan to make these.  The pan only has 6 hearts.  So, I had to wait for each pan to cool completely before being able to start on the next batch (and it didn't help that half of each batch broke when I was taking them out...grrr!).  So, you might want to have a few pans on hand, depending on how many you need.

In retrospect, I would have filled my molds up more (and baked them longer) so the crayons ended up being thicker.  Then maybe none of them would have broken!  They don't rise at all, so consider filling them about 2/3 or 3/4 of the way.

Lighter and brighter colors look much better than darker/duller ones.

Hope everyone enjoys their Valentine's Day!  I've got a box of chocolates my little angel bought me that I'll be diving into later :)

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Crockpot Italian Chicken

Before Frank and I were engaged, over 7 years ago, I had never used a crockpot.  One of my favorite engagement gifts was a big, beautiful, sparkly 6 quart slow cooking beauty made by Cuisinart.  And the very first dish I made in it was this, an original creation of mine.  

My crockpot's been seeing more action lately, particularly on the days I'm in the office.  I made this again recently and it brought me back to the early days when it was bright, shiny and new.  The lady's got some miles on her but she's still going strong.  

I never gave this dish a name before because, well, I didn't have to.  I didn't really know what else to call it so Crockpot Italian Chicken it is.  It really doesn't matter - what matters is that you make this soon.  Unless you'd rather not make your life much simpler and eat a delicious dinner at the same time.  Then you should just have your head examined ;)

Crockpot Italian Chicken
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (can be frozen)
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup red wine
1 large onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups fresh or frozen green beans
1 (10 ounce) package button mushrooms
2 cups baby carrots
1 cup pitted green olives
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper
Pasta of your choice, cooked

Place all ingredients except pasta in crockpot.  Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-7 hours (remember, cooking times vary for each one!).  Serve over pasta.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Mushrooms

Don't be a hater.  Brussels sprouts really are delicious.  Now, can someone please tell that to my husband?

What about you?  Lover or hater?

Try this dish - it'll convert you if you're the latter, for sure.

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Mushrooms
slightly adapted from TasteFood

1 pound brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon truffle oil (optional)

Wash brussels sprouts.  Trim ends and remove any discolored leaves.  Cut in half, top to bottom.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add brussels sprouts and cook until they begin to color, about 3 minutes.  Add mushrooms and garlic and saute another 2-3 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup chicken stock and cook until it evaporates, stirring over medium heat.  Add soy sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, another 2 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat.  Drizzle with truffle oil and toss to combine.  Serve immediately.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Coffee Cake Muffins

10am playdate.

Hostess says she'll have fresh fruit.  Plus she's making quiche.  And sangria.

So what do you bring?

These beauties.

Coffee Cake Muffins
from Mark Bittman, via The Chicagoist

5 tablespoons butter, melted, divided
2 cups AP flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk, plus more if needed

For the topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts, pecans or cashews

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line muffin tins with paper liners.  In a small bowl, mix topping ingredients together, along with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter.  Set aside.

In another bowl, mix together flour, sugar and baking powder.  In a third bowl, mix milk, egg and remaining 3 tablespoons of melted butter together.

Make a well in dry ingredients, add wet to it, and blend.  Fold until dry ingredients are wet, then add in half of the brown sugar/nut mixture.  Batter should be lumpy, not smooth, and thick but very moist.  Add more milk if needed to achieve this consistency.

Spoon batter into tins, filling them about 2/3 of the way.  Sprinkle remaining brown sugar/nut mixture on top.    Bake 20-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let rest at least 5 minutes before serving.

Linked to: Sweets for a Saturday

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Braised Short Ribs

There are so many great things about comfort food.  The way your house smells, the slow and low cooking process, the way it makes you feel...and of course, the taste.

This dish is no exception.

Remember this the next time your body is craving some comfort, or when you're entertaining a crowd...this dish can easily be multiplied.  And then you'll have the same crowd banging your door down the following weekend.

Excuse the less than satisfactory picture, but I couldn't wait another minute to eat.

Braised Short Ribs
from Anne Burrell

6 bone-in short ribs (about 5 3/4 pounds)
kosher salt
extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 1/2 cups tomato paste
2-3 cups red wine
2 cups water
1 bunch fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
2 bay leaves

Season ribs with salt.  Add oil to oven safe pan large enough for all the meat and vegetables and bring to high heat.  Brown meat well, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Cook in batches if necessary so as not to crowd the pan.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  While meat is browning, puree vegetables and garlic in food processor until a coarse paste forms.  Remove meat from pan and drain fat.  Coat pan with fresh oil and add vegetables.  Season generously with salt and brown until dark and crud has formed on bottom of pan, 5-7 minutes.

Scrape crud and let it reform.  Scrape again and add tomato paste.  Brown tomato paste for 4-5 minutes.  Add wine and scrape bottom of pan.  Lower heat if paste starts to burn.  Cook until reduced in half.

Return meat to pan and add 2 cups of water, or until water has just about covered the meat.  Add thyme and bay leaves.  Cover pan and place in oven for 3 hours.  Check occasionally and add more water if necessary.  Turn ribs halfway through cooking time.

Remove lid 20 minutes before end of cooking time to let sauce reduce.  Meat should be tender and fall right off the bone when done.  Serve with braising liquid.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Italian Bread

Slowly but surely, I'm getting over my fear of yeast.  It really isn't as intimidating as I originally thought it was.  Which is a good thing and a bad thing.

It's good because now I'm happy to take on new challenges in baking with it.

It's a bad thing because then I've got stuff like this hanging around the house.

You will not believe how easy it is to make this Italian bread, until you do it yourself.  Unreal!

Italian Bread
slightly adapted from Southern Living

1 (1/4 ounce) envelope active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
2 to 3 cups AP flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Combine yeast, sugar and water in mixer bowl.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Add 2 cups flour, oil and salt and beat at low speed, using dough hook attachment, about one minute.

Gradually add additional flour until dough starts pulling away from sides of bowl (the dough will take on a "shaggy" appearance as you add the flour...consistency is right when it's soft and smooth, not wet and sticky or dry and rough).

Increase speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm area free of drafts, 30 minutes or until doubled in size.  Punch dough down and let stand for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and shape into a 12" loaf.  Place on lightly greased baking sheet.  Cut 3 (1/4 inch deep) slits diagonally across top of loaf with a sharp knife.

Bake for about 16 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Mocha Chocolate Morsel Cookies (Secret Recipe Club)

Secret Recipe Club is back in business after taking a month off!  This time around, I was assigned Deeba's blog, Passionate About Baking.  Deeba has some great recipes, most of which are very sinful desserts...right up my alley!

I actually opted for one of the easier ones, and made them this past weekend for my cousin's Super Bowl party...a HUGE deal in my family since we're big Giants fans.  Needless to say, we're VERY happy today with our champions!

These cookies were not only delicious, but really easy to make.  They're cute little things!  I appropriately decorated them with blue, white and red sprinkles...you can use whatever you like.  

Mocha Chocolate Morsel Cookies
slightly adapted from Passionate About Baking

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon instant espresso grinds
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
pinch of salt
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
sprinkles or other toppings

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl.  Meanwhile, combine flour, baking soda, coffee, cocoa and salt in a bowl.  

Add egg to butter mixture and mix, then add vanilla and mix.  Slowly add flour mixture in and mix until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on sheets.  Press down gently with a fork, then add sprinkles.  Bake for approximately 16-18 minutes.  Cool on racks.

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Mediterranean Couscous

Incase you haven't noticed by now, we're big into mediterranean dishes and flavors here.  I seem to always have the ingredients on hand, which makes it easy for me to come up with different ways to use them.

I've made something similar to this many times, most recently when we had greek pork tenderloin (you can even see it on the plate with the pork in that post).  I could eat sides like this every day.  So easy, so fresh, so delicious.

You could even throw the pork directly into it...or shrimp, chicken, salmon...you get the idea.  And if you haven't tried Israeli couscous before, now's your chance!  I buy it at Trader Joe's.  Love it.

Not too many exact measurements here, as you can see...just taste as you go along.

Mediterranean Couscous
1 box Israeli couscous (1 1/3 cup), cooked according to package instructions
feta cheese (plain or Mediterranean flavored, crumbled)
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 large tomato, chopped
12 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
chopped parsley
extra virgin olive oil
freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
dried oregano

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix.  Refrigerate and serve cold later, or serve immediately warm.

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tres Leches Cake

Another year, another birthday...yes, as I told Bella, today is my 29th birthday ;)  And even she let out a big laugh, as if she knew there was no way that was the truth!  Ha.

We celebrated on Sunday with the family - as usual, honoring mine as well as my Mom's, whose birthday was last week.  Last year I made each of us a separate cake.  This year, I took the easy way out and made just one...and of course, I let Mom decide what kind.  I thought about making my own cake last night...then thought again...maybe I'll make one this weekend...we'll see :)

I'm not sure how I'd top this one anyway.  OMG.  Even my Cuban sister-in-law approved.

This cake should be illegal.  And the fact that it's so easy to make makes it even more dangerous.

Honestly, I may just make this again.  After all, I only had one piece...even less than that little cutie pie had.


Either way, I know I'll be making this again, VERY SOON.


Happy Birthday to me!  Hoping for some magical things to happen this year...we'll see!

Tres Leches Cake (see below for a few special instructions)
from The Boastful Baker

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for baking dish
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
5 large eggs
1 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (14 ounces) can sweetened condensed milk
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter a 9x13 baking pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.  In a mixing bowl, beat eggs and 3/4 cup sugar on high until pale and thick, about 4 minutes.  Add vanilla and beat until combined.

With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture.  Beat until combined.  Fold in melted butter with a rubber spatula until incorporated.

Transfer batter to baking dish and bake until top is golden brown and toothpick comes out of center clean, about 30-35 minutes, rotating dish halfway through.

Beat all three milks together in a medium bowl.  Poke warm cake all over with a toothpick then pour milk mixture over entire cake.  Let cool to room temperature, about one hour.

Whip cream and remaining 1/4 cup sugar to medium peaks.  Spread evenly over cooled cake.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

**I made the cake and refrigerated it overnight (after I poured the milk into it), then made the whipped cream and topped it the next day.  Dee-licious.

**Like the original recipe suggested, I dissolved about a teaspoon of gelatin in a bit of water and mixed it into the cream before mixing.  It did a great job stabilizing it...to give you an idea, the first 2 pictures in this post were taken the day after I covered the cake with the cream.  I highly recommend this step!

Linked to: Sweets for a Saturday
                 Sweet Treats Thursday

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Turkey Sloppy Joes

There are different meals that are staples in certain homes.  If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know what some of ours are :)  What are yours?

One meal that I know is a popular staple with some families is sloppy joes.  And that's great.  It's just not something I remember eating much at all growing up...and until now, a meal that I never made.

All I picture when I hear the words is a Manwich can.  Do they even make that anymore?

Anyway, the mood struck me recently, and I caved.  With a healthier version.  On homemade rolls (another first!!!  recipe coming soon).

Thumbs up for sure.  This could be a new staple for us...and hopefully for you, too!  You could even make it your healthy option for Super Bowl Sunday, that is, if you're considering one :)

Turkey Sloppy Joes
slightly adapted from Martha Stewart

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped carrots
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 pound ground turkey
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 sandwich rolls

Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.  Add carrots, onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 4-5 minutes, until soft.

Add tomato paste and cook another minute while stirring.  Add turkey and cook another 4-5 minutes until no longer pink, while breaking meat up with a spoon.

Add tomatoes, sugar, vinegar and Worcestershire.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 12-14 minutes.  Serve on rolls.

Linked to: Tastetastic Thursday

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