Saturday, April 30, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

My husband's absolute favorite dessert.  Brownies!  He isn't as much of a chocolate fan as me, but he loves his brownies.  This is my quick brownie recipe.  I know a lot of brownie recipes you have to melt chocolate and butter separate and add it in, but I usually don't have the time to do that so I use just cocoa in this recipe. It is always a big hit in our house.  I also prefer using a bit of leftover coffee out of my pot from that morning over using instant coffee or espresso powder, so whatever you prefer. 

To show you the peanut butter swirl.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 c. sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 c. cocoa powder
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. decaf coffee
3 tbsp. peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides. Press the paper into the corners of the pan and lightly grease the paper with butter.  Melt the 2 sticks of butter in a nonstick saucepan over medium-low heat; do not boil. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Add the sugar, coffee, eggs and vanilla to the saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.  Add the cocoa, flour, salt and baking powder and mix until smooth. Spread the batter in the prepared pan.  Add multiple "dollops" of peanut butter over the top of the batter in each corner and the middle.  Take a butter knife and simply swirl around the pan until incorporated into the brownie batter.  Then bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out fudgy, 20 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack, then use the parchment paper to lift out the brownies before slicing.  (I prefer cooling mine in the fridge then slicing.)  

Friday, April 29, 2011

Pineapple Chicken Skewers

 One of our local stores had pineapple on sale for $.99 a pineapple.  Not $.99 a pound but for the entire thing, which is awesome.  So I needed to find a few things to do with all my pineapple.  We decided to make skewers for dinner.  As much as I love to cook, nothing beats the grill.  I'll take my husband grilling over anything I can make any day.  Our grill is like a 3rd child to us.  We have one of those huge charcoal grills with a smoker attachment.  We're southern so not only do we grill often we smoke meats often too.  This is just a nice healthy, easy weeknight meal that we dropped onto the grill.  

(Yes, there is a hotdog on the plate in the back.  My daughter thinks anytime you grill hotdogs have to be grilled too!  (Go for the nitrate free all beef hotdogs though if you're gonna eat em'.)

Teriyaki Sauce: 
¼ c. Soy Sauce
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. Sherry vinegar
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
1 tsp. peeled and finely grated ginger

¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

For the skewers:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 c. pineapple, cubed
1 red bell pepper, cubed
1 yellow or red onion, cubed

First, you've got to soak your skewers so they don't burn on the grill.  Of course, you could do your skewers in the oven if you prefer.  A few hours before you want to eat, cube your chicken breasts and make the teriyaki sauce.  You just combine all ingredients in the sauce and whisk to combine.  Pour half in a bag with the chicken and allow to marinate.  The other half is to brush onto the skewers as they grill.  To assemble the skewers just alternate between peppers, pineapple, onion and chicken. Serve over brown (or white) rice. 

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes (Non-Dairy)

I posted a few weeks ago my regular buttermilk pancake recipe which is awesome.  These are an alternative.  My regular ones take a bit more time and effort.  These are my quick go-to for my daughter's breakfast.  This is actually a whole wheat pancake, non-dairy, no sugar and with added pumpkin and banana.  So if you aren't looking for something healthier, check out my regular pancake post.  If you are looking for a healthy quick pancake recipe, this is the one for you.  I use Almond Milk (plain) instead of regular buttermilk to eliminate the dairy.  I also use whole wheat flour for the extra fiber, pumpkin puree for the extra fiber and because it is high in Vitamin A.  I also ran out of Agave Nectar the other day so I used honey in this today though usually I use Agave.  The bananas are mashed and added for extra sweetness instead of using extra sweetener but you can totally leave it out if you want.  Though I don't have a problem with sugar I like to use more natural sources in things when I can.  I care very much about the things my daughter eats and like to start the day with something nutritious that isn't sugar loaded.  Now the picture does have maple syrup, that is my plate, haha!  My daughter eats hers with a thin layer of peanut butter instead of syrup to give her extra protein.  These taste great and you'd never even know they were healthy!   These freeze great.  I always make an extra batch and freeze them all.  Take one out, pop it in the microwave for 25 seconds, flip it and another 25 seconds and it makes a super easy healthy weekday breakfast for the kids or for you. My regular pancakes have the eggs separated and the whites whipped and folded into the batter,  this recipe is a quicker version of pancakes.  Which means you can do that if you have the time which will give you a much fluffier lighter pancake but these are really good without it too.  

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3 tbsp. agave nectar or honey
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
2 tbsp. canola vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. plain Almond Milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. pumpkin puree (about 1/2 of the can)
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
**optional - 2 medium bananas, mashed (very ripe)

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl.  In a separate bowl combine the honey, eggs, oil, almond milk, vanilla, and pumpkin and combine well.  In yet another bowl, mash the bananas and add it into the pumpkin mixture.  Combine the wet and dry and whisk until just barely combined, do not over mix or your pancakes won't be fluffy but more dense.  Pour into desired size on a hot buttered or oiled skillet or griddle and cook until you see bubbles on one side, then flip and repeat until both sides are golden.  Enjoy! 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Lots of Good Stuff" Cookies

My Dad gave me this recipe this week and I tried it and WOW, I absolutely loved it.  I love cookies, and am always looking to do new recipes or something different.  The cornflakes in this recipe gives it such awesome texture and taste.  I was thrilled with the results.  My husband and daughter both loved them too.  Thanks Dad for the awesome cookie recipe!! 
I will say I'm a shortening girl when it comes to my cookies but I did use butter in these ones because I was out of shortening.  So use what you like.  For crunchier cookies use butter.  For softer cookies use shortening.  I also cut this recipe in half because I tend to eat all my cookies one after the other until they are gone so to prevent me from eating too many I cut this in half.  It made about 18 good sized cookies, so I think the full recipe probably makes about 36ish.  

Lots of Good Stuff Cookies 
1 c. butter (2 sticks) room temp. (or 1 c. shortening) 
1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. crushed corn flakes
1 1/2 c. quick cooking oats
3 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. semi sweet chocolate chips 

Preheat over to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar & sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer till creamy. Beat in eggs, vegetable oil, & vanilla till smooth. Stir in cereal & oats. Combine the flour, baking soda & salt then gradually add it to the mixture. Beat till combined and stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by heaping Tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, or till lightly browned. Let cool for a couple minutes then move to where ever...Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sweet and Sour Chicken

When my husband and I lived in South Carolina we ate out ALL the time.  Granted at the time we were much younger, both worked full-time, were non-military and had no children.  Now with two young children, my husband in the military and me being a stay-at-home mom I realized the importance of cooking.  Especially in the state of Washington.  I'm not sure if we are just use to the food we use to eat in the South but I tell you the food in our area is absolutely dreadful.  I'm not saying the food in Seattle is dreadful as with two small children we don't really have the time to go there and try it and we can't really take our monsters out to anything fancy in Seattle either.  I'm speaking about our area specifically.  We go out to eat probably once every few months and it leaves us disappointed.  So I've learned to make some of our favorites.  This is one of them.  We use to get Chinese take-out all the time and we haven't found any place around here that even compared to what we were use to.  I found that most sweet and sour sauces have ketchup added which to me made it taste like a bunch of stuff with ketchup in it.  I didn't like it.  This is my own version of what I think sweet and sour chicken and sauce should taste like.  
Sweet and Sour Sauce:
1/2 c. pineapple juice
1/4 c. rice vinegar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 carrot (rough chopped)
1/4 green bell pepper (rough chopped)

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and whisk together until cornstarch is dissolved.  Allow to come to a boil and turn down to a simmer for about 10 minutes to allow flavors to combine.  Remove carrot and bell pepper before serving.  I like to add some of the pineapple into the sauce while it cooks and serve it with it as well. 


6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 c. ice cold water
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat dutch oven or deep fryer to 375 degrees.  Combine the cornstarch, flour, baking soda and water.  Add diced chicken pieces and then drop directly into hot oil.  Cook until golden brown, roughly 8 minutes.  

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Whisking Wednesdays!

Welcome to Whisking Wednesdays!

I've decided to start doing a recipe link-up party of sorts once a week to allow others to share their wonderful recipes and to help get the name of my blog out their as well.  I plan on keeping the link up and available up until the following Tuesday then will close it.  On each Wednesday I'll pick the Top 3 from the following link and post them for everyone to see.  Thank you all for visiting!   

The Rules:
  1. Please link up to the URL of your post, not the URL of your main blog. When it asks for "Name", type in the name of your dish or treat.
  2. Please leave a link back to this post in your post or Grab My Button.
  3. Share your delicious dishes or treats from this week. If you've made more than one during the week, feel free to link them all up.
  4. Leave me a comment and let me know that you've linked up.
  5. Please visit at least two others and comment on their dishes or treats they've added to this party.
This weeks theme is going to be just your favorite recipe you've made from the week.  Whether it is a dessert, breakfast, dinner or snack of sorts.  


      Tuesday, April 26, 2011

      Lemon Pound Cake

      So I've been on this lemon kick and have made all sorts of lemony delicious desserts in the last week or so.  I got this lemon pound cake recipe from the Barefoot Contessa cookbook I have.  This is the first pound cake I've made.  It turned out fantastic.  I'd say out of all the lemon desserts I've made in the last week or so this one by far was the best.  The cake was super moist and had such a great tartness to it from the lemon. I'd say the level of lemon in it from the cake itself to the glaze and icing was perfect.  My husband gets lemon pound cake everywhere we go that has it as it is one of his favorites.  He said this one was by far the best he has ever had.  So this will definitely be something we make again in this house.  The only real thing I changed from the recipe was the recipe said this made 2 separate cakes but I added it all to one pan and felt the size was perfect.  I think adding it into two separate pans the cakes would be too thin.  

      Lemon Pound Cake

      2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp.
      2 1/2 c. sugar
      4 large eggs, room temp.
      1/3 c. grated lemon zest (6-8 large lemons)
      3 c. flour
      1/2 tsp. baking powder
      1/2 tsp. baking soda
      1 tsp. kosher salt
      3/4 c.  freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
      3/4 c. buttermilk
      1 tsp. vanilla extract
      Simple Syrup:
      1/2 c. water
      1/2 c. sugar

      2 c. powdered sugar
      3 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper.  I did because I have sticking problems if I don't.  Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cake is done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and set it on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan.  Poke holes all over it with a skewer before pouring syrup to allow the syrup to get into the cake.  Just don't poke the holes through the cake completely.  Spoon the lemon syrup over it. Allow the cake to cool completely.   For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of the cake and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

      Monday, April 25, 2011

      Gooey Chocolate Pudding Cake

      I saw this recipe on that new show on Food Network Dessert First over the weekend and just had to try it.  It looked so gooey and chocolately.  I didn't have any ice cream to serve mine with so had to settle for just whip cream but it really was good and super simple to throw together.  Everyone really liked it.  If I had it on hand I'd use the Hershey's Dark Chocolate Cocoa instead because I think that'd make it even richer and I'm all about richness in a dessert, especially a chocolate one!  I'm already thinking of ways to play with this recipe and make it even better so will have to update once I do that.

      Gooey Chocolate Pudding Cake

      Pudding Cake:
      3/4 c. sugar
      1 c. all-purpose flour
      1/4 c. cocoa powder
      2 tsp. baking powder
      1/4 tsp. salt
      1/2 c. milk
      1/3 c. butter, melted
      1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

      1/2 c. sugar
      1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
      1/4 c. cocoa powder
      1 1/4 c. hot water

      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. For the cake: Whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Whisk in the milk, butter and vanilla. Stir together until smooth with a wooden spoon or spatula. Pour the batter into an ungreased 9-inch square baking pan. Use an offset spatula to level into pan. For the topping: Whisk together the sugars and cocoa and sprinkle it evenly over the batter. Pour the hot water over the top, resist the temptation to stir it into the batter. Bake about 20-25 minutes, you want the center to bubble and look almost set, almost like an undercooked brownie. Take out of the oven and let stand 15 minutes. Serve in dessert dishes, spooning sauce from bottom of pan over top. Serve with ice cream, if desired.

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      Sunday, April 24, 2011

      Challah French Toast

      Something I've started doing every Easter in my house is making a Challah Bread French Toast for brunch.  I love french toast, well anything with syrup really!  You can use any bread you want in this recipe I just made Challah Bread the day before specifically to make for today.  I find that using Almond Milk gives the custard mixture a very subtle nutty flavor which I really like.  But since Almond Milk is quite light, like a skim milk, I also use a bit of half-n-half as well to make it a bit more rich.  If you can't have dairy you can use all Almond Milk and it is still awesome.  Despite all my dairy rich recipes I actually try to limit the dairy intake in our household for me and my daughter and most weekday mornings make this recipe with no dairy and using Whole Wheat Bread.  This is a versatile recipe and hope you enjoy it!

      French Toast
      4 eggs
      3/4 c. Plain Almond Milk
      1/4 c. Half-n-Half
      2 tbsp. orange juice
      1 tsp. ground cinnamon
      1 tbsp. sugar
      8 slices of bread 
      Powdered Sugar, for dusting
      Pure Maple Syrup

      Combine the eggs, almond milk, half-n-half, orange juice, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and whisk until the eggs bubble a bit and there are no big lumps of cinnamon.  Preheat your skillet or griddle and add either a bit of butter or non-stick spray.  Dunk each piece of bread into the custard mixture and drop on the griddle.  Cook just a few minutes on each side and flip once the first side is a light golden brown.  I like to sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar on mine and serve with Pure Maple Syrup. 

      Breakfast Casserole

      When I was a little girl I remember every weekend, usually on a Saturday, we would get up at 6:00 a.m. and rush to leave the house to go to Cracker Barrel for breakfast.  We had to go early because they made this absolutely fantastic breakfast casserole and they sold out of it every single morning.  If you got there after 9:00 a.m. it was gone.  Well I haven't lived in the South in many years now and have learned that if I want the same good old southern cooking that I was use to and loved that I'd have to learn to make it all myself.  This recipe, in my opinion, is just like that Cracker Barrel breakfast casserole I had growing up.  It took me a bit to perfect it and I tell you what, it is delicious and you won't be disappointed!

      Mine is a ham and cheese breakfast casserole but you can cater this recipe to whatever you like in it.  I love adding spinach into mine too, though I didn't do that today.  Now the bread part may sound odd, but trust me it works and you don't even really know it is there.  I like to use potato bread but you can use any sort of bread you have on had.  At times I even use a hamburger bun or hot dog bun if that is all I have.  I also use a round dish as shown in the picture.  You can use a square or rectangular one as well but will have to adjust the cooking time for it, I would guess it would take less time than the circular one I use.  Just keep an eye on it and start checking it after 30 minutes.  Wait until it is golden brown and the egg in the center looks cooked completely.   

      Breakfast Casserole

      8 large eggs
      1/2 c. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
      1/2 c. colby jack cheese, shredded
      1/2 c. diced ham
      1/3 c. sour cream
      1/3 c. half-n-half
      2 pieces of bread
      Salt & Pepper

      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a casserole dish with non-stick spray.  Tear up your 2 pieces of bread into roughly 1-inch pieces until the bottom of your casserole dish is covered with the bread.  You don't want a thick layer of bread, just enough to barely cover the bottom of your dish.  Now combine the eggs, sour cream and half-n-half in a bowl and whisk until well combined.  Your sour cream will not dissolve completely you are just whisking it enough to get rid of the larger lumps and distribute it throughout the eggs.  Now add in your cheese and ham and again whisk until well combined.  Pour into your casserole dish and bake for 45-50 minutes our until golden brown and the center has set.

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      Challah Bread

      I made this bread specifically to make french toast for Easter.  I love Challah Bread as it has a light but rich eggy texture with a hint of sweetness.  It is good with just a smear of butter.  Though it is fantastic as french toast or even bread pudding or just all by itself.

      Challah Bread

      3 - 3 1/4 c.all-purpose flour
      2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast (or 1 package)
      1/4 c. sugar
      2 large eggs + 1 egg separated (reserve egg white for egg wash)
      4 tbsp. butter, melted (1/2 stick)
      1/2 c. + 1 tbsp. warm water 

      Take 1/2 c. of warm water and add yeast and 1 tsp. of sugar and allow to rest for a few minutes.  In a medium bowl whisk together 3 cups of flour, sugar and salt and set aside.  In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix together the water and yeast mixture, 2 eggs, egg yolk, and melted butter.  Add the flour mixture using the dough hook on low speed until a ball of dough forms, roughly 5 minutes.  If necessary add up to another 1/4 c. of flour 1 tbsp. at a time.  In a small bowl whisk the remaining egg white and 1 tbsp. water together for the egg wash, cover and refrigerate for use later.  Remove the dough from the mixer and place in a large lightly oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat with the oil and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to rise 2 hours. Press gently to deflate, recover and allow to rise another 1 hour.

      Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide the dough into 2 pieces. One should be roughly half the size as the other.  Divide the large dough into three separate but equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a 16-inch long rope and 1-inch in diameter.  Line up the ropes side by side and braid them together pinching the ends of the braid to seal them.  Place the large braid on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Now divide the second, smaller, piece of dough into 3 equal pieces and roll into a 16-inch long rope and 1/2-inch in diameter.  Again, braid together pinching the ends together to seal the braid.  Brush some of the egg wash on the large braid and then lay the smaller brain on top of the large braid.  Loosely drape the loaf with plastic wrap and allow to rise another 45 minutes or until puffy and increases in size by about 1/3.

      Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Brush the entire loaf with the remaining egg wash.  Bake the loaf about 20 minutes or until golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the side of the loaf reads about 175 degrees.  Let cool completely before slicing.  

      Saturday, April 23, 2011

      Lemon Bars

      I've never tried lemon bars before but have been on a lemon kick this week and decided to give them a shot.  I found that most people really liked the Barefoot Contessa version of lemon bars and since I always find that Ina's recipes turn out really well decided to try these.  I found a slightly modified version of this recipe on Smitten Kitchen decreasing the lemon filling to make a more 1:1 ration between the filling and crust and thought that'd work better for what I was looking for.  I was not disappointing.  These bars were fantastic.  They had such a nice lemon punch to them but were still sweet and the shortbread crust was just awesome.  If you love lemons then this is definitely something you want to try.  

      Shortbread Crust:

      2 sticks unsalted room temp. butter
      1/2 c. sugar
      2 c. flour
      1/8 tsp. salt

      Lemon Filling:

      4 large eggs, room temp.
      1 2/3 c. sugar
      1 1/2 tbsp. lemon zest (3-4 lemons)
      2/3 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
      2/3 c. flour

      Powdered sugar, for dusting

      Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 pan.  You may want to even grease the pan, add parchment paper to the bottom and sides to pull out the bars when cooled and grease the parchment.  For the crust start by creaming the butter and sugar in the mixer with paddle attachment.  Add in the flour and salt and mix until just combined.  It'll look crumbly.  Pour onto a hard surface and push it all together to get it into a rough ball.  Then put into your pan and push it down to form the crust.  You'll want about 1/2 inch around the edges.  Go ahead and chill for about 20 minutes.  Then bake until light brown, roughly 15 minutes.  Leave the oven on but let the crust start to cool while you make the lemon filling.  Whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and flour until completely combined.  Pour over the crust and bake about 25 minutes or to the point where the filling is just set.  Allow to cool to room temperature and then dust the top with a generous layer of powdered sugar.  Cut into bars or triangles.  

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      Beef & Broccoli Stir-Fry

      This is one of the many different types of stir-fry recipes I use in our house.  I love making stir fry because you can take what you have in the house and throw it together.  You can use chicken, pork or beef.  You can throw in broccoli, peppers, onions, mushrooms, asparagus, sugar or snap peas.  Whatever you have and whatever you like can be combined into one delicious stir-fry.

      Beef & Broccoli Stir-Fry

      1 egg white
      3 tbsp. rice vinegar
      2 tbsp. corn starch
      1/3 c. orange juice
      1/4 c. soy sauce
      1/4 c. mirin
      2 garlic cloves, minced
      1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
      3 lb. Flank Steak
      1 head of broccoli
      4 mini sweet peppers
      1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
      1 tsp. canola oil

      At least 1 hour before you want to start your stir-fry prepare the meat tenderizer and toss with the meat. This is 1 egg white, 1 tbsp. corn starch and 1 tbsp. rice vinegar. You don't want to do this too far ahead of time because the vinegar will start to break down your meat.  Whisk together and add to a large ziplock bag.  Take the flank steak and cut strips against the grain of the meat (cut the opposite way the lines are going on the meat to prevent it from being tough).  In a separate bowl toss the orange juice, soy sauce, mirin, 2 tbsp. rice vinegar, garlic, ginger and 1 tbsp. corn starch and whisk and set aside.  Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add a bit of salt.  Blanch off your broccoli by simply placing it in the boiling water for about 2 minutes and taking out.  Set aside to toss in your sauce later.  Use a wok or skillet on a medium high heat and in batches sear off the meat until nice and brown on each side and put aside on a separate plate until all meat is seared.  You don't need to cook it fully at this point because it will cook more in the sauce.  Now add the vegetables such as the broccoli and peppers with 1 tsp. oil and begin to saute.  You want to give them about 5 minutes.  Add in your sauce and beef and cover and allow to thicken a bit and give it a cup turns to coat everything.  Top it with seseame seeds.  Serve over rice or something else great to try is regular spaghetti noodles cooked and then tossed into the pan and covered with the sauce.

      Friday, April 22, 2011

      Lemon Yogurt Cake

      This is the first time I've made this cake.  I've been craving lemony things the last few days so wanted to try some new lemon desserts.  I wanted something similar to a pound cake but without all the butter and figured with yogurt this would be a better option. It was awesome though I would do things a bit different next time.  I jumped the gun totally and didn't allow the cake to cool before trying to cut it.  What, I was hungry!  So not only did it fall apart but that ruined basically all pictures I could take of it too.  Once I allowed it to cool though the rest of it cut nicely.  So I'd suggest to wait until this cake cools completely before digging in. Plus I ran out of parchment paper so I just greased my pan.  The bottom stuck and ripped parts off.  Next time, I'd make sure I had the parchment down to prevent that since this is quite a sticky cake.  The glaze didn't get into the cake enough either so I'd use a skewer and put some holes all throughout the top next time before pouring the glaze over.  I used canola oil instead of vegetable oil just because canola oil is a healthier oil for you.  I had low-fat plain yogurt on hand so that is what I used, but you can certainly use whole milk yogurt if you rather.  All in all, really tasty.

      Lemon Yogurt Cake

      1 1/2 c. flour
      2 tsp. baking powder
      1/2 tsp. salt
      1 c. plain yogurt 
      1 c. sugar 
      3 large eggs
      1 tbsp. lemon zest (3-4 lemons)
      1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
      1/2 c. canola oil

      Simple Syrup:
      1/3 c. sugar
      1/3 c. lemon juice


      1 c. powdered sugar

      2 tbsp. lemon juice

      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Then make sure to grease and flour the parchment paper and rest of the pan.  Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.  In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 c. of sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil.  Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet.  Pour the batter in the loaf pan and bake 50-60 minutes or until a knife is inserted and comes out clean (sharp knife or skewer not a butter knife).  Set the cake aside to start to cool while making the simple syrup consisting of 1/3 c. of lemon juice and 1/3 c. of sugar.  Heat on medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup starts to look more clear.  Take the cake out of the loaf pan and place on a serving platter or cooling rack and use a skewer to poke holes in it so the syrup will penetrate more of the cake.  Don't poke through the cake, just into it. Then pour over the syrup.  Do this 10-20 minutes after the cake comes out of the oven, when it is still warm but not too hot.   Once cooled completely pour the glaze over the cake.  Just combine the powdered sugar and 2 tbsp. of lemon juice and pour.  


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      Wednesday, April 20, 2011

      Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Muffins

      We all need a little bit of healthy every now and again.  After pie and cake in the last week or two I'm needing to make some healthy things for my family.  So I started with these muffins for breakfast today.  My daughter and I both eat whole wheat breads and I enjoy cooking with whole wheat flours but my husband isn't a fan of anything healthy or whole wheat.  So the test after making these muffins were to see if my husband would even eat them.  The verdict.  No.  He said they were good, but he is turned off by the whole wheat flour.  So I'd say to anyone use to eating only white flour start out using half whole wheat and half white flour for a better flavor until you are use to the whole wheat flavor.  Also, use whole wheat pastry flour as it is a much lighter whole wheat and has a better taste than regular whole wheat flour.  I think whole wheat breads and muffins and such are just an acquired taste.  My daughter and I both really enjoyed these.  I like splitting them in half and smearing some peanut butter on them for another added health benefit instead of any sort of butter or jelly.

      You don't have to use strawberries either.  I really love these with a pint of fresh blueberries or just use bananas and nuts.  Any fruit that you really enjoy can easily be diced up and added to this. 

      Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Muffins

      2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
      1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
      1 tsp. baking soda
      Pinch of salt
      1/2 c. brown sugar
      1/2 c. sugar
      1 egg, room temp, slightly beaten
      1 ¼ c. buttermilk
      1/3 c. canola oil
      1/4 c. plain yogurt
      3 medium bananas, very ripe and mashed
      1 pint of strawberries (or blueberries)

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugars.  Add mashed bananas, strawberries, buttermilk, yogurt, oil and egg.  Bake 20-24 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when interested. 

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      Tuesday, April 19, 2011

      Beer Braised Pot Roast

      Tonight was pot roast night.  Gotta love pot roast.  It tastes like you spent all day slaving over the stove creating this amazing dish when you really just threw a bunch of things into a pot and let it cook a few hours with almost no effort.  That is why I love making it.  Seems that my dinner and dessert tonight were both out of a cookbook instead of my own tweaked recipes but again like the Molten Lava Cake, sometimes you find a recipe that is just so awesome there is no reason to change it.  I got this recipe out of The Neely's cookbook quite some time ago and just love it.  I do add a bit more broth (for extra gravy, of course) and carrots to mine though because I love carrots that have been slow roasted with meat.  If you want throw in some potatoes too!

      Beer Braised Pot Roast

      2 tbsp. olive oil
      4 lb. chuck roast
      12 oz. beer (I like usually use either Dos Equis or Rolling Rock)
      1 ¼ c. beef broth
      2 (.7oz) envelopes of Italian Dressing Mix
      3 bay leaves
      10-12 garlic cloves, smashed
      1 bag peeled, roughly chopped carrots

      Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Heat oil in dutch oven. Generously salt and pepper the meat and sear in pan.  Turn off heat, whisk beer into dutch oven scraping brown bits off bottom and whisking until foam is almost gone.  Stir in broth, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, garlic and carrots.  Cover and bake 3 hours or until tender, turning over half way through.   

      Molten Lava Cake

      Sometimes you find a recipe and it needs to be tweaked to make it more suited for you.  Other times you find a recipe and it is so perfect that it can't possibly be improved upon.  This is one of those recipes.  I'm not positive but I think this may originally be a Paula Deen recipe (though I do use different chocolate than she uses in her original recipe).  I've been making it for a few years now and will say this is a chocoholic's dream.  This is the most rich, decadent dessert there is and surprisingly easy to make.  My sister is pregnant and craving chocolate.  Granted, I don't think she actually intends to make this but asked me to make it and post it so she could look at it.  So, I'm here now with 6 Molten Lava Cakes which will probably add about 5lbs to me simply so my pregnant sister can look at the pictures.  The things I do for you Erika!  

      Molten Lava Cake

      4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
      4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
      10 tbsp. butter (1 1/4 sticks)
      1/2 c. flour
      1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
      3 whole eggs
      3 egg yolks
      1 tsp. vanilla
      Pinch of Salt

      Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease 6 small individual sized custard cups. Melt the chocolates and butter in a double boiler. Add the flour and sugar to chocolate mixture. Stir in the eggs and yolks until smooth and lump free. Stir in the vanilla. Divide the batter evenly among the cups. Place in the oven and bake for 13-15 minutes. The edges should be firm but the center will be gooey. Run a knife around the edges to loosen and invert onto plate.

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      Monday, April 18, 2011

      Corned Beef & Egg Sandwich -"The Leewich"

      I made my husband an egg, cheese and corned beef sandwich when he came home for lunch today.  He loves his eggs over easy so when I do egg sandwiches for him I always do them over easy despite the mess factor.  When I cut the sandwich open and put it down in front of him he asked me why I wasn't taking pictures of his sandwich.  I told him the sandwich wasn't anything special, just a sandwich but he was so excited about his ooey gooey egg yolk mess that he insisted I take pictures of it for my blog.  So, the picture is of him holding up the sandwich for me to take a picture.  I made myself one as well and I do agree with him, it is a fantastic sandwich though nothing overly special.  So he felt this sandwich should be named after him (his name is Lee) hence the name "Leewich".  It is manly man sandwich.  My husband is on a high protein diet as well as he lifts weights a good bit so I always try to make him high protein lunches.  This sandwich packs a whopping 48 grams of protein.

      The Leewich

      2 slices of toast
      3 oz. corned beef, thin sliced
      2 oz. provolone cheese
      2 eggs

      Spray pan with nonstick spray and drop in your two eggs.  Cook them how you like.  I choose to do ours over easy.  While they were cooking I toasted my bread.  I added mayonnaise to one side and mustard to the other.  I added the eggs.  Then I placed the corned beef in the hot skillet and cooked until warm.  I added the cheese on top of the corned beef in the skillet it to allow it a chance to melt.  I then added it on top of the eggs.  Hope you enjoy!

      Pumpkin Streusel Pie

      It doesn't have to be Fall to have Pumpkin Pie.  Who doesn't love Pumpkin Pie!?  Actually I had an extra pie crust since my pie recipe makes 2 pie crusts and needed to figure out what I had in the house that I could make with only 1 stick of butter and no chocolate.  I always have canned pumpkin in my house because I use it in everything from pancakes, donuts to oatmeal.  Plus, I figure since the weather here in Washington is still freezing and we had snow just days ago I can still get away with making Fall/Winter favorites.  I've put my pie crust recipe after the pumpkin filling recipe.  You can always use a store bought crust as well. 

      Pumpkin Streusel Pie

      Pie Filling:
      1 15oz. can pure pumpkin 
      3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
      1/3 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
      2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
      2 tsp. ground cinnamon
      1/2 tsp. salt
      1 c. heavy cream
      1 c. pure maple syrup
      3 large eggs, beaten

      Streusel Topping:
      1 c. chopped pecans
      1/2 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
      4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
      1 tsp. ground cinnamon
      6 tbsp. unsalted butter, diced, cold 

      Combine the pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, flour and salt in a mixer with whisk attachment and beat until just combined.  Add in cream and syrup and beat again.  Stop and scrape down sides and add in eggs and beat until combined.  Pour into pie crust and bake 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Then turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake another 35 minutes.  While it is baking combine all streusel ingredients in a bowl and use a fork or your hands and crumble it together until the butter is about the size of peas and almost all streusel mixture is sticky and crumbly.  Take pie out of oven and sprinkle streusel all over the top of it.  Place back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before serving so pie has time to set.     

      Pie Dough:

      3 c. flour
      2 tbsp. sugar
      1/2 c. shortening
      1 1/2 (12 tbsp.) sticks butter
      1 tsp. salt
      1/2 c. ice cold water

      Place the shortening in fridge ahead of time or freezer to get it nice and cold before you prepare the dough.  Dice the butter and place it to the refrigerator. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the very cold butter and very cold shortening. Pulse a few times until the butter is bite size. Turn the machine on and slowly add the ice water down the feed tube until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball.  Divide and press into a flat circle and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle.  This makes 2 pie crusts.  The other can be refrigerated a few days or placed in the freezer for later use.  Make sure to spray your pie pan before rolling it out though to prevent it from sticking once it is baked.   

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      Sunday, April 17, 2011

      Mama's Meatloaf

      Tonight was meatloaf night.  Most people think of meatloaf and cringe as everyone has had a bad meatloaf a few times in their life.  I made meatloaf a few years ago and thought that it was so boring.  I decided something that is such an American classic, like meatloaf, shouldn't be boring.  You should bite into it and your taste buds should soar, as you close your eyes and sigh.  I've tried so many different types of meatloaf and none of them were what I was looking for...until now.  I named this one "Mama's Meatloaf" because everyone always remembers their mom's meatloaf and I hope one day when my kids grow up they rave about how their Mama's Meatloaf was the best they ever had.  

      *NOTE:  If you don't like the texture of onions and are thinking of leaving them out I have a solution for that.  My husband and daughter won't eat an onion if they see it, so I have to put forth a bit more effort when making this to keep them happy but still worth it.  Follow the recipe except after you saute the onion and garlic add it to a blender.  Add in the chicken stock and Worcestershire sauce and puree until lump free.  Add in the tomato paste and eggs (and make sure it is cool enough to not scramble your eggs) and give it another whirl. To make up for pureeing the onions which adds a bit more moisture you will need to increase your bread crumbs to 1/2 c. instead of just 1/3 c. Then add this entire mixture into your ground beef.  

      Mama's Meatloaf

      1 tbsp. olive oil
      1 whole small onion, diced
      3 garlic cloves, minced
      1 tsp. ground thyme
      2 tsp. salt
      1 tsp. black pepper
      2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
      1/4 c. chicken stock
      2 tbsp. tomato paste
      1 1/2 lbs. ground beef 
      1/3 c. plain panko bread crumbs
      2 large eggs, beaten
      1/4 c. ketchup  

      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Add onions and olive oil to a saute pan and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes.  Add in garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Add in tomato paste and cover the onions in it, thin out with the chicken stock and Worcestershire sauce.  Place the ground beef in a large bowl.  Add in the beef, salt, pepper, bread crumbs, eggs, thyme and then the onion mixture and mix until just combined.  I find it best to use my hands so I don't overwork the meat.  Place in a loaf pan or free form the loaf on a baking sheet.  Pour the ketchup over the top of the meatloaf.  Bake 45-55 minutes or until internal temperature is at about 160.  Allow to rest about 10 minutes before slicing.