Friday, January 29, 2010

Morning Ode to Muffin

Hello muffin...oh how happy I am to see you... I love your cute little wrapper that holds all of your goodness in. Your soft fluffy insides stuffed with yummy goodness is so tempting to me. And your top...oh my....crispy and sweet...There is only one thing I love more than you....the muffin sitting next to you.

SUNSHINE MUFFINS
2 Cups AP Flour
¾ cups sugar
2 tsp. Baking powder
½ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Cinnamon
3 tsp. orange zest
¾ cup milk
1 stick of butter melted
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 egg beaten
1 cup pineapple
½ cup grated carrot
1 cup very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup berries,

combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in wet ingredients with a spoon until just combined. Lastly, fold in berries, carrots, pineapple and bananas. Spoon into muffin pans lined with muffin cups. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 24 minutes.

The End

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Love You Pumpkin

I was just thinking as I was getting ready for bed...Hmmm what are you...(yes I mean you) having for breakfast? You have been so loyal to me and I just want you to know that even if I don't tell you enough...I appreciate you! So I thought you might want a fabulous breakfast in the morning...you deserve it...and since I can't be there to make it for you, I thought maybe you could make it. And if you don't have any pumpkin right now, no worries, it will make a fantastic "breakfast for dinner" dish as well. I hope you enjoy it and have a wonderful day!

PUMPKIN PANCAKES

1 ½ cups all purpose flour, unbleached
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
¼ cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk dry ingredients in a bowl. Whisk wet ingredients together and pour onto dry and mix into the dry ingredients. Stir until smooth. Brush a skillet with butter o oil and heat over a medium heat. Pour ¼ cup of batter on heated skillet and cook until bubbles form ( about 1 or 2 minutes) and flip cooking for about a minute more.



Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bella Notte

Oh this is the night.....it's a beautiful night......and we call it bella notte.....look at the skies....they have stars in their eyes....on this lovely bella notte......

A few weeks ago I had a hankering to go to a popular Italian restaurant here in town. This particular restaurant specializes in “family style” fare like spaghetti with meatballs and lasagna. So we packed up the kids and grandma and off we went. It had been many years since I had been to this establishment and we had never taken our kids there. When the food arrived, I was quickly reminded why we do not frequent that restaurant often....Out of the bottle style spaghetti sauce. Booooring! There is just nothing that can replace a good old fashioned home made spaghetti sauce. Which brings on the following question...Spaghetti sauce or Pasta sauce? What do you call it?
The definition for Pasta Sauce:
spaghetti sauce: any of numerous sauces for spaghetti or other kinds of pasta wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
A tomato sauce is any of a very large number of sauces made primarily out of tomatoes, usually to be served as part of a dish (rather than as a condiment). Tomato sauces are common for meat and vegetables, but they are perhaps best known as sauces for pasta dishes.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasta_sauce
Any of many sauces designed to be served with pastaen.wiktionary.org/wiki/pasta_sauce
The definition for Spaghetti Sauce:
any of numerous sauces for spaghetti or other kinds of pasta wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
A tomato sauce is any of a very large number of sauces made primarily out of tomatoes, usually to be served as part of a dish (rather than as a condiment). Tomato sauces are common for meat and vegetables, but they are perhaps best known as sauces for pasta dishes.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaghetti_sauce
Quite frankly they look like they are the same thing. The way I figure it- if you call it spaghetti sauce you should serve it on spaghetti noodles (or should I call it spaghetti pasta- what is the difference between a noodle and a pasta??) And really, is it as cute to hear a child ask for "Pasta please"or "Pa-Sket-EE please"?
So, the moral of this post is to:
A) call it pasta sauce
B) call it spaghetti sauce
C) stay at home and make this very simple recipe instead of paying way too much for average sauce


Home Style Spaghetti Sauce

1 pound ground beef
1 1/2 cup onion, diced
1 cup bell pepper, preferably yellow or red
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup mushrooms,sliced
1/2 cup black olives,sliced
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup zucchini, chopped *optional
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 bay leaf

In a heavy skillet, brown the ground beef together with the onion and peppers. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for at least 30 minutes. I prefer to simmer for an hour,uncovered to thicken the sauce. Serve over spaghetti pasta and with fresh warm bread. YUM!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pizza Night

Hey there...my favorite reader...my only reader...yes mom, I so appreciate that you read my blog. I totally understand that you think it is an absurd waste of my time, but I need an outlet for all of my culinary adventures. Remember the other day when I made that super yummy pizza? Well,here is the recipe for the crust...only because I love you so much! This pizza crust takes about ten minutes to throw together. You can walk away and let it rise. When you return, you are ready to roll. There really is no substitute for home made pizza, once made, you will see the truth in this statement. As far as the sauce and the toppings, use your imagination. If you need a quick marinara, there is one below in that post labeled Comfort Food . There is also a list of my favorite toppings listed below as well. But just in case you need a little more direction, There is a recipe for a deliciously spicy creole pizza...mmmm yum.
Hope you enjoy this quick and easy recipe. What are your favorite toppings?

PIZZA CRUST
1 cup wrist-temperature water
1 package (2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of olive oil (plus extra for the bowl)
1 ½ cups unbleached white flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour 1 Tablespoon Italian herbs Extra flour for kneading
Cornmeal for the baking tray


Place the water in a medium-large bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast and sugar, and stir to dissolve. Let it stand 5 minutes, or until the mixture begins to bubble.
Stir in 1 cup of flour, the salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Beat for several minutes with a wooden spoon.
Add the spices and remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. The dough will be soft but should not be sticky.
Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead for several minutes. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise until doubled in bulk. This will take about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough, and return it to the floured surface. (This is the point at which you can freeze the dough for future use.)
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Roll and stretch the dough into one large pizza round or 6 small pizzas. If you want to make a pizza bread sticks that will work too. Reduce heat to 450 degrees and bake 10 minutes. Some of my favorite toppings are:

peperoni* ham* olives* peppers* red onion* tomatoes* banana peppers*pineapple* shrimp*artichoke hearts*spinach* pesto* pepper flakes* Parmesan* ricotta cheese* zucchini* garbanzo beans* garlic


Creole Pizza

1 large can diced tomatoes
1 Tablespoon garlic
½ pound shrimp or chicken (cooked)
½ cup pineapple, cut small
½ cup red onion, diced
½ cup red pepper, diced
½ cup zucchini, diced
½ cup spinach
½ cup olives, sliced
½ cup artichoke hearts
¼ cup mozzarella cheese, grated
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes

Roll out pizza crust very thin. Lightly brush with olive oil and bake according to instructions. Combine the tomatoes and garlic and spread over the crust. Arrange the
remaining ingredients and sprinkle with the red pepper flakes. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Decadent Diet

So, tonight's dinner was packed full of flavor but was short on the extras. Yes, folks, it's that time again. The time in which I begin to feel guilty about all of my culinary misdoings throughout the holiday season. Holiday season being subjective, because I tend to be a bit gracious with the butter and cream (if you haven't noticed). The thing is, I don't mind cutting back on the fat and calories, unless of course, it cuts back on the flavor.
Tonight's menu consisted of a Piedmontese Beef Strip Steak, with Scampi-style Onions, Smashed red Potatoes and Spinach, and a beautiful green salad stocked with vegetables. Sounds decadent doesn't it? Check out the recipes below and try it out...you'll feel guilty that you don't feel guilty after eating it. Always keep in mind though, that portioning is everything...don't get carried away or all that hard work preparing a healthier dinner will be for nothing.

I prepared the beef very simply. I just rubbed it with a bit of garlic, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Then I grilled it for 4 minutes on both sides. If you do get hold of Piedmontese Beef , it takes quite a bit less cooking time, you should check it out. I purchase mine in bulk (1/4 cow) from a local farmer, which if you have a bit of freezer space is a great way to purchase your meat.
Super Smashed Red Potatoes and Spinach

10 small-medium red potatoes, cleaned and halved
2 cups fresh spinach
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
1/2 cup fat free cottage cheese
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons margarine or spread
2/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
In a saucepan, boil the potatoes until tender but not overcooked. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drain water off of the potatoes and gently mash by hand with a masher preferably. the purpose is not to make creamy mashed potatoes but to break them up. Next stir in all remaining ingredients except for the shredded cheddar. Spray a gratin dish with cooking spray and pour mixture in. Bake for 15 minutes, top with the shredded cheese and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
Scampi Style Onions
2 large onions, sliced thick
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of Heinz 57 Steak Sauce
1/2 a lemon's juice
pinch of salt and pepper
In a saute pan, saute the onions in just a bit of olive oil. As the onions are nearing translucent, throw in the garlic and saute for a few more minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for an additional minute or two. If you would like you could add a tablespoon of margarine to finish it off but it is not necessary.
You know how to make a green salad right?

OOh it was so YUMMY!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Comfort Food

Just before Christmas, I was visiting with some friends where preparing for a party they were hosting that evening. As I was leaving they insisted that I take some food with me. I declined but as I was walking out I lifted the top off of a roaster and was tempted by the smell of the delicious little cabbage rolls packed neatly inside. I had never had a cabbage roll and they put one in a dish and covered it with a tomato sauce and topped it off with a warm home made roll. I told them that I would eat it later at home.
As I was driving home my car smelled so good and my windows were steaming up...so I had to eat it...right there..in the car...without any utensils. I can't imagine how I looked scarfing it down, marinara dripping all over me...but it was soooo good. It was down right comfort food in every way, warm...spicy...yummy. I had to make it. But like all good recipes, it didn't have a recipe, just a bunch of stuff thrown together to make complete yumminess.
So, here it is, I put together a recipe for you to try. If I make it again, I will probably add a cup of chicken stock to the marinara to thin it just a tad..it was thick and super good, but for presentation sake, I think it might be better a bit thinner. And if you aren't going to make fresh rolls to go with...don't skimp on a good roll or bread, because you will want to soak up any remnants with it.




Cabbage Rolls, inspired by Barry

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork sausage
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup bell pepper, diced
1 cup rice, cooked
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup grated carrot
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix together well. Meanwhile fill a large stock pot 2/3 of the way with water and bring to a boil. Cut the bottom off of the cabbages. Once the water is boiling, put a cabbage in the pot and cover. turn the heat off and leave the cabbage in for about five minutes. Fill a large bowl with ice water and place the cabbage in it. This blanching process will make it easier to remove the leaves. You will need to repeat this same technique on the second cabbage. Don't bother with the smaller leaves, save them for another dish. Wrap a large spoon full (1/2 -3/4 cup) of the meatloaf mixture in each leaf and set in a lasagna pan. Make the marinara sauce and pour over the stuffed cabbage leaves. Cover with foil, and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

Simple Marinara

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 28 oz. can pureed tomatoes
2 tsp. garlic
1/2 cup onion
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

In a saucepan, saute the onion in a bit of olive oil until it is translucent. add the garlic and saute for just a moment before adding the remaining ingredients. Simmer for ten minutes.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Great 2009 Purge

Usually, at about this time of year, I clean out my cupboards and toss out all of the tempting holiday offerings. I wish, I was the type of person that can have tasty treats around....but alas, I am not. Unfortunately, I have less than "0" will power...like -25 or something like that...not good. Especially since I have been up to no good during the holiday season...making stuff like this:

Chocolate Banana Mousses

Pirate Cupcakes


Creme de Menthe Mousses


Fruit Cake




Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls


Chocolate Creme Cakes

Chocolate Mint Melt Aways, Peppermint Meringues, Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

And so, I look like this... So, it's time for my annual "Clean Up My Act" resolution. (don't worry, these phases don't last very long). In honor of this event, I will pass on a few of the guilty recipes to you-I will then feel completely purged. Look forward to recipes with a bit less butter and cream in the upcoming months, as I plan to actually fit my swimsuit this year!

CHOCOLATE MINT MELT AWAYS

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon water
1-6 oz package (1 cup) semisweet chocolate pieces
1 egg
1/2 to 3/4 pound pastel cream mint kisses
Stir together flour and baking soda. In a medium saucepan heat and stir brown sugar, butter, and water over low heat till butter is melted. Add chocolate pieces. Stir till chocolate is melted. Transfer chocolate mixture to a large mixing bowl and beat egg into chocolate mixture. Stir in the flour mixture till well mixed. Dough will be soft. Cover and chill for 30 minutes. Don't chill too long or dough will get too hard and need to be warmed. Shape into 1" balls and place apart on un-greased parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. Remove and immediately top each cookie with a mint. Return to the oven and bake about 2 minutes more or until cookies are done. Swirl the melted mints with a knife to "frost" cookies.




PEPPERMINT MERINGUES

4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1-1/3 cups sugar
1 cup milk chocolate pieces
1 teaspoon shortening
1-1/4 cups crushed striped round peppermint candies

Place egg whites in a large bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line two very large baking sheets with parchment paper.
To the eggs, add salt, vinegar, and peppermint extract. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed until stiff peaks form.
Transfer meringue to a decorating bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe kisses 1 inch apart onto the baking sheets. Bake all of the meringue kisses at the same time on separate oven racks for 7 minutes. Turn off oven; let meringues dry in oven with door closed over night or at least a few hours.
Over low heat combine shortening and chocolate chips until just melted. Spread crushed candy in a shallow dish. Dip bottoms of meringues in chocolate, then dip in crushed candies. Place on waxed paper and let stand until chocolate is set.


CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRY COOKIES

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
bottle maraschino cherries
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate pieces
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

Combine flour and cocoa and set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat the butter or margarine with an electric mixer until softened. Add sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Beat until well combined. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. Gradually beat in the flour mixture.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls- place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Press down center of each ball with thumb. Drain maraschino cherries, reserving juice. Place a cherry in the center of each cookie. . Bake in 350 degrees oven about 10 minutes or until done.
In a saucepan, melt the chips together with the sweet and condensed milk. Mix in 3 teaspoons maraschino cherry juice. Chill to spreading consistency ans spread over cookies just hiding the cherry.