Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cupcake Camp in Los Angeles

Have you seen this? There is going to be a Cupcake Camp in LA.
As soon as I saw it, I thought about entering but kept talking myself out of it. My husband, such a wonderful support, encouraged me to at least try. It's not like I would be judged or anything, but what if I'm there and nobody wants to try my cupcakes? That would be very sad.
Anyway, last night I was inspired. At 8:30 I decided I needed to try a cupcake recipe that was buzzing around in my head. Mud Pie Cupcakes. I ran across the street to the grocery store and spent the next 2 hours in the kitchen baking cupcakes and decorating them. This also happened to be after I had just made a huge batch of cookies. Can you say sugar coma? The cupcakes turned out adorable and soooo yummy. I knew I had to step out of my comfort zone and participate. I signed up this afternoon.
Is anyone else going to be there? I hope so. It's for some great charities and looks like it's going to be a lot of fun. Stop by and say hi.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins- A Healthy Experiment

I like to always have something ready for breakfast during the week that I can grab and eat when I get to work. Normally, I make muffins or quick bread with butter, oil, eggs, whole milk or a combo of those ingredients. Since the holidays are coming and the pants are already a bit snug, I decided to lighten up my favorite pumpkin muffin recipe. These are really dense but packed with flavor. I topped them with slivered almonds and a little raw sugar.

1 C Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 C All Purpose Flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 beaten egg
1/2 dried cranberries
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C pumpkin puree
4 T unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 T ground flax or wheat germ

Silvered Almonds and Raw Sugar (optional for topping)

Combine flours, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the remaining ingredients. Mix until just combined (don't over mix or batter will be tough). Distribute batter evenly among muffin cups. Top with silvered almonds and a little raw sugar. Bake in 350 deg oven for approx 25-30 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. ENJOY!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies

I love all types of cookies, but peanut butter cookies are one of my favorites. I tried a new recipe over the weekend and although tasty, not quite what I was hoping for. I topped these with chipped peanuts and raw sugar which gave them nice texture, but they didn't have enough peanut butteryness. So, I'm still looking for the perfect peanut butter cookie recipe. If you have one to share, please let me know.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chive Risotto Cakes and Roasted Pears

More success with the Barefoot Contessa! Everything I've made from her cookbooks has been delicious and the two dishes below are no exception.

Chive Risotto Cakes.
This dish takes a little planning since you want the mixture to sit in the fridge for a while so I prepped everything the night before. These were cheesey and oh so yummy. I love fontina cheese. It always melts perfectly. The chives could easily be substituted for another herb, but I really liked the onion flavor.

I wanted something a little sweet to go with the risotto cakes, so I decided to try her Roasted Pears. I didn't have any port so I used red wine instead and walnuts for the pecans. Other than that, I stuck with the recipe and it was great.

Do you have a favorite Barefoot Contessa recipe I should try?

Salame and Sundried Tomato Quiche

Over the weekend I had some time to play in the kitchen so I thought I'd enter a contest I'd seen online recently. It's for Gallo Salame. I created a dish based on couple of my favorite things, cheese and tomatoes. If you get a chance, please stop by and vote for me and if you get a chance to enter, let me know and I'll stop by and vote for you.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Barefoot Contessa Beef Stew and Office Treats

This dish is unbelievably delicious. So good that I had it for breakfast this morning. The photo, well I'm not a good photographer, doesn't do the stew justice. If only I can send you the smell of this when I walked in the house after work and it was bubbling away in the CrockPot. All the stress of the day melted away. I recommend serving this with crackers or bread. I adapted this for my CrockPot but you can follow Ina's method and I'm sure it will be just as yummy.
I prepped all the ingredients the night before, except for the potatoes, to save time in the morning. I still had to get up early to brown the beef, but it's worth. It's even better as leftovers.

Treats for the office. After I melted the marshmallows and butter together I went to open the Rice Krispies box only to find it was already opened. Did I buy it like that? Were the Krispies now tainted? Are they horribly stale and old now? Did my husband open them? That can't be, since he knows not to touch treat ingredients until the treats are made. I was in quite the dilemma. I hesitantly tasted one. Didn't smell weird, wasn't stale, so I went for it. Dumped what seemed to be an almost full bag into the pot and made the treats. Then I dipped them in melted chocolate since I had some left from another project. It was dark chocolate and not quite sweet enough so I sprinkled some raw sugar on top. YUM!
The husband later admitted to having a late night bowl of cereal. LOL, that's what husband's are for. At least I'm assured the treats aren't poisoned.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Chicken Picatta

I'm still cooking my way through the Barefoot Contessa cookbook I received for my birthday. So far, everything I've made has been delicious.

I made chicken picatta but with a couple minor changes. I used panko instead of seasoned bread crumbs and I left out the parsley. I still haven't acquired a taste for it. You can find this recipe in Barefoot Contessa at Home.

Sweetest Day Recap

I'll be honest, I didn't even know there was such a thing as sweetest day until I saw it on a blog. To me, it sounded similar to Valentine's Day so it prompted me to plan a romantic evening. I bought brie which I baked for a few minutes until it was nice and melty, topped with pistachios. I served it with crackers, cashews, strawberries and apples. We feasted while catching up shows we had waiting for us on our DVR. Does anyone else love Flipping Out and How I Met Your Mother as much as I do?
To end the night we had the most delicious ice cream- Pumpkin from Trader Joes.

Did you celebrate Sweetest Day?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Gruyere Cheese Crackers

I saw this recipe on All That Splatters and I knew I wanted to make these right away. I didn't have any cheddar cheese but the gruyere I had in the fridge turned out delicious. You can find the recipe here

Pumpkin Walnut Waffles

Pumpkin Walnut Waffles
Originally it was going to be pumpkin pecan but my pantry failed to provide pecans. LOL Time to go to Trader Joes.

This morning it's overcast, misty and cold. I love it. It's so nice to finally have some Fall weather. What better way to spend the morning than eating waffles with lots of syrup and a latte?
I adapted a waffles recipe from the Joy of Cooking.
In a bowl, combine:
1 C All purpose Flour
3/4 C Whole wheat flour
1 T baking powder
1 T sugar
1/2 t salt.
Make a well in the center and add:
3 eggs
1/2 C pumpkin puree
1/4 C melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 C skim milk
Mix until well-combined. Then add toasted walnuts and cook on your waffle maker. Enjoy!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stuffing- A Meal By Itself

One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving is the stuffing or dressing if you like. But, I refuse to wait until Thanksgiving to have some and I usually make this once every couple months.
I'll give you the basics but play around with the ingredients to find your favorite style.
First brown some sausage, then remove from the pan.

Saute onions and apples in the pan you had the sausage in. Once tender deglaze the pan with white wine or chicken stock. Then add some roasted garlic. So Yummy!

Add the sausage back in. Season with, salt, pepper, celery seed and a little cayenne. Then add the required amount of chicken stock on your box of bread cubes and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add the bread cubes and toasted pecans. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Saturday Night- Martinis, Steak and Galette. YUM!

Saturday Night- we were originally going to have a date night at Bistro 13 but at the last minute I decided I really wanted to cook. The night before I had stayed up late watching French Cooking by Laura Calders (it's on the cooking channel and is such a great show) and she made a bleu cheese steak that looked wonderful. So, we headed to Traders Joes and while were were there I made an impulse buy, well several impulse buys because I felt I MUST have a cosmo while I slaved in the kitchen. My husband doesn't drink much but makes great martinis so he offered to do the mixing.

Sorry, for the blurry martini photos, I really need to read the camera manual. It tasted much better than it looks.

These are cookies I made to take to the office- Cinnamon Mocha Chocolate Chip. Just thought I'd throw this one in here. It's from a cookbook I checked out at the library Absolutely Chocolate.

On to the dinner, the steak is seared on the stove and then finished in the oven. While that was cooking and then resting, I made a nut pasta. In the food processor, pulse together: parsley, mint, pistachios, almonds and pine nuts. Add to cooked pasta with plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper. Yum! Also, my go to salad with croutons and balsamic vinagrette.

Bleu cheese sauce, it doesn't look appetizing in a photo, but trust me it's super good and super easy. In a pan, melt bleu cheese and cream together. That's it.

Dessert is found on the blog For the Love of Cooking. It is a Blueberry and Lemon Curd Galette with Vanilla Whipped Cream. We were so eager to eat this I completely forgot to photograph it with sliced and topped with whipped cream. Oooops.

Ghirardelli Luxe Milk Chocolates

As part of the FoodBuzz Tastemaker program, I was given the opportunity to try the new Luxe Milk Ghirardelli chocolates. I was so excited when I received the samples in the mail. I love the Ghirardelli store in the mall and their chocolate covered strawberries are AMAZING, so I knew I was going to love these. My favorite was the almond. It was creamy, chocolately, nutty and delicious. These are going to make great stocking stuffers for Christmas. I recommend you go out and try some today. You won't be sorry.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sweet & Salty Pumpkin Seeds and Popcorn

Thanksgiving is all about football. Well, and of course being thankful to be together as a family, but again it's FOOTBALL. And football means lots and lots of snacking. For my entry in the Electrolux FoodBuzz contest I came up with a yummy snack to have during the game but light enough to still be hungry for the coming feast.

For the pumpkin seeds:
1-2 Cups raw pumpkin seeds, rinsed and patted dry. I had enough from one small pumpkin. If you don't have time to hull a pumpkin, feel free to buy raw toasted pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas) at the store.
4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 Teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1-2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, enough to coat a large skillet
If you are toasting the seeds rather than using store bought, preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Spread pumpkin seeds as a single layer onto an ungreased baking sheet. Toast for approximately 45 minutes until seeds are golden and toasted.
In a bowl, combine salt, pumpkin pie spice and 2 Tablespoons of sugar.
In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Then add 2 Tablespoons of sugar and the pumpkin seeds. Stir to combine and cook until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and immediately pour into bowl with sugar and spices. Stir until pumpkin seeds are evenly coated with mixture. Set aside while you make the popcorn.

For the popcorn:
Follow the directions on the package of kernels that you buy for 1/2 Cup of kernels. You can use microwave popcorn, but make sure it is unflavored or very lightly buttered. You'll need to adjust the salt for this recipe if you use microwave popcorn.
While the popcorn is still warm from being freshly popped drizzle 2 Tablespoons of melted unsalted butter (you can certainly use more butter if you like), then sprinkle with salt, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice to taste. I used approx 1 Tablespoon sugar, 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice.

Then combine popcorn and pumpkins seeds in a large bowl and ENJOY! Go Bears!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Nature's Pride- Spiced Hot Chocolate Baked French Toast

I decided I wanted to enter the Nature's Pride contest, but geez is it hard to come up with an original recipe. Since I love french toast and I equally love hot chocolate I came up with this- Spiced Hot Chocolate Baked French Toast. I added a little cayenne to kick the flavor up a notch. It is delicious. Crispy on top, soft and warm inside. YUM!
I should mention (for the sake of full disclosure) I will be receiving a coupon to try this bread for free, but it hasn't come in the mail yet, so I bought some when I was at the store last week.

Here is my recipe:
You will need 6 slices of Nature's Pride Bread. I quartered it but you could cut it however you like.
2 Cups of milk, I used 1%
2 cinnamon sticks, I broke mine in half
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 T cocoa powder
3 T granulated sugar
pinch of cayenne pepper
unsalted butter (optional)
Dark Chocolate shavings (optional)
Powdered sugar and maple syrup for serving (it would also be delicious with whipped cream)

Preheat oven to 300 deg. to dry out the bread. Place the bread on a cookie sheet and bake until golden and crispy. This will prevent the bread from becoming soggy. Once the bread is done baking, arrange in a greased pan. My pan was an 8 x 8 pan.

While the bread is baking, heat the milk over medium heat with the cinnamon sticks and vanilla, once the milk is at a simmer add the cocoa powder, sugar, and cayenne pepper. Stir until cocoa powder and sugar are dissolved. Make sure milk never comes to a boil. Remove from heat. I had to strain the milk mixture to remove the shards of cinnamon sticks, but it you don't break your sticks this step isn't necessary.

Let the milk cool to room temperature, remove cinnamon sticks and combine with eggs. Mix well. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, place the covered dish (I used aluminum foil to cover the pan since it doesn't have a lid) in a cool oven and then turn the oven on to 350 deg. Bake for approximately 30 minutes until the custard is almost set. Remove the cover (at this point you can scattered a few tsp of butter) and allow to bake until the top is crispy and the custard is set, approximately 15 minutes.

Once baked, serve warm sprinkled with powdered sugar, chocolate shavings and maple syrup. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bonami Giveaway

A few blog posts back, I posted about a product I love- Bonami. The awesome people at Bonami sent me some free certificates and I've decided to share the love. If you'd like to win a free can of Bonami, leave me a comment saying you'd like to enter. I'll be giving away 2 certificates Thursday, Oct 7. You can check out their website at

Weekends are for Breakfast

Breakfast on the weekends is one of my favorite things. I get to leisurely cook without being in a rush and the smell of bacon- so yummy! My husband brought me a latte in bed, such a sweetie, and this meant it was time to get up and make food. I didn't mind, seeing as how it was already 10:30, that's what I get for staying up late reading blogs. LOL
I made eggs with avocado, tomatoes and bacon. Whole wheat toast on the side. I'm craving something sweet so I've been promised a trip to Paciugo today while we are out running errands.
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dinner, Cookies and a Good Book.

Simply meat and potatoes. This is one of my husband's favorite meals. Our BBQ is broken, so sad, but I really wanted steak so I pan-seared it on the stove. Turned out great but I did miss the smokey grill taste.

This is my plate.....lots and lots of croutons, and yes those are black olives on my baked potato. Most people have either a love or hate relationship with black olives. I love them and put them on all types of dishes. I've copied the Wood Ranch method for baking potatoes. Rub oil all of your potatoes and the sprinkle with a little bit of salt before putting them in the oven. The outside gets super crispy and delicious.

This is my honey's plate before he doused his potato in sour cream and butter.

I made pumpkin soup. I thought it was yummy. My husband declared it "interesting" which means he won't be eating it again. Too bad since I have a huge pot of it left.

This is my famous (well at least in my house) BCAT. I don't like lettuce on my sandwiches, so this is Bacon, Cheese, Avocado and Tomato. So good. I could eat one every day.

M&M Cookies my nephew helped me bake.

Here he is with the dough. One egg crashed on the floor, lots of flour dusting every tile but it was so fun to bake with him and his cookies turned out great.

I finished this book tonight. It was a touching story and of course I cried a few tears at the end. It's the tale of 4 women at different stages in their lives who become friends and meet once a week for coffee.
I bought The Shack today with a Borders coupon. I've read it once and cried the whole way thru. One of those books I want in my collection. It's definitely a must read.
Any good books you can recommend?