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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Honey Bun Cake

I have never actually had a honeybun, but this cake apparently tops the experience.  Kenny absolutely loved it, which is nice considering the effort of doctoring a cake mix is basically minimal.  It would work as a brunch cake or a dessert.  If you like cinnamon rolls or monkey bread, this is the cake for you.  It keeps for a day or two, but after that, not so much.

Honeybun Cake
1 box (18.25 Oz. Box) Yellow Cake Mix
3 Egg white
1 whole egg
1 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
¾ cups Vegetable Oil
1 cup Light Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
1/4 C Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Preheat your oven to 325F. In a stand mixer, blend the cake mix, eggs, greek yogurt, and oil until well-incorporated. The mixture will be pale yellow; it’s okay if it has some lumps! Then set aside. In a separate bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon until well-blended; set aside. Pour half of the cake batter into a greased 13×9 pan, spreading the batter out into a thin layer. Add half of the cinnamon mixture to the top, covering the entire layer of batter.  Pour the rest of the batter on top, and spread the batter until the cake is even. Top the cake off with the rest of the swirl mixture. With a knife, swirl the batter until incorporated but not fully mixed.  Place the cake into the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. While the cake is baking, make the glaze. In a bowl, mix the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla until glaze is of desired consistency. When the cake comes out of the oven, immediately pour glaze onto the hot cake. Let the cake sit for a few minutes so the glaze can set and serve warm or at room temperature.  Adapted from Tasty Kitchen.
A month of food blogging, complete!  Whew!  I learned that I am not meant to be a food blogger, and have earned new respect for those who think of so many different synonyms for "yum" and "this was good."  It has been a huge challenge to keep it interesting (for me!) to write about dinner and dessert day after day.  I will still post recipes from time to time, but I am looking forward to getting back to my normal randomness on a daily basis.  Thanks for hanging out with me for this great experiment.  Happy eating!

It's Recipe Madness! Check out these blogs for more daily food updates all this month!
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Friday, March 30, 2012

Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps

Paula Deen at her finest.  Poor thing gets a bad rap for her butter-loving ways, but if she keeps cranking out yummy things like this, I'm on her side.  With a little modification, I was able to lighten it up a bit.  Yes, even Paula Deen can be lightened.


Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps
1 lb boneless chicken breast tenderloins
1 package Oscar Meyer center-cut bacon
1/2 C firmly packed brown sugar
2 T chili powder

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cut chicken into bite-size chunks, and cut slices of bacon in half.  Place a wire rack over a baking sheet and coat well with cooking spray.  Combine brown sugar and chili powder. Wrap each chicken piece with a bacon half, dredge in sugar mixture, and place seam-side down on the rack.  Bake 20 minutes or until bacon is crisp.  Adapted from Food Network.
I cut the sugar and used lighter bacon than in the original recipe, which cuts back on calories a bit ... unless, of course, you eat the whole pan, which is tempting.

Happy Friday!

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Five for Friday, vol 41

1. If you get stuck on our DrawSomething game, you just write "I love you" or "you're pretty."

2. And you only ever use the fat crayon.

3. You got sucked into Monsters cs Aliens and it resulted in us watching ABC Family pretty much all day Saturday.

4. The Notebook gets you every time.

5. When I left my rings in the dish by the kitchen sink, you very subtlety moved the dish right next to my purse.

I love you.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Matzo Buttercrunch Toffee

OMG OM NOM NOM NOM.

I don't know how else to describe it.  It's crunchy, chocolatey, teeth-rottingly sweet.  It's fast and easy and there's a decent chance you have 90% of the ingredients in your pantry right now.  Go forth, friends.  Make some candy.


Matzo Buttercrunch
6 6-inch unsalted matzo crackers
1/2 C unsalted butter
1 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C semisweet chocolate chips
 
Preheat oven to 375F.  Live a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil, cover foil with parchment paper.  Arrange matzo crackers in a single layer on pan, cutting as necessary to fit.  Bake for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Reduce oven temperature to 350F.  Combine butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring often.  Cook three minutes, stirring constantly.  Pour over matzo.  Bake for 10 minutes or until the sugar mixture is bubbly.  Sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips.  When melted, spread the chocolate with a rubber spatula until surface is coated.  Cool slightly, refrigerate 30 minutes or until chocolate is set. Break into pieces to serve.  Try not to shove all of them into your mouth at the same time. Adapted from Cooking Light.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chicken Wild Rice Soup

It's not really soup season anymore, what with the spring and the sunshine and the warmth.  Regardless, I am an all-season soup consumer.  I am in  the habit of freezing big batches in Mason jars to eat for lunch during the work week.  I love me some soup.


Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
2/3 C uncooked wild rice
1/2 chopped onion
2/3 C chopped carrot
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small yellow squash, chopped
2 T butter
8 C reduced sodium chicken broth
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 C fresh chopped broccoli
4 C chicken breast, cooked and cubed
1/2 C flour
1 C fat-free half-and-half

Cook rice according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a large saucepan coated with cooking spray, cook onion and carrot in butter for two minutes.  Add zucchini and squash and cook two additional minutes.  Stir in broth and potatoes, season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add broccoli; cook 3-7 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender.  Drain rice if necessary, fluff with a fork.  Stir chicken and rice into potato mixture; heat through.  In a small bowl, combine flour and half-and-half and mix until smooth.  Gradually stir into the soup.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for two minutes or until thickened.  Adapted from Taste of Home.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Olive Pita Quesadillas

I love black olives. My dad does too.  My mom, on the other hand absolutely despises them. To explain just how much so, let me tell you a story.  When Kenny and I first started dating, we went to a Greek restaurant with my parents.  It was one of the first times we'd all gone out to dinner together.  When the salads arrived at our table, my mom took a bite, including the "grape" on her plate.  Of course, it was not a grape - it was a kalamata olive.  Reacting purely on instinct, my mother spit the olive across the table ... directly across from her daughter's new boyfriend.  She was thoroughly embarrassed when she had recovered herself, but we haven't let her forget it since.

This is not a meal I will be serving my mother.


Olive Pita Quesadillas
2 C chopped black olives
1 8-ounce package cream cheese with chives, softened
2 T sour cream
2 tsp dill (dried)
2 tsp garlic powder
4 pita bread halves
Olive oil

Combine cream cheese with olives and herbs, mix well.  Warm pita bread slightly and open pockets.  Divide cream cheese mixture among pita breads, using a narrow rubber spatula to fill pockets fully. Drizzle a nonstick skillet with olive oil. Grill pitas over high heat, flipping when first side is golden brown.  Serve hot.
When I am being good and actually minding Meatless Monday, these pitas make a great meal with a big green salad on the side.  As long as my mom isn't around, that is.

How do you feel about olives?  Heart or hate?

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Chicken Club Ring

One of my favorite things that my mom always makes for us is chicken broccoli braid, a Pampered Chef recipe.  This club ring came from Taste of Home, and it reminds me of something that would have come out of the same stack of recipes.  It's equally delicious.


Chicken Club Ring
1/2 C low-fat mayonnaise
garlic powder
fresh ground pepper
2 T dijon mustard
1 1/2T finely diced red onion
2 C cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
3 strips center-cut ban, cooked crisp and crumbled
4 oz shredded swiss cheese
2 tubes reduced-fat crescent rolls
2 plum tomatoes

In a large bowl, combine mayo, mustard, garlic, pepper, and onion. Stir in chicken, bacon, and 3/4 C cheese.  Unroll crescent dough; separate into 16 triangles.  Arrange on a round pizza stone, forming a ring with pointed ends facing out and wide ends overlapping.  Spoon chicken mixture over wide ends; fold points over filling and tuck under.  Slice tomato and lay on top of pastry ring.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake at 375F for for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Let stand 5 minutes; slice and serve. Adapted from Taste of Home.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Meatball Sliders

Meatball sandwiches are my favorite.  So are little mini burgers.  So let's put them together, shall we?  This weather begs for grilling - my favorite time of year.


Mini Meatball Sliders
8 ounces spicy Italian sausage (low fat)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound ground sirloin (80% lean)
2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
6 (2-ounce) Italian bread rolls, split
3/4 cup tomato-basil pasta sauce 
Prepare outdoor or indoor grill. Combine sausage, oregano, basil, salt, garlic powder, and sirloin. Divide beef mixture into 8 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Place patties on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes. Turn patties over; grill 2 minutes. Divide fresh mozzarella cheese evenly over patties, and grill an additional 5 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165°. Remove from grill; let stand 5 minutes. Place rolls, cut sides down, on grill rack; grill 1 minute or until toasted. Place 1 patty on bottom half of each roll; top each serving with 2 tablespoons sauce and top half of roll. Adapted from Cooking Light.

In addition to grilling season being back, so is one of my favorite shows.  It's Mad Men night! 

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Black-Bottom Cheesecake Cupcakes

Easy, light cake. Cheesecake and chocolate are such a great combination. 


Black-Bottom Cheesecake Cupcakes
Filling:
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 C sugar
1 egg
1/8 tsp salt
1 C semisweet chocolate chips

Cake:
1 1/2 C flour
1/4 C unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1 C sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 C water
1 T white vinegar
1/3 C vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla

Topping:
Sugar 

Combine cream cheese, sugar, egg, and salt in a small mixing bowl and beat until smooth.  Stir in chocolate chips and set aside.  Sift together flour, cocoa, salt, sugar, and soda.  Add egg, water, vinegar, oil, and vanilla.  Beat until well combined.  Fill paper-lined muffin tins half full with chocolate mixture.  Drop a heaping spoonful of cream cheese mixture in the center of each cupcake.  Sprinkle generously with sugar.  Bake at 350F for 25 minutes.  Cool completely and refrigerate leftovers.
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Friday, March 23, 2012

Motherload Pretzels

Kenny loves pretzels.  I love chocolate and caramel.  Put them together and you have one very happy couple.  This is a very functional marriage we have.

 Motherload Pretzels 
1 package (10 ounces) pretzel rods 
1 package (14 ounces) caramels 
1 T fat-free evaporated milk 
1 1/4 C semisweet chocolate chips 
1 C + 2 T butterscotch chips 
2/3 C milk chocolate toffee bits 
1/4 C chopped walnuts, toasted

With a sharp knife, cut pretzel rods in half; set aside. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt caramels with milk. In a large shallow bowl, combine the chips, toffee bits and walnuts. Pour caramel mixture into a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Dip the cut end of each pretzel piece two-thirds of the way into caramel mixture (reheat in microwave if mixture becomes too thick for dipping). Allow excess caramel to drip off, then roll pretzels in the chip mixture. Place on waxed paper until set. Store in an airtight container. Adapted from Taste of Home.

And now we're off to see the Hunger Games!!  I am super excited.  I was geared up to go by myself since Kenny isn't the fan that I am.  But he's letting me drag him along, bless his heart.  I am assuming it's because I promised P'Squetti's for dinner.

Happy weekend!

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Five for Friday, vol 40

1. Your harebrained remodeling ideas know no bounds, neither physics or finances.

2. You mom-guilted me about getting a new iPhone when my old one pooped out. "Do what you think is best..." and that means a 4S, please.

3. When I laugh really hard at my own jokes, you join in most of the time.

4.  Whenever you travel, you always get at least one steak dinner ... because it's what I would want for dinner. Meanwhile I eat peanut butter sandwiches.

5. You got asked to prom on a business trip.

I love you.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Smile, it's your birthday.

Or just be extra curmudgeon-ish, that's cool too.

Happy 6th birthday, Tucker Bear.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

It is a super gross, rainy day in St Louis today.  It's the sort of day that calls for an endless snooze-button, drinking tea, and reading a book.  Alas, paychecks are nice too.

So here I go with muffins again.  And pumpkin muffins at that.  I do love a nice baked good in the morning.  Or four.


 Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
1/4 C butter, softened
1/2 C sugar1/4 C brown sugar, firmly packed
2/3 C pumpkin puree
1/2 C buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
2 T molasses
2 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
Streusel
1/3 C flour
3 T brown sugar
2 T cold butter

Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in the pumpkin, buttermilk, eggs, and molasses.  Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt; gradually add to pumpkin mixture just until blended.  Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.  For topping, combine flour and brown sugar; cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle over batter.  Bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan 5 minutes before removing to wire rack.
One of my childhood friends would always make those blueberry muffins with the crunchy munchy sugar streusel on top the morning after a sleepover.  Ever since, I am a sucker for anything similar.  I really liked the pumpkin flavor in this one, even though I way over-seasoned them.  I do the same thing when I make pumpkin pie.  I like it spicy.  Spicy and crunchy munchy.  I wonder what that says about me.

It's Recipe Madness! Check out these blogs for more daily food updates all this month!
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cabernet-braised Short Ribs

This is not a weeknight meal.  This is a slow-cooked, long-simmered, work of effort meant for a special occasion ... or in our case, a rainy Saturday evening.  I love short ribs, especially when they are braised in something delicious for hours on end.  I had the best short ribs ever on our honeymoon at Cafe 30-A in Seaside FL, and this recipe echoes the taste and nostalgia of delicious, vacation comfort food.  With no basketball to watch this past weekend (*sob*), I appreciated the distraction in the kitchen.  We drowned our sorrows in red wine and red meat.  God bless America.

 Cabernet-Braised Short Ribs
2 pounds beef short ribs, trimmed
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 C chicken broth
1 tsp beef bouillon granules
1 C cabernet sauvignon (recommend Chateau Ste Michelle)
2 T tomato paste
1 1/2 C celery (about 2 stalks), cut into 2" pieces
1 C baby carrots 
1 T minced garlic
1 medium onion, cut into 8 wedges
1 T all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 300F.  Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan well with cooking spray. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Add ribs to pan; cook for 8 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan. Add beef broth to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Combine broth, bouillon, wine, and tomato paste in a mixing bowl; stir with a whisk. Place celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary, and onion in Dutch oven, with the ribs on top. Pour broth mixture over rib mixture. Cover with foil; bake at 300F for 3 1/2 hours or until ribs are very tender. Uncover dish; strain broth mixture through a sieve over a bowl, reserving liquid. Reserve ribs; discard remaining solids. Add flour to pan, stirring well with a whisk. Place pan over medium heat; bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly with a whisk. Serve sauce with ribs. Adapted from Cooking Light
I served the ribs with whipped cauliflower and steamed broccoli.  It was perfect for a rainy, gross day.  I got major wife points.
  
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

S'Mores Cookies

These cookies are simply fantastic.They are small, which is dangerous since you want to keep going back for more.  At the same time, there's so much going on in terms of flavor, one actually is enough.  I think they are actually more Rocky Road than S'mores, but the folks over at Bon Appetit didn't consult me first.


S'Mores Cookies
3 C whole wheat flour
1 1/2 C brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 C buttermilk
1 T dark molasses
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 C milk chocolate chips 
1/2 C semisweet chocolate chips
1 C mini marshmallows
3/4 C coarsely chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350F. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in large bowl or stand mixer. Whisk eggs, buttermilk, molasses, and vanilla extract in medium bowl; whisk in butter. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients, stirring until dough is evenly moistened. Stir in chocolate chips, marshmallows, and nuts. Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, spacing about 3 inches apart (about 12 cookies per sheet). Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until golden brown, dry to touch, but still slightly soft, about 15 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool (cookies will firm up). Adapted from Bon Appetit.
 I have been a baking fool lately.  Can you tell?

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Banana Crunch Muffins

Monday again?  When did that happen? The weather was so perfect this weekend, and I got SO MUCH done around the house and about the town, and it flew by.  

Monday morning muffin time!  These muffins are light and sweet and perfect with coffee on the go.  They keep well over the course of a work week ... if your husband doesn't eat them all when he gets home from work, that is.

 Banana Crunch Muffins
1 C whole wheat flour
1/2 Kashi GoLean Crunch cereal
1/2 C Splenda
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 large bananas, mashed
1/2 C whole milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper cups.  In a medium bowl, mix first six ingredients.  IN a second bowl, mix bananas, milk, egg, and vanilla.  Stir in flour mixture until just moistened.  Divide evenly among muffin pan.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean. from WW community boards

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

One-Bowl Chocolate Chunk Pecan Cookies



Is there anything better than fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies?  Especially thick, chewy, incredibly easy to make cookies?  Not in my book.  The best part is that you can throw everything into a stand mixer.  The worst part is waiting for the dough to set up in the fridge for an hour.  But good things come to those who wait.


One-Bowl Chocolate Chunk Pecan Cookies
2 C chopped pecans
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 C firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 C sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 all-purpose flour 
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 C semisweet chocolate chunks (or 1/2 milk chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spread pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast until warm and fragrant, 6-9 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and cool completely.  Place softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, add both sugars, and beat until well-blended.  When combined, add salt, vanilla, and eggs.  Beat on low-medium until smooth.  Add dry ingredients slowly and mix until just incorporated and a soft dough forms.  Remove bowl from mixer and fold in chocolate chunks and pecans.  Using a 1/4-cup scoop to measure out dough and form lightly into balls.  Place on a baking sheet and chill until firm, 45-60 minutes.  Re-heat oven to 350F.  Placed chilled cookie dough on baking sheets lined with parchment paper (nine per sheet to allow for spreading).  Bake until cookies are crisp and golden around the edges but still soft in the center.  Cool slightly on baking sheets and transfer to wire racks to finish.  Adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey.
The cookies are huge and delicious.  They will store at room temp for two days ... but I guarantee that they won't last that long. 

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

I am still not over last night's March Madness loss. Not going to lie, Duke losing eased the blow. But still, I thought this might be our year. Le sighe.

At least today is a boozy holiday.


St Patrick's Day.  A time to celebrate any and all connection to Ireland, remote as it may be.  I am not even going to pretend these cupcakes are even on the same continent as Ireland. But that's how we roll here in 'Merica.  Next year I'll make something authentic, I promise.  

I wish I knew where this recipe came from, or that I could take credit for it.  


 Guinness Cupcakes with Unforgettable Chocolate Glaze
1/2 lb butter
8oz Guinness
2/3 C (scant) cocoa powder
1 T salt
2 C all-purpose flour
2 C sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 C sour cream

Heat oven to 350F.  Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan.  In a heavy saucepan heat butter, beer, and cocoa powder until butter melts.  Allow to cool.  Sift dry ingredients together and add beer-cocoa mixture.  Beat thoroughly for about one minute.  Add eggs and sour cream and beat for two minutes.  Divide evenly in muffin pan cups.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting.

Unforgettable Chocolate Frosting
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 stick butter
3/4 C heavy cream
2 oz Guinness
3 C powdered sugar, sifted

Place chocolate and butter in the bowl of a food processor.  In a medium saucepan combine heavy cream, beer, and powdered sugar and stir until smooth.  Heat to a slow boil.  Turn on food processor and slowly add hot liquid to chocolate/butter mixture.  Blend until smooth. Pour into a metal mixing bowl and refrigerate until completely cool and set.  Spread generously onto cupcakes. 
I had issues with the frosting setting up when I made these since I did not let it cool enough.  This step is imperative.  I ended up dipping the cupcakes into the still-warm frosting for more of a glaze.  It worked too.  They taste so good, it's hard to wait, not gonna lie.  

I'll be drowning my sorrows later with cake and beer.  How are you celebrating?
 
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Friday, March 16, 2012

Patio Pizza

TGIF!  Who is excited to watch basketball all weekend?  I am!  WEIRD!  We're planning on ordering from our favorite pizza-and-wings place for the game this afternoon.  Why is that sort of food always so tempting when college sports are involved?

Even without a bracket on the brain, I am huge fan of pizza.  It's one of those foods that always sounds good, no matter what we're actually planning for dinner.  Growing up, Friday night was almost always pizza night, and that is a tough habit to break now as an adult.  Unfortunately, all of our favorite local places that deliver have closed, leaving us with all the standard chain options you could name.  There's a time and a place for that, but not every time the urge strikes.  Trader Joe's makes great pizza dough for those other times.  I've got a stockpile in the freezer - though I have found that the traditional works better than the whole wheat if you don't make it immediately.

Veggie pizza is quickly becoming my new favorite.


Patio Pizza
1 ball refrigerated pizza dough1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 can (14 ounces) water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped, divided
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese, divided
3/4 cup chopped tomato
1/3 cup coarsely chopped peeled cucumber
1/3 cup sliced ripe olives, drained
1/3 cup sliced onion
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette 
Unroll pizza dough and press into a flat circle on a pizza stone. Roll or pat dough into a 12" circle. Brush with oil. Gently press garlic onto dough. Bake at 375° for 14-16 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and oregano. Stir in 1/4 cup artichokes and half of the feta cheese; spread over crust. Arrange remaining artichokes on top. Sprinkle with tomato, cucumber, olives, onion, pine nuts and remaining feta cheese. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Adapted from Taste of Home.
It's like eating a salad on a pizza. And easy enough for a Friday night after a long work week.  So good it will make you forget the number to Dewey's.

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Five for Friday, vol 39

1.  You always buy me scratcher tickets because you think I am luckier than you.

2.  You set up the hammock for me because you thought it would be nice for me to read outside.

3.  You think your new schmance showerhead is the best thing since sliced bread, and you like to brag about it a little.

4.  You look so manly taking two eight-pounds dogs for a walk in coordinating pink and blue harnesses.

5.  Jim Kramer lulls you to sleep, and you smile while you snooze through the Lightning Round.

I love you.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cheesy Stuffing Cups

There are few things that my husband loves more than a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  The turkey, the potatoes, the leftovers ... he lives for it.  But since it only comes once a year, I try to find ways to replicate the flavors without spoiling the once-a-year specialness of the full TG spread.  Kenny actually found this recipe himself and insisted I make it right away.  I even brought them to a Friendsgiving dinner last year, since the individual portions work well for potluck parties.

 

Cheesy Stuffing Cups

1/4 C butter

3/4 C celery, chopped

1 1/2 C water

1pkg (6 oz.) Stove Top Stuffing mix - chicken

1/2 C dried cranberries

1/4 C walnuts, chopped

1 1/2 C shredded 2% cheddar cheese, divided 
1egg, beaten

Heat oven to 350F. Melt butter in large skillet on medium heat. Add celery and cook and stir 5 minutes. Stir in water and bring to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in stuffing mix, berries and nuts. Add 1 cup cheese and egg; mix lightly. Spoon into 8 greased muffin cups (with or without liners), mounding mixture as necessary to use all the stuffing mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 10 min. or until stuffing cups are heated through and cheese is melted. From Kraft Food&Family.

 So there you have it.  If you need a little springtime Thanksgiving, these are a super easy way to get there.
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Honey-Spiced Chicken Thighs

Probably one of the best chicken recipes to come out of Cooking Light.  It's been floating around the message boards on WW for so long it's almost like they own it.  It's an incredibly easy, flavor-packed alternative to chicken breast.


Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Cooking spray
6 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Preheat broiler. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side. Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Remove chicken from oven; brush 1/4 cup honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done. Adapted from Cooking Light.
Enjoy!

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chili and Cheddar Bowtie Casserole

I don't think it's a secret that I love macaroni and cheese. I'm willing to try just about any variation I can find.  This version is smokey and spicy without being overpowering.  It gets spicier the longer it sits, so consider yourself warned if you like to freeze leftovers like I do.


Chili and Cheddar Bow Tie Casserole
1 tsp sauce and 1 chili (minced) from a 7-ounce can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (freeze extra)
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
4 slices center cut bacon, cooked crisp and diced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 lb whole wheat bow tie pasta, cooked 

Preheat oven to 400F. Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper and bacon; sauté 4 minutes. Stir in the adobo sauce, minced chile, flour, chili powder, salt, and cumin; cook 1 minute. Gradually add milk; cook until thick and bubbly (about 4 minutes), stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups cheese and cilantro, stirring until cheese melts. Add pasta to pan; toss well. Spoon the pasta mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over pasta mixture. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until browned. Adapted from Cooking Light.
 It's not a traditional macaroni and cheese recipe, but it gets the job done. 

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Chocolate Gooey Bars



Gooey butter cake is a St Louis thing.  I could probably Wiki the history of the dish and tell you all about it was invented and who makes the best in town, etc etc (like how ice tea was invented for the 1904 St Louis World's Fair - FUN FACT!) ... or I could just share my recipe for the cake bars.  Why is my version the best gooey butter in St Louis?  Because unlike traditional yellow butter cake, there's chocolate in this one.  That's how we roll in South County, y'all.

Chocolate Gooey Bars
1 package yellow cake mix
1/2 C butter, melted
1 egg
1 T water
1 8-ounce package low-fat cream cheese
16-ounce package confectioner's sugar
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 C semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.  Coat a 9x13" baking pan with cooking spray.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cake mix, butter, egg, and water until well combined.  Batter will be thicker than normal cake mix.  Press the batter into the bottom of the baking pan.  In a small mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, egg whites, and vanilla.  Sprinkle chocolate chips over cake mix.  Spread cream cheese mixture over the top.  Bake 40 minutes or until top is golden brown.  To impress your friends and neighbors, cool slightly and cut into squares.
As a variation, you can also add half a can of pumpkin puree and pie spice to the cream cheese mixture and watch it turn orage and seasonally inapproprate for spring. 


Enjoy!

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Super Brownies

Happy Selection Sunday!  Fingers crossed for excellent news for my Missouri Tigers!  And in the meantime ... brownies.

I originally baked these bars for a Super Bowl party.  They are rich and decadent, and they have something for all tastes.  Chocolate, peanut butter, gooey, crunchy.  Well, something for everything except your diet.

 Super Brownies (Peanut Butter Brownie Bars)
2 package fudge brownie mix (or favorite scratch recipe)
16 peanut butter cups, chopped
1/2 C salted peanuts, chopped
2 C (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 C creamy peanut butter
1T butter
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 C Rice Krispie cereal
1 tsp vanilla extract

Prepare brownie batter according to directions.  Spread into a greased 9x13" pan.  Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs.  Sprinkle top of brownies with chopped peanut butter cups and peanuts.  Bake an additional 4-6 minutes, or until chocolate is melted slightly.  Cool on a wire rack.  Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine chocolate chips, peanut butter, butter, and salt.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth.  Remove from heat.  Stir in vanilla and cereal.  Using a large rubber spatula sprayed lightly with cooking spray, carefully spread cereal mixture over the top of the cooled candy layer.  Cover and chill for at least two hours before cutting.  Adapted from Taste of Home.
It's hard for me to articulate how GOOD these are.  I can only resort to caps lock.  They are GOOD.  GOOOOOOOD.  They are rich and amazing and a chorus of angels will sing in your kitchen when you cut into them and your husband's friends will be wildly impressed by your skills in domesticating boxed brownie mix.  GOOD.

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Chocolate Button Cookies

Some days, you just need chocolate.  Super, over-the-top, double chocolate little cookie bombs.  These will make your weekend worthwhile.

Chocolate Button Cookies
4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
1 1/2 sticks butter
2 C sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 C flour

Glaze
1 tub (8 oz) frozen Cool Whip
6 oz semi sweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350F.  Microwave unsweetened chocolate and butter in a large bowl on HIGH for 2 minutes or until butter is melted.  Stir until chocolate is completely melted.  Add sugar; mix well.  Blend in eggs and vanilla.  Add flour; mix well.  Cover and refrigerate one hour until dough is easy to handle.  Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets.  Bake 8 minutes or until just set.  Do not over bake.  Let stand on baking sheet one minute and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  For glaze, place frozen whipped topping and semi-sweet chocolate in a microwavable bowl.  Heat on HIGH 1 to 1 1/2 minutes until chocolate is melted and mixture is shiny and smooth, stirring after 1 minute.  Let stand 15 minutes to thicken.  Spread over cookies and let stand until glaze is set.  from Baker's Chocolate

These are amazing, naked or frosted.  I love the glaze, but I could not resist sneaking a couple before they were frosted.  I am a chocolate fiend, to say the least, and these certainly satisfy that craving.  Be warned though - they are small but they disappear fast.  Enjoy!

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Friday, March 9, 2012

Sauteed Lemon Chicken

When you're trying to eat healthy, sometimes it's easy to get sucked into making the same things over and over again.  I know I am guilty of this.  If you look at what I eat for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, it all sort of runs together in a haze of greek yogurt, bananas, soup, and turkey on bagel thins.  I think that's why I am so adament about experimenting so much at dinner.  I get a lot of cookng magazines, own a lot of cookbooks, and read a lot of cooking blogs.  That in an of itself has left me with a huge pile of things to try, much less the ideas they inspire on my own.  I would make a new recipe everyday if it was practical (not that I don't try).

And yet I still come back to similar things.  I like chicken - it's easy to prepare, easy to dress up, and I always have some on hand.  Growing up, a seasoned grilled chicken breast was a weeknight staple.  Kenny and I eat chicken just as often now (twice a week at least), but it's never the same thing twice. 
Satueed Lemon Chicken
4 boneless skinless chicken breast
1/2 C flour
2 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 C lemon juice
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C chicken stock
2T soy sauce
2 tsp lemon zest
2 T cornstarch

Mix together flour, salt, and pepper.  Dredge chicken breasts in flour mixture.  Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side.  Remove chicken from pan.  Mix together lemon juice, sugar, zest, and cornstarch.  Add to skillet and allow to thicken (about 2 minutes).  Toss cooked chicken in sauce to coat and serve with extra sauce on the side.
Another variation on chicken is always welcome.  Enjoy!

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Five for Friday, vol 38

1.  You picked out a super cute outfit to give to our friends' new baby girl. 

2.  You made me buy a ginormous white beach hat because you said it was very "Audrey" on me.  I mean, you really can't do much better than that.

3.  Given the choice, you always want Chipotle for dinner, and I appreciate your consistency.

4.  You're willing to spend a little more on groceries so that I can buy as much organic and non-GMO as possible.

5.  You are my rock.  I can't imagine finding someone more supportive and appreciative of me.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hot French Onion Dip with Baked Herb Potato Chips

 More party food! Getting ready for brackets and basketball to take over?  I am!

Hot French Onion Dip
1 1/2 envelopes Lipton Onion Soup mix
16 oz sour cream
2 cups shredded swiss cheese
1/4 C mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 375F.  Coat a 1-quart casserole with cooking spray.  Combine soup mix, sour cream, cheese, and mayonnaise.  Bake uncovered 20 minutes or until heated through and bubbly.  Sprinkle with extra swiss cheese.  Serve with baked herb potato chips. Adapted from the Appetizer Bible.

Baked Herb Potato Chips
2-3 medium red potatoes, unpeeled (1/2 pound)
1T olive oil
2 tsp dried dill (or 2T fresh, minced)
1/4 tsp garlic
1/8 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 450F.  Spray large baking sheets with cooking spray and set aside.  Slice potatoes very thin with food processor or mandolin.  Pat dry with paper towels. Arrange potato slices in a single layer on baking sheets and coat liberally with cooking spray.  Bake 10 minutes.  Flip potato slices and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Bake an additional 5-10 minutes or until crispy.  Cool on baking sheets. Adapted from the Appetizer Bible.
Even though Kenny is not fond of onions, he has a thing for Lipton French Onion mix.  Slice an extra potato and sprinkle with the extra half packet of soup mix.  Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.  That will make my hubby happy.  His mom used to make potatoes like that for he and his friends.  He just loves them.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Chicken Asiago Bowties

I can never seem to figure out how to photograph pasta dishes to look as good as they taste.  I guess you'll just have to trust my word for it.

 Chicken Asiago Bowties
16-ounces whole wheat bowtie pasta
1T olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
2 C half and half
1 bouillon cube
3/4 C asiago cheese, shredded
1/2T cornstarch
1T butter
1/2 C chopped prosciutto
1T minced garlic

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta al dente.  Drain and set aside.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a pan and cook chicken until cooked through, stirring frequently and reducing heat if necessary.  Set aside.  In a medium saucepan, bring half and half to a simmer, stirring often. Drop in bouillon cube and stir for a few minutes.  Whisk in cheese, stirring until bouillon is completely dissolved and cheese is melted. Cook two minutes more and remove from heat, set aside.  Add butter to the same pan used to cook chicken and cook prosciutto and garlic about 3 minutes.  Add chicken and cook until heated through.  Add chicken mixture to pasta, followed by sauce.  Mix well.  Serve. Adapted from All Recipes.
It doesn't taste like what I had hoped, which was an Addison's replica.  Still, it was very tasty.  It has made for great leftovers for lunch out of the freezer, too.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Baked Pumpin Donut Muffins

Normally, bloggers seem to go crazy for all things pumpkin in the fall.  I like pumpkin as much as the next person, but not to the rapture that strikes some.  As it were, I took awhile to come around to the whole thing.  Pumpkin isn't exactly a spring fruit.  Good thing it comes in cans.

Regardless, I was pleased to have a reason to use the mini bundt pan I got for the wedding. 


Baked Pumpkin Donut Muffins
1 C + 2T Bisquick baking mix
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 C pumpkin puree
1 egg
2/3 C skim milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 T sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin or mini bundt pan liberally with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl or a stand mixer, combine baking mix, sugar, and spices.  Add pumpkin, egg, milk, and vanilla. Mix well.  Divide evenly among baking tin and bake 14-16 minutes.  Cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, and then remove to cool completely on a wire rack.  In a shallow bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon.  Toss each muffin one at a time lightly until coated.  Adapted from WW message boards.
Two of these, plus fruit and a coffee, make a nice, WW-friendly breakfast.  Enjoy!


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