October 4, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

So is it weird if you make your own birthday cake? I had been dying to try to make my own fondant, and it seemed like the perfect excuse. As a bonus, if it didn't turn out I would be the only one who was upset. Through all of my hours on the internet, I found this recipe for Marshmallow fondant. Hmmm, interesting right? This fondant did not dissappoint. It was easy to work with, fairly easy to make (a bit messy), and it did not taste totally disgusting. I don't think fondant is something I would want to eat much of, but it was not too bad. (Recipe coming soon) I was pretty pround of myself, I have a long way to go, but I think my first experiment was a hit!


So tonight I am catching up this poor neglected blog. I have just been so busy! I still haven't had much time to really experiment in the kitchen, so I have been sticking to our tried and true favorites. Like this chili. I make it basically the same way that my Mom does, but neither of us really has a recipe. We just throw whatever tomato products we have in our pantries into the pot. Surprisingly, it always tastes about the same. My Dad will not eat chili unless it has a macaroni in it, I guess that I over compensate for this or something, because I always put too many noodles in my chili and wind up with something more reminiscent of goulash or Hamburger Helper instead of a nice soup. This time I tried to be more aware of what I was doing, the chili did come closer to what I was going for.

2 lbs. of hamburger
1 medium onion, diced
1 package chili seasoning mix (I used McCormick)
1 large can of diced tomatoes, undrained (28 oz.)
2 cans of tomato soup
1 can of tomato paste (6 oz.)
1 can chili hot beans, undrained
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 cup macaroni noodles (elbows, shells)
Brown the hamburger and onion in a large soup pot, drain. Put the hamburger back in the pot and add the rest of the ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for at least 15 minutes (I think it is better the longer it simmers). In a small pot, cook the pasta according to the package directions until a little less than al dente. Add it to the mixture in the pot. If you want to avoid your noodles getting too large, you may want to wait to add them until a few minutes before serving.

September 19, 2010

My First Cake Order

So I sold my first cake! A lady at work ordered it for her grandson's twelfth birthday. It is probably not the best cake ever, but she seemed to like it. Matt was also impressed. The edges didn't look so crooked and bumpy in real life. Tomorrow I will find out if it tasted okay (I am a bit nervous). The only thing she said was white cake with white icing and sports themed.

I'm Back!

Wow, I cannot believe that it has been so long since I have posted! I have recently started a second job, so my time has been pretty booked. Most of our meals have not been blog worthy, lots of slow-cooker and thrown together at the end of the day meals. Also, the few things that I have cooked have not turned out very well. These turkey sliders have turned things around though. What can I say I am a sucker for cute little sandwiches. Matt ordinarily does not eat lunch meat very well, but we both really enjoyed these. He also really liked this broccoli cheese soup (it was supposed to taste like Panera's). I was not a huge fan, but I only like broccoli soup that is SUPER cheesy. I think the bay leaves were too strong, maybe. Anyway this was a good meal, because I could make the soup on my day off and then heat it up and assemble the sandwiches for a quick dinner which is good when you don't get home until 8:00!
Not Quite Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups broccoli florets (about 1 head)
1 large carrot, diced
2 1/2 cups grated sharp white and yellow cheddar
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Saute the onion for about 5 minutes or until tender. Using a whisk, add the flour and cook until golden (3-4 minutes). Gradually whisk in the half-and-half until smooth. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves, and nutmeg, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until thickened (about 20 minutes).
Add the broccoli and carrot and simmer until tender (about 20 minutes). Remove the bay leaves. Optional- Puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth. Whisk in the cheese over medium heat. If the soup is too thick you can add up to a half cup of water.
Turkey Pesto Sliders
6 slider buns (we used the Hawaiian brand ones)
6 slices of deli turkey meat
6 slices of provolone cheese
3 tbsp. pesto
3 tbsp. mayonnaise
2 tbsp. butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Split the slider buns. Lay them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Lay a folded slice of turkey on the bottom half of each bun. Add the provolone. Combine the pesto and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Spread a thin layer on each top bun. Replace teh top bun. Brush the tops of the buns with melted butter. Bake 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sandwiches are warmed.

August 17, 2010

Baked Ziti

I forgot to take a picture of this one, but as you can see it was a big hit. This dish is so popular with the hubs that I am absolutely sick of it and have refused to make it again (at least for a few months). However, you should make it because it is quite good. I first discovered this dish while watching an interview between Rachael Ray and Raven Simone. Surprisingly, it is Raven's recipe not Rachael's. However, I have altered it a bit and made it so many times that it is basically my own. This dish is not hard to make at all. It is kind of messy and you have to time everything out well. I have the timing perfected, but if my method is too confusing just do one thing at a time and you will be fine. This is a great recipe to serve for guests, because it feeds so many! I have put the full version on here. It makes a lot! You could reduce it very easily, but I usually just make a full batch and freeze it or give it to someone else.

Baked Ziti
2 jars Spaghetti Sauce with roasted garlic (I use Prego Roasted Garlic & Herb)
1 small onion, chopped
1 1 lb. block of mozzarella cheese (not fresh mozzarella) or 1/2 lb. block and 1/2 lb. shredded
1 box of rigatoni (can also use penne or ziti if desired)
pinch of oregano
pinch of parsley
Salt and pepper to taste (I often don't add it)
butter- optional
First, you will need to chop the onion. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brown the hamburger and onion in a large skillet or saucepot, drain. While this is browning, bring the pasta water to a boil. Once it is boiling cook the pasta as instructed on the package until al dente (or even a little less), drain. Simmer the hamburger/onion mixture with the two jars of sauce for a few minutes (don't rinse out the jars, just set them to the side). Add the parsley, oregano, and salt and pepper). While the pasta is cooking and sauce is simmering, chop 1/2 lb. of cheese into 1/2 inch cubes. Slice the other half into thin slices (unless you are using shredded). Get out your pans. In my experience, this amount of food needs one large 11x14 casserole dish adn one 8x8 dish or two 9x13 dishes. I like to grease the bottom of the pan with butter, but it is not necessary. Put a ladle full of sauce into the bottom of the pan begin layering by adding the pasta and then the cubed cheese. Continue layering, I always try to end with a layer of sauce. No remember those dirty sauce jars? Fill each of them about 1/4 full of water. Shake them up and pour the tomato water over the ziti (mostly on the edges). Cover the dish with sliced or shredded cheese. Sprinkle with oregano and parsley. Basically, you just need to bake this until the cheese is browned and bubbly. You can do it by simply baking for 30 minutes or so or by covering with foil for 30 minutes and then baking for 15-30 minutes more. It turns out the same either way.

August 9, 2010

Strawberry Muffins

Yup, still no working fridge at this time. So I have been making things that do not need to be refrigerated, like these strawberry muffins. They were okay, but I would probably leave out the nutmeg. I found it to be overpowering, I wanted my muffins to taste more like strawberries than nutmeg. They are still a good breakfast though!

Strawberry Muffins
1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup Splenda
1/8 cup white sugar
1/8 cup Splenda
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine the strawberries, 1/4 cup sugar, and a 1/4 cup Splenda in a seperate bowl. Let set for 1 hour. Drain the berries keeping the liquid seperate. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a 12 count muffin tin by greasing or lining with paper liners. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and the rest of the sugar and Splenda until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the vanilla. Combine the remaining dry ingredients and and stir into the creamed mixture alternately with the juice from the berries. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
Source: All Recipes

Stephanie Supper

Have I mentioned that our fridge is broken? We are going on week three, I believe. The repairman has been here twice, and thinks the fridge is fine. It is not! Just because it is running and is kind of cool does not mean it is working! He thinks my thermometer is wrong, but I have two and both are reading the same temperature which is about 10 degrees higher than a fridge is supposed to be. Thus, I can't grocery shop or store leftovers for fear of food poisoning. This and the fact that Matt has been working at a band camp and not eating at home have lead me to eat many Stephanie Suppers recently (which is okay by me). In college, my roommate (and good friend) Stephanie ate this dish or some variation of this multiple times a week (hence the name). Everytime I eat it, I am reminded of her. It is not really a specific recipe just a general guideline.
Stephanie Supper
Pasta (any shape), I have been using Whole Wheat
Butter or Olive Oil
Garlic or Garlic salt
Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions (just make as much as you think you will eat). I like to throw my the broccoli in with the boiling water for the last 3-4 minutes of cooking. In the original version, she cooked the broccoli separately (usually in the microwave). It is good both ways. Drain the pasta (and broccoli). Now in my version I throw the butter and minced garlic into the already hot pasta pot. I saute until the butter is melted and the garlic has started to brown. (You can also just add the butter and garlic salt to the pasta before serving). I then put the pasta back in the pot and toss to coat it with the butter/garlic. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and enjoy.
*I think you could also make this with olive oil instead of butter for a healthier dish, but I am not a big fan of the flavor of olive oil and pasta.
Source: Stephanie