Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes and Giveaway!!

So, what's a girl to do when it's her birthday, she's stuck at home because of the weather, everyone feels a little sick with allergies and colds, and there's no birthday cake in the house? Why, make chocolate cupcakes, of course!! Someone asked why I was baking on my birthday. First, I like to bake. And second, I knew no one else in the house was going to bake for me!!

I made Martha Stewarts One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes. It was the first time I've used that recipe, but I can guarantee it won't be the last!! They are easy, very chocolatey, moist and just darn good!! Sean has already requested these for his class birthday party at school this next week. I halved the recipe, and got 10 cupcakes out of it.

To go with the cupcakes, I made some chocolate cream cheese frosting. Yum!! Kade could be found eating the frosting with a spoon!! I halved that recipe as well, but will post the full recipe below.

In honor of my birthday, I've decided to hold a little giveaway on my blog -- my first giveaway!! The winner, chosen randomly, will receive a Wilton Cupcake Decorating Kit*, as well as some other little goodies that I'm not going to reveal, so it will be a surprise!! :) The giveaway will end at 5pm (central time) on Friday, February 5, 2010. To enter, just leave a comment on this post, and please be sure to leave some way for me to get in contact with you!!

*I am in no way affiliated with Wilton, and am not being reimbursed or having this giveaway sponsored by anyone. Just letting you know. :)

Now, for the frosting recipe!!

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick butter (1/2 cup) softened
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese. Add in the vanilla and mix well. Slowly mix in the cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Continue to beat until smooth.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Nacho Cheese Chicken Chowder

Last weekend, I gave D and Sean each a cookbook and told them that they each got to pick out a new recipe to try. I'm tired of having to do all the choosing! The book that I gave D was a slow cooker cookbook, and this is the recipe he chose. It's not necessarily one that I would have picked, but I'm glad he did! It was so simple, quick to put together, and quick cooking (well, for a slow cooker!).

Sean only ate a little bit of the chicken. Kade ate some of the chicken and a little of the soup, but it was a bit spicy for him. D and I both really liked it, and I was instructed to make sure I keep this recipe!! The next time I try it, I may substitute some browned ground beef for the chicken and add some pinto beans. We both agreed that it would be good with some tortillas added in at the end as well.

Nacho Cheese Chicken Chowder
adapted from this cookbook

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 (14.5 oz) cans Mexican style stewed tomatoes, undrained (I used two cans of Ro-tel)
1 (10.75 oz) can condensed nacho cheese soup
1 (10 oz) pkg frozen whole kernel corn (2 cups)
shredded cheddar cheese

In a 3-1/2 or 4 quart slow cooker, combine the tomatoes, soups and corn. Mix well. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and cook on low heat for 4 to 5 hours or on high heat for 2 to 2-1/2 hours. Ladle soup into bowls, top with shredded cheese.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

First, my apologies for no TWD post yesterday. It's hard to make Cocoa Nana Bread when someone throws out your pefectly good, ripe bananas you were saving just for that recipe because "they looked nasty." Oh well, hop on over and check out what the other TWD Bakers did with this week's recipe, chosen by Steph of Obsessed with Baking!

Now, on to the bread!! I admit that while I own a bread machine, I don't make that much in it. I just prefer to be more hands-on with my breadmaking, literally. However, I do use it quite often to make cinnamon raisin bread. I found a recipe that works well, and everyone in our house loves it, especially the kids!!

The recipe is from Fleischman's Bread World recipe site. I'm linking to it, because it has measurements for 1 lb, 1 1/2 lb, and 2 lb loaves on it. The only change I make is in the type of yeast I use, so I have to adjust the amount slightly.
Oh, just a helpful hint. You know the little paddle thingy that goes in the bottom of your bread machine pan? The one that mixes everything up? Make sure you put that in your bread pan before you start dumping all the ingredients in. Not that I would ever forget to do that...

Enjoy!! :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pizza Night!

I've been using these recipes for pizza dough and sauce for several years now. They are quick and simple, and in my house that equals perfect! :) I promised the Munchkin a few days ago that we would make pizza today.

I had all these great plans. I was going to let everyone make their own pizzas (well, Sprout was going to get some help!) and take lots of great pictures in the process. Little did I know the chaos that was about to hit...

I was kneading the dough when D called me on the phone to tell me that he had just picked up a puppy that someone had left on the side of the road. We live outside the city limits, and people seem to think that the country is a free-for-all dumping ground for unwanted items, even living unwanted items. It's just a little puppy, and it's been cold, so he just couldn't drive by and leave it there.

So, needless to say I had to deal with two hyper children, a cute puppy dog, and a hubby that wanted to run to the store for puppy food...all while getting supper ready. I wound up just making one thicker crust pizza and calling it good!!

I will usually start the sauce first, then while it's doing its thing I'll mix up the pizza dough. While the dough rests, I'll get out the rest of the toppings and then we're ready to roll! I've used the dough recipe for thicker and thinner crust pizzas, calzone, and breadsticks...sometimes cinnamon sugar breadsticks. ;)

I think the dough recipe is actually a Fleishman's recipe. There are notes at the bottom that were left by other posters on an internet recipe site where I found it. I've also substituted whole wheat flour for half of the all-purpose before, and it turned out well!

And a picture of the little stinker that caused the chaos...

Quick Pizza Sauce

1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
6 fluid oz warm water
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp minced garlic (or 1/2 to 3/4 tsp garlic powder)
1-2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp Italian herb mix
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, optional
salt to taste

In a small bowl combine all ingredients, making sure to break up any clumps of cheese. Cover the sauce and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Spread sauce over pizza dough and prepare pizza as desired.


Master Pizza Dough

3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 package rapid rise yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup very warm water (120-130'F)
2 Tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, undissolved yeast and salt. Stir in the water and oil. Mix in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4-6 minutes. Cover; let rest on floured surface 10 minutes.
Lightly oil 1 (14-inch) or 2 (12-inch) round pizza pan(s). Sprinkle with cornmeal. Shape dough into smooth ball. Divide and roll dough to fit desired pan(s). Bake in a 450'F preheated oven for 10-15 minutes.

Notes: To freeze, form the dough into a ball, put a very light coat of olive oil on it, then place it in two plastic bags, tied tightly. It will keep in the freezer for about 3 months. When you need to use it, just take it out and thaw. Great for stromboli, grilled on the bbq, or sprinkled with coarse salt and herbs and baked as a flat bread.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

National Pie Day!

Did you know that today is National Pie Day? Well, it is. And in honor of the occasion, I am going to share a recipe for a pie that I currently have no picture for. I got this recipe from my granmother's sister Francene many years ago. She called it Millionaire Pie. It's very quick and easy to put together. While it's great in the summer (it's a chilled pie) I get just as many requests for it in the winter...and I now officially have a craving for it. As soon as I can get to the grocery store, I will probably be making this!

And yes, I'm a math nerd, and proud of it!! ;) That's a real Pi plate, and I want one!!!

Cene's Millionaire Pie

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
4 Tbsp lemon juice
1 (8 oz) carton Cool-Whip, thawed
1 (15.25 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup chopped pecans
2 prepared graham cracker crusts

Mix first five ingredients together. Pour into pie crusts, chill well and enjoy!

Makes 2 pies.

See, I said it was easy. ;)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Project 365: Jan 8-21

Yes, I'm sporadic with my posts these days. Have you noticed? I guess that's what happens when you're dealing with a pregnant blogger, lol. ;)

I promise, I do have some baking/cooking posts planned soon! But in the meantime, here are the last two weeks worth of pictures for my Project 365!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pepper Pork Sandwiches

I keep saying that I'm going to use my slow cooker more, and I haven't really been using it that much. However, I've used it twice this week! :) The first time I just threw some refrigerated cheese tortellini in with some tomato puree and spices and let it cook for a couple of hours. That was quite the hit.

Today, I tried a new recipe, which I adapted from a recipe out of Better Than Mom's Slow Cooker Recipes, which I picked up off the bargain rack a while back. It turned out well. The flavor was milder than I anticipated, which wasn't a bad thing. It was still good! I'm trying to figure out how to tweak it if I make it again.

Pepper Pork Sandwiches

1 (2-1/2 to 3 lb) boneless pork shoulder roast
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (1 medium)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 fresh jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (optional)
1 (8 oz) jar roasted red bell peppers, undrained (rough chop the peppers if desired)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1 (1o oz) can enchilada sauce

Trim excess fat from meat, cutting if necessary to fit into a 4-qt slow cooker. Place meat in cooker. Add onion, garlic, jalapeno, roasted red bell peppers (with liquid), oregano and garlic. Pour enchilada sauce over meat.

Cover and cook on low for 10-11 hours or high for 5-5 1/2 hours. Transfer meat to a cutting board. Using two forks, shred meat. Skim fat from liquid in cooker (or strain through sieve if desired). Return meat to cooker and toss in cooking liquid. Serve on warm toasted buns.

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

TWD - Scherben

Hello everyone! :) I must admit that I did not bake along with TWD this week. The ickies returned a bit, and paired with insomnia I am dragging. I looked over the recipe, looked at my kitchen, and just couldn't deal this week. My apologies!!

However, be sure to check out what the other TWD bakers did with this week's recipe, chosen by Teanna of Spork or Foon?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Project 365: Jan 1-7

I'm still here! It's been a long week, getting back into our routines. I was ready for those routines, but's been a long week! However, I was able to take a picture each day for my first week of Project 365! :)


Monday, January 4, 2010

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

While looking through my notebook, I ran across a recipe that I made oh, about 5 or so years ago. I remember making it. And I remember Sean loving it, which is a miracle considering it has a **shudder** vegetable in it. But I never made it again. I decided why not try it again.

I've never made real Chicken Cordon Bleu, and I honestly think I've only eaten it once or twice, so I can't truly compare this casserole to the real thing. I made some changes to the recipe that I found, and in the recipe I've posted below I've made a few tweaks that I think will make it better. It's not a light recipe by any means, but if your New Year's Resolution was to eat healthier, you could probably make some changes to make it healthier...
It was good, but I probably won't make it often. While D and I liked it, Sean and even Kade just picked at it. Oh well.

Random, but have I mentioned that school starts back today? I am SO ready. ;)


Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

1-1/4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 (10-3/4 oz) can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup milk
1 cup frozen peas
4 oz ham, diced
8 oz grated Swiss cheese, divided
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5 oz egg noodles, cooked and drained

Preheat oven to 350'F.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add chicken and cook until browned. Remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sour cream, cream of chicken soup, chicken broth and milk. Stir in peas, ham, half of the Swiss cheese, black pepper, egg noodles and chicken.

Pour mixture into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle top with remaining cheese and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is melted.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010!!

Can you believe it's already 2010? I can't! I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year!!!

I don't have a new recipe to post today. It's not really a "resolution" post either, but I do have some plans for this year. Obviously the biggie will be adding a new baby to the family in April! But I also plan on crossing off some of the items on my
Learn to Do List this year, and hopefully I can add some more items to it as I think of them.

And this pretty much has nothing to do with cooking, but I'm planning on participating in
Project 365, where you document your day to day life by taking one picture every day. A little more info can be found here (or tons of places if you do a search for it!). Anyway, this really intrigued me and I'd like to do it. I don't plan on posting pictures every day, only once a week at most or maybe even just once a month. I may just post the pictures here on this blog...I'm not that sure I want to start a completely different blog for this project, but who knows, I may!

I'm getting back in the groove of blogging regularly, and I really do enjoy it, so hopefully I can continue this trend! Maybe I can even stockpile some posts so that when the baby is born I can still be posting, lol. :)

I hope everyone has an absolutely wonderful 2010!!


Well, okay I decided to post a recipe after all. It's the recipe I've used for black eyed peas on New Year's for the last few years. It's tradition to eat them to ensure a good year, and that's one tradition I'm not about to buck! Plus, I actually really like them. :)

The recipe calls for ham hocks, which in my ill-fated trips to the store on Monday (remember the forgotten cream cheese...) neither store I went to had ham hocks. It tends to be hit or miss with finding them. I guess I should buy extra and freeze them... The ham steak I had in the refrigerator was two days past its "use by" date, and with the stomach issues I've had recently, I just didn't want to risk it. So, I used some smoked beef sausage instead. I really like it with the ham hocks, but D preferred it with the sausage, and suggested I permanently change my recipe!!

I found the original recipe on an internet recipe site, but it was credited to Emeril Lagasse. I was able to locate a similar recipe on the Food Network site
here. Serve with a big chunk of cornbread, and it's a quite tasty tradition indeed! Here's to a happy, healthy and wonderful 2010 my friends!!

Enjoy! :)

Stewed Black Eyed Peas

12 oz ham hocks
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 lb tasso or other ham or sausage
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne (or I use Creole seasoning)
2 bay leaves
1 lb dried black eyed peas, picked over and rinsed
2 quarts chicken stock
2 Tbsp minced flat leaf parsley

With a sharp knife, score the fat on the ham hocks 1/4 inch deep. Heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the tasso and cook, stirring often, until heated through, about 3 minutes.

Add the onions and bell peppers, and cook until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add the ham hocks, garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne, and bay leaves. Cook 2 minutes, stirring often so the garlic doesn't burn. Add the black eyed pease and chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until the peas are tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Cut the meat from the hock, discarding the skin and bones. Return meat to the pot, stir in the parsley and serve.