Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

So I COMPLETELY cheated on this one. These are mint chocolate chip cookies that started out as a bag of sugar cookie dough mix from Betty Crocker. I get at least 10-15 emails a day from different companies and sites with recipes to try and this one showed up in my Betty Crocker email for a few days in a row. I decided to take a look at it and the reviews were actually good so I figured that I would try them. I already had everything on hand that was needed thanks to some random sale earlier in the year.

First off, these were really easy to make and were so good right out of the oven! They tasted just like a girl scout thin mint, just softer and chewier. I definitely plan to tuck this recipe away for when I have a mint chocolate chip craving. :-)

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Betty

1 bag sugar cookie mix
1 stick butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp of mint extract
6-8 drop green food coloring
1 cup creme de menthe baking chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

- Preheat oven to 350
- Combine cookie mix, butter, egg, extract and food coloring until soft dough forms
- Stir in baking chips
- Use a small cookie scoop and place cookies 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet
- Bake 8 - 10 minutes

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls

All that I am going to say for this post is that you MUST make these cinnamon rolls. They are one of the best things that I have ever made and are probably the number one thing that Ree Drummond is known for. I am not going to elaborate about their delicious gooeyness because you should be able to tell from the picture and the ingredients in the recipe that they are SINFUL! Make them today!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Monster Cookies

Yay for snow days! Today Virginia got hit with a small snow storm that kept Mady and Savannah out of school. I have been promising Mady that we would try out the recipe for Monster cookies that I found on The Pioneer Woman's (my hero) website. Of course, Mady had no clue what was even in them. She was more intrigued by the name Monster being associated with cookies.

Since Lindsey and Joel live about 900 feet behind me now, I met Lindsey halfway down the driveway and stole the girls from her for awhile. After warming up from playing in the snow, we mixed up the cookies and got the first batch in the oven while the girls watched Alvin and the Chipmunks (an early Christmas present from Nana). The cookies turned out great! I love that they have oats, pecans and peanut butter in them (to make you feel somewhat healthy). These ingredients are hidden well in the cookies and the girls inhaled them without thinking twice. They normally won't touch an oatmeal cookie with a 10 ft pole.

I changed the recipe just a little bit to adjust to the ingredients that I had on hand. I also read quite a few replies on Ree's recipe and supposedly most "monster" cookie recipes have peanut butter in them, (Her's didn't) so I decided to add 1/2 cup of that in. Her recipe also called for peanut butter chips. I didn't have those but substituted butterscotch chips and the cookies were just fine.

I think that my favorite part of the cookie is the addition of the rice krispies. You fold these in carefully at the end so that you don't crush them. They give the cookies an unexpected crunch that is great!

Here's a shot of the girls with all of the ingredients measured out and ready to start the destruction. Sorry about the blurriness of the picture...I took it with my phone.

Monster Cookies
(adapted from Ree Drummond)

2 sticks butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugra
2 eggs
1 TBL vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups oats (quick cooking or old-fashioned)
1/2 cup M&M's
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
2 1/4 cup rice krispie cereal

- Cream sugars and butter
- Add eggs and blend well
- Add vanilla and peanut butter and blend well
- Add the flour, soda, powder and salt and blend well
- Begin folding in the oats, M&M's, chips and nuts
- Add the rice krispies last and blend just until combined
- Bake at 375 until golden brown

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chocolate-Cinnamon Bundt Cake with Mocha Icing

I tried out another Bon Appetit recipe this weekend that ended up a big success. This is a chocolate bundt cake with cinnamon and then a rich mocha icing on top and it is a chocolate lovers dream. In the magazine it is under a header called, "cheap chic party dessert" and they say that it is cost friendly because all of the ingredients are things that many people keep in their pantry. (Although I have to say that I bought the instant coffee for this because I am NOT a coffee drinker as much as I would like to be.) My office mates will love this one tomorrow because I don't need/want it sitting around my house.

The recipe was super easy and I made it with a hand mixer instead of dragging out the Kitchen Aid. I did have problems with it sticking to the pan as much as I sprayed it with cooking spray. I will use parchment next time. The glaze is my favorite part because it adds a great moistness to the cake. The flavor of the coffee is very mild (mild enough that I can eat it and enjoy it).

Chocolate-Cinnamon Bundt Cake with Mocha Icing
(from Bon Appetit - month unknown)
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tsp instant espresso powder, divided (I used instant coffee because I couldn't find instant espresso)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups packed golden brown sugar, divided
1 cup vegetable oil
1 TBL vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/4 mini semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1/4 cup butter, room temp

- Preheat oven to 350. Generously grease a nonstick bundt pan with oil
- Whisk boiling water, cocoa powder, and 2 tsp espresso powder in a bowl.
- Whisk 2 cups flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl
- Using electric mixer, beat 2 cups brown sugar, 1 cup oil, and 1 TBL vanilla in large bowl to blend.
- Add eggs; beat to blend. Beat mixture until smooth, about 30 seconds longer. Beat in half of flour mixture, then cocoa mixture. Add remaining flour mixture and beat to blend.
- Fold in 1 cup chocolate chips and transfer to pan.
- Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool cake 10 minutes and invert onto rack. Cool 15 minutes longer.
- In a small saucepan, stir remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp espresso powder, and 2 TBL water until sugar melts.
- Remove from heat. Add butter and remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Stir until butter and chips melt. Cool slightly.
- Using spoon, drizzle icing over cake and allow to cool completely.

Buttermilk Biscuits with Green Onions, Black Pepper and Kosher Salt

I made these biscuits a couple of weeks ago to go along with some soup for dinner. I have to say that I was plesantly surprised by these. I have never been a great biscuit maker so these still need some work as far as thickness goes, etc but they were well liked by my family. These are not your typical buttermilk biscuit. These have minced green onions, cornmeal, and black pepper throughout. Although I really liked these, I think that I am still a plain buttermilk biscuit girl (with butter and homemade strawberry jam on top of course). My sister loved them and wants the recipe to add to her collection. I guess that's a good thing. :-)

Buttermilk Biscuits with Green Onions, Black Pepper, and Sea Salt
(from Bon Appetit - Nov 2008)
3/4 cup chilled buttermilk
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
3 TBL sugar
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper plus additional for sprinkling
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, plus 1 TBL melted butter
Coarse sea salt

- Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine buttermilk and green onions in medium bowl.
- Whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, and 1/2 tsp pepper in large bowl to blend. Add 1/2 cup chilled butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal.
- Add buttermilk mixture and stir until moist and clumps form.
- Gather dough together. Turn dough out onto floured surface and kneed gently just to combine, about 3 to 4 turns.
- Roll out to 3/4 inch thickness (I actually would prefer thicker) and cut with a 2 inch biscuit cutter
- Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops with melted butter. Sprinkle each lightly with coarse sea salt and ground black pepper.
- Bake biscuits until golden, about 20 minutes.

Weekly Menu: 9/19 - 9/24

Well I guess that it is time to get back to the real world. I have been out of town on vacation so I have been bad and haven't posted in awhile. :-) I am trying a couple new recipes this week so expect some recipe posts later on...

Sunday Lunch - Cabbage and White Bean Soup with Sausage (previous post here)

Sunday Dinner - Jambalaya and 1 hour French Bread (need to post both of these recipes)

Monday - Out for my Dad's Birthday!

Tuesday - Cheeseburgers, French Fries and Green Beans

Wednesday - Chicken Fajitas with Homemade Guacamole, Spanish Rice and Corn

Thursday - White Bean and Turkey Chili, Cornbread

I hope that everyone has a good week!!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Weekly Menu: 8/29 - 9/3

Lots of yummy stuff planned this week...

Sunday: Balsamic Glazed Short Ribs, Mashed Potatoes and Creamed Cabbage

Monday: Chicken Cacciatore and Salad

Tuesday: Creamy Chicken and Corn Chowder, Biscuits and Scallded Lettuce

Wednesday: Out to celebrate my Brother-in-law's birthday...

Thursday: Fish Fillets, Rice and Brocolli

Friday: Tacos, Mexicorn and Mexirice

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Balsamic Glazed Shortribs

Okay so I know that this isn't the most beautiful picture in the world, but I had to post these because they were too yummy not to. I have wanted to make short ribs for awhile now and I found some at my local store on sale and then the fun began. Short ribs have to be one of the most tender pieces of meat that I have ever eaten.

These shortribs were cooked in the crockpot so I didn't have to heat up my house with the oven. You sear them on the stove first and then make a sauce with the drippings, balsamic vinegar and a saute of garlic and onions that you pour over them in the crockpot. The balsamic vinegar gives the meat a nice sweet flavor as it cooks in the crockpot.

After you pull the shortribs out of the crockpot you take the sauce and skim the fat off of it and reduce the sauce on the stove. I added a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream to it to pull the sauce together at the end. You can serve these over mashed potatoes (what I did), polenta or rice and drizzed with some of the sauce. Yummy! My family is already asking when we are going to have these again!

Balsamic Glazed Shortribs
(I started out with a recipe from I believe Woman's Day and made it my own)

4-5 pounds of shortribs (if they are boneless you will need less)
3 TBL olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 medium onion, diced very finely
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chicken or beef stock (the recipe called for red wine but I didn't have it)
Salt and Pepper
2 TBL heavy cream

- Heat oil over medium high heat.
- Sear the shortribs on each side
- Add shortribs to your crockpot, season with salt and pepper and turn on low
- Remove all but 1 TBL of oil out of the pan. Cook the garlic and onion for about 2 minutes
- Add the balsamic vinegar and broth and scrape any bits of flavor that are on the bottom of the pan. Allow to reduce for 1-2 minutes and pour over the shortribs in the crockpot
- Allow to cook on low for 8 hours. I had boneless shortribs so mine took less...more like 5 1/2 to 6.
- Remove the meat from the crockpot and place on a plate. Skim the fat off of the sauce and put the sauce in a small saucepan on the stove.
- Allow the sauce to reduce on the stove over medium high heat until reduced by over half.
- At the end add 2 TBL heavy cream (optional) and pour over the shortribs when you serve them.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Happy 6th Birthday Madelyn!!

Today is a special day for my amazing niece Madelyn! She not only started the 1st grade, but it is her 6th birthday! Mady is so special to me and I love her so so so so much. Mady is a smart little girl that loves to be a big helper and she absolutely loves to play and be crazy. She is a shy and sensitive child and her heart breaks if you look at her the wrong way.

I am so thankful for all of the time that I get to spend with her (as crazy as she can be). One of her favorite things to do is spend the night at Yaya's (me) house. She is obsessed with helping me cook and wants me to play with her the entire time that I am with her. My sister and brother in law are currently building 800 feet back in the woods from where my house is. I am so looking forward to having Mady and Savannah close to me now so that I can see them even more.

I pray for Mady every day that God will protect her not only physically, but spiritually and emotionally as well. The world is a tough place to grow up in now days and kids tend to grow up a little faster. I don't think that family can do enough to make kids know that they are their number 1 fans and that they are loved.

I included a picture below from Mady's first birthday party. It's crazy how much that she has grown up and how much has happened since she was born. I see my Memaw's arm in the picture beside her and I know that she would be so in love with Mady and Savannah if she was still living.

Happy Birthday Madelyn!!! I love you!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Friday Favorites - 8/21

Another week has come and gone and I can't say that this one went too fast. I thought that it would never end!! I know, I know, my grandmother would have chewed me out for trying to rush time. But man, I am so happy for a couple of days of freedom! They are going to be a busy couple of days though!!!

The picture that I posted this week is another that my sister took of my nieces. I love all sorts of things about it. She is definitely improving in her photography!

Reading - I finished "Ten Things I Love About You" by Julia Quinn and I stopped reading "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. The book just got a little too far fetched for me religion wise and it also spent a chapter in some political stuff that I didn't agree with. No, I am not one of those people that only reads books from my own political opinion...this book was supposed to be a fun read for me and not a learning/controversial read for me. I began looking at it as a not fun read so I stopped. Sometimes I just like to get away from all of the stuff flying around these days. And yes, I know that the author has every right to write about what she wants and I have every right to read what I want. :-)

I also finished Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. Great read about the power and importance of prayer in our lives.
  • Duchess in Love by Eloisa James
  • Just the Way You Are by Christina Dodd - Another romance...oh well, I love them. This is the first book that I have read of Christina's and I am pleasantly surprised so far. It's really good!
  • Jerry Falwell: His Life and Legacy by Macel Falwell - The book written by the widow of my long time pastor Dr. Falwell. It's very good and funny so far.
Cooking - I tried a couple new things this week for dinners. First off, I made a sweet and spicy apple glaze for some turkey kielbasa kabobs that I made. Then I tried out some grilled barbecue chicken subs with sauteed peppers, mushrooms and onions with provolone cheese. Yummy!! Mady's 6th birthday is this week so I will be making her birthday cupcakes today for her party tomorrow. She wants bright pink icing with stars, hearts and diamonds. I have in my head how I am going to do them and will definitely post them on here. :-) Other than that I am not too sure what I will be making yet. We will see what I come up with next week.

Favorite Thing: My favorite thing this week was my Friday night. I got to go to dinner and hang out with my Mom and then my nieces spent the night with me. We had an absolute blast as always...of course my house that is in shambles now is regretting them ever coming.

Going to: This weekend is a crazy one for me. I have lots of errands to run and then I will be helping to get ready for Mady's birthday party and Chuck E Cheese tomorrow. I can't believe that kid is going to be 6!!!

Praying for: The transition to school for not only my nieces, but all of the other kids out there. I remember how nerve wracking it could be to start a new class and make new friends. This is the first time that Savannah has been to school so it should be interesting. I am also praying for the start of Liberty for the year. We are expecting 10,000 residential students for the fall so I am praying for safe travels for the students coming in, that things will go seamlessly as everyone starts classes and that God will do great things at the school this year.

Quote: "God doesn't promise that there won't be storms, but He promises to walk with you through them."

Have a great week!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rolo Pretzel Bites

Okay so I know that these don't look like the most appetizing thing in the world but let me tell you, looks can be deceiving! My nieces and I made these on Sunday afternoon and they had so much fun with it! (Yes, these are easy enough for a 3 year old to do.) I have a feeling that these will be added to our repeat list and the fun thing is that you can do several variations on these.

I got the recipe out of a cookbook that the pastors wives and church workers did recently at my church. I thought that they sounded so fun. Basically they are mini pretzels with a Rolo candy on each. You bake them for a few minutes and push something on top or down in the middle of them to spread the ooey gooey caramel and chocolate over the pretzel. I guess it's a dummies (yes I am calling myself a dummy) version of a turtle.

We decided to use the M&M's because my nieces aren't big fans of nuts. The "prettiest" thing to do for these would probably be a pecan or walnut half (which is another suggestion that the recipe makes). Let me tell you, these things disappeared in no time. I know that I didn't eat all of them. I have a feeling little fingers were reaching up on the counter and snagging them.

Rolo Pretzel Bites
Mini Pretzels
Rolo Candies
M&M's or pecan halves

- Preheat oven to 275
- Put a piece of parchment or wax paper on a cookie sheet
- Spread out the pretzels
- Place a Rolo candy on each pretzel
- Bake in the oven for 3 to 3 1/2 minutes
- Remove from oven and immediately top with the candy or nuts
- Place in the fridge to cool completely


MSC Cupcake Club - Triple Citrus Cupcakes

The 15th quickly snuck up on me again this month so it is time again for another post for the Martha Stewart Cupcake Club! Marthe from Culinary Delights chose the yummy Triple Citrus Cupcakes for our August posts. If you like citrus, these are just for you! I especially enjoyed the change from the buttercreams that are typically on our cupcakes to the simple citrus glaze that we used for these. This made them a lot faster to make as well!
The cake resembled a pound cake to me. There was lots of butter and eggs which are some of the main ingredients that go into my pound cakes. They ended up being a lot denser than I am typically used to with a cupcake as well.
I also loved how the recipe called for 3 different types of citrus zest. I quite honestly get tired of just doing lemon or just doing lime, so having the opportunity to do 3 at a time was great!
I halved the recipe as usual and made 18 instead of the 36. My office mates will be happy this morning. I warned some of them though, if you don't like tart and tangy things then avoid them at all costs!
Will I make these again? Probably not, but as always I had a blast trying out something new!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Favorites

Well it has actually be a fairly uneventful week for me. It is so nice to have those sometimes. I included a picture above that my sister took recently. I think that it is so beautiful and peaceful and oh how I dream of that kind of peace and quiet sometimes. I am actually considering printing it and hanging it at my house...of course she would just love that.
Reading: I am still working on some of the same books, but I finished Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts. It was so good and I can't wait for the fourth and final book in the series to come out. I think that if I didn't have so many books going at once I would actually get some accomplished. Oh well...
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - still trudging's going to take a lot of restraint for me not to go and see that this weekend.
  • Duchess in Love by Eloisa James
  • Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn - my all time favorite author
  • Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala - I totally forgot to mention this one last week. I hope to finish this up this up today. Very powerful book!

Cooking: I made a super yummy pasta dish earlier this week that you can see the post of below. I also made homemade chicken pot pie which is always a big hit. I am looking forward to our monthly installment of the MSC Cupcake Club this weekend. I believe that the pick from the group is Triple Citrus Cupcakes or something like that. Sounds delish...

Favorite Thing: Okay this sounds completely stupid, but my one of my favorite things this week has been the sleep that I have been able to catch up on at night. I have taken advantage of some additional sleep time and it has been soooo nice! I also enjoyed some time that I was able to spend with my niece Madelyn over last weekend. I love that kid so much.

Going to: Well my list of things to do at home continues to grow and grow. (Maybe I shouldn't have enjoyed my favorite thing above so much). I plan on tackling a few things this weekend at my house that I have been wanting to get done. I would also like to work on making some cards (hobby of mine) so that I will have a stock of them for later this year. Christmas is coming you know! I plan on baking and cooking some this weekend as well. I already mentioned the MSC Cupcake Club and I have some new recipes cut out as well that I would like to try. Finally, I imagine that a late movie will be thrown in either Friday or Saturday night which is just dandy with me as well.

Praying for: Several families in the TRBC and LU community that are mourning the loss of loved ones. The community has been hit hard recently with deaths and is such a hard time for these families. Also praying for God's strength for myself as I am struggling with some things in my personal life. I need constant reminder that I should trust in Him and not only in trying to make things better by myself.

My Quote for the Week: I have a book that I am constantly writing down my favorite quotes and verses. What an awesome place to share them!

"Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars and to change the world" - Harriett Tubman

I hope that everyone has an awesome and productive week!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Accidental Dinner (and it was delicious too!)

Well, the inevitable has happened as dinner plans fell through. This usually happens at some point during the week no matter how well that I plan. So instead of going out and getting pizza or some other sort of horrible for you fast food, I decided to make an everything but the kitchen sink pasta. And it turned out oh so good. I didn't have any chicken or shrimp in the house so I decided to use up a bunch of vegetables. I will definitely be making this again! I actually can't wait for lunch tomorrow so that I can eat the leftovers. :-)

This is what I did. By no means does it mean that you have to do it that way. Use what you have on hand and be creative with it!

Creamy Veggie Pasta (because I can't think of a better name for it)
3 TBL olive oil
1 TBL butter
1 small onion, diced
6 large mushrooms, sliced (I actually had to slice mine in half first because they were so big)
1/2 zucchini, sliced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 small tomato, with the guts scraped out (seeds and liquid) and diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3 TBL flour
2 cups chicken stock (1 can)
1 cup water
1 TBL balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste
1/2 - 2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Pasta of your choice

- Heat a large skillet over med-high heat.
- Add olive oil and butter
- Saute onion, zucchini and mushrooms until softened and onion is translucent.
- Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, basil and pepper. Saute for about 30 seconds.
- Add the flour and stir everything to coat. Just before it begins to burn, slowly add the chicken stock and water in 1/2 cup increments. Stir constantly.
- Once all of the liquid is incorporated, let it cook until the sauce starts to thicken. I let mine simmer for about 10-12 minutes. During this time, add the salt and sugar.
- Start your pasta water and cook your pasta. Make sure that you salt that water!!!
- Add the balsamic vinegar, peas and tomatoes and stir well. Let cook for about 2 minutes.
- Lower the heat to about med-low and add the heavy cream and Parmesan.
- At this point your pasta should be close to done. Drain the pasta and add directly to the sauce and stir to coat. If the sauce is too thick, add some of the pasta water and it will thin right out.

Enjoy!! Other things that you could use in the pasta if you have it on hand are, shallots, broccoli, asparagus, yellow summer squash, bell pepper, etc etc etc.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Weekly Menu: 8/8 - 8/13

It's a boring week in recipe land, but I have a crazy schedule ahead of me...

Sunday: Chicken Pot Pie and Salad. Trying out a new pie crust recipe for it...

Monday: I won't be home, but the rest of the family will have Barbecue Chicken, Mashed Taters and Green Beans.

Tuesday: Salmon Cakes, Fried Potatoes and Cabbage made some way or another.

Wednesday: Spaghetti Carbonara, Salad and Bread

Friday: Hot Dogs, Baked Beans and Chips

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Friday Favorites

I decided that I would like to start doing a recap of my week every Friday or Saturday on here. I am unashamedly stealing this idea from my food blogging friend Kayte over at Grandma's Kitchen Table. I have enjoyed reading her posts and I hope that I will enjoy revisiting some of the items that have happened in my life over the past week.

This picture is of my niece Savannah. She was at my house yesterday and I became concerned when things were just a little too quiet. This is how I found her...not only was the bathroom soaked, but she had bathed herself and her clothes as well. :-)

Reading: I am currently working on three different books depending on what my mood is at the moment.
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - Yes, I am reading this because the movie is coming out next week. It's a good book so far even though I don't necessarily agree with everything in it.
  • Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts - This is the third book in her Bride Quartet Series. I am loving it so far. I must also note that I got to meet Nora Roberts at the RWA Literacy Autographing that my sister and I went to last week at Disney World. Nora was soooo nice (for a catrillionaire haha).
  • Duchess In Love by Eloisa James - I have never read anything by Eloisa so I wanted to try her out. It's a historical romance (my fav). I am only about 30 pages in but so far it seems promising.
Listening to: My current favorite is the Glee soundtrack. Yes...I am a Gleek.

Cooking: I didn't get a chance to cook too much new this week. I did try out a Key Lime Cake that turned out great. I actually ate out most of the week because my best friend, Elisabeth was in town and I spent a lot of time with her and her kids. Last night I made potato leek soup and that was yummy as always.

Favorite Thing this Week: Getting to hang out with Elisabeth and her kids Tyson and Jenna. I miss them sooo much and I enjoy getting to see them.

Going to: I don't have too many plans for this weekend. I am taking my niece Mady to see Ramona and Beezus today. I am sure that my Sunday afternoon will be filled with couponing and attempting a new recipe.

Praying for: A family at my church just lost their husband/dad this week to ALS. Praying for peace and comfort for them.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Key Lime Cake

I am famous for cutting out loads and loads of recipes out of magazines so I decided to pick a needle out of a haystack and try one this past weekend. I made a Key Lime Cake out of the April 2010 issue of Redbook Magazine. I believe that it is Tricia Yearwood's recipe but I didn't write it down.

The cake is 3 layers of lime green tangy moistness. It definitely has a tart to it...but totally in a good way. The lime flavoring and coloring comes from a package of lime flavored gelatin and then a syrup of lime juice and powdered sugar that is poured over the top while the cakes are still hot. This extra syrup makes the cake so moist!!

My one complaint about the cake is that the recipe didn't make enough cream cheese icing for a nice thick coating. In the picture from the magazine it is clear that they either 1 1/2 times the recipe or maybe even doubled it. The taste of the icing is great's a traditional cream cheese icing flavor.

One last thing that I thought was interesting about the cake is that it wasn't the typical mix your wet ingredients and then gradually add the dry. It calls for you to mix the dry ingredients and add the wet and combine. So I made the cake in one bowl so it was nice on the clean-up side as well!

Key Lime Cake
from the April 2010 Redbook Magazine

1- 3oz package of lime-flavored gelatin
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
5 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3/4 cup orange juice
1 TBL lemon juice (I actually just added a little more orange juice)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup key lime juice (or lime juice)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

- Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 3 -inch round cake pans
- In a large mixing bowl, mix the gelatin, sugar, flour, salt, powder and soda. Stir to mix well.
- Add the eggs, oil, orange juice, lemon juice and vanilla. Mix well and divide the batter evenly among the 3 pans and bake for 35 to 40 min. (I don't know if it is my oven or what, but my cakes only took about 30...this may have helped with the moistness)
- Cool the layers in the pans for 5 minutes and turn out onto racks.
- While the layers are still hot, mix the lime juice and confectioners' sugar and pour it over the layers on the racks. You can pierce the layers with a fork to allow the glae to soak in better. Allow the laters to cool completely as you prepare the icing.

Cream Cheese Icing
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1- 8 oz package cream cheese, room temp
1- 1lb box confectioners' sugar

Cream the butter and cream cheese. Beat in the confectioners sugar until the mixture is smooth and easy to spread. Spread the icing between the layers and on the top and sides of the cake.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Weekly Menu 6/27 - 7/2

I'm late posting this!!! I guess better late than never right?

Sunday - We had California Pizza Kitchen Barbecue Chicken Chopped Salad Copycat that I was supposed to make last week.

Monday - We had a Chicken and Stove Top Stuffing Casserole, Corn on the Cob, Scallded Lettuce

Tuesday - Chili and Cornbread

Wednesday - Baked Ziti, Salad, Bread

Thursday - Pizza Turkey Burgers (we shall see how that goes), Tator Tots

Friday - Fried Salmon Cakes, Fried Potatoes, Broccoli

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Enchilada Lasagna

I tried out a new recipe last night for dinner. It is from the July 2010 issue of Taste of Home.
The recipe is called Enchilada Lasagna and it was actually really good! The "noodles" in the lasagna are actually flour tortillas. It is full of enough cheese to choke you, but it is yummy!! My Dad and Brother-in-law loved it!

I do have a few changes that I would like to make next time that I make it, but overall it didn't need changing.

Enchilada Lasagna
adapted from Taste of Home Magazine
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can (14 oz) stewed tomatoes
1 can (10 oz) enchilada sauce
1 to 2 tsp ground cumin (I used 1 1/2 tsp)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
3 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese
8 flour tortillas (8 inch) cut in half
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, cook the beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the enchilada sauce, tomatoes, salt, pepper and cumin. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine egg and cottage cheese; set aside. Spread 1/3 of the meat sauce into a greased 13x9 baking dish. Layer with half of the cheese blend, tortillas, cottage cheese and remaining meat sauce. Repeat layers and sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Cover and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Uncover; bake 10 minutes longer or until bubbly. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting. Top with sour cream, guacamole or pico de gallo.

Changes that I would make next time...
- Add small can of chopped green chile's
- Add half of a packet of taco seasoning to the sauce. It needs some more flavor.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Amazing Chocolate Cake from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

**WARNING** If you are on Weight Watchers or any other program to lose weight...DON'T READ THIS POST!

I made this cake a couple weeks ago and I HAD to post it because it is that amazing! One of my pet peeves is a dry cake and this cake was nothing of the sorts. It is a rich chocolate cake with a cooked chocolate icing. You will notice from the picture that the frosting isn't thick and fluffy. It is more fudgy and you pour it overtop of warm cake while it is still hot. The frosting then seeps down into the cake and down the sides. You can see in this picture that some of the icing made it down to the bottom of the cake and oozed out. I am typing this out now and dreaming of the time that I MUST make this again.

I got this recipe out of The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond. You can access the recipe here. Ree makes this recipe in a large jelly roll pan. I made the cake in a 9x13 pan, so it was much thicker and I will definitely make it that way again.

Enjoy! Enjoy!

Marinated Ribeye's & Twice Baked Potatoes

In typical fashion, my Dad and brother-in-law wanted meat and potatoes for their Father's Day dinner so I decided to spice things up a little bit. We had marinated ribeye's and twice baked potatoes. I have been making twice baked potatoes for years and I cut the ribeye marinade out of Taste of Home magazine recently.

The twice baked potatoes are just what you expect. Creamy, cheesy, potatoey goodness in a potato skin boat. I don't really follow a recipe for this but here's the basic gist of it.

Twice Baked Potatoes
4 baking potatoes
5 TBL softened butter
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups cheddar cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 TBL minced chives

- Bake potatoes at 350 until done. Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to be able to handle them.
- Slice the potatoes in half and scoop the potato out into a large bowl. Place the potato shells back on the pan.
- Add the butter and mash by hand to incorporate the butter.
- Add the sour cream, 1 cup cheese, chives, salt and pepper and continue to mash until combined
- Scoop the potato mixture back into the potato shells and top with the remaining cheese. If you like them extra cheesy then by all means add the more!!
- Bake at 350 for another 15 - 20 minutes until the cheese is nice and bubbly.

**I have added bacon to this before as well and it was a big hit.

The ribeye marinade was super easy and I was actually really surprised at how many ingredients were in it. It had a sweet undertone to it and I personally really liked it.

Ribeye Marinade
(adapted from Taste of Home magazine)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
3 TBL steak sauce
3 TBL olive oil
3 Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp steak seasoning
1 garlic cloved, minced
1 TBL red wine vinegar
1 TBL soy sauce
1 tsp hot sauce

- Combine all ingredients.
- This recipe makes enough marinade for 4 steaks.
- Marinade steaks for at least 4 hours and up to 12.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Weekly Menu: June 19 - 25

Well I was good last week and almost made all of the dishes that I had planned on. Life happens right? Here's the plan for this week...

Sunday - Marinated Ribeye's (have a marinade recipe I want to try), Twice Baked Potatoes, Corn on the Cob, Salad (All my Dad's requests of course because today is all about him)

Monday - Enchilada Lasagna (yet another new recipe), Guacamole and Chips

Tuesday - Baked Chicken with Cream of Mushroom Soup, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans

Wednesday - Hot Dogs, Baked Beans, Chips

Thursday - Catering a Wedding Reception so no dinner!

Friday - California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad Copykat

Other goals for Sunday afternoon:
- Low-Fat Cheesecake with fresh fruit (recipe from Food Network Magazine) (for my Dad for Dad's Day)
- Zucchini Bread
- Chocolate Cake from The Pioneer Woman Cooks (for my spoiled bro-in-law for Dad's Day)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Teriyaki and Pineapple Glazed Pork Loin

Okay so I know that this isn't the most beautiful thing in the world, but it's really yummy! And it's something different from the "standard" baked chicken breasts that I feel like we have all of the time. Pork's "bad" rep had gotten better recently because surprisingly, you can get very lean cuts of pork.

Any of you that know me know that I am all about making great food for the best bargain. My menu each week tends to be based upon the meat that is on sale for that week. This week was no exception. Our local store had half boneless pork loin's on sale. They are huge and I probably could have fed 12 people total that evening for dinner with one $6 dollar pork loin. Can we say leftovers???

This was really simple to make. The roast turned out moist and tender enough to cut with a fork. I can't give you a specific on the time that it took because all roasts are different. This is when your handy dandy kitchen thermometer gets good use.

Teriyaki and Pineapple Glazed Pork Loin
1 - 4 (ish) pound pork loin
1 cup teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup pineapple juice (you can buy the real small cans in the juice aisle)
1/2 tsp kosher salt for glaze plus additional for pork
1/4 tsp ground black pepper for glaze plus additional for pork
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

- Preheat oven to 315 degrees
- Place pork loin on a cooking rack in a roasting pan
- Liberally season with kosher salt and pepper
- Cover with foil and cook in oven for approx 2 hours.
- Combine teriyaki sauce, pineapple juice, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
- This is where your judgement comes into play based on the size of your loin. According to a site that I found for cooking temperatures of pork loin, it needs to be cooked to 155 degrees. At around 2 hours, my pork loin was within 20 degrees of being done after testing it with a thermometer. At this point I removed the foil, turned the temp to 350 and began basting the pork loin every 15 minutes until it reaches 155 degrees.
- When done, pull from oven and let rest for 15 minutes so that the juices will redistribute. Cut into slices and enjoy!

Monday, June 14, 2010

MSC Cupcake Club - Strawberry Cupcakes

So I am back with the Martha Stewart Cupcake Club after a few months hiatus. Between traveling during what seems to be the middle of every month and craziness at work, I just haven't had the time.

This months great cupcake pick was from Sherry at Sherry Starts Cooking. The cupcakes are Strawberry cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Strawberries are at their peak in my area so these were an even better pick for me.

The cupcakes themselves were very simple, but yummy. They were super moist and I enjoyed the small chunks of strawberries in them. I do have to say that I was a little disappointed that the cupcakes weren't more "strawberryie". I think that next time I will add in some strawberry puree to make them more like a cupcake and less like a strawberry muffin.

I made the mistake of trying the meringue icing again. It looks all pretty, but the taste just isn't there for me. It's too much butter. I should have stuck with a simple strawberry buttercream. This is solely my personal preference though.

I will definitely make these again with a couple of tweaks. Thanks again Sherry for the pick! I have been anxious to make these ever since buying the book!

Out Of This World Cornbread

I have been on the hunt for a great cornbread recipe for awhile. I don't want a plain tasting cornbread that is dry and falls apart when you cut into it. I wanted one that was heavy, moist and super sweet. Well the search is over!!!! haha.

Martina McBride, a majorly famous country singer, had her cornbread recipe posted in Good Housekeeping this month in the July 2010 edition of the magazine. When I saw the sugar content, I knew that I had found a match.

This is definitely going on my make again and again and again list. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did. Beware though...if you don't like a sweet cornbread then this isn't for you.

Martina McBride's Corn Cornbread
- 1 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal, plus more for pan
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 lg eggs
- 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup fresh corn kernels

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 8x8 or 9x9 square baking dish. (The recipe called for a 9x5 loaf pan) Dust the pan with cornmeal.

In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a mediaum bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, milk and oil. Stir egg mixture into cornmeal mixture until just combined. Stir in the corn and pour batter into prepared pan. I honestly don't remember how long that I baked this but I believe that it was another 20 minutes or so after the first 15 minutes. Just bake it until it springs back to the touch in the middle.

Bake 15 minutes and reset the oven control to 325. I honestly don't remember how long that I cooked it after this. I believe that it was 20 minutes. It just needs to spring back when you touch it. I will time it next time.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Weekly Menu: June 13 - 18

I guess if I am going to get back into the swing of things with blogging, I should start posting my menu for the week on here so that I can keep myself held accountable. Here's what we are having this week.

Sunday Lunch - Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches, Mac and Cheese and Peas. I am not making the pork bbq homemade like I normally do. I got 2 tubs of pork bbq for cheap while couponing yesterday so we are doing that. Nice and easy, and I love meals that feed 7 of us for under $10 bucks.

Sunday Dinner - Terriaki/Pinapple Glazed Pork Loin, Mashed Potatoes, Fresh Green Beans and Cornbread. (Yes, I know that we are porking it out today but I don't have time to cook a whole pork loin during the week because of the time that I get off of work)

Monday - Spaghetti, Salad and Bread

Tuesday - Grilled Barbecue Chicken, Roasted Potatoes, Corn on the Cob and Scallded Lettuce

Wednesday - Pasta alla Betsy (from the Pioneer Woman Cooks) and Salad

Thursday - Homemade Chicken Veg Soup and Grilled Cheese

Friday - Pizza Night

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Where Have I Been???

So....I haven't posted since January 20th. Shame on me!!! I love blogging so much but I have been so busy with work and life in general. The first half of my year is consumed with Graduation at Liberty. I work what seems like around the clock from the first of April through mid-May on getting that ready. I also took 2 trips to California for work since January. I went to Los Angeles and then San Francisco and tacked on a trip to Vegas. Then you add in vacation and just life and I haven't really had time to try out a lot of new recipes. (Yes, I am soooo ashamed of this).

I do have a few things to post that I have made and that will be coming within the next few days along with a post to the Martha Stewart Cupcake Club that I have been horrible with and neglected. I promise that I am going to make up on all of my posts though!!!

Here are a few pictures of what I have been up to the past few months...

Graduation! - May 15th

San Francisco!


Los Angeles and Laguna Beach!

Myrtle Beach, SC!

Mady's K5 Graduation!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Super Easy Chicken Parmesan

I came up with this version of Chicken Parmesan last week with the ingredients that I had on hand when I was snowed in for the weekend. This is a really easy way to make the traditional Chicken Parm without having to bread and fry raw chicken breasts. This happens to be the part of making this dish that I hate, but I usually suffer through it for the great results!

I used Tyson's refrigerated grilled chicken breast strips instead of the raw chicken. These are precooked and typically very moist and tender. Now they weren't breaded and fried, but they give you the traditional chicken flavor in the sauce and are also healthier overall. I served it over rotini pasta that I already had open in the pantry. I usually use linguini witih chicken parmesan.

The final thing that I wanted to clarify is that I did NOT pay full price for the refridgerated chicken strips. I got them really cheap with a coupon. I would never have paid $5 for 5 oz of chicken. :-)

Chicken Parmesan
3 TBL olive oil
2 medium or 3 large sized carrots, finely diced
1 large onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1 - 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 - 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
4 TBL sugar
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
12 oz (2 1/2 bags) of refrigerated chicken breast strips, cut into pieces.
Mozzeralla and Parmesan Cheese
Rotini pasta

- Heat oil in a large stockpot or skillet over medium high heat. Saute the carrot and onions until the onions are translucent, probably around 5 minutes. Add the garlic 1 minute before the onions are done.
- Add the chicken stock, crushed and diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer
- Add all of the seasonings and simmer for 20 minutes
- Add the chicken and simmer for 5 more minutes to heat through.
- Cook the pasta in heavily salted water and top with the sauce.
- Top with however much cheese that you would like and allow to melt

Sausage Balls

One of the seriously easiest things to make ever are sausage balls. My Memaw, Aunt Sissy and Mom have made these for years. I don't think that there's too much variation in recipes when people make these. Really, how many ways can you make these things? There's just not much to them!

Sausage Balls

  • 1 lb pork sausage
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 cups bisquick
  • 3/4 cup water

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix by hand until all of the ingredients are incorporated. (Prepare to get messy!!) Roll into tablespoon size balls and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 12 - 15 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. When I make these I typically get around 36 out of a recipe. You can make them smaller if you would like...just decrease the cooking time.

Etc Etc...I have made these with a colby/monterey jack before. If you like spicy foods you can use hot sausage instead of regular. Enjoy!

Weekly Menu - 1/30 - 2/4

Man the weeks fly by!! As of this point, we have gotten over 12 inches of snow here at my house. I have to admit that I have loved the quiet lazy day here at the house. I imagine that I will be stranded here again tomorrow as well. What a perfect opportunity to try out a bunch of new recipes!

Here's what we plan on having this week:
Saturday - Chicken Parmesan, Salad and Bread

Sunday - Grilled Barbecue Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Monday - Fried Pork Chops, Creamy Rice and Broccoli

Tuesday - Clam Chowder, Homemade Bread and Scallded Lettuce

Wednesday - Hamburger Steak and Gravy, Mashed Potatoes and Corn

Thursday - Pineapple Glazed Grilled Ham, Tater Tot Casserole and Steamed Cauliflower

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fancy Mac with Monterey Jack and Chorizo

Macaroni and cheese is one of America's all time favorite comfort foods. The warm and gooey cheesy noodles are delicious and filling. I decided to make a grown up version of macaroni and cheese for dinner this past week and it was sooo yummy! I cut the original recipe for this out of Rachael Ray's magazine. I am not typically a fan of Rachael's stuff. It tends to be a little over the top for me most of the time.

The original recipe for this called for manchego cheese. I found this cheese while I was grocery shopping the other day and it was $11.99 for enough for a cup! I would have had to spend $24 just for cheese for this recipe!! Any of you that have read my blog in the past know that I am a die hard tight wad and strive to make great recipes with the cheapest ingredients possible. $24 for cheese just wasn't cutting it!!

I did a search online for substitutions for manchego cheese and came up with monterey jack. I can definitely handle fact I already had some so even better!

The recipe makes a creamy cheese sauce that you add sliced pimento's and peas to. To serve it you top it with a sprinkling of some spicy chorizo sausage. The nice thing is that we were able to leave this off for my nieces. One of my favorite aspects of this recipe is the cavatappi (corkscrew) pasta. You could easily make this with rotini or other pastas.

Fancy Mac with Monterey Jack and Chorizo

(adapted from Rachael Ray magazine)

  • 1 lb cavatappi pasta
  • 1/2 lb chorizo sausage, casings removed and chopped
  • 2 TBL olive oil
  • 3 TBL butter
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 TBL flour
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry (if you don't have sherry, add more chicken broth)
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1 small jar pimentos, drained
  • 2 cups frozen peas, thawed

Add water to a stock pot and bring to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain. In a small skillet, add the olive oil and chorizo sausage and cook until done. Crumble the sausage as you cook it. Drain on a paper towel lined plate.

In a stock pot, melt the butter and add the shallots. Cook until translucent. Add the garlic about 30 seconds before you are done with the shallots so that it will not burn. Whisk in the flour and sherry. Add the chicken stock and milk and cook until thickened. Stir in the cheese until melted. Fold in the peas and pimentos. Add the macaroni and coat with the cheese sauce.

Serve with about 1/4 cup of crumbled sausage on top.

Etc Etc...You could add canned mushrooms in addition to the peas and pimentos. You chould also also use pepper jack cheese instead of montery jack if you like spicy stuff.

Kroger Grocery Deals 1/24

Well all that I have to say is that it's about time that Kroger ran a good sale! It's been since early November that I really racked up on good deals. This week was excellent! I know that I am such a tightwad, but I seriously get so excited when I save this much money. If anyone wants to argue that the hour that I spent prepping for this isn't worth the almost $200 bucks that I saved then that's fine!

The sale this week was that if you purchased 10 items, you got $.50 off each item. I got $5 off 10 times because I bought 100 items. In some cases I had 8 coupons because I purchased 8 papers this week because of the sale. The amount that I saved majorly outweighs the few dollars that I spent on papers. The breakdown of everything is below in case you would like to get some of the same savings. The grand total if I had paid full price was $248.85 and I paid $58.20. Stinkin amazing!! All of the prices shown first below are the price AFTER the $.50 is removed for the buy 10 sale.
  • Rotel Tomatoes - .49 ends up FREE (.30 coupon doubles to .60 (Smart Source 1/24))
  • Frank's Hot Sauce (great for Buffalo Chicken Dip) - 1.19 ends up .19 (.50 coupon doubles to $1 (Smart Source 1/24))
  • Hunts Tomato Products - .49 ends up .19 (.45 off 3 coupon doubles to .90 making each can .19 (Smart Source 1/24)
  • Kraft Cheese - .99 ends up .49 ($1 off 2 coupon (Smart Source 1/24)) Amazing!!
  • Daisy Sour Cream 16 oz - 1.49 ends up .49 (.50 coupon doubles to $1 (Smart Source 12/13))
  • Solo Cups - 1.49 ends up .49 (.50 coupon doubles to $1 (Smart Source 12/6))
  • Ritz Crackers - 1.99 ends up .99 ($1 off coupon (Smart Source 1/24))
  • Wheat Thins - 1.70 ends up .70 ($1 off coupon (Smart Source 1/24))
  • Kleenex - .99 ends up .66 (.50 off 3 coupon doubles to $1 making each .66 (Smart Source 1/3))
  • Snyders Pretzel Pieces - 1.99 ends up 1.24 (.75 off coupon (Smart Source 12/6))
  • M&M's large bag - 2 ends up 1.50 ($1 off 2 coupon (Red Plum 1/10))
  • Sara Lee Bites - 2.49 ends up 1.49 ($1 off coupon (Red Plum 10/25))
  • FiberOne Bars - 1.99 ends up 1.19 ($.40 off coupon doubles to .80 (Smart Source 1/3))
  • CoffeeMate Creamer - 2.49 ends up 1.49 ($1 off coupon (Red Plum 11/1))
  • Toaster Strudel - 1.49 ends up 1.21 (.55 off 2 coupon (Smart Source 1/3))
  • French's Mustard - 1.19 ends up .19 (.50 off coupon doubles to $1 (Smart Source 1/24))
  • Chi Chi's Salsa - .99 (no coupon)
  • Jello Pudding - .49 (no coupon)
  • Kraft Mac and Cheese and Easy Mac - .49 (no coupon)
Email me if you have any questions! I will be glad to answer them!

PF Chang's Mongolian Beef Copycat

One of my most favorite restaurants to eat at is PF Changs. We don't have one here in Lynchburg so I look forward to going there when I am out of town. The dish has a nice, sweet sauce and the beef has crispy edges to it but is also super tender. My family loved this dish and I will definitely make it again.

One of the main differences that I saw from the PF Changs version is that this recipe produced a lot more sauce than what is on the dish in the restaurant. It also didn't call for as many green onions as what comes in the dish normally. Next time I will add more green onions and will let the sauce reduce a little more. I altered the recipe below to allow for more onions.

PF Changs Mongolian Beef Copykat
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1 TBL chopped garlic
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 lb flank steak
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 green onions, very white part removed and cut into 2 inch pieces.

- Cut steak into 1/4 inch pieces. Make sure that you cut against the grain.
- Dip each piece of beef into the cornstarch to coat and shake off the excess powder.
- Heat 2 tsp oil over medium heat in a wok or very large skillet. Add the ginger and the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the soy sauce, water and brown sugar. Mix to dissolve and allow to boil for 2-3 minutes until the sauce reduces. Pour the sauce into a bowl and return the pan to the heat.
- Add 1 cup of oil to the pan and heat on medium/high.
- Add the beef and saute for 2 minutes stiring continuously.
- Remove from the oil from a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined plate.
- Drain the oil out of the pan and return to the heat. Add the beef back to the pan and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the sauce and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes.
- Serve over rice.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Egg Drop Soup

Last night was Asian night at my house. We had a PF Changs Mongolian Beef Copycat, Rice that I made sushi style (because I love the sticky sweetness) and Egg Drop Soup. This is the egg drop soup recipe that I have been using for years. It's good too! Traditional egg drop soup doesn't have the green onion added but I like it. The soup can be made really quick as well and doesn't need to sit and cook for a long time.

Egg Drop Soup
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 TBL soy sauce
1 TBL cornstarch
2 eggs
2 green onions, green ends included
Salt and Pepper to taste

- Remove 1/4 cup broth into a small bowl. Add cornstarch and mix to form a slurry.
- Bring chicken broth, ginger and soy sauce to a boil.
- Add the slurry, reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
- Crack the eggs in a bowl and beat with a fork.
- Gradually add the eggs to the broth. Whisk the broth with a fork while you are adding the eggs to break them up.
- Remove soup from the heat. Add salt, pepper and green onions.

Double Chocolate Cake

Sin. That is what this cake should be called. Anyone that enjoys chocolate would definitely like this cake. I like chocolate, but this cake was a little too rich for me. It's only suited for you die hard chocoholics out there. My office mates will have a field day with this tomorrow, that is if my Mom doesn't steal it and take it into her folks.

I cut this recipe out of the April 2008 edition of Bon Appetit magazine. It is a recipe from Brigtsen's Restaurant in New Orleans. Here's the recipe...

Double Chocolate Cake
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1 cup buttermilk, divided
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs

3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup whole milk

- Preheat oven to 350. Butter 2 9 inch cake pans and dust with powdered sugar. Line bottom with parchment paper
- Sift flour, soda and salt
- In a medium bowl, whisk 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 cup buttermilk and cocoa powder
- In another medium bowl, mix the remaining buttermilk and vanilla
- With an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the remaining powdered sugar and beat until smooth
- Add the eggs one at a time, blending after each addition.
- Beat in the cocoa mixture
- Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk/vanilla mixture.
- Divide the batter between the pans. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 22-25 minutes. Cool the cakes completely.
- To make the icing, bring 3/4 cup water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan. Allow to boil about 2 minutes until reduced to about 3/4 cup. Cool completely
- Using electric mixer, beat butter until smooth. Beat in sour cream and vanilla.
- Gradually beat in powdered sugar and cocoa powder, then add 1/2 cup milk.
- Cut cakes horizontally in half to make 4 layers.
- To begin building cake, take first layer and brush 3 TBL of syrup. Spread 1/2 cup frosting on layer. Repeat 2 more times and then ice the top and sides of the cake with the remaining icing.

In my opinion, I think that the frosting needs some salt to counteract the sweet/bitterness of the chocolate.

Grilled Chicken Pesto Panini

Lunch today was some yummy grilled chicken pesto panini's that I made on my panini press. There's really no recipe to go along with this. Here are the ingredients that I used. You can change the amounts based upon what you like.
Ciabatta Bread
Grilled Chicken Strips (I took the easy way out and used Tyson Refridgerated Chicken Strips that I got on sale with a coupon)
Mozzeralla Cheese

The crunch of the ciabatta bread after it had toasted was really nice. The sandwich tasted exactly like I was expecting for it to as I have had similar sandwiches at other places. I would like to try this again in the future with maybe some marinara sauce instead of pesto.

Weekly Menu: 1/23 - 1/29

Well I didn't do as well this week in making all of the dishes that I planned for. We decided to get pizza one night and then my nieces begged to go to La Caretta so we gave in last night. Thankfully everything is still good and I plan to make the skipped days food today. Here's the plan:

Saturday Lunch - Grilled Chicken Pesto Panini's, Pasta Salad

Saturday Dinner - PF Changs Mongolian Beef Copycat, Rice, Egg Drop Soup

Sunday - Meatloaf with Tomato Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, Buttered Corn

Monday - Fancy Manchego Mac and Cheese with Chorizo, Salad, Fried Apples
**This is a recipe that I am trying from Rachael Ray Magazine that I tore out awhile ago.

Tuesday - Baked Fish Fillets, Rice, Broccoli (aka Dinosaur Trees as my nieces call them)

Wednesday - Pasta Alla Betsy, Salad, Homemade Bread
**My weekly recipe attempt from The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Its basically penne pasta with sauteed shrimp and a tomato cream sauce.

Thursday - Baked Turkey Breast, Stuffing, Green Beans
**Our Wal-Mart has been carrying rotisserie turkey breasts. I plan on grabbing one of them on the way home one day this week and trying it out. If they don't have them or carry them anymore it's chicken then. :-)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sherried Tomato Soup

Yum yum yum ...this bowl of creamy goodness was a big hit at dinner last week. This is yet again another one the recipes by Ree Drummond from The Pioneer Woman Cooks. I have been aiming to make a new recipe from this book each week. This was last weeks and I am just now posting about it.

Ree loves this soup and the way that she described it in her book was that it is amazing and a must try, so I succumbed. It is a sweet (or as sweet as you want to make it) tomato soup with cream added to cut the acid. The addition of the fresh herbs gives it a great flavor. It was perfect with a grilled cheese and would also go well with a salad. Anyone that doesn't like "rich" foods should avoid this recipe at all costs. The thickness and deep flavors make this some major comfort food for a cold day.

You can get the recipe here. I hope that you all enjoy!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Pioneer Woman - Chicken Spaghetti

The recipe that I decided to make this week out of The Pioneer Woman Cooks was Chicken Spaghetti. It's technically a casserole and is a combination of chicken, cream of mushroom soup, pasta, veggies and some cheese. Overall it was liked at dinner. Will I make it again? Ehhh maybe not...there are too many other things to try. My folder with recipes that I have cut out of magazines continues to grow by the month! I am seriously going to need to use a shoebox soon.

I found the dish to be a little bland despite the amount of cayenne pepper in it that definitely perked up the taste buds (or set them on fire). It's all good though, everyone likes different things and it just wasn't my favorite. My Dad loved it though...and he's usually difficult to please!

You can find the recipe here on The Pioneer Woman's website.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Weekly Menu: 1/17 - 1/22

I was actually good and made everything that I had planned for last week. We struggle with that a lot because we get busy and grab something out. My goal for the year is to cut way back on that because it adds up so fast. Here's what I have planned for this week:

Sunday Lunch - Zuppa Toscana Soup, Homemade French Bread

Sunday Dinner - PF Changs Mongolian Beef Copycat, Rice, Egg Drop Soup

Monday - Grilled Barbecue Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans

Tuesday - Hot Dogs, Baked Beans, Chips

Wednesday - Chicken Spaghetti (trying another recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks), Salad, Bread

Thursday - Grilled Chicken Pesto Panini's, Pasta Salad

Thursday, January 14, 2010

MSC Cupcake Club - Coconut Cupcakes

Well it is hard to believe that it is time again for our monthly installment of the Martha Stewart Cupcake Club. This month Jennifer from Cinema Cupcakes chose Coconut Cupcakes for us. For me, these were much more like a cupcake than the spice cupcakes that we have done the past 3 months. They were yummy!

The cupcake was really sweet and had a mild coconut flavor. Next time, I will probably add some coconut extract to the batter as well to make them a little stronger in flavor. The 7 minute frosting was a whole new experience for me. It was so light and fluffy and it actually reminded me of a less sticky version of marshmallow fluff. I would love this frosting piped into something. I couldn't get my hands on coconut flakes so I lightly toasted some shredded coconut.

I hope that everyone enjoyed their cupcakes! I am looking forward to next months Smores Cupcakes!! Thanks Jennifer for a great pick!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pioneer Woman's Pico de Gallo and Guacamole

My absolute most favorite cookbook right now is The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond. I ordered it and received it last week in the mail and I have read it from cover to cover since then. Ree started out writing a blog and decided to put a lot of her recipes into a book. All of the recipes look absolutely delicious! She also has many of them posted on her website at

We celebrated my Mom's birthday last night and she wanted mexican food. What a good opportunity to try out The Pioneer Woman's Pico de Gallo and Guacamole recipe! I have always struggled with salsa type recipes and even with guacamole. I can just never get the right mix of different flavors. I usually end up with way too much lime juice which honestly ruins it for me and as Ree mentions in the book, she used to end up with a too much tomato in her salsa and I also have also had the same problem.

These recipes could not be more simple. There are no exact measurements either which is even better. For the pico, start out by chopping your tomatoes. I went with 4 roma tomatoes. Now chop an equal amount of onion and an equal amount of cilantro. It ended up about 3/4 a large onion and most of a bunch of cilantro. Add a finely chopped jalapeno with the seeds and ribs removed. I just used one but you could do 2 if you like it real spicy. Squeeze the juice of half of a lime in the pico and add salt to taste. Eat within a day or it will get soupy.

To make the guacamole you take your avacados and mash in a bowl. Leave as chunky or as mushy as you would like. Now put in a bunch of the pico de gallo and stir. Add salt to taste and I also added some pepper. Enjoy!!