Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chicken Bacon White Chili...and Questions!

I love bacon. I also believe for the most part that bacon can add a yummy touch to most hearty dinners. About a year ago I was experimenting with a White Chicken Chili recipe and just felt like it fell a bit short. It was missing that smoky "umph" that I had been looking for. So I thought....yes! Bacon of course. It added that missing link. I was tickled with the way it turned out. So a year later when my husband told me his work was holding a chili contest I was ready to break out the big guns with this recipe. Only to be told the day before that it had been cancelled. Darn! I had already purchased the ingredients so I decided to make it anyway. This second time around I didn't make it nearly as spicy but I really felt like something was missing. I cant figure out what. I think my cumin might have turned funky. I threw it away just in case and restocked it in my pantry. I find it best topped with sour cream, cheese and a little salsa. Enjoy!

Chicken Bacon White Chili
12 oz pack center cut bacon chopped into small pieces
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (4 ounce) can diced jalapeno peppers
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
3 (15 ounce) cans white beans (I mash up one can to make the chili thicker)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Saute bacon large saucepan until crispy but not burnt. Remove bacon from the pan and drain reserving 1 table spoon of bacon drippings. Slowly cook and stir the onion until tender in the drippings. Mix in the garlic, jalapeno, green chile peppers, cumin, oregano and cayenne. Continue to cook and stir the mixture until tender, about 3 minutes. Mix in the chicken broth, chicken and white beans. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the mixture from heat. Slowly stir in the cheese until melted. Serve warm. Enjoy!

And now on to some questions! One of my new awesome followers, Michael, from Me, My Food and I tagged me to answer some questions. So here they are. :)

1. When did you learn to cook?- I have always been a bit of an experimenter when it comes to food. I remember being young (like seven) and making grilled cheese in the toaster oven and seeing which spices tasted the best added to it. I suppose that I officially learned to cook when I learned how to work the gas stove when I was around 14.

2. Name three things that are always in your fridge.-I always have condiments (I am counting that as one), Water (I am a camel) and milk (I add it to so many things I always need it)

3. Do you have any food guilty pleasures?- HAHAHA where do I start. I actually did a few posts of guilty pleasures. I will go ahead and list one of my guiltiest which would be dipping my french fries into my Frosty at Wendys.

4. Tell us about your most memorable meal...My most memorable meal....I have two. My most memorable homemade meal would have to be when my Nina (godmother) made me a huge taco dinner complete with beans, rice, homemade salsa when she was babysitting me one time. I don't get to see her as often as I would like but for some reason that sticks out in my mind. My most memorable restaurant meal was in Tucson the week of my wedding. My husband and I ate at this restaurant called Jonathan's Cork. It was heaven. It was so nice to get away from the wedding stress and sit down to a nice meal. I ordered swordfish, something I had never had before and was so excited that I loved it! ah memories......

5. What is your drink of choice?-Non alcoholic drink would have to be water. It is really all I drink besides some Diet Coke while at work. I am known as the camel. Most people watch in amazement as I polish off six to ten bottles in a day. I am just thirsty.....My alcoholic drink of choice would have to be a margarita. Made with good tequila and a splash of orange juice. Yum!!

I will tag some people and think up some questions for the next post! Thanks Michael.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Shepherds Pie

Ok I am kinda over winter. We had six inches of snow here yesterday! Then we are supposed to have another two tomorrow THEN I hear we have a possible ice storm coming our way for Thursday. Last year when this kind of weather hit, our power was out for four days! And the thing about losing power out here in the middle of nowhere is that we do not have municipal water. Ours is from a well...powered by electricity. So no power equals no water. It makes me miss Arizona and the unusual heat they are experiencing. hahah I am definitely not a snowbunny...more like a desert hare.
The colder the weather the more I want comforting filling foods. So what is more filling and tummy warming than a Shepherds pie? I have found that I am a fan of new white potatoes when making a mash. So I made my cheesy bacon shepherds pie topped with smashed new white potatoes. Enjoy!!

Shepherds Pie-My Way
1/4 lb smoked bacon chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 lb ground beef or pork
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup seasoned tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 can sweet peas
4 cups or more, fresh mashed potatoes
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°. Saute the onion and bacon together until golden brown. Add the beef or pork, and the parsley, cooking until the meat is brown and crumbly. Drain excess fat. Stir in the tomato sauce and other seasonings. Carefully stir in peas. Pour mixture into the bottom of casserole dish. Layer with 1/2 cup of cheese. Cover with mashed potatoes. Add the last 1/2 cup of cheese to the top of the casserole.
Bake for 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Serve hot. Enjoy!

Cheese topped potatoes! Yum.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Tin O' Yum!

This year I have not been too affected by the Christmas Spirit. This has always been the busiest time of year at my job as well as just in life. Shopping, Christmas Parties, Baking, Long hours, Training, Wrapping, Decorating. I feel like that cartoon Cathy that runs around with broomstick hair yelling "ACK". Even though I have decided to be a Scrooge in many ways this year I have also decided to spread the bit of holiday cheer I have in the form of goodies. I have always felt that getting something sweet in the mail unexpectedly (or even expectantly) is so exciting. I just hope it holds up and doesn't melt....especially since it is going to AZ where it is still 80 degrees! I also hope that people like what I am sending because I am always worried about people not liking the contents. I put some of my favorites in it so...enjoy! :)

So to all those who send out food care packages, what do you typically send? What do you find holds up the best?

The Christmas Tin O' Yum!
                                                                           It includes
Rocky Road Fudge

Chocolate Bon-Bons

White Chocolate Dipped PB Ritz

And some of the Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats from my previous post

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats

Winter is in full swing here in Eastern KY. Since I live two hours away from the closest mall I decided to make the voyage yesterday to get some Christmas shopping done. Huge mistake! The weather was awful, it was soooo cold and I had to drive so slow. I also cant see at night very well even with my glasses on so the lights from vehicles plus the glare of the icy pavement was a scary mix. Next time I am shopping online from the comfort of my sofa.

Winter Wonderland!

One of the things I have never made is rice krispie treats. And now I wonder why. So easy! I decided to add a bit of a twist by making them with browned butter and it was so yummy! They were super marshmallow-ey and the richness from the butter was amazing. I will make this again for sure! Enjoy!

Delicious Gooeyness


The marshmallow was so stretchy!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Country Dumpling Remix

A couple weeks ago I posted some of my guilty pleasures. One of these was my Country Apple Dumplings. I can eat three or four of those guys in one sitting! Well I was inspired by my friend Pretend Chef to try to make these guilty pleasures a little more I did! I used my favorite seasonal drink, Diet Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash, in place of the sugary citrus soda, berries in place of apples and I cut down the butter and sugar. I was worried about this becoming an epic fail but I was very pleased with the outcome! It was sweet but not to the point of sugar overload. The only thing I would change is to either use a homemade dough rather than the crescent dough and to still eat it with ice cream instead of the whipped cream I served it with. Enjoy!

Yummy Sugared Berries

Getting ready to roll up the dumplings

I did not intentionally give the whipped cream mouse ears

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Homemade Meatballs with Marinara

So I am still sick...but this time for sure I believe I am on the road to recovery. The last time I thought I was getting better my symptoms were just morphing into something far worse. I believe I had/have bronchitis. The only reason I have no clue what was wrong with me is because I went into the doctor and told him my symptoms he gave me some meds and pretty much disappeared. No real check up. I know for sure though that I do not have strep because they did swab me for that. The only bad part is that although I am getting better I still can not take deep breaths because it hurts.
This year I spent Thanksgiving alone. I felt like it was not good for me to go to the festivities around babies and food while coughing up a lung. So I enjoyed my favorite snack of chips and guacamole, took my meds and slept. I was lucky enough to get Thanksgiving leftovers brought to me by my husband so I got out of bed and drowsily ate the cold oyster stuffing and broccoli casserole and fell back asleep. I had big plans to contribute yummy goods to send with my husband but all I was able to make before whining about feeling too awful to stand up were some delicious butterscotch oatmeal bars. And I didn't even get any pictures! I was given the word that they were enjoyed but I had a few mad people that really wanted some apple dumplings. Hey....I was really sick!
I actually made this dinner early last week before I got sick. Spaghetti and meatballs is one of my favorite dinners and I had been craving it for about a week. And what is even better is that you can totally use the leftovers for an awesome meatball sandwich the next day! I am officially opening the kitchen back up so until my next post....Enjoy!

Homemade Meatballs
1 lb. Ground Round
1 Egg
1-1/2 pieces of bread (white or wheat
3 teaspoons Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup Fresh Parsley
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
Coarse Black Pepper and Salt to taste

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Get a big bowl and put the 1 lb. of ground round in it. Chop up 1/4 cup of fresh Parsley as fine as you can. Add the Parsley to the bowl. Add egg, chopped garlic, and parmesan cheese, black pepper, salt, garlic powder to the bowl. Take your bread and moisten it with milk or water then squeeze as much of the liquid as you can out of the bread. The bread should be gooey add to the bowl. Mix all the ingredients in the bowl well. You will need to work the meat for about 3 minutes until you end up with a big relatively firm ball. Spray a casserole dish or metal pan with cooking spray. Take the meat and make 1" to 1-1/2" balls and place in pan about 1 inch apart. Bake in oven for 20 minutes rotating halfway through. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel. Add your favorite homemade pasta sauce and enjoy!

One of my favorite dinners

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Apple Cranberry Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

So I have really felt under the weather the past few days. I had a touch of that nasty cold virus that has been going around. But I am one of those people that at the first sign of sickness starts popping Vitamin C tablets and drinking Thera-Flu. Thankfully I think I knocked this out in two days because I woke up feeling a million times better this morning. No more sore throat and no more fever. So this meant that I was able to go back in the kitchen! Since I am still a little weak I wanted a light nutritious lunch that was easy to make and packed with flavor. I decided to make one of my favorites, an Apple Cranberry Salad. Made with sweet butter lettuce, chopped Macintosh apples, dried cranberries, sliced almonds and crumbled bacon. I typically use an organic raspberry vinaigrette but I wanted a little more seasonal so I added some pomegranate to the salad and topped it with pomegranate vinaigrette. MMMM...yes I enjoy healthy just as much as unhealthy. I hope to be completely cold free in a day or so because I have a few things that I would like to bring to Thanksgiving. And in order to successfully do this I need to be one hundred percent. I think that right now I might be at eighty five. I guess I need to go buy some oranges because that always helps. Until then I am going to eat up the pomegranates I bought. Yum!

Pomegranate Vinaigrette
1/4 cup pomegranate or raspberry vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced shallot
1 teaspoon grainy mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Source: Food and Wine

Oh Glorious Salad

I devoured this after no food for a day

Listening To:
Corduroy-Pearl Jam
Be Somebody-Kings of Leon
We're Going To Be Friends -The White Stripes

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Guilty Pleasures Week: Thanksgiving Sammich

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. And the day after is pretty awesome too. Just as I start to creep out of my food coma, I hear a voice. "Alllleeeexxxx......sammich time." Yes. Leftovers often talk to me and Thanksgiving leftovers pretty much beg to be thrown on a buttery roll and devoured. This brings me to my third and final guilty pleasure, the Thanksgiving Sammich. Seriously people I think I'll have to do a Slimdown Salad week because eating my guilty pleasures three days in a row is pretty redonkulous. And what is worse is that my skinny friend read the blog and figured out I am purposely feeding her so....yeah all the food is pretty much staying in my house for a while.
The inspiration for this sandwich came from a sandwich shop in my hometown Tucson, AZ. They offered a Sundown Sandwich which is basically a turkey dinner on a roll. I took out the cream cheese (substituted with butter, eeek) and added dry cranberries to the stuffing to make it my own and the outcome was awesome. Then the coma set in yet again and all was well in the world..........

Thanksgiving Sammich    Makes 2 sandwiches
2 Whole Wheat or White Sandwich Rolls
6 heaping tablespoons of Leftover Stuffing (with some dried cranberries thrown in for extra flavor)
2 tablespoons Cranberry sauce/Relish
Sliced Turkey or Oven Roasted Turkey from the Deli
1 teaspoon of butter softened /spread

Split your sandwich rolls and spread butter on inside of each roll. Spread cranberry relish on bottom side of bun on top of butter. Put three tablespoons of stuffing on each sandwich. Add Turkey last and add the top bun. Enjoy!!!!

Oh man.....

Now thats a sammich!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Guilty Pleasures Week: Cheesy Chili Hashbrown Bake

AKA: Chili Cheese Fries disguised as a casserole

Day two of my guilty pleasure week and I am faced with the processed guilty pleasure food that is the Cheesy Chili Hashbrown Bake. It is layer after layer of potatoes, cheese and chili. I think what makes me feel so guilty eating this it that it is like eating chili cheese fries....for dinner. But seriously if there is one thing that is always needed in my hectic life it is comfort intertwined with calories. And the extra bonus is that my husband is CRAZY about this. You can either use canned chili or homemade chili. Sometimes homemade chili isn't thick enough so make sure that the homemade chili is hearty enough to not water down the dish. I really enjoyed made me all warm, fat and fuzzy feeling :)

Cheesy Chili Hashbrown Bake
2 cups 30-Minute Chili
1 bag (16 ounces) fresh or frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed if frozen
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (optional)
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425, with rack set in upper third. Place potatoes in a double layer of paper towels; squeeze out as much liquid as possible. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, cheese, and cilantro; season with salt and pepper. In a 8x8 dish or a round pan pour a small amount of chili into the bottom. Add a layer of potatoes, a layer of cheese then a layer of chili. Top with a final layer of cheese.Place baking dish in oven and bake until potatoes are golden brown and chili is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve.
Source: Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Mmmm...Cheesy deliciousness


Guilty Pleasures Week: Country Apple Dumplings

Guilty Pleasures. We all have them. Merriam-Webster defines a guilty pleasure as something pleasurable that induces a usually minor feeling of guilt. For some this guilt stems from a goofy tv show and for others it is a awesomely bad song or band. Well what happens if your guilty pleasure is food so good that it causes an immense amount of elation and euphoria while simultaneously adding three inches to your waist? The only solution I can think of is to make it and try to feed a majority of it to your skinniest friend. Just kidding! (or am I? muahaha)
This week I decided to make and share some of my top guilty pleasure foods. These items are so amazing yet so bad that they make you wanna go to confession. They are all quite unhealthy and borderline kooky but I love them....even if I have to run on a treadmill for two days to burn the calories off.
The first item I give you is the Country Apple Dumpling. A coworker actually shared this recipe with me about three years ago and I have been hooked ever since. Now let me tell you first off that I had no idea how these were made when I first tried them. And that is a good thing since I hate, I mean loathe Mountain Dew. Yes. I said it. This recipe uses Mountain Dew. Now is a good time for all the health nuts to push the little x in the upper right hand corner of your screen because it gets uglier. Besides a can of soda this treat has 2 sticks of butter and a cup and a half of sugar. And for all of you people with your jaws on the ground...this isn't a joke. Somehow these ingredients make up one of my guiltiest of pleasures. So pull out your sweatpants and enjoy!

I will note that this recipe can be be modified to be slightly better for you by using diet soda and cutting back on the butter and sugar. But that's no fun! :)

Country Apple Dumplings
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
2 cans refrigerated crescent roll dough
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle Mountain Dew

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Peel each apple and cut into 8 wedges and set aside. Separate the crescent roll dough into triangles. Roll each apple wedge in crescent roll dough starting at the smallest end. Pinch to seal and place in the baking dish. Melt butter in a small saucepan or in microwave safe bowl and stir in the sugar and cinnamon. Pour over the apple dumplings. Pour Mountain Dew over the dumplings. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, flipping dumplings halfway through. The liquid will thicken as it cools.Serve warm or reheated with vanilla ice cream. Gorge!

The beautiful natural apple...before I drowned it in butter and sugar

Golden brown puffs of deliciousness straight out of the oven

The result! A gooey sweet appley hot mess

Guilty Pleasure Numero Uno
(Thanks Dad for the hookup on a sweet set of Fiesta Plates and Platters)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nutella Cheesecake Topped Brownies

"More batta is betta!"

Or at least this is what my husband exclaimed. I on the other hand had a problem with more "batta". My brownies just did not want to set up. But after some patience and the realization that it was in fact the brownie batter and not the cheesecake topping that needed to set up, I became happy with the outcome. Another realization I came to this week is that I love LOVE Nutella. If you have never eaten this it. By the spoonful, on toast, with bananas, or if you are really adventurous make these brownies. The only thing I suggest is to add more Nutella than the recipe calls for. I couldn't really taste it. So maybe add some to the brownie batter as well as the cheesecake topping? Just sayin.
On another note I cannot believe that it is almost time for Thanksgiving! This will be the fourth Thanksgiving away from my family and it gets harder every year. Unfortunately my job does not allow me to take time off during the holidays so the possibility of seeing them is very small. I know that hopefully I will get them out here one year to relax and enjoy my cooking. But hopefully before they get here I will get a table with more than two chairs hahah!!
I have a fun little theme planned for the blog this week. Something that I hope my followers will enjoy reading and laugh at too! I know I will enjoy it since the job stress has tripled after accepting a new position at work last week. Stay tuned followers....until then enjoy some Nutella gloriousness. :)

Flour, Cocoa, Baking Powder and Salt. Ready for Siftage

Nutella Cheesecake Topping

Brownie Batter Spread in Pan
Note: DO NOT use a round pan. It was almost an epic fail

All pretty and swirled pre-baking

The outcome

I obviously have no patience to cut into brownies...yet again jagged edges

Nutella Cheesecake Brownies
Brownie Layer
4 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cocoa powder
1/2 cup Nutella (this is what I recommend adding)
1/3 cup flour

Nutella Cheesecake Layer:
8 ounce cream cheese
1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs

In one bowl, beat all the brownie ingredients together. In a separate bowl, beat together all of the Nutella Cheesecake ingredients. Scrape the brownie batter into the bottom of an 8×8 pan (it will be quite full. These are thick brownies!) Spoon little globs of the Nutella cheesecake all over the top of the brownie batter. Smooth the cheesecake carefully and completely over the brownie layer with a spatula. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees and bake for 50-55 minutes. The center of the brownies will be set, but if you poke a toothpick into them, it won’t come out dry. No worries! The cheesecake layer needs to cool completely to set up.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Popcorn Almond Fudge

As I mentioned in the previous post I had a packed weekend. But this did not stop me from making a sweet treat for myself. I am a huge fan of the sweet and salty combination and I am that girl that eats potato chips in her chocolate ice cream. I am also a big fan of chocolate drizzle popcorn. So what would be the next best thing....popcorn folded into fudge obviously. It was like a dream come true in one little square. I think that next time I might even leave the almonds out because I felt like they were somewhat pointless. If you like sweet and salty I recommend this recipe. This is the comfort food that I crave.

After melting chocolate and adding the condensed milk fold in the sliced almonds

Next comes the freshly popped popcorn

Pour into a pan and let it set up in the fridge

Cut into squares


Popcorn Almond Fudge
1 mini pack popped popcorn
1 (18 oz.) package milk chocolate chips
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla

Line 9" x 13” pan with foil; set aside.Melt chips, condensed milk and butter in large saucepan or in the microwave, stirring until smooth; remove from heat. Stir in popcorn, nuts and vanilla.Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan. Chill 2 hours or until firm. Remove from pan and cut into squares. EAT!
Source: Jolly Time

Listening To:
Time To Pretend-MGMT
Run Run Run-Phoenix
Pony Up-Kings of Leon
Let The Drummer Kick-Citizen Cope

Weekend Wrap-Up

The busy week that I had planned on having came and went. Besides some vehicle issues I was pretty happy with the outcome. I was able to make the cakepops, the birthday cake, visit with my sister in law, eat dinner with my mother and father in law, and see my dad. Of course the highlight was seeing my dad since it has been a year and a half since I saw him last (I live 2,000 miles away from my family). We had a great time in Berea. We ate some good food at this little Italian place called Papalenos and walked around the campus. The town is full of shops filled with art and crafts created by local artists. It is so neat to see what some of these people create. Hats made from wood, jewelry, cornhusk flowers, pottery....overall just cool.

My weekend in a nutshell

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Green Chile Cornbread

I am not sure if it is a southwest thing, but growing up every chili dinner was accompanied by cornbread. When I moved to Kentucky and asked if there was cornbread to eat with my chili, I got quite a few strange looks. Out here its pimento cheese or peanut butter and syrup sandwiches with chili....not cornbread. And I also find that cornbread here is thinner and crispier than what I am used to. The kind I ate at home was fluffy, moist and cake like with the recipe courtesy of my mom's red Betty Crocker cookbook. So when I presented my husband with chili with a side of cornbread a few years ago he looked at it slightly confused but of course dug in anyway. And to my delight he said "I don't know why I have never eaten this before...this is great!" YAY...success!!! Now the two go together like Burt and Ernie in our household. So if you have never eaten the two together, why not try it? You might find that the combination is pretty yummy! Enjoy!

Green Chile Cornbread Cake 
1 cup Original Bisquick® mix
1 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar, if desired
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 package (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (1 cup)
1 can whole kernel sweet corn, drained
2 tablespoons diced green chiles

Heat oven to 400°F. Spray bottom of 9-inch square pan with cooking spray or grease with shortening.
Stir Bisquick mix, cornmeal, sugar, salt, milk, oil and eggs in medium bowl just until moistened. Gently stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into pan.
Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until light brown. Serve warm
Source: Betty Crocker

This cornbread is so moist and delicious

Best served alongside your favorite chili

Pan Fried Asparagus

I have such a busy week ahead! I am making a birthday cake for one of my best friend's daughter. This will be my first girly cake and I couldn't be more excited! I am also making some cakepops for a different birthday party. But the most exciting part of my week is that my dad will be coming here from Arizona!! I haven't seen him in over a year. He will be at the Breeders Cup on Saturday and we have plans to meet up on Sunday to eat and explore Berea. (one of my favorite places ever!!) I cant wait to tell you all about it.
In kitchen of my husband's favorite meals that I fix is my meatloaf and "smashed" potatoes. The side dishes that we fix along side it vary. This time I decided to use some nice asparagus that I found. I really wanted to keep it simple because the flavors in my meatloaf and potatoes are somewhat bold. All I can say is YUM! I have never prepared asparagus this way because typically I eat it steamed. I know it isn't the healthiest way to enjoy it but oh man...tasting this made me not care. Enjoy!

Pan Fried Asparagus
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
2 tablespoons fresh squeezes lemon juice
Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cook garlic in butter for a minute, but do not brown. Add asparagus, and cook for 10 minutes, turning asparagus to ensure even cooking. Add lemon juice and shredded cheese. Enjoy!

A Lovely Blog Award


I want to thank Elisabeth from Food and Thrift Finds for putting me one her list for the Lovely Food Blog Award. Dreams of Sugarplums is something that started out as a little hobby but has turned into somewhat of an obsession. It has made me realize just how much I love food and sharing my food with others. I do everything out of my tiny kitchen with a dinky Kodak camera so for someone to think my blog is lovely excites me to the core!
Like Elisabeth I owe a lot of props to the Foodbuzz community. Without them my only reader would be my little sister and a couple coworkers. I find inspiration from each of my favorite blogs and hope to one day inspire those who read mine. So thank you a million Elisabeth...of course I am giving you another Lovely Blog Award but you don't have to pick 15 more blogs. :)
In no particular order:

Food and Thrift Finds
Weekend Gourmet
Foodie House
Vanilla Rocks
Cake Duchess
Lazaro Cooks
Foy Update
The Gourmand Mom
Pretend Chef
Ideal Cooking in Carla's Kitchen
Kitchen Konfidence

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Snickers Cupcakes

One of the positive things about working in a predominately female office setting is that when a holiday rolls around, so do potlucks. Or as our HR lady put in the email "potuck". That made me giggle for most of the day. Our Halloween potluck was of course a success. So much food and I enjoyed every bit of the point I was pretty sure I was going into a food coma. My contribution to the potluck were some Snickers Bar Cupcakes. I figured why not incorporate Halloween candy into my contribution. It was an awesome decision because these were crazy delicious! The only thing is for some reason they took me soooooooo long to make. Bake the cupcakes, let them cool, make caramel sauce, let it cool, fill cupcakes, make caramel butter cream, pipe on frosting, garnish...and finally eat. :) I felt like I was never gonna get to the eat part. There were so many different recipes for this particular cupcake. I used the cake recipe from the fabulously talented Annie's Eats and I used the caramel sauce from Simply Recipes. I highly recommend that you try these. Your mouth will thank you...enjoy!

The cupcakes filled with the Snickers and caramel mixture

Frosted with Caramel Butter Cream

Garnished with Snickers

Drizzled with Caramel

Perfection in Cupcake Form

Oh yeah and obviously I broke my no cupcakes for a while thing. I cant help it!!! I love cupcakes.

Listening To:
Giving Up The Gun-Vampire Weekend
Black Thumbnail-Kings of Leon
Blister In The Sun-Violent Femmes
American Girl -Tom Petty

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies

Even when I was in high school I liked to bake. I was reminded of this by one of my best friends who put a comment on my facebook wall about how I told her I would bring her some cheesecake brownies. But instead of the large pieces I  promised, I brought her small pieces thanks to my little sister eating most of the batch. Of course I cracked up because all I remember is my friend's obvious disappointment at the small pieces. Not gonna lie those cheesecake brownies were the bomb and I don't blame my sister. Since then I have graduated from box brownies to making them from scratch. Not that anything is wrong with box brownies...they are still pretty tasty. Any-who I decided that my cheesecake brownies needed a little oomph! And I was like heck yeah Nutella you are totally nominated, but guess what? My grocery store didn't have any. Do you see what I am working with here people? Ugh! So I settled on peanut butter. And I pouted all the way to the checkout lane.
I got home and researched some recipes and found one I liked, modified it a little bit, scowled at the peanut butter and voila! Peanut butter cheesecake brownies. Enjoy!

I couldn't wait to cut into them...notice the jagged edges?

Admire the peanutbuttery deliciousness

Ok maybe I shouldn't have scowled at the peanut butter!

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies
Nonstick cooking spray
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, finely chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Peanutbutter Cheesecake:
8-ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square pan with foil or parchment paper so you can pull out your brownies later. Make sure whatever you use comes up high enough on the sides. Spray with non-stick spray. Heat chocolate and butter in microwave safe bowl gradually until melted. Stir until smooth. Cool 10 minutes. Stir/beat in sugar, eggs, and vanilla into cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Stir/beat in flour and salt. Spread the batter in pan
In a separate bowl, beat together the cream cheese, peanut butter, egg, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Be sure to not overbeat.
Drop large spoonfuls of the peanut butter cheesecake batter across the layer of brownie batter. Take a knife or skewer to swirl the layer of peanut butter cheesecake batter with the brownie mixture. Bring up some of the brownie batter to ensure the brownie mixture and cheesecake swirl nicely.
Bake for 32-35 minutes, or until the batter in the center of the pan is set, or a toothpick has just a few brownie crumbs sticking to it. Let cool, then lift the brownies up and out using the foil or parchment paper and peel it away. Cut the brownies. Stuff you face! :)
Source: Epicurious

Monday, October 25, 2010

Steakin' it Easy

My end of vacation steak dinner was so much better than I expected. My husband is totally a steak and potato man and as usual he was stoked for what was on the menu. I had found some pretty New York strip steaks at the grocery store and while I was walking around looking for some peanut butter I planned the rest our meal. I decided on some roasted rosemary potatoes and some of my "handy" bruschetta. Once home I put my husband to work taking care of the steaks since I am at home in the kitchen not at the grill. He seasoned them perfectly with some kosher salt, some garlic sea salt and some white pepper. For a nice medium/well he kept them on the grill for six minutes each side. While he was doing this I was making my roasted potatoes and was baking my french bread rolls to stuff with bruschetta. Wait...what? Yes I said I was making stuffed bruschetta. I found these cute french bread rolls in the freezer section and hollowed them out to stuff with my bruschetta mixture. It was cute and delicious. The meal was great and I had a wonderful ending to a vacation week! Enjoy!

New York Strips seasoned by my husband

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

French Rolls stuffed with "Handy" Bruschetta

Put it all together and you get....dinner!! Yum!

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, stems removed
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 1/2 pounds white potatoes diced into 1 inch cubes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray baking dish with non-stick spray set aside. In a bowl whisk together olive oil, rosemary, kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Next add in potatoes and stir to coat completely.
Transfer potatoes to prepared baking sheet. Spread into single layer.Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and turn. Bake for 20 more minutes or until the edges of the potatoes are golden brown. If you like them extra crispy turn on the boiler for 2 minutes. Enjoy!

"Handy" Bruschetta
4 ripe roma tomatoes chopped
1 yellow bell pepper chopped
1 can chopped black olives (4 oz)
2 cloves of garlic, minced plus one clove left whole
4-5 leaves basil chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
kosher salt and pepper to taste
Hollowed out French bread rolls or French bread slices

Make sure you have drained most of the moisture from your tomatoes. Combine chopped tomatoes, bell pepper, black olives, minced garlic, and basil. Stir gently and set aside. In a separate small bowl whisk together olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add to tomato mixture and salt and pepper to taste. Rub garlic clove over bread slices or inside hollowed out bread roll. Top (or fill) bread with the bruschetta mixture or serve separately and let people construct their own. Enjoy!
Source: Alex Original

Listening To:
Black Balloon-Goo Goo Dolls
The Distance-Cake
Ain't No Sunshine-Aaron Neville
Three Little Birds-Bob Marley
Under Pressure-Queen