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