Friday, June 29, 2007

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I used the same recipe from a previous post but this time I decided to make it into cupcakes. I think it turned out much better this time. Very light and fluffy and just moist enough. I fixed most of the problems from last time and this time the frosting came out perfectly! The original frosting recipe called for melted butter and cream cheese over low heat. I found that to be WAY to runny. So this time I just used softened. Much easier to work with!

Homemade Ravioli

I have been wanting to try to make fresh pasta for ever. I finally had the time to do it and it was WELL worth the effort. I was a little surprised how much work it was to roll out the dough but it was so tasty I quickly forgot how long it took!

For the filling I just kind of threw some stuff together.

1 lb (this was WAY too much)ground beef - Laura's Lean
1/2 medium onion finely chopped
4 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 white wine

I started by sautteing the onions. Then I added the garlic and ground beef. While the meat was browning I seasoned it with my spices. Then I added the white wine and when it was almost all the way cooked out I added the cheese.

The recipe for the pasta was from

Pasta Dough for Ravioli
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, plus 1 for egg wash
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Cornmeal, for dusting

To make the pasta dough: In an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook*, combine the flour and salt. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to mix. Drizzle in 1 tablespoons of the olive oil and continue to incorporate all the flour until it forms a ball. Sprinkle some flour on work surface, knead and fold the dough until elastic and smooth, this should take about 10 minutes. Brush the surface with the remaining olive oil and wrap the dough in plastic wrap; let rest for about 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax.

*Alternatively if you don't have an electric mixer: Combine the flour and salt on a flat work surface; shape into a mound and make a well in the center. Add the eggs and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the well and lightly beat with a fork. Gradually draw in the flour from the inside wall of the well in a circular motion. Use 1 hand for mixing and the other to protect the outer wall. Continue to incorporate all the flour until it forms a ball. Continue as directed above.

Cut the ball of dough in 1/2, cover and reserve the piece you are not immediately using to prevent it from drying out. Dust the counter and dough with a little flour. Press the dough into a rectangle and roll it through a pasta machine, 2 or 3 times, at widest setting. Pull and stretch the sheet of dough with the palm of your hand as it emerges from the rollers. Reduce the setting and crank the dough through again, 2 or 3 times. Continue tightening until the machine is at the narrowest setting; the dough should be paper-thin, about 1/8-inch thick (you should be able to see your hand through it.). Dust the sheets of dough with flour as needed.

Beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Dust the counter and sheet of dough with flour, lay out the long sheet of pasta, and brush the top surface with the egg wash, which acts as a glue. Drop tablespoons of your favorite filling on 1/2 of the pasta sheet, about 2-inches apart. Fold the other 1/2 over the filling like a blanket. With an espresso cup or fingers, gently press out air pockets around each mound of filling. Use a sharp knife to cut each pillow into squares and crimp the 4 edges with the tins of a fork to make a tight seal. Dust the ravioli and a sheet pan with cornmeal to prevent the pasta from sticking and lay them out to dry slightly while assembling the rest.

Cook the ravioli in plenty of boiling salted water for 4 minutes; they'll float to the top when ready, so be careful not to overcrowd the pot. Lift the ravioli from water with a large strainer or slotted spoon. Bath the ravioli in your favorite sauce to lightly coat and serve.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

My dad loves oatmeal cookies. So when I decided to host a fathers day dinner I knew right away what dessert to make. These cookies turned out great. Very very chewy. I will definitely make these again. I got this recipe off of my message board and I can not remember who gave it to me! If you recognize it let me know and I can give credit :)

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 TBS sugar
2 large eggs
11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups Ghiridelli Chocolate Chips {I used chocolate chunks}
3/4 cup walnuts, (toasted and COOLED) {I ommitted these}

Preheat oven to 375°F.

With a mixer, beat butter and sugars in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until just blended. Add in vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Beat well.

With a spoon, gently mix in flour until just blended. Gently stir in oats, chocolate chips and walnuts. Do not over mix.

Place rounded spoonfulls of dough on sheets about 2 inches apart.

Bake for about 10-13 minutes or until the edges start turning golden. For a crispier cookie, cook until completely golden, 15-16 minutes. Watch carefully, as 30 seconds can make the difference between "chewy" and "rock hard".

Cool cookies on sheets for 1 minute, then transfer to a rack to cool completely

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomato, and Cheese

This is was the recipe of the week. I think that this was a great fast simple recipe. I didn't make a lot of changes to this recipe. I did use a lot more tomato paste than it called for, 2 extra cloves of garlic and I added a splash of white. I think I also used more cheese, but I didn't really measure so it's hard to say.

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomato, and Cheese
(Source: Cooking Light)

1 (1-pound) package uncooked ziti (short tube-shaped pasta)
1 pound hot turkey Italian sausage links
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 (14.5-ounce) cans petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta, and set aside.

3. Remove casings from sausage. Cook sausage, onion, and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil.

4. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, and basil. Place half of the pasta mixture in a 4-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Top with half of mozzarella and half of Parmesan. Repeat layers. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Chocolate Caramel Nut Cheesecake

This is the baking recipe of the week from my cooking board. I think that it turned out great! I do have to say that I think the baking temperature was a bit off. 350 made it crack on top. Next time I might do 350 for the first 10 minutes then turn it down to 325 maybe even 300. I will just have to expirement! The only other change I made was using 3 snickers instead of 2. The 3rd one I chopped up to put on top, then I drizzled the whole top with caramel. It was a big hit at work.

Chocolate Caramel Nut Cheesecake
(Source: Allrecipes)

3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon white sugar
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
3 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 (2.16 ounce) bars chocolate-coated caramel-peanut nougat candy, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs and 1 tablespoon sugar. Press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

3. In a large bowl, cream the 3/4 cup of sugar and cream cheese together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Stir in chopped candy bar, and pour into baked crust.

4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 minutes. Let cool and carefully remove the springform pans side.

You can't eat this cake....

So this isn't technically food related. But it just turned out so cute I had to post it! I made this for my good friend Katie's baby shower. It took about 70 diapers and I bought the ribbon at Michael's. I am VERY pleased with how it turned out! :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Heaven... I mean pork chops!

This meal was amazing. It was so comforting and delicious. It was everything I could do to NOT lick the gravy from my skillet. Of course how can you go wrong with gravy?

Smothered Pork Chops
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence; Food Network

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons onion powder (I used dried onion flakes)
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne (I used paprika)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 pork chops, 3/4-inch thick, bone-in (I used boneless)
1/4 cup olive oil - You could get away with a little less
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup buttermilk

Put the flour in a shallow platter and add the onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels to remove any moisture and then dredge them in the seasoned flour; shaking off the excess.

Heat a large saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat and coat with the oil. When the oil is nice and hot, lay the pork chops in the pan in a single layer and fry for 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove the pork chops from the pan and add a little sprinkle of seasoned flour to the pan drippings. Mix the flour into the fat to dissolve and then pour in the chicken broth in. Let the liquid cook down for 5 minutes to reduce and thicken slightly. Stir in the buttermilk to make a creamy gravy and return the pork chops to the pan, covering them with the sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes until the pork is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

I served this with mashed potatoes. I boiled the potatoes with 2 cloves of garlic roughly chopped. When they were finished I added 1/3 cup sour cream, 2 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp milk, garlic powder, onion flakes, salt, pepper and paprika to mimic the taste in the pork chops. Can you say DELICIOUS?

5 Cheese Stuffed Shells

I feel like it has been forever since I have made a new entry! We have just had a very busy weekend. This meal is actually from last Thursday! These were very very good and pretty easy too.

Stuffed Shells-
1/2 box Jumbo Pasta Shells
1 12 oz container ricotta cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup 3 cheese blend (Parmesan, asiago, romano) I found this in the cheese bin pre-shredded
1 egg
2 tbsp fresh chopped basil
1 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
Fresh ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups pasta sauce (I made my own but you could also use jarred)

Bring a pot of water to a boil then drop the pasta shells in. While the shells are cooking mix the ricotta, cheeses, egg, basil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. When the shells are just shy of al-dente drain them and stick in a cold water bath (to make them easier to handle). Put 1/2 cup of pasta sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish then fill each shell with about 3 tbsp of filling until all the shells are gone, placing each shell in casserole dish. If there is left over filling just go back and fill any that don't look as stuffed. Then top the shells with remaining sauce. Bake at 375 for about 15-20 minutes.

I served with garlic bread and more mozzarella cheese on top. Delicious!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Foodie Blogroll!!

I am very excited to say that I have joined the foodie blogroll!! It is a list of food blogs. I think it is a great way to get my blog out there. If you have a food blog and would like to join just click here - Foodie blogroll

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Chocolate Drop Cookies

There was a birthday at Jesse's work and I was asked to make a treat. I didn't have enough chocolate chips to make choc chip cookies, so I went with chocolate drop cookies. I skipped the frosting because we already had too many dirty dishes and the cookies were good by themeselves. I got this recipe from my Betty Crocker Baking for Today cookbook.

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk sub regular milk with a drop of vinegar)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted, cooled
1 3/4 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Chocolate Frosting
2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons hot water

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Grease cookie sheet with shortening or cooking spray.
2. In large bowl, beat granulated sugar, 1/2 cup butter, the buttermilk, vanilla, egg and 2 ounces melted chocolate with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt.
3. On cookie sheet, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart. (I used my pampered chef scoop)
4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched in center. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
5. In 2-quart saucepan, melt 2 ounces chocolate and 2 tablespoons butter over low heat, stirring occasionally; remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar and hot water until smooth. (If frosting is too thick, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time. If frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time.) Spread over cookies.

Enchilada Lasagna

After feeling really horrible all day (migraine) I was sooo happy that my dinner was already pre-prepped. Tuesday night I put it all together so all we would need to do was pop it in the oven. This was a very simple very delicious meal. I will definitely make again. I made this in a small round casserole dish because it was for just the two of us. You could easily use a larger casserole dish and make the layers bigger with more tortillas.

Enchilada Lasagna

Corn tortillas
1 can medium enchilada sauce (I found this in the Mexican section at the grocery store)
4 chicken tenders (you've probably noticed by now I use these a lot. They just cook so fast)
1 can black beans
1 can Ro-tel (diced tomatoes and chilies)
1 cup shredded cheese

Bring the can of enchilada sauce to a low simmer. Add the chicken and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes. While the chicken is cooking mix the can of black beans (drained) with the can of Ro-tel. In a casserole (lightly sprayed with non-stick)set down the first layer of tortilla. On top of this spread the bean and tomato mixture and a sprinkle of cheese. Then another tortilla. Then the enchilada sauce and chicken (shredded with a fork). Repeat until there are 3 layers of bean/cheese and 2 layers
of chicken. For the top layer use the enchilada sauce (the chicken should mostly be gone and there should just be sauce left) and a handful of cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Top with sour cream.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Stuffed BBQ Chicken Calzones

This is one of our favorite dinners. We like to have these about once a month. They are just SO good!! Usually I use pre-packaged pizza dough in a can. But tonight I had extra time so I decided to make may own dough. I used the bread machine and the dough cycle took about an hour and 40 minutes. The dough was very tasty. Next time I think I will only use all-purpose flour if it is for this calzone though. The wheat taste was pretty strong. But as always, we cleaned our plates. The following recipe makes 2 big calzones. We split one and take the left over one for lunch.

Overstuffed BBQ Chicken Calzones

Pizza dough - 1 can prepackaged or enough for 2 calzones
1/2 a medium onion chopped
3 slices of bacon (I use center cut, 40% less fat)
5 chicken tenders (2 small breasts)
3/4 cup BBQ sauce
Handful of cilantro chopped (Kroger didn't have any so tonight we didn't use any)
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used colby jack and cheddar)

In a family size skillet prepare the bacon until crispy then set aside. From the same skillet drain most of the bacon grease (I leave just a tiny bit for flavor). To the skillet add the chopped onion, then the chicken, then half of the BBQ sauce. When the chicken is done use a fork to shred. I like to keep some chicken broth on hand just incase the chicken starts to stick, then you can just add a splash of the broth. Add remaining BBQ sauce, cilantro and crispy bacon (crumbled). Lay out the pizza dough and cut in 2. Spread the shredded chicken mixture over half of one of the dough pieces. Top with shredded cheese then fold the other half of dough over. Use a fork to seal edges. Repeat for second calzone. Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes.

I cut the dough recipe in half since I was only making two calzones. Next time I will just make the whole batch and freeze the left over dough.

Bread Machine Pizza Dough With Whole Wheat Flour

From The Bread Machine Cookbook by Donna Rathwell German.

1 1/3 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons yeast

Add ingredients in the order given into the bread machine pan.
Start dough cycle.
Once the dough is done remove it from the pan onto a floured work surface.
Roll dough to fit the shape of your pan. This recipe makes 2 14 inch round pizzas.
Brush lightly with olive oil and add toppings. You can hold this dough, with just the olive oil, for a couple of hours in the fridge covered in plastic wrap.
Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.
This recipe is the large sized recipe. It also comes in small and medium.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Pink yourself!

Today at work we had a breast cancer awareness day. We all wore pink and donated money to the Susan G Koman foundation. In honor of the day we were all supposed to bring in healthy food - and try to make it pink if we can. I was torn. How could I still bake something tastey, have it be health AND make it pink. I searched and searched and finally settle on Strawberry Bread. I personally do not care for cooked fruit in any form. So I typically shy away from any kind of "fruit bread". But I actually tried a small piece and...... I liked it!!

The bread wasn't quite as pink as I wanted and neither was the icing. So I added a couple drops of red food coloring. It came out a little more Pepto Bismol-ey than I wanted but still very tasty.

Strawberry Bread (Recipe from
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups mashed strawberries
1 1/4 cups oil (I used 1/2 cup oil and 3/4 cup apple sauce)
4 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup strawberry juice, drained from mashed strawberries I just used the left over mashed strawberries since I didn't have a lot of juice to drain off
8 ounces softened cream cheese

3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Mix first five ingredients together.
3. Make a well in centre of mixture.
4. Stir strawberries, oil and eggs in by hand .
5. Pour into two greased 9x5" loaf pans. I used one bundt pan
6. Bake at given temperature for 50 to 60 minutes.
7. Cool on wire rack.
8. For topping, blend reserved strawberry juice with cream cheese. Drizzle over cooled loaves. I just mixed this in the same bowl that I mashed the strawberries in because there was about a 1/2 cup left stuck to the sides and bottom. I also added honey and couple drops of food coloring