Friday, July 29, 2011

California here I come, right back where I started from

Today marks day 1 of my vacation! :) I am off to the West Coast to visit some family, and I could not be more excited or more ready for a little rest and relaxation. I'll be hanging out at the beach, going to see Minney and Mickie and of course spending quality time with my Mimi, cousins, aunts, uncles and second cousins. My mom is also meeting me out there for a few days, so you know we'll be hitting up Nordstroms (there is no Nodstroms in the great state of Louisiana and my poor mother is deeply deprived).

We'll probably be doing a little baking too, just because, why not? My sweet cousins Natalie has already requested these Reese's Cupcakes- I think she has the grocery list ready for me too! :)

Have a wonderful weekend- and week next week!

P.S. Did you know I am actually a California Girl? I did not live there for too long, but its still in my blood!

P.S.S. My Mimi already told me she is making Taco Salad and homemade peach cobbler for dinner tonight. I cannot wait! She told me nothing is from a box, so not to worry! haha :) I love it!

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Garlic Rosemary Potatoes

Rosemary is one of my favorite spices. I always have the dried version on hand, but fresh rosemary is such a treat! If they have specials on fresh herbs at the grocery store, I usually grab this one. These potatoes are great for pretty much any meal, but especially with anything grilled. Actually, I think they would be a perfect match with this Rosemary Ranch Chicken. :) Yummm.

Also, this is more of an idea than an exact recipe. Add your favorite herbs and spices or whatever you have on hand.

P.S. What's more fun that placing all your ingredients in a bag and shaking it up?

Garlic Rosemary Potatoes
  • A couple handfuls of small gold potatoes (4-5 per person)
  • a couple cloves of garlic, minced
  • a couple TBSP of olive oil
  • Fresh rosemary, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a little garlic powder

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a pan/tray so your potatoes won't stick. Slice potatoes into bite sized pieces (I quartered them). The bigger the pieces, the longer it will take to cook. 

Place all ingredients in a large plastic bag and shake to coat evenly.  

Place potatoes in even layer in baking dish and bake about 30 minutes, flipping potatoes with spatula halfway through to bake evenly. 

When they are done, fork can easily be inserted into center of a potato. Broil for 5 minutes until edges are crispy.


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Monday, July 25, 2011

Best Carrot Cake EVER!

I didn't realize how much I really loved carrot cake until this beauty came along. I never order carrot cake for dessert. There's usually something much more appealing on the dessert menu that wins me over- a rich chocolate lava cake, creme brulee, bananas foster cake.... you get the idea. This cake makes me wonder how many delicious carrot cakes I have missed out on. Let me clarify- only carrot cakes WITHOUT raisins need apply. Then again, I'm really doubtful any can measure up to this. The spice is just right. The moistness is amazing without any oil- and this is chock full of healthy things like carrots, walnuts, coconut and applesauce. So its totally like a healthful cake. :) Shh... I can't hear you.

I love Brown Eyed Baker and have tried many of her recipes. I adapted this one to include unsweetened applesauce instead of oil. This is a trick you can use in any recipes that require oil, and I always do so. I really hate the taste of oil in a baked good- it just tastes rubbery to me. Your baked good will not taste like apples, don't worry, and you will be enjoying a much healthier, tastier alternative. I hope you try it!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mango Peach Sorbet

Would you believe it if I told you I was a little behind on writing posts? I normally don't have time to put them together during the week, so I write up the week's posts the weekend before. Well me only writing 2 posts = no Friday post, so here I am typing up the shortest recipe I have on my list after my spin class.... and now its much later since I had to upload the photos at work (my home computer was taking FOREVER)...

This is definitely one of the best recipes I have in my "queue" though. :) Sorbet is such a refreshing treat, and making it yourself is super easy. If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can just use a regular glass bowl or a big ziploc bag and place in the freezer - just need to keep an eye on it.

The secret to keeping your sorbet from freezing too hard is adding a little vodka. You can experiment with different flavors if you want- I had citrus flavored which worked well with the mango-peach. Don't worry, you can't even taste the vodka though. :) Feel free to omit if you are serving to kiddos...

You can also experiment with adding other kinds of fruit. Always add the sugar to taste depending on how tart/sweet your fruit is. My peach was pretty tart and this was the perfect amount of sweetness!
I got my inspiration from both What's Cookin' Chicago? and The Parsley Thief, although I ended up with my own recipe.

Mango Peach Sorbet
  • 1 large very ripe mango (kinda mushy)
  • 1 large ripe peach
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup sugar (to taste, you may only need 1/2 cup)
  • 1-2 TBSP water- used to help puree
  • 1 TBSP vodka
Puree mango and peach in food processor/blender until smooth with water and lemon juice. If it is kind lumpy, you can strain it. 

In a bowl, mix with sugar and vodka until smooth. 

Chill completely for a couple hours or overnight depending if your fruit was cold or not. 

Freeze in ice cream maker according to directions (mine was about 30 minutes). It will be pretty soft, but ready to eat! If you like it harder, freeze in a lidded container for a couple hours. 

Scoop and enjoy!

Happy Friday!

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

5 Minute Indoor Smores

Is it just me or are there tons of yummy s'mores recipes floating around blog land lately? I didn't realize it before, but apparently s'mores are a summer food. Personally, I could eat s'mores anytime, but since I don't really go camping my opportunities to eat s'mores are slim to none. I just couldn't take it anymore and found myself at HEB with this in my basket when I went out to pick up some dinner. Oops... :)

You can use whatever ratios you like, but my preference is below. My cousin also told me I should try a Reese's cup instead of the chocolate, but I'm very afraid to open that "Pandora's box!" I bet your favorite candy bar would be fabulous as well!

Indoor S'mores
  • Graham crackers
  • big marshmallows
  • milk chocolate bars
Place half of a graham cracker on a baking sheet or other oven-safe pan. Place 1 marshmallow on top. 

Place in oven and broil 3-5 minutes. Keep your eye on it to make sure it doesn't get too toasty!  

Meanwhile place your chocolate square (I used 1/4th of a Hershey bar) on the other half of your graham cracker. 

Remove pan from oven and smoosh your two halves together on a plate.

Enjoy one, or two...! :) 

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Ina Garten's Reese's Cupcakes

Chocolate and peanut butter are a truly wonderful combo- as you are probably aware. Of course I've been dying to make some cupcakes like this for some time, but I was waiting for the right occasion.

A friend's birthday party came up and so I decided to make these - the only condition was that I could not take any home with me! The result? Success! :) Ina Garten is a genius!

I only had one- at the party. My craving was satisified and these received RAVE reviews. Everyone thought it was the perfect combo. Choppped reeses cup make the perfect topping, if you can resist snacking on them... :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

After looking at the list of recipes I posted recently, I realized that I never make cookies. Don't get me wrong, I like cookies. A lot. But I always want to make something "more exciting." Sometimes though, you just want something classic, comforting and reliably delicious. Quick is nice too. :) These cookies are all of those things. I love how they are slightly chewy and caramely. They are always a hit and go pretty quickly. The dough isn't half bad either.... ;) I really prefer to use the mini chocolate chips- I don't know why, but I think it tastes better.

 The original recipe is from this funny little "chocolate" recipes booklet called Chocolate Fantasies by Oxmoor House that my mom gave me. I have no idea where it came from, and the original published date was in 1987, but all the recipes I've tried so far are SO good. There are really just too many recipes to ever try all of them, but I want to try. Mississippi Mud Cake is calling my name next...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

America's Test Kitchen Baked Ziti

It feels nice to post a recipe from an actual cookbook for once. I feel like I'm always posting recipes that are circulating the food blog world. Although they are delicious, I like to post things that not 100 other people have not posted first, and I'm not really at the level to create my own recipes yet... This baked pasta dish comes from my America's Test Kitchen cookbook- The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2010- that I got for Christmas.

I love it because it explains the science behind the recipes and has lots of little tips for the best tools/ingredients. It also shows lots of photos of what things should and should not look like- with more explanations. So interesting and helpful!

Anyway, this ziti is REALLY good. Like very seriously yummy. The best thing about it is the cheesiness- this is due to the little cubes of cheese instead of shredded cheese.

Also, I love the mixture of white and red sauces- its subtle but gives it that extra zing. You can also add some meat, but it was plenty filling as is.

This recipe makes a 13x9 pan, but I split it into two 8x8 pans and gave one pan to a friend. It would also freeze well for later!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Guess Where I went?

For those of you in Texas, you have probably heard of the Czech Stop Bakery in Waco. Um it is AMAZING. So amazing that they have 2 seperate store fronts right next door with only about 49029801 different bakery items to choose from. Its not hard at all. Even if you wait in line for 20 minutes like I did, you still cannot make up your mind at the front. Which is obviously how I ended up with 6 kolaches, 2 cookie creme sandwiches, a loaf of bread and a peach cobbler. Basically, I left empty-handed.

You know its meant to be though when you forget to mention to your "driver" that you will NEED to make a stop at the Czech Stop, you doze off, and wake up from your cat nap as the car is taking the correct exit. Thank goodness it was next to Sonic. :)

I still have not mentioned where we were going. G had to go to Dallas to take care of some business at the last minute, so I volunteered to tag along (i.e. go to Sprinkles bakery) and babysit Gavin. I tried to meet up with some friends too, but it was so last minute that everyone already had plans. No biggie. I got Gavin a pupcake since he was so good and then we went to the dog park.

 Oh you know I had to get some more cupcakes too! I was a little upset they did not have my favorite, Strawberry, on Sundays, but that's OK. I got a milk chocolate, carrot cake, red velvet and a black and white (my second fave).

 So far, the test taster has approved of the kolaches, cookie sandwiches, the carrot cake (although he said mine is better- yippee! Recipe coming soon), and the milk chocolate cake (a bit dry). Obviously I have not eaten any of it.

OK. Um Need to go to the gym now. Bye.

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P.S. Here are the many looks of a dog sleeping in the car

Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's a Fun Day- Funfetti Cupcakes!

You know how you get fixated on one food craving and you just cannot stop thinking about it until you eat that cheeseburger or get that brownie? Well actually that happens to me several times a week.... Boys, you may not know what I'm talking about. Just skip ahead to the recipe. :) Anyway, I saw a picture of these amazing Funfetti cupcakes on How Sweet it Is and I literally could not stop thinking of biting into a big vanilly buttercreamy rainbow sprinkly cupcake for 2 weeks.

I finally just went ahead and made them. Because I wanted to. Because I needed to have just one. Small problem, this recipe makes 12- luckily I was able to find 11 very lovable cupcakes a home. Mission accomplished. :) And these are OH so much better than a box mix. I just cannot do box mixes anymore- they just taste off to me.

The frosting is so fluffy because its whipped extra long- its almost like a marshmallow frosting I think. My cake was slightly dry due to over baking by a few minutes. Be careful not to do this. You can even add a little more milk if you like to make them more moist.

Please don't want for a birthday to make these. Any day is a Funfetti day!

P.S. Can I bribe anyone to vacuum the extra sprinkles with a cupcake? :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fourth of July Flag Cake

I wasn't sure I was going to attempt this cake from Glorious Treats. Someone I convinced myself I could do it. I did it! Yay! It is confusing to explain, so beat with me. I read the entire thing at least 10 times before I started to get the method right. OK. Got it. It's really not that hard once you read through. I invested in some Americolor gel food coloring and some circle Cooke cutters in preparation for the big event, and it was worth it! Now thanks to me not making this in advance, I've allowed you plenty of time to learn how to make this cake for next year! Or maybe Labor Day? :)

I highly recommend the Americolor gels- they are so bright and don't water down your batter! It also helps to have a cardboard cake circle so you can ice the cake in one spot and later move to a box/cake dome.

Next I had to find the perfect white cake recipe. I decided to go with this one from Brown Eyed Baker. It is originally a Dorie Greenspan recipe, which means its very good. It was very light, fluffy and moist due to the fact that it uses (sifted) cake flour and egg whites only. I added some lemon zest and extract to give it a fresh summer flavor (which was GREAT by the way), but you could omit those if you just want plain vanilla.

The frosting is really tasty too- vanilla buttercream is my favorite. Note that both cake and frosting recipes are for double batches. If you just want to make a regular cake, you will need to halve them.

P.S. If you're not sure what to do with your leftover egg yolks, don't throw them away! You have enough to make 2 batches of Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Why not add some Reese's or strawberry puree into into one batch? Yummy! :)

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