Saturday, January 31, 2009

Black Bottom Cupcakes

I whipped these up a few weekends ago -- we had friends coming over to hang out, and one of said friends had a birthday coming up, so I wanted to have a little something for her.

These were tasty, but admittedly, not my favorite. I think it had something to do with the chocolate cupcake recipe, and may try to tweak it in the future.

Still DELICIOUS cupcakes though! I think in 'regular' cupcake size they were a bit much, but mini these would be PERFECT. That way, every bite would be chocolate cupcake+cheesecake. I think that's probably the key.

I got the recipe from smitten kitchen. I'll let you go over there and get it if you want it ;-)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Menu Mondays

Lots of back-posts being posted this week -- and giveaways! Wee!

Sunday: Lemon dessert, loaf of bread for DH's lunches this week

Monday: Steak, roasted broccoli, pasta

Tuesday: zesty mozzerella chicken, garlic parmesean potatoes, steamed green beans

Wednesday: DH and I are participating in HUD's annual Unsheltered Homeless Count all evening; leftovers or pizza at the event.

Thursday: onion soup pork chops, rice, leftover veggies from earlier in the week

Friday: Leftovers

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Blog-i-versary Giveaway #2!

Yes, that's right -- TWO giveaways! WHEW! We're goin' crazy over here :-)

All winners will be chosen by

Giveaway entries must be received (by way of comments to this post) by Saturday, January 31, 2009.
Blog-i-versary Giveaway #2!

A locally produced cookbook

This cookbook purchase supported a Brethren Christian School in Lancaster, PA. This cookbook is similar to the ones you find at church fundraisers.

Personally, I ADORE these cookbooks -- they always include tried-and-true, your-family-WILL-eat-this style recipes.
This one is no different!

This cookbook is 266 pages, and is divided into the following sections: Soups, Salads, and Sauces; Main Dishes; Meats, Poultry, and Seafood; Vegetables; Bread and Breakfasts; Cakes and Pies; Cookies and Confections; Desserts; Beverages, Sandwiches and Miscellaneous; Canning and Freezing; Cooking for a Crowd.


Blog-i-versary Giveaway #1!!

My blog-i-versary was last week (Wednesday) but due to new puppy, the giveaways celebrating it had to be pushed back!
But now they're here!
All winners will be chosen by

Giveaway entries must be received (by way of comments to this post) by Saturday, January 31, 2009.

Blog-i-versary Giveaway #1!
1 Free Box of the new "Create Your Own" Fruit Roll-Ups! (1 box contains 30 fruit roll-ups)

I received this wonderful giveaway from MyBlogSpark -- they were kind enough to provide me with a box, as well as a code so that YOU can design a box!

Now I know what you're thinking -- that the only people who could possibly have a use for 30 personalized Fruit Roll-ups are parents.

This, my friends, is not true.

My DH likes -- nay, he LOVES -- fruit rollups. The man takes them to work as part of his breakfast. I kid you not.

So I got him a box of Valentine's themed ones. But you can do ANYTHING -- you can put personalized messages, personalized pictures -- the sky's the limit!

Well, as long as you like Strawberry, that is. They only come in Strawberry. :-)
If you'd like more information, or to see what designs are available, go to

California BLT's

No real recipe here, but an absolutely delicious dinner.

California BLT's
(Me, and others, I'm sure)

1 lb bacon, cooked
2-3 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced thin
2 avocados, sliced thin
1-2 packages of alfalfa sprouts, rinsed and patted dry
8-10 slices of your favorite bread, toasted
light mayo (optional)
lettuce leaves (optional)

Layer up as much of the above ingredients as you like on the bread, and dig into a delicious twist on BLT's

We served ours with natural potato chips made with a variety of potatoes.


On Pizza and 'Pizza Stones'

I received a double pizza oven (makes two pizzas) for Christmas. It's awesome.


I really really don't get making pizza with pizza stones. And that's what this oven came with.

Any advice?

My DH grew up working in a pizzeria, and when I asked him for help, me told me the stones are crap, and I should buy screens to use in my oven.

But I see food bloggers EVERY.DAY. using pizza stones successfully. So how?

Here's what I had trouble with:

1. My dough recipe (included below and FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC) says to 'make' my pizzas on parchment covered in corn meal, and slide the pizzas onto the hot stones.

- Yeah. This is epic fail waiting to happen. I had plenty of corn meal -- those puppies weren't sliding. Is there another trick?

2. DH claims you must make a pizza on the surface you're baking it on -- because the dough is too hard to transfer. This probably goes with #1. I can't exactly heat up a pizza stone and then build pizza on it!

3. If the stone isn't hot (i.e., I build the pizza on it then pop it in the oven) the purpose of it being a stone is lost, correct? It's just a really heavy cookie sheet at that point.

4. Finally, my pizza oven goes up to 800 degrees Farenheit. And the heating element is on the top portion of each oven...does this affect how I make my pizza?

Any answers would be truly awesome.

You'll see my cheese is a bit burnt -- this was our first go in the oven and it was a bit of a trial by fire. :-)

Awesome, Best-Pizza-Dough-Ever Recipe
( Yum.)

Super easy to work with, and deliciously light in texture. Yum!!

1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees F)
2 1/4 tsp breadmaker instant yeast (Can use 1 envelope instant yeast)
1 1/4 cups water, room temperature
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tsp salt
olive oil or nonstick cooking spray to grease the bowl

- Measure the warm water in a large (at least 2 cup) liquid measuring cup and sprinkle in the yeast. Let stand 5 minutes, or until yeast dissolves.
- Add the room temperautre water and oil; stir to combine
- Place the flour and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle and briefly combine your dry ingredients using low speed
- Slowly add your liquid ingredients and continue to mix on low sped until a cohesive mass forms
- Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook
- Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic; approximately 5 minutes
- Form the dough into a ball and put it in a deep, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap
- Let the dough rise until doubled in size (should take 1 1/2 to 2 hours), then press the dough to deflate it
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide the dough into two equal pieces
- Form each piece into a smooth, round ball and cover with a damp cloth for 10 minutes (but no longer than 30 minutes)
- Working with one piece of dough and keeping the other one covered, shape the dough and transfer it to a pizza peel or round of parchment dusted with semolina or cornmeal
- Top as desired
- Use other ball of dough, or freeze for later use

**The original website includes instruction about heating your pizza stone in your conventional oven and cooking times for conventional ovens. Since I used my 'pizza oven' all of this was thrown out the door.

Blog Award - Thanks Erica!

Thanks Erica, over at Erica's Kitchen Adventures, for the blog award!

And of course there are some rules that come attached to this great award:

- Add the logo in your blog.

- Add a link to the person who gave you the award.

- Nominate 10 other (refreshing…like lemonade) blogs of your choice.

- Don’t forget to add links to those blogs in yours.

- Also leave a message for your nominees in their blogs, informing them about the award.

Rather than nominate this time, I'd like to see you guys just take the award -- let me see who's been reading! :-)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Menu Mondays

Sorry I'm late...but this little bundle of joy came into our home on Sunday, and she's been QUITE a handful since then! She won't let me in the office without whining!

Busy evenings for us this week, so the meal plan includes some on-your-own nights.

Monday: Steak, steamed broccoli, twice baked potatoes
Tuesday: French Dip Sandwiches, leftover twice baked potato filling (yum)
Wednesday: Spaghetti with meat sauce ( blog-i-versary! Stay tuned for a little giveaway!)
Thursday: leftovers on your own
Friday: Crab cakes, green beans, and rice pilaf (Didn't end up having them last week--thank goodness I hadn't bought the crab!)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Menu Mondays

Sunday: Baked Oatmeal (breakfasts to pack for work this week), White Bread via Breadmaker for DH's lunches, and Pizza Dough for my first experiment at making pizza in my new pizza oven!

Monday: Steak, broccoli, pasta

Tuesday: Scallop and crab stuffed sole filets (freebie from Omaha Steaks), veggies, mashed potatoes

Wednesday: Spaghetti with meat sauce

Thursday: California BLTs (Bacon, Alfalfa Sprouts, Avocado, Tomato), Veggie Chips

Friday: Crab cakes, wild rice pilaf, veggies

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts

Oh my god these were good. And, fast enough for a weeknight, but "nice" enough to serve to company!

We'll definately be putting these in our rotation!

Bacon Wrapped Chicken (Stuffed with Cheese and Spinach)
(Adapted from: A Taste of Home Cooking)

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (this was 3 in my package)
black pepper
4 oz. low fat cream cheese, softened
2 handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped
9 slices of bacon (3 on each breast)

Served with:
Mashed potatoes: 6-8 red potatoes, peeled and cubed, milk, butter
1 lb. fresh green beans, steamed

- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F
- Cut a slice in the thickest part of the chicken breast, making a pocket in the breast to stuff
- Combine the softened cream cheese, chopped spinach, salt and pepper to taste, and stuff into the pocket in each chicken breast.
- Wrap each chicken breast tightly with the slices of bacon, covering the meat
- Place the chicken breasts in a roaster pan with a drip tray (or just a nonstick cookie sheet will do as well -- but your juices and fat will accumulate on the bottom of your chicken) and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until bacon is crispy and chicken is firm to the touch.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Menu Mondays

Saturday: Italian Pinwheels -- we attended our first 'neighborhood' party and I took these along as an appetizer
Sunday: Soft pretzels a la Bread Machine (I want to see how they compare to my other soft pretzel recipes), a loaf of White Bread a la Bread Machine for DH's lunches, and potentially some Pizza Dough so I can try out my new pizza oven
Monday: Steak, steamed broccoli, pasta
Tuesday: Bacon Wrapped Chicken, Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes
Wednesday: Crockpot Beef Stew
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Leftovers

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Italian Pinwheels

We attended our first 'neighborhood' party this evening, and had a lot of fun meeting neighbors. I was requested to bring a side dish, appetizer, or dessert, and since I'm still riding the cookie high from Christmas, I went with an appetizer.

And an easy one, to boot!

Italian Pinwheels

Makes 24 appetizers

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup sliced pepperoni, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 egg yolk
1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent rolls or 'recipe creations' dough sheet
1 egg white, beaten

- Heat oven to 375 degrees F
- In a small bowl, mix cheese, pepperoni, oregano and egg yolk
- If using crescent rolls: unroll dough, separate dough into 4 rectangles and firmly press preforations to seal. If using dough sheets: unroll dough; cut into 4 rectangles
- Spread each rectangle with about 3 tablespoons pepperoni mixture
- Starting at the short side, roll up each rectangle, pinching the edges to seal
- Cut each roll into 6 slices and place, cut side down, about 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet
- Brush with the beaten egg white
- Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown
- Serve warm

King Ranch Chicken

Once again -- casseroles and delicious things never photograph well. And this recipe is both, so that should explain the pictures!

This was tasty, though -- I think DH liked it more than me, because I find the Rotel Tomato/Chilis mixture to be too spicy for my liking.

King Ranch Chicken
(I can't remember where I found it!)
1/4 cup butter
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can (10 oz.) ROTEL Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
12 corn tortillas, torn into bite-sized pieces
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese


- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- In a large saucepan, cook pepper and onion in melted margarine until tender, about 5 minutes. - Add soups, ROTEL and chicken, stirring until well blended.
- In a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan, alternately layer tortillas, soup mixture and cheese, repeating for three layers.
- Bake 30 minutes or until hot and bubbling.

Serves 8
Note: Not sure what the idea was behind making the tortillas bite-sized, but I think it would hold together better for cutting/serving if you left the tortillas whole.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008 1st Blog Year In Review

Coming up in a few weeks is my Blogiversary (hmm...may have to just get a giveaway together for that!) -- which means I've got a full year of recipes to reflect on from my blog!

I started this blog as a hobby after my wedding planning days were over (My wedding was in November 2007). DH kept insisting I needed a hobby, and then I stumbled across the What's Cooking board on the nest, and realized I could blog my cooking, share it easily, and REALLY make it a hobby!

I still have trouble getting good pictures, I'm often rushed (not a lot of time for pictures and setup when you don't get home until 6:45-7 every night), but I still enjoy it.

So here are my favorites from the last year -- here's to many more!

Sloppy Joes

Famous Strawberry Cupcakes
Cookies n Cream Cupcakes
Lemon Chicken

…apparently I didn’t cook in March. Oops?

Hot German Potato Salad
Soft Pretzels
Red Lobster-esque Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

My “famous” “Pittsburgh” Style Rice Krispie Treats
Lithuanian Kuldunai
Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Baked Club Sandwich
To Die For Blueberry Muffins

Roast Beef Blintzes
Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon-Sugar Chips
S’mores Bars

Southern Peach Cobbler
Crockpot Pulled Pork
Blueberry Crumb Bars

Sweet Corn and Honey Muffins
Chicken, Rice, and Black Bean Salad
Banana Coconut Muffins
Skillet Beef Stroganoff

“Pennsylvania Dutch” Chicken Pot Pie
Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches
Homemade Oreos®

Zuppa Toscana
Cinnamon Roasted Almonds
Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
Apple Pie Bars
Buffalo Chicken Dip (Crack Dip)

Monkey Bread
Oh-My-God-It’s-Good Baked Oatmeal
Funfetti Cookies
Italian Cookies
Cut-Out Sugar Cookies