Thursday, September 30, 2010

One more day!

One more day left til we begin the madness of baking 12 weeks of cookies! Bike Boy has already given heads up to his co-workers that cookies will be coming to work on Fridays. :) My friends and co-workers are on alert for goodies and my oven is heating up. On my way to make my first goodie for tomorrow. I think I may have to run a couple of miles and a spend hours at the gym to work off these babies!

See you tomorrow for the first post. Can't wait to see what the other cookie bakers are making. Check out April at http://abbysweets.blogspot.com/ for the list of cookie bakers and more details.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Apple Squares

Today I made some Apple Squares. I needed to bake something that I knew would be good and sweet. I spent the morning making more wheat thins and trying a new recipe for whole wheat pita pockets. I now know how long it will take to heat up my oven to 500 degrees and man it's a long while! Also found out it's not calibrated right with my new oven thermometer. You gotta have one of these if you're baking or cooking a lot. It's awesome, well only if it would stay put on the oven rack. Maybe Bike Boy could build me a small little contraption to hold it. Hmmm. He's already got one project going though, I think I might need to suffer for a bit. That darn thing tips over at the slightest movement. UGH. Maybe just maybe if I'm irritated enough...

Tomorrow I'm making cookies for the 12 weeks of cookies. I can't wait to make these little darlings! These darlings have two of my favorite things involved. Any guesses? Look for that post Friday morning.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall favorites

Finally fall weather has arrived in Texas! We had a drop in temperature of about 10 -15 degrees this morning and I have been inspired.
I visited one of my favorite stores this morning, Crate and Barrel, and found these pretty fall baking items. Nothing like new stuff to get you into the baking mood.
 
In honor of of fall, I am going to share one of my favorite fall items with you. My mother made this for me every fall and it is so good. It's Pumpkin Cake. I love pumpkin cake. I use buttercream frosting on top because I like the sweetness of the buttercream with the pumpkin but cream cheese frosting would be good too.

2 years ago, I made this for the kids in my first grade class when we were studying the different things made with pumpkins. It was their favorite and mine as well. I hope this makes it to your table this fall season.

Pumpkin Cake
recipe by: Midwestern girl with a Texas address and her momma

2 cups granulated sugar
4 medium eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups Libby's pumpkin
1 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, and oil. Beat well.
  3. Add baking soda, flour, salt, and cinnamon. Beat until just combined.
  4. Grease the sheet pan with butter or cooking spray.
  5. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean in the middle.
  6. Let cool and frost with icing of choice.

Menu Plan Mondays

It's Menu Plan Monday Day!

I'm loving this challenge for Bike Boy and myself. There is no "what are we having for dinner" back and forth each night and dinners run smoother than ever. I thank this website for inspiring me to write out a menu for the week. I'm linking this post to Laura's site in the morning. I hope to see a lot of interesting (and inspiring) menus for the week ahead. :)

We tried to follow the menu last week but it got all jumbled up. We didn't get to try the lemony chicken couscous recipe this past week. I'm guessing it just didn't sound as appealing to Bike Boy as I hoped. Oh well, I'll try to sneak some new recipes past him this week.

Onto this coming week. I can't believe it's almost October! I have my fall decorations out and can't wait to make some pumpkin treats come October1st.  Oh and my 12 weeks of cookies begins this week! Check back later this week for some super yummy treats.

Monday: Grilled Chicken with rice and vegetables

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Grilled Chicken Pita Pockets

Thursday: BBQ Chicken Pizza

Friday: Dinner out

Saturday: Bike Boy's Chili with homemade bread

Sunday: Lime marinated flank steak with potatoes.  I know, I know, beef! What am I thinking?!?!?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

In my quest for a thick and chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe, there were cookie failures galore. I actually had to throw away about 3 dozen cookies because I couldn't get them off the pan! They deflated as soon as the air hit them. These are not that recipe but that failure spawned a day of baking. I was determined to have chocolate chip cookies in this house. So I called my mom. Now, my grandmother was the baker in our family. My mom claims that I have her talents and it skipped her. However she has baked all her life and she must have some knowledge, right? Turns out, you should NEVER try to get butter room temp by putting the sticks in the microwave for 10 seconds. They cause the dough to spread. I think there was a lot more wrong with the original recipe but that was a big one. Just thought I'd share.

So we talked and came up with a recipe that I tried. Turned out a bit too cake-like and didn't spread at all. But they were edible. Yay! Onto the third (THIRD!) version. Bike Boy IM'ed me and asked how it was going and pointed me to some cooking websites explaining fats and how they work in baking. What can I say, Bike Boy IS an engineer. Problems are always solved by Google. Gotta love him. And Google.

So I created this recipe from the original failure and the second recipe my mom and I came up with. It was Bike Boy's favorite. He just had to compare the recipes and cookies.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wheat Thins

I love wheat thins. Bike Boy loves wheat thins. I hate the price. They have gotten so expensive. I had some time today and I thought why not? I need to get over the pretzel fiasco and keep trying new things. And this thing could save me money at the grocery store! How could I refuse?
I popped over to Finding Joy in my Kitchen and found that she had tried to make wheat thins. I was excited to see that and the recipe was so simple and easy. I couldn't screw that up, could I?

Here is the recipe:

Wheat Thins - from Finding Joy in my Kitchen
1 1/4 C whole wheat flour
1 T honey
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
2-3 T butter, melted (I used 3 tbsp)
1/4 C water
<1/4 tsp. vanilla (I used very little vanilla - a drop or two, didn't want them to have too much vanilla)

Combine the dry ingredients together, and then add in the honey, water, butter, and vanilla. Knead ingredients together until dough forms. Take the dough out of the mixer bowl and roll it out to about 1/8" thick. You want them to be as thin as possible. So really get in there and roll out the dough. Use those elbows! Work those biceps! Ok now that we have done our workout for the day, lay out the dough on a pan and cut into squares. I have a Pampered Chef rectangular sheet pan that I used. I just rolled the dough out on the pan and cut them into squares using a pizza cutter. Sprinkle salt on top of the dough.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until crispy. Don't let them get too crispy because they will continue baking for a short time after you take them out of the oven.

Monday, September 20, 2010

BBQ Chicken Pizza

This was my first attempt at a Pioneer Woman recipe and it was amazing. If you haven't checked out her blog, it's a must. Bike Boy and I made this this past weekend together in the kitchen. Recipe

I made the dough earlier in the day and let it sit in the fridge until we were ready for dinner. We kind of made a lot of chicken for the pizza but protein is good for ya, right? Here are some pictures of our adventure of homemade pizza making.

Dough with fresh mozzarella, bbq chicken, and red onions


Fresh out of the oven, added fresh cilantro on top. Oh and by the way, we're growing fresh cilantro on our windowsill. Just thought I'd throw that out there. 



Up close and personal with the pizza. OMG, don't you want a slice? I do, I think we'll definitely be making this again. And again. And again. It was that good. 

Menu Plan Mondays

It's time for Menu Plan Mondays!

I have to admit it, I love making a plan for the week. There is rarely the "what do you want for dinner?" back and forth that makes me want to pull my hair out or Bike Boy's hair. We had none of that frustration this week and we had a full week of healthy food with no running up to Chick Fil A because of indecisiveness. Yay us!
So again we try this menu planning and it's linked on Menu Plan Mondays @ orgjunkie.com. I'm number 100!



Sunday: Grilled Chicken Sandwiches

Monday: Chicken Cacciatore Subs

Tuesday: Baked Penne with Meat Sauce and Garlic Bread

Wednesday: Chicken Tenders and Baked Waffle Fries

Thursday: Pork Tenderloin with Peas and Rice. I recently discovered my love for peas. Try it, you'll fall in love with them.

Friday: (this one might get changed but we shall see how adventurous Bike Boy wants to be) Lemony Couscous with Peas and Chicken

Looking at this week's list, can you tell we really don't eat beef? :) I like chicken, I really do.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I love this marinade!

Grilled Honey-Lime Chicken Sandwiches
from Rachel Ray
Marinade:
Juice of 1 lime about 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons of honey (a good drizzle)
A handful of cilantro
1 rounded teaspoon of cumin - I used about 2 or 3. I love this spice!
A handful of cilantro. I used dried cilantro but fresh would probably be better.

Coat chicken with marinade and coat for about 20 minutes. Rachel Rays say 10 but I like more flavor. :)
Grill chicken on the grill and slice. Use on sandwiches and enjoy with lettuce, tomatoes, and onions.

Cookie Challenge 2010

I'm so excited to say that I am doing a 12 week cookie challenge starting on October 1st. AbbySweets @ http://abbysweets.blogspot.com/ is hosting it and I'm super excited. 12 weeks of cookies. Oh my, that's a lot of cookies. And a lot of new recipes to try. Any ideas of cookies to try? I'm thinking mint chocolate chip cookies, homemade oreos, and that's as far as I got. :) The peanut butter cookies I made this past week went over so well at Bike Boy's work that he's becoming popular. I guess it couldn't hurt to be the Bike Boy with Baked Goods. :) But don't tell him that.
Got lots of to do today; update the blog with the BBQ Chicken Pizza we made Friday night, make a menu plan for the week and get that posted, a play and dinner with some friends, find some cookie recipes for the challenge, and make dessert.

Happy Sunday!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas



I was surprised that Bike Boy agreed to this recipe since he doesn't like cheese so much. Cheese sauce is totally out of the question for us! He will eat a little bit of cheese so I knew these were going to be a challenge. It actually turned out well and while they were not too cheesy they were fabulous! My recipe was based on a recipe from Annie's Eats.




Thursday, September 16, 2010

Peanut Butter Mini Bites

 Peanut Butter Mini Bites (You could call them peanut butter cookies too)
adapted from Annie's Eats: http://annies-eats.com
Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup vegetable shortening
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature. I used I can't believe it's not butter sticks.
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup of  honey
2 large eggs


Kitchen failures

I spent most of the day yesterday in the kitchen trying to make homemade pretzels from an Alton Brown recipe. I followed the recipe to the "T" and did everything right and my goodness they were not good. Maybe it was the lack of pretzel salt or the whole wheat flour. Maybe it was me. But I kept them out to see what Bike Boy had to say. He eats all my failures and encourages me to keep trying. He'll be positive, right? WRONG!!!! Bike Boy took a bite of one of my attempts and said nothing. NOTHING! That, my friends, is not a good sign. I think he might break a tooth if he tries another.

They were unevenly cooked so parts were tough as nails and parts were way soft. Hmmm, one good thing came out of though. My pretzel making technique is pretty good. See???

You don't even want to see my attempts at the soft pretzel recipe. They don't even look like pretzels. Soft blobs of dough. Hopefully today's adventures will come out better.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

where's the beef?

I admit it, I don't really eat red meat that much. I like chicken. And turkey. When we go to the BBQ restaurant I order turkey, not ribs or brisket but TURKEY! Okay, maybe sometimes I like a half chicken. I don't even like to use and eat ground meat. I use ground turkey.This is huge for me, making beef in my kitchen. Hasn't happened in years.

Now you know my big secret. One my mother would fall over from. She loves a good steak and growing up, we always had beef for dinner. Have I forgotten I live in Texas??
Okay back to the recipe at hand. I forgot to buy soy sauce at the store this past week so we used a boxed noodle kit. Don't laugh or chide. I was tired and apparently meal planning is still too new for me. Gotta try harder next week. :)
I even took a picture of the box. Dedication right there. :)
Bike Boy did all the cooking on this one. :) Love him, taking over my kitchen. So I played with food shots. I'm still trying to learn how to take pictures of food.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ugh

I need a cupcake and darn it there aren't any already made in the house. And Bike Boy's coming home soon to go to the gym so that would be wrong. Eating a cupcake BEFORE the gym. They're the reward after going, right? I need a personal motivator: get your butt off the computer and go to the crowded and smelly gym! I think I would suck as a motivator.
I think Bike Boy will be a better motivator. Hopefully. Or maybe not.

Menu Plan Mondays

It's Menu Plan Monday!
http://orgjunkie.com/menu-plan-monday










Monday: Beef and Vegetable Stirfry with Brown Rice

Tuesday: Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Wednesday: Pork Tacos (carnitas) with Black Beans

Thursday: Grilled Chicken Quesadillas from Annie's Eats
https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1AcJ8e4eqSBq_mfRfJn-dMWkHaynp1Azqx18pu3QzCqo

Friday: Early dinner out with former co-workers. Bike Boy's on his own! We'll see what creation he comes up with.

Saturday: Dinner Party with friends. Making Longhorn Cupcakes for them. I'm also making some black bean and corn dip. 

Sunday: ??

I'll post pictures and recipes throughout the week.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fall Cookies

We had a small taste of fall this week as Hermine brought rain and cooler temps to Texas. The cooler weather (and I'm talking highs in the lower 80's) made me miss Indiana in the fall. I thought some fall cookies would help get us in the mood for fall. Bike boy wants summer to last forever and is resisting all things fall for as long as he can. So my fall decorations sit in the attic untouched for a couple more weeks BUT he's at work when I bake so...here come fall cookies!!
I popped over to Bridget's blog: bake@350.blogspot.com and found her fall cookie recipe. She made pumpkins with the dough which are super cute.
 http://bakeat350.blogspot.com/2009/11/brown-sugar-and-spice-cut-out-cookies.html
I didn't want to make pumpkins yet so I decided on some footballs and leaves. What says fall better? Nothing (except maybe pumpkins but we'll wait til closer to October for those) I love fall and football! :)

And my Purdue Boilermakers won today so yay!! I think I'll keep some football cookies around during the season. :)
Here are pictures of my cookies. They are my best icing so far thanks to the tutorials on University of Cookie and Sweetopia.

Undecorated: 

Decorated:


They're still pretty plain but they have to set for a while before I can add detailing. Don't want the colors to bleed!

Blessings ya'll! Enjoy the rest of your Saturday! I'm rooting for Michigan and heading out to the gym.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Italian Caprese Salad

Lunch today was so yummy! I went to the grocery store and noticed that our local grocery store had fresh mozzarella cheese and heirloom tomatoes on sale. I immediately thought Caprese Salad. I grabbed the basil and balsamic vinegar and headed home.
I searched online to make sure I was on the right track and found a recipe on Food Network that I adapted.
Here is the link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ciao-america-with-mario-batali/paulas-mozzarella-and-tomato-salad-recipe/index.html

My adaption:
A handful of small tomatoes chopped in quarters
6 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese sliced
3 leaves of fresh basil leaves chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dash of balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New cookbook coming!

Yay! My mom called today and told me she sent me a big box of stuff one of which was a new cookbook! It's from VFW in my hometown. My grandfather was an active member of the VFW when he was alive and I am so excited to own a cookbook from his VFW Post (number 985). I can't wait to see what kind of goodies are in this cookbook.

Chicken Zucchini Spaghetti

We are still eating the treats I made this weekend, so I'm on restricted baking until the rest of the goodies are gone. :(  So I'll have to settle for blogging about dinner. :)
I love this recipe for dinner because it's so easy and quick!

Chicken Zucchini Spaghetti
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can of zucchini in sauce (found in the vegetable aisle)
1 can of Hunt's tomato sauce
Enough spaghetti for 2 servings
1 palmful of oregano, basil, and italian seasonings
salt and pepper to taste

Cook spaghetti as directed.
Meanwhile, saute chicken strips in pan until no pink is showing.
Season with salt and pepper to taste
Add tomato sauce and zucchini to chicken
Add seasonings (oregano, basil, and italian) and let cook for about 5 minutes.
When spaghetti is al dente, drain and add to chicken mixture.
Mix all together

Serve and enjoy!

Mexican Lasagna

We tried something new Monday and developed a new little recipe based on some inspiration from a new cookbook. I love cookbooks with pictures. :)

Mexican Lasagna
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 can of black beans, drained
1 cup of frozen corn
1 cup of salsa and 1/4 cup reserved for top of casserole
4 burrito sized tortilla shells
1 tablespoon of fresh cilantro
Shredded Cheese

Saute the chicken until there is no pink showing.
Add black beans and corn and saute for 3-4 minutes.
Add salsa and cilantro to mix and cook for 3 minutes

In a oven safe casserole dish, place one tortilla shell on the bottom
Top with chicken mixture and a handful of cheddar cheese
Layer another tortilla on top of cheese and repeat with chicken mixture and cheese until you have used up all the chicken mixture.


Add some salsa and cheese to the top and bake at 350 for about 5 -10 minutes until the cheese is nice and melty. :)

Sorry the picture is not so great. It was extremely hard to cut and pull this out of our oven dish neatly. But I liked using the round dish because the chicken mixture didn't move and shift as it could of in a square baking dish. If only they may rectangular tortilla shells. It was very yummy, tacos in a casserole!

Happy Eating!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Banana - Chocolate Chip Bread

Anyone who knows me knows I love college sports, especially Purdue football and basketball. Yesterday, I decided to get in the black and gold mood with a banana and chocolate chip bread recipe. So I searched online and sound a few recipes that seemed okay but definitely needed some tweaking. I found the following recipe at allrecipe.com and modified it slightly.

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread
1 stick of butter
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
3 mashed bananas
2 tsp vanilla extract (I used Mexican vanilla I got from a friend)
2 cups of flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Cream butter and sugar together.
2. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and bananas. Blend well.
3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, soda, and salt. Stir until just combined.
4. Add in dry ingredients about a 1/2 cup at a time.
5. Fold in chocolate chips.
6. Place batter in a greased loaf pan, I used a regular 9x5x3 size BUT it did require a longer bake time.
7. Bake at 350 for 60-70 minutes. Mine took about 75-80 minutes however my loaf is very thick.
8. Optional: I covered the loaf pan with foil for the first 30 minutes so the bread would not burn on the top. I uncovered it for the last 30 and recovered for the last 10 minutes.


I don't think I'll be making this every gameday since they lost yesterday. At least, it looks pretty. Tastes pretty good too.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Margarita Chicken Stir Fry

Last night a rarity happened, hubby and I made dinner instead of getting fast food. We have had this tradition for a few months of going to Chick Fil-A every Thursday because we couldn't decide what to have for dinner.

Dinner conversations on Thursdays usually go like this:
me: What do you feel like for dinner?
him: I don't know, what do you want for dinner?
(repeat 5 times at various 5 minute intervals, staring at the pantry)
And then we usually see the clock and run up to Chick Fil-A drive thru.
BUT last night was different, we actually both ended up in the kitchen prepping and cooking dinner. Yay, 1 point for us in breaking our rut!

Here's what we had for dinner:

Margarita Chicken Stirfry
adapted from Betty Crocker
1/2 cup margarita mix ( I used a premade mix)


1/2 pound of skinless chicken breast


1 medium green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1 cup uncooked instant brown rice
1 cup water

  1. In large ziploc bag, add chicken and mix; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  2. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Cook chicken for 5 minutes until no pink is shown.
  3. Add green and red bell peppers and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add some margarita mix and cilantro and cook for 4 minutes until mix is cooked down.
  4. Meanwhile, cook rice in water as directed on package. Serve stir-fry over rice.




Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Apple turnovers or are they?

Here are some apple turnovers I made today. They aren't really so much turnovers as I had a huge problem with my homemade dough and breaking as I was pinching the dough together. So I decided to make one giant square and cut them into smaller bites. I'm going to have work on my turnover techniques.

Today was certainly a learning experience. At least they taste good.
 

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