Tuesday, April 30, 2013

5K and Cookies

A week ago, David was on call Friday night.  So, K and I made cookies.  I had in mind that we'd make a specific recipe for it called for chilling the dough and we didn't have time for that (or at least not if I was going to let K have a cookie before bed) so I asked her what she wanted to make.
 "Emmie-M cookies!"  Hmmm...we had JUST made "Emmie-M" cookies and I had seen a peanut butter cookie recipe I wanted to make.  Compromise...use the recipe I want and add M&M's. 
Once again, I found the recipe on Pinterest.  It is peanut butter with cream cheese added to it.  Let me just tell you...it makes for a GOOD peanut butter cookie!  Nice and soft.  That Saturday morning, we got up bright and early to make the treck to my home town and walk in a 5K.  We walked with my friend and her little boy while her husband ran.  We both ended up getting 2nd and 3rd in our age division...while pushing 3-year olds in strollers.
  I thought that was pretty good!  Anyway, I took some to them and her husband commended later that the cookies were really good.  I think I'd agree.  TOTALLY recommend these!

Cream Cheese Peanut Butter "Emmie-M" Cookies adapted from Miss in the Kitchen
3 oz Nufchatel cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup M&M's
1/3 cup sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large mixer bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and peanut butter together until smooth.  With the mixer on low, add eggs one at a time, mixing until combined.  Add vanilla, 1/2 cup sugar and brown sugar, beating until all incorporated.  Add flour and baking soda and mix until combined.  Stir in M&M's.

Add 1/3 cup sugar to a small bowl.  Scoop cookie dough into rounds and roll in sugar.  Place on a lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  Smash cookie dough balls cross-wise with a large tined fork.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies just start to brown.  Cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheets and then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Apples All Around

We had a bag of apples in the fridge and David requested that I make apple pie or turnovers or something apple while we have so many apples.  So, last week I made an apple turnover cake. 

K helped me and kept calling it a birthday cake!  :-)  Unfortunately, due to the candy incident, she couldn't have any (did finally get some right before we finished it) but did great when I told her no.  This is very easy to make.  I didn't have any applesauce and just left it out.  I thought the cake was a "tad" dry, so I think the applesauce would have helped with that.  Only used about 2 apples and I thought it could use more.  Try it for yourself.  Would make a good breakfast cake.  :-) 

Apple Turnover Cake adapted from Nerdy Baker

For Filling:
1 heaping cup of sliced apples (I used 2 apples)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons water

1/2 cup brown sugar (I used a 1/4 cup each of dark and light)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For Cake:
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar (I used splenda)
1/2 cup applesauce (didn't use)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sour cream (I used fat free...originally called for greek yogurt)

For Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons milk


For filling:  Make your filling by combining apples, sugar, water, cinnamon and cornstarch in a small saucepan.  Cook on low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly until the sauce is thickend and the apples are a bit soft.  Set aside to cool.  In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together until well combined and set aside.
For Cake:  Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease and flour a 9×13 baking dish.  Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add applesauce (if using) and vanilla and mix till combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the dry ingredients together.  Add the dry ingredients to the batter in three parts alternating with the yogurt in two parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat until just combined. Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan.  Spoon the cooled apple mixture over the batter carefully and spread as evenly as possible.  Sprinkle 2/3 of brown sugar cinnamon mixture over apples and cover with the rest of the batter.  Sprinkle the rest of the brown sugar cinnamon mixture over the top. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

For Glaze:  While the cake is baking, make the glaze.  In a bowl, mix the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk until the glaze is desired consistency.  When the cake comes out of the oven, immediately but carefully pour onto hot cake.  Try to pour as evenly as possible.  You might have to pick up the cake and tilt it to spread the glaze evenly.  I even poured some out that pooled at the corners and repoured that over the top.  Let the cake sit for awhile for the glaze to set.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

No Meat on the Menu...at Least Some

In the aforementioned menu planning, I am trying to have at least one meatless meal.  Before David and I got married...well, actually before David and I started dating almost all of my meals were meat free unless I had fish or ate out.  It just wasn't worth buying for one person...and I prefer meatless most of the time.  David and K, however, love meat!  So, I'm doing my best to make us all happy but still healthy. 

We're done a good bit of bean burgers because they both like beans.  Our most recent one was a white bean burger from How Sweet It Is.  One thing that drew me to it was quinoa.  I haven't used it much but know it's good.    Needed a little more seasoning but was good.  Definitely one I'd repeat!

 Red Pepper Quinoa Burgers

Total Time: 30 minutes

1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup chopped red peppers
1 tsp dried, minced garlic
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 whole wheat bun, toasted
for topping: whatever you want!

In a small bowl, mix together bread crumbs, basil, paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, add beans and mash coarsely with a fork. Stir in quinoa, garlic and roasted red peppers, mixing well to combine. Add in bread crumb mixture and egg, mixing well to moisten. Once combined, add in the flour and mix well. Form into patties of desired size.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Press each quinoa ball into a large patty, being careful to press the sides together so they don't fall apart while cooking. Add to skillet and cook until golden and crisp on each side, about five minutes. Serve immediately on toasted buns with your favorite toppings! Enjoy! (reheats well, too)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Easy Biscuits - Homemade is Best!

There is something about homemade biscuits that is so much better than canned.  I made some a few weeks ago to go with a pork loin that I put in the crock pot (turned out good, too!  Some Worchestershire sauce, a can of cream of asparagus soup, and seasoning overnight).  Found some on pinterest that are from Cooking Light.  They were called fool proof.  Mine were a bit flatter than I'd like but they tasted really good!  David took them to work for breakfast for a few days.  K enjoyed them, of course.  I figure they only add about 5-10 minutes to prep time, so I'll do them over canned.  :-)

Foolproof Biscuits from Cooking Light, November 2008

9 oz (about 2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3/4 cup cold buttermilk
3 tablespoons honey

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter cubes, and use a pastry cutter (or your fingertips, if you'd rather) to cut in the butter until the pieces are no bigger than peas - the mixture should resemble coarse meal. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, whisk together the buttermilk and honey in a measuring cup. Add to the bowl with the butter/flour mixture and stir gently just until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently about 3-4 times to bring it together. The dough may still be a little crumbly, that's fine. Roll the dough into a 9x5-inch rectangle about 1/2-inch thick. Fold the dough into thirds like a business letter (using the long sides of the rectangle). Once again, roll the dough into a 9x5-inch rectangle about 1/2-inch thick, and again fold it into thirds like a letter. Roll the dough out to 3/4-inch thickness (the shape doesn't really matter). Using a 1 3/4-inch round cutter, cut biscuits from the dough (don't twist the cutter, use a straight up and straight down motion) and transfer to the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch of space between them. (I gathered the scraps and cut more biscuits once or twice to get as many as possible.)

Bake for about 11-12 minutes, or until the biscuits have risen and are golden brown on top. Remove the baking sheet and transfer the biscuits to a wire rack. Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve warm. Or, if you won't be serving immediately, pop them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds when you are ready.

Makes 12-14 biscuits

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Cookie Cake to Be Careful With

A coupe of weekends ago, we had a garage sale.  Two days before, we had a wedding shower for a girl at work.  I made a sugar cookie cake that I saw on Pinterest.  It was a fun spring cookie cake.  

I used Easter M&M's, Easter candy corn for the candy.  It turned out really good.  My favorite bites had candy corn!  :-)  I had some M&M's left over as well as a couple of pieces of cake.  I put both in the same container.  The morning of the garage sale, I got K's breakfast ready. 
A little while later, I went in the check on her and noticed that the container with the leftover cake was gone...hmmmm.  I found the cookie on her plate and an empty container....NO M&M'S!  Then I found an empty Christmas mini-M&M tube in her bed.  "K, did you eat this candy?!" (We had a big discussion about asking mama and daddy about candy before eating it the week before)  Wide eyes....wait....wait...very small nod.  Sigh.....long story short, she snuck candy and rolls and brownies three times that same day!  Oh my!  After a week of no treats, I hope she's learned her lesson!  We'll see!  :-)  All that said...try this cookie cake.  It's really good!  Just be aware that your little one might try to eat any leftovers without you knowing!

1  roll (16.5 oz) refrigerated sugar cookies
2  cups miniature marshmallows
1  cup spring-colored candy-coated chocolate candies
1/2  cup spring-colored miniature jelly beans (or candy corn!)
Heat oven to 350°F. Line 12-inch pizza pan with foil; grease foil with shortening. Cut cookie dough into 1/4-inch slices; arrange evenly in pan. With floured fingers, press slices to form crust.  Bake 16 to 20 minutes or until deep golden brown. Immediately sprinkle marshmallows evenly over warm base. Bake 1 to 2 minutes longer or until marshmallows just begin to puff. Cool 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ravishing Rice

I've taken to making a weekly menu...it helps me stay sane!  You should see me if I don't have a plan.  David will ask what we're having to eat and I just shuffle around the kitchen, opening cupboards, sighing, groaning, pouting...it's not a pretty picture!  A few weeks ago I made this dish that my mom once made for my brother.  It didn't quite turn out how I wanted but David said it was good, K liked it, so we will keep it on the list.  It is a dish with rice, sausage, peppers, and chicken noodle soup.  I used brown rice, which I think was the downfall.  When I pulled it out of the oven, I could tell the rice wasn't done; so I added more liquid and cooked it for 30 more minutes...still a bit "al dente"...if rice can be that.  We still ate it.  I also used Jimmy Dean turkey sausage crumbles...that part was a success.  Not sure it was ravishing but it was good.

Ravishing Rice
1 pound hot sausage (or one package Jimmy Dean Turkey sausage)
1 very large onion, minced
1 medium bell pepper, minced
2- T chopped fresh parsley
3-4 chopped green onion
5 1/2 cups boiling liquid (1 can chicken broth and water to yield 5 1/2 cups)
2 envelopes dried Lipton chicken noodle soup
1 cup raw rice (If you use brown you have to increase the liquid a good bit and increase the cook time)

Preheat oven to 350. Crumble sausage into pan and cook until about 1/4 of the sausage is crisp brown. Add celery and pepper to saute, then add onions and continue to saute until meat is cooked or onions soft (if using precooked sausage).

In another pan, bring liquid to a boil, add rice plus 2 envelopes soup. Cook 7 minutes covered. DO NOT DRAIN.   Mix all ingredients together into 2 small or 1 large casserole dish. (will be soupy) Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Do not over cook. May not be brown on top. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Easter Bars

When we were scheduling March, D wanted to do some extra work.  I told him, okay...just not on our wedding (HA!), honeymoon (impossible), or Easter.  That left one weekend...the one after we got back.  It really was fine because I wanted him here for our first Easter as a family. 
I'm really used to making a "special" Sunday lunch for Easter but our church is 40 minutes from home and the service ends at noon.  K would not make it until after that.  So, we just had a laid back weekend. 
K dyed Easter eggs, played ballerina, had an indoor egg hunt.
We ate lunch at a new-to-us Mexican restaurant...it was pretty good.  Will add it to our Sunday rotation.  Later on Sunday, I made a "special" Easter dessert.  One of D's favorite candy is Cadbury eggs.  I had seen a recipe on Picky-Palate for a Cadbury Egg Cookie Bar....um, D would totally LOVE these! 
They were easy and he did love them...so did the rest of the peds residents.  Don't worry!  I left him some at home before taking the rest away to be devoured.  So, if you find yourself with leftover Cadbury eggs, try this one out!  That inside creme just melts into deliciousness in these bars.   

 (and now D is revealed!)

Cadbury Egg Cookie Bars adapted from Picky-Palate
1 stick/1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 
1 box yellow cake mix 
1 large egg  
1 cup mini chocolate chips 
5 Cadbury Eggs, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line a 9×13 inch baking dish with foil that’s been sprayed with cooking spray.  Place butter, cake mix, egg, oil and chocolate chips into a large mixing bowl, stirring to combine into dough. Gently stir in chopped Cadbury Eggs to combine. Transfer dough to prepared baking dish and press evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes until baked through. Let cool for 30 minutes before cutting into squares. Enjoy!

Makes 24 squares (or about 72 tiny cubes....ha!)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Night Before

After the Bridesmaids' Luncheon, mama and I went to the nail salon to get a pedicure and manicure.  I ended up doing my toes....BLUE!  I couldn't believe it but figured this was the only time I'd do it...so I went for it.  Totally fun! 
We then got ready for the rehearsal, which went well.  After the rehearsal, D's parents hosted a dinner at a nice local restaurant.  THAT is quite the story.  We hadn't heard from the guy for a while and he wouldn't send us the new menu.  So, finally, after trying to communicate with him several times, D called..."um, he doesn't work here anymore."  Basically, everything he had told us....was WRONG!  Thankfully, no other bookings had been made and the restaurant was great working with us to set everything up in a week.  They even brought me a different dessert since the "planned" dessert was chocolate and I'm just not a huge chocolate fan.  (I think my dessert was better anyway!  Some sort of praline cheesecake...yum!).  The main courses were halibut or steak.  The fish was fantastic!
 Later, I surprised D and sang him a song - My Own True Love, from Gone with the Wind.  My mom and I have talked about how I would sing that to my future husband at our rehearsal dinner for YEARS....so when mama offered to record the accompaniment so I could do it, I said yes.  D was surprised...and I made it through!  :-) 

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Day Before

A month ago today I married, my sweet husband!  In that time, we've barely had a chance to stop.  Life is busy!  Thankfully, I did get to stop for about a week and enjoy things.  The Friday before the wedding, my precious Sunday school teacher (who has been such a present influence in my life even before Sunday school) along with her sister, our pastor's wife, and one of my best friend's mom held a bridesmaids' luncheon. 

It was fantastic!  The little touches were just everywhere from the monogrammed door hanging
to the monogrammed napkins
to the menus (tailored to what I would like)
to the special bride's chair
to the Bible verses that each of my bridesmaids read, including one specifically special to me and D. 

It was the perfect way to start a perfect weekend!  Thanks so much Mrs. Vickie, Mrs. Wanda, Mrs. Susan, and Mrs. Denise!

The fritatta was actually "my" fritatta.  I really must pull out that recipe again, it's so good! 

Guess it'll need to be when D isn't around to eat.  I think he'd make funny faces if he ate this.  The cake was a banana walnut caramel cake. OH MY WORD!  Can I just say DIVINE! 

I wanted to eat the entire large piece but refrained because I knew there was a yummy dinner coming later that night...and it was delicious!  (I actually have the recipe for the rolls pictured above. I'll have to find it and post it...they are some of the best...and make great cinnamon rolls, too!)

Garden Frittata
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 onion, diced
1-2 tomatoes (I like Roma the best)
4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons parsley
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup feta cheese
1 cup low fat mozzarella (you can use less if you want)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put prepared squash, zucchini, and onion in a microwave safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Put bowl in the microwave and cook on high for 7-9 minutes. Drain these vegetables and pour them into the bottom of a pie pan. Place slices of tomato on top of the squash. Sprinkle mozzarella on top and then top with feta. Whisk together eggs, milk, garlic, salt, pepper, and parsley. Pour over the vegetables...slowly, to be sure that it doesn't run over. Place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes. Allow to set for 5 minutes before serving.