Monday, February 27, 2012

Quick Breads

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles. 
I was really a bit excited about this.  Some of the recipes that we were provided with looked really good.  I planned to make several of them.  The third of the month, I decided I would try the cream cheese pumpkin loaf.  My loaf came out dense gummy.  WHY do I have such trouble recently with quick breads?!  I used to make them with no problems, so good.  I had to throw away two loaves of bread.  That one...a fail. 

For my birthday, I decided to make some banana bread to take to work...and apparently forgot to take a picture.  Oops! When I walked in with bread I was asked if I made it.  When I said yes, D gave me a look like "you shouldn't bake for other people on your birthday!"   Why?  I liked it.  ;-)  When I made this one, I just threw things together.  I forgot to put the egg in and didn't realize it until I was finished; it turned out fine.  The bread was gone by lunch time.  I call that one a success. 

The next one I tried was a ricotta cheese chocolate muffin (follow link for picture...again, forgot to take one! Bad blogger!)  I found the recipe a while back and thought D might like it.  I used cottage cheese and was trying to use baker's chocolate, but it re-solidified when I added it to the butter so had to add some cocoa.  I wasn't sure how they were but D said they were good heated...sometimes I wonder if he's just being nice!  ;-)

 The last one I tried was a bit different but I liked it.  This is a buttermilk quick bread which turns out to be a good bread for soup.  I've been telling D that I'm going to make sourdough bread, but that requires me to make a starter.  Unfortunately, I don't know if that will happen this month.  So, I thought I'd try something that might be a little close.  Well, it's not exactly sourdough bread, but it was good.  The texture is dense and almost....ALMOST...cornbread like but not grainy.  I do think that I overcooked it a tad.  I did my "I know what time I put it in the oven so I won't set a timer" thing.  Then I actually got distracted.....CLEANING!  All of a sudden I remembered the bread! 

The inside was still nice and soft and the edges were firm.  I enjoyed it as did D.  I'd make it again.  This was such a fun challenge. I really wish my pumpkin bread had worked.  Will probably try that recipe again sometime along with the lemon bread recipe.  REALLY wanted to try this one but didn't get to make bread this past weekend since I was out of town.  Thanks for a fun challenge, Lis!

Chocolate Chunk Ricotta Muffins
1 cup cottage cheese
 2 eggs 
1 1/3 cup milk
 1 T. vanilla extract
4 T. unsalted butter melted and cooled
 2 cups flour 
1 1/4 cup sugar
 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
 2 tsp. baking powder 
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chunks or chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin pan with cooking spray (love the one with flour in it). In a medium size mixing bowl whisk the ricotta cheese with eggs until well mixed. Add the butter.  Whisk in milk and vanilla and set aside. In a large mixing bowl sift all the dry ingredients together to get out any lumps. Stir together the dry ingredients so the cocoa powder is incorporated well.  Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined, do not over mix, then fold in chocolate chips.

  Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full because of the ricotta being heavier they will not rise as high as normal muffins would, so they need to be filled 3/4 full.  Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. When the muffins come out of oven let cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto cooling rack. Enjoy!
Makes: 9 large muffins or 16 regular size muffins.

Buttermilk Quick Bread from Cooking Light on My Recipes
9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups) 
2 tablespoons sugar
 1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk 
1/4 cup butter (I used oil) 
large egg whites (I used 1/4 cup packaged egg whites)

Preheat oven to 350°. Measure flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk, butter, and egg whites, stirring with a whisk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Pour batter into an 8 x 4–inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Brownies for Kim

So, I made these brownies from Dine and Dish recently. I can't remember why I made them, though I think I took them with me when I was on call.  Yes, yes...I'm pretty sure I took them with me when I was "playing intern" the end of last month.  The on call resident is one of the PGY2's who says that she always looks to see when I'm on call...knowing that means call treats!  I couldn't let her down, so I made these.  Around 11pm, she still hadn't eaten even though we HAD had a chance to eat...I mean, I had eaten supper in the midst of admissions.  Anyway, she finally had some and I think it helped make the night better.  These were definitely good but were a taaaad more crusty than I prefer...I'm a big fudgy/chewy kind of girl.  Try them out for yourself!

The "Best" Brownies from Dine and Dish through
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350.  Place all ingredients into a mixer and combine thoroughly. Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Pour brownie batter into the baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Taco Salad - How you Like it

Here's another "satisfy everyone" meal.  One of D's favorites is tacos...or taco "salad."  My version of salad and his version, however, are quite different!  In my version, the base is stuff.  His version...chips! (This would be my dad's and brother's version as well!) 

I made basic taco meat with beef and taco seasoning.  Then I also heated up some beans and seasoned them with cumin and seasoning salt.  Then you just top it with whatever you want.  I put some avacado, tomato, sauteed pepper and onions, beans, and salsa on mine. 

D had meat, cheese, peppers, and...a few pieces of lettuce!  K ate beans, meat, and lettuce.  She tried some avacado but wasn't a fan.  We can keep took me years before I realized I liked it!  I was just excited that she tried...big deal for a two year old!

Taco Salad for All
1 pound ground beef (85/15)
1 pack taco seasoning
1/2 yellow, red, and orange bell peppers - sliced
1 onion - sliced
1 can beans, your favorite variety
seasoning salt
sour cream/yogurt

Brown beef.  Add taco seasoning as instructed on package.  At the same time, saute the peppers and onions; add some cumin for a bit of seasoning.  After the peppers are done, remove and place the drained beans in the pan.  Season with cumin and seasoning salt to taste.  Cook until warm.  When all this is ready - make your salad!  Start with lettuce or chips - depending on which type salad you want and build from there.  Above all, enjoy your dinner and company!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Better Than Starbucks

Happy Valentines Day!!!  I hope that everyone has had a good day.  Valentines Day is a day to celebrate everyone you love...and those that love you.  I'm so thankful for the love that my parents have given me since day 1...and for the love that they have exhibited to each other in front of me.  Such godly example for me!  I'm also thankful for the new Valentine in my life, D!  What a sweet encourager he is, kind to everyone, and such a great Daddy to Miss K.  He even brought flowers to my door this morning before he went to work.  :-) 

The most important love, though, that any of us can experience is the love that Jesus showed when He came to sacrifice Himself for us, so that we, even though separated from God by sin, could be reunited with Him. His love is full, complete, and unconditional...He wants us to come to Him as we are and trust Him for all we need.  The greatest love EVER!

I think that chocolate covered strawberries are great and decided that I should take a sweet treat to work today.  I decided to take chocolate covered strawberry cake balls.  They were very easy to make and quite well received by my co-workers.

 During a meeting this afternoon, one of the program directors ate something along the line of six of them!  One of the chiefs said I didn't let him down.  Then, before I left, a fellow resident grabbed one more.  She said that she had become addicted to Starbucks' cake pops...but that these were even better!  Woo Hoo!  I LOVE when my treats are well received.  These would be really fun to use for baby showers as well.  Since you are combining the cake with icing, you can use the low-fat version of the cake without any qualms.  Any way to lighten things up even just a little is good...and doesn't have to make the taste any different.  So, grab your favorite cake and icing and make some little treats for the ones you love!

Cake Balls
favorite cake mix, baked per package instructions (I used strawberry)
1 can ready to spread icing/frosting - choose a flavor to compliment your cake (I used cream cheese)
dipping chocolate (I stocked up on these after Christmas...still have 7 packages to use!)

Prepare cake per package instructions.  Feel free to use low fat version as you'll be adding plenty of sugar and fat with the icing.  Cool for about 30 minutes.  Crumble cake into a mixer bowl.  Add in icing and then mix for about two minutes.  Place into refrigerator for 2 hours.  Remove and roll into walnut sized balls.  Place on waxed paper on a cookie sheet. 

After forming all the cake into balls, place the pan into the freezer for about 1 hour.  When ready, melt the dipping chocolate and coat the balls in chocolate, replacing on the waxed paper.  The chocolate should harden quickly, but they are better when they are refrigerated some.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 10, 2012


Go ahead!  Sock-it-to-me!  Yes, I turned 29 on Tuesday.  Yes, I only have one more year in this decade.  Oh it goes.  Time keeps moving, and we get older.  I'm so thankful for the ways God continues to show His goodness and grace to me.  It is so exciting to see how He works daily and to learn more about His character.  How else can you sock-it-to-me?  Make a cake! 

When D picked me up on Sunday to go to church, he walked in with a cake wondering if he should still take it to Sunday school because one area had a little too much flour on it.  YES!  Of course, you should.  It looks and smells great!  When we were walking in, he said that he made it to celebrate my birthday.  SO sweet!  Made me feel so special.

And to top it all was REALLY good!!  So moist and yummy spices.  Oddly enough, my favorite part of cakes like this is the bottom part that sticks to the plate when you take pieces off. You know, the ooey gooey part?  YES!  A perfect cake to start off a fun birthday celebration!  Thank you, D!

Sock-It-To-Me Cake from Southern Hospitality Cookbook
1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) butter

1 cup pecans, chopped
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour (or use Pam with flour) a tube or bundt pan. Mix cake mix, sugar, eggs, sour cream, butter, pecans, and vanilla.  Pour half of this batter into the prepared pan.  Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon.  Pour on top of batter in the pan.  Top this with the remaining batter.  Bake for 55 minutes in preheated oven.  Remove when cake tester comes out clean.  Enjoy!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Puppy Paws or Turtles?

When my parents came for Christmas, Mama brought some little treats with her.  We love snacks in my family...especially at Thanksgiving/Christmas! 

This year, instead of her typical toffee, she made a new candy...pretzel turtles.  I had seen this before but never made it.  Mama was super excited about them; and I must admit, they were pretty good...and simple.  You just take a pretzel, the traditionally shaped kind, and put a rolo on top.  Then you put those in the oven for just a few minutes, enough to soften the candy.

You remove it from the oven, then press a pecan half into the candy...allow to cool and you have pretzel turtle....or puppy paws, depending on how you look at them!  :-)

Pretzel Turtles
mini twisted pretzels
rolo candy
pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Take the desired number of pretzels and place them on a cookie sheet.  Unwrap the same number of rolo candies and place them on top of the pretzels.  Place the sheet carefully in the oven and bake for 4 minutes.  Remove from the oven and place a pecan half on each candy, pressing down slightly.  Allow the candy to cool and enjoy!!!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Strawberry Cake with Toddlers

My best friend's birthday was last month, and I told her that I was going to make her a cake.  Well, I was on call the Saturday before so I knew I wouldn't have time to make it the next day...which meant I needed to make it pre-call.  D brought K over and she helped me make the cake. It was quite fun.  We all donned our aprons and baked away.

There were a couple of times when K got really excited.  First was when we put the first egg in...the batter became BRIGHT red!  WOW!

Then when I put the eggs in...she SO wanted to crack them on her own.  I let her help crack the eggs but did have to go fishing after a couple of shell pieces before we added it to the batter, but I think it's important to let kids help as much as they can.

Then came the sifting...she helped and thought that was pretty neat.

I made two layers and four small cupcakes for K.  I think her favorite part of the day was licking the spoon!
 Sunday night after we went to my friend Katie's house, I came back and made the icing.  It wasn't quite as thick as I would have liked but ended up making a pretty cake.

Strawberry Cake adapted from
2 cups sugar
1 package strawberry jello (I used sugar free...when you make baked good that already have sugar, don't need the extra sugar from the jello)
1cup oil
4 eggs
2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk (I used buttermilk)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup strawberry puree (thawed frozen strawberries blended in the food processor)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 2 9-inch round cake pans with Pam with flour (splurged on this when it was on sale and LOVE it!).

In a large bowl, blend oil, sugar, and jello.  Add the eggs one at a time, blending after each egg.  Sift together the flour and baking powder.  Starting and ending with the flour mixture, add flour and milk alternately to the batter.  Blend in vanilla and puree.  Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans.  Place the pans in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the center.  Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pans.

Strawberry Icing
1 cup pureed strawberries
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
3-4 cups powdered sugar

In a food processor, puree strawberries.  Add the softened butter and blend.  Then pour in the sugar until reaches desired consistency.  Place one cake layer on serving dish.  Spread icing over that layer.  Top with the remaining cake layer.  Then spread icing over the top and down the sides of the cake until all sides are covered.  Top with a sliced strawberry.  Enjoy!
(sorry for the poor quality...taken by cell phone at work!)

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Stovetop Meal

Last night we went to the H's house for dinner.  Poor Anna's oven is out but she still made a great meal!  We had such a good time.  However, I can't imagine not having an oven.  It would make cooking quite difficult.  I mean, I couldn't do ANY baking.  Not good!  BUT, if you find yourself in the position of not having an oven, here is a quick and easy meal to try. 

White chicken chilli.  I've made it before and it is so good.  It makes just enough for four...or enough for two with lunch for the next day.  D said it was good.  The cheddar biscuits were the perfect pairing.  Sometime soon I'd like to try the red chicken chili....mmmm!  Now, we just need some cold weather!

Chicken Chili
1 1/2 pound (I used two boneless skinless breasts and it was perfect) chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup broth (calls for chicken but I used veggie)
1 teaspoon garlic powder,
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano (didn't have)
1/2 teaspoon cilantro (didn't have)
1/8 teaspoon red pepper (Didn't have) - appears I need to shop for spices!
1 can chopped green chiles
19oz can white kidney beans undrained (I used two cans that were 12 oz each)
2 green onions, sliced (Forgot these but they are good)

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a pan.  Add the chicken and onions, cook 4-5 minutes or until chicken is cooked.  Stir in brother, chiles, and spices.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir in beans and simmer for five minutes. Top with onions and garnish with cheese if desired.  Enjoy!