Monday, December 29, 2014

Gingerbread Bundt Cake

It is not often I take on a recipe like this.  From scratch, more than 10 ingredients, definitely not a KTC recipe.

I promise you there is nothing difficult about this recipe and it truly is delicious with all the flavors of Christmas mixed in there.

Gingerbread Bundt Cake
Adapted From Smitten Kitchen

1 cup stout beer, I used Left Hand Nitro Stout
1 cup molasses
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3 eggs
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
powdered sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 350. Generously butter and flour a bundt pan, knock out the excess flour.
2. Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Cool to room temperature.
3. Mix flour, baking powder, and spices in a large mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl mix oil and sugars. Then whisk in oil and molasses mixture. Combine wet and dry ingredients.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan, bang on the counter a few times to release air bubbles. Bake 50 minutes, until toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs. Cool cake 5 minutes before removing from pan.
5. Dust cooled cake with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

This cake goes perfectly with a cup of tea.  You can also eat it for breakfast like I have been doing for the passed few days!

I wish you all a happy new year! I'll be back here in 2015.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Cookie Party

It cookie time folks! This is my second year hosting a cookie swap party.  The first was back in 2012 and can be seen here.

I decided to make treasure cookies.  They have all the ingredients of a magic square in cookie form.

Treasure Cookies

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups graham crackers, crushed
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cup flaked coconut
2 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Toss it all into a big bowl and mix it up.  Sorry, I just can be bothered with that whole separate bowl for dry and wet ingredients.
3. Scoop tablespoons of dough onto prepared pan leaving and inch or two for the cookies to spread. Bake 9-11 minutes, until edges are golden brown.
4.  Allow cookies to cool 3-4 minutes on the pan before removing them to a cooling rack.
5. Eat them all!!

So excited to use some new bake-ware!

Treasure cookies stay soft and chewy even days later.

Those are gingersnaps covered with marshmallow fluff, caramel, and pecans!

These are snowball cookies made with ground peanuts and filled with chocolate chips and peanut butter cups!

These are chocolate cookies filled with crushed peppermint and chocolate ganache!

Another successful evening of nonstop eating. I hope to do it all over again next year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Potato Gratin with Brie and Pumpkin

I was given some fresh, roasted pumpkin a few weeks back.  I had never cooked with actual pumpkin before and was excited to put it into a savory dish.

Potato Gratin with Pumpkin and Brie
2 lb potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
1 cup heavy cream, I used half and half and things worked out just fine
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp nutmeg
4 oz brie, cubed into small pieces
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375.  In a small saucepan, heat cream, pumpkin, thyme, and nutmeg.  Whisk until combined.
2.  Grease a 2 qt casserole dish, line with first layer of potatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Spoon 1/3 of sauce of potatoes and top with both cheeses.  Repeat process, making 2 more potato later.
3. Bake for 50 minutes, until potatoes have browned and are tender.

My mandolin was fitted with the ridged blade at the time and I didn't really have the energy to change it to the flat blade.  That's why you see the ridges there, it is not intentional or integral to the recipe.

Love this side dish!!! It's a fun spin on a classic and of course with the brie in there it's way fancy.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Honeymoon Cruise Food Fest!

A few weeks ago I went on my honeymoon.  We cruised to Aruba, Colombia, Panama Canal, Costa Rica, and the Cayman Islands.  The scenery and adventures were incredible, but we know what you guys are here for...the food!

Princess Cruises did not let us down with their menu choices.  If you want a little run-down of a typical food filled day it goes a little something like this:

Breakfast at the buffet
Iced coffees/lattes at La Patisserie
Lunch at the buffet, or pizza, or the grill
Formal dinner: 3 courses, plus dessert each night
Post dinner snacks: a visit to the buffet, popcorn, ice cream, possible room service

Created with flickr slideshow.

Some of my favorites were:
Grilled calamari steak, I had it for a dinner entree and it was just incredible
Goat cheese and apple soup, served chilled, so interesting
Pistachio Chocolate Journey dessert, this is a limited edition 50th anniversary Princess cruise dessert. It was gorgeous and easily the most delicious dessert we had on the cruise.
Popcorn! All the time! It was like dreams coming true.

It was the trip of a lifetime, food and adventures all rolled into one.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Prosciutto Wrapped Ricotta Stuffed Chicken

This killer recipe was gifted to me in a recipe box from my bridal shower.  I hope to tear through these recipes in the coming weeks so look out for your contribution!

Prosciutto Wrapped Ricotta Stuffed Chicken
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
3 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 clove of garlic, minced (I used garlic powder)
1 tbsp Italian seasonings
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts*
4 slices of prosciutto

1.  Preheat oven to 400.  In a small bowl mix ricotta, parmesan, garlic, and Italian seasoning.  Butterfly each chicken breast and stuff with ricotta mixture.  Wrap each piece of chicken with prosciutto.
2. Place chicken onto a baking pan lightly coated with olive oil.  Cook 15-20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

*Note: I had a package of chicken in my freezer already sliced into pieces, so I flattened these out with a mallet and stuffed them with the cheese.  I then rolled the chicken and wrapped it in prosciutto to seal the cheese inside.

This is what I imagine a "fancy" dinner to be.  This recipe is super simple, but elegant enough for a dinner party.

So good! Thanks for the recipe!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lobster Pockets

Fake lobster meat way buy one get one free when we were purchasing supplies for our mac and cheese bar.  That left me with one pack to find a creative use for.

I give you, lobster pockets!

Lobster Pockets
1 tube store bought pizza dough
1 8 oz package "lobster," chopped
1/4 cup olives, chopped
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
dried oregano, salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400. Roll out pizza dough onto a large, lightly greased, baking sheet.  Cut dough into 6 pieces.
2. Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  Fill each dough bundle with about 1/4 cup of filling. Press along edges to seal.  Cook until dough is golden brown, about 15 minutes.  

I served these with a cucumber salad.  If I were you I would try out some dipping sauces with these guys.  Perhaps a tzakiki would be nice with the Mediterranean flavors here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Mixed Berry Muffins

This was a weird morning.  

I had gotten out all the ingredients for these muffins, getting myself set up to start baking.  

Then I get a message from my dude: you should make some blueberry muffins today.  

How weird is that!?! We had not discussed baked goods at all, but somehow both wanted the same thing to eat.  


Mixed Berry Muffins
From How to Cook Everything

3 tbsp melted butter, or vegetable oil
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 cup berries of your choosing

1. Preheat oven to 375. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.
2. Mix butter, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, egg, and milk in a large bowl.  Once mixture is combined, gently fold in berries.
3. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full with batter.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let rest for 5 minutes before removing muffins from the tin.

I see you eyeing that adorable recipe card holder I got for my bridal shower.

I'm going to miss these weekend breakfasts out on the patio.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Slow Cooker Double Apple Pork Loin

I am really excited for this recipe and hope you will be too.  The "double apple" comes from sliced apples and apple cider. It's super simple to put together and will surely warm you up as the nights get colder.

Double Apple Pork Loin

2lb boneless pork loin
1 apple, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 cup apple cider
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place pork on slow cooker.  Place remaining ingredients around the pork.  Season with salt and pepper.
2. Cook pork on low for 6 hours.  When pork is cooked, remove from slow cooker.  Using an immersion blender, blend cider, apples, and onion until smooth.  Place pork back into slow cooker and shred.  Mix, ensuring pork is covered in sauce.

*Note: If you don't have an immersion blender, you can feel free to use a regular blender or food processor.

I served some broccoli cheddar mashed potatoes on the side. So good!  I had some leftovers today in a sandwich and it was glorious.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Dunkin Donuts Croissant Donut Review

First, a disclaimer: I have not had an original cronut or any other of it's many imitations.

Now that that's out of the way, I can tell you that I loved the croissant donut!

It is a bit pricey, at $2.49 each.  That makes it much more costly than a regular Dunkin Donuts' donut.

But in my opinion, it was totally worth it. Two thumbs way up!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mac and Cheese Bar

The initial title for this entry was "I'm sorry you weren't invited" because really, I am sorry.

This was an incredible dinner party meal and you should all do it for your friends and family.

P.S. I totally wish I could take credit for this idea.

The concept here was to make a large batch of mac and cheese, and then have everyone add their own mix ins.

We mixed in some festive Halloween pasta for the occasion.

Toppings included: chicken, bacon, sausage, "lobster," mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, brussel's sprouts, broccoli, gorgonzola, tomato sauce, crispy onions, Ritz, siracha, and bbq sauce.

The possibilities are endless!

Above is my (first) bowl of mac and cheese.

I placed the cooked and cheesed-up pasta in the slow cooker so we could eat at our leisure.

I hope everyone had a fun Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Apple Pear Crisp

Hey guys, sorry for abandoning you the past few weeks.  I've been dealt an interesting deck of cards this month, but hopefully I'll be back to my regular postings now.

It's been ages since I cooked up a dessert, seriously it was August, so I was really excited to get the blog up and running again with this apple and pear crisp.

Is there anything better than cinnamon and brown sugar?  I just don't know.

Apple Pear Crisp

4 cups sliced apples and pears (feel free to use an combination you like this is not an exact science)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
1/3 cup butter, softened and cubed
2/3 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp cinnamon
2/3 cup brown sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350.  Place sliced fruit in an even layer in an 8x8 baking pan.
2. In a small bowl mix flour, oats, butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, and brown sugar.  Use your fingers to combine ingredients.  Mixture should be like wet sand. Top fruit mixture, making sure fruit is completely covered.
3. Bake for 60 minutes, until fruit is bubbling.  Let sit for 10 minutes. Serve topped with ice cream or whipped cream.

P.S. I got some pretty killer fall ice cream at the market recently.  1. Cinnamon caramel apple pie, the ice cream is cinnamon flavor! amazing! 2. Pumpkin pie, it's got a cinnamon graham cracker swirl! You probably need both of these in your freezer this fall.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pumpkin Pasta with Butternut Squash and Chicken

This post goes out Stop and Shop.  They have been stocking their supermarket with all the pumpkin items I could possibly need as fall begins.

Pumpkin Pasta with Butternut Squash and Chicken

1 Jar Stop and Shop Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
1 cooked chicken breast, diced or shredded
1 cup butternut squash, frozen
A bunch of sage leaves, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb pasta
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, for serving

1. Boil a large pot of water for the pasta. Cook according to package directions.
2. In a large skillet heat oil on medium.  Season butternut squash with salt and pepper and toss into heated skillet.  Cook until slightly browned.  Pour pumpkin sauce into skillet along with the cooked chicken.  Allow all components to heat up while pasta is cooking.
3. When pasta is finished, coat with sauce mixture.  Top with minced sage leaves.  Spoon into bowls and top with a hearty spoonful of Parmesan cheese.

The pasta sauce is tomato based, with pumpkin added to it.

How can you not love this bowl that's just screaming FALL?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Broccoli Cheese Pizza Roll

This pizza roll can be customized any way you like.  I used a handful of ingredients I had on hand at the time, but the possibilities are really endless.

Broccoli Cheese Pizza Roll

1 pizza dough, store bought, homemade, you decide
1 cup mozzarella cheese
2 cups chopped broccoli
2 tbsp olive tapenade
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400. Roll out pizza dough on an oiled, rimmed, rectangular baking sheet.  Leaving a 1 inch boarder, spread tapenade evenly over dough.  Top with broccoli and cheese.  Roll dough long-ways and press together to seal.
2.  Sprinkle pizza roll with parmesan cheese and garlic powder.  Bake until crust is browned, about 15 minutes.

Pizza rolls would be great for dinner or game-day snacking.

Now what should go inside my next pizza roll.....

Monday, September 29, 2014

Smothered Pork Chops

I made this recipe ages ago and now here I am looking longingly at the pictures.

Also, little known fact: I had no idea that gravy is delicious.

Now, for the recipe!

Smothered Pork Chops
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook

3 slice of bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 tbsp flour
1 3/4 cup beef broth
4 center cut pork chops
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced thin
2 tbsp water
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced

1. Fry bacon in a small sauce pan over medium heat, until lightly browned. Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. Reduce heat and whisk in flour.  Cook, whisking frequently, until mixture has browned. Whisk in broth and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and cover.
2. Pat chops dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet. Add onions, salt, and water.  Cook until onions are browned and softened.  Stir in garlic and thyme. Place chops in the skillet and cover with onions. Pour in the warmed sauce.  Reduce heat to low, cover, cook about 30 minutes, until pork is cooked through.
3. Transfer chops to a serving platter.  Increase heat to medium high and simmer sauce rapidly, stirring frequently, until thickened. Pour sauce over chops, garnish with bacon and parsley.

Check out those fresh herbs from my garden!

I served these smothered chops with some mashed potatoes on the side.

Words cannot express how much I enjoyed this recipe.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

I got Corningware guys! There's like a real presentable kitchen in my house right now.  It's filled to the brim with everything I could possibly need thanks to my recent bridal shower. 

I have always wanted to make a real baked mac and cheese from a recipe because whenever I do it things turn out far too dry.

Just look at that pile of cheese guys!  This recipe was intense.

Check out my kitchen helper!  I can always count on him to be exactly in my way.

Classic Mac and Cheese
Adapted From America's Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook

1 cup bread crumbs
8 tbsp butter
1 lb macaroni
1 1/2 tsp mustard
1 tbsp hot sauce
5 cups milk
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1. In a small skillet, melt 3 tbsp butter.  Add bread crumbs and toast, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.
3. Preheat broiler. In emptied pasta pot, melt 5 tbsp butter.  Add flour, mustard, and hot sauce.  Whisk constantly, until mixture has darkened in color, about 1 minute. Gradually mix in milk and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Off heat, slowly whisk in cheese until melted.  Add pasta and mix until coated.
4. Transfer mixture to a broiler safe 13x9 inch dish. Top with bread crumb and butter mixture. Broil until topping is browned, about 5 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes before serving.

I'm going to be completely honest with you guys here.  This was far too cheesy and saucy for me. I won't tell you not to make this because you might like your mac and cheese like this, ATK does state that it is a "classic." But I prefer my mac and cheese with about half the sauce. And maybe that's just what I'll do next time...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Beef and Snap Pea Stir Fry

I hope you haven't minded terribly that the blog has slowed down a bit recently. My wedding is coming up in a few short weeks and free time seems to be few and far between. 

Anyway, here is a kickass recipe for beef and snap pea stir fry.  I know what you're thinking looking at this picture, "what the heck is fish sauce and why would I ever need it?"  Well, surprise! I have almost run out of fish sauce, who'd a thought I'd ever see the day that happened.

I purchased some stir fry beef at the supermarket for this dinner.  The beef is already thinly sliced, but you can buy some flank steak and thinly slice it at home as well.

Beef and Snap Pea Stir Fry
Adapted from How to Cook Everything

1lb thinly sliced steak
salt and pepper
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp red pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
8 oz sugar snap peas, fresh or frozen
cooked rice, for serving

1. Marinate the beef in salt, pepper, 1 tbsp oil, soy and fish sauce for 30 minutes.
2. Heat remaining tbsp of oil in a large skillet on high heat.  Add ginger, garlic, and red pepper, cook until fragrant.  Add beef, stirring every 20 seconds. Finally, add the snap peas and cook until beef is cooked through.  This is all come together quickly since the beef is thinly sliced.
3. Serve over rice.

I absolutely loved this recipe.  The cook time at the stove is minimal, making it a great weeknight meal. I look forward to making it again.