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Monday, August 31, 2009

Meow Monday

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Norma's Quick Rolls

I needed a quick and easy bread recipe for dinner the other night. I found this highly rated recipe on Recipezaar and decided to try them. They were really easy to make and tasted great. They were crispy on the outside but light and fluffy on the inside.

Norma's Quick Rolls
(Printable Recipe)

1 3/4 cups warm milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons oil
2 (1/4 oz) packets of dry active yeast
4 cups flour

Mix all in Kitchen-Aid mixer until dough comes together. Let rise 20 minutes and knead again. Make into rolls, using a floured glass to cut out, and place on a large pan. Let rise 20 minutes or until double in size. Bake at 375, for 20 minutes.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Pizza Bites

I love buffalo chicken dip and pizza so I decided to combine them in to little bite-sized snacks. These are perfect for tailgating. They are easy to eat - too easy! They aren't too spicy, but you could adjust the Franks Hot Sauce up or down to your taste.

They are easy to make. The chicken mixture could be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the pizza bites. I liked these a lot and the sauce puts them over the top. I will be making these for an Auburn tailgate in the next few weeks!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chicken Pecan Fettuccine

This was really good. It is similar to the other white sauce pasta dishes we've made recently. I really liked the addition of the pecans. I tossed the chicken in a little seasoned salt before sautéing it in the pan. This came together quickly and I would make it again for a quick and easy weeknight meal.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've had this recipe saved for a long time. I have so many chocolate chip cookie recipes and I like them all. I just could never find the time (or have the need) for another chocolate chip cookie recipe. Last week I made my Dad a great cake for his birthday and had some leftover Peanut M&Ms. Tadd wanted me to make cookies in my new oven and use the M&Ms. I looked at my usual chocolate chip cookie recipe and realized that I didn't have enough eggs. I found this recipe and I had everything on hand.

These cookies are awesome. The flavor from the browned butter gave the cookie a new dimension. It was a nutty, caramel flavor. The cookies were crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. I really liked these cookies. I think the M&Ms were a little big for the cookie. I am looking forward to making these again with regular chocolate chips. These might be my favorite chocolate chip cookie (for now).

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Cook's Illustrated May/June 2009
(Printable Recipe)

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspooons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1-3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

Add both sugars, salt and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whish for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use a #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10-14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Strips

I found these chicken strips on Amber's Delectable Delights blog. I love spicy food and Tadd loves wings so I thought these would be perfect for us. I was right! These chicken strips exceeded my expectations. I thought they would be just OK, but they were really good. I will be making these again very soon. These are the perfect snack for watching football. I would even serve these to company. If you don't like spicy food, you could drizzle the chicken strips with BBQ or honey mustard.

Buffalo Chicken Strips
adapted from Cooking Light
(Printable Recipe)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups coarsely crushed cornflakes
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
Cooking spray
1/3 cup hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup fat-free ranch dressing
4 celery stalks, cut into 1/4 x 3-inch sticks
4 carrots, cut into 1/4 x 3-inch sticks

Preheat oven to 400°. Combine first 6 ingredients in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Place egg whites in a shallow dish. Place cornflakes in a shallow dish. Working with 1 chicken strip at a time, dredge in flour mixture. Dip in egg whites; dredge in cornflakes. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken strips, flour mixture, egg whites, and cornflakes.

Lightly coat chicken strips with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until done, turning once.

Combine hot sauce, pepper sauce, and Worcestershire in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in butter. Drizzle hot sauce mixture over chicken. Serve with ranch dressing, celery, and carrots.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wine Down

Last night I tried this Oak Grove Pinot Grigio. It was one of my purchases from Total Wine in the ATL. I absolutely loved it! I am usually a semi wine-snob about my beloved Pinot Grigio - I am an Italy girl. This pinot grigio is from California and I LOVED IT!! It was light and crisp. According to the Oak Grove website there are "lemony citrus notes". I'll go with that description.

All I know is that this is one of the best pinot grigio's I've had - and I've had a lot. I will be stocking up when we are back in Hotlanta!

Friday, August 21, 2009

All-In-One Spaghetti

SO good and SO easy! I love that this really only uses one pot - easy clean up. I was skeptical about the sauce with tomato juice and chili powder, but it turned out great. The sauce had the perfect consistency - not too runny like a lot of sauces. It makes a ton of spaghetti. I plan on eating the leftovers while Tadd is out of town.

This is our new favorite spaghetti recipe. We will be having this again soon.

All-In-One Spaghetti
(Printable Recipe)

1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
3 cups tomato juice
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons chili powder (I leave this out sometimes)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Dash of pepper
1 (7-ounce) package spaghetti, uncooked
Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook first 3 ingredients in a Dutch oven, stirring until beef crumbles and is no longer pink; drain well. Return beef mixture to pan. Stir in tomato sauce and next 8 ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, 30 minutes.

Add pasta; cover and simmer, stirring often, 20 minutes or until pasta is tender. Serve with cheese, and garnish, if desired.


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Thursday, August 20, 2009

No-Fuss Focaccia

I found this recipe on King Arthur Flour's website and they describe this bread as Blitz Bread - on the table in under 2 hours. I needed a quick bread for to go with our chicken piccata, so I decided to give this focaccia a try. It was super easy to put together and tasted amazing when it came out of the oven. The dough is extremely wet and sticky when you take it out of the mixer - resist the urge to add more flour.

This bread requires little attention and gives a big payoff. I topped it with rosemary, red pepper flakes and garlic powder. You can use anything you like to top it before you bake it.

No-Fuss Focaccia
(Printable Recipe)

1 1/2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil (plus additional for drizzling)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast
4 teaspoons Pizza Dough Flavor, optional

Garlic Powder
Red Pepper Flakes
Rosemary Herb seasoning

Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan, and drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil in the bottom. Combine all of the ingredients, and beat at high speed with an electric mixer for 60 seconds. Scoop the sticky batter into the prepared pan, cover the pan, and let it rise at room temperature for 60 minutes, till it's become puffy. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F. Gently poke the dough all over with your index finger. Drizzle it lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with the dried herbs of your choice (I used garlic powder, red pepper flakes and rosemary herb). Bake the bread till it's golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove it from the oven, wait 5 minutes, then turn it out of the pan onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.


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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rosemary Ranch Chicken

This is our new FAVORITE grilled chicken recipe. The flavor in this chicken is amazing!! This is so good that we are making it again later this week. The rosemary and ranch blend together beautifully. I would serve this chicken at a dinner party. It is so simple, but SO good. This chicken had the best flavor of any chicken that we have grilled - we have grilled tons of chicken. I only made half the marinade since I was only grilling two breasts. I ate the whole chicken breast and I never do that! I wished that I had another piece - at least leftovers for lunch. Next time! We are making it again this weekend.  You can't go wrong with this dish. Make it ASAP. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Best Birthday Cake

Happy Birthday Daddy!

This cake was so cute and tasted fantastic. The cake had a pound cake consisentcy and had a wonderful flavor from the cream cheese and vanilla. I used the Cake Mix Doctor's recipe for "The Best Birthday Cupcakes" and made it in two 9-inch cake pans. It took a while to bake, but the end result is "the best". This will be my "go-to" birthday cake recipe.
I love the way it was decorated. I got the idea from another cooking blog - Paige's Pantry. I saw the cake on her blog and bookmarked it to make for my Dad's birthday. I used 10 1/2 packs of Kit Kats and probably a pound of M&Ms. You can really use as many M&Ms as you like.
I really think this is "The Best Birthday Cake".

We celebrated my Dad's birthday early this past weekend. The guys golfed and the girls shopped. My Mom planned a great dinner with filets, corn, fresh peas and salad. We were about to start cooking and the power went out. We had to open presents outside on the porch. We ended up eating out at a pizza joint. We came back to the house - still no power - and ate some cake.
This is how we did Birthday Cake - birthday parties with no power are hard!

Best Birthday Cake
adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor
1 package (18.5 ounces) plain butter recipe golden cake mix
1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Set the pans aside.

Place the cake mix, cream cheese, sugar, oil, water, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend on low speed with an electric mixer for 30 seconds, until the ingredients are well blended, then stop the machine and scrape down the sides. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should be smooth and thickened. Divide batter between cake pans.

Bake the cakes until they are lightly golden and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, about 40 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Remove cakes pans and cool completely. Frost with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

Meanwhile, prepare the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1 stick butter (8 Tbsp) softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2-5 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp vanilla

Mix together butter, 2 Tbsp milk, cocoa powder and vanilla. Gradually add in powdered sugar. Add milk a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Marshmallow Fondant

This was my first attempt at making my own fondant. I wasn't sure if I could do it, but I was going to try it! It turned out to be a really easy process. I used my Kitchen Aid mixer and it was incredibly simple! Melt marshmallows and mix in powdered sugar. I made two different batches. I colored one pink and left the other one white and just hand kneaded in the peach color. I will be making my on fondant from now on. It is super easy and MUCH cheaper than buying it.

I made this cake for a co-worker's baby shower. If you can't tell, she is having a girl. She requested strawberry cake with strawberry icing. She gave me a picture of how she wanted it decorated. I worked all night on the cake - rolling the fondant, making the flowers, rolling the fondant. It was hard work but totally worth it to see how much she liked it.

Marshmallow Fondant

16 ounces white mini marshmallows (use a good quality brand)
2-5 tablespoons water
2 lbs powdered sugar
1/2 cup Crisco shortening (you will be digging into it so place in a very easily accessed bowl)

Melt marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave: Put the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds, open microwave and stir, back in microwave for 30 seconds more, open microwave and stir again, and continue doing this until melted. It usually takes about 2 ½ minutes total.

Generously grease the bowl and dough hook of Kitchen Aid mixer with Crisco. Pour melted marshmallows into bowl and add any food coloring. Gradually add the 2 pounds of powdered sugar while mixing on medium speed. If the mix is tearing easily, it is to dry, so add water (about ½ tablespoon at a time then knead it in). It usually takes about 6-8 minutes to get a firm smooth elastic ball so that it will stretch without tearing when you apply it to the cake.

Its best if you can let it sit, double wrapped, overnight (but you can use it right away if there are no tiny bits of dry powdered sugar). If you do see them, you will need to knead and maybe add a few more drops of water.

Prepare the fondant for storing by coating it with a good layer of Crisco shortening or cooking spray, wrap in saran-wrap and then put it in a gallon sized Ziploc bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible.

MM Fondant will hold very well in the refrigerator for weeks.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Easy Vanilla Gelato

This is the best ice cream we have made so far. This is light and creamy and has the perfect crunch with the toffee bits. The ice cream wasn't overly sweet and was very easy to eat (not sure that is a good thing!) I may try this with the low-fat sweetened condensed milk next time. We loved it and it will be our standard ice cream from now on.

Easy Vanilla Gelato

adapted from Baking Bites
(Printable Recipe)

2 3/4 cups whole milk
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup toffee bits

Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl until smooth. Refrigerate if mixture is not cold, or until you are ready to make the gelato.

Pour milk mixture into your ice cream maker and prepare according to manfacturers’ instructions (about 20 minutes). Transfer to a freezer-proof airtight container and chill until ready to serve to firm up the texture a bit.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


My new love!
My Electrolux dual-fuel double-oven range!

Chicken Enchiladas

This was quick weeknight meal. It took only minutes to put together. I really liked the sauce on top of the enchiladas. Tadd prefers corn tortillas, so we will probably stick with the taquitos we recently made and add this sauce on top of them. We served the enchiladas with chips and homemade salsa.

Southern Living Enchiladas
(Printable Recipe)

Stir together the following:

3 cups cooked, chopped chicken (I marinated chicken in Lawry's Mesquite & Lime marinade and grilled it)
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers
½ cup sour cream
1 can chopped green chilies, drained
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

4 oz. Sour cream,
4 oz. Salsa verde

Diced tomato
Chopped avocado
Sliced black olives
Chopped Cilantro

Spoon chicken mixture evenly over 8 (8-inch) flour tortillas & roll up. Arrange in a lightly greased 13x9 inch baking dish. Coat with vegetable cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Top with sauce & toppings.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chicken Rollups #2

We both really liked this dish. It is a kicked up version of my usual Chicken Rollup dish that we love. I got 14 rolls out of this recipe. I made the whole recipe so I could eat leftovers while Tadd is out of town. I would cut the recipe in half if I didn't want leftovers.

This is a quick weeknight meal. You can make the chicken mixture ahead of time and just scoop and roll when you get home from work.

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