Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best of 2009

Wow! Can you believe that today is the last day of 2009? What a year it has been! It has definately been a crazy and busy year for me.

I started out the year with Nathan still home visiting on R&R. It was wonderful to be able to start the year with him. He went back to Iraq a few days later and returned home for good at the end of May. Shortly after his return and our vacation, we had to start packing to leave Germany. This was probably the hardest part of my year. After 7 years it was really hard to say goodbye to our home and our friends. We took another vacation before heading to El Paso which is where we now call home.

The kids have grown and changed so much in one year. I can't believe how fast they are growing up. Before I know it, they will be teenagers and I will wonder where my babies have gone. I am definately trying to cherish every moment with them!

I have changed so much in one year. This blog has changed so much in one year. Posting has dropped dramatically, but I am still thankful to have this outlet and to have people who read and comment.

In honor of the end of the year I would like to share some of my favorite recipes from 2009.


Cheese Ravioli in a Spinach Cream Sauce - After being introduced to homemade ravioli by my brother-in-law's girlfriend, Lauren, I became addicted. This is my favorite ravioli by far!

Lasagne (Daring Baker Challenge) - I have made this many times since and it has become my go-to lasagne recipe. Love, love, love it!

Bacon Jack Chicken - Bacon, Mushrooms, Cheese, Chicken... Need I say more?

Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun Dried Tomatoes - One of my favorite pasta recipes of all time. ALL TIME. Seriously, make it!

Sweet and Sour Pork - Having a hard time finding good Chinese take out? Try this recipe and you will never order take out again!


White Chocolate Lime Scones - You knew there would be scones on this list. ;) These are AMAZING!

Farmhouse Breakfast Bake - Hearty and delicious! Plus, you can assemble it the night before to make the morning even easier!

Pumpkin Waffles with Orange Walnut Butter and Nutmeg Syrup - The title says it all. YUM!!!

Croque Madame - Probably Nathan's favorite breakfast ever. If it wasn't on this list, I might be in a bit of trouble. Hee hee!

Fluffy Lemon Sour Cream Muffins - Fluffy, lemony, and delicious. Plus, the variations are endless. I loved them with craisins and really want to try them with blueberries.


All Star Sliders - A super delicious lunch!

Cranberry Bread - One of the best quick breads I have ever tasted!

Dessert - Saved the best for last!

Butterfinger Cake Balls - Easy peasy and oh so good!

Strawberry Shortcakes - Oh, you know you want some!

Snickerdoodle Blondies - If you aren't careful, you will devour the entire pan in one sitting.

Peanut Butter Cookies from Baked - Oh my goodness... The best peanut butter cookies in the world!

Lemon Sugar Cookies - I also made these with lime and turned them into ice cream sandwiches. Incredibly delicious AND addictive!

Brownie Peanut Butter Cups - You can't go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate!

Happy New Year and may your 2010 be filled with many blessings and happiness! Oh, and of course, LOTS of good food!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Baked Mac & Cheese

While making this for lunch today I realized that I have never posted this recipe. I have been making this recipe for years and absolutely love it. We don't make it often, maybe only once or twice a month, but it is a good one. It takes more time to make than a box of Kraft, but I promise you won't be disappointed!


Baked Macaroni and Cheese

2 cups elbow noodles

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp ground mustard

1/4 tsp worcestershire sauce

2 cups milk

Dash ground nutmeg

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Cook noodles according to package directions; set aside.

In saucepan, melt butter. Add flour, salt, pepper, mustard, and worcestershire. Cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and bubbly. Add milk and nutmeg; heat to boiling. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in cheese until melted.

Mix macaroni and cheese sauce. Pour into 2 qt baking dish. Bake 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

December Daring Baker Challenge: Gingerbread House

On the first of every month I get excited to go to the Daring Baker website to find out what the new challenge is. Every month I get excited over the new challenge. Every month I have lofty ideas of how I will complete the challenge. And every month I end up doing a mediocre job because I can't find the time to do what I really want to do with the challenge.

This month I had hoped would be different, but again I couldn't find the time to do the challenge the way I wanted. I was incredibly stoked that this months challenge was to make a gingerbread house from scratch. This is something I have always wanted to do and I was thrilled to have the push to do it this year. I wanted to do a Bavarian style gingerbread house to remind me of Germany. This is the first holiday season in 7 years that hasn't been spent overseas and I really do miss it.

Once again, though, I couldn't manage to bring my lofty goals to fruition. So, here is my gingerbread house, baked, assembled, and decorated in just a few hours. I put lederhosen on my gingerbread man to make it somewhat German, but he turned out creepy looking. Anya gladly bit off his head so we didn't have to look at him anymore!

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!

From my family to yours.... Have a very merry Christmas! I am off to bake some more cookies for Santa! :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

TWD: My Favorite Pecan Pie

This weeks Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is My Favorite Pecan Pie. Luckily the recipe was chosen in time for me to make this pie at Thanksgiving. Nathan's favorite pie is pecan pie so I was excited to give this one a try.

This recipe is different from the traditional pecan pie in that it uses less sugar and corn syrup and has the addition of espresso powder and chocolate. I omitted the espresso powder but was more than willing to give the chocolate a try.

The verdict? An immensely good pecan pie that will probably become my standard recipe.

Thanks to Beth of Someone's in the Kitchen with Brina for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cranberry Bread

This is seriously the BEST cranberry bread I have ever had. It is out of this world! From the delicious crumb, to the plump, juicy cranberries, to the fantastic streusel topping... I don't even know where to start! I made this bread on Monday and it was gone by Tuesday afternoon. I had to make another loaf this morning because it is just too good!


Cranberry Bread
Taste of Home Oct/Nov 2009
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup cold butter
1 egg
3/4 cup orange juice
2 tsp grated orange peel
1 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 TBSP flour
2 TBSP cold butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp orange juice
In a large bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients. Cut in butter until crumbly.
In a small bowl, mix egg, orange juice, and zest. Fold wet into dry just until moistened. Fold in cranberries. Transfer to greased loaf pan.
Combine streusel ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350 for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Move to wire rack to cool completely.
Mix glaze ingredients until smooth. Drizzle over bread.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

TWD: Sables

Short, sweet, and to the point. These cookies were great, easy to make, and delicious to eat! I made the spice variation and rolled them in cinnamon sugar. YUM!

Thanks to Barbara of Bungalow Barbara for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pumpkin Waffles with Orange Walnut Butter and Nutmeg Syrup

I made these waffles over the weekend and loved them! I ripped the recipe out of a magazine last November and finally got around to making them. I am glad I did! I loved the pumpkin flavor of the waffles. It was just the right amount of pumpkin. The compound butter was amazingly delicious, too.

The star of the show, in my opinion, was the nutmeg syrup. Oh, my, YUMMY! It was so wintery to me... the perfect way to start December. So bust out your waffle irons and welcome December with this delicious breakfast!

Pumpkin Waffles
Simple & Delicious Sept/Oct 2008

1 cup plus 2 TBSP AP flour
2 TBSP brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 TBSP butter, melted

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In another bowl, combine milk through butter. Stir into dry ingredients just until combined.
Bake in waffle iron per manufacturer's directions.

Orange Walnut Butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 TBSP grated orange peel

Combine all ingredients until well blended.

Nutmeg Syrup
1 cup sugar
2 TBSP AP flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups cold water
2 TBSP butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp rum extract (optional)

In large saucepan, combine sugar through water. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in butter and extracts.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Cannoli

The Daring Baker challenge this month was Cannoli, an fried pastry shell filled with a sweetened ricotta mixture. No baking this month, just deep frying! :)

The dough wasn't difficult to make or to shape, thanks to $2.50 cannoli forms. The filling was easy, too, and I added a bit of cocoa powder for a nice chocolate flavor.

I enjoyed these, but in the future would probably use a cream cheese mixture or a pastry cream for the filling. I think I may only like ricotta in savory dishes.

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Lidisano’s Cannoli
Makes 22-24 4-inch cannoli
Prep time:
Dough – 2 hours and 10-20 minutes, including resting time, and depending on whether you do it by hand or machine.
Filling – 5-10 minutes plus chilling time (about 2 hours or more)
Frying – 1-2 minutes per cannoli
Assemble – 20–30 minutes


2 cups (250 grams/8.82 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
Confectioners' sugar

Note - If you want a chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour (about 25%) with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process) and a little more wine until you have a workable dough (Thanks to Audax).

2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean
3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice
2 tablespoons (12 grams/0.42 ounces) of finely chopped, candied orange peel, or the grated zest of one small to medium orange
3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachios

Note - If you want chocolate ricotta filling, add a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder to the above recipe, and thin it out with a few drops of warm water if too thick to pipe.

1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.

3 Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.

4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.

5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

8. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.

9. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.

Pasta Machine method:
1. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Starting at the middle setting, run one of the pieces of dough through the rollers of a pasta machine. Lightly dust the dough with flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Pass the dough through the machine repeatedly, until you reach the highest or second highest setting. The dough should be about 4 inches wide and thin enough to see your hand through

2. Continue rolling out the remaining dough. If you do not have enough cannoli tubes for all of the dough, lay the pieces of dough on sheets of plastic wrap and keep them covered until you are ready to use them.

3, Roll, cut out and fry the cannoli shells as according to the directions above.

For stacked cannoli:
1. Heat 2-inches of oil in a saucepan or deep sauté pan, to 350-375°F (176 - 190 °C).

2. Cut out desired shapes with cutters or a sharp knife. Deep fry until golden brown and blistered on each side, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oil with wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, then place on paper towels or bags until dry and grease free. If they balloon up in the hot oil, dock them lightly prior to frying. Place on cooling rack until ready to stack with filling.

1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.

2. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and stir in chocolate, zest and nuts. Chill until firm.(The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).

1. When ready to serve..fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.

2. Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.

1/2 cup (123 grams/4.34 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1/2 cup (113 grams/4.04 ounces) mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup (122.5 grams/4.32 ounces) canned pumpkin, drained like ricotta
3/4 cup (75 grams/2.65 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/2 to 1 teaspoon (approx. 1.7 grams/approx. 0.06 ounces) pumpkin pie spice (taste)
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 2 grams/approx. 0.08 ounces) pure vanilla extract
6-8 cannoli shells

1. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta and mascarpone until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl, cover and chill until it firms up a bit. (The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).

2. Fill the shells as directed above. I dipped the ends of the shells in caramelized sugar and rolled them in toasted, chopped pecans.

- Dough must be stiff and well kneaded

- Rolling the dough to paper thinness, using either a rolling pin or pasta machine, is very important. If the dough is not rolled thin enough, it will not blister, and good cannoli should have a blistered surface.

- Initially, this dough is VERY stubborn, but keep rolling, it eventually gives in. Before cutting the shapes, let the dough rest a bit, covered, as it tends to spring back into a smaller shapes once cut. Then again, you can also roll circles larger after they’re cut, and/or into ovals, which gives you more space for filling.

- Your basic set of round cutters usually doesn’t contain a 5-inch cutter. Try a plastic container top, bowl etc, or just roll each circle to 5 inches. There will always be something in your kitchen that’s round and 5-inches if you want large cannoli.

- Oil should be at least 3 inches deep and hot – 360°F-375°F, or you’ll end up with greasy shells. I prefer 350°F - 360°F because I felt the shells darkened too quickly at 375°F.

- If using the cannoli forms, when you drop the dough on the form into the oil, they tend to sink to the bottom, resulting in one side darkening more. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to gently lift and roll them while frying.

- DO NOT crowd the pan. Cannoli should be fried 2-4 at a time, depending on the width of your saucepan or deep fryer. Turn them once, and lift them out gently with a slotted spoon/wire skimmer and tongs. Just use a wire strainer or slotted spoon for flat cannoli shapes.

- When the cannoli turns light brown - uniform in color, watch it closely or remove it. If it’s already a deep brown when you remove it, you might end up with a really dark or slightly burnt shell.

- Depending on how much scrap you have left after cutting out all of your cannoli shapes, you can either fry them up and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar for a crispy treat, or let the scraps rest under plastic wrap and a towel, then re-roll and cut more cannoli shapes.

- Push forms out of cannoli very gently, being careful not to break the shells as they are very delicate. DO NOT let the cannoli cool on the form, or you may never get it off without it breaking. Try to take it off while still hot. Hold it with a cloth in the center, and push the form out with a butter knife or the back of a spoon.

- When adding the confectioner’s sugar to the filling..TASTE. You may like it sweeter than what the recipe calls for, or less sweet, so add in increments.

- Fill cannoli right before serving! If you fill them an hour or so prior, you’ll end up with soggy cannoli shells.

- If you want to prepare the shells ahead of time, store them in an airtight container, then re-crisp in a 350°F (176 °C) oven for a few minutes, before filling.

- Practice makes perfect. My first batch of shells came out less than spectacular, and that’s an understatement. As you go along, you’ll see what will make them more aesthetically pleasing, and adjust accordingly when rolling. My next several batches turned out great. Don’t give up!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Hope you all have a wonderful turkey day! I am so thankful for all of you who take the time to stop by and read what I have to say, even if it isn't much some weeks! Now get off the computer and go enjoy some yummy food!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

TWD: All in One Holiday Bundt Cake

This is the perfect choice for Tuesdays with Dorie this week! All in One Holiday Bundt Cake is filled with all the ingredients that are perfect for this time of year. Cranberries, pumpkin, apples, pecans, and all the yummy spices that go along with them; ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. This bundt cake is so easy to mix up and it tastes phenomenal!

I used crasins instead of cranberries because of my own error. I bought two bags of cranberries a week ago, threw them in the freezer, and forgot to take them out when mixing the cake. Since the cranberries are supposed to be chopped and I didn't feel like chopping frozen berries, I used craisins instead. I think it still turned out great and now I have cranberries to make other goodies with!

Thanks to Britin of The Nitty Britty for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

SMS: Raised Waffles with Warm Brown Sugar Bananas

I was thrilled when Raised Waffles with Warm Brown Sugar Bananas was chosen for this weeks Sweet Melissa Sunday. This recipe was my number 2 choice when it was my turn to host SMS. I love waffles, I love bananas, and what's not to love when you put the two together?

I prefer the waffle recipe I usually use, but these waffles were a close second. I really enjoyed the banana topping and would occasionally substitute it for the blueberry syrup that tops my waffles. :) This is high praise considering that in my house waffles ONLY come with homemade blueberry syrup!

Thanks to Lauren of Fried Pickles and Ice Cream for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

I made these muffins a couple weeks ago and the picture has been sitting forgotten on my camera. Shelby of The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch posted these same muffins yesterday and it gave me the motivation to finally get this post up!

These muffins were fantastic and I can't wait to make them again. Shelby added cinnamon chips to hers and I am excited to try that variation!


Pumpkin-Cranberry Muffins
Betty Crocker Fall Baking 2008

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
Coarse sugar, if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper liners.

In large bowl mix dry ingredients.
In another bowl mix pumpkin, oil, craisins and eggs. Mix dry ingredients into wet until just moistened.

Divide batter into 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

TWD: Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies

YAY! I finally got a TWD completed! Sure, I just baked these a few hours ago, but at least I got them made and am getting my post up on Tuesday. Not too shabby. :)

These cookies were fantastic! I know molasses is a tricky ingredient. People usually either love it or hate it. I personally LOVE molasses cookies, so I knew that I would love these. This particular recipe calls for black pepper to add additional spice but I omitted that because I wasn't sure if the kids (or me for that matter!) would like it.

Thanks to Pamela of Cookies with Boys for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cinnamon Pork Tenderloin

I know I have said this before but I LOVE pork tenderloin. It is probably my favorite meat to make and to eat. I am always on the lookout for new pork recipes and this one knocked my socks off. It was SO good! It may be my new number one pork tenderloin recipe. Give it a try... it is truly delicious!

Cinnamon Pork Tenderloin
Taste of Home Holiday Collection
3 TBSP soy sauce
3 TBSP sherry or chicken broth
1 TBSP brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 garlic clove, minced
2 pork tenderloins, 3/4 lb each
Combine first 6 ingredients in a ziploc bag. Add pork; turn to coat. Refrigerate 4-6 hours (I refrigerated overnight).
Drain and discard marinade. Grill pork, covered, over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until meat thermometer reads 160.
*I baked the tenderloin at 400 for about 25 minutes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mushroom Blue Cheese Tenderloin

Nathan loves blue cheese. I can't stand it. Nathan loves mushrooms. I will eat them, but could live without them as a main ingredient. I don't like to think of myself as a picky eater, but there are definately foods that I won't eat. But, I love my husband very much and I think he should get foods that he loves every once in a while.

This meal was good and Nathan loved it. I ate it without the blue cheese added in and liked it as well. The steak itself was incredibly flavorful, too.

I used flank steak instead of beef tenderloin strictly because of the price. A 3lb tenderloin was going to cost me $42 and I just wasn't willing to spend that on a Wednesday night dinner! It was wonderful with the flank steak but I for a special occasion, I'm sure the tenderloin would be worth the money.

Mushroom Blue Cheese Tenderloin
Taste of Home Dec/Jan 09

1 1/2 cups soy sauce
3/4 cup worcestershire
1 beef tenderloin (3 1/2 - 4 lbs)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBSP pepper
1 can (10 1/2 oz) beef broth

1/2 cup butter
1/2 lb sliced mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup (4 oz) crumbled blue cheese
1 TBSP worcestershire
1/4 tsp caraway seeds
4 green onions, chopped

In a large Ziploc bag, combine soy sauce and worcestershire. Add beef; seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate 2 hours, turning occasionally.

Drain and discard marinade. Rub the beef with garlic and pepper; place in roasting pan. Add broth to pan. Bake, uncovered, at 425 for 45-55 minutes or until meat reaches desired doneness. (145 for medium rare, 160 for medium, 170 for well done.)

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter. Add mushrooms and garlic; saute unitl tender. Add the cheese, worcestershire, and caraway seeds. Cook and stir over low heat until cheese is melted. Stir in onions; heat through. Serve sauce with beef.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Taking a good hard look.....

This is difficult.

I really, really want to have my blog running at the same frequency it was 6 months ago. I keep getting so down on myself for not posting. It is starting to stress me out and that is not what blogging should be. When I started this blog Nathan was in Iraq and I needed the outlet to keep me going and keep me busy. Life has been so hectic and there have been so many changes over the past few months that I am beginning to think that my expectations aren't realistic.

I am NOT quitting or shutting down my blog. There is no way I could do that. But I am going to stop making promises. I am going to stop saying that everything will be up and running soon. By continuing to say that, I end up putting more pressure on myself.

There are so many reasons why I haven't been baking as much lately. We are still getting settled and trying to figure out life in the states. Anya has started school (pre-k), Eric is all over the place and is definately a handful, AND we got a puppy last week. One of the biggest reasons for not baking is that I have lost all my taste-testers. When I was in Germany I gave away a good portion of my baked goods to my friends and I don't have that here. Our small family cannot possibly consume all the delicious things I want to make.

I have been making some new dinners and will get those posted when I can. The only promise I can make is that this blog isn't going anywhere. I may only get a post up once a week. Maybe more, maybe less. But Cristine is here. Cristine is cooking. Cristine just needs to remove some of the pressure.

Just a quick note about groups.... Daring Bakers, SMS, TWD, MSCC, Cookie Carnival.... I don't know how much I will be participating. If you have to remove me, don't feel bad. Do what you need to do and I will do what I can. :)

Thanks for reading this novel and for listening to my rambling! How about a picture of our super cute Rhodesian Ridgeback, Tara, to make it worth your while? Lots of love for you all!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

MSCC: Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes

I'm slowly but surely getting things back in order around here. Even though everything is unpacked, things are so crazy and I have yet to find much time to get in the kitchen. Hence why I am posting this so late in day!

I love anything pumpkin! One of my favorite things about fall is the plethora of pumpkin recipes floating around. I tend to go on pumpkin overload during October and November. I get excited to try new pumpkin recipes and pumpkin cupcakes seemed to be the place to start.

The flavor of the cupcake reminded me of a soft pumpkin cookie. Full of delicious pumpkin flavor and just the right amount of spice. Incredibly good! The book suggests using a cream cheese frosting to top these, but I had leftover Cinnamon-Nutella dip in the fridge and was running out of hours in the day, so that beat out making frosting. Believe it or not, I thought the cinnamon topping was fantastic.

Thanks to Betty of Eat My Cupcake for putting together this fantastic group! Check out the group's blog HERE.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TWD: Allspice Crumb Muffins

I am so thankful that this week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection was an easy one. Recipes don't come much easier than muffins and I needed to get back on the TWD wagon. My kitchen is unpacked and organized, but with all the "to-do's" that come with a move piling up, I just haven't had the motivation to get in the kitchen and knock out some recipes.

These allspice crumb muffins were fantastic. Allspice usually doesn't play a starring role, but I'm glad it did in these muffins because they tasted so yummy! The crumb topping was definately my favorite part, but I don't think there was a bad part of these muffins.

While trying to take pictures of these muffins yesterday morning, Anya decided the muffin she wanted was the one I was photographing. I told her that I needed to take a picture of it and she asked "Don't you want a picture of me with the muffin?". So, I am including that picture as well... complete with bedhead and Curious George pajamas!

Thanks to Kayte of Grandma’s Kitchen Table for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

No SMS, but how about an update?

My apologies to Jen of Not Microwave Safe for not participating this week. I really did want to make the Sticky Buns but time wasn't on my side. Oh, and for those who wanted the recipe for the Apple Crumble from last week, it is finally up. You can find it here.

We are officially in El Paso. We found a house relatively quickly and moved in last week. All of our stuff (minus the Jeep) was delivered on Wednesday and we have been busy, busy, busy getting everything organized. The dust is starting to settle and we are getting back into our old routine which means that my blog will be back up and running soon.

Thanks to everyone who is sticking around waiting for my return. I can't wait to get back in the kitchen full time again!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My SMS Pick: Apple Orchard Pecan Crumble

Ever since I joined Sweet Melissa Sundays I have been counting down the days until October 4th, the day where I would be able to pick a recipe for the group. Of course, I didn't really realize at the time that October 4th would fall right in the middle of an international move!

I decided to choose Apple Orchard Pecan Crumble for two reasons. One, I thought it would be a great way to welcome fall (which by the way isn't on its way to Phoenix... it was over 100 the day I made this!). The second reason I picked this recipe is the simplicity of it. The most difficult part was peeling the apples.

The apples are cut and mixed with cinnamon and sugar and then they are dumped into a 2 quart baking pan. The topping is fantastically delicious! A combination of brown sugar, spices, pecans, and butter... YUM!

The crumble before it headed into the oven

Thanks to all the SMSers who baked along with me this week. I am so glad to be a part of this group!

Apple Orchard Pecan Crumble

for the filling:

7 large tart apples, roughly 3 pounds, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch slices

juice of 1 lemon

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

for the pecan crumble:

3/4 cup pecan pieces

3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

pinch freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Position a rack in the bottom third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 10-inch deep-dish baking dish or 2-quart ovenproof casserole. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.In a large bowl, stir together the apples and lemon juice. Sprinkle the sugar, cinnamon, and flour over the apples, and stir to combine. Pour the apples into the baking dish.In a large bowl, stir together the pecans, flour, brown sugar, salt, nutmeg, and allspice. Stir in the melted butter. Spread the crumble over the apples.Place the baking dish on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the juices are bubbling and thick. Remove to a wire rack to cool before serving. Serve warm with whipped cream.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cookie Carnival: Black Bottom Coconut Bars

This is going to be super quick but I needed to get this posted. We are headed to El Paso this morning (need to leave in the next 15 minutes) and I am not sure when we will have internet access. I know you have all been getting used to no posts from me, but I promise that once we get a house and all of our stuff gets delivered, Cooking with Cristine will be up and running again!

These bars were easy to make and oh so delicious! Thanks to Kate of The Clean Plate Club for hosting the Cookie Carnival! The recipe can be found here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

SMS: Orange Scented Scones

It's no secret that I love scones. I make them so often and enjoy them so much! I was happy that a scone recipe was chosen for this week. I love any chance I get to try a new scone recipe!

These scones were different than others I have made because of the homemade oat flour. The recipe calls for ground oatmeal. I loved what it did for the texture of these scones. The orange flavor was subtle, but definately there. Overall, these were good scones and I will definately make them again. Hmmmm.... maybe with the addition of mini chocolate chips. YUM!

Thanks to Robin of Lady Craddock's Bakery for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Monday, September 14, 2009

TWD: Flaky Apple Turnovers

This will be short and sweet. We are in California right now and heading to Disneyland today. :)

These turnovers were easy to make and incredibly delicious. I didn't roll them out thin enough, so I ended up with a thicker pastry. I'm not complaining, though, because the dough is probably my favorite part!

Thanks to Julie of Someone's in the Kitchen for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Martha Stewart Cupcake Club: Zucchini Spice Cupcakes

This is a perfect recipe to post today because it is my birthday! Happy 27th birthday to me! We will be celebrating in Disneyland with the kids today and then off to Sea World tomorrow. I am so excited!

This month's Martha Stewart Cupcake Club recipe is Zucchini Spice Cupcakes. I have said many times before how much I love baked goods with either carrots or zucchini, so I was thrilled to make these.

They were super easy to make and smelled great while baking. I made half with nuts and half without. I think both were amazing! The cupcake itself was pretty much zucchini bread in cupcake form and very delicious plain. But then I added the cream cheese frosting and I was in heaven! These cupcakes are AWESOME!!!

Thanks to Sugar B for starting this wonderful club! I can't wait to see what we are baking up for October!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

SMS: Perfect Pound Cake

Just in case anyone was worried, I am alive. Busy but alive. We are enjoying being stateside, but it is so weird knowing that we are staying and that we aren't flying back to Germany in a couple weeks. There is so much to get used to and we aren't even in Texas yet. I know everything will fall into place, but it is all VERY weird!

We are leaving for California in the morning and will be there for 4 days. I am really excited about our trip but I am pretty sure Anya is even more excited. She wanted to make a construction paper chain to hang up counting down the days until we go to Disneyland. It should be a great trip!

Now let's get to the good stuff... SMS! This week's recipe choice was Perfect Pound Cake. I accidentally grabbed the 1/3 cup instead of the 1/4 cup, so I added a little extra flour than the cake called for. I think it made my cake a tad drier than it would've been, but it was still great. I took Melissa Murphy's suggestion and grilled the pound cake and topped it with grilled pineapple, vanilla ice cream, and, instead of butterscotch sauce, I topped it all with Nutella. :) Yum!!!!

Thanks to Michelle of Veggie Num Nums for hosting this week.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I want to bake

That's all. I just REALLY want to bake something. Anything. Just put me in a kitchen so I can! Who knew that the biggest pitfall of moving is being without your kitchen?

Mom... make sure you have plenty of flour in preparation for my arrival.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Limited internet for a while....

This afternoon we are headed to the hotel. I will be checking my email and trying my best to stop by blogs and comment, but internet access will be very limited for a little bit.

I do have my baking group posts scheduled, so there will be some posts popping up this month. I hope you will all stick around and I promise that things will be up and running again once we get to El Paso!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Coconut Mini-Muffins with Lime Glaze

You put the lime in the coconut and.... Make these muffins! :) Lame, I know. But they are amazing, so go and make them!

Coconut Mini-Muffins with Lime Glaze

Recipe from DYLN

1 & 1/2 cups all purpose unbleached white flour
1/2 cup slow cooking oats
1 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 eggs
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup 1% or skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 & 1/2 cups confectionary sugar
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated lime zest

In a medium bowl, combine flour through nutmeg. In a seperate bowl (or measuring cup) mix eggs through vanilla. Mix wet into dry and stir to combine. Divide evenly in the muffin tin.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs. While the muffins are baking, mix glaze ingredients.
When the muffins test done, remove from the tin immediately and cool for about 15 minutes.

Dip each muffin in the glaze and allow to dry on the cooling rack

Monday, August 31, 2009

TWD: Espresso Cheesecake Brownies minus the Espresso

I love cheesecake. I love brownies. Put the two together and there isn't much not to love! I did omit the espresso from the cheesecake, though, because while I have come around to having a cup of coffee in the morning, I don't really care for coffee flavored desserts.

The recipe also called for a sour cream/powdered sugar frosting for the tops of the brownies. I only frosted half of the brownies. I preferred the brownies without the frosting, but Nathan preferred them with. He said he liked the tang of the sour cream. Either way you slice it, these brownies were good.

Thanks to Melissa of Life In A Peanut Shell for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Baked Penne with Zucchini, Corn, and Basil

Today the movers come and pack up what is remaining at our house. It isn't much... a few toys, some clothes that won't be coming with us on the plane, and the rest of my kitchen. For 3 weeks we have been living in a pretty empty house and, while I am not looking forward to moving, I am glad that we are finally getting closer to it. 2 kids in an empty house all day is not exactly the best thing. We are all going stir crazy and I think we are ready to clear out of the house.

We will be moving to a hotel in a couple of days and then we will be flying to Phoenix on September 7. We are going to visit family and take a trip to Disneyland before finally heading to El Paso, Texas - our new home for at least 2 years. I am not ready to say goodbye to Germany after 7 years, but it is getting closer to that time. YIKES!

Anyway.... I saw this recipe on Nancy's blog, The Dogs Eat The Crumbs, and knew that I would have to make it ASAP. It was so good and we all loved it. I will definately be making it again soon!

Baked Penne with Zucchini, Corn, and Basil
Recipe from Williams-Sonoma, found on The Dogs Eat The Crumbs

Kosher salt, to taste
1/2 lb. penne
6 Tbs. olive oil, plus more as needed
Kernels cut from 2 ears of corn
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 zucchini, about 2 lb. total, cut into half-moons
1/2 yellow onion, diced
4 tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 Tbs. sliced garlic
1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
6 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

Preheat an oven to 400ºF.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Generously salt the water, add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and rinse under cold running water. Set aside. In a 12-inch nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 3 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the corn, season with salt and black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is lightly golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and warm the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil. Working in batches, add the zucchini, season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is tender and golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add to the bowl with the corn. Repeat with the remaining zucchini, adding more oil to the pan as needed.

Set the pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, 1 tsp. salt and black pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes soften and begin to form a sauce, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until the wine has reduced and the sauce is fairly thick, about 3 minutes more.

Add the pasta, tomato sauce, basil, mozzarella and half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano to the bowl with the vegetables and stir to combine. Transfer to the fry pan and sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano on top. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until golden brown on top, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm.

Serves 8.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

SMS: Fresh Peach Muffins

I love making muffins for breakfast, so I was excited about this weeks SMS recipe choice. I can't say that I've ever had a peach muffin, but I really enjoyed it. These muffins were fluffy and incredibly delicious!

Thanks to JoVann of The Givens Chronicles for picking a winner! The recipe can be found at her blog.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Lemon Chicken and Baked Lemon Spaghetti

This is one of my favorite chicken dinners. The chicken is coated with delicious spices and has just a hint of lemon while the spaghetti has an amazing lemon flavor that compliments the chicken perfectly. If you love lemon, I'm sure that you'll enjoy this meal!

Lemon and Herb Chicken

2 TBSP basil
1 TBSP rosemary
1/2 tsp oregano
1 TBSP onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 TBSP thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 TBSP lemon zest
1/2 cup olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Make a paste out of spices and 1/4 cup olive oil. Spread on chicken. Heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in skillet and cook chicken until juices run clear.

Baked Lemon Spaghetti

8 oz spaghetti
1/3 cup unsalted butter
8 oz sour cream
1 tsp lemon zest
3 TBSP lemon juice
3 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
salt and pepper

Cook spaghetti to al dente. Drain and place in 2 qt casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Melt butter in saucepan and remove from heat. Stir in sour cream, zest, and lemon juice. Mix well. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and top with parsley, parmesan, salt, and pepper.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mongolian Beef

I am always on the lookout for more Asian style meals and when I saw that Katy had posted this on her blog, Food for a Hungry Soul, I was excited. This was easy to make and oh so delicious! I have never had Mongolian Beef before, but Nathan said this is how it was supposed to taste. It was so good that Nathan and I ate the leftovers cold from the fridge just an hour and a half after dinner. I can't wait to make it again!

P. F. Chang's® Mongolian Beef
Recipe from Meemo's Kitchen

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup vegetable oil
1 pound flank steak (to make slicing easier, put the beef in the freezer for 30-45 minutes to freeze slightly)
1/4 cup cornstarch
4-6 large green onions

For the sauce:

Heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add ginger and garlic to the pan. Quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches. If your oil is too hot, this may splatter, so be careful. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then bring the heat up to medium heat and allow the sauce to boil for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat.

Slice the slightly frozen flank steak against the grain into 1/4-inch thick slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a forty five degree angle to the top of the steak so that you get wider cuts.

Coat the steak pieces with a very thin coating of the cornstarch on both sides of each piece of beef. Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks.

Heat one cup of oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat until it's hot, but not smoking. Add the beef to the oil and sauté for two minutes, or until the beef just begins to darken on the edges. Stir the meat so that it cooks evenly. After a couple minutes, use a large slotted spoon or a spider to take the meat out and onto paper towels.

Pour the oil out of the wok or skillet. Put the pan back over the heat, add the meat back into the wok or skillet and simmer for one minute. Add the sauce, cook for one minute while stirring. Add the green onions. Cook for one more minute, then remove the beef and onions with tongs or a slotted spoon to a serving plate. Leave the excess sauce behind in the pan.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Daring Baker Challenge: Dobos Torta

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful
of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos
Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite
Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

A Dobos Torta is a five layer sponge cake filled with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel. The Dobos Torta can vary in the number of layers, too. If you check out the Daring Baker blogroll, I'm sure you'll see an amazing variety.

I ended up baking the cake in an 8x8 pan and then cutting that into 9 squares. I then cut each square in half and made three 6 layer tortes. I decided against making the caramel for the top layer of the cake. Instead, I used caramel sauce I had in the fridge. It made things much easier, plus I needed to use the caramel sauce before we move!

The cake was good, but it didn't stand out for me. I think the appeal of this cake comes from the layers and the fact that it looks pretty when sliced. (Nathan said it looks like a Kit-Kat cake!)There was nothing bad about the cake, but also nothing spectacular. Who knows, maybe spreading the top layer with caramel would've made a difference, but I don't think it could possibly make that big of a difference.

I'm glad I was able to complete the challenge even if it wasn't amazing for me. I may have to sit out the next two, depending on what they are. We will be in Arizona for most of September and may not have our household goods delivered early enough in October to get the challenge completed.

As always, check out the DB Blogroll! :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuscan Pork Stew

Pork tenderloin is one of my favorite meats to serve for dinner. I have been making this recipe for almost two years now, and I love using the tenderloin this way. I usually serve a crusty baguette on the side and it makes for a perfect dinner.


Tuscan Pork Stew

2 TBSP olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, diced

1 tsp rosemary

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup carrot slices

½ cup chicken broth

2 cans (15-19 oz) Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (14.5 oz) Italian style diced tomatoes

1.25 lbs pork tenderloin, sliced

In saucepan, heat 1 TBSP olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and rosemary. Cover and cook until onion is tender. Add garlic, cook 1 minute more. Stir in carrots through tomatoes; cook until tender. Remove 1 cup bean mixture and puree until smooth. Add back to saucepan. Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet. Add pork and cook. Serve bean mixture over sliced pork.

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