Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Daring Baker Challenge : Tuiles

The Daring Bakers are going light this month with tuiles. Tuiles are light, crisp cookies. Tuile in French means "tile" and they are called tuiles because the classic shape resembles a roof tile. Tuiles can be made into pretty much any shape. The Daring Bakers really got creative this month and I have seen butterflies, bowls, cigars, cones, and even flames! Seriously, make sure you check out the blogroll this month because the tuiles that have been created will knock your socks off!

The recipe was simple and the possiblities were endless. I was really happy to see that it wasn't an incredibly time consuming challenge (mostly because I didn't read the recipe until the 20th and I am crazy busy right now!), but I was bummed because I knew given the right circumstances that I would have really, really LOVED this challenge.

Here's a little tidbit of information about me... I like pretentious food. There, I said it. I love looking at a plate of food and seeing it decorated like a piece of art. I heart it! This month's challenge is definately one that can be made very fancy. Believe me... I have seen some of the amazing creations the Daring Bakers have come up with. But, I just didn't have the time this month to get fancy. I would like to think that I would've had an amazing 4 star restaurant creation that would wow a crowd, but I am still pleased with my pretty little creation that wowed my 3 year old!

I decided to shape the mine into a bowl and fill it with vanilla pudding. I drizzled melted cinnamon chips on top and then stuck a heart and star tuile on the top. It may not be the fanciest presentation, but it really was good!

The best part about this challenge is that you can do so many things with it! Sweet, savory, fancy, kid-friendly; whatever your heart desires! So, seriously, give it a try! It is an easy recipe to make and a very tasty treat!

Thank you to our wonderful hosts this month (Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf)! Even though I wasn't able to commit myself as much to this challenge as I would've liked, I still very much enjoyed it and I am looking forward to making tuiles again!

Yields: 20 small butterflies/6 large (butterflies are just an example)
¼ cup softened butter
½ cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
1/2 cup sifted all purpose flour
1 table poon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
Preheat oven to 350.
Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly.
Press the stencil on the baking sheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.
Bake butterflies in a preheated oven for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from bakingsheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again. Or place a baking sheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.
If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones….

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cheese of the Month: Ricotta

Is January seriously almost over? Didn't it JUST start? Well, the end of the month has snuck up on me, but I managed to make my recipe for January's cheese of the month.

This month's selection was ricotta and I was excited about it. There are so many things to do with ricotta. For me, the first thing I think of when I think about ricotta is lasagna. My brain just immediately goes there. But, I wanted something different. Usually I turn to the web for ideas, but since I have an ever growing collection of cookbooks that rarely get used, I decided to hunt through them for a recipe!

A pasta recipe caught my eye in my Williams-Sonoma Italian Favorites cookbook. The recipe satisfied my two requirements for this month - 1) it had to have ricotta, and 2) it had to be EASY as I am leaving for the states in two days and don't have the time to fuss around in the kitchen!

The recipe is for faralle with ricotta, ham, and corn. It was so incredibly simple and incredibly delicious. The hardest part of the recipe was boiling the pasta! Doesn't get much easier than that!!! :) This meal made a ton and while it was wonderful on a cold January night, this would be a FANTASTIC summer picnic meal, too!

As always, thanks to Britney of Adventures in Gluttony for hosting Cheese of the Month. Check out her blog at the end of the month for the round up!

Farfalle with Ricotta, Ham, and Corn

2 ears white or yellow corn, husks and silk removed OR 1 cup thawed frozen corn OR 1 cup canned corn
1 lb dried farfalle
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 oz cooked ham, cut into strips
Salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste

Parmesan cheese for the table

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add corn (if using ears). As soon as the water returns to a boil, remove from heat, cover, and let stand for about 5 minutes. Remove the corn from the water and set aside until cool enough to handle. Then, using a sharp knife, cut off the kernals. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, place ricotta in a bowl. Add a few tablespoons of hot pasta water and stir until smooth and creamy.

Drain the pasta and transfer to a warmed serving bowl. Immediately add the butter, ham, ricotta, salt, and white pepper. Toss well, scatter the corn on top, and serve immediately.

Monday, January 26, 2009

TWD: No gingerbread, but how about some scones?

This week's TWD selection was Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread chosen by Heather of Sherry Trifle. I'm not the biggest gingerbread fan. I mean, I'll eat a gingerbread man, but this recipe really didn't call out to me. Plus, it's only me here and I have given away so many sweets lately that I didn't want to make a recipe that may have gone to waste. So... I am taking another miss and will be sitting this recipe out. But, still check out the blogroll and Heather's blog for the recipe!

Now I didn't want to leave y'all empty handed, so I have a past TWD recipe for you. Like I said yesterday, I have been on a scone and muffin kick and I have been meaning to try the Apple Cheddar Scones for a while now. I finally got around to making them and I really enjoyed them. If you are a fan of apples & cheddar and a fan of scones, give these a try! You won't be disappointed.

Apple Cheddar Scones were chosen by Karina of The Floured Apron and the recipe can be found at her blog.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Orange Honey Muffins

I have been on a big muffin and scone kick over the last week or so. Anya has been, too! Lately when I ask her what she wants for breakfast, it is almost always muffins or scones. So... here is another yummy muffin for you to try! Enjoy!

Orange Honey Muffins

2 c flour

1/2 c old fashioned oats

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 c brown sugar

2 large eggs, slightly beaten

2/3 c orange juice

zest of 1 large orange

1/4 c honey

5 - 1/2 T butter, melted


1 - 1 1/2 c powdered sugar

1 T orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan well, or line with muffin papers.

Combine flour, oatmeal, baking powder, salt and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and stir. Add the eggs, orange juice, orange zest, honey, and melted butter and stir just until mixed.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups about 2/3 full. Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until very light golden.

To make icing: Combine powdered sugar with orange juice until a smooth glaze is formed. Drizzle over warm muffins.

Strawberry Shortcakes

I love homemade strawberry shortcakes. They aren't difficult to throw together the shortcake right out of the oven is divine. It is such a quick and easy dessert that really impresses. Mmmmm!

Strawberry Shortcakes

4 cups strawberries
1/2 cup sugar

2 cups flour
2 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk

Whipped Cream:
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 TBSP sugar

Slice strawberries and mix with 1/2 cup sugar; let stand 1 hour.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening until mixture is in fine crumbs. Stir in milk just until blended. If not completely moistened, add additional milk.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Just before serving, whip cream and sugar together until stiff peaks form. Split shortcakes, top with strawberries and whipped cream.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Waffles with Blueberry Syrup

Nathan is a BIG eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, etc kind of breakfast guy. He indulges me and eats (and enjoys!) muffins, scones, cinnamon rolls, and pancakes. But, he is definately more of a savory breakfast person.

With one exception... Waffles with blueberry syrup! This waffle recipe came from my mother-in-law and these are the waffles Nathan grew up eating. I like to jazz them up with homemade blueberry syrup. The combination is out of this world! I really look forward to this breakfast!

Makes 5 waffles

1 1/2 cups sifted flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1 TBSP sugar

2 egg whites, beaten until they cling to the bowl

2 egg yolks, well beaten

1 1/4 cups milk

1/4 cup melted butter

Sift dry ingredients together several times. Beat yolks and combine them with milk. Gradually stir the liquid into the dry ingredients and beat only until smooth. Add melted butter and then fold in the egg whites.

Pour a heaping half cup of batter into the center of waffle iron. Bake until golden and crisp.

Blueberry Syrup

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 TBSP lemon juice

Combine blueberries, sugar, and water in saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Spinach, Chicken, & Pasta Salad

What's better than having a great group of friends? Having a great group of friends who can cook!!! At least 3 times a week I am eating at either Monica's, Erica's, or Britteny's house. I am so grateful to have these amazing women in my life, especially at a time where husbands are deployed. The dinners together are more than just sharing a meal; it is sharing our happiness, sadness, excitement, and all the many things that are happening in our lives. (Between the 4 of us, we have 6 children - ages 3 and under!)

It is pretty common for me to request a recipe after a meal from my friends. Usually I will end up making it at home within a few weeks and then I post about it. Well... this meal was too good to not share right away.

Erica made this AMAZING chicken pasta salad the other night and it was insanely delicious. It was pretty silent while we were eating, which, if you knew the 4 of us, is highly unusual! It was just too good to take time to talk in between bites!

The photo is also from Erica. I joke with her that I need her to come photograph all of my food because she is so talented. Thank you Erica - for the wonderful meal and the beautiful picture.


Spinach, Chicken, & Pasta Salad

(Makes one GIANT bowl full)

16 oz. bowtie pasta, cooked

1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup bottled teriyaki sauce
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
6 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Blend dressing and mix with pasta and marinate for 2 hours.

Add the following (right before serving) and toss:

1 1/2 (10 oz) bags spinach
1 (6 oz) bag craisins
3 cans madarin oranges
2 cans sliced waterchestnuts
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 bunch green onions
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
6 oz honey roasted peanuts
2 cups chicken

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Walnut Apple Muffins

First I offer my apologies for no picture. I made these muffins per Anya's request the day after Nathan left and I think I was a little out of it and out of the habit of photographing every meal. So... no picture of these fantastic muffins. But, if you head over to Confabulation in the Kitchen (which is where I found the recipe), you can see pictures that are MUCH better than what I could've taken!

These muffins were so delicious! I loved how moist they were from the apples. I added craisins to them, too, because what doesn't benefit from craisins?

Walnut Apple Muffins

1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
2 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, cubed

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Coat top and insides of jumbo muffin pan with cooking spray, or line with muffin papers.

2. In a large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter, 1 1/4 cups sugar, vanilla, and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at time. Mix together the 1 3/4 cups of flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Stir in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Fold in apples and walnuts. Scoop into muffin cups to fill 3/4 full. Lightly sprinkle the tops with cinnamon crumble.

3. To make Cinnamon Crumble: In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, and 2 tablespoons cubed butter. Mix together using a pastry blender, or two butter knives. The crumble topping should resemble small peas.4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until tops are golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If they are browning too quickly, cover with tin foil. Remove from pans, and cool on wire rack.

Croque Madame

Right after Anya turned one, we took a family trip to Paris. It's only about a 4 hour drive from where we live, so we had a fun little road trip. The drive there wasn't bad, but I will NEVER drive in Paris again! Paris has some of the craziest drivers I have ever seen! We were even sideswiped by a taxi on our way to the hotel. Lucky for us we drive a SUV, so the taxi only hit our tire. But it was still scary!

One of my favorite things about Paris was the food. (Kind of a DUH statement, right?) I would love to go back if only for the pastries! Nathan's favorite food while we were there was the Croque Madame. It is a grilled cheese sandwich on steroids topped with a fried egg. You could also get it without the egg (Croque Monsieur).

I had forgotten all about that sandwich until I saw it on The Way the Cookie Crumbles. I bookmarked the recipe knowing that I HAD to make it for Nathan when he was home on R&R. He was so excited when I told him what I was making for breakfast and he loved it. It turned out really well and it tasted so similar to Paris. YUM!

Croque Madame
Makes 4 servings

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ cups whole milk
⅛ teaspoon salt
pinch teaspoon black pepper
pinch teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ cup (1 ounce) shredded swiss cheese
4 slices (1.5 ounces) sliced swiss cheese
8 slices firm white sandwich bread
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ pound thinly sliced cooked ham
4 large eggs

1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 1- to 1½-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, then whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, for 1 minute. Whisk in milk and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer, whisking occasionally, for 5 minutes. Whisk in salt, pepper, nutmeg, and shredded cheese until cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Stir occasionally while preparing sandwiches to keep hard surface from forming on top of sauce. (Alternatively, place plastic wrap directly on surface of sauce.)
2. Adjust an oven rack to the top position and heat the broiler. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
3. Spread 1 tablespoon sauce evenly over each of 4 slices of bread, then cover evenly with remaining cheese. Spread mustard evenly on remaining 4 bread slices and top with ham, dividing it evenly, then invert onto cheese-topped bread to form sandwiches.
4. Melt ½ tablespoon butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the sandwiches and cook until golden, 3-4 minutes. Remove sandwiches from pan, add remaining ½ tablespoon butter, and return sandwiches, unbrowned side down, to pan. Cook until golden on second side. Transfer sandwiches to prepared baking pan. Do not wash skillet.
5. Top sandwiches with remaining sauce, spreading evenly. Broil sandwiches until sauce is bubbling and golden in spots, 2 to 4 minutes.
6. While sandwiches are broiling, heat the same nonstick pan over medium heat. Spray the pan with nonstick spray if there’s not butter leftover from browning the sandwiches. Crack eggs into skillet and season with salt and pepper. Fry eggs, covered, until whites are just set and yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes. Top each sandwich with a fried egg and serve immediately.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

TWD: Berry Surprise Cake

This week's recipe intrigued me from the beginning. A hollowed out cake filled with a cream cheese mixture and berries. What's not to love, right? I didn't feel like making and decorating an entire cake, though, so I decided cut the recipe in half and made individual trifles.

The cake itself was very easy to throw together as was the cream cheese mixture. I used a combination of strawberries and blueberries, mostly because that is what I had on hand! The result... good. I enjoyed it and there were no leftovers here, but, for me, there wasn't anything that made it stand out from any other trifle I have had/made. I don't know if I would make this again or not, but, it was worth trying and it wasn't a failure. :)

Thanks to Mary Ann of Meet Me in the Kitchen for choosing this week's recipe. Check out the TWD blogroll to see the many variations of this cake!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Farmhouse Breakfast Bake

Wow... it's taken me a tad longer than I thought to get back in the swing of things! It kinda seems like I've fallen off the face of the earth, no? :) Well... not to jinx myself or anything, but, I'M BACK!

Here is a yummy, yummy breakfast for you. I usually cut up all the veggies and even cook the sausage the night before so I can just throw it together in the morning. I love how it is packed full of goodness and it isn't too eggy. (I'm not the biggest fan of quiche.) I hope you'll give it a try... it is great!

Farmhouse Breakfast Bake
Gooseberry Patch

Pie crust
1/2 pound ground pork sausage, browned and drained
1 cup frozen diced potatoes, thawed
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1/2 cup red or green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, divided
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp season salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Place pie crust in pie plate; place on baking sheet. Sprinkle sausage in crust. Top with potatoes, onions, pepper, and 1/4 cup of the cheese. Beat together eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Pour over sausage mixture. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 or until eggs are set and crust is golden. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and serve.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Just wanted to give y'all a quick update on what is going on here. Nathan headed back to Iraq yesterday and the kids and I are just trying to get back into our routine. We had so much fun over the last 18 days and we are looking forward to when Nathan can come home for good.

I have a few pictures that need posts written for them. :) I want to get some posts up soon and I will try to get that going. I have a few things I need to finish first (over 200 pictures from Nathan's visit to sort through!) and then I can get this blog back up and running.

I am heading to Arizona at the end of January and will be there for a month. I hope to be able to post a little while I am there and, at the very least, I will keep up with my TWD posts.

Thank you so much to all of you who have stopped by recently. I know I haven't posted much, but it means a lot to me to know that you are still checking in! Even if it takes me a few days to get posts going again, I will be stopping by other blogs to catch up on comments! I can't wait to see what you have all been up to!

Happy eating! :)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Greens and Beans

Hello out there in blogland!!! The kids are sleeping and Nathan made a run to the store so I thought I would pop out a quick post! We are having such a wonderful time as a family and are just soaking up every last second with Nathan. We had family pictures taken earlier in the week and while I don't have all of them in yet, our photographer posted this one on her blog and I HAD to share! Anya is such a Daddy's girl and this picture melts my heart! It was 19 degrees outside while we were shooting and boy were we FREEZING! But, our photographer (Shauna Maness) was AMAZING and it was a great session!

Here is a quick, easy, and delicious recipe that I made a few weeks back! Enjoy!

Greens & Beans
Parents Magazine Nov 2008

1 TBSP oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (15 oz) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup water
2 TBSP parmesan cheese

Heat oil in large skillet. Add red pepper and garlic; saute about 4 minutes. Add beans, spinach, broth, and water. Boil for 3-4 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Serve topped with parmesan cheese.

Monday, January 5, 2009

TWD: French Pear Tart

There was no way that I was skipping this week's Tuesdays with Dorie. Even if I wanted to I couldn't. Even if I absolutely hated pears I still would've made this recipe. Why? Because the host for this week's recipe is none other than Dorie Greenspan. Oh yes... that's right! The fantastic, amazing author of Baking: From My Home To Yours chose the recipe for us this week. How cool is that? I don't know... maybe I'm weird, but I think that is awesome! So, for me, making this tart was a must. Dorie picked it and I would trust in Dorie! :)

I decided to make this tart over the past weekend since Nathan and I were having our "Thanksgiving" dinner. It made a wonderful addition to our dessert table. (Yes, you read correctly. Even though we only had 5 adults, there were two pies, two cheesecakes, and the pear tart!)

The tart dough was a cinch to put together. The recipe calls for the use of a food processor, but I didn't feel like pulling it out and I made it by hand. It tasted fantastic... very shortbread like. YUM! I loved the almond cream, too! I snuck a few tastes before cooking the tart and it was so delicious. And it was even better baked up with the pears!

My only complaint about this recipe has nothing to do with the recipe, just the baker! My pears looked ugly on top. I just couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. Some looked like squids just sitting on top of the tart. This is the reason there is no picture of the entire tart!

Thanks to Dorie Greenspan for picking this week's recipe and thanks to Laurie for starting this wonderful group a year ago! I have had so much fun baking with this group for the last 5 months and I look forward to many more delicious recipes. Check out the TWD blogroll for what I'm sure will be some amazing looking tarts!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Taco Avocado Wraps

Wow... this is my first post in January! Happy New Year! I am so grateful for all of you who stop by my blog and leave comments. I appreciate each and every one of you and look forward to sharing many more delicious recipes with you this coming year!

I know I have been missing lately. We are enjoying lots of quality family time and having a blast! I only have 2 posts left in my draft folder and most of the food I have been making is already on my blog. So... that doesn't leave me too much to blog about lately. SORRY! No worries though! I will start posting new things soon!

I love wraps for lunch! Somehow it makes things a little more fun! Lunch, for me anyway, is the most boring meal of the day. I try so many new things for breakfast and dinner, but lunch is forgotten. I just make a quick sandwich or the occasional baked mac and cheese. These wraps didn't take any longer than a sandwich and they tasted great!

Taco Avocado Wraps
Taste of Home

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies, drained
1 TBSP taco seasoning
4 flour tortillas
2 medium ripe avocados, peeled and sliced
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
5 green onions, sliced
1 can (4 oz) sliced black olives

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, chilies, and taco seasoning. Spread about 1/2 cup over each tortilla. Top with avocados, tomoatoes, onions, and olives. Roll up.

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