Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cheese of the Month - Cream Cheese

SLACKER! That is what I am when it came to my Cheese of the Month entry for April. I'm talking serious slacking. Meaning I decided on a recipe last night, made it this morning, and now I am writing this post. To make my slacking even worse, I completely forgot to take pictures. I know, I know. SLACKER!

The selection this month is cream cheese. Cream cheese is a weird one for me. I don't care for it. You will never see me put cream cheese on a bagel. Yuck. But, I LOVE cooking and baking with cream cheese. Heck, cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts. So maybe it is just plain cream cheese that bothers me because I have lately become obsessed with turkey wraps that are held together with vegetable cream cheese. Weird, I know.

Okay, on to the recipe. I made Lemon Curd and Cream Cheese Muffins. While searching for ideas last night, I found this recipe and knew I had to make it. I had homemade lemon curd in the fridge that needed to be used so this recipe was perfect. Plus, I could make it for breakfast and still get my post up on time!

This recipe was SO delicious! A light, fluffy lemon muffin with a delicious sweetened cream cheese pocket in the middle. I really enjoyed these muffins... maybe that is why there is no picture. I just wanted to eat them!

And to make up for no picture, here are a few links of some yummy recipes that include cream cheese!

Iced Cinnamon Bun Scones
Fruit Pizza
Taco Avocado Wraps
Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Cake
Cucumber Sandwiches
Nutella Cinnamon Dip

Thank you to Brittney of Adventures in Gluttony for hosting this wonderful group! Check out her blog for the round-up!

Lemon Curd and Cream Cheese Muffins


6 ounces flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 ounces sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
5/8 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
4 TBSP butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons lemon curd
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 ounces cream cheese
3/4 ounce powdered sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 ounces powdered sugar


Preheat the oven to 325°F and line a muffin pan with paper cases.

Sift flour, baking powder and sugar together.

Add lemon zest.

Mix together the milk, egg, butter, lemon curd and vanilla.

Mix together the cream cheese and icing sugar in a seperate bowl.

Make a well in center of the dry ingredients, quickly stir in the wet ingredients using no more than 12 strokes.

Put 1 tablespoon of the muffin mix into the base of the muffin pans.

Pop a fraction of the cream cheese mixture on top and then cover with the remaining muffin mixture.

The tins should be almost full to the top.

Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Prepare the glaze by mixing the icing sugar and lemon juice together.

Remove the muffins from their tins, cool for five minutes and then drizzle with the glaze.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

250... NO WAY!

This is my 250th post! I cannot believe it! This blog has been such a wonderful outlet for me. I have always enjoyed baking and cooking, but blogging has given me an added joy. I have discovered this whole world of foodies that I never knew existed and I have formed good friendships. So a big, big thank you to those who have enjoyed my blog and therefore made me enjoy it more!

I joked when I started this blog back in August that I would bake/cook my way through this deployment. My good friend, Erica, pointed out to me the other night that I literally have. Yes, that's right. This deployment is coming to an end!!! I cannot say exactly when Nathan will be arriving home for two reasons... One - The date isn't set in stone. Two- OPSEC (Operational Security). But, I can say that he will be home oh so soon and I cannot wait! It has been almost 13 months and to have my husband and best friend back home with me will be amazing!

I also mentioned the other day that I have been crazy busy and that I would elaborate later. Now is later. :) Besides getting everything ready for Nathan's return, I have two birthdays in May. My son will be turning one May 29th and anyone who knows me knows that I plan WAY ahead of time, so while that is a month away, I am busy working on plans. My baby girl (who isn't a baby anymore) turns 4 (WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN???) on May 6th and we are having her party this weekend. She requested a surprise party and I am so excited for it! Although I didn't really think about the logistics of pulling off a surprise party with a deployed husband! But, luckily I have awesome friends who are helping me pull it off! The rest of this week will be spent making dozens of sugar cookies in the shape of 4's (I do numbers every year) and making 4 cakes (per the birthday girl's request!) all while keeping it hidden from my daughter. Can we say late nights? :)

Now on to a recipe! This is a great indulgent breakfast treat that is SUPER easy thanks to the help of (GASP) store bought cinnamon rolls. I prefer homemade cinnamon rolls and will take the time to make them if I am just making cinnamon rolls. But, this recipe just uses the rolls as a base and they are dipped in a butter/sour cream/brown sugar/pecan mixture. YUM YUM YUM! Seriously so good!


Cinnamon Pecan Pull Apart

3/4 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cans (12.4 oz each) Pillsbury refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing

Heat oven to 350. Grease bundt pan; set aside.

In large bowl, mix all ingredients except for cinnamon rolls.

Seperate rolls and cut into fourths. Add dough pieces to pecan mixture; toss to coat. Spoon mixture into bundt pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until deep golden brown. Turn upside down onto serving plate. Spread with icing.

Monday, April 27, 2009

TWD: Chocolate Cream Tart

Mmmmm.... chocolate! You just can't go wrong with chocolate. The selection for this week appealed to the chocolate lover in me and I was very happy with it!

Dorie says that this tarts next of kin is a chocolate cream pie, but this is a fancier version. It starts with a chocolate shortbread crust that isn't too sweet and that I actually really enjoyed. It is then topped with DELICIOUS chocolate pastry cream that was out of this world. I licked every last bit of it out of the bowl. There was no way I was going to waste any of it! The tart finally gets a topping of fresh whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Oh my yum!

I thought this tart was incredibly delicious, although it was also incredibly rich. It didn't stop our dinner group on Sunday from practically finishing it off, though!

Thanks so much to Kim of Scrumptious Photography for choosing this amazing dessert! Check out her blog for the recipe and, as always, check out the blogroll to see what these amazing bakers created!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Daring Baker Challenge - Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

I had mixed feelings about a cheesecake challenge. I make cheesecake regularly, so it really wasn't daring for me. But, I LOVE cheesecake and any reason to make it is a good thing. The great thing about this challenge is that Jenny not only made creativity an option, she encouraged it. So, I put on my thinking cap and started getting excited about this challenge.

I have a go-to cheesecake recipe that I am absolutely in love with, so I knew that I wanted to do something different. I wanted to play around with the flavors. The problem with this is that I couldn't narrow it down. I ended up making mini cheesecakes in 10 different cheesecake variations. Yes, you read that correctly. TEN different cheesecakes. See what I mean... I just couldn't decide!

I made the following flavors:

Not pictured individually:

Plain with Strawberry Coulis

Plain with Blueberry Coulis

Chocolate Covered (To include craters filled with chocolate)

White Chocolate & Raspberry

Nutella Swirl

Peanut Butter & Chocolate

They were all phenomenal, but my favorite had to be the Nutella swirl. Big shocker, right? Cristine likes Nutella. I know you just can't believe it. :) The white chocolate and raspberry one was pretty great, too. Ah... who am I kidding? There wasn't a bad cheesecake in the whole bunch!

My only problem with the recipe was my own fault. I tried making 36 mini cheesecakes in a two hour period while my son was napping and my daughter was at preschool. That meant rushed cooling time (aka pan straight to freezer from oven) since I only had one mini cheesecake pan. This caused some of the cheesecakes to fall in the center, but they still tasted great!

Thanks to Jenny for a great challenge! Head over to her blog for the recipe and check out the blogroll for some HIGHLY creative cheesecakes.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sweet Melissa Sundays - Granola Breakfast Cookies

Another week, another sweet Melissa treat! The recipe chosen for this week was Granola Breakfast Cookies.

These cookies were good. I really enjoyed them. They reminded me of a molasses cookie (which I love!), but with a little something extra. I loved the granola in these. I would definately make them again!

Thanks to Jessica of A Singleton in the Kitchen for choosing these yummy cookies! Check out her blog for the recipe and head on over to Sweet Melissa Sundays to join in on the fun!

(Sorry for the incredibly short post... this week has been ridiculously hectic! More on why I'm so busy later!)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Peanut Butter Cookies from BAKED


I recently purchased Baked: New Fronteirs in Baking and am loving it! It is full of fantastic recipes that I can't wait to try. I was in the mood for some cookies so I baked up a half batch of these cookies. If you love peanut butter cookies, try these. They are full of milk chocolate chunks which satisfies my craving for the pb & chocolate combination! I had a DOVE chocolate bunny leftover from Easter that gave its life for these cookies. Thank you dear bunny! :)

I did have two problems with these cookies, though. The first is that they kinda go flat in the oven. The recipe says to just push gently on the tops, but not to flatten. I did that the first time and got flat cookies. I pressed lighter the second time and got flat cookies. I didn't press at all the third time and still got flat cookies. They tasted amazing, but were flat. Just FYI. :)

The second problem??? I ate 7 of these. Yes, you read that right. SEVEN. Of course that was between two days, but it really doesn't make it any better. I ended up packing up the rest of the cookies and forcing them on friends at the park because I knew I would eat every last one.

So, if you have willpower, make a batch for yourself. Except for these cookies will test even the strongest willpower. So... invite some friends over and enjoy these fantastic cookies. I know I did!

Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chunks

Recipe from BAKED

1 3/4 cups AP flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1" pieces

1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup creamy peanut butter

6 ounces good milk chocolate, coarsley chopped

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. The mixture will look light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and peanut butter and beat until just incorporated.

Add half of the flour mixture and mix for 15 seconds. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix just until incorporated.

Using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the chocolate. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto the baking sheet. With th palm of your hand, very gently press each cookie down so it forms a very tall disc shape. DO NO press too hard and DO NOT press it flat.

Sprinkle the tops of cookies with sugar and bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until the tops begin to brown.

Cool on pan on wire rack for 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Monday, April 20, 2009

TWD: No Bread Pudding here....

Looks like I'll be taking a miss this week. I don't really care for bread pudding. :( I'm sure it was delicious for those who like bread pudding, so check out the blogroll and see what everyone did!

My apologies to Lauren of Upper East Side Chronicle for not baking along this week! Check out Lauren's blog for the recipe!

Cheese Ravioli with Spinach Cream Sauce

I have recently become obsessed with homemade pasta. It is so good and so much fun to make. It is slightly time consuming, but not ridiculously so. Plus, the end result is so worth it!

This recipe was beyond fantastic!!! It felt like I was eating at a restaurant. It was THAT good! I had my friend, Monica, over for dinner and it was pratically silent at the table. We just kept eating it and eating it! It was even great re-warmed as leftovers.

I know I've said this before about other recipes, but SERIOUSLY... try this one. It is so delicious!

Cheese Ravioli with Spinach Cream Sauce
Recipe from Teri's Kitchen

One recipe Basic Egg Pasta Dough or 1 pound store-bought uncooked pasta sheets
For the filling:
2 cups ricotta cheese
Half of a 10 ounce box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (reserve other half for sauce)
4 ounces mozarella or provolone cheese, grated
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (can used dried flakes)
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Sauce:
1 small head garlic, roasted
1 red bell pepper, roasted
2 plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces mushrooms, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Reserved spinach from filling
1/2 cup dry vermouth
2 cups cream
1 tablespoon dried or fresh basil
Additional Ingredients:
Freshly shredded or grated Romano cheese for garnish

Make the pasta dough according to directions. Let rest for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Place ingredients in bowl in order given, mixing well to combine. Taste for seasoning. (Can be prepared one day ahead and refrigerated until use.)

Roll the dough using roller machine directions to the 5th or 6th setting. Place one sheet on ravioli mold and press with top to make indentions. Fill indentions with mixture. Using a finger or brush, moisten all around the edges of squares with water. Place another pasta sheet on top. Roll with rolling pin until the ravioli are cut out. Continue the process until all of the filling is used. Place ravioli in a single layer on baking sheets and refrigerate until use.

For the sauce, roast the garlic and pepper according to the directions in the links. Cut the tomatoes in half and place under the broiler with the peppers. Turn once to brown both sides. (Can be prepared several hours before use.) Thinly slice the peppers and tomatoes. Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil. When hot, add the mushrooms and sauté until well browned. Add the garlic, peppers, tomatoes, reserved spinach, salt and pepper. Sauté another minute. Pour in the vermouth and cook until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and proceed to cook the ravioli.
Use a large pasta or stock pot to cook ravioli. Bring water to a boil, add salt and a little olive oil. Carefully drop in the ravioli, leaving lots of room for the water to boil around them. Cook for about 3 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Remove from pot and drain in colander; place in large serving bowl. Continue until all the ravioli is cooked.
To finsh, return the sauce to a hot burner. Heat quickly, then pour in the cream. Cook until slightly reduced. Add the basil. Taste for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the ravioli. Sprinkle with Romano cheese and serve immediately.

Notes: To form ravioli without a mold, place one sheet on a lightly floured cutting board. Place mounds of filling in rows, spaced according to the size ravioli you prefer. Moisten a square around each mound with the water. Cover with the top sheet of pasta. Press around each mound of filling, being certain to get as little air as possible in between the sheets and to carefully seal the edges. Cut out squares with a knife or pastry cutter. Cut any leftover dough into strips, dry for aobut 1 hour, then freeze for other uses.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sweet Melissa Sundays - Caramel Apple Turnovers with Sweet Ricotta Filling

Oh, that's right... I've joined another group! :) Sweet Melissa Sunday's started two weeks ago and I knew I had to join! We are baking once a week out of "The Sweet Melissa Baking Book" by Melissa Murphy. This book is full of fantastic recipes that I can't wait to make! The first two recipes were Honey Beescotti (seriously, just the name made me want to join!) and Brooklyn Brownout Cake, both of which I will be making soon.

This weeks recipe was Caramel Apple Turnovers with Sweet Ricotta Filling. Yum, yum, yum! I love apple turnovers and these were fantastic! They weren't difficult to put together and not very time consuming. I made them Friday night and put them in the fridge to firm up overnight. I popped them in the oven Saturday morning and had warm, delicious apple turnovers for breakfast. I really enjoyed the orange zest in the ricotta... it really stood out for me! I will definately be making these over and over again!

My pictures REALLY don't do these justice!!!

Head on over to Tracey's Culinary Adventures for the recipe and then head to the bookstore and pick up a copy of this fantastic cookbook! And if you want to join us as we bake our way through, click here!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Saucy Mozzarella Patties

I found this recipe at an online forum years ago and I have made it a million times since. These are kind of a cross between a meatloaf and a meatball. They are made with ground turkey, browned in a pan and then finished off in the oven. Before being baked, you top it with marinara sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan. YUM!!! I usually serve this with a salad and crusty bread, but you could also make any pasta to go along with it.


Saucy Mozzarella Patties

1 lb ground turkey
3 cups breadcrumbs, divided
1 egg
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste
Olive oil
Marinara sauce

Mix turkey and egg; add 1 cup breadcrumbs. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Combine ingredients until well blended. Heat butter and olive oil in pan. Put 2 cups breadcrumbs on plate. Take 1/3 cup of mixture and form into pattie. Press pattie into breadcrumbs. Cook in pan until both sides are browned. Transfer to flat baking dish. Spoon sauce onto each pattie, then top with cheese and more sauce.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Blueberry Poppy Seed Brunch Cake

I had brunch with my close friends a couple weeks ago (yes, I'm THAT far behind in posting!) and I made this delicious cake. I love poppy seeds but I usually only use them for lemon poppy seed bread or my grandma's poppy seed kolocky's.

This recipe has a hint of lemon from the zest in the crust and the option of using lemon juice instead of milk in the glaze. Everything works so well together in this cake. It was great right out of the oven and it was great the next day straight out of the fridge. You can't lose with this. I will definately be making this again and again!

Blueberry Poppy Seed Brunch Cake
Taste of Home July/Aug 2008

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp grated lemon peel
1 1/2 cups flour
2 TBSP poppy seeds
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream

1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 TBSP milk
(Alternately, you could add 1 tsp EACH of lemon juice and milk and a little lemon zest)

In a small bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg; beat well. Stir in lemon peel. Combine the flour through salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Beat just until combined. Spread into greased 9" springform pan.

In small bowl combine sugar, flour, and nutmeg. Gently stir in blueberries until coated. Sprinkle over batter.

Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on wire rack; remove sides of pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together glaze ingredients. Drizzle over cake.

General Tso's Chicken

I love this dinner. It is so delicious and it is quick and healthy, too! Normally, General Tso's is breaded and deep fried. Delicious, yes. Good for you, not so much. Don't get me wrong... I enjoy fried food, too, and I have a sweet and sour pork recipe that is fried and so yummy. (I will make it and post... promise!)

Back to the recipe at hand... I promise you won't miss the breading on this. Try it... you'll be pleasantly surprised!

General Tso's Chicken

3/4 cup chicken broth
2 TBSP cornstarch
2 TBSP sugar
2 TBSP soy sauce
1 TBSP white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 tsp peanut oil
2 green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

In a medium bowl, whisk together broth through ginger. Set aside.

Heat oil in wok. Add green onions, garlic, and pepper. Cook 2 minutes. Add chicken and cook through. Add sauce and simmer until it thickens.

Serve over rice.

Monday, April 13, 2009

TWD: 15 Minute Magic - Chocolate Amaretti Torte

I unfortunately don't have much to say about this weeks choice. I made it Easter morning and I can say that it lives up to it's name and the time it takes to get it into the oven in minimal. I cut the recipe in half and made a mini torte. I opted to not make the almond whipped cream (which I'm sure is fantastic!) because I was short on time. Being short on time meant I grabbed one quick bite before running out of the house.
It was a delicious bite, but unfortunately I don't really remember much of the torte. I did share it with friends who sang it's praises, so I am thinking I will make it again and to really savor it and see how much I like it. I do have half a bag of mini amaretti left and it only takes 15 minutes, so I really have nothing to lose!
Thanks to Holly of PheMOMenon for choosing the torte. Check out her blog for the recipe and the blogroll to see all the fabulous creations!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spring Fruit Trifle and Happy Easter!!!

Happy Easter! I hope everyone has a wonderful day! Mine is going great so far and I am looking forward to dinner with friends tonight. For dessert, I am bringing this fantastic trifle. I have said it before but it is worth repeating. Trifles are the best dessert if you are short on time and still want to impress. The trifle looks so pretty layered in the dish. I love all the fresh fruit in this one. It is so yummy!!!

Also, on a side note, things have been pretty hectic and busy around here lately. I apologize for not visiting other blogs as often as I usually do. I try to catch up on blog posts when I can, but other things take priority. I know you all understand, but I wanted to make sure you know I appreciate every comment that is left and I am grateful to all my readers. Even if I don't get a chance to return the comment, please know that I am SO glad you stopped by here!
Have a fantastic Easter!

Spring Fruit Trifle

1 box Nilla Wafers
1-2 TBSP orange juice
3 cups fresh fruit (kiwi, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple)
2 pkgs instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups milk
1 package white chocolate chips, melted
8 oz cool whip

Combine pudding and milk; refrigerate until thick. Add white chocolate, whisk until smooth. Stir in half of cool whip.

Break wafers in bottom of trifle dish; sprinkle with orange juice. Top with fruit. Spoon pudding mixture on top of fruit. Top with remaining cool whip.

Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Double Orange Scones with Orange Butter

Aren't these little minis adorable? I think so! I loved these little guys! They were full of orange flavor thanks to orange zest and mandarin oranges in the dough. And the orange butter was fantastic on top! Definately a scone that I will be making again!

Double Orange Scones with Orange Butter


2 cups flour
3 TBSP sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp orange zest
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup mandarin orange segments, chopped
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 TBSP sugar

Orange Butter:

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 TBSP orange marmalade

Heat oven to 400. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In large bowl, mix flour through zest. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add orange, milk, and egg; stir just until mixture leaces side of bowl and soft dough forms.

Place dough on floured surface. Knead lightly 10 times. On cookie sheet, roll or pat dough into 7" round. Sprinkle with 1 TBSP sugar. Cut into 8 wedges; seperate slightly.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Stir in marmalade. Serve with warm scones.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce

This past weekend was my friend Erica's birthday and I had asked her if I could make her a cake. She asked for an apple cake, which I jumped on! Don't get me wrong... I LOVE traditional birthday cakes with the buttercream frosting - YUM! But, we have had a lot of birthdays around here lately and I was excited for a different type of cake.

Erica provided me with her grandmother's recipe and it didn't disappoint! This cake was so moist and incredibly delicious. It is topped off with a caramel sauce, and next time, I will be adding a nice heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Thanks for an awesome recipe, Erica!

Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce

4 cups peeled, sliced apples
2 cups sugar
½ cup oil
1 cup chopped nuts
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt

Caramel Sauce:
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
½ cup butter
½ cup whipping cream
½ tsp. vanilla

Blend the first six ingredients until combined. Fold in dry ingredients. Pour into a 9x13" pan and Bake @ 325° for 1 hour.

While cake is baking, make caramel sauce by combining sugars, butter, cream and vanilla on stove top. Stir and heat just to the boiling stage. Serve warm over cake.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Oatmeal with Crushed Pineapple, Coconut, and Macadamia Nuts

I seem to always forget how much I enjoy oatmeal. I know I'm not alone in this because my friend Monica was just telling me the same thing. I really think oatmeal is an unsung breakfast hero. It is so warm and comforting and it is filling enough to get you through the morning.

This isn't really a recipe but it was so good that I had to share! I was in a bit of a tropical mood (vacation, anyone?) and threw this oatmeal together. SO YUM!!!

Just cook up your oatmeal, mix in the crushed pineapple and top with coconut and chopped macadamia nuts. Oh, and I always add a little brown sugar for some sweetness. :) Enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2009

TWD: Banana Cream Pie

Banana Cream Pie. Dorie's Banana Cream Pie. A-MAZ-ING!!!! I am seriously in love with this week's Tuesday's with Dorie recipe.

To be perfectly honest, I can't recall if I've ever had banana cream pie before. I'm sure I have, but I just don't remember. But this pie... HEAVEN!

Let's start with Dorie's delicious pie crust. Add on top of that a decadent pastry cream made with brown sugar and a hint of spice from the cinnamon and nutmeg. I was eating this cream with a spoon. Plop down some sliced bananas, repeat the layers, and top it off with tangy whipped cream. To. Die. For.

Luckily for my waist, I cut the recipe in half and made 3 mini pies using shallow ramekins. Myself and one friend were the only two who were going to eat the pie and, given it's shelf life, minis seemed to be the way to go.

Thank you oh so much to Amy of Sing for your Supper for choosing this pie which will be made again and again in my house. Check out her blog for the recipe and the blogroll for some delicious looking pie!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cookie Carnival: Toasted Almond Lemon Bars

I think this is the fastest I have ever completed a Cookie Carnival! The recipe was emailed to us 2 days ago and I was stoked! I have been staring at the lemons in my fruit bowl for the last week or so and kept thinking, "Hey... I should make lemon bars!"

Then came the Cookie Carnival e-mail. Our first ever guest host, Holly of Phe-MOM-enon, chose Toasted Almond Lemon Bars. I finally had the push to get up and make some lemon bars!

What makes these lemon bars stand out from others is the ground almonds in the crust. Also, there is almond extract in the filling. I love that almond flavor. YUM! These bars are fantastic and I am looking forward to sharing them with friends later today.

Thanks, Holly, for a great Carnival! :)

Toasted Almond Lemon Bars
From The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy
Makes 1 dozen bars

For the Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds, lightly toasted
1/2 teaspoon salt
20 Tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
For the Lemon Filling:
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 7 lemons)
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar for sprinkling
To Toast the Almonds:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly golden and you can smell them. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Before You Start:

Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 - inch pan with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. Make a parchment "sling" by cutting two pieces of parchment paper, measuring 16 1/2 inches long by 12 inches wide (you can also use aluminum foil). Place one piece across the length, and the other across the width of the pan, with the excess hanging over the edges. You will use this sling later to lift the finished bar from the pan. Spray the sling with the cooking spray.
To Make the Crust:
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, sugar, almonds, and salt to combine. Add the cold butter in pieces and pulse until the dough comes together in a ball.
2. Turn the dough out into the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom and 1 1/4 inches up the sides. (This crust, once it is baked, needs to act as a liner in which to pour the liquidy lemon filling. So be sure to do a good job of pressing the dough up the sides - no cracks!). Cover the dough with a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights ( you can use dried beans or uncooked rice as pie weights as well). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly golden. Carefully remove the pie weights and the liner and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the whole crust is golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
To Make the Filling:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until smooth. Add the almond extract and flour, and whisk until smooth. Add the lemon juice, and whisk to combine.
To Complete the Bars:

1. Pour the lemon filling into the prepared crust. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling is firm and lightly golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
2. When cool use the parchment sling to lift the entire bar from the pan and onto a cutting board. Slice into twelve 3 x 3 1/2 - inch bars. Remove from the pan and, using a small sifter, dust with the confectioners' sugar.

The bars keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. For longer storage, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze well wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 3 weeks. Do not unwrap before defrosting. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Raspberry White Chocolate Scones

All I have to say is YUM!!!! These scones required a little more work than usual because they are rolled out and filled with the raspberries and white chocolate, but they are worth it! Seriously... SO GOOD! Try them!

Raspberry White Chocolate Scones
Recipe from PickyCook (Great step-by-step photos on her blog!)

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for work surface
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup of white chocolate chips
vanilla sugar to sprinkle on top

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Grate 8 TBSP butter. Place grated butter in freezer until needed. Melt 2 tablespoons of remaining ungrated butter and set aside. Place raspberries in freezer until needed.

2. Whisk together milk and sour cream in medium bowl; refrigerate until needed. Whisk flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest in medium bowl. Add frozen butter to flour mixture and toss with fingers until thoroughly coated.

3. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; fold with spatula until just combined. With rubber spatula, transfer dough to liberally floured work surface. Dust surface of dough with flour; with floured hands, knead dough 6 to 8 times, until it just holds together in ragged ball, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.

4. Roll dough into approximate 12-inch square. Fold dough into thirds like a business letter, using bench scraper or metal spatula to release dough if it sticks to countertop. Lift short ends of dough and fold into thirds again to form approximate 4-inch square. Transfer dough to plate lightly dusted with flour and chill in freezer 5 minutes.

5. Transfer dough to floured work surface and roll into approximate 12-inch square again. Sprinkle raspberries and white chocolate chips evenly over surface of dough, then press down so they are slightly embedded in dough. Using bench scraper or thin metal spatula, loosen dough from work surface. Roll dough, pressing to form tight log. Lay seam-side down and press log into 12 by 4-inch rectangle. Using sharp, floured knife, cut rectangle crosswise into 4 equal rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet.

6. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Bake until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving.

To Make Ahead:

After placing the scones on the baking sheet, either refrigerate them overnight or freeze. When ready to bake, for refrigerated scones, heat oven to 425 degrees and follow directions in step 6. For frozen scones, heat oven to 375 degrees, follow directions in step 6, and extend cooking time to 25 to 30 minutes.

Pina Colada Zucchini Bread

Alright... time to get back to normal! This past week has been hectic and crazy and I just haven't had the time (or energy!) to sit down and do blog posts. But, the household is healthy again and I am ready to get back into the swing of things. Okay, well at least I'm ready to get a post up! I hope to catch up on visiting other blogs and commenting SOON! :)

I love quick breads. They are pretty easy to throw together and usually very moist. A perfect breakfast or snack, if you ask me!

Lately I have become a little obsessed with zucchini. It is definately my new favorite ingredient to bake with! When I saw this recipe in the Feb/Mar 2009 issue of Taste of Home, I ripped it out immediately. This bread is full of zucchini and pineapple and with the addition of coconut and rum extract, it is a tropical vacation for your mouth!

I have made this bread twice in the last week and a half. The first time, I cut the recipe and only made one loaf. Boy was that a mistake! It was gone in a day. No joke... ONE day! I made it again 2 days later. I froze one loaf and the other two I brought to a scrapbooking get-together (or EXTRAVAGANZA!) with some friends. It went quickly again and I'm glad I was smart enough (or greedy... however you want to look at it!) to freeze a loaf for myself!

Pina Colada Zucchini Bread
Makes 3 loaves

4 cups AP flour
3 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups canola oil
1 tsp EACH coconut, rum, and vanilla extracts
3 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup canned crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Line the bottoms of three greased loaf pans with waxed paper and grease the paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour through baking soda. In another bowl, combine the eggs, oil, and extracts. Stir wet into dry just until combined. Fold in the zucchini, pineapple, and nuts.

Transfer to prepared pans. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Gently remove waxed paper.

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