Sunday, May 31, 2009

SMS: Bee Stings

It's Sweet Melissa Sunday time! Our recipe for this week was Bee Stings which are basically a baked cream filled donut. I was completely happy with the choice and was looking forward to it. I mean, what's not to like? Pastry cream inside of a warm bread and dipped in honey. YUM YUM YUM!

Each component was tasty on their own but together they created something so delicious. They were somewhat time consuming to make with the rising and refrigeration of the dough, so plan ahead if you make these. Also, make sure you hollow out the middle better than I did. The pastry cream to dough ratio was not enough for me!



Head over to Jamie's blog Good Eats 'n Sweet Treats for the recipe and check out the SMS blogroll to see what everyone else has to say!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cookie Carnival: Hazelnut Macarons

Another month, another cookie carnival! This month's selection was Hazelnut Macarons. I was super excited about these because I have wanted to try my hand at macarons ever since I started my blog. I was happy that I would be "forced" to try them!

While my macarons aren't the prettiest and don't have the traditional feet, I think they turned out great. I really enjoyed this recipe and thought it was a great choice!

Thanks to Kate from The Clean Plate Club for hosting this fantastic group! You can find the recipe here.

(Sorry for such a short post... We just finished cleaning up after Eric's birthday party and I wanted to get this up. Pics from the party to come on Monday!)



Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Orange Essence Chocolate Chip Scones

It's the 27th and that means DB posting time. Unfortunately, there will be no Apple Strudel here today. :(

I was so excited about this challenge and decided to wait and make it when Nathan got home. But, the month kept passing by and the date kept getting changed. So, needless to say, with Nathan only getting home 5 days ago, strudel has been the last thing on my mind. (I promise this will be the last time I use this excuse! HA HA HA!)

But, if I was going to miss a challenge, this is the one to miss because I KNOW I will be making this really soon. I am looking forward to trying my hand at making strudel. Plus, we are heading down to Bavaria in two weeks and I want to compare this to authentic strudel from Bavaria. YUM! Check out the Daring Baker blogroll for some FANTASTIC looking strudel.

I didn't want to leave you recipe-less, so how about some delicious scones? Orange and chocolate... YUM!!!!



Orange Essence Chocolate Chip Scones
Recipe from Baked Perfection

Scones:
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons orange zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups whipping cream (heavy cream)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, orange zest, salt, and chocolate chips (by hand). Pour in whipping cream. Mix or knead by hand, just until combined (about 45 second). Mix will be sticky. Flour surface. Divide dough into two sections and pat into two rounds, each approximately four inches.

Note: Score each round first with a knife into 4ths , then 8ths. Then cut and put on a greased large cookie sheet. Bake 9 to 11 minutes. Let cool five minutes, then glaze.

Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons orange juice

Mix together until a thin icing consistency to pour over warm scones.

TWD: Chipster Brownies



This post will be short and sweet. Things have been super busy around here lately and computer time is minimal. I wouldn't have it any other way, though! We are enjoying lots of family time and it has been so fun!



These brownies were fantastic and combined two of my favorite things - chocolate chip cookies and brownies. I ate these brownies three different ways. Once on the day they were made, the next day topped with ice cream, and two weeks later after being frozen. I gotta say they were amazing each time! So, make a full batch, freeze some for later, and you will be a happy camper!


Thanks to Beth of Supplicious for choosing this wonderful recipe. Check out her blog for the recipe and check out the blogroll to see some fantastic brownies!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Bacon Jack Chicken & Sauteed Zucchini Strips



Life is good and this meal made it even better! We had this for dinner last night and it was so good! I knew it would be, though, because how can you go wrong with bacon and cheese? It was quick to prepare, too. I don't think it took any longer than 30 minutes to get this on the table.

The chicken was so moist and flavorful. The onions and mushrooms are cooked in the bacon grease which Nathan thought was awesome! (I did, too!) The chicken is topped with pepper jack cheese, but I topped mine with swiss. I suck with any kind of heat and I shared my chicken with Eric, so swiss was the way to go. I thought it was great with the swiss, so if you don't like pepper jack, try it with swiss. A few more changes I made were to double the mushrooms omit the parmesan. I completely forgot the parmesan and I don't think it needed it.

I made the sauteed zucchini to go with it and it was a fantastic side. I finished it off with whole wheat couscous. Seriously, an amazing dinner!

Also, I just wanted to say thank you for all the welcome home wishes for Nathan. We are so happy to have him home safe and sound. On this Memorial Day, please remember all those soldiers who did not come home. They gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms and I salute them. God Bless our troops!!!









Bacon Jack Chicken
Taste of Home Simple & Delicious Jan/Feb 2009

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (4 oz)
1/4 tsp seasoned salt
2 TBSP butter
3 bacon strips, halved
1/4 cup sliced onion
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
3 oz Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
1 TBSP grated Parmesan

Sprinkle chicken with seasoned salt. In a nonstick skillet, cook chicken in butter over medium heat for 5-6 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Remove and keep warm.

In the same skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain. Saute onion and mushrooms in drippings. Return chicken to pan. Top with bacon, onion, mushrooms, and pepper jack cheese. Cover and let stand 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Sprinkle with Parmesan.



Sauteed Zucchini Strips
Taste of Home Simple & Delicious Jan/Feb 2009


3 small zucchini, julienned
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp Greek seasoning (I used a mix of oregano and basil)
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp pepper

In a large skillet, saute the ingredients (minus pepper) until tender. Remove and sprinkle with pepper.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Nathan is home!!!

video


No food today, but I thought I would share some pics and video from Nathan's welcome home ceremony yesterday.

I can't even begin to explain how it feels to have my best friend back home with me. It is AMAZING! The kids are beyond excited about having Daddy home. All the screaming freaked Eric out at the ceremony, but once we got out of the gym, he was fine. It is so awesome to see Eric taking to Nathan so quickly. He knows who his Daddy is and that makes me smile. :) Anya is a HUGE Daddy's girl and is glued to Nathan's side. They have such a sweet relationship.

I will get back to blogging and comments tomorrow. Nathan is working half days until block leave starts in June, so I have time to kill in the mornings. Thanks for all the excitement surrounding his return! We are SO glad to have him home!!!!

Me and the kids with Monica, Trav, and their kids. Thanks for

coming, guys!!! (And for the pics/video!)

Waiting.....
They are here!!!
Reuniting
Daddy's girl

Together again!



Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Deja Vu - With a Twist

I got the call!!!! Nathan is currently on the plane making his way back to Germany! After 13 1/2 LONG months, my hubby is finally coming home! I am so excited!!!! I have at least 8 more hours to kill and I think I might explode! So, I figured I would get a post up. That would kill some time!

Unfortunately, I can't think clearly. Lucky for me I have a repeat recipe that is easy to blog about since I already did! :)


Remember those Lemon Sugar Cookies I posted last week? Well, Wendy from Pink Stripes left a comment about how they would probably be great with lime zest, too. Once I read that, I couldn't get it out of my head. I knew I HAD to make Lime Sugar Cookies.


Let me tell you... the were just as good as the lemon! I made a full batch this time. I did half lemon, half lime. I love these cookies so much! And just how do you make an awesome cookie even better? Use vanilla bean ice cream and sandwich them together!



Seriously, go make these cookies if you haven't already. And, just for the sake of celebrating, sandwich them with some ice cream! Enjoy!!!!





Lemon (or Lime) Sugar Cookies
Recipe from Baking Bites
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp lemon zest (or 2 TBSP lime zest)
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp sugar, for rolling
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar and lemon zest until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla extract. Gradually mix in the flour at low speed, making sure to incorporate all of the flour and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Place remaining 2-3 tbsp sugar in a small bowl. Shape 1-inch balls of dough, roll in the sugar and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until set but not browned (or only very lightly on the bottom). Edges should be slightly firm. Cool cookies on the pan for a minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 4 dozen

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Family Recipes: Grandma's Kolocky


Shelby of The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch and Laura of The Spiced Life have put together a monthly event called "Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food, and Fun". The moment I saw this on Shelby's blog, I knew exactly what I would make.


I absolutely adore my Grandma. She is such a cool woman. She tells it like it is and you never have to guess what she is thinking. Some of my greatest memories come from my summer visits to Chicago to visit my Grandma. I always remember her making goodies and delicious food. This woman makes amazing dumplings, pierogis, and sauerkraut (I've heard the sauerkraut is amazing... I don't eat sauerkraut!). And don't get me started on her baked goods! Even when I saw her two years ago (I can't believe it has been that long!!!), she was in the kitchen making a roast for my visit. That's right... my 80+ year old grandma was in the kitchen with her oxygen tank making sure I had a delicious meal when I arrived. She is such a great grandma!!!


My favorite thing I remember Grandma making was kolockys. (Although her fruit pizza ranks up there!). Everytime I would see her, she would have these on hand for me. I LOVE THEM! She would always make a variety of fillings (almond and apricot were among them), but my favorite were poppy seed and cheese. Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm!



Believe it or not, this is only the second time I have made these myself. I think it is because even though I consider myself a good cook, nothing compares to Grandma's. :) I am hoping with more practice, my kolocky will look and taste just like hers!

Here are the recipes straight from my Grandma to you! Oh, and one note... Grandma would only use SOLO pie filling for the poppy seed. I'm sure you could use any brand, but I get happy seeing that familiar can! :)

Grandma's Kolocky
2 cups flour
1/2 pound butter
Dash of salt
1 egg, beaten
Solo pie fillings (poppy seed, apricot, almond), Cheese filling (recipe below)
Powdered sugar
Mix ingredients like pie dough. Take dough size of walnut, imprint with thumb, and put in desired filling. Bake at 350 until light brown (about 10 minutes). Cool on rack. Dust with powdered sugar.
Cheese Filling
2 cups farmers cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 eggs, seperated
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
Force farmers cheese through a food strainer. Beat egg yolks with sugar and butter. Add zest and cheese. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into the cheese mixture.

Monday, May 18, 2009

TWD: Fresh Mango Bread

I was really excited about making mango bread for TWD this week. It was a nice change of pace from dessert recipes. This quick bread is filled with fresh mango and was a breeze to whip up.

I enjoyed it, but found that had a little too many spices for my taste. It was more of a spice bread with a little mango as opposed to a spiced mango bread. Does that make sense? It does in my head! :)

I did like it, but I don't know if I will make it again. My friend, Britteny, said she really liked it and so did her daughter. Overall, I would have to say that this was a successful recipe, just not my favorite.

Thanks to Kelly of Baking with the Boys for choosing this recipe, which you can find on her blog. Also, check out the blogroll to see what the other TWDers baked up!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fluffy Lemon Sour Cream Muffins

Ah, yes. More lemon. I just can't get enough of it! I hope you all feel the same way! :)

These muffins were absolutely fantastic and were fluffy, just like the name suggests. I enjoyed these muffins (maybe a little too much) and am looking forward to making them again. These muffins were best warm, but were still good later in the day.

I did make a few changes to the recipe. I used all butter and 2% milk since that is what I had on hand. I also added craisins to half of the batch. I love craisins and lemon. YUM!

If you have some lemons lying around, give these a shot! They were great!

ENJOY!

Fluffy Lemon Sour Cream Muffins
Recipe from Nummy Kitchen

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
zest of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup skim milk
1/4 cup melted and cooled butter (half stick)
1/4 cup melted and cooled margarine (half stick)
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare muffin tin.

In large bowl combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt. Whisk together until well combined.

In small bowl whisk together sour cream, egg, milk, and melted and cooled butter and margarine.

Gently stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture until combined, you will have a thick muffin batter.

Spoon into muffin cups, this will make about 12 regular muffins or 6 jumbo muffins.

Bake for about 17 minutes for regular muffins, about 25 for jumbo muffins. Just peek through the oven door window and check, these don't get very dark but will have a few golden brown flecks.

Remove from oven and gently remove from pan and let cool on wire rack. Serve warm for best texture.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

SMS: Guinness Gingerbread


The recipe selection for Sweet Melissa Sundays this week is Guinness Gingerbread. Yep.. Guinness. As in the beer. Normally I would be sitting out during weeks like this since I don't drink. It isn't really worth it for me to go out and buy alcohol for something that I'm not sure I would care for anyway.

You may be wondering why this week is different. Well... Nathan was supposed to be home. (I swear, I think the WHOLE world is getting sick of "he should've been" by now!) I figured that he would eat the gingerbread AND drink whatever Guinness was leftover. So, it wasn't a waste for me to go out and buy Guinness since I knew it wouldn't be wasted.

As you could've guessed, Nathan isn't home. But, I didn't want to sit this week out especially because I had the Guinness in the fridge already. I cut the recipe in half because I knew that I wouldn't eat much of it and I wasn't going to be able to give the whole cake away. Luckily, my friend's husband just returned, so I had someone to pawn this off on! :)

If my husband (or anyone else who likes Guinness) saw me making this gingerbread, they probably would've freaked. The entire recipe calls for 2/3 cup of Guinness. I cut the recipe in half. That means that I poured all but 1/3 cup of Guinness down the drain. My husband would say that is a shame! :) Another thing that is funny to me is that I have heard a lot of people complain about the smell of molasses. Me? Well I got nauseas at the smell of the Guinness and actually prefered the smell of molasses!

Now on to the taste. I didn't care for it too much. I don't know if I psyched myself out with the Guinness smell or if I just don't like gingerbread. I've never had actual gingerbread before, only gingerbread cookies. So, I have nothing to compare this with, either. It wasn't bad, but I only took one bite. Just not my cup of tea.

Check out what the other SMS bakers did this week and hopefully you will be able to get better reviews! Thanks to Katie of Katiecakes for choosing the recipe this week. You can find the recipe at her blog!

Italian Pot Pies

I really need to thank my friend, Erica, for getting me a subscription to Everday Food for my birthday last September. I have so many recipes ripped out that I want to try. I have blogged about many of them recently and am about to blog about another. The only problem with me ripping out the recipes is that the issue month is not on the individual pages. I want to say that most of these came from either the March or April issue, but I can't be positive. OOPS!


I thought these Italian Pot Pies were delicious! I loved how they are baked in little ramekins for individual servings. SO CUTE! The beef filling was hearty and delicious and the biscuit topping was out of this world. The rosemary took the topping to a whole new level. It was very good!


I made the full filling recipe, but only used half for dinner. I wanted that biscuit topping to be fresh when we ate leftovers, so I just threw the other half of filling in the fridge. I ended up not eating it again for dinner, but using it to make Sloppy Joes for lunch. I thought it was a great way to use up the leftovers and it was a very delicious lunch!

ENJOY!

Italian Pot Pies
Everyday Food April (?) 2009

1 TBSP olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 pound ground sirloin
2 cups homemade or good quality storebought tomato sauce
1 cup flour
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp crushed dried rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
4 TBSP butter, melted
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450.

Heat oil in large skillet. Add onion and carrots; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6-8 minutes. Add beef, and cook until no longer pink. Add tomato sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat mixture has thickened, 8-10 minutes. Set aside.

Whisk together flour through salt; make well in center. Add butter and milk. Stir just until combined.

Spoon meat mixture into 4 (8 oz) ramekins; mound dough on top. Place on a baking sheet and bake until topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in topping comes out clean, 10-12 minutes.



Friday, May 15, 2009

Chocolate Chunk Scones

I was talking to Nathan this morning and told him that I am starting to feel like a cat chasing a string. Every time it feels REALLY close to Nathan coming home, someone yanks that string a little farther away. Redeployment is one of the hardest parts of the entire deployment. I know it sounds funny, but believe me... it is TOUGH! We originally thought that Nathan would be home earlier in the month, then hoped for Mother's Day, and then hoped for at least the 15th. Well, it's now the 15th and we still have a few more days to wait. Don't get me wrong... I am beyond excited about his return. But the wait is killer! So... what do you do when you are on pins and needles waiting for the return of your husband? You make every excuse to eat sugar! HA HA HA!

Holly of Phe-MOM-enon posted these scones and I LOVED them. They are everything you want a scone to be. I especially loved the chocolate chunks in them. SO GOOD! It felt like I was eating a chocolate chip cookie for breakfast, but, hey, I think I deserve CCC's for breakfast! :)

I am posting the recipe as it was on Phe-MOM-enon, but I wanted to note that I didn't follow the directions exactly. I didn't have time to worry about rolling out the dough and folding it. After the dough was mixed I just patted it into a rectangle, sliced individual scones, and then baked. They turned out amazing!

ENJOY!

Chocolate Chunk Scones
Recipe from Phe-MOM-enon

2 cups sifted cake flour, spooned in and leveled
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned in and leveled, plus 1/4 cup additional for kneading and rolling
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 large egg1 large egg yolk (reserve white for egg wash)
1 egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon cold water, for egg wash
1 tablespoon raw turbinado or sparkling sugar
1/2 cup good quality semisweet chocolate, chopped

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Have ready a large, ungreased baking sheet. For ease of cleanup, I lined mine with a piece of parchment.

Combine the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, or until the mixture forms pea-size bits. Gently add and mix the chocolate chunks into the flour/butter mixture, just to distribute them.

Whisk together the cream, egg, and yolk. Remove the paddle attachment and replace with the dough hook. With the machine off, add the cream/egg mixture to the flour mixture, then blend on low speed just until the dough starts to form a ball of big clumps - don't overmix.

Sprinkle a clean work surface with about 2 tablespoons of flour to start and turn the dough out onto the work surface, scraping out the bowl with a bowl scraper or rubber spatula. Lightly flour your hands and knead the dough five or six time til it comes together nicely then press it into a square about 8 inches big.

Move the dough aside and clean the work surface, then flour it again with about 2 tablespoons more flour. Using a well floured rolling pin, replace the dough in the center of your work surface and roll it into a 9x12-inch rectangle, with the 9 inch side parallel to the edge of the counter. Fold the dough like a business letter, folding one-third down from the top, then the bottom third up over the top, pressing the edges gently to align them the best you can. You should end up with three layers of dough. Press the top gently with your hands, then roll into a 17x4 inch strip.

Using a sharp knife or bench cutter, cut the rectangle into 12 pieces. When placing on the baking sheet, invert each scone and space them 2 inches apart. Brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake the scones for 15 to 18 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Remove them from the oven and cool them on the sheet for about 5 minutes before serving them warm.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Maple-Sage Roasted Pork Tenderloin


I love pork tenderloin. It is probably one of my favorite meats. I love trying new ways of cooking it and this recipe didn't fail. It was so delicious! The picture isn't great, but I promise the tenderloin was! :)
Enjoy!


Maple-Sage Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Recipe from Twin Tables


2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed


1. Combine ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal and turn to coat. Marinate in refrigerator 60 minutes.


2. Preheat oven to 400°.


3. Remove pork from bag. Place pork on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until a thermometer registers 155°. Cover loosely with foil. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Lemon Sugar Cookies


Sorry for the overload of lemon lately, but I had to share these cookies ASAP! I debated waiting a few days to post these so that there wouldn't be 3 lemon treats in a row, but they are too good to not post.

Lorelei from Mermaid Sweets blogged about these cookies on Sunday and I knew I had to make them. I made a half batch of these cookies yesterday which was good and bad. It was good because that meant there were less cookies for me to eat! It was bad because that meant there were less cookies for me to eat! I kept 2 cookies here at home and took the rest to a friends house. Everyone LOVED them!

These delicious lemon cookies remind me of a snickerdoodle (Lorelei said the same thing, too!)... chewy and oh so yummy! This cookie has broken its way into my favorite cookies of all time club! I can't wait to make them again! Hmmm... I still have lemons staring at me.... ;)


Lemon Sugar Cookies
Recipe from Baking Bites
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp lemon zest
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar and lemon zest until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla extract. Gradually mix in the flour at low speed, making sure to incorporate all of the flour and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Place remaining 2-3 tbsp sugar in a small bowl. Shape 1-inch balls of dough, roll in the sugar and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until set but not browned (or only very lightly on the bottom). Edges should be slightly firm. Cool cookies on the pan for a minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 4 dozen

Monday, May 11, 2009

TWD: Tartest Lemon Tart

I am LOVING all these lemon desserts!!! Now, I think I am a chocolate girl at heart, but there is something so refreshing about a delicious lemon dessert. Dorie didn't let me down with this delicious lemon tart.

I decided to scale the recipe down and make two mini tarts because there was no way I could eat an entire lemon tart AND a lemon icebox cake. It's a good thing I cut the recipe, too, because this is so good and I would've eaten way too much!

This recipe starts with Dorie's sweet tart dough with ground almonds mixed in. This crust is truly delicious. The filling is made with the entire lemon. Yes, you read that correctly. The WHOLE lemon. I don't like super tart or sour things, so I did zest the lemon first and then cut off some of the pith before pulverizing the lemon. It still was a tart filling without being bitter.

I prefered this tart about 30-45 minutes out of the oven. I tried it refrigerated, too, and while I didn't dislike it, I really prefered it at room temperature. One thing about this tart is that it really reminded me of the Toasted Almond Lemon Bars that I made last month for Cookie Carnival. But those were awesome, too, so it the similarity didn't bother me a bit!

Thanks to Babette of Babette Feasts for choosing the Tartest Lemon Tart. Head to her blog for the recipe and check out the blogroll to see all the delicious tarts!

Chicken in Tomato Sauce with Feta and Olives


I loved this meal! My friends Monica and Erica loved this meal. The kids (2 pre-schoolers and 3 babies) loved this meal! It was so easy and so delicious! I am looking forward to making it over and over again. I can't say enough good things about it. SO GOOD!!!!

Chicken in Tomato Sauce with Olives and Feta
Recipe from My Yummy Life
4 chicken breast halves
1 28oz can Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
Feta Cheese
12-24 olives (personal preference as to amount and type)
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
12 oz pasta (spaghetti or vermicelli is best)
Preheat the oven to 425degrees. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Place two of the seasoned chicken breasts into the heated skillet and allow to brown on one side for 3-4 minutes. When the first side is golden, flip the chicken breasts and allow to brown on the other side. Set aside, and repeat with the remaining two chicken breasts. In a bowl combine the tomatoes, feta, and olives. Pour half of this mixture into an oven safe dish large enough to accommodate all of the ingredients.
Layer the browned chicken breasts on top of the first half of the tomato/olive/feta mixture and then cover them with the remaining half of the tomatoes/olives/feta.
Place the dish into the preheated oven and allow to bake until the chicken is done, about 50 minutes. About 20 minutes before the chicken is done boil water and prepare the pasta as directed, then drain. When the chicken has been removed from the oven, transfer the breasts to a separate plate and toss the pasta in with the tomatoes/olives/feta in the baking dish. Return the chicken breasts to the baking dish and garnish the whole shebang with feta. Serve, preferably family style.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

SMS: Lemon Icebox Cake with Fresh Strawberry Sauce


Nilla Wafer crust. Delicious lemon filling. Meringue top. Fresh Strawberry Sauce. Seriously, how could you go wrong?

This frozen dessert is the perfect spring/summer dessert! Of course, it isn't hot here in Baumholder yet, but it didn't stop me from enjoying a slice of this cake! I loved the refreshing lemon flavor, but it wasn't overly tart. It was really the perfect amount of lemon for me!

The recipe says to bake the cake in a 9" springform, but I decided to use my springform loaf pan that I bought for the December Daring Baker challenge. I have only used it that one time and I wanted to make sure that it doesn't just hide away in my cabinets forever! It was perfect for this cake, though. I made these wonderful little slices that I thought were adorable.

Thanks to Jessica of Keep Passing the Open Windows for choosing this recipe. Head over to SMS for the blogroll and for information on how to join. Membership will be closing soon, so join while you can!



Oh, and of course, Happy Mother's Day!!!!! Hope all the moms out there have a fantastic day!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun Dried Tomatoes

I've got nothing. Seriously nothing. I've been staring at the computer screen trying to think of something to say and I'm coming up blank. So all I've got for you is a fantastic recipe! :)


This meal is fantastically delicious! How can you go wrong with penne, a creamy cheese sauce, chicken, and sun dried tomatoes? The best part about this meal, though, is that it can be frozen. I split this meal into 3 8" pans. I baked one, froze another, and gave the last one to a friend. The frozen ones tasted exactly the same as the one I baked fresh, so that is even better. I loved this meal!

Enjoy!


Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun Dried Tomatoes
Everyday Food April 2009


6 TBSP butter, plus more for baking dishes
Coarse salt
Ground pepper
1 pound penne rigate
1 tsp olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (8 oz each), halved horizontally
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup plus 2 TBSP flour
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups whole milk
10 oz white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup oil packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups shredded provolone
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1. Preheat oven to 400. Butter the two shallow 2 qt baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain and return to pot.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3-5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lenghtwise, then thinly slice crosswise.
3. In a 5 qt Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and garlic, cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Add mushrooms and tomatoes, cook 1 minute more. Remove pot from heat and stir in provolone and 1/2 cup parmesan.
4. Add chicken and pasta; season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes; sprinkle each with 1/4 cup parmesan.
5. Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
TO FREEZE: Prepare through step 4; let cool. Cover tightly with foil, and freeze, up to 3 months.
TO BAKE FROM FROZEN: Preheat oven to 400 and bake (still covered in foil) on a rimmed baking sheet until center is hot, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove foil; bake until golden, about 15 minutes more.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Fry Bread and Anya's Party

I'm going to start with the recipe for today in case you are here just for the food. :) HEE HEE!

I love fry bread. It is so quick and easy and very delicious. The best part to me is that with fry bread you can have dinner and dessert all in one. My favorite way to eat fry bread is to top it like a tostada. Refried beans, cheese, tomatoes, olives, sour cream, spinach (or any lettuce you like). YUM! It is also great topped with cinnamon-sugar and honey!



Fry Bread

5 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 TBSP baking powder
1 TBSP butter, melted
2 cups milk
Vegetable oil for frying

Sift 4 cups of flour with salt and baking powder. Mix milk and butter; add to dry ingredients. Work into a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured surface, kneading and working in remaining flour. Divide dough into 6 equal balls (can do more if you want the bread smaller). Flatten to about 1/8" thickness. Drop into hot oil and brown on both sides.

Top however you please! :)

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Now on to some really fun stuff! A lot of people have been asking me about Anya's party, so I thought I would share a bit.

4 years ago today my baby girl was born. She took a LONG time to get here, but it was worth it! I went in to have her on the night of the 4th (I was induced due to pre-eclampsia; Anya was 3 weeks early) and her birthday was supposed to be 5-5-05. She had different plans. 36 hours later my beautiful daughter was born and the last 4 years have been so wonderful. She is such a joy and I love being her mom!

Currently Anya is obsessed with My Little Pony's. I'm talking OBSESSED! So, in addition to a surprise party, we did a bit of a pony theme. Anya requested 4 cakes and Nathan had the great idea to put the symbols from some of her favorite ponies on the cakes. Anya was so excited to see her cakes! She was incredibly surprised and it was exciting to see her face. The picture I included of her coming in says it all to me. She stuck her hands straight out and started shaking them. It took her a minute or two before she realized what was going on and then she started jumping up and down. It was a great day!

I want to publicly thank my AWESOME friends for all their help with the party. I don't know what I would do without these girls. They are truly a blessing and I love them so much! So, thank you, Monica, for taking Anya for the afternoon, getting her dressed for the party, and bringing her over. Thank you, Britteny, for getting the balloons blown up for me! Thank you, Erica, for taking AMAZING pictures (and for the yummy fruit salad!). Thank you for all you do, guys!

Here are some pics from the day. Enjoy!

Rainbow Dash and Starsong cakes
Sweetie Belle and Pinkie Pie cakes

Number 4 and Rainbow Cookies


The set-up
Anya in complete shock
Me and my princess
Waiting so patiently
Getting ready to dig in!

Anya's loot
My favorite picture of the day!

Monday, May 4, 2009

TWD: Not quite Tiramisu (Cup)Cake

When I first saw the recipe choice for this week, I was planning on sitting it out. I had many reasons for sitting it out, too.

1- I DON'T LIKE tiramisu. Sorry for the caps, but I really don't like it. Can't stomach it.

2- I don't drink, so going out and buying alcohol for something I don't like just didn't make sense.
3- All of my taste testers don't drink alcohol or coffee, so a dessert containing those two things just wouldn't get eaten.
4- Anya's birthday party was on Saturday and more cake just didn't sound good.

So, with all those reasons to not make this recipe you may be wondering why I did. Well... the reason I decided not to sit out this week was because of the host. Megan of My Baking Adventures chose this recipe and I love Megan and her blog. She is such a sweetheart and I really wanted to bake along with her this week.

So... here I am, baking along, although this is not quite the recipe everyone else made this week. I omitted the alcohol and coffee and made cupcakes instead of a whole cake. I also had some cream cheese in the fridge and decided to not make an extra trip to the German market for mascarpone, so no mascarpone in the frosting.




The cake recipe was delicious. I really enjoyed it. I also liked the frosting. It was so different than the traditional cream cheese frosting thanks to the addition of fresh whipped cream. I topped the cupcakes with chopped bittersweet chocolate and called it a day. Overall these were really good cupcakes!

Thanks to Megan for hosting this week. Check out her blog for the recipe or just check out her blog! :) Also, check the blogroll to see people who made the ACTUAL recipe!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Brownie Peanut Butter Cups

I fully intended to post a dinner recipe today. That's right.... two in less than a week! Everyone would've been so surprised. "Wow... look at Cristine! There is dinner! Not a scone or cake!" HA HA HA! But, fate had other plans and that is why you are going to be drooling over this dessert instead of an actual meal! :) This was just too good for me not to share right away!

It is pretty funny how this recipe ended up in my kitchen. My good friend, Erica, was telling me that her husband sent her a recipe that he found asking for her to make it when he gets home (he is also in Iraq). She showed it to me and I KNEW I had to make it ASAP. The recipe comes from Bake or Break, a blog I have been to many times, but I apparantly missed this one. So, I think a thank you is in order to Erica's husband, who luckily for me, was searching food blogs in his down time!


This dessert is FANTASTIC! If you love chocolate and peanut butter you will go gaga for this brownie! It is incredibly simple and quick to throw together and is baked in a muffin tin. Once the brownie is baked, peanut butter is spooned into the middle and then topped with peanut butter chips and chocolate chips. Drool. Yum. Delicious!



Oh, and for those who were wondering how Anya's surprise party went, it was fantastic! She was so surprised and had a blast! I don't have the pictures yet (Erica was gracious enough to take pictures for me on her way better than mine camera!), but I will post more about everything probably on Wednesday. :)

Brownie Peanut Butter Cups
Recipe from Bake or Break
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon water
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup peanut butter chips plus about 1/3 cup more for garnishing
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips plus about 1/3 cup more for garnishing
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray or grease 12 muffin cups.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine sugar, butter, and water. Microwave on high for 1 minute or until butter is melted. Stir in 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips until melted. Stir in egg and vanilla extract. Add flour and baking soda, stirring until blended. Allow to cool to room temperature. Then, stir in 1/2 cup each peanut butter chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Spoon batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into muffin cups.

Bake for 13-15 minutes or until top is set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out slightly wet. Place pan on wire rack. Centers of brownies will fall upon cooling. If not, tap centers with the back of a teaspoon to make a hole.

Place peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 45 seconds, then stir. While brownies are still hot, spoon about a tablespoon of peanut butter into the center of each brownie. Top with semi-sweet chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. Cool completely in pan.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

SMS: Strawberry Shortcakes


I was really happy with this weeks recipe choice for Sweet Melissa Sundays. I love strawberry shortcakes! I make them pretty often and I have (or after this week, HAD!) a shortcake recipe that never let me down. Well... that recipe is going to have to take a back seat to this one!

It is weird how sometimes ONE ingredient can make such a big difference. My old shortcake recipe is by no means identical to the SMS one, but the taste and texture is extrememly similar. The difference? Lemon zest. Oh. My. Goodness. The lemon zest just takes it to a whole new level. Yum and yum!

Thanks to Wendy of Pink Stripes for choosing a fabulous recipe! Head over to her blog to check it out and go to SMS to see what everyone else created!

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