Tuesday, March 9, 2010

PMS Cake--Absolutely Delicious!!

Today my friend Kristie and I made this cake. It is absolute heaven! Plus, it has like 5 ingredients and is super easy to make. MMMMMMM!

1 box dark chocolate cake mix (I used devil's food and it was great)
4 eggs
8 oz. sour cream
1 small box instant chocolate pudding
1/2 c. warm water
1 - 2 cups chocolate chips (I used milk, mmm)

1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
2. Mix all ingredients together (save chips for last)
3. Pour into greased bundt pan.
4. Cook for 40 minutes.
5. Turn out of pan onto cake dish (I used a baking sheet, since I am cake dish-less) immediately and wrap with plastic wrap to preserve moisture.

**It has come to my attention that if you have remaining cake the next day and you heat it up, it is even more delicious!
Fresh from the oven

Turned over-only a little mishap


Monday, March 8, 2010

Basil Chicken in Coconut-Curry Sauce

I first made this in December, after looking through my Bridal edition of the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. It looked delicious, and since I was craving some kind of coconut curry dish, decided to make it.  Zak and I have made it a few more times; we even made it for his family over the winter holidays. It's a little time-consuming but oh, so worth it. Below is our slightly altered version.

2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. salt
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (I also kind of approximate the amount)
1 Tbl. olive oil
1/2 of a large red (or white) onion, diced
1 serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped (the recipe originally calls for 2 jalapeño peppers, but we didn't want to use those)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 13.5- or 14-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tbl. cornstarch
5-6 Tbl. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbl. snipped fresh basil (about 4 leaves)
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
rice to serve over (maybe 3 cups?)

1. In a medium bowl combine curry powder, black pepper, 1/4 tsp. salt, and chili powder. Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Add to spices, toss to coat. Cover and chill for 1 - 2 hours to allow spices to sink in.

2. Pour oil into large skillet or wok (we use our wok, which we love!); heat over medium-high heat. Add onion, pepper and garlic; cook and stir for about 8 minutes (until crisp-tender), then remove from wok. Add half of the chicken and cook for about 4 - 6 minutes (until no longer pink); remove from wok, repeat with remaining chicken.

3. Stir together coconut milk, sugar, cornstarch and 1/4 tsp. salt until smooth. Add to wok, carefully. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Return chicken and onion mixture to wok. Stir in basil and ginger. Cook and stir about 2 minutes, serve over hot rice. *We usually add rice to the wok to mix it all together, it is a good way to soak up the sauce.

Cooked chicken

Chicken and onion mixture

All done!

Ready to be enjoyed :)

Baked Potato Soup

I first made baked potato soup for my dear friend Sarah's birthday in January. I didn't have the time to talk to my mom about it, because I knew there was a recipe she loved and I wanted to use it. So I found some recipe that was doable and it turned out very well. But this time, I wanted my mom's recipe, just so I could compare it with other ones I saw on-line. It turned out so well, it's very yummy and worth the time it takes to make.

4 large potatoes (2 3/4 lb.)
2/3 c. butter
2/3 c. flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
6 c. milk
1 c. sour crean
1/4 c. green onions
10 strips of bacon, crumbled
1 c. shredded cheese
*optional garnishes:
-shredded carrot
-blanched broccoli

1. Bake potatoes at 350-degrees for an hour to and hour and fifteen minutes, or until soft.
2. While potatoes bake, cook bacon until dark and crispy (if it's chewy in the soup, it's a bit of a turn-off).
3. Cool potatoes completely once out of the oven, then peel and cube.
4. In a large pot, combine butter, flour, salt and pepper until smooth.
5. Add in milk; boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat.
6. Add in sour cream and potatoes.

*When I add in the sour cream and potatoes, I add in the other toppings such as green onion, bacon, cheese, corn. Since it's just the two of us, I figured why not get everything mixed up really well?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

White Pasta Cheese Sauce

I grew up having this white cheese sauce and I absolutely love it; the Alfredo stuff at restaurants is not as good, in my opinion. My mom will make this sauce along with a simple red sauce when we have pasta for dinner. I lucked out; the first time I made this for Zak, he fell in love with it. Sometimes he'll request this rather than spaghetti sauce! The last few months I've experimented with using a little less butter and adding mozzarella cheese--it's also quite tasty.

3/4 c. butter
1/2 c. flour
4 c. milk
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
*try adding 1/4 c. mozzarella cheese also
salt and pepper

1. Melt butter in microwave [usually about 1:30 minutes]
2. Stir in flour; cook on high 2 - 3 minutes.
3. Whisk in milk; cook on high 3 minutes.
4. Stir with whisk; cook again for 2 minutes on high.
5. Stir again with whisk; cook on high for 1 minutes.
6. If sauce needs to thicken, continue to cook on high for 1 minute increments, just be careful to watch so sauce doesn't bubble up.
7. Add cheese(s) and salt and pepper to desired taste.
8. Serve over any pasta; we love bowties, shells, and spirals.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Caraway-Rye Bread

This bread is really delicious with a hearty / heavy soup in the fall and winter.

4 - 4 1/2 c. bread flour (real flour is fine as well)
1 package active yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
2 c. warm water (120 - 130-degrees)
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
2 Tbl. cooking oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. rye flour
1 Tbl. caraway seeds
2 tsp. milk

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 3/4 c. bread flour and yeast. Add the warm water, brown sugar, oil and salt. Beat with electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping sides of the bowl constantly. Beat on high for 3 minutes.
2. Using a wooden spoon, stir in rye flour, caraway seeds, and as much of the remaining bread flour.
3. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6 - 8 minutes). Shape dough into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl, turning dough once to grease entire dough.
4. Cover, let rise in warm place until double in size - about 1 hour.
5. Punch down dough, divide in half on lightly floured surface. Cover, let rest 10 minutes.
6. Lightly grease a baking sheet, sprinkle it with cornmeal.
7. Shape each dough half by gently pulling it into a ball, tucking edges under. Place dough rounds on sheet. Flatten each round to about 6 inches in diameter.
*If you want to, shape the dough halves into loaves and place in loaf pans.
8. If desired, lightly score each top with a sharp knife. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size, about 30 - 45 minutes.
9. Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Brush loaf tops with milk. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until tops and sides are deep golden brown and bread sounds hollow when lightly tapped.
10. Immediately removing from baking sheets (or pans) and cool on wire wracks.

White Bread

I started making homemade bread this past fall because I thought it'd be fun, and for the most part, I was right! Eating warm bread out of the oven is one of the most satisfying experiences I've had with cooking. This is just the recipe from the Home and Gardens cookbook, but I love it and it's not very difficult to make. Because this bread turned out so well, I ventured into making a few more varieties of bread, soon to be posted on this here blog.

5 3/4 - 6 1/4 c. flour (I've been using bread flour lately)
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
2 1/4 c. milk or buttermilk (I use milk)
2 Tbl. sugar
1 Tbl. butter, margarine, or shortening (I use butter)
1 1/2 tsp. salt

1. In a large mixing bowl combine 2 1/2 c. of the flour and yeast; set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat and stir milk, sugar, butter and salt until warm (120 - 130-degrees) and butter almost melts.
3. Add milk mixture to flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixture (if using a stand mixer, use dough hook) on for 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl. Beat on high for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in remaining flour - as much as you can.
4. Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface.
5. Knead dough until it's a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6 - 8 minutes). Shape dough into a ball and place into a lightly greased bowl, turning to grease surface of dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place (I usually put it in the oven with a bowl of hot water on the rack below) until double in size, 45 - 60 minutes.
6. Punch dough down, turn dough out on lightly floured surface, divide in half. Cover, let rest 10 minutes.
7. Grease two 8"x4"x2" loaf pans.
8. Shape each dough half into a loaf by patting or rolling.
-patting: gently pat or pinch dough into a loaf shape, tucking edges underneath
-rolling: roll dough into a 12"x8" rectangle
9. Tightly roll up, starting from a short side, sealing the seam with fingertips.
10. Placed dough halves in pans, seam sides down. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size, about 30 minutes.
11. Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Back for 35 - 40 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when lightly tapped.
12. Immediately remove bread from pans, cool completely on wire racks.

*To store in freezer, tightly wrap in plastic wrap, place in two gallon zip-lock bags. Breads are freezable for 3 months.

Delicious Mashed Potatoes

We used this recipe at Thanksgiving, it was wonderful! The secret is evaporated milk.

2 - 3 potatoes per person
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk (unsweetened)
4 Tbl. butter
salt and pepper

1. Boil salted water, add potatoes (small cubes cook faster and mash easier).
2. Drain when tender, usually 15 - 20 minutes.
3. Mash potatoes, add butter.
4. Add evaporated milk gradually, until desired consistency is reached (whole can may or may not be used).
5. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cream Cheese-Filled Pumpkin Muffins

I made these with all the leftover pumpkin I had last fall. They were pretty delicious!

4 oz. cream cheese
1 egg yolk
2 Tbl. sugar

1 c. sugar
1+ c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
3/4 c. pumpkin
1/8 c. oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 Tbl. flour
2 Tbl. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbl. butter

1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees.
2. Beat the filling ingredients until smooth.
3. In a separate bowl, beat sugar, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.
4. Beat in remaining batter ingredients until smooth.
5. Fill paper muffin cups 1/2 - 2/3 way with batter.
6. Add about 1 Tbl. filling on top of batter--be careful to not let it touch the sides of the pan.
7. In another bowl, cut in butter with the topping ingredients; mix until even.
8. Sprinkle on top of muffins, bake for 20 minutes.
*makes about 10 muffins, more or less



This comes from my Bridal edition of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I found it one day, looking for a recipe that would use up some of the frozen ground beef in the freezer. We really love this recipe, my favorite part is the macaroni noodles!

3/4 - 1 lb. ground beef
3/4 c. onion
1 15- or 15.5-oz. can red kidney beans, black beans, or red beans, rinsed & drained (we have always used red kidney beans)
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
*1 4-oz. can diced green chile peppers, drained--I haven't used these, doesn't sound appetizing to me
1 c. dried elbow macaroni (2 oz.)
2 - 3 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 c. shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese

1. In a large skillet, cook meat and onion until meat is brown and onion is tender; drain off fat.
2. Stir in beans, undrained tomatoes, tomatoe sauce, macaroni, chili powder and garlic salt.
3. Bring to boiling; reduce heat.
4. Simmer, covered, about 20 minutes, or until macaroni is tender.
5. Remove from heat, add in cheese.

Chicken Nuggets & Fries

I found this recipe and thought it looked good and easy, and it was! I'm still working on perfecting the fries.

Chicken Nuggets
1/2 c. flour
2 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
8-oz. bag of potato chips (we used Maui Onion, but I bet just a regular one will be fine too)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tbl. milk

1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
2. Dust chicken with flour.
3. Crush the chips in a plastic bag.
4. Whisk eggs and milk together.
5. Dunk chicken in egg-milk mixture, then add to bag.
6. Coat thoroughly.
7. Bake for 10 - 15 mins. on a baking sheet.

These are great with honey!

3 large baking potatoes
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
2. Peel potatoes, cut into 'fry' shape - about 1 1/2-in. strips.
3. Toss with spices and oil.
4. Spray baking sheet with oil (they will stick to the pan).
5. Arrange fries in a flat layer and back for 40 minutes until crisp on outside, tender inside.

Mac & Cheese

I didn't grow up having homemade mac & cheese that often, but I decided enough was enough and that I would try making it! I found this basic recipe that turned out pretty good.

3 c. macaroni, cooked
1 1/2 c. milk
2 1/2 c. cheese
1/3 c. butter
1/2 tsp. onion salt (or garlic salt)
1/2 tsp. seasoning salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
breadcrumbs (I have and use Italian style)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook macaroni noodles.
3. Heat milk, cheese and butter together until it resembles a sauce.
4. Add noodles and cheese sauce to the dish being used to cook it in (I use a 2 qt. round casserole dish with lid).
5. Add spices, continue to mix.
6. Add breadcrumbs and extra cheese, if desired, to top.
7. Cook for 30 minutes.

Pizza! (+ dessert pizza)

If you were around me and Zak last year before we were engaged, you'd know about our fabulous Pizza Fridays. The dough recipe is Zak's mother's recipe (he grew up having Pizza Fridays); the sauce recipe comes from my family's huge cookbook...Although we have tweaked it, per usual.

5 c. flour (the last time I made the dough, I did about 3 c. white flour, 2 c. whole wheat..it worked alright, but I think I shouldn't have added so much wheat dough--I need to work on it)
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbl. yeast (1 packet is a little less than 1 Tbl.)
2 c. water
5 Tbl. olive oil
*sometimes we add a few Tbls. of honey

1 6-oz. can tomato sauce (most are 8 oz.)
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. basil
*this is the base, we usually add all or any of the following, until it tastes perfect:
-minced garlic (fresh or other)
-garlic salt (instead of normal salt)
-onion salt (ditto)
-black pepper
-garlic powder

All you have to do is mix the dough ingredients together and let it rise in a warm place, about 45 - 60 minutes, or until it looks like it's doubled. Punch it down and then roll it on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin. This recipe makes 2 - 3 pizzas, depending on how big your pizza pans are. We have a HUGE pan, so we usually make one huge pizza and a normal 9" one.

Then mix up the sauce until it tastes perfect to you. Some toppings we use include:

-red onion (good on our BBQ chicken pizza)
-black olives
-tomato slices
-red pepper
-green pepper
-chicken marinated in BBQ sauce

We use a pizza three-blend of cheese, which we've found works better than just straight up mozzarella. Make the pizzas with whatever combination you see fit and bake at 550 or 500 degrees (however high your oven will go) for about 8 minutes. The important thing is to make sure the crust is a golden brown and that it's cooked underneath. With our huge pan, that's hard to determine; we've taken it out of the oven and cut it up, only to discover it wasn't as cooked as we would have liked.

Some other fun hints: if you want to make a stuffed-crust pizza, buy 4 or 5 string cheese sticks and quarter them. Make the dough a little bigger than the pan, place the cheese around the edge and fold the crust over. It works so much better than shredded cheese.

Also, running a stream of honey around the edges makes the crust very tasty. We have done that with our BBQ chicken pizza, yum!

our first time making pizza, the crust was huge

our BBQ chicken pizza we made when my best friends visited

the way I like Hawaiian pizza: with LOTS of pineapple and the ham barely visible 
pepperoni, black olives and chopped onion

Dessert Pizza

Crumb topping
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. quick oats
1/2 c. firm butter
1 tsp. cinnamon

Vanilla glaze
2 c. powdered sugar
3 Tbl. milk
1 Tbl. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla

1 can apple, cherry, or blueberry pie filling.

1. Using a portion of the dough (since it makes 2 - 3 pizzas), roll it out.
2. Spread pie filling over it.
3. Mix crumb topping well and spoon over filling.
4. Bake 10 - 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown (at 550-degrees, it was about 5 minutes)
5. Once removed out of oven, drizzle with glaze.

'Golden' Potato Soup

This soup is very hearty and great paired with a thick bread.  It's also pretty simple and a favorite of ours.

2 Tbl. butter
1/2 c. onion
1/4 c. celery
1 medium carrot, shredded
3 large potatoes, peeled & diced (add salt to these)
1 1/2 c. water
2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbl. flour
2 Tbl. cornstarch
6 Tbl. water
1 - 1 1/2 c. shredded cheese (we usually have a bag with a pizza blend of three cheeses in the fridge)
paprika (for garnish)

1. Sauté butter, onion and celery.
2. Add carrot, 1 1/2 c. water, and potatoes; bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover until tender (about 20 - 25 minutes).
3. Stir in milk, pepper and salt, bring to a gentle boil, stir often.
4. Mix flour, cornstarch and water in a small bowl, then add to soup; stir until thick.
5. Add cheese, stir until completely melted.
6. Serve, with sprinkling of paprika for garnish.

*When I have green onions, I will add about 1/4 c. and sauté with the first three ingredients. I also use some as a garnish.

Sesame Chicken

Zak and I love Chinese take-out and sesame chicken is one of our favorite dishes. When I found this recipe, we didn't have enough money to go out for Chinese, so I was trying to find a recipe that would be similar to what we've had before. This recipe is delicious, but we keep making small adjustments to it. The next time we make it, I'm sure we'll find something to change. In that case, I'll edit this post with *asterisks* with what we've changed to it. Enjoy this recipe, it is sooo yummy!

4 - 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (again, I guesstimate each time)
vegetable oil, for frying
1 - 2 Tbl. sesame seeds

a little less than 1/4 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. water or chicken broth (we mostly use water)
2 Tbl. brown sugar
1/4 c. honey (it helps to microwave before and/or after, for about 30 seconds)
1 Tbl. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (depending on how much chicken and rice you use, it can be pretty hot)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 Tbl. onion salt (Zak's favorite new spice)
1/2 Tbl. garlic salt
1/2 c. flour (if you use more chicken, up to 1 c. flour)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1. Whisk together sauce ingredients in a bowl, set aside (I usually put it in the fridge).
2. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.
3. Combine batter ingredients in a small bowl; coat chicken with batter.
4. Heat oil in large skillet or wok.
5. Add coated chicken and fry until golden brown and cooked all the way through. You may need to add oil once or twice.
6. Pour sauce over chicken and simmer until thickens and bubbles a bit.
7. Sprinkle sesame seeds over--we usually just eyeball it, until it looks perfect.
8. Serve over rice, or add a few scoops of rice into wok and toss altogether.

Blueberry and Sour Cream Crumb Coffee Cake

Last week I made delicious blueberry muffins, but still had a ton of blueberries left over. So I went on a search to find a recipe to use them with. I know Zak likes sour cream-blueberry pie, but that option was eliminated once I discovered we didn't have enough graham crackers to make a pie crust, and I didn't have the car to go grab a pie crust. Instead, I found this wonderful recipe on recipezaar, one of my favorite cooking websites. This recipe was absolutely delectable and will be a keeper!

1/2 lb. blueberries (I probably used a bit more than 1/2 lb.)
2 Tbl. sugar
2 Tbl. cornstarch

1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 3/4 c. flour

1/3 c. sour cream
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbl. butter, softened, cut into 6 - 8 pieces

1. Preheat oven to 325-degrees.
2. Toss together the filling ingredients.
3. Whisk together all of the crumb ingredients, except the flour (brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, salt, melted butter) until smooth.
4. Add the flour in--the dough will look solid.
5. In a small bowl, mix together sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla.
6. In mixer, add flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
7. Add butter and one spoonful of sour cream mixture until moist-mix for about 30 seconds.
8. Add remaining sour cream mixture, in two batches, mixing for 20 seconds each time.
9. Reserve 1/2 c. of entire cake batter mixture.
10. Pour the rest of batter into an 8x8-inch pan.
11. Add blueberries, then 1/2 c. of reserved mixture.
12. Sprinkle crumbs over top-should be about 1/2" - 3/4" in size.
13. Bake for 45 - 55 minutes. Cool completely.