Saturday, December 5, 2009

M&M Cookies

I love these cookies. They are so good and simple. They'd make a perfect addition to any holiday spread or goodie basket with holiday M&Ms.

These come from the amazing Katie at Good Things Catered, so you know they are guaranteed to be good. I made mine with semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of the white chocolate in Katie's recipe because Doug's not a huge white chocolate fan and they tasted really well, so it would work with whatever you choose. I think these would be awesome with mint or dark chocolate M&Ms too. These are great cookies to experiment with - so go crazy!

M&M Cookies

2 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
12 Tablespoon (1 1/2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, melted & cooled until warm
1 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Large Egg
1 Egg Yolk
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 Cup M&Ms
1 Cup Chocolate Chips

Adjust oven racks to upper & lower-middle positions & heat oven to 325 degrees.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk dry ingredients together; set aside.
Mix butter & sugars until combined.
Beat in egg, yolk and vanilla until combined.
Add dry ingredients & beat at low speed just until combined.
Stir in M&Ms and chips.
Roll about a 1/2 cup dough into ball.
Bake, reversing cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft & puffy (about 15 minutes for me).
Cool cookies on sheets
and place on wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

YWPWT: Hidden Candy Pie

Welcome to my second pie for You Want Pie With That?! This month's theme was Masquerade Pie and Halloween was totally my inspiration here.

This pie looks all nice and sweet and innocent with that lovely whipped cream topping. It looks like any regular cream pie.

But then you cut into it and -yowzers!- there's candy in this pie!

I wanted to come up with a super easy and fun pie to go with Halloween and the tasty treats of my youth - so this pie features M&Ms and half of a Hershey bar. Plus the layer of peanut butter filling (it sandwiches the candy) tastes just like a Reese's cup.

This pie could not be any easier to throw together - in fact I feel a little funny even calling this a recipe. But it's so yummy that no one will care how little effort you put into it!

Hidden Candy Pie
By Me

1 Pie Crust, cooked and cooled (I've yet to find a pie crust I love. Use your favorite or even a store bought - I won't tell).

3 Cups Whipped Cream (I used frozen Cool Whip - thawed of course)
3/4 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1 Small Bag of M&Ms
1 Regular Size Hershey Bar

Combine 2 cups of whipped cream and peanut butter until well mixed, spread half of this into the bottom of the baked and cooled pie shell.
Chop up 1/2 to 3/4 of the bag of M&Ms (however much sounds good to you) and place on top of the peanut butter cream. Chop half of the Hershey bar and layer on top of the M&Ms. Cover the candy with the rest of the peanut butter cream.
Top with a layer of plain whipped cream, 1 cup would work but Doug loves whipped cream so I made a really thick layer of it.
Chill for 30 minutes and serve.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TWD: Allspice Crumb Muffins

Ok, first of all I realize that these aren't muffins. I've yet to unpack my muffin pans, so therefore these are now muffin-bars.

These are really good. I actually left the crumb topping off - partly because I read that it melts off but mostly out of laziness. These were really easy to throw together and I was really happy with how moist they turned out to be. I think these are a hit and I'll definitely be trying them in muffin form - as soon as I find my pans!

This recipe was picked by Kayte of Grandma's Kitchen Table - check out her blog for the recipe. And check out what the rest of the TWD bakers thought of this recipe.

Allspice Crumb Muffins from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 16-17.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

TWD: Flaky Apple Turnovers

These. Are. Incredible.
Seriously, we loved them. They are so good and really pretty easy to make. They take a few hours because of the dough, and that part requires a few steps, but really they could not be easier.
I really loved the dough of these. It has a really nice, unique taste and was really easy to work with.
The filling of these is a basic apple filling, which is a perfect compliment for the dough.
I will definitely be making these again!
And I have Julie of Someone's in the Kitchen to thank for picking these. Check out her blog for the recipe and check out the TWD site to see how all the bakers handled these awesome treats.

Flaky Apple Turnovers from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 316-317.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Oatmeal Pie - You Want Pie With That? : Vacation Pies

Welcome to my first entry into You Want Pie With That?! YWPWT is a monthly blog event where members make a pie based on a theme picked by the member that was picked as having the best pie from a past month. I first heard about this group from my friend Hornedfroggy at My Baking Heart - aka the same person who got me to join Tuesdays with Dorie. HF told me that YWPWT is a total blast and that I'd love it, and, like always, I listened and joined in - and here we are!
This month's theme was picked by Jen at Piccante Dolce. The theme is Vacation Pies and you were supposed to whip up a pie that reminded you of your favorite vacation or one you wanted to take. Well, at first I was coming up with all kinds of fruity pies in honor of my favorite place ever - Florida. I loved vacationing there growing up and would love to live there - if I wasn't pretty sure I'd melt in about 1.345 days.

But then I started thinking about specific vacation memories from growing up and realized that most of them involved trips to see my grandparents, who used to live in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I tried to think of any pies that really stood out to me from those trips spent walking the golf course looking for lost balls with my grandfather, going to get gallons of the incredible tasting city water with my grandmother, turning into a giant prune from hours spent in the pool at their condo complex, eating big bowls of ice cream every night, and riding around the beautiful mountains with my family in my grandparent's minivan. I had a few ideas, but nothing that really stuck out at me.

So, I decided that if I couldn't come up with a pie that made me think of my own grandparents then one that made me think of my best friend's grandparents was a good substitute. I've known my best friend practically forever; her parent's moved next door to my other set of grandparents when we were pretty young and we used to spend hours playing together in her backyard - usually torturing her brother. I've spent lots of time over the years with her family - and a huge portion of them even came to our wedding (and her grandma made our flower girl's dress). So when she told me about this recipe of her grandma's that her dad loved and always asked for I knew I should give it a try. And when my friend posted the recipe on her blog recently I couldn't help but drool.

This recipe, though I've never had it before, really makes me think of happy, cozy minutes spent visiting my grandparents. It uses simple ingredients that my grandmother would have had, it's a taste my grandfather would have loved, it makes your house take on that sweet, comforting, homey smell, and it makes you think of cool fall days (which was always a great season to visit my grandparents).

So, please enjoy my first entry for You Want Pie With That? A simple, lovely pie passed down in a family that's pretty darn close to my heart and that makes me think back on vacation days spent running around Arkansas with my family.

Oatmeal Pie
Based on a family recipe from my friend Sarah

3/4 Cup Quick Cooking Oats
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 Stick of Butter, melted
2 Eggs, beaten
3/4 Cup Maple or Pancake Syrup
3/4 Cup Pecans

1- 9" Pie Shell, uncooked (store bought or homemade)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare crust.
Mix oats and syrup. Add in melted butter. Add sugar and beaten eggs, mix well. Add in pecans.
Pour into pie shell.
Bake on middle rack of oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until cooked through.

Great with whipped cream, ice cream (which my grandfather would have loved), or on it's own.

Check out Sarah's blog for the original recipe and to see some optional ideas to tweak this great pie.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

PW's Sleepin' In Omelette

I was slightly afraid of this recipe.... and it's all because of the cream cheese. You see, cream cheese and I have a strained relationship. It's one of those foods that I used to be convinced that I hated. I thought it was the devil in creamy white form. Then one day I tried strawberry cream cheese, that got me over the texture - so now I'm just working on accepting it in it's natural form, mainly by using it in recipes. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to just smear it on a bagel and eat it plain ::shudder::

But this recipe seemed like a good place to try cream cheese... although I was a little skeptical. I wasn't sure what it would be like baked and mixed with eggs. And, truth be told, it wasn't bad. I liked the lite sour taste it provided throughout the dish and the texture actually worked really well with the eggs and the bread. I will definitely be more open to this once hated dairy item in the future.
I did make a few changes to this from how the Pioneer Woman does it. For the bread in this I used a bag of wheat dinner rolls that I found on the bakery clearance shelf at Wal-Mart. I could not find onion rolls anywhere and I figured this was a great place to use some already slightly stale rolls. I think they worked really well, although I think the onion rolls would have provided a little extra flavor. I also left out the chives that PW calls for, I don't really care for them. And I cut the butter back to 1 stick, I think it's plenty. And I left out the dash of cayenne because I didn't have any.

We actually ate this in waves. We both had some, and it was delicious, and then a couple hours later had a tiny bit more (we had this on a lazy weekend). And it was so incredibly good a few hours later. But then I had a little more the next day and was not too impressed, it was kind of soggy and lost it's omph. So if you're only making this for two people you might consider halving the recipe.

Sleepin' In Omlette

Adapted From The Pioneer Woman

6 Wheat Rolls

1 Cup Shredded Cheese

1 Stick of Butter

10 Eggs

2 Cups Milk

1/2 Teaspoon Dry Mustard

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

Spray a 9x13 pan. Tear rolls into pieces and place in pan, cover with shredded cheese. Cut or tear cream cheese into small chunks and place in pan. Cut the butter into small chunks and place it in the pan too. Mix everything else together and pour over the items in the pan.

Cover and put it in the fridge over night. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and bake for 25 minutes, covered. Then remove cover, crank oven to 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TWD: Applesauce Spice Bars

I'm back! I missed TWD (and baking) so much! I've got the basics put away in the kitchen and was itching to get back to baking, so these were the perfect things!

This recipe was super simple to throw together and didn't require anything I didn't have. I left these super basic: just the main ingredients and the chopped up apple, I didn't didn't make the glaze for these because 1. I'm not a big glaze/icing fan and 2. I didn't want anything getting into the simple taste of these awesome bars.

And awesome these are! I really like the simple, sweet flavor of these. They hit the spot perfectly and would make an awesome fall treat. I will definitely be making these again.

These bars were picked by Karen of Something Sweet by Karen, check out her blog for the recipe. And make sure to check out how all the TWD members handled this recipe.

Applesauce Spice Bars from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 117-118.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

I adore this dish. From the second I saw this recipe on the cooking board I frequent (it's a very popular recipe there) I knew I had to try it. Doug and I love Mexican food and salsa, chicken, and cheese are some of our favorite ingredients. Not to mention the very strong love I have for my crockpot. So this recipe was made for me.

This is probably one of the easiest recipes ever. I literally throw everything in the crockpot in about 2 minutes, turn it on, and I'm done. And if I can manage this at 6 am anyone can do it.

This also is excellent as leftovers, I think it's one of those recipes that gets better the next day, and it makes quite a bit. I love making this and having it for lunches for the next few days.

Also, I'm breaking one of my own rules here and am posting this without pictures. I swear I took one but I think maybe the camera ate it. So I figure I'll post this now and next time I make it I'll get a picture and add it.

Salsa Chicken

Adapted. I don't know where this originated, so let me know if you do!

4-6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts - Fresh or Frozen (I buy a bag of frozen breasts from the grocery store when on sale and throw the whole bag in still frozen)

1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup

1 Cup Salsa of Choice (I use mild)

1 Packet Taco Seasoning (I have a big container of it and just sprinkle it over the chicken)

Taco Shells, Nacho Chips, or Rice to put this on and your favorite taco toppings. I put this into shells and top with Sour Cream and Shredded Cheese.

Place chicken in bottom of crockpot.

Cover with taco seasoning.

Combine soup and salsa, spread over chicken.

Cook on low for about 7 hours or until chicken is done. I usually cook this for 8+ hours while I'm at work and it's always perfect. Just make sure your chicken is fully cooked since crockpots cook differently.

Shred chicken - I use two forks to tear apart the pieces until they resemble what a BBQ pulled pork sandwich looks like. Stir to make sure the chicken is well coated in the sauce.

Eat however you like.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tater Tot Casserole

So I have two confessions with this recipe.

The first is that I'm so late in posting this that we actually ate this when it was cold out. And it was a perfect meal for a cold night. I'm sure it's probably just as good now, but I haven't made it in about 3 months (at least).

And second, I have to confess my inspiration for making this. It's the Duggar family. You probably know who they are. Parents Jim Bob and Michelle and their 18 kids (and one daughter-in-law and one grandbaby-bun-in-the-oven), who live in Arkansas. They had a number of specials on TLC and now have a regular 30 minute show (18 Kids and Counting). Plus, and this is part two of this confession, they have a book out(The Duggars: 20 and Counting), and I just read it last week.

I find the Duggars pretty interesting. I'm not totally sure why that is. I don't think I have a lot in common with them really. But I could totally see myself hanging out with some of those Duggar girls, maybe they could even give me some hair pointers. But whatever it is I get sucked into that show. As a matter of fact I got sucked into the two episodes on this past Tuesday when I was packing. Luckily Doug doesn't know who the Duggars are, because I'm pretty sure that he'd make fun of me if he did.

Anyway, it was the Duggars who inspired me to make this meal. They talk about it on one of their specials, apparently it is a very popular meal amongst the family and I can see why. It sounds really good (to me at least). So when Doug came home one day and said that a coworker had been eating tater tot casserole and it smelled good I knew I needed to make this.

I should address that, yes, this has Cream of soup in it. Like I've said before, this doesn't really bother me. We eat things with it very rarely and I always make sure to get the low sodium/fat kind. Plus I'm pretty sure there are worse things out there for you than this.

Also, this reheats incredibly well. I was really impressed with this as leftovers. And it makes a lot, so you will have leftovers! Enjoy!

Tater Tot Casserole
Inspired by the Duggar Family

1 Pound Ground Turkey
2 Small Cans Cream of Chicken Soup*
2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Small Bag Frozen Tater Tots

Preheat oven to 35o degrees.

Brown turkey, season to preference (I usually use some garlic powder and season salt).

Combine turkey, 3/4 cup of cheese, and soup in a large bowl, stir well. Place mixture into a lightly greased 9x13 pan, spread to cover the whole pan.

Cover mixture with bag of tater tots (still frozen).

Follow directions on the tater tot bag for how long to cook.

Add remaining shredded cheese and place back into oven until cheese melts.

Let sit for a minute to cool (it gets really hot!), serve and enjoy.

*You could also do one can of Cream of Chicken and one can Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Cheese.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Some Announcements

Did you have daily announcements in school? In high school we had them at the start of 7th period and the principal would always say "we're rolling into 7th period" and we always wondered why we were "rolling" into it.

Um, wow, can we say tangent? Anyway it's time for some announcements that have to do with Central Cooking.

- I'm way behind on updates. I promise I really do make more than TWD recipes, we eat real meals - I promise! So I'm hoping to get caught up with these soon and get them set to post every few days (this has something to do with another announcement too).

- There's a new (I think) baking group out there I'm thinking about joining, so be on the lookout for that.

- Central Cooking is on Twitter now (you may have noticed the addition to the side bar)! I decided to follow the lead (read - copy) some of my favorite food bloggers and create a page. So you can now follow me on there at @CentralCooking.

- I started a new all-things-not-cooking blog (you might have seen this on the side bar too). I've got some other exciting things going on in my life now (see the next announcement) and didn't want to clutter up CC with them, but still wanted to blog about them. So I created Something To Crow About (STCA). It seriously covers everything that isn't cooking, whatever random thoughts pop into my head, what I'm reading now, what I'm currently obsessed with, my workouts, it's all there. So check it out!

- And finally, the biggest news of all: we bought a house! After looking for a few months Doug and I finally found an awesome little house and had an offer in and accepted before said house had been on the market for 3 days. You can read all about house hunting, the new house, packing, and (coming soon) moving over on STCA. We close on July 24th, so really soon!

I'm sure that you all are curious about the kitchen. Well, it's awesome! After what I've been cooking in for the last almost 2 years this kitchen is fit for a queen! It's nice and open with lots of cabinets and counter space. It needs some paint but that's really it. So, after we get moved in I'll be sure to post some before and after pics (the rest of the house will be on STCA). I'm thinking that I may also do some posts about packing up a kitchen and then organizing one, because I know those are topics I've been hunting for lately.

This is also why I'm so eager to catch up on my posts. I figure I have another week of cooking in our current place and then it will be mostly sandwiches for a while (we also have a trip to Indianapolis at the end of this month, so there will be some yummy meals there). So hopefully I can get a lot of posts written up and set to post over the next couple of weeks.

So, what does this mean for Central Cooking? It means great things, that's what! I'm already dreaming of all the things I'm going to be able to make now that I didn't have the room to before, such as cinnamon rolls, bread, candy, etc. Also we will have an extra fridge/freezer and a deep freeze, so expect to see some make ahead freezer meals pop up from time to time, as well as some bulk cooking. Plus I'm already thinking of all the treats I can make for the holidays since I won't be limited on counter space and table room (there's tons of room to set up extra tables for things to cool/set up on if needed). Last Christmas I was really limited and actually had to rotate cookies around our house to find room for new batches, not anymore!

So, expect great things from Central Cooking in the future, and thanks for hanging in with me!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

TWD: Tribute to Katherine Hepburn Brownies

I actually made these a while ago, which is a very good thing because we had a slight electrical issue in our kitchen at the end of last week and it threw the kitchen into shambles. So, I don't have a picture but I can attest that these are very good.

So, check out the other TWD bakers to see their yummy brownies.

This week's recipe was picked by the winner of the contest to design the new TWD logo, Lisa of Surviving Oz. Check out her site for the recipe.

Tribute to Katherine Hepburn Brownies from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 96-97.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mastering the Basics: Omelettes

One of my kitchen related goals for this year is to master what I consider to be cooking basics. These are things that I think make up the basis for a great kitchen repertoire and a very happy cook. I'm really late in getting started with these posts, but expect to see them over the rest of the year.

The first basic I decided to master is the omelette. I love omelettes. I order them pretty much whenever we eat breakfast out. And I'm a total purist when it comes to what I want in mine, just a couple of items is all I want, I like to still be able to taste the eggs and enjoy whatever is in the omelette. So, with as much as I love these breakfast menu mainstays, it is rather surprising, at least to myself, that I've never made one before. I mean there was even a recipe for an omelette in my cookbook for kids I had growing up. But for some reason I always went with scrambled eggs when I wanted a break from plain ole eggs.

But not anymore! Now that I've made this awesome item at home it is definitely going to become a kitchen regular at our house!

First Attempt

When I decided to make these I turned to my usual source for enlightenment, the Internet. I ended up reading a number of omelette recipes and then just going into the kitchen and throwing things in a bowl. This is my take on an omelette.

Second Attempt

Simple Omelette

3 Eggs

1 Tablespoon Water

Salt and Pepper to taste

Fillings of Choice

Mine had: a little more than 1/4 cup of Mozzarella cheese and 2 strips of bacon, crumbled

Doug's had: the same amount of Cheddar cheese and 3 strips of bacon, crumbled

Spray a skillet with nonstick spray and put over medium heat.

Whisk eggs and water until thoroughly combined, add salt and pepper.

Pour into skillet and let cook until the egg mixture is firm and not runny (some cooks swear by keeping the egg just a tiny bit runny and shiny, but I'm a bit of an egg freak and like to make sure mine are completely done).

Place toppings on one side of egg, fold other side over.

Leave alone for just a minute or two.

Carefully slide out of pan and onto a plate.

I topped Doug's with salsa, which he said was great.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

TWD: Parisian Apple Tart

This week's recipe was one I knew I had to make from the second I saw it. First of all, it's apples - which Doug and I both love. Second, it's an apple tart, which I've always wanted to make. Third, it is so incredibly easy to make and only required me to add one ingredient to my grocery list. And fourth (and most importantly), it was picked by one of my favorite people who just happens to run one of my favorite blogs (ever) and who also happens to be the main reason I am in TWD. So I knew this one had to be done.

And I have to say, Hornedfroggy/Jessica made an awesome pick here! This recipe comes together so quickly and tastes so incredibly good. I love how simple the ingredient list is, it's really a classic group of items, and it tastes so pure and good. I will definitely be making this again ---- actually I have already made it twice! I had a sheet of pastry left and some apples to use up, Doug didn't complain!

This was the first time I've ever used puff pastry and I was really happy to see that it's very simple to use (and I was really happy to find it here!!). I used one whole sheet and one whole apple on my first tart and thought it was really good. The second time I used one whole sheet of dough and two apples and it was really good, although just a little soggy.

So if you're looking for an easy and quick recipe that will really wow people, try this one. You will not be disappointed!

This recipe was picked by Jessica of My Baking Heart, check out her blog for the recipe (and then look at all the other incredible things she has done!) and check out all the TWD members to see how they tackled this one.

Parisian Apple Tart from Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan, page 319.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

TWD: Cinnamon Squares

These cinnamon squares were so good. And so incredibly easy to throw together. I was a little concerned that I had messed up the batter because it seemed incredibly runny but it baked up perfectly. 
You'll notice there is no chocolate icing and (you can't really tell) but there is no chocolate in the cake. As much as I love chocolate and I love cinnamon I don't really like them together. Plus not making the icing made these even faster. I did do a lite dusting of powdered sugar on top and that made these taste even better, although I would think vanilla ice cream would make them awesome too.
This awesome recipe was picked by Tracey of Tracey's Culinary Adventures, look there for the recipe. And see how all the TWD members handled this cake here.

Cinnamon Squares from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 210-211.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

TWD: Chipster-Topped Brownies

So I'm a day late and have no picture of these, so let's just write this week off as a fail for me. But I'm already making next week's and there will be pictures!

This week's recipe was Chipster- Topped Brownies. Brownies + Chocolate Chip Cookies = Yum. 'Nuff said :)

This recipe was picked by Beth at Supplicious. Check out her blog for the recipe (and a pic!).

Chipster-Topped Brownies from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 94-95.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

TWD: Fresh Mango Bread (with Strawberries)

I was a little hesitant about this week's recipe because I've never cut up a mango before. But luck was with me Saturday morning before I made this. We were watching Giada at Home and she  demonstrated how to cut a mango, what are the odds! So, using what I learned from my fav Italian chef, I tackled this recipe feeling fairly confident... and it turned out great! 

It was really easy to throw together, smelled awesome as it baked, and has a great taste. My only problem was that my mango didn't produce enough fruit for the whole recipe. I had read on the TWD site that this could happen so I got an extra mango and it still wasn't enough. So to try to keep this from getting too dry or boring I added in about a cup of diced strawberries, which taste awesome with the mangoes. I will definitely be trying this recipe again.

Kelly of Baking with the Boys picked this recipe, check out her blog for the recipe and all the awesome things she has made. And see how all the TWD bakers handled this one, it sounds like there are some interesting variations out there (I heard mention of some muffins and some bakers adding in chocolate chips).

Fresh Mango Bread from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, page 45.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

TWD: don't worry!

Don't worry, I'm still doing Tuesdays with Dorie. I just never had a chance to make this week's recipe. But I'll be back next week!
In the meantime, check out how everyone handled the Tartest Lemon Tart picked by Babette of Babette Feasts.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pepperoni and Parmesan Pasta Salad

I decided to make this pasta salad for my contribution to Mother's Day lunch.

It was so quick to throw together and the little bit I tried last night was awesome. I couldn't find the dressing that she mentions in this recipe, so I just used a bottle of Zesty Italian and it seems to work just fine. Although I would love to find that dressing, it sounds awesome.

Pepperoni and Parmesan Pasta Salad


16 ounces of pasta, cooked to your preference
1 16 ounce bottle dressing
3/4 quarters of a bag of pepperoni, cut up
4 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese


Combine drained pasta, 3/4 of the dressing, pepperoni and Parmesan. Mix thoroughly.

Chill for 2 hours, or overnight.

Mix in the last of your dressing before serving.

Strawberry Cake

Happy Mother's Day!

Today I'm having lunch with my parents and grandma to celebrate Mother's Day. I'm providing the sweet to end the meal and a side. This cake was requested by my mom after she saw Paula Deen make it on her show last weekend.

This was one of the easiest cakes I have ever made (probably cause of the cake mix). I love playing around with cake mixes (red velvet cookie, anyone?) and adding the strawberries to this is such a neat idea (plus it meant I got to use my mini Cuisinart). This cake smelled awesome while it was cooking and I adore the bright pink color.

I ended up just using a whipped vanilla frosting from a can so that it could sit out and everyone could eat it without worrying about the ingredients in butter cream. I still love these whipped frostings, this one reminded me
of marshmallow fluff.

I cannot wait to eat this cake (2 more hours!), I'm hopeful it will be amazing.

Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake


1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix 
1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin 
1 (15-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed 
4 large eggs 
1/2 cup vegetable oil 
1/4 cup water 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease pan (I used 9x13 but you could use 2 9 inch round pans).

In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pan(s), and bake for 20 minutes (mine was about 27 minutes), or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pan(s) if desured, and cool completely on wire racks. Frost.

You can decorate the top with strawberries, I used red sugar crystals.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cute Monkey Cupcakes

Saturday was the first birthday of Max, my bff's little boy and my unofficial nephew. I adore this kid (and his mom) so I was more than willing to help when asked. The idea for these came from my friend looking up "monkey cupcakes" (Max's nickname is monkey and that was the party theme) on photobucket and then piecing together the ideas she liked.

These were so incredibly easy to make. We used cake mixes because they are easy, fast, and kids love them. We also used frosting in a can, she bought whipped chocolate frosting and it was so incredibly easy to use. The nose/mouth of the monkey is a Vanilla Wafer with just a tiny little bit of one side cute off. The ears are 100 Calorie Nutter Butters cut in half and the eyes are upside down M&MS. Then you just use icing to make your eyes, nose and mouth (eyes and nose are black, mouth is red).

The only problem we had with these is that the ears got a little soggy. The one she saw used regular Nutter Butters for the ears, and we determined that these probably don't get soggy because they are much thicker than the 100 calorie version and have the filling. So I'd recommend either using the original NB cookie or putting the 100 cal version on closer to serving (we made these the day before). 

These were a huge hit. Everyone kept asking where she got them and couldn't believe we made them. Max seemed to think they looked neat but was way too excited about his own personal smash cake to pay too much attention. Happy birthday Max!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

TWD: Chocolate Bread Pudding

I am in love with this recipe. It was so easy to throw together and tastes so good. I love the creamy texture of bread pudding and this one is perfect.
I ended up halving this recipe and just making an 8 inch pan. I think I could have added a little more chocolate but otherwise this had an awesome chocolate flavor.
I will definitely be making this recipe again, it's so good!
Lauren of Upper East Side Chronicle picked this weeks recipe. Check out her blog and all the TWD members to see how they handled this awesome recipe.

Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 410 and 411.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Product Rave: Soy Dream Ice Cream

So I've never raved about a product on here before but I decided I had to with this. About 2 years ago it became apparent that I can't eat ice cream or drink milk (thankfully I can still eat cheese and things that are baked or cooked with milk in them, strange right?). But luckily I haven't missed ice cream too much, I considered it a blessing for my diet (always look on the bright side of life you know).

But then Dairy Queen started running commercials for their new chocolate truffle blizzards... well, I used to love Blizzards (Doug and I would go get them a lot on weekends when we were dating and just eat them and talk about our weeks), and I love chocolate ice cream, and I adore chocolate truffles. The first time I saw the commercial I looked at Doug and said "wow, that's the first time I've missed ice cream." Sad, right?

So yesterday we were at the grocery store and Doug decided to get some ice cream. I'm standing there and decide to look at the Popsicles (my replacement for the creamy awesomeness of ice cream) when I happen to look up and see a shelf of Soy Dream ice cream products. I stood there for a moment in shock. I know there are brands of soy and lactose free ice cream products, but I've never been able to find them here.

Doug came over and told me I should try it, but I was nervous. I've tried soy milk and wasn't a huge fan so I was a little worried about buying it and then not liking it. But the ice cream on the labels just looked so good! So I decided to get some, but then the tough question was what kind? Ice cream sandwich or traditional ice cream? Hmm, decisions decisions. Then I saw this:

And my decision was made for me.

I tried this last night and it is so good. Rich, creamy, chocolaty, with nice sized chunks of brownies. It tastes just like regular ice cream. Even Doug tried a bite and said it was good. I definitely recommend this to anyone else who can't eat regular ice cream (or just chooses not to eat dairy products). I really think you won't be disappointed. Just wanted to share.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

TWD: Banana Cream Pie

I have to admit, when I first saw this recipe I was both excited and nervous. I was excited because I love banana cream pie, well anything banana, and I've never made one. But I was nervous because I've never made any type of cream pie before and was worried about the custard turning out.
I was amazed when the custard actually turned out really well. I thought for a brief minute that I had messed it up when my custard started to start to clump up, but I kept whisking like crazy and it turned out really good. I used a graham cracker crust for this instead of the regular pie crust and bought whipped cream instead of trying to make it. I knew I'd be flustered by the custard and didn't want to get overwhelmed. I will definitely try making my own whipped cream soon though.
This recipe was picked by Amy of Sing for Your Supper, check out her blog for the recipe. And check out all the TWD bakers to see how they tackled this recipe.
Banana Cream Pie from Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 342 and 343.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Graham Cracker Crust

This recipe will come in to play tomorrow when the new Tuesdays With Dorie recipe is posted but I figured I'd go ahead and post it now. I love graham cracker crusts, they make everything better in my opinion. So when I offered Doug the choice of graham cracker crust or traditional pie crust the other day I was really happy when he picked graham cracker.

It's very simple to make your own graham cracker crust, you just need to make sure it ends up the right consistency.

Graham Cracker Crust

1 Packet of Graham Crackers (1 bag from a regular size box)

1/4 Cup Sugar

5 Tablespoons Butter, Melted

Melted the butter. Smash the graham crackers up into small pieces and crumbs, dump into bowl. Add sugar and mix. Add in butter and combine until the crumbs are damp. Press into 9" pie plate, including up the sides. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350F. Allow to cool before filling.