Sunday, February 28, 2010

Boston Cream Cake That'll Make You Weak at the Knees

I got invited to a dinner tonight and I wanted to bring a fabulous dessert. I had been wanting to be a brave girl and try to make my own pastry cream and then I decided this would be a great time to make a Boston Cream Cake, a dessert I have always had a crush on. 

I used the pastry cream filling from this recipe for a Boston Cream Cake on the lovely blog, Life's a Feast. It turned out perfectly and was simple AND clutz friendly.

It takes some time but, it's well worth it. Here you go, Jilly! Enjoy :)

Boston Cream Cake
-Yellow Cake Mix, prepared according to directions

Pastry Cream:
-1/4 cup sugar
-3 large egg yolks
-2.5 tablespoons flour
-2.5 tablespoons cornstartch
-1 1/4 cups milk (I used whole for extra richness but, any milk will do)
-1 tsp vanilla

Chocolate Ganache:
-8 oz bar semi sweet chocolate, chopped
-1 cup heavy cream

Bake your yellow cake in two 8 by 8 rounds. To make the pastry cream that will be your filling, whisk the sugar and yolks together first in a medium sized bowl until smooth. In another small bowl, combine and sift the flour and cornstarch together. Add slowly and stirring frequently to the egg/sugar mixture until completely combined and smooth. Set aside.

Bring milk to boil in a small sauce pan over medium heat. WATCH IT CAREFULLY! I know that a watched pot never boiled, but an ignored one will burn your milk. When the milk comes to a boil and just starts to foam at the edges, removed it from heat and pour it nice and slow over the egg mixture, whisking consistently as you do so.

Put everything back on the saucepan and cook it over the medium heat, WHISKING IT CONSTANTLY. Allow it boil 30 seconds to a minute until it gets thick and then remove it from heat and whisk in the vanilla.

Pour into a fresh bowl and press saran wrap to surface of cream and to edges of bowl to keep fresh until you're ready to fill the cake layers. 

To make the chocolate ganache, chop the chocolate bar into small pieces. As small as you can manage. Put in a medium sized bowl, heat friendly. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, watching very carefully because if it boils for a few seconds, it will boil out of the pot. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth. I didn't let mine cool quite enough and it dripped ALL OVER my cake at first and I had to go back and repair the damage with a spatula and some serious plate clean up. In order to prevent THAT fun for your own cake, I would toss it in the fridge for a good amount of time and then whisk it until it thickens enough to manage as a smooth icing for your cake. 

Assemble the cake as base yellow cake, pastry cream, top yellow cake, and then cover and smooth everything with chocolate ganache icing. Serve with a glass of milk and a fork :)

Brie Tartlets

This recipe is probably the most addictive I have ever put up here.

These little guys are popable and delicious. They are simplistic but take some time. I like to make the crusts ahead of time so then all I have to do is fill and heat up but, it's not much work to do all in one go either.

If you like brie, you'll love this as a snack. Plus, instant popularity to make for new friends. My parents used to make these for our family all the time, us kids freaked OUT over them.

But what kids don't like cheese and jam? Or what adults, for that matter?

Just overall a must make. 

Brie Tartlets
-1 loaf white (wonder) bread
-Plain brie cheese
-Raspberry preserves
-2 tablespoons melted butter

Cut all the crust off of ALL the bread. Yes, annoying. Roll as flat as possible with a rolling pin. Cut the large crustless squares into 4 smaller squares. (Quarter them). Press small pieces into mini muffin. Brush with melted butter, bake until golden (about 10 mins), at 350.

I always cut the white crust off my brie but, that's a personal preference. Cut the brie into enough cubes to fill the tarts. Top with a small amount of raspberry preserves. Bake (still at 350) until cheese is melted, (about 5 minutes). Serve warm.


Butter Tarts: A Canadian Treat

My boyfriend is a proud Canadian and I spent a nice two weeks with him and his family up in Canada this past summer. While the trip was composed of too many beautiful, amazing, and fun moments to share here, one afternoon was simply spent on the pier of their lake, lazing around the boat and eating butter tarts on the sun porch.

These little guys are little pieces of heaven. So SO good. 

I would almost describe them as a pecan pie but...not. And really, they are just so much better.

So when I found this AMAZING recipe posted by Kevin on his blog, Closet Cooking. I couldn't resist making it ASAP.

One bite in and I was all happy "mmms" and "ahhs". You need to make these. Need. It's my new favorite recipe. Go canada!

Closet Cooking's Butter Tarts
-1 pie crust pastry 
-1 egg
-1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
-1/2 cup maple syrup
-1/4 cup unsalted butter (melted)
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup walnuts (chopped)
-1/2 cup raisins

Cut/roll the dough into a dozen 4-5 inch circles. Press the circles of dough into a muffin baking pan. Chill the muffin pan in the fridge for 45-60 minutes. In his recipe, he never mentions it but, I am assuming you use the single egg to brush the cups once they are set.  Mix the brown sugar, maple syrup, butter,vanilla extract, salt, walnuts and raisins in a bowl. Spoon the mixture into the tarts. Bake in a preheated 350F oven and bake until set, about 15-25 minutes.

Goat Cheese Dressed Fancy

Pioneer woman posted these on her exceptionally amazing blog and, mimicking the idea of rolling the ever divine goat cheese in spices to up the class and flavor explosion, I tried it out with similarly amazing results.

My orange goat cheese was rolled in Paprika and Cayenne pepper. I recommend MUCH more Paprika then Cayenne. But, it was zesty and delicious.

My green goat cheese was rolled in freshly chopped basil and then a collection of italian seasonings. I used rosemary, oregano, & garlic for the most part but, in the inspiration of just throwing whatever green spices I had that went with basil, things got a little out of control.

In any case and every case though, this was fun and a total cinch. Sprinkle on the cheese logs and then, roll. Sprinkle, roll. Sprinkle, roll. Until the sides are all nicely covered. Then serve with crackers! Completely divine. Enjoy :)

Junior's Valentine Pudding Cookies

A very dear friend of mine got his girlfriend an extremely cool vintage cookbook for her as a valentines present and, as he was showing off what a great gifter he was to me and letting me flip through it, I stumbled on this recipe and decided to jot it quickly down and try it out sometime.

There were countless other recipes I REALLY wanted to try but, this was the only one I found short enough to jot and remember. I loved how the cookbook wasn't afraid of butter and sugar. Oh simpler times.

Anyway! These are...ohmygosh! So good. Flakey, buttery (and without any butter!), and rich. Yummmm. I used chocolate pudding and Rolos in order to enhance but, the recipe works for any flavor and could probably go without the candy. Next time I want to try vanilla pudding with some lemon zest. Going to be epic.

Antique Pudding Cookies
-3/4 cup biscut mix
-1 pckg pudding mix
-1/4 cup oil
-1 egg
-2 rolls Rolos (*my addition to the recipe, totally optional)

Shape into balls. I rolled a Rolo into the center of each. Flatten somewhat with your hand, gently so as to not have a visible Rolo if you decided to add the candy or so as not to flatten TOO much and lose cakey traits of the cookie. Bake at 350 for 8 mins. 


Blackberry Yogurt Cupcakes

This recipe is nothing but pure experimenting.

That is one of my absolute favorite things to do with food, just throw things together and tinker, is then somewhat tricky.

I am pretty sure I have this one figured out though. No worries. 

I brought these in to class so my roommates wouldn't complain about the excessive amount of baked goods in the apartment and, it seemed to go over well. Hopefully you guys can recreate these with similar results.

Blackberry Cupcakes
-1 carton blackberries
-French Vanilla Cupcake Mix
-2 cartons blackberry yogurt
-3 eggs
-1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup oil
-Red/Blue food dye to make them REALLY purple and fun :)

Combine cake mix, yogurt, eggs, water, and oil. Mix well. Should be a grey/purple shade. Use dyes to your own liking to make it a more distinct purple in coloring. Grease 2 cupcake pans (24 cup cakes), put 1 blackberry in bottom of each cupcake mold. 

The easiest way I have EVER found to pour cupcake batter into the cups without it getting all over me, the pan, and my counters is to pour all the batter into a gallon ziploc and then snip one of the corners with a scissors. You can then squeeze and pour as you would runny icing. 

However you choose to do so, pour batter into pans, bake at 350 til golden sides and cooked completely through. Approx 25 min.

Chocolate Chip Banana Upside Down Cake

I was stumbling around food blogs and came across the truly BEAUTIFUL blog, Sprinkle Bakes. Within her treasure trove of recipes, I found a true gem in her recipe for Banana Upside Down Cake.

I immediately had to try my own hand at this recipe. I had never heard of any upside down cake besides pineapple and banana happens to be a personal favorite of mine. I decided the recipe could use a healthy dose of chocolate and, it worked like a charm. It tastes almost like a banana split which leads me to believe that, served warm with a scoop of vanilla and some cherries, this recipe would be heavenly. 

Being time crunched and a cheap college student, I also decided to use a cake mix rather then make one from scratch. But, with the end results being as yum as they were, no one seemed to mind that I took the lazy route. 

Eat & Enjoy :)

Banana Chocolate Upside Down Cake
-3 slightly overripe bananas
-2 tablespoons lemon juice
-Brown sugar
-1 box Marble Cake mix 
-Required Ingredients for cake mix, (oil/eggs usually)
-1 bag chocolate chips

Grease a 9 by 13 pan. Slice the bananas thin, lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick, coat in lemon juice in order to prevent too much spoiling/browning. Lay out in greased pan. Sprinkle brown sugar over the bananas, add 1/2 the chocolate chips so you end up with a banana/sugar/chocolate topping at bottom of the pan. Make your marble cake according to directions. Once you have the yellow cake prepared in the bowl and are about to pour it into the pan, stir in the remaining chocolate chips before pouring. That way, you have a yellow chocolate chip cake that is THEN marbled with chocolate cake. Chocolate-tastic.

Bake according to directions on cake's box, (typically 25 mins at 350), and Serve!

Like pineapple upside down cake, this cake will spoil faster then most baked goods. So serve to a larger group or eat quickly ;)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Caprese Salad & Roasted Garlic FTW

Ah, the Caprese salad. This just tastes like...fresh. It's clean flavors all lined up to create joy in your system. Served with bread, this is the perfect lunch time meal. Not too filling but just filling enough, crisp flavors that make your taste buds burst into Italian sonnets... it's all just very lovely.

Toss it together and give it a whirl. 

Caprese Salad
-Tomatoes (I use grape but, some like bigger slices, choose your favorite tomatoes, mixing types if you like, you can't really go wrong with any ripe tomatoes)
-Fresh mozzarella balls
-Fresh basil
-2 tablespoons lemon juice
-Olive Oil

Chop the tomatoes, set aside in a small bowl. Add lemon juice, drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper. I love a LOT of both, salted tomatoes and pepper being something I am partial to but, use your preferences to guide your hand. Chop up basil and mozzarella and add to bowl, stir gently. Dish out and drizzle with balsamic to seal the deal. Divine ;)

Roasted Garlic. Yummm. 

Just let that roll around in your mind for a moment, let your memory recall and savor.

Roasted. Garlic.

The picture just looks like the bread has ridges but, that my friends, is smooshed garlic, the fork marks making it look jagged. Once you have roasted the garlic, that is how you should eat it. Smeared and smooshed onto toasted slices of bread. To do that, you use a butter knife to pull the cloves free of the skin and then smear them on to bread as they will be all roasted and soft and delicious. Add olive oil or butter as well if you're feeling particularly lustful. So simple and so very divine.

Roasted Garlic
-4 heads of garlic
-2 oz. Olive Oil
-12 oz. Water

Using a sharp knife, remove the top of the garlic head to expose the cloves. Drizzle or brush the heads with the olive oil and place in a shallow casserole dish. (Or au gratin dish if you're fancy). Fill the dish with 1" of water and cover. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes or until the garlic is soft and a golden, light, brown.

Baked, Breaded, and Seasoned Eggplant Over Pasta

...this dish was just. Really good.

It was one of those times when, I had a lazy afternoon of studying and, got hungry. Decided to throw some pasta together using the produce in my fridge that was nearing toss time.

And it exceeded my expectations. By delicious miles.

For those of you who don't know, these are both egg plant. The cute little one is aptly named "baby eggplant". I don't know how they grew these fully flavored egg plants in miniature size but, it was so cute I could not resist. And that long, funky looking one, I just have never had nor seen before and therefore needed to try.

This one is called "japanese eggplant". 

So! I decided to make something with eggplant in it just so I could try these two out. I'd had egg plant before and cooked it before but, I decided to go into the experimental, no recipe, territory.

Turned out fun and yummy as I said. One of my new favorite ways to add to the classic spaghetti and tomato sauce.

These are the two eggplants chopped up! The left side is the baby eggplant (which ironically, look bigger) and the right side has the japanese, which seemed to have more seeds and a slightly more bitter flavor. 

When everything was cooked up though, the playing field seemed to level and it was just one pasta bowl of delicious. 

Baked Eggplant Pasta
-1 to 2 Eggplants (depending on size/amount of people you are trying to feed)
-1 cup bread crumbs
-Garlic Salt
-Olive oil

Slice the eggplant into discs. Drizzle a lipped cookie sheet with olive oil and smear, (essentially, grease the sheet with olive oil). Lay the sliced discs out on the sheet and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle each disc with bread crumbs, I used a pretty heavy hand. Then add spices and cheese to taste. I used a good amount of garlic salt and then went lighter on everything else. 

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until the breadcrumbs appear toasted and the eggplant discs are soft. Depending on how thick you slice, it could take more or less time.

Creamy Cheesey Crab Dip

If you like Crab and Cheesiness...this is phenomenal amounts of both.

I am scrambling for things to say about it really. It's pretty straightforward. Delicious dip for crackers...

Or a slather on a bagel and that's been broiled in the oven! This was my favorite way to eat the creamy crab dip. Like a super classy Bagel & Schmear. 

Enjoy either way :)
Crab Dip
-8oz cream cheese (softened)
-2 Tablespoons milk
-1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
-6oz can crab meat
-1 tablespoon chopped green onion

Mix all ingredients and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.

Katie's Red Mushroom Steak Sauce

This is by far my favorite thing I've posted.

And it's just a simple steak sauce.

It's spectacular over a steak though. S.P.E.C.T.A.C.U.L.A.R. It makes an okay piece of meat a party for your taste buds. My mother makes this well and often and it is nothing but a hit. Hope you guy's get good use out of it as well :)

Katie's Mushroom Sauce
2 packages 8-oz Mushrooms
1/2 stick of butter
2 tablespoons worchestire sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup red wine

Saute mushrooms in the butter. Then add remaining indredients, let simmer til heated through, serve! If too thick, you can add 1/4 cup water. Easy :) 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cinnamon Roll French Toast

It was late and my roommates and I were hungry and, for some reason, the perfect late night snack sounded like the idea that had been rumbling around my head for a while lately.

Cinnamon Roll French Toast. Yummm.

It hit the spot very nicely and as we all settled back into the Olympic games, it was the perfect treat. Hopefully you find similar results. I feel like it can only be more amazing to wake up to then it was to end the night with.

Cinnamon Roll French Toast
-1 package raw jumbo cinnamon rolls
-2 eggs
-2 Tablespoons milk

Take cinnamon rolls out of package, instead of setting on cookie sheet as directed, flatten them so they are more like 1 inch thick discs instead of 2.5 inch biscuts. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, so they are just baked, just under golden. Let cool 10 minutes. Put pan/butter on burner on low. Whisk eggs and milk in bowl. Dip and smoosh cooled flat rolls in egg mixture and then cook on stovetop as you would ordinary french toast. Should crisp up nicely but stay stay soft on center.

Delicious :)

 Sweet Rolls that Rock 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Caramelized Fruit Over Ice Cream (Weird Fruit Soup!)

I am sure lots of people can relate to the feeling of "blah".

I felt this last friday evening like I was the pure human embodiment of the word "blah".

I just felt drained. It'd been a long week of class and work plus there were snow piles out and I was one big ache from falling over, into, and around them. It was a friday night and my roommates were out working and my other friends wanted me to go out drinking and having a grand time but... all I wanted was pajamas and a hot shower and an overdose on advil.

So I did the scary thing. I spent the night on my own.

To some, this is probably exceptionally trivial a thing. Spending one night alone for me hasn't happened in...years. I'm from a big family back home, I've got 3 roommates here at school, and even if I didn't, College isn't a social dynamic that really creates time to yourself so! I cannot remember the last time I spent a night to my own devices.

While at first this was the result of my bad mood and body aches, I eventually decided that I was going to make the most of my spoiled night in and wanted out of my funk.

And the best way I could think to fight a funky, boring, ugh-I-am-so-mundane-and-worn-I-don't-imagine-I-can-ever-be-interesting mood was to make something completely new.


So, I went to the local grocer and picked up some produce I had never seen, heard of, or cooked with before. I ended up with Cactus Pear, Star Fruit, and Asian Pear.

And strangely enough, I felt much better almost immediately. I hadn't know I was going to buy fruit, I just went to the store with the plan of finding an ingredient for some much needed inspiration. And when I saw some unidentifiable prickly fruit, I decided that I was going to go for food adventure.

I came home, and quickly sliced all the exotic fruit up. I tried everything raw and, I've got to say, Star Fruit won, being a sort of sweet but tart flavor. The Asian pear was just a pear but, it seemed harder and grittier then the typical pear. And then, the cactus pear was too sweet for my taste. But, very cool red coloring. 

I added some peaches and plums, and then tossed it into a frying pan to caramelize with a drizzle of syrup, a handful of cinnamon & sugar, and generous sprinkling of brown sugar. Because really, what fruit doesn't taste good caramelized in it's own juices plus sugars and then served hot over icecream? 

I bought some very delicious Ben & Jerry's Icecream and it turned out amazing. I recommend this game of buy and try to anyone! I figure you can't go wrong with fruit sliced and sugared so, no matter what random combos you try, I'd bet it'd turn out well.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bonanzas 4 Banana Bread

Banana bread is one of those baked goods that should be a staple of appreciation for everyone.

How one could pass on warm banana bread straight from the oven with a pat of butter, I will never, ever, be able to understand.

This is my family's banana bread recipe and it's extremely well loved and received. I am sure you have your own family recipe but, I encourage you to give this one a try because it's subtle taste of banana and nice cake like consistency is rivaled by few breads I've had in the past.

Plus. Easy breezy for a bread recipe.

Banana Bread
-2/3 cup sugar
-1/3 cup soft shortening
-2 eggs
Stir In:
-3 tablespoons soured milk (milk with lemon juice)
-1 cup mashed bananas
-2 cups flour
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt

-Optional additions: 1/2 cup nuts or chocolate chips

Pour into a greased pan. Let stand 20 minutes. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes.

Chicken in a Garlic White Wine Sauce... & Promise it's a Cinch.

Midwest weather seriously just sucks in February.

Seriously. It's a blustery but sunny day one minute and then the next, it's freezing winds and torrential snow and you find yourself slipping on ice and snow constantly and soaked within moments of stepping outside the door.

Or at least, I find myself in that situation rather consistently.

On one such particular day this week, I got fed up with the chill completely and decided that I wanted a warm and delicious dinner to make me feel more cheered.

This dish was just the trick to make myself and my roommates feel the winter chill evaporate and the delicious flavor of garlic seep into our taste buds.

Garlic Chicken and Wine Sauce
-3 large chicken breasts, cut in 1/2
-1 bottle dry white wine
-1/3 cup milk
-1 head garlic
-Assorted Veggies (Or not) To taste (I used spinach, tomato, & mushrooms)
-Olive Oil

Put deep pan on stove. Saute' garlic in butter. Roll chicken in bread crumbs, add to butter/garlic. Cook outsides slightly before adding remaining ingredients. Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve over RICE.

Yes, I realize I took the picture served over pasta. Which is ALSO delicious. It's up to you, but I would go with rice because it soaks up the flavors much better. Either way, you'll enjoy it, promise :)

Save the Pits!!! Guacamole

Guacamole is one of the most simple, delicious, dips of all time. And yes, it does happen to look like a moisturizing face mask.

Sure tastes good though.

Guacamole is one of those foods I group with chili dip and pizza. Yes, you can make a big production out of it. And yes, some of those times when you make super complicated and fancy recipes out of recipes that were previously 3 or 4 ingredients, it tastes even better then the easy version did.

But. Think of all that time you spent making it the complicated way. And, sorry, but a lot of times when people over think simple foods, I can't help but feel like they taste... less then stellar.

My one friend swears she makes the best guacamole this side of the country and makes a HUGE production over it. It tastes like cilantro goop.

Cilantro is a spice I will always insist to go easy on.

Anyway! SO, if any one has a recipe for guacamole that is more delicious but just as easy as my mom's recipe, let me know! I'm willing to add 10 minutes of production time if you swear it's really good.

P.S. And yes, this is, once again, a recipe so simple, it probably doesn't even count as a recipe...but there's a goooooood tip contained in there as well

-3 avocados

Mush your fresh avocado with a fork until it's at the texture you prefer. I like mine "whipped into submission" (Julie&Julia anyone?). SET THE BROWN PITS ASIDE. At salt and pepper to taste and then add at LEAST 8 good spoonfuls of salsa, more or less for the kick you like. This is how my recipe is cheating. Rather then finding my own combination of spices or chopping up tomatoes and onions to add some texture...My mom taught me to use the already tasty spice combos of mild salsa and prechopped veggies found within.

When you have your dip at a taste you find you enjoy, toss the brown pits BACK into the dip. Avocados are a very funny piece of nature, if you toss the pits back inside the avocado mush, it tricks the mush to somehow thinking it's still inside it's shell. Meaning, it doesn't turn brown. It stays all nice and green and flavorful for the entire length of your gathering.

Cool, huh?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Not Just Brownies. Secret Family Recipe Brownies.

By posting this, I may be risking my life.

This recipe is my family's prized recipe. Brownies are a simple dessert, most anyone can make them.

But we make them the best.

By putting these on the web, I'm sure to be threatened by my extended family. I am not sure if I was sworn to secrecy but, if I wasn't, it was implied.

However. My grandmother, who is Alpha Female of that side of my family's branch, printed this recipe in her communities cook book. 

SO! In conclusion, it seems like copyright has been relinquished and I am free to share!

So, you HAVE to make these. If I am risking my life, you should probably try making them at least once. Bet you'll get rave reviews.

-1/2 cup margarine, melted
-10 tablespoons coco
-4 eggs
-2 cups sugar
-1 cup flower
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 cup nuts 

Combine all ingredients, (melted margarine and coco first, then add remaining ingredients). Bake 25 minutes at 350 in a greased pan and then PUT IMMEDIATELY INTO THE FRIDGE! This is the trick. By taking them out from the heated oven and moving them immediately into the cold fridge, they become deliciously chewy and perfect. Cross my heart and hope to die.

Super Addictive Sausage Hors D'Oeuvres

As kids, my siblings and I always went crazy when our parents made these appetizers for a party.

They're seriously worth the hype we expressed as children. Like pigs in a blanket but with more flavors and class.

Yep. Class. That's why my mom always called them "Hors D'Oeuvres" and not just "sausage things". These are ritzy versions of a sausage roll.

Not sure why. There are no little black ties in the recipe. In fact, less then 5 ingredients. But hopefully you feel like the taste alone makes this recipe a class act.

Sausage Hors D'Oeuvres
-1 pkg Fully Cooked Sausage Links
-1 pkg Crescent Rolls (8 rolls)
-Parkay Squeeze Butter

Open crescent roll package and RATHER THEN BREAK INTO TRIANGLES, keep triangles combined and try to squish the dashed indents back together in order to make rectangles. Should form 4 rectangles. Spread butter on each square, sprinkle with oregano. You want to wrap the sausages in the crescent dough, cut the dough into smaller rectangles until you have enough pieces for each link. Wrap seasoned dough around links. Cut links into bite size pieces, (I tend to make it 4 pieces). Lay out on a baking sheet. Bake according to crescent roll directions until golden and puffy.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

K-Bars: AKA Best Bars Ever

At my family Christmas, a secondary Aunt always comes bearing piles and piles of her infamous K-bars. They are beyond delicious. They are one of my all time favorite things and I finally got the recipe this year after years of yearning for it.

I was shocked at how easy it is. I didn't even burn the syrups and sugars and chocolates on the stove top as I was convinced I would. 

I'm converted. Chocolate and melting is never meant to be done quickly in the microwave. Stovetop makes it simple.

And simple is always the goal. Especially when paired with delicious.

-1 cup sugar
-1 cup Karo Syrup
-1 cup peanut butter
-6 cups rice crispies
-12 oz bag semi sweet chocolate chips

Bring sugar and syrup to a boil on the stove, stirring consistently. Removed from heat, add peanut butter. Mix. Add to rice crispies. Press into 9 by 13 pan. Melt chocolate chips on stove top and pour over rice crispies mixture. Smooth and allow at LEAST a half hour to harden/cool. Refrigerate to speed process if necessary.

Italian Inspired Pizza

I'm clearly in a "I miss Italy" mood.

This is my take on Italian pizza. I don't bother to make my own crust, I like Baboli's thin crust and, while making from scratch is MORE delicious, I'm a person who thinks that pizza is pizza and, to a certain degree, it should be easy to make and easy to eat.

Spending a LOT of time and energy on a phenomenal pizza when I could call and order one that's also delicious doesn't make too much sense to me. 

So, I pretty much never make my own crust. Unless I'm in the mood to really get into cooking that night while also craving pizza. But with a premade crust or at least premade dough, tossing some delicious toppings of your own making on is simple, quick, and phenomenal.

Plus, people get impressed for no reason. All you've done is chop and top and yet, people will rave for your pizza.

And yes, I do realize this pizza has no sauce. It has a LOT of chopped tomatoes though so, I just think of it as sauce in the raw. 


Italian Pizza
-Pizza Crust
-Hard, corrto, salami
-Asparagus (optional, I put it on the pizza picture because I had some on hand and thought it added nice color and flavor but, easily can go without)
-1 carton grape tomatoes
-Shredded Mozzarella
-Olive Oil
-Italian Spices
(I like: rosemary, oregano, garlic, thyme, majorm. Or, McCormick's salt free italian seasoning)
-1 egg

First, layer meats on crust. Then add vegetables, diced to bite size, tomatoes cut in half. Use ALL the tomatoes if you can, will add rich but light flavor of a sauce without having a sauce. Drizzle entire thing with olive oil. THIS IS IMPORTANT IN CHANGING THE FLAVORS! DO NOT WORRY ABOUT THE FAT CONTENT, DRIZZLE LIGHTLY, DON'T DROWN IT, AND THEN DON'T WORRY ABOUT CALORIE COUNT! Add cheese to your liking (as you can tell by the image, I like and recommend extremely light cheese on this pizza because I don't want to drown the other flavors). Add spices. Break one egg over center of dough. Bake at 400 til Egg is cooked to liking- that's when you know it's done :)

And sure you can lose the egg. But egg adds a lot to the pizza flavors, especially if you cook it slightly runny so you can dip each piece and smear. It's delicious and a fun way to cook. The kids I nanny for get a kick out of an egg on their pizza. Just be a brave soul and give it a whirl.

The Best Asparagus

This is yet another recipe that is so short and simple, it's barely a recipe. 

If you love asparagus like I do, you're always looking for new ways to cook it up. This is by far my favorite way to cook asparagus. 

My dad makes this asparagus on the grill, which is the best way to prepare it. However, second best is to simply bake it for 10 to 15 minutes and enjoy it that way.

Less char marks and a bit softer but. Still delicious.

Dressed Asparagus
-1 to 2 bundles Asparagus
-1 bottle dressing (either Italian or a Vinaigrette. I like Raspberry Vin)

Marinate cleaned asparagus stalks in a gallon ziploc with dressing for a solid hour. Grill til cooked through, 3-5 minutes, or Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes on lined foil cookie sheet, til asparagus is cooked thru to liking.

If you want a simpler recipe, sometimes when I have no dressing on hand, I drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Delicious.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Taylor's Shout Out: Bagel Appetizers!

I made these for my roommates, Taylor and Em, and both were thrilled with the results. My Aunt made them for Christmas too as an appetizer and they were equally well received there.

So, this recipe can be used however and whenever you like. Its just fabulously cheesey, toasty, and delectable. 

With just a hint of delicious spices.

Cream Cheese Bagel Melts
-3 oz Cream Cheese
-1 cup mayo
-1 1/2 teaspoon grated onion
-1/3 cup parmesan
-1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-1 bag bagels, quartered
-Paprika and Extra Parmesan

Mix all but paprika and extra parmesan. Spread generously on bagel pieces. Sprinkle with paprika and parmesan. Broil in oven til' puffy and golden. About 4 minutes or til puffy and golden.

Rainy Day Lunch: Mac & Meat with Pepperoni Rolls

My Aunt Tootsie is a dietician and one of the best "throw things together" cooks I know. 

You know what I mean. One of those people who just tosses things together and they are just randomly deliciously perfect. 

These are two of her classics that she would make for us kids when there were seven of us and just 2 moms. 

I've been thinking lately of updating the Mac & Meat Recipe even further by adding some cooked veggies. Some more color and taste. It's just sooooo good and comforting as is that I am tentative to mess with it t all. Let me know what you think.

Mac & Meat
-1 box family size kraft mac and cheese
-1 can cream of mushroom soup
-1 lb ground beef

Prepare the mac and cheese and brown the meat. Once both are cooked, throw all ingredients together and enjoy.

Pepperoni Rolls
-4 packages biscuts
-1 package pepperoni 

Take a piece of pepperoni, fold a biscut in half around folded pepperoni piece. Lay out on cookie sheet, bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

My Nana's Beef Burgundy

This recipe is a family favorite. And everyone who has it loves it as well. It's got a lot of full flavors and is one of my favorite dishes of all time on cold winter nights. My dad loves this recipe, his mom made it for him as a kid, and then my mom made it for us. And now I make it for my roommates ;)

Beef Burgundy
Mix Together:
-1 cup ruby port wine
-1 can cream of mushroom soup
-1 can cambells french onion soup

Pour over 1- 8oz package of sliced mushrooms and 3 pounds of sirloin tip roast, (cut into cubes). Put all ingredients into a large covered pot, bake for 3 hours at 350, and then put it on the stove top for 10 minutes, simmering on low, adding Wondra to thicken if needed. Serve hot over rice or egg noodles.

Lizzo's Obsession Chili Dip

This recipe is so easy, it barely counts as a recipe. I love making this dip because, even when I make an entire pie pan full and there are only 5 people, it gets demolished and people still ask for more! One of my best friends, Lizzo, is particularly obsessed with this dip and says that I somehow make it the best.

Which, as you can tell by the recipe, is hard to believe due to it being mostly opening packages and microwaving.

Hormel Chili Dip
-1 Can Hormel Chili (I lean toward Turkey Chili, no beans)
-1 80z Cream Cheese
-1 Package Mexican Blend Shredded Cheese

Smear the bottom of a pie pan with the cream cheese (a spoon works) until level and covered. Pour chili as next layer, smooth with spoon, top with cheese and microwave 3 minutes or until cheese looks melted.

Serve hot with Fritos and Tortilla Chips!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I love food.

I love food, and I love cooking, and I love experimenting with cooking and food and feeding it to my loved ones.

As I have already mentioned. I am also exceptionally clutzy. Unreasonably so. I'm that person who is regularly astounded when she reaches new levels of ridiculous mess, injury, or embarrassment.

I often hear the words "that could only happen to you".

Perhaps some of you can relate to this. To getting tangled in things, burnt on things, falling into, onto, and off of things.

And perhaps even more of you can relate to loving cooking.

This is a place for simple, delicious cooking. Cooking that, if I can do it without having a breakdown and bleeding across several surfaces, then all you normal people out there will be astounded by how easy and delicious the recipes I find and post really are.

Some of these I've made up. Some of these are secret family recipes that I had to beg to release to the public domain. Some are the result of cooking classes in Florence, Italy for a semester. And some I've literally "stumbled upon"* in food blogs and decided to try out and play with.

So! Here we go. Let's see how blogging works. An adventure for all of us.

Because, really, if you got the idea that I was clumsy in me when I say it translates into the technological world.

*StumbleUpon, if you don't know what it is, is like a search engine that flips you randomly through your inputed interests. You should 100% check it out. Please be aware, however, that you will be at least 75% less effective as a person due to stumbling and procrastination.

Frequently Asked Questions

Since, as far as I can tell, no one is reading this... there are no questions.

However! If someone IS there reading and has a question, however random, I would simply adore answering it!

Post it :)


There are various ways in which to get in touch with me! 
1) E-mail! Mine is:

2) Facebook Fan Page. I update regularly and pay attention to any posts by others. 

3) Twitter. I don't tweet very often outside of posting when I update one of my blogs but! I like twittering, tweeting, and all that jazz. Follow me and I follow you.

4) Leave a comment! I swear I am good about replying to what you guys leave for me :)

I think that's about it. But please, reach out! I'd love to hear from you!

Oh. And also...


Let's be friends :)

Comment your cooking bog link's and a brief summary/some info here and, we can network and be awesome.

There's probably a better way to do this. Tagging, RSS feeds, that kind of thing.

But, for the technologically impaired like me, this is easy too.

Plus, just one more way to connect and publicize your works.

Much love to all!