Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bad Blogger

I know, I haven't posted in a while. I apologize for that. This may be my first non-food related post.

Here is why I haven't posted:

1. I just finished a killer Statistics class and all my free time was spent doing homework.

2. My computer network where I store all my pictures is down. I could post recipes, but not pictures. How boring would that be?

3. I haven't cooked a lot. The husband is doing the Slim Fast diet, so I have been cooking for myself only. I would just like to point out that the hubby has lost 20 pounds so far. Not bad!

Okay, so enough with the excuses. I will promise to post very soon. I swear. Pinky swear.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Carrie!

Last night, my sister came over for a belated birthday dinner. We had a good time eating, talking and opening presents. My blog background is very appropriate for the dessert I made. Nothing fancy folks. Just a boxed cake mix! However, I got to use my cupcake pan! I swear, I need to find more reasons to use it. It is so stinkin' cute! Anyone have a baby shower coming up? How about a birthday? I need more excuses to use this thing!

My sister requested a Funfetti Cake. She used to love them as a little girl, so I was happy to oblige. If you aren't familiar with what a Funfetti cake is, picture a vanilla cake with sprinkles mixed into the batter. It isn't bad and I guess you can make cookies out of the mix as well. There is a recipe on the side to do so.

I also made our family spaghetti sauce. Oh my, I haven't had it in over a year and I had forgotten how good it is! If you follow my blog, it is one of the very first entries I ever did. Sorry, no recipe here. My mom might disown me. Instead, I will leave you with a tasty cake pictures since I was a heathen and used a boxed cake.

Okay okay, I will post a recipe too. In honor of the cupcake cake, here is a recipe from Everybody loves cupcakes right? After all, I can't post an entry without a recipe. That would just be wrong. My Memere used to make these when I was a kid. They are made with ice cream cones and cake mix. They are super cute, although not as cute as my cupcake.

Cone Cupcakes

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
24 flat bottomed ice cream cones

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. Cream butter and sugar together well in mixing bowl. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in vanilla. Measure flour, baking powder and salt into small bowl. Stir. Add milk to butter mixture in 2 parts alternately with flour mixture in 3 parts, beginning and ending with flour.

3. Fill cones about 3/4 full leaving the batter 1/2 inch from top. Place filled cones on a baking tray. Bake in oven for about 15 to 20 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

4. Ice with any type of frosting you wish.

So, I leave you with pictures of yesterday. Cake, sauce and presents.
Yummmm, spaghetti. Jealous?
Baked, disassembled cake
Completed Cupcake Cake. Cute right?

Happy Birthday Carrie!
Pretty flowers and a picture of our tiny living room.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hodge Podge Soup

Sounds appetizing doesn't it? I had a veritable hodge podge of vegetables that I needed to use up, so I decided to make soup. Like I have said in previous blog entries, I like to pack soup for lunch during the week. It's portable, easy to heat up, and filling.

So, I made this soup. I didn't have a recipe, I just used whatever veggies I had on hand. You can easily do this yourself. I state below how many cups of veggies to use and you can substitute anything that you choose. If you don't like zucchini, substitute celery instead. Don't care for spinach? Put in some kale or another rabbit food like arugula.

I think I might go have a bowl of this right now considering I am coming down with a cold. You know the kind? It starts out with a sore throat, headache and general achiness (is that a word?). I am not too thrilled that my coworker brought her germs in and contaminated the rest of us. So, when I am feeling sick, I like soup. And even better if there is a grilled cheese involved. At this point, a nap sure sounds good too. Sorry, I am rambling. It's the cold medication.

So! Easy soup. Weight Watchers friendly. Diet friendly in general. Feel free to make this your own. Call it Build a Soup. It takes about 20 minutes to chop all the veggies and then cook it. So, in 20 minutes, you can have a yummy, hot bowl of soup to enjoy.

Now, go enjoy.

Vegetable Soup
from: Pachey

3 bouillion cubes, any type (chicken, beef, etc.)
6 cups of water

10 cups of vegetables. Some suggestions:

canned tomatoes
summer squash
swiss chard
red pepper
green pepper

can of beans (kidney, cannelini, white beans, pinto) drained and rinsed

1/2 cup pasta (elbows, ditalini, alphabets, etc.)

spices to taste (I like dill, Italian seasoning, fresh garlic, basil and whatever else suits you)

Bring everything to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover, simmer for 10 minutes.

For my soup, I used a can of diced tomatoes, a can of kidney beans, three stalks of celery, 2 cups of spinach and the rest of my vegetables consisted of a frozen medley of zucchini, summer squash, carrot, broccoli and cauliflower. See my finished product? Yum! Complete with steam.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Taste of Summer

Doesn't this shortcake look delicious? I know right? I wish I could eat it. I did eat it. Several months ago. In honor of the beautiful weather that we are having today, I thought I would post this strawberry shortcake. I wish I could have some right now, but I don't have any strawberries. Or whipped cream. Or biscuits actually.

This is my favorite dessert to eat in the summer time. After a nice barbeque of cheeseburgers and potato salad, nothing is better than fresh strawberry shortcake. Unless it's a nap from the carb overload.

At any rate, here is my strawberry shortcake recipe. It's simple. And to make myself feel better, since I can't eat shortcake, I will now go microwave my Betty Crocker Warm Delight Mini.

Strawberry Shortcake
from: Pachey

2.25 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup milk
2 pints of strawberries
pint of heavy whipping cream
sugar to taste

Heat oven to 450. Stir Bisquick and milk until soft dough forms. Place on surface sprinkled with flour. Knead 10 times. Roll dough 1/2 inch thick. Cut with biscuit cutter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet or in a cake pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Hull and slice strawberries. Place in a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar (to taste). Some people prefer more tart strawberries. Some people like them sweet. I prefer them somewhere in the middle. Cover and refrigerate so they can macerate.

Pour whipping cream into a mixer and whip until cream forms. Add a tiny bit of sugar to make sweetened cream.

Assemble shortcakes. I like to cut a biscuit in half and top with strawberries and a ton of whipped cream.
By the way, have I mentioned lately that I have lost 15 pounds so far? Go me!

Gnocchi Num Num

I love gnocchi. I personally feel it's one of those items that people should keep in their pantry at all times. I will never forget the time I mentioned gnocchi to a coworker. She had no clue what it was. Granted, this was a person who had never tried Thai food (she claims she didn't like it though), had never heard of couscous or hummus and only ate corn for a vegetable. I shook my head in dismay and told her she was missing out. I don't think she believed me.

If you don't know what gnocchi is, according to Wikipedia, it's "the Italian name for a variety of thick, soft noodle or dumpling. They may be made from semolina, ordinary wheat flour, potato, bread crumbs, or similar ingredients". You can eat it in all sorts of ways. If you are looking for a very quick meal, I would suggest some vodka sauce, gnocchi and maybe some cut up chicken breast.

Cooking Light strikes again! I get most of my recipes from there these days. I can't help it. They have unique, easy and tasty things! My new cookbook is honestly one of my favorite Christmas presents this year. It's gotten plenty of use so far.

Here is another recipe that called for fennel, and I can honestly say that I couldn't even taste it. Either it cooked down so much, or other things in the dish masked the flavor. Either way, I will not look at fennel in the same way again.

This was an easy one to prepare, especially if you use already packaged gnocchi. Yes, you can make it from scratch. I actually made some several years ago. It was good, but a pain in the rear. You have to boil the potatoes, mash them and form them into little dumplings. Not really worth the effort when you can buy a package for $1.79 at Trader Joe's. Regardless, there you have it. Sausage, potato (gnocchi=potato), vegetables and cheese make a num num meal.

I liked it. Jason liked it. That makes it a winner.

Gnocchi with Chicken Sausage, Bell Pepper and Fennel
from: Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2009

1 package (16 oz) vacuum-packed gnocchi
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
6 ounces basil, pine nut, and chicken sausage (such as Gerhard's), casing removed and sliced
1 cup thinly sliced fennel
1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1/2 cup (2 oz) freshly grated Asiago cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Cook gnocchi according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Keep gnocchi warm.

2. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage to pan; saute 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Remove sausage from skillet using a slotted spoon.

3. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in pan. Add fennel, bell pepper, and onion to pan; cook 13 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add sausage, gnocchi, cheese, black pepper, and reserved cooking liquid to pan, cook 1 minute or until cheese melts, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in parsley.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


After the disaster (well, sort of) that I call dinner, I needed a pick-me-up. My sister posted on Facebook about a 5-minute chocolate cake recipe that you make in the microwave. Score! I needed something simple and fast, and this definitely did the job.

I thought, wow, this cake can't be very good if you are making it in the microwave, but it was surprisingly good! It still needs "something" although I am not sure what. If you have any ideas on how to make this better, I would love to hear it.

This takes very little dishes. Just a mug, spoon and a tablespoon measuring spoon. That's it! Unless you want to eat your little cake on a plate, you can actually use less dishes and eat it straight out of the mug.

Thank you to my sister and thank you to Etsy where this recipe came from.

5-Minute Mug Cake
from: Rebecca and

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons Splenda
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
dash of vanilla

* Add dry ingredients in microwave safe mug. Mix well. Add egg, mix thoroughly.
* Add milk and oil; mix well.
* Add chocolate chips and vanilla; mix well.
* Microwave for three minutes. The cake will rise, but watch it carefully to make sure it doesn't overflow.
* Let sit for 2 minutes. Tip onto a plate or eat right out of the mug.

Look how cute this is! It's almost as cute as a cupcake. I love how it's shaped like the mug it came from. I happened to use my favorite Walt DisneyWorld coffee cup.

Messy Messy

So this recipe was tasty. I need to start out by saying that because I will soon forget. Why you ask? It was a PAIN to make. Did I mention it was a pain?

Crunchy Buttermilk Coconut Chicken Fingers. Yum yum! Sounds delicious right? They were. Oh they were. Once you were able to get them off the pan.

Exhibit A:

This is going to take me ages to clean. Overall, it's been a rough week. Not to go into a lot of details about my personal life, but between full time work, and a course I am struggling in, I needed something easy to make for dinner. This. Wasn't. Easy.

These chicken fingers had a nice tang to them and they were slightly sweet. I think it's probably from the curry powder. I am not a huge fan of curry, but I felt it really added to this recipe. My husband loves coconut (his favorite cake is German Chocolate with Coconut Pecan Frosting) but it's not my favorite. Again, I think it really added to this recipe.

Would I make this again? Maybe. I would definitely do some things differently. First off, I made an error by adding the cooking spray before the pan went into the oven. I should have added it afterwards. That is probably what made my pan a disaster. Hey, I don't claim to be an expert cook here. I make mistakes like most people do. Second, I would make sure to coat the chicken better with the flour. When I did this, it ended up in a mass of chicken and flour goo. Not pretty. Third, I crushed the cornflakes with my hands. That wasn't very smart. I blame the cocktail I was drinking during prep time. Hey, I said it was a rough week. My knuckles now look like I was in a fist fight. Good thing I got smart after a while and used the bottom of a heavy glass.

If you decide to make this recipe, I hope you have better success than I did. Good luck and Godspeed.

Crunchy Buttermilk Coconut Chicken Fingers
from: Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2009

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1.5 cups fat-free buttermilk
1/2 cup flour (about 2.25 oz)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
3/4 cup crushed cornflakes
3/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
cooking spray

1. Cut chicken into 20 (1/4-inch-thick) strips. Combine chicken and buttermilk in a shallow dish; cover and chill 1 hour. Drain chicken, discarding liquid. Combine chicken and flour in a medium bowl, tossing to coat.

2. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place baking sheet in oven.

3. Combine egg and egg white in a small bowl. Combine cornflakes and next 5 ingredients in a shallow dish.

4. Dip one chicken strip into egg mixture; dredge in cornflake mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken, egg mixture and cornflake mixture. Arrange chicken in a single layer on preheated baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat chicken with cooking spray. Bake for 6 minutes or until done. Serve immediately.