Sunday, September 27, 2009


That was how I considered myself tonight when I was assembling this dish. I will explain why later. As a whole, this dinner sounded tasty. After all, we like chili in this house (see previous bazillion chili posts) and we also like cornbread (see previous billion cornbread posts). So, I suppose if you put the two together they should work right? Well, in theory, yes. However, I had a disaster on my hands a year ago when I tried doing the two together in the crockpot.

This was a very easy recipe to prepare. You pretty much just brown the beef and dump the rest of the ingredients. That's it. Mix the cornbread, spoon everything into a dish and bake. I didn't have to buy many things to make this dish. Just the salsa and the cornbread mix. Everything else would be considered a pantry staple in my house which I had on hand.

This took a grand total of 45 minutes from start to finish to make. Considering you have to mix the cornbread and brown the beef and bake it, I would say that's a success!

Here comes the skepticism part. If you read the directions, it says to put the cornbread mix in the casserole dish first, and then the beef mix in the middle. I had to ask my husband if he agreed with this because I thought for sure the cornbread would all run towards the center of the dish and it would end up a big soupy mess. I almost put the beef mixture in first and then the cornbread on top, but I decided to follow the recipe (imagine that!). To my surprise, it worked! It baked up just as the recipe said it would and my husband was nice when he only managed a "told you so".

This is a good recipe and will probably be one I make again. After all, we eat chili and cornbread at least a dozen times a year. This way, you only need to bake it in one pan!

Chili Casserole with Cornbread
from: Pillsbury The Best of Classic Cookbooks

1 pound lean ground beef
1 jar (16 oz) chunky style salsa
1 can (15.5 oz) dark red kidney beans, drained
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
3 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 package (6.5-8.5 oz) cornbread mix
milk (if required by mix)
margarine (if required by mix)
egg (if required by mix)
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon sliced green onions, optional

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground beef until thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in salsa, kidney beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder and cumin. Cook 3-4 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally.

2. Meanwhile, prepare cornbread as directed on package using milk, and if required, margarine and egg. Spoon cornbread batter around outside edge of ungreased 2-quart casserole dish. Spoon hot beef mixture into center (casserole will be full).

3. Bake for 18 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese; bake an additional 4 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and cornbread is deep golden brown. Just before serving, sprinkle with green onions.

Announcement Cupcakes

I wanted a fun way to announce to my coworkers which gender of baby I am expecting. So, I decided on cupcakes. After all, who doesn't love cupcakes? My plan of attack was to bring in cupcakes that were either frosted in pink or blue. I have to be honest, I am glad they will be blue because I am not a fan of pink.

These cupcakes were delicious! I know because not only did I lick the batter bowl, I also ate one after dinner tonight. Any time I want to make an easy but yummy cake or cupcake recipe, I resort to the Cake Doctor. If you haven't checked out her cookbooks, you are missing out! The whole theme of the book is to take a regular boxed cake mix and add things to it. Honestly, every cake I have made you absolutely cannot tell it's from a box. And when I tell people, they don't believe me.

This recipe is very versatile. The title in the book says it all: Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes with Ten Different Buttercream Frostings. If you cannot find a frosting that you like, you must be the most picky person on the face of the planet!

Being pregnant around chocolate is sheer torture. Not only did I have to smell these puppies baking, but I had to wait several hours to eat one. Really, they were staring me in the face all afternoon. Stupid chocolate cravings.

I decided on the White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting. I am usually not a fan of cream cheese frostings, but like I said before, it's the Cake Doctor. You really can't go wrong. Plus, I wasn't sure how picky my coworkers would be if I brought in Orange-Cocoa Cream Cheese or Crushed Peppermint Buttercream.

Try these cupcakes out. You won't be disappointed. And maybe you will bring them to work to announce something fun too!

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes
from: The Chocolate Cake Mix Doctor

22 to 24 paper liners for muffin pans
1 package (18.25 oz) devil's food cake mix
3/4 cup water
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.

2. Place the cake mix, water, sour cream, oil, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with the mixer on low speed for one minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look well combined. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups, filling each liner three quarters of the way full (You will get between 22 and 24 cupcakes; remove the empty liners if any). Place the pans in the oven.

3. Bake until they spring back when lightly pressed with your fingers and a toothpcik comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottom of the pan using the end of the knife and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting of your choice.

5. Spread the tops of the cupcakes with frosting and serve.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese at room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups confectioner's sugar

1. Place the white chocolate in a small glass bowl in the microwave oven on high power for 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the oven and stir with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula until it is smooth. Set the chocolate aside to cool.

2. Place the cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until well combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine. Add the melted white chocolate and blend on low speed until just combined, 30 seconds. Add the vanilla and 2 1/2 cups of the confectioner's sugar, and blend on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 30 seconds more. Add more sugar as needed to make the frosting spreadable. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the frosting is fluffy, 1 minute more.

3. Use to frost the top and sides of the cake of your choice.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Angelic For Sure

This recipe is one that I picked up from someone on the Nest (thanks swmcat!). I am not sure why it took me so long to make, but I am glad I finally broke down and cooked it!

To me, the start of fall always reminds me of pumpkin candles, flavored coffee creamers and using my crockpot. Well, this recipe is definitely a crock pot one and it does remind me of fall. It's a heavier dish than something I would make in the summer. Don't get me wrong, it certainly can be made in the summer time.
Not only is this recipe easy, it's amazingly tasty! Angel Chicken indeed. It was angelic. The husband really liked it too and he's not a giant fan of pasta. How much easier can dump ingredients in crock pot and cover be? Of course, you still need to cook the pasta at the end, but it's angel hair. It doesn't take much more than 10 minutes to boil the water and cook the pasta.

If you are not a fan of mushrooms, the cream of mushroom soup can be substituted. You can always use cream of celery or cream of mushroom. If you don't have white wine, no problem! Use chicken stock or water. I didn't have any wine on hand, so I used the latter. If you aren't a fan of angel hair, substitute spaghetti or linguine. The possibilites are endless!

This will be a recipe that will get added to my repertoire. I liked it and Jason liked it. Plus, my cat liked it. She told us so when she licked our plates after dinner. Bravo Angel Chicken!

Angel Chicken
from: swmcat on the Nest

3 chicken breasts cut in half to make 6 small breasts
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 envelope (.7 oz) Italian dressing mix
1 can condensed mushroom soup
1/2 of an 8 oz. tub of onion and chive cream cheese
1/2 cup white wine or water
angel hair pasta

1. Put chicken in crockpot. In a saucepan, melt butter then stir in Italian dressing mix, soup, cream cheese, and wine. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours. Serve chicken and sauce over angel hair.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mmmmm, Breakfast

Here comes the first pregnancy craving. Well, not really, but before I went to bed last night, the thought of having coffee cake for breakfast sounded absolutely divine! So I looked for a recipe before bed and found one to make in the morning. The key was easy and have all the ingredients on hand. I was really hoping for one that was like the recipe on the box of the Bisquick container. I would have made that particular recipe, but I am low on Bisquick (mental note to add to grocery list).

This morning, I awoke very excited. I have been in a baking mood since our weather has been less than desirable. It's been cold and rainy so what better way to wake up than a hot piece of coffee cake and a cup of coffee?

This recipe was easy and I do have to say, it was very close to that Bisquick one that I love. Um, plus, I ate three pieces, so I can vouch for it's tastiness. It's a big pan, so let's hope I don't go overboard. While this is more of a breakfast food, you could certainly have it as dessert too. It's sweet which is the one requirement of a dessert in my house.

Here it is out of the oven.

The whole house smelled like cinnamon and sugar, which is perfectly fine for me. As the title says, it goes perfectly with a cup of coffee. I had some milk too which made me feel a little healthier. All in all, it's not terribly bad for you. As long as you only eat one piece, which I didn't. The topping is perfectly crispy and soft at the same time, and the cake part baked up beautifully.

All Recipes has done it again. A tasty dish that is easy to make. It seriously is my favorite site for finding tried and true recipes. One day I will probably run across one that isn't so great, but for now, I will take my chances.

Aunt Annie's Coffee Cake

2 cups flour
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
3/4 cup milk, or as needed
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan. Make the streusel topping: In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup flour, 2/3 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Crack an egg into a measuring cup and then fill milk to make 1 cup. Stir in vanilla. Pour into crumb mixture and mix just until moistened. Spread into prepared pan. Sprinkle top with streusel.

3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

The corner piece in all it's delicious glory.

Pasta Night Two

Like I mentioned before, I have been on a pasta kick. Honestly, it's my go-to meal during the week. When my husband isn't home, it's easy to boil some noodles and heat up some sauce. Plus, the pastabilities are endless (bad joke, sorry). I often times stir in tuna, capers, kidney beans, various spices, cubed chicken, or vegetables. Obviously, I don't do all of those ingredients at once.

This very very easy. Trust me, I wouldn't make it if it wasn't. I mean, what could be easier than two steps? Plus, it's delicious and healthy. It's another of my Weight Watchers recipes. Even though I am not actively trying to lose weight, it can't hurt to eat healthier.

This is a good recipe for people that eat some meat, but not a lot (like me). My husband won't eat pasta unless there is some meat source in it or near it. I on the other hand, will eat any pasta, any way. This is a happy medium. It has some meat, but it's not the shining star. A little Canadian bacon goes a long way. Plus, the leftovers can be used for those tasty English muffin sandwiches.

This recipe takes pantry staples with the exception of the bacon. Honestly, you can leave out the bacon if you prefer to have a vegetarian meal. Canned tomatoes, onion and various spices are all this recipe needs. Serve it with a salad and some bread, and you have a very healthy meal. Okay, so leave out the bread.

I found out this dish is very good cold as well. I wasn't feeling so great one day and I had some of this pasta right out of the fridge. Who knew? My only suggestion is to up the red pepper flake contribution. We like our food spicy, so I almost tripled the amount I add it. Another trick I have learned is to smush it in your hand before adding. It releases the oils in the pepper. Hey, I saw it on the Food Network, therefore it must be true.

I better put pasta on the grocery list, because Lord knows I eat enough of it, and my stash is almost depleted.

Spaghetti Amatriciana
from: Weight Watchers

1 teaspoon olive oil
4 ounces Canadian bacon, diced
1 large onion, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups canned tomatoes, chopped
8 ounces uncooked spaghetti, cooked al dente, water reserved
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

1. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook bacon until browned. Stir in onion, raise heat to medium-high and cook until lightly browned. Stir in the red pepper flakes and tomatoes.

2. Toss hot spaghetti and 1/4 cup reserved pasta cooking water with tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper.