Archive | April, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Streusel Muffins

28 Apr

These muffins are just amazing. I know it’s not pumpkin season but I just couldn’t resist after stumbling upon the recipe.  And with the buttermilk and whole wheat flour they are healthy, right? That’s what I keep telling myself at least.

My husband doesn’t like pumpkin. I think he may have been dropped on his head as a child because that is just wrong.  I’m out of town visiting my parents this week so I jumped on the chance to make something pumpkin.

The spices perfectly compliment these moist, pumpkin-y little gems. The texture is more dense and chewy than an average muffin due to the whole wheat flour but I think it goes well with the pumpkin. If you prefer a lighter muffin, replace the whole wheat flour with all-purpose flour.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Streusel Muffins
recipe adapted from Sweet Tooth

MUFFINS
1/4 cup of butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tbsp molasses
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

STREUSEL
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp rolled oats
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cream together butter and sugars.
3. Add the pumpkin, buttermilk, eggs, and molasses and blend.
4. In a separate bowl, combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and chocolate chips.
5. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until well mixed.
6. Put 12 liners into a muffin tin, and split the batter evenly between the liners.
7. Sprinkle the streusel topping on the batter evenly.
8. Bake for 25 minutes (or until fork comes out clean) and cool on a wire rack.

Recipe linked to:
Everyday Sisters Sharing Sunday

Cherry Dump Cake

25 Apr

This is the easiest dessert you could ask for, it has 4 ingredients that you literally dump in a 13×9 and bake.  My husband always requests this cake for holidays and I’m always glad to make such a simple dish on busy days. 

I highly recommend topping this fruity, delicious cake with whipped cream.

Cherry Dump Cake

1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple
1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted

1. Mix pineapple (with juice) and cherry pie filling in a 13×9 pan.
2. Sprinkle yellow cake mix evenly over the cherry.
3. Pour melted butter evenly over the cake mix.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
5. We like to refrigerate this and serve with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Recipe linked to Everyday Sisters Sharing Sunday!

Easter Sugar Cookies

21 Apr

These are my absolute favorite cookies ever.  They have graced birthday parties, bridal showers, holidays and the arrival of my son.

This recipe is from my mom’s best friend (and a second mom to me) Kathe.  Every Christmas I go to her house and we stay up all night baking these amazing cookies.  It is one of my favorite Christmas traditions and I hope to start it with my son this year!

The cookies are rolled out thicker than most recipes making them extremely chewy and moist.  Keeping the unused dough in the fridge while rolling out the other half keeps the dough from getting too soft and sticky, making it easier to roll when you are ready.

This is my first time using this icing recipe.  I decided use this one instead of my normal recipe which is too runny to precisely decorate the cookies.  I am new at decorating so please forgive me for any imperfections!

I absolutely adore how Cookie Crazie packages up their cookies and knew I had to give it a try.  Mini cookies are decorated then placed in mini cupcake liners that are placed in a 1/2 lb. candy box (can be found at any craft store).  This would be the perfect gift to the host of any get together.

I really hope you try these cookies, they are so amazing!

Sugar Cookies

1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
4 tsp. milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Thoroughly cream shortening, butter, sugar and vanilla.
2. Add egg and beat until light and fluffy.
3. Stir in milk
4. Sift together dry ingredients together then blend into creamed mixture.
5. Divide dough in half and chill for 1 hour (or overnight – I usually make the dough the night before I am baking).
6. On lightly floured surface, roll to 1/4″ thickness (keep remaining dough refrigerated).
7. Cut with cookie cutters.
8. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 8 minutes (I baked the mini’s for 6 minutes). These may not look done when you take them out but trust me. Don’t wait until they are golden around the edges unless you like a crunchier cookie.   Makes 2 dozen regular sized cookies or about 115 mini’s.

Sugar Cookie Icing

1 lb. powdered sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
Extract of your choice
Approximately 1/4 cup water

The perfect consistency of the icing is when I can make a peak with my finger and the icing smooths out in 10 seconds. If it takes longer than 10 seconds, my hand grows tired from squeezing such thick icing. If it takes less than 10 seconds, it is too “drippy” and will drip off the sides too easily. First outline the cookies with the icing then flood the inside. 

Decorate with sprinkles or wait for the icing to dry and pipe on decorations. This recipe covers 20-25 medium cookies.

Peanut Butter Eggs

20 Apr

Peanut butter eggs are an absolute must for Easter in our house!  I have to say that the combination of peanut butter and chocolate is one of my all time favorites.  This year, I decided to change it up a little after seeing these adorable eggs at Picky Palate.  Rather than using chocolate, pastel candy melts are used to cover the peanut butter eggs. 

I decided to go with this recipe for the eggs, it looked too delicious to resist.  I halved it as I didn’t think we would need 28 eggs (I provided the full recipe though).  After tasting them, I’m kind of regretting my decision.  I bet I could eat 5 in one sitting….but I won’t….hopefully.

These would be great to make for the neighbors or to bring to your Easter gathering.  It would also be fun to pipe each person’s name (in a coordinating candy melt color or chocolate) on the eggs to make them a little more special and personal.

Although they are messy to make and a little time consuming, they are so fun and taste much better than the store-bought variety.  This would be a great recipe to do with your kids.  I hope you enjoy these and have a wonderful Easter!

Peanut Butter Eggs
makes 28 3×2 eggs

1/4 lb butter (1 stick), softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 lbs powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pastel candy melts (these can be found at any craft store in their baking section)
Sprinkles

1. Mix the butter and cream cheese together.
2. Add the powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time and mix well.
3. Add the peanut butter, vanilla, and salt, and mix until well blended.
4. Place the mixture in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour (I stick the bowl in the freezer for about 1/2 hr., to harden the dough).
5. Form the peanut butter mixture into egg shapes, then refrigerate again for at least 1 hour (Again, I put them in the freezer instead of the fridge).
6. Melt the candy melts in the microwave or in a double boiler.
7. With a knife, spread the candy melts all along the sides and top of the egg, then with the knife fluff the top of the melts to make the eggs look pretty. Just press down on the melts and lift up with a butter knife. Do it all over the top of the egg.  I simply put them in the melts upside down then covered the sides using a spoon.
8. You have to work quickly while the eggs are frozen, as the heat from the melts makes them soft again rather quickly. If you notice them getting too soft, stick them back in the freezer for a few minutes.
9. Arrange the coated eggs on a waxed paper lined tray and allow the melts to harden. (I stick mine in the freezer for easier handling when coating with the candy melts).
10. Place each peanut butter egg in a paper candy cup.
11. You can decorate your eggs with sprinkles if you wish.

Sweet Corn Cake

19 Apr

This sweet corn cake tastes like a sweet cornbread that has a creamier, softer texture (like a spoon bread). I first had this delicious side dish at a Mexican restaurant in my husband’s home town.  I feel in love with it at first bite and have finally made an attempt to make it myself.  It was so easy to make and tasted very similar to the  restaurant’s version.  I don’t know why I waited so long!

This was great alongside our tacos and would be tasty with any other Mexican dish.

Sweet Corn Cake

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup masa harina (Mexican corn flour)
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1. In a medium bowl beat butter until it is creamy. Add the Mexican corn flour and water and beat until well mixed.
2. Using a food processor, process thawed corn, but leave chunky. Stir into the butter mixture.
3. In a separate bowl, mix cornmeal, sugar, cream, salt, and baking powder. Add to corn flour mixture and stir to combine. Pour batter into an ungreased 8×8 inch baking pan. Smooth batter and cover with aluminum foil. Place pan into a 9×13 inch baking dish that is filled a third of the way with water.
4. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Use an ice cream scoop for easy removal from pan.

Linked to Sharing Sundays.

Homemade Poptarts

17 Apr

I think many of us can admit that we have gone to poptarts for a quick, on-the-go breakfast more than once in our life.  While they may not have the healthiest ingredients and sometimes resemble cardboard more than a pastry I have eaten my fair share of them.

When I came across this recipe at Brown Eyed Baker I knew it was something that we had to try.  They took quite a bit of time but they are so much better than the boxed variety and you know every ingredient in them.  If you don’t have the time or inclination, you can simply buy premade pie crust and follow the directions with similar results.

These are light, flaky and chewy unlike the store-bought version.  I made some with a powdered sugar glaze and sprinkles to look like the “real thing” and I left some plain.  My husband preferred them with the glaze and I without.  Either way, they are great!  I only made the strawberry filling but will definitely try the brown sugar cinnamon next time as that is my favorite variety.

If you have another fruit filling in mind (blueberry, cherry, apple…) just replace the strawberry jam with your flavor option and follow directions as listed.  If you try another filling flavor, let me know how it turns out!  Each filling recipe makes enough for 9 poptarts so if you want to try both, scale the filling amounts down.

Homemade Poptarts

For crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 egg
2 Tbsp. milk

For strawberry filling:
3/4 cup strawberry jam
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. water

For brown sugar cinnamon filling:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 tsp. all-purpose flour

For glaze:
2/3 cup powdered sugar
milk to slightly thin

1. Prepare the strawberry filling by whisking together the cornstarch and water. Combine with the jam in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let cool.
2. For the brown sugar cinnamon filling, whisk together all ingredients well.
3. To make the crust, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, work in the butter until it is the size of peas and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. Whisk together the egg and milk and add to the dough. Mix together with a fork until everything is evenly moistened. Knead briefly on a floured surface, if necessary, until the dough comes together.
4. Divide the dough in half. (At this point you can wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.) If you refrigerate the dough, let it come to room temperature for about 15 minutes before rolling out. Roll out one piece of dough to about 1/8-inch thick, in a 9½ by 12½ rectangle (using lots of flour as it can get sticky). I discovered a great trick on Dirty Jobs for rolling out dough (I know you are thinking “Dirty Jobs?” but trust me). Cover the dough with plastic wrap and then roll it out. This way, it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin. Using a sharp knife, pastry wheel or bench scraper (I used a pizza cutter), trim the rectangle to 9×12 inches. Cut the sheet of dough into nine 3×4 rectangles. Using a spatula, transfer the rectangles to a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
5. Brush the lightly beaten egg on each of the rectangles. Spoon a tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, leaving a ½-inch of space around the edges.
6. Roll out and cut the second piece of dough in the exact same manner as you did the first. One at a time, place a second rectangle of dough on top of the nine assembled ones. Using your fingers, press around the seams of the dough to make sure they are sealed (if your dough is too soft, refrigerate it now for 30 minutes rather than in the next step). Press the tines of a fork around the edges of the rectangles. Prick the tops of the rectangles in multiple spots to allow steam to escape.
7. Refrigerate the pan with the pastries (you don’t need to cover them) for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool slightly before serving. Store pastries in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Lasagna Roll-Ups

15 Apr

This has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.  Noah has been teething so life has been rough for us all.  I feel so bad for my poor little guy.  Plus it’s snowing….on April 15.  Yep, that’s right.

Luckily, these lasagna roll-ups brightened up our week a little.  I wish little man could enjoy them, maybe that would make him feel better.

These were pretty simple to make and took less time than a traditional lasagna.  Plus, they are way more fun!  I basically took the ingredients from my mom’s lasagna recipe (best ever) and rolled them up into the noodles.  So easy, so delish!

Mix the ricotta, 1 cup cheese, egg, parsley and basil.  Once the ground beef and sausage has cooled stir that in too.  Spread the meaty, cheesy mixture on each noodle then roll.

Top with lots of sauce and cheese.

Oh yum!

Lasagna Roll-Ups

8 lasagna noodles, prepared according to box directions
1 (15oz.) ricotta
2 cups mozzarella or Italian cheese blend
1 egg
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. parsley
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 (8oz.) can tomato sauce
1/2 lb. ground beef
2 hot Italian sausage links

1. Brown ground beef and sausage until no longer pink.
2. In a medium bowl, mix ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, egg, basil, parsley, ground beef and sausage.
3. Combine the spaghetti sauce and tomato sauce then spread 1 cup on the bottom of a baking dish.
4. Lay noodles on a flat surface and divide mixture among the noodles.
5. Roll up the noodles and place seam side down in the baking dish.
6. Top with remaining sauce and cheese.
7. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes then serve.

Linked to Everyday Sisters Sharing Sunday and This Week’s Cravings.

Blueberry Muffins

14 Apr

Best.Blueberry.Muffins.Ever.  Cooks Illustrated, where the recipe originated, claimed this first and I am here to say they were totally right! 

These beauties are bursting at the seams with blueberries, just the way I like it.  When I saw this recipe at Sweet Pea’s Kitchen I could not resist making them as soon as possible.  And I’m so glad that I did.

These muffins have a few more steps but the extra bit of time is so worth it.  Half of the blueberries are simmered with a bit of sugar to make a lovely compote filling for the muffins. 

Whisking the eggs and sugar make the muffins light and fluffy.  It’s also important not to overmix which would make them tough. I love a muffin with a topping and this sugary lemon zest sprinkle is so yummy.

My whole house smells like blueberry goodness.  This makes me very happy.

Check out my muffin tops!

Blueberry Muffins

Muffins:
2 cups fresh blueberries, divided
1 1/8 cups plus 1 tsp. sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk*
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Topping:
1/3 coarse sugar (regular sugar is fine too)
1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest, finely grated

1. For the topping: In a small bowl, stir together sugar and lemon zest; set aside.

2. For the muffins: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line muffin cups with muffin liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer. Cook, mashing berries with spoon and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to ¼ cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

5. In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining 1 1/8 cups sugar and eggs until thick, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Using rubber spatula, gently fold egg mixture and remaining 1 cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened (do not overmix.)

6. Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). I had some leftover batter so I made some mini muffins too. Spoon 1 teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using a toothpick, gently swirl berry filling into batter. Sprinkle lemon sugar topping evenly over muffins.

7. Bake for 17-19 minutes, or until muffin tops are golden and just firm. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

*If you do not have buttermilk, find out how to make a substitute here.

Linked to Muffin Monday.

Steak Marinade and Grilled Smokey Cheddar Potatoes

12 Apr

There is nothing like steak and potatoes…can you tell I’m from the midwest?  These are two simple and delicous recipes with ingredients that most everyone has in their fridge or pantry.  I found this marinade recipe several years ago on the internet (I do not have the specific website).  It states that it is for steak but it’s also great on chicken.

Now that is finally nice enough to be outside, we have been on a grilling spree.  I love grilling veggies and potatoes are no exception.  The fact that they are covered in cheese and bacon doesn’t hurt either.

Steak Marinade

2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried thyme

1. Mix all ingredients.
2. Marinate 8 hours or overnight (I marinate in a ziplock bag).
3. Grill to desired doneness.

Grilled Smoky Cheddar Potatoes
from Betty Crocker Bridal Edition

4 medium potatoes, diced into 1 inch cubes
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter or margerine
1 cup shredded smoked or regular cheddar cheese
4 strips bacon, crumbled or 2 Tbsp. bacon bits
2 Tbsp. green onions, thinly sliced

1. Heat grill for direct heat.
2. Place potato chunks on a 30×18 inch piece of heavy duty foil. You may parboil the potatoes for 6-7 minutes to shorten the grill time. Sprinkle with salt. Cut butter into small pieces and sprinkle over potatoes. Sprinkle with cheese and bacon.
3. Wrap foil securely around potatoes; pierce top of foil with a fork to vent steam.
4. Cover and grill foil packet, seam side up, over medium heat for 45-60 minutes or until potatoes are tender. If you parboiled your potatoes they should be done in about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with onions.

Recipe linked to This Week’s Cravings.

Corn Casserole

11 Apr

Let me start out by telling you I am not a casserole person.  Throwing random ingredients in a baking dish and calling it a meal is just not for me.  I have never liked them.  This is the exception to the rule.

Our family picked up this recipe several years ago from a friend and it has graced every holiday table ever since.  I think any member of my family, including myself, would throw a major tantrum if it wasn’t there.  It has humble, not so fancy ingredients but it is so so good!  And simple!

Corn Casserole

1 stick butter, cubed
1 cup orzo or spaghetti broken into small pieces
1 can corn
1 can cream corn
8 oz. Velveeta, cubed

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Combine all ingredients in a baking dish.
3. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring frequently.

Linked to A Themed Baker’s Sunday, Recipe of the Week, This Week’s Craving and Sharing Sundays.

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