Tuesday, June 30, 2009

TWD: Perfect Party Cake

Ever since I got my copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, I look for an opportunity to try something new. Lately, I've been handing the book over to birthday boys and girls so that they can choose their birthday goodie. I haven't been able to get to everyone (because I'm at the busiest time of year with my new job), but if I missed your big day, you'll get a turn. Half birthdays always need to be celebrated! Anyway, last Wednesday was David's birthday. When I gave him the book, he stopped on the Perfect Party Cake and didn't go any further. He had no idea that it was my "assignment" for this week! I told him that I wouldn't be able to make it in time for his mid-week actual birthday (the 24th, which was a Wednesday), but I promised to make it for him on the weekend. I was off work last Friday, so I got to work making the cake. It took some time and attention, but it really wasn't difficult.
The pictures of the cake in the book looked delicious, but I wasn't sure I'd really like a lemon cake filled with raspberry preserves and topped with lemon buttercream. That just seemed like a lot of flavors, and a lot of lemon. But oh, was I ever pleasantly surprised! The cakes baked up beautifully, but didn't bake up as tall as I had hoped. That's partly my fault, though. The recipe says the cakes should be baked in two 9-inch round pans. I only have two 8-inch round pans, so I didn't use all the batter. I didn't want to have to clean up a big mess in the oven. But I could have used all the batter, and I think my layers would have been higher. Oh, well. I enjoyed eating the batter, anyway! You live and you learn...next time I'll use it all in the 8-inch pans.
I was also a little nervous about making the frosting, as well. I'd never made a hot-meringue frosting, but it was super simple. It was much easier than the frosting for the Devil's Food White Out cake. I would definitely make the frosting again, even though it does use three sticks of butter. Did Paula Deen help Dorie with this recipe?!
The only real problem I had with this cake was layering the raspberry preserves and the buttercream for the filling. Instead of being two distinct layers, mine kind of muddled together. It didn't look as pretty, but it tasted great! If I had been able to think outside the box, like other TWDers, I would have done as they did and layered buttercream, chilled it, then slathered on the raspberry preserves. I'll try that next time. And there will be a next time. This was just too good to make only once. If you've got a celebration of any kind coming up soon, make this cake. It's absolutely delicious! Thanks to Carol at mix, mix...stir, stir for picking a winner!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sun Tea!

When I was growing up, I spent nearly every Saturday night with my Granny and Grandydaddy. We had tons of fun...swinging on the porch swing with Granny, going to KFC for chicken littles, watching Hee-Haw with Grandydaddy. Those were the days. And Granny always had a pitcher of sweet iced tea in the refrigerator. She may not have been the greatest cook in the world, but man, could she make some good sweet tea! I wouldn't want to guess how much sugar she put in it, but it was absolutely delicious! Strangely, though, at my house, we didn't drink iced tea. We mostly just drank water. Soft drinks were pretty rare at my house growing up, and I think we usually kept some apple juice, but mostly, it was water. But it never failed...during the summer, Mom would get out that big glass jar and make sun tea! I always forget about it until about mid-summer when I'm strolling through Wal-Mart and I see the sun tea jars. I always reminisce about having sun tea, but I'd never bought a jar of my own. Until yesterday! I was so excited to make my first batch of summer sun tea! Check it out...
This is the sun tea this morning at about 7:30 when I put it out on the porch. I used 4 family-sized Lipton tea bags. I felt like I should use more, but I like to err on the side of caution. I wanted to see how strong it would be with four bags.
This was the sun tea this afternoon at about 5:00! It's deceptively dark. I just poured me a glass, and it's a little weak. Oh, it's still delicious, but a little weak. I think for the next batch, I'll use 6 tea bags and see what happens. It's officially summer, folks. Break out your sun tea jars! You can't get any "greener" than this!
Sun Tea
6 family-size tea bags
1 gallon water
Plenty of hot, summer sun
Fill your sun tea jar with water and add your tea bags, leaving the strings hanging outside the jar. Place the full jar in a warm, sunny location for 6-8 hours (or longer if you want). When you bring the tea inside, take out the tea bags and squeeze out the excess tea. Sweeten to taste, and enjoy! If you like a fruity flavor, use 1 or 2 flavored tea bags, along with 4 or 5 regular tea bags.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Italian Tilapia

The other night, I remembered that I have a ton of tilapia fillets in the freezer and that we hadn't had any in a long time. This is a super-simple, light, and tasty meal. You can probably make it with ingredients you have on hand.
I started out with about 5 tilapia fillets. The "stuff" I put on top is usually enough for 5-6 fillets, just depending on their size and how much you like to have on top of your fish. First, grease a cookie sheet (one with sides), and put your tilapia fillets on it. Salt and pepper them to your liking.
Then, I mix a can of (drained) diced tomatoes, some sliced black olives, a couple of cloves of garlic, some lemon juice, fresh parsley, and fresh basil. Then I layer the mixture over the tilapia, like this...Then, you bake the fillets in a 350-degree oven for about 12-15 minutes, or until your fish flakes easily. We had a starch-filled dinner this time...peas and corn. It was delicious!
Italian Tilapia
4-5 tilapia fillets
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
4 oz. sliced black olives, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
juice from 1/2 of a lemon (or more if you'd like)
chopped fresh parsley (or you can use dried)
chopped fresh basil (or you can use dried)
feta cheese, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet and place tilapia fillets on sheet. Salt and pepper to taste. In a mixing bowl, mix tomatoes, olives, garlic, lemon, parsley, and basil. Spread tomato mixture evenly over each tilapia fillets. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. If you'd like to use the feta, put it on when there's about 5-7 minutes left of baking time.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: In a Pickle

My little sister, Allison, was definitely "the creative one" between the two of us. She still is. She's always been very artistic, and had the most active imagination as a child. We had a set of those Childcraft books in the house, and Allison's favorite was Make and Do. It was full of little craft projects, and I think she must have done every project in that book at least twice. She was a busy kid. She would go to her room and disappear for hours, and when she came out she had made something fabulous out of junk she found around the house. One of our very favorite stories of Allison's creativity is this: one afternoon, she got a great big box and took it to her room. We figured she'd make something like a playhouse, or a boat, or something. An hour or so later, she emerged from her room, excited and triumphant. In her hands, she held a small box. She was beaming, and she said, "Look Mom! I made a box out of a box!" We love that story. It cracks us all up every time we tell it, which is often.
Today, for Thrifty Thursday, I feel like Allison. I made pickles out of pickles! They start out as regular old dill pickles, and are then transformed into a sort of dill pickle/bread and butter pickle crossbreed. My mother- and father-in-law suggested this to me for Thrifty Thursday a couple of weeks ago (they're a staple at their house), and I initially resisted. I love these pickles, but why would making pickles out of pickles be thrifty?

Generally speaking, I don't like bread and butter pickles. I like dill pickles. Therefore, I only buy dill pickles (David has no real preference, that I've been able to discern). They're pretty cheap. So I asked Shirley, "Why don't you just by bread and butter pickles?!" She looked kind of surprised, and said, "Because they're more expensive." I had no idea. So the next time I was at the grocery, I checked out the pickle situation. Sure enough, the jar of dill pickles above was $1.05. A similar sized jar of bread and butter pickles was nearly $3.00! What the heck is that about? I guess it's the sugar. So I decided that it was time to make pickles out of pickles for Thrifty Thursday.
As you can see in the picture up there, it's really simple. You need the whole kosher dill pickles, a cup of sugar, and some plain white vinegar. Drain the pickle juice, cut up your pickles, mix the sugar and vinegar, add the pickles, and shake. In about two more days, you'll have crunchy homemade bread and butter pickles!
How to Make Pickles Out of Pickles
Earl and Shirley Orr
1 jar whole kosher dill pickles (1 used a 32 oz size)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
Drain all the juice from the pickles. Save the juice to use later for some of the neat ideas from previous Thrifty Thursday posts. Slice your pickles into the size slices you like. (Shirley likes 'em thick, Earl likes 'em thin.) Pour sugar into pickle jar, then add the vinegar. Stir to combine. Add your pickles. Close the lid really tight and shake the jar for about a minute or so. Place the jar upside down in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Take the jar out and shake it up good again, then put it back in the refrigerator right side up for 24 hours. On the third day, enjoy your crunchy new pickles!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's David's Birthday!

Today is David's birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAVID! I've been telling him for at least two weeks that he needs to get Dorie's cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours and pick out his birthday treat. Finally, last night he got it out and made his selection. What did he pick? You won't believe it. He picked the Perfect Party Cake! What's the big deal? Well...unbeknownst to David, that's the TWD assignment for next week! It's a little too involved for a weeknight birthday treat, so I promised that I would make it for him this weekend. But for tonight's actual birthday treat, I have Joy the Baker to thank. I was looking around her beautiful (and funny!) site and came across Blackberry Pie Bars with Lemon Sugar. They looked delicious (and simple), so I decided to give them a go. The base layer is a pie-type crust made with lemon sugar (lemon zest rubbed into sugar, so that the sugar becomes lemon flavored/scented). You can even see the little flecks of lemon zest in the crust:

The next layer is a mixture of blackberries, sour cream, eggs, and sugar, and then there's a little more of the pie crust topping. After a stint in the oven, this is what you'll be rewarded with:

These were absolutely delicious! The crust is amazing. I'll be using that for other things in the future! I was thinking of a blueberry pie, perhaps. Mmmmm. Anyway, instead of birthday cake, David had a big ol' Blackberry Pie Bar with ice cream. I think he looks pretty pleased...
The recipe makes a ton of Blackberry Pie Bars, so the remainder will be heading to work with David in the morning. I hope the folks at CUB like them!
We've got some pretty sweet news to share, too. See the picture below? That's me and David, standing in what will be my new kitchen in about 6 or 7 months! We broke ground Monday morning on our dream home in David's hometown. We're so excited! We've found the perfect house plan, a fantastic builder, and we're on our way! Don't worry...I'll keep you updated! I may need some advice when it gets closer to kitchen planning time!
Blackberry Pie Bars with Lemon Sugar
Joy the Baker/The Pastry Queen
For the Crust/Topping:
3 cups AP flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 sticks butter, chilled and cubed
zest from 2 lemons
Blackberry Filling:
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup AP flour
pinch salt
6 cups fresh blackberries
For the Crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a jellyroll pan generously. Zest both lemons. Place sugar into a bowl; add lemon zest. Using your hands, rub the lemon zest into the sugar until the sugar seems to feel a little wet from the lemon oil. Combine the lemon sugar, flour, salt, and butter in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture is dry and crumbly. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the mixture for the topping. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the jellyroll pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes while you make the filling.
For the Filling:
Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Add the sugar, sour cream, flour, and salt. Gently fold in the blackberries. Spoon the mixture evenly over the crust. You may need to distribute the blackberries evenly over the crust. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Cool for 1 hour before slicing into generous servings.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Asian Pasta Salad

So you've seen the dismal cupcake failure on Father's Day. You know what makes it even worse? THERE WAS NO DESSERT AT THE FATHER'S DAY PARTY. Nothing. Until David's cousin Connie went home and made cookies! God bless Connie. She's a woman after my own heart. She also made some of that yummy cracker-sugar-chocolate brittle stuff. She saved the day, for sure. You can't have a potluck without dessert!
Anyway, I thought I'd give you a glimpse of the pasta salad I took to the party. I wanted something I could pretty much throw together in about 15 seconds between getting home from church and running to Earl & Shirley's house, and something that didn't have mayo or cheese in it, since I knew it would be sitting out for a lot of the hot and humid Kentucky summer weather. I got out my trusty Taste of Home magazine collection and found this delightful recipe for Asian Chicken Sesame Salad (except I kind of adapted it, as you'll see...namely, there is no chicken involved). It's very simple to put together. There's a simple dressing made from...

canola oil, sugar, pepper, teriyaki sauce, and white wine vinegar. I had also planned to put in some toasted sesame oil, but got addled and forgot it. I really missed it. Then you have the salad ingredients...

bowtie (farfalle) pasta, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, honey roasted peanuts (super-yum), water chestnuts, spinach, green onions, and parsley. All of the ingredients are combined, and you get this:
It was pretty good, but darn it, I wish I had remembered the sesame oil! Here's the recipe...I didn't add the chicken (I didn't figure we'd need it with the rest of the spread at the party), or the sesame seeds (I couldn't bring myself to pay $4.28 for them).
Sesame Chicken Salad
Carolee Ewell, Taste of Home Magazine
16 oz. bowtie pasta
1 cup vegetable/canola oil
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
2/3 cup teriyaki sauce
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 cans (11 oz. each) mandarin oranges, drained
2 cans (8 oz. each) sliced water chestnuts, drained
2 cups cooked cubed chicken
1 1/3 cups honey roasted peanuts
9 oz. fresh spinach, torn
6 oz. dried cranberries
6 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh minced parsley
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and place in a very large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, teriyaki sauce, sugar, and pepper. Pour over the pasta and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Just before serving, add the remaining ingredients; gently toss to coat.

Yield: 22 servings (1 cup each)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes (FAIL)

Happy Father's Day! To my dad, my stepdad, and my father-in-law, I love you guys! You are all very special to me, and I appreciate you more than you know! Without a doubt, I'm one of the luckiest ladies in the world to have three awesome dads in my life!
Today is the annual Klingenfus Family Father's Day Bash at my in-laws house. This thing is like a huge family reunion, except it's really just two branches of one family three. The Klingenfuses are prolific people, and they love to have a good time. I've mentioned it before, but on Father's Day every year, we all get together to enjoy time with our dads, eat, and play games. Everyone brings a dish (or two), and the fun begins!
I'm taking a pasta salad dish, but I wanted to take a dessert, too. (remember, it's what I do). Only the problem is that I've had an absolutely crazy week with work. I work for
Lindsey Wilson College and their School of Professional Counseling, and we're right in the middle of recruiting for our incoming class, so life is hectic. AND, I taught all this weekend (Friday night and all day Saturday). I really enjoy my job, and I like the teaching responsibility, but this week it really cut into my cooking/baking time! I didn't get to complete my TWD recipe (Coconut-Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise), and I just knew I wouldn't have time to make a dessert for the Father's Day party today. I looked around at my usual food blogs, and Susan, from She's Becoming Doughmesstic made some chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes, that looked easy and delicious. I decided to go for it at about 11pm last night.
They look nice, don't they? The trouble is, I'm scared of 'em. I didn't use Nestle cookie dough (even though if I had some that had been recalled, I'd still eat it myself...I'm not scared), I used the Wal-Mart variety, which was all that was left. But I'd probably have picked it anyway instead, even without the e.coli warnings. I'm all about the value. And the problem isn't the cookie dough at all. I'm scared of the cupcakes. Well, not personally. I'd eat all of them, but they feel soft...not quite done....even after a short re-bake early this morning. I have no fear of uncooked eggs. I'm the chief batter eater at my house; it's my favorite part of baking. But these will be served to fifty-some Klingenfuses this afternoon, and I just can't be responsible for a salmonella or e.coli outbreak. They're probably fine (I followed Susan's directions to the letter), but I'm just too concerned to serve them.
If you want one, you can have one. I have nearly 2 dozen in my kitchen RIGHT NOW. I just can't bring myself to take them to the party. They're tasty, but I just can't do it!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Other People's Food!

I'm a member of our very small church's women's group, which is called The Agape Women's Group. We have lots of fun together at our monthly meetings where we fellowship, work on service projects, and EAT. We have a "Secret Sisters" program in our group, where each woman is a "Secret Sister" to another. We provide encouragement and prayer for our "Secret Sister," and we try to give little gifts during the year for important events (Christmas, Easter, birthdays, etc.). In June, we have our Birthday Party, where we reveal our identities to our "Secret Sister", play games, and EAT. Our annual birthday party was last night, and while we had a small turnout, we had a lot of fun. Each member brought some food for our festivities, and I thought I'd let you take a look at what we had. Maybe if I can persuade everyone to give me the recipes, I'll include those in upcoming entries!
First, I'll show you what I brought:

They got a little mangled before I got to take a picture, but these are mini-turkey and cheese rolls (I also brought mini-ham and cheese rolls). I got the recipe from The Big Red Kitchen. Robin Sue has a ton of great recipes. The only thing I did differently was use different seeds. I used a mixture of caraway seeds and celery seeds, where Robin Sue calls for poppy seeds. I actually made these for May's Agape meeting, and they were so well-received that they were requested for this meeting, too! Luckily for me, I made too many in May, so I popped two pans in the freezer (pre-bake), so all I had to do was defrost them and bake them. It was a lifesaver, as this is the busiest week I've had in a LOOOOOONG time.
This is Midge's Seafood Pasta Salad. She is a South Beach Diet devotee, so she usually brings something "Beachy" to our events. This was GREAT! I'll have to get the recipe from her. Also, can you believe that after eating this salad, my cousin Brenda (our hostess) said she'd never eaten crab?! Geeze, Louise! We've got to get Brenda out more!
Devona brought this delightful Cucumber-Tomato salad. There's a good chance some of this came from her garden, but I never did hear for sure. Devona is a fabulous cook, and she's the leader of our food committee. She makes sure that we never go hungry!
These tasty little appetizers came courtesty of my Aunt Betty. She took green onions, covered the bottom half with cream cheese, then wrapped them in ham. So simple...so TASTY! I've got to remember this for future gatherings! They look so elegant!
Devona also put together this cheese/grape tray. Red grapes, delicious flatbreads, and Boursin cheese. Boursin cheese is becoming a pattern in my life. A couple of weeks ago, Earl and Shirley had some Boursin cheese at their house. Now, Devona brings it to the Agape meeting. I had NEVER had Boursin cheese before these two occasions, but I know it's been around for ages. I told Earl and Shirley that you can make your own Boursin cheese, and I have all the ingredients...I planned to fix some for them to have with their houseguests earlier this week, but life interfered with my plans. Now, after last night, I've got to make the homemade Boursin cheese to see how it stacks up. Keep your eyes out for that later in the week.
Did you notice anything about our spread? What was noticeably absent? DESSERT. You know why? Because that's WHAT I DO. I do dessert. Always. But this week has been crazy-busy for me, and I slacked off and didn't get it done. Therefore, we didn't get anything chocolatey, peanut buttery, cakey, custardy, flaky, or gooey. I'll have to plan better next year!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dinner In a Hurry: Tacos Two Ways

Last year, when my sister got married, I gave her a cookbook full of tried-and-true recipes that I had used in my first couple of years as a wife. I called it "The New Wife Cookbook" and was pretty proud of it. I think she and Larry use it pretty regularly, which makes me extremely happy. As one of the very first pages, I included a list of "Dinner In a Hurry" ideas that can be thrown together quickly (generally with what you have on hand) and don't require a recipe. One of the ideas I included was tacos. This is a "Dinner In a Hurry" option that David and I have pretty regularly. About two months ago, I started a new job, and I get home a lot later than I used to. I used to be able to cook a really nice dinner every night. And I used to be the Queen of Casseroles. Not anymore. It's not unusual for me to get home at 7 or after, and when I do get home, I just want something to eat. Nothing fancy, just sustenance. That's when I break out my old "Dinner In a Hurry" standbys. Tonight was one of those nights. So I declared it taco night...two ways: soft tacos for David, taco salad for me.
I love to watch David make his soft tacos. He always says, "This one will be small," and then he starts putting stuff in it and it grows to this monstrous size that he can't even close! I love it! Tonight, though, he knew the pressure was on...
Here's David's very modestly compiled soft taco (pre-roll). I wanted to see if he could actually get it rolled up. Let's see how he did...
Perfect! The three subsequent tacos were not this pretty...he knew they wouldn't be photographed!
Here's my taco salad. I love soft tacos, but sometimes I just want a salad. This really hit the spot...healthy and light, because I used extra lean ground beef (it's a good swap, because you can't tell the difference between it and regular ground beef once the taco seasoning is in it...but don't use it for burgers...use good ol' 80/20 for that). So there you have it. It's not fancy, it's not high-class, but it filled us up. Our bellies are full!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

TWD: Honey Nectarine Ice Cream

I can only remember a handful of times that I've had homemade ice cream. I can remember having it at a 4th of July party at my Aunt Betty & Uncle Bubby's house one year when I was really young. I can also remember having homemade chocolate chip ice cream that Chet made not long after he and my Mom started dating. There are a couple of other times that I can sort of remember, but it was always a pretty special occasion. Now I know why:
At the beginning of the month, when I saw that Tommi, from Brown Interior, chose Dorie's Honey Peach Ice Cream for this week's "assignment", I started getting busy tracking down an ice cream maker. Mom and Chet have one, but I think it's pretty big. I also asked Shirley if she had one, and she did...a 2-quart one. And both ice cream makers were the old-fashioned kind (at least they didn't have a hand crank!) that require lots of ice and rock salt...not the fancy-dancy kind that you sit on your countertop and just plug in. I was scared. It just seemed like there was so much that could go wrong! I was terrified that the salt and water would get in the canister and ruin my custard. But I had no problems. I had to make a modification, though. I used nectarines, because the peaches at Kroger were as hard as rocks, and this assignment kind of snuck up on me. I think Shirley was skeptical, but I think it turned out really nice.
See the tiny nectarine chunks? It turned out such a nice color, too. Since Earl and Shirley let me use their ice-cream maker, they got to sample the finished product. See...if you loan me cooking materials, you get to reap the rewards! I enjoyed the ice cream, but I didn't think it was out-of-this-world. Honestly, I'd rather have some chocolate, or chocolate chip, or something along those lines.
I told David about the ice cream makers that just sit on the countertop and require no ice or rock salt. He told me that maybe I could get one for my birthday or Christmas. I said NO! That would make it WAAAAY too easy to make homemade ice cream! The idea of getting out ice and rock salt and babysitting the ice cream maker on the front porch deters me from making ice cream on a weekly basis. Hogatha would like that, but I'm trying to keep her out of the picture. Moral of the story...now I know why homemade ice cream was such a treat growing up!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Back In Business!

I'm back! My camera issues are resolved, so I'm able to get back to my favorite hobby (well...besides cooking)! Tonight, David and I went to my cousin Jordan's high school graduation party, and I decided to take a berry trifle. I first had this trifle a couple of years ago at my in-laws house during their annual Father's Day party (wherein about 50 Klingenfuses get together, eat obscene amounts of food, then play games - volleyball, basketball, badminton, shooting sports, etc.). David's cousin's mother-in-law (hey...all are welcome...you don't have to be a Klingenfus to participate) brought this trifle, and it was delicious! She gave Earl the recipe, with two variations...the full-fat version, and the lightened up version. I made the lightened up version for our party this evening, and it was still super-good! The first thing you need to do is bake an angel food cake:

This is my personal preference, but I think it works better to bake your own angel food cake. You can buy one of the pre-made ones at the grocery, but they're a lot more dense, so the cream cheese mixture doesn't soak in as much. It's also cheaper to bake your own. It's your call!
I apologize that I don't have process pictures for you on this recipe...I was still having some camera issues. You'll find the recipe below, but it's really very simple. You just tear or cut your angel food cake into good-sized cubes, mix with a delicious cream cheese mixture, then layer with sliced strawberries and blueberries. It's a fabulous and easy dessert. And it's pretty, too!
Berry Trifle
Mike Slider's Mom (Mrs. Slider...I don't know her first name)
16 oz fat-free cream cheese
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
8 oz fat-free whipped topping
1 angel food cake, cubed
4 pints fresh strawberries, sliced
1 pint fresh blueberries
4 Tbs. sugar substitute (Splenda)
Combine cream cheese and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat on high speed until well-mixed.
Stir in vanilla yogurt and vanilla.
Fold whipped topping into cream cheese mixture. Add cake and stir gently to coat well.
In a bowl, combine the sliced strawberries wtih the sugar substitute. Layer the strawberries, blueberries, and cream cheese mixture in a trifle bowl, beginning and ending with the strawberries.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bad News, Ya'll

There'll be no Tuesdays With Dorie today. Not because I didn't participate. Oh, I participated. Last night at 8 o'clock, I was making a delicious, simple treat for David and me. Jessica, from My Baking Heart, picked the Parisian Apple Tarlets. This dessert required a total of four ingredients, and took about 10 minutes to prepare. It took way longer to peel and cut the apple than it did to finish up the assembly! These little treats were absolutely delicious, and I'll definitely be making them again. They'd be a perfect little treat for those times when you've got last-minute guests coming, but you've got no time to prepare a nice dessert.
Anyway, there are no pictures because my camera has quit working. I have no idea what the heck is wrong with it. So, whenever I get a new camera, I'll be back to blogging. Until then, so long...farewell...auf wiedersehen...adieu.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Confetti Chicken

This past Saturday, David and I went over to his parents' house for his brother Patrick's birthday. While we were there, we ventured out into Shirley's garden. I came home with a basket full of home-grown produce. Earl issued me a challenge. He said he wanted to see every item on my blog this week. Okay, Earl! Here's the first of many meals featuring some of the bounty from Shirley's garden! Today, I present to you...Confetti Chicken. It's kind of a loosey-goosey interpretation of a dish I found in a Kraft Food & Family magazine a couple of years ago. I can't find the magazine, but I was able to remember a few of the ingredients. Here's what you'll need:
You'll need some black olives, garlic, an onion from your mother-in-law's garden, a red pepper, and feta cheese (pretend that there's a block of feta cheese on the cutting board).
Cut up all your ingredients, stir them up together, and spread them out over some chicken breasts that you've liberally seasoned with Greek seasoning (or the seasoning blend of your choice) and placed in a greased baking dish. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes (depending on how thick your chicken breasts are).It turned out really well. It was a very light main dish, but it was full of flavor! I just fixed some green beans to go with it (Shirley's aren't ready yet), and we had a delightful, healthy meal in about 30 minutes! Yum!
Coming up tomorrow: Parisian Apple (and Nectarine) Tartlets. It's TWD time!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

It's Summertime!

How do you know it's summertime?
You know it's summertime when you've had your first strawberry shortcake! I like my "cake" portion of the strawberry shortcake to be more scone-like than cake-like. However, after making these, I learned that David would rather have a cake-like shortcake...but that didn't stop him from eating two of these!
Rich Shortcake
Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (1939 recipe)
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 425-degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the mixture, and add the milk and egg. Stir just until the dough clings together. On a heavily floured surface, coat the dough lightly with flour. Knead the dough gently for 10-12 strokes. Form the dough into a thick disk, and cut the disk into 8 triangles. Place on baking sheet with about 2 inches between each triangle. Bake about 10 minutes, or until shortcakes are golden brown. Cool completely. Split in half, layering strawberries and whipped cream.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

An Easy (Healthy!) Snack...

This week, for Thrifty Thursday, I thought I'd share with you one of my new favorite snacks. It's a little weird, I know, but it's good! It's also healthy and cheap!
For my readers who know me personally, over the last year or so, I've lost about 25 pounds (give or take a little...just depending on whether or not Hogatha makes an appearance). In order to lose the weight, I had to make quite a few changes in the things I eat, and I had to commit to regular exercise. I can handle the exercise part without much problem...I like how strong my body feels, and there's a lot of personal satisfaction that comes from being able to run 4 miles or more without stopping. But I LOVE FOOD. I can't think of too many things that I love more than sitting down and enjoying some really good food (which doesn't necessarily mean high-end food, either). I've really had to get used to the idea of moderation, and as I've mentioned in at least one previous post, I had to find ways to feed my cravings that were a little better for me. When I crave a food, it's usually something salty and crunchy. I could eat french fries for every meal, every day. I love a good potato chip...especially salt and vinegar. But you all know that those things aren't that figure-friendly. So what's a girl to do? Enter...

the chickpea! I know...ya'll think I've lost my mind. But just wait...these will be salty, crunchy, yummy...addictive! You need to drain your chickpeas and dry them off pretty well with paper towels. Then, spray your baking sheet (I've found that a stoneware one, like you'd get from The Pampered Chef, gives the best results, but you can use a regular baking sheet, too) with olive oil spray. Spread out your drained chickpeas in a single layer over the baking sheet, then spray them with the olive oil spray, too. Don't drench 'em...just a nice little coat.
The next step is to season them with whatever makes your skirt fly up (as the Pioneer Woman says). Cavender's Greek Seasoning makes my skirt fly up. I put it on EVERYTHING.

Use as much as you want. I love the Greek seasoning, so I give it a pretty liberal dusting. Do what you think is best. Then, I just kind of shake the pan around so they roll around in the olive oil and seasoning. If the seasoning looks skimpy, I might add more. It's a judgement call. Then, you throw them into a 425-degree oven for about 40 minutes (give or take). You're going to have to check on them. You want them to be nice and brown, and crispy-looking. Once they look like they're getting done, eat one. See if it meets your crispyness expectations. I like mine pretty crispy, crunchity. Once they're done, they look like this:
So, now are you wondering what to do with them? I let them cool off completely (still in the single layer on the baking sheet), then I put them in a little plastic container. I just eat them plain, most of the time. They really satisfy a salty, cruncy craving. But I also recently discovered that they are VERY tasty on a salad. Better than a crouton, even!
Yeah, I know...it's strange. But they're really good. They don't cost much to make (so maybe they are thrifty!), and you'll get a good dose of fiber with your snack! If you're feeling adventurous...give them a try!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Yummy Pork Kabobs

I usually go to Costco about once a month to stock up on some bulk items, and I usually buy enough meat there to last for the month, too. I bought a bunch of pork loin chops at the beginning of this month, but as much as I love pork chops, I was getting a little tired of them. I wanted to do something else, but I couldn't think of anything...until I thought of pork kabobs! I decided we'd have them this past Saturday, since we didn't have any plans for the day. I checked out Recipezaar for a good marinade, and I found a great one! The recipe will be at the bottom of the post, or you can just click on the link there.
I marinated the pork cubes for about 6 hours, and they were delicious! The marinade recipe suggests allowing the meat to marinate for 8 hours, but I was hungry, so I got started a little early. Along with the pork kabobs, I grilled a bunch of veggies (and a fruit!). I had zucchini, tomatoes, green peppers, and pineapple. I planned on grilling some onion wedges, too, but I forgot them until we sat down to eat! Oh, well. I had also hoped for some yellowneck squash, but Shirley's wasn't ready yet, and the ones at Kroger were kinda gross. Our grill was FULL:
Overall, everything came together really quickly. It took some time to spear the pork and cut up all the veggies, but I did that early in the day. I served the pork and veggies over some brown rice, and we had some roasted asparagus with parmesan cheese. I drizzled some sesame oil, soy sauce, and teriyaki sauce over the meat/veggie/rice mixture, and it was delicious! Definitely a keeper! The Best Marinade for Kabobs (from Kittencal)

1 1/2 cups oil
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 2 teaspoons dry parsley flakes
fresh ground black pepper (I use about 1 teaspoon)
1/2 cup wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoon fresh minced garlic (or to taste)
1/3 cup store-bought teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup honey (do NOT use any subsitutions use only honey)
2 small green onions, chopped (optional)
Put all ingredients into a blender (except the green onions, if using add them in after blending).
Blend for 30-40 seconds.
Mix in in green onions.
This recipe makes 3-1/2 cups of marinade, but may be stored in the refrigerator tightly covered in a glass container for up to 3 weeks.
Use with beef, pork, lamb or chicken.

*NOTE* marinate the beef, pork or lamb for 8 hours or up to 24 hours chicken up to 8 hours.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

TWD: Cinnamon Squares

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe is Cinnamon Squares, chosen by Tracey, of Tracey's Culinary Adventures. She's been a TWD member for a little over a year, and I bet she was super-excited for it to be her turn to pick the recipe. She said she chose this recipe because the picture in the book always caught her attention. It is a nice picture...as Dorie says, the cake looks "homey." I'd agree with that. Some of the pictures in Dorie's book make me think, "I could never make anything that looks like that!" But when I saw this recipe, I thought, "I can totally make something that looks like that!" and I think I came pretty close.
First and foremost, if you like cinnamon, you will love this recipe. I kind of prefer cinnamon to be a highlight ingredient in recipes, rather than the standout. This was honestly a little much for me, which was good...I need to lay off the sweets for awhile!
The recipe was really very simple to make. Dry ingredients, wet ingredients, mix together, spoon into pan, bake. It doesn't get much simpler than that. Except that you add melted butter after adding the rest of the wet ingredients to the dry. I was scared. It looked like a lot of butter to get absorbed into the mixture, but it worked! The batter was really silky! I put half of the batter in, sprinkled it with the cinnamon/sugar/coffee/chocolate mixture, and added the rest of the batter. My swirl isn't as pronounced as the one in the picture (or on other blogs I've seen), but it turned out pretty good.
The frosting is also super simple...butter and chocolate. It was a nice addition to the super-cinnamon cake. Here's something I can't figure out, though. How in the world does Dorie decide on portion sizes for her recipes? This was made in a 9x9 pan (to her specifications) and was supposed to make 9 servings. Those are nice size slices of cake. But she suggests that you should get 50-some tiny little bars from the spectacularly delicious Caramel Crunch Bars. It just doesn't make sense to me! David had two slices of Cinnamon Square cake, I had half of a slice (and had reached my cinnamon quota for the day), and the rest went to work with David. He said it was long gone before lunch. I guess the ladies there like cinnamon!
Overall, it was a good recipe, but it reminded me more of a breakfast cake, or as Chet would say, a tea cake. When I make it again, I think I'll go for more of a crumb topping, like you'd find on a crumb cake. Then it will be breakfast-worthy! Just add a big ol' cup of coffee, and you're set!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...