Friday, April 1, 2011

Is it a fruit? Or is it a vegetable?

Last week I made a batch of sugar loaded cupcakes, so this week I decided to make something slightly more healthy, so I decided on Zucchini muffins. So my motto of the week has been, "Well it has to be somewhat healthy, it has a vegetable in it!" But now that I think about it, is zucchini a fruit or a vegetable? While you ponder that or google it, here is the recipe...

Zucchini Bread [makes 2 loaves or approx. 3 dozen small muffins]

3 eggs
7 oz oil [slightly less than one cup]
2 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup zucchini
1 cup chopped pecan [optional]

Combine all ingredients and bake at 350 degrees for approx 1 hour for loaves and 45 minutes for muffins, depending on the size of the muffins.

This recipe came out of the book On Baking: A textbook of baking and pastry fundamentals [2nd Edition].

I hope that everyone enjoys some wonderful healthy vegetable/fruit muffins :]
Muffin Pyramid [Yes they have Halloween wrappers! That's all I had!]

Friday, March 11, 2011

I made this for you...




[[[this is dedicated to my beautiful, intelligent, humorous, but sometimes mean sister heather. i love you!]]] 



This past weekend Matt and I went to spend the weekend at Mom & Dad's. On Saturday morning, Mom asked us what we wanted for breakfast. Now, typically Dad would make his famous pancakes, however he had ran out of the baking mix he uses as base for his batter. [Of course, it then became a debate, if Dad had not told Mom and let them run out of mix or if Dad had told Mom and she had forgotten to buy it. Lol. Another unsolved mystery.] However, I told them that I could make pancakes or waffles from scratch if they had the ingredients. So I went upstairs to Heather's room and asked her which she would like, because I know she is a picky eater and I wanted to make something she would like. She told me that she wanted waffles, who knew those waffles would almost be the start of WW3.

So I went down stairs and got out my favorite cookbook of Mom's. Her Better Homes & Garden's cookbook. I'm not sure what edition it is, but it's been around since I was a kid so I am assuming it is from the early 1980's. Mom got me the 15th edition for Christmas this year, but of course, it has been updated so it did not have the same recipe in it. So I did my best to look it up online and here is basically the same recipe from the 1962 edition.


[from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 1962 edition]
Makes about 8 waffles.

1 3/4 cup flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 beaten egg yolks
1 1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
2 stiff-beaten eggs

Stir together dry ingredients. Combine egg yolks and milk; stir into dry ingredients. Stir in oil. Fold in egg whites, leaving some fluff. Bake in waffle maker.
Now, in the recipe I had it did not tell you up front that you had to whip the eggs until stiff. So I was like oh this looks like a simple recipe. So I started the preparing the batter, then I got to the part about whipping the eggs and I got a little nervous. The only recipe I had, had to do this for was in college with a commercial mixer. Obviously, I now know that it's not really that difficult, just time consuming, but worth while.

Now that the waffles were done and I thought they looked delicious, I went to get Heather to eat. I called her and called her and called her and about 15 or so minutes later, she finally came down. The rest of us were sitting in the living room eating together, when I hear Heather say, "What is this? These are soggy, I'm not eating these." Excuse me? They were crispy 15 minutes ago when I told you they were done. They are waffles, they aren't going to stay perfectly crispy forever! Well of course, if you know me or my sister, you know that we can be a little high-strung and overly-emotional. So this minor issue about soggy waffles escalated into a fight about everything that had ever went wrong in either of our lives. I'm sure it was comical or just plain stupid and annoying to Mom and Dad and Matt, who sat there pretty much in silence while we screamed at each other for 20 or so minutes. 

Moral of the story is:
~Don't cry over soggy waffles,
~A soggy waffle is not worth fighting over,
~And baking powder that expired in 2008 works just fine.
Now for those of you who do not know who Julian Smith is you should definitely watch these videos and look up some of his other ones, so you can understand that epic hilarity of this situation through the eyes of Heather and I.

Hot Kool-Aid - I Made This For You

I'm Trying to Cook Me - Parody by Julian's Mom

All Time Favorite: Jelly Fish


Monday, February 21, 2011

Easy on the Cayenne Pepper

My husband likes tacos. Correction: he loves tacos. Every single time I ask him what he wants for dinner he says, without hesitation, you guessed it...tacos. I, however, am not a big fan of tacos. Unless it's Taco Bell, El Charro's, Mexican Villa, or Senor Peppers, I'm really not a fan. But being the good wife that I am, I still make them for him. So last time we went to the store, Matt decided to "compromise." He decided that this week we would have tostada bowls instead of just tacos. So tonight was tostada bowl night. And I decided that it I was going to have to make these, I might as well document it. So obviously the ingredients are simple:

tostada taco shell bowls
hamburger or chicken
shredded cheese
taco seasoning
refried beans
black beans
sour cream
plus or minus whatever you like

Now that seems short and sweet doesn't it? But I have a delicious recipe for homemade taco seasoning:

2 tsp chili powder
1.5 tsp paprika
1 tsp minced onion or onion powder
1/2 tsp sea salt [I prefer Himalayan Pink Sea Salt]
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
dash of cayenne pepper to taste
dash of black pepper to taste

Mix together and use like normal taco seasoning. Makes approximately the same amount as 1 store bought packet.
Now, funny story about the first time I made this seasoning. Matt had been sick all week. He hadn't been eating much of anything. So I knew when he was feeling better when he asked me to make him tacos. However, when I went to the cabinet I realized that I did not have any taco seasoning. But Matt really wanted tacos, so I found a recipe for taco seasoning. I was going down my list, a little of this, a little of that. Mixed it all up and it looked great. So I added it to the meat and went to put the recipe into my recipe box. As I looked at it again, I stopped and read it again. I then realized that I had added too much cayenne pepper, way too much cayenne pepper. I had some how read the line above it, which was for 1/2 teaspoon. Plus on the original recipe, it said that this was for mild seasoning so if you like it spicier to add a little more. So I had put more than a half a tsp, where it called for a "dash." And cayenne pepper is not like oh I added to many onion flakes. So I tasted the meat and it felt like the tip of my tongue burst into flames. I warned Matt but he still wanted them, so I dished them up. He ate several and I'm sure his nasal passages were clear after that!

"After all the trouble you go to, you get about as much actual "food" out of eating an artichoke as you would from licking 30 or 40 postage stamps."  ~Miss Piggy

Until next time~Happy Cooking!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Southern Fried Valentine's

So this past week we all celebrated Valentine's Day, right? Some of us went out to a fancy restaurant, others preferred McD's, while others cooked a romantic dinner and still others had a meal prepared for them. Well, as Valentine's Day fell on a week day we decided to wait until the weekend for our annual Olive Garden outing. [Matt's not a fan so that's the only time I get to go. Lol. But seriously though, how can someone not like spaghetti??] Anyway, so on the actual day, we decided to cook a meal together. Now, when we think of a typical romantic meal we think of what? Steak and baked potato? Chicken Alfredo? Pot Roast? Oh no, we had Fried Chicken, Fried Potatoes, and garlic cheddar biscuits. Southern Fried Valentine's! But that's what Matt requested, so that's what we had. Not that I would said no to fried chicken any way. You can blame that on my mother and grandmother, who gave me and Heather the love for some good ol' KFC! Which means, I must tell the story of when Heather was sick and Mom had to take her to the emergency room. So Matt and I rushed down to see her in the hospital and as sick as she was and couldn't hold down nothing and was as pale as a ghost, all she kept asking me for was to get over to KFC before they closed and get her some mashed potatoes and gravy. Good food can fix anything. Lol. Now, back to dinner. We did tweak our recipes some from the typical. And since Matt made the chicken, it wasn't really 100% from scratch but he did do a fantastic job. To batter our chicken, we just cut it up in to small strips, dipped it in egg, and then in Uncle Buck's Chicken Fry Mix. They sell it at Bass Pro. It is kinda spicy, but is so delicious. Then, so that it was "healthier" we baked it instead of frying it. It was very simple and turned out great. 

Now, for the fried potatoes. Fried potatoes are pretty simple to make, but can be difficult to get crispy without burning. I melted a few tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Then peeled and sliced my potatoes then. Then, I put them in the skillet, poured a small amount of olive oil over the top and sprinkled with salt, pepper, minced garlic and minced onion. [I buy my spices at the Amish Store here in Branson and you can tell they are fresh and have the best flavor.] It's all about finding the right temperature to cook at. Not too hot that they stick and burn, but not to low that they take forever and get mushy. A delicious variation is to sprinkle your favorite variety of shredded cheese and crumbled [cooked] bacon over the top just a few minutes before taking out of the pan, just long enough to melt your cheese. And Voila, Loaded Fried Potatoes! Now for those garlic cheddar biscuits [also known as Red Lobster biscuits]. Here is a very simple recipe for them:

2 cups buttermilk baking mix
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp garlic salt

Thoroughly stir milk into baking mix. Then, incorporate the cheese into the dough. Now scoop dough into spoonfuls and put onto a greased cookie sheet or a sheet covered in aluminum foil, I find this works best. Melt the butter into a liquid, stir on the garlic salt, and brush over the top of biscuits. Bake at 400 degrees until tops brown and they are not doughy. Should be around 8-10 minutes. Make 6-10 biscuits depending on the size you make them.

[The key to this recipe is to make sure you use Buttermilk baking mix. It is a little harder to find, it will not taste very good if you use regular baking mix.]

If you want an easier biscuit, Wal-Mart now sells a mix that only requires water mixed in. It's called Bisquick Complete Garlic-Cheddar Biscuit Mix. It is very scrumptious.  

Now for dessert. I almost forgot about dessert. I don't have any idea how that almost happened! Like I said before Matt loves anything chocolate and a few months ago I introduced him to Nutella. Now if you haven't had Nutella, I recommend you make a special trip to the store right now and get yourself a jar. Or at least put it on your shopping list for next time. For those of you who some how don't know what it is:  it is comparable to peanut butter but flavored like chocolate and hazelnuts. [Yes, Heather I know you are cracking a joke about hazelnuts [nasalnuts] right about now.] So, I have been trying to come up with recipes that I can use Nutella in.
My first experiment was Nutella No Bake Cookies:

2 1/2 or 3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup Nutella OR Peanut Butter
4 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats

In large sauce pan, combine sugar, butter, & milk. 
Bring to rapid boil for 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and Nutella OR Peanut Butter.
Mix in oats, stirring until mixture just begins to cool.
Drop batter by spoonfuls onto wax paper.
You can see that Matt has already been stealing cookies :]

They turned out great but did not have strong Nutella flavor like I had hoped. They kind of taste like plain chocolate no bakes. Next time I am going to try mixing chopped hazelnuts into the batter. Any suggestions?

Well, I wish everyone a safe, wonderful week and Happy Cooking!
Tidbit for the Week:
Mise en place:
[MEEZ ahn plahs]
A French term referring to having all the ingredients necessary for a dish prepared and ready to combine up to the point of cooking.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Here it is...

Well I have been thinking about writing a blog of my cooking adventures but was not confident that anyone but me would be interested in reading it. Recently, I have been encouraged to actually do it. So here it goes...
I have know that I have a passion for cooking since I was a little girl. Somewhere I have a picture of me learning to cook pancakes with Dad, probably around age 3 or 4. I will try to find that and post it. From then on I have gotten a joy from cooking a successful dish of any sort. I find it fascinating to start with so many different single ingredients and then some how you incorporate them and get a fantastic (hopefully) end product. I love to try to create new dishes, usually from parts of several recipes spliced together. I like to learn from failure but however, I do not like to fail. My husband can attest to this, as he has seen the result of many failed projects. Lets just say it winds up with a big mess and I usually raise my voice and stomp my feet a few times. Lol. I really have two goals in an earthly sense. #1 to make people laugh and #2 to please people's taste buds with my culinary endeavors. Hopefully with this blog, I can do both...
Fantastically Great Aunt Wanda
My latest adventure was to make my "famous" chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing. I have to thank my dear great aunt Wanda for sharing this wonderful creation with us as kids.
I remember going to her house as a kid, usually on Halloween, and she would have a delicious chocolate cake, smothered with thick peanut butter icing. Now, I never knew this wasn't a common dessert staple that every person enjoyed until I got married. I knew my husband loved chocolate and peanut butter almost equally. (Chocolate always wins). So I decided to make him this cake. When he saw the icing, he was like what is that? Confused, I said peanut butter icing. Equally confused, he said he had never heard of that. I'm relatively sure I almost passed out to that statement. He then ate a piece and told me that it was the best cake he had ever eaten and something about how no other kind of icing should ever be allowed on chocolate cake. (At this point, if there was any doubt, which there wasn't, but if there had been, I was 100% sure I had married the right man.) So after this confusing experience, I was curious. I began to ask around, to my co-workers, etc if they had, had pb icing. One after another, I got an astounding no. So I took a batch of cupcakes to work and now they are requested at least once a month. 
So recently our church family had a party for the Superbowl at our church member and co-worker Dawn's house and I was requested to bring them to the party. So of course I agreed. However, every time I had made them I was bothered by how thick the icing was. It was like working with modeling clay, lol, and does NOT go on smoothly. So my goal over the next few weeks was to tweak the recipe to make it go on smoothly and look more aesthetic. So, I wound up making the recipe relatively the same but as a butter cream. It worked fabulously, creamy, beautiful icing. However, it was much paler in color and when I tasted it, it was delicious but paled in comparison to the original. The pb flavor was much weaker. But they were still delicious so I decided to give it a try and see what people thought.
Result: Mistake...
The people that had never had them before said they were great, however, the people that had been spoiled by the rich peanut butter flavor were not content with this new recipe. 
Two morels to this story:
#1 Looks, apparently, do not matter.
#2 If it's not broke, don't fix it!
Cupcakes with original icing.
Cupcakes with new, but not improved pb icing.

(((Ok looked for picture of me cooking pancakes, could not find, must be at Mom & Dad's )))