Monday, April 30, 2012

Recipe Index Updated!

When hunting for a recipe this morning, I realized that there were a few noticeable holes on my recipe index. First of all, it hadn't been updated since before the new year. Secondly, when I drafted it initially, I apparently left off a ton of soups such as my Cream of Mushroom Soup, which I hope to make this evening. Click this link , the picture below or the tab above to find something tasty!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Whole Wheat English Muffins (Bread Machine)

My husband loves English muffins. I'm quite the fan of McDonald's Egg McMuffins and wound up with almost two dozen eggs after a sale. Thus, last weekend seemed like an occasion to make English Muffins. As I mentioned the other day, I had intended to attempt sourdough ones, but ultimately opted for a quicker recipe from my favorite book of recipes for my breadmaker, The Bread Machine Bible. These whip up fairly quickly on the dough cycle of my breadmaker, then a brief rise after portioning. I like to use my electric griddle, which allows me to make them all in two batches. This recipe was just as tasty as the plain ones I made last summer



Whole Wheat English Muffins
1 1/2 c milk
1 2/3 c white bread flour
1 3/4 heaped whole wheat flour (close to 2)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 TBS butter, diced
1 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast

Add ingredients to your breadmaker in the order listed, making a well in the center for the yeast. Set to "dough" cycle.

In a floured surface, divide dough into 8 to 10 portions. Shape into a circle with straight sides, about 1/2-3/4" thick. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Heat a griddle, brushing with oil or butter as to your taste. Cook muffins 7 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Flip and cook the other side until brown, another 7 minutes or so.

Muffins split easily with a fork or butter knife.

Makes 8 - 10 muffins

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

After a fairly busy weekend of shopping, museum-going, and a whole lot of driving, I was still determined to bake bread before the weekend was gone. However, I didn't finish this bread until after midnight Monday morning, so does it still count? It should! Anyway, on Sunday after a nap, I made whole wheat English muffins (recipe to come) and whole wheat sourdough bread. As you know, a little over a week ago, I began a sourdough starter. I'm hoping to use it one a week or thereabouts so (a) I remember to feed it once or twice a week, (b) it doesn't die, and (c) it doesn't unnecessarily hog space in the fridge. I considered trying sourdough English muffins, but all of the recipes called for making a sponge with the starter that would then sit out overnight. Since I already had the starter out overnight, I didn't want to push back making something with it another night. Thus, I made regular whole wheat English muffins and tried my hand at whole wheat sourdough bread.

As you'll notice, this recipe is the same as my first attempt at regular sourdough, which turned out so well. This is tasty, but definitely drier than the original. Thus, though it likely has some health benefits, I probably won't attempt this one again soon. However, the recipe makes two loaves, so there is a possibility I'll change my mind after we finish it all. Additionally, this one took longer to rise and could have probably used a bit more time than I gave it, but I wanted to go to bed.


Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread
1 cup sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups bread flour
2 cups whole wheat flour

1. Proof yeast in water for 5 minutes. Mix in sugar, salt, and half the flour until moistened. Add starter and rest of flour. Knead in stand mixer for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Add a bit more flour if dough seems too loose.

2. Place in a large bowl spritzed with canola spray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for two hours minutes or until doubled in size.

3. Divide dough in half and shape into loves. Cover with a towel and let rise for 60-90 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spritz loaves with water and make a few slashes. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.

Makes 2 loaves


Monday, April 23, 2012

Pad See-Ew

I absolutely adore Thai food. In college and part of law school, it was a once a week event. Over the years, my "favorite" dish has changed from chicken fried rice to garlic chicken to basil chicken to pad thai and, finally, to pad see-ew. However, in my neighborhood, while there are a fair number of pizza, Chinese, and burger places, there's not a Thai place to be found. Thus, I hit the internet to find a substitute to get me through.

I adapted this recipe from Serious Eats. When I tried it, I doubled the recipe because I had a larger package of noodles and more chicken defrosted than the original recipe called for. Also, there was a really weird ingredient (baking soda) and step (boiling the chicken) that stuck me as extremely unusual, so I left the baking soda but elected to saute the chicken instead. I'm not sure whether it was the baking soda or the sauteeing, but it made the chicken taste a little like shrimp. Thus, I'm writing this below as I intend to try it, i.e. simply saute the chicken with corn starch as I do in other stir frys. Nonetheless, the sauce and noodles were fantastic so all I did was eat around the chicken and am hoping for the best on the next attempt :)


Pad See-Ew
8 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
1 tbs corn starch (original recipe called for 2 tsp baking soda)
4 Tbs soy sauce, divided
4 Tbs oyster sauce
4 tsp sugar
4 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
16 oz flat rice noodles
3 c broccoli
4 eggs
4 TBS dark soy sauce
Few tbs Canola oil

1. Marinate chicken with 2 Tbs of soy sauce and corn starch.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together oyster sauce, 2 Tbs soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and garlic. Set aside.

3. Prepare the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and toss with a little bit of oil to prevent sticking. (Do not omit this step, else your noodles will stick together.)

4. In a wok or large skillet, sauce the chicken in canola oil until golden brown. Remove from pan.

5. Adding a little oil, if necessary, stir fry broccoli until slightly tender and beginning to brown. Remove from pan.

6. Scramble eggs in a small bowl and pour into pan. Cook until just about firm, then scramble them up. Remove from pan.

7. Adding a little more oil, if necessary, add noodles to hot pan and drizzle with dark soy sauce. Toss around until noodle begin to brown.

8. Return all ingredients to the wok and add sauce. Stir fry until sauce has thickened slightly and everything is liberally coated with sauce, about 3 minutes.

Serves 4 - 6


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chocolate Banana Pecan Cinnamon Buns

Yesterday morning I was in the mood for a chocolate pastry. However, making homemade pain au chocolat (chocolate-filled croissants) seemed like a whole lot of work, even with my bread maker--not to mention a whole lot of butter. So, I started browsing the internet, especially Pinterest, for ideas. After a lot of puff pastry recipes, I finally stumbled upon this recipe posted on Blog Critics - Tastes. I used the dough from the chocolate cinnamon rolls I made a couple of months ago and added a handful of nuts. Yum! The banana taste is not very noticeable, but I did not use super ripe bananas. If you do, the flavor will be more formidable. What the bananas did do was to allow me to use a mere 4 tbs of butter, much less than many traditional cinnamon roll recipes, but not lose that gooey sensation. I also omitted the frosting, but if you're interested, check out this recipe for inspiration.

I'm fickle, so although the chocolate taste was yummy, I wish I'd made half with raisins or other dried fruit instead. Next time!


Chocolate Banana Pecan Cinnamon Buns

1 cup milk
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 1/4 c white whole wheat flour
2 1/2 all-purpose flour
3 TBS butter, diced
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
2 1/4 tsp rapid-rise yeast

2 ripe bananas, mashed
4 TBS butter, softened
1/2 c brown sugar
1.5 TBS cinnamon
1/2 c pecans (or nut of choice)
1/4 c mini chocolate chips (or handful of chopped dried fruit)

1. In the pan of your bread maker, layer ingredients in order listed (or according to directions on your machine). I put everything after the flour in separate corners to the extent possible, then made a hole in the middle for the yeast. Set to "dough" cycle.

2. In a small bowl, mix bananas, butter, sugar, and cinnamon.

3. Roll dough into 14×12" rectangle. Brush with banana mixture, leaving at least a 1/2" seam along all sides. Sprinkle with nuts and chocolate or fruit. Roll.

4. Cut into even pieces about 1/2" - 3/4". Cover and let rise for an hour.

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

6. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.

Makes 16-18 rolls



Did I mention these were tasty? My husband and I each had two for an afternoon snack!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sourdough Success!

Finally, success! As you may know, last week I started a sourdough starter using the simple recipe from King Arthur shared on Tracey's Culinary Adventures. My starter sat at room temperature for three days until I tried in on Sunday in my breadmaker. Though I used a simple King Arthur recipe, it was a disaster. I programmed the custom cycle exactly as described, however the thing either did not rise a second time or somehow collapsed before baking. Thus, it did not have the wonderful bread top and looked like a pale lump (though this wasn't quite as alarming if you do a quick search of breadmaker sourdough breads). It was also tangy as heck. I wanted to throw it out, but my husband said he'd eat it (and has on sandwiches). However, I couldn't stomach it. Thus, I was determined to try again.

After feeding my starter and letting it rest at room temperature for another couple days, I tried this Rustic Sourdough Bread recipe, also from King Arthur. I used my stand mixer for the kneading of the dough rather than my bread machine, then baked it in the oven. Fantastic! First of all, it looks like bread! Second, it's comfortably sour rather than overpowering like the first loaf. (It may be that a younger starter, which did smell quite strong as I noted on Saturday, makes a different sort of loaf than an older one but I think something went wrong during the bread machine cycles). I increased the rise time because it was a bit chilly this morning and swapped in bread flour for all-purpose. The recipe below reflects my changes.

This recipe makes two good-sized loaves. If you have more patience, let the dough rise a bit longer at each step.


Rustic Sourdough Bread
1 cup sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 cups bread flour

1. Proof yeast in water for 5 minutes. Mix in sugar, salt, and half the flour until moistened. Add starter and rest of flour. Knead in stand mixer for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Add a bit more flour if dough seems too loose.

2. Place in a large bowl spritzed with canola spray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 90-120 minutes or until doubled in size.

3. Divide dough in half and shape into loves. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour.

4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spritz loaves with water and make a few slashes. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.

Makes 2 loaves




Sunday, April 15, 2012

Banana Pecan Waffles

I've been wanting to make banana waffles for some time now, particularly since bananas seem to be rotting at a quick pace in my new fridge as of late. I don't know whether my green bags have pooped out on me, or the temperature's not right, or if it's the bananas themselves, but they seem to be going both brown and rotten quicker than ever. (As you may know, I prefer cold bananas and thus put them in the fridge. Normally, this would make them turn brown but stay firm. Until recently the food bags would stave off the discoloration, but lately it hasn't worked.) Anyway, of course I try this recipe the day after I buy new bananas. Thus, the bananas were actually a little on the green side. Nonetheless, the recipe turned out great and this one will definitely be going in the repertoire.

This recipe comes from The Happy Housewife. I made a few changes to lighten the recipe a bit such as swapping in apple sauce and some wheat flour. The recipe is written below as I prepared it.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Banana Pecan Waffles
2 c all purpose flour
1 c whole wheat (or white whole wheat) flour
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 brown sugar
1/2 c apple sauce + canola oil to make 2/3 c (original is 2/3 c olive oil)
4 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 buttermilk
1/2 c mashed banana
1/2 c chopped pecans

1. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together apple sauce, oil, eggs, vanilla, buttermilk and banana.

3. Stir wet into dry until thoroughly mixed. Fold in pecans.

4. Cook in either Belgian or regular waffle pan until golden brown.

Serves 6

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sourdough Starter - Day 3

Here's what the starter looks like on day 3. It definitely has a pungent fragrance about it. I'm thinking tomorrow might be the day to make some sourdough!

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

It's separated and a thick something is on top of a liquidy something.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Here it is after I gave it a good mix.

To recap: I'm trying the King Arthur starter that Tracey from Tracey's Culinary Adventures blogged about the other day. It's a super simple recipe:

2 cups warm water
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs yeast
2 cups flour

First dissolve the sugar in the water, then add the yeast. Stir in the flour. Once thoroughly mixed, cover with a towel (not plastic as this will make the flavor richer) in a warm place for 2-5 days. Each day, give it a good stir as the alcohol will have separated. It's ready when there's a nice sour aroma and the mixture no longer bubbles. Store, covered, in the fridge.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Recommended Foodie Kindle Books on Sale Today!

I'm attempting to get into looking for deals. Not so much couponing as that's a ton of work, but just being on the lookout for daily deals that might save a few dollars or introduce me to something new for a good price. Thus, I follow a number of blogs dedicated to posting the best deals of the day and I subscribe to a growing number of email lists such as Groupon, Living Social, Keekoo, Zulily, BabySteals, CraftySteals and Amazon's Deal of the Day which send me an email each day with their best sales. I discovered these Kindle books by following the Deals of the Day link from the main page, although I think there was an email earlier this week about Kindle books under $3.99. Two of the three books listed are definitely useful tools in your arsenal of slow cooker books and the third one, which I just picked up today, has some tasty offerings as well as food-related anecdotes. Here are the food-related book deals I recommend:

Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking

This was Stephanie O'Dea's first slow cooker book after her blog, A Year of Slow Cooking, went viral in 2008 when she used her crockpot every day for a year. Although her books do not have pictures, they are easy to follow recipes that do not use canned cream of X soup. Most recipes do have pictures on her blog. I've tried a number of them with good results.

More Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: 200 Brand-New, Budget-Friendly, Slow-Cooker Recipes

This was O'Dea's second book which included a few fancier recipes than her first.

In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite: 150 Recipes and Stories About the Food You Love

I just picked this book up today, but already several recipes have caught by eye such as Decadently Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Cream, Buttery Polenta with Parmesan, Easy Stovetop Macaroni, Peas, Bacon and Cheese, and Spiced Chipotle Honey Chicken Breasts with Sweet Potatoes. Each recipe appears to be accompanied by an amusing anecdote. For $3.03, I couldn't refuse.

Sourdough Starter - Day 2

24 hours after mixing my starter, here's what it looks like:

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

If you look closely, you can see there's definite separation of liquid alcohol from more solid stuff which is floating on top. I gave it a good stir and covered it again.

To recap: As I posted yesterday, I'm trying the King Arthur starter that Tracey from Tracey's Culinary Adventures blogged about the other day. It's a super simple recipe:

2 cups warm water
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs yeast
2 cups flour

First dissolve the sugar in the water, then add the yeast. Stir in the flour. Once thoroughly mixed, cover with a towel (not plastic as this will make the flavor richer) in a warm place for 2-5 days. Each day, give it a good stir as the alcohol will have separated. It's ready when there's a nice sour aroma and the mixture no longer bubbles. Store, covered, in the fridge.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sourdough starter

Inspired by this post from Tracy's Culinary Adventures, I started the King Arthur sourdough starter this morning. It has to ferment for 2-5 days, then I plan on trying this recipe from King Arthur for the bread. Look for my results early next week. Here's how Tracey's turned out.

Homemade Hamburger or Hot Dog Buns (Breadmaker)

While I was living in Hawaii last year, on two separate occasions I made hamburger and hot dog buns from scratch using my trusty breadmaker. I believe one occasion was on the 4th of July and the other I have no idea. Possibly two different recipes, both turned out rather tasty. However, I apparently did not blog either time and have long been hunting for the recipe or recipes used. Well, this afternoon when I decided to make burgers for dinner, I finally gave up and stopped looking for the recipes I'd used and tried a recipe from Full Bellies Make Happy Kids. They were fantastic! The only changes I made was to substitute 1 1/4 c of whole wheat flour rather than use all bread flour and use brown sugar instead of granulated. I will say that they were on the sweet side, but I liked that. If you're not a fan of sweeter breads, use less sugar or start with granulated.

9cf4a21f-hamburger buns 2

9cf4a21f-hamburger bun

Homemade Hamburger or Hot Dog Buns
1 1/4 cups milk (skim works)
1 beaten egg
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup white sugar (or brown sugar)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

Combine ingredients in order recommended by your breadmaker. For me, that's the order listed. Set to "dough" cycle.

Divide dough into 8-12 pieces depending upon the size of buns you'd like to make. Shape them into round slightly flat balls for hamburger buns and longer cylindrical pieces of hot dog buns. (See Sandra's original recipe for how she shapes hot dog buns.) Cover with a towel and allow to rise at least 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake for 9-12 minutes until golden brown.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Makes 8-12 buns

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Beef with Broccoli

I love the idea of broccoli beef--meat plus my favorite veggie, what could be better? However, at your typical Chinese restaurant, the meat is horrible. I like my slow cooker recipe, but it's not a quick dish. Thus, I was happy to find a recipe that recommended a meat that cooks quickly but still can be tender--flank steak. I found this recipe at Rainy Day Gal. It was tasty, but missing something--I'm thinking maybe a pinch of crushed red pepper. However, the sauted broccoli was nice and crisp compared to the slow cooker version, which was a nice change.

Beef with Broccoli

1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
1 TBS cornstarch
1 TBS soy sauce
2 TBS vegetable oil

1/2 c soy sauce
2 TBS brown sugar
4 cloves garlic
2 TBS flour
1 tsb sherry (I used chicken broth)

1.5 lbs flank steak, sliced thinly
2 heads broccoli crowns
2 c cooked brown rice

1. Whisk together marinade. Toss steak to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

2. In a large wok or saute pan, saute broccoli in oil for about 3 minutes until slightly browned but still crisp. Remove from pan.

3. Whisk together all sauce ingredients and set aside. Saute meat in additional oil, if necessary, until cooked to desired doneness.

4. Add broccoli and sauce to meat. Stir well and saute about two minutes more. Serve over hot brown rice.

Serves 4


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring Thank You Card

Happy Spring! Sorry for the long delay. Life's been busy, included an unexpected move. However, I needed a quick thank you card for a distant relative of my husband. I was also inspired by this Youtube video by Kristina Werner. In the video, she challenges herself to make a card from start to finish in 5 minutes. Well, she fails to make the card in 5 minutes, but succeeds in about 8 minutes. I didn't even come close.

Since it's been awhile since I'd crafted, this one took me much longer than 8 minutes even though it's an incredibly simple card. I'm a little rusty on "seeing" a card in my mind. I knew I wanted to use two designer papers, twine, and flowers but the arrangement eluded me and I played with a number of different positions and sizes for the paper until I got what I wanted. Then, I needed to stamp a sentiment but couldn't find my 1 3/4" circle punch which goes with the 2" scallop. Thus, I came up with the idea of obtaining a two-color look with two of the same shape. Oh, and the flowers I had first wanted to use were way too poufy to mail all the way to Italy I feared, so I had to swap them for much smaller Primas which further threw my design out of whack. Finally, I wanted to use my Sew Easy, which took a fair bit of time.

In other news, I will have a need to send a bunch of thank yous over the next few months so I hope to make more cards to share with you soon.






Papertrey Ink card stock
My Mind's Eye - English Garden paper collection
Twinery twine
My Pink Stamper - Spectacular Sayings Stamp Set
Prima roses
Sew Easy

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

I'd been looking for a pancake with oatmeal for sometime. I found this recipe at Tracey's Culinary Adventures, as well as on a number of other websites. Tracey credits Gourmet Magazine, February 2008. The original recipe calls for 1/8 tsp of nutmeg, of which I'm not a fan, so omitted it and upped the cinnamon. Because of the pre-soaking step for the oatmeal, it can't a pre-made mix. Although they were unusually hearty pancakes, they were rather tasty.

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk, divided
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1. Soak oatmeal in 3/4 c buttermilk for 10 minutes.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together.

3. Add the egg, melted butter, brown sugar, the remaining 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of buttermilk, and the oat mixture to the bowl. Whisk together until just barely combined.

4. Cook 1/4 c fulls on a preheated griddle or skillet spritzed with cooking spray until golden brown.

Makes 10-12 pancakes


Monday, April 9, 2012

Southwest Chicken Salad

During the curiously warmer days in March I looked for quick, lighter meals. I came up with the idea for a southwest chicken salad but needed a rub for the chicken. I'm not sure where I found this recipe as I Googled many rubs. It was okay but not great--a little sweet as the original recipe called for 2 TBS of brown sugar. I'm writing it with only 1 TBS, but if you're not a fan of sweet, you might want to reduce it even more. As for dressings, a ranch might be nice but you really don't need one if you're generous enough with the guacamole

Southwest Chicken Salad

4 c lettuce of choice
1 red bell pepper, diced
3/4 c sweet corn
1/2 c black beans
1/4 c guacamole
1/2 c shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)
1 lb chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces

1 TBS brown sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp cayenne

1. Toss chicken with rub until thoroughly coated. Saute in olive oil until cooked through. Cool for at least 10 minutes.

2. Layer lettuce, corn, black beans, bell pepper, chicken, cheese, and top with guacamole.

Serves 2

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Happy Easter! The recipe today is bunny-related--carrot cake!

I wasn't the big fan of carrot cake growing up but I'm not sure whether I ever tried it. :) In other words, when given a choice of baked goods, I always choose chocolate. Then when I met my husband, I discovered that he was a fan of cakes other than chocolate. (*Gasp!) No, he's not a chocolate-hater, but I think he consciously or subconsciously believes that fruit or veggie baked goods might be better choices for dessert. Crazy, I know but I love him anyway.

I found this recipe in a Cooking Light magazine nearly ten years ago. I probably selected it because it doesn't have pineapple or raisins in it. Not that those things are bad, but I'm hesitant to put liquidy things in baked goods and, well, raisins have their place somewhere else. Yes, I was incredibly opinionated about something I may not have ever tried.

Years later, I've probably made this cake once every couple of years or so. It's a snack cake so it's a little heavy. One of these days, I've like to make a layered carrot cake, but this cake is too dense for that. Still, incredibly tasty and it has carrots so you can pretend it's healthy. The frosting is also fantastic.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

9 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 cups finely shredded carrot

1/2 cup (4 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar, divided

To Prepare Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray 9 x 13" pan with cooking spray.
3. Using a mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla.
4. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
5. Add flour mixture alternating with buttermilk to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in carrots.
6. Spoon batter into pan. Tap to remove air bubbles. Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cook in pan for 10 minutes, then completely on a wire rack.

To Prepare Frosting:
1. Beat butter, cream cheese, vanilla and salt in a bowl on medium until smooth.
2. Gradually add sugar, beating at low speed until smooth. (Add a splash of milk in necessary.)

Spread frosting over top of cake. Store cake loosely covered in refrigerator.

16 servings per Cooking Light


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Homemade Hamburger Helper (Chili Cheese Version)

Wow, two posts in two days! I'm sure you're shocked. I'm trying to post a couple things that I've made this week since I uploaded the pictures.

I found this recipe on a blog called Chickens in the Road. Thankfully, as I was growing up my parents didn't go in much for box/ready-to-eat foods. Or should I say they didn't do the ones that typically appeal to children (e.g. Kraft Mac N' Cheese, Hamburger Helper, or Chef Boyardee). In college I occasionally had the blue box mac n' cheese in my dorm room--there's only so much you can cook with a microwave--but I've never tried authentic Hamburger Helper or Chef Boyardee. Thus, I've always been curious about such things, though too afraid of the massive sodium to buy them.

When I saw this recipe for a homemade variety that sounded quite innocuous, I decided to try it. It was rather tasty! My only complaint is that I thought it was strange that she advises to season the meat after browning it. Sure enough, I think that influenced the taste as the meaty bites seemed a little bland to me. Thus, if I make it again, I will probably toss a little salt and pepper on the meat as I brown it. Plus, I didn't have elbow macaroni so I used whole wheat penne. The 12 minute cooking time caused them to become a little mushy so I will pay more attention to that next time. My husband who claims he did eat such things as a child said it tasted like the real thing!

If you would like to include these homemade packets in your pantry, check her blog for more sauce flavors. She also has step by step directions with more photos. On to the recipe!

Homemade Hamburger Helper (Chili Cheese Version)

1 pound ground beef
1 cup hot water
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Seasoning Packet
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon paprika

1. To prepare packets for pantry, separately package macaroni and seasoning packet in separate plastic bag. Write the directions on one of the bags or on a notecard posted on whatever you store these packets in.

2. Brown ground beef with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, as desired. Drain.

3. Stir in hot water and milk. Add pasta and seasoning packet.

4. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer about 10-12 minutes until pasta is tender. In the last minutes of cooking, stir in the cheese.

5. When pasta is tender and cheese is melted, turn off heat and let stand, uncovered, for five minutes to allow sauce to thicken.

Serves 4

Friday, April 6, 2012

Buttermilk Ranch Chicken Wrap

Hi there! Well, I have no particular excuse for not posting in nearly a month. I've been busy as we moved AGAIN, but it didn't really stop me from trying new recipes. I also got a new camera for my birthday, but I'm still getting the hang of it so this shot is taken with my Iphone. Hopefully in April, I'm get back in the swing of posting regularly.

Onto today's recipe. Spring has come super early this year. In March we had a string of days with nothing lower than the 70s. A "cold" spell has hit recently, so we've been in the 50s and 60s. Still, with longer days I'm making dinner later and later it seems. Thus, I've looked for quick, lighter fare. This recipe allowed me to use shredded chicken from a whole chicken I had recently simmered with veggies for stock and other ingredients which are regularly on hand. The new recipe is for ranch dressing which I found from Ellie Krieger at the Food Network. It's super simple and turned out very nicely. I even only had vanilla yogurt rather than plain and it was still pretty good, although I upped the lemon juice and herbs to cover up the vanilla taste.

Buttermilk Ranch Chicken Wrap

1 c cooked shredded chicken
1.5 c shredded romaine
1/4 - 1/2 c buttermilk ranch dressing (recipe below)
1/4 c shredded parmesan cheese
2 large burrito wraps

(makes 1 cup)
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/3 cup lowfat buttermilk
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper

Whisk together all ingredients for dressing except chives and salt and pepper. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In center of burrito wrap, place handful of lettuce topped with chicken and drizzle of dressing. Sprinkle with cheese, then wrap burrito.

Serves 2