Sunday, August 28, 2011

Homemade Marinara

I decided to try to make my own  Marinara a couple of weeks ago sans recipe. And in my true scatterbrained fashion I didn't write down what I did or snap any pics of it, except this one from my phone today... I've made spaghetti twice for us with it and Lee keeps talking about how good it is, saying its the best he's had. That is MAJOR for me. You see, when he managed a store in the local mall there was a little Italian restaurant that was AMAZING. And of course him being the charmer he is the couple that owned practically adopted him feeding him all the time. He told me he liked my sauce better than theirs. (shhhh don't tell!!!!!) But they moved and he's been craving some good Italian since and couldn't find anything as good. I made more again today for my Aunt, Uncle and their kids because she just had a a sweet baby boy. She texted me after they ate and said my Uncle was on his third bowl and she loved it too and she is a picky eater. I am patting myself on the back for this, but what if I can't duplicate it!?!?!?!? Oh the pressure!!! But I'm officially out and will have to make more next week. Cross your fingers for me and if I manage to work it all out I'll have a new recipe.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Chicken Burgers + Fondue + Family = The Good Life

Lee's brother is in town and after rescheduling this dinner 3 times, I think, we finally had everyone over. My brother-in-law, Mike, his friend Robyn and all four of my in-laws came for dinner. Thankfully everyone has a good time together and gets along well. 

We had not had dinner guest over yet, in this house. So it was totally disorganized and absolutely fun. Let us see here... My Facebook got hacked by Mike, he changed my status and picture. I was attacked by his and my FIL's FEET! Gross! I have a total foot phobia. A pirate's ghost inhabited my BIL for a moment or two.  We all laughed at Caleb running around like a wild man and talked about our upcoming cruise! Good times, good times. 
Oh and p.s. everything but the hamburger buns were gluten free. Why? Cause I'm awesome, that's why! Actually I think something is off in my brains wiring... I enjoy planning things around other people's dietary confinements. Maybe, because growing up I've always had issues with what I can and cannot eat because, I have psoriasis and it always throws a wrench into things... Or maybe I'm just weird!

Chicken Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries, Cherry Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with a Balsamic Reduction for the main course. We also has Terriyaki Honey Mustard and Curry Ketchup to accompany the burgers and fries.

And for dessert...

I made a quick Chocolate Fondue and made some chocolate cupcake minis with a gluten free cake mix and my MIL brought the fruit and marshmallows. I've had that fondue pot for going on four years now. It is about time I used it!

To make the burgers I just process boneless, skinless chicken breast with some mayo and herbs in my food processor. I usually figure a normal smallish breast makes 1.5 burgers so plan accordingly. I patted them out with wet hands so the meat doesn't stick and cooked them on my electric griddle until firm to the touch. That is it, easy peasy. My favorite thing on these is the terriyaki honey mustard. I just make my normal honey mustard and stir in terriyaki sauce. Just for the record La Choy is glunten free but Kikkoman is not.

The tomato salad is cherry tomato cut in half with torn mozzarella tossed on some olive oil, salt pepper and basil. I let that sit for a couple of hours and put a small sauce pan on the stove on low/medium and let it reduce to a syrup. Pour it over just before serving.

And in case you've ever wondered this is what hippo poo looks like.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back Yard Cookout... Part 2

My parents recently moved to a smaller house. With my older brother and I officially out and never coming back  they decided to down size. While it was hard to tell my childhood home goodbye,  I love their new house. The only downside is that it may be too small to hold out humongous family at Christmas, which my Mom always hosts. SO she decided to throw a little party in her backyard as a test run. The only problem... Nobody went inside the house! We had a very good time and as you can tell by my previous post we had amazing food. Mom always has Caleb's kiddie pool and slip and slide out so we put them into use for the little ones. All the kids were dripping wet and sticky from ice cream by the end so needless to say they were happy.

 The Decorations!!!! 

My brother, Jeremy came early to help out, because he knows Mom and I are always running around crazy at the last minute! Poor guy had to climb the latter and light all of the candles in the trees. I think he burned most of his finger prints off.

Mom made tissue paper flowers in white a green. She hung jelly jars and mason jars with candles to keep the mosquitoes away. Plus they were quite cute too.

I made the banners and all of the menu cards. You can see the menu cards in the previous post.

 Inspired by one of the latest Better Homes and Gardens magazines we decided to go fun and easy for dessert and have an Ice Cream Sundae Bar. We used a wooden cutting board, that we normally use for cheese trays to put out the ,gasp, store bought cookies and ice cream cones. I have a set of old fashioned sundae glasses, but not enough for everyone, so we used them for the toppings. Mom's creamers and gravy boats made excellent containers for the hot fudge and caramel. We used plastic punch cups for the ice cream. It turned out super cute and went over very well.

For the food we kept it simple. Mom grilled everything even the okra. We used her white platters and a few green plates from a small place setting that I gave her earlier this year. I knew it would come in handy some day. We used green fabrics and used random items to give the table different elevations. We had the banner that read "delicious" and the humming bird menu cards that I made. We wanted it to feel special and to keep it simple at the same time.

The Activities!!!!

Granny and sweet little Hannah!

Mom, Grandpa and Granny

Granny giving  me the stink eye for interrupting her eating with a picture.

Uncle Patrick giving me that same stink eye... See the family resemblance!?

Hannah, Journey, Jericho and Caleb at the pool.

Poor Jericho wanted in so badly but her was too little.

Caleb and Hannah having a very important conversation.

We all ate til we couldn't hold anymore!

mmmm.... ice cream!!

Brandon actually, willingly getting his picture taken. That's a first!

Sissie and Tammy having important conversations about ice cream...

Aunt Bennie and Keith

Jeremy and Richard

This is how the kids cleaned off the ice cream.

How cute are they?!!?!?

Jericho. Isn't he the cutest!?!?!?

Uncle Tommy, Brandon, Erica, Rusty, Aunt Bennie and Uncle Patrick

Caleb, Tanner and Journey playing in the dirt!
So it is truly obvious the kids had a blast and kept all of us entertained. I love spending times with our families.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

I love trifles! I really really really love trifles! I make them any chance I get. I mean, what is there not to love?!?!?! Cake, a fruit sauce of some sort, maybe some custard and whipped cream, that is a recipe for some oooey gooey creamy, dreamy awesomeness! Plus I have some kind of strange love for trifle bowls. I mean really, a bowl on a pedestal!? That evokes something delectable doesn't it? I happened upon this little beauty at one of those off the beaten path flea markets. The type that will have a table with bone china next to someone selling mass produced toys of Disney characters but aren't the licensed version so they are Mikey Mouse instead of Mickey.  Anyway, I found it for less than $10.00 and could not leave without it.

This one was one of my best! The crazy thing is that there is no strict recipe.
Lousy Picture huh? It was gone before I could get a good shot! I was lucky to get this one!
First I made my favorite white cake. Once it cooled I crumbled it into the bottom of my favorite trifle bowl. While that was baking I cooked a large bag of frozen whole strawberries, in a large saucepan covered 3/4 of the way up with water and about 3/4 of a cup (I'm guessing here) of raw sugar. Simmer over medium heat until the strawberries can be mashed with the back of a spoon. You could easily leave it this way but I wanted my smooth so I pureed my in the food processor. Mine was extra tart so I added a bit of honey and vanilla extract but a vanilla bean would have been AMAZING!!! Or some balsamic vinegar would have be great too. I put them back on the stove to thicken a bit more. When it was to the right consistency I set it in the refrigerator to cool but, you could let it come to room temperature slowly, but I was in a hurry. When I started the strawberries I put my metal mixing bowl and whisk attachment for my mixer in the freezer. When we were about to walk out the door I beat a medium size container of heavy cream and slowly added just a bit of confectioner sugar, for a touch of sweetness. I also had a frozen, small to go container because we had an hour car ride in the heat and I wanted it to stay fluffy. When we got there I topped the trifle and we were ready to eat.

Now I only got a tiny bit of the trifle and was quite proud of myself. But I knew it was amazing when Lee's grandmother, Mom-Mom, could not stop telling me how good it was. She is one person I love to get approval from. Since the first time I cooked for Lee he has compared my food to hers and she loves that I keep her baby boy well fed and satisfied.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The wonderful end to a wonderful day!

While I was relaxing by the lake today, I had a stroke of genius. You see I've had some left over mocha batter in my fridge from this post and my mom sent home some icing from this post and I had some left over caramel sauce from an upcoming post. I really didn't want to waste them so I combined them! Just scoop the batter onto a cookie sheet using and ice cream scoop and bake at 350 F for 10-15 minutes depending on the size. Once they've cooled ice one side with the frosting and drizzle on some caramel and sandwich with another cake cookie and Voila! You now are the proud owner of a delicious whoopie pie!  A nice glass of milk (you know you're jealous of my Iron Man glasses) and one of these puppies and I am all set to relax and do some on line window shopping!

Love this kid!!!!!

I have the cutest, most helpful and sweetest sous chef. This makes my ♥heart♥ happy! I started my morning with some baking and had my favorite boy standing on his stool begging "my help, my help!?!?!?" I hope he continues to have my love of cooking.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Old Fashioned Tasty Goodness

     So this cupcake looks like any other unassuming vanilla cupcake cake with plain vanilla butter cream right? WRONG! It's a miniature bite of heaven! My Mom made these for a party she had and she sent them home with me. Manners are very important to me and it would have been extremely rude to turn them down, right?

     One bite teleports you back in time. You know the three layer cakes that ladies always bring to church socials?  But then again all of the recipes she used came out of a Pillsbury cookbook, circa some time in the 1970s, maybe older. It was Granny's but, when she realized Mom had the bug to bake and she was off the hook for baking for everything, she passed it on to her. One day, I'll get it but until then I have to call her every time I need a recipe. That book also has the best muffin recipe ever in it, but I'll save that for another post.  The cake recipe is our go to, make for everything, super adaptable cake. The frosting is very similar to 7 minute frosting but easier and just as good in my opinion. I'm not sure if we've ever used the lemon filling before, but I will be using it again that is for sure!
For the cake:
2 cups of AP flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of shortening
4 egg whites
vanilla (us as much as you like)

Butter and flour two 8 inch round pans or fill 2 cupcake pans with liners. Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat the first 6 ingredients on medium for two minutes. Add egg whites one at a time then vanilla. Beat two more minuets. Pour into prepared pans. Bake cupcake 20-25 minutes and round cakes 30-35 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean. Cool then fill and ice.

For the Lemon Filling:
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups water
2 egg yolks lightly beaten
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons lemon zest

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a small sauce pan. Stir in water. Cook over medium heat until just boiling. Boil 1 minute. Pour 1/3 of hot sugar mixture into eggs and stir until combined. Add mixture back into hot sugar mixture and mix well. Stir in juice and zest. Cook until just bubbles. Add butter and stir until melted. Allow to cool. Fill cupcakes.

For the White Cloud Frosting:
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In small bowl, beat egg whites and salt until foamy. Gradually add sugar, continuously beating until soft peaks form. In small saucepan, beat corn syrup to boiling. Pour in thin stream over egg whites. Continue to beat until frosting is stiff. Beat in vanilla. Allow to cool slightly the frost the filled cupcakes.

Happy Friday!!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Circus Shower Part 2... The Recipes

Mocha Cupcake with 
Chocolate Ganache

For the cake:
*all ingredients  should be at room temperature
1/2 cup cocoa powder 
2/3 cup hot coffee 
2/3 cup semi sweet chocolate coarsely chopped
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain yogurt 
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine cocoa, coffee and chocolate, whisk until lumps dissolve. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating 1 minute after each. Add the vanilla. In a separete bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add half of dry mixture to butter mixture. Mix on low until well integrated. Add the yogurt and mix well. Add the remaining dry and mix until combined. Add the chocolate mix until blended but do not over mix. Fill liners and bake. Standard cupcakes bake 20-25 minutes, mini cupcakes bake 7-10 minutes.

For the ganache
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chocolate finely chopped
Heat the cream over low heat and stir in chocolate. Let cool to room temperature. Dip the cupcakes in the ganache and decorate with sprinkles.

Lime Cupcake with 
White Chocolate Buttercream

For the cake:
*all ingredients should be at room temperature
1/2 lb of butter
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs 
3 cups AP flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons lime zest
2 tablespoons lime juice 
Preheat oven to 325 F. In large bowl cream butter and sugar using an electric mix for 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time beating 1 minute after each. In another bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. In small bowl stir together milk and sour cream. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternating with milk mixture. Add lime juice and zest. Fill liners and bake. Standard cupcakes bake for 20 minutes, mini cupcakes bake for 7-10 minutes.

For the buttercream:
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
6-8 tablespoons butter (at room temperature)
3-9 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 1/2 to 5 cups confectioner sugar
Heat chips, 4 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of milk in a saucepan over medium heat until totally melted. In a mixer combine the white chocolate mixture with sugar and vanilla. Add more butter, milk and sugar as needed.

Fever Fudge 
(I renamed it Red Hot Fudge for the Shower)

This is actually a recipe that my sister found and is a take on "Fever Fudge" from the Harry Potter novels. She made it for our July 4th get together and asked her to make it for the shower. She made the vanilla and spicy version instead of the mint and spicy version. This time she added yellow to match the the theme. I think it was absolutely adorable. For the recipe go here. Don't be fooled by the bright colors it is very tasty and I think she has added it to her growing collection of go to recipes. :)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

If you have a major sweet tooth like me then these are going to rock your world! For the recipe go here and if you make them be prepared to over indulge!

Baby Boy Blue Punch

This punch is not only super easy but is surprisingly great tasting.  It is also very easily customized to any color palette. It is another one of those recipes that make you raise an eyebrow when you see it but trust me it is actually very good. 
1 bottle of White Cranberry or White Grape Juice
1 2 liter of Club Soda (or Lemon Lime Soda)
1 envelope of unsweetened blue powered drink mix (Koolaide)
1/2 a 48oz container of Vanilla Ice Cream

Chill the juice and soda before the party and just before serving mix juice, soda and drink mix then scoop ice cream on top and then serve.

Lemon Trifle

So for this recipes go here. I did leave the whipped cream off of these only because we ran out of time. They are good either way.

Snack Mix

It isn't much to look at but ap[paently is is quite good.
It is 1 lg bag of pretzels coated with white chocolate and nonpareils mixed with blueberry kettle corn and animal crackers. I didn't actually eat any but I was told it was a great pairing. I found the kettle corn at my local grocery store but you can order it at their website.

I don't have the recipe for the strawberry fluff because I keep losing it. I am going to get it and keep up with it this time because I am starting a family recipe scrapbook. I plan on doing a post about family recipes as soon also.

I bought the cupcake liners and mustache mold at bake it pretty. I love everything in their online shop!!!!