Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Garden Harvest Cake

When I got my latest issue of Cooking Light this recipe leaped out at me. I just love carrot cake, zucchini bread, and banana bread and this recipe looked very similar. Honestly I'm not sure why they call it cake since it is much more similar to a bread but it was very yummy. Cooking light does not allow reprints of their recipes on blogs so you can get the recipe here.

I will definitely be making this recipe again but I will add some raisins to it next time. It was very moist and delicious. I also shared with my coworkers and they all were quite impressed.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Chocolate-Chip Brownie Double-Deckers

My husband, son, and I are having dinner tonight at one of H's coworker's homes. I was asked to bring either brownies or cupcakes. Well since my last "from scratch" adventure was cupcakes I decided to do brownies. Originally I wanted to make a mint layered bar but my husband suggested I do something else since they may not like mint. I went through my recipes and saw this one which I thought may appeal to their 3 and 5 year old daughters.

Chocolate-Chip Brownie Double-Deckers
Woman's Day 11/1/2005
Makes 24 bars
Active: 15 min; Total: 1 hr 15 min

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut up
1 cup packed light-brown sugar (I only had about 1/3 cup light so I used dark for the rest)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut up
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1. Heat oven to 325F. Line a 13x9-inch baking pan with nonstick foil, letting foil extend above pan on both ends.
2. Chocolate Chip Layer: Melt butter. Whisk in brown sugar until smooth. Cool.
3. Meanwhile, make Brownie Layer. Melt butter. Whisk in cocoa until smooth. Whisk in sugar and salt, then eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Stir in flour with a rubber spatula just until blended. Spread evenly into prepared pan.
4. To finish Chocolate Chip Layer: Whisk in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt with a rubber spatula until blended. Stir in chips. Drop spoonfuls over brownie batter, spread to cover.
5. Bake 35 to 40 minutse until top is set and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs. (Don't overbake, or they won't be fudgy). Cool in pan on wire rack.
6. Lift foil by ends onto cutting board. Cut in 6 rows crosswise and 4 lengthwise.

Per serving: 279 calories, 3g protein, 1g fiber, 15g fat, 9g saturated fat, 58mg cholesterol, 107mg sodium

DO-AHEAD: Can be completely prepared, cut, tightly wrapped and frozen up to a month. There's almost no thawing necessary - about 20 minuts - as these brownies are delicious even when partially frozen.

Ok, I did not use the above tip but thought I would include it as it was part of the recipe in the magazine. I haven't gotten anyone else's opinion on how these turned out but I did try a sliver of one this morning just so I could give a review. I thought the brownie part of the layer was delicious. The chocolate chip part was just ok. When I first bit into it I didn't like it but after I had chewed it then I did like the taste.

I'm not sure if I will make this recipe again or not. If I do make it again I will spray the aluminum foil with some cooking spray before putting the brownie batter in as I still had some pieces sticking to the foil.

UPDATE ON THESE BARS: When I had tasted a full bar (instead of just a sliver) I actually really liked them. The 3 & 5 year old girls who I made them for just loved them and wanted to keep eating them. The family we took them too kept most of them and we brought about a half dozen home ourselves. I had yet another one this morning and still enjoyed it. I probably will make these again.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Finished Cross-stitch projects

I was a crafting "machine" before my son was born. I would work on crafts whenever I was watching television (which sad to say is more than I should). But since he has been born my hands and attention have been otherwise diverted. Now don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade my son in for any number of craft projects, but I was recently able to finish two different cross-stitch projects that I have been working on. One is his birth announcement. The other is a kit I saw on Black Friday in 2006 (yes, 2006). It was of three cats. Now I have had three cats in my adult out of college life. Callie, passed away in 2006 and was tortoise colored (close to striped for you non-cat people out there). Then we got our orange cats Tommy and Princess. So when I saw this kit I saw three kitties on it. One striped, and two orange. I immediately knew I needed to get it since it had my three "babies" on it. I was just able to finish it.

Below are the pictures of the completed projects. Now I just need to get some frames to put them in.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Baked Ziti

Back in November (right before my due date) my Mom and I had a cooking day where we made several dishes to freeze to use after my son was born. One of them was my baked ziti recipe. I froze them in single serving size dishes to make it even easier. Anyway I don't have a picture because reheated thawed baked ziti just doesn't look as nice as freshly made baked ziti, but trust me, this dish is delicious. I got it several years ago on the Married Life board of the nest from a user named weeirishlass. I'm not sure where she got it though.

Baked Ziti

1 lb dry ziti pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 lb lean ground beef
2 (26 oz) jars spaghetti sauce
6 oz provolone cheese (I use sliced deli provolone)
1 1/2 cups sour cream
6 oz mozzarella cheeese, shredded
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Drain off fat. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, all the provolone cheese, all the sour cream, 1/2 sauce/meat mixture, remaining ziti, all the mozzarella cheese, and remaining sauce/meat mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheeese. Bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven or until cheeses are melted.

Reheating note: I thawed in the fridge overnight and then heated at 350F for about 30 minutes. It is not as tasty reheated as fresh so I would add some appropriare herbs to add flavor.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St Patrick's Day Cupcakes

I decided to make some cupcakes to take in to work this year for St. Patty's Day. It was my first attempt at cooking either a cake or cupcakes from scratch so I was nervous about it turning out all right. I took 12 cupcakes to work and my husband took the remaining 12. Both sets of coworkers gave great reviews and there were no cupcakes left at the end of the day. I even had another coworker bring in store-bought cupcakes and mine were all gone but she had to take nearly all her's home with her.

Here are the recipes that I used:

Black Chocolate Cake
From Allrecipes.com

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 pinch salt (I omitted this)
2/3 cup shortening
2 cups boiling water
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan. (I placed cupcake liners in 24 standard size muffin cups.) Sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, and salt. Set aside.
2. Melt the shortening in the boiling water, then stir into the flour mixture until blended. Beat in the eggs, then stir in the vanilla.
3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes (25 minutes for me with the cupcakes), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool.

I then frosted them using this Buttercream recipe from Allrecipes.com.

1/2 cup margarine (I used butter)
1/2 cup shortening
1/8 tsp salt (I omitted)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups confectioners' sugar (I used 3 cups and it was still very sweet).
1/4 cup milk

In a large bowl, cream margarine and shortening until light and fluffy. Add salt, vanilla, confectioners' sugar and milk. Beat well.

(I also added green food coloring since these were for St Patty's Day).

Monday, March 16, 2009

Comfort Food

One of my favorite comfort foods my Mom would make when I was little was this Chicken Pasta Salad. Since this is my first full week back at work after maternity leave I decided to make a big batch of this salad to help me through the lunches when I'm missing my son. There are no real concrete measurements as it is really a "to taste" combination but I will put approximate measurements after each ingredient.

Chicken Pasta Salad

Chicken - I used 2 large cans of chicken, you could also use rotisserie chicken, leftover chicken or turkey, etc.

Peas - I used 2 cans drained

Celery - I used 3 stalks, diced

Pasta - I used one bag of whole wheat egg noodles

Hard-boiled egg - I used the whites only of 3 hard boiled eggs

Other desired veggies, if any - I diced about 10 baby carrots

Mayonnaise or Salad Dressing - I used Miracle Whip

Combine all together in a large bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Whenever I use canned chicken it looks too pink for my taste so this time I put some extra virgin olive oil in a skillet and cooked the canned chicken until no longer pink. I also seasoned it with garlic powder, black pepper, and basil.

I had some for lunch today and soooo yummy!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Italian Spinach Meatloaf

My in-laws were visiting last weekend and I decided to make a meatloaf. I wanted to add veggies to it to up the nutritional content so I winged it. The measurements I included are approximate only since I did not measure anything.


1 pound lean ground beef

1 egg

1 cup italian breadcrumbs

2-3 cups fresh spinach leaves

3 cloves garlic

2 carrots, coarsely chopped

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 tsp cumin

2-3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1 can diced tomatoes, drained, divided

1 1/2 tsp fennel seed

1 tsp oregano

1. Preheat oven to 375F.

2. Put spinach leaves, garlic, carrots, and onion in a food processor and pulse until well minced. If no food processor then cut all into tiny pieces.

3. Put spinach mixture into a large bowl and add beef, egg, breadcrumbs, cumin, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, 1/2 can of the diced tomatoes, fennel, and oregano. Mix until well combined.

4. Form mixture into a loaf in a 9x13 baking dish.

5. Cover loaf with the remaining diced tomatoes and black pepper to taste.

6. Bake 45-60 minutes until meatloaf is fully cooked.

(For my oven I covered with foil for 45 minutes, and a small portion in the middle of the loaf was still pink so I baked it for another 7 minutes uncovered and it was perfect).

I got rave reviews from my husband and in-laws. I personally thought it tasted great but was soggier than I would have liked so next time I make it I will increase the amount of breadcrumbs to hopefully make it a bit firmer. I may also add some more veggies like celery or green bell peppers.

Here is a picture of the finished product.

First Post

I have been looking for a place to show recipes that I have tried, as well as craft projects that I have completed.

A little about me, I'm a Wife, a Mom, and an accountant. I like to try new things in the kitchen, quilt, crochet, cross-stitch, and swedish weaving, but since my son has arrived I have less and less time to do these. I am hoping that keeping this blog will give me extra incentive to find the time to do more.

If something looks interesting or you have any questions, please let me know!