Friday, July 31, 2009

Zucchini Bread

I wanted to make Carson some more babyfood and Zucchini is his favorite. It just so happened that the Food City grocer had a huge basket of zucchini on reduced for quick sale since it needed to be used in the next day or so. I ended up with 2 1/2 lbs of zucchini for $1.60. Not bad at all.

So I decided I would make myself a treat as well. I found this recipe in a book my mother-in-law gave me. She compiled it as a fundraiser for her church a number of years ago and the recipe happens to be her aunt's (my husband's great-aunt).

While I was mixing the batch my husband happened to call (he was out of town at the time) and our conversation went something like this:

Him: "What are you doing?"
Me: "Making zucchini bread. It's your Aunt Hilda's recipe."
Him: "I didn't know she had a recipe."
Me: "It's in the book your Mom gave me."
Him: "Hilda wasn't a very good cook. I liked the nights we went out to eat the best."

And he says this while I have the batter already mixed and I'm just waiting for the oven to preheat. I decide to go ahead and make it anyway. Who knows, maybe I'd love it.

I must confess. While it was good, it wasn't great. I did give one of the two loaves to my babysitter and she said how much she and her husband enjoyed it but I don't know if they were just being polite. That said, it is a healthy recipe and some additional substitutions could make it even healthier.

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup oil (I used canola)
2 cups sugar
2 cups zucchini, raw grated course zucchini with rind
3 cups flour (I used 2 cups whole wheat and 1 cup all-purpose)
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup finely chopped pecans (I used walnuts)

Grease and flour pans. Combine eggs, oil, sugar and zucchini in large mixing bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add vanilla and chopped nuts. Spoon batter into loaf pans. Bake at 325F for 1 hour. Yield: 2 loaves.

Source: my great-aunt-in-law

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Paula Deen's Strawbery Cake

I first had this cake at a bridal shower back in June. It was absolutely delicious. My coworker, Sue, was also at the shower and she requested that I make this cake for her birthday. So I did.

Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake.

1 (18.25 oz) box white cake mix
1 (3 oz) box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin (I used wild strawberry flavor)
1 (15 oz) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed & pureed (My grocery did not carry any frozen strawberries in syrup so I purchased 2 20-oz bags of whole strawberries to use for cake and frosting)
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 (10 oz) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed & pureed (see my note above)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
7 cups confectioners' sugar (I used only 2 1/2 cups, I thought it was plenty sweet)
Freshly sliced strawberries, for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add pureed strawberries, eggs, oil and water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 20 minutes (mine took 30 minutes), or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

For the frosting:
In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electirc mixer until creamy. Beat in 1/4 cup of the strawberry puree and the vanilla extract. (The rest of the puree is leftover but can be used in smoothies or on ice cream for a delicious treat). Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating until smooth.

Spread frosting in between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish with sliced fresh berries, if desired.

Source: Paula Deen

NOTE: I wasn't sure how much this frosting would make so I made a double batch of it. Since I had only bought 20 oz total of frozen strawberries I just pureed them all together and then removed 1/2 cup of strawberries for the frosting and used the rest of the puree in the cake. I thought this worked out just about right. And it make A LOT of frosting. I would not have needed to double the recipe. But since I did I decided to make cupcakes!

I used the same general recipe as the cake recipe, however instead of doing strawberries again I used a 12 oz bag of frozen mixed berries, and berry blue gelatin instead of the strawberry stuff. I lined 24 standard muffin cups and baked them for 20 minutes. Let cool and frosted with the leftover strawberry cream cheese frosting. I honestly thought the mixed berry ones tasted phenomenal!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Crescent Dogs

One item my husband did request for his poker night was crescent dogs. I guess his Mom made them all the time so that's what he wants. I can't stand hot dogs so he never gets them in our house. Until now. I made these for him and though I didn't eat any myself, I hear they were pretty good.

Crescent Dogs
Adapted from by my mother-in-law

3 rolls crescent rolls
2 packages bun-length hot dogs

1. Cut hot dogs into thirds.
2. Unroll crescent rolls and separate into triangles along perforated lines. Take eaach triangle and cut in half to make 2 triangles.
3. Place hot dog section on top of crescent roll triangle half and roll up. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Perfect Brownies

My husband was having poker night last Saturday with some of his friends. It was requested of me to make some brownies. I said I'd make some from scratch, but the response to me was, "The box ones taste great. Just make those." Uh, ok. So I did. And then I made these for myself. I have to say that mine were so ooey gooey and altogether delicious. The box ones were good but these were delicious.

Perfect Brownies

1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3 eggs
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, eggs, and melted butter and mix until the dry ingredients are just incorporated to the wet. Do not overmix. Stir in the chocolate chips. Line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment (I used 8x8 pan). Pour the batter and spread it out. Bake at 325F for 20-30 minutes (Mine needed 45 minutes due to thicker brownies). It's done when a toothpick inserted in the tallest part comes out clean. Keep in mind you've got chips in there. If you hit one with the toothpick you'll have melted chocolate on it. Let cool in pan a few minutes. Then carefully lift parchment out of the baking dish. Peel the edges and let cool for a few minutes before slicing.

Just a note, on the original recipe it says to use a high quality chocolate since the recipe list is so simple. I was just making mine on the fly so I used Nestle since that was what was in my pantry. I thought they were simply delicious. I'll probably try a higher quality chocolate next time but they were seriously good with the common brand too. (Just an FYI).

Source: How to cook like your grandmother

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Veggie Lasagna Rolls

My husband is probably the world's biggest meat eater. Anyway, so he was out of town a couple of days last week and I decided to make this. He had asked me earlier in the day what I was planning on doing for dinner so I told him. Then I said, "I'd make it for you, but I know you like to have meat with dinner and this is only veggies." To which I received this reply: "That sounds good, I'd eat it." So I decided to delay making it until he got home. It was worth the wait. So yummy. Even my carnivore hubby loved it and said he'd eat it again. It was very flavorful and made my kitchen smell fabulous.

Veggie Lasagna Rolls

7-8 lasagna noodles, cooked to package directions
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzerella cheese
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red pepper, diced
1/2 cup zucchini, diced
1/2 cup mushrooms, diced
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
Cooking spray
2 cups marinara (I used primavera sauce)
2 cloves minced garlic

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Prepare a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Combine ricotta, 1/4 cup mozzarella, Parmesan, egg white, parsley, basil, salt and pepper and set aside.
3. Heat skillet on medium-high. Add olive oil and saute red pepper, zucchini, and mushrooms for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add spinach and stir until it wilts. Remove from heat and let mixture cool.
4. Combine veggie mixture with ricotta mixture. Spread the cheese mixture over noodles in a thin layer. Roll up and place in baking dish, seam side down. Spoon marinara over each and cover with foil.
5. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and top with remaining mozzerella and bake uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes.

Source: bakin and eggs

See how delicious this looked with all the veggies cooking in the pan! So colorful and fragrant!

And here is the finished product. Please forgive the really ugly plates. My husband cannot throw anything that is still functional out. Would you believe these plates were his aunt and uncle's wedding china? It's like 40 years old.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cooking for Carson - Summer Veggie Blend

My husband works in the plant sciences department at a University and so from time to time we are able to get some great veggies to use at home. He brought home some nice looking snap beans the other day and so I decided to make Carson some more babyfood. Now he doesn't like straight green beans so I have to mix them with other stuff. I had zucchini and summer squash at home and I know he likes both of those so I decided to cook them all together for him. In total I believe I used about 3 cups of green beans, 3 zucchini, and 4 smallish summer squash. Just cooked them all in a large stockpot with boiling water, drained off the water and then pureed in my food processor.

Since he is getting older now I'm trying to get him use to more complex flavor combinations than a simple one veggie or fruit puree. He did seem to enjoy this. It made a lot. Enough to fill two ice cube trays.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Quick and Easy Chicken Parmesan

I wanted to make something quick and easy for dinner the other night so I quickly made up the following. Measurements are estimates.

Quick and Easy Chicken Parmesan

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup italian-seasoned dry breadcrumbs
1 cup primavera spaghetti sauce
1 cup shredded mozzeralla cheese
Nonstick cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Spray an 8x8 glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
3. Take chicken breasts and pound with a meat mallet to 1/2 inch thickness.
4. Place egg and breadcrumbs in separate small bowls. Dip chicken in egg and then coat in breadcrumbs. Place in prepared baking dish.
5. Cover chicken with the pasta sauce and then with mozzarella cheese. Cover dish with aluminum foil.
6. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and cheese is melted.

Source: me

I won!!!

I entered this giveaway and found out last week that I had won! I just received the package and this was inside! I can't wait to make some delicious dinners with these salsas!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blueberry Oat Muffins

I had some blueberries that I needed to use or toss since they were not far from going bad and saw this recipe and knew I needed to make it, except substitute blueberries for peaches.

Blueberry Oat Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups blueberries
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray or line with cupcake liners.
2. Combine flours, oats, spices, baking soda, and salt in bowl.
3. In a separate bowl combine applesauce, oil, eggs, and sugars.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to combine. Fold in blueberries.
5. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Bake for 25 minutes.

Source: Woman with a Whisk

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Chicken Florentine Pasta Bake

I saw this recipe pop up in my Google Reader a couple of different times and it looked so delicious to me that I marked it down to try at some point. Well that time arrived and I was not disappointed. This was delicious!

Chicken Florentine Pasta Bake
adapted from Crista's Kitchen Creations via Jenn and Food, Perfect Together
Makes 6-8 servings

12 ounces farfalle pasta
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch of basil, oregano, parsley
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
kosher salt and coarse ground pepper, to taste
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup oil packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs (I used italian flavored breadcrumbs)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray. (Or, use this method to make two separate dishes.)

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and cook pasta as directed, to al dente. Drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-heat. Add the onions and cook 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add the chicken and herbs and red pepper flakes and cook until heated through. Remove from heat, set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and salt and pepper. Stir in the chicken mixture, Monterey Jack cheese, artichokes, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, half of the Parmesan, and cooked pasta.

Transfer to prepared baking dish(es). Bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. In small bowl, combine remaining Parmesan, bread crumbs, paprika, and melted butter. Sprinkle mixture over pasta and continue baking, uncovered, 10 minutes more or until golden.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I made these cookies for my Father-in-law for Father's Day. I have to say that they turned out fantastic. Not only do they not use butter, they were very crunchy and delicious. I plan on making them again for myself very soon however I may substitute dried cranberries for the raisins and whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour. Yum!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Makes 3-4 dozen (depending on how big you make them)

1 cup canola oil
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease cookie sheets.
2. In a large bowl, mix canola oil, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; stir into the sugar mixture. Mix in the oats and raisins last. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet.
3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: adapted from

Monday, July 6, 2009

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I wanted to make something festive for the 4th of July and thought about doing a red white and blue cake but since we were going to a bbq I thought that cupcakes would work better and be easier to transport.

I really like the frosting and will probably continue to use this recipe for any cream cheese frosting that I need. I personally don't think these cupcakes taste like true red velvet cake but as my husband says, "They taste better than red velvet". He REALLY enjoyed them. I think they were good, but I was expecting more of a red velvet flavor.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 24 cupcakes

Cake dry ingredients:
2 1/2 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose replacing 5 Tbsp with cornstarch)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp fine salt
1 tsp cocoa powder

Cake wet ingredients:
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp vinegar (white distilled)
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
1 oz red food coloring
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cake directions:
Sift together all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients to an electric mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until well incorporated. Slowly add dry ingredients to bowl, until all ingredients are combined.

Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Fill cups 3/4 full (about 1/4 cup of batter). Bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes. Remove from pans and allow to cool thoroughly before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners' sugar (I used 2 1/2 cups)

Place the cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, 30 seconds. Add extract, blend to combine.

Gradually add the confectioners' sugar and blend with the mixer on low speed until the ingredients are moistened, 30 seconds. Add enough sugar to desired sweetness. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting is fluffy, 2 minutes more.

Chill for 30 minutes to thicken. Scoop frosting into a piping bag or a heavy duty zip top bag and snip the end. Forst by swirling from the outside in.

Source: adapted from Cake Man Raven via Cathy's Kitchen Journey

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Peanut Butter Temptations

These are my FAVORITE cookies ever. Yum Yum Yum. Pretty much anything that combines chocolate and peanut butter is tasty in my opinion.

Peanut Butter Temptations
Makes about 40 cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
About 40 mini reeses peanut butter cups

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Cream butter, peanut butter, and sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix well.
3. Sift dry ingredients and blend in.
4. Shape batter into balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and immediately press a peanut butter cup into the top of each cookie.
6. Let stand awhile before removing cookie from cookie sheet and cool completely prior to eating.

Source: An old family friend

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sausage-Hash Brown Casserole

My in-laws came to visit Father's Day weekend so I wanted to make this breakfast casserole one morning for them. I had actually never made a breakfast casserole before but I knew that pretty much anything out of Southern Living would have to be good. This was did not disappoint. It had a bit of a kick to it but was good nonetheless.

Sausage-Hash Brown Casserole
Makes 8 servings

2 (12 oz) packages reduced-fat ground pork sausage
1/2 cup water
1 (30 oz) package frozen shredded hash browns
1 tsp salt, divided
1 cup (4 oz) shredded 2% reduced-fat cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
6 large eggs
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk

1. Cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until sausage crumbles and is no longer pink; drain well and set aside. Wipe skillet clean.
2. Cook half of the hash browns and 1/4 cup water over medium-high heat in skillet 8 minutes; turn hash browns over, and contine to cook for 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove hash browns from skillet. Repeat with remaining uncooked hashbrowns and 1/4 cup water.
3. Stir together cooked hash browns, sausage, cheese, 1/2 tsp salt, and black and red peppers. Spoon into a lightly greased 13x9 inch baking dish.
4. Whisk together eggs, milk, and remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Pour evenly over hash brown mixture.
5. Bake at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes or until set.

Source: Southern Living Home for the Holidays