Monthly Archives: July 2008

Putting a Little Fun into Monday

I got home after working out this morning and flipped on the last half hour of the Today show. They were talking to Jimmy Buffet’s sister Lucy about her new cookbook. She showed off some delightful little burgers that looked just like the ones I like to get when we go the Cheeseburgers in Paradise. I love that place! So much fun!

I thought mini-burgers would be a fun meal to chase away the Monday blues. Lucy mentioned she made the mini-buns from refrigerated french bread dough dipped in sesame seeds. What a great idea! I could totally do that! We had a lot of fun loading the toppings on these little babies! Made Monday a lot more fun!

MINI-CHEESEBURGERS (Recipe Insipiration: Lucy Buffet as seen on the Today Show 7.28.08)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 loaves refrigerated french bread dough (I used Pilsbury)
  • Sesame Seeds
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • Your favorite seasonings and toppings. Time to get creative! (I did colby jack cheese, a bit of caramelized onion and this fun cranberry BBQ sauce my BIL bought for me on a trip to Oregon with this past spring.)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll into balls. Dip the tops into sesame seeds. Place on a greased cookie sheet and flatten a bit with a the back of a spatula so they are about 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  2. Prepare your ground beef however you like it by adding any seasonings/veggies/breadcrumbs/eggs to the mix. (I just added a bit of steak seasoning.)Form into twelve small patties. Grill approximately 5 mins. on each side until desired doneness.
  3. Add to buns, add your toppings and start having fun with your dinner!

ENJOY! 🙂

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Dear Ice Cream:

Welcome to Dumpsville: Population, You. There’s a new kid in town. Hawaii…Meet the Heartland.

I’m just kidding, of course, about dumping ice cream. I could never abandon my sweet, creamy love. However….there’s this little problem of me wanting to break out my KA ice cream maker attachment seriously every other day. Not so great for the ole’ waistline. So how do I get my summertime fix of all things cool and refreshing during these hot days without adding all that extra padding around the middle? Why, make SORBET, of course!! 🙂

Last Saturday we had some friends over for a cookout and one of Eric’s friends brought over a huge bowl of fresh, delicious raspberries. I asked him where he got them and he said they grew in his backyard. Wow! I was so excited! Of course, I just chowed down on some of them, but I had so many I had to come up with something to make with them so they didn’t go to waste! A fresh delicious sorbet sounded perfect.

In my humble opinion, the addition of pineapple just makes any berry dessert to die for. It’s sweetness balances any tartness. Hawaii meets the Heartland here in my kitchen. Sweet pineapple plus locally grown raspberries equals cool, refreshing heaven.

RASPBERRY-PINEAPPLE SORBET(Recipe Inspiration: The Ultimate Ice Cream Book by Bruce Weinstein)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups of frozen or fresh pineapple chunks (I used frozen, just easier and guaranteed sweet)
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • Juice of half a lime

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, heat over low heat until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is clear. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Place raspberries, pineapple, lime juice and syrup in a blender and blend until very smooth. Pour through a strainer to remove seeds. Freeze immediately in your ice cream maker. Transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze two hours.

ENJOY! 🙂

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It’s Breakfast…I Can’t Have Cake…

I know! I’ll have a muffin! Ha!

I went into the Target on Friday with the intention of purchasing one thing: Dishwasher Liquid. But then I saw that blueberries were on sale. And they looked so very plump and delicious. And I thought about how I hadn’t had a blueberry muffin in a long long time. And…well…you can guess what happened next: I picked some up of course!

I had planned on making these Saturday night for breakfast this morning, but my plans were derailed when Eric announced early Saturday morning that he was interested in buying a car and he needed me to go with him so I could drive our other car back. The kicker? The car was parked at dealership in St. Cloud, MN. So after a ridiculously long day, about 14 hours round trip, 9 of which were driving…I didn’t really feel like making muffins! Then this morning, I slept way too late to make these breakfast!

Well, after lunch I decided that, yes, I still wanted muffins. They’d make a great afternoon snack and they’d be great for breakfast for the rest of the week! 🙂 I went back to my trusty red plaid Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, it never fails me! These turned out moist, juicy and delicious! I really like the streusel topping. It added just the right amount of sweetness and crunch. Totally hit the spot!

BLUEBERRY MUFFINS (Recipe Source: Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (I used fresh)
  • 1 recipe Streusel Topping (below)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Grease twelve 2.5 in muffin cups or line with paper baking cups; set aside
  2. In a medium bowl dry ingredients. Make a well in center of flour mixture, set aside.
  3. In another bowl combine egg, milk and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir until just moisted (batter should be lumpy). Fold in blueberries.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, fill each two-thirds full. Sprinkle strusel topping over the tops. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in centers comes clean. Cool for 5 minutes. Remove and serve warm.

Streusel Topping:

Combine 3 tbs. all-purpose flour, 3 tbs. brown sugar, and 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon. Cut in 2 tbs. butter until mixture rsembles coarse crumbs. Stick in 2 tbs. of chopped nuts. (I used pecans)

ENJOY! 🙂

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A Taste of the South…Up North

I adore Cajun food. The colors, the flavors, the spice. Yum! Of course, being a Midwestern girl through and through, I can’t actually claim to know much (or anything, for that matter) about authentic Cajun cuisine. The closest I’ve ever been to Cajun food is in restaurants around here (like Bourbon Street) and I’m sure real southerns would scoff at such a thing but…you make do with what ya got! In fact, I’ve never never been anywhere even CLOSE to Louisiana. That it is a world away for me! I always tell Eric I want to go to New Orleans just so I can eat. He doesn’t really think that’s a reason to visit a place (can you imagine?!) so I’ll just have to make do in my own kitchen for now. Maybe some day I’ll get the real thing!

The July issue of Cooking Light has just been a bounty of delicious ideas. It’s the gift that keeps on giving! This recipe caught my eye immediately! It turned out great! A light flavor, but very hearty. Loved the little bit of a kick (It could use more, if you ask me. I’ll probably break out my bottle of Tobasco next time.)

Fair warning, this is a rather labor intensive dish, what with all the veggie chopping and roux making and such. It’d be good for a Sunday dinner. Of course, everyday is Sunday for Ladies of Leisure such as myself. Heh…not sure that’s a good thing! Oh well!

SHRIMP ETOUFFEE (Recipe Source: Cooking Light – July 2008)

**Note** Due to my unfamiliarity with dishes like this, I didn’t really make any changes to the following recipe. I followed it exactly, except that I made far less rice and I only used about a half pound of shrimp. I ended up making sure I fished out all the shrimp so we could eat them, then I saved the sauce and veggie mixture to freeze and add more shrimp at a later date.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 ounces)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon salt-free Cajun seasoning (I couldn’t find salt-free, I used regular and omitted salt)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I omitted)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 30 shrimp)
  • 4 cups hot cooked long-grain rice

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a simmer. Cover and remove from heat.2. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Add flour to pan; cook 8 minutes or until very brown, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat. Add 1 cup broth mixture to pan; stir with a whisk until smooth. Add remaining 3 cups broth mixture, stirring with a whisk until smooth; set aside.

3. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter in a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 cups onion, celery, and bell peppers to pan; cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in 3/4 cup water, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add tomato paste, Cajun seasoning, garlic, salt, black pepper, and red pepper to onion mixture; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add reserved broth-flour mixture and Worcestershire sauce to pan, stirring well to combine; bring to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add green onions, 1/4 cup parsley, and shrimp; cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done. Discard bay leaf. Serve over rice. Sprinkle each serving with 2 teaspoons remaining parsley, if desired.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Looking Forward to Fall

Every year about this time, I start thinking of cool, crisp fall days filled with apples, pumpkins and falling leaves. Then I quickly come to my senses and realize that just behind fall is winter, which we all know I loathe! HA! Seriously though, I do love fall. September and October are my favorite months of year! I can’t help looking forward to it!

In honor of my love for all things fall, I decided to create a yummy autumn-inspired pizza for dinner for tonight. An interesting flavor combo I really love is that of sausage and apples. Seems weird, but it’s actually very good and flavorful. This pizza combines those flavors on a soft flat-bread crust. The flat-bread came out great! Very chewy and tender.

CARAMELIZED APPLE, ONION AND SAUSAGE FLAT-BREAD PIZZA (Dough recipe: Cooking Light, July 2008. Topping Recipe: Me)

FLAT-BREAD DOUGH

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Dash of sugar
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 6 tbs. warm water (100-110 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup warm water (100-110 degrees)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Cooking Spray

Directions:

  1. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife
  2. Dissolve sugar and yeast in 6 tbs. warm water in a large bowl; stir in 1/4 cup flour. Let stand 30 minutes or until bubbly. Add 1 3/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup warm water, and salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of the remaining flour, 1 tbs. at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85*), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Yield: 2 (11-inch) pizza crusts, 12 servings. (I divided my dough into 4 pieces to make individual sized pizzas, I have two dough balls left to use at a later time.)

PIZZA TOPPING AND PREP

**Note**: The recipe below is for two individual sized pizzas, feel free to adjust to feed more!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 link sweet Italian sausage, casing removed (I used turkey Italian sausage)
  • Half a medium onion, diced
  • Half a large Granny Smith apple, diced (skin on)
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • Splash of Apple Cider Vinager (about a tablespoon)
  • 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded mozzerella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Fontina cheese (I like Fontina because it reminds me of swiss but melts better, it’s one of my favorite cheeses!)
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh sage

Directions:

  1. Prehat oven to 425 degrees (I like a hot oven for pizza to add more crispiness to the dough, feel free to adjust temp to suit your tastes)
  2. Brown sausage in a skillet, remove from skillet and set aside
  3. Melt butter in same skillet, add onion, apple, vinager, brown sugar and cook until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes, scraping the brown bits up from the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Coat a pizza stone or baking sheet with olive oil and roll dough to desired thickness, sprinkle with cornmeal, and flip dough so the cornmeal side is on the bottom. Spread the apple onion mixture on the dough. Add the cheese, sausage and herbs.
  5. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until desired doneness. Let sit 5 minutes before cutting.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Cute Little Cupy-cakes! :)

***EDIT (7/22/08)*** Don’t try to use the Caramel Kisses! They don’t hold up very well. I hadn’t gotten one with a caramel kiss myself until LAST NIGHT! It just melted into a puddle at the bottom of the cupcakes. I served these to a bunch of people Saturday night, so I guess no one had the guts to tell me. Thanks a lot!!! The others worked great though! Still yummy! ENJOY! 🙂

Who doesn’t love all things mini?? Seriously, there is just something about cute little snacks that makes me so happy. They are DANGEROUS though…woo, look out! Somehow the entire concept of portion control goes right out the window when the treat is tiny. Check out this YouTube clip of comidien Jim Gaffigan (who is HYSTERICAL, btw, and talks a lot about food) where he comments on the messed up world of Mini-Muffins. SO funny!

Luckily, these little guys I concocted are pretty rich, so one or two will do ya. I stumbled across some leftover Hershey Kisses in my cabinet this week. Leftover from…CHRISTMAS! GASP! Ha! I also bought a mini muffin tin last weekend and I decided to break it in today by making a treat to enjoy while my friend from college is visiting. It’s a chocolate cupcake with a candy surprise inside! I made the cake and frosting using my absolute favorite chocolate cake recipe – “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake from Hershey’s. If you have not tried this cake, you should. It’s so EASY and it comes out perfect every time.

CANDY KISS CUPCAKE BITES (Recipe Source and adapted from: Hersheys.com)

**Note**: This made A LOT of mini-cupcakes, I recommend halving the recipe. Hope my friend is willing to take some home with her!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Assorted Hershey Kisses (preferably “filled” kisses. I had caramel, mint truffle, and hot cocoa cream. Hello, and welcome to Yumstown!)
  • “PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE” CHOCOLATE FROSTING(recipe follows)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line a mini-muffin tin with paper liners.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared muffin cups, about 2/3 of the way full. (I filled my first tin of cupcakes WAY to high, so they kind of spilled over the tops and spread a bit, so make sure not to fill them all the way to the top!)

3.  Insert a kiss into the center of each cupcake and bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center. (And now for my DUH moment of the day! Of course, the candy sank right to the bottom (DUH!) so the kiss is certainly not in the middle (see photo below) But I wonder if you invert the kiss by sitting it in so the tip is facing the bottom, if that may help the problem. Then again, it doesn’t really matter because they still taste DELISH!)

4. Cool completely and frost with “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting.

“PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE” CHOCOLATE FROSTING (Recipe Source: Hersheys.com)

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
  • 2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Stuffed with Strawberry Goodness

I came across this recipe for Strawberry-Lime Stuffed Cupcakes on the Food Network last week and it immediately went into my “must try” pile. Armed with a little extra time and a brand new jumbo muffin tin today, I decided to give this a whirl.

I was slightly concerned from the very beginning. After mixing up the batter, it seemed very thick. Not pourable like a regular cake batter but stiff….almost like a scone batter. Hmmm… Well, nothing left to do after that but press forward.

I became even more discouraged when they came out of the oven. Sure enough, I didn’t have pretty, smooth cakes…I had stiff, crunchy peaks. Hmmmm… Well, move forward I did!

When I got ready to stuff and frost, I decided to go ahead and even out my cakes by cutting off the tops. The cake was extremely dense. It was not looking good for the home team at this point.

I mixed up the lime frosting. It tasted really really sweet. Like really sweet. Too sweet. To top it off, I only ended up with enough to frost 4 of my 6 jumbo cupcakes. Uh-oh.

Well, when it was said and done, and I had spent an entire afternoon fiddling with these damn things, I was ready to chalk it up to another trial that ended up in error. HOWEVER, after the cakes were stuffed and the frosting set for a couple hours, the flavor actually turned out to be very good. The strawberry helped cut the sweetness of the frosting and the juice sort of moistened up the cake a bit. I’m not sure I would make these again, as they were a lot of work, but it they were certainly something new and different. I’d be interested to see if anyone else has better luck than I did. So, if you make these, please let me know!

STRAWBERRY-LIME STUFFED CUPCAKES (Recipe Source: Foodnetwork.com)

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

Icing:
1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 drop green food coloring (I omitted)
6 large ripe strawberries, hulled
Green sanding sugar
Fresh mint leaves or candied leaves (I omitted)

DIRECTIONS:

Equipment: 6-cup jumbo muffin tin

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.

In another medium bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until light and foamy, about 2 minutes. While beating, gradually pour in the butter and then the vanilla.

While mixing slowly, add half the dry ingredients, then add all the milk, and follow with the rest of the dry ingredients. Take care not to over mix the batter. Divide the batter evenly in the prepared tin.

Bake until a tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove. Cool on the rack completely.

For icing: Mix the confectioners’ sugar and lime zest in a medium bowl. Add the lime juice and mix with an electric mixer to make a firm but pourable icing. (If needed, add up to 1 teaspoon more juice, but take care if the icing is too loose it doesn’t set properly.) Add food color to make a pale pastel green icing.

To assemble: Remove cupcake from its liner. Cut and remove a strawberry (coned) shaped portion of cupcake from the top of each cupcake, leaving about 1/2 to 1-inch of cake in the bottom. (This was where I cut off my tops.) Stuff each cake with a strawberry and cover with a little bit of cake. Spoon and spread icing over the top of the cupcakes. Sprinkle with green sanding sugar. Top with small mint leaves or candied leaves.

ENJOY! 🙂

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