Thursday, October 22, 2009

Halloween Treats - Cinna-Bun Carmel Corn

I found this awesome recipe for cinnamon candy popcorn - ya know that stuff the Harry & David's makes called Moose Munch that tastes wickedly good but they charge ya like $8 for a quarter-cup.

Well, while cruising my favorite recipe photo site (admit it, you eat with your eyes first, if there isn't a great picture with the recipe you won't try it) Taste Spotting, I saw a recipe for the popcorn. The "Our Best Bites" site calls it "Cinnamon Carmel Corn with Pecans and White Chocolate" -- I call it freakin' delicious.

So rather than post the recipe, I'm going to send you on over to Our Best Bites and just show you the pictures of the finished popcorn that I made today. I won't tell you the bowl is not empty, cuz it's not...I swear! ;)

I did add a small Halloween flair -- just before I drizzled the white chocolate on the cooled popcorn I tossed in Halloween m&m's and I also drizzled semi-sweet chocolate along with the white chocolate. Strictly for aesthetic reasons! ;)

You've got to make yourself some this year. I'm planning on serving up several other Halloween dishes in the next week, so I'll be sure to take pictures and post them.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Magical Lemon-Blueberry Bundt Cake

I have been remiss. I realized this morning that I have failed to share one of my absolute favorite recipes with you. I have people at work clamoring for this on a weekly basis. It is a truly divine concoction and, I hate to break it to you....but it's low-fat. Eeekkk! Doesn't that equate to "NO TASTE"? Not in this delicious Lemon-Blueberry Bundt Cake from Cooking Light. Here you go...

Lemon-Blueberry Bundt Cake

Cooking Light Magazine

Cooking spray
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
3 C. all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 ¾ c. granulated sugar
¼ C. butter, softened
1 Tbsp. grated lemon rind (zest)
4 large eggs
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 16-oz container fat-free sour cream
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 C. powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To prepare cake, coat a 12-cup bundt pan with cooking spray; dust with 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar. Set aside.
  3. Lightly spook flour into dry measure cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
  4. Place 1 ¾ C. granulated sugar, butter, and lemon zest in a large bowl, beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition (about 4 minutes total). Beat in vanilla and sour cream. Add flour mixture; beat at medium speed just until combined. Gently fold in blueberries.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes on a wire rack, remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.
  6. To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and lemon juice, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle over cooled cake. Yield’s 16 servings.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bright Raspberry Crumb Topped Muffins

I got 2 1/2 pints of fresh raspberries in my bountiful basket last week. I've been trying to come up with something to do with them before they went bad. Finally, I came across a raspberry muffin recipe that had some great potential. I did a bit of tweaking and they turned out pretty darn fabulous. They muffins are not overly sweet and the brightness of the berries perfectly highlighted, so very fresh tasting.

Bright Raspberry Crumb Topped Muffins

1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. white sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. yogurt (I used a single serving of peach no-fat yogurt and it was perfect. I might try lemon next time.)
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. fresh raspberries

Crumb Topping
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. quick-oats
3 TBS brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
3 TBS cold butter

1. In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg.
2. In small bowl mix yogurt, milk, and vanilla.
3. Combine dry ingredients (except for Crumb Toppings).
4. Combine dry ingredients; stir into creamed mixture alternatively with wet mixture just until moistened. Gently fold in raspberries.
5. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.
6. Combine crumb topping ingredients, cut in butter till mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle crumb topping over muffins.
7. Bake muffins at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until muffins test done.
8. Remove from pan and cool on rack.


Fresh Salsa

My very favorite salsa has been and will always be my Aunt Jan's homemade salsa. It's summer time and I got a huge box of tomatoes a few weeks ago and summer tomatoes equal salsa in my book. Here's the fabulous recipe. Keep in mind that you can kick-up the heat as much as you want...the heat valve is the jalapeno.

Fresh Salsa
4-5 Roma tomatoes, diced
1-14.5oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 of a jalapeno pepper (seeded and deveined)
1 whole onion, diced
cilantro, as desired and chopped
juice of 1 lime
2 cloves of fresh garlic
salt & pepper to taste

Add onions, garlic, and jalapeno to a food processor and chop finely. Add Roma tomatoes, can crushed tomatoes, pulse a few times to combine. Pour into a bowl. Squeeze in lime juice and toss in chopped cilantro. Mix and add salt and pepper to taste.

Makes about 40oz.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dutch Oven - Breakfast Pizza & Carmel Pecan French Toast

I'm back! The past few months have been a little busy and it's been a struggle to find time to actually cook anything, take pictures of it, and then post about it. It's been all I can do just to find something to heat up from the freezer.
Anyways, I've got a few things stored up and will finally be posting them. First, I went camping this weekend and did some dutch oven cooking with my family. My mom and dad have always loved to dutch oven cook and so they've taught us all to appreciate a good meal cooked in cast iron over hot coals.
My contribution to the family dutch oven breakfast was "Breakfast Pizza". Here's the recipe:

Dutch Oven Breakfast Pizza

1 can crescent rolls
1 lb sausage; browned & drained
1 c. thawed frozen hash brons
1 green onion; sliced
3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese
4 eggs; beaten
3 TBS milk
1 TBS flour/bisquick
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
3 TBS. parmesan cheese

Unroll the crescent rolls. Line the bottom of a 12" dutch oven with a layer of flattened crescent rolls. Sprinkle evenly with sausage, hash browns, green onion, and cheddar cheese. In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, milk, flour/bisquick, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture evenly over top of pizza. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Cover and bake using 8 briquettes on the bottom and 12 briquettes on the top for 20-30 minutes, until eggs are set.

  • I found that I actually used 1 1/2 cans crescent rolls in order to thoroughly cover the bottom of the dutch oven.
  • You really need to use name brand -- Pillsbury -- crescent rolls. I tried the recipe the first time with cheap generic crescent rolls and it totally bombed (just ask my dad).
  • I made two dutch ovens of pizza. The first was plain, just the recipe above. The second was a "mexican" style pizza. I added a can of green chilis and browned the sausage with taco seasoning. You could definitely add churizo and some red and yellow peppers and it would be great topped with cilantro or fresh salsa.
My brother and his adorable wife, Ellie, made Caramel Pecan French Toast. It was DELICIOUS. And here is their fabulous recipe:

Dutch Oven - Carmel Pecan French Toast

12" dutch oven-6 servings

3/4 cups butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
8 large eggs
1-1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 loaf French bread, cut in 1" slices

Place slices of bread in large casserole bowl. Mix eggs, vanilla, milk, and cinnamon, beating well. Pour egg mixture over bread and allow it to soak in. Melt butter in dutch oven, stir in brown sugar and cook long enough for sugar to dissolve.

Add pecans covering bottom evenly. Place bread slices in dutch oven, pouring remaining egg mixture over bread.

8 coals on bottom/ 12 top coals. Cover and bake medium to medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes, adding top coals after 15 minutes. Bake until toast is firm and brown.

This is so good, no syrup is needed... enjoy.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Quiche - 5 Ways

So for Mother's Day I made dinner for the whole family. I decided, for my mother, I would make QUICHE and because of my brothers I made 5 of them. Don't ask...
I used the every fabulous Jamie Oliver Pie Crust recipe, made the dough Saturday night, and then just rolled it out on Sunday.

The general quiche filling recipe is as follows:
4 eggs (I used 2 eggs and 2 servings egg substitute)
2 C. milk (I use skim milk and it always turns out just fine. This time I used about 1 1/2 C. skim milk and 1/2 C. cream).
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar

mix together; pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake @ 425 degrees for 15 min. and then reduce oven to 300 degrees and back for another 30-40 minutes.

Some things I've learned (the hard way) about making quiche.
  • Always put your empty pie shells, with whatever extras you want, on the baking rack first, THEN pour in the egg mixture. Slide the baking rack back into the oven and then bake.
  • You will want to cook your vegetable al dente before adding them (unless you like crunchy vegetables in your quiches) and saute all your onions and peppers.
  • There is such thing as "too much stuff", don't go over board on the fillings, you want room for the eggs.
  • Don't fill the egg mixture all the way up to the top of the crust, eggs get poofy when they are baked and will spill over the top.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY, put your pie pan on a baking sheet before you put it on the baking rack in your oven. This way overfill with be caught by the baking sheet and not burn to the bottom of your oven.
Here are the pictures.Broccoli (it was actually CauliBroccoli) and bacon.It took me forever to bake all the quiches cuz I could only bake them 2 at a time cuz my oven is so small. Agghh! I dream of a larger kitchen someday, with tons and tons of counter space, a double oven AND warming oven, a side by side refrigerator and a seperate stand alone freezer, a stove with a pasta spout and 6 burners -- sigh!!

Anyways, back to reality...
Here's what I mean by putting them on the oven rack before I add the egg mixture.
You can see just how level my oven rack is (NOT).
Here's the finished product.

Ham, Bacon (isn't that redundant) and Swiss.
Green chili and cheddar cheese. This was the favorite.
Here they are all lined up, waiting to be served at mom and dad's. I made little name plates to tell everyone what was in each. I ended up making -- chili & cheddar cheese, ham & swiss, bacon & cheddar cheese, broccoli & bacon, bacon & ham & swiss.They tasted even better than they looked.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Apple Cinnamon Swirl Bread

One of my friends at work requested my Apple Cinnamon Swirl Bread recipe, so I'm throwing it up here. I got the original recipe from a recipe posted by Sharon Walker on and then I added my own personal twist.

Apple Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Makes 1 Loaf

1/4 C. butter, softened
1 C. granulated sugar
1 egg
2 C. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. buttermilk (I don't have this very often, instead I use 1 C. skim milk with 1 TBS. lemon juice or vinegar)
1 C. diced apples (if you cut them too small they all but disappear, too big and they becoming an eating obstacle)

1 TBS ground cinamon
1/3 C. granulated sugar

1. In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, sugar and egg until well blended. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the egg mixture alternately with buttermilk. Mix in the diced apples. In a small separate bowl combine cinnamon and sugar, set aside.

2. Pour half of the batter into the a well greased loaf pan. Sprinkle a very generous layer of cinnamon sugar over the batter. Pour the remaining batter in, sprinkle a small amount of cinnamon sugar over the very top.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Best Darn Pie Crust In The Whole World

I saw Jamie Oliver make this quick pie crust during one of his fabulous tv episodes (Jamie at Home). If you want to watch any of his episodes, come on over, I've got most of his shows on DVR. It looked pretty simple so I decided to give it a try. And it had me at "hello". I've never liked anything other than graham cracker crusts on my dessert, but this stuff is so amazing that I could probably eat it baked in a pie shell with a little whipped cream. :)
The great things about this crust is that it can be both savory and sweet, it really is easy to make, and it tastes better than any crust I've ever had.

Here you go, try it for yourself.

Pie Crust
(based on Jamie Oliver's recipe)
  • 2C flour
  • 1/2C powdered sugar
  • 1C butter, cut into small cubes
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 large free-range or organic eggs, beaten
  • a splash of milk
  • flour, for dusting
• Sieve the flour from a height on to a clean work surface and sieve the icing sugar over the top. I was making this pie crust for a chicken pot pie so I omitted the powdered sugar because I wanted a savory pie crust, and I did add about an extra 1/4 C. of flour instead.
• Using your hands, work the cubes of butter into the flour and sugar by rubbing your thumbs against your fingers until you end up with a fine, crumbly mixture.

• This is the point where you can spike the mixture with interesting flavors, so mix in your lemon zest. Again, because it was a savory pie crust I decided to spike it with rosemary and garlic powder. I added about 1/2 tsp of garlic powder and 1 tsp of rosemary. I crushed the rosemary first so I wouldn't get chunks of "woody leaves" in my bite of pie.

Here's a shot of the "spike" from a pie crust I made for pocket apple pies. I spiked it with the lemon zest and a little powdered ginger. This crust also has the powdered sugar in it.• Add the eggs and milk to the mixture and gently work it together till you have a ball of dough. Flour it lightly. Don’t work the pastry too much at this stage or it will become elastic and chewy, not crumbly and short.• Flour your work surface and place the dough on top. Pat it into a flat round, flour it lightly, wrap it in clingfilm (saranwrap) and put it into the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.

So here is the prep for the chicken pot pies I made. You can see the lovely flecks of herbs in the pie crust when I roll it out.
I had enough leftover stuffing (chicken and veges) and pie crust that I made an extra dish. And I assure you that it tasted as good as it looked.
Here's the sweet crust. I used it for mini apple pies.It really doesn't get much better than this perfect pie crust...hmmm the homemade pasta I made on Sunday was pretty darn good, but I'll save that for another post.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

You've got to try these -- Beautiful Breakfast Muffins

I need to make something that would use up some apples and muffins. I didn't have any syrup for pancakes, so it had to be muffins. I added a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and next thing you know I had warm and yummy apple, cinnamon, and banana goodness. And boy did I hit a home run with these!! These delicious bites of breakfast joy have made my top 10 list, so you've got to try them.

Beautiful Breakfast Muffins
3/4 c. white sugar
1/3 C. packed brown sugar
1/4 C. melted butter
2 TBS fat-free sour cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 bananas mashed
1 apple diced

1 1/2C. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

cinnamon sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin papers. (I used my mini-loaf pans.)
2. Beat together all wet ingredients (except for apple). Mix together all dry ingredients.
3. Combine dry mixture with wet mixture. Stir until moist (don't over mix). Fold in apple pieces.
4. Fill each of the muffin cups 1/2 full. Then sprinkle a generous layer of cinnamon sugar in each muffin cup. Then fill each of the muffin cups with the remaining dough. Top each of the muffins with a quick sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.
5. Bake for 18-20 in 375 degree oven, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sweet and Sour Beef -- it's a simple staple

Fry's had their lean hamburger on sale for $1.77 a lb, so of course I had to take advantage of the sale. And one of my favorite things to make with hamburger is the quick and simple dish of Sweet and Sour Beef. Most people have all the ingredients in their cabinet. Here's the recipe:

Sweet & Sour Beef
1 lb. ground beef
1 chopped medium onion
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 TBS. cornstarch
1/4 c. cider vinegar
3 TBS. soy sauce
1 can of pineapple tidbits - drained, and juice reserved
cooked rice

Brown and sautee beef and onions.
Combine sugar, cornstarch, cider vinegar, soy sauce. Add enough water to the reserved juice to make one cup and add the combination to the sugar mixture.

Pour over beef.
Heat to boiling, reduce heat. Stir in pineapple and heat thru.Cook stirring occasionally til thickened.

Serve over rice.(This is one of my favorite kitchen rice cooker. Actually, I inherited it from my mother. She bought this when we were living in Hawaii, over 30 years ago, and it is still THE VERY BEST RICE COOKER around. She bought herself a new one and gave me this one, and I think she may be thinking twice about her decision, too bad!).

Deliciously simple.