Sunday, July 29, 2007

dessert revealed

Whoops a day late, sorry! Here's the dessert I ended up making this weekend, it was perfect on our picnic last night. Thanks to Deborah for the cake recipe.

Blueberry Almond Cake w/Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 cup blueberries (more for topping if you prefer, I just bought a pint and used the rest on top)

Cream cheese frosting (see recipe below or you can use the canned stuff)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8x8 baking pan.

2. In a large bowl combine butter and granulated sugar, beat until smooth. Beat in egg, sour cream, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix until combined. Fold in almonds and 1 cup blueberries then pour into baking pan - spread evenly.

3. Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted in middle of cake comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting with cream cheese frosting and cutting into squares.

Cream Cheese Frosting from


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Beat softened butter and cream cheese until well blended.
  2. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until creamy.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Can't help it I'm addicted to orzo

Love that stuff! It's pasta shaped like cute and so versatile! I decided to liven up our oh so gourmet dinner of hot dogs and baked beans with an orzo salad. This recipe of Joelen's was my inspiration and I got my recipe for the dressing from Very tasty result! We will probably take the leftovers with us on a picnic this weekend when we go to watch an outdoor performance of Footloose. I can't wait. Tune in tomorrow to see the dessert I'm whipping up for this picnic. I'll leave you in suspense til then ;)

Orzo Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette.


1 1/2 cups orzo cooked (that's 1 1/2 cups before cooking)
chopped black olives (as much or as little as you like)
chopped celery (as much or as little as you like)
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 bag of baby spinach
feta cheese (I used the tomato and basil kind)

You could also add tomato if you like them, I do not. Poor Tyler.

Cook orzo according to directions on the box. Let cool, then toss with black olives, celery, pepper, spinach, feta, and balsamic vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
  1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, mustard, salt and pepper in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well before serving. Store in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A little bit of Giada

I decided to try a couple of recipes out of one of my new cookbooks, Giada's Family Dinners
They did not disappoint! In fact it's one of the better meals we've had in a long time, then again I have been living on frozen pizza for what feels like weeks now, so I'm starved for real food :)

Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops
2 large eggs
1 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
4 (1/2 to 3/4-inch thick) center-cut pork loin chops (each about 10 to 12 ounces) (I actually used 5 pork chops and didn't increase anything else, there was plenty of coating for them all)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil
Lemon wedges, for serving
Whisk the eggs in a pie plate to blend. Place the bread crumbs in another pie plate. Place the cheese in a third pie plate. Sprinkle the pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Coat the chops completely with the cheese, patting to adhere. Dip the chops into the eggs, then coat completely with the bread crumbs, patting to adhere.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a very large skillet (or 2 medium/large skillets) over medium heat. Add pork chops, in batches if necessary, and cook until golden brown and the center reaches 150 degrees, about 6 minutes per side. (After 5 minutes on each side the pork chops were getting browned on the outside but still pink in the middle, so I transferred them to a baking sheet and stuck them in the oven for 10-12 minutes, they still came out juicy, flavorful, and actually cooked all the way though!) Transfer the chops to plates and serve with lemon wedges.

Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs
1 tablespoon butter (I used cooking spray instead)
4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used 5 big potatoes, not sure how many lbs it was)
1 cup whole milk (I subbed with skim milk!)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted (I think I only used half a stick, figure it won't kill us as soon)
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (used one of those bags of Kraft Italian cheese blend)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (see above, Italian cheese blend again)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs (used Progresso Italian bread crumbs)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter (or cooking spray!) and set aside.

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until they are very tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; return the potatoes to the same pot and mash well. (Note, I transferred it all to my Kitchenaid Mixer instead of doing it by hand) Mix in the milk and melted butter. Mix in the mozzarella and 3/4 cup of the Parmesan. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking dish. Stir the bread crumbs and remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the mashed potatoes. Recipe can be prepared up to this point 6 hours ahead of time; cover and chill.

Bake, uncovered, until the topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Tyler's new favorite cookie...

I made these cookies a week or so ago and although they tasted alright, they looked terrible. I hadn't yet figured out the temperature issues with my oven so I think the problem was that the temp was too high. I have since learned how to work with my unruly oven and the second batch I made yesterday turned out much tastier (and prettier!) Thanks to Amber for sharing this recipe, originally from Cooking Light.

Sweet and Salty Peanut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1/3 cup coarsely chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place nuts in a small baking pan. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes or until lightly toasted; cool.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda, stirring well with a whisk.

Place sugars and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). Add vanilla and egg; beat until combined. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed until well blended. Stir in peanuts, chocolate chips, and salt.

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on pans 5 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

I doubled the original recipe and got about 3 dozen cookies.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Millions of peaches...

It's peach season, and I got some huge ones at the store the other day and let them ripen over the course of a few days. I originally intended to make a cobbler but changed my mind at the last minute and made a pie instead. I also intended to make my own crust...but the day was going so well and I get cranky when I make pie crust, so I went with the store bought kind instead. It's just so....easy. The pie was a hit with my family, and Tyler and I just polished off the last two pieces a few minutes ago.

Simple Peach Pie

pie crust for a double crust 9 inch pie
5 cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced (5 large peaches were enough, but you may need more if you have smaller peaches)
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir together flour, 1 cup sugar, and cinnamon, set aside. Wash, peel, and slice peaches. Mix peaches together with dry ingredients. Pour into pie crust (I did not prebake the bottom crust, it turned out fine). Dot with butter. Cover with top crust, cut slits in the top, seal the edges. Sprinkle top with 2 tablespoons sugar. Cover the edges with foil or a crust guard to prevent crust from burning. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through the slits in the crust. You can remove the foil/crust guard for the last few minutes if you want to brown the outer crust a bit. Serve with vanilla ice cream!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Baking the day away

If you like cookies with fruit in them and like more "cake-like" cookies I think you will like these! I actually am not a big fan of cakey cookies but these taste so yummy I don't even mind the consistency. I altered the original recipe so they would not be too sweet. Since I used Craisins that are already sweetened I used less white sugar in the actual dough. I rolled them in sugar for a bit of extra sweetness to balance out the orange flavor. I think they turned out just right, not too orangey, not too sweet. My altered recipe is posted below.

Orange Cranberry Cakey Cookies (adapted from an allrecipes recipe)


  • 1/2 cup white sugar for dough plus another 1/2 cup set aside for topping
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 egg
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups dried cranberries for dough plus another 1/2 cup set aside for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the white sugar, brown sugar, and butter. Stir in the egg, orange juice, orange extract, and orange zest. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; mix into the orange mixture. Stir in the dried cranberries. Use a medium cookie scoop to scoop and shape each cookie, then roll it in white sugar and stick 3-4 dried cranberries on the top, place 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until edges are starting to brown. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Two new recipes

I'm really pushing myself to try new recipes. Not necessarily "out there" recipes of things I never thought I'd try, but some new stuff. Tonight I made orzo for the first time and I broiled something for the first time. Also made my own dressing for the first time...I think. I don't remember ever making salad dressing before so I'm pretty sure this was a first. It got the blender dirty, I hate cleaning that thing, good thing Tyler has to do the dishes tonight ;)

Teriyaki Chicken Thighs (adapted from Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger)

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons dry sherry (did not have, so left out)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed with a garlic press or minced
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pounds skinless chicken thighs (I used boneless, skinless thighs)
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
Combine the soy sauce, sugar, sherry, vinegar, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and stir until the sugar dissolves. Transfer to a resealable plastic bag and add the chicken. Seal the bag and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator, turning once, for 1 hour. The chicken can be marinated for up to 4 hours. I only marinated for an hour, wish I had done it for longer though.

Heat the broiler to high. Arrange the chicken on a broiler pan skin side down and broil until brown and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. Flip the chicken and broil until almost cooked through, about 8 minutes longer. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cook until the seeds turn golden brown and the chicken is done, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Orzo Salad (adapted from Everyday Italian with Giada de Laurentis)

4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups orzo
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups red and yellow teardrop tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved (I used grape tomatoes)
3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (did not have so I omitted this ingredient)
About 3/4 cup Red Wine Vinaigrette, recipe follows
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pour the broth into a heavy large saucepan. Cover the pan and bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Stir in the orzo. Cover partially and cook until the orzo is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes. Drain the orzo through a strainer. Transfer the orzo to a large wide bowl and toss until the orzo cools slightly. Set aside to cool completely.

Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Mix the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running, gradually blend in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with more salt and pepper, if desired.

Toss the orzo with the beans, tomatoes, onion, basil, mint, and enough vinaigrette to coat, be careful not to use too much like I did (I dumped it all in instead of measuring out 3/4 of a cup)! I found that the recipe made more dressing than needed. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper, and serve at room temperature.

I'll definitely make both of these recipes again, I'll just make sure to marinate the chicken for a few hours and go easy on the dressing for the orzo salad! Overall trying new recipes and new cooking techniques paid off!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Breakfast Anytime

Well now that we are settled into our new place and I am officially unemployed it is time to try out some new recipes in between job applications! I had definitely gotten into a rut and now that I've been unable to cook/bake for the last month due to our vacation and the move and I am just itching to get in the kitchen.

Cheddar, Bacon, and Green Onion Scones

I saw these scones on Confections of a Foodie Bride's blog awhile back and bookmarked them (click the link to the see the recipe, adapted from the book The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather ). What a fantastic recipe! Only change I made was to use turkey bacon, it was still very flavorful. Tyler made banana pancakes to go along with the scones. Probably a mistake since the scones are SO filling. Pancakes were a bit much on top of that! Whoops! Too bad we don't know our new neighbors, otherwise I'd have them over to share all this food with us! I'm sure I will enjoy the leftovers tomorrow morning.

Banana Pancakes (made by Tyler, first thing of his we've posted in ages!)

Mash 2 ripe bananas and mix in with pancake batter. Cook pancakes as usual. Enjoy!

Expect more posts from me this week, I will stay busy in the kitchen!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

A no bake summer delight

I actually made this a couple of weeks ago right before we moved, all of our kitchen stuff is in a moving truck somewhere in Pennsylvania right now but will supposedly make it to Kansas by Wednesday. It better, because I am really getting the itch to cook and bake and prepare my own meals again! I feel like I haven't cooked in about a month and I think that's pretty accurate. I made this recipe when I noticed there were some really good looking raspberries on sale. I love the combination of raspberries and lemon so I went to the jello website and found this one. Hopefully by the end of this week I will be back in the kitchen!

Raspberry-Lemon Pie

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 pkg. (4-serving size) JELL-O Lemon Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
1 cup cold milk
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, divided
1/4 cup raspberry preserves
1 HONEY MAID Graham Pie Crust (6 oz.)
1 cup raspberries

BEAT cream cheese, dry pudding mix, milk and lemon peel in large bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Gently stir in 1 cup of the whipped topping.
SPOON preserves onto bottom of crust; cover with the pudding mixture. Top with the remaining 1 cup whipped topping and raspberries.
REFRIGERATE 4 hours or until firm. Store leftover pie in refrigerator.