Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chicken Pesto

I am doing this diet with some friends this month, it's called Game On!  The main thing is watching portion size and avoiding sweets, sugars, and those type of things.  I was trying to find some recipes that I could make for my family for dinner that we all could enjoy.  My hubby doesn't like "healthy food" so it can be a bit of a challenge.  I have been craving something with pesto so I decided to see what I could throw together.  I  think it was a hit.  The hubby ate 2 plates of it (he even wanted to eat the leftovers the next day) and my daughter ate 2 servings as well.  I liked it because it wasn't heavy, yet it was filling.  Pair it with a salad and some rolls and you've got a great meal on your hands.

1 c. pesto (either make your own or use the packet)
1/2 onion diced
2 chicken breast halves
10 oz. pasta (whatever kind you would like)
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated (I used the Kraft  in the bottle)
1 c. fresh spinach, chopped
1 tbsp. oil
poultry seasonings (to taste)
garlic (to taste)

Prepare the pasta according to package directions.  Prepare pesto.  For a creamy pesto, use a bit of milk or cream instead of water.

In a skillet, add oil and chicken.  I added a dash of garlic and poultry seasonings, but those are optional. When the chicken is almost done, cut into cubes, or chunks and add onions and spinach.

Cook until onions are soft.  In a large bowl, combine pesto, pasta, and chicken.  Mix until well covered.  This could be served either warm or cold.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fauxstess Cupcakes

(I'm not a decorator and this was my attempt at doing the curly time I'll get the gel icing to do it)

2/3 cup cocoa
1 cup boiling water

Mix cocoa into water and let cool.

To cool mixture add:

1 tsp vanilla

¾ cup mayonnaise (you can use fat free if you want to)
Mix until smooth.

2 cups flour, or regular

1 cup sugar

1 ¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Combine dry ingredients in mixer. Beat in cocoa mixture for 1 minute. (This batter might be thin but not always.) Bake 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until cupcakes are set and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes then set on rack to finish cooling.

Filling recipe
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tsp pure vanilla extract
3tbs heavy cream (if needed, may also use milk)
1 cup marshmallow creme

Combine all ingredients together.  If it is too thick, add some cream, if it is too thin, add more powdered sugar.  You want it thin enough to be able to squeeze in the cupcakes, but not too thick, kind of like a soft frosting.

Once the cupcakes are cool, fill them with the filling. 

The way I did this was by using my hubby's marinade needle. 

 You can use a small decorator tip too. Just put it into the the top of the cupcake, insert it a bit inside, the squeeze the filling until it comes out the top a bit. Don't worry about this because the chocolate coating covers it. I squeezed it into a few spots in the cupcakes so I could make sure and have enough filling.
Once you have them filled, it's time for the chocolate topping.  this is super easy!
1 cup chocolate chips
2 tbsp. shortening
combine in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir.  Microwave again for 30 seconds and stiff well.  Then microwave in 10 second increments until all the chips are melted.  Stirring well between each.

Now spread the topping on the cupcakes.  It doesn't have to bee pretty, but if you want it smooth, feel free to smooth it out.  Let the chocolate set for a while and it will harden.

Feel free to decorate how you like.  I did both sprinkles and attempted to write and make pictures.  I would suggest that you use the left over frosting to make the pictures/words but add some more sugar to thicken it up (i was lazy and didn't but should have)  Make sure and add the sprinkles before the chocolate hardens.  I did some.  You can do these for any holiday.  I had some leftover Valentine, Halloween, and Christmas that I  threw on.  These would also be great for a themed event like a wedding, shower, party or whatever.  Easy to decorate how you want.  You can add some food coloring to the frosting too.

This is the center.  If you like lots of filling, make sure and squeeze it into several spots.

This is me enjoying a cupcake.....i may or may not have already eaten several at this point...(it was my free day on this diet game I'm doing with a friend so I made sure and took advantage of it)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Spiderweb and Eyeball Pizza

A family favorite in our house is homemade pizza.  I could seriously live off pizza, especially with all the different combinations out there: breakfast pizza, fruit pizza, tons of dinner type pizza, and we can't forget dessert pizza!  So for Halloween, I wanted to do a fun pizza for the kids.

Pizza Crust
1 c. warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 tbsp. sugar
2 1/4 tsp yeast

Combine and set aside for 5-10 minutes, until frothy.

2 1/2 c. flour (may need 1/2 c. more, depending on your dough)
1 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. oil
Italian seasonings (optional)
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese (optional)

Mix the dry ingredients.  Add in the water and yeast. Knead dough until it forms a round ball and is no longer sticky.  You may need to add in additional flour.  I sometimes need to add 1/2 c. extra, depending on the day.  Once it is kneaded into a smooth ball, place in a greased bowl and cover.  Let rise for 30 minutes.  If you are short on time, you can heat put the oven on the warm setting and let it rise in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Once the dough has finished, separate into 4 balls, if you are doing individual pizzas, or in half if you are doing regular pizzas.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Roll the dough out into circles. Don't do them too thick or the middle won't cook, for the small ones, about 8 inches is a good size.  Sprinkle a pizza stone or cookie sheet with cornmeal and place the dough on it. Using a fork, poke a few holes in the dough.  Bake for about 10 minutes.  If you are doing the regular size, about a 12 inch diameter is good, but don't roll it too thick or the middle won't cook.

Place on baking stone or cookies sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal.  Poke a few holes with a fork. Bake for about 13-15 minutes.

You favorite pizza sauce
your favorite toppings
about 4-5 string cheese sticks

Find a cute helper to string the cheese (you might need to pull out an extra stick just in case they decide to much on the cheese=)  )

Once your pizza crust is done, spread your sauce.  Spread your favorite toppings.

 Get the strips of cheese and put them on to form a circle on the outer edge.  then do another slightly smaller circle, and so on.  once that is done, get some cheese and have them go straight out from the center, kind of like spokes on a wheel. Next put your cute spider on top.  To do the spider, cut an olive in half.  This will be the body.  Then cut another olive in half and cut it in slices.  These will be the legs.  Put the body, cut side down on the pizza, then put the legs on.  Sorry I didn't get a picture of the spider, but you can see it on the pizza.
(it looks a little better if you use smaller strips, but since I didn't want to hurt my helper's feelings I used the ones she did =) )

Then cook your pizza until the cheese is melted, approximately 15-20 minutes.

For the eyeball pizza
Make your pizza like above but instead of strips for a web, spread the cheese to cover the entire pizza.  You can use shredded cheese for this one if you want.  Make sure it is completely covered.  In the center, place a pepperoni (or if you do a veggie one, use a bunch of tomatoes in a circle) and then put olives around the pepperoni.  Sprinkle a little bit of marinara sauce to make it look like the blood vessels in the eye.

(you will need a bit more olives, but having 3 people that love to munch on olives made our olives not go as far as I thought =)  and I was out of cheese so I couldn't do as much as I wanted so you will need more cheese then is pictured)

This is the cooked pizza

This is a great basic pizza recipe to use anytime of the year.  It's lots of fun to make individual pizzas and have the kids put the toppings on their own pizza.  My kids love it!  We just have to watch out because when I'm not looking, they are eating the toppings instead of putting them on the pizza (but when they're not looking, I do the same =)  )

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin Cinnamon Cookies

My friend JaNae (who is also one of the wonderful ladies on the other blog Talented Terrace Girls over at The Terrace Housewife made these butterscotch pumpkin cookies one day and I loved them!  I am usually don't like butterscotch but they were pretty good.  what really sold me was that they were only 74 calories each!  Loved that!  Then I was in Walmart the other day, browsing the baking isle, and they had all of their fall baking goodies out.  I spotted some cinnamon chips and my mind started churning out yummy ideas to use them, so I grabbed a bag (and then next day went back and grabbed 2 more and I may grab some more in a few days).  I immediately thought of how good these would be in those cookies.  So of course I am trying it out.  I am also doing a bit of changes to the recipe too =)

2 1/2 c. wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar.  Add in pumpkin, egg, pumpkin spice, and vanilla.  Mix well.  

Add in flour, soda, salt, and chips.  Drop by tablespoons onto a cookie sheet. 

 Bake for 12 minutes.  Let cool on a cooling rack.

I love the flavor of these!  They are nice and sweet, but not overpoweringly sweet.  Pumpkin pie in a cookie =)  I love the flavor that the wheat flour gives them.  It makes them a bit thicker, but still just as good.  If you're not a fan of wheat flour, use regular flour and they are still fantabulous.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

3-ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

Yes, that's right...only 3 ingredients!  These are sooooo easy to make that anyone could make them.  I think I may have my 6-year old make some next time she wants to help me cook.  A good thing about these is they'er gluten-free.  I have a few friends who have kids that can't have gluten so its hard to find goodies for them but they all love this one.

1 c. peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
chocolate chips-optional so they don't count as an ingredient =P

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine all the ingredents.   Form into balls.  Place on a cookie sheet and cook for 7-10 minutes.

Easy, huh?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

For lack of a better name.....Turd Cookies

The other day, when I was making my Brownie Bottom Pumpkin Cupcakes, I made a mistake in the brownie batter.  The batter was coming out way thicker than I remembered it for the Banana Bread ones.  Then I looked at where I wrote the recipe down and realized what I did.  I wrote down the wrong amount of flour and cocoa. Oops!!  But the batter tasted fine. =)  so I decided to plop some on a cookie sheet and see how they turned out.  I thought they tasted good.  They were like a dark chocolate cookie.  My hubby came home later and tried them and he really liked them and suggested we put some cashews in them and then call them turds (can you tell we have kids?).  I thought, why not?  Especially with Halloween around the corner gross looking/sounding things are acceptable.  Then my hubby told me I had to roll a few into that guy.  When I make them for Christmas treats I'll call them reindeer turds.  Can you tell I'm not the prissy type?  now when my daughter eats them I teaser her and say "Ew! Gross!  You're eating turds!"

Turd Cookies =)
1/4 c. butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. cocoa
1 1/4 c. flour
1/8 tsp. salt

4 tsp. milk
1/3 c. chocolate chips

Nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds, whatever you prefer)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine sugar and butter.  Add in vanilla and egg.  Stir in salt, nuts, chocolate chips, and cocoa and then add flour.  Plop onto a cookie sheet bu tablespoons.  They don't need to be rounded or look pretty.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Let cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before removing.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mummy Dogs

I like to make old favorites "new" again.  One way is to spice up the presentation.  One of our favorite things is pigs-in-a-blanket.  I wanted to spruce these up for Halloween.  I was looking at them one day and I thought to myself, "These look kinda like mummies....If I just add some eyes, then viola!"  So that's what I did and now we have Mummy Dogs. =)

Crescent rolls (about 2 cans if you buy them, I don't like the store bought crescent rolls so I make my own)
1 pkg hot dogs

If making your own dough:
Homemade Crescent rolls (cut this recipe in half)

4 1/2  tsp active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
 1/2 cup shortening
4 cups bread flour
 1/4 cup butter, softened

Dissolve yeast in warm water.
Stir in sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, and 2 cups of flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in remaining flour until smooth (if dough is too sticky, add some more flour). Scrape dough from side of bowl. Knead dough, then cover it and let rise in a warm place until double (about 1-1/2 hours). 

Roll out the dough to resemble something like a rectangle, doesn't have to be perfect.

Cut the dough into 16 strips.  You will use about 2 strips per hot dog.  

Begin rolling the strip, make sure to overlap and cover all of the hot dog.

To make the eyes, dab a little bit of black food coloring on it.

Bake them at 425 degrees for about 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. 

Serve and watch the kiddos have fun with their spooky treat.  Half the time my daughter will take the breading off, but once she say that they were mummies, she ate the mummy =)

You could also cut the hot dogs in half or use cocktail wieners and do mini-mummies.  For the grown-ups, polish sausages would be super yummy with it!  If you have any extras, they freeze great and heat up well in the microwave.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Potato and Ham Soup

Once the cold weather sets in, I love to make soups.  It is the ultimate comfort food, especially served with fresh bread or a bread bowl.  There's nothing like a warm bowl of soup on a cold day. =)

6-8 small to medium potatoes, diced
1/2 c. chopped onion
1-2 carrots, chopped
1/2 c. celery, chopped
1 c. chicken broth
1 tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp.salt
pinch pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
4 tbsp. flour
4 tbsp. butter
2 c. milk (you can use half and half or cream to make it creamier)
2 c. shredded cheese ( I used Monterrey Jack)
3/4 c. sour cream
1 c. diced ham

Cook the potatoes until just about soft enough to mash.  Strain.  Take half the potatoes and put in a stock pot.  The other half of the potatoes, mash or puree.

While the potatoes are cooking, saute onions, celery and carrots in 3 tbsp. of butter.  This takes about 15 minutes. Once the celery is no longer crunchy, add the other tbsp of butter and mix in flour to make a roux.  If it is runny, add more flour until it is thick.

To the potatoes in the stock pot, add chicken broth, milk, and seasonings.  Sir in pureed potatoes and veggie roux.  Mix thoroughly.  Mix in sour cream, ham, and shredded cheese.  Let it all cook and simmer until heated thoroughly and cheese is melted.  This should take about 30 minutes.

I like this soup because it is nice and creamy.  The pureed potato thickens it up, but doesn't take away any flavor like cornstarch and flour would.  I ran out of milk, but I really, really, really wanted some potato soup.  My son has to drink rice milk so I grabbed some of his milk and used it.  It tasted great! Plus, it made it a bit healthier......not that it really matters considering all the cheese and sour cream.

The kids loved and both of them had 2 bowls of it!  My daughter asked if there were going to be leftovers so she could have some more another day.  I guess this was a hit with the kids =)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Brownie Bottom Pumpkin Cupcakes

So a when I made the banana bread cupcakes with the brownie bottom, I thought to myself this is good, but what would be even better is pumpkin!  One of my favorite breads is pumpkin bread with chocolate chips in it. YUM!!!  Today I was in a baking mood, especially since my little guy decided to take a really long nap. =)  So I whipped these bad boys up and I loved them!  Now I am giving them away to friends and neighbors because if I don't, I will seriously eat them all.  If you like pumpkin chocolate chip cookies or chocolate chip pumpkin bread, you must make these!

Brownie Layer
1/4 c. butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. flour
2 tbsp. cocoa
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 c. chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients.  Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.  Spray with non-stick spray (it helps the cupcakes come out of the liners better).  Place about 1 tbsp into each liner, making sure the bottom is covered.  Pat it down to fill the bottom.  Next, add the cupcake mix.

Pumpkin Cupcakes
2 eggs
3/8 c. oil
1 c. sugar
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 c. flour
1/8 c. cornstarch
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp cinnamon + 1/2 tsp ginger + 1/4 tsp each of cloves and nutmeg)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine oil, sugar, pumpkin and eggs. Stir dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, then add to the pumpkin mixture and mix until well blended.  Spoon about 2 tbsp. into muffin tins.  Bake for about 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from muffin tin.  Let them cool completely before frosting.  Frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting or try mine.

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 tsp. vanilla
4 c. powdered sugar
4 tbsp. cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt

Mix until well combined and there are no cream cheese lumps.  You may use more or less sugar, depending on the thickness you want.  This isn't a frosting that will form cute little shapes, it's one that you spread on and then decorate with cute sprinkles. =)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pumpkin Pancakes

Fall is here!!!  Yay!!  I can now get my hoodies and jeans out and hide my cupcake top (not a muffin top because I haven't eaten many of those, but far too many fabulous cupcakes courtesy of my friend Teresa).  The ultimate food for fall is anything with pumpkin in it.  So I may be posting a few more pumpkin themed recipes in the next few weeks. =)

I went to Village Inn yesterday and I saw pumpkin pancakes on the menu and they sounded sooo good, but it was lunch and I wasn't in the mood for pancakes.  So I decided I would make them for breakfast in the morning since I knew I could actually make them as good or better than the ones they have there.  I think the kids wolfed theirs down before I got the second batch off the griddle.  I made extra so we can freeze them and have them tomorrow morning too =)  I think the only thing that may make these better is adding chocolate chips.....because chocolate makes everything better!

1 1/2 c. milk
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 tbsp. oil
2tbsp. vinegar
2 c. flour
5 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. allspice
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp. salt

In a bowl, combine milk and vinegar.  Set aside 5 minutes.  In a separate bowl combine pumpkin, egg, oil, sugar, all spice, cinnamon, and ginger.  Add in milk.  Sift flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and add to liquid mix.  Let the batter sit for about 5-10 minutes.  Then cook them as would any other pancake. =)  Serve with syrup and cream cheese topping or whipped cream.

Cream Cheese Topping
4 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. powdered sugar

Mix together until there are no more cream cheese lumps.  Serve over warm pancakes and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Brownie Bottom Banana Bread Cupcakes

I absolutely LOVE banana bread.  I will eat a whole loaf, by myself, in one sitting.  Not the little ones, but the big ones.  There is almost nothing better that warm banana bread with some butter on it.  Usually, when I make my banana bread, I add chocolate chips to it. good!!  Then one day, I came across this recipe from one of my favorite bloggers over at How Sweet It Is.  Of course I had to give it a whirl.

Brownie Layer
1/4 c. butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. flour
2 tbsp. cocoa
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 c. chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients.  Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.  Spray with non-stick spray (it helps the cupcakes come out of the liners better).  place about 1/2 tbsp into each liner.  Pat it down to fill the bottom.  Next, add the cupcake mix.

Cupcake Layer
1 1/3 c. flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 egg
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 bananas, mashed
1/4 c. sour cream
1/2 c. butter, melted

In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients until well mixed.  Then add the dry ingredients.  Mix until combined.  Add 1/4 c. of the batter to each cupcake.  Bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Brown Sugar Frosting (Glaze)
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
3/4 c. butter
8 oz. cream cheese
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients.  Place in the fridge to firm up a bit.  This frosting isn't one that holds it's shape, it came out more like a glaze for me, but then again, almost anytime I attempt frostings (with the exception of the frosting I use on my cinnamon rolls) they always turn out soft and more glaze-like.  I think it is because I don't add enough powdered sugar because I don't really like the taste of powdered sugar.  It makes them too sweet. expect this to be slightly soft, but I'm sure if you added more sugar or even used shortening in place of butter, it might hold it's shape better, but I'll let you play with that because I'm not a big frosting fan. =)

There are a few things I might change next time I make these.  I will make the brownie layer bigger (I love chocolate).  I might try a variation of the frosting, but not sure what I would do yet.  

Overall, I liked these =)    They are a nice change from the usual banana bread.  I think the recipe would be great as just plain banana cupcakes for those weird people (like my husband) who don't like chocolate and banana together, and I am planning a recipe to use the brownie base with something else.  Can't wait!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Broiled Tilapia Parmesean

Don't you get sick of chicken and beef all the time?  You can only have pork chops so much too.  I like to change things up once in awhile, but I am a cheapskate and don't want to fork out the money for the expensive cuts of meat.  Usually the only fish I like is salmon and I can't stand it when it has that "fishy" taste.  You know the taste I'm talking about.  Since some fish can be expensive too, it's hard to find a good quality one without the "taste."  Then I discovered tilapia.  This is fast becoming one of my favorites.  It is nice and tender, and doesn't taste fishy (can you tell how obsessed I am with my fish having a certain taste?).  One of the best things about this recipe is how fast and easy it is.  It is a nice and simple recipe.

½ c. parmesean
¼ c. butter
3 tbsp. mayo
2 tbsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp basil
1/ 4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp oinion powder
1/8 tsp celery salt (I use celery seed and it a dash of salt)
2 lbs tilapia

Mix parmesain, butter, mayo, lemon juice. Add basil, pepper, oinion powder, celery salt. Set aside.

Broil tilapia fillets 2-3 minutes, flip over and broil 2-3 more minutes. Remove from oven, cover with parmesean mix. Broil until browned and the fish flakes easily.

I usually broil mine in the middle, so it takes about 6 minutes on the first side, then once I flip it, I broil it for about 5 minutes, then add the mix and broil for about 5 more minutes.

I love how simple this is to make, plus, it is low calorie.  It's a nice welcome change from the usual suspects for dinner.  Even if you're not a huge fan of fish, give it a whirl.  Tilapia is a nice, tender fish.  You will love it!