Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Swirl Cake

One of my friends found this recipe and wanted me to make it for her.  so being the wonderfully nice friend that I am, I did =) Boy, oh boy am I glad I did.  It reminded me of pumpkin pie, but with a totally different texture.  It wasn't a pumpkin cake because it was  way more moist than the usual cake.  T
Pumpkin Cake
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cloves
4 eggs
1 (15 oz.) can of pumpkin
1 cup vegetable oil

Cream Cheese Swirl:
4 oz. cream cheese (you can use fat-free, but with all the oil and eggs in the cake, you might as well go all the way)
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

 Mix all the dry ingredients together. 

Add in pumpkin and oil.  Mix in eggs, 1 at a time.  Mix until everything is well blended.

  Grease and flour a 9x13 cake pan.  Pour batter into the pan.  It will be slightly thick.

In a separate bowl, blend cream cheese, sugar, egg, vanilla and spice together.  Drizzle over the cake mixture.  Marble mixture together with a knife.   

Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top.   
(I didn't use the full 1/2 cup of chocolate chips)

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

Cool then cut into bars.

 I think I may have found a new fall favorite cake =) I can't wait to make this again and put it to the true test- my husband's coworkers =)  You definitely need to make this cake....like tonight!!  I promise, you won't be sorry (unless you're one of those weird people who don't like pumpkin pie.....then maybe make it anyway, have a taste, and let everyone else enjoy =)  )

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Olive Garden Chicken Gnocci Soup and Breadsticks

One of my most favorite places to eat is Olive Garden.  Usually I get the Fettuccine Alfredo, and of course the salad and bread sticks.  One day, I deviated from my norm.  I decided to do the soup.  I tried the Chicken gnocchi soup and was instantly in love!!  I think I had at least 3 bowls of it, not to mention one of the big bowls of salad and an order of bread sticks.....I was a bit hungry =)  I decided that this was a soup I need to learn to make so I could have it anytime I wanted.

1 cup chicken breasts, cooked and diced
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream

14 oz chicken broth (I did 14 oz. water and 2 bouillon cubes, but you can use canned if you'd like)
1/2 cup celery, finely diced (about 1 large celery stalk)
2 minced garlic cloves
1 cup carrots, finely shredded (about 2-3 medium carrots)
1 cup onion, finely diced (about1 medium onion)
1 cup fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoons extra virgin oil
1 tsp. Italian seasonings
Freshly grated Parmesan cheeses, optional
1 pound potato gnocchi (I had to go to several stores and get it but found it at Macey's in the pasta isle)

Get out a 6qt. pot.

Dice you celery, really fine or else it won't get soft.

Shred your carrots.

Finely dice your onions as well.

Add all the veggies to you pot.  Add butter, oil, and garlic.  Saute until onions and celery are soft.  

Add the flour to make a roux.  Let it cook for about 1 minute, while you stir so it doesn't burn.

Add the broth and spinach. 

 Mix well and let it simmer.  

While it is simmering, get out your gnocchi and cook it according to package directions.  It is usually boil for about 2-3 minutes or until they begin to float.  

Drain the gnocchi and add it to the soup, along with the chicken, milk and cream. 

 Let it simmer for about 15 minutes to get the flavors well blended.  sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.  You don't have to, but I highly recommend it.

The original recipe called for half and half instead of cream and milk, but I didn't have any so i substituted. I think my soup would have been a bit creamier if I had used half cream and half milk, but it still turned out good.  Also, I think next time I make it I am going to try and make my own gnocchi.  I didn't this time because I was being lazy (except I ended up having to go to 3 different stores so I might as well have just made it) and I didn't have enough potatoes.

Bread Sticks

4 c. flour
1 1/3 c. warm water
4 tsp. butter, melted
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 tsp yeast

2tsp butter, melted
garlic powder

Combine yeast, water and sugar.  Set aside for 5 minutes.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, butter, and salt.  Add in the yeast mixture.  Knead on a floured surface.  Divide the dough into 12 pieces.  Roll out into snake-like logs.  cover and let rise for 45 minutes. 

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

 Brush the bread sticks with butter and bake for 15 minutes, or until they begin to brown.  Remove from oven, and brush with butter once more.  Sprinkle garlic powder, to taste, over top of the bread sticks. 

 Enjoy!  These taste great dipped in the soup!

I was very happy with how this turned out.  Usually when I make soups, the first time I make it it is just okay so I have to make it a few times before I am happy with it.  I think I got this the first time, even though I almost ruined it.  I went to put in the italian seasonings, and I have  ashaker that is similar that has cinnamon and sugar in it that I started to shake in it....luckily most of it got on teh spatula.  I almost freaked but then I saw I didn't get any it an dI calmed myself down.  I guess that should teach me to look closer and label my shakers better, huh?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Peach Pie

About 3 years ago I attempted my first apple pie.  It wasn't too bad.  It didn't look pretty, but it tasted goo.  I don't think I'll ever have a job at Marie Calender's making the pie tops look nice and pretty.  This time I wanted to try some peach, since I had a ton to use.  I also wanted to attempt doing the lattice top.  It wasn't as hard as I thought it was.  It's pretty much just like weaving dough.
2 1/6 c. flour
1/8 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3/8 c. shortening
2/3 c. butter, cubed
1/2 c. ice water (you won't use it all)

Peach Filling
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 c. butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
8 large-10 medium peaches, depending on the size

Mix flour, salt, sugar, shortening, and butter.  Mix until dry and flaky.  Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough begins to come together.  It should remain slightly flaky.  Roll dough out into 2 circles, one sligthly bigger than a 9 inch pie pan so that it covers the the sides and hangs slightly over.  With the remaining dough, cut into long strips to use for a lattice top.  Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Boil the peaches for 1-2 minutes.  Immediately place in an ice bath (large bowl filled with water and ice cubes).  Once cool enough to handle, peel the peels.  This helps make the peels come off more easily.  Cut the peaches into small pieces.  Line the shell with sliced peaches.  Mix flour, cornstarch, sugars, and butter.

 Sprinkle some on top of peaches.  Add another layer of peaches, and sprinkle more of the flour mixture on top.  Top with lattice strips of dough or keep it whole if you don't want to attempt the lattice, just make sure and poke holes the top to let the steam escape.  Sprinkle the top with some cinnamon.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.  Once finished, turn oven off and let teh pie set up and cool in the oven.  This prevents it from being runny.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Peanut Butter Stuffed Chocolate Cupcakes

A while ago, while blog stalking, I came across this recipe and have been wanting to try it.  The dessert genius at How Sweet It Is is the one responsible for it, I just made a few changes.   The main reason I wanted to make this is because the past few treats I've made have been ones that I like, but my hubby doesn't necessarily share the same enthusiasm for.  So I decided to make a treat for him.  Can you go wrong with a guy when you put chocolate and peanut butter butter together?  Nope! (at least not with my guy =)  ) Just fair warning...this cupcake will make any attempt at dieting null and void.

1 1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. cocoa
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 tbsp. sour cream
1/2 c. butter, melted

1/4 c. butter
1/3 c. peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 -2 c. powder sugar
1-2 tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, combine sugar, milk and cream until creamy.  Add in butter and vanilla.  Add egg.  in a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda.  Add to wet mixture.  Mix until no lumps left.  Line cupcake pan with liners and fill each one 2/3 full.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Let cupcakes cool before frosting and filling.

To make frosting, combine butter and peanut butter until creamy.  Add vanilla.  Mix in powder sugar until it reaches the desired thickness.  Let it mix for a few minutes until creamy.  If it's too thick, add some milk, a tsp at a time, if it's too runny, add some more powder sugar.

In the top of the cupcake, cut a small hole, about the size of a dime out, remove top.  Either using a decorating bag and a tip or spoon it, fill with peanut butter frosting.  Replace top of the hole you cut and cover the cupcake with frosting.  I don't like gobs of frosting and this frosted and filled 12 cupcakes, but if you are a frosting-aholic, double the recipe.

Combine 1/2 c. chocolate chips and 1 tbsp shorting and melt.  Drizzle over the cupcakes and enjoy!  Make sure you have a tall glass of cold milk handy, you'll need it

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Strawberry Bread

Strawberry Bread
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup applesauce

3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups strawberries, fresh and chopped fine (Frozen berries will not work)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat butter and sugars together until light and creamy.  Beat in the egg one at a time.  Then mix in the sour cream and vanilla.  Gradually add flour, soda, baking powder and salt.  Mix until all ingredients are combined.  Fold in the strawberries.  Pour into a loaf pan. Bake 35-40 minutes for 2 small loaves or 60 minutes for a large loaf.

Make sure and chop your strawberries really small or else the spaces around the strawberries won't cook thoroughly in the bread.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Zucchini Bread

Remember my monster zucchini?  Well, I decided to try a new zucchini bread recipe.  I really like this one.

3 eggs
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. vanilla yogurt (or plain)
1 c. brown sugar
2 c. shredded zuchinni
2 tsp vanilla
3 c. flour
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. pumpkin spice
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. soda

Beat eggs until frothy.  Add the oil and yogurt.  Add brown sugar and zucchini and beat until smooth.  Add vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, spice, soda, powder and salt.  Stir in flour.  Mix until smooth.  Grease and flour 2 8x4 bread pans.  Bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before you try to remove it from the pan.

What I love about this recipe is the subtle flavoring.  It's not as strong as other breads.  It also isn't as heavy as other quick breads. If you like the stronger flavors, you can add more spices and up the sugar.  It tastes great fresh out of the oven slathered with some butter. =)  If you want to add chocolate chips, go for it!  I think next time I am going to add some nuts. =)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cinnamon Bread

You smell that delicious scent down the road?  It's coming from my house. =)  I made some cinnamon raisen bread and no matter what air freshner you have, it doesn't smell better than fresh baked bread, not matter what kind of bread, and especially cinnamon raisen.  This is one of my favorite breads.  I will eat a whole loaf by myself.  The only drawback is it can be expensive at the store.  $3 for a small loaf.  Are you kidding me?!  One day, I said, forget that, I'm making my own. And so I did.  And continue to do.  I don't think I've bought another store bought loaf since.  Plus, I can cram all the cinnamon amnd brown sugar into it that my little heart desires (and that's usually a lot).

1 1/2 c. warm water (110 degrees)
3 tbsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp yeast

2 tbsp butter- room temperature
2 tbsp milk- room temperature
1 tsp. salt
4 c. bread flour

3 tbsp butter- melted
4 tbsp brown sugar
3 tsp cinnamon

Combine water, sugar, and yeast and set aside until becomes frothy.  Combine milk, butter, salt, and 1 cup flour.  Add in yeast mix.  Gradually add in remaining flour.  Knead in a floured surface until becomes elastic.  Form into a ball.  Place in a greased bowl.  Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled.
(this is before i let the dough rise)

Roll out dough in a rectangle.  Brush the top with butter.  Combine the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over dough.  Sprinkle raisens, however little or as much as you want.  Roll up the dough starting from the long end. 
(I had to cut the end off and do a seperate loaf for my hubby because he doesn't like raisens)

Cut in half and place in 2 greased bread pans.  Brush more butter over top.  Let them rise in the pans for 1 hour.
(the third is the loaf for the spoiled one =) )

Cook at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  Let cool in pans for 10-15 minutes before removing.  Let cool for a few more minutes before cutting (if you can wait that long).

Friday, September 9, 2011

Oatmeal Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

What do you do when you have neighbors that not only give you zucchinis, but they give you monster zucchinis?

You do the usual zucchini bread (of which I will have a recipe up soon).  But of course I wanted to try something different.  I did some Zucchini Brownies.  But I really wanted to try some cookies.  Especially since a few weeks ago a friend of mine made some and they were pretty good.  I think my recipe beats her ;P
1/3 c. butter
1/6 c. shortening
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 c. grated zucchini
1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp soda
1/s tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 c. oats.
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Cream butter, shortening, and sugar together.  Add egg, zucchini, vanilla.  Add soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and flour.  Stir in oats and add chocolate chips.  Drop by tablespoons onto a a greased cookie sheet.  Cook at 350 degrees for 14 minutes.

Make sure you a food tester on hand to make sure they turn out good. =)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

3 Cheese Lasagna

I have wonderful neighbors and friends who have shared with me the bounty of their gardens.  This includes lots of tomatoes.  Usually, we don't eat a lot of tomatoes.  Tonight I wanted to make lasagna and I figured what better way to use all the tomatoes than to make my own sauce.  I've never really made my own sauce before.  I always use canned stuff and once or twice I have made it using tomato paste but never with fresh tomatoes.  I'm always up for trying new things so I found a few recipes, combined them, and made my own sauce.  so here's the recipe for the sauce first.

Homemade tomato sauce

  • 10 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil ( or use dried basil)
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil. Have ready a large bowl of iced water. Plunge whole tomatoes in boiling water until skin starts to peel, 1 minute.

  •  Remove with slotted spoon and place in ice bath. Let rest until cool enough to handle, then remove peel and squeeze out seeds. 

Chop 8 tomatoes and puree in blender or food processor. Chop remaining two tomatoes and set aside.

  •   In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook onion, bell pepper, and garlic in oil and butter until onion starts to soften, 5 minutes. 

Pour in pureed tomatoes. Stir in chopped tomato, basil, Italian seasoning, salt and sugar. Place bay leaf in pot. Bring to a boil and let boil at a low boil for 30 minutes or until it reaches the desired thickness.

3-Cheese Lasagna

9 lasagna noodles (i usually do a couple extra because mine always fall apart)
1 lb. ground beef
16 oz Ricotta cheese (or you can substitute with 16 oz. cottage cheese mixed with 2 eggs)
1 lb. Mozzarella cheese, shredded

In a large pan, cook lasagna noodles according to the directions on the box.  While that is cooking, brown the ground beef.  Drain the grease.  Add the beef to your sauce.  Once noodles are done, drain and rinse with cold water.  Layer 3 noodles on bottom of pan.  Spread half the meat sauce over the noodles.  

Spread half the ricotta cheese over meat sauce.  Sprinkle with a bit of cheese.  Layer 3 more noodles.  

Spread remaining meat sauce, then layer with remaining ricotta cheese.  Layer the last 3 noodles and sprinkle cheese on top.  

Heat at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cheese is all melted.

This goes great with Teresa's Breadsticks

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Peach Turnovers

I had a friend let me come pick peaches off her tree.  I got 2 big bags full.  Now, while my family loves peaches, I knew there was no way we could eat that many before they started going bad so I started brainstorming some ideas to do with peaches.  I did some freezer jam, a peach pie (recipe will come later), and some sorbet (in the process of making so we'll see how that turns out).  I still had tons of peaches.  So I decided to do some turnovers.  I was quite pleased with how they turned out.  I think there may be a few things to tweak in the future, but they're pretty good as they are.

2 1/6 c. flour
1/8 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3/8 c. shortening
2/3 c. butter, cubed
1/2 c. ice water (you won't use it all)

Mix flour, salt, sugar, shortening, and butter.  Mix until dry and flaky.  Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough begins to come together.  It should remain slightly flaky.  Roll dough out and cut into squares, approximately 4 inches wide and long.  Spoon peach  filling on to middle of dough, careful not to get on the edges or else it won't seal right.  Fold into a triangle. Press and seal edges together.

 Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely and then brush with glaze.  This will make approximately 12.

Peach Filling
1/2 c. sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
3 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
8 large-10 medium peaches, depending on the size

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Boil the peaches for 1-2 minutes.  Immediately place in an ice bath (large bowl filled with water and ice cubes).  Once cool enough to handle, peel the peels.  Cut the peaches into small pieces.  Strain out the juice.  I put the peaches in a strainer over a bowl.  Save the juice.  In a pot, combine sugar, cornstarch and peach juice.  Cook for 5 minutes, make sure to stir to prevent scorching.  Add the remaining ingredients and peaches.  Let the mixture simmer, continually stirring, until it begins to thicken.  Remove from heat and allow to cool and thicken.

Almond Glaze
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
1- 2 tbsp. milk

Combine extract and sugar.  Slowly add milk in, 1 tsp at a time until it reaches a desired consistency.  You dont' want it too thick or it will be hard to brush on, but too thin and it will just run off.  Let the glaze set and harden once you brush it on top of the turnover.