Thursday, April 30, 2009

Land O Lakes Blueberry Muffins

I had a special request from my lil cousin for Blueberry Muffins and found a great recipe from the Land O Lakes Butter website. They came out so moist and just bursting with BLUEBERRIES! (Literally, the blueberries were bursting!) I didn't add the Topping from the recipe cuz I felt like there was enough butter in these babies already and it would've been overkill. (I know...too much butter? Is that possible? Well...I'm not Paula Deen you know!)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A lil late for BB but still SO yummy!

I know I haven't been keeping up with Barefoot Bloggers lately but the recipes just didn't appeal to me (or Greg!). THIS though was a total winner and I knew right away that I'd have to make it. LOOK at my amazing Croque Monsieur! They're even better than my Croque Madame! I only made very few adjustments (due to the limited options at our Safeway) and served them with some tomatoes on the side. Does that ooey gooey cheese look yummy or what?


1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 c hot milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 c Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated
4 slices white sandwich bread, toasted, crusts removed
2 tsp Dijon mustard
4 slices ham
2 thick slices of tomatoes


1. Preheat the oven to 400°.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/4 cup Monterey Jack, and the Parmesan and set aside.

2. Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add 2 slices of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Monterey Jack. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Monterey Jack, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot with tomatoes on the side.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ina's Pecan Shortbread Baked with Love

My auntie and uncle are visiting from Shanghai and Pecan Shortbread is their absolute FAVORITE type of treat. SO I found a recipe from Ina Gartner and decided to cut them into HEART shapes for fun. Cute right? I'm sure they will be much appreciated!

Ingredients: 20 to 24 cookies

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c small diced pecans


1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla and almond extracts.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter/sugar mixture. Add the pecans and mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with cookie cutter (any shape you like). Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet.

4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature and serve.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I Finally Made Lasagna Rolls!

I've been wanting to make Lasagna Rolls forever now and finally did it! They were SO much fun to make! All I did was cook up the Lasagna noodles and then rolled them up with some Ricotta Cheese inside. I also made a meat sauce with jarred pasta sauce and cooked ground beef. My verdict? SUPER yummy and fun to make!

Pepperoni Muffins Take 2

These are my 2nd attempt at Pepperoni Muffins. My first were using Bisquick Mix, which were good but not GREAT. These were GREAT! They literally tasted JUST like a Pepperoni Pizza!

Ingredients: (6 muffins)

1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c yellow cornmeal
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 c canned diced tomatoes (I used Italian style)
12 slices pepperoni, diced
1/2 c milk
1 large egg
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 c shredded mozzarella cheese


1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease 6 muffin cups. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the tomatoes and toss to distribute evenly.

2. In another bowl, combined milk, eggs, and olive oil with a whisk. Pour into the flour mixture and stir with a large spatula just until moistened. The batter will be lumpy. Stir in pepperoni.

3. Fill the muffin cups. Bake In the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden and feel dry and springy to the touch. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning them out to cool on a rack. Serve them warm or freeze them in plastic freezer bags for up to 3 months.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Back at it FINALLY...Cookie Carnival!

I know it's been a while since I participated in Cookie Carnival but I'm back and these Lemon Bars were AMAZING! Of course I HAD to make some adjustments cuz that's just how I am. What did I do now? Well I added chopped pecans instead of almonds to the crust and then mixed in cream cheese for the filling. I know...I know...but they turned out SO yummy and my guys totally appreciated them! Don't they look so pretty on my new plate too?

Platinum Chef Challenge #13!

Now it's MY turn to host The Platinum Chef Challenge and I've got some great Spring food for you! Let's first review the rules, shall we?

“Platinum Chef Challenge started as an activity on a cooking message board to encourage members to create a meal out of 5 selected ingredients. You might think they go together, and you might not. You might have used them before, or maybe not. Maybe you will have a recipe in mind, and maybe you will create a new one. Most likely, you’ll put on your creative (chef’s) hat and whip out something new and exciting. To play, just create a meal using the five given ingredients and blog about it. Please link back to this post, and feel free to include the event logo in your blog. The meal can consist of 1 or 2 dishes - so you can use all the ingredients in one recipe, or make two. Example: main dish + side, appetizer + main dish, main dish + dessert, etc. But, if more than one dish is created, each dish must use at least two of the ingredients (and, any ingredient may be repeated and used in both dishes if desired). You can add whatever other ingredients you like.”

NOW here are my lucky #13 ingredients:
Asparagus (green or white)Garlic (chopped, roasted, etc)Mushrooms (any variety you like)
Strawberries (fresh, preserved, dried, etc) Cheese (any kind you like)

Please send me your recipes and pictures by May 31th.
Name of your dish(es) and your blog
Pictures you want in the Round-up
Link to the PCC post in your blog
Good luck and I can't wait to see your creativity!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

First Wedding of 2009!

We flew down to Orange County for Greg's second cousin's wedding and had the most awesome sun-filled weekend! The wedding was on Friday night and we got down there around 1pm. Our vacation started with a light lunch outside at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach, which was where the wedding was held at and where we were staying. The weather was just PERFECT, nothing but sunshine and not hot at all. The reception was beautiful too and the dinner was laid out buffet-style with lots of different stations displaying everything from sushi to steak! It was amazing just how much food there was and the open bar was awesome of course! :)

Saturday was filled with relaxation starting with brunch on the beach, then tanning by the pool, and ended with a yummy Asian-inspired dinner. We had an afternoon flight home on Sunday and decided to have 1 last awesome meal before taking off. Here we are in front of the beautiful Laguna Beach ocean! What a good looking family huh?

Our Sunday brunch was AMAZING! It was at a Mexican restaurant called La Brisa and I'm sure the pictures below are worth a thousand words! For $33, you literally get a FEAST! It's a 4-course brunch starting with fruit, then your choice of soup or salad, then a super yummy entree and ends with a piece of CARROT CAKE! Everything was yummy from start to finish and the Champagne NEVER stopped flowing! I highly recommend this place if you're looking for a yummy brunch you can linger over all morning. (And probably not eat again until late at night!) Here are Greg and my entrees: Sand Dabs Puerto Nuevo and Ensalada Laguna. (It took us a while to try and figure out what Sand Dabs were and we finally had to ask the waiter. Apparently, they're just a type of white fish, in case anyone else was wondering.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I'm the Next Platinum Chef!

I won Platinum Chef this time so it's my turn to host...stay tuned for the "Secret Ingredients!"

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Brunch with My Mommy!

Happy Easter everyone! My mommy and I had a great time today with yummy food and LOTS of sunshine! We had Brunch at Palomino on the Embarcadero, which as you can see, had sunlight just pouring in through every window. My mommy got the Lobster Benedict and was really delighted when she saw the HUGE bites lobster meat under the beautiful yellow Hollandaise sauce. The potatoes that came on the side were also perfectly seasoned. (I stole a few bites so I could blog about it of course!) I got the Seafood Louie Salad and Creamy Mushroom Soup. I wasn't a big fan of the soup cuz the texture felt a lil strange but the salad was SO good! It was full of BIG chunks of crabmeat, shrimp and LOBSTER and the dressing was creamy and yummy!

Swedish Meatballs...YUM YUM!

You know my Honey LOVES meatballs so I'm not sure why I've never thought of making Swedish Meatballs! I mean, Cream of Mushroom and Sour Cream Sauce? What's there NOT to like? YOu can use ground beef or a sausage roll, which is what I did. I'm sure you can serve them over any type of pasta you want but I thought the wide egg noodles were more traditional. Served with some Parmesan sprinkled on top? YUM YUM!


1 egg
¼ c seasoned bread crumbs
2 Tbsp milk
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 lb Italian Sausage (I used Jimmy Dean)

1 can (10¾ oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
½ c sour cream
¼ c milk
1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
¼ tsp ground nutmeg, optional
2 c hot cooked egg noodles


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a bowl, combine the onion, egg, bread crumbs, milk, salt and pepper. Add beef; mix well. Shape into 1-in meatballs, about 12. Place in a baking dish and bake for 25 to 30 min or until meat is no longer pink; drain.

2. Combine the soup, sour cream, milk, parsley and nutmeg in a large skillet; bring to a boil. Add meatballs and simmer 15 to 20 min; stirring occasionally. Serve over noodles.

Baking with a Left-over Bell Pepper

I'm not sure why I had a bell pepper left over in the fridge but I needed to do something with it before it started drying up on me. SO...of course...I made muffins! For a savory treat, these babies are great! They're good as a light meal with some soup too.

Ingredients: (6 muffins)

1 c chopped bell peppers (1 medium pepper)
1 Tbsp butter
1 c all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp dried basil
1 egg
½ c milk


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a nonstick skillet, sauté peppers in butter until tender; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and basil. Combine the egg and milk; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the cooled peppers.

3. Grease or line muffin cups; fill ⅔ full with batter. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

Blackberry Muffins Take 2!

Last time I made Blackberry Muffins with Sour Cream and this time I used Oatmeal instead. The verdict? Just as good but very different. These are obviously healthier and not creamy but still super moist and yummy.

Ingredients: (6 muffins)

1 c flour
1 c instant oats
½ Tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ c sugar
¼ c vegetable oil
½ c milk
1 large egg
1 cup roughly chopped blackberries


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Combine the egg, oil, and milk in a bowl, mix well, and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add in the blackberries and give a quick stir to cover with the flour mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir until everything is just mixed. Don’t over mix.

4. Spoon the mixture into greased or paper-lined muffin cups. Bake for 16-18 minutes. The muffins are done when a cake tester comes out clean and they spring back when pressed lightly. Remove from the oven, let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I Finally Found Manicotti Shells!

I was at this really big Safeway in the South Bay and finally fopund a box of Manicotti Shells! I've seen them make on TV a dozen times and have always wanted to give them a try. They were surprisingly easy to stuff and didn't rip apart or break like I was afraid they might. And what's that gooey white sauce on top, you ask? Cream of Mushroom Soup! How creative right? :)

Ingredients: (2 servings)

4 uncooked manicotti shells
1 c cubed cooked chicken breast
1 c ricotta cheese
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic salt

1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 can (10¾ oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook manicotti according to package directions.
In a small bowl, combine the chicken, ricotta cheese, basil and garlic salt. Drain manicotti; fill with chicken mixture.

2. Spread ¼ c of soup in an 8-in square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Add stuffed manicotti shells. Top with remaining soup and cheese.

3. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and filling is heated through.

Fajitas at Home AGAIN TJ Style!

Remember the last time we tried out TJ's precooked Carne Asada? Well, we loved it so much we decided to give the Carne Pollo a try too. We were REALLY impressed! The chicken was tender and VERY well seasoned. Making Fajitas at home is WAY more fun (and cheaper!) than going to Chevy's! The Margaritas are even better (and stronger)!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Lamb Chops Marinated Overnight

What do you get when you marinate lamb chops for a whole 24 hours? YUMMY GOODNESS, that's what! Seriously simple recipe! All I did was marinate the chops in some dried thyme, oregano and rosemary with some olive oil added to make the herbs stick. Toss everything in a Ziplock and stick it in the fridge. The next day I just grill them on about 5 minutes on each side. Oh and you'll NEVER guess what I served them on top of! Yes, they might LOOK like regular mashed potatoes but they're MASHED TATOR TOTS! That's what you get when you watch Chopped on the Food Network too much! You become VERY creative with what you have in the fridge! I mean, why not right? Somebody's already put all that good flavor into the Tator Tots and all I have to do is heat them and then mash them up! And of course they wouldn't be mashed potatoes without a LITTLE bit of butter and milk right? :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

8 Layers of Cheesy Goodness!

Nothing beats pasta and cheese but when you layer them and bake them in the oven? WOW! This baby was a winner and the left-overs tasted just as good. I even have a small portion in the freezer waiting for those days when I just don't feel like cooking. (I don't think that's happened yet though!)


8 oz uncooked rigatoni pasta
1 lb ground beef

1 c vodka sauce
1 can (14.5 oz) Italian-style diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 c sliced fresh mushrooms
2 c shredded mozzarella cheese


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 13”x9” baking dish with cooking spray. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package.

2. While pasta is cooking, cook ground beef in a skillet over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink; drain. Mix in tomato, mushroom and basil.

3. Layer vodka sauce, half of the pasta, beef mixture, and mozzarella cheese; repeat layers finishing with cheese.

4. Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes or until hot and cheese is golden brown.

I used the let's use the rest of the orange!

I didn't wanna waste the orange after zesting it for my Spring Cookies so what did I do? Make bread, of course! This bread was moist and so fresh-tasting! I got the idea from the Sunkist website and added my own touch with the cranberries and nuts. Look at the beautiful colors!


1 orange unpeeled
½ c orange juice
2½ c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp salt
1¼ c sugar
2 eggs
¼ c butter or margarine, melted
½ c chopped walnuts or pecans
½ c dried cranberries


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut orange into large chunks. In a blender, combine orange chunks and juice; blend until almost smooth.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.

3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, and butter; beat until smooth. Add orange mixture and dry ingredients, stirring just until blended. Stir in the walnuts and cranberries. Pour into a greased 9 X 5 x 3-inch loaf pan.

4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Spring Has Sprung Cookies

How cute are these cookies! They're basically just butter cookies but with some orange zest added to give them some fresh spring flavor. I also dusted them with round pastel sprinkles to make them festive! These are almost too cute to eat...ALMOST!

Ingredients: (3 dozen cookies)

¾ c sugar
½ c butter, softened
1 egg
1½ c all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp orange zest (1 orange)


1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Combine sugar, butter and egg in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Reduce speed to low; add all remaining ingredients. Beat, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Pour sprinkles.

4. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


LOOK at this beauty! I just used the good old Pillsbury Crescent Rolls for the flakey crust and stuffed it with Ham and CHEESE! Throw it in the oven at 375 and 20 minutes is all it takes! I LOVE the half-size canisters they have now cuz we could never seem to finish all 8 rolls in our house! The stuffing possibilities are endless with these. I'm thinking pepperoni or Hawaiian next!

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