Wednesday, June 30, 2010

You Can't Rush Perfection...and I Did!

Patience is really not a virtue that I possess and that's why my 2nd attempt at Focaccia failed again. BUT this time, at least I didn't overbake it and it tasted like a very yummy flat bread! I followed this recipe using my bread machine to knead the dough, which was very easy. However, I didn't get home until after 7 and I was too impatient to wait for the cycle to end before taking the dough out. I mean, it seemed like it was ready! Anyway, you can see how flat and un-Focaccia like it looks but lemme tell you, it would make a REALLY good thin-crust pizza! I'm gonna attempt this again over the weekend when I have plenty of time so hopefully 3 time's a charm!

A VERY Moist Strawberry Banana Bread

Not sure why I never thought about the obvious combination of Strawberries and Bananas! I mean, it works in smoothies, why not bread right? This bread was incredibly moist and the flavors really worked well together. I used my Mini Loaf Pan but you can certainly use a regular 9x5-inch pan and just increase the baking time to about an hour.

Ingredients: (1 regular loaf or 7 mini loaves)

2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 c sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/2 c buttermilk
1tsp vanilla
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sliced strawberries


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray mini loaf pans with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla, egg and egg yolk. Pour over dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in the banana and strawberries.

3. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.

Almost Focaccia

I decided to try making Focaccia for the first time and it didn't turn out quite the way I had hoped. I think the problem was that my kitchen counter wasn't warm enough for my dough to rise fully. I also think I might have over-baked it slightly. The result wasn't bad, more like a flatbread than a Focaccia, topped with pesto, tomatoes and Parmesan. I'm definitely gonna give it another try though so stay tuned!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Weird Spaghetti is A Bit Too Weird for Us!

I watched an episode of Guy's Big Bite and he made something called Weird Spaghetti. It's basically Cincinnati Chili on top of pasta. I've never had Cincinnati Chili before but it sounded pretty good and I'm always up for trying something new. I made a smaller version to try and I'm glad I did cuz we didn't like it at all! There's just something in the mixture of all the spices (maybe all-spice and cocoa?) that didn't appeal to our taste buds. I did read mixed reviews about the recipe so I'm assuming we're part of the crowd that doesn't love Cincinnati Chili. Oh well, there's always regular cowboy chili!


1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 lb ground beef, (80/20)
1/2 c onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 c tomato sauce
1 c beef stock
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Hot cooked spaghetti
1/2 c shredded Cheddar cheese


1. In a sauté pan over medium heat, brown the ground beef while breaking the mass into smaller pieces. While the meat is cooking and still a little pink, add the onion and sauté until the beef is fully cooked and the onion turns translucent.

2. Add the garlic and dry spices and stir until fragrant, 1 minute. Stir in the tomato sauce, beef stock, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, scraping the bottom for brown bits.

3. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium low and simmer. Stir occasionally until the chili is deep red in color and has thickened slightly, about 1 hour.

4. Serve over Spaghetti and top with cheese.

Ricotta Oatmeal Muffins

We seem to always have some Ricotta in the fridge waiting to be used up so I decided to make some muffins. I usually add berries but this time I thought I'd just simply make some Oatmeal Muffins. I love the rich and creamy texture that Ricotta adds to baked goods. I also added lots of cranberries and pecans cuz I think they go so well with oatmeal. With only a quarter cup of sugar, these are not only yummy but also healthy treats!

Ingredients: (6 muffins)

3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c oatmeal
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
1/2 c ricotta cheese
1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c dried cranberries
1/4 c chopped pecans


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 6 muffin cups with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oatmeal, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, egg, Ricotta, sugar and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and stir just until combined. Stir in cranberries and pecans.

3. Fill muffin cups to the top. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown on top and toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Emeril's Essence is PERFECT for Blackened Catfish!

Can you turn 3 ingredients into the most AWESOME fish dinner ever? I did! Well, technically it was a lot more than 3 ingredients but I made my own jar of Emeril's Essence so I count that as 1 ingredient. I've actually never cooked catfish before but they had these beautiful fillets on sale so I picked up a piece to try. Greg LOVED it! Blackened Catfish is seriously Cajun-cooking at its best and covered in some Essence? Perfection! I served my fish over some creamy mashed potatoes and corn and it was a yummy Sunday night dinner!


2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 (8-oz) fresh skinless, boneless catfish fillets
1 Tbsp Emeril’s Essence


1. Rinse catfish fillets under running cold and then thoroughly pat dry with paper towels.

2. Brush melted butter lightly over catfish fillets and sprinkle with Essence. Repeat for other side. Be sure to completely coat each fillet.

3. Heat iron cast skillet on high until it is very hot, about 10 minutes. Pour the leftover butter into your skillet. Carefully place the catfish fillets into the skillet and cook for about 4 minutes on both sides.

4. Serve finished fillets over a bed of creamy mashed potatoes and corn (or rice).

A Perfect Recipe

I like putting my own spin on recipes but once in a while I'll find one that's so perfect, I'll actually follow it all the way. These Carrot and Herb Biscuits are a good example. It comes from my Pillsbury Muffins and Quick Breads Cookbook and there was NOTHING I wanted to add or change about it! (I know, SHOCKING!) They're savory, tender, moist and just perfect in every way. See, when you follow the recipe, your results actually looks like the picture!

Ingredients: (12 muffins)

1-1/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c cornmeal
1/4 c sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c butter, cold, cut into 1/4-in pieces
1/2 c shredded carrots
1/3 c milk
1 egg, slightly beaten


1.Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, conrmeal, sugar, baking powder, basil, parsley and salt; mix well. With pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in carrots.

3. Add milk and egg; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Drop 1/4 c of dough onto cookie sheet.

4. Bake for 12 - 14 minutes or until light golden brown.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Finally...Deep Dish Pizza!

I was inspired by Joelen's BLT Pizza cuz Greg LOVES Deep Dish Pizza (he went to school in Chicago) but I was always intimidated by the crust. Her recipe sounded pretty easy using the stand mixer and I also liked the fact that the dough only had to rest for 10 minutes. Instead of BLT, I made Pepperoni and Mushrooms, cuz those are our favorite toppings. I also baked my pizza in a 10-inch spring-form pan cuz my cast iron is pretty small. I never thought I liked Deep Dish Pizza but this was good! The crust was thick and slightly crunchy from the cornmeal. I might add a bit less sauce next time cuz I think I went a lil overboard with it! I loved how the cheese was on the bottom cuz it's like a really good surprise as you bite into the pizza! I can't wait to experiment with more pizza dough now! I'm thinking Stuffed Crust next time...


1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 pkg quick-rising yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2-2/3 c hot water (120-130°F)
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp cornmeal

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 c pizza sauce
1 c shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
24 pepperoni slices
1 c sliced mushrooms


1. Combine flour, yeast, salt and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer to mix fitted with a dough hook.

2. Combine hot water and oil in a measuring cup. With the stand mixer is running, gradually pour in enough of the hot liquid until the mixture forms a sticky ball. The dough should be quite soft. If it seems dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons warm water; if too sticky, add 1 to 2 tablespoons flour. Continue mixing until the dough forms a ball, then process for 1 minute to knead.

3. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Coat a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place it, sprayed-side down, over the dough. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 450°F or highest setting. Sprinkle the cornmeal on pie pan or cast iron skillet. Press the dough onto the bottom and sides of the pan. Brush the top of the crust with olive oil.

5. Top the pizza with 1 cup of mozzarella, followed by the pizza sauce. Place the Pepperoni and mushrooms on top.

6. Bake the pizza for 15-20 minutes, or until the bottom of the pizza is crisp and golden. Remove pan from oven with oven-proof mittens.

Easy Mushroom Biscuits

Everyone loved my Savory Mushroom Squares so I decided to make some more treats that featured mushrooms. I found this recipe for Mushroom Biscuits and thought I'd give them a try. I mean, you can't get easier than using Bisquick right? The sautéed mushrooms and onions were soft and added such nice flavors. There's nothing like some warm biscuits after a day by the pool!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wishing for Summer Weather with Mini Blueberry Muffins

Summer officially began this past Monday but the weather in SF does NOT feel that way! It's foggy, cold and even drizzling at times! To me, nothing says summer quite like Blueberry Muffins so I baked some mini ones for Cookie Friday in hopes of summer weather. (Fingers crossed!) I kept the flour to a minimum to make sure that the muffins stayed very moist. I also pressed 2 blueberries into each to make sure that they all had just the right amount of berry goodness!

Ingredients: (48 mini muffins)

1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
1 c sugar
3 eggs
1/2 c buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 c fresh blueberries


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line mini muffin cups with paper liners.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs, buttermilk and vanilla; mix well.

3. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; stir into the creamed mixture just until moistened.

4. Fill muffin cups with about a tablespoon of batter. Press 2 blueberries into each.

5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Inspired by Mexican Made Easy

I recently discovered Mexican Made Easy and really like Marcela's cheerful attitude and simple recipes. She uses very refreshing ingredients and they're perfect for summer! Last weekend, she made a Mexican Meatloaf and it totally inspired me to try something similar since we never get tired of meatloaf at our house! It was SO good with just the right amount of kick from the Jalapeno and a perfectly cheesy top! I was excited to be able to use some of the spices that don't get nearly enough attention like cumin and cloves. Our kitchen really smelled like "Mexico" as I was mixing all the ingredients together! The thing I love about meatloaves too is that they're even better the next day but instead of making sandwiches, I'm thinking meatloaf burritos. :)


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Jalapeno, seeded, deveined, finely chopped
1/2 c finely chopped onion
1/2 c shredded carrots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp oregano
2 eggs, well beaten
1 Tbsp vinegar
1/4 c ketchup
1/4 c sour cream
1 lb ground beef
1/2 c dried bread crumbs
1 c shredded Mexican cheese


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 9x5-in baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the Jalapeno, onion, carrot and garlic. Cook, stirring often until vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes.

3. In a large bowl combine the sautéed vegetables with the chili, salt, cumin, parsley, cloves, pepper, cayenne and oregano. Add the eggs, vinegar, ketchup and sour cream. Mix well with a spatula. Add the ground beef and breadcrumbs. Mix thoroughly until everything is combined.

4. Scrape the mixture into prepared dish and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meatloaf registers 160°F, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool 10 minutes before cutting.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Creamed Spinach Turned into Bread!

I bought a whole bag of spinach to make the Creamed Spinach for our Steak Dinner. I thought it would wilt down to almost nothing but realized that I still had way more spinach than I needed for a side. I found this recipe for Caramelized Onion and Spinach Bread and thought it would be the perfect way to used up my already cooked onion and spinach. I used my mini loaf pan to bake single serving loaves and cut the baking time down to 25 minutes. The big chunks of Feta were SO good and all the spinach makes these totally guilt-free!

Big Daddy's Steak!

I just recently started watching Big Daddy's House and I really like a lotta of his recipes cuz they're manly and easy! Tonight's dinner was inspired by his Crusted Sirloin Steak and it turned out great! I made a few changes though. I cooked my steak in a cast iron skillet so that it can go directly into the oven and I also used regular mushrooms instead of portobellos cuz that was what I had. The crust didn't stay on very well during cooking but the mushroom sauce was perfect on the steak! I also made some Horseradish Mashed Potatoes and Creamed Spinach to go on the side cuz you can't have steak without Steakhouse Sides right? A perfect manly meal that I'm sure Big Daddy would be proud of!


2 Tbsp prepared horseradish
2 Tbsp spicy mustard
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp cracked black pepper, plus more for seasoning
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 Tbsp breadcrumbs
1 (6-oz) petite sirloin steaks
Coarse sea salt
1 Tbsp butter, to sear

Mushroom Sauce:
2 Tbsp butter, divided
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 c mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 c beef broth


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Whisk together horseradish, mustard, garlic, black pepper, 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a small bowl. Stir in the Panko and set aside. Season the steak on both sides with coarse sea salt and black pepper. Brush the horseradish bread crumb mixture on 1 side.

3. In a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 Tbsp of oil and 1 Tbsp of butter. Sear the steak, seasoned side down, for 2 minutes. Brush the other side with the horseradish mixture, turn over and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Place the pan in the oven and cook until the breading browns, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove skillet from the oven, remove steaks and let rest.

4. In the same skillet, add 1 Tbsp of the butter and the thyme. Turn the heat to high and add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook until the mushrooms are soft and browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the beef broth and reduce until the liquid just coats the mushrooms. Stir in the remaining Tbsp of butter to give the mushrooms a creamier consistency. Arrange the steaks on serving plates and top with the mushroom sauce.

Butter Pecan Mini Bundt Cakes

Doesn't that title just make you drool? Little bundles of joy full of pecans! You can definitely make the same recipe using a regular Bundt Pan and just increase the baking time to an hour. I, however, think that mini cakes are just so much cuter!

Ingredients: (6 cakes)

1 c cake flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/4 c packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c sour cream
1/2 c toasted pecans, coarsely chopped


1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Generously butter 6 mini Bundt cups.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

3. Cut butter into 1-inch pieces and place in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth and lightened in color, about 2 min. Stop the machine, add the honey, and blend for about 2 minutes.

4. Add the sugars and blend for 4 min. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, about 1 min apart, scraping down the side of the bowl. Blend in vanilla.

5. Reduce mixer to low. Add the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream, mixing until blended after each addition. Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix for about 10 sec longer.

6. Fold in pecans. Empty the batter into prepared pan and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Bake for 25-30 min, or until tops are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Stuffing My Chops is Super Fun!

It's been a LONG time since I made stuffed porkchops and I'd forgotten how fun they are! This meal was inspired by Giada's recipe but my chops are stuffed with Feta, mushrooms and fresh breadcrumbs. I also made a creamy Dijon sauce to go on top and served them on a bed of couscous. Total comfort food and perfect on a Monday night!

Ingredients: (2 servings)

3 Tbsp butter, divided
1 c small cubes of bread
1/2 c mushrooms, diced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 c feta cheese, crumbled
2 (4-oz) center-cut bonless pork chops
1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 c heavy cream
2 tsp Dijon mustard


1. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add bread and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Melt another Tbsp butter in the same skillet, add mushrooms, salt, pepper, and thyme. Sauté until mushrooms are soft, about 5 more minutes. Add to bread. Refrigerate until mixture is completely cool, about 15 minutes. Mix in feta.

3. Using a sharp knife, cut a pocket into the thickest portion of the pork chops. Stuff each pocket with 1/2 of the filling mixture and close the pork around the stuffing. Skewer pockets closed with toothpicks. Season the outside of the pork with salt and pepper.

4. Heat the remaining Tbsp of butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the pork and brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a side dish and keep warm.

5. Add the chicken broth to the skillet and bring to a boil, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return chops to the pan and simmer until chops are tender and internal temperature reaches 150°F, about 15-20 minutes.

6. Remove chops to serving platter. Add the cream and simmer until sauce is reduced by half and thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in mustard. Spoon some sauce over the chops.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Another Savory Veggie Muffin

I love savory muffins and it's a yummy way to get my veggie servings! These Bell Pepper Muffins were adaped from this Muffin Cookbook. I made a few modifications like adding shredded cheese cuz, well, everything tastes better with cheese right? I also didn't have a green bell pepper so I made up for the color by adding lots of fresh parsley. I thought these muffins turned out really well and make really good portable snacks!

Ingredients: (6 muffins)

1/4 c butter
1/2 chopped red bell pepper
1/3 c sour cream
1 egg
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried tarragon
1/4 chopped fresh parsley


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 6 muffin cups with paper lines.

2. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper and cook until gender, 5 minues, stirring often. Cool to lukewarm.

3. Whisk sour cream and egg in medium gowl. Stir in cooled bell pepper and parsley.

4. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, garlic salt, baking soda and herbs in large bowl. Add sour cream mixture, stirring just until blended.

5. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 15 ro 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin come out clean.

Left-Over Beef Makes Enchiladas

With the left-over slow cooker beef, I made yummy Enchiladas. The Enchiladas Sauce and Mashed Pinto Beans came from Trader Joe's and I also added some Ortega Taco Sauce just for fun! All topped with lots of Mexican Shredded Cheese and sour cream. Perfect Sunday dinner!

Veggies for Breakfast - Zucchini Pancakes!

I'm always experimenting with different veggie flavors so when I saw this recipe for Zucchini Pancakes, I knew I had to give it a shot. The zucchini kept the pancakes really moist and the parmesan cheese added a nice salty flavor. Perfect healthy breakfast to start the day!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

North Beach Festival Fun!

This weekend is the 56th Annual North Beach Festival and it was super fun! We totally lucked out with the weather too since it was supposed to be cold and foggy but somehow the sun came out just for us!

After a long day of drinking, all we wanted for dinner was homemade pizza! (Well, almost homemade thanks to Boboli!) Topped with chopped Honey Ham and Mushrooms, TOTALLY hit the spot!

Slow Cooked Beef Makes AWESOME Panini!

There's nothing like the slow cooker to turn an inexpensive tough cut of meat into juicy tender goodness. I usually use shoulder meat but I wanted to venture out and experiment with other cuts. I picked up some top round steak at a really good price and decided to try this recipe for Beef in Mushroom Gravy since I already had all the other ingredients. OMG it turned out SO good! The meat was meltingly tender and the Cream of Mushroom and French Onion Soup made such a yummy gravy. Who knew just 3 simple ingredients could be so good? I used some of the beef to make Panini for lunch along with pickle slices and a combo of Provolone and Swiss Cheese. Simple, yummy and totally satisfying!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pork + Apples +Potatoes = The Perfect Meal!

I discovered how perfectly pork paired with apples and potatoes so I decided to play around with those ingredients a lil more. This time I chopped the apple into small pieces and made a creamy sauce to go on top of the chops. I also made mashed potatoes with a bit of herbed-flavored cream cheese mixed in. Such a comforting on a Friday night!

Ingredients: (2 servings)

2 1-inch thick boneless pork chops
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped into bite-size pieces
1/2 c heavy cream
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 c packed light brown sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
Hot cooked mashed potatoes


1. Rub pork chops with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes.

2. Preheat a skillet over medium heat. Pan-fry chops for about 5 to 7 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.

3. In the same skillet, melt butter. Add brown sugar and stir until mixture starts to caramelize.

4. Add apple pieces and chops back in, cover and simmer until the pork's internal temperature reach 150°F. Remove chops and place on top of mashed potatoes.

5. Stir heavy cream and cinnamon into the apple mixture. Cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until thickened. Spoon over pork chops.

Refreshing Lemon Cookies to Welcome Summer!

Next Monday (June 21) is the official start of summer, so I wanted to bake something refreshing to welcome it. I found this recipe for Chewy Lemon Sugar Cookies and knew they would be perfect! I mean, with a blog called "My Baking Addiction", how could you go wrong right? They had a wonderful soft and creamy texture with a burst of refreshing citrucy flavor. VERY addicting and VERY summery! Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Celebrating Lakers' Win with PIZZA!

Not just ANY old pizza, BBQ Chicken Pizza! Big chunks of chicken tossed around in some Honey BBQ Sauce with mushrooms, Swiss cheese and LOTS of Mozzarella!

More Free Stuff to Bake With!

Along with the free pear I got from my coworker's gift basket, I also got a block of Cheddar Cheese. It's not that I needed to use it up or anything since I put cheese in almost anything, but I wanted to try these muffins that I saw in my Pillsbury cookbook. The original recipe called for Canadian Bacon but since I didn't have any, I used Honey Ham instead. You really can't go wrong with ham and cheese! The buttermilk and sour cream added a nice tang and creamy texture. These muffins are like mini meals and great any time of the day!


1 c all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp chopped green onions
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c buttermilk
1/4 sour cream
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 c shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 chopped ham


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 6 muffin cups with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, green onions and baking powder; mix well. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, oil and egg. Add to flour mixture; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in cheese and ham. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

3. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Savory Parsley Bread with Feta and Roasted Peppers

I LOVE parsley and basically add it to everything so I thought it would be really good in some savory bread. Fresh herbs really do brighten up the flavors and combined with roasted peppers and feta, this bread is such a yummy treat!

Ingredients: (1 regular loaf or 8 mini loaves)

1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c buttermilk
1/2 c butter, melted and cooled
1 c fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 c crumbled feta cheese
1/2 c roasted red peppers, chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, butter and parsley. Whisk well until combined.

3. Pour the flour mixture into the eggs mixture and stir until just combined. Add the veggies, cheese and peppers, and stir until just combined. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

4. Bake until the top is light golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour for a regular loaf and 40 minutes for mini loaves.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Easiest Chicken Masala!

We enjoyed Trader Joe's Masala Simmer Sauce so much the last time that I decided to get some more. This time I marinated the chicken thighs in some of the sauce for about an hour, then braised them in the rest of the sauce along with some onions. Our kitchen smells SO good as our meal was simmering away! I thickened the sauce at the end with some flour and served the chicken over some couscous that I flavored with cumin and turmeric. SO good and definitely a restaurant-quality meal!

Zucchini + Orange Marmalade...Who Knew?

I'm always looking for new Zucchini Bread recipes cuz I LOVE Zucchini Bread! So when I saw this recipe for Zucchini Orange Marmalade Tea Cake, I knew I wanted to give it a try. I mean, with a Blog name like Passionate About Baking, you know the recipes are bound to be yummy right? I really like the combination of the zucchini and orange, it's refreshing with just the right amount of sweetness. I didn't add the chocolate chips but the walnuts were a great crunchy addition. My verdict? Love it! Another great Zucchini Bread recipe to keep in my rotation!

Back to Basics Pasta Dinner

I love trying new recipes and making gourmet dinners, but sometimes the most basic ingredients make the BEST meals! When I think of the perfect weeknight meal, 2 words come to mind...BEEF and PASTA. I mean, who doesn't love a big bowl of comforting Spaghetti and Meatballs or what we had tonight, Fusilli topped with Beefy Marinara Sauce? Quick and easy and always hits the spot!

Monday, June 14, 2010

I Got a FREE Pear @ Work!

Someone at our office received a Harry and David Gift Basket and since no one wanted the pear and apple, I gladly took it home for baking. This recipe was adapted from my William Sonoma Muffins book but I made a few adjustments (of course!). They came out great and nothing beats FREE right?

Ingredients: (6 muffins)

1 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp Pumpkin Spice
1 egg
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/2 c buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pear, chopped
1/2 c walnuts, chopped
1/2 c dried cranberries


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 6 muffin cups with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and Pumpkin Spice.

3. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the egg, oil, buttermilk and vanilla. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, lightly fold the mixture into the dry ingredients just until combined. Stir in pear, nuts and cranberries.

4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins. (I use a large ice cream scoop). Bake about 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes and then remove muffins from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

A Comforting Dinner Inspired by Rachael Ray

I was watching 30 Minute Meals the other day and Rachael Ray made her version of a TV Dinner and I loved the idea! The menu included Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy along with Mashed Potatoes and Creamed Spinach. I already had some left over mashed potatoes so I thought this would make the perfect quick dinner. The Salisbury Steaks she made were HUGE so I decided to cut the recipe in half and add a few more ingredients to the mix. They came out great! (Not the prettiest plate but mighty tasty!) They're pretty much like mini meatloaves and you can't go wrong with that!

Ingredients: (2 servings)

1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 c finely chopped onions
2 tsp steak seasoning blend
1/4 c dry breadcrumbs
1/2 lb ground beef
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 c mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 c beef stock
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Leftover mashed potatoes
Chopped fresh parsley


1. Combine egg, onion, steak seasoning and breadcrumbs. Crumble meat over and mix gently. Form into 2 oval patties.

2. Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the meat patties. Cook meat 3-4 minutes on each side until meat is evenly caramelized on the outside and juices run clear. Remove and set aside.

3. In the same skillet, add another tablespoon of olive oil, then the mushrooms. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper and sauté mushrooms until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in stock and Worcestershire. Return patties to the pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.

4. Remove patties, add butter and let melt. Add flour to the pan and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. To serve, place Salisbury steaks on top of mashed potatoes and pour gravy on top. Sprinkle with parsley.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Go Lakers!

I'm not a super sports fan type of girl but I love going to a sports bar to watch a game. Greg is a total Lakers fan so I cheer them on as well. This afternoon, we went with my friend, Monaique, to The Public House to watch the game and was really bummed out that they lost! At least we got some yummy appetizers though and there's still hope!

Another Panini on a Perfect Sunday!

For some reason Panini are just SO yummy-looking and I just can't stop myself from taking pictures of them even though I make them ALL the time! These sandwiches featured Roast Beef, HUGE slices of tomatoes, Pepper Jack and Muenster Cheese slices. They also got a nice kick from a special mayo I put together with prepared Horseradish and Hot Mustard. Perfect Sunday lunch before hanging out by the pool!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

When Life Gives You Mint...

You make Mint Pesto and serve it over Lamb Chops and Couscous! My AeroGarden has been overflowing with mint so I decided to make some Mint Pesto. Making pesto in the food processor is just so easy and I love playing around with different flavors! Tonight's dinner featured some lamb chops that I marinated in some of the pesto, olive oil and lemonade (it really works!) this morning. I used my new PINK French Oven to braise them in red wine along with mushrooms and onions. Served over some Curry-flavored couscous and it was just the PERFECT Saturday night dinner!

Can't Go Wrong with Banana Muffins!

I was craving some Banana Bread but since I only had 1 banana in the house, I decided to make some muffins instead. Same flavors, just smaller, and totally hit the spot! This is pretty much my go-to Banana Muffin recipe and I pretty much just add whatever nuts and fruits I have at the moment.

Ingredients: (6 muffins)

1 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 ripe banana, mashed well (about 1/2 c)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c raisins


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 6 muffin cups with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

3. In a medium-sized bowl combine the mashed bananas, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, lightly fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients just until combined and the batter is thick and chunky. Stir in the nuts and raisins.

4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins. (I use a large ice cream scoop). Bake about 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes and then remove muffins from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Happy Birthday to ME!

My birthday was on Wednesday but we decided to wait for the weekend to celebrate. This is my mom's gift to me, a PINK Le Creuset French Oven. You won't find these anywhere cuz they were especially made for the Easter Collection. We found this at the outlets last month and it's the BEST gift anyone could EVER give me! Thanks Mommy!

Greg took me to a birthday brunch in Sausalito on Saturday and I got some amazing pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge! We lucked out with the most gorgeous weather too, no cloud in the sky!

Here we are happily eating outside at Horizons Restaurant. Oysters, Cocktail Prawns and Champagne along with a perfect view...can a girl really ask for more?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Loving the Costco Ravioli!

I usually don't buy perishable items at Costco since there are only 2 of us and we just can't finish gallons of food within a week or 2. BUT last month, there was a coupon for Pasta Prima Ravioli and I just couldn't resist! They come in twin packages and the expiration date wasn't until August so they weren't too much for us to handle. The only flavor Costco had was Grilled Chicken and Mozzarella, which sounded just perfect! I cooked up 1 of the packages tonight and made a simple sauce with Marinara, mushrooms and grilled chicken strips. The Ravioli were huge and filled with chicken, herbs and cheese and were REALLY REALLY good! I'm SO glad I have another package waiting for me in the fridge!

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