Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fall was Made for Pumpkins and Apples!

To me there's nothing that says "Fall" like pumpkins and apples. I mean, Thanksgiving just isn't complete without Pumpkin and Apple Pies right? So when I saw this recipe for Harvest Pumpkin Apple Bread and knew I wanted to try it! I baked lil square breads and they only took about 25 minutes. They came out so moist and had just the right amount of crunch from the apple chunks. Perfect "Fall" treats!

We're LONG Overdue for Some Crackers!

For a while there I was making Crackers almost every week and I was reminded by Barefoot Contessa over the weekend that I haven't made them in a while. These Blue Cheese and Cranberry Crackers were inspired by her Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers. The only difference is that I added dried cranberries to the dough and didn't roll it in walnuts. I really like the savory and sweet combination in these crackers and the red color added such a nice festive touch! Perfect treats for the holidays with a nice glass with wine. :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Sole Recipe I've Been Saving

I've been saving Sunny's Baked Lemon Sole recipe for a while now and finally made it tonight. (We're not big fans of Swiss Chard so I left that part out.) It was such a simple dish but SO yummy with that buttery breadcrumb topping! I also made some Cheesy Grits with Corn on the side and it was the perfect weeknight dinner. You don't usually think of fish as comfort food but this was definitely warm and comforting, which we totally needed with this cold weather we're having! (Ok, so the 40's isn't exactly freezing temperature but it is in Cali!)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My New Boss Loves Banana Nut Bread!

I'm in charge of bringing in breakfast for the office on Monday mornings and I like to switch things up. So far I've brought in Noah's Bagels, Pastries from Starbucks, and Muffins from Specialty's. Everyone enjoyed all the variety but my boss hinted last week that Banana Nut Bread is his favorite so of course, I had to bake some especially for him! This recipe comes from my Pillsbury Muffins and Quick Breads book and I baked mini loaves so they'd be easier to share. I totally missed my kitchen since we were gone for Thanksgiving and was so happy to be back in it! I just love the smell of the apartment whenever something yummy is baking in the oven! I ended up with 6 mini loaves, which took about half as long as a regular loaf. Everyone (especially my boss) loved them!


3/4 c sugar
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
2 eggs
1 c (2 medium) mashed ripe bananas
1/3 c milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan or 6 mini loaf pans.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar and butter unti light and fluffy. Add eggs; beat well. Add bananas, milk and vanilla; blend well.

3. In another bowl, combine flour, nuts, baking soda and salt; mix well. Add to banana mixture; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour into greased pan.

4. Bake for 50-60 minutes (or 25-30 minutes for mini loaves) or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sundays were Meant for Sliders!

Why? Cuz Sliders are perfect football-watching snacks! I think I'm developing a mild obsession with them but they're just so cute! It's also hard to get tired of them cuz you can switch them up in so many different ways. This afternoon, I made Spicy Pork Slider with Pepper Jack Cheese. I mixed half a pound of sausage with cayenne, cumin and a dash (or more) of Tobasco and then topped them with a tiny slice of cheese after I flipped them. Perfect lil bite-size treats with a super spicy kick!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Back Home and Back to Cooking!

We're back from our Thanksgiving trip and I totally missed my kitchen! (Ok I missed my gym too!) I was pretty tired from traveling but that didn't stop me from making Emeril's Kicked Up Sausage Mac and Cheese! There's something about being in the kitchen that totally energizes me. (Well, maybe it's the thought of knowing something yummy was on its way!) I didn't have any bell pepper so I left that out and I also used fresh breadcrumbs since I always have some in the freezer. It was the perfect combination of spicy and cheesy but the crunchy topping is my favorite part! What a great meal to welcome us back home and I'm so glad the weekend's not over yet!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

They Keep Running Out of Blackberries!

I've been wanting to make Sunny Anderson's Blackberry Ginger-Glazed Salmon for the past 2 weeks but for some reason, my grocery store keeps running out of blackberries. So I decided to improvise and made Raspberry Ginger-Glazed Salmon instead. To me, raspberries taste very similar to blackberries and have pretty much the same texture as well. It totally worked! I decided to just bake the salmon for 10 minutes and it was cooked to perfection! I served the fillets on a bed of couscous to soak up all the extra yummy sauce. I guess sometimes you just gotta use what you can get your hands on!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Loving Zinfandel in a Whole New Way!

Ever since discovering how yummy Zinfandel wine was at Zin in Paradise, I've tried a lot more of them. I don't really know much about wine at all (and I will NEVER pretend to), I just love drinking them! For some reason though, I've never really cooked with wine but after tonight's Zinfandel Braised Chicken, I'm definitely hooked! The wine added such a nice depth of flavor that you just can't get from broth alone and such a pretty deep color too! We both loved it but we're definitely having something other than poultry tomorrow in preparation for Turkey Day! Are you all as excited as we are?

Crunch Time! Finished that Last Card!

We're leaving for Thanksgiving on Wednesday so it was Crunch Time for me to finish my last card. This one is for my bro and sis-in-law and I'm sure they'll love it!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Cute Turkey Card for my Mommy!

I totally stole this idea from a Papyrus Card and actually took a picture of it with my iPhone in the store so I could go home and make it! Shhh...

Welcoming the Holidays with Some Gourmet Snacks!

One of the (many) things I love about The Holidays is the yummy food (and drinks) that go on sale. It's like the supermarkets are expecting you to celebrate everyday and that's exactly what we're planning to do! I saw some Colossal Scallops advertised at Safeway and picked up a few to make some gourmet snacks. (Hey, just cuz you're watching football, doesn't mean you can only eat wings and nachos!) I brushed the scallops with some Honey Dijon and wrapped each in a thin slice of Prosciutto. Then I drizzled them with some olive oil and baked them in a 350°F oven for about 15 minutes, until the scallops turned opaque. To crisp up the Prosciutto, I broiled them for another 5 minutes. Aren't they so cute topped with some tiny basil leaves? Perfect gourmet snacks on a Sunday afternoon!

Sunday Night Spaghetti and Meatballs

Sunday nights are meant for comfort food (at least in our house!) and since we had some left-over meatballs, I decided to make Spaghetti and Meatballs. It's just such a classic combination and never fails! It's so easy too and when you have 6 loads of laundry to do, easy is what you're looking for. Comforting, quick, yummy, what more could you ask for?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sliders are Just Mini Burgers Right?

I have to be honest, I don't make burgers. It's partly cuz I tend to over-cook them and partly cuz I know Greg is perfectly happy with a Quarter Pounder (with cheese) any day. I've watched Food Network chefs make tons of different burgers that all look really yummy but have never attempted them myself. BUT now that I've discovered sliders, it's like a whole new world has opened up to me! I mean, sliders are just MINI burgers right? This afternoon, I made miniature versions of Sunny Anderson's Curry Pork Burgers and they turned out amazing! I skipped the Spicy Ketchup knowing that Greg was gonna add hot sauce to them anyway and instead slathered the buns with some Horseradish Mayo. I just love making sliders cuz they cook up so quickly and I do have a mild obsession with MINI things!

Savory and Cheesy Squash Bread

I make lots of different sweet and savory Zucchini Bread but not so much Squash Bread so when I saw this recipe for Savory Squash Bread, I knew I had to give it a try. I love Feta in just about anything and it was great in this bread! It just adds such a nice salty bite and creaminess. I added about 1/4 cup of fresh parsley for some herby flavor and of course, pretty color! I also turned my bread into mini loaves and topped each with some Parmesan cheese for a yummy brown crust. Perfect savory treats for any time of the day!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Picking Up Another Hobby

As if I don't already have enough going on with my crazy workouts, full-time job AND baking/cooking obsession, I picked up yet another hobby, card-making. I figured with the holidays coming up, it's a good time to experiment. I've always hated those Hallmark cards you see at every store year after year and I really can't justify how much some of those nicer ones cost! The solution? Steal ideas from places like Papyrus and make my own! Shhh...don't tell nobody! This is the one I made for the In-Laws. It only took me like an entire night but definitely worth it!

Thanksgiving-ish Dinner a Week Before the Big Day!

We LOVE Thanksgiving and can never get tired of turkey and cranberries so even though we'll be having plenty of both next week, I still wanted to make these Turkey Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce from Williams Sonoma. They turned out SO good! I substituted some Poultry Seasoning for the Oregano and definitely went with the fresh cranberries since they're so abundant right now at the supermarket. I've always stayed away from ground turkey cuz it tends to turn out dry but the sauce kept the meatballs moist and flavorful. To stick with the theme, I served them over Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes (and EXTRA Sauce) for the ultimate Friday night dinner!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

There's a Seinfeld Episode about EVERYTHING!

Greg has watched EVERY Seinfeld episode at least twice and he's very proud of it. (I, on the other hand, just never got into it.) Anyway, so Greg likes to tell me whenever something comes up that "there's a Seinfeld episode about it" and apparently there seems to be 1 about EVERYTHING! Tonight's dinner was inspired by Fusilli Jerry and it's Fusilli in a sauce made with ground beef and mushrooms. It was an easy dinner made with things I had in the fridge and I baked it in the oven with some breadcrumbs on top, which took it over the top! Sometimes you just want a simple and satisfying meal and this was definitely 1 of them!

Super Thanksgiving Cookies!

Why are they SUPER Thanksgiving Cookies? Well, cuz they're Pumpkin Cookies with Cranberries and Pecans...Pumpkin Pie, Cranberry Sauce and Pecan Pie, get it? All the sweetness of Thanksgiving packed into a yummy cookie! These are soft and REALLY good with a bit of tartness from the cranberries and a tiny crunch from the pecan half on top.

Ingredients: (36 cookies)

2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 c sugar
1 c pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c dried cranberries
36 pecan halves


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine flour, baking powder, Pumpkin Pie Spice, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

3. Beat butter and sugar in a stand mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture. Beat at low speed until well blended. Stir in cranberries.

4. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten slightly with back of spoon. Press one pecan half into center of each cookie.

5. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cookies stand on cookie sheets 1 minute; transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tis the Season for Stuffing!

I can't believe next week is Thanksgiving! It's totally obvious when you go to the grocery store though with all the Cranberry Sauces, Canned Pumpkin and of course, Stuffing Mixes are proudly displayed as soon as you enter. I just LOVE the holidays, don't you? I mean, it's the time of the year when everything is decorated with festive colors, work is more relaxed and you get to stuff yourself with all the food you've craved all year telling yourself that you can go on a diet next year! Tonight, I'm kicking off the season with the ultimate comfort food, Pork with Apple Stuffing and Mashed Potatoes. It's a recipe from Stove Top so you KNOW it's easy and yummy! It came out SO good and Greg loved it! I can't WAIT until Thanksgiving next week! What are you most looking forward to eating?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chicken Cacciatore AGAIN?

I've made Chicken Cacciatore more than once but we're not tired of it yet! This time I followed a recipe from Life's Ambrosia Blog (which I'm totally in love with BTW!) and it turned out amazing! I used some Italian-style canned tomatoes, which were really thick so I left out the tomato sauce and I also didn't have any capers. The meat was tender and "cooked to perfection" (quoting Greg)! I served my chicken over some couscous and we made sure every last drop of that amazing sauce was devoured!

Apple and Cheddar the PERFECT Couple!

After discovering the yummy sweet and savory combination of apple and cheese, I decided to try these Apple Cheddar Scones. I used my trusty food processor to pulse the butter into the flour mixture, then poured it into a big mixing bowl and stirred in the buttermilk, apple and cheddar. Then I got my hands dirty with the REALLY sticky dough and managed to pat it out into 2 5-inch rounds so that I could make mini scones. (We all know my obsession with MINI things!) I also brushed the tops of the scones with some more buttermilk for that extra tender and golden crust. They turned out SO good! Even Greg had 1 and you know he's not into baked good! Perfectly tender and SUPER cheesy, just the way I like them!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Holiday Colored Zucchini Cranberry Pie!

This Zucchini Cranberry Pie comes from my Pillsbury Best Muffins and Quick Breads Cookbook and I love it cuz it's got the holiday colors! (Yea I LOVE the holidays and I'm SO ready for it!) The book called it a bread but it's baked in a pie pan so I'm calling it a pie. (And besides, I've already baked LOTS of Zucchini Bread so Zucchini Pie is a good switch up!) I also added chopped pecans cuz I like adding nuts to everything and substituted Chai Spice for the Cinnamon and Cloves. It came out really yummy and super moist! I love it when I can actually feel good about eating a pie since it's got veggies in it! :)


1/2 c sugar
1/2 c shredded zucchini (1 medium)
1/3 c milk
1 Tbsp oil
1 egg
1 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp Chai Spice
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/2 chopped pecans


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, zucchini, milk, oil and egg. Add flour, baking powder, Chai Spice, dried cranberries and pecans. Mix just until combined.

3. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golder brown. Cut into wedges and serve.

Combining 2 of Paula Deen's Snapper Recipes

I know Paula Deen uses a LOT of butter and I love her for it! I actually recently downloaded her show to watch on my iPhone (at the gym!) and was inspired to make her Mushroom-Stuffed Baked Red Snapper recipe. BUT, being someone who's not about to go out and buy an entire fish, guts and all, I decided to make some modifications. I found that she had another Red Snapper recipe and thought I'd get creative and combine them. This is my version of Baked Red Snapper with a flavorful Cheesy Mushroom Crust on top. It's served with our favorite Cheesy Grits recipe from Alton Brown and it was an amazing dinner! Paula would've been proud!


2 Tbsp butter, divided
1/4 c onions, diced
1/2 c mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c soft breadcrumbs
1 tsp olive oil
8 oz red snapper fillet, about 1/2-inch thick
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated


1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. In a small skillet, melt 1 Tbsp butter. Add onions, mushrooms and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Take off heat, let mixture cool slightly, transfer to a small mixing bowl and stir in Worcestershire and breadcrumbs.

3. Drizzle olive oil into a baking dish. Place fish onto the oil and top with mushroom mixture. Dot the fish with remaining 1 Tbsp butter.

4. Bake for 15 minutes, sprinkle Parmesan on top and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until fish is opaque and cheese is browned.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Super Cheesy Zucchini Bread

I'm always looking for new savory breads so when I saw this recipe for Herbed Zucchini Cheese Bread, I knew I wanted to try it. My herb of choice was Parsley and I also topped my mini loaves with some Parmesan cheese for that extra yummy cheesy flavor! They came out SO good! Savory and cheesy and the perfect Saturday afternoon treat!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pescado Encocado (or just Fish with Coconut Sauce)

We seem to be on a Coconut Milk and Fish kick lately so when I saw this recipe for Pescado Encocado, which is an Ecuadorian dish, I knew I wanted to try it! It came out REALLY good and had a nice tropical flavor. I didn't have any Fried Plantains but I definitely knew I wanted some rice to soak up all that yummy sauce. I had a packet of El Paso Spanish Rice in the pantry that went perfectly with all the flavors (not to mention REALLY quick and easy too!). A wonderful tropical meal on a Friday night!

Crumble or Shortcake? Yummy Either Way!

I can't resist those lil Recipe Booklets every time I'm at the grocery store and picked up a copy of Holiday Cookies and Bars from Taste of Home. I flipped through it and decided to try the Cranberry Shortbread Bars since I had some left-over cranberries in the fridge. I halved the recipe and used a loaf pan but somehow they came out more like a crumble. Either way, I loved the thick syrupy texture of the cranberries and the filling came out perfectly sweet and tart at the same time! The buttery crust was definitely a yummy addition as well! A perfect treat to start off the weekend!


1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
1/4 c powdered sugar
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c flaked coconut
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c packed brown sugar
1-1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 c fresh cranberries
1/2 c apple juice


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9x5-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add flour and coconut and mix well. Set aside 1/2 c for topping and spread remaining mixture into prepared baking pan.

3. In a small saucepan, combine the granulate sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, cranberries and apple juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 5 min, stirring, until thickened.

4. Spread cranberry mixture over crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake for 20-25 min, until golden brown.

Switching It Up: Mini Muffin Friday!

It's Cookie Friday but I wanted to switch it up so I wanted to make some Mini Muffins instead. I found this recipe for Mini Maple Pancake Muffins from Bakerella's website (LOVE her!) and couldn't wait to try them! I mean, mini muffins that taste like Chocolate Chip Pancakes? How can those NOT be good? OMG they actually taste even BETTER than I'd imagined! Soft and moist with the perfect sweetness from the Maple Syrup and Chocolate Chips. Everyone at the office LOVED them! My only regret is that I should've made a double batch cuz they were gone in no time!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sweet and Sour and VERY Gourmet!

I've been saving this recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken with Carrots from an old Gourmet magazine for a while now and finally made it tonight. I substituted some Baby Carrots and left out the Cinnamon (Greg's not a fan). I also added a dash of Balsamic Vinegar and used chicken broth instead of water to intensify the flavor and it came out really good! Gourmet meal on a Thursday night is ALL good in my book!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

He Ate ALL the Rice!

Salmon may look like the star of the show tonight, but really it was the rice! Greg's coworker gave us some authentic Garam Masala (actually FROM India!) and I couldn't wait to try it! I wanted to use it on salmon and came up with the idea of Mango rice to go with it. I only had some Tropical Fruit Mix so I went with that and totally winged the recipe. OMG it came out amazing! Greg NEVER finishes the rice but he ate every single morsel while raving about how yummy it was. I mean, don't get me wrong, the salmon was good too (and we ate ALL of it!) but the rice totally stole the show tonight! It was so creamy with sweet and spicy flavors from the fruit and Garam Masala. DEFINITELY worth a try!

Rice Ingredients:

1 Tbsp butter
1 c rice
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 (4 oz) Delmonte Tropical Fruit Mix Cup, undrained
2 c chicken broth
1 Tbsp heavy cream


1. Melt butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Stir in rice and Garam Masala. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring.

2. Stir in fruit, broth and cream. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Salmon Ingredients:

Olive oil, for drizzling
1 salmon fillet (6-8 oz)
1/4 c onions, diced
1 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Drizzle a baking pan with olive oil. Place salmon, skin-side down, onto pan. Scatter onions on top of salmon.

2. In a bowl, stir together butter, brown sugar, cayenne, Garam Masala and lemon juice. Pour over salmon.

3. Bake for 15 minutes, until salmon is opaque and cooked through. Transfer salmon and onions to serving platter and sprinkle with parsley.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Going Crustless with My Pizza!

I was watching Nigella Kitchen over the weekend and wanted to try the Crustless Pizza she made. I had some tomatoes in the fridge so I used that as the topping instead of pepperoni (since she did say you could add whatever you want!) and it came out SO good! I left the pizza in the oven for about 10 minutes longer after I added the tomato slices cuz I wanted them to get softer. I also sprinkled some Parmesan on top along with the tomatoes cuz pizza is just not pizza without some Parmesan right? Almost too pretty to eat! ALMOST!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cooking with Cranberries

I bet you don't think of Pork Chops when you think of Cranberries but they're really perfect together! Pork is great with fruit cuz it pairs so well with sweet and tangy flavors. I came up with this recipe using up ingredients I had in the fridge and it turned out amazing! I was so proud of myself too cuz I didn't overcook the pork like I tend to do. The key is to really watch it when you're simmering the meat and cut into it to see if it's done every minute or so. I call this my Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Pork Chops. Sweet Maple Syrup, spicy Chipotle in Adobo and juicy Cranberries make the perfect sauce for these Pork Chops!

Ingredients: (2 servings)

1 Tbsp oil
2 bone-in pork chop (1/2-inch thick)
Salt and pepper
1 medium onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c apple juice
1 c fresh cranberries
2 chipotle in adobo w/1 Tbsp sauce
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp butter
Fresh chopped Basil, for garnish
Couscous, for serving


1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Add to pot and brown 5 minutes per side. Remove and keep warm.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Add onions and garlic and cook for 3 minutes, until softened. Add juice, cranberries, chipotle and syrup. Boil until berries have popped and softened, 10 minutes.

3. Return pork chops to pot and turn heat down to medium-low. Cover and simmer until meat is cooked through, 2-3 minutes. Remove chop to serving platter.

4. Stir in butter, turn heat up to high and boil until thickened, 5 minutes. Pour sauce over chops and serve over couscous with basil sprinkled on top.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

We NEVER Get Tired of Enchiladas!

I think I must make Enchiladas at least once a month and we never get tired of it. There's just something so comforting about meat-filled tortillas covered with a yummy sauce and cheese and on a cold rainy Sunday, there's just nothing better! Tonight's tortillas were filled with shredded Rotisserie Chicken and Rosarita's Spicy Refried Beans with Jalapeño and covered with our favorite La Victoria Enchiladas Sauce and Mexican shredded cheese. For garnish, I made my go-to Guac using McCormick's Mix (which we always have on hand for emergency Guac need!). PERFECT Sunday night dinner with LOTS of left-overs!

First Treat of Cranberry Season!

Although Cranberry Season started in September, I really don't see them in the supermarkets until November, when everyone starts thinking about Thanksgiving and Cranberry Sauce. BUT cranberries can be made into so many different treats other than Sauce and I love experimenting with them. I found this recipe for Cranberry Corn Bread and knew I wanted to give it a try. I halved the recipe to make a 9x5-inch loaf and it only took about 25-30 minutes to bake. I love the slight tartness that the cranberries added and the bread came out incredibly moist. Great breakfast or snack any time of the day!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Spicy Lil Sliders!

I had so much fun making my first batch of sliders that I decided to make some more. This time, I just used a plain non-stick pan (not that I don't still LOVE my grill!) and they cooked up in no time. I went a lil more creative with my ingredients this time and mixed some great flavors into the patties. I also topped them with some Provolone cheese and a nice smear of Kraft Hot and Spicy Mayo for a nice lil kick! There's something about eating 4 sliders that's just so much more satisfying than eating 1 regular burger, don't you agree?

Ingredients: (4 sliders)

1/2 lb ground pork
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
4 mini buns
2 slices Provolone cheese, cut in half
Hot and spicy Mayo


1. In a bowl, mix the pork, garlic powder, cumin, oregano and paprika. Form into 4 patties.

2. Heat 1 Tbsp over medium-high heat. Heat buns until slightly charred, 5 minutes. Remove and keep warm. Slather with Mayo.

3. Heat remaining oil and add patties. Cook 5 minutes on 1st side. Flip and top with Provolone cheese. Cook another 4-5 minutes.

4. Serve on buns. Devour immediately!

Friday, November 5, 2010

I FINALLY Made Mini Cheesecakes!

As soon as I made my Mini Pecan Pies, I ran out and bought 3 more packages of Keebler's Mini Graham Cracker Crusts to make some Mini Cheesecakes. I have NO idea what took me so long to actually make them, but I'm so glad I did! They're not only cute but SUPER creamy and yummy! I used my stand mixer to make the filling but of course, you can always use a hand mixer. The hardest part was waiting 2 hours for them to cool in the fridge but TOTALLY worth it! You can top them with Whipped Cream and fruit or you can just devour them as is on a late Friday night like us!

Ingredients: (6 Mini Pies)

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 pkg Keebler's Mini Graham Cracker Crust


1. Preheat oven to 325°F. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla on medium speed until fluffy. Add egg, beating until just combined.

2. Place tart crusts on baking sheet. Evenly spread cream cheese mixture in tart crusts. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until knife inserted into filling 1 inch from edge comes out clean.

3. Refrigerate at least 2 hours for filling to set.

We LOVE Meatballs in Every Way!

We LOVE Meatballs in our house so I'm always trying to find new ways to jazz them up. I came across these Polynesian Meatballs and I'd never made Asian-style meatballs before so I thought I'd give them a try. I made a few minor changes (you know me!) and cooked the whole dish on the countertop. At first the Asian flavors were a bit unexpected but after a few bites, they tasted great! The combination of the sweet pineapples, savory soy sauce, spicy Siracha and tangy vinegar all worked perfectly together! Another winner on a Friday night!


1/2 lb ground pork
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c plain breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Siracha
1/2 tsp ginger, grated
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 oz pineapple chunks in juice
1/2 medium bell pepper, chopped
1/4 c chopped onion
2 Tbsp c rice wine vinegar
1/2 c juice
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
Rice, for serving


1. Combine pork with egg, breadcrumbs, soy sauce, Siracha, ginger and mustard in a bowl and mix well. Shape into 6 golf-size meatballs.

2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add meatballs and brown on all sides, 5 minutes.

3. Turn heat up to medium-high and add pineapple with juice, bell pepper and onion. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until meatballs reach 170°F. Remove meatballs to plate.

4. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, juice, brown sugar and cornstarch and mix well. Add to pineapple mixture and stir to combine. Boil and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.

5. Add meatballs back into pan and toss to coat. Serve over hot rice.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What the Heck is Somerset Chicken?

That was the question Greg asked when I told him we were having that for dinner. I knew he'd ask so I was prepared. According to Wikipedia, Somerset is a rural county in Southwest England with lots of rolling hills and massive farmlands. Agriculture is a major business there and they're most notably for Cheddar cheese and strong apple cider. What does that all mean? Well, it means Somerset Chicken is a chicken dish with apple, cheese and cider. Duh! I was first intrigued by the dish when I stumbled upon this recipe from the Good to Know website, which is a UK-based site for women. (I find that recipes from other countries are just so different and interesting!) The picture looked SO creamy and yummy that I had to try it! Of course, I made LOTS of adjustments but I believe the result is comparable to the original and even BETTER than it looked!


2 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 c onions, diced
1 apple, peeled and diced
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 c mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c chicken broth
1/2 c apple juice
1/4 c heavy cream
1/2 cheddar cheese, shredded
Cooked rice, for serving


1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown 5 minutes on each side. Remove and keep warm.

2. Turn heat down to medium and add the onions, apple, sage and mushrooms. Saute until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in broth and juice and bring mixture to a boil. Scrape down any brown bits and add chicken back.

3. Turn heat down to medium-low, cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken to serving platter, on top of the rice.

4. Turn heat up to medium-high and stir in cream. Boil until sauce thickens, 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in cheese and pour over chicken.

Another Batch of Mrs Field's Cookies and an Urban Legend?

Have you ever heard of this Urban Legend about the $250 Cookie Recipe? I'm not sure if I believe it but it's pretty interesting. Anyway, this Cookie Friday, I went back to the classics with Mrs Field's Blue Ribbon Chocolate Chip Cookies. I halved the recipe since there aren't that many people in my new office. I ended up with 2 dozen, which is just perfect for a small group (and a few for the baker the night before!). Below is the recipe (my halved version) and it's widely available online so it's not like I'm giving away a "secret" or anything!

Ingredients: (2 dozen cookies)

1-1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c ark brown Sugar, firmly packed
1/4 c white sugar
1/2 (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c semisweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. (Not in the original recipe but I like to take precautions!)

2. In medium bowl combine flour, soda and salt. Mix well with wire whisk. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, blend sugar and butter at medium speed to form a grainy paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add egg and vanilla extract, and mix at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the flour misture and chocolate chips and blend at low speed until just mixed. Do not overmix!

3. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, 2" apart. Bake 22-24 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rachael Ray's Pumpkin Pasta!

It's rare that I follow a Rachael Ray recipe all the way but her Pumpkin and Sausage Pasta didn't need much tweaking. The only thing I did differently was cooking everything in 1 pot, pasta first, placed in drainer, then sauce in the same pot. Why dirty more dishes than necessary right? It still took only 30 minutes since I didn't make the side dish. (We're not big on sides!) It turned out great and very "fall-like". The pumpkin flavor was subtle but definitely there and made a yummy creamy sauce! And as with all of Rachael Ray's recipes, it made a huge pot and the left-overs will be gobbled up in no time!

Sometimes You Just Gotta Get Your Hands Messy!

I love making drop biscuits cuz they're so easy but sometimes I just wanna get my hands messy and work some dough! I bought some Prosciutto at Trader Joe's a while back and totally forgot about it until I saw these Cream Biscuits with Prosciutto and Parmesan. I cut the recipe in half and made 8 BIG biscuits. (We like our biscuits really think so we can slather LOTS of butter in the middle!) They were SO SO good! The smokey Prosciutto and salty Parmesan added such good flavor and we gobble up half of them hot from the oven (with LOTS of butter)! I can't wait to have more tomorrow for breakfast!

Iron Foodie Contest! (PLEASE pick me!)

I received an email today regarding a cooking contest called Iron Foodie and can't wait to join! (see sidebar for more info) I have to answer the following questions in order to be considered as 1 of the lucky 25 contestants so here they are and wish me luck!

1. Why do you want to compete in this challenge?
Let's see, where do I began? I LOVE watching Iron Chef and became obsessed with the original Japanese version more than 10 years ago. I was so happy when they came out with Iron Chef America cuz the dubbing was sometimes off even though that made the show pretty funny. I also love a challenge, especially in the kitchen. I'm always trying to be creative using up ingredients I have on hand and making a yummy meal out of them. I checked out the Marx Foods website and can't wait to get my hands on their gourmet products! I'm confident every single item they offer can be made into a wonderful recipe.

2. Limitations of time/space notwithstanding, whose kitchen would you like to spend the day in & why? Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, James Beard, Marie-Antoine Careme, or The Swedish Chef?
Even though my culinary skills probably won't improve, I'd definitely pick The Swedish Chef! Why? Because I grew up watching and loving The Muppet Show, then later the Muppet Babies. Even though I think The Swedish Chef's gibberish would eventually drive me crazy at the end of the day, I'm sure I'll laugh more than I've ever laughed before! He's such a sweet reminiscence of my childhood and as a bonus, maybe Kermit and Gonzo will show up!

3. What morsel are you most likely to swipe from family & friends’ plates when they aren’t looking?
It would definitely be any type of cheese and by any type, I mean ANY type! I'm a total sucker for cheese, whether it's a block of cheddar or shaved parmesan or maybe a sliver of Camembert. I like them all! In fact, I LOVE stinky cheese, the stinkier the better!

4. Sum your childhood up in one meal.
It would definitely start with Lay's Potato Chips dipped in ketchup (don't ask!), followed by a large Pepperoni Stuffed-Curst Pizza from Pizza Hut (extra Parmesan), along with a side Potato Wedges from KFC dipped in their Honey BBQ Sauce and a Pink Lemonade from Hot Dog on a Stick. For dessert, DEFINITELY an Oreo Sundae from Baskin Robbins (extra whipped cream and 3 cherries)!

5. The one mainstream food you can’t stand?
Truffles (not the chocolate kind). I know they're a gourmet ingredient and many people love them but I can't stand the smell or taste. Sorry Truffle Fries, you're not getting ordered!
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