Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cake Project

Here are some fun cakes that I have recently made.  I just love a new challenge, so I joined a Cakes for Kids ministry at my church.  The ministry has definitely put my skills to the test.  The kids let us know what flavor of cake they like and how they want it decorated.  Below are cakes from my own little projects and some for the ministry...check them out!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Classic Turkey Pot Pie

Hey everyone!  Sorry it has been so long.  I've been doing a little cake project, and testing my mad decorating skills.  I will share some cake pics with you soon. 
I have a great dish to share today.  It is perfect for the cold weather that is rapidly approaching us!  I found this turkey pot pie recipe from Pillsbury, and it is one of the best comfort foods ever!  I don't even really like turkey that much, but this has converted me to at least enjoying it on occasion.  This would also be a great dish to make right after Thanksgiving to give you some serious Black Friday energy!

I used a ready-made pie crust.  Shame on me, but honestly it turns out perfectly every time.  Place in a 9-inch glass pie plate.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Add some onion and cook for about two minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in flour, salt, and pepper until well blended.  Then gradually stir in the broth and milk, cooking until thickened and bubbly.

Stir in turkey and frozen mixed veggies.  Remove from heat.  Spoon into crust-lined pie plate.  Top with second crust and seal edges.  Cut slits in top of pie.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until crust is golden.  When pie is halfway done, cover edges with foil to prevent too much browning.  Let cool.  Voila!  You just made pot pie!

Classic Turkey Pot Pie
1 box refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 can (14 oz. chicken broth)
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
Heat oven to 425 degrees F.  Make pie crusts as directed on box for two-crust pie, using a 9-inch glass pie plate.  In a 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion; cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender.  Stir in flour, salt and pepper until well blended.  Gradually stir in broth and milk, cooking and stirring until bubbly and thickened. Stir in turkey and mixed vegetables.  Remove from heat.  Spoon into crust-lined pie plate.  Top with second crust; seal edge and flute.  Cut slits in several places in top crust.  Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  During last 15 to 20 minutes of baking, cover edge of crust with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Source: Pillsbury

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cookies & Cream Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

Rich and decadent...who doesn't love that?!  Well, that's what this ice cream is in a nutshell, since peanut butter and heavy cream are the main ingredients.  And another thing that is great about this recipe is that it has no eggs...can we say easy peasy?!  Make this ice cream before the cold weather gets here!

Here's the ingredient line-up: cookies & cream peanut butter (I'll show ya how to make it...keep reading), sugar, vanilla, whole milk, and heavy whipping cream

I made my own cookies and cream peanut butter by adding 1/2 C. white chocolate chips, 3/4 C. crushed Oreos, and a splash of vanilla to a jar of peanut butter.  It's delicious to eat with a spoon, but of course I had serious plans for this batch.

In a medium saucepan, simmer the milk, cream, peanut butter, and sugar until smooth.

Stir in vanilla, and cool mixture to room temp.  It should look like this:

Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker.

I also chopped up some some white chocolate Reese's cups eggs...yes, from Easter.  I know, I'm pathetic.  Any-who, regular old white chocolate or milk chocolate Reese's cups would work.

Gently stir them into the ice cream or sprinkle on top.  I chopped up six eggs for ice cream, but I like lots of candy bits.  I guess I save all my candy for ice cream...I'm weird.

Freeze for at least 4 hours.  Enjoy!

Cookies & Cream Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2/3 cups whole milk
1 cup cookies & cream peanut butter (I used reduced fat Jif)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ cups chopped white chocolate peanut butter cups
In a medium saucepan simmer milk, cream, peanut butter, and sugar over medium heat, stirring, until smooth, about 1 minute.
Stir in vanilla and cool mixture to room temperature. Then place in fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.
Freeze mixture in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Spread one half of the ice cream in a 2-quart container and stir in or top with ½ the peanut butter cups. Layer remaining ice cream and peanut butter cups and using a spatula swirl the candy and ice cream together.
Freeze ice cream in an airtight container for at least 4 hours in order for it to firm up.

Slightly adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Crock Pot Sweet Cherry Chicken Sandwiches

Cherry and chicken?  Yes, they are fantastic together!  Sweet tasting meat is a wonderful thing.  And once again, this is another recipe that has made me fall in love my crock pot all over again.  Dump all the in the ingredients in, and when you get home from work...voila!  Dinner is served in a matter of minutes.  This is a great summer recipe because I didn't have to use my oven.  This sandwich would pair great with mac salad and baked beans.  Love it!

Crock Pot Sweet Cherry Chicken Sandwiches
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 C. bbq sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's)
1/3 C. cherry preserves
1/4 C. yellow mustard
Combine all ingredients and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours (Add at least 1/2 C. of water if using the low setting).  Shred with a fork and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Source: Unknown

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ham & Cheese Pretzel Bites

These are bite size rolls that are crammed with ham and cheese...who doesn't love the ham and cheese combo?!   I took these to a cookout and served them with spicey brown mustard as an appetizer.  Everybody loved them!  They were really good the day after too.  We ate them cold, but they didn't look as pretty, so I would recommend making them the same day they will be served.  These could be eaten warm, at room temperture, or cold.  Go make them for your next picnic!

First make the dough by combining the yeast, brown sugar, water, milk, and 2 1/2 C. flour in the bowl of a stand mixer.  When a dough has formed, switch to the dough hook or knead with your hands.  Add the remaining flour until the dough is tacky, but not sticky.  Let rise, then divide into four equal pieces.  Roll out into a rectangle.

Dice up the ham and cheese.  You can use shredded cheese if you like.

Spread filling evenly over the 1/3 of the dough.

Roll up very tightly and seal the edge.  Slice the log into twelve pieces and transfer to a baking sheet.  Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.

Bring six cups of water to a boil in a large pot.  Add the baking soda and reduce heat to a simmer.  Boil the pretzel bites.

Bake at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes until puffed and golden.

Melt some butter and get out the salt.

Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Serve with spicy brown mustard.

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites
For the dough:
1½ tsp. instant yeast
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
¼ cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
2½-3 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling:
½ cup small diced ham
½ cup shredded or cubed sharp cheddar cheese
To finish:
6 cups water
4 tsp. baking soda
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt (or pretzel salt), for topping
To make the dough, combine the yeast, brown sugar, water, milk, and 2½ cups of flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix until a dough has formed.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until a soft, elastic dough forms.  Add the remaining flour a 1-2 tablespoons at a time until the dough is tacky but not sticky.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, until the dough has doubled in size and bubbles on the surface, about 1½ to 2 hours.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide into 4 equal pieces.  Stretch or roll one piece of the dough into a 12 x 4-inch rectangle.  Sprinkle some of the diced ham and the shredded cheese over one third of the dough closest to an edge, lengthwise.  Roll up tightly, filling edge first, so that the filling is tightly sealed inside.  Slice the log into 12 pieces and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Repeat with the remaining 3 portions of dough, and the remaining filling.
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Bring the 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot.  Add the baking soda and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.  Boil the pretzels in batches, cooking for about 2o seconds and turning once. They should be slightly puffed.  Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to transfer them back to the baking sheet.
Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Brush the warm pretzel bites with the melted butter and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Source: Annies Eats, originally adapted from Gourmet, October 2009

Saturday, July 30, 2011

S'more Cookie Bars

Did you know that August 10th is national s'mores day?!  Well I have an excellent recipe to share, so you can celebrate this year.  I actually made these cookie bars for the 4th of July for our family picnic, and I will definitely be making them again.  If you are looking for something super sweet and delicious, this is the dessert for you.  This cookie bar tops a regular s'more any day, and is slightly easier to eat.  It has a gooey, sweet filling of marshmallow cream and Hershey bars and is sandwiched between a chewy graham flavored cookie.  I served these bars at room temperature, but they would be excellent if eaten when slightly warm too.  This recipe is very addicting, and everyone will love it!

Here's your ingredient line-up: Hersey bars, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, an egg, butter, vanilla, sugar, marshmallow creme, an graham crackers

Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.

Beat in the egg and vanilla.

Put seven or eight graham crackers in the food processor.  Pulse until you have fine crumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk together graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add to butter mixture, and mix on low speed until combined.  Divide dough in half and press half in an even layer on the bottom of a greased 8x8 in. baking dish (I put foil in mine, so it would be easy to remove from the pan after cooled).

Place chocolate bars over dough to fit in a single layer.

Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme.

Place remaining dough in a single layer over top of the marshmallow creme.  This is most easily done by flattening the dough and laying it in pieces.  Press them together very gently when all the marshmallow creme is covered.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden.

Allow to cool completely before cutting.  I cut mine small because they are very sweet.

S’More Cookie Bars
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (seven or eight graham crackers)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 or 4 Hershey's milk chocolate bars
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff (not melted marshmallows)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan.
Place chocolate bars over dough. 2 king-sized Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate (if necessary) to get it to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick.
Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme or fluff.
Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small shingles and laying them together).
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned.
Cool completely before cutting into bars
Makes 16 cookie bars.
Source: Baking Bites

Friday, July 22, 2011

Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta

This is a delicious pasta that is bursting with flavor!  It has chicken sausage, is full of veggies, and has a great kick to it.  Don't be afraid of a little spice because it is the best part of this recipe!  Tyler and I just love trying different kinds of pasta at home, and he said this one could have been served in a restaurant!  I put chicken sausage in this pasta, but boneless chicken breasts or sausage could be used too.  This was the first time I tried chicken sausage, and it is much more flavorful than plain chicken.  I would recommend giving it a try! 

Here is your ingredient line-up: chicken sausage, bell peppers, chicken broth, salt, olive oil, red onion, Cajun spice, vodka, heavy cream, half and half, fettuccine, Roma tomatoes, garlic, pepper, cayenne pepper, and butter

Slice up four chicken sausages and sprinkle on some Cajun spice.

Heat some olive oil and butter in a heavy skillet over high heat.

Add the chicken; do not stir.  Allow it to brown on one side for about a minute and then flip and cook for another minute.

Remove the chicken and leave the pan on high heat.  Add the rest of the olive oil and butter.  Then add the peppers, onions, and garlic.  Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice and add some salt if needed.  Cook for one minute, stirring gently and slightly charring the vegetables.

Add the tomatoes and cook for 30 seconds.  Remove the vegetables from the pan.

With the pan still on high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth.  Cook on high for three to five minutes, scraping the bottom to deglaze it.  Reduce the heat to medium-low heat and pour in cream and half and half, stirring constantly.  Cook sauce for a few minutes, until cream thickens the mixture.  Add pepper, cayenne pepper to taste.

Cook the pasta.  Add the chicken, vegetables, and pasta to the sauce.  Toss to coat and serve.

Cajun Chicken Pasta
Servings: 6
4 Italian Chicken Sausages, Sliced
3 teaspoons Cajun Spice Mix, More To Taste
1 pound Fettuccine
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
1/2 whole Large Red Onion, Sliced
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
4 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced
2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1/2 cup Vodka
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 cup Half an Half
Cayenne Pepper To Taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
Salt To Taste
Preparation Instructions:
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente; do not overcook!
Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice over chicken sausages. Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate, leaving pan on high heat.
Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from the pan.
With the pan over high heat, pour in the vodka and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream and half and half, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste. Sauce should be spicy!
Finally, add chicken and vegetables to sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine.
Source: Inspired by Pioneer Woman Cooks