Monday, July 30, 2012

Cake Batter Muddy Buddy's

When I was little and my mom would bake a cake, I would beg to lick the bowl and the beaters. My mom, who never wasted anything, would scrape all but what seemed like a drop of batter and then let me have the rest. To this day, I love cake batter.  I could eat it by the spoonful. Raw eggs or not, I still can't help but lick the spatula, after scraping the rest into the bowl, of course. Mom would be proud. Recipes using cake batter are everywhere, cookies, ice cream and snack mixes like this one. I made these for food day at work. At the end of the day, I had an empty bowl and several requests for the recipe. Be careful, it's addictive!!!

Cake Batter Muddy Buddies
Recipe Courtesy of The Girl Who Ate Everything Makes 5 cups
5 cups Rice Chex cereal
10 ounces (5 squares) vanilla flavored Almond Bark
3/4 cup yellow cake mix
1/4 cup powdered sugar
colored sprinkles
vegetable shortening, optional
Instructions: 1. Pour 5 cups of Chex Cereal into a large bowl.
2. Melt Almond Bark according to the package directions, adding vegetable shortening to thin if desired. (I used the shortening to thin.)
3. Pour Almond Bark over cereal, stirring and folding until the cereal is completely covered. Generously shake sprinkles over mixture and fold them in as well. so they stick to the Almond Bark.
4. In a large bag or covered container such as Tupperware, put cake mix and powdered sugar and shake to mix evenly.
5. Pour the Almond Bark covered cereal into the large bag or container containing cake mix and powdered sugar. Seal the bag or container and shake until all the cereal is coated with the powdered mixture.
6. Discard excess powdered sugar.
I am linking this to On The Menu Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday and Sweet Tooth Friday.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Zucchini Bites

If you're like me and find yourself with a crisper drawer full of zucchini, give these a try!  I've made these twice since pinning the recipe a few weeks ago.  They are delicious and easy to make.  Be sure to squeeze the water out of the zucchini or they will be soggy.  You want them to crisp up, like a potato cake!

Zucchini Bites
Recipe adapted: The Curious Country Cook
Yields: 12 mini muffins

1 cups zucchini, grated
1 egg
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup cheese - I used a combination of shredded Mozilla, asiago and parmesean
1/4 cup bread crumbs - I used Italian style Panko
Salt and Pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a mini-muffin tin with non-stick spray, set aside.
2. Grate the zucchini and then place in a dish towel to squeeze out the excess water.
3. In a bowl combine, the egg, onion, cheese, bread crumbs, zucchini, salt and pepper.
4. Using a spoon or a cookie scoop, fill the muffin cups to the top. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the top is browned and set.

I am linking this to On The Menu Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday and Foodie Friday.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Caprese Pasta

We love Caprese Salad. In the summer when the tomatoes and basil are abundant, we have one almost every night. With limited space for a garden, we decided to grow cherry tomatoes this year. The plants are thriving in our sandy soil.  With plenty of tomatoes on hand,  I wanted to adapt the flavors of Caprese Salad into a pasta dish.  Using several cold Caprese Pasta Salad recipes as my inspiration, I created this pasta dish.

The tartness of the balsamic, acidity of the tomatoes and creaminess of the mozzarella make this a delicious fresh pasta dish, the perfect dinner for a hot summer night.

Caprese Pasta

 1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoons minced shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
 Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
12 ounces uncooked pasta, such as penne or bow tie
12 fresh mozzarella cheese balls
1/3 cup chopped, fresh basil


Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, shallot, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add the tomatoes and gently toss. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Drain in a colander, reserving a small amount for the pasta sauce.  Heat a large skillet to medium and toss the tomatoes and sauce until tomatoes are just slightly cooked.  Add the pasta and mozzarella to the tomato mixture and toss.  If you like, add the pasta water to the pan.  Cook a few minutes until the mozzarella balls begin to soften or melt.  Just prior to serving top with basil and season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.

I am linking this to On The Menu Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday and Foodie Friday.

Monday, July 16, 2012

3rd Date Chicken - SRC

 I love receiving my Secret Recipe Club assignment each month!  It's so fun to meet new bloggers and decide which recipe to make.  My assigned blog for this month is The Bad Girl's Kitchen.

 After I receive the blogger's name, I go to the blog and browse the recipes, making note of the ones I might like to make.   I try to choose a savory recipe since I seem to find plenty of sweet recipes on my own.  Some of the ones I noted were Paltrow's Pancakes, Chicken Breasts in Lemon and Sage, Bruffins and 3rd Date Chicken.  I narrowed it down to the Chicken Breasts in Lemon and Sage or the 3rd Date Chicken.    I decided on 3rd Date Chicken, who could pass up a recipe with this title.  You know what they say about 3rd dates :)....

The recipe called for olives and prunes.  This wasn't the first time I've seen prunes as an ingredient in a savory recipe, does anyone know why these are sometimes added? Tim is not an olive fan and I didn't have any prunes, so I substituted brussels sprouts.  Not sure if that was a good substitution or not but as it turns out, they were delicious.  This is a wonderful chicken dish.  The combination of the red wine vinegar in the marinade and the brown sugar gives the chicken a nice mix of sweetness and acidity.  This would make a great dish for a dinner party or if you're single a great recipe for that 3rd date. 

3rd Date Chicken

4 boneless chicken breasts
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs dried oregano
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
1/2 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup small green olives
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white wine
parsley for garnish

  • Combine the chicken, garlic, oregano, salt/pepper, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives & bay leaves in a bowl. Cover, refrigerate and marinate for a few hours or overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Arrange chicken in a single layer in a baking dish (9X11 glass pan works great). Pour marinade over evenly.
  • Sprinkle chicken with brown sugar and pour white wine around the bottom of the pan
  • Bake for 60 minutes, basting frequently.
  • Sprinkle with parsley before serving.
  • Serves 4-6
I am linking this to On the Menu Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday and Foodie Friday.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Honey Cinnamon Creme Brulee

I know a lot of chefs and foodies consider Creme Brulee a passe dessert from the 80's.  Regardless, it's still one of my favorite desserts, one I love to eat and often make at home. I've used the same Creme Brulee recipe for years.   I've tried a couple of variations, Chocolate and Raspberry but have yet to find one I like nearly as well as plain. Until now, that is, this Honey Cinnamon Creme Brulee is delicious. The texture is smooth and creamy, very similar to my favorite recipe but has a beautiful hint of cinnamon.

Honey Cinnamon Creme Brulee

Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart Living
Ingredients For the Custard
 3 cups heavy cream
 1 cup whole milk
 4 cinnamon sticks, 2 inches each
 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup clover honey
 1/2 cup sugar (1/4 cup plus 1/4 cup)
 9 large egg yolks

 For the Topping
 1/2 cup sugar
 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions Make the custard: Bring cream, milk, cinnamon sticks, and salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat, and let steep 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Place six 6-ounce creme brulee dishes or heatproof ramekins in a large roasting pan. Pour cream mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, then return to pan. Add honey and 1/4 cup sugar; bring to a simmer. Stir to dissolve. Whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a bowl. One ladle at a time, whisk hot milk mixture into yolks. Pour custard through sieve into a bowl, and ladle into dishes. Place pan in oven, and add enough boiling water to pan to reach halfway up sides of dishes. Bake until custards are just set, about 35 minutes (may take longer if using ramekins). Transfer dishes to a wire rack, and let cool. Refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. Make the topping: Before serving, place dishes in freezer 20 minutes. Mix sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle a thin layer on custards. Use a kitchen torch to caramelize sugar, or put custards under broiler, 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat with another layer of cinnamon sugar.

I am linking this to On The Menu Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday and Sweet Tooth Friday.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Weekend DIY

Are you addicted to Pinterest?  Not only I am I using it to keep track of all the recipes I want to try, I am inspired to be crafty.  There's so many great ideas,  even a non crafter (like me) can be crafty! 

 After searching all the big box stores for pots for the front porch, I turned to Pinterest.  I love tiered planters and found detailed instructions to make these here.  With Tim's help, new pots for the front porch at a fraction of the cost.

I needed candles to round out my mantle.  I searched Pinterest for  inspiration and found lots of posts where items were wrapped with jute.  Why not votives?   Even better, the votives were in my closet, not being used.  I found these stars at Hobby Lobby and painted them to add to the votives.  How easy and thrifty was this?!!!

What are your favorite Pinterest inspirations?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sauteed Sweet and Spicy Aspargus

Asparagus season was earlier than usual in the Midwest this year. Our favorite way to eat asparagus is usually roasted because you taste nothing but it's flavors.  Since we'd had a longer season to enjoy, when I saw this recipe, over at One Perfect Bite, I decided to give this recipe a try.  The soy sauce and chili flakes gives the asparagus a nice a nice kick.  I topped mine with almonds instead of the sesame seeds Mary uses.   Next time I make this I don't think I will blanch the asparagus first, the asparagus was a  little too done for our tastes.

Sauteed Sweet and Spicy Szechuan Asparagus
Recipe Courtesy of One Perfect Bite

2 pounds asparagus, ends discarded
1/4 cup soy sauce, low sodium
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, unseasoned
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 to 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted (I used almonds instead)

1) Diagonally cut asparagus into 3 inch pieces.
2) In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, chili flakes and pepper. Set aside.
3) Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. Add 1/2 cup water and asparagus. Cover and cook until asparagus is still crisp to the bite, about 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover and pour off any remaining water.
4) Add oil, garlic and ginger to pan with asparagus. Sauté until lightly browned.
5) Add soy sauce mixture. Bring to a boil. Cook until sauce coats asparagus.
6) Sprinkle in toasted sesame seeds. Transfer to a serving platter. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 - 8 servings.

I am linking this to On The Menu Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday and Foodie Friday.