Sunday, November 16, 2008

Get Better Bars!


Ok, so the REAL name of these bars is Cranberry White Chocolate Bars.  But I made them for my friend because she was in a car accident, and was at home recovering.  Luckily she was ok, but it was still pretty scary for all of us.  I know that she had to take her pain meds with food, and in case she was having a hard time with an appetite, these would count as food!  I know she enjoys the white chocolate/cranberry combo.

I found this recipe on a blog, Good Things Catered, that always seems to have the yummiest recipes (and apparently the steadiest hands, check out her CUTE sugar cookies).  I don’t know who Mrs. H is, but I sure am glad she shared this recipe with Katie!

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Cranberry White Chocolate Bars

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
zest of 1/2 an orange
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, (I didn't use freshly grated, just McCormick's)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dried or fresh cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (I was rather generous here!)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line an 11 x 7 pan with foil (I used an 8 x 8, so mine were taller), coat with cooking spray.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, zest, & nutmeg. Set aside. Beat butter & sugar on high until soft and light in color, about 3 minutes. Turn mixer to low and beat in eggs, one at a time, and then vanilla, until thoroughly combined. Slowly incorporate flour mixture. Stir in cranberries & white chocolate.

Spread batter in pan. Batter is VERY thick, so use a spatula and press out any air bubbles. Bake 25 - 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on rack for 1 hour. Remove from pan & cut into bars.

** Note** I use White Lily flour, which always says if the recipe calls for 1 cup, to use 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of White Lily. Usually this works out fine, but for some reason, I think in this recipe it was too much flour. Either that, or I cooked it too long, so mine look more crumbly than Katie's. They were still delicious, but next time I won't add the extra tablespoons of flour.


I’m pretty excited to get to use my NEW rectangular serving platter I won at a Pampered Chef party!  I think it displays the bars rather nicely.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Oreo Birthday Cake


You say it’s my BIRTHDAY!

My birthday this year falls on a Wednesday… BORING!  So I got together with my hometown best friends the weekend before.  I decided I’d make my own cake this year!  Why not, it’s something I ENJOY doing.  I had been pondering what to make for the longest time.  Then, I saw this.  And I instantly knew what I was going to make.  The only thing was, I wanted to change the frosting.  To me, that cake looked like crushed Oreos, so instead of using the dark chocolate frosting, I wanted to use a WHITE chocolate frosting; so it would taste like a big fat Oreo!.  One of my friends recently made a white chocolate cake for her sister-in-law’s birthday.  Luckily she gave me her “recipe” (she had just eyeballed it).

I made this cake while I was at my parents house, and my mom didn’t have any 9-inch pans, but she did have 8-inch ones.  I was pretty excited to do my first 3-layer cake.  (Is this a sign of being old?  Being excited about an additional layer on a cake?)  My friend who’s apartment we’d be celebrating at that night texted me to ask if I needed anything from the grocery.  I asked her to pick me up some Oreos, then on second thought I texted her back and asked her to get a SMALL package because the last thing us girls needed was a full package of Oreos!  I crushed up a couple of them and topped the cake!

If you like chocolate, then THIS is your cake.  It really did have the flavor of an Oreo cookie.  Yum Yum Yum!

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Oreo Birthday Cake

Hershey's Deep Dark Chocolate Cake: from Hershey's Recipes, as seen on This Piggy Went To Market
White Chocolate Frosting: my friend Jamie

Ingredients:

CAKE:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
6 Oreos crushed

FROSTING:
around 4-6 oz white chocolate
1 stick butter
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 cups powdered sugar
a couple splashes of milk

Directions:

CAKE:
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of electric mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Frost, then top with crushed Oreos.

FROSTING:
Melt chocolate over double boiler. Meanwhile cream butter. Once chocolate has melted add to butter. Continue to mix at low to medium speed while adding vanilla. Gradually add in milk and sugar until frosting reaches desired consistency.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cranberry & Orange Stuffed Glazed Pork

While I saw still in college I worked at a broadcast television camera doing all sorts of Production Assistant jobs.  One of my favorite things about this job was running camera during our lunchtime newscast that included segments about the community & cooking segments.  I could rock it out on camera.  There was only one person better than me on camera, and I ended up dating him, and I’m still with him!

Pretty much every day, we had a cooking guest on.  We got to eat GREAT food.  We did have favorites, because they were either so fun to watch, their food was outstanding, or usually a combination of both.  One of our “regular” cooking guests, and favorites, was a lovely lady, Tenito Smith (pronounced Te-nah-ta).  She owned a restaurant outside of town, Tenito’s Country Kitchen.  One day she cooked this fantastic recipe.  It was so good, and it also seemed very easy to do.  Out of all the recipes I got to see, and taste, this was the first I actually made myself.

I definitely recommend you try this recipe.  It’s simple, not a long list of ingredients, and the prep time is pretty fast as well.  The best part though, is the taste!  It’s SOOO good, and a perfect fall recipe.  Here’s the original recipe, but I’ll mention, I think whoever transcribed it made some errors in the directions.  I usually halve the recipe, because I’m only cooking for two people.  I’m not sure the pictures do this meal justice.  It’s very good!  I served it with green beans.

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Cranberry & Orange Stuffed Glazed Pork

from Tenito Smith of Tenito's Country Kitchen

Ingredients:

8 chops, 3/4 inches thick
1 cup celery chopped
1/4 cup parsley
1 16oz pkg. cornbread stuffing
2-2 1/4 cup water
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup melted butter
1 Tbsp. fresh sage, or 1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 c. marmalade

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Trim fat off pork and make a pocket in each chop.

Chop onion, celery, parsley, and sage. Add to stuffing with water, cranberries, and butter. Stir and allow liquid to soak in for approx. 10 minutes.

Put mixture into pocket of chop and secure with a tooth pick-spoon the rest of the stuffing into a casserole dish.

Brown chops in skillet with oil. Place on stuffing and bake 40 minutes, covered.

Heat marmalade, brush on chops, and bake uncovered 10-15 minutes.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Perfectly Chocolately Pumpkiny Cupcakes


Mmmmm… I’m a lil late on posting this, but who cares.  I decided WAAAAY back when I bought my first bag of Pumpkin Spice Kisses, that I would make chocolate cupcakes with pumpkin spice kisses inside & pumpkin cream cheese frosting for Halloween.  I bought the bag of kisses right before Labor Day.  So, needless to say I had developed much anticipation for these cupcakes.  I had decided on Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake for the cake recipe, and Peabody’s Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting.

When it came time to make them, luckily I had the foresight to do a test batch.  I wanted to see how much the kiss would melt, and if I should add it at the beginning or halfway through, or what.  Well, the oddest thing happened.  The kisses turned rock hard!  I think the orange outer later melted away, but the white creamy center definitely did not!  Bummer.  And I had all those kisses just for that purpose!  I went ahead and just made them without the kisses.
I was a little wary of the cake & frosting combo, but they ended up tasting REALLY REALLY good!  Plus they were a lot of fun to decorate.  Sorry I didn’t get a picture of the cake part, let me just tell you, it was SO moist and SOOOO yummy!  Make these!

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

Cake: from Hershey's
Frosting: from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody
About 30 cupcakes.

Ingredients:

CAKE:
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

FROSTING:
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 TBSP finely grated orange zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 - 4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

CAKE:
Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely.

FROSTING:
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin puree on medium speed of an electric mixer until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add the spices, zest and vanilla extract and mix well. Gradually add the sugar and beat until desired consistency. Refrigerate for 1 hour, Remove from refriferator 5-10 minutes before using. Spread on the tops of the completely cooled cupcakes.



Monday, November 3, 2008

Soup’s On

Don’t you just love it when a recipe turns out better than you expected? Not that I didn’t think this recipe from the Kitchen Sink would be good. It’s just that it was even better than I thought it would be! I was first attracted to the bright pretty colors in it. I am a firm believer in eating the rainbow.

I love soups. All kinds, black bean, chili, vegetable soup, minestrone, chicken noodle. You name it, if it’s in a bowl, chances are I’ll like it. (In fact… the bowl analogy applies to ice cream, cereal, oatmeal…). This recipe is the first thing I starred in my google reader and actually made. And I am very glad I did. Not only does it not require a long list of ingredients, it comes together really fast as well. It could easily be a weeknight meal. Or it could be a great way to use up leftover Thanksgiving turkey (I used chicken, but you could use either).

Also, I think this must be a manly soup. The Boy complimented me THREE SEPERATE TIMES! First, after eating it, he said “Thanks, boo. That was really good!” Usually he just says “Thanks boo, that was good” whether it was good or crappy, just to be nice. THEN, he told me the next morning, “That soup last night was really good.” AND THEN, he commented me on Facebook saying, “The soup was even better the next day.” SO, I tell you, GO, MAKE THIS SOUP! Your man will thank you… three times maybe.

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Italian Chicken, Bean, & Tomato Soup

as seen on The Kitchen Sink, originally adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped fresh fennel
4 ounces sliced pancetta, chopped
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
2 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
1 15-ounce can cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed, drained
1 1/2 cups roasted chicken or turkey, shredded
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Directions:

Sauté fennel and pancetta in heavy large pot over high heat until pancetta starts to brown, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Mix in broth, beans, shredded turkey or chicken, smoked paprika and crushed red pepper. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Mix in basil. Season with salt and pepper.

Original photo, from 2008.  As you can see my photography skills have vastly improved!