Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Crock Pot Tacos

My husband can be a pickier pain in the neck than my son, especially when it comes to beef stew. He despises it, but does like the tender consistency of the slow cooked beef. I found a recipe in Betty Crocker's More Slow Cooker Recipes cookbook for Mexican Beef Stew and found a way to adapt it to my husband's tastes. Instead of serving it as a stew, I made it as a taco dish. I used a slotted spoon to remove the beef, tomatoes, corn and beans, draining most of the juice away. I served the beef, beans and veggies with crunchy and soft taco shells, taco sauce, shredded lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream. The result? My husband said it was the best crock pot dish I have made.

Crock Pot Tacos

2 lb beef stew meat
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained (I used plum tomatoes)
1 cup frozen small whole onions (from 1-lb bag)(I omitted)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 can (15 oz) red or black beans, drained, rinsed
1 can (11 oz) whole kernel corn
6 crunchy taco shells
6 soft taco shells

To garnish: 1 package of taco sauce, shredded lettuce,sour cream and shredded cheddar

Mix beef, tomatoes, frozen onions and chili powder in 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker. Stir in taco seasoning mix, using wire whisk. Stir in beans and corn. Cover and cook on high heat setting 15 to 30 minutes or until thickened.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dinner Disaster but a Dessert Thumbs Up!

I had a bad cooking day. Burned the roast beef, the mashed potatoes were dry and tasteless and the carrots, well, they're carrots. Boring and bland, not what you typically expect in this household. My family was actually pretty nice about it.  We played a few rounds of frisbee with the roast and made make shift vampire fangs with the steamed baby carrots. After playing with our food's novelty wore off, I decided to make a sweet treat I wanted to experiment with for the last few weeks. I made S'mores Candy Apples for a very happy and impressed crowd. I paired it with some iced hot cocoa, topped with whipped cream and cocoa powder. Once our bellies were full, we used out sugar high to continue our game of roast beef frisbee. That ended as soon as the dogs decided to play. Well, at least they enjoyed the roast.

S'Mores Candy Apples(makes 4 medium apples)

4 Red Delicious Apples (stems removed)
4 Candle Apple sticks 
1 sheet of wax paper
6.5 ounces of meltable chocolate (I used Wilton Candy Melts)
4 Graham Cracker sheets
40 mini marshmallows

Clean apples, cut off stems and insert sticks. Place apples on wax paper. Melt chocolate in microwave safe dish(make sure it is wide enough to dip the apples in one at a time) at 50% power for 45 second intervals, stirring in between.Place graham cracker sheets in a Ziploc bag and crush using a baking pin or meat tenderizer. Crush until fine. Sprinkle about 1/4 of the bag in a wide, shallow dish and set the rest aside. Remove melted chocolate from microwave. Dip apple in chocolate and twirl in microwave dish to cover apple fully. Remove and slowly roll apple in graham crumbs, coating the sides and finally bottom. Place back on wax paper. Attach mini marshmallows, one at a time, to chocolate apple. If you are having trouble getting the marshmallows to stick, dip one side of the marshmallow in the extra melted chocolate, then attach to apple. Repeat with the remaining apples and refrigerate immediately on wax paper. They will be ready to eat in 30 minutes.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Baby BLTs

I felt inventive today.  I decided to try a new spin on an old fave, BLTs. I wasn't sure the route I wanted to go, so I decided to try something simple - making them tiny and serving them up on baby sized biscuits.  I thought that these little gems might be a yummy and cute item for an appetizer or quick breakfast.  My savior, Bisquick, came to help.  Bisquick has a handy recipe cheat sheet on the back of the box, which includes, biscuits. I decided to use the drop biscuit method, but after the results, I probably should have kneaded the dough and cut out the biscuits.  They didn't turn out bad and were quite yummy; you just end up with a crumb farm on your plate,table in lap. This isn't a really big problem for us since we have a dog named Hoover(he works better than a vacuum ever could).  All in all, the biscuits kept falling apart and were hard to keep together.  I don't feel as though this was an epic failure and I am certain I can manipulate the biscuit recipe a little more to make it a little less messy. On a side note, my little ones ate the 'biscuit sandwiches' with scrambled eggs and bacon and loved them a lot, especially the extra crumbs they were able to feed to Hoover.

Baby BLTs(makes about 9)
2 1/4 cups of Bisquick mix
2/3 cup of milk
9 slices of bacon (turkey or regular)
2 small tomatoes, sliced thin
Torn lettuce leaves, small enough to garnish each sandwich
1/4 TSP (roughly) of mayonnaise for each BLT(optional)

Heat oven to 450. Prepare dough, mixing milk and Bisquick mix. When fully mix, drop biscuits on to ungreased cookie sheet using a tablespoon. Bake for around 10-12 minutes, until biscuits are turning gold. 
Remove and allow to cool.  When cool, carefully slice in half. Cook your turkey bacon until done, cutting slices in half. Add 2 bacon halves, a thin slice of tomato and lettuce garnish to biscuit bottom. Finish with mayonnaise, if desired. Top with biscuit top.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hey Kids! Cappuccino Brownies!

I was lucky enough to come across this great recipe provided by Tasty Table.  They looked so awesome in her blog and I am a BIG cappuccino fan, so I felt like I should give them a shot. I have never been great with baking brownies, but I was determined to try. The process did take a little while, with cooling each layer in between frosting and glazing, but it was worth it. I was trying very hard not to eat the cappuccino icing while I was waiting to frost the brownies. I did manage to take a tiny square off the corner of the brownies to test them out. YUM! My husband was the first to try the full production and he said it was amazing, which is a huge compliment coming from him. So thanks again to Tasty Table for sharing this yummy brownie recipe!

Cappuccino Brownies

Ingredients for the Brownies
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp instant espresso coffee powder
1 tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

2 1/2 tsp instant espresso coffee powder
1 - 2 tbsp milk or cream
2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup whipping cream

Directions for Brownies
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of an 8 x 8 square baking pan (or line with parchment paper).In a medium bowl combine flour, espresso powder, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Put the chocolate chips and butter in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat but keep the bowl over the water and whisk in sugars and vanilla until completely combined. Remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature. Add in the eggs one, one at a time, whisking lightly after each addition. Using a spatula, fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just combined. Do not over beat! Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 - 35 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on rack.

Frosting Instructions
In a bowl, combine espresso powder and 1 tbsp of milk or cream, stirring to dissolve. Add in butter and sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat on low speed to blend then on medium speed until creamy, adding more milk, if necessary to make a smooth, spreadable consistency. Spread evenly over the brownie. Chill to harden, about 1 hour.

Glaze Instructions
Put the chocolate chips and whipping cream in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth. Let cool to lukewarm. Spread over frosting. Chill until chocolate is set, about 1 hour. Cut into bars or squares.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Insalata Pisani

My husband and I are not big salad fans, but we do try to squeeze one in once a week. I threw this colorful creation together once again using what I had in the house.  It is a very simple recipe that you can adjust to your own tastes.  I marinated the chicken using a McCormick marinade pack and made a simple dressing of olive oil, vinegar, balsamic vinegar, with salt and pepper. You can use whatever cheese is your favorite to sprinkle on top. The result was a healthy, colorful meal with lots of flavor.

1 green bagged salad
4 sweet peppers - two yellow and two red
8-12 oz of grilled chicken boneless breasts, marinated for at least two hours (I used McCormick Peppercorn Marinade)
Olive oil - 2 TBSP for roasting  3 for dressing
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP white vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 - 1/2 cup of shredded Romano cheese

Slice peppers lengthwise and mix with 2 TBSP of oil, freshly grated pepper and salt.  Roast in oven at 400 for around 20 minutes, checking to make sure there is no burning. Grill chicken at 350 for 25 minutes or until no pink in the center.  In a large bowl, toss salad greens with oil, vinegars and salt and pepper. Top salad with chicken, peppers and cheese. Enjoy!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Penne with Vodka Sauce

Do you know how there is a famous recipe that travels through certain circles? This vodka recipe belongs to Amy K. in our NJ Nestie group and is the most requested recipe to be shared. This is by far and away the best vodka sauce I have ever had, beating out every Italian restaurant I have ever eaten in. In the past, I have made some substitutions to the recipe. For example, when I was too lazy to go out and pick up prosciutto, I have substituted turkey bacon or regular bacon.  I have to admit that even those it was fine to use the bacon, the prosciutto gives the sauce the best flavor. Today I mistakenly picked up shredded Romano cheese instead of the grated, but it worked out just fine. It look a little bit longer to get the consistency of the sauce to be perfect, but I managed. I also made this last year for our family on Christmas and it was huge hit.

Amy's Vodka Sauce
Makes enough sauce for 1 pound of penne.

1/2 c vodka
1 tbs red pepper flakes
2 tbs oilive oil
1 med onion, chopped
4 slices chopped prosciutto
1 lg can crushed tomatoes
1 c Romano cheese
2 c heavy cream
1/2 stick butter

Soak vodka and pepper flakes for 10 minutes - the longer the pepper flakes soak, the hotter the sauce will be. Remove flakes; vodka will turn red. Saute olive oil, onion, prosciutto in pot for 8 minutes. Add tomatoes. Add vodka, cook on low for 1/2 hour, then add Romano cheese, heavy cream, and butter.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sneaky Carrot Burgers

I have one picky kid, one teething baby. Trying to find something to suit both of their needs while being healthy can be quite the challenge. My son loved to gobble up veggies when he was an infant in the high chair. I guess it broke up the monotony of always having strong smelling, foul tasting formula.  Once he was old enough to realize that there were other foods out there more to his liking, it hasn't been so easy to get veggies in his little belly. At a year old, my daughter is still pretty veggie friendly, but her incoming molars don't allow her to chew much without being in pain.  Awhile back, I had purchased Jessica Seinfeld's recipe book,"Deceptively Delicious".  Through trial and error, I have found out what works and what doesn't work (noodles 'buttered' with zucchinni and brownies with spinach are big hits. One pancake recipe with beets, ended up looking like Pepto Bismol and didn't taste much better). The other night I decided to make my variation of Jessica's 'Burgers 1'.  I make mine with a little twist that makes the burgers a little sweet. The burgers are also really moist, so they were easy for my teething beauty to chew.  My son hadn't had them in awhile and was skeptical, but once he tried one and remembered he liked them, the goal of feeding him vegetables was accomplished. I paired the burgers with some crispy oven fries, mashing a few up for my little girl so she could enjoy them too.

Sneaky Carrot Burgers (based on JS' 'Burgers 1)
1 LB ground beef or turkey
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 TBSP ketchup
1/4 TSP Worcesteshire Sauce
1/2 TBSP Teriyaki Sauce
1/2 TBSP Soy Sauce
1/2 cup of steamed and pureed carrots
1 TBSP garlic powder
1 TBSP onion powder
2 TBSP olive oil for cooking

Steam your carrots(I use a steaming bag in the microwave). When complete, use blender to puree. Mix all ingredients together, then add the pureed carrots. This will make you approximately 9-12 mini burger patties.I usually use the ground beef for this recipe because it comes out moister and tastier. Coat medium size pan with 2 TBSP of olive oil and add patties. Cook until done and serve on whole grain buns or alone.
These are great with some extra ketchup.

Crispy Oven Fries (Serves 4)
1 LARGE Russet potatoe, cleaned, peeled and cut into french fry strips
2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP Kosher Salt
1 TSP pepper
1 TSP garlic powder
1 TSP Paprika
Cooking Spray, such as PAM

Preheat oven to 375. Toss all ingredients together until fully coated. Spray cookie sheet with PAM to help avoid sticking. Bake for 10 minutes and flip fries to the other side. Bake for 10 more minutes, then rotate cooking sheet. Cook for at least 5 more minutes, at most 10 minutes, to achieve the desired crispiness in the fries.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Candy Apples, Anyone?

Fall feels like it came early this year. Where there is Fall, there is always apple picking. Each year we come home with tons of apples, and try as I might, I never find a use for them all. This go around, I added a new treat to my apple repertoire -candy apples.  Traditional, yet yummy.  Since this was my first attempt at making them, the results were a bit skewed.  I had to thin out the caramel using a 1/4 cup of heavy cream. Prior to doing that, the caramel was getting pretty thick and gob-like, not adhering to the apples the way I would like. I also used melted chocolate, which was a bit easier to maneuver. The best advice I could give is to make sure you have all your materials set and ready to go before starting to melt the caramel and/or chocolate.  Put your sprinkles and caramel in small, wide bowls. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper or wax paper. Prep your apples with sticks. I actually bought a candy apple kit from King Arthur Flour, which supplied me with the sticks. From what I have read, you can get the sticks from any craft store. I also purchased the Wilton Candy Melts for the chocolate.  I had very little success rolling the apples in hard coated chocolate candies. They didn't seem to want to stick. For the next time, I may try crushing them up before rolling the apple.  This is a great project because you can get creative with the type of dips - caramel, white chocolate, or dark chocolate for example.  You have a wide range of sweet items you can use to coat the outside, including crushed candies, colored sprinkles, or coconut. I thought I pulled one over on my son, who hates apple skins. I figured he would eat the skin, being that it was covered in chocolate and sprinkles. I came back to find apple skins spit on my table, with all the chocolate and sprinkles licked off.

Candy Apples
9-12 small to medium apples ( I used Macintosh)
1 bag (14oz) meltable chocolate
1 LB  Caramel ( I used a kit from King Arthur Flour)
9-12 sticks
Colored Sprinkles, Crushed Candy or Coconut, set up in wide round bowls
1 cookie sheet, covered in parchment or wax paper

Heat the chocolates in a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup, big enough to dip an apple in.  Heat in 30 second intervals at 50% power, stirring in between until chocolate is melted.  At the same time, start melting the caramel in a pot on low heat, stirring every couple of minutes.  Add 1/4 cup of heavy cream if you feel that the caramel is too thick once melted. Make sure sticks are securely in the apples. Dip the apple in to melted chocolate or caramel, coating the bottom fully, then slowly remove it. Twirl the apple over the bowl to finish coating the apple and drip off the excess. Slowly roll the apple in your candy, using the same motion, but rolling more on the side. Set on parchment to dry. When all apples are complete, cool them in the refrigerator until completely set.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

MS's Chocolate 'n' Creme Sandwiches

Mostly ever one I know loves sandwich cookies, which is why I decided the treat of the week would be these beauties. The came out a little differently than I pictured, but all in all, tasty. My son loved them, licking the creme out of the center first and washing it all down with a glass of milk. The batter was easy to make, as was the creme. These are fun cookie to make, especially if you have a cute little helper. But, they are even more fun to eat! Enjoy!
Martha Stewart's Chocolate 'n' Creme Sandwiches
Ingredients Makes 15
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg

In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In another bowl, stir together butter, sugar, and egg. Add flour mixture, and stir until a dough forms. Divide dough in half; roll out between two sheets of parchment paper to a 1/4-inch thickness. Stack on a baking sheet, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut dough into rounds. Place on sheets, 1 inch apart. Bake until cookies are firm and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer to wire racks, and let cool. Spread half the cookies with 1 tablespoon Cream Filling; top with remaining cookies. (To store, refrigerate in an airtight container, up to 5 days.

Creme Filling

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add confectioners' sugar and granulated sugar, beating until combined. Beat in vanilla extract.

Lime and Cilantro Steak Marinade

I needed to liven up the steak situation in my house. Granted, grilled steak is usually pretty good, but once in awhile, it could use a swift kick in the pants.  This is what this recipe did for it. I marinated it for around two hours, but the longer you marinate, the more intense the flavor will be. I paired the steak with a baked potato and steamed vegetables.
Cilantro Lime Marinated Steaks
This is from the Aug/Sept. 2005 Cooking Pleasures magazine via Pimp My Dinner Blog
1/2 C. chopped cilantro
1/2 C. lime juice
1/4 C. olive oil
1 Tbs. grated lime peel
1 Tbs. minced garlic
2 tsp. kosher (coarse) salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
 Place all marinade ingredients in blender; blend until smooth. Place steaks in 1-gallon resealable plastic bag; pour in marinade. Seal bag; turn to coat steaks. Refrigerate at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours, turning occasionally.When ready to grill, place all cilantro spread ingredients in food processor or blender; pulse until paste forms. Place in small bowl.Heat grill. Remove steaks from marinade; discare marinade. Pat steaks dry. Place on gas grill over medium heat or on charcoal grill 4 to 6 inches from medium coals; cover grill. Grill 10 to 14 minutes for medium rare, turning once. Place on platter, cover loosely with foil. Let stand 5 minutes.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lemon & Garlic Roast Chicken with Rice Pilaf and Roasted Veggies

Nothing says Sunday to me more than a hearty, gut busting family dinner.  If you ask my husband the same question, he'd most like answer watching football while grading papers. In any case, we got the best of both worlds by enjoying this roasted chicken (I used Ina Garten's recipe), along with some yummy roasted vegetables and Rice Pilaf (my mother in law's recipe). It was over two hours of cooking and ten minutes of eating. I have never seen food fly so fast off the table. I highly recommend this recipe for any gathering. It's sure to please even the finickiest of eaters.
Ina Garten's Lemon and Garlic Roast Chicken

1 (5 to 6-pound) roasting chicken
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme
4 lemons
3 heads garlic, cut in 1/2 crosswise
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 pound sliced bacon
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the chicken in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the thyme, reserving enough thyme to garnish the chicken dish, 1 lemon, halved, and 2 halves of the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Cut 2 of the lemons in quarters and scatter the quarters and remaining garlic around the chicken. Lay the bacon slices over the chicken to cover. Roast the chicken for 1 hour. Remove the bacon slices from the top of the chicken and set aside. Continue roasting the chicken for an additional 1/2 hour, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove to a platter and cover with aluminum foil while you prepare the gravy. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the bottom of the pan. Add the wine and chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until reduced by half.
Slice the chicken on a platter. Garnish the chicken platter with the bacon slices, roasted garlic, reserved thyme and 1 lemon, sliced. Serve with the gravy.

Mimi's Rice Pilaf
1 cup rice,uncooked
1/2 cup butter
2 TBSP onion powder
1 can (10 3/4 oz) beef broth(I used chicken)
1 can water
1/4 TSP Majoram
1/4 TSP ground Sage
1/4 TSP Rosemary

Melt butter and add to casserole dish.Mix herbs and ice with butter and add to dish. Add broth and water and bake at 350 for 1 hour, uncovered. Cover with foil to keep warm until served.

You can use my recipe for  Roasted Veggies  here.I used about 15 baby carrots, cut and 1/4 butternut squash, 2 garlic cloves and 1/4 of white onion, roughly cut.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lazy Mama Baked Penne

Today's craptastic weather did nothing to spur my motivation to go grocery shopping. I still had to figure out what to make and pasta is always on the list of my 'go to' meals. I had a whole box of unopened Penne Pasta. Great! One can of Tuttorosso Tomato Sauce. A small container of ricotta cheese I mistakenly through in my shopping cart last weekend. What better thing to make with these ingredients than baked pasta? Well, lo and behold, the cheese situation was a bit sketchy. I only had about 1/4 bag of shredded Mozzarella, so I needed to improvise. I did have some shredded Parmesan, as well as greated. I figured I would just throw it together and hope for the best. The outcome? A big thumbs up from the family!  This can feed about 4 or 5 people and it took about half the time since it wasn't a big batch.

Lazy Mama Baked Penne
1 can (29 oz) of Tuttorosso or any canned tomato sauce (I used about 3/4 of this can)
1/4 bag of shredded Mozzarella cheese(part skim,low moisture)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 TBSP garlic or 1 diced garlic clove
1 TBSP onion powder
1 TSP basil
Salt & pepper to taste (start with 1/4 tsp and add as you cook sauce)
1 Box (16oz) of Penne Pasta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450.
Boil  water for pasta. In a separate sauce pan, add tomato sauce and all spices. Stir intermittently.
When pasta is done, drain and hose off with cool water. Remove sauce from heat.  In a bowl, mix Ricotta, 1/2 the Mozzarella, shredded and grated Parmesan. Once pasta is cool, add to bowl with cheese. Once sauce has cooled, as to pasta and cheese. You can use you hands thourough mix sauce, pasta and cheese. Add a small layer of sauce to coat bottom of lasagna pan. Add pasta mixture to lasagna pan, topping off with the remainder of Mozzarella. Bake for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Serve with garlic bread.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

MA, Meatloaf! Meatloaf!

What do you make when you buy one of those mega packs of ground beef at your local bulk superstore? Well, there's meatloaf...and meatloaf....and chili......and meatloaf..... Seriously, I only made it once last night, trying a recipe for BBQ Meatloaf, which is new to our household. I am not a big fan of meatloaf, but this was certainly passable. My husband said it was like eating ribs without the bone. I guess that's good! I paired it with steamed broccoli and buttered orzo. The kids were more into the orzo and "trees" than the meatloaf, even though I tried to convince my three year old it was a meatball. He was having NONE of that. I made a variation on the recipe provided by Tasty Meatloaf Recipes.

Barbecue Meatloaf Ingredients(Feeds 4)

1 LB -1.5 LBS of Ground Beef
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1 TBSP of onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 TBSP of garlic powder
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup barbecue sauce

Barbecue Meatloaf Recipe Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients except barbeque sauce in a large bowl. Transfer mixture to a 5 x 9 inch ungreased meatloaf pan. Pour barbecue sauce over the tope of the meatloaf.
Bake meatloaf for 1 hour or until center is no longer pink. If using a meat thermometer, the internal temperature of the meatloaf should be 180 degrees.
Let meatloaf sit for 5 minutes before removing from pan to serve. You can serve with additional barbecue sauce if desired.

Steamed Broccoli and Buttered Orzo
1 Bag of Microwave Steam-able Broccoli or two bunches, cleaned, chopped and steamed
1 box of Orzo Pasta
3 TBSP of Butter
1 TBSP garlic powder
1TBSP grated Parmesan(optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Prepare pasta and steam broccoli. Combine with butter and spices. Enjoy!

I also used my bulk purchase to make quick and easy chili, paired with corn bread. I usually use the packets of chili mix/seasoning, to which you add about 1 LB of ground beef, packet, diced tomatoes or tomato sauce, along with red beans. This is a super quick and easy meal, not to mention yummy. I have a chili recipe that my step dad created to make it from scratch - I will save that beauty for one football Sunday. I used Penguin Foods Organic Cornbread mix for the cornbread and it is awesome! My son calls it "Mommy Cake" and has no idea it is somewhat healthy for him.

Coming Soon: My Adventures and Misadventures in Cookie Baking (AKA 'Why the Hell is My Frosting Pink?')

Monday, September 7, 2009

MS's Tiramisu Cupcakes

Two of my favorite things: tirmasu and cupcakes. What could be better than a tiramisu cupcake? I will be honest and say that even though these cupcakes were delicious, I'd like to keep these two entities separate. My husband described it as being similar to the invention of cheeseburger pizza. Cheeseburgers are great and so is pizza. BUT if you put it together,while not BAD, it does not meet expectations. I'd also like to add that I think tiramisu really means "huge mess in the kitchen". All in all, the cupcakes were a tasty treat but it wasn't like eating real tiramisu. The only advice I can give is make sure you use plenty of the marsala syrup and let it aborb for more than an hour.  No matter how tempting the cupcakes look, they must sit and soak.  The frosting is heavenly and the cupcakes are a wicked (in a good sense) vanilla flavor.  I guess they 2 vanilla beans I purchased for 14.99 were doing their job. So here's the recipe, have fun and enjoy!
Martha Stewart's Tiramisu Cupcakes
1 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted

3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup milk
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
3 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
1 cup sugar
Coffee-Marsala Syrup (recipe to follow)
Mascarpone Frosting (recipe to follow)
Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Heat milk and vanilla-bean pod and seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat just until bubbles appear around the edge. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter until melted, and let stand 15 minutes. Strain milk mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, and discard vanilla-bean pod. With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk together whole eggs, yolks, and sugar. Set mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk by hand until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm, about 6 minutes. Remove bowl from heat. With an electric mixer on high speed, whisk until mixture is fluffy, pale yellow, and thick enough to hold a ribbon on the surface for several seconds when whisk is lifted. Gently but thoroughly fold flour mixture into the egg mixture in three batches; stir 1/2 cup batter into the strained milk mixture to thicken, then fold milk mixture into the remaining batter until just combined. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until centers are completely set and edges are light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. To finish, brush tops of cupcakes evenly with coffee-marsala syrup; repeat until all syrup has been used. Allow cupcakes to absorb liquid 30 minutes. Dollop frosting onto cupcakes; refrigerate up to overnight in airtight containers. Dust generously with cocoa powder just before serving.
Martha Stewart's Tiramisu Cupcakes

From Martha Stewart Cupcakes, May 2009
Marscapone Frosting (Makes about 2 cups)
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk heavy cream until stiff peaks form (be careful not to overbeat, or cream will be grainy). In another bowl, whisk together mascarpone and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Gently fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated. Use immediately.
From Martha Stewart Cupcakes, May 2009

Marsala Syrup
Ingredients (Makes enough for 18 cupcakes)
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly brewed very strong coffee (or espresso)
1 ounce marsala
1/4 cup sugar
Stir together coffee, marsala, and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Let cool.

From Martha Stewart Cupcakes, May 2009

Roasted Veggie Pasta Primavera

This was a lazy week for the family. My husband, a teacher, had two in service days, followed by a four day weekend. I tried to keep the meals simple, but also wanted to try something new.I added a different twist to an old favorite, Pasta Primavera. Instead of just sautéing the veggies or steaming them, I roasted the veggies and added butternut squash for a nice change. The result: simple, yet nutritional and yummy. Enjoy!

Pasta Primavera(Serves 4)
1/2 -3/4 box of Spaghetti Rigatti or Angel Hair Pasta
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 butternut squash, seeded and peeled(use an apple peeler), then cubed
3 TBSP olive oil (2 for sautéing garlic, one for tossing veggies prior to roasting)
1 TBSP Kosher salt
1 TSP pepper
1 TSP parsley
1 TSP onion powder

Prepare and chop veggies. Take all veggies, excluding garlic, and toss with seasoning and 1 TBSP olive oil. Spread out on baking sheet and roast at 375 for 25 minutes or until fork tender. While roasting veggies, boil water and cook pasta. Drain when complete. Heat 2 TBSP olive oil and add garlic. When veggies are done, add mixture to pan and coat. Add pasta and combine all ingredients. Enjoy!