Tuesday, April 29, 2008

more muffins...

It was my turn to host our monthly neighborhood cooking group and the theme for April was muffins. There were some fabulous contributions and I wanted to share the recipes!

*chocolate chocolate chip mini muffins*

2 cups flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1 cup sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

Combine above ingredients in a large bowl.

1 egg

1 1/4 cups milk

1/2 cup melted butter

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
Whisk egg, milk and butter in a medium bowl. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and stir well. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon into greased muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees: 10 min for mini muffins, 20 min for reg. muffins. (48 mini, or 24 reg)

*buttermilk muffins*

1 cup sugar

4 Tbsp margarine, softened

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

1 Tbsp vanilla

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

Add all ingredients in order given and mix well. Sprinkle with sugar before baking. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 min in greased or paper-lined muffin tins. Makes 1 dozen

*raspberry lemon muffins*

1 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup veg oil

1 egg

3 egg whites

1 Tbsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp lemon extract (optional)

1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

In large bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. In a med bowl whisk together wet ingredients until combined. Pour liquid mixture into flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Stir in raspberries. Put into greased muffin tin. Bake at 350 for 15-20 min.

For my contribution I just used a basic muffin batter recipe and divided the batter into four separate bowls and added:

bananas & walnuts


chocolate chips

almond extract & poppy seeds

To make four different muffins.

*basic muffin batter*

3 cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup shortening

2 eggs

1 cup milk

Stir together dry ingredients. In a different bowl, cream together sugar and shortenint. Add eggs and mix well. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 for 20-25 min.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

oven fluffy pancake...

In blender beat well:
1 cup milk
2/3 cup flour
2 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
Melt ½ cup butter in pie pan in warm oven. Pour batter into pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 min. Serve with powdered sugar and lemon juice.

This has been a favorite of mine since I was a little kid. I actually make this for dinner more than breakfast. You may prefer to drizzle a little maple syrup on this, but I have always had it with a little lemon juice & powdered sugar. I just served it up with some roasted potatoes (finely diced, olive oil, salt & pepper, 400 degrees until golden). This is a no fail meal for my family...they all love it!

Monday, April 21, 2008

TWD carrot cake...

I measured my dry ingredients...

I whisked my dry ingredients...

I prepped my carrots...

I grated my carrots...

I baked my little carrot cakes...

Well, I gave it a shot. I don't know what exactly caused the problem...I'm sure I did not account for the amount of leavening in the batter when I filled my little cake pans...I left out the nuts, coconut and raisins (we're not really into chunks in cake around here) and did not compensate for that...should I have replaced those ingredients with something else??? I have the worst luck with cakes made from scratch. Normally I am such a perfectionist that I would have given this another shot, but at this point I was out of carrots, out of time and...out of patience...it had been a long day!

Friday, April 18, 2008

lemon bars...


2 cups flour
1 cup butter, room temp
4-5 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Cream together flour and butter. Press into a 9x13 greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 min.


4 eggs, room temp
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
7-8 Tbsp flour
4 Tbsp lemon juice
zest of half a lemon

Slowly beat eggs. Add remaining ingredients, one at a time, and blend well. Pour over hot crust and return to oven. Turn oven down to 325 degrees and bake for 25 min. Completely cool and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Sprinkle with powdered sugar & serve.

This is a long time family favorite recipe. My mom got this from a friend of hers when I was just little. Yea, there are many lemon bar recipes out there...and I've tried some of them to see how they measure up...they don't in my opinion!! I keep coming back to this one.
You have to plan ahead a little when making this. It really is important that the eggs and butter be room temp (as with most baking), and it is crucial that it chills in the fridge before cutting. The center will ooze out if you skip that part...not a problem if you like things a little gooey. They are even better the next day (kind of like lasagna...mmmmmmm lasagna...)

Monday, April 14, 2008

TWD Marshmallows...

Marshmallows, marshmallows, marshy, marshy, marshmallows...(sing along with me) There's something about a treat like this that brings out the goofy kid in me (no kidding!?!) I have never made marshmallows, never really thought about making marshmallows, but...why not? I was really happy when I saw this weeks recipe choice. Judy from Judy's Gross Eats picked this one & I'm so glad she did!

There were some wonderful suggestions of ways to "play around" with additions to this recipe, and some of the amazing TWD participants really went for it and did an incredible job! Click here to check out the blog roll...there really are some fabulous & creative takes on this recipe.

A busy week and four little ones kept me from going crazy with this recipe, so I stuck with the basic vanilla approach. Even though I kind of waited until the last minute and felt like I rushed through the process (ahem), I really enjoyed seeing this come to life. I think I may actually enjoy it more as a marshmallow cream...before it set up...than the finished product, but they were tasty! (Visions from childhood of peanut butter & marshmallow cream sandwiches...don't knock it till you try it.)

Even though it was the first warm day in weeks...this was how one of my little guys wanted to enjoy his marshmallowy goodness! (Kind of looks like pats of butter floating around in there...)

Makes about 1 pound marshmallows

About 1 cup potato starch (found in the kosher foods section of supermarkets) or cornstarch

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 1/4-ounce packets unflavored gelatin

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

3/4 cup cold water

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar


Line a rimmed baking sheet -- choose one with a rim that is 1 inch high -- with parchment paper and dust the paper generously with potato starch or cornstarch. Have a candy thermometer at hand.

Put 1/3 cup of the water, 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue to cook the syrup -- without stirring -- until it reaches 265 degrees F on the candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.While the syrup is cooking, work on the gelatin and egg whites.

In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cold water (a scant 7 tablespoons) and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it is spongy, then heat the gelatin in a microwave oven for 20 to 30 seconds to liquefy it. (Alternatively, you can dissolve the gelatin in a saucepan over low heat.)

Working in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in another large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until firm but still glossy -- don't over beat them and have them go dull. As soon as the syrup reaches 265 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer on medium speed, add the syrup, pouring it between the spinning beater(s) and the sides of the bowl. Add the gelatin and continue to beat for another 3 minutes, so that the syrup and the gelatin are fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla.

Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet, laying it down close to a short end of the sheet. Then spread it into the corners and continue to spread it out, taking care to keep the height of the batter at 1 inch; you won't fill the pan. Lift the excess parchment paper up to meet the edge of the batter, then rest something against the paper so that it stays in place (I use custard cups).Dust the top of the marshmallows with potato starch or cornstarch and let the marshmallows set in a cool, dry place. They'll need about 3 hours, but they can rest for 12 hours or more.

Once they are cool and set, cut the marshmallows with a pair of scissors or a long thin knife. Whatever you use, you'll have to rinse and dry it frequently. Have a big bowl with the remaining potato starch or cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you'd like -- into squares, rectangles or even strips (as they're cut in France). As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you've got 4 or 5 marshmallows in the bowl, reach in with your fingers and turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch, then, one by one, toss the marshmallows from one hand to the other to shake off the excess starch; transfer them to a serving bowl. Cut and coat the rest of the batch.

SERVING: Put the marshmallows out and let everyone nibble as they wish. Sometimes I fill a tall glass vase with the marshmallows and put it in the center of the table -- it never fails to make friends smile. You can also top hot chocolate or cold sundaes with the marshmallows.

STORING: Keep the marshmallows in a cool, dry place; don't cover them closely. Stored in this way, they will keep for about 1 week -- they might develop a little crust on the outside or they might get a little firmer on the inside, but they'll still be very good.

**There are a few things I did a little different from what Dorie suggests...I used a mixture of half cornstarch & half powdered sugar in a large ziploc bag to coat marshmallows. I just tossed a few around in there at a time then shook off the excess.

I also lightly buttered my pan then coated it with the cornstarch & sugar mixture & after 3 hours, those little babies came right out.

I think it would be a fabulous touch to coat with a little cocoa powder, as well..YUM!!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

linguine...2 ways...

*Linguine with roasted asparagus & smoked mozzarella*

1/2 lb linguine (cooked approx 8 min)
1/2 lb asparagus
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup smoked mozzarella, cubed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring large pot of water to a rolling boil. Cut tough ends off of asparagus, and cut remainder into about 3- in pieces. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Roast in oven about 10 min or until tender, but still a little crisp. Meanwhile cook pasta according to pkg directions.
When pasta still has about 2 min left in cooking time heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over med heat. Add garlic & cook, stirring constantly (so garlic does not burn) about 1 min. Add pasta to skillet & turn to coat with olive oil & garlic. Add 1-2 ladles of pasta water. Remove from heat & add asparagus and mozzarella.

*Linguine with roasted shrimp*

1/2 lb linguine

1/2 lb shrimp

3 Tbsp olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta according to pkg directions. Combine olive oil, juice of 1/2 a lemon, salt & pepper. Add shrimp & turn to coat. Place on baking sheet & roast 5-6 min (depending on size of shrimp). Drizzle remaining lemon juice over shrimp & pasta.

These are two recipes I've been wanting to try for a while. I am not a seafood lover...I repeat...I do not like seafood. However, I have a child who would do absolutely anything for shrimp. My mom used to tell me I really should cook things (aka...seafood, mushrooms, peppers...) for my kids, whether I liked to eat it or not. OK mom, I listened...finally. Well, it was a hit. The members of this house that ate it, loved it! The rest of us had the linguine with asparagus. YUM! I got the basic idea for this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, but I tweaked it a little. Again, YUM! The roasted shrimp is another genius Barefoot Contessa recipe, I just added it to pasta & added the lemon juice.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

carmelized onion & mushroom pizza...

1 prepared pizza crust
pizza sauce
1 large onion, sliced
4 Tbsp butter
salt & pepper
sliced mushrooms (I used baby portabellos)
shredded mozzarella cheese
dried oregano

Over med high heat put 2 Tbsp butter in large saucepan and add sliced onions & salt & pepper. Turn every few minutes until onions are tender and well carmelized. Do the same with mushrooms. Assemble pizza & cook according to crust baking directions.

Another pizza winner!!! This was really a nice change from the ordinary pepperoni...although the non mushroom lovers did enjoy the usual pepperoni & cheese. I will definitely be making this again. The leftovers were just as fabulous!

Monday, April 7, 2008

TWD french lemon cream tart...

Lemon Cream:

1 cup sugar

Grated zest of 3 lemons

4 large eggs

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (4-5 lemons)

2 sticks plus 5 Tbsp butter, cut into Tbsp size pieces, at room temp

1 9-inch tart shell made with Sweet Tart Dough

Have an instant read thermometer, a strainer and a blender on hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the lemon juice.

Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees. As you whisk-you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling-you'll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180 it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. This could take as much as 10 min.

As soon as it reaches 180, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the blender; discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees, about 10 min.

Turn the blender to high and, with the machine going, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going-to get the perfect, light, airy texture of lemon cream, you must continue to blend the cream for another 3 min.

Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

When you are ready to assemble the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell. Serve the tart, or refrigerate until needed.

Sweet Tart Dough:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 stick plus 1 Tbsp butter, very cold or frozen, cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in-you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses-about 10 seconds each-until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Freeze the crust for at least 30 min, preferably longer, before baking.

Lightly butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake crust for 25 min. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, gently press is down with the back of a spoon. Bake for another 8 min, or until it is firm and golden brown. Cool completely before filling.

Ok...if you are a citrus fan...if you're not a citrus fan...this lemon cream is spectacular! Talk about silky, creamy goodness. I loved making this tart. Talk about stepping out of my comfort zone...I would usually pass up a recipe like this. I would be very intimidated by all of the steps. However, the ingredients are all household items, and it really is amazing watching the science part of this recipe work it's magic. My husband and kids were even into it! (I soooo wish I had a pic of that!) I served it up with a little sweetened whipped cream, a perfect accompaniment in my opinion. I would love to try these next time as individual mini tarts. Overall...a great choice by Mary at Starting from Scratch. I loved every little aspect of this weeks recipe...making it and of course eating it!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

pecan crusted french toast...

You MUST, must, must use thick sliced bread...Texas Toast or thick sliced french bread. Using regular bread just does not do this justice.

Finely chopped pecans...mmmmmmm!

getting prepped...

Butter your pan...it's probably not necessary, but seriously, why wouldn't you? You could just spray it, but the butter does give it an amazing flavor.

Get your self some GOOD maple syrup and DIVE IN!!

2 beaten eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/4 tsp vanilla

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

5 1-inch thick slices of french bread or texas toast

2 cups finely chopped pecans


In a med size bowl beat together eggs, milk, vanilla & cinnamon. Dip bread into egg mixture, coating both sides (let soak atleast 10 seconds), then dip into chopped pecans, pressing pecans into bread if necessary. Cook on a skillet over med heat about 2-3 min per side. To keep warm, place on single layer on a baking sheet in a 170 degree oven until done cooking all of the french toast (this also helps the egg to cook through, preventing soggy bread!)

We love to have breakfast for dinner at our house. I didn't want to make the usual french toast or pancakes. I had purchased Texas Toast to make some amazing "kicked up" grilled cheese sandwiches (and I still will, I promise), but decided to use it for french toast, instead. I had some pecans leftover from Easter & the wheels started turning...I have to say...I was very pleased with the outcome. Actually, more than pleased...these things are to DIE for! Make some up this weekend for breakfast, you will not be disappointed!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

meat & potaotes...

I know, I know...to some a "loaf of meat" is not all that appealing...but in the world of comfort foods this is right at the top of the list...and let me tell you, this meal can deliver in the comfort department. There are many meatloaf recipes out there...here is one of my favorites.

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1/2 -1 can water
minced onion (to taste)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 pkg Mrs. Cubbison's seasoned dressing
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 eggs; slightly beaten

Combine all ingredients together with hands. Shape into a loaf on lightly greased baking sheet or place into greased muffin tins. Top with ketchup. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 min (or until thermometer reads 160)

Serve this bad boy up with some mashed potatoes & roasted carrots (olive oil, salt & pepper...400 degrees for 15-20 min) & call yourself comforted!!