Thursday, April 30, 2009

Apple or Any Fruit Sponge

The recipe book my mother used the most growing up was her Edmonds Cookbook. This is another childhood favorite of mine that I enjoyed eating and making as a kid. To me this would be considered a comfort food. Who doesn't love a warm, fruity, baked, pudding served with vanilla ice cream? YUM!!!!!

I like this dessert best with peaches or apricots. I happened to have some canned peaches from my mother in law in my pantry so that is what I used to make this delicious dessert.

Apple or Any Fruit Sponge
Edmonds Cookbook

3 cups of fruit of your choice (I used canned peaches leaving out most of the juice)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter softened
1/2 cup of white sugar
1 egg
1 cup of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 tablespoons of milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

When the oven is to temperature, place fruit (cut into bite sized pieces) and about half a cup of the juice from the fruit into a baking dish (I used a cornware dish). Bottled or canned fruit is best for this recipe. Frozen or fresh fruit doesn't have enough juice. Place fruit in the oven.

While the fruit it warming in the oven, in a bowl cream butter and sugar. Add egg and mix well. Once combined sift in flour and baking powder. Mix well. Add milk and mix until all ingredients are combined.

Remove fruit from the oven. Take large spoonfuls of the mixture and place over the top of the warm fruit.

The batter will spread and cover the fruit as it bakes.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. ENJOY!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The BEST Honey Chicken- My favorite dinner growing up

Everyone has a favorite meal. My favorite meal growing up was my mothers honey chicken. I loved it then and I love it now and it has since become one of my husbands favorite dishes too. It is the kind of dish my mother would often make for guests when they would come over for dinner and I have done the same. I am yet to find anyone who doesn't LOVE it. This recipe makes for a moist, fall off the bone chicken with a wonderful sauce that will leave you wanting to lick your plate.

This dish can be served over rice or pasta noodles. My favotite way to serve it is over hot buttery noodles. This recipe makes a fair amount of sauce. For me there is nothing like honey chicken served over a bed of hot buttery noodles swimming in the honey sauce. If you try this recipe I guarantee you will not be dissapointed.

I'm not sure of the name of the cookbook that this recipe came from. I scribbled the recipe down when I was preparing to leave home to move to the States as I knew it was a dish I would make time and time again. For me this is another comfort food.

Honey Chicken

Easily Serves 6 people (see note below)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup of honey
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
4 teaspoons of worcester sauce
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of grated green ginger (I used the minced kind you can find in a small glass jar at the supermarket)
2 cups of chicken stock (or 2 cups of water and two chicken boullion cubes crushed)
6 teaspoons of cornflour
1 tablespoon of water
Chicken drumsticks or other bone in chicken meat (I prefer drumsticks)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken in 13X9 baking dish and cook for 40 minutes. While chicken is cooking prepare sauce.

In a medium sized saucepan melt butter. To melted butter add honey, soy sauce, worcester sauce, lemon juice, ginger and stock stir to combine. Once combined mix cornflour and tablespoon of water in a separate container to make a paste. Add cornflour mixture to saucepan and with the heat on medium high stir sauce mixture until the sauce begins to thicken. The sauce will thicken to a runny gravy time consistency but will continue to thicken in the oven once you pour it over the chicken.

Once the chicken has cooked for 40 minutes remove the chicken from the oven and pour the sauce over the top of the chicken. Put the dish back in the oven and cook for another 40 minutes. The longer you let the chicken cook with the sauce, the more tender the chicken will become.

Serve chicken over a bed of your favorite noodles. ENJOY!

You can almost see the chicken bubbling in this picture. I took this photo right as I pulled them out of the oven.

***note***- This recipe makes enough sauce to cover a full 9X13 pan full of chicken with enough sauce for all to enjoy over noodles or rice. In my 9x13 pan I was able to fit 11 drumsticks. This amount can easily feed 6 adults allowing them to have 2 chicken drumsticks each.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chocolate Eclairs and my spoiled husband

I love my Brad! He is not only incredibly handsome, but he is also so smart, clever, talented, hard working, loyal, honest, sweet and kind. I could go on.

Brad is currently in his last year of his Mechanical Engineering Degree and also working full time. He gets up at 4:50 am every morning to go to the gym 5 days a week, goes to school and work all day long, only to come home and hit the books to study all night. In between he makes time for me and takes time to be the BEST daddy in the world. The most amazing part is that even with his heavy and stressful load he never complains and always puts 110% into everything he does. This past Saturday as part of his degree, he had to take an 8 hour long test. It is one of those nasty tests that you have to pay a fortune to take and if you don't pass - you don't graduate. He had been sick all week and still wasn't feeling great on Saturday but again not once did I hear him complain about the stressful task ahead. I am a VERY lucky girl!

All that being said, I wanted to make sure that when he got home he had a delicious dinner and a yummy sweet treat waiting for him. For dinner I made meatloaf (one of his faves) with scalloped potatoes and green beans. For his treat I made his absolute favorite- Chocolate Éclairs. I could have gone and bought some, but I wanted these to be special. He deserves to be spoiled!

I knew that Chocolate Éclairs were his favorite and had been wanting to make them for him for some time but they always looked like they would be difficult to make and I feared that I would butcher them. This weekend I mustered up the courage and boy was I glad. Brad said they were "amazing" which thrilled me. The recipe made quite a few and while I wanted to spoil him, I didn't exactly want him eating all 20 chocolate éclairs on his own either. Again I set out and delivered some to family and friends. Everyone raved about them and my good friend Sue gave them a 5 out of 5. The best part- I was amazed at just how easy these were to make.


1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs

In a large saucepan, bring water, butter and salt to a boil over medium heat. Add flour all at one; stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until smooth and shiny.

Insert a 3/4-in. round tip into a pastry bag or heavy-duty resealable plastic bag; add batter. Pipe into strips (about 3 1/2 in. long) 3 in. apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack. Poke a whole in one end of each pastry with a straw or chopstick, this hole will be used to add the filling; cool.

1 large box instant vanilla pudding (or can use other flavor if desired)
2 cups heavy whipping cream

In a large bowl, combine pudding and whipping cream. Mix together by hand using a wire whisk. Mix well to ensure a smooth mix. When the pudding starts to set, it is finished and needs to be used immediately. Place filling into a large zip lock bag of pastry bag. Squeeze out extra air and seal the top. If using zip lock bag, cut a hole, to fit into the hole in the pastry, in one corner of the bag. Pipe filling into each pastry shell. (This filling with thicken as you chill the pastries)

Chocolate Glaze
4 squares of semi sweet chocolate or 4 ounces semi sweet chips
3 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. hot water

In a 1 qt. microwave safe dish, cook chocolate and butter in the microwave on high for 1 to 1/2 minutes, stirring after each 30 seconds until melted and smooth. Whisk in powdered sugar and hot water until smooth. (if needed can add more hot water to reach desired consistency, I never do) Using a regular kitchen spoon, use one spoon full of glaze for each pastry. Spoon onto pastry and spread with the back of the spoon. Refrigerate pastries until ready to serve, I chill for at least 1 hour

Monday, April 27, 2009

Melt in your mouth Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

A little history- Until I came to the US on a holiday when I was 20, I had never heard of and therefore eaten a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie. Talk about a deprived childhood! In Australia pumpkin is not something associated with dessert or any sweet item. You can't buy it in a can like you can in the US. We grew up eating roasted pumpkin with Sunday roasts or eating it in my mothers delicious pumpkin soup. So when I was offered my first pumpkin chocolate chip cookie by my sister in law's best friend Jill I was a little weary but interested. After the first bite I was hooked! Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies next to home made Oreo cookies have since been one of my top two faves when it comes to cookies.

When I moved to the states I was so excited to get a recipe for this delicious cookie so that I could make them myself. I was given a recipe and after trying to make them twice I was so disappointed that I gave up. My cookies were dry and floury- nothing at all like Jill's cookies which were moist with a perfect chocolaty pumpkin flavor. I was so scarred that it has taken me till now to try my hand at these again. A little while ago I was able to make contact with Jill and get her recipe (she say's it’s her moms recipe). I was all excited to make them until I noticed that the recipe called for shortening- which I didn't have at the time. Not wanting to cart my toddler to the store I looked online and found this recipe. All the reviews RAVED about these so I felt confident that they would be good. I modified it just a little but the result was nothing short of amazing. These literally melted in my mouth. I knew it was dangerous for me to have these in my house so I got busy delivering them to friends and family so that my husband and I didn't eat the lot!

Because I have eaten Jill's cookies and can attest to how FABULOUS they are I am posting her recipe too. Thanks Jill!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Modified from a recipe by - George Duran (Food Network)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups canned pumpkin puree (One big can- original recipe called for 1 cup)
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups (12-ounce bag) milk chocolate chips, not semisweet
Nonstick cooking spray or parchment paper

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray or line them with parchment paper.

Using a mixer beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds. Stir in the chips. Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 14 minutes, or until the cookies are browned around the edges. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them rest for 2 minutes. Take the cookies off with a spatula and cool them on wire racks.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Jill's or Jill's Moms Recipe

4 1/2 C. Flour
2 C. Sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt

Cut in:
1 1/2 C Shortening - until it looks like fine crumbs

In a separate bowl, combine:
4 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla, 1 large can pumpkin
Combine the 2 mixtures and add 2 cups chocolate chips and some pumpkin spice.

Cook at 400 degrees in oven for 12 minutes

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Banana Delight- A Childhood Favorite Revisited

Growing up my mother would on occasion make this yummy dessert. I always loved it and remember as a kid begging my mum to make it often. My mother told me that the original recipe came from either a New Zealand or an Australian Woman’s Day Magazine. In the move from Australia to the US the recipe was lost so this week I sat down to see if I could re-create this childhood fave to share with my own little family. Thankfully this recipe is extremely simple and so with the help of my mother and a little messing around in the kitcheb Banana Delight is BACK! My husband and son loved this and that made me extra happy.

There is just something about sharing a childhood favorite with my own child and my sweetheart. In a funny way it helps me feel like I am connecting two worlds. The one I knew growing up in Australia and the one I live in now in the US.

Banana Delight
By Nats

4 large ripe bananas- mashed (You don't want them to be green, but they can't be to banana bread stage either)
8 ounces of cream cheese- softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 pint of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

1. Mash the bananas using a fork and set aside.

2. In a bowl combine cream, sugar and vanilla essence. Whip until the consistency of whipped cream. Set aside

3. In a separate bowl combine softened cream cheese and lemon juice. Using a hand held mixer blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Add whipped cream mixture to cream cheese mixture and fold just to combine. Once combined fold in mashed bananas and powdered sugar.

Growing up we always ate this dessert as is, however, since I am a lover of all things graham cracker crust I served mine over a graham cracker crust (see below).

Prepare graham cracker crust- I actually cheated and used the mini graham cracker crusts- see below. I love these and always try to keep some on hand.

To make your own crust- process graham crackers in a blender, add some melted butter and cinnamon. You want the mixture to stick together when you combine it. Press into the bottom of any dish and refrigerate until set.

For the Crust
Graham crackers
Unsalted butter (approx 2 tbl spoons)
1 tsp of cinnamon- You can adjust this to your taste.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mandarin Chicken

Last Friday I made this quick and easy dish for dinner. It was easy to make and was really tasty. My husband loved it and so did my toddler. It was the perfect meal to end a crazy week. I found the recipe on Real Mom Kitchen's blog.

Mandarin Chicken

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
½ tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon of garlic powder

Mandarin Sauce-
2/3 cup sugar
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh garlic (minced)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger (minced)
¼ cup water
4 teaspoons cornstarch

Pound chicken breasts with a mallet to an even thickness and season both sides with sugar, salt, and garlic powder. Grill chicken 4-6 minutes on each side or until no longer pink inside (I just used my George Forman grill). Remove from grill and cut into bit sized strips. Set aside.

In a bowl combine sugar, soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic and ginger. Pour into a wok or sauce pan. Heat the mixture until almost at a boil. Combine cornstarch and water. Once the sauce starts to boil add the cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened.
Add grilled chicken to the wok and coat with the sauce. Simmer until heated thoroughly (see note). I served it over cooked rice.

***Note*** I found that I actually had to water the sauce down quite a bit to get it just the way I wanted it to taste and also to thin it out for consistency. I also think that this recipe is as good as the soy sauce you use. So if you can, use a good quality soy sauce.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nats Strawberry Delight

Last Friday I had a hankering for a fresh and yummy dessert. I was feeling creative so I pulled my strawberries out of the fridge and had a little fun creating this yummy summer dessert. We had our good friends the Olsen's over to help us eat it and we all enjoyed my latest creation. The Olsen's always seem to end up as my guinea pigs. Thanks guys- We love you!

Nats Strawberry Delight
By Nat

For the Crust
Graham crackers
Unsalted butter (approx 2 tbl spoons)
1 tsp of cinnamon- You can adjust this to your taste.


Prepare graham cracker crust- I actually cheated and used the mini graham cracker crusts- see below. I love these and always try to keep some on hand.

To make your own crust- process graham crackers in a blender, add some melted butter and cinnamon. You want the mixture to stick together when you combine it. Press into the bottom of any dish and refrigerate until set.

For Strawberry puree
10 whole Strawberries- I used fresh but you could also use frozen
3 tablespoons Sugar divided - You may use more or less (this is to sweeten the strawberries)
1 tablespoon Water

Put the strawberries and one tablespoon of water into the blender and blend until a puree (I used my magic bullet to do this). Add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until the strawberry puree is sweet enough. Pour into container and set aside. Do not rinse out the blender.

Creamy mixture
1/2 cup thickened cream
1/2 cup Cream Cheese- softened
1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Next blend the softened cream cheese and remaining two tablespoons of sugar in the blender until creamy. Once creamy add cream and lemon juice. Blend again until all combined.

Take approximately 1/4 quarter of a cup of the strawberry puree and add it to the cream cheese mix. Blend until just combined.

Place the graham cracker crust on a plate- I used a 2 inch round cookie cutter and cut two discs of the crust out. Top with creamy mixture and then smother with strawberry puree. Top with a fresh strawberry. You can also break up some more graham cracker crust and sprinkle that on top of the dessert.

ENJOY! We sure did!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Buttermilk Pancakes- Delicious!

I had never had buttermilk pancakes until a couple of weekends ago. I know I know called me sheltered. I had noticed that most, if not all food bloggers had a recipe for buttermilk pancakes on their blogs so figured why not give them a shot? I was in a bit of a hurry so didn't have allot of time to look for a recipe but when I came across this one on abountifulkitchen's blog I was committed. The result was nothing less than wonderful. These pancakes were soft, airy and simply delicious. This recipe is definitely my new go-to quick and easy pancake recipe. Sorry Brad!

Si's Buttermilk Pancakes
I only made half a batch. A half a batch yielded about 12 pancakes.

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup milk, to thin batter

Combine dry ingredients. Add buttermilk, eggs and butter. Add milk, a little at a time. Cook on hot, well greased griddle.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Have you ever seen a recipe and wanted to make it because it just looked...well pretty? That was the case with these yummy cookies. Through my husband's Aunty Melinda’s website I found a cool (new to me) food blog called A Bountiful Kitchen She has lots of great recipes but when I saw these cookies I just knew I had to make them. They were so pretty. Hers look even prettier because she has a great camera but I think you can get the picture from mine.

Not only were these pretty but they were also delicious. They were dense and fudgy which I loved. We delivered some to friends and my husband couldn't stop eating the rest.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips (regular or mini’s)

3/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 drops mint extract, or more to taste
3 1/2 teaspoons half and half or milk

For the cookies:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a mixer beat together the butter with the sugars until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until smooth after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add vanilla. On a low speed beat in the flour mixture a little at a time. Gently mix in chocolate chips.

On an ungreased cookie sheet, drop teaspoons of the batter about 2 inches apart. Bake until just cracked on top, about 8 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time. Flatten the cookies slightly with a spatula after removing from oven. Cool completely.

For the glaze:
In a small bowl mix together the sugar; mint extract and milk until smooth. Transfer mixture to a medium resealable plastic bag and snip off a tiny bit of the corner. Drizzle glaze over cooled cookies. Let cookies stand until set, about 10-20 minutes.

If desired, before glaze sets, sprinkle with chopped mint candy. I actually had some candy canes left in my pantry from Christmas and just threw some of them in my mini food processor to crush them up. Worked like a charm.


-Do not over bake. Let the cookies cool completely before glazing. They will continue to cook and set up after you remove from the oven.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Easy Cheesy Rolls- OH MY!

These little beauties have everything I need to survive. Cheese (and lots of it), bread (carbs) and butter (mmm). When I saw this recipe on Real Mom Kitchen's blog I was so excited I could hardly wait to get home to try them out. I have made them a few times since I saw the recipe a couple of weeks ago and they never disappoint. We ALL love them to pieces. I'll even admit that I am guilty of planning my meal around them. Hmmmm what would go well with those delicious cheesy rolls? Serious!

Oh and the best part. They are simple and fast and are so easy to make to serve with ANY weeknight meal. The worst part- Try and stop at just 4!

Easy Cheesy Rolls

Worldwide Ward Cookbook, by Deanna Buxton

1/4 cup butter, melted
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese (Recipe calls for powdered- I used fresh)
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 pkg. Pillsbury Grands Biscuits (I used the buttermilk flaky ones)

In a bowl, combine melted butter, dried basil, and garlic powder. Mix shredded cheeses in a separate bowl. Remove biscuits from can and separate into individual biscuits. Flatten each biscuit slightly and put some cheese in the center of each biscuit and fold the dough around the cheese to form a ball. Pinch the dough together to seal the cheese inside. Roll each ball of dough in the melted butter mixture and then in parmesan cheese- place on a baking sheet. if there is any left over butter mixture, spoon it on top of the rolls on the baking sheet, Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes until rolls are golden brown. Makes 8 rolls.

***Note*** When you are making these they look somewhat small. Don't worry as they bake they will puff up.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Meatballs in Marinara Sauce and a conversion story

Before he tasted these, my husband would have told you, if asked, that he doesn't like meatballs. I know strange huh? Who doesn't like meatballs? Anyway, the first time I heard that I was determined to change his mind. He just hasn't had GOOD meatballs obviously. One Saturday while watching my American's Test Kitchen DVD's I watched them make this recipe for Meatballs in Marinara Sauce. They did look like allot of work but I was up for the challenge. So a couple of weekends ago I set out on Sunday to make these Meatballs in Marinara Sauce. I watched anxiously as my husband took his first bite. Sooo? I asked him. His response was "These are really good!". I didn't stop there but continued to grill him for a couple of minutes to make sure he really liked them and wasn't just being polite. SUCCESS! He now won't tell you, if asked, that he doesn't like meatballs. Thanks American's Test Kitchen- as always you never disappoint!

Meatballs in Marinara Sauce

Serves 8- Freezes very well

The meatballs and sauce both use the same onion mixture.

Onion Mixture

1/4 cup olive oil
3 onions , chopped fine
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Easy Marinara

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup water
4 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil leaf
1 - 2 teaspoons sugar , as needed


4 slices hearty white sandwich bread
3/4 cup milk
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage , casings removed
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 large eggs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck (80 percent lean)

1. For the onion mixture: Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook onions until golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer half of onion mixture to large bowl and set aside.

2. For the marinara: Add tomato paste to remaining onion mixture in pot and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add wine and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in water and tomatoes and simmer over low heat until sauce is no longer watery, 45 to 60 minutes. Stir in cheese and basil and adjust seasonings with salt and sugar.

3. For the meatballs: Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Mash bread and milk in bowl with reserved onion mixture until smooth. Add remaining ingredients, except ground beef, to bowl and mash to combine. Add beef and knead with hands until well combined. Form mixture into 2 1/2-inch meatballs (you should have about 16 meatballs), place on rimmed baking sheet, and bake until well browned, about 20 minutes.

4. Transfer meatballs to pot with sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve over pasta. (Meatballs and marinara can be frozen for up to 1 month.)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Creamy Skillet Macaroni and Cheese

A few weeks ago I found this recipe for homemade Creamy Skillet Mac n Cheese on My Kitchen Cafe's blog. I LOVE her blog! My Gabe loves macaroni and cheese and the box stuff is...well crappy! I don't really want to know what is in that powdered cheese! I always feel sick after I eat the box stuff and it always seems so grainy. Anyway when I found this recipe I was excited to try it. I had tried a couple of other recipes in the past and just wasn't really happy with them. They always seemed to end up being rather tasteless and just weren't satisfying. This recipe however was creamy and quite tasty. We all enjoyed it. I'll definitely keep this recipe. It was also very easy to make and took no time at all. A definite plus in my book!

Skillet Macaroni and Cheese
adapted from The Best Skillet Recipes

3 1/2 cups water, plus extra if needed
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
12 ounces (about 3 cups) elbow macaroni
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small chunks
Ground black pepper to taste

Bring 3 1/2 cups water, 1 cup of the evaporated milk, the macaroni, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. Cook at a vigorous simmer, stirring often, until the macaroni is tender and the liquid has thickened, 9 to 12 minutes.

Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup evaporated milk, the cornstarch, mustard and hot sauce together in a small bowl, then stir into the skillet. Continue to simmer slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Off the heat, stir in the cheddar and Monterey Jack, one handful at a time, adding water as needed to adjust the consistency of the sauce (I didn't need any additional water when I made it). Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Ham and Corn Variation
Follow the recipe, adding 4 ounces deli-style baked ham, diced medium, and 1/2 cup frozen corn to the skillet with the cornstarch mixture in step 2.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Delicious Spaghetti Pie

Last week one day when I was home I made this delicious Spaghetti Pie for dinner. We all loved it. The photos don't even close to do it justice. It was soooo flavorful and yummy I can't rave enough about it. While I wouldn't usually make this during the week due to time constraints and energy levels etc this would be perfect to make on a Saturday or any other day you have the time to spend a little longer on dinner. As a working mum I have to plan my weekly dinner menu accordingly. Sadly it just isn't realistic for me to spend hours in the kitchen when I get home from work. Nevertheless if you try this dish you will not be disappointed. I'll certainly be making this again. It made for awesome left over’s that both my hubby and I were excited for.

Delicious Spaghetti Pie

From CC
Serves 6 to 8

Pasta Crust

Table salt
4 ounces vermicelli , broken into 2-inch pieces
1 clove garlic , minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg , beaten
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil


2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 small onion , chopped fine
1/2 pound 90% lean ground beef
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 cup whole-milk ricotta
1 large egg
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 cups shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese

1. For the crust: Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Bring 2 quarts water to boil in large saucepan. Add 1 teaspoon salt and vermicelli and cook until al dente. Drain well.

2. Combine cooked vermicelli, garlic, butter, Parmesan, egg, and basil in medium bowl. Press mixture into deep 10-inch pie plate.

Bake until crust has set, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool while making filling.

I could have just eaten the crust it smelled so good!

3. For the filling: Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add beef and cook until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain off any excess fat. Stir in tomato sauce, tomato paste, and sugar and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper.

4. Stir ricotta, egg, and oregano together in small bowl. Spread ricotta mixture over pasta crust. Top with meat sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake until golden brown on top, about 25 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Slice into wedges and serve.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Last Saturday we headed down to see my dad, his wife and my two youngest brothers. It was my brother Jarom's 18th birthday on April 6th and he told me that for his birthday he wanted me to make him my Australian Sausage Rolls and some cheesecake. Of course I was happy to oblige and after cooking and baking all morning we made the trip down to Spanish Fork. We had fun eating and visiting and my dad's wife Cheryl made us a lovely meal.

My food assignment was dessert. Knowing my dad has always been a lover of carrot cake I was excited to make these Carrot Cake Cupcakes for him. I thought they looked so cute and they were really tasty too.

I also found these easy to make and rather forgiving. After I had placed them in the oven I was reading over the recipe and realized I had sifted and not whisked the flour mixture. Uh oh. Panic set in and I was worried that they wouldn't turn out. Thankfully they did and they seemed totally unscathed.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Martha Stewart Everyday Baking

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups grated carrots (from about 4 medium carrots)
For the Frosting:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12 cup standard muffin tin with paper liners.
1. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg; set aside.
2.In another large bowl, whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, egg, yogurt, and vanilla. Stir in carrots. Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture mixing until well combined. Divide among muffin tin. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
3.Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. To frost: Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, and confectioners' sugar

Banana Cream Pie for the love of my life!

The other dessert I made to take to my sister in law's house on Easter was a Banana Cream Pie for my sweet husband Brad. Sunday was our 6 year wedding anniversary. We enjoyed the day home together as a family cuddling, playing and having an Easter egg hunt in our backyard BUT the day was still a little bit of a downer. My mouth was still far from normal and kissing still (25 days later) was not an option so we just decided to postpone our anniversary celebration to this coming weekend when I will be all healed (more to follow).

My husband's favorite dessert is Banana Cream Pie. Personally I don't like it, but I wanted to do something special for him on our day. So all last week I had been searching for a recipe. I decided to go with this one from Martha Stewart. Brad and the family enjoyed the pie and I was more than happy to make it for my sweetheart. Brad said this recipe was a keeper.

Banana Cream Pie
Martha Stewart

All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 Pate Brisee, use 1 disc and reserve remaining disc for another use - ***see note***
•1/2 cup granulated sugar
•1/4 cup cornstarch
•1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
•4 large egg yolks
•2 cups whole milk
•2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
•3 ripe bananas, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise
•1 1/2 cups heavy cream
•2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar
•1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Combine granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a bowl. Add egg yolks, and whisk until smooth. Bring milk to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup milk to yolk mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Pour mixture into pan with hot milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to bubble and is very thick, about 6 minutes.
•Pour milk mixture through a large-mesh sieve into a bowl. Add butter, and stir until melted. Fold in bananas. Pour into crust. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of filling to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
•Make the topping: Beat together cream, sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Spread whipped cream over filling. Using a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon, shape topping into peaks.

The pie crust recipe I used was from Cooks Country (Recipe below)
No-Fear Pie Crust

Makes one 9-inch Pie Shell

The pastry can be pressed into the pie plate and refrigerated for up to 2 days or double-wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 1 month. Once baked and cooled, the shell can be wrapped tightly in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened but still cool
2 ounces cream cheese , softened but still cool

1. Lightly coat 9-inch Pyrex pie plate with cooking spray. Whisk flour, sugar, and salt together in bowl.

2. With electric mixer at medium-high speed, beat butter and cream cheese in large bowl, stopping once or twice to scrape down beater and sides of bowl, until completely homogenous, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture and combine on medium-low until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 20 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until dough begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds. Reserve 3 tablespoons of dough. Turn remaining dough onto lightly floured surface, gather into ball, and flatten into 6-inch disk. Transfer disk to greased pie plate.

3. Press dough evenly over bottom of pie plate toward sides, using heel of your hand. Hold plate up to light to ensure that dough is evenly distributed (see photo 1 at left). With your fingertips, continue to work dough over bottom of plate and up sides until evenly distributed.

4. On floured surface, roll reserved dough into 12-inch rope. Divide into three pieces, roll each piece into 8-inch rope, and form fluted edge (photos 2 through 4). Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

5. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly prick bottom of crust with fork. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack. (If large bubbles form, wait until crust is fully baked, then gently press on bubbles with kitchen towel. Bubbles will settle as crust cools.)

We had so much fun watching Gabe look through his Easter basket on Sunday morning and watching him play with his Easter toys and it was a blast having an Easter egg hunt in our backyard. Gabe was so cute and after I helped him find two eggs he seemed to know exactly what to do. I wish I had of taken more pictures but daddy was using the video recorder and I was trying to help.

Hmmm what's this stuff? Bet I can make a mess with it!

Mmmmm chocolate

Uh Oh- Good thing this is a picture and you can't hear me screaming for Brad to get a tissue before the chocolate hits the carpet. =)

Easter, a new family tradition and dessert!!!!!

I thoroughly enjoyed this past Easter weekend. Easter is one of my favorite holidays possibly even more than Christmas. I love the reason for the holiday and always feel renewed after reflecting upon why we celebrate this special time.

Growing up it was a family tradition of ours on Good Friday (which is always a public holiday in Australia) to eat warm hot cross buns and drink hot chocolate for breakfast while my dad read the Easter story in the bible. I always loved that tradition and it was a tradition that only took on more meaning as I grew older. Hot cross buns can be hard to come by here in Utah I have noticed so I decided to make them myself (I'll post the recipe in coming days). So on Friday I had lots of fun messing up my kitchen with my little guy and making hot cross buns. The smell in my house really took me back and I look forward to continuing this tradition with my own little family for years to come.

It seems that most families get together to celebrate the Easter Holiday. Both of my sister in laws on the Bentley side celebrated with their families either the week before or on Saturday. Since my family is all over and getting together is not an easy feat - us Bentley kids decided that even though my in-laws didn't mark the event that we would start our own tradition with an Easter dinner on Easter Sunday. We decided this kind of late in the week so to kick off this year we met at my sister in law Elizabeth's house and shared some dessert. The girls had a blast talking and laughing in the kitchen while the big and little boys talked and played in the basement. I don't know what it is exactly but a holiday and especially a religious holiday such as Easter just isn't as special unless you spend it with the ones you love. I was so thankful to Liz who offered to let us play at her house since I had been feeling so crappy the past month. In years to come we look forward to having a nice Easter dinner together and creating special memories.

I had seen on a couple of blogs a recipe for 'Perfect Lemon Cake'. I wouldn't peg myself as a HUGE lemon lover but lemons just remind me of sun and spring. This recipe promised an intensely moist and delicious cake. Anytime I stumble across a recipe that promises an intensely moist anything I just have to try it. This cake did not disappoint and we all enjoyed it. The strawberries complemented the lemon flavor so well and the cake was oh so moist. In fact it only became even more moist the next day when I enjoyed two pieces for breakfast! Mmmmmmmm. The other dessert I made was a banana cream pie. I'll post that recipe later. This cake really is a must try and if you love lemon you will certainly be in heaven when you sit down to eat a piece of this yummy cake. Thanks to Melanie from My Kitchen Cafe who posted this last week!

Perfect Lemon Cake

Originally from - From You Got Served

1 package lemon cake mix
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup oil
4 eggs
1 small package lemon instant pudding

Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. Mix with electric mixer on medium speed for about two minutes. Pour into a greased 9x11 pan or two round pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Don't over bake or the cake will be too dry! I baked my cakes separately and they took 27 minutes each.

You can also make cupcakes and bake them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. The cupcakes will fall after they come out of the oven, but this is normal. Just fill up the indentation with more frosting.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, very soft
6-8 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of sugar, then the juice and the zest. Beat until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency (I added about 6 cups total). Use and store at room temperature. (Don't refrigerate and it will last in a covered container for about three days.)

Garnish with berries, if desired.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Delicious Chicken Enchiladas and my awesome sister-in-law

A couple of weeks ago when I was having a particularly crappy day with these horrible mouth ulcers (which I still have mind you!) I was driving home from work crying, feeling miserable and definately not in the mood to cook when my sister in law Liz called to say that she was bringing me dinner. I'm not good at accepting the help of others but on this particular day she did not have to twist my arm. The result was more tears- happy ones this time and the most delicious chicken enchiladas I have ever tasted. Thank you Liz- I love you and owe you BIG time. You helped me more than you will ever know!

These were perfect served smothered with sour cream and spanish rice as a side dish.

Liz's Delicious Chicken Enchiladas

-6 chicken breasts (or so...)
-Anywhere from 3/4 to 1 full bottle of homemade chili sauce (this is to your taste and I have only found this homemade chili sauce at Smith's- by the ketchup, it is not at Wal-Mart or any other grocery store that I have been to)
-1 small green pepper- finely chopped
-1 (8 oz.) block of cream cheese- softened
-1 to 1 1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese

One part cream of chicken to one part sour cream (I usually make a lot of sauce as I like saucy stuff...but you can make as little or as much sauce as you like)

-Preheat oven to 350
-Mix filling ingredients together. If it seems dry, add some of your sauce to the filling. I like to add at least a little bit for flavor.
-Mix sauce
-Spread a few Tblspoons of sauce in bottom of 9x13 pan
-Fill tortillas with filling (About 1 tortilla for every chicken breast) roll and place in pan
-Spread sauce over top of tortillas
-Spread about a cup of shredded cheddar cheese over the top
-Bake at 350 uncovered for about 40 minutes or until heated through.

Note from Liz- I have found that this is a great freezer meal as it tastes just as good after being frozen. You can also chop the recipe in half to bake in an 8x8 or 9x9 pan.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Gingerbread pancakes- Probably my all time fave pancake!

My sister in law Liz is a great cook. She learnt her cooking skills from her mother who is a fabulous cook. This recipe is one that Liz made us for our family thanksgiving breakfast. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water. These were nothing short of divine. They are best served warm with the apple syrup poured over the top and whipped cream. Ahhhhhh Heaven!!!!!! I had been bugging Liz for the recipe since Thanksgiving and am so glad that she was willing to share it with me. If you try these I guarantee that you WILL NOT be disappointed and whoever you feed them to will be impressed.

Gingerbread Pancakes

From Mrs. Treu- Original recipe from Betty Crocker
1 1/2 C buttermilk
2 T oil
1 1/2 C flour
2 eggs ( will just add the yokes with the rest of the ingredients and I will give instructions for egg whites below)
1 T brown sugar (packed)
1 t Baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 C molasses

First separate eggs and beat the egg whites until stiff. Mix the rest of the ingredients together well and then gently fold in the egg whites. (you may have chunks of egg whites due to gentle stirring and it might feel like they aren't evenly mixed in....that is ok)

Bake on griddle at 350 (no hotter) and serve with apple syrup and whipped cream. Just note that these pancakes cook slower and they usually need more time on the griddle than the typical pancake. I usually need at least a few trial pancakes to get it right. :o)

Apple Syrup
1 C sugar
2 T cornstarch
1/4 t cinnamon
2 C apple juice
1 T lemon juice

Stir ingredients together in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once bubbling, turn heat down and let simmer until it thickens just a bit.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Slow-Rise Pizza Dough- BBQ chicken pizza

Lately I have had all sorts of fun making homemade pizza for dinner on Sarurday nights. I have been especially grateful that Laura over at has also been on a pizza kick lately because she has been posting some great pizza crust recipes and I trust her recipes 100%. This is another one from Laura's blog that she found on Melanie from My Kitchen Cafe's blog.

Slow-Rise Pizza Dough

2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 1/3 cup cold water
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt

These directions come straight from My Kitchen Cafe. The beauty about making this recipe the night before is you can just throw all the ingredients together cold (no warming the water) and stick it covered in the refrigerator. That is all I do - mix the dough to the desired consistency (I like my dough pretty soft) and really try not to over flour it and then place it in a greased bowl covered with saran wrap in the refrigerator. Be sure to take it out of the refrigerator a few hours before you make the pizza so the dough has time to warm and relax. This recipe makes 2 medium-sized pizzas. Directions for baking pizza:Preheat oven to 475 degrees. (If using a pizza stone, let stone heat for at least 30 minutes in the oven before baking pizza.) If baking in a sheet pan, press dough onto sheet pan and top with sauce and toppings. Bake for about 12 minutes (checking often) until crust is browned and cheese is golden and bubbly. If baking on the preheated pizza stone, slide pizza onto stone and bake for about 8 minutes

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Slow cooker Sausage Dip

Here is another awesome dip recipe. I got this one from a lady I work with at the firm. She had made it once and brought it into work and I immediately fell in love. It was oh so creamy and delicious. I am not a huge fan of vegies- I know it's bad and I really am not a huge fan of green peppers, but I didn't even know that they were in this dip until she gave me the recipe.

Sausage Dip
This is not a picture of my dip. I made it a while ago for a family thing and never took a picture. This looks alot like it though.

Crock Pot Full (small size crockpot):

Fry and drain 1 lbs of country style (Jimmy Dean) sausage
1 large or 2 small onions chopped
2 green peppers chopped
1 can diced gree chilis (4 or 6 oz)
2 tomatoes chopped
16 oz. Sour Cream
2 – 8 oz packages cream cheese

Cook in crock pot on low for at least ½ day. The longer you cook it the softer your veggies will be. All day is probably the preferred. If possible, stir every couple of hours. The recipe can be halved.

I always start the crock pot on high first (about 1 hour) to get the cream cheese softened faster so; then turn it down to low

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

A few weeks ago I came across a great blog. This blog is all about cupcakes ( It has so many different flavors of cupcakes that I saved a bunch to try when I had some time. This is the first one I have tried.

These were really tasty. I think I may have used a little too much apple (if there is such a thing) so next time will think about using a little less, but really you can't go wrong when you pair a flavorful cake, baked apples and a syrupy caramel frosting. I really enjoyed these.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes
Recipe from Crazy About Cupcakes by Krystina Castella.

Makes 16-18

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 medium sized tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped small (about 2 cups)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Insert liners into a medium cupcake pan.
2. In a large bowl beat together the brown sugar, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition.
3. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Beat until blended. Stir in apples.
5. Fill the cupcake liners 1/2 to 3/4 full (I did about 1/2) with batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes (mine were done at about 18 minutes), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan.

Caramel Topping

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan over medium heat bring the brown sugar, butter, and cream to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer (about medium-low) and continue stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Stir in the vanilla.
3. Pour the warm caramel topping over cupcakes. (***I HIGHLY ADVISE LETTING THE CARAMEL COOL AND THICKEN BEFORE TOPPING THE CUPCAKES!!*** Otherwise you'll just get a thin, runny mess and hardly any caramel on each cupcake. I let mine cool in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.)

I had a little helper, who when I turned my back for a second worked out how to take the lid off the baking powder. He had a measuring spoon in one hand and the baking powder in another. Hmmmmm. Notice his mouth full of apples.

Friday, April 3, 2009

I am the winner of a blog giveaway!

Priscilla over at Priscilla's Bakes ( amazing! She is only 17 years of age and has this fabulous food blog- You MUST check it out! I love her blog and check it out daily. She is always whipping up something yummy in her kitchen and sharing her recipes and fun stories about her friends and family with all of her followers. She is one of 6 kids! All I can say is that her 5 siblings must be some of the luckiest and most well fed kids around. I sure wish I had of had a sister like Priscilla growing up!

This past week Priscilla had a giveaway on her blog. This is what her giveaway blog said:

I'd love to know who my readers are. Love to see who you are.

So, to enter send me a picture of yourself. It can be with a friend, family member, your pet, or just a picture of you.
All the pictures I receive of my readers will be up on my blog with the winner picked randomly.

Send your picture here:

Yes, the prize. The winner will get to pick a bag of your choice from this shop: OliveAndBubby. Terie has some pretty amazing bags, perfect spring bags with spring right around the corner. Will help you get in that much wanted warmer weather spirit.
Deadline is: Friday at 9 o'clock AM and the winner will be announced that afternoon.

This is a picture of Priscilla and her buddy Jack. Check out that tan. I'm jealous!

I was more than happy to submit an entry to this giveaway. Mostly because I love to show off pictures of my gorgeous baby Gabe. Who would have thought I would actually win. This morning when I got into work and was perusing food blogs, I was floored to see that I had won. Check out Priscilla's blog to see our winning photo and all the cute comments about my beautiful family.

I am so excited for my prize. I chose this gorgeous bag from Olive and Bubby - Check out the website. They have the cutest bags etc.

THANKS PRISCILLA!- You made my week!

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Hands down one of my ALL time favorite dips, this one never dissapoints. I first tried this dip at a church function a couple of years ago and immediately begged for the recipe. I'm not sure where it officially comes from. Hot, creamy, cheesy and just plain delicious. I'm not ashamed to say that I have literally eaten this for dinner on maybe more than one occasion. This is a recipe that once you make it for family and friends they will never stop requesting it. Oh and did I mention how EASY it is to make. It is SO easy! The only fall back about this dip is the cost to make it. With all the cheese it can get a little pricey. That being said, if you ask me it is worth EVERY penny! My sister in law Shanna asked me just the other day if I had ever posted this recipe and I can't believe I hadn't until now. This one is for you Shanna!

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

1 cup mayo
1 cup sour cream
6 cloves garlic minced
2 cups Monterey jack cheese shredded
2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
10 oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach thawed and pat dry
1 can chopped artichoke hearts - plain best if not use marinated but drain well!

Simply combine all the ingredients and bake in glass casserole dish at 350 for 30 min.

Serve warm with french bread or your favorite cracker.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Baked Chicken Breasts with Parmesan-Garlic Crust

This was a really easy recipe to make and the result was a delicious moist chicken breast surrounded by a fabulous crunchy crust that yielded a really yummy cheesy flavor. I'll definitely make this again. The fresh basil was refreshing and not overpowering at all like I was concerned it might be and coating the chicken in mayonnaise rather than an egg wash just added to the flavor. I served this dish with some fresh broccoli with cheese sauce and a simple rice pilaf. YUM!

Baked Chicken Breasts with Parmesan-Garlic Crust
Serves 4

For the freshest flavor, homemade bread crumbs with hearty white sandwich bread are the best, but packaged bread crumbs will work just fine as long as they’re seasoned properly.

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan cheese
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon table salt
coarsely ground black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 to 7 ounces each), trimmed
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Lemon wedges for serving

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, garlic, oil, salt, and pepper to taste in bowl.

2. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and transfer to 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Combine basil and mayonnaise in small bowl and spread mixture evenly over chicken. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over mayonnaise, pressing lightly to adhere.

3. Bake until crumbs are golden brown and instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of chicken registers 160 degrees, 30-35 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Chocolate Hazelnut Layer Cake

Even though I was still feeling miserable on Saturday NOTHING was going to stop me from spending a little time in the kitchen. After starving all week, I was determined to make and attempt to eat a yummy cake. I did make it and did even manage to eat a piece but boy did I regret it afterwards. My mouth went into shock and I was in agony the rest of the night. The cake was so delicious though and I was really proud of my efforts.

Growing up most households in Australia had a jar of Nutella in the pantry. In primary (elementary) school I had friends who would eat it in their sandwiches on plain white bread. While the thought of that is not appealing to me, when I found this recipe a while ago for a Chocolate Hazelnut Layer Cake that had Nutella in it I just knew I had to try it. Perhaps it was a feeling of nostalgia, I don't know. I had bought the ingredients to make this a while ago and just hadn't gotten around to it. I'm so glad I finally did.

Chocolate Hazelnut Layer Cake
Women's Day

3 C heavy cream,
2 bars (4oz each) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 C Nutella

1 C unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 c boiling water
1/2 c nutella (2 13 oz jars)
1 c buttermilk
2 Tbsp frangelico (I didn't have any of this so left it out)
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 c sugar
1 stick (1/2 c) butter, softened
1 1/2 t baking soda
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
4 large eggs
1 3/4 c all purpose flour

1. Microwave cream in a large bowl on high until steaming. Add chocolate; let stand 5 minutes. Stir until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap; refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours. (see note)

2. Cake: Heat oven to 350°F. You’ll need two 9 x 2-in. round cake pans, greased and floured.

3. Whisk cocoa powder and water in a medium bowl, then Nutella and buttermilk, Frangelico and vanilla.

4. Beat sugar, butter, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl with mixer on medium-high speed 3 minutes or until pale. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. On low speed beat in flour in 3 additions alternating with cocoa mixture in 2 additions, beating just until blended. Pour into prepared pans.

5. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until a pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of each layer; turn out on rack and cool completely.

6. Insert several toothpicks halfway up side around both cake layers. Using picks as a guide, cut layers in half with a long serrated knife.

7. Filling & frosting: Beat cold chocolate mixture on medium speed until soft peaks form when beaters are lifted. Put Nutella into a bowl; stir in 1 1/2 cups chocolate mixture until smooth. Fold into remaining chocolate mixture until combined. Remove 2 1/2 cups to a bowl; stir in hazelnuts for filling. Reserve remainder for frosting.

8. To assemble: Place 1 cake layer on serving plate; spread with 1/3 the filling (1 scant cup). Top with second layer and 1/2 the remaining filling; repeat with third layer and remaining filling. Top with last cake layer. Spread a thin layer of frosting over top and sides; refrigerate 15 minutes to firm. Spread top and sides with remaining frosting. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish just before serving.

(***NOTE***- You will notice in the pictures of my cake that the frosting has flecks of brown in it. This is not supposed to be the case. I found that trying to get the cream the right temperature using the microwave was a tad tricky. I don't think my cream was quite warm enough because my chocolate didn't melt all the way and after I pulled it out of the fridge a few hours later to finish up the frosting, the chocolate had settled in the bottom of the bowl. Next time I think I'll heat the cream in a saucepan so that I can more closely monitor the melting of the chocolate into the cream. That should ensure the frosting has a smoother texture I think. Regardless it was still delicious, it just didn't look exactly how I wanted it to.