Monthly Archives: February 2012

Anniversary Celebration

Yesterday was Bob and mine’s 3 and a half year anniversary. We really like to celebrate and the fun began on Saturday. We went to Target to do some stocking up since my employee discount has an expiration date – this is my last week there before I start my new big girl job! We got the things on our list – dog food, toothpaste, etc. but then a new Nikon D5100 made it into our cart. I’ve always wanted a DSLR camera and this one was on sale for $749.00 (compared to $849.00)! On top of the $100 sale price, my discount got us another $98ish off. We split the price and called it our anniversary present to ourselves. We had fun the whole weekend taking pictures of Brooklyn and of course our anniversary dinner and dessert!

For our dinner we had pasta with a tomato-artichoke sauce and a peanut butter fudge cake for dessert (the cake that was supposed to be Valentine’s Day baking part 2). The sauce was homemade and delicious with a little kick. Bob and I are big pasta eaters, so this sauce was a nice change from everyday tomato or alfredo sauce. Besides the full flavor from the garlic, cayenne pepper, basil and oregano, it also had texture with the chunks of tomato and artichoke.

Tomato Artichoke Sauce (Recipe originally from Ultimate Daniel Fast)

Ingredients:
1 TB extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (14-oz) can artichoke hearts, 1/4 cup juice reserved
1/2 TB dried basil
1/2 TB dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Directions:
Put artichokes in a food processor, and pulse just long enough to break into smaller pieces. Set aside. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or stockpot, and cook onion until translucent. Add garlic, and cook one minute, stirring frequently so garlic doesn’t burn. Add tomatoes, artichokes, artichoke juice, basil, parsley, oregano, salt, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, and then lower heat. Simmer 30 minutes. Makes 6 cups.

Sauce with elbow noodles

The piece de resistance was dessert! Originally intended as Bob’s birthday cake, because he loves peanut butter cups, this cake literally tastes like a Reese’s. It involves two peanut butter cakes filled with a cream cheese-peanut butter filling and topped with a chocolate fudge frosting, peanuts and chopped up Reese’s peanut butter cups. Basically heaven! What was perfect about this cake was although it was very rich, it was not super sweet. (Bob can’t stand uber-sugary tasting frosting).
The process was a little involved – making the cakes, the filling and the frosting and then putting it all together – but it wasn’t difficult. I can not wait until I have my own Kitchenaid mixer though! It would have made the process a little easier. I did use these handy cake pans that my grandma got me for Christmas. They have this little contraption on the bottom that spins around to loose the cake bottom from the pan… it worked wonders.

Fancy Cake Pan

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake (Recipe originally from My Recipes)
Ingredients:
Cake:
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • About 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup milk
Peanut Butter filling
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk

Fudge Frosting

  • 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • About 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 tablespoons milk

Directions:

Cake

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar, 1/2 cup butter, and peanut butter until creamy. Crack eggs into a small dish (do not beat) and add vanilla. Add eggs to the butter mixture 1 at a time, scraping down the inside of the bowl as needed. Beat in flour mixture and milk in alternating batches, starting and ending with the flour and making sure each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next.

2. Butter and flour 2 round 9-in. cake pans. Divide batter evenly between pans.

3. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

4. Cool cakes 5 minutes. Invert onto a rack, remove pans, and let cool to room temperature, at least 40 minutes.

5. Make filling: In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, beat together peanut butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and milk until smooth and fluffy.

6. Assemble cake: Dollop 1 tbsp. peanut butter filling onto a cake stand (to hold cake in place). Place 1 cake layer on stand. Spread with remaining peanut butter filling. Top with second layer. Starting with the top, then working down the sides, frost cake with fudge frosting. Decorate the top edge with candy pieces and peanuts.

Cake with filling

Fudge Frosting

Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Let cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Add butter and beat on high speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add 3 cups powdered sugar and the milk; beat until smooth. Add more powdered sugar if frosting seems too thin.

All assembled

mmmm...

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Crispy Herbed Fish and Hush Puppies

Tis the season of no (red) meat Fridays, which provides me a great opportunity to find new fish and vegetarian recipes to try. Yesterday was my first attempt. I made a crispy herbed fish found on the back of the corn meal package and some of my boyfriend’s grandma’s hush puppies (which according to the recipe are the perfect accompaniment to fried fish).

Not only was this dinner unexpectedly easy, it was also FULL of flavor. The fish took about 10 minutes to prep and only 8 minutes to cook. It had so much flavor despite the fact that I burnt the parmesan cheese when I broiled it. I didn’t even have a proper broiler pan though. I had to wrap a cooling rack in tin foil, punch some holes in it and put in on top of a baking sheet. It looked a little funny, but it definitely worked.

Crispy Herbed Fish (Found on Quaker Yellow Corn Meal)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup enriched corn meal

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1-1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt (I didn’t have salt, so I used a little garlic powder and some regular salt)

1-1/2 pound perch or cod fillets (frozen or fresh)

1/2 cup skim milk

3 tablespoons margarine, melted

Directions:

Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl. Pour milk into a separate bowl. Dip the fish in the milk, then coat with the dry mixture. Place the fish skin side down in broiler pan. Broil 5 inches from heat 5 – 8 minutes or until fish flakes easily and is golden brown. Don’t forget to watch the parmesan cheese!

To go with my fish, I fried up some hush puppies. I’ve never made these before and I was trying Bob’s grandma’s recipe, so I was a little intimidated. But like I said it was very easy and yielded some very tasty bites! Our mini deep fryer is probably one of the best Christmas presents Bob and I have ever gotten.

Hush Puppies

Ingredients:

1 medium onion chpped

1-1/2 cup corn meal

1 cup flour

1 egg

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup milk

Directions:

Mix well. Drop dough by the spoonful into 350 degree deep fryer. Fry until golden brown.


Healthier Corn Dogs

I’ve been severely slacking on my posts, but I gave up being lazy for Lent so hopefully posts will be more frequent… fingers crossed!

Despite my hesitance towards hot dogs, I’ve always loved corn dogs and the other day I thought they sounded like an excellent dinner. Since corn dogs are usually not very good for you and usually come frozen in a giant box, I looked around for a homemade recipe. What I found was an interesting and healthier take on them on the Happy Good Time Blog – Corn Dog Mini Muffins.

They look a little funny, but they taste good!

Basically, it’s a corn bread muffin with a hot dog stuffed in the center. I used the homemade corn bread recipe found on the blog, but boxed mix would work too! The recipe takes out most of the components of a corn dog that make it unhealthy – the frying and the butter. By substituting unsweetened applesauce for the butter in the corn bread and baking the muffins instead of deep frying, the result is a tasty and healthier treat! The recipe also suggests using turkey dogs, which is another healthier substitution. I followed the suggestion and couldn’t even tell the difference in taste. My little brother, who would never eat a turkey dog if you told him what it was, loved these!

Ketchup frosting?

The only negative I have is that these corn bread muffins don’t have the crunch that a carnival or frozen corn dog has, but the taste is almost exact.

P.S. I got a big girl job! So expect posts about my favorite topic – being office chic- and lots more home cooked meals and lunches!


PB Cake update

Sorry for no post on the peanut butter fudge cake. I’m down for the count with a terrible head cold. Look for the post around the 26th… I’ve decided the cake will be made in celebration of my three and a half year anniversary with Bob!


Valentine’s Day Baking Part 1

Today I completed my first round of Valentine’s Day baking. I’ve got double duty because February 14 is also my boyfriend’s birthday! So tomorrow I will be making his birthday cake. But, he wanted to bring a treat to share at work, so I made strawberry fudgey cupcakes with the best buttercream I’ve ever made.

Of course, I found the recipe on Pinterest – originally posted on Six Sister’s Stuff  as Neapolitan cupcakes. I was first intrigued by the picture and then read on to find that these cupcakes combine strawberry cake, brownies and buttercream! A total triple threat! The recipe uses boxed mixes, so I did too. But these are so good that they are worth finding homemade strawberry cake and brownie recipes to make them even better! I will definitely be trying a totally homemade version soon.

The actual cupcakes were easy, since they were from box mixes (although the recipe doesn’t follow the box instructions so make sure you read carefully!). The buttercream frosting was also super simple. The recipe is also found on Six Sister’s Stuff. It was light, fluffy and the perfect amount of sweetness (despite the 4 cups of powdered sugar used!).

In the end, I had extra strawberry cake batter, so I made about a dozen mini-cupcakes to keep at home for the fam. I found some v-day themed sprinkles in the cupboard to add some holiday cheer! I’m sure the boys will love the pink…

Strawberry Fudge Cupcakes!

Check back tomorrow for a cake that is suppose to taste like a giant peanut butter cup!


French Inspired Breakfast

My love for breakfast food spans oceans and cultures.

I’ve always loved all things French… the language, the fashion, the cities … but my love for French breakfast was discovered the first time I visited Paris. From the pain au chocolat to the crepes avec nutella, it’s all delicious!

I discovered an easy and americanized – French inspired – breakfast that is easy and super cheap! It’s as simple as popping open a can of croissant rolls, spreading some nutella on them and baking them up. This is a fun and simple way to spruce up a weekday breakfast, but it’s still perfect for a lazy Sunday morning. 

On another breakfast note, not quite French inspired but still still delicious…

We all know my love for Sam’s Club. This weekend I bought a 2-pound package of crab meat for my crab cakes. I’ve been trying to think of creative ways to use the rest of it (before it goes bad) and one popped up this morning. I made a cheesy crab omelet. It was so delicious that I had eaten the whole thing before I remembered to take a picture!


Crab cakes!

One of my all time favorite dishes to eat and make are crab cakes! They’re actually very easy and oh so tasty!

Crab cakes with noodles and white wine sauce

Crab Cakes

Recipe from the Better Homes and Garden Cook Book.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons chopped green onion

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon seafood seasoning ( I don’t usually add this because I never have it around the house)

1/2 cup milk

1 6- to 8- ounce package frozen lump crabmeat, thawed, or one 6-ounce can crabmeat drained, flaked and cartilage removed

2 tablespoons panko or fine dry bread crumbs

3/4 cup panko or fine dry bread crumbs

1 egg

1/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons cooing oil

Directions:

1. In a small saucepan, cook onion in hot butter until tender. Stir in the 1 tablespoon flour, seafood seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Transfer to a medium bowl and cover and chill for about an hour or until chilled. (If you have a time crunch put it in the freezer for 20-30 minutes).

2.Stir crabmeat and the 2 tablespoons panko into chilled sauce. Place the 3/4 cup panko in a shallow dish ( I just use bowls). In a second bowl beat together the egg and 1 teaspoon water. Put the remaining flour in a third bowl.

3. Form about 2 tablespoons of the crab mixture into a patty. Dip it in the flour, then the egg, then the panko crumbs. Make sure at each step you completely coat the patty. Set on waxed paper until cooking.

4. Here is where I differ from the recipe. The recipe tells you to cook the patties in a large skillet over medium heat about 3 minutes on each side. I however, use my little deep fryer. Bob and I got it about 2 years ago for Christmas and it is very handy when it comes to crab cakes. Since you submerge the patty completely, you don’t need to flip. And it ensures a nice golden crunchy coat all the way around the patty!

So don’t be intimidated! After you get the sauce done, all it is is mixing and patty making. These make great appetizers for a larger party or a delicious entree served with noodles. Our dinner included a white wine sauce for the noodles, which also complemented the crab cakes nicely.

White Wine Sauce

Recipe from Foodnetwork.com

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup shallot, finely chopped

1 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

salt and pepper

Directions:

In a medium skillet, melt the butter and cook the shallots for 2 minutes. Add the wine and vinegar and bring to a simmer. Cook liquid until it begins the thicken and then stir in the heavy cream. Simmer for 4 minutes. Add the parsley, salt and pepper.

Bob and I usually make a double batch because he likes a lot of sauce on his noodles.

And for dessert…. A red velvet cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory!

mmmm... red velvet cheesecake