Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Random Fun From the Weekend

We had a great week/weekend!  Kourt and Keith were gone most of the weekend, but they did get to stay with us 3 different nights.  We had lots of fun running/walking on the trail, going to Market Square, cooking, and going to ice cream.  As you know we had Chicken and Dumplings for Keith's Birthday, but I did not get to post much about the apple cake, which is very delicious.  It is my go-to apple cake recipe.  I don't go for cake that doesn't involve chocolate very often but I do love this one.  I typically make it for breakfast when I have company because it is an overnight cake, but Keith requested it for his Birthday dessert which was a great idea!  And by the way, I like to call this cake healthy because it has oatmeal and apples in it!
 We had this warm with a hot cup of Earl Grey tea and Prailene Ice cream right out of the pint...that we shared!  The next morning we had it for breakfast with eggs and fruit!
 Fresh blackberries and grapes!
Please make this cake, you will love it!
Here's the close up.  It is best warm, but Keith will eat this cake any way...LOL I mean seriously he can put it down.
Overnight Apple Cake.
1 cup flour
1/4 cup wheat flour
1.5 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
2 Tablespoons flax meal
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
10 Tbsp. Butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup milk (or you could use 1 1/3 cup buttermilk instead of the yogurt and milk)
3 small apples or 2 large, chopped (I don't bother peeling them because the peel has good fiber and it tastes great still...and it saves time)
3/4 cup walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar (you can use a little less)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup oats

Grease a 13 by 9 inch baking dish.  Combine flours, oats, flax, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl and set aside.
Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter in a large bowl and beat until well mixed.  Blend in eggs, yogurt, and milk.  Decrease speed and add flour mixture, beating until just blended.  Fold in apples and pour into cake pan.  Prepare topping and sprinkle evenly over the batter.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, uncover the cake and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350.  Bake 45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Hope you enjoy this as much as we do.  Serve with milk and coffee and whatever else your heart desires!
*Modified from American Profile
Other exciting things:
 Loaded Baked Potatoes with baked beans-Kourt made some awesome veggies!
 Grilled chicken, bacon, cheese, butter, chive sour cream, and avocado!  So good.
Afterward we went to Culver's for the best dessert ever.  This was so good I am already craving another: chocolate custard, oreos, reeses, and peanut butter.  The girl was super nice while Kourt and I took forever to figure out our creations.  Cliff kindly saved me a little of his (he got a bigger one) to eat as leftovers this week can't wait!
Here are a couple of the things I made for breakfast (I love cooking for people by the way).
 Jumbo banana nut muffins with eggs and hash browns.  I have not been very good at banana stuff in the past, but this recipe was awesome so I am glad I have a recipe to use now.
 Whole wheat buttermilk pancakes.  Okay, this is the recipe my Mom made growing up and they are so comforting to me!   She would make them Sunday mornings so that we would get our lazy butts out of bed and go to church-thanks MOM!  Anyways, I will always and forever love these pancakes (she usually did half wheat flour, half white and both are great).
Both of these recipes came from the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook.  One is their Muffins recipe, and one is their Buttermilk Pancake recipe. 

Muffin Ingredients (all preparation is the same)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup blended oats (to make oat flour)
1/4 cup wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (I use milk and about 2 tsp vinegar-mix together and let sit for about 5 min)
3/4 cup ripe mashed banana (approx. 2 ripe bananas)
1/4 cup oil
1/3 cup walnuts or pecans
I also made the streusel topping with 2 Tbsp. oats, 2 Tbsp. Brown sugar, and 1 tsp. cinnamon to top the muffins.  These are awesome warm out of the oven with a little butter

Everything the same except I used wheat flour and brown sugar instead of white sugar. 

Hope everyone is off to a good week.  Let me know if you have any questions about the recipes or modifications! 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Happy Birthday Keith

Actually, tomorrow is Keith's Birthday but we made him a Birthday dinner tonight!  He requested Chicken & Dumplings and I was thinking...are you sure that is what you want for your Birthday? (also, oh crap I don't know how to make that)!  So, to the cooking blogs I went to compare recipes.  I ended up with two recipes combined into one for a completely delicious meal.  I was so happy to have Kourt in the kitchen helping with everything.
 I made the soup base as Kourt worked on the dumpling dough.  Once the base was bubbling and ready I shifted over to the dough to help Kourt.  I was excited to help her because working with dough is really fun.
 Keith snapped some awesome pictures as we cut the dough into squares.  You roll it out flat first, then put them on a plate with lots of flour to keep from sticking (also, the flour helps the sauce to thicken).
 Lots of yummy dough
Kourt put the dough squares into the boiling water:)  Yummy.
This is what it the finished product looks like close up.
We let it cook for about 20 minutes to get the thick consistency.  I forgot to take a picture for the first helping (hence the dirty edges!  This was Keith's second helping, my second helping was a little smaller).
Chicken and Dumplings

Soup base:
1 pound chicken, I used chicken breast (or more if you like it meaty) + a little flour to coat chicken in for browning
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
4 carrots, rinsed well and chopped
4 celery stalks, rinsed and chopped
1 onion, chopped
5 cups water (you could use 5 cups chicken broth and omit chicken boullion)
2-3 Chicken Bouillon cubes(I actually used about 2.5 Tbsp. of chicken base powder)
Garlic salt, S & P, and a little parsley
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
heavy pinch salt
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup milk, maybe a little less (add gradually)

For the Soup Base:
In a large sauce pan, heat butter and olive oil over med-high heat.  Dip raw chicken in flour and place in hot pan.  Let the chicken get browned on each side (about 5 min then 3 min on the other side).   It does not have to be done on the inside because you are going to boil it later.  While your chicken is cooking you can cut your veggies.  Once chicken is browned, take it out and put in on a plate for later.  Place veggies in same pot (don't rinse the pot because the chicken leaves good flavor).  You can add a little more oil if you need to.  Let your veggies brown.  Once your veggies are browned, pour your broth in and stir it all around, making sure to scrape the bottom of your pan!  Once it starts to boil add your chicken.  Let that simmer while you start your dumplings. 
*Modified from Pioneer Woman
For the dumplings:

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender or fork (you can feel free to leave little butter clumps). Add milk about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring between batches, until the dough comes together in a ball.  It can be a little wet because you can add flour when you get ready to roll it out.  Split dough into two balls and place on a heavily floured work surface.  Knead for about a minute and make sure it is solid enough to roll out.  Flour a rolling pin, and roll the dough out thin. Don’t be afraid to keep adding more flour. If you don’t, the dough will stick to the board or counter.  The flour also thickens your soup which is delicious!  Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into approximately 2″ x 2″ squares.  You can see pictures above.
Flour a large plate or platter to place the dumplings on while you roll and cut out the rest of the dough. Generously sprinkle flour between each layer as you place them on the platter so they don’t stick together.
*Modified from Iowa Girl Eats
Combine it all:
When you are done cutting your dumplings make sure your soup base is boiling and then ad the dumplings a few at a time.  Stir occasionally while adding so they don't stick together.  We cooked ours for about 20 minutes.  The sauce should start to thicken as the dumplings are almost done.  When the dumplings are done, take it off the heat and serve quickly!  Enjoy:)

Hopefully you guys are having a great weekend!  We are making loaded baked potatoes tonight yipeeee:)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

I did it again, took the leap and made something new even though I was cooking for company!  Thankfully, it turned out good and we all enjoyed the dinner.  I saw a Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese recipe on Oh She Glows a while back and have had the squash for about 3 weeks.  Finally last night I cooked it.  I made a few modifications because I am not vegan and it was a vegan recipe.  It is really similar though.  It does not taste like Mac and Cheese so don't think tastes like a slightly sweet, light creamy pasta sauce.
 On top of bowtie pasta with spinach and asparagus.
 First you cube the squash-I recommend microwaving the entire squash for about 4 minutes so it is easier to cut (just wash it and poke holes in it).
 Toss with olive oil, s & p, and roast at 425.
 Make a gravy type sauce with milk, butter, corn starch, and nutritional yeast (a cheese flavor seasoning).  Once this thickens, add it to the blender with the squash and blend well.  I had to add water to make it smooth.
 Back to the stove while I sauteed some asparagus on high heat.
Resulting in this lovely meal.
The sauce is definitely different, but I will make it again.  We all really liked it and it is a great way to get your vegetable servings in.  Also, it was a nice change from your typical pasta sauces.  Here is my modified version, if you want the original it is here, and she also has some great pictures.  I am debating on how to use the leftovers.  I will either put it on pasta or use it as pizza sauce!

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
1 fresh butternut squash chopped, 1.5-2lbs. (I pierced it and microwaved it for 4 minutes with the skin on, some     people peel them, but I left the peel on because I was going to blend it anyway)
Olive oil, S & P for coating the squash
1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp. corn starch
5 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp. mustard powder, or 2 tsp. dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
Parsley, dried chives, red pepper flakes, optional (sprinkled in the before I blended the sauce)
S & P to taste
4 servings of pasta

Preheat oven to 425.  Line a baking sheet with foil and cooking spray.  Mix chopped squash with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast for 35 minutes, uncovered.  Keep and eye on it, you may need to stir it a little.

When your squash is almost done you can start your sauce.  Add butter to a med-low skillet.  In a bowl wisk together cornstarch and milk until clumps are gone.  Slowly wisk into warm butter skillet.  Stir in nutritional yeast, mustard powder, garlic, and seasoning.  Stir frequently until it thickens (mine did not take long).  Cook pasta according to package directions.  

While pasta is cooking, blend about 2 cups squash with sauce from stove.  I added about a cup of water along the way, but add it gradually until it is the consistency you want.  Put it back on the stove on low heat until everything else is done.

After your pasta is done, toss with olive oil (and I also threw some fresh spinach in there!).  Top pasta with sauce and enjoy.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rainy Day

I woke up and went for a run this morning before it got rainy.  It was 58 degrees outside and really nice.  I needed a good run because I woke up feeling anxious for no real reason.  I felt better after my run and made a refreshing smoothie (my favorite smoothie) afterward.  I also had a repeat of the huge coffee you saw yesterday.  I am pumped because our good friends Kourt and Keith are coming to town tomorrow!  That means we get to hang out and I get to cook and it will be fun.  It is going to be Keith's B-day so we are making him chicken and dumplings and apple cake.  Anyways, last week I made potato soup for my Aunt and saved a little for Cliff and me so here's that:
It was so delicious and I pulled Lion House Dinner rolls out of the freezer.
This is a really easy crock-pot meal and I have made it often.  I recommend cutting the potatoes different sizes because it gives it a good texture (some thickness and chunks).  I used a few red potatoes this time also and it was great.  Other than this I haven't really made anything the past few days.  I have been working on leftovers.  Danielle was nice enough to bring me some roast, potatoes, and carrots which was my dinner!  I am pretty pooped so I'm headed to take a shower and go to bed.  Good night:)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Good Morning!

Happy Monday Everyone!
Know that the Lord is God.  It is He who made us and not we ourselves, we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
Psalm 100:3

Saturday, January 21, 2012

You Have to Try This

We did a lot of fun things today, but first I have to tell you that our dinner was AWESOME!  I had an invention (yes, I thought of this all by myself).  Last weekend we had spaghetti and meatballs and I could not bring myself to eat it as leftovers all week.  Don't get me wrong, it was really good, but I was not in the mood.  I am not one to waste food, so all week that sauce was on my mind because I knew I needed to use it.  I came up with a winner tonight.  I think I should call it Pizza Pasta.  Cliff and I just kept saying how good it was as we ate, and I can't wait to make it again.
 I have no words
 Bowtie pasta, spinach, fresh basil, tomato, pepperoni, leftover sauce, olive oil.
 Cook pasta and throw fresh spinach and basil in, with pepperoni (cut in half), olive oil, and garlic salt.
 Place that in a greased loaf pan and top with tomatoes.
 Layer spaghetti and meatball sauce, then mozzarella and colby cheese.
 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes (I broiled it at the end for 2 minutes).
 Dinner for two.
Pizza Pasta
1.5 cups uncooked bowtie pasta
1/5-2 cups spaghetti and meatball sauce
1 cup fresh spinach
Small handful fresh basil (optional but sure is good)
12 pepperonis
1 roma tomato
2/3 cup cheese (mozzarella and colby shredded)
Olive oil and garlic salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400.  Cook pasta according to package directions (you want to leave it al dente).  Chop tomatoes and rip spinach while pasta is cooking.  Drain pasta, and put it back in the pan with the spinach, basil, pepperonis, olive oil, and garlic salt.  Transfer to your greased loaf pan and top with chopped tomatoes.  Next add the spaghetti sauce and cheese and put in the oven for 15 minutes.  For the last 2 minutes, turn oven to broil and watch closely until your cheese is slightly browned.  Serve with veggies.
 Blondie heated with homemade vanilla and strawberry ice cream!  2 peanut clusters jumped into my mouth after this-I could not stop them:)
We ended up watching Office Space after dinner!  It was hilarious (if you can overlook the cussing and such).  I feel like anyone who works can relate to that movie in some way.  We spent the day roaming around Downtown Houston.  Mostly everything was closed in the business area.  We weren't expecting that, so we just had to roll with it.  We ate at Potbelly for lunch which was delicious (I got a vegetarian).  Then we went to Central Market which is a trendy grocery store (that seems to have a health food flare)!  I found buckwheat grouts which I have been looking for so I hope to make those for breakfast at some point this week.  Also we got to sample Biscoff, which I have heard so many good things about.  It is amazing (but I was not willing to spend $6 on a small jar), so we passed.  Last we went to Fry's which is a really cool store (Cliffs new favorite).  Cliff is going to build a computer so we were scouting out supplies.  His day was very happy after a trip there.  Anyways, now we are just relaxing (I'm blogging and Cliff is taking apart his computer working on his computer. 
Also, I had to show you my breakfast!  Oh the melty peanut butter is making my mouth water.  That's all folks-good night!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pizza on the Brain

I was planning on eating potato soup and homemade rolls when I got off work, but for some reason I could not get excited about it (weird I know).  I pass this awesome pizza place on my way home called Crust, and you can always smell their I decided I to make a pizza quesidilla. 
 Look at the outcome:)
 Mozzarella, basil, spinach, tomato, garlic salt, and colby jack cheese.  Put some olive oil in the skillet and then fold it over and wait until it reaches toasty perfection!
Served with a little spaghetti sauce!
A very delicious, quick meal.  I highly recommend you try a pizza quesadilla if you never have.  I also decided to eat some leftover cookie dough dip.
 Start with dunkers!
Top with cookie dough dip-very delicious and I am quite full.  I had to go back for more pretzels and graham crackers (with more dip of coarse).
I was gone all day hanging out with my aunt (recovering from surgery which when well), and working.  It was a good day and I am ready to relax and hang out with Cliff.  Hope everyone had a great week and enjoy the weekend:)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

New Recipe Success

I have been wanting to try this new Black Beans and Rice recipe for a long time.  Last night I had the time and ingredients so I was pumped-and I am excited to eat the leftovers tonight!
 It is an easy recipe but it takes about an hour, so it won't work if you are in a hurry.
 I served mine with brown rice.
Warm and cozy-hit the spot.
I got the recipe from Mels Kitchen Cafe (link above), cut it in half, and altered it slightly!  Her recipes are always good.

Black Beans and Rice (3 servings)
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes (don't drain)
3/4 cup chicken broth (could also use vegetable broth if you don't eat meat)
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro
Rice for serving (I used 1 cup uncooked brown rice)

Start your rice first if it takes longer than 40 minutes (according to package directions).  In a different saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add the bell pepper and onion and cook for about 8 minutes.  Add garlic for about 2 minutes and stir often.  Stir in beans, tomatoes, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, and water; bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 40 minutes.  Add a little water if it is too thick.  Stir in fresh cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Discard bay leaf and serve over hot rice.

I highly recommend this meal.  I was pretty nervous because I don't make rice dishes very often, but it was really good.  In my nutrition class we learned that beans and brown rice, served together, make a complete protein so that is also a plus.  Also, it is very cheap to make.  If you don't have a lot of time for dinner during the week you could always make it Sunday and then you will have a couple easy meals during the week.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

House Sitting

Well, I have been house/animal sitting for the past few nights!  My aunts dogs are sweet.  Last night I made a really good steamer bag!  I don't buy them because I feel like they are expensive, but last night changed my mind because I feel like it is worth it for dinner in a hurry!
 Sauteed some squash, baby tomatoes, and sunflower seeds while the bag was in the microwave (I put the tomatoes in last minute and turned off the heat so they wouldn't get too mushy).
Combined the steamer bag and squash mixture!  The steamer bag was buttery rice and vegetables and it was so delicious.  I am already craving another one.  I ate the whole bag (which was 1.5 servings), but since there was no meat I needed it!
 Cliff baked chocolate chip cookies (remember that pb & nutella mixture from my stuffed cookies?), I used some of the leftovers to put on top of my cookie and it was so good I had another just like it!
 This morning I went for a very short run (it was cold), and had cinnamon raisin swirl toast with pb, stuffed cookie mixture, and butter.  Think I have enough variety?
I may need to repeat this breakfast tomorrow, it hit the spot.
Can't believe it is already Wednesday.  Hope everyone is having a great week.  I read this verse yesterday:
Is any one of you in trouble?  He should pray.  Is anyone happy?  Let him sing songs of praise.  Is any one of you sick?  He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.  If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.  Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 5:13-16
I think it is so important to pray and be around other believers.  We need to be able to share our problems, sins, and struggles or it is hard to find healing.  If you have never read the book of James, I recommend you read it.  It is only 5 chapters and covers so many great areas of life. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cookie Dough and Cookies

Was a busy busy weekend!  We had a lazy Sat. morning and then had a lovely woman and her daughters over for dinner.  As usual, I forgot to take pictures, but we had spaghetti and meatballs!  She brought the most amazing salad (with avocado, tomato, mozzarella ball, cucumber, and croutons).  I also made really great cookies that I dreamed up in my head.  First of all, I have seen many cookie recipes where you put a candy bar in the middle.  I didn't feel like going to buy candy bars when I have a variety of chocolate chips at my house.  So, I made a mixture of blended chocolate chips, peanut butter, and nutella!
 My chocolate chips were still chunky and a little powdery.  Then add 1/4 cup nutella, and 1/2 cup peanut butter.
Brownie batter cookies, dollop of peanut butter mixture, top with more cookie dough!  This is right before the oven.
They tasted like a brownie with warm, gooey peanut butter in the center!  Everyone loved them:)

Lauren's Stuffed Cookies

Cookie ingredients:
1 box brownie mix
1/4 cup oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup flour
PB Center:
1 cup mini chocolate chips (or you could blend regular)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup nutella

Mix cookie ingredients together in a mixing bowl and place in refrigerator for about 2 hours (if you don't the dough will be very hard to work with).  When you are ready to bake, mix your PB mixture together.  Preheat oven to 350.  I recommend using parchment so the cookies don't stick.  The cookie dough mixture is kind of hard to work with (but worth it).  Roll dough into small balls and slightly flatten on cookie sheet.  Add a big tsp. of PB center on top, then gently top that with more cookie dough.  It will look like the picture above then bake for 8-11 minutes.  These are really good warm out of the oven or cold...haha...I guess they are just good.  Let sit for about 2 minutes before placing on cooling rack.
Also, I made amazing Cookie Dough Dip because we went to my Aunt Kathy's house on Sunday.  They had a shrimp boil and we watch the Texans lose:(  It was still fun and we ate a ton of food.  There were crackers, meats, cheeses, and lots of shrimp boil.  Check out my Uncle, he was in charge of the Shrimp Boil and he really took care of business.  
 That is true focus my friends!!
 Awesome results!  I especially liked the sausage and potatoes.
 Peanut butter and fudge cookie dough dip:)
And all the dippers!  Graham cracker and cinnamon whole wheat pretzels were the best.

Cookie Dough Dip Recipe
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
7oz of cream cheese, room temperature (I had already used a little of my block)
3 Tbsp. vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips

In small sauce pan wisk butter and brown sugar over medium heat until it bubbles (stir constantly).  Take off heat and let cool.  Beat cream cheese and yogurt until smooth.  Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and chocolate chips and beat until well mixed.  After brown sugar mixture has cooled a little (mine was still warm), stir it into cream cheese mixture.  Now you are ready to make your variations!!

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Dip
Take half of the above recipe and stir in 1/3 cup peanut butter rounded.  Add 1/4 cup mini m&m's or more chocolate chips.  I topped my dip with crushed toffee pieces (which I highly recommend).

Fudge Cookie Dough Dip
Take half of the above recipe and add 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder and 1/3 cup chocolate chips.  Top with toffee pieces!  

Dipper Ideas:  graham crackers, pretzels, animal crackers, apples, teddy grahams, wheat pretzels, etc.
**Adapted from How Sweet It Is

Have a great Tuesday and let me know if you try one of these recipes:)