July 31, 2010

Recycling pizza and guilty pleasure cookies...

I had yet another frozen ball of pizza dough, pining away for use, so we made a pizza tonight. It has pesto, mozzarella, spinach, red onion, crimini mushrooms, bacon & feta. It smells awesome...

For dessert, I had been jonesing for cake mix cookies, a guilty pleasure treat in that they are totally cheating! LOL

So easy, and ultimately customizable... So many different cake mix flavors, so many different things to mix in... I just thought about a devil's food mix with andes bits, and I had to excuse myself. Just kidding!

Cake mix cookies

1 box cake mix (I used strawberry today)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of whatever you want to mix in (white chocolate chips today)

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix the cake mix, oil and eggs together until well combined. It'll be thick! Add your mix-ins, make sure they're well distributed. Place rounded tablespoons of dough on a greased cookie sheet, bake 8-10 minutes. Let them cool on the sheet for a few minutes so they don't fall apart, then transfer to another surface to cool all the way (I'm a fan of paper towels on the washing machine ). Do your best to share these around, but they're good... so I don't blame you if you eat them yourself! :)

Have a great weekend!
<3 Jen

July 18, 2010

a preview of breakfast...

Since we've had an epic 3-hour nap, we decided to do the prep for breakfast now. lol :D

Fresh salsa (to use up some cilantro and onion) to top some eggs, and sourdough french toast (to use up some sourdough bread from tonight's dinner) topped with vanilla butter sauce... I'll let you know what it tastes like tomorrow, but first, the recipes...

Fresh salsa


* 3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
* 2 small cloves garlic, minced
* 3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeds removed, chopped
* 2 hot chile peppers, Serrano or Jalapeno, finely chopped
* 2 to 3 tablespoons minced cilantro
* 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons lime juice
* salt and pepper

Put chopped onion and garlic in a strainer; pour 2 cups boiling water over them then let drain throughly. Discard water. Cool.

Combine onions and garlic with chopped tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours to blend flavors.
Makes about 2 cups of salsa.

Sourdough french toast with vanilla butter sauce

4-6 pieces sourdough bread (I'm using a smallish loaf, so I'll likely need 6)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla butter sauce (recipe below)

Heat skillet on medium heat and grease with your preferred product. I'm a fan of butter, personally. Combine eggs and milk in a bowl big enough to get the bread into, blend well. Add cinnamon and vanilla, give the mixture a good stir. Start coating your bread slices and cooking them on your skillet until golden brown on both sides. If you have more egg mixture, make more toasts and distribute them to friends, or maybe freeze them. :) Top with vanilla butter sauce and kiss your waistline goodbye. You didn't need it anyway. :D

Vanilla butter sauce:
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (do yourself a favor and use The Good Stuff.)

Bring brown sugar, butter and heavy cream to boil in 2-quart saucepan on medium heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract. Serve warm.

July 17, 2010

Zach saves the day!

Today had the best intentions for being a non-freaky dinnertime day. Then, before I knew it, a 6:30 nap sounded SO good and before I could let out a snore, it was 9:30 and Zach was (very nicely) shaking me awake. lol

Since it was so late, I'm glad we had planned a very veggie dinner. It was equal parts healthy veggies and deliciously bad for you heavy cream, cheese, carbs and butter. :D

It's no secret that we lurve The Pioneer Woman around these parts, so naturally, we've made her Pasta Primavera. For the record, Zach picked the dinner and made the vast majority of it, all the while listening to hiphop and rap on the kitchen stereo. :D There's a reason I keep that cutie pie around... ;)

PW's Pasta Primavera


* 1 cup Bite-sized Broccoli Pieces (up To 1 1/2 Cups)
* ½ whole Onion Diced Finely
* 3 cloves To 4 Cloves Garlic, Chopped Finely
* 2 whole Medium To Large Carrots, Sliced On The Bias (diagonally)
* 2 whole Medium Zucchini, Sliced On The Bias (diagonally)
* 1 whole Medium Yellow Squash (optional)
* 1 container (about 5 Oz.) White Button Or Baby Porcini Mushrooms, Roughly Sliced
* 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Sliced Into Strips
* 4 Tablespoons Butter
* 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
* 1 pound Pasta (I like little shapes, like bowties)
* ¼ cups Dry White Wine (up To 1/2 Cup), Optional (replace With Additional Broth If Not Using)
* ½ cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
* 1 cup Whipping (heavy) Cream
* 1 cup Half-and-half
* ½ cups Grated Parmesan Cheese
* 5 leaves Basil (or More To Taste), Plus Extra For Garnish
* ½ cups Frozen Peas (optional, especially considering Jennifer finds them to be freaky)

Preparation Instructions

First, prep the vegetables. Chop the broccoli into bite-sized pieces, about 1 to 1 ½ cups worth. Dice half a yellow onion. Chop 3 to 4 cloves of garlic. Slice carrots on the bias (diagonally), and do the same for the zucchini and yellow squash. Roughly slice the mushrooms and slice the red pepper (seeded) into strips.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic together and cook for a minute or two, until they start to turn translucent. Then throw in the broccoli. Stir, and add in the carrots.

Stir it around, and PLEASE, PLEASE cook it for only a minute, tops. Transfer the mixture to a plate. Add in the red pepper strips to the skillet. Stir them around for a minute or so, then transfer them to the plate.

Add pasta to slightly salted boiling water and cook to al dente.

Add a tablespoon of butter to the skillet. Add squash and zucchini, cook for less than a minute, then transfer to plate. Cook mushrooms for a minute or two (add salt to taste), and again transfer to the plate.


To make the sauce, pour ¼ to ½ cup dry white wine into the skillet (see note below). Add ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth, a tablespoon of butter and scrape the bottom of the skillet to pull up the flavor left behind by the veggie cooking. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the liquid starts to thicken.

Add 1 cup whipping cream and 1 cup half-and-half. Measure out ½ cup grated Parmesan; add to the skillet. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chiffonade 5 to 6 fresh basil leaves and add that to the sauce; stir.

Dump veggies and mushrooms into the sauce along with ½ cup frozen peas right out of the freezer. Add pasta al dente and stir. If the sauce seems a little thick, or if there doesn’t seem to be enough sauce, add a good splash of chicken broth and a little more half-and-half. Top with more Parmesan, salt, pepper, and basil to taste.

Note: if you’re averse to wine, add chicken broth instead. But watch the salt later.

Oh man, this was epic. I scarfed it down in a manner most unladylike. lol! Enjoy!!!

July 16, 2010

Being good AND bad! :D

Yesterday, Zach came home from work with the words, "Guess what I heard on Zorba Paster today?" So, we've made an interesting grilled chicken with fruit salsa as the main dish. When we were at Wal-Mart getting supplies, I reminded Zach that PW made some illegal-looking mozzarella sticks and we had 80% of the stuff to make 'em. So... we made them to counteract the healthiness of the chicken. :D


3 Tbs Olive oil
2 Tbs Dry white wine
2 Tbs Fresh lime juice
1 Tbs White wine Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ tsp Dried basil
4 Boneless, chicken breast halves

2 Large Peaches, ripe and firm
1 Small Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 Small JalapeƱo, diced
½ Cup Chopped fresh cilantro
1 ½ Tbs Honey
2 Tbs Fresh lime juice
¼ tsp Ground allspice
¼ tsp Cinnamon

Mix oil, white wine, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce and basil in a large bowl. Add the chicken breasts and coat evenly. Cover and refigerate for at least one hour. Prepare Salsa.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil over high heat. Add peaches and boil for 30 seconds. Using slotted spoon, transfer peaches to bowl of cold water. Drain.* Peel and chop coarsely. Place peaches in large bowl. Mix in all remaining ingredients. Cover and chill.

Prepare grill or broiler. Remove chicken from marinade and grill (or broil) until cooked through. (About 5-6 minutes per side.) Plate each chicken breast and top with salsa. Enjoy!

Servings: 4

Cooking Tips
*Canned peaches can be substituted, but rinse and drain first.

The salsa was super-flavorful, but kind of like fire in my mouth. Take the seeds and membranes out of the jalepeno if you are adverse to your dinner fighting back! :D

Mozzarella Sticks

* 16 pieces String Cheese, Removed From Wrappers
* ½ cups All-purpose Flour
* 2 whole Eggs
* 3 Tablespoons Milk
* 2 cups Panko Bread Crumbs (I Used Kikkoman)
* 1 Tablespoon Dried Parsley Flakes
* Canola Oil, For Frying
* Marinara Sauce, For Dipping

Preparation Instructions

Slice string cheese pieces in half, for a total of 32 pieces.

Place flour in a small bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and milk.

In another separate bowl, combine panko bread crumbs with parsley flakes.

TO ASSEMBLE: One by one, roll mozzarella sticks in flour, then dunk in egg/milk mixture, then place in panko crumbs. Use your hand to sweep crumbs all over the mozzarella stick. Gently remove and place on a tray or cookie sheet. Repeat until all mozzarella sticks are coated.

***Place tray in freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to flash freeze.***

TO COOK: Heat 1 1/2 inches canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add mozzarella sticks 8 at a time. Watch closely and turn over to evenly brown, cooking less than 2 minutes. Do not allow cheese to bubble and leak.

Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.

Serve immediately with warm marinara sauce.

July 8, 2010

So quick and easy, you'll swear it was cheating!

It was a lazy evening 'round these parts. It was getting late after Zach soundly whooped my butt at Monopoly, and we were getting hungry. Thanks to quick thinking (and Allrecipes.com), nobody got sacrificed to be eaten. :D

Mushroom Rice


* 2 teaspoons butter
* 6 mushrooms, coarsely chopped
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1 green onion, finely chopped
* 2 cups chicken broth
* 1 cup uncooked white rice
* 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
* salt and pepper to taste


1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook mushrooms, garlic and green onion until mushrooms are cooked and liquid has evaporated. Stir in chicken broth and rice. Season with parsley, salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

*Note: Mushrooms are a good source of selenium, three essential B-vitamins: riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid, and potassium, not to mention a whole lot of other stuff. :D

Now, to sharpen my real estate strategy.... Victory will be mine!


July 4, 2010

My July 4th feast contributions!

I've been hankering hardcore for soft pretzels for weeks and weeks, but I've been trying to watch my wallet. Thankfully, I remembered PW mentioning making Smitten Kitchen's soft pretzels with much success. So, I finally had time and went for it! Man, are they good. Chewy with a tender middle, I recommend melted Cream Cheese to dip in. Here's how, thanks to Smitten Kitchen:
Soft Pretzels
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Updated with a few tweaks 2/20/2009

Makes 16 full-sized or 32 miniature

2 cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)
1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola or other neutral oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1 large egg
Coarse or pretzel salt

Vegetable-oil cooking spray

1. Pour warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook* and stir to combine. Sprinkle with yeast, and let sit 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy.

2. Add 1 cup flour to yeast, and mix on low until combined. Add salt and 4 cups more flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium-low until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup flour, and knead on low 1 minute more. If dough is still wet and sticky, add 1/2 cup more flour (this will depend on weather conditions); knead until combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a lightly floured board, and knead about ten times, or until smooth.

3. Pour oil into a large bowl; swirl to coat sides. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides. Cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.

4. Heat oven to 450°F. Lightly spray two baking sheets with cooking spray (parchment paper, ungreased, also works). Set aside. Punch down dough to remove bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured board. Knead once or twice, divide into 16 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces each) or 32 if making miniature pretzels, and wrap in plastic.

5. Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip. [I find the pretzels much easier to roll on an unfloured board, oddly enough, but see what works for you.] Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Continue to form pretzels; eight will fit on each sheet (you may need a third sheet if making miniatures). Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, fill large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda (and step back, it foams up quickly) and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce to a simmer; transfer three to four pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute on each side. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.

7. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. Pretzels are best when eaten the same day, but will keep at room temperature, uncovered, for two days. Do not store in covered container or they will become soggy.

* These days, I mix all of my bread doughs by hand, with a wooden spoon. I find it a fantastically easy process, and not very hard to stir by hand. No need to mix for several minutes, just a minute or so after it looks combined. To save even more dishes, I rinse out the bowl, oil it and use it for proofing the dough. And you thought making bread wasn’t simple!

Then, Pioneer Woman further tempted me in the form of a Tres Leches Cake that I intended to make for Zach's birthday last week but got put off until today. Man, it was amazing! Not soggy at all!!!


* 1 cup All-purpose Flour
* 1-½ teaspoon Baking Powder
* ¼ teaspoons Salt
* 5 whole Eggs
* 1 cup Sugar, Divided
* 1 teaspoon Vanilla
* ⅓ cups Milk
* 1 can Evaporated Milk
* 1 can Sweetened, Condensed Milk
* ¼ cups Heavy Cream
* _____
* 1 pint Heavy Cream, For Whipping
* 3 Tablespoons Sugar

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs.

Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.

Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.

Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.

Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1 cup of the milk mixture—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can.

Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes. To ice the cake, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable.
Spread over the surface of the cake. Decorate cake with whole or chopped maraschino cherries. Cut into squares and serve.

Happy 4th, everyone! Make sure all your fingers stay safe. :)