Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cherry Coconut Muffins

The other day I stumbled across a couple of blogs and, for some reason, all of these muffin recipes just kept calling out my name. I saw so many I wanted to try that I had to bookmark them for later.

I thought of my friend Carolyn when I decided on these muffins because we share an affinity towards all things coconut. Also, learning lately about how healthy and healing coconut is made me want to make them even more.

I think these muffins turned out great! They stayed moist and were very flavorful. I made them a little smaller so they would be easy to grab as a snack or have a couple for breakfast.

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 heaping cup cherries, pitted, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup coconut oil, softened (or butter)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
2/3 cup milk; half coconut milk, half cow's milk (or whatever combination you want)
1/2 cup sour cream (yogurt works well here too)
1/2 cup shredded coconut, plus more for topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease or paper line about 1 1/2 muffin tins.

In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl beat coconut oil and sugar until light and fluffy (2-3 mins). Add eggs and almond extract and mix to incorporate. Alternately mix in by hand the flour mixture and the milk. Fold in sour cream, cherries and shredded coconut.

Spoon batter into muffin caps 1/2 to 2/3 full. Sprinkle coconut over tops. Bake 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes and remove to wire racks.

Linked to...
This Week's Cravings @ Mom's Crazy Cooking

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mango Chicken Salad

I've been dying to post this salad for you all. I've made it a couple times now and just love it. The mangoes this summer have been amazing and I've found some pretty great deals so I've stockpiled a little bit. I've used some for fresh eating and in this salad and the rest I've just cut up and frozen for my green smoothies.

I love the different flavors of this salad that all seem to work so well together and compliment each other. I especially love the dressing, it's like the icing on the cake!

For the salad:
1 head romaine or leaf lettuce, shredded
3 tomatoes, diced
2 mangoes, diced
2-3 chicken breasts, grilled and diced (I seasoned my chicken with Johnny's Garlic Butter seasoning)
Feta cheese, crumbled
sesame seeds

For the dressing:
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 tsp. freshly grated ginger

In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients until combined.

For the salad, mix together the lettuce, tomatoes, mango and chicken. Serve on salad plates and top with crumbled Feta cheese and sesame seeds. Drizzle with dressing.

SOURCE:Adapted from Jamie Cooks It Up!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

S'mores Bars

It seems like all I've been making lately is sweets. But, with summer come the outdoor parties and potlucks and we've had our fair share the past month or so. I don't complain because I love to be in the kitchen making anything delicious. These s'mores bars are a perfect summer treat because they are reminiscent of camping even when we can't go. I'm usually a dark chocolate kind of girl, except when it comes to Hershey's milk chocolate on a s'more. There's almost nothing better!

1 stick of butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
6 regular-sized Hershey's milk chocolate bars
1 large egg
1 7-oz jar marshmallow creme
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 package graham crackers, processed to a fine crumb(I think there's 9 full sheets in a package) or about 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a medium-sized baking pan (8 or 9-inch square or 8 x 11.5-inch). Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Set aside. Meanwhile,whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture until combined. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan.

Place chocolate bars over dough, breaking it as needed to fit. Microwave the marshmallow creme for about 10 seconds and it should easily come out of the jar. Spread it over the chocolate bars. Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the marshmallow creme and press down slightly, to flatten, with your hand. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Be sure to cool completely before cutting into bars. Makes 16 squares.

SOURCE:Adapted from Real Mom Kitchen

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Basil and Fresh Mozzarella

I've wanted to try this pasta salad out ever since I saw it weeks ago on Pioneer Woman's website. I love the combination of fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes, and they make me think of summer. It's the perfect salad for right now. If you're a traditional pesto lover, you'll love this pesto as well with it's sun-dried tomato base. I used my own sun-dried tomatoes but jarred tomatoes work as well.

For the pesto:
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (approximately), or a 7 oz jar of store-bought sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil (or more)
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1-2 garlic cloves

For the salad:
1 lb rotini pasta, cooked and drained
1/2 cup olives, roughly chopped (you can use black, kalamata, green or a mixture)
2 large tomatoes, diced
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into chunks
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
10-15 basil leaves, chopped

In a small saucepan, cover sun-dried tomatoes with water and gently boil for about 5 minutes. Drain and add tomatoes to a small food processor or blender along with the rest of the pesto ingredients. Blend well.

In a large bowl, add the cooked pasta and pesto to your liking. Toss to coat well. Add the rest of the salad ingredients and toss again to coat. Garnish with extra grated parmesan cheese and basil.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Fauxstess Cupcake Trifle

I came up with this concoction the other night when I failed miserably at making chocolate cupcakes for a pot luck. By my third batch, and third recipe, I realized that my problem was an altitude adjustment. I haven't ever really adjusted for the higher altitude here (around 4,500-5,000 ft.) and it hasn't really been a problem in the past so that wasn't the first thing that came to my mind when things started to go wrong.

My first batch I had to throw away but I didn't want to trow away the other two because the cake tasted really good. So, I knew the only thing that the rest of the cake would be good for was trifle. I still had the rest of my ingredients I was going to use for filling and toping the cupcakes so I decided to use those as layers in my trifle rather than think of another trifle to make and go buy more stuff.

And thus, the fauxstess cupcake trifle was born! Once I got past all the mishap of the cupcakes, everything else went pretty smoothly and quickly and came together great. I even got my very own trifle bowl out of it! My husband came home from work with it for me. I couldn't believe how happy it made me.

This dessert will make you nostalgic for the old days you used take Hostess snacks in your lunch box to school. Make sure you have someone to share this will or you might get caught licking the bowl clean!

For the cake:(I used Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake)
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder (1/2 tsp for high altitude)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda (1/2 tsp for high altitude)
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350 degrees F (375 for higher altitude). Grease and flour a 13x9-inch baking pan.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pan.

3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes (probably closer to 18-22 minutes @ 375) or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Cut or break into 1-inch pieces.

For the marshmallow cream layer:
4 tsp very hot water
1/2 tsp salt
2 (7 oz) jars marshmallow cream
1 cup shortening
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Dissolve the salt in the hot water and allow to cool.

Whip the marshmallow cream, shortening, powdered sugar, and vanilla until it begins to get fluffy. Add the water and whip well.

For the ganache layer:
1 cup heavy cream
16 oz. semi-sweet or dark chocolate, (chips or finely chopped)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened and cubed

Heat cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat until steaming, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add butter and chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth.

To assemble the trifle, layer 1/3 of the cake in the bottom of a trifle bowl. Next top with 1/3 of the marshmallow cream and 1/3 of the ganache. Repeat with other 2 layers, ending with the ganache. (For a garnish, you could reserve some of the marshmallow cream and pipe it into curlicues across the top).

SOURCE:Hershey's Kitchens for the cake and Evil Shinanigans for the cream.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Big Fat Spicy Saté Noodles

I love anything with peanut butter, and these noodles are no exception. There is quite a flavor combination going on here with the sweet and salty peanut butter, the red pepper flakes, the lime and the fresh cilantro, but it all works. The flavors are great together. These noodles would be perfect aside some Thai or Asian-style grilled chicken and steamed green beans.

1/2 lb. bucatini pasta (or other large tube pasta)
1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1-2 large garlic cloves, chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 Tbsp temari (or soy sauce)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts (optional)
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped

Bring pasta water to a boil. Cook to al-dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.

Return pot to stove. Add vegetable oil, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup reserved pasta water, chicken stock and temari and bring to a boil. Cook 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat and add peanut butter and whisk. If it's too thick, add more reserve liquid. Add lime juice, noodles and toss to coat. Add nuts, if desired, cilantro and toss.

SOURCE:Rachael Ray

Chocolate Sheet Cake

If you need to feed dessert to a crowd, then this cake is for you. It's deliciously chocolaty and very moist and who doesn't like chocolate cake anyway? Take it to your next pot-luck and you won't be bringing any home!

For the cake:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp(heaping) cocoa
2 sticks butter
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp baking Soda
1 tsp vanilla

For the frosting:
1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
1 3/4 stick Butter
4 Tbsp (heaping) Cocoa
6 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa. Stir together. Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.

In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes.

While cake is baking, make the icing: Chop pecans finely. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir together. Add the pecans, stir together, and pour over warm cake.

Allow to cool before slicing into squares.

*You can also half this recipe and bake it in a 9x13 pan.

SOURCE: Lick the Bowl Good

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pizza Rolls

I have been dying to post these pizza rolls for a LONG time, but the last time I made them and took pictures, the pictures didn't turn out. Now, I know this is probably not a novel idea to most but I hadn't ever seen anyone do it and I thought it was pretty cool. They turned out so delicious too. We love these pizza rolls.

1 recipe perfect pizza crust
1 cup Easy Pizza Sauce
1 cup (more or less) mozzarella cheese
3-4 Tbsp. melted butter
3/4 Tbsp. garlic butter seasoning (I use Johnny's from Costco)

Make pizza crust according to directions and let raise once. After it has risen, turn it onto a counter sprayed with cooking spray and roll it out thin, in the shape of a rectangle. Spread sauce; you may only need 1/2-3/4 cup but you can use the rest for dipping after the rolls are cooked. Add cheese and start rolling the dough tightly in a neat line. When there's about an inch of dough left, stop rolling and pull the edge up and over, pinching it closed.

With a piece of dental floss (preferably not the mint kind), slide it under the roll and pinch of pieces about 1-inch thick (for a visual, see photo on my orange roll recipe). Lay the rolls in a 13x9-inch baking pan, sprayed with cooking spray. You should get 12 rolls out of the dough. Cover lightly and let raise until about doubled.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine melted butter and Johnny's seasoning and brush over the tops of the rolls. Bake for about 17-20 minutes.

Serve warm either plain or with extra pizza sauce for dipping.

This recipe linked to Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chocolate Rootbeer Bundt Cake

I'm still trying to get recipes up from our family 4th of July celebration. I was in charge of rolls and dessert. I must like to make things complicated because while one dessert would have sufficed, I made 3. Yes THREE! And guess who got to eat all the leftovers?

Anyway, I'm actually glad I got to eat these leftovers. I think this is my new favorite chocolate cake. I loved the genuine root beer flavor it had. Just plop a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and it tasted just like a root beer float. Really, it did.

Since I decided to use root beer flavoring, I decreased the amount of root beer in the original recipe and swapped it out for some sour cream. It was great because it made for an incredibly moist and dense cake; just like I like it. Hmm, maybe that's why me and brownies get along so well.

Oh, and let's not forget about the frosting. I love it. It's so creamy and very chocolaty-a chocolate lover's delight. This recipe does make quite a bit of frosting. I generously frosted the entire cake and still had about a cup leftover.

I will definitely be making this again and I will also be using it as my base chocolate cake and frosting recipe (minus the root beer flavoring). You should be able to swap out the remaining liquid with milk or buttermilk and have it turn out fine.

Chocolate Rootbeer Bundt Cake
1 cup root beer (not diet)
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. root beer flavored candy and baking oil

Preheat even to 325 degrees F. Spray the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray, or butter generously and dust with flour, knocking out the excess.

In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder and butter over medium heat until butter is melted. Add sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

In a small bowl whisk the eggs until just beaten. Then whisk into the cocoa mixture until combined.

Gently pour the cocoa mixture into the flour mixture, whisking as you pour, just to combine. Add sour cream and root beer oil and whisk until just combined.

Pour the batter into prepared pan and cook for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely then loosen edges with a butter knife and turn out onto a cake plate.

Rootbeer Fudge Frosting
2 ounces 60% cocoa, melted
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
dash salt
1/4 cup root beer
1/4-1/2 tsp. root beer flavored cooking and baking oil
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using an electric hand mixer, beat softened butter and cocoa powder. Once combined add the melted chocolate, salt, powdered sugar, root beer and root beer oil. Beat together until smooth. Spread on top of the cooled cake. Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream.

SOURCE: Adapted from Baked:New Frontiers in Baking

Linked to...
Sweets For A Saturday @ Sweet As Sugar Cookies

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cooking Class: Butter Crescent Rolls

My mom started making these rolls years ago in place of these Two-hour rolls we grew up on (that I still love). I loved them so much, I also adopted the recipe and now it is my go-to roll recipe whenever we have a family gathering or a pot luck dinner to attend. They are so light and airy and practically melt in your mouth.

*I had previously posted these years back but I make them a little differently now and I thought I'd also show some step-by-step instructions to demonstrate just how easy they are to make.

1 cup milk
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
8 cups bread flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. instant yeast (If you don't have instant yeast, you'll have to dissolve the yeast in the cup or warm water)
1 cup warm water
2 large eggs, beaten

Heat milk until bubbles from around sides. Remove from heat and add butter. Stir until mixture cools and butter is melted. In a mixing bowl, fitted with a dough hook, add the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Pulse to combine. Add water and eggs and gently pulse, then add the milk mixture. Knead for about 30 seconds. Dough should be sticky. If it's too dry, add more water.

Knead for about 4 minutes. Put dough into a large greased bowl and let sit, covered, until doubles. Punch down and divide in fourths. (I am terrible at evenly dividing dough so I use my kitchen scale to make sure all my dough balls weigh about the same.)

Let dough rest for 10 minutes. Take one dough ball and roll it into about an 8-9-in circle.

Cut into eighths (like a pizza); a pizza cutter is the easiest way I have found.

Starting at the wide end, roll the dough up to the tip.

Place either in a greased cake pan or cookie sheet (metal pans work better; you will need several), making sure to put the tip side down so it doesn't unroll while it raises.

Repeat with the remaining dough balls. Cover with a light kitchen or pastry towel and let raise again until doubled in size.

When the rolls are just about done raising, preheat the oven to 400°F.

Bake rolls for 12-15 minutes.

*NOTES:There are so many fun things you can do with these rolls! I have divided the dough into 8 balls, rolled it into smaller circles and made crescents half the size. These are great for bridal/baby showers or for parties. You could also make them bigger, make 3 balls instead of 4, and make larger rolls for chicken or egg salad sandwiches.

Another fun thing is to put fillings into them. I have made ham and cheese roll ups, put pizza sauce and cheese inside, of course cinnamon and brown sugar, sugar and orange zest with a little orange glaze...the possibilities are endless. Have fun with it and enjoy!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Red-White-and-Blue Lemon Berry Bars

When I saw these a while ago on another blog, I knew they would be the perfect addition to my fourth of July menu. I had already chosen a chocolate dessert, and needed something fruity and colorful to go with the holiday.

I don't just like all things lemon, I LOVE them; especially when it comes to desserts. One of my most favorite lemon desserts that I grew up eating is this Lemonade Cake that is simply light and delicious. I was also introduced to this Sour Lemon Pie by my friend several years ago on Thanksgiving and now no Thanksgiving is complete without it! One of my husband's most favorite desserts is classic lemon bars, which, I have to say, I have never made for him. Oh, and if you're into lemon too, you'll love this Lemon Linguini. It's a perfect summer meal.

Now, onto these bars. They're delicious. The graham cracker crust is crunchy and sweet and I love how the lemon is infused into it as well as the creamy filling. You could really use just about any berry or combination of berries in this filling; I think most berries pair pretty well with lemon. I chose red raspberries and blueberries to complete the red-white-and-blue theme.

For the crust:
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
Zest of two lemons

For the filling:
4 large egg yolks
2-14 oz. cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
2 tsp. lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh raspberries
3/4 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar, and lemon zest. Stir until graham cracker crumbs are moist. Press crumbs into the prepared pan, pressing the crust mixture one inch up the side of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

For the filling, combine the egg yolks and condensed milk until well mixed. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest. Stir until mixture begins to slightly thicken. Gently fold in the blueberries first then the raspberries. Fold carefully so you don’t break the raspberries (or your filling will turn pink).

Pour the filling evenly over the graham cracker crust. Bake for 15 minutes.

Cool to room temperature, then chill for at least one hour before serving. Cut into bars and serve. Keep bars in the refrigerator-up to five days.

-You can also use frozen berries. I used frozen raspberries from my garden, but they bled a little bit as they thawed and cooked.

-This makes a lot of bars. You can half the recipe and make it in an 8x8 dish.

SOURCE:Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Celebrating the 4th

We had a great day today with family celebrating the 4th of July. Although it was a little unseasonably cool and quite windy, we enjoyed swimming, picnicing in the park for dinner and, of course, yummy treats.

I hosted everyone at our home and was in charge of dessert and rolls. I started getting things ready last night. My 3-year-old loves to be in the kitchen with me whenever I'm making something. I thought it would be a fun project for her and I to make homemade suckers for all the kids to take home. We decided on red watermelon and blue rootbeer flavors. They turned out great and was a short enough project for my daughter to complete with me.

The other things I made were a chocolate rootbeer cake, butter crescent rolls (tutorial coming) and some cool berry-lemon bars. Everything was delicious and I couldn't be happier just spending time with my family. What a great day!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Giant S'mores Cookies

Boy were these fun to make! I had my girls help me with them and I think they got a sugar high from stuffing as much chocolate and marshmallows into their mouths as they were putting on top of the cookies.

A lot of people around here like to go up the canyon for the 4th of July to do their barbecuing. I don't know about you, but for me, a campfire just cannot be put out without first making s'mores. Since we're not going to be in the canyon this year, I think these cookies make a good substitute. They were delicious.

2 sticks softened butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 regular size Hershey’s Chocolate Bars, broken into pieces
3 full graham crackers, broken into pieces
5-6 large marshmallows, cut into fourths

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place butter and sugars into a stand or electric mixer; beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla until well combined. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Using a large scoop, or a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop dough out onto cookie sheet. Flatten out with the palm of your hand. Gently press the chocolate, graham cracker pieces and marshmallows into the dough.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Makes 18 giant cookies

SOURCE:Picky Palate
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