Monday, May 25, 2009

4-3-2-1 Cupcakes

I have actually made these before, back when I apparently had a total lapse in judgement and WAY overfilled the muffin tins. They were not salvageable. These were much better and the flavor remains one of my favorite cupcake recipes! I think the almond extract really makes the difference.

4-3-2-1 Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcaktes

1 cup of butter
2 cups of sugar
3 cups of cake flour (I used regular, couldn't find this "cake flour")
3 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt
4 eggs 
1 cup of milk
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 tsp of almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and gradually add sugar, creaming until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture alternatively with milk and almond and vanilla extract, beating after each addition until smooth. Pour batter into cupcake tins. Bake 25-30 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes and remove from pan to finish cooling. Top with your frosting of choice. I used 
cream cheese frosting. Yum!

Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from: All Recipes

All Recipes reviews, you have foiled me again! I always look at the reviews and frequently adjust my recipes if I see enough of the same comments. Here, I saw one comment in particular: the frosting is too "cream cheesy." Many reviewers suggested adding more sugar and less cream cheese. My result was actually a little too sweet; I suggest my version below. The best thing to do is add the sugar, and with the last cup, add gradually to your taste.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup of butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pastor Ryan's Bolognese Sauce

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Compared to other bolognese sauces I've made, this one was ridiculously easy and good. I liked the simple ingredients and how easy it was to put together. Typically I see "salt and pepper" in a recipe and you're supposed to add it "to taste," but I rarely do. This time I actually tasted the sauce after it had been simmering for an hour and it seemed a little...blah. 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and about a teaspoon of ground black pepper made it perfect. This is now my go-to bolognese recipe!

Pastor Ryan's Bolognese

1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1 large red onion, diced
1/2 cup olive oil
2 pounds ground beef (I used turkey)
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups red wine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes
1 cup milk
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add grated carrots and onion and cook for a few minutes.

2. Make a well in the center of the mixture, and add in ground beef. Cook until brown, gradually stirring in carrot mixture.

3. Add in oregano and basil. Use fresh if you have; if you don't, it's fine.

4. When the meat is browned and combined with other ingredients, make another well. Add tomato paste and let it heat.

5. Add garlic and stir to combine.

6. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add red wine. Stir together.

7. Add Worcestershire and stir.

8. Add canned tomatoes.

9. Finally, add in milk, stir, and let simmer for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Serve with pasta and a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Pastor Ryan's Homemade Noodles

Source: The Pioneer Woman

I follow The Pioneer Woman's blog a lot, and I loved her most recent posts where Pastor Ryan visited. I had HEARD about homemade noodles, but never even thought about making them.

These were good, and being the fact that I love cooking so much, were fun to make and required very little effort. However, my slicing skills stink, and I don't think the noodles were as thin as they should have been, and thus took longer to cook. I thought they were good, and fun to make, but I'm not sure if I would make them again just because my noodle size and width were ALL over the board!

1 cup of flour and 2 eggs makes enough for 2 - double accordingly!

Pastor Ryan's Homemade Noodles

1 cup of flour
2 eggs
Chopped fresh parsley

Combine the flour and egg, and knead my hand or with your Kitchen Aid until smooth. Roll out dough very thinly on a floured surface. If waiting until rolling out, keep in a plastic bag (unrefrigerated) until you need the dough.

Put on a large salted pot of water to boil.

Cut dough with a knife or pizza roller as thinly as possible. Add to boiling water, and boil 2-5 minutes, testing occasionally until al dente.

Remove from pot and drain. Toss with freshly chopped parsley. Enjoy!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mexican Pizza

Adapted from: Good Eats n' Sweet Treats

I literally saw this in
Cooking This and That TODAY and immediately made it! I mean, really, how can you go wrong with this combination of ingredients? Simple prep, clean-up, and extremely satisfying! Unlike the other bloggers, I am lazy and used packaged taco seasoning. I would also suggest spraying the tortillas LIGHTLY. If you over-coat them (NOT THAT I DID), they'll take longer to crisp up.

Mexican Pizza

1 1/3 pound package ground turkey or beef
1 package taco seasoning
Scant 1/3 cup water
6 (8-inch) flour tortillas
Cooking spray
3 tablespoons chopped green onions
6 ounces refried beans
1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes (about 1 medium)
3/4 cup taco sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar or Mexican cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook the turkey until brown; drain. Return to the heat and add the taco seasoning and water. Continue to cook for several minutes, until cooked through, stirring often.

3. Spray both sides of each tortilla with cooking spray and place directly on the oven rack (about 3 at a time). Bake for about 6 minutes, turning halfway through, until golden brown and crispy. Watch carefully so they don't burn. Remove to a baking sheet and turn oven to 400 degrees.

4. Microwave the refried beans for 30-60 seconds, or until spreadable.

5. Lay 3 tortillas out on a baking sheet, and top each with 1/3 refried beans, 1/3 turkey mixture, and 1/4 cup cheese. Top with another tortilla and lightly press down.

6. Top the second tortillas with 1/4 cup taco sauce. Layer with 1/2 cup diced tomatoes, 1/4 cup cheese, and 1 tablespoon green onions.

7. Bake for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cut into wedges and top with sour cream or salsa if desired.

Monday, May 18, 2009


I've made this Red Beans and Rice before and I just wanted to post it again since I think it's the one recipe I've made over and over since posting it! I actually don't make rice with it, so I guess it's technically Pork and Beans. This has become my favorite not only because of its flavor, but the fact that I love to make a big batch, eat and little, and then bring the rest to work for lunch the rest of the week. I've been making an effort to eat out less and I prefer having something hot for lunch. This is very filling and tasty. Try it!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chicken Scallopine

Source: The Pioneer Woman

This looked a little different than some of the chicken dishes I've made lately, and it sure was tasty, as well as easy! I love the combination of lemon, capers, and white wine. I'm sure you could also throw in a minced garlic clove right before the mushrooms and it would be wonderful!

Chicken Scallopine

1 pound linguine
6 boneless, skinless trimmed chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
12 ounces white mushrooms, sliced thin
1 cup white wine
1 lemon
1/2 cup heavy cream or half & half
1 heaping tablespoons capers
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

2. Flatten chicken breasts to uniform thickness. Salt and pepper both sides, then dredge in flour.

3. Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry chicken breasts until golden brown (abour 2-3 minutes each side). Remove to a plate and set aside.

4. Throw mushrooms into the pan and stir. Immediately pour in white wine, and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. Allow mushrooms to cook vigirously for about a minute, until sauce darkens and reduces. 

5. Pour in cream and stir, then add capers and parsley and stir. Turn off heat. Stir and add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Place pasta and chicken on a platter and top with sauce. Generously sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I want my baby back, baby back, baby back...

Have you ever made something, something that took a good long time, but at the end of it said, "SO WORTH IT."? This meal I had, which consisted of ribs, homemade potato salad, and corn, was SO delicious it made the hours in the kitchen worth it. The New Best Recipe never fails me, and in this instance, really blew my socks off. 

One of the best parts is the fact that you do everything in advance. As the ribs were brining, I was preparing the dry rub as well as boiling the potatoes for the salad. As the ribs cooked, I finished the salad and made the barbeque sauce. I put water on to boil the corn about 20 minutes before ribs were done. It's always so nice when you don't have anything to clean up after the meal!

We have a Rival Crock Pot BBQ Pit that my husband bought on a whim a couple of years ago. Think a really wide Crock Pot. Normally it's kind of a pain to store, being as big as it is, but it  does a great job on stuff like ribs.  Like you can see above, it comes with an insert that you can stack the ribs in, set on high for 5 hours, and have fall-of-the-bone ribs. I do like the not thinking aspect of cooking ribs with this!

Since most people probably don't have the BBQ Pit, I thought I'd post the brine as well as the dry rub for the ribs. The brine is essential to tender ribs, and the dry rub was so good you could easily go without barbeque sauce. 

Also, despite all the hype with "baby back" ribs, The New Best Recipe states loin back ribs are usually preferred because they're meatier.

Rib Brine
This brine is for 2 full racks (or 4 pounds) or baby back or loin ribs. I was making only one full rack, so I reduced the salt and sugar in half to avoid over-seasoning.

1/2 cup table salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 full racks of baby back or loin back ribs (4 pounds total)

Dissolve the salt and sugar in 4 quarts of water in a stockpot or large plastic container. Submerge the ribs in the brine and refrigerate 1 hour, until fully seasoned. Remove the ribs from the brine and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. 

Dry Rub for Barbeque
Makes about 1 cup. Can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several weeks.

1/4 cup sweet paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
1 - 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Rub each side of the racks with 1 tablespoon of the dry rub and refrigerate the racks at least 30 minutes. Cook racks as desired.

Quick Barbeque Sauce

Source: The New Best Recipe

While I was making ribs, I thought I might as well try to make some homemade barbeque sauce. This was incredibly simple and tasty. Adjust the seasonings to your taste, adding more cayenne if you like a more spicy barbeque sauce.

Quick Barbeque Sauce

1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup water
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestshire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
5 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (like Red Hot)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke (optional)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Process the onion with the water in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade until pureed and the mixture resembles slush, about 30 seconds. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a luquid measuring cup, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula to obtain 1/2 cup juice. Discard the solids.

2. Whisk the onion juice, ketchup, vinegar, Worcestshire, mustard, molasses, hot pepper sauce, black pepper, and liquid smoke together in a medium bowl.

3. Heat the oil in a large nonreactive sauce-pan over medium heat until shimmering, but not smoking. Add the garlic, chili powder, and cayenne; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the ketchup mixture and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently uncovered, until the flavors meld and the sauce thickens, about 25 minutes. Cool the sauce to room temperature before serving. The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 1 week.

American Potato Salad with Hard-Boiled Eggs and Sweet Pickles

Source: The New Best Recipe

I was a little nervous making this recipe if it would live up to the amount of time invested.  It wasn't quite as "coated" as other potato salads I'd eaten. But it was super yummy! It takes take a fair amount of time between hard-boiling the eggs and mincing the onions, celery, and sweet pickles (DON'T use relish!) but the result is oh-so-good! There are so many good things about this salad - the red wine vinegar seasoned potatoes, the crunchy celery, the sweet pickles. It was delicious! It does make a fairly large amount for the two of us, so I'm glad we have extras!

American Potato Salad with Hard-Boiled Eggs and Sweet Pickles

2 pounds red potatoes (about 6 medium or 18 small), scrubbed
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Salt and ground black pepper
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch dice
1 medium celery rib, mined (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup sweet pickles, minced
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

1. To hard-boil the eggs: Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with one inch of water. Bring the pan to a boil, remove from heat, and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add 1 quart of cold water and 1 tray of ice (or equivalent) to a large bowl. Remove eggs from pan to ice water. Let sit for 5 minutes. Tap each egg on countertop, then roll all over to crack entire surface. Peel, and dice eggs.

2. Cover the potatoes with 1 inch water in a stockpot or Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring once or twice to ensure even cooking, until the potatoes are tender, 25 to 30 minutes for medium potatoes or 15 to 20 minutes for small potatoes.

3. Drain; cool potatoes slightly and peel if you like (I didn't). Cut the potatoes into 3/4 inch cubes (use a serrated knife if they have skins) while still warm, rinsing the knife occasionally in warm water to remove the starch.

4. Place the warm potato cubes in a large bowl. Add the vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and toss gently. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool, about 20 minutes.

5. When the potatoes are cool, toss with the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to one day.