April 23, 2014

Muffin Melts


Breakfasts around here are one of the times that I like to try new recipes best.  The reason for this? Because I'm not a huge breakfast eater.  I like dinner food for breakfast, for the most part, however I do not indulge in that most of the time.  I force myself to eat "normal" breakfast food.  

This recipe was a nice go-between for me.  It has all the ingredients of breakfast food but with the added flavors from the Dijon and Worcestershire sauce.  The Pioneer Woman calls these make ahead muffin melts, and that's a good way to describe them, because they do take a little bit of planning beforehand to get them on the table.  I cut the recipe in half and still had leftovers, which were also very good reheated.  I liked the different layers of flavor, and the chewy English muffin on the bottom. Great recipe for a crowd and easy to transport. 

Muffin Melts
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman


Ingredients
  • 12 slices bacon
  • 12 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 heaping Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 English muffins, split
Cooking Directions
  1. Fry the bacon slices until chewy and slightly crisp.
  2. Chop the bacon into pieces.
  3. Peel and cut the hard-boiled eggs into a rough chop.
  4. Add the cheese, bacon, eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce into a bowl and combine.
  5. Cut the English muffins in half and pile on the topping, evenly over the 12 sides of muffins.
  6. Broil for 3-4 minutes in the lower portion of your oven. The cheese should be melted.

April 21, 2014

Spring Break!

I thought I'd share with you a little of what our Spring Break looked like.  We didn't have any plans to go anywhere specifically so we just winged it.  We had so much fun, we should wing it all the time!

We started off with some Tiger action.  There is a little park in NC called "Tiger World" and they also just happened to be doing an Easter egg hunt so we brought our Easter basket to join in on the fun.  My daughter loved it!  She's a huge animal lover so this was right up her ally.


Tigers always make a good start to a vacation, in my opinion.

Next we learned how to roller skate.  OK, well my daughter learned and I tried to remember.  My husband picked it right back up but it took me a while.  By the end of the day my daughter and I were feeling much more confident about it.


There's no way I was going to post a picture of myself skating so this one will have to do. :)


Biltmore Estate, just magical.  This was the highlight of spring break for me.  I've wanted to come here for years and we finally made it. My daughter (who will be 6 in a month) did really well.  She even had her own audio tour gadget and followed along.  

Hard to believe that George Vanderbilt had so much land and such a big house for just one person to start out.  Even after he married and they had a daughter, this is a lot of house for three people. You've got to put this place on your to-do list one day.  Asheville is great town in a beautiful part of NC. 


This "little" ice cream sundae was called "Strawberry Fields".  Yea, it was about the size of my hand (with fingers spread out) and even though my husband didn't plan to have any….I needed help.  It was peach ice cream with whipped cream and strawberry drizzled over the top.  So.Good.


I couldn't help but take a picture of this shop.  I desperately wanted to buy something but the ice cream had done me in.  I will make it back here eventually. 



The gardens, just one of many actually.  There were several greenhouses too. Imagine coming back here at Christmas time when they have it all lit up!  I can't wait to see that!


One more of the side view of the house, walking the grounds.  I think we took this picture on our way to the Bass pond.  Yes, they have their own Bass pond. 

The rest of our vacation was just simple things like the park, farmers market and things like that.  We had a great break.  Now back to reality.  I hope you all enjoyed your time off (if you got time off).  I'm back in the kitchen so I'll post some yumminess soon!


April 18, 2014

Popovers


Happy Good Friday everyone!  Easter is just around the corner so I thought I'd give you a fun idea to make with your kids.  This popover recipe was from my daughters cookbook "Cooking with Kids" from FamilyFun.  I know most of you out there probably don't have a popover pan and neither do I so I just used a cupcake pan instead.  I don't think they got as high as they would have with a regular popover pan but they tasted so good!  Just like I remember when my mom used to make them.

The outside was very flaky and the inside was sort of hollow and moist.  That's where you melt the butter and put the jam.  In case you were wondering.

My daughter had so much fun helping me, and that's what this recipe was all about anyway.  It's fun to get the kids in the kitchen with you.


Popovers
From FamilyFun Cookbook "Cooking with Kids"


Ingredients
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • scant 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
Cooking Directions
  1. Grease 6 muffin cups or a popover pan. Make sure to grease the rims too.
  2. In a medium bowl, or your stand mixer, whisk the eggs until frothy.
  3. Add the milk and whisk again.
  4. Next add the flour and the salt and whisk for 30 seconds, until smooth and lump free.
  5. Whisk in the melted butter and let the batter rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 425º and put the rack in the center position.
  7. Whisk that batter once more just before pouring it into the prepared pan. Pouring the batter into a 2 cup measuring cup will make pouring easier.
  8. Fill each cup 2/3 full of batter.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes and then reduce the heat to 375º  (350º for dark pans) and bake for another 10 minutes. DO NOT open the door to check on them.
  10. The popovers should be golden brown when done. When they have been removed from the oven, use a sharp knife to poke a tiny hole in the tops to let the steam escape.
  11. Let them cool in the pan for a couple of minutes before removing them.
  12. Carefully tear open and top as desired.

April 16, 2014

Butter Mints



My daughter and I had a great time making these little mints.  Such pretty colors to work into the dough with your hands.  It was like play dough that you could eat!  These mints were a lot easier to make then I thought they'd be.  No banking necessary.  You will need a little bit of hand strength to work in the colors, but it's a fun process and we both enjoyed it!

If you've ever bought the butter mints from the store you know what these are.  Only, these are much better.  After my husband ate one he couldn't believe how "smooth" they were.  They literally melt in your mouth.  The mint flavor is just as you'd expect for an after dinner mint but not so strong that you taste mint for 20 minutes after eating one.  Just perfect.

By the way, this is the second recipe I've made from this cookbook I borrowed from the library and I truly love it.  If you're a baker and you love old time recipes this book is for you (this is not a paid endorsement). "The Back In The Day Cookbook" by Cheryl and Griffith Day.  So awesome, the photo's are fantastic and the recipes have been awesome. I have to go out and get my own copy. 

Butter Mints
Recipe from page 211 of "The Back In The Day Cookbook"


Ingredients
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 7 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 Tbsp peppermint extract
  • liquid gel food coloring, choose 4 colors
Cooking Directions
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the butter and salt. Beat for 2 minutes.
  2. Add confectioners' sugar, sweetened condensed milk and peppermint extract. Mix on low until a dough forms. Add about 6 cups of the confectioners' sugar and mix before adding the last cup (you might not need it). The texture will be dry to the touch but should hold together in a ball.
  3. Remove the dough ball and separate into 4 equal pieces.
  4. Use the food coloring to drop one drop of each color on the four separate balls. Use your hands to knead the color into the dough, add more drops until the desired color is reached.
  5. Once the color you desire has been reached, roll the dough ball into a long rope about 1 inch in diameter. You can dust your work surface with confectioners' sugar if the dough is sticking to the work surface. Cut each dough rope into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces.
  6. Line a 9x13 inch dish with wax paper or parchment paper and layer each color using wax paper or parchment paper in between so they don't stick.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  8. The mints will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 1 week.

April 14, 2014

Coconut Macaroon Nutella Nests


I can hardly believe that Easter is right around the corner.  I'm not prepared, as usual.  I just thought these little cookies were so adorable I had to make them.  My daughter won't eat coconut but that's OK, I will. 

I love a good macaroon.  If you're coconut, there is nothing like a good chewy macaroon. Ton's of sweet coconut flavor which is already sweet enough, add the center of Nutella and top it with some candy eggs and you have got a very decadent treat. 

Adorable for your Easter table, even if the adults are the only one's eating them!

Coconut Macaroon Nutella Nests


Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 cup sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup Nutella
  • 1 bag Easter Egg Candy (I used Cadbury White Mini Eggs)
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325º
  2. Line two cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
  3. In a medium bowl, add the sweetened condensed milk, egg white, vanilla and salt and stir together until smooth.
  4. Add the coconut and stir.
  5. Drop about two tablespoons of the mixture onto the cookie sheet. Use your thumb to make a hole in the middle and shape like a nest.
  6. Bake for 17 - 20 minutes, or until the coconut is turning golden brown. Remove and deepen the hole in the middle again. 
  7. Let sit on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. 
  8. Let the cookies cool all the way before decorating. 
  9. To decorate, add about a small amount of Nutella in the middle hole.  Top with eggs. Serve. 
  10. Store in an air-tight container on the counter. 

April 9, 2014

Balsamic Pepper Steak


It's almost the weekend!  In fact it's almost Spring Break.  Whether you have kids or not this should have some meaning for you.  It either means that you're going on vacation, trying to come up with something for the kids to do or avoiding all the places where kids will be.  We have no real plans.  I think we'll try to do a couple of day trips or plan some fun activities but nothing major.  I know several families heading off to Disney World.  Good luck with that, that is one place I would NOT want to be on spring break!

My husband and I are still attempting to improve the way we eat, and that includes doing as many whole foods as we can.  This marinade is fantastic, even if you have no idea what I mean when I say "whole food".  It's OK, this marinade is a winner. 

We didn't plan far enough in advance to marinate for hours, we marinated for like 1 hour.  Needless to say it was totally delish so I know that if I plan ahead next time and let it marinate overnight it will be even better.  We loved it.  Plenty of flavor.  I left it sort of rustic, more than the original recipe describes but we liked it that way and I would probably do it again that way.  Make it your own, you have to eat it after all!

Balsamic Pepper Steak
Recipe from The Saffron Girl


Ingredients
  • 4-5 cloves garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground rosemary
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 steaks of your choice
Cooking Directions
  1. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic. I don't own a mortar and pestle so I did this whole process by hand.
  2. Add the peppercorns and crack.
  3. Add the rosemary and salt and grind together. I chopped the rosemary and left some in fairly good sized pieces.
  4. Add the olive oil and vinegar and mix well.
  5. Pour over the meat (I used steak tips), use the steak of your choice. Do this process in a resealable bag or a container with a tight fitting lid.
  6. Marinate overnight or for 4-5 hours.
  7. Grill to desired doneness.

April 7, 2014

BITD Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies



Doesn't it seem like there is a constant quest for the perfect Chocolate Chip cookie?  I mean, while I was at the library the other day I saw an entire cookbook dedicated chocolate chip cookies and nothing else.  I'm sure it's not the only one of it's kind either.  Honestly, I'm not sure there is a perfect one.  It all depends on your personal preferences, doesn't it? Some people like crunchy best, some people like chewy, others like cake like cookies. Me? I like them all but my favorite are the chewy one's.

I found the coolest cookbook while at the library.  It's called "The Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook" by Cheryl and Griffith Day.  I absolutely love it and plan to buy my own copy soon.  There are so many wonderful recipes and all I need is a good excuse to make one of them.  I didn't need an excuse to make these giant Chocolate Chip cookies however.  I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to put the dough onto the cookie sheet.


Sprinkled a tiny bit of sea salt over the top of the dough before baking.


And they baked up huge!  Not that that's a bad thing. The edges get nice and golden brown and the centers are still pale.  After cooling they were chewy and completely perfect in every way.  The Sea Salt just adds to the chocolate flavor.

I know I'll never find the best Chocolate Chip cookie in the world, there are just too many to choose from.  But, this cookie is the classic one for me.  Just like the name of the cookbook says, it's just like the one's I think of when I think of what I had as a kid. I thought the texture was perfect and the size just keeps me from having to go back for a second time.

Definitely a favorite of mine, and sure to be repeated.

BITD Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe from "Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook"


Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large whole eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Fluer de sel for sprinkling
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Line 1 or 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. 
  3. Place the oven rack in the lower 3rd of your oven. 
  4. In a bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and sea salt.  Set aside. 
  5. In the bowl of your stand mixer mix the butter and the sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy. 3-5 minutes. 
  6. Add the eggs and beat on low, but don't beat for more than 1 minute.  It will not look incorporated. 
  7. Add the chocolate chips and beat on low until just incorporated. 
  8. Use a large ice cream scoop or a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet.  Slightly push the dough ball down with the palm of your hand and sprinkle a little Fluer de sel over the top. 
  9. Bake for 15-18 minutes.  The edges should be golden but the cents should be light colored. 
  10. Let rest for a minute before moving to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way. 
  11. Will last in an airtight container at room temperature for about 3 days.