Thursday, December 30, 2010

Birthday Cake Balls





So Thing 2 has a big birthday tomorrow...little man will be 2!  So instead of a traditional birthday cake, I figured something handheld will help spread the mess as much as possible.  Yeah, I'm a glutton for punishment...I am giving a 2 year old birthday cake covered in chocolate, to go style.   These things are awesome, you may never make regular cake again.  And they are addictive, be warned.


What you need:



  • 1 box cake mix, any kind you like...I chose red velvet for these
  • 1 container cream cheese frosting...again, you can mix and match
  • White chocolate chips, or almond bark

What you do:

Make cake according to package directions, and cool completely.  Once cooled, cut off crusty edges of cake, and crumble well into a bowl.  Add frosting to cake and and mix in completely...I used my hands..yes its messy, but effective.   Roll into quarter size balls and put on a parchment or wax paper lined cookie sheet...you should have about 40 balls when done.   Cool in fridge for a few hours, or pop them in the freezer until very cold, but not frozen.  In the mean time, melt chips or bark in microwave safe bowl, or over a double boiler.  Once the balls are chilled, coat them in the chocolate.  The chocolate with cool quickly, so you may have to reheat chocolate once or twice. From there, you can decorate how you like!


P.S. If you melt chocolate in microwave, be sure to only do it 30 seconds at a time, mixing between each cycle.

P.P.S If you add a little shortening to melted chocolate...it will be easier to coat cake balls.

P.P.P.S  I think I may make Funfetti cake balls for the actual party, because I am sure you were wondering.




10 best of 2010

Because its almost New Years, and between 2 jobs, 2 kids, birthday and New Years planning, I am fresh out of ideas...so instead, I will swipe some one else's.  If you know me personally, you know that 2010 has been a big year of change for me and the things...I got separated, and divorced, and started my road in nursing.
Its all been challenging, but worth it.  So her are my 10 best pictures of 2010.  Happy New Year!












Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A little bit country





I am only saying this because I love you.  If you haven't tried buttermilk pie, you must do so.  It's life changing...ok, well not life changing in the long run, but it will change your life on the day you eat it.  Its southern goodness at its best.  I stood watching the clock when the pie was in the oven drooling, like one of Pavlov's dogs (god, my high school science teachers would be so proud of me for that one).  You can eat it plain, or top it with a fruit sauce like I did, either way, just eat it.

Buttermilk Pie with easy Raspberry sauce ( so easy, you'll feel like your cheating, but really, you kind of are because it's just raspberry preserves warmed up)

What you need:


For the crust:

  • 2 sticks COLD unsalted butter cut into cut into cubes (if you only have salted butter, omit salt in recipe)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
For the pie:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 stick butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


For the sauce:


  • 1/2 cup raspberry preserves

What you do:

For the crust:

Sift together flour, sugar and salt (if using) together.  Add cold butter cubes and with your hands, or the back of a fork, work butter into flour mixture until its broken down well into the flour...should be the consistency of sand almost.  Mix in buttermilk, until just mixed...DO NOT OVER WORK!  It will be mealy,that's ok.  Do your best to form dough into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and pop in the fridge for at least 1 hour.  When its ready, roll dough out, to about a 1/4 thickness and put into a 9 inch pie pan, you will have extra dough...deal with it!

For the custard:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  In a bowl beat eggs lightly, add sugar and flour and mix well.  Add in melted butter, vanilla and buttermilk, and beat until smooth.  Pour custard into prepared pie pan, and bake for anywhere from 45 min, to an hour and 15 min...all depends on the mood of your oven.  Start to check it at like 35 min to be sure.  Center will be slightly wobbly, but will set as it cools.


For the sauce:

No brainer here...put the preserves in a sauce pan and heat until just warm and runny...pour over individual pie slices and eat!


Printable version here!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday Dinner





The only thing I miss about meat is bolognese.  I could eat blognese all day, everyday.  Too bad I can't have it...oh wait, I can!  Behold the red lentil bolognese recipe.  Hearty for the big eaters, and delicious for the picky ones.  You can almost eliminate the pasta, and eat it with crusty bread.  I added veggie crumbles  to up the protein punch, but it is just as good without it.


What you need:



red lentils

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 gloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2/3 cup red lentils
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

What you do;

Saute onion, garlic, carrot and celery in olive oil for about 5 min, or until tender.  Add lentils, stock, tomatoes, tomato paste and seasonings and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 20-25 min.  If you are going to add veggie crumbles, add at very end of cooking time.  If you add it before it will trow off the liquid ratio, and you will end up with lentils that are not completely cooked.  



I served my sauce over fancy schmancy veggie pasta.  But you don't have to get that cra-cra, regular pasta, any cut, works.


Printable version here!!

Lentils on FoodistaLentils

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

This is exactly what I look like at this moment...minus the blond hair, and the sexy Santa outfit, and the chaise lounge, and the cute white kitty...ok so the only thing that is the same is the wine glass.




But you get the idea.  Hope everyone had an amazing Christmas, and is prepared for a rockin new year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thursday night pizza pizzaz



On Thursday nights, the things and I have pizza and movie night.  I'm not working, and they are usually tired from a week of school/play.  I won't lie and say that every Thursday I make the pizza, because I don't, and won't.  But this Thursday is special, its Christmas Eve Eve, so naturally I am bringing out the big guns.  Its a super simple whole wheat crust with whatever tickles your fancy as toppers.  For me its roasted veggie, and for the things its fresh mozzarella and black olives.  The movie has yet to be chosen, but I don't really care what we watch... I'm only here for the pizza.



What you need: (for the crust)


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 hot water (not too hot, you will kill the yeast)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil



Mix together dry ingredients, i do this directly in my stand mixer with the dough hook.  Add oil to water and add slowly to flour mixture.  If dough is too sticky add, a tablespoon of flour, or add more water if dough is stiff.  Once dough is the right consistency, knead for a few minutes.  Place dough in a bowl that has been sprayed with oil, cover and put aside for 20-30 min.  Punch down dough, and roll it out (should be about a 13 inch circle...or a wonky oval in my case)

The rest is really up to you.  I took the time while the dough was rising to slice some yellow squash, zuchinni and eggplant.  I coated them with some olive oil, sea salt, and pepper then roasted in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes.  I topped my pizza with the roasted veggies, sliced calamata olives, roasted red peppers, sliced baby bella mushrooms and fresh mozzarella.  And yes, I ate 3/4 of the pizza...all by myself...and I don't feel at all guilty.  Happy pizza making!




Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Easy Cheesy Vegetarian Enchiladas





I really love Mexican food, no I mean I REALLY REALLY love Mexican food.  It, however is a pain in the arse to make, and usually is full of meat and calories.  I have been able to remedy one of those problems.  I made an awesome meat free version, that we all loved.  (i couldn't really eliminate the calories...they are after all, easy CHEESY enchiladas) I made them ahead of time, then popped them in the oven when it was time for dinner.  Enjoy!



What you need:

  • 1 pkg taco seasoning ( I use low sodium, and I only use half the package)
  • 1 pkg Morning Star Veggie Crumbles
  • 1 box store bought Spanish rice
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes - UNdrained
  • 2 cups Kale leaves- chopped fine
  • Whole wheat tortillas (or regular flour, if you prefer)
  • 1 can vegetarian refried beans
  • about 2 cups shredded cheese (all depends on your level of cheese addiction)
  • 2 or 3 green onions chopped

What you do:

Cook rice to package directions, but eliminate about 1/3 cup of the water and add tomatoes. Add kale when rice is almost cooked, you want it to wilt, not get mushy.  
In a skillet, heat the veggie crumbles until cooked, add taco seasoning and about 1/4 cup water and cook until a sauce is forms.  Add crumbles to rice and fluff with fork.
In a small sauce pan, heat beans thru.  You can start putting it all together now!
Smear some beans in the middle of the tortilla, top with a good amount of the rice mixture.  You can add cheese if you want (I don't) fold over one side of tortilla, then the other and place seam side down into a baking dish.  Continue for however many you can fit in the dish, I can usually get about 5 enchiladas in mine.  Top with lots of cheese and green onions.  You may want to add tomatillo salsa or enchilada sauce, i leave it out because the kiddos dont like it (I also leave out the green onions, as you can see by the picture!)



Printable version here!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Vegetablearians

The things and I have started a new journey.  We have been vegetarian light for a while, but we have ventured over to the other side.  We have dumped meat all together.  As in no.meat.ever.  Its been something Thing 1 and I have been discussing for a while, and given her adoration for all things fuzzy and scaly, it was easy for her to make her decision.  So friends, now you will be seeing some veg recipes, and as always, I welcome suggestions and comments!



Why my neighbors tolerate me...

I will admit, I don't always have a freshly mowed lawn, I play my music way too loud...and its a mix of zoot suit 1940's big band and rock, and I have kids that run either mostly, or totally naked around the back yard screaming at each other (before you run out and report me to DCF, or yell at me about neighborhood pedophiles, I have a 6 foot fence around my yard!).  I am not the perfect neighbor, I'm not a bad neighbor either.  But what makes me a perfect neighbor, is the home made treats I deliver with smiles for every holiday.  This year, we've gone with cookie cutter peppermint bark, spiced cupcakes with rum flavored icing, cinnamon honey butter, and the old classic decorated sugar cookie.  All wrapped up in holiday cheer and joy.




Happy Holidays to everyone!

P.S. Peppermint bark and cinnamon honey butter recipes can be found at Tidy Mom

P.P.S Cinnamon Honey Butter Recipe is hard to say 5 times fast

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sweet Sassafras, what have I done?

I bake and cook to relieve stress, make things for my children to enjo....Oh hell, I bake because I like to eat, plain and simple.  I like to eat comfort foods, baked stuff and candy...lots of candy.  Speaking of which, I thought it was necessary to make some Almond Joys today.  No, there is no special occasion, just a lack of chocolate, almonds and coconut at my immediate disposal.  So I remedied that.  I remedied that hard.  Visit Joy the Baker for recipe.  ( tweaked it a little to accommodate what I had handy.  I also made a few sans almonds)


Yeah, that's my hand...and what may or may not be my 4th or 5th candy.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I've been way too busy doing nothing....

Well maybe it isn't nothing, but its not cooking!






Now I need to figure out a way to make some super cute boys clothes....

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I'm really very sorry.





I like you, I really do.  I just have no respect for your diet, or the unwritten rule that says you can't have cakey muffins with chocolate ganache for breakfast.  See, your mom told you I was a bad influence, maybe she was right.


What you need:
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into about 8 cubes
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, scalded
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the Ganache:
  • 4 ounces semi sweet chocolate (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 plus 2 tbsp heavy cream

What you do:


Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a standard muffin pan (you’ll only need up to eight of the muffin cups).
Whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt and sugar.  Add the cold butter cubes and use your fingers to break the butter up into the dry ingredients.  Work the butter (it’s ok if it gets warm from your fingers) until you have a coarse mean and the butter is broken down very well into the flour.  Set aside.
In a small pan, heat the milk until almost boiling and remove from the flame.  Watch the milk closely! Whisk together yogurt, egg and vanilla extract.  Add the warm milk and whisk to incorporate.  Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir together with a spatula until just incorporated.  
Gently spoon batter into muffin tins.  Muffins tins should be filled halfway.  Bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the muffins are lightly golden brown and springy to the touch.  
While the muffins are cooling, heat chocolate in microwave, 30 seconds at a time, until melted.  Whisk in cream until it becomes glossy.  When muffins are cool, dip the tops, or as much as you want, into the chocolate and devour.






Friday, November 19, 2010

Love the breeze in my knickers

Ok, so I don't literally love the breeze in my undies, I do love what line drying does to my unmentionables, as well as all other clothes.  I started line drying my clothes a few years ago, to both save some green ($) and to save some green (Gaea).    Admittedly, I haven't given up my dryer all together.  I do use it for some bulky items, or for when I need an item of clothing dried fast.  I'm asking Santa this year for an umbrella clothes line, and I 've been extra good...well for the last few days anyway.
I usually put my clothes thru an extra spin at the end of their washing cycle, to help the drying time.  I keep my loads relatively small, and bring in items as they dry as opposed to waiting for the whole load to dry. What tips and/or secrets do you have about line drying?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Giving Thanks...(for cheesecake, cranberries and shortcuts!)



Without a doubt, I love to cook, obviously.  But every now and then, I want to make something that is yummy, simple and tastes like I spent all day prepping and baking. 
Also, without a doubt, I LOVE cheesecake.  I can make about 100 versions, all based on whats available to add on top, or inside the cake.  This cheesecake, well, really its a cheesecake pie, is festive (the cranberries remind me of holly berries), simple (a few ingredients, a food processor/blender and voila), and delicious.



What you need:
  • 2 16 oz. packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 bag fresh cranberries (split in half)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 frozen deep dish pie crust thawed (or 2 regular pie crusts)

What you do:

Preheat oven to 375.
Simply chuck the first 5 ingredients into your food processor or blender with half the cranberries and let it rip, until the cranberries are smooth and its all combined. 
Add the eggs, and whirl again until the we well combined.  Pour mixture into pie crust(s) and top with remaining cranberries.  Cook for 45 min ( I would start checking around the 30-35 min mark) or until the center is set but has a slight jiggle. 

See, I told you it was easy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Don't Make These....





No, really you should totally make these.  In fact, stop what you are doing right now and make them.  Are you making them yet?


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls (No Bake, and No Egg of course)
What you need:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (i know we’re not baking them, it’s for flavor)
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt or applesauce or peanut butter (I used yogurt)
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips, melted for dipping

What you do:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment (or with a large bowl and a wooden spoon) cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about three minutes in the machine.  Beat in yogurt or applesauce or peanut butter along with the vanilla extract and stir to combine.  
Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Add all at once to the butter and sugar mixture and stir until incorporated.  Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts.  
Scoop large spoonfuls or ice cream scoops onto a  waxed paper lined cookie sheet.  You can spear each dough ball with a cute plastic fork or a popsicle stick, or just leave them in balls, like I did.  Place in the freezer overnight or until frozen, at least three hours.
When ready to dip the balls, melt chocolate chips in a small saucepan over a low flame or in the microwave.  Remove balls from the freezer and dip into warm chocolate.  Return to the lined cookie sheet and return to the freezer to harden.  Serve cold from the freezer.  



P.S. Recipe from Joy the Baker.  You should check out her Blog, its freaking heaven on your screen.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!



I believe whole-heartedly in the over indulgence that is Halloween (or over indulging on any holiday for that matter).   I love the idea of dressing up as someone else, begging for candy and scaring the crap out of your friends and neighbors.  Don't get me wrong, I adore the Christmas season too, but since transplanting myself to Florida, it just doesn't feel the same.  So I have made Halloween my "it" holiday, when I expend the most amount of energy making in fun. 
It started with "Its the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" over my super pancakes (recipe at another time), and will end sometime much later (wayyyyyy past bedtime) with sugar crashes after truckloads of candy. 
I am wishing everyone a safe and spooky Halloween!
(I'm sure I will be back later posting about our chocolate pumpkin cake and with pictures of the things all decked out in their Halloween garb.)


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