Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Err...Let me take that back.

I decided to keep both blogs.

Good, right? =)

So, make sure to check me out over at For a Rainy Day, too!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Important Info!!

Pretty soon I will be deleting this blog, and merging it with my craft blog.

Seems silly to me to have two blogs anymore.

You will still be able to find all of my recipes and posts over there.

I hope you will join me!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Southwest Pasta Salad

This is not your typical pasta salad, and it's totally worth all the prep work...chopping and chopping and chopping! The dressing is awesome, and would be great on a plain salad as well! Our Best Bites never lets me down!

½ lb bowtie pasta
1 14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 roma tomatoes, diced or about ¾ C or halved cherry tomatoes - I used roma.
1 large red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, diced - I used green bell pepper.
½ C sliced green onions
½ C frozen fresh corn - I used canned corn.
zest from 2 limes
optional: 8 oz diced cooked chicken 

½ C Queso Fresco or Cotija Cheese - I used Queso Fresco.

6 Tbs fresh lime juice (about 3 juicy limes)
¼ C white wine or rice vinegar - I used rice vinegar.
4-5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
½ tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp kosher or sea salt
2 tsp sugar (add a touch more if your limes are extra sour/bitter)
¾ C canola oil
½ C roughly chopped cilantro

1. To prepare dressing place Boil pasta in salted water until cooked.  While it’s cooking, prepare dressing.

2. First zest your limes and place the zest in a large salad bowl.

3. Place the lime juice, vinegar, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and sugar in a blender.  (Basically everything except the cilantro and oil)  Process until smooth.  With the motor running slowly, add the oil in a steady stream until incorporated.  Add the cilantro and pulse so it gets broken up, but some pieces still remain in tact.

4. When pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse immediately with cold water to cool.  Place the pasta in the large salad bowl with the lime zest.  Add black beans, tomatoes, diced pepper, green onions, corn (no need to thaw the corn),  and chicken if desired.  Toss with dressing.  Taste, and add additional salt and pepper to taste.  For best results, chill for 1 hour before serving.  Right before serving, sprinkle cheese on top.  Serve with extra lime wedges if desired.

Makes about 4-6 dinner sized servings or 10-12 side servings

Source: Our Best Bites

Linked up to:
Sundae Scoop at I Heart Naptime
Feature Yourself Friday @ Fingerprints on the Fridge

Monday, September 5, 2011

And We're Back...with a cake!

Sorry I have been gone for a while...there's been quite a few things going on around my way, but we won't get into that. =) 

I'm about 7 months pregnant...expecting Baby Boy #2 in October. =) Pregnancy has been going great. 

So, I have a little bit of free time before the baby comes. I figured I should post some before I had the baby. 

I made this cake back in February for Valentine's day.

It was TOTALLY worth the time it took to make. SO YUMMY! I just added some white and dark chocolate dipped strawberries on top. Of course, I didn't use as many as they did, so my servings were a little bit bigger. =)

Chocolate Overdose Cake

18-20 chocolate covered strawberries

Brownie base
5/8 cup (1/2 cup + 2Tbsp) cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into six pieces
1 1/8 cups (1 cup + 2 Tbsp) sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
2 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate mousse filling
6 oz semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2-ounce pieces
1 7/8 cups (15 oz) heavy cream
1 Tbsp granulated sugar

Chocolate cake
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
7/8 cups (3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/8 cup (2 Tbsp) Dutch-processed cocoa
1/4 cup hot water
7/8 cups (3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp) sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
18 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-ounce pieces

To make the brownie base:
Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut parchment paper to fit the bottom and line the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Spray lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.

Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth.

When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar. Add eggs on at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in two additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.

Transfer batter to prepared pan; using a small off-set spatula or bench scraper, spread batter evenly and smooth the surface. Bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 25-30 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 1 hour (do not remove the springform ring or parchment collar).

To make the cake:
Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment and spray bottom and sides with baking spray.

Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, and hot water in medium heatproof bowl; set bowl over saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water and stir with rubber spatula until chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup sugar to chocolate mixture and stir until thick and glossy, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Set aside. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in small bowl and set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk eggs and yolks on medium-low speed until combined, about 10 seconds. Add remaining sugar, increase speed to high, and whisk until fluffy and lightened in color, 2 to 3 minutes. Replace whisk with paddle attachment.

Add cooled chocolate mixture to egg/sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, 30 to 45 seconds, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing about 10 seconds after each addition. Add about one-third of flour mixture followed by half of buttermilk mixture, mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 15 seconds).

Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture (batter may appear separated). Scrape down sides of bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium-low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour. Pour into prepared pan; smooth batter to edges of pan with an offset spatula.

Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Cool cake in pan 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack and cool completely.

To make the Chocolate mousse filling:
Place stand mixer bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer or fridge.

Heat 1-inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place the semisweet chocolate in the top half of the double boiler. Tightly cover the top with film wrap and allow to heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Transfer the melted chocolate to a stainless steel bowl and set aside until needed.

Place heavy cream and sugar in the well-chilled bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a well-chilled whisk attachment. Whisk on high until stiff peaks form, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer.

By hand, whisk to combine 1/4 of the whipped cream into the melted chocolate until smooth and completely incorporated. Add the combined whipped cream and chocolate to the remaining whipped cream and use a rubber spatula to fold together.

To make the Ganache:
Heat the heavy cream and the butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil.

Place the semisweet chocolate in a 3-quart stainless steel bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Reserve ~1/2 cup of ganache to use as glue for strawberries. Remaining ganache should be brought to room temperature (about 40 minutes).

To assemble the cake:
Spread mousse over top of the brownie base evenly. Use an offset spatula or bench scraper to smooth the top.

Place cake round over mousse, pressing down lightly. Chill for 1 hour.

Cover the edges of a round cake board with waxed paper strips. Remove springform ring and parchment collar. Use spatula to move cake to a cake board. Use a spatula to smooth the room temperature ganache over the cake top and sides, covering evenly. Place entire cake in fridge for ganache to set.

Once ganache has set, remove waxed paper strips from cake board. Heat reserved ganache in microwave for a few seconds. Use as glue to attach 15-16 chocolate covered strawberries. Serve chilled and store leftovers in the fridge. Cut the cake with a hot, dry knife, using the strawberries as a serving guide (1 strawberry per serving).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Praline-Topped Blondies

Do I even need to explain why I wanted to try these. I mean just look at the title. Praline and Blondie in one? Um, yes please. I'm from the south, and down here, making pralines (pronounced prah-leens in the south) is an art form. I don't make them, but I sure can eat one! These blondies were super easy to make, and even easier to eat. Try them today!

  • Blondies:
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

  • Topping:
  • 3 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with the cooking spray. Line the pan with 2 crisscrossed pieces of parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides; spray the parchment with the cooking spray.
2. Make the blondie: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and mix in the brown sugar and vanilla. One at a time, mix in the eggs. Mix in the flour mixture until just combined (do NOT overmix). 
4. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it, 25 to 28 minutes. Cool completely in the pan.
5. Make the praline topping: In a small saucepan, heat the brown sugar and butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bubbling, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla, 1 tablespoon of water, and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Spread over the cooled blondies and sprinkle with the pecans. Let the topping set, 10 to 15 minutes.
6. Holding both sides of the paper overhang, lift the blondies out of the pan, transfer to a cutting board, and cut into 16 squares.

Store the blondies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

My lil man's 2nd birthday party is coming up, and we chose the theme Milk and Cookies. I loved it the second I heard of it. So cute, right? I have been searching for some good cookies recipes to use, and this one has been bookmarked in my favorites for a while. I decided I might as well try it...and I wasn't disappointed. It is definitely one of the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had. The only thing with mine was that they took about 20 minutes to cook, not 14. After the first 14, they still looked raw in the middle and weren't golden at all. I don't know why they took so long. But, they were still delish! Definitely a must try! 

2 cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Adjust oven racks to upper and lower-middle positions.  Preheat oven 325°.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside.  With electric mixer, or by hand, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly combined.  Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined.  Add dry ingredients and beat at low-speed just until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Roll a scant half-cup of dough into a ball.  Holding dough ball in fingertips of both hands, pull apart into two equal halves.  Rotate halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, place formed dough onto cookie sheet, leaving ample room between each ball.  Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy (approximately 11-14 minutes).  Do not overbake.
4. Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Three Cheese-Stuffed Shells with Meaty Tomato Sauce

Before we get to the recipe, I have some exciting news. Well, it's exciting to me. Ok, so, I enter an insane amount of giveaways on different blogs, thinking the odds are so outrageous that I'm never going to win. Last week, I entered a giveaway on I {heart} Naptime. This was one giveaway that I really wanted to win. It was for a Light Scoop. Something that I could benefit from greatly. So, I just went about my way, and said that's what I wanted for my birthday if I didn't win. Low and behold...I WON!!!! I am so freakin excited that I actually let out a baby! I cannot wait to get it. This Light Scoop is going to help me get WAY better pictures of my food and crafts inside at night, which is when I do most of my crafting and cooking and baking. YAY!!!!

Ok, back to normal programming...

I discovered Pioneer Woman a few months ago. Where have I been? She has some amazing stuff! We made this for dinner for Valentine's Day. I already had something picked out, but when I came across this, I scratched the idea and went with these shells. Not a decision I regretted. They were totally yummy, and I recommend trying them...tonight! This isn't a sissy pasta meal. My hubby even loved it. He asked for thirds. So, that's a winner in my book!

Just a few things:
There was a TON of ricotta mixture left over, and I STUFFED the shells. I had boiled more pasta just to make sure. I had enough ricotta to make a small extra dish, and still had at least half the ricotta left over. I would suggest halving the ricotta mixture.

I didn't have, nor was I able to find Romano cheese. So, I just used Parmesan in place of it. I also used dried basil. 

On her blog, she said that breakfast sausage would be fine, and that's what I used. Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage. And it turned out great. I love how this recipe is versatile in the fact that you can use any kind of meat really. Italian sausage, breakfast sausage, hamburger, ground turkey, ground chicken, etc. 

8 ounces, weight jumbo pasta shells
30 ounces, weight whole milk ricotta cheese
8 ounces, weight Parmesan cheese, grated, divided
½ cups grated Romano cheese
1 whole egg
12 leaves basil, chiffonade
2 Tbsp minced parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ whole medium onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
½ lb. Italian sausage
½ cup red wine
1 whole 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 whole 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp minced parsley

Cook pasta shells for half the cooking time; make sure not to overcook. Drain and rinse in cool water. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add Italian sausage and brown, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Pour in red wine and let it cook for a minute or two.
Pour in cans of crushed tomatoes and stir. Add sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check for seasonings; can add crushed red peppers if you like a little heat.
In a separate bowl, mix ricotta, half the Parmesan, Romano, egg, salt and pepper, basil, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Stir until combined.
To assemble, coat the bottom of a baking dish with sauce. Fill each half-cooked shell with the cheese mixture. Place face down on the sauce. Repeat with shells until cheese mixture is gone. Top shells with remaining sauce. Sprinkle on extra Parmesan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
Serve with crusty French bread.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pretzels with Sweet Spicy Mustard

Is Spring ever gonna come?? Beautiful weather these past couple of days, but now chilly and wet again. Blah. This gloomy, rainy weather reminds me of when I made these cute little pretzels. 
I made them for the Super Bowl. Just a little snack food for during the game. Nothing too complicated or fussy. 

Do they taste like a pretzel? Not really. 
Do they look like a pretzel? Yep. 
And they're tiny, too! Well, about the size of my palm. 

They have the buttery taste of a crescent roll, and then dipped in the mustard...yum!!

Now, you're supposed to use the seamless crescent sheet. My local stores don't sell this, or I just haven't seen it yet. So, I used regular crescent dough, and kinda smushed the seams together. Kinda. I probably could've done a better job, but I was rushing. I would suggest if you use this to roll it out with a rolling pin.

Super easy, and really yummy! Better on the 1st day though.

¼ cup spicy brown mustard
¼ cup apricot preserves
1 can (8 oz) refrigerated seamless crescent dough sheet
1 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted
Kosher salt

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray. In small bowl, mix mustard and apricot preserves; set aside.

2. Unroll dough on work surface; press into 12x8-inch rectangle. Cut crosswise into 16 (8-inch) strips; roll each into 11-inch rope. To shape pretzel, shape rope into a circle, overlapping dough about 2 inches from each end, leaving ends free. Take 1 end in each hand; twist once at point where dough overlaps. Lift ends over opposite side of circle. Brush each with melted butter. Sprinkle with salt. Place on cookie sheet.

3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Serve warm with mustard mixture.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Vanilla Popcorn

There used to be this place called Orange Julius in our mall for the longest time. Ever since I can remember it was there. They sold all kinds of popcorns, ice cream treats, milkshakes, and of course Orange Julius. Which makes me think about this recipe that I wanna try. Everytime we went to the mall, which wasn't that often, I HAD to have their Vanilla Popcorn. It was always colored. Around Mardi Gras it would be purple, green, and yellow, around Halloween it would be orange; green and red for Christmas and so on. It was my favorite snack as a kid. 

Vanilla Popcorn
Picture from Google search.

Some while back, they closed it down, and replaced it with another store similar to it, but they didn't sell the popcorns. Just the popcorn in the bag like at a carnival. I was not a happy camper. So, for years and years, I have been wanting and craving this popcorn. 

About a year or so ago, my mom and I ran across a recipe for a similar popcorn. It was the kind of recipe where you need to boil the sugar and what not on the stove to a certain temperature, and I was kinda intimidated. So, I never made it. 

THEN, I came along Our Best Bites' recipe for Caramel Corn. It looked so easy, I thought, if I mess it up, oh well. It was worth a shot. So, I did. And it turned out so dang YUMMY! I made it a few more times before the light bulb went off in my head to make a vanilla version. I went for it! And it turned out equally yummy! I brought my first batch to our monthly girls game night. Verdict? They requested I bring it again. Score! 

So, here is my version of Vanilla Popcorn!!

12 cups popped popcorn (about 1/2 C kernels) - I use Orville Redenbacher's Tender White. I'm not sure how the buttery popcorn would work here. 
1 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup white corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt (if you are using salted microwave popcorn then omit salt here)
 - The Tender White is lightly salted, so I don't use salt.
1 stick real butter
 - Don't skimp here! I use unsalted.
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
 - You could put an addt'l 1/2 tsp if you want to amplify the vanilla, but 1 tsp is plenty for me.

Pop popcorn and set aside. Place sugar, corn syrup, salt, and butter in a microwave safe dish.  Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir to combine. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir again. Microwave for 2 more minutes.

Meanwhile, put the popcorn in the biggest bowl you have. You will regret it if you don't. Remove any un-popped kernels. 

When the caramel is done, take out of microwave. Add baking soda and vanilla. Stir until it starts to foam a little bit, and gets thick. Pour over popcorn. Mix well with a big spoon. Try and get as much of the popcorn covered as you can. Work quickly, because it does start to harden quite fast. 

You could take it just like this, spread it out on some foil, let it harden a little bit, and eat it just like that. It will be gooey and firm, but it won't be crunchy.

To make it crunchy, like I like it, you need to bake it. Spread the popcorn out on a cookie sheet or two. Bake either at 200 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes, or at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  If you choose the latter, keep an eye on it towards the end of cooking time to avoid over cooking. (This is what I do: I bake at 300 for 10 minutes, then stir, and for about 6 more minutes. Sometimes I do just the 10 minutes. Either way, it will be crunchy.) It is VERY easy to burn the sugar. Believe me...been there. 

And there you have yummy vanilla popcorn! Enjoy!