Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

This recipe was originally called MINI Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, but since there's only the two of us, I figured we really don't need 36 {mini} pies! Better to make 12 regular size ones. :o) Not only do these pies have the standard cream filling, but it's a cream cheese filling. Yum. Definitely put these on your "to bake" list. And what to do with the leftover can of pumpkin? Why, pumpkin pancakes the next morning, of course! Little side note: when you make the frosting, it will seem that there might not be enough yummy goodness for all 12 {or 36} pies, but do not despair! Do yourself a favor and apply filling liberally. There is plenty to go around!

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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Filling
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Lightly grease or line four baking sheets with parchment paper.COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar in large mixer bowl on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add pumpkin and vanilla extract; beat until smooth. Stir in flour mixture until combined. Drop by heaping measuring teaspoons onto prepared baking sheets. (A total of 72 cookies are needed for the mini pie recipe.)BAKE for 10 to 13 minutes or until springy to the touch. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

BEAT cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until light and fluffy.SPREAD a heaping teaspoon of filling onto flat side of one cookie; top with flat side of second cookie to make a sandwich. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling. Store in covered container in refrigerator.

*Since I made regular size pies, the cookie "drops" were more like a heaping tablespoon or two and the same when spreading the filling on the baked cookies.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shrimp Scampi

I originally got my shrimp scampi recipe from my parents good friend in Maine, Mansell, who is quite the seafood cook aficionado. I don't remember exactly what the original recipe was, so I'm not sure how true I prepare it now. This is one of those dishes that seems like it would take a lot to put together, but it really couldn't be simpler. This scampi is so flavorful and one of my favorites. I rarely measure any of the ingredients, but I tried to estimate what I used tonight. If you add more or less, you really won't ruin the recipe at all. If you like sauce, or use a lot of shrimp, just increase the amounts. Serve this over your favorite pasta {I use whole wheat angel hair} with your favorite garlic bread {I used homemade French bread buttered & sprinkled with garlic powder & oregano} and you're sure to come back for seconds!

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Shrimp Scampi
Adapted from: Mansell Taylor

1/2 c. butter
2 Tbsp. jar minced garlic
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
juice of 2 lemons
frozen shrimp, thawed & tails removed

Preheat oven broiler on high.

Place butter & garlic in glass 8x8 pan and microwave on high until butter is melted. Remove from microwave, add oregano & lemon juice. Place thawed shrimp in dish with butter mixture and broil in oven for 5-8 minutes, until shrimp curls & is cooked. Serve over your favorite pasta!

**Tip: If you get your water boiling and add the pasta at the same time you put the shrimp under the broiler, everything should be ready at the same time!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Persimmon Pudding

I'm learning a lot of new Southern cooking & baking ingredients and recipes since living in North Carolina! In my CSA box this past week, I got 3 persimmons. For some reason, I thought persimmons were a flower?! Maybe they're both. They're a very pretty little fruit {or vegetable?}, don't you think? Maybe I should research just exactly what they are. Aaron is definitely a big fan of the new dessert. He doesn't usually make a big fuss over things, but the last couple of nights he can't wait to get his hands on it. Last night, out of the blue, he says "So, I think I might have a new favorite dessert!". Meaning the persimmon pudding.

Persimmon pudding is actually more cake-like than pudding-like. The entire consistency is a little more mushy than a true cake would be, but definitely mirrors a cake more than what I think of as pudding. I adapted the original recipe a little bit by adding a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice and I would describe the taste as almost a pumpkin gingerbread.

The recipe calls for 1 cup of persimmon pulp. I had 3 persimmons and just used all of them. The persimmons that have an almost transparent skin and mushy insides, are the ripest & best. Just cut it in half and press through a fine-mesh sieve or food mill, discarding the flesh & seeds. I was impatient & wanted to make the pudding, so the more firm persimmons took a bit more elbow grease. I scooped out the insides with a spoon and mashed them through the sieve with a spatula and/or spoon.

This recipe is a definite "must make"...if you can get your hands on some persimmons!

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Persimmon Pudding
Adapted from:

1 cup persimmon pulp
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups sugar {I use raw cane}
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk {I use raw, whole}
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 and butter a pie plate.* In a blender, combine all ingredients. Blend until smooth. Pour into buttered pie plate and bake for 40 -45 minutes.

*The original recipe used a 9x13 pan and to bake for 30 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center came out with no batter stuck to it. Baking it in a pie plate worked perfectly and created a little thicker portions of pudding. We like things a little more "mushy", so by using a pie plate, the center of the pudding was a little more soft-set.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Aaron is a big dough-eater...meaning: I'm very used to him coming in with a serving spoon and stealing heaping spoonfuls of whatever cookie dough I happen to be preparing. Sometimes he likes it and will come back for more and other times he's not thrilled with the dough, so he'll move along. I wasn't convinced he would like these because of the different ingredients...boy was I ever wrong! He took no less than 5 serving spoonfuls of the dough and kept pretending he couldn't tell if he liked it or not. When some of the dough actually had a chance to bake, he came back for 4 more! I finally had a chance to try one and I knew right away what all the fuss was about. They were yummy...beyond yummy. The white chips get a little toasty while baking and reminded me of a lightly toasted marshmallow. You must make these won't be disappointed. The only thing I did different from the recipe was to add more white chips...probably closer to a cup. Maybe a little more.

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Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies
By: Ocean Spray

2/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 6 oz. package cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

Preheat oven to 375. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light & fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Add to the butter mixture in several batches, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Spicy Sausage Shepherd's Pie

I made this last night for the first time and it was delicious! Aaron is not fond of regular Shepherd's Pie and was pleasantly surprised when he found out that this dish wasn't. I used hot sausage in the recipe and it was pretty spicy, so if you don't care for too much spice, you're better off choosing a mild sausage. I think that any type of sausage would work well in here...a spinach & feta might be nice to try. You can also use regular baking potatoes, I just prefer red. The cabbage was crisp-tender and a yummy way to get in some great nutrition!

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Spicy Sausage Shepherd's Pie

Adapted from: Rachel Ray

2 1/2 pounds red potatoes {about 8}, peeled and cut into cubes
2 cups chicken stock
6 tablespoons cream
Salt & pepper
1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 head green cabbage, cored & sliced into thin strips
1 sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. horseradish
1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Preheat broiler. In a pot, place potatoes and add enough water to cover the potatoes by 1 inch. Salt the water well. Cover and bring to a boil, then uncover and cook until fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and mash in the broth, cream, salt & pepper, to taste. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat, breaking it up, until browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked sausage to a bowl. In the same skillet, add the cabbage, onion, & garlic, season with salt & pepper, and saute until golden. Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups chicken stock and the horseradish. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until liquid is reduced, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in the reserved sausage & chopped parsley.

Transfer the sausage mixture to a baking dish and spoon the mashed potato mixture over the top. Broil until the potatoes are golden brown, about 5-10 minutes.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Spice

Pumpkin Pie Spice
Recipe from: All Recipes

4 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
4 tsp. ground nutmet
4 tsp. ginger
3 tsp. all spice

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Store in airtight container or Ziploc baggie.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Meaty, Cheesy Lasagna

Aaron & I have a tradition that we make each other whatever meal & dessert we would like for our birthdays. Since we've been married, Aaron has had very simple requests...he's not a fussy eater and doesn't care about very elaborate dishes. However, this year he threw me a curve ball when he requested lasagna! I was pleased to make it, but truth be told, it was only the second time I'd ever made one. It turned out great...meaty, cheesy, delicious. Served with a side salad and a crusty garlic bread it was a perfect, hearty birthday meal.

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My Meaty Cheesy Lasagna

no-boil lasagna noodles
1 pound ground beef
1 pound Italian sausage8 oz package mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp. garlic salt
1-2 Tbsp. dried oregano
1-2 Tbsp. fresh {or dried} basil
chili powder, to tastegarlic powder, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste
2 {24.5 oz} jars of pasta sauce
1 can garlic, onion, basil diced tomatoes
1 {15 oz} container ricotta cheese
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 - 1 cup grated parmesan cheese1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Cook ground beef & Italian sausage in large pot or skillet over medium heat. I bought 4 Italian sausage links and removed the skin. Once cooked, drain. Return to pot or skillet and add mushrooms, tomato sauce, & diced tomatoes. Season to taste with garlic salt, garlic powder, chili powder, oregano, basil, salt, pepper. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the eggs, ricotta & parmesan cheeses.

Once meat mixture is done simmering, ladle enough to cover the bottom of your lasagna dish. Add a layer of lasagna noodles to fit on top of the meat sauce. Spread about 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the ricotta cheese mixture, then ladle enough meat sauce to cover the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layering twice more and top with remaining mozzarella cheese.

Cover dish with tin foil and bake in pre-heated oven for about 1 hour - 1 hour 15 min. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lemon Chess Pie

Aaron had a conversation at work one day about pie, and was excited to have me try two different Southern pies that neither of us had ever heard of. One of them was chess pie, that was described as like pecan pie, minus the pecans. It sounded really good to me, because the filling is the best part of pecan pie! There appears to be many different ways to make a chess pie, but I chose to make a lemon variety and have made it twice since. One of the wonderful things about this pie is the thin, slightly crusty layer that forms on the top. This pie has a delightful, refreshing lemon flavor that is not overpowering. Definitely a new favorite!

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Lemon Chess Pie
Adapted from: Food Network

1 unbaked pie crust
2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1Tbsp. fine, yellow cornmeal
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 Tbsp. grated lemon rind
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice, with pulp (about 2 lemons)

In a large bowl combine the sugar, flour and cornmeal. Blend well, then add the eggs and combine well. Add the milk and mix then stir in the melted butter, lemon rind and juice. Pour this filling into the crust and cover then edge of the crust with foil to prevent it from burning, taking care not to touch the filling.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, removing the foil after 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and serve. This can be refrigerated overnight, but let it sit on the counter for 3 hours before serving to warm up slightly. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Perfect Flaky Pie Crust

If you don't usually {or are afraid to!} make your own pie crust, then this recipe is for you. It is so simple and takes about 5 minutes to put together, minus refrigerator time. I use butter-flavored shortening which gives the crust a smooth, buttery flavor, but regular would work just fine.

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Perfectly Flaky Pie Crust

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening, chilled
3 tablespoons ice water

Whisk the flour and salt together in a medium size bowl. With a pastry blender, cut in the cold shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water over flour. Toss mixture with a fork to moisten, adding more water a few drops at a time until the dough comes together.

Gently gather dough particles together into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling.

Apple Pie with Crumb Topping

I made this pie for our church small group gathering at our home last week. It was a much in fact that I made it twice in the same week. I normally prefer a crust top, but I modified this topping a bit and think that this might be a new favorite. Both times I've made this pie, I've used 3-4 different types of apples and I think that using different types gives it a wonderful flavor. If you don't usually, or are afraid to, make your own crust, you need to give this one a try. It is super easy to put together and its perfect flakiness is completely worth the little extra effort.

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Apple Pie with Crumb Topping
Adapted from: All Recipes

1 pie shell
6 cups thinly sliced apples
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Crumb topping:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup oats
sprinkle of cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place sliced apples in a large bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice if desired. In a small bowl, mix together white sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sprinkle mixture over apples. Toss until apples are evenly coated. Spoon mixture into pie shell.

In a small bowl mix together the 1/4 cup flour, brown sugar and oats. Soften butter and toss into mixture until moist and crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over apple filling. {There will be a generous amount of topping. Sprinkle liberally!} Cover top loosely with aluminum foil.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until top is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Grilled BBQ Pork Chops and Steak Fries with a Citrus-Thyme Aoli

I've been doing a lot of grilling lately and really enjoying it. Grilling just says "summer" to me and it always gives the food such a nice flavor. We had seen this aoli recipe some time ago and Aaron thought it sounded good, so I decided to finally give it a try. It was easy, easy, easy. I served the chops and fries with a side of cooked spinach {drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt & pepper} for a perfectly seasoned, summertime meal.

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Grilled BBQ Pork Chops
I used 6 thin-sliced chops, but you could use however many you wanted. Sprinkle both sides with onion powder, paprika, and sugar. Place all chops in a gallon Ziploc bag with your favorite BBQ sauce {I used Wegmans' "Kansas City"} and marinate for at least 3 hours.

Steak Fries with Citrus-Thyme Aoli
Adapted from: Bobby Flay

1 cup mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, smashed to a paste
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 russet potatoes, scrubbed
1/4 cup canola or olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, garlic, zests, thyme, paprika, honey and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Put the potatoes in a pot of cold water, add 2 tablespoons of salt and cook over medium heat until the potatoes are tender, but still firm. Drain, let cool and cut each potato in half, then into strips lengthwise so you have 3-4 "fries".

Heat the grill to medium. Drizzle the potatoes with the oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a serving platter or bowl and serve with the mayonnaise.

My Modifications:
I am famous for thinking I have an ingredient I need and I'm in the middle of cooking the dish, realize I don't have it and needing to improvise. This is what happened with the thyme. I was going to use dried thyme anyway, but regardless, I ended up not having any. Instead, I used about 1 tsp. of dried Italian seasoning. I also used regular paprika instead of smoked and only 4 potatoes. I also squeezed in some fresh lemon juice, to taste. Just add a little at a time so you don't get a runny aoli.

If you've never made a paste out of the garlic cloves, all you do is smash each clove with the flat side of your knife (use a wide blade) and continue to press and drag {the flat side}the knife across the garlic. Eventually, you will see it start to get pasty. You can add a pinch of salt to help with this process. The original recipe said to grill the fries about 3-4 minutes on each side, but I threw them on the grill with the pork chops and did each the same amount of time, probably about 10 minutes each side.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Day {not} Wasted

Yesterday was such an emotionally{?} exhausting day. Alex was a mess...well, not as long as I was holding him anyway! He is not usually a cuddler, or very needy, but yesterday he couldn't get enough. I literally spent the entire day holding him. Except for the 1 1/2 hours I got him to take a nap in the afternoon. I'm not sure if he wasn't feeling well or maybe he's starting to teeth. Speaking of which, he's been wearing that dang teething necklace for over a month now and still no teeth! However, teeth or no teeth, the ladies in the nursery say they believe it improves his disposition when he wears it. As do I...but part of me wondered if it was purely psychological.

Anyway, so yesterday was spent cuddling, holding, trying to prevent crying and not much else. Actually, absolutely nothing else was accomplished. If I did have to put him down to go to the bathroom, or take a shower {at 5:00 pm!}, or to do marinate some chicken, it was like I broke his little heart and he just let loose the flood gates. *phew! Around 6pm, I sent Aaron a text that read something {exactly} like this: "Whenever you want to come home would be a really good time!" Sometime after that {almost 7'ish}, I woke up in the rocking chair in the nursery with Alex sleeping in my arms. I put him into his crib and checked to see if Aaron was home. I didn't see his car, but I grabbed my phone and headed downstairs. As if out of nowhere, Aaron appeared on the landing {scared the snot out of me} and saying nothing, hugged me. Guess he'd been home for just a little bit, but didn't want to wake us.

I'll be honest. Part of me desperately wanted to be at work and not holding a psychotic baby. Ok...even more honestly, at one point I actually got onto Career Builder and {briefly} searched available part-time jobs. I don't think I really meant it...I was just feeling a little "flight mode"-ish {stemming from a selfish heart!}. I've been thinking today how, in reality, I am ever-thankful that I can sit home and just hold my needy baby all day. I think a lot of mommies would trade places in a heartbeat. In retrospect, it really wasn't a "bad day". We spent the entire day outside on the screened in porch, the kitties hung out with us, I got some reading done, and we played a little, but for 98% of the day, my entire focus was on him. Sometimes, I think that can get lost in the daily "to-do" list.

And even further and deeper-down, it was actually very pleasing, comforting, and satisfying to know that Alex just wanted me.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Clemetine's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I believe this recipe came from the Ghiradelli website a looong time ago and these cookies are fantabulous. The only thing to watch out for is not to over-cook them. I cook them for 10 minutes and at that stage they are browning around the edges, but look a little mushy/runny in the middle. Don't let that fool you into cooking them longer. I just made a batch tonight and let the 2nd dozen stay in for 15 minutes. Not burned, but much browner. I recommend doing the 10 minutes (or until they look as described above), take them out of the oven and let them rest for 5 minutes or so to stiffen up a bit. Then transfer to the cooling rack. This made about 3 dozen good-sized cookies...would have made a bit more had the cookie-dough-monster not shown up! Oh...and no. I have absolutely no idea who clementine is. But I hear she's a darling.

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Clementine's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from: Ghiradelli

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup unsifted flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
3 cups oats, uncooked
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color (about 4 minutes!). Add vanilla and egg, and mix on low speed until incorporated. Stir flour with baking soda, salt, and spices; add to creamed mixture, mixing well. Stir in oats. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8-10 minutes for a chewy cookie, 10-12 minutes for a crisp cookie. Cool 1 minute on a cookie sheet; remove to wire cooling racks. Store in tightly covered container.

My Modifications:
I have made these twice in the past 3 days and both times I did something a little different and neither time did I use walnuts. In fact, I used no nuts. The first time, in addition to the chocolate chips I also added some leftover butterscotch chips I had laying around. It was probably around 1/2 cup. The 2nd time, I substituted raisins for the chocolate chips to make oatmeal raisin cookies. Still tasted amazing! Next time, I'll probably try cranberries. Mmmm...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Apple-Zucchini Muffins

I think I might be the first person to think that zucchini and apples might go together! {Not really}. The combo sounded great to me and I have lots of apples to use up so who thought it would be difficult to find such a muffin recipe. I still wasn't able to find one, so I adapted it from a apple-nut recipe. This recipe is a winner on all sorts of levels. Not only did I need to keep myself from eating the batter, but when baked, they look so rustic and comforting.

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Apple-Zucchini Muffins
Adapted from: Emeril Lagasse

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk {or sour cream}
4 Tbsp. melted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup peeled, cored, & chopped apples
1 cup shredded zucchini

Streusal Topping:
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon oats
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.

Into a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter. Add the sugar and whisk to combine. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the apples and walnuts. Divide the batter among the muffin tin cups, filling each about 2/3 full.

To make the streusel topping, in a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir until well combined and crumbly.

Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of the crumb mixture over the top of each muffin. Bake until a tester inserted into a muffin comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit in the muffin tin for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack and let cool slightly before serving.

My Modifications:
The original recipe included walnuts and omitted the zucchini. Also, in the streusel topping, it actually called for chopped walnuts instead of the oats. The oats were my ad-in at a 1:1 ratio. To chop the apples, I used a food processor. SO much easier. I made 6 muffins at a time for 12 minutes each batch. The zucchini made these super moist, so be careful when taking out of the tin. They were pretty delicate. If you're more interested in making it with nuts, you can view the original recipe by clicking the link above.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fresh Peach Cobbler

Since we now live in the South, I have a never-ending supply of fresh, local peaches at my fingertips all summer long. I began to look for a peach cobbler recipe and, at first, was actually a little discouraged. Many of the peach cobbler recipes I saw called for canned peaches. I suppose I could have substituted fresh, but for whatever reason, I wasn't interested in the recipe when I saw "canned peaches". I'm glad I waited it out, because I finally came across this recipe and have made it at least half a dozen times the last 2 months! It's quick and easy to put together and don't be surprised if the pan doesn't last very long.

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Fresh Peach Cobbler
Adapted from: Taste of Home

5-6 peaches, peeled & sliced
1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash ground nutmeg
3/4 cup milk

In a bowl, combine peaches and 3/4 cup sugar; set aside. Pour butter into an 8-in. square baking dish. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and remaining sugar; stir in milk just until combined. Pour over butter. Top with the peaches. Bake at 375° for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown.

My Modifications:
The original recipe actually calls for 2 large peaches...this is simply not enough! I like peaches with my cobbler, thank you. Also, it's absolutely not necessary to use 1/2 cup butter. Half to 3/4 of a stick is plenty. Also, {probably because I use more peaches!} sometimes the dough has a harder time rising above the peaches. I just check periodically and push the peaches down and towards the sides of the dish and it seems to do the trick.

Garbanzo Bean Salad

This was originally intended to be a black bean salad; however, I discovered I had no black beans. In fact, I couldn't find a recipe that 100% coincided with ingredients I did have and needed to use. So...I made my own. I'm great at adapting or modifying pre-existing recipes, but I'm not very skilled at coming up with my own. However, this bean salad turned out wonderful and would be the perfect summertime addition to any picnic. Which is exactly what we did.

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Garbanzo Bean Salad
Adapted from: Me!

1 can garbanzo beans
2 ears of corn, cooked
1 "stalk" green onion
1 medium green pepper
2 sweet peppers
1 medium tomato
Sun-dried tomato vinaigrette dressing
salt & pepper, to taste

Drain and rinse garbanzo beans and place in bowl. Using a knife, remove corn from cob and add to bowl. Chop green onion and peppers and add to garbanzo beans & corn. De-seed tomato, dice, and add to mixture. Add salt, pepper, and vinaigrette to taste. Mix well, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour {to marry flavors} before serving.


I think some red pepper would be nice in this dish and give it some more color. If you don't have fresh corn you could use frozen. Black beans would work in place of, or in addition to, the garbanzo beans and you could use any variation of vinaigrette. When seasoning, I use sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Whole-Wheat Apple Pancakes

These are fairly simple to put together. In fact, I whipped up a batch for Aaron's breakfast before work one morning. I put the leftovers in the fridge to heat up for other breakfasts'. They kept nicely and heated up well. This recipe should make 6 pancakes. Serving size is 2 pancakes and has 230 calories and 3g of fat. {I'm guessing most of which is from the syrup!}. A yummy, healthy, but hearty, breakfast option.

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Whole Wheat Apple Pancakes

Adapted from: Ellie Krieger

1 cup low-fat buttermilk
3/4 cup non-fat milk
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp. honey
6 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 medium apple, diced
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 250. Put the apple in a microwave-safe bowl and tightly cover with plastic wrap; microwave on high until softened, about 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk, nonfat milk, eggs and honey, then slowly add the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined.

Heat a large nonstick griddle or skillet over medium heat. Spoon 1/4 cup batter onto the griddle for each pancake and sprinkle each with apple, then drizzle a little more batter over the apple. Cook until the tops are bubbly and the edges are dry, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 more minutes. Keep the pancakes warm on a baking sheet in the oven while making the rest.

Place 2 pancakes on each plate. Drizzle with the syrup.

My Modifications:
I can't remember if I modified anything in this recipe, but I'm thinking I didn't. However, if you don't have any buttermilk, did you know you can make your own? Put 1 Tbsp. white vinegar or lemon juice per cup of milk. Let it stand for 5 minutes and Voila! Buttermilk! You'll see the consistency change.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Coconut Cream Pie

Aaron recently asked me to make a Coconut Cream pie. I didn't know he even liked that kind of pie and I'd never made it. But what my man wants! I set out to find a recipe and very quickly realized that it wasn't going to be as simple as I thought. Not impossible, just a little more involved, like tempering the eggs and such. I finally managed to find one that seemed do-able and it was delish. Let's just say, we both had 2 pieces for dessert. I made one minor modification, which I do think improved the quality.

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Coconut Cream Pie
Adapted from: All Recipes

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3 cups milk
4 eggs
3 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup flaked coconut
1 9-inch pie shell, baked

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, flour and salt over a medium heat; gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture is thick and bubbly. Reduce heat to low and cook 2 minutes more. Remove the pan from heat.

Separate the egg yolks from whites. Beat the egg yolks slightly. Gradually stir 1 cup of the hot mixture into yolks. Return the egg mixture to the saucepan and bring the entire mixture to a gentle boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes before removing the pan from heat.

Stir butter, vanilla, and coconut into the hot mixture. Pour the hot filling into the baked pie crust. Cool. Cover and chill to store the pie if not serving immediately.

My Modifications:
The recipe calls for 3 cups of milk, so I used 2 cups (1 can) of coconut milk and 1 cup of regular 1%. I think using the coconut milk enhances the coconut taste, but it's still pretty mild. I use whole-cane sugar for baking & cooking, but it's a 1:1 ratio with your average granulated white sugar. I also chilled for a couple of hours and sprinkled flaked coconut on each slice before serving.

Breakfast Casserole

The first time I made this recipe was for our Sunday School class. After I finished preparing it the night before, I started to get can be a risky little game to make something for other people that you've never tried before! However, it turned out really well and is a definite "will-make-again".

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Breakfast Casserole
Adapted from: Emeril Lagasse

6 eggs
1 cup half & half
2 Tbsp. green onion
salt & pepper
butter to grease pan
6-8 slices Texas Toast
1 lb. pork sausage
1 cup (or more!) grated cheddar cheese

In a small bowl, beat the eggs until they loosen up. Add the half and half, and green onions. Mix well, highly season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Butter a 12 by 10-inch baking pan. Line the pan with the bread, cutting and rearranging, if needed. Sprinkle the bread with the cooked sausage and cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the entire pan. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook covered for 25 to 30 minutes or until the egg mixture is set.

My Modifications:
I added green peppers and much more than 1 cup cheese. I used extra sharp cheddar, but I think any would do. Think of this dish as a big omelet over toast. Anything you would put in an omelet would be delicious in this. I also used 7 could use more, if desired. Just increase the cooking time. Make sure to butter the pan really well to avoid stickage!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Supper Success

You probably know this by now, but I love to cook. I enjoy reading recipes, even if I never intend on making them, and I'm a sucker for any cookbook or cooking magazine. I'm pretty good at modifying existing recipes to suit my needs or preferences, but I'm not very good at creating my own ideas. Many times I know what things go together and what I want to use, but I lack the inspiration to actually create a dish. Enter I love this site because, not only the recipes user rated, but it features an "Ingredients" tab which allows you to input the ingredients you want to use and it will search the database for matching recipes. Pretty slick feature.

Last night I wanted to do a dish with shrimp & spinach and I found this recipe for Fresh Tomato Shrimp Pasta. Not only did it taste amazing, but it was fairly easy to prepare. I was pleased to be able to use some spinach, tomato, and fresh basil that I got in my CSA share last week. The only thing I did differently was to use whole wheat angel hair instead of fettucine and I served it with homemade bread garlic toast. We both had seconds!

sauteing garlic, onion, basil, tomato, oregano

spinach & shrimp added

tossed with pasta

Don't pictures make things seem much more appealing?? I did also add the cubed mozzarella because I had some, but I think the dish would be perfectly fine without it. Don't run out and buy the mozzarella specifically for this.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Peach Cobbler

I've really been enjoying the peaches down here. I think the season begins earlier than what I am used to because of the warmth, and there is no shortage of them, for sure! I had never made a peach cobbler before, but lately it's been sounding really good. I used this Taste of Home recipe and have made it twice in the past week and a half! It says to use 2 peaches (??) which doesn't make sense. The first time I made it I'm pretty sure I used 5 and this time I used 6. I think 5 was a perfect amount for an 8x8 pan. I also used just under 1/2 cup butter. It was deeeelish!

I feel very Southern. :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

You Might Think I'm Crazy...

...but I know what I saw. Or didn't see.

Yesterday I was out and about running errands. I needed to make a left hand turn onto the highway, but the turn signal was red, however the light was still green for cars going straight. So, I was stuck at this light for a while. It's fairly common down here to see people in the median or on the side of the road homeless or in need of money. I mean, it's not like every street corner, but I see it more here than I have before. Well, except for Northampton. Anyway, so there is a man standing in the median with a teeny piece of cardboard that simply says "Homeless. God Bless You." My heart always goes out to people that I see begging like that. I guess it makes me think about what got them to this point and how hard it would be to "come back" from it. Plus, I always just feel super self-aware when I'm sitting there in my brand new car, enjoying my perfect little life, and these poor people are practically staring me in the face. And I can't spare something to help?! Please. Ok, anyway, so it was almost 90 yesterday, not to mention humid and I figured this guy had to be thirsty. I had been to Target earlier in the day and gotten 2 large bottles of Starbucks Frappucino's. So, I rolled down my window and called out to him. He came over and I offered him one. I said it wasn't cold, but he said that was was wet! So, he proceeds to start telling me that he doesn't have anything in this world, but he has Jesus and even though he's homeless, Jesus still loves him and he can talk to Him. On & on he goes. At one point, I agree with him that the Bible does say that Jesus loves him. Finally, the arrow turns green (this was a seriously long light!) and I say, "Well, my arrow is green, hope you have a nice day!". He says thank you & God bless and off I go. So, I'm making my turn and look in my rearview mirror and...


I'm telling you. NOT THERE. He did not cross the 4-lane highway, he was not hanging onto my bumper, he was just gone.

So, you think what you want. I'm just saying....

"Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13: 1-2

Friday, May 14, 2010

Who's Training Who?

We (as in Alex & I) have been having a rough couple days this week. Partially of my own doing.

I do believe that the process of training Alex began almost immediately in the form of establishing some routines, or expectations, for him. We started off great..he'd eat, be up for a little bit, then I would swaddle him and put him in his crib to sleep. Rinse and repeat about every 3 hours. After weeks of this, I began to allow him to also nap in his Boppy during the day for a change of scenery. Once we set up the swing and I realized how much he loved that, the "routine" has morphed into feeding him, playing with him, and I then put him in the swing. Which he inevitably falls asleep in until feeding time. As it has been lately, the only time he has been swaddled and put into his crib is at night after his last feeding.

When Alex was 2 weeks old, he began sleeping through the night, waking up only once to eat, and would go back to sleep until about 6:00 fuss, no muss. Lately, however, once he eats he does not want to be put back down and go to sleep. Our days, most noticeably this week, have not been much better. The only time he seems really content is when he is in his swing. He does not cry constantly or anything, he's not colicky, but he is definitely fussy...unless he's in his swing. I used to be able to go and do things during the day while he slept peacefully in his car seat. This week, however, it seems any time I've left the house it's resulted in a meltdown. I don't mind changing diapers, getting spit up on, giving baths, holding him or any of the "mothering" duties. Where I start to lose it is when all of his needs have been met and there is nothing I can do to appease him, because essentially, there is nothing wrong.

This week has been so trying for me and I'm positive there are many more to come. I've chosen to be angry at times and I even tried to reason with a 6-week old. Neither of which were in the least bit effective or made me feel any better. I've spent much time this week confessing my anger and spite and yesterday, amid tears, shame, and regret, I began to view things a little differently. I suddenly realized that in training my child, I have also become the trainee. This new job called Motherhood is a road I've never traveled and I have much to learn. Patience being the most obvious.

A couple of weeks ago, I called a dear friend because I was beginning to understand how some animals could eat their young. Yesterday, I reviewed some things she said and wrote it down to constantly remind me.
  1. I need to put off bitterness, resentment, and anger...all of which stem from PRIDE and SELFISHNESS.
  2. I need to put on confession, hear what scripture says, and renew my mind.
  3. I need to constantly be confessing my sin, most noticeably of late is anger.
I also began to realize some other things (with the help of my husband!). I am partially to blame for the un-settledness of our recent days. While I do not think that I need to be so stringent as to never break from a routine, I have realized the value in consistency. In many ways, I've "given in" to my 6-week old by allowing him to set the rules. I know to some that may sound crazy, but in life, he won't be able to only do the things that make him happy, so why would I start that as a precedent now, even at this early early age? Granted, things have been crazy here lately...moving, traveling to visit family, there hasn't been much of a norm, but I haven't been very consistent in areas I could what I know is best for him (and us!) in the long run.

So, beginning today, we started something new-ish. He eats, and I play with him for a bit and put him in his swing for about 1/2 an hour. After that, whether he falls asleep or not, he gets put into his crib. Surprisingly, (or maybe not so?), we're having a great day! He seems almost more secure and content in getting back to the old routine. I think he is even napping better being back in his crib. It does seem that he doesn't sleep as soundly or as long when he's in his swing.

I'm not inclined to think that I have this all figured out. But, I am pleased that, praise the Lord, we seem to have had a breakthrough today. I have a lot to learn about Motherhood, but I realize that I cannot do it in my own flawed, sinful, strength. I have to allow myself to be constantly changed.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Looking for Me?

Baby Alex has arrived about 6 weeks ago and there have been many many changes going on in our life. Read more here!