Thursday, May 12, 2011

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

Warning: These are highly addictive. I had this recipe in my pile of recipes to try one day and now I wish it hadn't sat in that pile for so long. The combination of paprika, garlic salt, and parmesan cheese make a delicious crust for these crispy potatoes. I craved these for days after and have plans to make them again very soon.

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes
( adapted from
* This makes about 3 servings
4 medium red potatoes, washed and cut into small chunks
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4-1/3 cup parmesan cheese (fresh is good, but you can also use the canned kind)
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon paprika
pinch of salt (to taste, don't need much due to the other ingredients having lots of salt)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a medium bowl toss the potatoes with the oil until nicely coated. Combine cheese, garlic salt, and paprika together in a small bowl and then pour over the potatoes. Stir to coat the potatoes with the seasoning. Dump onto a cookie sheet and arrange in a single layer.
Bake for 25 minutes and then turn over all the potatoes. Put back in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until crisp and delicious.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Best Buttermilk Pancakes

These are absolutely the best pancakes I have had in a long time. They are quick to throw together and are think, fluffy, and melt in your mouth tender. There is not much more I can say, then to go and try them. Make them for your Mom tomorrow. You won't regret it.

Buttermilk Pancakes
(Adapted from Flyaway pancakes in Bride and Groom First and Forever Cookbook)
1 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup plain yogurt, Greek if you have it
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon melted butter

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl whisk the eggs and then add buttermilk, yogurt, and baking soda. Add the flour mixture and whisk until well incorporated. Stir in the melted butter.  Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat.  Spoon 1/4 cup portions of batter on the pan, flip after small bubbles form on top. Cook until golden brown on both sides.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wedding Cake and why I haven't posted lately...

 When one of my best friends got engaged I let her know that I would help out in any way she needed. Little did I know that she would ask me to make the cake, something I have never done before. At first I was nervous, since cake is one those things that can fail spectacularly.  After months of worry and not as much practice as I would have liked, this was the final product. 

 I am pretty proud of how it turned out. 

The first and bottom layer were red velvet. Since it isn't a cake flavor I necessarily like, but one that has a huge following, I found a recipe on that had tons of great reviews, Red Velvet Cake . It turned out pretty good (remember I don't really like this flavor, to me if it is going to have chocolate in it then it should taste like chocolate) and was dense enough to hold up.

For the middle layer I did a white cake with a raspberry buttercream filling. I tried an America's Test Kitchen recipe for white cake and while it tasted amazing, it was way to light and delicate to hold up in a wedding cake. I settled on using the Wilton Butter Cake recipe since I knew that theirs would be tested for wedding cakes. It turned out to be a nice pound cake that complimented nicely with the raspberry butter cream. To make raspberry butter cream, simply add a few tablespoons of good quality raspberry jam to two cups of plain buttercream frosting. Depending on the water content of the jam, you may need to add more powdered sugar to firm up the frosting enough to not ooze out of the center of the cake.
Finally, I hate the taste of premade fondant. Plus it is also expensive. I heard that you could make your own and so I experimented with it. You would not believe how easy, cheap, and better tasting homemade marshmallow fondant it.

Marshmallow Fondant
2 lb powdered sugar
1/3 cup shortening
2 tablespoons water
16 oz white mini marshmallows

Pour the marshmallows and water into a large glass bowl. Melt in the microwave, stirring every thirty seconds. It should take about 90 seconds to two minutes.  Pour 3/4 of the powdered sugar on top of the marshmallow mixture and pour onto a surface generously greased with the shortening. Grease your hands and then knead in the powdered sugar (add more, but I never used the whole two pounds). You want a nice firm texture, but not too firm that it is cracking. This will take a few minutes to accomplish. You can use immediately or refrigerate for about a month.  It is best to let it cool at least overnight. After being  refrigerated  it will take quite a bit of kneading to bring it back to a pliable consistency.  Roll it out  on a greased surface until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Make sure that the it doesn't stick to the table by rotaing and flipping the fondant often while rolling it.  For easy transfer to the cake you can roll the fondant, adding powdered sugar on all sides, back on the rolling pin and then simply roll it over the frosted cake. Trim excess and let it set up. 

Overall it was a really fun experience and I would love to do it again. Thanks for letting me learn how to do this Laurie! I could be more excited for you and Devin!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Noodles and Company Asparagus & Lemon Linguine

My absolute favorite fast casual restaurant is Noodles and Company. Last year they had a dish called Asparagus and Lemon Linguin, which was absolutely delicious. My husband found the recipe on the company's website and I immediately saved it in my pile of recipes to try. As soon as asparagus came back into season, this was at the top of my list.  It is full of nice crisp vegetables and unique flavor. Once you have assembled and prepped  all the ingredients, this dish comes together in a few minutes.
This is definitely on our list to try again. While the original recipe calls for shrimp, which we don't care for, I used chicken.

Noodles and Company Asparagus & Lemon Linguine
(from Noodles and Company)
1 lb of linguini pasta
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 bunch (about 1- 1 1/2 pounds) aparagus
1/2 a red onion sliced
1 cup snap peas
1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
kosher salt (to taste)
crushed red chilies (to taste)
3 chicken breasts, cooked and sliced ( I used a Forman grill)
2 tablespoons basil chiffonade (thinly shredded)
4 tablespoons crumbles feta cheese
3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Cook the pasta to al dente (make sure there is still some chew to the noodles or they will turn to mush later). Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, set aside.

Snap off the ends of the asparagus stocks and throw away the ends. In a pot of boiling water,  blanch (cook) the asparagus for 1 minute, remove the stocks and shock them in ice water to stop cooking. Drain, cut each stock in half, and set aside.

Take a large- 14 inch- saute pan (frying pan will work) and heat it over medium heat. Once the pan is hot add the rest of the olive oil. Toss in the garlic, red onions, and mushrooms and cook until slightly caramelized and brown. Add a pinch of the red chilies and the chicken. Add the noodles and stir. Then deglaze the pan with the stock. When this begins to sizzle, add the balsamic vinegar, snap peas, asparagus, and basil. Toss and stir. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Place on a platter and top with the crumbled cheese.  Serve with lemon wedges on the side, I liked it with a fresh bust of lemon on top as well as the lemon flavor in the dish.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shamrock Brownies

Happy St. Patricks Day!

The kids at work requested brownies when I asked them what treat they wanted for St. Patrick's Day. I wanted to make them green, but also do something more unique then sprinkles or M & Ms. I've seen lots of heart decorations where you place a dot of icing on  fresh icing and then drag a toothpick through it to make a heart. I wondered what would happen if you merged four dots together to make a shamrock. The results turned out quite cute. I didn't have time to make brownies from scratch, so this isn't much of a recipe as it is wishing all of you a happy St. Patrick's Day!

Powdered Sugar Icing
2 1/2-3 cups shifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons very soft butter
3-5 tablespoon milk

Add powdered sugar to a large bowl. Add wet indgredients and mix until smooth. Add more milk or powdered sugar until desired sonsistancy is reached. For the bownies I wanted it fairly thick so it could be spread without running over the sides too much.

How to make a shamrock brownie:
Bake favorite brownies, let them cool and then cut into 2 inch squares.
Place 1/4 cup of the icing in a bowl and add enough green dye to make it bright green (around 4-5 drops). Dye the rest of the icing a nice light green (around 4-5 drops as well). Frost the tops of the brownies with the light green. Take a toothpick and dip it in the darker green frosting. Using the toothpick, drop four equal sized dots in a square onto the top of the brownie. Then drag the toothpick through each dot towards the center of the square. This should look like four raindrops pointing inward. Dip the toothpick in the darker icing, place in the middle of the suquare, and drag down to form the stem.  Let the icing dry for an hour or place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes or until hard.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bajio Chicken and Crockpot Refried Beans

This chicken is supposedly a copycat recipe of the chicken served at the Tex-Mex resturant Bajio, but since I haven't been there in a long time I can't tell you if it is a match. What I can tell you is that this is easy and delicious. It melts in your mouth- hence why my friend Laura dubbed this "Melty Chicken".

I paired this with equally easy and healthy refried beans. While beans do take a long time to cook- these can be done over night in a crockpot. So the the actual work time is very minimal. These use no oil, but taste like the canned kind (which is full of oil). The recipe makes quite a lot (about 6 cups), but the extra can be frozen and reheats quite nicely.  Just remember to save the liquid drained off the beans, or the recipe won't work.

Overall a delicious and relatively healthy meal. 

Bajio Chicken
(from Real Mom Kitchen)

5 chicken breasts
1/2 cup medium salsa
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 4 oz. can diced green chilies (I wanted more heat and so I added the larger can- think it was 7 oz)
6 oz. lemon-lime soda

Mix all the ingredients together in a crockpot and cook for 5-6 hours on low. Remove the chicken, shred it, and return it to the crockpot for another hour.  Serve on flour tortillas with your choice of taco toppings.

Crockpot Refried Beans
(from Real Mom Kitchen)

3 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed (rinsing is important, since dry beans are generally dirty)
1 onion diced
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

Place all ingredients in a crockpot and cook on high for eight hours.  When done,  drain the beans and save the liquid. Mash the beans with a potato masher, adding small amounts of the drained liquid until the desired consistency is reached. They will thicken over time, so make them a little runnier then needed. Top with grated cheese as a garnish  or refrigerate/ freeze to reheat latter.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lemon Bundt Cake

*  Check this out! Lisa over at Sweet as Sugar Cookies invited me to post this on her Sweets for Saturday.

While lemon cake may be viewed as a summer treat, I feel that towards the end of winter we all need some summery flavors to remind us that the sun will come back and we won't be stuck inside all day. Besides, I love lemons. They are such a versatile and cheap ingredient that's full of huge flavor. While I was looking for recipes to try out the new bundt ban that I got for Christmas (thanks Sherrie!), I found a lemon cornmeal cake that failed miserably, and then I found this amazing little cake. It is bursting with lemon flavor- due to a double layer of an intensely lemon glaze and adding the zest to the lemon juice before it goes in the cake to bring out more lemon flavor. 

Lemon Bundt Cake
(Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated by Tortatebukura's blog)
Zest from 3 lemons (about 2 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons  lemon juice
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces)
1teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
3 large eggs , at room temperature
1 large egg yolk , at room temperature
18 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 1/4 sticks), at room temperature
2 cups sugar (14 ounces)

3  tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon buttermilk
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray and dust with flour

Combine zest and lemon juice in small bowl; set aside to soften, 10 to 15 minutes.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Combine lemon juice mixture, vanilla, and buttermilk in medium bowl. In small bowl, gently whisk eggs and yolk to combine. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater (or you can use a hand mixer and a large bowl), cream butter and sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes; scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Reduce to medium speed and add half of eggs, mixing until incorporated, about 15 seconds. Repeat with remaining eggs; scrape down bowl again. Reduce to low speed; add about one-third of flour mixture, followed by half of buttermilk mixture, mixing until just incorporated after each addition (about 5 seconds). Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture. Scrape 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. Scrape into prepared pan.

Bake until top is golden brown and wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into center comes out with no crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes.

While cake is baking, whisk 2 tablespoons lemon juice, buttermilk, and confectioners’ sugar until smooth, adding more lemon juice gradually as needed until glaze is thick but still pourable.

Cool cake in pan on wire rack set over baking sheet for 10 minutes, then invert cake directly onto rack. Pour half of glaze over warm cake and let cool for 1 hour; pour remaining glaze evenly over top of cake and continue to cool to room temperature, at least 2 hours. Cut into slices and serve.