Monday, January 28, 2008

I Dared to try Lemon Meringue Pie

Ok, so this is one of those "all-time-favorite" deserts that my husband loves, and so do my co-workers, but it's not for me. I don't know what my deal is, but lemon deserts of any sort are not up my alley for some reason. That's not to say I didn't have a blast making this pie AND I would definitely make it again!! I want to shout-out a big THANK YOU to JEN at The Canadian Baker for choosing the Lemon Meringue Pie for the January Daring Bakers Challenge, because I did have fun making it and Nate had a blast eating it!! Check out all the BEAUTIFUL pies by visiting the DARING BAKERS BLOGROLL HERE

I started out with the crust, of course, and this was a different recipe from my "usual" for pie crust, and I really liked it. This is a sweet, flaky, delicious crust recipe that I will definitely use again. It was not too difficult to make and I was very happy with how it turned out...This was the first time I used beans in a pie crust to weight it down, and I am not sure if they are supposed to "burrow" a bit, but it didn't affect the taste, and didn't boar any holes through the crust, so I'm not complaining.

Nate came into the kitchen to help out with the filling. I had to explain that he did not get to "add more zest, ADD MORE ZEST!!", he kept wanting to put his spin on the filling, but I told him we can make another pie for improvising and twists soon! We followed the recipe exactly and filled up the crust with the delicious-looking lemon filling, Nate said it tasted fabulous.

Next came the meringue, which I was so excited to make, because I was not afraid of it, having made that part of this recipe before and knowing it was going to be GOOD! I did, however, as usual, jump the gun a little bit and my meringue was ready to rock when I realized the pie was still a teeny bit warm, not quite all the way cooled. So my meringue sat for a little bit and then I spooned it onto the pie- I think next time I'll get a little fancier with the meringue, but at this point Nate was very anxious to eat some pie so I just spooned it on and baked it.

Nate said the pie was totally delicious, I cut a slice for him before I let it fully "set" and it was super mushy, but the we refrigerated it for a bit and it "gel"'d nicely and I didn't run into the wateriness that others did (for the most part).

Visit The Canadian Baker for the full recipe & enjoy!!
Nate said he will be making this again~

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Garlic, Cheese & Sausage Bites

Last month I discovered a wonderful blog, SUNITA'S WORLD. I love visiting frequently because of the beautiful pictures and the lovely way she writes. Sunita hosts a monthly event that is a truly terrific idea; it's called THINK SPICE. When I saw that this month's theme was GARLIC, how could I possibly resist!?! Nate and I both LOVE, and I mean LOOOOOOVE garlic. There can never be too much garlic in a dish for us- we even eat it all by itself!! (People at work love that the next day, I'm sure.) I honestly attribute the fact that the two of us do not get sick very often to the amount of garlic we eat.

Of course when the main ingredient is one of your very favorite things coming up with ONE recipe can get a little overwhelming! Fortunately Nate and I brainstormed together and came up with these little guys~
Thank you for hosting a wonderfully creative monthly event that I hope to participate in often. Please visit Sunita's blog- Sunita's World to see all the delicious garlic recipes, and get inspired!

Garlic, Cheese & Sausage Bites
Makes: 24 bites
Source: Me, Beth G, & Nate the garlic genius...

1 8oz block of cream cheese, softened
1 spicy Italian turkey sausage
1 head of garlic + 1 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
Garlic powder
Garlic salt
Black pepper
Red chili flakes
Olive oil
Won Ton Wrappers
Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the top off the head of garlic and place it on a baking sheet covered with foil and pour olive oil over it. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and cloves are soft & mushy. (this can also be done in the toaster oven :O)
Cut the raw sausage open and throw away the sausage casing, brown the sausage in a skillet until completely cooked.
Chop 1-2 cloves raw garlic, about 1 1/2 tsp.
In a large bowl combine cooked sausage, cream cheese, roasted garlic, raw garlic a pinch of red chili flakes, and seasoning- I just shook in a bit of the garlic powder, garlic salt, & pepper (probably around 1/4 tsp each, maybe a bit more) and mix with a hand held electric mixer until all ingredients are well combined.
Spray a mini-muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Add a won-ton wrapper one cup of the muffin tray and fill with about 1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp of the garlic cheese mix. Pinch the won ton wrapper together to seal, then spray with non-stick cooking spray, repeat until the whole tin is full of lil' garlic bites!
Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes or until they are golden brown and gorgeous!
The tops will open up a bit- but I thought they were reminiscent of little garlic cloves and was happy with how they came out.
They need a bad ass dip of some sort but I ran out of time Thursday evening and the nagging cold I've had all week finally forced me to give up and head to bed :)

Coffee-Cake-Cupcakes, my Hero!

For a few months I've been watching and LOVING Laurie's monthly event CUPCAKE HERO over on her fabulous blog, the QUIRKY CUPCAKE!

This month was SUPER busy for me at work and I have been seriously neglecting my kitchen, so I thought I was going to have to admire from afar for one more month and hope to get in a good entry for February....BUT THEN, I decided there was not one good reason why I couldn't bust out a batch of creative coffee cupcakes Thursday night to get my submission in by the Friday 1/25 cutoff. So I started thinking (on my drive to work Thursday morning) of what kind of coffee cupcake I could make...something simple, but yummy, and creative but not too crazy.....and here is what I came up with- COFFEE CAKE! Why not?! I found a good recipe for coffee cake on ALL RECIPES and did a little modifying so there was actual COFFEE in the CAKE! I had no idea how this was going to turn out and these are not the best cupcakes ever, but they were tasty, and a fun breakfast-cupcake to boot!I 'm definitely excited to see the other submissions to this fabulous event.
Check them all out at THE QUIRKY CUPCAKE.

Coffee Cake Cupcakes
Inspired by THIS RECIPE for Coffee Cake on ALL RECIPES

2 c. pastry flour
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup cold butter
1 egg
1/4 cup brewed & cooled espresso or coffee
about 1/2 c milk- a little more if needed
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 and place cupcake cups on foil covered cookie sheet or grease a muffin tin. In a large food processor fitted with dough blade combine flower, sugar and tsp cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Crack the egg into a measuring cup. Add espresso until it equals 1/4 cup, then add milk to make it measure one cup, then stir in vanilla & whisk until egg is incorporated. Pour the crumb mixture into a large bowl and stir in the egg/espresso/milk until just moistened. Fill cupcake cups about 1/2 full & bake for 20-25 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

For Cream Cheese Frosting
The perfect amount of cup cake frosting :)

1 8oz pkg softened, room temp cream cheese
1/4 c. softened, room temp salted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c. confectioners sugar
1 tsp hot chocolate mix
1 tsp instant espresso

Using an electric hand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and sugar. Mix in vanilla until incorporated, then slowly sift in confectioners sugar until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes & dust with hot chocolate mix and instant espresso.
keep frosted cupcakes in the fridge :)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Brownie Cherry Cheesecake Cups

We're both big fans of chocolate-cherry goodness. I have always loved Black Forrest cake, or rather make that, Black Forrest anything...
I had not baked anything in a while and I actually baked these LAST week, before we headed out to Mammoth for an awesome weekend, but scooted out of town before I was able to create this lil'post. So, anyhow, my sweet tooth was acting up I dug around and threw this portable yummy desert together. I used MY BROWNIE RECIPE, but this recipe can be made one step quicker if you had a boxed mix on hand or wanted to go that route...This is also the easy cheesecake recipe from the time I made Puff Pastry Cheesecake Cups with Pear Topping (I only made 1/2) since it was a topping.

Brownie Cherry Cheesecake Cups

1/2 C. softened butter
1/2 C. Sugar
2 Eggs
2/3 C. Sweetened Ghirardelli Cocoa Powder
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 C. Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 T. Hersheys Syrup

In a large bowl mix Sugar, Butter, Eggs, Vanilla (I mixed using a wire whisk so as not to over mix).
Add Flour, Salt & Cocoa Powder mixing after each ingredient until well combined. Add Syrup and stir in using a spoon or spatula. Grease a muffin tin and fill each cup about 1/2-2/3 full..I filled them about 2/3 and I will fill them a little less next time :)


1 8oz block cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg at room temperature
1/3cup + 2 T sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon zest

In a medium bowl cream together sugar and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Cream in egg, then add vanilla and lemon zest and mix until well combined. Pour the cheese cake on top of the brownie mix already in the muffin tins.

Preheat oven to 350.

Open a can of cherry pie filling and spoon 3-4 cherries onto the top of each brownie-cheesecake cup.

Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Top with more cherry pie filling if desired & enjoy!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Almond & Cornflake Crusted Chicken

I'm all about the easy homemade weeknight dinner, and this falls right into that category! Nate bought a big tub of almonds at Target, and the idea of a crusted baked chicken breast with some baked sweet potatoes on the side sounded yummy. This is a recipe that can be whipped up pretty quickly with out too many ingredients or prep time, a favorite for a nice dinner together after yet another big day at the office.
I used my handy-dandy food processor but you can also use a sturdy freezer bag and rolling pin to smash up almonds and corn flakes

Almond & Cornflake Crusted Chicken
By; Me, Beth G.
Serves 4

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup crushed almonds
2 cups crushed cornflakes
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp hot sauce (optional, we like a kick!)

Pre-heat oven to 400. cover a baking sheet with foil and spray well with non-stick spray.
If almonds are whole, crush using a food processor into more of a almond-meal-like texture, you still want some chunks of goodness in there so don't get too "nutty" on the food processing! Then throw the corn flakes in there and pulse several times to break them up, but not pulverize them. In a large bowl combine almonds, cornflakes, flour, salt, pepper & cayenne and mix well (I used a fork to stir it all together). In a dish large enough to fit a chicken breast, combine the beaten egg, milk and hot sauce and mix well.
Rinse the chicken breasts, pat dry and trim fat if there is any. Dredge each chicken breast in the egg mix, then place in the large bowl with corn flake/almond mix and flip around so it gets completely coated in the mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet. (you could probably also do like shake n' bake and put the corn flake mix in a large freezer bag- throw the egg dipped chicken in there and shake'er up!)
Bake for 17-20 minutes per side (you'll flip em once) until chicken is completely cooked through (cut the thickest part of one piece to check for done-ness, or use a meat thermometer- should read 170)

I served these with baked sweet potatoes and that was it- so freakin easy & delicious!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Turkey Meatloaf

I like all meatloaf, but we'd been eating quite a bit of beef lately, so I thought I'd switch it up and make some turkey meatloaf instead. The best news here is not the meatloaf, it's that I made it in our NEW OVEN!! HUZZAH!! I finally squawked loud enough, and got the Gas Co. involved, and our landlord replaced the super-jank oven I had been using for over a year. I've never lived in an apartment with a new oven before and since I'm still a ways off from a kitchen that we own with my own appliacnes, I feel pretty darn lucky.

So onward to dinner...
Surprisingly this favorite comfort food is a super-easy weeknight dinner to bust out after work. I was exhausted when I got home and really just wanted to eat a bowl of cereal and call it a day, but I had all the ingredients for making this loaf. Even with the sad little-itty-bit of energy I had, I pulled it together and with in a few minutes the loaf was in the oven and a dinner full of homemade goodness was less than an hour away.

Turkey Meatloaf
By: Me, Beth G.
Serves 4 or 2 with leftovers

1 lb ground lean turkey
1 egg
3/4- 1 cup of bread crumbs
1/3-1/2 cup ketchup or tomato sauce
+ about 1/4 c extra for topping the loaf
About 1 tsp each of Parsley, Basil & Oregano
1 Tbsp of dry onion soup mix
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 tsp water

Pre-heat oven to 400
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, start with 3/4 c breadcrumbs and 1/3 cup ketchup, and add more of the breadcrumbs if it is still too mushy and more of the ketchup if it seems too dry....
Cover a cookie sheet with foil & spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Make a loaf with the mixture on the cookie sheet and spread a layer of ketchup or tomato sauce on the top. Bake at 400 for 35-45 minutes or until center temperature is 165 degrees.

*On the soup mix; I just opened a packet, used a tablespoon and ziplocked the rest for dip later :O)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Crock Pot Beef Stew & my 100th post!

I should actually, more accurately call this Meat & Potatoes Stew, because that is what it is! We had a fantastic Prime Rib, which I promise to stop "talking" about soon...and I used the bones and some meat to make the Beef Stock for this recipe,and added carrot, tomato, etc to the STOCK, but left all that business out of the stew. I don't like the texture of cooked carrots and Nate is not so big on tomatoes or peas- so I thought I keep it super simple and go straight-up old-school meat & potatoes.

This is also the FIRST recipe I've made using my new Christmas-present crock pot!! YAY!! (THANKS MOM!!) It's a 5 1/2 quart WITH A TIMER!! No more RACING home from work, praying the chili didn't overflow (which only happened once, and fortunately I placed the crock just right next to the sink). Ever since the chili-spilly I would always picture Lee rolling on the floor in our dinner, a real Chili-Dog ;)
Never have to worry 'bout that again! WOO HOO! I feel like such a grown-up!

I'll be crockin' much more now that I have more than 2.5 quarts of crock to rock, coming home from a long day at work and having something fabulous all ready to eat is such a fantastic feeling! I think it may torture Leela a little bit during the day to have the whole pad smell like delicious beef, but it's worth it!

This is also a wee milestone for my blog- it's my 100th post!! So enjoy the stew and Cheers to many more hundreds of dishes!

Meat & Potatoes Stew

2-3 Large Russet potatoes,, cleaned, peeled and chopped into big chunks
1/2 a sweet onion chopped
2 lbs beef for stewing
8-10 cups beef stock
Kosher salt, pepper, basil, oregano & garlic salt (all just sprinkled over it to taste)
Chili flakes- just a pinch ;)
3 T cornstarch
1/4 water
1-2 Bread Boule's (we shared one big one!)

Add all ingredients (except cornstarch & water) to crock-pot.
Cook on low for 8 hours.
In a small bowl whisk cornstarch and water until well blended and stir into stew in crock pot. Put the lid back on and cook an additional 30 minutes on low.

Cut the top off the boule and hollow out the center, save the "guts" and chop up the top for dippin'.
Perfect for days like today when the wind is whipping & it is COOOOOLD outside!!

Beef Stock for Bread-Bowl Stew

I saved the bones from our delicious PRIME RIB and some of the drippings so I could make homemade beef stock and then use my new crockpot for the first time to make some yummy winter bread-bowl beef stew.

I'm pretty much just winged it with this recipe, so measurements are not very precise. There are lots of basic Beef Stock recipes on the web that you can reference for more exact quantities or different cooking methods :)

3 Big meaty rib bones from cooked Prime Rib
about 1/4-1/3 cup prime rib drippins, mixed with water to make 1 cup
2 large carrots, chopped
1 large sweet onion chopped
4 stalks of celery chopped
Beef broth, about 4 cups
14oz can crush tomatoes
10 cups water
dash of worcestershire sauce
1 sprig of rosemary

In a roasting pan place ribs, onion, celery, carrots and drippins w/ water- cover & cook at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Spoon off fat if gathered at the top, then transfer the whole mix to a large stock pot, add other ingredients and bring to a rolling boil. Lower to a simmer and simmer stirring occasionally for 4-5 hours, remove bones and discard. Use a slotted spoon to remove other veggies to a large bowl. Strain remaining liquid through a strainer to remove fat and other chunks. Place veggies in bowl into a cheesecloth and squeeze juice out of those into the strained stock.
Refrigerate 3hours-over night so any remaining fat will harden on top, that way you can easily remove it before cooking with the stock.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Mini Chocolate Molten Cakes

Ok, you can't win them ALL, the Prime Rib was cooked to perfection, but these badboys stayed in the oven just one minute too long and were not really very lava-y in the center. Gooey, but not LAVA-Y. I really don't have any complaints though- they were ultra delicious and I know they will be perfect and uber-oozy the next time I make them. These are a FANTASTIC dinner party desert, not at all too difficult to whip up, and once you have prepared the flour-less batter, it can go into the muffin tin and into the fridge from 1-24 hours prior to baking time, which ROCKS! I made them earlier in the day, into the fridge they went, then as we finished dinner and sat around drinking wine- I popped them into the oven, 13 (shoulda been 12) minutes later- YUM!

I was also very excited to make these because this is the first item I have cooked out of one of my FAVORITE wedding presents- "The Joy of Cooking"...growing up this was the quintessential cookbook in our house (of course as second place to the Ohio State University notebook with hand-written gems and years of collected recipes that is my mothers Bible of Cooking. I always remember the red and white guide to damn-near-everything-kitchen-related and it being my mom's go-to when she was getting creative, since you couldn't really hop on Google or All Recipes back then...

Mini Chocolate Molten Cakes
Source: 75th Anniversary Edition of The Joy of Cooking, pg 729
Serves: 8,original recipe shown (I halved it and it still worked perfectly!)
6oz bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 T unsalted butter
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
2 T sugar

Place chocolate and butter using a double boiler (or a big pot with simmering water on the burner and a smaller sauce pot with the chocolate in it held over the simmering water) and melt, stirring often.
Remove from heat and sift in cocoa, stir until smooth. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating on high speed until peaks are stiff, but not dry. Use a rubber spatula to fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate, then fold in the remaining whites. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 400 7-8 minutes (cracked on top but still gooey in the center)Let sit 2-3 minutes, cakes will shrink up a bit from the sides of the pan. Place rack or plate over the cakes to unmold & serve em HOT!

note: If you prepare the batter, fill the muffin tins, cover with saran or pressn'seal and refrigerate 1-24 hours, cook about 10-12 minutes.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

It's 2008!!

HOORAY! And BEST WISHES for a TERIFFIC YEAR, this year, 2008!!!

I had a wonderful 2007; Nate and I got married in April, had the most amazing time EVER in Tahiti...Spent the summer in Huntington at Dog Beach every weekend, Leela turned FOUR! I started this little space on the giant internet so that my junky pile of note book paper, junk mail envelopes, napkins & sticky notes with recipes & ideas all over em would be all electronically organized in one place...someday, not quite there yet. :)

I don't really set "resolutions" but I do have some goals I hope to achieve in 2008, for sure. I found so many fantastic blogs and groups like the Daring Bakers that have totally inspired me in 2007, and I am so excited to see what they will bring to the table in 2008!

Here are a few of my favorite things, from 2007:


Peach Strawberry Shortcakes

Grown Up Sloppy Joe's

Beer Can Chicken


Chilly Weather Chili

Fabulous Ginger Wings

Puff Pastry Cheese Cake Cups with Pear Topping


Cranberry Blueberry Pie

Our "Honey-Baked" Ham

Cinnamon Hazelnut Biscotti

Prime Rib

Yule Log

Wishing you ALL, a happy, healthy, prosperous 2008!!