June 13, 2012

Stuffed Bell Peppers on the Grill

Stuffed Peppers

Twice now Stuffed Peppers has been on my weekly dinner menu. Twice now, I have decided to make something different with the ground beef because I did not want to turn the oven on and heat up the house for an hour. To solve this problem, I decided to try to make the peppers on the grill. I thought 350 on the grill is the same as 350 in the oven, right? Right!

So I prepared these babies wrapped them up in foil and cooked them indirectly on the grill. It takes about the same time 45 minutes or so but I’m not heating up the house! And you can really get creative if you add some mesquite or hickory wood in a little foil bowl or in a little foil wrapping, and add a whole other flavor to the mix (Note to self, try that next time).

Stuffed Peppers

1 1/2-2lbs lb. ground beef (or a mixture of beef and pork, heck even try turkey)

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup minute rice

1 egg, scrambled

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

4 bell peppers (green are my favorite)

Topping:

1/2 ketchup

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon sriracha (or any hot or chili sauce)

Mix the ground beef, ketchup, rice, egg and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl.

Wash the peppers, then cut the peppers in half lengthwise. Remove the stems, seeds and veins.

Stuff the peppers evenly with the meat mixture.

In a separate bowl mix the ketchup  , Worcestershire, soy sauce and chili sauce together. Pour the sauce over the top of the meat.

Wrap the peppers in foil and heat the grill to 350 degrees. Turn off one burner in the middle of your grill and place the peppers over that burner so that the flame is not directly under the peppers. Keep the grill temperature at 350 and cook the peppers for about 30-40 minutes or until the internal temperature measures 160 degrees.

This is what it looks like when you open the foil and they are done…YUM!

Stuffed Peppers2

That is it! Not so bad right?

~Enjoy~

Amanda

May 16, 2012

Apricot Cream Cheese Muffins

A few weeks ago the Early Farmer’s Market started down at Greenhouse Garden Center. There are cherries, apricots, white peaches, oranges, lettuce, garlic, onions, asparagus and more! I really love when the Market begins. As I have posted before it is something my daughter and I do every Saturday. Last week I bought some apricots to make an apricot pizza pie, it is my boyfriend’s favorite! This past weekend I bought some apricots for muffins (and some for a apricot peach pie I made for my friends).

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I purchased the apricots from Fruit Factory – aka Schletewitz Family Farms in California. They make a 6 hour drive to us each week to bring fruits we would not otherwise be able to get here in Nevada…I thank them!

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I used Early Castle Brite Apricots for both the muffins and the apricot pie I made last week.

APRICOT CREAM CHEESE MUFFINS

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup greek yogurt

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup applesauce (or any other jam or fruit sauce)

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/4 cup fruit chopped (Apricots)

Cream Cheese Stuffing

1 8 oz bar of cream cheese softened

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.  Whisk eggs, yogurt, sugar, applesauce and vanilla together in a separate bowl.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet just enough to get all the dry ingredients moist. Just like pancakes don’t overmix! You still have fruit to fold in, that will help incorporate the batter the rest of the way.

Using a spatula fold in the fruit.  I use a small ice cream scoop when making muffins, cupcakes, or cookies, which helps with consistency. Scoop batter into muffin cups to fill just part of the way. Add 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese on top, then cover with more batter to fill the muffin cup.

Bake 17-20 minutes. Use a toothpick to check whether the muffins are done.

Cherries at the Market:

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~Enjoy~

Amanda

November 6, 2011

Easiest Chocolate Cake

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My internal dialogue was definitely discouraging, while making this cake. No egg, who bakes a cake without eggs – even brownies have eggs, this was certain to be a disaster. And now add lemon juice or vinegar! What was this going to taste like? And really!? I’m going to prepare this cake right in the baking pan! No mixing bowl? No creaming the butter, but melt it? Huh? Where am I!? What is going on? After all of that, the batter was thinner than pancake batter! We were surely headed for thin deflated cupcakes. Certainly, you are asking me why would I even consider this recipe after reading it? Well it comes from the Joy of Baking website, a place I trust and the photo was very enticing. New and different is what I like, new challenges!

Joy of Baking – Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup granulated white sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder(not Dutch-processed), sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cup warm water

1 tablespoon lemon juice(or vinegar)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven.

In an ungreased 8 inch square cake pan, stir together the flour, sugar, sifted cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the melted butter, water, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. With a fork, mix all the ingredients together until well blended.

Bake in preheated oven for about 35 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

**NOTE: I made these into cupcakes rather than a cake. Fill the baking cups 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 18-22 minutes – or until a toothpick comes out clean.**

In the end, this is a very good simple recipe. It’s a heavier, moist cake. Not a light cake. The best description was somewhere between a brownie and cake. I’m more amazed by how well this cake came out and that it doesn’t have any eggs! (can’t get over that!).

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~Enjoy~

Amanda

October 31, 2011

Ghosties Cupcakes

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We have been reading the “Three Little Ghosties” book by Pippa Goodhart, this Halloween. It has best illustrations! (by AnnaLaura Cantone"). This is where I got the name for these cute little cupcake treats.

For my daughter’s Halloween Party at school we were assigned a dozen cupcakes. For this recipe I used my Chocolate Cake recipe and Vanilla frosting recipe:

Chocolate Cake

2  cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 package of instant chocolate pudding (only the powder)
1 1/4 c. milk
2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 sticks room temperature butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350

Whisk together flour, baking powder, pudding powder and salt. Measure out the milk, set aside.

With an electric mixer in a large bowl combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time allowing each to incorporate well before moving on to the next ingredient.

Incorporate the dry ingredients and milk by alternating – half of the dry ingredients and half of the milk.

Use a small ice cream scoop for the cupcake batter. It makes the perfect size cupcakes. Scoop a heaping scoop of the batter into each cup. Stick one Reese’s miniature peanut butter cup in the middle of the batter in each cup.

Bake for 18-20 minutes. (The time will depend on your oven.  Since moving and changing ovens I have had to cook these for 21 minutes otherwise they deflate because they aren’t cooked thoroughly.)

 

Vanilla Buttercream

1/2 cup shortening (used the Crisco stick because it’s easier to measure)
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) – room temperature
4 cups confectioners sugar
2-4 T. whole milk
1 T. vanilla extract

In a stand mixer, beat the shortening and butter together, add the vanilla bean and extract.  Incorporate the sugar gradually – 1c. at a time. Once sugar is incorporated (it will look dry) add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you like. It will be about 2-3T for a medium consistency.

Cover with a wet cloth while not in use, or place in the fridge if you plan on using it much later.

Use a cake decorating bag or a zip lock bag and spoon in the frosting. Cut a big sized corner off the bag. Pipe on the ghosties by holding your bag straight up and down and squeeze some frosting in a spiral motion onto the cupcake. You can also squeeze the frosting out and press down a little then back up and then down again, repeating this action.  

Eyes & Mouth

Melt some of your favorite milk or dark chocolate in the microwave (at 30 second intervals stirring each interval until completely melted) or melt in a double boiler (I use a small pot with a few inches of simmering water, and a metal mixing bowl that is big enough to sit on the pot, not in it).

Allow the chocolate to cool enough to handle.  Pour your chocolate into a zip lock baggie, cut a super small tip off the corner of the bag and pipe on the eyes and mouth. Using dots for the eyes and different shapes for the mouths – oval, sad, circular – filled in solid with chocolate.

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September 29, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower and White Bean Pasta

One of my go-to dishes during the winter. It is meatless so you can feel good about going meatless one night a week. Cannellini beans are low-fat, packed with fiber (10g) and a 3oz portion has 10% of your daily value of iron (about the same amount of iron found in a 3oz portion of beef) and the cauliflower is a great source of vitamin C.

You know there is always that debate about how to cook your vegetables – steam, boil, microwave, roast. Truth is it varies. For example (I got this off Dr. Weil’s website),

“A study published in the November 2003 issue of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that broccoli cooked in the microwave lost up to 97 percent of its antioxidant content but lost only 11 percent when it was steamed. Another study showed that spinach cooked in the microwave retained nearly all its folate but lost about 77 percent of this nutrient when cooked on the stove.

The one consistent thing I read is that how MUCH or LONG you cook your veggies usually determines how much nutrients are lost. If you overcook vegetables (they are mushy), you are losing many more nutrients, than if you cook them to a tender crisp. I keep most of my vegetables tender- crisp. I am no nutritionist, I do read a lot about food on my quest to learn “how” to properly prepare foods, so count this as my own, unprofessional, conclusion.  Bottom line, though, as long as you are eating vegetables regularly you will be healthier in general!

If you want to learn more about properly cooking vegetables Alice Waters: The Art of Simple Food is a great vegetable cooking guide!

1 head cauliflower
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 shallot
½ box spaghetti noodles
1 can cannellini beans (or other white bean)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ cup shredded parmesan

(You could also use a can of garbanzo bean and roast them with the cauliflower to mix it up – roasted garbanzos are a great snack or mix them with roasted chicken and tomatoes – they are really good!)

Take a head of cauliflower, pull it apart and then cupt it up into bite-sized pieces. Coat the pieces lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with some salt and pepper and toss.  Roast the cauliflower in a 450° oven for about 15 minutes, or until it starts to brown. (all ovens are different you make take more or less time)

Meanwhile cook spaghetti noodles according to the package directions, reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water when draining the noodles.

Put 2T. Olive oil in the pot and sauté the shallots for 2 minutes. Add the roasted cauliflower and sauté for another minute more.

Drain a can of cannellini, or other white beans. Now add the beans, cooked pasta, and reserved pasta water to the pan and toss. Finish the pasta off with chopped parsley and serve with parmesan cheese and a light salad. (You can add many more vegetables to this dish if you’d like – zucchini, squash, eggplant, just roast with the cauliflower)

(and my daughters slight addition – avocado. To her, avocados goes with EVERYTHING!)

(NOTE: I am going to replace these awful photos with new ones when I make this recipe this week! Ones with nice natural lighting instead of this ugly yellowish lighting – these were taken indoors last winter pre-off camera flash and softbox days). — As promised – 100 times better, right! :)

September 25, 2011

Weekly Menu September 25-October 1

First off, I cannot believe October is in the title of this post! Really?! the holidays are about to begin?!

Okay, now, Weekly Menus! Now that this Summer-thing is out of the way and moving and unpacking are almost complete, I want to start up the weekly menu share again. So here it is…

Sunday 

- Pot Roast (my grandma Kamon’s recipe – tweaked)

Monday  

- Chicken Noodle Soup (my daughter’s favorite and she’s sick this week so we are busting this favorite out)

Tuesday 

- Turkey Tetrazzini (my good friend Linda brought me some of her Tetrazzini…Mmm can’t wait to eat it!)

Wednesday 

- Roasted Cauliflower and white bean pasta

Thursday 

- Balsamic and brown sugar slow cooked pork roast  (New recipe!) with roasted Brussels sprouts (if I can find any…no luck yet!)

Friday 

- Pasta Puttanesca with a simple salad and  vinaigrette

This is our usual “eat out” night, but since we have done that so much while packing and moving I’ll save it for another week.

Saturday 

- Grilled Marinated Chicken with grilled zucchini

September 7, 2011

Cinnamon Bun Popcorn

(recipe from Just Get off Your Butt and Bake)

This recipe is a fantastic idea for teacher gifts. My daughter and I made this for her teacher on the first day of Kindergarten. Crispy, sweet, cinnamon-spiced popcorn with a creamy chocolatey swirl is such a perfect snack. Seriously, it almost did not make it to the teacher. Actually I’m pretty glad that we were giving it away because my daughter and I would have eaten it all in minutes. My mom took some home and instead of sharing with my dad and brother, she saved it for herself. Really it is that good.

This would work really well as a Halloween treat for a costume party, or to give away as Fall treats! However, I would eat this at any time of the year and it would make me smile. What will make you smile is that this is very easy to make.

Cinnamon Bun Caramel Corn

12 cups of Popped Popcorn (1 cup of kernels)

1 cup nuts (optional) – cashews, almonds, peanuts, pecans

1 Cup Brown Sugar

1/2 Cup Karo Syrup

a pinch of salt

1 stick or cube of Real Butter

1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)

1 teaspoon Vanilla

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Almond bark, vanilla chips or white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 250 degrees

Pop your popcorn – I use my air popper so that there isn’t the added oil from popping in a pan and it cuts down on the hard kernels too. You could even use microwave popcorn, but I’m not sure how buttered microwave popcorn would taste. Remove any kernels.

You will need about 12 cups of popcorn.

In a saucepan, melt the butter. Once melted add your brown sugar, Karo Syrup and salt.

Over medium heat melt the butter and sugar (You can do this part in a microwave by cooking in 2 minute intervals and stirring until completely melted).

While the butter and sugar are cooking get the vanilla, cinnamon and baking soda ready. Once the sugar and butter are melted, remove from heat and add these last three ingredients. The caramel will lighten in color and sort of poof up…this is good!

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Pour the caramel over the popcorn in a very large bowl (or a few big bowls if you don’t have one large). Toss the caramel and popcorn until completely coated (oh and you can add nuts at this point too).

Place your pan or pans in a preheated 250 degree oven.

Stir every 5 minutes and rotate pans. The recipe I used said to cook for 20 minutes for crunchy corn, I think it was more like 30-35 minutes.

Remove the popcorn from the oven and lay out on wax paper on the counter to cool. It will get crunchier as it cools.

Now you can melt the white chocolate and drizzle over all the popcorn – as little or as much as you’d like.

Cinnamon Bun Caramel Corn 1

~Enjoy~

Amanda

September 5, 2011

Easy 5-step Baby Back Ribs

RIB FAIRY DUST (Just for those guys out there…)
3T. Kosher Salt
3T black pepper
2T brown sugar
1T paprika
2T garlic powder
1T onion powder
2t. mustard powder
dash of cayenne (or more if you like the heat)

Easy Baby Back Ribs

While these ribs do take a couple hours to cook, they are simple and do not require much attention or preparation.

1.  Pull off the membrane from underneath each rack of ribs and cut each rack in half.

2.   Coat the ribs evenly with the spice rub, making sure to get both sides.

(At this point you can place the ribs in a glass baking dish cover the ribs and allow them to sit overnight. Or you can move on to the next step.)

3.  Wrap each rack in foil.

(place one piece of foil on the bottom and one on top. Crunch the sides together, leaving room for any steam to move around in the packet.)

4.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours @ 325 degrees.

(Place the ribs in a glass baking dish or on a baking sheet so any drips are not caught by the bottom of your oven)

5.  Once your ribs are done, remove them from the foil.  Finish directly on the grill until both sides are crisp and the rub starts to sizzle.

(If you like barbecue sauce on your ribs, add the sauce during this step. With the grill on med-low, add sauce to the top side of your ribs, close the lid and cook for a 2-3 minutes. Turn and coat the bottom half of your ribs, close the lid and cook a few minutes more. Repeat this step until you have a good layer of caramelized barbecue sauce on your ribs. (2 or 3 times).)

Some people par boil their ribs, but here my opinion why to avoid this method…boiling meat pulls the flavor out of the meat and into the water. Boiling  meat is for making rich Stocks, not to barbecue meat – would you boil a great Ribeye? Remember, tender meat comes from meat that is cooked low and slow over indirect heat, not from the boiling process. Have you ever cooked anything too long in the crock pot and found it was dried out although liquid was in the pot? Yep liquid can dry out meat. It also pulls the flavor from your meat, that is why most roasts call for wine, tomato sauce, or stock to add flavor to the meat while cooking low and slow.

However, If you insist on the boil method, I can attest that ribs do come out tasty, but think how much tastier they could be cooked in their own juices? 

-Enjoy

Amanda

August 30, 2011

School Snack Time

 

My daughter started Kindergarten this year! Yes, I am very excited about her being in school, probably as excited as my daughter. As a child, I loved school, especially the beginning of the year! Meeting new friends, teachers, organizing your new backpack and wearing those new clothes that you picked out weeks ago but only got to admire on hangers. A fresh start to a new year was exciting.

My daughter’s first day of kindergarten went smoothly, without emotional breakdown (not that I suspected my daughter would have any problems). She got to go to the “big kid” school, ride the “big van” at daycare and made a new friend. What an accomplished week for my little Kindergartener.  This year she goes to daycare before lunchtime at school so I do not have to make lunches, daycare provides lunch.  However, we do have to send a healthy snack for the morning at school.  So, my daughter and I sat down and made a list of healthy foods she likes and we made a quick reference guide when preparing snacks (I’m a list kind of person, I cannot live without them, they make sense of my world): carrots, apples with peanut butter, whole wheat saltines with peanut butter and jelly, cheese crackers, raisins, air-popped popcorn, fruit cups (homemade), and homemade granola bars.

You know me, if you read my blog, and I like to make everything from scratch. That is the only way to know, really, what is in my daughter’s food. So instead of store bought granola bars, I make homemade bars and send them to school with her. I pack them with high energy ingredients (do little kids really need more energy? yes, yes they do) and less sugar than in the store-bought bars. I use Alton Brown’s recipe – really anything he makes I trust, he’s the science guy of food.

GRANOLA BARS

(adapted from Alton Brown’s Granola Bars)

8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, approximately 2 cups

1 1/2 ounces raw sunflower seeds, approximately 1/2 cup

3 ounces sliced almonds, approximately 1 cup

1 1/2 ounces wheat germ, approximately 1/2 cup

6 ounces honey, approximately 1/2 cup

1 3/4 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup packed

1-ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit, any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries.

Other Add-ins: chocolate chips, marshmallows, peanut butter, cinnamon chips any combination your heart desires.

Nonstick cooking spray

Butter a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In place of the first four ingredients, I used about 3-4 cups of my own homemade granola that was already made. If you are not using granola, spread the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.

Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Hope all of you out there enjoy this healthy snack!

August 18, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup—Cupcakes

This, my friends, will make you weak in the knees if you like chocolate, peanut butter, especially the two combined. Funny enough I know a guy, he doesn’t like peanut butter and chocolate – I think someone needs to check his frontal lobe for injury or maybe his medulla oblongata needs adjusting!

Moving on…this was a fun cupcake to make. I was inspired by Amanda Cupcake (it must be in the name!) who made milky way cupcakes and melted milky way candy bars and added it to her frosting—so many ideas went fleeting through my head, but first this one…Reese’s PB Cups!

 

Chocolate Cake

(makes about 30 cupcakes)

2  cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 package of instant chocolate pudding (only the powder)
1 1/4 c. milk
2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 sticks room temperature butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs

1 bag Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups miniatures

1 bag Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups minis (the smallest of them all)

Preheat oven to 350

Whisk together flour, baking powder, pudding powder and salt. Measure out the milk and add the vanilla to the milk, set aside.

With an electric mixer in a large bowl combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time allowing each to incorporate well before moving on to the next ingredient.

Incorporate the dry ingredients and milk by alternating – 1/3 of the dry ingredients and 1/3 of the milk. Once all the milk and dry ingredients are mixed beat the batter for a minute or two.

Use a small ice cream scoop for the cupcake batter. It makes the perfect size cupcakes. Scoop a heaping scoop of the batter into each cup. Stick one Reese’s miniature peanut butter cup in the middle of the batter in each cup.

Bake for 18 minutes.

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Peanut Butter Ribbon

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Mix ingredients together in a sauce pan. Heat over low heat stirring constantly until peanut butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.  Set and aside and cool, while making the frosting.

Melted PB Cups for Frosting

Melt 1/2 cup of peanut butter cups with a little heavy cream over low heat until completely melted. Set aside and cool while making the frosting.

Peanut Butter Buttercream

1/2 cup shortening (used the Crisco stick because it’s easier to measure)
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) – room temperature
4 cups confectioners sugar
2-4 T. whole milk
1 T. vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter ribbon (recipe below)

In a stand mixer, beat the shortening and butter together, add the vanilla bean and extract.  Incorporate the sugar gradually – 1c. at a time. Once sugar is incorporated (it will look dry) add the peanut butter ribbon and milk 1 T. at a time until you get the consistency you like. It will be about 2-3T for a medium consistency.

At this point you may cover with a wet cloth while not in use, or place the frosting in the fridge if you plan on using it much later.

In your pastry/frosting bag (or Ziploc with the corner cut off) drizzle a little peanut butter ribbon down one side of the bag and a little of the melted peanut butter cups down the other side, just enough coat the side of the bag. Don’t let the two pool at the bottom of the bag or you’ll have a giant glop of the candy without frosting. You want the candy to swirl in the frosting…this is fun!

Pipe on the frosting with your favorite tip (or if using a Ziploc cut the tip as big as you prefer for decorating).

Use the new Peanut Butter Cup minis (in the candy isle) to top.

~Enjoy

Amanda

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