Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Avocado and Arugula Pesto over pasta

What a wonderful day I had today. I got some work done in my home that needed to be done and I also got to play in the kitchen. That's not all. I went and spent some of my time with my bestie:) I love that woman! She is amazing and I admire how wonderful she is with her children. Anytime I get to see her and talk to her makes me happy.

I tried out a couple of new recipes that I had bookmarked a while ago but had not had a chance to make. One of these recipes I saw on the Food Network on Giada at Home. I would have never thought of combining the flavors she used in this pasta dish. Who would of thought of putting together avocados and arugula and creating a pesto out of it? I'll tell you who...Giada and it works together. I found it to be interesting and not in a bad way. The only thing I changed was I did not have any  basil but instead used sage in its place and I added more vegetables to it. I definitely will be making this again. The only thing the hubby complained about was I did not put enough chicken in it for his tastes. You know guys...all about the meat. lol:)

This recipe was so easy and fast and good for a week night meal. You would think you spent more time in the kitchen making it. I hope you will give this one a try.

Avocado and Arugula Pesto
adapted from Giada de Laurentis

1 lb of favorite pasta
1 1lb of chicken breast diced
1 c of mushroom sliced
2 c of squash diced
2 avocado pitted and peeled
3 c of arugula
1 c of sage (her recipe calls for basil)
2 cloves of garlic
1 c grated Parmesan
3 T of lime juice
1 tsp of pepper

Boil a pot of salted water and cook pasta according to the directions.

Drain pasta but save 1 c of water to thin sauce later. Place pasta in a serving boil and set aside.

Saute chicken, squash, and mushrooms together in a little olive oil, salt and pepper and set aside.

 Using a spoon and scoop at avocado and place in food processor, add the arugula, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth add olive oil if needed to smooth out.

 Add 1/2 the Parmesan cheese and  blend again. Pour the pesto over the pasta and chicken with the vegetables and mix together.

Add the pasta water to smooth and thin out the sauce. Top with more cheese.


I hope you are having a great day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Banana Blueberry Muffins

Have I told y'all lately how much my hubby and I love muffins? I love them almost as much as I love cake with real icing. You know the kind made with sugar and butter and not the kind that resembles whip cream, but I digress. Back to the muffins. My hubby and I work during the week so we don't have time to make a complete breakfast,  instead I make muffins for a grab and go meal to go with my coffee. It helps to start the day right for me.

This week I decided to get a little crazy and mix up the flavor combinations:)
I am not talking super crazy but I do love to mix it up now and then. I tend to get curious about what will work together and what won't. I just consider it my quest to create the perfect muffin or muffins if you will. This week I decided to work with applesauce, blueberries, and banana. Okay, not so crazy flavor combination but baby steps. Can I say? Yum! Loved it:)

The recipe was really easy and the flavors worked. Do you have a favorite baked good that you are always trying to improve and create the ultimate recipe for? Muffins are mine. Like I said earlier, I love the muffins and will not stop until I create the ultimate one.....Hahahahaha:)

Blueberry Banana Muffins

2 c all purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp all spice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c soy milk
1/2 c apple sauce
1/4 brown sugar
1 T amaretto
8 T butter melted
1 banana mashed
1 c of blueberries

streusel topping
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c brown sugar
5 T butter
1 tsp cinnamon

 Preheat oven to 375 and line 12 baking cups with liners. Make streusel topping - stir together flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cut butter into flour mixture using your fingers until it is in pea sized piece. Put aside. Stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, all spice, and salt and set aside.

  In another bowl mix eggs, milk, apple sauce, sugar, and brown sugar, amaretto, and butter.

Mix together wet and dry ingredients. After thoroughly blended gently fold in blueberries and banana.

 Divide batter into 12 equal portions.

Top with streusel topping and bake for 20 -25 minutes.


I hope you are having a great day:)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Almost conquering the "big unit"

Good Monday everyone! Yesterday was finally game day and it was a great one. We won 7-0 against the Rockies and we went to Alice Cooper's Cooperstown for a before the game meal and drink. I may have mentioned a while ago that the hubby and I went there once before and saw they had a giant hot dog on the menu called the "Big Unit". This dog is 22 inches long and at least an inch around. After hearing the bells ring constantly in announcement of a patron ordering this monstrosity, we decided next time we were downtown we would order one too! Yesterday was finally the day:)

Take a look at this thing.
This one was my hubby's. He got the fully loaded one. It had things like onions, mustard, chili, cheese sauce, relish, sauerkraut, shredded cheese, jalapenos, bacon, tomatoes and ketchup. He was going to attempt to eat the whole thing himself. I know...he's brave but hey anything in the name of food. We could call this his man vs. food moment. Who will be victorious? The hot dog or the hubby? I will reveal the answer in a little bit.

My friend Erin and I decided to split one because we knew there was no way we were going to finish 22 inches of meat alone. We also did not want all of those toppings on our dog. Being the girls that we are we got our toppings on the side because we did not like the same things. I wanted onions, jalapenos, sauerkraut, and ketchup. Erin put relish, ketchup, mustard and onions on her half.

Here is Erin with our unit pre-toppings. Isn't it a beauty? Can I say, it tasted so good.
Erin is getting ready to take her first bite.

There's me getting ready to take on my half. Can you guess if I finished it our not?

If you said would be correct:)
So what do you think? Did my hubby finish his?
Nope, but it was close. Please ignore his gesture, I just teased him for not finishing it.
 Erin almost finished hers. All in all, we thought the unit was definitely worth trying. We probably would order it again but would have to split it again.

Yesterday was a good day. IF you are ever in Phoenix I recommend going to Cooperstown and trying the "Big Unit".

I hope you are having a great day!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Brownieesque cookies

Well folks Friday is finally upon us. For those who thought this weekend could not get here fast enough, me included, your patience has paid off. Let the fun begin! Except for me, I have to work tomorrow. Boo! But my Friday is actually Saturday because I have Sunday and Monday off. Yeah! I cannot wait until Sunday funday. My hubby, one of my best girlfriends and her man and I are going to a Diamondback's game:) We have been planning this outing for what seems like forever and it's finally time.

We have big plans, the four of us, first stop before game time is Alice Cooper's Cooperstown. We  all want that giant hot dog he has on his menu. Erin and I are going to share one because it is huge! I will make sure I take pictures of it because seeing is believing. I can almost taste it now. We are going to wash down this monstrosity with some beverages of course, then off to the game:) I hope we win!

I know you did not think I was done with the dessert posts for the week. Hee hee! My hubby has been craving chocolate and don't think he has been quiet about it either. He has been dropping some hints if you know what I mean? Anyway, I saw a recipe on the Brown Eyed Baker blog claiming to be better than brownie cookies. Once I saw this claim I knew I had to make these cookies. What could be better than a cookie brownie? The recipe was adapted from another blogger's website Culinography. I have to say these cookies were delicious! They were, in my opinion , better than brownies because they were in smaller portions and a lot neater to bake:)

I give these cookies an A because they lived up to their name.
Look at these beauties! Aren't they calling your name?
These will make anyone's weekend better and if it is not your Friday as well, these will make it feel like it.

Better than brownie chocolate cookies
from the brown eyed baker

2 2/3 c of bittersweet chocolate chopped ( I used ghirardellis chocolate chips)
4 T unsalted butter room temperature
4 eggs
1 1/3c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1c of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats. Preheat oven to 350F. Put 2 2/3c of chocolate in a heat proof bowl set over barely simmering water and melt chocolate, stirring occasionally.

Stir together eggs, vanilla and sugar while chocolate melts and then set aside.
In a small bowl mix together flour and baking powder.

Add melted chocolate to the egg mixture and stir until combined. Slowly add the flour mixture and fold until combined.

When all the flour is incorporated stir in chocolate chips.

Scoop 1 1/2 T of dough onto cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 -12 minutes or until firm on the outside. Do not overcook. Let cool on baking sheet. Enjoy!

I hope you have great plans for this weekend:)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sausage and Tomato Pasta

I love pasta! Always have and always will. My dream is to one day go to Italy and just eat and eat and eat, oh and of course do a little sight seeing while I am there as well. Lol. But mainly  I want to experience Italian food right from the source. In my fantasies you would never gain an ounce of weight eating your favorite foods. Hey, I can dream right?

I am always on the look out for a new pasta recipe and since I was craving pasta last night I searched high and low for one. I finally found one that looked interesting on Lidia Bastianich's website. I had some heirloom tomatoes that I purchased at the farmer's market last weekend that I needed to use and decided a tomato sauce would be the perfect place. I peeled and seeded the tomatoes first and then pureed them in the blender.
If you have never peeled a tomato before it is quite easy. You just score them with an X and drop them in boiling water for about 30 seconds. This loosens the skin and makes it easy to remove.
Now my tomatoes did not go to waste and they tasted really good in the sauce. This recipe was very easy to make and well worth the time it took. I love Lidia Bastianich. I used to watch her all the time on PBS and she always made me wish I was related to her. She has a warm and inviting personality and I always imagined dinner time at her house would be a hoot! I am surprised however that I have never made one of her recipes before.

It was well worth the wait. I am going to purchase some of her cookbooks in the future and try more of her recipes. If you want a delicious pasta dinner that does not take a long time to make you should give this one a try.

Sausage and Tomato Sauce
Lidia Bastianich

1 1/2 lbs of Italian Sausage
1 c of white wine
2 T of extra virgin olive oil plus more for finishing pasta
2 c onions chopped
1 plump garlic clove peeled and sliced
1/2 tsp kosher salt plus more for pasta water
1/2 tsp peperoncino flakes
6 c of Italian Plum tomatoes crushed
1 branch of basil
1 c freshly grated pecorino

Crumble meat in a large bowl and add 1/2 c of white wine to it.

Mix it with your fingers until all is moistened.

Pour olive oil in big skillet and set on medium heat. Stir in onions and cook until softened about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic slices and peperoncino flakes until all is sizzling. Then crumble in the sausage.

(I added other vegetables in mine, mushrooms and squash as well as some chicken)
Pour in remaining wine, raise heat and cook until sausage is brown and the wine cooks away, about 10 minutes. Pour tomatoes and a cup of water in the pan. Submerge the basil branch in the sauce and bring to a boil and cover.

 Once it boils leave the lid ajar and lower the heat and simmer for about an hour or until sauce reaches desired thickness and develops its flavor. Remove basil branch and enjoy on your favorite pasta. Top with cheese.
 I hope you will give this recipe a try and are having a great day!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Honey and Raspberry Cheesecake ----Wyoming-2

It's about that time again! What time do you ask? Oh, well remember a couple of weeks ago I posted I had purchased a new cookbook, The United Cakes of America by Warren Brown? I mentioned that I was determined to make all 50 cakes of the United States. I think this will be a really fun project and a good way to improve on my baking skills. There is a large range of cakes in this book and many of them sound very interesting. A lot of them I have never heard of but I think will be delicious, the others I am a little leery of but am hoping that they too will be great. I am not off to a good start. The first cake I made, the Lane Cake from Alabama, was an abysmal fail. I think I may have shared with you how truly aweful I found the cake. I just hope the next cake will be wonderful.

I decided not to go in order and make the Alaska cake but instead went with Wyoming. It is the last state in the book and the cake designated for this state is one of my favorite types of cakes. CHEESECAKE!  I love me some cheesecake. It just does not love me sometimes. Hee hee! I seem to always have an issue with cracking. Mr. Brown says cracking could be caused by too much air in the batter. This is from mixing your batter on too high of a speed or it could be from  not baking in a water bath with the sides of the pan at least a 1/2 in to an inch higher than the batter. This technique keeps the batter moist and the top from scorching. He recommends using a regular 9 inch cake pan with 3 inch sides instead of a springform pan. This way there will be less chance of leakage due to the water bath. I do not have a regular pan with 3 inch sides so I used my springform. I also heard from one of my fellow bakers that you did not have put the cake in the bath itself but instead could put a pan of hot water on the bottom of the oven and this would be enough humidity to keep the cake from cracking. I thought I would give this technique a try. It works for her maybe it will work for me.

Let's just say, next time I will use the pan he recommended. My cake split even though I mixed it on low and placed the pan of water on the bottom of the oven. I did not want to do the water bath because I have issues with water getting into my pan and ruining my cake in the past. I did not want a repeat of a past mistake. I did not want my hardwork to go down the drain again. I will buy the recommended pan for next time.

Even though the cake cracked it was still very good. I think I would have liked it a little more if the honey was not so pronounced. I would have liked more of the raspberry flavor in the fore front. My hubby loved it. He did however get a couple of jabs in about the cracking. Maybe he will buy me the regular pan for next time. Anyway it was all in good fun. I think he was just concerned the cake would not taste as good because of the crack. Lol:) Always thinking of his stomach, that man.

I like the cake and recommend you try it for yourself and see if you like it too!

Honey and Raspberry Cake
Warren Brown

Graham Cracker Crust
5 oz graham crackers (about 5 full crackers)
3 T of super fine granulated sugar
3/4 stick of unsalted butter melted
1/8 tsp of salt

16 oz cream cheese
16 oz fresh goat cheese
1/2 cup of super granulated sugar
1/2 c crystallized or raw honey
4 eggs
1/4 c sour cream
1/4 c heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 c raspberry puree

Preheat oven 300F and place the rack in the middle position. Grease 9 x 3 inch round pan lined with parchment paper. Crush graham crackers in the food processors into fine crumbs. Using a fork toss all ingredients  in a bowl until evenly combined. (I cheated and used the food processors for all of the steps)

 Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 -12 minutes or until fragrant. Set aside to cool but leave the oven on while making the filling.

Place a roasting pan large enough to hold your cake pan in the oven and fill it 2/3 of the way.
In a bowl of  standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cheeses on medium speed to break up and soften them.

Reduce the speed to low and add the sugar and honey in 2 additions each, beating until they dissolve this should take about 3 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time until they are fully combined. Mix the sour cream, heavy cream, and vanilla together in another bowl until they are smooth.
Drizzle in slowly into the mixer.
Pour filling into the prepared crust.

Use up to a 1/4 c of the raspberry puree and swirl batter with your finger.
( I recommend a little more puree but hey that's just me)

Gently set the cake in the water bath and bake for about 1 hour or until the middle only slightly wobbles when shaken. (this took about an hour an 15 minutes for me to happen)
Turn off the oven and let it sit for about an hour with the door ajar.
Remove pan from water bath and cool the cake for 4 hours or until it reaches room temperature.

Look at the giant crack! Ehh (shoulder shrug) at least it tasted good:)

I hope I have inspired you to get up and bake.
I always hope you are having a great day!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lime and Cornmeal Cookies with Citrus Glaze

Happy Monday everyone! It felt like the never ending day and but not in a bad way. Anytime I can get in some baking time makes my day that much better. I did plenty of baking today:)

My day started early because the hubby and I had eye appointments. I needed a check up, let's just say I have not had one in a really long time. Good news! I still have great vision and do not need glasses. The hubby on the other hand needed a new prescription but it did not change much from last time and also did not cost as much. Woo hoo! His glasses can be kind of expensive.

After we finished there we went and bought a new coffee pot and waffle maker. Our old coffee pot sprung a leak so it had to go and I always wanted a waffle maker. I love waffles!!! I always get one no matter where we go for breakfast. Now I have to come up with my own recipes to try in it. I can't wait!

Next on the agenda was some lunch. We went to Kona Grill and had sushi. It was good as always. Finally, I had to go grocery shopping for the week. The hubby wanted chicken salad wraps for his lunch again and we were pretty much out of everything. Then on to the fun stuff cooking and baking.

This past weekend I watched Giada at Home on the Food Network and was intrigued by a couple of her recipes. She made a pasta that looked really good and also some lime and cornmeal cookies with citrus glaze. I definitely wanted some of those. I have been craving cookies lately and I love pretty much anything citrus. She makes everything look so easy when she make them. I decided I wanted to make these and see if they tasted as great as they looked. I am going to say I was a little disappointed with them. They were hard to roll out and they were a little too grainy. I think this was because of the cornmeal. Next time I will make a shortbread cookie with these same flavors and see if I like it better.

It wasn't the worst cookie I ever ate but it also was not my favorite. I probably will not make this recipe again but if you like cornmeal or need a gluten free cookie this recipe may be for you.

Lime and Cornmeal Cookies with Citrus Glaze
adapted from Giada De Laurentis


1/2 stick of butter at room temperature
1 c of sugar
2 limes zested
1 egg at room temperature
2 T of lime juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c rice flour and a little more for dusting
1/2 c cornmeal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt

1 1/3 c powder sugar
1 lemon zested and 3 T of juice

Line baking sheet with parchment and set aside. In food processor pulse together butter, sugar and lime zest.

Add the lime juice, egg, and vanilla. Process until smooth. Add rice flour, baking powder, cornmeal, and salt and process until mixture forms a dough. Place a little rice flour on counter and knead dough for about 20 seconds. Flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic.

Chill in fridge for at least 20 minutes.

Place oven rack in center and preheat oven to 350F. Take out dough and cut disc into 2 pieces.

Set one piece aside and put a little rice flour on counter. Roll out dough into 1/4 inch thickness and cut out round circles with a 3 inch cookie cutter or glass if you do not have a cutter.

Place cookies on baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden around the edges. Cool for 10 minutes then transfer to baking rack and cool completely.
For the glaze whisk together powder sugar, zest and lemon juice until smooth.

Spread glaze on cookie leaving 1/4 inch border. Let  glaze harden completely about 45 minutes before storing or enjoying:)

Like I said the cookie was okay but I did not think it was great. I hope everyone is having a great week so far!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fruit topped Ice cream

Do you every have those days when you plan on making something and it does not come out  the way you envisioned it? I do. Quite frequently in fact. It just teaches me that not everything can be a complete success but it doesn't have to mean failure. It could also turn into something delicious.
In this never ending heat one of the things that never fails to brings me joy is ice cream. I love it! I was thinking about what I could make to put on top of it to make it that much better. And then it came to me......Grilled Fruit! I saw Giada make it on Food Network and she made it look so easy. Just because it looks easy doesn't mean it will turn out that way.

The fruit was not very cooperative. I used nectarines and plums for grilling. The plums were fine, nectarines were another story. The problem was they were not quite ripe. When I tried to halve then they kept on breaking into little pieces. I stunk. Therefore I had to think of something else I could do with the fruit.

It came to me after a few minutes of huffing and puffing. Why not cut the fruit into pieces and cook it and use it for a topping. It would be almost like grilling but not. Sometimes you just have to go with it. I cut the fruit into pieces  and put about 2 T of sugar and let it sit for about and hour. It created a nice syrup. I then put a T spoon of agave nectar into the fruit and cooked the fruit on the stove at medium heat until it came to a boil and the syrup thickened.

 I cooked it for about 10 minutes and then I took it off the heat and let it cool slightly.

 Serve it on top of your ice cream and Tada!!! Dessert is served.
 Doesn't it look yummy?
See something good can come out of something that could have been bad.
I hope you are having a great day.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Beef Kabob Night

Since it has been so hot and dusty lately I have not wanting to spend a lot of time in front of a hot stove. What could I make that did not require a lot of time nor energy but is delicious and can be cooked on the grill? Hmmmmmmm. let me think.


It is grill season after all. A plus to this is I get to make the hubby participate in the cooking of his dinner. It's so funny when he thinks he should take all of the credit for dinner when he helps with a little portion. Hee hee! If only he would do the dishes, I would give him all the credit for dinner. I can dream, can't I. What I wouldn't give for the Disney animals to come in my kitchen and clean it for my like they do in the movies. lol:)
Anyway, I digress. Back to the kabobs. I never really made them before and I really do not know why. They are simple and delicious. Just marinate the meat, cut up some veggies, skewer, and grill. Enough said.

I made beef kabobs with the beef from the cow we won. I love that beef. It is so good and tender. Yum! I definitely am ruined for grocery store beef. Again, I am wandering. Back to these kabobs. I marinated the beef for 6 hours. You could do it for as little as 2 hours but I think the longer the meat sits in the marinade the more flavors it picks up.

This recipe is easy and good for any week night dinner. The marinating part, followed by the prepping takes the longest but still can be done in time for dinner. Just marinate before work and it will be ready for dinner.
So good!

Beef Kabobs

1 1/2 lb of sirloin
1 onion cut in wedges
1 red bell pepper cut into 12 chinks
 4 oz mushrooms
slices of squash
(you can use any kind of vegetable you want)

1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c Worcestershire sauce
3 T veg oil
3 garlic cloves minced
1/2 tsp onion powder
cracked pepper

8 skewers - soaked so they won't burn

Cut meat into 1 inch chunks and place in marinade for at least 2 hours but can be over night. Start with the meat and thread the vegetables alternating until all pieces are used. Preheat the grill. When it is hot put on skewers and cook until desired doneness. We cooked our for about 10 minutes. Enjoy!

I hope you are having a happy hump day!