Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Egg- cellent Pasta

This recipe intrigued me. Never in a million years would I think to combine scrambled eggs and pasta, but when I saw this recipe in the Williams-Sonoma Pasta Sauces cookbook I knew I would be trying it. This recipe is delicious! It's rich and creamy, and as Joe pointed out very comforting with it's nice soft texture - both Joe and I really liked it. Plus it comes together in no time at all (about 15 minutes from start to finish) and you could substitute any cheese so it's a perfect last-minute meal. Yum!

Egg and Cheese Pasta

3 eggs
¼ cup freshly grated pecorino cheese
6 tbsp milk
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup unsalted butter
Fussili, penne or farfalle pasta

In a bowl, beat the eggs until well blended. Add the cheese, milk, and plenty of pepper and mix together. Add your choice of pasta to boiling water. Meanwhile, in a large, wide frying pan over low heat, melt the butter. When the pasta is almost al dente, drain and add to the frying pan along with the egg mixture and salt to taste. Finish cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the eggs are firm but not dry, 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a warmed serving dish and serve at once.

Small Batch Baking: Apple Nut Oatmeal Muffins

I've been in the mood for a muffin recently, so I decided to try another recipe from my Small Batch Baking cookbook. I chose the Apple Nut Oatmeal Muffins because I had all the ingredients on hand. I doubled the recipe to get 6 muffins so Joe could have a few for breakfast the rest of the week. I found that I had WAY too much streusel topping left at the end after adding it to the muffins. I can't imagine that the muffins needed more streusel, but perhaps I wasn't generous enough with it. Regardless, these muffins came out really well! They are dense and hearty and not too sweet, although I do think they could benefit from a little more spice - I'll be adding cinnamon next time around. Joe and I each enjoyed one last night after dinner, then Joe heated two in the microwave this morning for breakfast and said they were even more delicious than last night. A keeper!

Apple Nut Oatmeal Muffins

Unsalted butter, at room temperature, for greasing the muffin cups

For the Streusel Topping:
2 tbsp quick or old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
2 tbsp chopped pecans (I used walnuts as that was what I had)

For the Muffins:
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
¼ cup quick or old-fashioned rolled oats
3 tbsp packed light brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp raisins
¼ applesauce (I used chunky)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Yolk of 1 medium egg
½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly grease only the bottoms of three muffin cups, then rub a little butter around the rim of each cup (this will help them form a more rounded top).

Make the streusel topping: combine the 2 tablespoons oats, 2 tablespoons flour and brown sugar in a small bowl. Mix in the butter using a fork or your fingertips, until the mixture is crumbly. Then mix in the pecans. Set the topping aside.

Make the muffins: combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium-size bowl and stir to mix well. Add the raisins and toss to mix.

Place the applesauce, oil, egg yolk and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Add the applesauce mixture to the flour mixture all at once and stir until just moistened. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pans – they should be about 2/3 full. Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the muffins, then gently pat into the batter with your fingers. Fill the empty muffin cups with water to prevent them from scorching.

Bake 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.

Cool muffins in pan 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack and cool completely.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 3 standard muffins

Monday, January 21, 2008

The bread machine lives!

Several years ago, Joe bought me a bread machine as a birthday gift. I became slightly obsessed with my new toy and was baking fresh loaves of bread almost every day, until my family begged me to stop because no one could eat anymore bread. Since then, I haven't used my bread machine much - in fact it's probably been a few years since I put it to work. But yesterday I woke up craving warm, fresh-baked bread to go with our dinner. I looked up some recipes online and decided that unfortunately I am not the type of person with the patience to knead bread, let it rise, knead it again, let it rise...nuts to that. So I decided to resurrect my once-beloved bread machine and let it do it's thing. I found this recipe for Light Oat Bread on All Recipes and thought it sounded great. I followed the recipe exactly, except I used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose. The house smelled amazing all afternoon as the bread baked, and it came out great - thick and hearty with a nice whole-grain taste and texture. The bread machine will ride again soon - most likely next weekend! Mmmmm....carbs.

Light Oat Bread

1 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons margarine
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Add ingredients to bread machine pan in order recommended by your manufacturer. Use regular light setting.

Shepherd's Pie

I've seen several shepherd's pie recipes popping up on blogs recently and why not - it's the perfect winter meal. Meat and veggies and potatoes all in one delicious serving. I thought Joe would really enjoy this, and with the temperatures only climbing into the low 20's this past Sunday I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to make shepherd's pie. Since I had just gotten my new Kraft Food and Family magazine I decided to make their version of the meal. It was extremely easy, but I felt like something was missing. Joe said "more cheese" (after all, doesn't cheese make everything better?) but I think the meat could have used some more seasoning or something. I will make shepherd's pie again for sure, but next time I may use a slightly more complex recipe to get better flavor. But this one is good in a pinch!

Easy Shepherd's Pie

1 lb. ground beef
2 cups hot mashed potatoes
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, cubed
1 cup KRAFT Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 cup beef gravy

PREHEAT oven to 375ºF. Brown meat in large skillet. Meanwhile, mix potatoes, cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese and the garlic until well blended.

DRAIN meat. Return to skillet; stir in vegetables and gravy. Spoon into 9-inch square baking dish; cover with potato mixture and remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese.

BAKE 20 min. or until heated through.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Shrimp Pasta for Two

I just love when a recipe turns out better than I expect. I had the remainder of a bag of frozen shrimp that I wanted to use up this weekend, so I selected the Easy Shrimp Pasta for Two from the new Kraft Food and Family magazine for our dinner Saturday night. For some reason though, I had low expectations of the dish. I was prepared to be disappointed, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised! It was delicious! I did, however, make several changes to the original recipe to accommodate our tastes and the ingredients I had on hand. I'm linking the original version above and posting my version below. I will definitely make this again!
Easy Shrimp Pasta for Two

1/4 cup Ken's Steakhouse Light Northern Italian dressing
1/2 lb. uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
8 oz. (1/2 of 1-lb. pkg.) linguine, uncooked
1 cup diced tomatoes, undrained
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, cubed
1 tbsp. dried basil
1 tbsp. garlic powder
pinch of red pepper flakes
grated parmesan cheese for sprinkling

POUR dressing over shrimp in small bowl; cover. Refrigerate 20 min. to marinate. Cook pasta as directed on package. Meanwhile, heat large skillet on medium heat; add shrimp mixture. Cook 3 min. or until shrimp turn pink, stirring frequently. Remove shrimp from skillet, using slotted spoon; cover to keep warm. Set aside.

ADD tomatoes, cream cheese, basil, garlic powder and red pepper to same skillet; cook and stir 3 min. or until well blended. Add shrimp; cook until heated through, stirring occasionally.

DRAIN pasta. Place on large serving platter; top with the shrimp mixture. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Gentleman's Pasta

The Sicilian Gentleman's Cookbook has been on our shelf for years. I'm not entirely sure where it came from, but I believe Joe's grandmother Lucy found it in her kitchen at some point and gave it to him. As I said, we've had it for years, but we've only ever made one recipe from it - Pasta with Peas. This meal is one of Joe's specialities, meaning that he's the one who always prepares it. It's quick and easy and very tasty. Of course, I love peas so that might have something to do with my enjoyment, but Joe is not a huge pea fan and he still loves this pasta. When Joe made this on Tuesday night I asked him to add in some turkey sausage for a little extra protein and it was great. As Joe stated, you really must use shell pasta for this as it "gives the peas somewhere to hide." Joe also substitutes the Romano cheese with whatever we have on hand and stirs in right into the finished pasta. And the cookbook was obviously written by a hearty Italian man, since the serving size for this recipe claims to be 3-4. For 1 lb of pasta! We got 5-6 servings easily - plenty of leftovers!
Pasta with Peas
1 lb shell pasta
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 package (10 oz) frozen peas
2 tbsp oregano
2 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
handful of chopped parsley
grated Romano cheese
Heat the olive oil in a large pan and saute the garlic and onion until onion is translucent. Add the frozen peas and stir until thawed and separated. Add the oregano, chicken broth and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer 15 minutes. Cook pasta to al dente. Mix cooked and drained pasta into the sauce and heat for 3-4 minutes. Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley and grated cheese.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Balsamic Chicken and Vegetables

After Saturday's indulgent dinner, I wanted to serve something light and healthy for our Sunday night meal. Plus, my friend Karen was joining us and she also likes to eat healthy so I wanted to offer something tasty and low-calorie. This recipe comes from Fitness Magazine - I tore it out of an issue several months ago. It is quick and easy to prepare and tastes great. You can substitute pretty much any vegetables you desire - last night I used broccoli, snow peas and the shredded carrots (Joe doesn't like asparagus, which is what the recipe originally calls for). I also double the sauce. I served this over brown rice and it was a great satisfying and healthy meal.

Balsamic Chicken and Vegetables

1/4 cup bottled Italian salad dressing (I used fat-free)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil (I used cooking spray)
12 ounces chicken breast tenderloins
10 ounces asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces, or 10-ounce package frozen cut asparagus, thawed and well drained (I used broccoli florets and snow peas instead)
1 cup shredded carrot (this is a LOT of carrot, I recommend using 1/2 cup)
1 small tomato, seeded and chopped (I omitted)

Stir together salad dressing, vinegar, honey, and crushed red pepper in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat and cook chicken for 5 to 6 minutes, or until tender and no longer pink, turning once. Remove chicken to serving dish; cover and keep warm.
Add asparagus and carrot to skillet. Cook, stirring, 3 to 4 minutes, or until asparagus is crisp-tender; transfer to dish.
Stir dressing mixture and add to skillet. Cook for 1 minute, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Drizzle dressing over chicken and vegetables. Sprinkle with tomato.

Nutrition Facts
Makes 4 servings
Per serving: 271 calories, 22g protein, 12g carbohydrate, 15g fat (2g saturated), 2g fiber

Peach Cobbler

Following our nice healthy dinner last night, I wanted to serve something that wasn't too heavy or rich for dessert. I had seen this recipe for Peach Cobbler from Paula Deen's restaurant The Lady & Sons on Reservations Not Required and knew it would be the one to accompany my balsamic chicken and veggies. This cobbler was very easy to prepare and tasted great. I opted to cut down on the amount of butter - I used only 4 tablespoons as opposed to the 1 stick the recipe called for and it came out fine. In fact, next time I will cut the butter even more. This smelled great while baking and was delicious warm with vanilla ice cream. Joe has already requested that next time I make it with apples, so I know I will be trying this again!

Lady and Son's Peach Cobbler

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup self-rising flour*
1 cup milk1 (28-ounce) can sliced peaches in heavy syrup, un-drained (can substitute fresh peaches**
Cinnamon, for sprinkling, optional
Vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Put butter in a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish and place in the oven to melt. Stir sugar and flour together and mix well. Slowly add milk and continue stirring to prevent the batter from lumping.
Being careful not to burn yourself, remove hot baking dish containing melted butter from oven; pour batter directly over butter in baking dish. Do not stir.

Spoon fruit on top of batter, then gently pour syrup on top. Do not stir. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of batter, if using. (The most important part of this dish is not stirring the mixture at this point in the recipe.)

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until golden brown (mine needed to bake for around 50 minutes). Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream, if desired.

* If self-rising flour is not available it can be created from all-purpose flour. For one cup of all purpose flour, add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt.

**If using fresh peaches: in a saucepan, mix 2 cups fresh peach slices with one cup sugar and one cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir often, making sure the sugar is completely dissolved.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bread and pasta all in one!

One of me and Joe's favorite indulgences is a penne vodka pizza from a local pizzeria. It's creamy penne vodka pasta and mozzarella cheese piled on a pizza crust and it is heaven. So when I saw the Italian Pasta Bake in the December-January issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray I immediately thought of our favorite pizza and knew I had to give the recipe a try. I had to wait until after Christmas, when I finally got my springform pan, but armed with the proper tools I was ready to make this delicious-looking dinner.

And it certainly was delicious! But with 1 lb. of mozzarella cheese, 1 cup of parmesan cheese and a cup of heavy cream, how could it be bad? This is certainly NOT a diet dish, but it was a fun weekend treat and it makes a TON of food. This recipe does not take a long time to prepare, but needs 40 minutes to bake and 30 minutes to rest before slicing so be sure you start prepping this about 2 hours before you actually plan to eat, but it's worth the time. Next time I make this I will make sure I fit the bread on top of the pasta tighter, so it comes out more like pie crust instead of pieces of bread on top of pasta.

Italian Pasta Bake

2 loaves day-old Italian country bread, crusts discarded, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 pound rigatoni or ziti pasta
4 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas (I omitted)
One 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Preheat the oven to 375º. Grease a 10-inch springform pan or 4-quart ovenproof bowl. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with bread slices, fitting them tightly; reserve several bread slices for the top.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the peas and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and heavy cream, mixing until combined, and bring to a simmer. Set aside 1 cup of the sauce. Drain the pasta, add to the sauce in the skillet and toss to coat. Stir in the mozzarella and half of the parmesan. Season with salt. Pour the pasta into the bread-lined pan, pressing down with a wooden spoon.

Cover with the remaining bread slices. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top and dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter.

Bake the pasta until golden and crusty, about 40 minutes (loosely cover with foil if necessary to prevent overbrowning). Let cool for about 30 minutes, then unmold and slice. Serve with the reserved tomato sauce and extra parmesan.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Small Batch Baking: Cheesecake Toffee Drops

As a Christmas gift this year I received the Small Batch Baking cookbook (thanks, Margot!) and was instantly intrigued. It seemed like the perfect cookbook for me - I love to bake but I hate having tons of the finished product sitting around the house. Okay, let me rephrase that - I LOVE having tons of the finished product sitting around the house, but my hips and thighs do NOT. All the recipes in this cookbook are scaled down to make 2-3 servings of baked goods- two large muffins, 3 brownies, 2 mini cakes, etc. - perfect for making Joe and I evening treats. I was excited to try out a recipe and see how it went.

Cookies are my favorite treat of all, so I decided to make the Cheesecake Toffee Drops from the book. It was strange working with such small amounts while baking - 1/3 cup flour, 1 tablespoon butter, and my tiny bowl of resulting dough was funny, but it produced six good-sized cookies. The texture of these cookies was a little strange - they were moist and springy, as Joe observed, almost like the tops of muffins. It wasn't until re-typing the recipe for this post that I realized WHY the texture was off - I added 1 whole beaten egg as opposed to the 1 TEASPOON of beaten egg the recipe called for. Whoops. Guess I really do need to get used to working with smaller amounts! Regardless of the texture, these cookies were tasty! Not overly sweet and satisfying. I used Heath bar baking bits, since I had them on hand, and also added a few handfuls of milk chocolate chips. I will definitely be trying out more recipes from this book - I mean, who wouldn't want to make mini layer cakes in 15 oz soup cans?!?!

Cheesecake Toffee Drops

1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon well-beaten egg or egg substitute
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped chocolate-covered toffee bar (such as Heath or Skor) (I used Heath baking bits)
I also added some milk chocolate chips
Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 300 degrees. Set aside an ungreased baking sheet. Place the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Place the butter, brown sugar and cream cheese in a medium-size bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the beaten egg and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until dough is light in texture, about 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until the dry ingredients are blended in. Stir in the toffee with a wooden spoon. Drop the cookie batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheet, spacing them 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart (thanks to my extra egg, I think mine spread out more than they should have!). Bake until the cookies appear dry and golden, 20-25 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and immediately transfer cookies to a wire rack, cool completely.
Makes 6 cookies, serves 2 or 3

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Blondes Have More Fun

When it comes to desserts, I do not fall into the "less is more" category. I believe the more the better - if you can cram in some more chocolate chip, nuts or candy, why wouldn't you? So it's no surprise that these blondies caught my eye right away. This recipe comes from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth, a gorgeous dessert cookbook packed with the most decadent dessert recipes you'll ever see. I got the book for Christmas and have been dying to break it in, so when Joe told me he had his monthly department meeting on Monday I would be sending in something from this book. I choose the Big Blondes because I had almost all of the ingredients on hand already, plus I needed to make something that could easily be eaten during a meeting. These blondies are amazing! They are SO rich and gooey - all the brown sugar and butter in the recipe makes them taste very pecan pie-like, and they are nice and chewy and gooey - not cakey at all. And can I just tell you how amazing my house smelled after I melted the butter and brown sugar together on the stove? My only complaint about this recipe is that you really need to let the batter cool for awhile, otherwise the chocolate chips will melt when you add them in. I felt like I waited forever, and the batter seemed cool enough, but the chips still melted a bit. Also, I felt like they came out a little too greasy - next time I might try reducing the butter to 1 1/2 sticks instead of 2. No worries though, they still came out great and people devoured them. I made a few modifications to the recipe (indicated below) and there are probably a million other things you could add to these if you desired. Enjoy!

Big Blondes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup pecan halves, toasted
1 cup walnut halves, toasted
1 cup whole raw almonds, coarsely chopped and toasted (I omitted)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut (I omitted)
4 or 5 full-sized (1.4 ounces) toffee candy bars such as Heath, very coarsely chopped (I used Heath baking bits)
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350. Spray 9x13” pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Melt the butter and brown sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the butter and sugar are blended and completely melted and mixture starts to bubble gently. Remove pan from heat and let mixture cool slightly.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and salt. Slowly whisk the cooled butter and sugar mixture into the eggs until combined. Whisk in the flour and baking powder to form a loose batter. (Make sure the batter is cool before stirring in remaining ingredients; otherwise the chocolate will start to melt before the bars are baked.)

Stir the nuts, coconut, toffee chunks, and chocolate chips into the cooled batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake until the top is shiny and slightly cracked and feels firm to the touch, 30 to 35 minutes. (Mine took a LOT longer than this to bake- closer to 50 minutes.) A wooden skewer inserted into the batter should come out with moist crumbs clinging to it. Let cool on a wire rack to room temperature, then cut into bars and serve.

Makes 15 large or 30 small bars. (I recommend cutting these small - they are very rich!)

Happy Birthday Joe!

Just a quick little birthday shout out to my hubby. We celebrated on Sunday night with a Carvel cake - chocolate and vanilla ice cream with a layer of chocolate crunchies covered in fudge and chopped peanuts - and tonight we're going to dinner at Outback Steakhouse so Joe can have some nice red meat. Happy Birthday, baby!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Fondue It!

Five plus years ago when Joe and I were making our wedding registry, I registered for a fondue pot. Joe made fun of me for this and claimed I would never use it. Well, the joke is on him, because this weekend the fondue pot made it's debut in our kitchen - never say never!

Inspired by our friends Jamie and Dave, who received a fondue pot for Christmas, the four of us decided to get together and create our own little Melting Pot. Joe and I handled the cheese course, Jamie and Dave did dessert and we collaborated on the main course - Joe and I provided the protein and Jamie and Dave made the awesome stock to cook it in.
We had so much fun, and the food was amazing! For the cheese, I went online and found the
Melting Pot's recipe for Cheddar Cheese Fondue. It came out perfectly gooey and cheesy!

Cheddar Cheese Fondue
4 oz Beer, Skim Milk or Broth (I used Miller Lite)
1 teaspoon Chopped Garlic
Cheddar cheese (I used a block of extra sharp)
Mustard Powder
Worcestershire sauce

1. Start with 4 ounces of base (beer, skim milk, or broth).
2. Add one demi-spoon of chopped garlic (about one teaspoon).
3. Add three shakes of mustard powder.
4. Stir.
5. Add a small quantity (approximately three pinches) of Cheddar Cheese.
6. Mix together thoroughly, using a whipping motion once the cheese is melted.
7. Add small quantities of cheese to bring it to proper consistency.
8. Add five turns of pepper grinder.
9. Three to four shakes of Worcestershire sauce.
10. Fold in pepper and Worcestershire.
11. Remove your mixing fork.
For the entree course, Dave whipped up a broth for us. I need to consult him for the exact recipe, but I know it contained chicken stock, red wine, mushrooms, scallions... Whatever was in it, it was good! We used a variety of dipping sauces for our meats - garlic sauce, hoisin sauce and a sweet coconut sauce.
Finally, the best course of all - dessert!
Jamie and Dave used a recipe modified from Rachael Ray. They used her measurements for cream and chocolate and added a heaping tablespoons of chunky peanut butter.
This was seriously too delicious for words. We had a huge plate of dippers including strawberries, bananas, pretzels, pound cake and graham crackers - and we ate them all!
Trust me, it won't be another five years before I break out the fondue pot again, that's for sure!

Fun(fetti) Little Cookies

It seems like everyone loves Pillsbury's Funfetti cake mix - toss some sprinkles into cake batter and you have a winner! Who knew? I've made Funfetti as cakes and cupcakes before, but had yet to try them in their lesser-known form - as cookies! Joe has a department meeting today and I always like to send in treats for his coworkers to enjoy while they meet, so I thought I would give the Fufetti cookies a try. They are super easy and come out tasting just like the cupcakes. I frosted mine with Pillsbury Milk Chocolate frosting and topped with sprinkles and candy stars and just followed the recipe on the cake mix box.

Funfetti Cookies

1 (18.9-oz.) pkg. Pillsbury® Moist Supreme® Funfetti® Cake Mix
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 (15.6-oz.) can Pillsbury® Creamy Supreme® Funfetti® Vanilla Frosting (I used chocoalte)
Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, combine cake mix, oil and eggs; stir with spoon until thoroughly moistened. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. With bottom of glass dipped in flour, flatten to 1/4-inch thickness.

Bake at 375°F. for 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets.

Spread frosting over warm cookies. Immediately sprinkle each with candy bits from frosting. Let frosting set before storing. Store in tightly covered container.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A new addition to my kitchen

Presenting - my baker's rack! I've wanted one of these ever since Renea posted about hers in August. Until her post, I had never really heard of a baker's rack, but once I saw it I knew I needed one. I have a lot of cookbooks and pretty candles and things that are shoved into cabinets and I thought it would be nice to be able to keep them out. I searched around online and found a rack that had lots of storage and complimented our kitchen and Joe ordered it for me last week. He also graciously spent the good part of last night assembling it for me, but we both think the effort was worth it - we love it!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

To a sweet new year

This dessert is so easy that's almost embarrasing to accept any praise for it. But you will recieve lots of praise after people taste it, so I say to just enjoy! About a year ago Joe and I had dinner with our friends Lauren and Pat and Lauren served this brownie ice cream cake for dessert. Joe just about died from pleasure while eating it - it is so good! And once Lauren told me how simple it is, I started making it myself. Joe requested it for New Year's Eve and I happily obliged.

There's not real recipe - all you need is a gallon of your favorite ice cream and a batch of your favorite brownies. I always use a boxed mix for the brownies and Joe usually prefers neopolitan ice cream, but for New Year's Eve I used Turkey Hill Party Cake ice cream - vanilla ice cream with pieces of colored cake and buttercream frosting swirls in it. Festive! To assemble the cake, soften the ice cream a bit, then spread half the container in the bottom of a pan (I use a bundt pan). Crumble the brownies into bite-size pieces and layer half on top of the ice cream. Spread the remaining ice cream on top of the brownie layer in the pan and then crumble on the rest of the brownies. Freeze until the ice cream hardens.

We bought some Hershey's Magic Shell to drizzle (or, in Joe's case, glug) over our slices. Mmmmm - the perfect way to ring in the new year!