Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spinach and Salami Pasta

This dish is loosely based on the Broccoli Rabe and Salami Pasta dish, a Rachael Ray recipe, I spotted on A Taste of Home Cooking. Joe loves salami, but neither of us cares for broccoli rabe, so I decided right away I would use spinach instead. Then, the afternoon before I was going to make the dish for dinner, Joe commented that he was really in the mood for pasta and I was afraid he would be disappointed with this dish since it didn't have any real sauce to it. So I improvised and sort of made up my own concoction that incorporated tomato sauce and it was really good! The ricotta made it nice and creamy and the salami gave the whole thing a little kick. Joe loved it and I don't think I would change anything the next time I make it.

Spinach and Salami Pasta

1 jar (24 oz) marinara sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Black pepper to taste
1/3 pound salami, sliced into ribbons (I used Genoa deli salami)
1 1/2 cups 2% ricotta cheese
1 pound penne pasta
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
4 cups baby spinach

Cook pasta according to package directions. As pasta cooks, heat marinara sauce over medium heat until bubbly. Stir in garlic powder, red pepper, black pepper and salami. Cook until salami is heated through, then stir in the ricotta cheese. Drain pasta and toss immediately with the sauce. Add spinach and combine until spinach begins to wilt.

Holla!!! (aka Challah Bread)

I had to use the above title in honor of Joe. I had printed out two bread recipes and was debating on which to try. I asked Joe if he would prefer Italian bread or challah, to which he responded "Holla!!!" and then asked what challah bread was. I love challah, so I decided to go with his choice. This bread is super delicious and tastes just like a nice bakery loaf of challah, even though its not it the traditional braided shape. Plus the whole thing is made in the bread machine so it requires little effort. Based on the reviews on All Recipes, I heated the milk in the microwave and melted the butter into it before adding it to the bread machine. I also upped the sugar and used closer to half a cup to make sure the bread was sweet enough. I thought it came out perfect - I will definitely make this again soon!

Bread Machine Challah

3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
3 tablespoons margarine
3 cups bread flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Add ingredients to the pan of the bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer.
Select Basic Bread and Light Crust settings. Start.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The best kind of eggs

are filled with peanut butter! Who doesn't love a nice big chocolate peanut butter egg? I decided to make up a batch to bring to Easter dinner - if ever there is a holiday that demands chocolate it's Easter. I used this recipe from Gale Gand of the Food Network and just shaped the peanut butter mixture into eggs instead of balls. I topped the finished eggs with some Easter sprinkles. They were delicious and tasted almost exactly like Reese's eggs. I did find the peanut butter mixture to be rather dry and added about 1/3 cup extra peanut butter to make it easier to work with. Aside from that, this recipe is a winner. Happy Easter!

Peanut Butter Eggs

1 jar (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter
1 (16-ounce) box confectioners' sugar
1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 packages dark cocoa candy melts, melted

In a large bowl, combine peanut butter, confectioners' sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and butter. Mash together until combined. Form the mixture into balls. Transfer to the refrigerator until hardened, about 30 minutes. Dip the peanut butter balls into the melted chocolate and set inside mini paper cupcake forms. Decorate as desired. Let the chocolate set before serving.

Pineapple Cake

As soon as I saw this recipe for pineapple cake on Anna's blog, I knew it was the dessert that I wanted to bring to my aunt's house for Easter. In order to make it a little fancier I chose to do a two-layer cake and put the pineapple mixture between the layers and on top of the cake. This was a tasty cake! I used a butter recipe yellow cake mix and the result was a nice, dense, pound cake-like cake. The pineapple filling is quite sweet but it goes nicely with the cake. This was the perfect compliment to our yummy ham dinner.

Pineapple Cake

1 box butter recipe yellow cake mix
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple
4 ounces butter (1 stick) – regular salted type
5 oz can evaporated milk
1 ½ cups sugar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray.
Drain crushed pineapple and reserve juice.
Prepare cake as directed on box, substituting the reserved pineapple juice for half of the water.
Set a large (3 quart) saucepan over medium heat and add butter. When butter is about halfway melted, add evaporated milk and sugar. Continue cooking over medium heat, whisking often, until butter is completely melted mixture is hot and just beginning to simmer around the edges. Add egg yolks and continue cooking over medium, whisking constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Cook and whisk for a little over a minute, then remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. Add vanilla extract and drained pineapple. Leave pineapple mixture at room temperature (still in pan) while cake continues to bake and cools.
When cake is cool, pour room-temperature pineapple mixture over cake. Place in refrigerator and chill until pineapple topping sets.

Snap, Krackle, Pop

My sister Jill was invited to Easter dinner with her new boyfriend's family and she offered to bring a dessert. She then called me and asked me to make said dessert. I had lots of things in mind, but Jill wanted Rice Krispie treats. So Rice Krispie treats it was. Naturally, I used the recipe on the Rice Krispies website. We made one batch of regular and one batch of chocolate - I just added some cocoa powder and vanilla to the marshmallow and pressed chocolate chips on top. Unfortunately, gossiping with your sister and cooking aren't always the best combo and I added two few cups of Rice Krispies to the original treats, so they were slightly thin and greasy, but Jill insisted I didn't need to remake them. I paid more attention when mixing the chocolate ones and they came out much better! Hopefully Jill's boyfriend's family enjoyed them. And if they hated them, Jill promised to claim that she made them herself ;)

Rice Krispie Treats

3 tablespoons margarine or butter
1(10 oz.) package regular marshmallows
- or -
4 cups mini marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies®

Melt margarine in large saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Add KELLOGG'S RICE KRISPIES cereal. Stir until well coated. Using buttered spatula or waxed paper, press mixture evenly into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cut into 2-inch squares when cool. Best if served the same day.

MICROWAVE DIRECTIONS:In a large microwave safe bowl, heat margarine and marshmallows at HIGH for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Follow steps 2 and 3 above.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The eating of the green

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Being that I'm not Irish I don't typically celebrate St. Patrick's Day, but I had a can of green Christmas-themed funfetti frosting in my pantry and I felt St. Patty's Day was the perfect chance to use it up. I whipped up some cupcakes from a yellow cake mix and added food coloring to turn them green. I frosted them with my green frosting and decorated with green sugar sprinkles and green M&Ms.

Venetian Shrimp and Scallops

Frozen seafood was on sale at the grocery store last weekend, so I had a freezer full of shrimp and scallops. I was at a loss as to what to do with the two together, so I turned to the girls on the What's Cooking board on the Nest, who recommended this Rachael Ray recipe. I changed the recipe a bit, since I didn't want to spend the money on saffron. I substituted Italian seasoning instead and it worked great. This dinner was very tasty. I served Joe's portion over penne and ate grilled asparagus with mine. This meal also requires a nice loaf of bread to sop up all the sauce. Delicious! I only wish my shrimps and scallops were larger, but they tasted good regardless!

Venetian Shrimp and Scallops

1 pound sea scallops
1/4 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 tablespoon (1 turn around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large shallot, finely chopped (I used onion)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth or stock
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads (I used Italian seasoning)
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
12 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn (I omitted)
1 lemon, zested (I omitted)

Lightly coat the sea scallops in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Discard remaining flour.
Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil (1 turn around the pan) and butter. When butter melts into oil, add scallops. Brown scallops 2 minutes on each side, then remove from pan.
Add an additional drizzle of olive oil to the pan and add the garlic, shallots, and crushed red pepper flakes. Reduce heat a little and saute garlic and shallots 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine to the pan and free up any pan drippings. Reduce wine 1 minute, then add stock, tomatoes and saffron threads. When liquids come to a bubble, add shrimp and cook 3 minutes. Return scallops to the pan and cook shrimp and scallops 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer shrimp and scallops to a warm serving dish and top with basil and lemon zest. Pass plenty of bread to enjoy the juices.

Is it summer yet?

Maybe not quite yet, but on Saturday the temperatures neared 60 degrees and I figured it was as good a day as any to pretend it was summer. Joe pulled out the grill and we whipped up a tasty, warm-weather meal in March. Joe grilled up these inside-out cheeseburgers, a summer favorite that I got from Eating Well. Instead of Gruyere and cheddar cheese combo I used cheddar and a mix of parmesan, romano and asiago. I also added about half a cup of breadcrumbs to the meat, because I feel like the burgers needed them to hold together. These were super delicious and curbed my craving for spring...for now.

Inside-Out Cheeseburgers

1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1 pound 90%-lean ground beef
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat grill to medium-high or preheat the broiler. Combine Cheddar and Gruyere in a small bowl. Gently mix beef, Worcestershire, paprika and pepper in a large bowl, preferably with your hands, without overworking. Shape into 8 thin, 4-inch-wide patties. Mound 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture on each of 4 patties, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Cover each with one of the remaining patties. Crimp and seal the edges closed.
To grill: Lightly oil the grill rack (see Tip). Grill the stuffed patties over medium-high heat, about 4 minutes per side for medium-well. (Be sure not to press the burgers as they cook or they'll split open and the cheese will ooze out.) To broil: Cover a broiler pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Broil the stuffed patties in the upper third of the oven, about 4 minutes per side for medium-well. In either case, let the burgers stand for 5 minutes before serving.
To go with the burgers we prepared Joe's yummy grilled potatoes. They are very easy to make and are a great compliment to anything that comes off the grill. I don't have exact measurements, just use ingredient to taste and quantity.

Grilled Potatoes
small red potatoes
olive oil
burger seasoning

Cut potatoes into uniform chunks and place in a pot. Add water to pot until potatoes are just covered. Bring water and potatoes to a boil and boil 3-5 minutes until potatoes are fork tender; drain. Drizzle potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning, to taste. Cover grill with aluminum foil and place potatoes on foil. Grill 10-15 minutes until cooked through and crisp on the outside.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

...and a cookie for my hundreth

It only seemed fitting that my 100th post be about my all-time favorite food and blog namesake, the cookie. I was in the mood tonight for some fresh baked cookies and decided to finally try the much discussed and duplicated Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies from Joelen on the What's Cooking board. I used french vanilla pudding mix and added milk chocolate chips, M&Ms and pecan chips. And now, a confession. I had half a large bag of Christmas M&Ms that I wanted to use up but I didn't want to feature holiday-looking cookies in this post. So I picked out all the red M&Ms and used only the green - it's almost St. Patrick's Day after all ;) These cookies are nice and soft and the pudding mix adds a nice vanilla hint to the cookie. So here's to my 100th post - have a cookie!

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate chips, M&Ms and pecans)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown.

All Turned Around

Tonight was my evening off from the gym, so I had time to try out a new meal. I saw this recipe on Jennyfer's blog and knew that it was something Joe and I would enjoy. Jennyfer did a bbq chicken version, but I chose to stick with the typical pizza elements for now. This was delicious! Joe and I both very impressed with this meal. It was just like eating an upside down slice of pizza. Yum! Below is my modification of the recipe:

Upside Down Pizza

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 links pound sweet turkey sausage, casing removed
1 cup onion, sliced
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms
half a package turkey pepperoni
2 cups pizza sauce
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp garlic powder
16 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup grated parmesan, romano and asiago mix

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and cook for 3 minutes, or until browned and cooked through, breaking up the meat as it cooks with a wooden spoon. Season sausage with red pepper flakes and add onion, mushrooms and pepperoni. Cook 2 minutes, until mushrooms are soft. Add pasta sauce and garlic powder, bring to a simmer, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer sauce to the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and oil until blended. Whisk in flour and salt until well blended. Pour mixture over sauce in pan. Sprinkle with cheese mix. Bake 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

"I'm not going to the store" Macaroni and Cheese

My brother-in-law John just moved into a new apartment, and this past Sunday he invited his parents, Joe and I over for dinner. John was making oven fried chicken (which was super delicious, by the way) and I offered to bring a side dish. I decided macaroni and cheese would be a perfect compliment to the chicken, but I did not know what John planned to make until Sunday afternoon so the mac and cheese was a last minute decision. I was NOT in the mood to run to the store so I decided I would make do with what I had in the house. I searched around for a good recipe that would use the ingredients I had and finally chose this one from Erika at Bean's Bistro. I made a few changes to accommodate my ingredients and it turned out very well. Next time I will add some more spices (I was out of dry mustard, which might have added more flavor) to give it a little kick, but all in all it was creamy and delicious! Below is the recipe as I made it.

Macaroni and Cheese

1 box elbow macaroni
1/2 stick butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 cup skim milk
3/4 cup half and half
salt & pepper to taste
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz asiago cheese, shredded
breadcrumbs, enough to coat top

Preheat over to 350 degrees.
Cook macaroni according to package and drain. Pour into a large casserole dish and set aside.
In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour, adding slowly until mixture is smooth and a little thick.
Slowly whisk in the milk and half and half, bringing to a gentle boil, thickening the sauce until smooth and creamy,
Stir in the salt and pepper to your tastes.
Stir in the cheeses until melted.
Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked macaroni in the casserole pan. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on the top.
Bake in oven until hot and bubbly, about 20 minutes.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

I Want Kandy

If you live on the East Coast, chances are you've had a Kandy Kake. Kandy Kakes are a creation of Tastykake, which is located in Philadelphia, PA. I know that Tastykake products are not available in stores throughout the US, because it is not uncommon for family friends living in other parts of the country to ask us to ship them some Tastykake products so they can get their fix. If you haven't had the pleasure of enjoying Tastykake, you're missing out! Their treats are delicious! Both Joe and I have always been partial to Kandy Kakes, however. A Kandy Kake is essentially a little yellow cake topped with peanut butter and covered in chocolate. How can you go wrong with that?

So I was excited to attend a recipe exchange at my friend Karen's house last year and receive a recipe for homemade Kandy Kakes from Karen herself. Joe tried them and fell in love, so I decided to make a batch for him to bring to his fantasy baseball draft today. I made them yesterday, and Joe proceeded to eat four of them after dinner. They're good, but in my opinion there is too much cake and not enough peanut butter and chocolate! I don't own a jellyroll pan, so I used the largest cookie sheet I have that will fit in my small oven, which probably accounts for my thick layer of cake. Next time I'll divide the batter between two baking pans for thinner cake. Joe had no complaints though.

The only change to the below recipe I made was that I did not measure my peanut butter or chocolate. I just spread on enough peanut butter to make a nice coating over the cake - about 2/3 of a jar. For the chocolate, I just melted a small bag of milk chocolate chips and spread them on until I had a good coating. You can use your judgement (and preferences) for these steps! As I said, next time I'm using more peanut butter and chocolate!

"Kandy Kakes"

4 eggs
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
2 c. flour
2 tsp. butter
1 cup hot milk
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
2 (8 oz) Hershey bars

Beat eggs. Add sugar, vanilla, baking powder and flour. Melt butter in hot milk and add to batter. Pour mixture into greased jellyroll pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
Spread at once with peanut butter. Refrigerate until peanut butter is hard. Melt Hershey bars and spread on top. Refrigerate until chocolate is hardened. Bring to room temperature before slicing into bars.

Chicken Piccata

It seems only fitting to me that I got this Giada recipe off of Lauren's blog. I associate chicken piccata with her, since it was one of the dishes we made the first time we attended Super Suppers together and the first time Joe and I had chicken piccata. As Joe and I were eating our Super Supper chicken piccata, he commented on how much he liked it and I assured him it was easy to recreate and I would make it for him soon. Well, I guess soon is a relative term, since that conversation took place a year ago! So when I saw this recipe on Lauren's blog I figured it was finally time to make the dish. I only wish I'd made it sooner! This chicken is delicious and no trouble at all to whip up. I'm pretty sure I won't be waiting a year to make this again.

I served this with some whole wheat spaghetti tossed with olive oil, garlic, Parmesan and Italian seasonings and roasted broccoli. I've come to the conclusion recently that all vegetables taste better roasted! I just sprayed the broccoli with some cooking spray, sprinkled on salt, pepper and garlic powder and roasted in the oven for about 20 minutes at 375. Delicious!

Chicken Piccata

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved crosswise
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
all-purpose flour, for dredging
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons EVOO
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (approx 2 lemons)
1/4 cup drained capers, rinsed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I omitted)

Season the chicken with the salt/pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour to coat lightly.

In a large saute pan, melt 2 tbsp of the butter with the 2 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until brown, about 3 minutes per side (I did mine a bit longer because, as per usual, I forgot to pound it!). Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add the broth, lemon juice, and capers to the same pan and bring to a boil, scraping up the bits from the bottom of the pan.

Return the chicken and simmer until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a platter, and whisk the 2 remaining tbsp's of butter into the sauce. (I didn't add this butter, I didn't think it needed it!) Pour the sauce over the chicken, garnish with parsley, and serve.

Albino biscuits

Otherwise known as cream biscuits. But mine came out so pale that Joe and I renamed them. I saw this recipe on Ashley's blog and they looked too simple not to try. And they were definitely easy to make. The only change I made was to use 1 cup of heavy cream and 1/2 cup half and half. I think I may have under-baked them a tad, but overall they were very good! Nice and creamy - Joe really enjoyed them. I'll be making these again, just baking them a little longer to try to give them a healthy glow!

Cream Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk dry ingredients together in medium bowl. Stir in the cream with a wooden spoon until the dough forms, about 30 seconds. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gather into a ball. Knead the dough briefly until smooth, about 30 seconds.

Pat the dough into a 3/4-inch thick circle. Cut the biscuits into rounds using a 2 or 2-1/2″ biscuit cutter. Place the biscuits on the parchment-lined baking sheet. The baking sheet can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 hours. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Yields: 1 dozen 2″ biscuits

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I Love Carbs

And I have a t-shirt to prove it. My bright orange shirt proclaims "I heart Carbs" and features a little dancing pig and cow on the front. I wear it to the gym and it always makes someone laugh. But I truly, truly love carbs. I have also become obsessed with making bread ever since I had success with yeast. This past Sunday my friend Karen was coming for dinner and I planned to make a simple baked ziti. I of course, wanted to make some fresh bread to go with it, but Karen and I were seeing a movie before dinner so there wasn't time for me to rise and bake the bread. I opted for a bread machine recipe instead, so we'd have fresh warm bread when we got in after the movie. I chose this recipe for rosemary bread from All Recipes because it had great reviews and was compared to the bread at Macaroni Grill, which is delicious. This bread, however, I thought was just okay. It had a decent flavor but it was on the dry side. I've had such success with my last two bread making attempts that this one was just okay. But, carb addict that I am, "just okay" bread is certainly better than NO bread and I still managed to eat several slices ;) I used the basic cycle on my bread machine and chose medium crust color.

Jo's Rosemary Bread

1 cup water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select white bread cycle; press Start.

Simple from the Skillet

I came across this recipe months ago in a magazine ad for Campbell's soup. For some reason it appealed to me - most likely because tacos are one of the very few Mexican dishes I will eat, so I'm always looking for variations. I pulled the recipe out tonight when I knew I needed a quick dinner since I would be late at the gym. This recipe certainly is quick - it took under 15 minutes from start to finish. And it was surprisingly tasty! Looking at it as it cooked I thought it looked like it needed something to go with it. I didn't want to wait for rice to boil, so I opted for a much classier side dish - Tostitos. Yum! Both Joe and I really enjoyed this, and I will make it again. The only change I made to the recipe was to add seasoning to the beef as I was afraid it would be too bland without it. I used several shakes each of garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes and oregano, but a few teaspoons of taco seasoning would work well too.

Beef Taco Skillet

1 lb. ground beef
taco seasoning or seasonings to taste
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Tomato Soup (Regular or 25% Less Sodium)
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup water
6 flour tortillas (6-inch), cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Season beef and cook the beef in a 10-inch skillet until well browned, stirring to break up the meat. Pour off any fat.
Stir in the soup, salsa, water, and tortillas. Heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Stir. Top with the cheese.

Hooray - I'm Excellent!

A huge thank you to Robin at Made with Love for giving me the E for Excellent award! As a big fan of Robin's blog, I was thrilled to see that she enjoyed mine as well - thank you, Robin! Now in keeping with the tradition of the awards, I now get to recognize five blogs that I think are excellent!
My first pick is Amanda at Mommy and Monster. Her recipes are always simple and to the point, which I appreciate and I love that she's started to get adventurous and participate in groups like the Daring Bakers! I also enjoy the cute pictures she posts of her dog and son.
The next E goes to Melissa at Mrs. Sac's Purple Kitchen, because she cooks the kind of food I want to eat!
My third pick is for Brianna at Oishii. I find her posts about cooking in Japan to be extremely interesting, and I like that she includes her cat in the blog too ;)
Next is for Elizabeth at Ugg Smell Food. I enjoy her posts, and as someone who is called "Chicken" by her husband, I appreciate that Elizabeth calls her husband "Ugg."

My final E goes to Nikki at Pennies on a Platter. Not only do I love her blog, but she introduced me to the glory that is Hawaiian rolls and for that I will forever be grateful.