Wednesday, April 24, 2013

corn cakes

Soup and bread is the perfect combo...unless the soup is spicy.  When you add spice to the mix, you've gotta have corn to sweeten things up a bit!

These corn cakes are easy and delicious - the perfect accompaniment to your favorite spicy soup.  I like them with tortilla soup, but this week we had them with a black bean soup.  They contain green onions and cayenne, adding their own level of spice to the meal.  But the natural sweetness of corn rounds everything out.  They are a must for your next night of Mexican food.

Begin by combining an egg, buttermilk, and melted butter.

In a separate bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and cayenne pepper.

Combine the dry and wet ingredients and then fold in the corn and green pepper.  Heat a cast iron skillet and coat it with light layer of oil.  Fry up the corn cakes like you would pancakes!

Serve with sour cream, a little salsa, and some delicious soup - makes a terrific meal!

Corn Cakes
Adapted from Gooseberry Patch's Celebrate Year Round
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. sugar
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. cayenne pepper
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 T. butter, melted
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen corn

In a small bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and cayenne pepper.  In a separate bowl, whisk egg, buttermilk and butter.  Add egg mixture to cornmeal mixture and stir lightly.  Fold in green onions and corn.  In a heated cast iron skillet coated with oil, place heaping tablespoons of batter; brown and flip as you would pancakes.  Top with sour cream and salsa.  Serves 4.

Monday, April 22, 2013

"his" and "hers" strawberry sauces

Cookie Bandit and I had a fun, impromptu date night the other day.  We had some strawberries...we had some pork we decided to play a little game of Iron Chef and make our own strawberry sauces to spruce up our dinner.

I combined sweet, sassy, and savory to get a strawberry lime sauce.  It goes amazing on both pork and chicken.  Cookie Bandit went a bit more bold and created a hot and savory strawberry sauce.  At first you taste the strawberries, but it leaves some spice and heat lingering on your taste buds.  I couldn't get enough of the stuff!

Be sure to try one next time you need to spruce up grilled chicken or pork chops.  Or better yet, grab some fruit and try making your own!

"His" Hot and Savory Strawberry Sauce
  • 6 strawberries
  • 3 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1/4 t. garlic powder
  • 1/8 t. cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 t. prepared horseradish

"Hers" Strawberry-Lime Sauce
  • 6 strawberries
  • 1 T. red wine vinegar
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 t. lime juice
  • 1/4 t. basil
  • 1/4 t. ground mustard
  • 1/4 t. savory
Puree all ingredients and spoon over meat.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

game-day fan fare - review and giveaway!

Game-Day Fan Fare: Over 240 recipes, plus tips and inspiration to make sure your game-day celebration is a home run!
It's that time of year again!  Gooseberry Patch has a brand new cookbook out, and my goodness is it amazing.  Game-Day Fan Fare is full of those perfect recipes for a night at home watching the football game on TV or for the best party you'll ever throw.  I just love it for its versatility in that sense.  It's got recipes for brunch, munchies, soups, salads, sandwiches, main dishes, sides, dessert treats, and for those times when you are feeding the whole football team!  
Like I do with most cookbooks, I immediately read it straight through to see what caught my eye.  For the first time, there was so much that I had to make a list!  Our breakfasts in the near future are going to definitely include the Blueberry Coffee Cake, Pumpkin Waffles, and Beer Bread Pancakes.  The Touchdown Toss looks amazing - a white chocolate covered snack mix that sounds perfect for movie night!  I can't wait to try making my own Pimento Cheese to go alongside Beer-Cheese Soup, some All-Season Coleslaw, and Creamy Bacon Corn-Fetti.  Next time I have a crowd coming over, I'll be whipping up some Chicken Strata and Mini Cheesecakes.  And I can't wait to try the Caramel Corn, Ooey-Gooey Popcorn, Banana Pudding Fudge, Coconutty Macaroons, and Skillet Cookies.  Phew!  I think I'm going to need to up my exercise with all of these recipes on my menu!

We did finally narrow down which recipes we wanted to try for this review.  We loved all of them and gave them all "awards"!

Most Likely to Be an Ice Cream Topping
Peanut Butter Pancake Syrup from the chapter Kick-off Brunches

We were excited to try this peanut butter syrup because we both love peanut butter and because it was so stinkin' easy...only two ingredients!  It did not disappoint.  It took me just minutes to whip up and provided a delicious topping for our Saturday morning waffles.  It's so rich that you really don't need much and probably wouldn't want it for every breakfast...although we could see putting it on vanilla ice cream in a heartbeat!  We'll be making it as an occasional treat.  This diner-style topping definitely appeals to the southerner in me. 

Most Unique
Sweet Chipotle Pretzels from the chapter Major League Munchies

These pretzels are definitely unique.  They're covered in a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and...yes...chipotle chili powder.  My taste buds really didn't know what to do with themselves!  Because of their interesting flavors, they definitely aren't the kind of snack you could over-indulge on.  They are, however, quick and easy to make...perfect for your next party or gathering.

Most Surprisingly Healthy
Slow-Cooker Cheesesteak Sandwiches from the chapter Souper-Bowl Soups, Salads and Sandwiches

The minute Cookie Bandit saw the name of this recipe, he requested that I make it instantly.  The man loves his cheeseteak sandwiches!  We decided that in the end, these really weren't much like the real Philly cheesesteaks - they aren't greasy at all.  In fact, these are kind of the healthier twin.  Great flavor, still a mess, but lighter on the calories.  They were definitely a nice change from cold sandwiches and burgers.

Creamiest Baked Mac and Cheese We've Ever Tried
Super-Easy Mac and Cheese from the chapter Slam-Dunk Mains and Sides

I almost didn't make this recipe because...I'll be honest...I'm usually not a fan of the baked mac and cheese.  I like creamy, and most baked mac and cheese recipes that we've tried are anything but.  Fortunately for me, I did try it and was pleasantly surprised - this was the creamiest baked mac and cheese ever!  It was also incredibly easy to make - you don't even have to cook the noodles first.  The one downside is that it didn't make great leftovers.  It tended to lose the creaminess, and the cracker topping got a little soggy by the second day.  That's okay, though...Pebbles loved it!

The Cookie That Just Gets Better
Pig-Out Cookies from the chapter Touchdown Treats

Oh my word, these cookies are something else!  We picked them because of their ingredient list - chocolate chips, peanut butter, chili powder, bacon, bacon grease!  I couldn't even imagine what all of those flavors would taste like together, but the answer is, "Magnificent!"  They actually taste better and better the longer they sit - by day 4, Cookie Bandit was just going nuts over them.  They are both sweet and salty, with a subtle touch of bacon flavor.  And one of my favorite things about them - they are seriously some of the prettiest cookies I have ever made, and I wasn't even trying.  They come out looking beautifully, with a texture like those Soft Batch cookies I grew up loving.  These are definitely cookies we'll be making again and again.

Bacon-Potato Chowder from the chapter Stadium-Sized Recipes for a Crowd

This was a nice hearty soup, excellent for a chilly day.  We particularly liked the addition of bacon.  As Cookie Bandit put it, bacon added that element that potato soup generally lacks. This really was a recipe for a crowd - it made 12 huge servings!

So that's the line up!  And it's probably no surprise that Cookie Bandit picked Pig-Out Cookies as his absolute that's what we're sharing with you today!

First, you start with the pig!  Cook up some bacon in a skillet, reserving the drippings.

In a mixing bowl, combine butter and bacon drippings until smooth.

Beat in peanut butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until creamy.

Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, chili powder, and salt.  Combine with rest of batter and then fold in chocolate chips and bacon.

Roll dough into balls.  The recipe says roll into 12 balls - that makes some huge cookies!  We opted to make smaller cookies so that we could enjoy them for longer.  Place balls of dough on parchment paper and flatten slightly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until golden.  Cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack.

Pig-Out Cookies
from Gooseberry Patch's Game-Day Fan Fare
  • 5 slices bacon
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. baking powder
  • 1/8 t. cinnamon
  • 1/8 t. chili powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cook bacon until crisp in a skillet over medium heat.  Crumble and drain, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings; set aside.  In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, chili powder, and salt; set aside.  In a separate bowl, beat together butter and reserved drippings with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Beat in peanut butter and sugars until creamy, about 4 minutes.  Add egg and vanilla; beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Reduce mixer setting to low; slowly beat in flour mixture until just combined.  Fold in chocolate chips and bacon.  Roll dough into 12 balls; arrange 2 inches apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Flatten balls slightly.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes, until golden.  Cool cookies on sheet for about 2 minutes; transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Makes one dozen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Below are some of my friends who are also participating in the Early Bird Reviews by Gooseberry Patch. Check out their recipes & more entries to the giveaway!

Old House Homestead
The Country Cook
Goodeness Gracious
Well Seasoned Life
Girl with Blog
Two Maids a Milking
A Recipe A Day
SusieQTpies Cafe

Friday, April 12, 2013

decorating cookies | favorite things friday

I've always loved holidays because I love celebrating and enjoying all of the traditions that go along with them.  Recently, though, I've realized that we really didn't have traditions for Easter.  I've noticed that many other families don't, either.  Oh sure, there's the egg hunt for the little kids and church and a ham dinner...maybe some egg dying...but that's about it.  Once the Easter Bunny has come and gone, everyone goes about their business like it's a normal day.

So, last year, we decided to start our own Easter tradition.  We still colored eggs...we took our baby girl to her first egg hunt...we went to church and ate ham...but we've also started something a bit more delicious...

Cookie decorating!  I made a monstrous amount of sugar cookies - we're talking about 100 of them.  Then we whipped up a huge vat of frosting, dyed it a few different colors, and away we went!

A few years ago, we bought a decorating kit that came with several different icing tips.  We've never had any lessons in how to use the tools we have.  And, as you can tell, we're not very good at it.  But it's fun!

This was the best cookie of the bunch.  Cookie Bandit made it...he's so talented!

Me?  I opted for a colorful approach to the cookies I decorated.  I'm too impatient for anything intricate.

Cookie decorating is a great tradition that we'll be doing every Easter, and I can't wait until Miss Pebbles is old enough to enjoy it with us.  Even though Easter was two weeks ago, these cookies are still bringing us joy - we've got over half of them still in the freezer!

As an added bonus, decorated cookies make a great table decoration.  If you don't know how else to brighten up your table for your next event, just top the table with a white tablecloth and place individually wrapped, colorfully decorated cookies on it.  Makes a perfect party favor as well!

Decorator Icing
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 T. meringue powder
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 t. vanilla

Combine water and meringue powder; whip until peaks form.  Add sugar, 2 cups at a time, alternating additions with the shortening.  Add the salt and vanilla; beat on low speed until smooth.  Add additional water or milk until icing reaches desired consistency.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

smothered slow cooker chicken

We're still working on getting off the last of our baby weight (yes...I said "our"...Cookie Bandit gained a few pounds himself!).  Yet, I don't want to compromise the flavors of my food.  I'm just not into grilled chicken and brown rice for every meal - too boring.

We were searching for something healthy and delicious, and the two of us concocted this wonderful dish.  It's only 6 Points Plus a serving (for those on Weight Watchers), and it's made in the slow cooker.  The leeks were Cookie Bandit's idea - I didn't even know he know what leeks were!  Ha!

This is a perfect meal when you want comfort food without all of the calories.  We enjoyed it when we created it, and we'll be happily enjoying the leftovers tonight.  It's delish!

It's simple to make.  Toss your leeks, celery, and baby carrots into a large slow cooker.

Top with frozen chicken breasts and seasonings.  That's right - you don't even have to thaw the chicken!

Mix together cream of chicken soup and a packet of onion soup mix.  Top chicken breasts with sliced mushrooms and then spoon the soup mixture over the top.

Cook on high setting for 5 hours.  Then, mix together white wine and cornstarch and pour in.  Stir gently to combine.  Continue cooking on high, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the sauce has slightly thickened.

Serve over mashed potatoes, noodles, or...yes...brown rice. :)

Smothered Slow Cooker Chicken
  • 2 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 4 celery stalks, sliced
  • 6 chicken breast halves
  • 1 t. tarragon
  • 1 t. basil
  • 1 t. thyme
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 10-3/4 oz. can cream of chicken soup
  • 1-oz. package onion soup mix
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1/3 dry white wine

Place leeks, carrots, and celery in a large slow cooker.  Arrange chicken breasts over the top.  Sprinkle with seasonings.  Top with mushrooms.  In a separate bowl, combine soup and soup mix; pour over chicken.  Cover and cook on high setting for 4 hours (5 hours if using frozen chicken breasts).  In a separate bowl, combine cornstarch and wine.  Pour over chicken and stir well.  Continue cooking on high setting, uncovered, for an additional 10 minutes, or until sauce has thickened.  Serve over rice, noodles, or mashed potatoes.  Serves 6.

Only 6 Weight Watchers points plus per serving.

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