Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

Another day, another chocolate chip cookie recipe, right?

There are so many chocolate chip cookie recipes out there. And I love trying them all. Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite, the gold chip standard. I love them so much they are almost synonymous with the word cookie, for me. So when I found this recipe, there was no hesitation. I knew I must try it.

I was a little skeptical at first because this recipe, first of all, has no egg. I've never made chocolate chip cookies without egg. Isn't the egg the binder, and doesn't the yolk make the cookies chewy? That was my line of thinking. Second, I've never made cookies with cream cheese. I wasn't sure how that was going to work. As it turns out, all the worry was for naught...

The cookies turned out fantastic! I was extremely pleased. I will let you know that there are a couple of differences between these and regular chocolate chip cookies and they are as follows:

1. Density- I'm not sure if the addition of the cream cheese makes these heavier, but these are more solid than the traditional variety. If I had to make a scientific guess as to why, it would that regular cookies are lighter due to the creaming of the butter and sugar. That is entirely a guess. But, there is no creaming with these cookies...

2. Texture- These cookies have more of a cake-y texture than a chewy, crumbly texture. Again, is this due to the lack of egg? Perhaps. I enjoyed the texture, it reminded me of store bought cookies. I'm now left wondering if store-bought chocolate chip cookies are made without egg? Some people don't like a cake-y cookie, but I believe there is a time and a place for everything. And I like variety. I don't want the same cookie every time.

How'd the masses like my cookies? Everyone who had them loved them. I only had one critic, and their opinion was these tasted too much like store-bought. I wasn't put off by this. I took it as saying, "Your cookies taste too professional". Hehe.

We are having a great time with the brother and his wife. Yesterday was kind of a rest day, with everyone pretty tired from travel. We did venture out to the local brew pub in the afternoon, for locally crafted beers and pizza. Yummers!  I'm not sure what's on tap for today, but I'm sure us crazy kids will get into something :)

Happy Thursday!

Ingredients (makes 2 dozen large-scoop cookies):

6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups + 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chops


1. Preheat oven to 325º. Spray 2 cookie sheets with cookie spray. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, and sugars. Mix with an electric mixture until completely combined, 1-2 minutes. Mix in vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl, combine baking soda, salt, and flour. Whisk to combine. Add dry ingredients to wet. Mix until well combined. Using a spatula, fold in chocolate chips.
4. Using a large cookie scoop, drop cookies onto cookie sheets about 1 inch apart. I baked 9 cookies to a sheet, they don't spread a crazy amount. In fact, you may even want to flatten the cookies a tiny bit before you put them in the oven. Bake for 9-13 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to brown. Remove from oven, and allow to cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Remove from sheet, cool on a cooling rack until completely cool. Store in an airtight container. 

Recipe adapted from The Farm Girl Recipes.

Linked to: Weekend Potluck, Foodie Friday, Cunning Ladies' Friday Party.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Kansas City Style BBQ Ribs

Well, of course I'm going to talk to you about ribs, but first...

I got an interesting phone call yesterday as I was cleaning my house. I had a whole schedule worked out, with the little brother winging in from Portland on Thursday. I was cleaning the house (spring cleaning, ugh) Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday would be grocery shopping. Thursday I was going to make pesto, salsa, cookies, muffins, and Danish. Ha! The call I received yesterday was from my brother to let me know that him and his wife were on their way to the airport!

My emotions ranged from thinking he was joking to full-fledged panic when I realized he was serious. Maybe a true blonde at heart, I must have wrote down the wrong dates for his trip. I kicked my butt into high gear and managed to accomplish everything on my list except the making of the treats. Treats can wait, I've got a whole week to cook. The hubby and I left our house for Cincinnati at 9 pm last night, and we timed our arrival perfectly. If the little bro's plane didn't fly over us as we were pulling up to the airport, we were pretty close to that being the case. The Cincinnati airport has planes flying over the highway at a pretty low clip before landing. It was really cool (and really creepy) being that close to a moving plane. I'll admit, my stomach did a flip-flop at the sight of that plane seemingly right above our windshield. No bother, we were able to collect the brother, the sister-in-law, and hit the road. We all arrived back here at our house at 3 am, and everyone was in bed ASAP.

So today will be our first full day with everyone, and I think it's going to be a good day. I was up early (why? I must be crazy) and was greeted to a clear blue sky with the sun rising in the distance. There's something so magical about waking up to the sun. But back to the topic at hand...

Ribs. We don't eat ribs often, but when we do, we do it right. I think we have ribs twice a year, at most. We had a lovely sunny day last weekend however, and I knew it would be a perfect day to put a rack of ribs on the barbie and let them slow cook for a couple of hours. And then sit outside by the grill with a margarita and smell those delicious ribs cooking all afternoon. Heaven, I tell you. The secret to these ribs is in the dry rub, and that spicy-sweet Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce.

That sauce! I could eat it with a spoon. I love it so much. We like to baste the ribs with the sauce in the last 30 minutes of cooking. It never fails to char itself to the ribs, creating a lovely crust around the meat. The meat that's so tender it falls of the bone, by the way. Is it bad that it's 8:45 am and I'm wanting BBQ now? Hehe.

Happy Hump Day everyone!

Ingredients (for 1 rack):

1- rack of pork ribs

Dry rub-
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp celery salt
3 tsp onion powder
3 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried mustard
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Barbecue sauce-
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp onion powder
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp soy sauce


1. Prepare ribs 2 hours ahead of time. Trim ribs and dry them. Place on a cookie sheet.
2. Prepare dry rub- in a small bowl, combine sugar through cayenne pepper. Stir to mix. Completely coat ribs in mixture, rubbing mixture into the meat. Cover ribs closely with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for 2 hours. 
3. Prepare the grill. We have a gas grill, so the hubby places some soaked wood chips in a container on the grill along with a pot of water to steam. We set the temperature very, very low. At about 200º. Put the ribs on the grill, and slow cook for 2 1/2- 3 hours. The ribs are done when the meat seems to have shrunk back from the bone.
4. While the ribs are cooking, make the barbecue sauce. Place ketchup through soy sauce in a small sauce pan, and cook over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, then remove from heat.  
5. When the ribs have 30 minutes left to cook, completely coat the ribs in a good coating of the sauce. Cook for another 30 minutes, then remove from heat. Place a piece of tented foil over the ribs, and allow them to rest 10-15 minutes. 
6. Dig in, serving with any extra sauce you may have.

Dry rub adapted from Fabulous Foods. Sauce recipe adapted from Simply Recipes
Linked to: Weekend Potluck, Foodie Friday, Cunning Ladies' Friday Party.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Cauliflower is just freakin' amazing. That's all there is to it.

Seriously. This oft-ignored vegetable is something I disregarded for years. A staple of the vegetable tray, I would grab 1 or 2 raw florets every once in awhile. Dipped in ranch, cauliflower was an okay and acceptable vegetable. But certainly not one I would seek out. Well, I'm here to tell you that raw cauliflower is not the best way to eat cauliflower, nor should raw be the only way you eat it. The absolute best and most delicious way I've prepared cauliflower is by roasting it in the oven. There's just something about that magical browning action of the oven that transforms cauliflower from a vegetable into a crunchy, savory delicacy.

Yes, roasted cauliflower eez good :)

So, if roasted cauliflower is good... roasted cauliflower soup has to be even better! And I was right. This soup is amazing. I'm not usually one for pureed soups, I like chunky, thick soups. But the flavor of this soup convinced me. Not to mention the wonderful and completely necessary topping that you sprinkle over the soup. Wowsers.

The topping reminds me of a gremolata. Of course, a gremolata is a combination of lemon zest, parsley, and garlic, but it's basically a combination of tasty ingredients combined to form an even tastier mixture. This "gremolata" consists of crispy bacon, toasted almonds, crunchy breadcrumbs, and some minced parsley. This topping makes the soup. You cannot have the soup without it. If you do choose to make this soup without the topping, well, you poor soul. And don't say I recommended it that way, because I certainly do not!

This soup is very, very thick. You could definitely add more liquid to this dish to thin it out, either by adding a cup of water or perhaps another cup of chicken broth. I liked mine super thick, but the hubby did mention the soup was verging on the texture of a puree. We both liked it that way, but you- dear reader- may desire a thinner consistency. I'll try not to judge you if you want your soup thinner :)

I hope everyone had a good weekend! I can't believe it's Monday already, our weekend really flew. And we didn't even do very much, it just flew regardless. I guess time flies when you're having fun!

Have a great week everyone!

Ingredients (serves 4):

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
3 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup half-n-half
3 tbsp toasted breadcrumbs
3 tbsp parsley, minced
3 tbsp sliced almonds, toasted


1. Preheat oven to 425º. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Spread cauliflower florets in a single layer onto cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until cauliflower has begun to brown. Remove from oven.
2. In a large stockpot oven medium high heat, add bacon to eat. Cook 5-7 minutes, or until bacon is crispy and has rendered all its fat. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, drain on a paper towel. Set aside.
3. Add onion to the pan. Cook 5-7 minutes, or until onion starts to soften. Add garlic to pan, cook about 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and cooked cauliflower to the pan. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Take an immersion blender to the soup. Blend until soup is completely pureed and smooth. Stir in the half-n-half. Remove from heat.
5. Combine reserved bacon with breadcrumbs, parsley, and almonds. Toss to combine mixture. Ladle soup into bowls, top soup with bacon mixture. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light
Linked to: Weekend Potluck, Foodie Friday, Cunning Ladies' Friday Party.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Apple Pie Danish with Vanilla Glaze


That's what I've got to say about these Danish's.  I don't make Danish's very often, but when I do, I do it right. Everything works on these little pastries. The apple pie filling delectable, the crust perfectly golden brown, the almonds are oh-so crunchy, and of course, that creamy, wonderful glaze. Breakfast was awesome this week. The hubby was a little shocked I hadn't made him his normal Cream Cheese Danish, but I had 2 apples that were on the cusp of going to the other side. He was quickly convinced after eating one of these, however.

Apple pie is one of my favorites. It's another one of those things that reminds me of childhood, because I always, always, always think of my mom's apple pie. My mom's is the perfect Old-Fashioned Apple Pie, with the traditional top and bottom crust. And oh boy, that crust! I loved when Mom would accidentally under-bake the pie and the bottom crust would be a little moist and softened. But the filling was always the star of the show. Apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon make one of the most intoxicating combinations around, and one that's hard to beat. The filling in these Danish's definitely captures the essence of apple pie. I cook the filling on the stove to soften up the apples a bit, since Danish doesn't bake in the oven nearly as long as a pie. This resulted in perfectly cooked apples in the middle of the Danish.

Now, I'm still a small-time blogger with constraints on what I can do. I do what I can with supplies, techniques, lighting, ingredients, etc. However, I furnish all of these items myself. I do not have a stand mixer yet. It's on my list, but when you have a brand new house, sometimes putting up a fence and pouring a driveway is more important than buying items for Jessica's hobby. To that, yes, I use commercially made puff pastry. I will definitely give that go when I've got my mixer, but even professional chefs use commercial puff pastry due to its laborious nature. I watched an episode of Anne Burrell's "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef" in which she talked all about store-made puff pastry. If it's ok for her, it's ok for me. If you have a knockout recipe for Danish dough, by all means, go for it!

Is everyone happy it's Friday? I sure am! The hubby has the day off, and we've got a lot of preparation to do around the house before my brother and his wife arrive. It's also supposed to be 70º today, so I'm planning on sneaking in an easy 5 miles. I didn't run as much as I would have liked over the cold months (due to my hatred of the Treadmill), so I'm feeling like I lost some endurance. Not good when one of this year's goals is to run a 10k. But it's only March, I guess I've got plenty of time to get my endurance back up. Starting with today!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Ingredients (makes 4 pastries):

1- puff pastry sheet, slightly unthawed
1/4 cup butter
1 and 1/2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2- Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1 egg, lightly scrambled

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 tsp vanilla
1-2 tbsp milk

Garnish- toasted almonds


1. Preheat oven to 350º. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
2. Melt butter on stove in a small saucepan over medium heat. When melted, add flour to form a paste. Cook for 1 minute, then add water, sugars, and apple. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes, or until apple starts to soften. Remove from heat.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry sheet. Cut pastry into 4 squares. Divide apple filling among 4 pastries. Using a pastry brush, brush the 4 corners of the pastry with egg. Fold pastry into a little packet around the filling, pinching the seams shut. Place the packets on the cookie sheet.
4. Bake in preheated oven 20-25 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown. Remove from oven, and allow to cool completely before icing.
5. To prepare icing, in a small bowl mix powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla. Slowly drizzle milk into mixture, stirring constantly, until mixture resembles heavy cream. Drizzle glaze over pastries, top with toasted almonds. Serve immediately!

Linked to: Weekend Potluck, Foodie Friday, Cunning Ladies' Friday Party

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta

I'm going with the "Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta" name for this dish, but only because I thought the name "Cajun Shrimp Alfredo" would be confusing since I used a short pasta. But rest assured, the sauce for this pasta is decidedly Alfredo. It's creamy, spicy, and cheesy. The sauce starts with a roux, and ends with a cup of cheese. Yep, definitely an Alfredo sauce. Sure, I could have used fettuccine for  this dish, but I found these oh-so curiously shaped pasta called "trottole"...

I'm not even sure how to describe this pasta shape. It's like they took a finger, and then wound the pasta around the finger into coils. Strange, but delicious. I loved the texture of this shape, the sauce ended up getting into all these nooks and crevices.  I'm a huge believer in different types of pasta tasting different. I've been told all my life "Pasta is pasta". Ah, but I disagree. Pasta type makes all the difference in the world. Spaghetti is not spaghetti over rigatoni.  Baked ziti is not ziti with linguine. Chili is not chili without elbow macaroni... well, you guys might not get that one, but I've declared my whole life that I will always have elbow macaroni on hand in case we have chili. These dishes just simply don't taste the same without the proper pasta shape. They just don't. You may not be able to find trottole, that wouldn't surprise me. Another short pasta with lots of texture would work, such as orecchiette or fusilli. And yes, you could always use the standard long noodle. The sauce is thick enough to stand up to the long noodle.

A bit of exciting news! My brother and his wife are coming to visit us next week! I'm so excited. My brother hasn't been out to visit us since we moved into the new house, and I can't wait to show him. Last time he was here, we were in the dreaded rental. This is going to be a much happier visit for me. Also, his wife has never been to Kentucky. I just can't wait. Knowing myself as I do though, I have to put this out there. I will probably be M.I.A. the week they are here. Sure, I can tell myself I'll get a couple of posts done, but I know I won't. So, y'all will get a reprieve from the never-ending food parade. I'm going to try to get a couple of posts done in advance that I can publish the week they are here, but wow. I would definitely feel productive if I could do that, but between the spring cleaning and a brand new stack of library books, I'm not sure that's going to happen. C'est la vie.

Happy Thursday friends! One more day till the weekend! :)

Ingredients (serves 4):

8 ounces dried short pasta
1 tsp olive oil
3 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1 tbsp garlic
1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
3 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
3/4 lb uncooked shrimp, peeled
3 tbsp parsley, minced
parmesan cheese for topping (optional)


1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, toss with a tsp of olive oil, set aside and keep warm.
2. Heat butter over medium-high heat in a large wide-side skillet. When melted add onion through Cajun seasoning. Sauté 5-7 minutes, or until vegetables start to soften.
3. Add flour to the pan, cook for 1 minute. Slowly begin to add chicken broth, a little a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all the chicken broth has been added, add the cream. Mix well. Add cheese and shrimp. Cook 3-4 more minutes, or until shrimp are pink and have slightly curled inward, stirring often. Add cooked pasta to the pan, toss well to combine. Remove from heat, sprinkle with parsley.
4. Divide pasta among plates, sprinkle with additional parmesan, if using. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Homemade Pesto

"Oh, you made pesto?"

"Yes, I did."

"Would you say your pesto is the best-o?"

"I don't know, but I'd say it's pretty good-o."

Bonus points if you can tell me what that's from!

Give up?

Yeah, that's from "Friends". "The One with Rachel's Date", to be exact. For some reason, whenever I say the word pesto, I think "Friends". It's inevitable. There are a lot of things that remind me of "Friends", come to think of it. First of all, every single person that guest starred on "Friends"? That's what I think of them from. Seriously. Even the ones of who have major careers of their own now. Alec Baldwin, Anna Faris, Giovanni Ribsi, Christina Applegate, Reese Witherspoon... I could go on all day. English trifles, chewing gum in a vestibule, and even short, layered haircuts all immediately make me think of "Friends". I think I might watch a little too much of that show...

Anyhoo, back to the topic at hand! Pesto. I'll tell you something- I've been making pesto every week for a couple of months now. Why, you ask? There are a couple of reasons for this. One, it's so convenient. Pesto lasts at least a week in the fridge, so I make a batch on Monday and it lasts all week. Two, I can use it for several super-fast, flavorful meals. Turkey Pesto Avocado Sandwiches are one excellent option, another is stirring some pesto into pasta. Add some cherry tomatoes, maybe a few pine nuts, and sprinkle of parmesan cheese, and you are done! The hubby has taken to calling my turkey pesto sandwiches "Better Than Subway Sandwiches". I like that title!

Another reason I keep making pesto? It's super affordable. Now, you may be prone to disagree with me due to the ingredients, but I'm here to set you straight. Yes, fresh basil is a couple of bucks (which I'm working on growing for this specific reason). And yes, pine nuts can be spendy. I pay $7 for 4 ounces. However, 4 ounces of pine nuts will make 4 batches of pesto. I usually get 2 dinners (consisting of 2 sandwiches), maybe a lunch (1-2 sandwiches), and a pasta dinner out of 1 batch.  Let's do the math on a weekly batch:

$4 for 4 ounces of basil
$1.75 worth of pine nuts ($7 divided by 4 batches)
$1.25 worth of fresh parmesan cheese ($5 wedge divided by 4 batches)
$0.25 worth of olive oil (estimating olive oil at $0.50 an ounce)
$0.25 worth of fresh lemon juice (estimating a fresh lemon at $0.50)
$0.01 worth of kosher salt (estimating kosher salt at $0.08 per ounce)

= $7.51

So, it costs me ~ $8 a week to make pesto. Divide that by 4 meals, you get $1.88 per meal. That's $0.94 per person. Ummm, sounds good to me! I'll also add that my recipe fills an 8-ounce jar while commercial pesto at the grocery store is about $7 for just 5 ounces.

So... have you learned today's lesson? Make your own pesto! :)


4 ounces fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1/4- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


1. Combine basil through kosher salt in food processor. Pulse 1-2 times to chop through the basil. Through the shoot, begin pouring in olive oil while the food processor is running. Pesto is done when the olive oil has emulsified, and the mixture is thick and creamy. Season to taste.
2. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up 1 week.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes with Malted Buttercream

Dear Dad,

This post is for you!

Exactly 1 year ago my parents came to visit our new house (crazy how time flies!). My dad picked up a container of malted milk powder at the local grocery store, hoping I would make some treats with it. Better late than never, right Dad? As I was contemplating something to bake this week, I spotted that unopened container of malted milk, sitting right in my line of sight. It was time. I decided on cupcakes, mainly because it had been awhile since I made cupcakes.

I've done a little bit of research on malted milk and what it does to recipes. Chemically, that is. From what I can tell, it will make your cookies flat. That's not a bad thing, just something to counter in your technique making those cookies. Most of the recipes I could find for cupcakes with malted milk powder involve lots of baking soda and no butter.  As in, the baking soda is making the cake rise, not air from creaming butter. I'm always game for an experiment, so I dove right in.

Don't ask me why I'm always surprised when new techniques work. Yet, I am. I easily get set in my ways, like a cave man.

"Grrr, make cupcake rise with butter."

"Baking... soda... Grrr, me no like."

"Me... want... BUTTER!"

That's the amazing thing about food. There are usually multiple ways to achieve a result, allowing chefs to react to and problem solve on the fly. Regardless of the technique, these cupcakes rose just fine without creaming any butter. Which in my mind makes these a lot easier to prepare than other varieties of cupcakes. Not only that, but the malted milk powder really gives these cakes something extra. A little bit of oomph. Indeed, when I mixed the malted milk with the regular milk I discovered the substance smells like the middle of a Whopper. Yum! This led to me topping the cupcakes with crushed Whoppers.


Make these today. You will not regret it :)

Ingredients (makes 16 standard cupcakes):

1 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tbsp light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
14 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp malted milk powder
1/2 cup oil
1 large egg + 1 egg white
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp milk
1/3 cup malted milk powder
1 and 1/2 sticks butter, softened
heaping 1/4 tsp salt
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Topping: crushed Whoppers candy


1. Preheat oven to 350º. Line 2 cupcake pans with 16 liners. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour through salt. Whisk to combine.
3. In a small bowl, combine milk and malt powder. Whisk until no lumps remain.
4. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture. Add oil. Using an electric mixer, mix flour, milk, and oil until well combined. Add egg and egg white. Mix until incorporated, scraping sides of bowl. Add sour cream and vanilla, mix until just combined.
5. Divide batter among lined cups, filling halfway. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
6. Prepare frosting: In a small bowl, combine milk and malt powder. Stir until powder is dissolved. In a large bowl, beat butter and salt until creamy. Add sugar, vanilla, and a drizzle of the milk mixture. Beat mixture until you reached desired consistency, drizzling milk to thin out the frosting. Using a spatula, divide frosting among cupcakes or pipe onto cupcakes using a piping bag. Top each cupcake with a sprinkle of crushed Whoppers. Serve immediately!

Recipe adapted from Take A Mega Bite.
Linked to: Weekend Potluck, Foodie Friday, Cunning Ladies' Friday Party

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Saturday Exploring

Yesterday felt like spring again!

It was a gorgeous sunny day yesterday, and as such, we decided to take full advantage and go exploring. As some of you may know, the hubby and I live on 2 acres that has been previously parceled off of his grandfather's 100-acre estate. Meaning, we still live on the edge of this mammoth piece of property. The gentleman that bought the hubby's grandfather's estate after he passed away allows the hubby's family to continue to visit the property and walk it, through old tobacco fields and wooded areas. Since I'd lived on the property for almost a year and a half and never walked it, the hubby figured it was time for me to see his childhood stomping grounds-

Pond on the estate. Serene and quiet, the only beings around- besides us- were cows.

Flip side of the pond.

Can you find the 2 Chihuahuas in this leaf pile? We took the dogs with us, they loved every second of exploring.

Haloti's tongue, caught on camera.

Gizzie doesn't really contain the heart of an explorer, and therefore, was carried by the hubby for most of the trip.

Headed down an old tractor road.

I'd say the plants are ready for spring.

Haloti is never happier than when exploring new things.

Love this face :)

Looking out over Tygart Creek.

My little explorer jumped on every single log he could find.

Tree stump overlooking the creek.

More logs to jump on.

I love how this tree looks like it's touching the sky.

Out of the woods! You can see our house in the distance.

Haloti was rewarded with bath time after the walk. He rolled in cow poop, and on a dead deer leg. Needless to say, he smelled pretty rank and earned himself soap and water. He may not enjoy bath time, but he smells so fresh and so clean now!
I hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Beef with Broccoli Stir Fry

I decided to give everyone a break from the Southwestern chicken recipes, and do a complete 180. Asian! Steak! Stir fry, oh my!

I have a confession that I'm not even a little bit ashamed over. This dish was made using a New York strip steak. That's right. Now, before you start chasing me off with pitchforks, you can listen to my reasoning. A couple of months ago, on a Costco trip, I bought a 5-pack of New York's. I vacuumed-packed (2) packs of 2 and sealed 1 on its own. I planned on using that individual steak for exactly a dish like this, an Asian stir fry. Granted, the hubby's eyes about bugged out of his head when I told him we were using a steak for a stir fry, but after one bite, he pretty much shut up :)

That being said, you would by no means be forced to use such a nice cut for this dish. Sirloin, flank, or skirt steak would work beautifully in this dish.

Another note on this dish- I grilled my steak. I did! I wanted tender slices of beef that would not be in any danger of being overcooked. Mission accomplished! I had the hubby grill the steak, and then I let it rest while I prepared the rest of the dish. I sliced the steak at the last second, and threw it in the pan at the very end, as I was removing the dish from heat. The steak was still warm, it didn't need to be cooked anymore. The only thing it needed was a dip in the sauce, and it was G2G. That's online speak for "Good to Go!" You are not required to grill your steak. If you decide to forgo that technique (you know, because it's March, it's cold outside, and you aren't crazy like me), I would brown the beef on the stove after softening the onions in the recipe.

Just in case you were all wondering, the hubby ate 2 plates of this. Yep, you know it's good. The hubby only has seconds on a handful of dishes. I get the most satisfaction out of dishes that warrant a return to the pan by the hubs. But really, it's hard to go wrong with men and steak.

Now for some exciting news! Last week's Sticky Sweet Baked Chicken is a weekly feature over on The Country Cook's Weekend Potluck. I've been participating in the Weekend Potluck for a couple of months now, trying to network and grow my blog. I just about died when I got an email that I was being featured. You can bet I'll be walking on air this weekend :) Head on over to the Potluck, and check it out!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Ingredients (serves 3-4)-

1 New York strip steak, trimmed
olive oil, salt, pepper
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp chile paste with garlic
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp cornstarch
hot cooked rice or noodles (for serving)
garnish- sliced green onions and sesame seeds


1. Preheat gas grill on high. Oil and/or clean the grates.
2. Prepare the steak- brush trimmed steak with olive oil, season to taste with salt and pepper. Place steak on pre-heated grill, and close lid. Cook for 3 minutes, then flip to the other side. Cook for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes. Thinly slice and keep warm. Set aside.
3. Prep the broccoli- steam the broccoli. Steam in a covered pan over boiling water for 3-5 minutes, or until broccoli reaches desired texture. I steamed mine for 3 1/2 minutes, because I like my broccoli with crunch. Set broccoli aside. 
3. Heat peanut oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add onion. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes or until onions start to soften. Add garlic to pan, cook for 30 seconds. Add broccoli to the pan, stir-fry for 1 minute.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce through the cornstarch. When the cornstarch is fully dissolved in the mixture, add mixture to the pan. Cook over heat for 1-2 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken. Add steak to the pan, toss to combine, and remove from heat.
5. Serve stir fry over rice or noodles. Garnish with sliced green onions or sesame seeds. Serve immediately.