TWD: Buttery Jam Cookies

I am so grateful to have had a slight TWD break this month. December flewwwwww by! Now I'm slowly getting around to posting the recipes from my favorite month of the year. Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and Happy New Year!!

This recipe was Heather of Randomosity's choice and you can find the recipe on her blog! I made the buttery jam cookies using what was left over of my strawberry-rhubarb preserves (previously used in the slightly failed attempt at making rugelach). I also considered using a little less ground ginger because it is so potent! I decided to give in anyway with the whole 1/2 teaspoon to see how the cookies would turn out.

The cooking time was a little bit longer than Dorie suggested, probably because I had make the cookies larger than she said. Wow were they tasty!!!! Loved the combination of the ginger with the strawberry-rhubarb. This recipe was so easy to make, and so easy to clean up from. LOVE THAT!!!


Winter Treat (all homemade): Hot Chocolate, Whipped Cream & Marshmallows

Marshmallow recipe was originally found in Martha's holiday issue but I noticed a few mistakes and found the recipe on-line (where it made more sense)- except 2/3 cup of water isn't listed in the ingredients at the top & she didn't mention to dust the marshmallows with confectioner's sugar before cutting them out. I figure after making these 5 times I should have the method perfected! The biggest bear was pouring out the marshmallows into the baking sheet and then cleaning up. These are sticky!!!!!!!!

The hot chocolate recipe is courtesy of December's Bon Appetit. It originally calls for peppermint extract but I made just plain hot chocolate and boy is it yummy!

Happy Thanksgiving!


TWD: Arborio Rice Pudding White, Black (or both!)

I love rice pudding!!!!!

Kozy Shack rice pudding with a little cinnamon has always been a comfort snack for me- how exciting to make it on my own!

I gave this a shot earlier in the week before the P's & Q's came up and had rice soup. I cooked the rice for about 40 minutes and went half & half with the vanilla and chocolate servings. I still cooled it, hoping it would thicken up, and ate a vanilla serving the next day. Even though it was soupy- I absolutely loved the flavor and knew I had to give the recipe another shot. I tried the chocolate variety before dumping the rest and the flavor just blew me away. I had no idea rice pudding could be so yummy with added flavors. 

Chocolate & Vanilla Rice Soup!

Fast forward a few days later, the P's & Q's were up and I was happy to see I wasn't the only one with rice soup. It was so cool to see that Dorie keeps up with the recipes and I was so grateful for her recipe correction and gave the recipe another shot. This time I only made chocolate rice pudding and after 50 minutes, I was ready to eat the rice pudding hot. It was killing me to wait the 6 hours for it to chill- I'm glad I went out to see James Bond to get away from the temptation!

This is so yummy and just so perfect and just so perfectly easy to make (and clean as long as the milk doesn't boil over by accident. whoops!). Even my husband enjoyed it and he is no fan of rice pudding. Deelish!

Merci Beaucoup to Isabelle of Les Gourmandises d'Isa for such an excellent choice this week!


Donkeys for Tim

Donkeys for Tim! 

These were made with Martha's butter cookie recipe & my very first attempt at royal icing! This cookie is looking a little damaged after being attacked by wax paper. They were even tastier the next day!


TWD: Strawberry-Rhubarb Rugelach

Sorry about the late posting! I got sidetracked with the hoopla of election day!

I was soooo excited about this recipe- I absolutely love rugelach. There is a Jewish deli/bakery near us that makes delicious rugelach (I adore raspberry & apricot), so I couldn't wait to give this recipe a try to see how my rugelach would match up. As it turns out, my rugelach turned out to be very ugly but still tasty :-)

I made my rugelach with Strawberry-Rhubarb preserves made by the monks at St. Joseph's Abbey. Given it was preserves, it was a little trickier to work with after being heated but it was worth the shot. Next time I will definitely stick with jam- I found trying to brush the filling onto the dough was causing the dough to tear. As it is, dough and I have a love-hate relationship.

For this recipe I omitted the currants & nuts and just left it with the preserves & chocolate chips. I found the chips to be a little overpowering so the next time I will use even less. I am used to eating my rugelach with only the filling which is why I left out the other ingredients.

As far as the decorating sugar goes, I had red & green sugar left from Christmas cookies so I used the red sugar. It certainly didn't add to the beauty of my rugelach but worked out all the same :-)


TWD: Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes

All packed up to go in my spiffy travel case

This week's selection was chosen by Clara of I Heartfood4thought and it provided a lot of excitement in our household (yay chocolate!). I did not get around to decorating my cupcakes in any spectacular Halloween fashion but I cannot wait to check out the blogs and see the creativity that everyone else came up with! I had big hopes for decorating them with a Penn State theme as I was bringing them over to a Penn State viewing party (like the team, the cupcakes were classics without any extra ornamentation!) :-)

My cupcakes were done in about 18 minutes and I was glad I checked early because there were so many reports of them being dry. I added nutella to half of my cupcakes which was a tremendous addition!

The lone survivor!
Yes, they do look dry now, but it was 2 days later! :-)


TWD: Caramel Peanut-Topped Brownie (Cup) Cake

Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy picked a good one this week- Caramel Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake!

I decided to take the recipe and make cupcakes out of it to see how it would turn out. I knew if we had a whole brownie cake laying around it would be bad news for me & my husband (and besides, who doesn't want a cupcake?) :-)

The cupcakes turned out very nicely- except they were a tiny bit dry. I probably should have cut the baking time by 1-2 minutes (I baked them for about 25 minutes). The caramel took almost 20 minutes to make but was ferociously delicious! I can't wait to have an excuse just to make the caramel again!

One important tip I learned about caramel: just because the metal spoon that is sitting in caramel isn't hot, doesn't mean the caramel on the spoon won't burn the roof of your mouth off!

I made 3 different types of cupcakes: plain, caramel covered & peanut/caramel topped and the caramel only were the most popular. Really this was a great recipe, I'm so glad I made it into cupcakes, they were the perfect size! If you decide to make the cupcakes, fill the cups no more than half way because while baking the cupcakes will grow big time otherwise (unless you want huge cupcakes and there is no harm in that!)


TWD: Dimply Plum Cake


Wow!!! This was so much better than I would ever have imagined! This is another one of those times when I am very grateful to belong to this group- I don't think I would have made this recipe without a little nudging. Boy am I glad (and so is everyone else that ate it) that I did!!

Big thanks to Michelle of Bake-en for this selection. This was a great diversion from all of the delicious cookies this past week and has become an instant classic/favorite of ours.

Before!                                       After!             

I made this with 8 Italian plum/prunes, which just happened to be on sale and the total cost was less than $1 which was an enormous score given the usually skyrocketing prices of produce. The only change I made to the recipe was not using the cardamon (because I didn't have any) but I would like to try it for the next time. Everything about the cake was so perfect- the plums were outrageous. The cooking time was off by about 10 minutes though and I'm guessing that may be because of the dish I baked the cake in. Either way, it was really, really delicious!!!! We managed to save some for the next day just to see how the taste would change. It was still really delicious. I can't wait to run out and get some of those Italian plums again!

I'll be taking off next week because I will be at my alma mater cheering on my Nittany Lions along with 110,000 of my closest friends but I am looking forward to seeing how the creme brulee comes out!


TWD: Chocolate Chunkers

Thanks to Claudia of Fool for Food for selecting this week's recipe, the unbelievably chocolatey chocolate chunkers. 

I have to be honest, given the amount of ingredients (chocolate chips, peanuts, raisins, etc) that were going into the cookies I was worried they were going to be too "full" to be tasty. I even considered omitting the peanuts or the raisins just to be on the safe side. Then I ended up giving in and the only change I made to the recipe was reducing the amount of peanuts to 1 cup.

The ultimate verdict was 2 thumbs up all around- even my Dad indulged and ate a bunch even though he has been very conscious about reducing the amount of sugar in his diet (maybe the cookies were too good then?) :-) I even liked the raisins and how the moistness played off of the crunchiness of the peanuts and the chips. Next time I'll cut back a little bit more on the peanuts but they definitely will be made again!


TWD: Chocolate Whopper Malted Drops

It only took a month, but the school year has finally calmed down to the point where I have time to bake! Mucho gracias to Rachel of Confessions of a Tangerine Tart for this Chocolate Whopper Malted Drop selection! You can find the recipe on her blog.

The cookies were very easy to make (yay!) and smelled really great while baking. I tossed the whoppers into a mini-prep to quick chop them but ended up with a lot of whopper crumbs along with the chopped pieces. Next time I may just do it by hand so that the cookies have more crunch to them.

Overall they were pretty decent. My husband really enjoyed them and I did like the toffee-texture that the whoppers took on while baking. I actually liked them better the next day :-)


TWD Rewind: Chocolate Pudding

Sorry for the late Tuesday post & for a short recap!

I originally made the chocolate pudding back in July with disastrous results for my 7 cup food processor. The very last step- where you pour all the liquid back into the processor for a final pulse killed it. Too much liquid & it poured out all over the machine. So I promptly purchased a 14 cup machine determined to let that never happen again! And then I left for vacation.

Fast forward a few weeks and it's time to go back to school down here in Georgia. Time to give that pudding another shot! I used mini-tupperwares so that I could bring the pudding back to school with me. I do think this was the most rich-chocolate pudding I have ever had- I also can't remember the last time I wanted to lick the blade from the food processor. I'm glad I was able to hold off. :-)


TWD: Black & White Banana Loaf

Thanks to Ashlee of A Year in the Kitchen for choosing this week's recipe!

I was so excited to give this recipe a run for its money- I really like both chocolate & bananas and was looking forward to this marriage! I was additionally excited because I had brand new mini-loaf pans that I received for my bridal shower last year and was dying to break them in (or at least I could have sworn I had these pans). Seriously, I tore through all of the remaining boxes that we hadn't unpacked looking for them. No luck. The sad thing is my husband has no recollection of seeing them in our other apartment. Basically, I've concluded that it's possible I'm losing my mind! What a random item to swear up and down that you own though. I suppose if indeed we do own them, I'll find them 2 days before we move again whenever that is.

Anyway..... I had a regular size loaf pan so that saved the day. Additionally exciting was getting to use this Cruzan dark rum which I picked up in the duty free store at the St. Thomas airport:
gratuitous reference to St. John:Ok, so back to the cake. Like many posters on the P's & Q's, I had runny batter. The chocolate batter was very thick- almost pudding-like so the marbling was a little interesting. After 30 minutes I tented the cake and let it continue baking and boy oh boy did this cake smell good! After an hour & half, all signs showed the cake was done & even the knife turned out clean: 

I was so excited to try it and was all set to have it with a nice cup of coffee for an afternoon snack. Then I saw the slice {insert price is right music after the contestant loses}:

Not sure what ended up happening, or how the cake ended up being only partially baked. It was such a disappointment considering how wonderful it smelled! I full intended to make the cake again to give it another shot but ran out of time. 


TWD: Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler

Much thanks to Amanda from Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake for selecting this week's dessert, Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler. This recipe provided me with a few more firsts since I have never:
  • pitted cherries
  • touched rhubarb
  • & even baked with whole wheat flour!
Just a few more milestones met & crossed in my short baking career!

I was lucky and was able to find rhubarb in 2 different stores since it is going out of season very quickly. Whole Foods was charging $4.99/lb(!!!), almost as much as a gallon of gas and the Dekalb Farmers Market was charging 89 cents/lb & the rhubarb came from Washington State. See if you can figure out which store I purchased it from! :-)

We had fresh ginger at home so we used less ginger than Dorie called for because it was so potent, and omitted it from the biscuit topping. The cobbler was done in about 40 minutes and we all dug in literally 20 minutes later.

I absolutely loved it- all the flavors just tasted so perfect together for me, and topping it off with Breyer's vanilla just threw it over the top because it was still so warm. My husband wasn't as crazy about it, he's not much of a ginger fan and my mom also liked it. So 2 votes yes, 1 vote no. I would make this again just to eat all by myself! Can't wait till next June for the first arrivals of local rhubarb!


TWD: Double Crusted Blueberry Pie

Before I forget- lots of thanks to all the well-wishers for our move! We're almost unfinished unpacking- just a few more boxes and then lots of pictures to hang!

This post is a bit of a downer for me. I have no pictures of a delicious looking pie to share and I also wish I could start this post by writing something along the lines of "BEST PIE EVER!" But I can't because I never got to try it.

I am hitting a wall making pie crusts. I made Martha's 4th of July Blueberry Pie a few weeks ago with some success but the crust wasn't as perfect as it could have been. I was really excited about making Dorie's because I figured being my 2nd pie, it would be a little easier! (eh, instead I went backwards!)

So here's how it all went down:
I have a regular size food processor so I made 2 separate pie crusts and refrigerated them both for over an hour. I made sure that the butter and shortening were cold/frozen just like Dorie said. I used ice water and gave the crust 3 tablespoons each. I think I probably messed things up with the water. The dough pulled together nicely and then I wrapped them with plastic wrap, flattened them and refrigerated them.

When I took the first crust out to roll it, I tried rolling it between two sheets of plastic wrap. Turned disastrous as the crust completely stuck to the plastic wrap as I tried to remove it. That ended up being tossed. Thinking the plastic wrap was the problem, I tried rolling the second crust in between sheets of wax paper (with a little extra flour just in case). Same problem, as I removed the wax paper, the crust stuck to it and split apart. So then I was left with no pie crust :-( I just took all those blueberries that I had and made a blueberry cobbler (at least I knew how to do that already!)

I'm looking forward to hearing your ideas of what went wrong here. What would make the pie crust get so sticky? Would adding more water in the processor make it less sticky? 

My Mom is coming to visit in 2 weeks and I'm really excited because among other things, she's going to bake a pie with me so I can see what the consistency of the crust should really be like before refrigerating it. This "learning experience" also made me with I spent a couple more minutes with Mom in the kitchen on Thanksgiving making pie instead of always being glued to the tv with Dad watching football! :-)


TWD: Mixed Berry Cobbler

This week's selection, Mixed Berry Cobbler, was chosen by Beth of Our Sweet Life. It is a great selection for summertime, even though I used frozen berries which I consider to be bordering on sinful given all the fresh raspberries, etc that are available! I had never made a pie crust before {I made the cobbler before making the blueberry pie} so I was happy to start with the cobbler (which according to Mom is easier than making a pie if you've never made one before).

I made the cobbler in a deep 8" square pan and the only change I made to Dorie's recipe was adding a teaspoon of vanilla to the crust. It ended up taking about 75 minutes to bake and the last 10 minutes was pure torture! The cobbler smelled so delicious! It's a good thing I left the apartment while it cooled so I wasn't tempted to dig in early. We ended up eating it about 7 hours later with some homemade whipped cream (heavy cream, confectioners sugar & vanilla beat up with a mixer)

We were both really happy with this recipe and the only change I would make is baking it with fresh berries (who knows, maybe we'll try it this week. Never mind, I forgot we were moving. Back to packing boxes for us!)


Martha's 4th of July Blueberry Pie

Not bad for a 1st attempt!

As I was flipping through Dorie's book, the picture of the blueberry pie happened to catch my husband's eye. it's amazing how an image can resurrect so many memories! Just by seeing the picture he was transported back to his grandma's house in Pennsylvania- coming to visit and she would have a fresh blueberry pie waiting. I found out it had been several years since he had had freshly baked blueberry pie and I realized then that I knew what my next baking task would be. Mind you, the closest I've gotten to making my own pie was watching my Mom. So I did the best I could, realizing this was going to be a learning experience for me!

For whatever reason, I decided to make Martha's blueberry pie instead (from the Baking Handbook) and pretty much followed all of the directions except for the crust. The top layer of the 4th of July pie had stars cut out from the rolled crust and I knew that was pushing it for me (and I didn't have a star cut out anyway). The crust ended up being the hardest part for me. Especially rolling it out. Looking at the pictures, you can see how thin the crust was on the bottom (ignore the shadow on the left side of the pan). While I was rolling out the crust sections of it just kept breaking off (and I was determined to show the crust who was boss so I kept sticking it back together). I wonder if the problem was, the food processor just wasn't big enough to really give the crust a chance to get together.

Okay, so maybe the crust was a little thin on the bottom

Fresh blueberry filling! Nice & sweet!

Overall, my husband was very happy with how the blueberry pie turned out. Could it have been better? Absolutely. Could it have been worse? Even more absolutely. Either way, if someone had told me 1 year ago that I would be making a blueberry pie for our anniversary, I would have laughed. :-) 
Happy 1st Anniversary honey!!!!!


TWD: Peppermint Cream Puff Ring

This week's recipe was chosen by Caroline of A Consuming Passion and I have to admit- I was very nervous reading the recipe. This was my first pastry- usually when I bake I stick to muffins, brownies, cupcakes, etc so a thanks to Caroline for choosing this & thus pushing me out of my comfort zone!

I was very grateful that Dorie included pictures so I had an idea of what my dessert should look like (even though I still have some work to do to get there!)  

Instead of the peppermint cream I chose to make the chocolate cream that she recommended in her side bar. That cream was so good I was worried I wasn't going to have enough for the pastry because I kept eating it out of the bowl (never with the same spoon of course) :-)

The biggest problem I had with the recipe was using my newly purchased cake decorating kit. I was having a really hard time getting the dough out so I put the rest in a ziploc bag, cut it and continued making my rings (thanks to Zakia of The Frosted Bake Shop for posting that suggestion!). After baking, the pastry didn't puff up as much as I think it should of (probably because there wasn't enough dough in the rings that I made). I didn't want to slice it in half because it was so thin, so I decided to cut the circle in half and make a semi-circle pastry instead.

For my first real attempt at making a pastry, I was pretty happy with my results & my husband gave it 2 thumbs up! 


TWD: French Chocolate Brownies

All I can say is: WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!!

When I saw this recipe was chosen I was instantly excited because I have been making brownies a lot lately (and it's always been the same recipe- my favorite from Martha). With all of that brownie practice behind me, I had plenty of confidence in myself as I started to peruse the recipe. Then I saw I needed to use fire! That threw me for a loop, I got a little anxious and considered omitting the raisins all together.

Then I called Mom, told her about the recipe and she admitted she has never flambeed any foods either. She did give me an alternative to the fire- microwaving the raisins in the rum for a few seconds and then leaving it to sit & soak. I considered this too. When push came to shove though, I knew I was going to go for the fire.

I did have some trouble getting the rum to ignite and it took nearly a book of matches before I had success. I think the problem is, I was picking up the pan and tilting it so that I could light it and get my hand out of the pan (I don't have really long matches). I think I was also expecting to see 10" flames coming out of the pot so that was playing into my anxiety. Once I got my 1" flames for about 10 seconds I was happy though! It turned out to be a lot easier than I was making it out to be.

The brownies took a little under an hour to bake and boy was the smell driving me nuts while they were cooling. I had to cut them while they were still warm- and they were insanely good. I polished off 5 before I was able to get a hold of myself.

The perfect snack!
As much as I love my Martha brownies- I do believe Dorie's have taken over 1st place in my book. These were really unbelievable, and the rum raisins were a great touch!


TWD: Florida Pie

The beginning...

Hi Mom!

Yummy nutella over on the counter!
Right before hitting the oven!

I went home for Mother's Day & brought Dorie's book home to show to Mom. After looking at a half dozen recipes, she went straight to amazon and bought it for a steal! Then we ran out to Waldbaum's to pick up a few necessary ingredients and got started on the Florida Pie.

To save time we got a Keebler graham cracker crust & baked away. I was so excited that everything was turning out as expected! (It also helped- a lot- that I was making this with Mom so she was quick to jump in if something wasn't turning out right, etc). After all of the baking and freezing was done- it was time for the merengue & the broiler! I have never used the broiler before and Mom told me the browning should be really fast- about 2 minutes (famous last words!). After about 90 seconds all I could smell was burnt pie. We took it right out- were horrified at the sight- and figured 30 seconds was probably all that was needed.

The cake of doom!
Now if it was me, I probably would have looked at the burnt creation, tossed it and cried. Mom on the other hand was quick to save the day, grabbed a knife and sliced off the top of the merengue. Then we put it back in the broiler for a more acceptable amount of time :-)

Mom saves the day!
When it came time to eat, we knew we were the only ones in the house that would eat it so we grabbed a few forks and just dug in. We topped off our meal with Snapple pink lemonade which we drank in specialty glasses. :-)

Overall, I think I enjoyed the pie more than Mom did. It was a bit too coconutty and I think the next time I might use unsweetened coconut and only use it in the merengue. It was fun being home and being able to bake with Mom though! Look for her reviews in the future now that she has the book!

The finished product (after a fork hit it anyway!)


Chipotle Pork Posole (MS-Everyday Food)

I went out last night for dinner & drinks with a friend after our final exam. My husband (whom I will now refer to as the cilantro king of atlanta) elected to make this soup for himself & boy am I glad he did! I was lucky enough to have some of the leftovers for lunch today. Unfortunately, we have no picture evidence of this fine soup (that's how fast it was devoured). Un-be-liev-able I tell you. Can't wait until he makes this again :-)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb) halved crosswise
coarse salt & ground pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp minced chipotle chiles in adobo
2 cans (14.5oz each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cans (15.5oz each) hominy, rinsed & drained
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
lime wedges for serving (optional)

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium. Season pork with salt and pepper. Cook until browned on all sides, 6-7 minutes. Transfer pork to a plate, and set aside (reserve pan). Place onion and garlic in pan; season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften, 4-5 minutes.

Add chiles, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broth, hominy, tomatoes, pork, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center of pork registers 145 degrees, 3-4 minutes.

Transfer pork to a work surface, and shred with 2 forks; return to pan. Top soup with cilantro, and if desired, serve with lime wedges.

Recipe Exchange: Mom's Apple Omelets!

For this round of the recipe exchange I was lucky to get the super-easy-to-make Mom's Apple Omelets! As the recipe suggested, I made them with pork chops which was an excellent choice. I haven't picked up a pie dish (yet) so I made this in a corning ware dish and the only change was the cooking time. Instead of 45-50 min, it ended up taking a little over an hour (which was a good thing because I was running late cooking everything else).

The verdict: very tasty and very effective at helping us reminisce about the holidays :-) (I can't remember the last time we talked about Christmas so much in May!) This would be a great side dish on a cold day in January and we certainly plan on enjoying it again when the weather isn't quite so warm. Thanks for sharing!!!!

And the recipe................

Meal type: Side Dish (goes great with pork)

3 cups apple sauce (1 small jar)
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
Cinnamon to taste (I probably put about one tablespoon)

Mix together and pour into a pie dish. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until center is firm.

Can also be microwaved for 20 minutes or until center is firm.


Chicken Tostadas (Everyday Food- MS)

We had these on Sunday with unbelievable homemade salsa (recipe will show up in a future post!). They are the cover recipe from the April issue of Everyday Food and were really unbelievable. There was so much flavor from the vegetables & according to the magazine there are 472 calories per serving. We had these with a side of cilantro-lime rice (recipe also in that issue or you can check out Hornedfroggy's yummy blog here)

2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 bell peppers (ribs & seeds removed), thinly sliced (we used a red & green pepper)
1 box (10 oz) frozen corn kernels
1 cup prepared fresh salsa (our recipe is from Viva la Vida)
2 tbsp olive oil
coarse salt & ground pepper
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (we used perdue)
4 6" corn tortillas
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar

Preheat oven to 450. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. On foil, combine onions, bell peppers, corn, 1/4 cup salsa, and 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt & pepper

Roast, tossing occasionally, until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Add chicken, stir to combine, and continue to roast until warmed through, 5 minutes more. Transfer chicken and vegetable mixture to a serving bowl, discarding foil (reserve sheet).

Arrange tortillas on sheet. Dividing evenly, brush with remaining tablespoon oil; top with cheese. Bake until edges are golden and cheese is melted. 5 to 8 minutes.

Dividing evenly, top tortillas with chicken-vegetable mixture and remaining 3/4 cup salsa. Serve with cilantro-lime rice if desired.

TWD: Peanut Butter Torte

The subheading for this could be: "It's important to read directions completely!"

This is my first TWD recipe attempt- my baking experience is pretty limited which is painfully obvious if you look at my collection of baking utensils and pans (basically I have a whisk, spatula, icing spatula & a handful of muffin & special bundt pans). I knew I needed a 9" pan for this recipe so I ran out to TJ Maxx to get one. Once I started progressing through the recipe I read something about removing the sides of the pan and realized I was way up the creek with no paddle. It wasn't a regular 9" pan I needed but a 9" springform pan instead. Yikes. Too late. The crust was already in the oven, the whipped cream was in the fridge & the filling almost finished. So I finished the recipe knowing full well I'd never be able to get the torte out of the pan in one piece. It was a depressing moment to be sure.

Nonetheless, it still tasted alright!

The changes that I made to the recipe included:
-using peanut butter oreos (about 30)
-using lightly salted peanuts (instead of the fully salted variety)


Kale & Portobello Mushrooms (RR)

We received a bunch of kale with our CSA order this week and were dumbfounded as what to do with it. Thankfully I found this Rachel Ray recipe on foodtv.com and gave it a shot. We loved it & hope we get it again. If you've never had it, it's similar to collard greens. It was the first thing we polished off with dinner tonight! It probably took 25-30 min to prepare including washing and chopping the kale.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 portobello mushroom caps, sliced
1 1/4 pounds kale, stemmed & chopped
salt & pepper
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste, about 1/4 teaspoon
1/2 cup dry Italian red wine (we used trader joe's cabernet sauvignon)

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with extra-virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot, add mushrooms and cook until dark and tender. Add kale and turn with tongs to wilt. Season the mixture of mushrooms and greens with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add wine and deglaze the pan. Reduce heat to low and cook greens 5 minutes longer then serve.


Vegetables with Farfalle and Cream Sauce (Adapted from All Recipes)

Zucchini was one of the vegetables that we got from our CSA last week and I was searching for a good pasta recipe to use it in. I found one (Zucchini with Farfalle on Allrecipes.com and changed it up to really reflect what I was looking for. It turned out to be very good, next time I just need to use even more vegetables. This recipe is very versatile and you can use whatever vegetables you are itching for! I wrote up the recipe to reflect the changes I will make for the next time (adding another zucchini, red pepper, entire package of mushrooms and a smaller onion). As usual, we also had Publix Greenwise Mediterranean pork sausage.

Servings: 4 main courses or 7-8 sides
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large zucchini, chopped
2 yellow squash, chopped
1 package of baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1 red pepper
1 medium vidalia onion 
1 clove garlic, minced
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 16oz package farfalle (or your choice pasta)
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1/4c parmesan cheese

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add vegetables and saute quickly so that the vegetables are still crispy not overcooked. Remove and set aside.
2. Add onion and saute until slightly transparent, add garlic and saute until golden (but not burnt). Stir in cream, increase heat and boil until sauce is reduced by one third.
3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain.
4. Add pasta, vegetables, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to the cream sauce. Toss thoroughly until heated through. Serve immediately with optional additional grated parmesan cheese.

Quick Meat Sauce (MS Everyday Food)

We are big macaroni eaters (mostly because of my Italian heritage and my husband is glad he married into it) and enjoy having homemade gravy. I like to make my Mom's recipe and freeze the leftovers in batches and my husband also likes having Giada's around as well. Well, we were all out of both and didn't have the time required to make our favorite homemade sauces. Luckily, I stumbled on this recipe and we decided to give it a shot! It was yummy and took just the right amount of time for a weeknight dinner. The recipe also calls for using the sauce with fresh fettuccine- we had fresh raviolis from the DeKalb Farmer's Market and Publix Greenwise Italian pork sausage which you see pictured. 

Serves 4
Prep time: about 10 minutes
Total time: about 25 minutes
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground beef chuck (we used a leaner cut)
1 cup dry white wine
1 can (28oz) whole peeled tomatoes in juice, chopped
1/2 teapsoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, 3 to 4 minutes. Add pork and beef; cook, breaking meat up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes. Add wine; cook until evaporated, about 7 minutes. Add tomatoes, oregano and red-pepper flakes; cook until sauce is slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.