Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fish Tacos

If you don't like fish or fish tacos, don't bother continuing to read. There is just no convincing a person these are good. You either like them or you don't, and I really do! I'm big into coupons and seeing how much money I can save each grocery trip so I was really excited when I found fish shaped breaded fish sticks at buy one get one free. I thought for sure I could convince my kids they were chicken nuggets and get them to eat some variety, but I was proven wrong very quickly. I had to find something to do with these and I did.

Here's what you do:

Bake the fish sticks as indicated on the package
Heat some corn tortillas in a skillet for about 15 seconds on each side on medium high heat when the fish is done cooking.
Put two fish sticks on the tortilla and top with desired amount of coleslaw mix.

For the coleslaw mix:
1 T vanilla yogurt
1 T mayonnaise
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic salt
limes to squeeze fresh on the taco
1/2 cabbage, sliced thin

Makes 6 tacos

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Buttery Jam Cookies

Baking so much this time of year has really gotten to me. I'm just not into the sweets as much, but I have to say that these cookies were a nice break from all the chocolate that has been going around. I chose raspberry jam for my cookies and they were great warm, right out of the oven. I added a light glaze of powdered sugar, milk, and more raspberry jam. They were amazing, but I wouldn't recommend adding jam to a glaze because they were way too sticky. They were gone in no time though. When I left for work there were about a dozen on the counter and when I got home, there wasn't a single crumb left. I will be making these again and I can't wait to try different jams!

Don't forget to check out the TWD blogroll and thanks to Heather of Randomosity and the Girl for choosing the simple and quick recipe this week! It's just what I needed!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

English Toffee and a gift from Organica

First of all, I was SO excited to get home from work today to find a turquoise box that had arrived from Organica Deluxe with some cookies for me to sample.
I was so excited that I automatically ripped open the package and took a bite before I could even take a picture of it. I didn't need to read what kind of cookie it was either because as soon as I opened the box I could smell the sweet ginger. These cookies were amazing. Every ingredient down to the molasses is organic which makes it seem healthy too! These babies were so soft and almost melted in your mouth. Organica does some fun gifts and they have more than just food too (their baby blankets are adorable!) so check out their website to find a yummy and unique gift for friends and family this holiday season! They are even offering free shipping until Dec 15 so hurry and order!
Thank to the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program for introducing me to this awesome company!

Now on to my world famous English toffee. Well, let's be honest. It's not world famous yet and it's not "mine" either. My mom has been making this recipe every year for as long as I can remember and our family and friends always look forward to it. Every year I try to make it and once in awhile I get a batch that can compare to hers. This was one of those batches.
It was perfectly crunchy instead of chewy or crumbly. The butter didn't separate from the rest of it and it didn't burn. I have had many other outcomes from trying to make toffee as well.

Here's the recipe:

2 C sugar
1 C water
1 lb butter (4 cubes)
4 large chocolate Hershey's bars
almonds (optional)

Heat sugar and water in a heavy saucepan on high heat until it boils and reaches the thread stage on your candy thermometer. Do not even stir it during this stage. Just let it do it's thing. While it's getting there, get a cookie sheet with raised edges ready by rubbing the entire thing with butter to grease it up. Get a bowl of ice water close by to test your candy, and fill a near by bathtub with a few inches of cold water. Strange, I know. You might want to get a cold drink and short sleeves on too because it gets really hot standing there stirring.

Once it gets to the thread stage, add the 4 cubes of butter (don't think about it, just do it!) one at a time, stirring constantly in a figure 8 motion with a wooden spoon until each cube is completely melted before adding another. You don't want the temperature to get low while doing this part. Stir constantly until it reaches the hard crack stage, or 300 degrees, on your thermometer. Drop some candy into the bowl of ice water and bite into it when cool to make sure you get the right crack from your toffee.

When it's gotten to where you like it, pour the candy into your prepared cookie sheet and using hot pads, shake the cookie sheet to spread the candy as you walk to the bathtub. Don't forget to shake as you go. (that is a little joke for my mom. She would tell us that as we followed her to the bathroom every time she makes it.) Put the cookie pan in the bathtub to float on top of the water. Let sit for about 10 minutes until completely cooled and removed from bathtub. Honestly, that whole bathtub step is probably not totally necessary, but that is how my mom has always done it and her toffee always comes out perfect!

Loosen the toffee from the pan so you can pick it up all in once piece. Frost one side with 2 melted Hershey's bars and frost the other with the remaining 2 when the first side has hardened. My mom likes to add whole almonds to the candy before it hardens and then crushed almonds on top of the chocolate, but I'm a no nut kind of girl, so I leave that out. It's an option for you though.

Good luck!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Sugar Cookies

I know, boring right? Sugar cookies? Come on now! I tried to make it as fun and different as I possible could in the extra 3 minutes I had today, but my brain and my body are giving up on me. My kids sure loved them though. I just have to say that I've never met a sugar cookie recipe I get along with.

No, these cookies aren't wet. I used the Wilton Color Flow mix, which I just love. You just add a little of the mix to powdered sugar and some water and this is what happens. Some day I will do a whole post just on this stuff because you can do so much fun stuff with it. Today I added peppermint extract and piled 3 different sized cookies on top of each other for something a little fun.

These are especially for my 5 year old daughter. She wanted more and more sprinkles so I rolled the dough into balls and rolled them in as many sprinkles as I could get to stick to the dough. Festive, don't you think?!

These ones were really fun. I rolled the dough into balls and rolled them in candy canes that have been through my food processor. They were perfectly pepperminty and cute too!
Dorie's sugar cookies were pretty good, but I think I'll stick to my Betty Crocker packaged mix the next time I do sugar cookies. She just never fails me with her sugar cookies! Thanks to Thanks to Ulrike at Kuchenlatein.

Don't forget to check out the blogroll and buy Dorie's book for her recipe.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


This is what happens when I leave town for a week. I had 3 posts set to show up on my blog while I was away, but they didn't, so now I'm playing a super quick catch up. Unfortunately I had to start working full time again today. I was lucky to be able to be home with my 3 kids for the past 4 months, but now it's back to work for me. Hopefully my baking habit doesn't suffer too much because of it though.

So here is what I have been up to in my kitchen:

Chocolate Cranberry Cupcakes- this was supposed to be for the Iron Cupcake Challenge, but since it didn't post, I missed out on that one. Whoops! Basically, I made my Surprise Cupcakes, but added 1/2 cup cranberry sauce to the cream cheese filling (I made the cranberry sauce using the fresh cranberries, sugar, and water following the recipe on the back of the cranberry bag) and another 1/2 C to a very rich buttercream frosting. I topped it off with some sprinkles of cranberry rimming sugar that I found on clearance at Target after Halloween. Absolutely AMAZING! I would say it was probably one of the best cupcakes I have ever had, and I just sampled 6 different cupcakes from Sprinkles while I was in AZ for Thanksgiving. My cranberry cupcake was totally moist and the frosting was so fresh tasting. I recommend eating them chilled.

Next was the caramel cake for Daring Bakers. For some reason when I read the recipe at the first of the month, I thought it was for a chocolate caramel cake so that is what I had my heart set on all month. When I made it for my mother in law's birthday I added 1/4 C of cocoa to the batter to satisfy me. This cake was dense and rich and moist and I loved it, but still way too much work for a cake. I have had plenty of very good cakes that didn't involve so many steps. I absolutely loved the frosting though and licked that bowl clean.

Check out the Daring Bakers blogroll for the rest of the details. Sorry I'm so late with this!

Last but not least is Tuesdays With Dorie. I missed last week. I feel awful. I should have been more prepared and done my recipe ahead of time, but because it was for Twofer Pie which sounded perfect for Thanksgiving dessert, I waited, but forgot to bring my recipe with me. I'm still going to make it sometime because I was really really excited about it.

I just finished this week's recipe for Linzer Sables and I still have 30 minutes of it still being Tuesday, so technically it's on time! It was a lovely little sandwich cookie perfect for the holidays with all of the great spices in the dough. You can fill them with jam or chocolate and if you can believe it I filled them with my leftover cranberry sauce. Yum! Cranberry is just a flavor I don't think I can get sick of.
See the TWD blogroll for all the beautiful cookies my fellow Dorie bakers have made. Thanks Dennis from Living the Life for choosing the recipe. See his blog for the recipe or go get the cookbook. Are you sick of my saying that yet, because I'm kind of sick of writing it every week.

That's all for now. I'll get on top of things now that I'm caught up with laundry and everything else that comes with skipping town for a week. I've even started my holiday baking and can't wait to share when I've been making. I have such lucky neighbors!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

some dang good pumpkin recipes

I don't know where this recipe came from originally, but it's so amazing! I first had it at a friend's house last year and I make it frequently now. This time I made it with my mini bundt pan. The plan was to put two of them together and make it look like the shape of a pumpkin. I frosted it with a maple frosting and had really good intentions of making it all cute and stuff, but it didn't happen. It still tasted amazing though. I love the pumpkin bread and maple frosting combo for sure! It was really good with a powdered sugar dusting as well though.

Best Ever Pumpkin Bread

1 1/3 C vegetable oil
5 eggs
15 oz can pumpkin
---beat well---
2 C flour
2 C sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
3 oz vanilla pudding mix
---add to pumpkin mixture---

Bake at 350 for 1 hour in a greased loaf pan.

I also made some good pumpkin fudge truffles. Basically, pumpkin fudge rolled in balled and dipped in chocolate. I normally don't like the pumpkin and chocolate chip mixture much, but these were actually pretty good!
Pumpkin Fudge

3 C sugar
3/4 C melted butter
2/3 C evaporated milk
1/2 C canned pumpkin
2 T corn syrup
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 12 oz package white chocolate chips
1 7 oz jar marshmallow creme
1 C chopped pecans, toasted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Stir together sugar, butterm milk, pumpkin, corn syrup and pumpkin pie spice in a sauce pan over medium high heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Continue to cook until you get to the soft ball stage, about 12 minutes.

Remove pan from heat, stir in remaining ingredients until well blended. Pour into a foil lined greased 9 inch square pan. Let stand 2 hours or until completely cool.

If you want to make truffles out of it, roll it into balls before completely hardened and let harden on wax paper on a cookie sheet. Melt 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and pour into a deep mug. Dip fudge balls in chocolate and let harden back on the wax paper.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chili and Cornbread

I don't have enough photography skills to take pictures that would justify how good this meal is. I'm actually quite embarrassed by the pictures so you'll just have to take my word. I crave this chili and especially the cornbread and it hits the spot like no other food does in the cold winter months. I usually make the chili in a crock pot a few days before I'm actually ready to eat it. The flavor just gets better with time. It makes a lot too so we eat what we want the one night and freeze the rest. You can just imagine what my freezer looks like right now. I have about 12 quart sized bags of frozen soups and chili now.


2 lb cooked ground beef
2 cans kidney beans
4 large onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 quart tomatoes
2 quarts tomato or vegetable juice
1 T cumin
1 T salt
3/4 tsp curry
cayenne pepper to taste; I'm not a fan at all of spicy food so I barely put any in for me.

Put it all in a crockpot and cooke until warmed through. Remove bay leaves before serving.

I'm not kidding when I tell you that this is the most moist and sweet cornbread you will ever eat. You really need to try it and you will never go back to any other cornbread!

Buttermilk Cornbread

1/2 C butter
2/3 C sugar
2 eggs
1 C buttermilk
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 C cornmeal
1 C flour
1/2 tsp salt

Melt butter. Stir in sugar and eggs and beat well. Combine buttermilk and baking soda then stir into butter mixture. Add cornmeal, flour, and salt. Stir until well mixed. Bake in greased 8x8 pan at 400 for 30 minutes and lightly browned on top.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Rice Pudding

What? It's Tuesday already? I almost forgot to post today's recipe. Before making this recipe, I really didn't like rice pudding, but it was good for me to make it since my husband likes it and it's a tradition in his family to have it on Christmas. Even though I don't like it, I had a lot of fun making it! We have this little place close by called Pudding on the Rice, and it's like an ice cream parlor with all different kinds of rice pudding instead of ice cream, so I made my rice pudding based on that place.

I made chocolate and vanilla just like the recipe called for, but then I also made mint chocolate by adding a little peppermint extract to the chocolate, butterscotch rice pudding by melting some butterscotch chips into the plain pudding, and cinnamon rice pudding by melting cinnamon chips into the pudding. We had a fun little tasting party with some friends. The mint chocolate and cinnamon were my favorite and it actually tasted really good. Maybe I'm not a hater afterall!

Good choice of recipe from Isabelle of Les gourmandises d’Isa! Check out her blog for the recipe or go get "Baking From My Home To Yours" by Dorie Greenspan. Just a note, her blog is mostly in French, but there is some English and you can use the translator on the right hand side of her blog too. Don't forget to check out the blogroll as always!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mint Chocolate

I heard the average person gains at least 5 pounds from Halloween to Christmas. Ummm, I'm going to have to say that I'm just not average. I'm pretty sure I gain a lot more than that each year and this one will be no exception!

I'm totally feeling the mint chocolate already this holiday season. Here are some of the fun products I have found in stores:

(to be fair, I couldn't find a picture online anywhere of these so I stole this pic from this fun blog)
These can be found at Walmart!

Only at TJ's which we don't have in Utah (poor me!) but I'm going to AZ for Thanksgiving and am totally going to stock up!

Can get these Fudge Mint Oreos pretty much anywhere

I got my mint miniatures at Walgreens because there was a $1 off coupon. The trouble is that I'm going to have to go back for more because I have eaten the whole bag by myself in a matter of 4 days. NO JOKE!

I haven't tried these ones yet, but I can't wait! I have so many memories of going to Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco growing up and I LOVE their chocolate! Sorry about the small pictures. Hopefully they enlarge okay if you click on them.

I can't wait to use these to make lots of Holiday treats like mint oreo truffles and milkshakes and lots more that I will surprise you with. For now, I'm going to go make my cream mint brownies that you may recall from brownie week. I've been craving them all week!

What fun limited edition treats have you found this Holiday Season?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Kugelhopf

Yolanda of The All-Purpose Girl chose the Kugelhopf recipe this week. I have to be honest and say that I was really not a fan at all, but I'm glad I tried it anyway. It was a little dry and just not much flavor even with all the butter that you drown it in. I couldn't even think of any way to add more calories. I just wasn't feeling it this week with the recipe.

I guess it smelled pretty good though because I had a visitor at my back door when it was baking.

What do you mean is that really a peacock? Don't you have wild peacocks running around your neighborhood?

Back to the Kugelhopf...I even tried to make french toast out of it the next morning and it still didn't do anything for me.

I am sure there will be recipes that I love and some that I can do without and that's why this is such a great group to be a part of. Someone else gets to choose things for me to bake that I wouldn't otherwise pick myself. For the full recipe go to Yolanda's blog, or buy the book. You know the drill by now. Be sure to check the TWD blogroll and see the other opinions of Kugelhopf.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Saturday Soup Day

What a better way to spend my Saturday than to be in the kitchen! My husband was absent all day due to it being football season, so as winter is quickly approaching I was busy getting prepared. I made 3 different kinds of soup, bagged them in quart size ziplock bags, and now they are patiently awaiting consumption in my freezer.

I highly recommend doing this, but here are some quick tips.
-make sure the soup is completely cooled to room temperature before bagging. This will prevent condensation and frost from forming.
-label and date the bags
-lay them flat to freeze. The last thing you want is mishapen frozen soup that becomes awkward to fit in your freezer.

Minestrone Soup

1 lb ground beef
1 C chopped onions
1 C sliced carrots
1 C cubed potatoes
1/2 C sliced celery
1 can tomatoes
1 1/2 quarts water
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp basil
1 T salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 beef bouillon cube
1 C macaroni or bowtie pasta

Brown ground beef in sauce pan and drain oil. Add onion and cook until the onion becomes transparent. Add all other ingredients. Simmer for 45 minutes. Add pasta of choice and cook for 15 minutes more.

makes 2 1/2 quarts

I highly recommend serving with my mom's Buttermilk Cornbread. That recipe will come soon!

Creamy Potato Soup

4-5 celery stalks, diced
1 C butter
3-4 carrots, diced
1 1/2 C flour
2 qt water
2 T chicken bouillon (or 5 cubes)
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 potatoes, cubed
2 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Put celery, potatoes, carrots, and onions in saucepan and add enough water to barely cover them. Boil about 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. In another pan, boil the 2 qts of water and add bouillon. Melt butter in a small bowl and add flour to thicken. Add butter/flour mixture to bouillon water and whisk until creamy. Add cheese and mix well. Add cooked vegetables with the water and simmer 10-15 minutes.

makes 3 quarts

Vegetable Cheese Chowder

1 10 oz package frozen broccoli or cauliflower
1/2 C shredded carrot
1/2 C water
2 C milk
1/3 C flour
1/8 tsp pepper
1 14 oz can chicken broth
1 C shredded American cheese
1 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 T parsley

Combine vegetables and water in saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and simmer for about 4 minutes or until veggies are crisp-tender.

Whisk together milk, flour, and pepper in separate bowl. Add to saucepan and stir in broth. Cook until thick, stirring frequently. Add cheeses and parsley. Cook and stir over low heat until cheese is melted and heated through.

makes 2 quarts

***a little note about defrosting the soup when you are ready to eat it...microwave for 2 minutes with the bag slightly open so the steam can escape, or let it sit on your counter for an hour or so just until it's defrosted enough that you can get it into a saucepan and heat the rest of the way on the stove.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Rugelach

I know what you are thinking...what the heck is Rugelach? That's what my first thought was anyway. Rugelach is a cream cheese pastry dough brushed with a warm marmalade and filled with nuts and raisins before rolling it up and baking it like a croissant. Well, that didn't sound at all like something I wanted to waste calories on, so as usual, I made some changes.

I brushed the dough with warm applesauce, sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar, and filled it with some caramel bits and white chocolate coursely chopped. It was absolutely to die for and I wasted all my calories on them until they were gone!

It's really important to chill the dough like the recipe calls for. I was too anxious with one of my batches and it just melted all over the place. Patience is a virtue! Be sure to use a liner on your pan regardless because it just makes the clean up that much easier.
This recipe was chosen by Piggy of Piggy's Cooking Journal. You can find the recipe on her blog or in Baking, From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan. I recommend just buying the book. There are SO many good recipes so it's totally worth it!

Check out the TWD blogroll to see what other bakers did with their Rugelach!
Also, let me just throw in my two cents right now...don't forget to vote today!!! What an important election and awesome opportunity we have to express our opinions with our vote!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Bakers: Pizza Party

Wow! An overloading of cooking and posting is going on my house lately. I'm exhausted! But, nevertheless, I couldn't wait to share my Daring Baker's Pizza Party. This month, Rosa, of Rosa's Yummy Yums chose a recipe from “The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread” by Peter Reinhart. You can get the recipe from her blog. The recipe called for 4 1/2 C flour and I just couldn't bring myself to do it, so I did half whole wheat. It made a lot of dough too so I had to have some friends over for a make-your-own-pizza night and let everyone build their own personal pizzas. The kids had just as much fun doing it as the adults did so everyone was happy.

We had so much fun! We had a variety of sauces including tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, pesto, and ranch dressing. We had a whole bunch of toppings too like mozzarella cheese, goat cheese, Parmesan cheese, olives, tomatoes, pine-nuts, bacon, caramelized onions, mushrooms, pepperoni, sausage, and more! Our friends brought salad and bread-sticks from Olive Garden so we couldn't have asked for a better meal!

My personal pizza had BBQ sauce, lots of mozzarella cheese, crumbled bacon, pine-nuts, and goat cheese and it totally hit the spot!

Now on to better things...

To keep with the theme of the dinner party, I made a dessert pizza with a sugar cookie crust baked right on the pizza stone, 8 oz strawberry cream cheese blended with a jar of marshmallow cream for the "sauce", and topped it with lots of beautiful strawberries, mandarin oranges, and kiwi. I can't even tell you how refreshing and delicious this fruit pizza was. I could eat the whole thing right now! I took lots of pictures too, but I will spare from having to look at all 30 of them since you aren't even getting a bite of this beauty!

Okay, stop drooling and plan your own Pizza Party! Who doesn't love pizza?