Sunday, September 26, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Let me start off by saying I absolutely can not believe that in just a few short days October will begin. The months are flying. In 2 weeks I will have been married for 7 months, which also means I've lived here at Fort Stewart for an entire 7 months as well. Now, I will admit these two weeks with my husband off at WLC has gone by slow, but only a few more days. I can stop my grandma-ness for a few days and enjoy him while he's home before I go back crocheting my life away! I've gotten 3 scarves finished in the last 5 days which was pretty impressive to me. Now, yesterday I decided to do a little deep cleaning. Towards the end of my cleaning frenzy I figured I would take Dixie outside. Since Dixie is such a good dog we always take her out without a leash, well apparently the neighbors had the same idea about their dog (which is our dog's male-puppy-twin!!). They thought it would be fun to go ahead and have a play-date together up and down the street, which equals both the furmamas chasing the dogs all around. Now, my feet are covered with big bug bites, my house is clean, and smells delicious! I keep hoping one day I'll walk outside and the weather will feel like it does in Nebraska, you know, like FALL! I have seriously lived in summer weather the entire 7 months I've been here, when does it stop!? So, with the air cranked, fans on high, I shall burn my fall/winter scented candles and pretend the leaves are blowing about outside and that I could walk outside in jeans and a sweatshirt and not pour sweat. These muffins basically follow the blueberry recipe, except a few things are different.

1 1/4 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. butter (melted and cooled)
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

1 apple (cored, peeled, and diced)
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. brown sugar

1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. butter (softened)

Grease muffin pan and preheat oven to 375F. Mix filling ingredients and microwave for 1-2 minutes. Using a masher, mash until apples are in small chunks. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. In a medium bowl, whisk 2 eggs and sugar together. Add melted butter and oil until mixed well. Lastly, mix in buttermilk and vanilla. With a spatula, fold in egg mixture to dry mixture. Batter should be lumpy. Take an ice cream scoop and fill cups 1/3 of the way full. Take a tsp. of cooked apple mixture and set on top of muffin batter, top with another scoop of batter, the cups should be about 2/3 full. Mix together topping ingredients. Sprinkle over batter. Bake for 13 minutes. Allow to cool on cooling rack before removing from pan.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Crochet Creations

Feel free to check out Simply, bites' sister blog!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pasta Cupcakes

Pasta whaaat? That's right, I said it, Pasta Cupcakes. Now, I realized about 30 seconds after attempting to plate these little guys that I didn't let them cool enough to set in their little cupcake shapes. I didn't have any cupcake liners so I greased the cups with olive oil instead. It seemed to work out fairly decent, except the shape reinforcement after removing them. Anyways, they actually tasted pretty good for something I threw together with hardly any food left in the kitchen. I've been attempting at proving a point while my husband has been away these two weeks that I don't spend money on un-necessary things. Well, I know that groceries are sort of a necessity but I'm good at making something out of nothing, hence tonight's meal. With a snoring pup at my feet and really wishing it was me doing the snoring, I'll make this quick.

1/2 box rigatoni pasta (or your choice)
1 jar Classico Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Sauce
1/2 c. cottage cheese
1/2 c. Italian style bread crumbs
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. minced garlic
3 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 450F. Mix together bread crumbs, garlic, parmesan cheese, and olive oil, set aside. Prepare noodles per package directions. Once drained, place one layer of noodles into bottom of greased cupcake pan. The next layer will be 1 tbsp. pesto (or pasta sauce of your choice). Another layer of noodles. A small spoonful of cottage cheese (ricotta would work nicely as well), topped with another spoonful of pesto. Top with breadcrumb mixture. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Allow to cool enough for cupcakes to set.

Ooey Gooey Chocolate Butter Cookies

Well, I have to confess that my husband's absence has certainly left my blogger babies in high anticipation for my newest post, am I right? Well, I'll have you know that I've become somewhat infamous for making these cookies. I typically send my husband to work with a baggie or two of these, with complaints later from people who didn't get to even try one. Now, this batch wasn't for my husband, his friends, or even myself. They were specifically meant for a fellow Army wife, that I love dearly. Though, we ran into some complications, so, even though they were made, they didn't exactly make it to their final destination, her tummy, of course! Now, for all of you concerned that since I've only blogged baked goods since the husband has left, no worries, I have been eating real food as well. Can you picture it? Me laying in a cookie-muffin-brownie-coma? Ahh, it sounds amazing, but not exactly how the last week has played out. Now, for all of you wondering what this cookie may taste like, imagine a cookie that taste just like a brownie, but has the texture of really moist cake, but is actually a cookie. Are you drooling yet? I've made these with a variety of cake mixes such as French Vanilla, Moist Chocolate, Devil's Food. I shared the recipe with some fellow Army wives who I know tried Carrot Cake and Strawberry. For this batch, I used the Devil's Food cake mix because they turn out the most moist. I have got to visit my husband twice in the past week where I was informed by him and a friend that they basically eat two meals at every chow time. Now, I felt like I had been tricked into feeling bad, bringing them fried chicken and brownies. Then my husband reminded me, 'here it's about quantity, not quality'. Aww.

And for all of my blogger babies that were worried about my cinnamon fist pumping tactics, no worries, I've found some liquid cinnamon potpourri that I'm hoping works just as well!

1 box cake mix (your choice on flavor)
1 pkg. cream cheese (room temp.)
1 stick butter (room temp.)
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar (for rolling and dusting)

Mix together cream cheese and butter with mixer. Add 1 egg, mix well. Add vanilla, mix well. Lastly, add cake mix until combines well. Cover mixing bowl with lid or plate and place in the fridge for at least one hour. Once dough is chilled, scoop with cookie dropper and then roll into hands to form ball. Roll the ball into powdered sugar. Bake for 8-9 minutes at 350F. Remove, allow to cool on pan for a few minutes to set, then move to cooling rack to completely cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while on the rack. These cookies keep great with a slice of bread of two thrown in the container!

I got this recipe off of Paula Dean's website, but I've added an extra 1/2 tsp. of vanilla and don't bake them for as long.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blueberry Muffins

Mmm. Blueberries and muffins go together so well. A nice sprinkle of lemon zest & sugar topping makes them beyond delicious. Just the perfect subtle taste of lemon when you bite in, but not enough to take away from the original goal. Now, one of my good friend's here at Fort Stewart has managed to show off my blog to a few people. One of those people just happened to be one of my husband's battle buddies. On a Saturday trip to the beach he asked if I could make blueberry muffins. Psh. Is there anything I can't make? Hello, master chef here. Obviously he didn't grasp the seriousness of my cooking abilities. So, I woke up this morning after my little shopping trip last night more than ready to begin my quest of creating delicious blueberry muffins. Now, this was my first experience purchasing or cooking with buttermilk. There is a first for everything! Now I need to google all the amazing things I can use it for, as to not let it go to waste of course. I think I actually may like cooking for people outside of the home more so than those within, just for the mere reason it's a good excuse to make it, try it, and give the rest away!

Lemon Zest & Sugar Topping:
1/3 c. sugar
zest from one lemon

Blueberry Muffins:
1 1/2 c. fresh blueberries
1 1/4 c. sugar (and 2 tsp. sugar for another process)
2 1/2 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4 tbl. butter (melted and cooled)
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs

Grease muffin pan and preheat oven to 375F. Zest lemon and mix with 1/3 c. sugar, set aside. Take 3/4 c. blueberries and rinse with cold water, set on paper towels to dry. Take remaining blueberries and cook over medium heat with 2 tsp. sugar. With masher, mash blueberries until almost all have broken. Cook for about 5 minutes until mixture has reduced into dark red/purple color. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and salt together. Add dried blueberries to dry mixture, set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk 2 eggs and sugar together. Add melted butter and oil until mixed well. Lastly, mix in buttermilk and vanilla. With a spatula, fold in egg mixture to dry mixture. Batter should be lumpy. Take an ice cream scoop and fill cups 3/4 of the way full. Take a small spoonful of cooked blueberry mixture and with a fork swirl around top of muffin. Sprinkle with lemon sugar topping. Bake for 13 minutes. Allow to cool on cooling rack before removing from pan.

Stove-Top Tuna Noodles

I know that not far back I posted my mom's oh-so-famous tuna noodle casserole. Now, with my husband gone I figured that this was something I could make quick and easy, and eat the left overs for lunch today, which is exactly what happened! I decided to mix up my noodle options. I decided to grab my purse and make a trip to Wal-Mart. Remember the projects I was afraid of coming up with? Well one of them was to wax my own eyebrows. I may or may not have torn off a chunk of eyebrow that was defeintley not supposed to be removed. Let's just say that we're currently okay with the fact that the husband is gone for another 13 days! Now, I had originally planned on grabbing a box of penne pasta for this, but switched it up with bow-tie pasta instead. I'm not going to list the ingredients or directions because you can reference back to my other tuna noodle post if needed. Or, you could use a little common sense! Just omit the steps of adding the crackers and baking. I'm a little sleep deprieved today because I somehow managed to flip through the channels long enough to keep me up until almost 0300! Dixie, the poor pup, headed to bed at the usual time and didn't seem interested in budging when I tried crawling into bed a few hours later. I think it was more or less me being a bit uneasy about my husband being absent in the house at night. I'm not quite sure why he makes me feel any more safe within these tiny walls, I managed to jump out from the bathroom door at him two or three times last week and get the same scared face reaction every time! Which was great because he always tries to sneak around the house scaring me when I'm cleaning. Anyways, enough about waxing, late nights, and scare tactics.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sausage Tortellini

Well, here we are. Day 1 of my husband off at a training school. I know it's a great oppurtunity for him, so I'm trying not to throw too many fits over my boredum. This was his last home cooked meal before he left. Two weeks filled with MREs, chow, and whatever contraband they're able to sneak in. Actually, I'm not quite sure how strict this school is. Apparently they have visitation hours. That makes it sound like prison to me. I'm sure our bank account will see the perks of the hubby being gone but the blog I'm afraid will probably lack. I will try every few days to get something made and blog worthy. I've been toying with the idea of running to Wal-Mart all day. I've got to pick up a few ingredients for my as promised blueberry muffins this week. I'm afraid that I'll be left wandering the aisles for much longer than needed just to kill time. Or, I'll walk past something that sparks a project idea and I'll spend money that I don't want to. Ah, the challenges of a blogger.

I first decided that I'd use a red sauce. I normally purchase pre-made three cheese tortellini, but went with sweet Italian sausage stuffed tortellini this time. Well, I figured that the sausage would better be paired with a red sauce. My husband? He prefers white. Ah, and husband gets what husband wants. I changed up the alfredo sauce though, and it worked for me in the end.

1 pkg. sweet Italian sausage stuffed tortellini
1 pkg. McCormick's alfredo mix
1 c. milk
3 tbl. butter
1 tbl. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Prepare tortellini according to package directions. Drain, set aside. Instead of following the alfredo mix directions, I added minced garlic to the melting butter over medium heat in a medium skillet. Once the butter is fully melted, add milk, whisk in pkg contents. Once sauce is bubbling, add pepper and continue to whisk. Follow remaining instructions on package. Combine pasta and sauce. Mmm.

I made homemade garlic cheese toast, just an idea!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Banana Bread

With three ripe bananas sitting in the freezer, again, I decided to make banana bread. Before the bread was even out of the oven my husband was demanding a few slices. When I told him a few slices would basically be half the loaf, he still insisted. Though I can deal with the out dated kitchen the Army has given us, I am starting to get frustrated with our oven. I ended up needed to bake this loaf for 20 minutes beyond what I thought, which is okay, but it's so hit and miss with baking. Cookies bake extremely fast and bread, extremely slow. Now, even more frustrating than my oven? Watching Hoarders on A&E. I mean, I get it. It's an illness. I guess I just don't understand why anyone would want their house filled with garbage. Maybe I've always just been good about going through things and throwing out the junk. I'm glad that I'm a compulsive complainer as apposed to a compulsive hoarder. My husband may disagree, but since he's a bit of a neat freak himself, I don't think the hoarding would go over so well. I'm suddenly getting a strong urge to clean my house so, I'll get on with the banana bread!

2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
3 over ripe bananas
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. In a separate bowl, combine bananas, sugar, eggs and oil with masher. Fold in the banana mixture with the dry ingredients. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes. I cover mine with foil for the last 10-15 minutes to avoid over browning the top.

Kielbasa & Potatoes

As I attempt to fight off my husbands 20+ lb. cat from my keyboard, I have to wonder what goes through his head. I mean, this cat wants nothing, literally nothing to do with my husband and I unless we are sitting on the couch on our computers. Maybe it's because typically when we sit down with our computers it means that we will stay stationary for awhile, or for payback for our sometimes forced love sessions with him. His extra neck is currently covering my shift, delete, and return key so bare with me while I fight to get my way through fur and... kitty.

My friend back home gave me the idea to cook this. It isn't that I haven't made it before but it's not something that pops into my head on a regular basis. When our kitchen is sometimes bare, you can typically guarantee that you can still find potatoes, onions, and kielbasa. It's a fairly quick meal and hey, who doesn't like meat and potatoes? Well, I suppose if you're one of those vegetarians you might not. I'm only being snarky. I really have nothing against vegetarians. Heck, I wish I could do it. I know it's possible. My brother has gone on and off of the vegetarian diet. I think I lasted a few weeks when he put me to the test. Christmas was just around the corner, probably just the right time to go on the no-meat diet right? Wrong. It's a family tradition to eat prime rib for Christmas, and well, when you come from a family of meat eating dinosaurs, you just can't pass up prime rib. Not to mention, I felt like I was eating an abundance of pasta and more cheese than one should consume in a mere few weeks.

Now, my dad isn't a fan of kielbasa and manages somehow to remind me every time he hears I've cooked with it. I think it's easy, fairly cheap, and can be used in surprisingly a number of ways. Now, with Thor on my keyboard and Dixie running about the house with a squeaker toy upon her mouth, I will let you in on the way of kielbasa & potatoes.

1/2 kielbasa (sliced)
2 potatoes (sliced)
1 onion (sliced)
3 tbl. olive oil

After slicing all of your ingredients, heat oil in pan for a few minutes over medium heat. Place potatoes in skillet for a minutes on their own. After your potatoes start to get slightly tender, add your onions and kielbasa. Continue cooking over medium heat until potatoes are cooked through. Delicious!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Penne Bake with Meatballs

I know that all of you are probably expecting many more posts with the lack there of the past week. I regret to tell you that all you're getting today is two. I failed to mention in my first post of the day about how our amazing trip home ended in a really sick me. Have you ever woke up at 5 am extremely sick and made your way to the airport to catch a few flights while you were at it? Well with my pocket-sized Kleenex in my purse, I somehow, and by somehow I mean barely, made it home. I've never seen anyone use those little white bags supplied by the airline but I was keeping a close eye on mine. Boy, what an awful, awful, traveling day. I didn't cook much once we got home. I believe that first night in fact my husband and I shared a Tostino's Party Pizza. That is a really sad day in this house. Well, last night's dinner was actually not planned. With my husband and I disagreeing on a particular event for most of the day, I tried warming up some soup and making my way back into the bedroom before I realized it was not the soup I had hoped it would be. Then, the Penne Bake was created. I served some of the garlic parm knots I've posted before with this. I think my husbands belly was happy by the end of dinner.

1/2 box penne pasta
1 c. shredded mozzarella
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
12 premade frozen meatballs, thawed
1/2 jar pasta sauce

Cook pasta according to box. Once drained, add to sauce and thawed meatballs. Now, typically I wouldn't use packaged meatballs, but we had them in the freezer and this was a quick throw together meal that actually turned out pretty decent. You can make some from the recipe below if you choose. Top with Parmesan cheese and lastly the mozzarella. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling.

Pizza Burgers

Well, as most of my blogger babies know, I was back in Omaha for Labor Day weekend. My husband and I were able to surprise his side of the family which was really great, exhausted and all! We were lucky enough to catch my father-in-law up watching tv and knock on the front door close to midnight. He has this sneaking suspicion to call my husband every time he's at the airport in attempts to sneak home for a surprise visit. I'm not quite sure why all of the visits are a surprise, but hey, it's sort of fun that way. I've got to give a shout out to my mother in law & all of her co-workers. Apparently I'm something of a celebrity around there. Alright, I'm a little full of myself today. I wish we would have gotten her face on camera when she noticed my husband in the car. I believe she 'raised the roof' the entire sprint through the parking lot. Good dancers must run in the family. Well, I can only imagine, I've actually never seen my husband dance. Can you believe that? Which obviously goes to show you that I have never even danced with him either. A few others? Bowling, the mall, long walks on the beach, and candle lit dinners just to name a few.

My mom & stepdad threw a nice cook out for our friends to stop by. I'd say everyone had a pretty good time, my husband might disagree but that would probably have something to do with a few beers and a heavy dose of aspirin that followed the next day. It was more than lovely being able to wake up and chat with my mom, while having my almost seven year old sister tug on my arm to play Barbies. Nice, nonetheless. My dad and his witty humor filled our tummies with amazing sushi, which I have missed dearly. My best friend? No worries, we worked in some laughs and adventures. My husband's grandparents are definitely a few people I more than enjoy visiting with. His grandma gave me an amazing looking recipe for Chicken Enchiladas which I will have to feature on here soon and his grandpa once again tried and failed to convince me to watch Nascar.

In four days we managed to fit every single food goal that my husband wanted. This list was well thought out my friends. We originally tried planning on eating at least 4-main meals a day to fit it all in, and wouldn't you know that by the first meal of our first day there, we were two meals behind. Somehow, he was still successful. It was nice to be able to take a cooking break, but boy does eating out break the bank. It reminded me just how much cooking at home saves you. Now, I must say that I threw together a Chili Cheese Dip for the cook out which went over quite well in my opinion. It's really easy and very delicious. I'll have to add it next time I whip it together. Not that any of this has anything to do with the Pizza Burgers I'm about to display, I just figured that you've all been dying in anticipation for information on where I've been and what I've been eating... I mean, doing.

Aside from the casseroles I gave my mom credit for, this again, is credited to my dear 'ol mom. Now, she managed to tell every single person this past weekend about the post where I said something about how she couldn't cook. Well mom, you can't! I still very much appreciate your loud smile and pretty voice. Or is that pretty smile and loud voice. Anyways, this one is for you mom. Love you!

1 lb. ground beef
8 slices of bread
2 c. shredded mozzarella (I used 1/2 mozzarella and 1/2 cheddar)
1 jar pizza sauce

Brown ground beef and season to taste. I used oregano, parsley, garlic salt, and black pepper. Using a sandwich maker, place buttered bread down and top with sauce, beef, and cheese. Add top slice of bread and close the sandwich maker until the amazing little green light turns on! Easiest meal ever and hey, my husband likes 'em.

With all that said, feel free to change your beef to ground sausage, pepperoni, bacon, etc. There really is no way you can mess these up. Don't have a sandwich maker? Use hamburger buns and place on baking sheet. Top the same way, but do not place the top of the bun over the cheese. Simply use it for your next pizza burger. Bake at 350F for about 8 minutes or until cheese is melted and bun is nice and toasted!