Monday, January 31, 2011

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

Since I'm a little pre-occupied, I'm going to make it short and sweet and to the point. Get it, short (shortbread) and sweet (chocolate)? Ha...Ha... no?

Oh, I'm editing to give a huge shout out to my Pops for getting me a Kitchen Aid stand mixer and to my Aunt D who apparently came across a good deal!

1 cup butter (room temperature)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. instant coffee (room temperature)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix butter and powdered sugar together until totally smooth and creamy. Add coffee and vanilla. Mix flour in slowly just until flour is combined, do not over work the dough. Carefully fold in the chocolate chips. Place all dough into 1 gallon zip-loc bag and roll dough into square (filling the bag). The dough should be about 1/4 inch or so. Get as much air out of the bag and seal it. Place in fridge for 2 hours. Remove dough after it has chilled and set. Cut one side of the zip-loc bag off and throw away. Cut into bar sized portions and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-16 minutes. Remove immediately and place on wire rack to cool. Serve cooled.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Birthday Cake #2

Let me tell you about my chocolate filled day. I know you are all too eager to sit around and read about it so, I'll make it as short and overly sweet as possible. Just as I had finished cleaning up the house my husband walks in and informs me that we were heading to a friend's house later since tomorrow was his buddy's birthday. Oh my goodness! I just knew a cake was in order. I made sure to drop my husband off at work after his lunch was over, made my stop at the store and went to town for a good 4 hours. I must say, I was impressed with my last cake, but this my friends, this was an accomplishment if I do say so myself. You'd have to really love chocolate to be able to tackle an entire slice of this cake and believe me, I say that after watching three large soldiers make their attempt at sharing one slice. Needless to say, they failed. Now, I'm not quite sure if they failed because of how much cake it was, it was so incredibly chocolatey, or because they all may or may not have had a few beers and dinner before the cake was sliced. Either way, I know it was not because it was bad. It made my whole house smell of chocolatey goodness and was I jealous to watch them eat it? Of course.

I want to talk about how 1/2 way through making my frosting my hand mixer broke. I think it's a sign from the cooking Gods above that I must need that Kitchen Aide stand mixer I've been wanting so badly. The only issue was that I still needed to whip my frosting for an additional 6 minutes. I managed to whip it up the best I could without my mixer, I think it still turned out pretty close to how it was supposed to, just not as fluffy as it should have been. I started sending my husband angry text messages about how the stupid mixer broke and then called my dad and ranted about how the stupid mixer just stopped and then you know what he said? 'Why don't you use an electric drill with a mixer attachment?'. I tried, I failed. It didn't work.


For the cake:
2 boxes Devil's Food Cake mix (that's right, I used box cake mix and you'd never know!)
(this called for a total of 6 eggs, 2 2/3 cups oil, and some water)
1 cup mini chocolate chips
**2 bags of mini chocolate chips (for the sides)

For the frosting:
1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
2 pkg cream cheese (room temperature)
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa


For the frosting:
Cream the butter and cream cheese together for 5 minutes with a mixer. While this is mixing, soft the cocoa and powdered sugar together. I sifted mine twice to ensure they were well blended. Mix 1/2 of cocoa mix into cream cheese mixture and slowly combine with mixer. Add remaining cocoa mix slowly and allow frosting to whip for 6 minutes. It should be light and fluffy.

For the cake:
Prepare batter as direction on box, once mixed, add 1/2 cup chocolate chips per batch. I use two 8 inch rounds that have been greased lightly with butter. Bake according to package. When cooked, remove from oven and allow cakes to cool for 5 minutes on cooling rack. Take a spatula and gently slide it between the edge of the cake and the pan. Place hand gently on top of cake and flip over. If it doesn't come out on your hand, tap around on the bottom of the pan until it falls loose. Place top down on rack until completely cool. Repeat with next batch. When all 4 rounds are completely cool, cut the top of the cake off to make an even and level top. Place first layer on plate (I use wax paper underneath to pull out later for a cleaner look after frosting). Frost top of cake, stack next layer, frost, repeat. Once all of your layers are stacked and frosted on top, frost the sides of the cake. Take handfulls of the mini chocolate chips and press them to the sides of the frosted cake. Once the entire cake (excluding the top) are covered, take a clean spatula and press the chocolate chips evenly into the frosting. This will help them from falling off. Melt 1/2 cup of extra chocolate chips to drizzle chocolate on the top (if desired).


Monday, January 24, 2011

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Chops

Well, while I was pre-occupied trying to make my husband these pork chops, some onion petals complete with dipping sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy, and creamed corn... I burnt my own dinner out on the grill. I managed to complete his dinner, oh and to top it off, I made him some puppy chow. I can't lie. I'm just a little jealous! Right after he finished dinner he came back to sit on the couch... I'd say less than five minutes later he jumped up about four feet screaming. Finally I noticed why he was jumping and screaming as a huge, and I do mean huge spider fell to the floor. Ah, never a dull day in this house!

2 boneless pork chops
2 strips thick cut bacon
2 eggs
1/3 cup cornstarch
garlic powder
black pepper
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil

While heating oil in a large saucepan, season both sides of pork chops with garlic powder and black pepper. Wrap each chop with a slice of thick cut bacon. Whisk eggs in one bowl and place corn starch in another. Dip each chop in the egg mixture and then into the corn starch. Allow to cook in the hot oil 4 minutes on each side. Remove and place on paper towel lined plate to soak up excess oil. Ta-da!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Chicken Alfredo

With my husband and I eating very different things as of lately, I'm getting a lot better at making two meals out of one. I decided I was going to have some baked chicken for myself tonight for dinner. It was easy enough to boil some noodles and whip up some Alfredo sauce while the chicken baked. The only problem is that there are always leftovers and my husband just doesn't seem to ever eat them the next day! Now, I think that people who don't cook on a regular basis might find the simple thought of leftovers as boring, or repetitive. I, my friends, a seasoned chef of course, love left overs. How nice is it to wake up the next day, have a little breakfast and when lunch time rolls around, you don't have to cook anything because low and behold, there are some delicious left overs! No, my husband would rather have something new to eat which I guess I could complain about, but then again, practice makes perfect. My cooking skills are... somewhat improving I hope!

1/2 box fettucini noodles
1 baked chicken breast
1 packet Alfredo sauce mix
(which calls for 1 cup of milk and 3 tbsp of butter)
garlic powder

While the noodles are boiling, slice up your chicken breast into strips. Whip up the sauce according to packet directions. I add some garlic powder and black pepper to mine. Once the noodles are finished boiling and drained, toss in a bit of olive oil. Combine with alfredo sauce and sliced chicken. I tossed a few brussel sprouts to the boiling noodles the last few minutes to serve on the side along with a slice of Texas garlic toast. No complaints tonight!

Salsa Chicken

Okay blogaroos. This meal was amazing, not even kidding. My husband wasn't as crazy over it as me, but I like to think it's because he's more picky about tomatoes and wasn't too fond of this salsa when I bought it for him to dip some chips in. I thought it smelled great and was so- good with this meal. I made the husband some spanish rice and refried beans to go on the side of his chicken, he also got some melted cheddar cheese on top of his. I kept the cheese and sides off of my plate and was still a satisfied eater! A lot of my Army wife friends rave about always making this 'Salsa Chicken'. A lot of the time I hear about it being made in the crock pot. For whatever reason, cooking this in the crock pot was a major turn off for me so I opted to bake mine instead. Mmm. I'd make this again for dinner tonight if I knew it wouldn't result in moans and groans from my husband. I made a point to run to the store for some taco seasoning for this meal, you know when I'm willing to make an extra trip to the store for one ingredient, I'm pretty gung-ho on making it!

I picked up some boxed spanish rice and just canned refried beans but my husband obviously couldn't eat them all. I threw the left overs in the fridge and today threw it all into some tortillas with some shredded cheese and leftover steak from the other night. While I wouldn't eat it, my husband was more than satisfied with his 'leftover burrito' lunch!

I would also like to add that thanks to JCPenny's heck of a sale today and my dad venturing out with my aunt to do a little sale shopping, I will soon have a few new pieces of serve ware for the plating of my blog photos. This makes a food blogger a very happy girl!

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 packet taco seasoning
1 small jar salsa (your favorite brand, and level of heat)
*I used 'On The Border' medium heat.. it's got good flavor and isn't really chunky like other salsas, I thought it was perfect
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 425. Sprinkle taco seasoning on both sides of chicken and rub into meat with hands. Empty the jar of salsa over the chicken and bake for 45-65 minutes. Sprinkle cheddar over chicken (if desired) and let it melt over the chicken for the last few minutes of cooking.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Chicken with Rice & Veggies

Okay with my last post being about how much my husband disliked the meal, I'm glad to say, and shocked all at the same time at how much my husband ate of this! He went back and piled all the remaining veggies and rice onto his still half full plate! Meals like that make me a proud gal! I also only took three, count them, three, photos of this meal, normally it's as many as twenty! I must have really just been on top of my game that night! I won't go on to brag about how I kicked his butt at the Kinect later, or maybe I will a little. Alright, alright, we basically end up evening up the scores but hey, details, schmetails!

Anyways, I'm trying to accomplish something this morning but there isn't much to do around the house. I went to town yesterday all morning and into the afternoon, cleaning, I mean deep cleaning our laundry room and bathroom. Washed all of our & the pups bedding, dusted, you get the picture. Oh, I can't forget to mention that I used my massive guns to rearrange the bedroom furniture all by myself! I don't know why but I always love sleeping in my room the first night after it's been rearranged. It's like I'm on vacation somewhere else.. that sounds silly, huh? Well with a movie on the agenda later for the hubs and me, I better get to finishing this blog post and on to the rest of the day!

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (I used carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and squash mix)
2 cans cream of celery soup (plus 1 can of water)
2-3 tbsp. chicken bouillon
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. parsley flakes

1 cup white rice
1 tsp. garlic powder

Pre-heat oven to 425F. Combine soup, water, and seasonings together in a large casserole dish. Place chicken breasts in mixture and take a spoon to cover chicken with mixture. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and add frozen vegetables. Re-coat your chicken with the mixture again and place back in the oven for 20-30 more minutes or until your chicken is fully cooked.

I cooked my rice on the stove just before my chicken finished cooking. I seasoned the water with a bit of garlic powder but feel free to leave it out! Wha-la!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Fettucini with Vodka Sauce

Well, this wasn't my husband's favorite meal. He's really picky about not liking tomatoes.. so typically pasta always has too much sauce on it for him. Well after serving up a ridiculous amount of this sauce over pasta to a bunch of drunkies on New Years Eve I should have realized that he wouldn't like the sauce without a few beers in him, huh? Well, I grabbed a jar yesterday while at the store. I told myself, 'What the heck? It's worth a short, right?'. Wrong. He claimed there was 'so much pasta'. Psh. I jazzed it up by slicing up a couple of sweet Italian sausages.. and even a slice of garlic toast! Nahhhh. If I could eat carbs, I would have devoured this dinner. I'm not a huge pasta lover to begin with, but this sauce smelled really great. Either way, I think most normal un-picky husband's would enjoy it so I decided to add it to the blog either way. Plus, somewhere about 60 posts ago, I promised to blog the good, the bad, and the ugly.

While we're having story time, let me also fill you in on what happened in our lovely little home this morning. I'm all snuggled up in our warm bed, an adorable pup softly snoring beside me in my husband's usual spot. She likes to keep me company in bed while he's at PT in the weee-early morning. Then, suddenly, my phone begins to ring. It's my husband, he's running late, can I pleaseee wake up and make him breakfast. Alright, sure, why not. While we originally agreed that I would make him bacon and a bagel with cream cheese this morning.. I was feeling a little lovey and decided to make him a breakfast burrito and the bagel. That's right, a warm crisped up tortilla, filled with freshly scrambled eggs, two thick sliced cuts of bacon, and lots of cheddar cheese. Mmm. (Well, Mmm, for all of you bacon and egg lovers). Anyways, I wrapped it up all nice and neat in foil, baggied up the toasted bagel and sit them on the counter next to a piping hot, freshly brewed cup of his favorite coffee... and I even set out a Monster for later because well, I'm perfect like that.

When he comes home for lunch I asked him if he ate his bagel this morning, he says yes, then I asked if he ate his burrito.. he tried saying yes at first but then come to find out he 'took a few bites and just pulled out the bacon because I didn't have a lot of time'. (I'm shaking my little fist at a picture of my husband as we speak people, asssss we speak!) Now, the logical thing, in my opinion, would have been to eat the burrito my wife spent time on cooking it especially for me, instead of eating the bagel she simply tossed into the toaster. The neighbors probably think our marriage is ending in a dirty divorce with how loud I got. I mean, I'm pretty good at doing this, I'm mad but I'm really joking thing, but sometimes I yell a little with it and while he had opened the door to leave I yelled 'No! You get out of my house right now!' What they missed was all the good stuff before he had opened the door. All the 'You're never getting breakfast made for you again's' the, 'See if I ever neatly wrap a burrito up in foil for you to take's' the, "I'm just going to start pre-cooking bacon for the week and you can just eat that every morning's.' Ahhh, yes, it was a good, good day of threats in this household.

Oh and yesterday? I put sugar and creamer in his coffee. Apparently in the week and half that we visited family in Nebraska he suddenly 'lost' his sweet tooth. So the coffee I had made for him and sent to go made it's way back home later and dowwwwwwn my little kitchen sink. *big overdramatic sigh* I guess I failed this week.

I guess after all of this rambling I could go ahead and get on with the original post. I know that a lot of you have missed my story times and gathering around the magic carpet for snack ti---- I mean... reading my semi, somewhat, sometimes entertaining posts. Well, here it is.

1 jar Vodka sauce
1 box fettucini pasta
3 sweet Italian sausage links
parsley (for garnish)

Boil sausages until fully cooked in small saucepan while noodles are being prepared in large saucepan according to package directions. Fettucini takes awhile to cook so my sausages finished sooner than my pasta. I sliced them and put them back into the saucepan without any water. This allowed them to crisp up just a bit. Add jar of sauce to sausages and bring to a simmer. Once noodles are finishing boiling, drain, and toss with olive oil. Place desired amount of sauce over noodles and garnish with a sprinkle of parsley. I served mine with garlic toast, and good thing I did or I'm sure my husband would have gone to bed hungry!