Monday, August 31, 2009


This is just a quick tip:
Since relocating to Arizona I have noticed my cheese has been going bad faster than usual. Maybe the cheese in California is fresh and we import cheese in Arizona, which would limit the shelf life (my assumption). Our refrigerator is definitely cold enough; ask the frozen carrots and the slushy water, they’ll tell you. What I have been doing to prevent this unwanted mold is I keep my cheese in the freezer. Shredded cheese breaks apart very easily as does sliced cheddar. My cheese now keeps for a very long time and I don’t have to throw cheese away, which can get expensive.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chicken and Broccoli Cheese Soup


2-3 cooked chicken breasts

4 c chicken broth

4 c broccoli (chopped into small pieces)

¾ c butter

¾ c flour

1 quart half and half

1 c shredded cheddar cheese


1. Cook 2-3 chicken breasts and chop into small pieces (boiled chicken might work well)

2. Bring 4 cups chicken broth to a boil.  Add broccoli, simmer 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

3. White Sauce:  Melt butter in a sauce pan.  Whisk in flour until smooth over medium heat.  Pour in half and half.  Stir until it thickens, then gradually add cheese.  Stir until cheese is melted.

4. Bring broccoli and broth to a simmer again and slowly pour in the white cheese sauce.  Continue to stir until thickens.  Add some coarse black pepper.

5. Add cooked chicken, and heat until chicken is warm again.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten

Recipe goes like this:

2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2/3 cup good unsweetened cocoa powder(I like dark chocolate)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds good white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and two sugar until light and fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Add the cocoa and mix again. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the chocolate with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Fold in the white chocolate chips.

Drop the dough on a baking sheet, covered in parchment paper, in rounded scoops. Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly. Bake for exactly 15 minutes (the cookies will seem underdone). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

My advice on this one:
Follow the recipe exactly as it says. Unsalted butter, room temp. items and all. The details really do make the difference.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sweet Potato Frites with Spicy Ketchup

These make for a yummmmmy little side dish that Adam and I are now addicted to. A great way to get those good vitamins from a sweet potato without all the sugar of our Gramma's delicious holiday yam recipe. The spicy ketchup sends the fries just right over the top-- the combo is amazing.

For just Adam and I, we use one sweet potato-- but the recipe calls for 5.

Slice the potatoes into fry sized cuts-- I like mine long and skinny, some like them like steak fries, totally your preference.

Put fries in a bowl and pour a little olive oil (only enough to coat the yams) and a few pinches of salt. Toss them around until totally coated.

Lay them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer

Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes until golden-- then pull out, flip and put back in for another 10-15 minutes.

While the fries are baking, put several tablespoons of ketchup in a small serving bowl and mix with a few splashes of Tabasco.

When the fries finish, let cool and dip in spicy ketchup. The fries should be just the right amount of crunchy, soft and chewy. The natural sweet flavor of the sweet potato with the salty olive oil coating dipped in the spicy ketchup is sooo delicious!


CPK dough recipe

Makes dough for two 9-inch pizzas. We mixed by hand quadrupled the recipe and had to add a little more "yeast water" to make the dough a little more tacky. We didnt have a pizza stone or cornmeal so instead we used "pizza pans" and flour. The pizzas still turned out great.

Basic Pizza Dough:
1 teaspoon yeast
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water
(105-110 degrees F)
1 ½ cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

To make the dough:
1. Dissolve the yeast in the water and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes. Be sure that the water is not hot; temperatures of 120° F and above will kill the yeast and the dough will not rise.

2. If using an upright electric mixer, such as a KitchenAid, use the mixing paddle attachment because the batch size is too small for the dough hook to be effective. Combine all other ingredients (except one teaspoon of olive oil) and combine them with the dissolved yeast in the mixing bowl. (Do not pour the salt directly into the yeast water because this would kill some of the yeast.) Allow these 2 ingredients to mix gradually; use the lowest 2 speeds to mix the dough. Mix for 2 to 3 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Over mixing will produce tough, rubbery dough, and friction will cause dough to rise too fast.

3. If mixing by hand, place the dry ingredients in a 4 to 6-quart mixing bowl; make a well in the middle and pour the liquids (reserving a teaspoon of olive oil). Use a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients. Once initial mixing is done, you can lightly oil your hands and begin kneading the dough; knead for 5 minutes. When done, the dough should be slightly tacky (that is, it should be barely beyond sticking to your hands).

4. Lightly oil the dough ball and the interior of a 1 quart glass bowl. Place the dough ball in the bowl and seal the bowl with clear food wrap; seal air tight. Set aside at room temperature (70-80° F) to rise until double in size; about 1 ½ to 2 hours.

5. Note: The dough could be used at this point, but it will not be that wonderful, chewy, flavorful dough that it will become later. Punch down the dough, re-form a nice round ball and return it to the same bowl; cover again with clear food wrap. Place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight covered airtight.

6. About 2 hours before you are ready to assemble your pizza, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Use a sharp knife to divide the dough into 2 equal portions (or 4 equal portions if making appetizer-sized pizza or if smaller 6-inch pizzas are desired).

7. Roll the smaller dough into round balls on a smooth, clean surface; be sure to seal any holes by pinching or rolling.

8. Place the newly formed dough balls in a glass casserole dish, spaced far apart for each to double in size. Seal the top of the dish air-tight with clear food wrap. Set aside at room temperature until the dough balls have doubled in size (about 2 hours). They should be smooth and puffy.

To stretch and form the dough for pizza:
1. Sprinkle a medium dusting of flour over a 12x12-inch clean, smooth surface. Use a metal spatula or dough scraper to carefully remove a dough ball from the glass casserole dish, being very careful to preserve its round shape. Flour the dough liberally. Place the floured dough on the floured smooth surface.

2. Use your hand or rolling pin to press the dough down forming a flat circle about 1/2-inch thick. Pinch the dough between your fingers all around the edge of the circle, forming a lip or rim that rises about 1/4-inch above the center surface of the dough. You may continue this outward stretching motion of the hands until you have reached a 9-inch diameter pizza dough.

To dress the pizza:
1. Lightly sprinkle cornmeal, semolina or flour over the surface of a wooden pizza peel. Arrange the stretched dough over the floured peel surface. Work quickly to dress the pizza so that the dough won’t become soggy or sticky from the sauces and toppings.

2. When you are ready to transfer the pizza to the pizza stone in the preheated oven, grasp the handle of the peel and execute a very small test jerk to verify that the pizza will come easily off the peel. If the dough doesn’t move freely, carefully lift the edges of the dough and try to rotate it by hand. Extreme cases may require that you toss more flour under the dough edges.

3. Once the dough is moving easily on the peel, open the oven and position the edge of the peel over the center of the stone about 2/3 from the front of the stone. Jiggle and tilt the peel to get the pizza to start sliding off. When the pizza begins to touch the stone, pull the peel quickly out from under it. Don’t attempt to move the pizza until it has begun to set (about 3 minutes). The peel can be slid under the pizza to move it or remove it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cilantro Chicken

If you're looking for another way to cook all of that frozen chicken in your freezer you can always try this. It's incredibly flavorful, quick and healthy. Isn't that what we all want? Note: you must like cilantro! Apparently there are people who don't like cilantro. Crazies.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
¼ cup lime juice
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
4-6 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Mix all ingredients together and put into a Ziploc bag with chicken. Let marinate a minimum of 30 minutes or up to overnight. Grill 4-6 minutes on each side.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes :)

These are the best cupcakes of life! The Magnolia Bakery is one place I insist on visiting whenever I find myself in New York. I highly recommend the bakery in New York and if you can't get there, make these at home in the mean time.

The cupcake:
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.

In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, on at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes (depending on the size of your cupcake papers and muffin tins).

The icing:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
6-8 cups confectioners' (powdered) sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set of chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Makes enough for 2 dozen cupcakes.

My advice: Always follow the recipes instructions when it says "at room temp." or "softened" or "don't over beat" and the like. These little details are what make the recipe better than the rest. That and the butter...

Monday, August 17, 2009

What can I say, I LOVE muffins...

Those who know me well know I have a slight obsession with Ina Garten and her amazing recipes. Why, you might ask? Well, I've yet to make something of hers that I don't LOVE. And those who know me well know that I am an old faithful. If I find something that I like I will keep coming back for more. So, you will find a lot of Barefoot Contessa recipes from me. I'll just say it now and get it over with, you're welcome...

Tri-Berry Muffins
by Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa at Home

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups milk
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup diced fresh strawberries
1 1/2 cups sugar*
1 cup walnuts, chopped**

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Stir with your hand to be sure the ingredients are combined. In another bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and melted butter. Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture, pour the wet mixture into the well, and stir until just combined. There will be some lumps but don't over mix the batter! Add the blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and sugar and stir gently to combine.

Using a 2 1/4-inch ice cream scoop***, spoon the batter into the muffin cups and fill the liners. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean and the tops are nicely browned.

Makes 16-18 muffins

*It's important that you add the sugar last and don't over mix as the directions say. See the pictures above. Just trust me.
**The walnuts are my own personal upgrade to this already fab-o recipe. Walnuts are so good for you and they taste amazing in here. You can also add flax seed and other healthy stuff to feel better about all of the butter and sugar. I don't let it bother me...
***The ice cream scoop thing really makes this step easy. Invest in a good one. You will not regret it.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Afternoon

It seems like Sunday afternoons once we get home from church we are hungry and need something delicious and easy! As I do my grocery shopping on Mondays, we are usually low on fresh stuff by Sunday-- so we have a few reliable things we always fall back on, Adams favorite it naan pizza.

I would pick up some naan bread (regular is amazing, but usually I opt for whole wheat) from Whole Foods or Trader Joes (and now I feel like most grocery stores have it too). I like the Trader Joes the best because of the shape-- perfect for individual and easily eatable pizzas!

Also I either stew some tomatoes or more often I buy a jar of good pasta sauce (Archer Farms from Target or Trader Joes brand are both great, and I prefer pasta sauce to pizza sauce for this) and pour a little one top of each piece of naan. After the sauce, I layer on some mozzarella cheese (and I would tell you amounts but its is much more effective to use your judgement than dirty a bunch of measuring cups).

Once the staples are taken care of the fun part starts. Usually Adam is happy with cheese (or maybe salami/pepperoni on top) but I try something different each time. Occasionally I crumble goat cheese with fresh basil on top, or sauté squash and zucchini and layer that on there. I have also done cooked spinach, fresh tomato slices (has to be a really good ripe tomato), mushrooms, and garlic. Yum. The bottom line is-- the options are endless.

After it is topped with all of this deliciousness, I pop it in the oven on broil. It doesn't take more than 5 minutes to cook and watch it (I check on it about every minute) because it cooks really fast! You just want the cheese to be totally melted together and maybe a little bubbly.

The naan is a great base because it is such a tender bread. Its really doughy and delicious, and the extra bonus on top of the awesome flavor is how easy and fast it is to make! I usually have all of these ingredients on hand, and I buy naan and keep it in the freezer till I am ready to use it. This takes about 5-10 minutes total to make.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Couples Sleepover

We had a hilarious weekend full of fun, friends, and food! We had 8 friends sleep over on Friday night (a full house was a welcome change!). I loved every minute of it as we cooked up a storm and had massive amounts of girl talk as the boys had many battles of strength and stealth. A big request by the end of the weekend was the recipe for a pasta dish I made the night everyone arrived-- So easy and a yummy summer dish!

It takes about 20 minutes and is a big crowd pleaser...

Lemon Fusilli
(Courtesy of Barefoot Contessa, of course)
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 lemons (I didn't use that much lemon because Adam doesn't love it)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch broccoli (I didn't add this)
  • 1 pound dried fusilli pasta
  • 1/2 pound baby arugula
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved


Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic, and cook for 60 seconds. Add the cream, the zest from 2 lemons, the juice of 2 lemons, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken (but don't wait for it to get thick, that won't happen). While its thickening cook the pasta (details below)...

Meanwhile, cut the broccoli in florets and discard the stem. Cook the florets in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain the broccoli and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside. **I omitted the broccoli-- I don't think it needed it**

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the package, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta in a colander and place it back into the pot. Immediately add the cream mixture and cook it over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until most of the sauce has been absorbed in the pasta. Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl, add the arugula (the arugula will wilt from the heat), Parmesan, tomatoes, and cooked broccoli (if used). Cut the last lemon in half lengthwise, slice it 1/4-inch thick crosswise, and add it to the pasta. Toss well, season to taste, and serve hot (I didn't add the lemon slices either).

Side note: I doubled the recipe and that was more than enough for a house full of 10 people and the leftovers were still yummy the next day! Perfect to drop at someone's house as a meal-- just add a little cooked salmon, shrimp, or chicken!


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Peanut Butter Bar

2 Cups Chunky Peanut Butter
1 Cup Melted Butter
1 Pound Powdered Sugar (3 3/4 cups)
1 package Graham Crackers

Mix all ingredients together.
Push into bottom of a 9x13 pan.
Melt approximately 12 oz. of milk chocolate (or a mix of milk chocolate and semi-sweet!) and spread on the top. Refrigerate again.