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Archive for March, 2012

So I have never been a huge fan of “semi-homemade” cooking. While I will agree it saves a ton of time and sometimes saves you money, for me it always feels like I am cheating. I know it’s probably a really silly notion but I just feel guilty about it! In any case, I have yet to find a homemade brownie recipe that is better than what you can make from a box and with a husband who loves brownies that is very frustrating. To feel less guilty about serving brownies made from a box, there was a recipe my mom used to make us when we were little that would snazz up a box of brownies. I figured in the middle of tax season coupled with the craziness packing/moving, it is a valid excuse to need to revert to “semi-homemade” cooking or it may be a month before there is another post from me (sorry I know I’m slacking!!). So here is a fun and easy cheesecake brownie recipe to works with most brownie mixes.

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 5 T. butter, softened
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T. flour
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 pkg brownie mix

Directions:

  1.  To make the cream cheese mixture, beat together cream cheese and butter. Add sugar, eggs, flour, and vanilla. Beat until smooth and set aside.
  2. Prepare brownie mix using cake-like instructions.
  3. Spread 1/2 of brown batter into greased 9 × 13 pan.
  4. Pour all the cream cheese mixture over brownie batter.
  5. Spoon remaining brownie batter in spots over the top and swirl the two mixtures together with a knife or spatula.
  6. Bake at 350 for 36 – 39 minutes.

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Brett and I watch this slightly funny but mostly annoying show called “Happy Endings.”  It’s one of those shows that has a funny pilot episode so you keep watching it…then it becomes a habit.  So we still watch it.  In the show, there is a guy who owns a food truck called “Steak Me Home Tonight” – I think that is beyond hilarious (obviously it doesn’t take a lot to amuse me).    Makes me realize, I could never cook meat for public consumption.  The thought of someone ordering a steak “well done” makes me cringe.

Why am I spouting off about a steak truck?  Because Jaclyn had this fabulous idea –

Would this be cool or what?

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Yes, I’ve been googling 🙂

hint, hint, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, – – imagine me batting my eyes 🙂

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It seems like overnight spring arrived in Virginia.  The weather has remained a balmy 70-80 degrees all week, the birds are chirping, the daffodils are blooming, and I’ve been digging up my short sleeved shirts.  This means it’s gardening time!!  To catch you up to speed, a couple of weekend ago, Jaclyn and I planted some veggie seeds.  If you haven’t seen my little garden plot yet, you will in a few more weeks.  Jaclyn and I were hoping to get a community garden plot but turns out that if you don’t call first thing on the morning reservations open…then you are SOL (sorrily out of luck) ;).  But i still have my little garden which is about 5 ft by 10 ft (I think – I’m no good at guessing measurements…I have to imagine myself laying down and figure out how many of me a space would be).

This year I’ve decided to stick with my favorite veggies to plant.  Last year I planted tons of stuff, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, eggplant, okra, etc… Not that I don’t like all of these things but honestly at that point my garden is so crammed it’s kind of hard to tend and nothing does spectacular.  I decided this year to just stick to the necessities.  So when Jaclyn came over, we headed out to Southern States (my favorite stop for seeds because Charlottesville does not have an Ace hardware or a Gray Feed & Seed).  I also had a lot of seeds left over from last year.

We planted:

Tomatoes
– black krim
– sun gold cherry tomatoes (those cute orange tomatoes that are MY FAVORITE)
– and yellow pear cherry tomatoes (b/c who doesn’t love yellow things??)
Space-Saving Cucumbers (they have smaller vines and cute pickling cucumbers)
Butternut Squash (i’ve yet to figure out how i’m going to keep this thing under control – last year it grew everywhere)
Straight neck Squash
Thyme
Dill
Basil
Parsley
Cilantro
Oregano
Sunflowers
Zinnias
Poppies
& Larkspur

I might plant some lettuce later but that’s something that gets sewed directly in the ground according to my nifty garden chart that my Daddy sent.

Expect to see some fun recipes from Jaclyn and I from my garden!!  I really want to make a tomato, mozzarella, avocado salad with my different colored tomatoes…how colorful would that be!!

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PS – I apologize for unturned photos – WordPress is not being my friend right now!

 

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So I’m sure you have often wondered who helps me out in the kitchen…no it isn’t my husband :).  This is my Kitchen-Aid mixer, aptly named, Daisy.  She was a Christmas present from my daddy a few years ago.  She is my favorite kitchen appliance (probably one of my favorite possessions, as in if a fire were to occur she would be 3rd to be saved after my husband and my dog).  She is a model K5-A (not that you care) which is a model that ran between 1947 and 1980.  A few months ago I sent in my serial number to the Kitchen-Aid people (on facebook no less!!) and they responded that my machine was built in 1947…how cool is that!  Okay, maybe you think that just means old…but for me, a lover of vintage kitchen things, I think that is beyond awesome.  And come on, have you read up on Kitchen-Aid mixers?  They might be expensive, but they are built to last.  Obviously, my machine did not come pre-decorated.  I am not a big fan of white and Kitchen-Aid didn’t start making the fancy colors until recently.  So i took a page out of Alton Brown’s book, and decorated my kitchen-aid myself.  Many online stores sell mixer decals but they are mostly flames and that’s not my cup of tea.  I did extensive research and found that auto decals are the way to go – they can withstand the use and cleaning necessary for a kitchen appliance.  So Daisy got decorated and dubbed with the name, Daisy.

Next time you have a baked treat from my house, you will know Daisy had a hand in making it.  She also makes pasta 🙂

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Crepes has to be one of the most versatile and underutilized recipes. They are a perfect dessert, breakfast, and even main dish option. Plus they are one of those recipes that you almost always have all the ingredients for the basic batter and then you can be creative with the filling!

Scott and I fell in love with crepes when we were in Greece…I know it is an odd place to fall in love with crepes. However, I have a severe tree nut allergy so I can’t have a lot of fancy chocolate since a lot of times it has hazelnut or almond extract hidden in the chocolate, so crepes was one of the only safe dessert options we had to eat. When we got back from Greece, we decided to make crepes one night when we were becoming particularly nostalgic to be back in Greece and I found just a basic crepe recipe online that with a little tweaking has become our go-to recipe.

Crepe Batter:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 T butter, melted
  • 1 c. flour
  1. Mix the first 6 ingredients together and then sift in the flour. Whisk until combined.
  2. Heat a crepe pan (or a frying pan if you do not own a crepe pan but if you use a frying pan, you will probably need nonstick cooking spray depending on your pan).
  3. Once the pan is hot, pour 1/4 c. of batter into the pan and swirl the pan around until the crepe is in a thin layer. (One tip: it is easier to flip the crepe if it is not touching the ends of the pan).
  4. Cook until it begins to bubble slightly and the bottom is light brown. Then flip with a spatula to cook the other side.
  5. Transfer to a plate and fill with whatever filling you want!

That is all you need to do for the basic crepe! You can even be as creative as you want when you are folding the crepe. Some people prefer to simply roll the filling in it so the crepe where it looks like manicotti. Some prefer to fold it in half once, so it looks like an omelet. My favorite technique is to fold it in half and then place the filling in the bottom half of this half and then fold it again (so it looks almost like a little triangle) and top with the remaining filling.

Some ideas of what to fill the crepes with:

  • Apples mixed with cinnamon & sugar and topped with caramel (Note: with this filling, I will often sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon sugar into the crepe batter to tie it all together)
  • Bananas with coconut & caramel
  • Strawberries with chocolate sauce and cool whip
  • Mixed vegetables (including asparagus, zucchini, summer squash, peppers, etc.)
  • Tuna or chicken salad
  • Whatever you have in your pantry! 🙂

Enjoy!

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