Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Need an apron?

Thanks to Kim's blog, I ran over here and signed up. I always thought aprons were lame, but I am seeing ones that are just cuter and cuter, and now I totally want one. And this one is adorable!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

Another dessert from Ryan's party! This delicious dip comes to me courtesy of Kelly, and it was another crowd-pleaser. So fast and easy to put together!

I served this with vanilla wafers, chocolate graham crackers, and animal crackers. Yum!

(The recipe is actually supposed to be a cheese ball, but I left it as a dip instead.)

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in confectioners' sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

1-2-3-4 Cake

Oh, this cake was gooooood. Moist, and flavorable, and yummy... it was a big hit, and there wasn't much left after Ryan's party was over.

This cake was recommended to me by lovestoeat, and it was a winner. I may never buy a box cake again...

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract (I omitted and just used a little extra vanilla.)

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour three 9 inch cake pans (I used cupcake liners and cupcake pan). In a mixing bowl cream butter and gradually add sugar, creaming until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl sift flour with baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture alternately with milk and flavorings, beating after each addition until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 mins. Cool in pans 10 mins and remove from pans to finish cooling. Top with frosting.

Hershey's Deep Dark Chocolate Cake

I brought a billion party-related questions to my cooking board, and those ladies never let me down. Bethany recommended this Hershey's Deep Dark Chocolate Cake, and it was freaken fantastic. Moist, gooey, chocolatey... perfect.

Don't mind the picture. First of all, I didn't let the icing thicken long enough, so it's all gooey. Plus, I hate my camera, so I couldn't get a decent shot. Looks can be deceiving, however, because this cake was gooooood. Did I already say that?

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of electric mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Deep Dark Chocolate Frosting
from Hershey's, recipe on back of Special Dark cocoa

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1/2 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk

Melt the butter. Stir in cocoa. Add powdered sugar alternately with milk, beating to spreading consistency. Makes about 2 cups.

Tomato-Basil-Mozzarella Skewers

These little bites don't really require a recipe, but they are just so adorable that I had to share them. I made them for Ryan's party, and at the end of the night, there were only a couple left.

Come on, how CUTE are these things!!

  • 1.5 pints of grape tomatoes, halved
  • bunch of basil leaves
  • 8oz fresh mozzarella, diced
  • balsamic vinagrette
Stack one of each of the first three ingredients and secure with a toothpick. Serve alongside the balsamic.


I wanted a fun layer dip for Ryan's second birthday party, and Ashlee's blog delivered!

This was incredibly easy to make, and as you can see from the photo above, people started digging in before I could even snap a picture! This was delicious, and I will for sure make it again.

  • 1 brick of lowfat cream cheese, softened
  • 2 c. thick salsa
  • 1 28 oz. can vegetarian refried beans
  • 2 c. guacamole
  • 1 sack of shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 c. light sour cream
  • 1/2 c. salsa or pico de gallo
  • Optional: Chopped jalapenos, olives, or red onion
In a bowl, mix cream cheese and salsa. Spread into the bottom of a clear, deep dish.

Spread beans over cream cheese layer.

Make guacamole, spread over beans.

Top with lettuce, cheese, sour cream, salsa, and other toppings.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Oven-Fried Honey Chicken Nuggets

This chicken recipe from Brooke is one of the yummiest and easiest chicken dishes I've had in a long time!

I chose to chop up the chicken into nuggets, mainly because Ryan will eat anything he can dunk. And eat these he did; actually, I believe he ate 7 or 8 of them!

Thank you, Brooke, for a new favorite. I know I will make these frequently in the future.

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (I used cooking spray)
  • 6 (4 to 6-ounce) fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halves

Preheat oven to 375°F.In shallow bowl, whisk together honey and vinegar. Pour bread crumbs into separated bowl. Set bowls aside. Spread oil over foil-lined baking pan large enough to hold all chicken pieces in one layer. Roll chicken pieces in honey mixture, then in bread crumbs; place in pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked thoroughly.

Spaghetti with Zesty "Bolognese"

While this is so very much NOT a bolognese, it was still very good. I found this on Elizabeth's blog; I believe she found it in a Kraft magazine.

  • 12 oz dry spaghetti noodles
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 cup Italian dressing
  • 2 TBSP Cream cheese, softened (I used 2 oz)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • dash red pepper flakes
  • Flat-leaf Parsley, chopped
Cook pasta to al dente. Drain & set aside.

Meanwhile, saute onions & garlic in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add ground beef and brown. Season with salt & pepper, to taste.

Add tomatoes, Italian dressing, & Italian seasoning, & parsley. I also added a cube of frozen basil from Trader Joe's. Bring to a low boil. Add red pepper flakes.

Add cream cheese and stir in until melted and well-combined. Toss with pasta. Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Rachael Ray Show!

My awesome friend Brooke scored tickets to a taping of the Rachael Ray show, so she and I and a couple of her friends headed into NYC to check out the Queen of the EVOO.

(The next two pictures are from Brooke.)

Here we are in the middle of our 2-hour wait outside: Karen, me, Kim, and Brooke. We hung out and snacked while we waited to be approved to get in. But... we made it!

She didn't tape a whole show, which was kind of a bummer... she taped 3 different segments for 2 shows. One was a spot with Greta (who was cool in person, but she didn't talk too much with us) about how to fix leg problems, and then she did two cooking sets. In one, she made a broken spaghetti risotto, and the other was a 2-meals-in-one where she cooked a chuck roast and then used leftovers for a stoup. The studio smelled yumo!

I was hoping for some awesome giveaway, but our Snack of the Day was totally kick-ass - these BrowniePops. I haven't tasted something so fabulous in a long time...

The weather was nice, the company was great, and we really had a fabulous time. I believe the two shows should be on in the next week or so... look for us! :)

French Onion Meatloaf - Revisited

About six months ago, I made French Onion Meatloaf. It was kind of my own little creation, and those are few and far between!

While I did like it, I didn't LOVE it. It wasn't quite French-Onion-y for me, but it was a great start. I was excited to give it another shot.

I made it again a few days ago, and please don't be turned off by the gross picture. This was GOOD. I wanted a meatloaf that was moist enough to not need gravy, and I think I got it. Actually, it was JUST slightly too wet. But that's okay. :)

  • EVOO
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 T. Italian seasoning
  • 2 & 1/2 T. Ketchup
  • 1 envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 1/2-3/4 cup beef stock
  • a handful of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • a handful of French-fried onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Saute the onion in the oil until softened and done.

Combine onions with all remaining ingredients except for the French-fried onions into a bowl. Shape into a loaf and place in a lightly greased 9 x. 5 inch pan. Sprinkle fried onions onto top; gently press them into the loaf a bit so they "stick." Bake, covered loosely with foil, for 50-60 minutes, or until meatloaf is cooked through.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Italian Baked Bruschetta Chicken and Pastina

Brace yourselves, folks - I've done it again. I have created my very own dinner.

Okay, that is a total lie.

When planning my meals for the week, I couldn't decide between Giada's Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina and Kraft's Bruschetta Chicken Bake.

But then... it occured to me; make BOTH!

So I did.

I pretty much doubled Giada's version minus the topping, and then used the Kraft's topping instead.

Delicious. But not a friendly meal if you are cutting back on carbs. ;)


  • 1 lb pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 pkg. (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper.
Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered (or sprayed) 9x13 baking dish.
In a small bowl mix tomatoes, stuffing mix, water and garlic just until stuffing mix is moistened. Layer the stuffing mix on top of the pasta.
Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes.

Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli in a White Wine Cheddar Sauce

This dinner by Katie was amazing. It has popped up on my Google reader about seventy billion times, so I knew it had to be a winner. It absolutely was. I don't even know what else to say about this meal, other than the fact that it will for sure make a encore appearance.

I ended up using chicken thighs instead of breasts, but that's really only because I accidentally grabbed them out of the freezer. Otherwise, I don't think I changed a thing...

  • 1 lb. ziti
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup roasted garlic paste (made by roasting garlic in oven and squuezing garlic out of skin) (I used about 1/4 - 1/3 cup of roasted garlic paste in a tube, and it was perfect.)
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 2 c. low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 large head of brocolli, cut into florettes (about 2 c.)
  • 10 oz. cooked chicken, cubed or shredded (about 2 c.)
  • 3 oz. aged reserve cheddar (preferably white), grated (about 1 1/2 c.)
  • 4 - 6 thin strips of parmesan cheese (optional)
  • salt and ground pepper

Bring 4 qt. of water to a boil in lare pot and cook ziti according to box directions to only al dente and set aside.

At the same time, lightly steam broccolli florettes on to of pan in steamer and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat.

When just coming to foaming, add garlic paste and cook until fragrant (about 1 min)

Add flour and cook until beginning to turn golden (about 2 min.)

Add vermouth and cook until evaporated (about 1 min).

Stir broth into pan and simmer sauce until slightly thickened (about 2 min).

Add cheddar and stir constantly while returning to a boil.

Fold in ziti cook for one minute additional and remove from heat.

Add brocolli and chicken and fold until sauce covers uniformly.

Plate and top with one or two strips of parmesean (optional) and serve.

Crockpot Lasagna

After being nervous all day about the lasagna drying out in my crockpot, I must say that I was beyond scared when I opened up the crockpot and saw this:

Even though I added a ton of extra sauce, it totally curled up and burned on the edges.

But really? It wasn't bad at all! I STILL had to add even MORE sauce when serving it (I probably used close to 3 times the amount in the original recipe), but only the top layer was a bit crispy. Everything else? Yummy.

I got this from Kelly, but hers looks MUCH better. I bet mine would have been nicer (and less dry) if I hadn't had to leave it on the "warm" setting for as long as I did.

I certainly wouldn't use this as my default lasagna or anything, and it did take a little more prep work than I would have liked, but not too shabby.

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz package of no-bake lasagna noodles
  • 1 jar of spaghetti sauce (I ended up using about 4 cups of homemade marinara, PLUS a little less than a full jar of sauce)
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • 15 oz of ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
1. Using a little olive oil, add onion and garlic to a saute pan. Then add beef. Over medium heat, cook until completely browned. Add sauce to meat and simmer for a few minutes.
2. Mix milk with ricotta cheese, add egg and mix completely. Add shredded cheeses and mix well.
3. Using cooking spray or crisco, cover sides and bottom of crockpot.
4. Pour 1/4 of meat mixture into crockpot, then a layer of noodles (you will probably need to break them in order to fit), followed by a layer of the 1/3 cheese mixture. Repeat 3 times. Then top with remaining meat mixture. Make sure all noodles around the edges are covered with sauce
5. Cook on low for 4-5 hours.

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