Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Annaleigh, Charlie, and Lily

I have a confession.

When people ask how I met my good friend Brooke, I usually say that our husbands played Little League together and that all three of them went to high school together.

That's only somewhat true.

I mean, Pat and Joe did play ball together, and Pat, Joe, and Brooke did graduate in 1996, 1997, and 1998 respectively from the same school.

However, I didn't meet Brooke until 2005... although I had "known" her for over a year before.

See, Brooke and I were both on the same message board on - a board for newlyweds. We, along with many other women, formed a unique bond and found ourselves using the word "friend" to describe people whom we had never met.

Brooke, however, lived not too far from me, and after over a year of being on the boards, we decided to meet for dinner.

And the rest is history.

Our friendship grew, and our husbands were thrown into the mix too. We'd have dinner at each other's houses, go out together, or have some much-needed girl time getting ice cream, pedicures, seeing movies, etc.

Eventually, that message board on theknot morphed into a private, intimate Google board, and Brooke and I also started spending time on a cooking board. We loved exchanging recipes, going to Super Suppers, and even went to a taping of the Rachael Ray show.

Yes, I do have a point in talking about message boards and food. :)

As many of you know (because let's face it - the majority of the people who read this blog are on said cooking board!), Brooke and Joe were blessed with a triplet pregnancy, and Annaleigh, Charlie, and Lily were born on June 27, 2009, on Brooke and Joe's 6th wedding anniversary.

These three little miracles continue to grow bigger and stronger! Though they've had some setbacks, these precious babies are thriving and making their Mommy and Daddy (and their many loyal fans!) very, very proud.

Prior to the birth of their sweet babies, Brooke and Joe created a blog to document their journey from fertility treatments to a sudden birth at 25 weeks and 5 days - with a few bumps in the road in between!

Their inspiring story has made some serious headway around the world wide web, and they are inundated with people, including manys strangers, who want to help in some way. To try to help out, some of the women on the cooking board generously set up a site where people could donate to this amazing family.

Brooke and Joe are not only great friends of ours, but they are seriously one of the strongest, most amazing couples we have ever known. I'm usually not one for solicitating, but if putting the link to the donation page helps our friends even in the slightest bit, then I'd do it happily!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

You cannot possibly imagine how giddy I was when I was nonchalantly flipping through the latest issue of Cooking Light magazine and came across this cookie recipe.

I didn't feel guilty at all about chowing down on these (then again, I rarely feel guilt when eating something yummy. Ha!) because of the banana, oats, etc.

I altered the flour and chocolate slightly, so click on the link above for the original recipe. But make these today!

  • 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 5.6 ounces whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add egg; beat well.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture to banana mixture in bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

4. Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 18 minutes or until golden. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Better-Than-Sex Cake

I wish I had better pics of this cake; what I have below does not do this dessert justice!

I had made this cake about a year ago for my husband's 30th birthday but never got around to blogging it. It popped up again not too long ago on my friend Colleen's blog, and I thought it would be a good one to bring up to my parents' house.

It was as good as I remembered, although it was very rich. I think in the future I would do something to the caramel/condensed milk combo - either use less or maybe unsweetened milk... it just seemed a tad too much.

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 1 (12 ounce) bag chocolate chips
  • 1 (16 ounce) jar caramel sauce
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tub Cool Whip
  • 1 (8 ounce) bar cream cheese
  • 1/2 bag heath bar bits - I used M&Ms. Any kind of small or crushed candy would work well

Preheat oven as directed on cake box.

Prepare cake mix as directed on box. Add half the bag of chocolate chips, pour in cake pan and top with remaining chocolate chips. Bake as directed on the box.

Meanwhile, mix the caramel and the condensed milk together in a bowl. When the cake comes out of the oven, poke holes in the cake with a straw and then pour the caramel mix over the top and let sit until cool.

In medium bowl, beat Cool Whip and cream cheese until combined. Top cooled cake with Cool Whip mixture and the candy pieces.

Keep chilled before serving.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pioneer Woman's Baked Lemon Spaghetti

I was both intrigued and skeptical of the Pioneer Woman's Baked Lemon Pasta. It seemed an interesting combination of flavors, although I wasn't sure if that was good-interesting or bad-interesting.

I thought this was really delicious, and the fact that it was so fast and easy to prepare sure helped! I think I'd halve it next time; it just made a TON and I had to throw some out even after taking some for lunch a few days.

  • 1 pound thin spaghetti
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste if desired
  • Plenty of grated Parmesan cheese
  • Flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Extra lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook spaghetti until al dente.

In a skillet, melt butter with olive oil over LOW HEAT. When butter is melted, add minced garlic. Squeeze lemon juice into the pan. Turn off heat.

Add sour cream and stir mixture together. Add lemon zest and salt. Taste, then add more salt if necessary.

Pour mixture over drained spaghetti and stir together, then pour spaghetti into an oven safe dish.

Bake, covered, for 15 minutes. Then remove foil and bake for an additional 7 to 10 minutes. (Don’t bake too long or the pasta will dry out.)

When you remove it from the oven, squeeze a little more lemon juice over the top.

Top generously with Parmesan cheese, then chopped parsley.Give it a final squeeze of lemon juice at the end.

Serve with crusty French bread and a simple green salad.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Eggplant and Tomato Risotto

I love risotto so much, and I love when I come across new flavor combinations that I maybe wouldn't have otherwise thought of.

When I saw this recipe on Savory Safari, I couldn't wait to make it! My husband is not an eggplant fan, so I rarely use it, but even the risk of disappointing him couldn't keep my from trying this.

(Sidenote: he totally complimented this dinner. I didn't tell him there was eggplant in it until the next day; he claims he knew.)

This dinner was so ridiculously delicious. I completely banned him from taking leftovers for work - they were MINE!

  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine or vermouth
  • 4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth, for a fully
  • vegetarian dish)
  • 1 small Vidalia onion, minced
  • 1 pound tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata (2 ounces) - I didn't have any, so I used mozzarella
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup julienned basil

1. In a large sauté pan with high sides (the same pan you want to use for the risotto), heat the olive oil. Add the eggplant and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned all over. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Transfer the eggplant to a bowl and set aside.

2. In a saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a rapid simmer. In the sauté pan, heat 2 Tbsp. of butter. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until thoroughly coated, about 2 minutes.

3. Add the wine and cook, stirring and scraping up the browned bits in the pan, until the wine is nearly absorbed. Add the hot stock 1 cup at a time and stirring until it is absorbed between additions. When the rice is about half cooked, add the chopped tomatoes, reserving a small handful for garnish. The risotto is done when the rice is al dente and suspended in a creamy liquid, about 25 minutes total.

4. Remove the risotto from the heat. Vigorously stir in the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter, then stir in the ricotta salata and parmesan cheeses. Stir in the eggplant and basil, reserving a little basil for garnish. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to bowls. Garnish with reserved chopped tomatoes and basil. Serve right away.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Chocolate Waffles

I had wanted to make my husband some waffles for breakfast on Father's Day, but that morning I realized I had no flour! I quickly scoured the internet for a waffle recipe that involved Bisquick, and I was quite pleased when I discovered these Chocolate Waffles on

He thought they were a bit too chocolatey (blasphemy!) so maybe next time I'd cut back on the cocoa... but I thought they were just right.

PS - Like my new waffle iron? It makes Belgium-style circus shapes! They are definitely a hit with Ryan; he asks for waffles now almost daily.

  • 1 1/2 c. Bisquick baking mix
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. cocoa
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs

Beat all ingredients with wire whisk or hand beater until almost smooth. Pour batter from cup or pitcher onto center of hot waffle iron. Bake until steaming stops. Remove waffle carefully.
Serve with vanilla ice cream, sliced peaches, and raspberries or sliced strawberries, sweetened whipped cream, and chocolate-flavored syrup over waffles. Makes 6 servings.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Baked Ziti with Marscarpone

I adore pasta. Shocked? ;)

I stumbled upon this little variation on Elizabeth's Cooking Experiments and knew it'd be a perfect comfort dinner.

With the arrival of this new little guy or girl soon, I actually decided to double the recipe and freeze some for after we return home from the hospital. Idiot that I am, however, forgot to double the marscarpone. Whoops.

I've never made a baked ziti without the use of ricotta, though, so I was a bit skeptical of the sour cream. I needn't have worried, however, because even with only half as much marscarpone, it was absolutely delicious. It's been difficult not pulling out the version in the freezer!

  • 1 lb ziti pasta
  • 1 (26 oz) jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1-2 cups Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta to al dente. Drain & set aside.

Meanwhile, brown meat with onion & garlic. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Add marinara sauce to the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes. Thin the sauce just a tad with about 1/8 cup water or chicken stock. Season the sauce with garlic & herbs, to taste.

In a large bowl, combine mascarpone cheese, sour cream, and cooked pasta.Layer the pasta, sauce and cheese in a large greased casserole dish as follows:

1/2 pasta
1/2 sauce
1/2 cheese
remaining pasta
remaining sauce
remaining cheese

Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and top with Parmesan cheese and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Related Posts with Thumbnails