"For I was hungry & you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty & you gave me something to drink..."

Matthew 25:35

Friday, October 29, 2010

Zuppa Toscana

i literally LOVE this soup. ever since i had my first spoonful at the Olive Garden i SWORE i'd figure out how to make it on my own. and i did. so i do- and whenever i make it & bring it to work or send it off with the husband- people trip over themselves to get to the crock pot.

i'm not exagerating. it's that good. and it's easy to make. so you should make some. asap.

Zuppa Toscana (Olive Garden Soup)

You Need:
1 1/2 lb Italian Sausage (sweet or mild)
6-8 slices of bacon (cooked & crumbled) or a package of Real Bacon Bits (i use pre-cooked bacon slices & cook them via the microwave until they're REALLY well done. like very crispy. they get soft in the soup- so no worries)
3 medium potatoes
1 tblsp butter
3 tblsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tblsp hot sauce
1 1/2 tsp black pepper (to taste)
1 1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
2 cups chopped kale
3 chicken bullion cubes
6 cups of water
2 cups heavy whipping cream


Pre-heat oven to 350. Line a shallow baking pan with foil. cut each sausage link almost in half (long ways) & distribute equal amounts of the hot sauce & 2 tblsp of the garlic between the links.

Place in the oven & cook for 20-25 min (until done)
While the sausage cooks: Chop up the kale & set aside. Peel & slice the potatoes into 1/2 in slices, cut those slices in half & set aside. In a large soup pot (this is the pot you'll be making the soup in so make it a big pot) mix the butter, garlic & bacon piecec & cook on medium heat until the bacon is crispy.

Hint: i use pre-cooked bacon. i cook it in the microwave & crumble it up when done. i then "cook" that in the pot for basically 1-2 minutes (just until the butter is melted & the garlic is sweated) this cuts down on oil & makes your life easier!

Remove the bacon & garlic from the pot & set aside in a small bowl. To the soup pot, add the 6 cups of water, bullion cubes, potatoes, salt & pepper. Set the heat to high & bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium & simmer for about 15 min or so (until potatoes are tender)

While the soup cooks, remove the finished sausage from the over. Cut the sausage into bite sized pieces. (i do this on a cutting board with a fork & knife while the sausage is still hot)

Once the potatoes are tender, add the sausage, bacon & garlic, kale & 2 cups of whipping cream to the pot. Stir gently to incorporate everything.

Allow the soup to simmer for another 10-15 min or so (stirring every now & again).

Remove from heat & serve with breadsticks or rolls. I also like to sprinkle finely shredded parmesean cheese on top.


like i said, this soup kicks ass. i like to make it & then transfer it to a crock pot & take it to functions. i kid you not, people will be salivating & asking "WHO MADE THIS SOUP OF THE GODS!?!?!?"

Pin It!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Apple Muffins with Streusel Topping

Apple Muffins with Streusel Topping

You Need:
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup oil
1 tblsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp apple pie spice
1/4 tsp cardamom
3 cups peeled, cored, diced apples (around 3 apples)

1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tblsp flour
1 tblsp raw sugar (turbinado) for topping

Preheat oven to 350º

Cream together the sugar, eggs, oil & vanilla.
Sift together the dry ingredients & add to creamed mixture. The batter will be very thick (like, who- don't be shocked). Mix in the diced apples & the batter will start to thin out.

Line your baking tins with muffin cups- fill muffin cups about 3/4 full.
Mix together the topping ingredients & sprinkle about 1 tblsp per muffin.

Bake for approx 20-25 min.
makes 24-28 muffins

These were SUPER good! really moist & very apple'y. i didn't even bother waiting for them to cool off- simply burned my tongue in my eagerness to inhale one.

Great for breakfast, brunch, snack- anytime! Enjoy!
Pin It!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Velveeta & Rotel Macaroni & Cheese

I love Velveeta & Rotel. it's probably one of the best (and worst for you) chip dips in the world. but who cares about trans fat & calories- not i.

the husband makes it practically every sunday so he can consume an un-Godly amount while watching football. it's actually a little disturbing, but i can't judge- because if i wasn't concerned about my un-born child coming out with a 3rd eye, i'd probably do the same.

anyway- this past sunday he only ate like 1/3 of it (shocking)- so to use it up i decided to make a pasta dish. i wanted something i could freeze for a few meals this week.

well- i deem it a success. i made enough for 4 freezer meals & 1 bowl that he ate that night:

Velveeta & Rotel Pasta Bake
1lb block Velveeta Cheese
1 10 oz can Rotel Tomatoes & Green Chilis
1 lb pasta
6-8 slices of cooked bacon

Pre-heat oven to 375º

make the Velveeta Cheese dip according to directions: Kraft Directions
eat some- with chips- it's good!

cook pasta according to directions- drain
mix the pasta & the cheese dip together (in the pot)

grease individual casserole dishes or 1 big casserole dish. fill with the pasta mix:

crumble up the cooked bacon & top off the pasta.
bake @ 375º for about 15 min.

remove- let rest for about 5 minutes & enjoy!

or- be time savvvy & cap off the individual casserole dishes & pop them in the freezer.
you can re-heat (bake) directly from the freezer or take out the morning of & re-heat that night (oven or microwave)

these work great for me. i'll take one out the night before & toss it in the husband's lunch for the next day. it's all baked so he can pop it in the microwave for 2 minutes & call it a day.

Pin It!

The Great Pumpkin Dessert

I'll be honest- i think this tasted a heck of a lot better than it looked. without the whipped cream it's kind of a fugly dessert- but once i started eating it- omg! it's like this awesome mix between pumpkin pie & cake. with a crumbly/crunchy topping- amazing!

In fact, it's good enough that it won me 1st Place in the Pumpkin Dessert Contest we just had at my work. yeah- i brag.

it's also wicked easy:

The Great Pumpkin Dessert

1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 package (18-1/4 ounces) yellow cake mix or spice cake mix
3/4 cup butter, melted
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts (optional- i left them out)
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (i used whipped cream)

Pre-heat oven to 350°

In a large bowl, beat first five ingredients until smooth (i used my stand mixer)

Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Sprinkle with the dry cake mix and drizzle with butter. Top with walnuts (optional)

Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Allow to cool & chill in the fridge (it'll make cutting way easier)

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream

Some of my suggestions:

  • toss in some cinnamon & cloves. i think it'll give a good kick
  • watch it! the top gets brown pretty easily. i left mine in for 1 hour- but i probably would have been good with 50-55 min.
  • this is WAY better once it's sat for at least 24 hours (in my opinion)- so try to make it a little in advance if you can.
  • definately let it chill in the fridge for several hours before trying to cut it
  • try it with different cake mix (yellow, white, spice) see what you like best


Pin It!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Freezer Burritos

Freezer Burritos = lifesaver meal. seriously.

they're super easy to make, you can put in whatever you want & they're literally ready to eat after 3 min in the microwave (or you can even throw them in the oven for 10 min or so)

you can make them with beef, chicken, pork, vegetarian- etc etc. the only things i'd suggest leaving out would be lettuce & anything else that doesn't freeze well. but who needs lettuce?
but you can choose to use re-fried beans, peppers & onions, greek yogurt- blah blah. endless options!

ok- so here is my Freezer Burrito- Chicken Version.
i usually use hamburg- but we were out & i needed to use up some tortillas- so chicken it was.

Freezer Burritos

You Need:

- Tortillas (the nice big ones)
- Taco Seasoning

Filling: (this is what i used)

- corn (i used Mexi-Corn)
- chicken
- shredded cheese (i use taco cheese)
- rice
- sauce (i used about 2 cups sour cream mixed with Texas Pete's Hot Sauce & 1-2 tblsp taco seasoning)


- cook your rice according to directions
- drain the corn & add it to the rice (once cooked)

- toss in some seasonings (i have a Southwestern Seasoning from Pampered Chef- you can use whatever. just make it taste good!)
- cook your chicken (i used canned chicken & simply shredded it) with the taco seasoning
- mix up your sauce (i used sour cream, hot sauce & taco seasoning) in a bowl

Making your Burritos:

- set up an assembly line:


- foil
- tortillas
- all the fillings

- start filling your tortillas:

- you can stuff them pretty good- but don't overstuff because you need to be able to roll them up without everything squeezing out. i usually layer the filling closer to me (so not directly in the middle) - seems to make the rolling much easier.

this is how i layer:

- rice/corn mix
- a good dollop smear of sauce
- meat on top of rice/corn
- cheese

so fill all of your tortillas (i had 6 large shells but i usually have 8):

and now it's time to start rolling:

- use whatever method works for you. i like to bring up the sides first & roll (tightly) tucking as i go. seems to work the best. if a little sauce squeezes out near the end, do not fear. it's all good.

as you roll, wrap nice & tight with the foil (no plastic wrap is needed))- so when you're done they should look something like this:

sort of Chipotle'ish.

then i date them all with a Sharpie & put them into a freezer bag:

Pop them into the freezer & they're good for several months. they never last that long in this house- but just in case.

To Re-heat:

-unwrap from foil & place on a plate. pop in the microwave for 2 minutes on 1 side. flip over & microwave for 1 more minute. DONE!

we like to eat it with some salsa or extra sour cream on the side.

these are EXCELLENT to have on hand. specially if you're having a baby soon (hello) and you want to be able to feed your spouse or kids something quick but filling.

so make away! fill with whatever you'd like & have fun with them!

p.s. you can also make these into breakfast burritos. think eggs, sausage, ham, cheese, etc etc. like i said, ENDLESS options people!

Pin It!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Homemade Quiche

Homemade Quiche

1- 9 in pie crust (store bought or homemade)
1 1/3 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs (beaten)
6 slices bacon (cooked & chopped- i use the Pre-Cooked stuff)
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss Cheese (i used 1 cup Gruyere & 1/2 cup Swiss)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp sugar (optional- i left it out)

Directions: Pre-heat oven to 425°

Press the pie crust into a 9 in pie plate & flute edges. Bake for approx 7-8 minutes. Remove.

While the crust is baking: Cook bacon & chop. Whisk together the cream, eggs, sugar (optional), salt, pepper & onion powder

Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the cheese into the of the pie crust. Then sprinkle 1/2 the bacon.

Pour 1/2 the cream/egg mixture into the crust- sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top & then pour the other 1/2 of the cream/egg mixture in. Sprinkle the top with the rest of the bacon.

Foil the edges of the crust:

Bake in the 425° oven for 15 min. Turn oven down to 300° and bake for an addtl 30 min (or until a knife inserted 1 in from the edge comes out clean)

Let it sit for 10 min before cutting. This turned out awesome! You can always toss in some ham or broccoli or peppers or whatever. Quiche is easy to play up!


Pin It!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chocolate Cream Filled Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting

i made a double batch of these for a "Bake Sale for the Cure" at work- everyone loved them. the best part? biting into the cupcake & finding out there's a surprise in the middle!

Chocolate Cream filled Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting (adapted from evil shenanigans)

For the Cupcakes:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 egg white
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup buttermilk (i used powdered buttermilk- works great!)
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

For the Filling:
1 teaspoon water, hot
3 1/2 ounces marshmallow fluff
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting:
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream or half&half (or milk)

Pre-heat oven to 350° & line a 12 cup muffin pan with liners (paper or foil)
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt (if you're using powdered buttermilk, add the powder to this dry mix as well- the "wet" part, which = water, will be added in later) Set aside.

Using your stand (or hand) mixer, cream together the sugar & butter. Add the egg/egg white & mix well- then mix in the buttermilk (or if you used powdered, this is when you add the water- the directions are on the buttermilk container)

Add the wet ingredients to the dry & mix until JUST combined. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups & bake for 18-20 min until done.

Let the cupcakes rest for 5 min or so & then transfer to a wire rack & cool completely.

While the cakes are cooling, start on the filling.
Combine all of the ingredients for the filling into a small bowl & stir/whisk/beat until combined & smooth (i tried whisking & it sucked. it took a nice mix of whisking & stirring to get the fluff moving)

Place the filling into a pastry bag with a medium sized star tip.

Using a small knife, cut a cross pattern (about 1 in deep) into the top of each cooled cupcake.
Push the pastry tip into the center of each cupcake & start piping until the filling just starts to come out fo the top. It'll probably = about 1 tblsp of filling per cupcake. I squeezed until the top started to bulge a bit & then removed the tip. That = just enough for me.

see how it's just coming out? perfect.

then go ahead & clean off the tops (i used my finger & simply wiped off the overspill:

now it's time to make your frosting.

In a medium bowl (using your hand mixer), cream together the butter & vanilla bean paste. Start adding the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. Also dribble in the milk after each cup of sugar. do this until you reach the consistancy that you are looking for.

(I gave you measurements- but as i always say, it's to your pref. I like my frosting a little bit stiffer so i use more sugar & less milk. the amounts i gave you are pretty lose to what i usually end up using)

Go ahead & frost your cupcakes as you wish.

Then try not to eat all of them. Seriuosly- these were so good!

I didn't try one until the next day (at the bake sale) and i was very pleased. Moist, light, not too sweet, but wonderfully delicious. OMG!

i'm kinda surpirsed i've only had 1 so far.

And the best part:

yeah- that's what you get to bite into. epic!
Pin It!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Quick Pad Thai

i have an OBSESSION with Pad Thai. but let's be honest- i don't have the time, energy or resources to make it from scratch. it's just not gonna happen.

so this is where boxed rice noodles & pad thai sauce come in handy.

Quick Pad Thai
1/2 box Stir Fry Rice Noodles
1 jar Original Pad Thai Sauce
2 eggs
1/2 lb chicken or shrimp- pre-cooked (or whatever you want. some people like veggies- weirdos)
crushed peanuts (optional) i used salted

Directions: Follow the directions on the box for the noodles. i used 1/2 box of noodles & it was more than enough for 4 servings)

while the noodles are doing their thing, pull out your Wok (or just a large pan) and scramble up your eggs:

remove the eggs from the pan & set aside. by now your noodles should be ready & since your meat/veggies are pre-cooked, you're ready for action.

toss your meat/shrimp/veggies into the pan with some veg oil & 12 tblsp of the Pad Thai Sauce (the directions are on the jar as well)- fry it up for a minute or 2 & then toss in your noodles:

cook for an addtl 1-2 min untilt he noodles are soft & the sauce has blended in.

transfer to bowls & topped with the crushed peanuts (if you want):


It's seriously so easy & it was actually really good! i used the Thai Kitchen brand & i don't think you can go wrong with it. i didn't use any veggies, but i might throw in some of the baby corns next time. but yeah, we're not big on veggies in this house so no bean sprouts for us. but feel free to add them to yours!

i made this in 2 batches (1 with chicken & 1 with shrimp since the husband isn't a shrimp fan) and it was enough for each of us to have a bowl for dinner & some for leftovers (well it was for me-the husband ate all of his because he has no self control)

Pin It!

Chicken Pot Pie (updated)

so i basically used my old stand by recipe: Chicken Pot Pie
but i updated the crust.

i noticed that i really didn't put any directions in regards to the crust- so here's what i did:

Pie Crust
1 1/2 c AP Flour
1 tsp salt
6 tblsp cold un-salted butter (cut into pieces)
ice water

whisk together the flour & salt & cut the butter in until you have a course mix (i used a pastry cutter for this part- but if i was smart i would have just put it in my food processor. do that instead- der)

then i remembered the food processor part & put the flour/butter mix in. i then turned it on low & dribbled in cold water until it got to a consistancy where it stuck together (i eyeballed this, but i'm going to say it was a little less than 1/4 cup water)

you'll be able to tell because it won't be sticky but it'll hold together when you pinch it with your fingers. remove from the FP & roll into a ball:

i let it sit in the frdge for abour 15-20 min & then i floured my counter, cut the ball in half (this recipe makes enough for a 2 layer pie) & rolled it out.

press it into your pie dish:

brush lightly with beaten egg & fill with Chicken Pot Pie goodness:

roll out your 2nd crust & cover up your pie. be sure to egg wash the edges, flute, cute & decorate(if you want)- also be sure to add some vents- then egg wash the top:

All done. it's super quick & simple & so worth it.

Pin It!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rainbow Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting

so for alex's 1st birthday i wanted somethnig fun- and everyone knows that rainbows = fun. right? right. so rainbow cupcakes & a rainbow smash cake were the obvious choice.

i'll be honest- the results were pretty great, but it started to get tiring about halfway through- the fun of playing with colors wore off & i wearily started plopping spoonfull after spoonfull of colored batter into muffin cups, all the while cursing myself for thinking that this was a good idea.

but it was worth it- and everyone loved them.

now there are 2 options when making these:
1. a "from scratch" cake mix
2. a "doctored" box mix

i'll be honest- i'm a "from scratch" snob so the thought of using boxed cake mix is usually quite horrifying- however, these things are a pain in the ass & whatever yuo can do to make your life easier = awesome. and let's be honest- there's a reason people like boxed cake mix...it's kinda good. in fact, when you doctor it up just right, it's REALLY good. so i'm going with the boxed cake recipe for you- trust me, it's ok:

Rainbow Cupcakes (Rainbow Smash Cake)

1 box white cake mix
2 eggs
1 cup cour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

line your cupcake pans with muffin cups

combine all the ingredients & mix for about 30 seconds (just until everything is mixed)- scrape your bowl & then beat on med-high for 3 min (i used my stand mixer)

split up the batter into bowls (however many colors you intend on using) i ended up using 5 colors:

into each bowl of batter- add your food coloring (i HIGHLY suggest getting the GEL FOOD COLORING instead of the liquid crap. the colors are BRIGHT & it doesn't think your batter. you can find gel food coloring at almost any craft store or any iParty) and mix until you see no more white (i used about 1/4 tsp of gel coloring per bowl)

now the fun, at first, part- start layering the colors into the muffin cups. i did about 1tblsp of each color. i'd put the first spoonful of batter in & spread it out. then the next, spread it out, then the next- etc etc. i was going for perfection so it took me forever- like seriously, 1 pan took me 20 min. see what i mean? PAIN IN THE ASS!!!

however, once i hit the 3rd pan i then realized that there is no need to spread the colors out-simply pop the spoonfulls of batter in & leave them be. it's still a rainbow & i'm sure no one is judging you...

bake the cupcakes according to the directions & allow them to cool on a wire rack

once cooled- frost away!
oh, you want a frosting recipe? well well well! i happen to have one for you.

i used a vanilla bean frosting & it was aaaawesome. simple but delicious. there is just SOMETHING about vanilla bean:

Vanilla Bean Frosting
(now when i make frosting i eyeball. it all depends on how YOU like it- stiffer? smoother? etc etc. i'm going to give you amounts, but feel free to adjust them as you see fit)

2 sticks unsalted butter (at room temp)
2-4 cups confection sugar
pinch of salt (literally a PINCH)
3 heavy tsp of vanilla bean paste
2-4 tblsp heavy cream

using a hand mixer (i always use a hand mixer for frosting) cream the butter, salt & vanilla bean paste together.

add the confection sugar 1 cup @ a time & alternate with the heavy cream until you get the consistancy you desire. when you think you've got it- jack up the speed & beat for about 1-2 minutes until nice & fluffy.

i like my frosting a little more firm so i tend to use more conf sugar & less cream- i also don't like it to taste too much like butter- so again, more sugar. this is a lot of frosting- try starting off with 1 stick of butter & halving the recipe. you can always make more.

and there you have it. i also used the above recipes & made a small "smash cake" for her:

i made this by baking two 6in cakes (in a 6in cake pan) and layering the colors in the pan. after they cooled i leveled them & made the 2nd cake smaller by cutting around it. the 3rd layer = the bottom half of a cupcake. i leveled it just like the other 2.

i always freeze my cakes before i frost- makes it MUCH easier. so after they cool i wrap them in plastic wrap & pop them i the freezer overnight. i then frost them the next morning right out of the freezer (at least 3-4 hours before you serve it)

and here are the rest of the cupcakes:

see the cute little weiner dog decals? those are by Ticings & they are awesome! check them out because she has so many different designs for both cupcakes & cakes. they're easy to use & taste like frosting!
Pin It!
Related Posts with Thumbnails