Thursday, May 27, 2010

pepperoni pizza puffs

I made these for book club.  They were easy to throw together, tasty and I can only imagine all of the variations you can make.  Although these were a perfect little snack and are quite tasty right out of the oven they paled in comparison to all of the amazing effort our hostess put into our book club meeting.  I can't wait to post a link to the photos.  She did all the decor in turquiose and red which was the colors on the cover of our book.  She even made an outfit in the color motif.  She is truly a gifted and inspirational person and I feel so blessed to call her my friend.  She makes an ordinary book club meeting a truly special event. I heart her and these tasty little nuggets.  If you want to bring yourself back to high school then pop these in the oven and curl up with Shiver.

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs
Adapted from Everyday
3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded 
4 ounces pepperoni, cut into small cubes 

1/4 tsp italian seasoning
1/2 cup pizza sauce
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 375o.  Grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder; whisk in the milk and egg.  Stir in the mozzarella and pepperoni and italian seasoning; let stand for 10 minutes.

Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups.  Bake until puffed and golden, ~22-25 minutes.

Microwave the pizza sauce until warmed through, then stir in 1 Tablespoon basil.  Sprinkle the puffs with the remaining 1 Tablespoon basil.  Serve the puffs with the pizza sauce for dipping.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

cool creamy chocolate pudding cake

I like to bake alone because often with focus my results are better. Life as it is, does not give me that indulgence often. My baking and is often done with the bean sitting on the counter talking to me and tasting ingredients. It is a treat to spend that time with him. His favorite part is licking the spoon. I love to see his face light up as he tastes the sweetness on the spoon. I made a lemon dessert this weekend. It was a flop on many levels. Most importantly when I handed him the spoon to lick his face scrunched up and he looked at me like I was nuts. He said where is the sugar mom. I felt like a failure and I hope that I have not tainted this special time. I felt I needed to redeem myself in his eyes. He is into chocolate pudding these days. I have had this cut out for awhile and I felt like this may get me back into his good graces. I made the cake while he napped. After dinner he got a piece and he polished it off and asked for another. I smiled but, did not give in. There is plenty of cake for tonight. I am back at least in the eyes of my 3 year old. We all enjoyed this dessert. It is cool and refreshing for a hot summer night and very easy to pull together. You can mix it up with the nut choice and pudding flavor. Enjoy!

Cool Creamy Chocolate Pudding Cake
Adapted: Cooking Light

 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 5 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
Cooking spray

1 cup powdered sugar
8oz 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) carton frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed and divided
3 cups 1% low-fat milk
2 (3.9-ounce) packages chocolate instant pudding mix

1. Preheat oven to 325°.
2. To prepare crust, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor; pulse 2 times or until combined. Add butter; pulse 10 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in pecans. Firmly press mixture into bottom of a 13 x 9–inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 325° for 20 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Cool completely.
3. To prepare filling, place 1 cup sugar and cream cheese in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy. Fold in half of whipped topping. Spread cream cheese mixture on cooled crust. Cover loosely; refrigerate 1 hour.
4. Combine milk and pudding mix in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or until pudding is set. Spread the pudding mixture over cream cheese layer. Spread remaining half of thawed whipped topping over pudding layer. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

pulled chicken sandwich

I am always looking for solid, go to, easy, healthy, everyone will enjoy meals.  These sandwiches fit the bill.  They are so easy to make.  You can even make them while feeding a baby and monitoring a paint project with your three year old.  That is how easy they are. I had my pulled chicken over a salad.  The boys enjoyed them as sandwiches on rolls with potato wedges and melon.  Nothing fancy but, it is an easy weeknight meal I know the family will love.

black pepper and molasses pulled chicken sandwich
adapted from Cooking Light

  • 3  tablespoons  ketchup
  • 1  tablespoon  cider vinegar
  • 1  tablespoon   honey mustard
  • 1  tablespoon  molasses
  • 3/4  teaspoon  chili powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground ginger
  • 12  ounces  skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 4  rolls, cut in half horizontally
  • dill pickle chips, cheese (optional)

Combine first 9 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 23 minutes or until chicken is done and tender. Remove from heat; shred with 2 forks.  Toast rolls and melt cheese under broiler.  Place 1/2 cup chicken on bottom half of each roll. Top each with pickles and other half of roll.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

guacamole salad

We were invited over to a barbecue this weekend.  The hostess asked us to bring a side dish to accompany her Mexican "street" tacos and grilled corn.  Immediately Ina's guacamole salad popped into my head.  I have made this salad before with rave reviews.  I am not a super fan of guacamole.  I like a few bites on chips but, never would I have it on a taco or in a burrito.  I guess I am a guac snob as it has to be perfectly balanced and slightly spicy for me to want a second bite.  On paper this salad does not appeal to me but, all of the fresh crisp vegetables combined with the creamy avocado and the spice of the jalapeno and cayenne makes a great summer side salad.  I served it over a bed of chopped romaine to give it a bit more substance.  If the hostess was not grilling corn I would have also added an ear of fresh corn.  The dinner was delicious and the evening was a great way to kick off a season of grilling with friends and family.

Guacamole Salad
Adapted: Barefoot Contessa

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and 1/2-inch diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 of red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (2-4 limes)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 ripe Hass avocados, seeded, peeled, and 1/2-inch diced


Place the tomatoes, yellow pepper, black beans, red onion, jalapeno pepper, and lime zest in a large bowl. 

Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic, and cayenne pepper and pour over the vegetables. Toss well.

Just before you're ready to serve the salad, fold the avocados into the salad. Check the seasoning and serve at room temperature.

Note: Served over bed of chopped romaine.  Fresh corn would also be a nice addition.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

tropical caramel corn

Sweet and salty is my weakness.  Once I start I can't stop.  I don't buy salted and roasted nuts anymore because what some deem a healthy snack is a complete over indulgence for me.  Chocolate covered pretzels ... forget it.  Caramel popcorn is in the same category.  When you add macadamia nuts into it along with tropical dried fruit I might as well just commit myself to an extra few miles a day on the treadmill until it is out of the house.  I wish my mom was coming up this week because I know she would help me finish it off.  The Bean has teacher appreciation this week.  Tonight we made his teachers homemade bookmarks and large tins filled with tropical caramel corn.  I stuffed each container but, there was still a lot left for me.  I had some and it was good, I put the kids to bed and it was still good, I cleaned the kitchen and yep still good.  Oh boy am I in t-r-o-u-b-l-e!!!
Tropical Caramel Popcorn

Adapted from Sticky Chewy Messy Gooey

12 cups Cooked Popcorn (1 cup of kernels and 4tbsp of oil)
1/2 cup Banana Chips
1 cup Macadamia Nuts
1 cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
1/2 cup Candied Pineapple, diced
1 cup (2 sticks) Butter
1 cup Sugar
1 1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Corn Syrup (light or dark)
1 tsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Baking Soda

preheat oven to 250 degrees

Pop popcorn.

Combine the popcorn, banana chips, macadamia nuts, coconuts and pineapple in a large bowl. 

In a large sauce pot add the butter, sugars, corn syrup, lemon juice and salt. Let boil for 6 – 9 minutes, until it reaches the hard ball stage (300 F on candy thermometer). 

Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract (if using) and baking soda. The baking soda will foam a bit, simply stir until it subsides. 

Slowly add the caramel to the bowl. Toss and coat. Evenly distribute caramel coated popcorn on two parchment lined baking sheets.

Bake the popcorn for 1 hour, or until crisp and fragrant. Sprinkle with kosher salt when removed from oven for an extra sweet/salty punch.

Let cool completely before eating. The cooled popcorn can be stored in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

grilled chocolate pound cake sandwiches

We are back from Belize.  The food in Belize was great but, they did not serve much in terms of dessert.  We were both craving sweets but, I did not have time to bake today.  Lucky for us I had a pound cake in the freezer.  With very little effort we had a delicious dessert.  The little guy loved this dessert and continued to talk about chocolate sandwiches the next day.  He thought they were so fun and tasty.  I think a layer of peanut butter with the chocolate or nutella would also work well.

Grilled Chocolate Pound Cake Sandwiches
Adapted from: Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey

1 loaf pound cake
1 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate
3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Slice the pound cake into eight 1 inch slices.
Divide the chocolate into 4 equal portions and mound on 4 of the slices.  Top each with the remaining slices to form a sandwich.  Press gently to seal.
Melt the unsalted butter in a skillet over medium heat and cook until bubbly and starting to brown.  Add the sandwiches to the skillet and cook 1-2 minutes on each side.  The sandwiches should be golden brown with the chocolate filling is melted and gooey.
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