Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you are enjoying the day with your friends and family. I sure am!

This morning, my boyfriend and I unwrapped presents and I got a Kindle with a purple cover! I was very excited. I also got two great additions to my kitchen artillery. My boyfriends mom got me Rachel Ray's oil and Vinegar set as well as a RR rimmed baking sheet. I couldn't wait to use them.

So I didn't! ;) I was free from helping out with dinner but I had to contribute some how, so I baked another great dish from Picky-Palate, and used my baking sheet for the first time. These mini mint truffle Kiss Pies are to die for! So easy to make, mess-free and delicious!

1 refrigerated pie crust
14 - 18 Hersey Kisses of choice, I chose mint truffle since I had some left-over
1 egg, whisked with 1 tbsp of water
Powder sugar for dusting

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out pie dough onto a lightly floured surface. Place 10 kisses around the edges of pie dough, about 2 1/2 inches apart (I used a metal 1/4 cup measuring cup and pressed firmly. It made the perfect, no-fuss circle.) Or by free-hand, take a knive and cut a 2 1/2-3 inch circle around kiss.
2) Once circles are made, take one pie/kiss piece and fold half of pie dough around top of dough and pinch edge around top of kiss. Next, fold up both sides of remaining dough up to the tip of the kiss pinching edge. Next, press together edges and form criss cross. Be sure all edges are firmly squeezed together or they will come apart in the oven. Continue cutting and folding until all dough is used up. I got about 18 rounds cut when I re-rolled my scraps
3) Brush all the pies with the egg white wash then sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 20 - 28 minutes or until pies are golden. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Dust each with powdered sugar and serve.

If my instructions are confusing, check out Picky-Palate's page. She gave photo instructions, step-by-step.

She also took MUCH better photos than I! Sorry - I only had my cell phone handy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Tree Cupcakes!

The Holiday's aren't complete without an office party. My company hosts a catered party for all, then each division holds a Holiday luncheon on various days before Christmas. For my party, I had to create a dessert. I was beyond happy about that!! Many people were left to make entrees, which is never easy to do for 200+ people.

Obviously, I made cupcakes, which should be no surprise. While these were a simple dark-chocolate cake straight from the box, I decorated them to create a Christmas Tree. One cake had a yellow star, four were left un-iced to look like the trunk, then I squiggled green icing on the rest. After taking this photo, I topped the cakes with sprinkles, to be my "ornaments."

To top it off, these babies won me 2nd place in the company for best holiday themed dessert! ;)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Treats For All!

Holiday cheer is in full swing! I love baking and wanted to create the perfect treat for my friends and co-workers. While I have created quite the following with my yummy cupcakes, I decided to make little brownie packs for everyone.

I wanted to make a variety of flavors so I made three different brownie batches: my brownie-cookies, S'more brownies and a new flavor: Mint truffle brownies. For these, I just dropped Mint Truffle Hersey Kisses into regular brownie mix. It was delish!

Needless to say, I spent my entire day on Sunday baking, prepping and packing these cute little treats. To make them package friendly, I baked the brownies in muffin pans. They looked so cute and I was able to make the last minute decision to wrap them in cupcake liners. :)

How cute do these looks? Each brownie is sitting in a holiday cupcake line. The bottom is coated in a gold doily with a red foil on top. I placed them in clear candy bags and tied them with a little red ribbon. Not going to lie, I was really proud of myself when these were done! ;)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Roast Beef Make-Over

Yesterday, I cooked a delicious beef roast. I ate left overs for lunch and still had more left in my fridge when I got home. I couldn't bare to have meat and potatoes for a third time in 24 hours but hate letting things go to waste. I had a major craving for pasta so I decided to create a butter braised beef pasta.

It was so quick and super tasty. While my elbow noodles were cooking, I melted 2 tbsps of butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat and tossed in 2 cups of beef, cooking until the beef was heated through. I tossed this over the cooked noodles and topped with a little more butter, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. It was delicious! The butter cooked out the original gravy that was on the meat from the night before, and tasted amazing with noodles. I'll definitely be making this next time I make roast.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Fun-Day!

When I moved out of my family's house many years ago, my mom gave me her old crock pot (and by old, I mean a good 15 years old.) I've only used it twice before and have planned to use it many times since and somehow never get up the energy to get the food in the crock pot at a decent time. I know it's ridiculous since the point of a crock pot is to make your life easy, but I tend to sleep in really late on the weekends and by the time I wake up, I would have to eat dinner at 9pm in order to let the meat cook for 5 to 8 hours. PATHETIC!!!

All that changed today! I got my butt out of bed at a decent time and went straight to the kitchen to get a beef roast into the crock pot. I tweaked my mom's recipe and created the most tender, juicy, delicious roast I've ever had! You've got to try this! It will leave your house smelling amazing all day and your stomach full all night. :) (I know, I'm corny.)

1 3-4 lb beef roast (I had a beef bottom round)
1/2 cup flour
1 large yellow onion, cut into 4 quarters then separate each piece
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup red wine
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

3 carrots, chopped into 1/4 inch slices
4 to 5 potatoes cut into wedges

1) Plug in crock pot and set on high. Place onion into crock pot, immediately.
2) Pat roast dry, then coat in flour, shaking off excess flour. Season with salt and pepper then lay in crock pot on top of onion.
3) Pour water, garlic, mushroom soup and garlic on top.
4) Cook for about 5 hours.
5) With one hour remaining, drop potatoes and carrots into pot and cover.
*To serve, you can either shred the roast or remove from pot and slice. I prefer the sliced version. :)

After 5 hours of cooking the meat was beyond tender and the carrots and potatoes were perfect. I ate until I had to unbutton my pants! (haha TMI)

*Please excuse my awful picture. I was STARVING and did not want to waste any more time before stuffing my face :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010


After baking and eating cookies for 5 hours, I just could not shake my cookie head ache. I had to cook a full dinner to try to repair the damage! Obviously, I was in no mood spend hours in the kitchen so I went for a sure-fire quick and delicious family favorite: Baked pork chops!

I served these with diced potatoes, fresh from the freezer! ;) I fried them until golden brown and whipped up some mushrooms while the pork was in the oven.

4 pork chops
bread crumbs
2 eggs
salt and pepper
4 tabs of butter

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking dish and set aside.
2) Scramble eggs in a shallow dish or bowl. Dip pork in eggs then bread crumbs. Place in greased baking dish then season with salt and pepper to taste. Place 1 tab of butter on top of each pork chop, then bake for about 30 to 45 minutes, until pork is tender when poked and no longer pink.

This meal was exactly what I needed! When I was done eating I had a full stomach and a clear head. A great end to a great day.


Cookie Mania!!!

I had my friends Lauren and Becky over today to have a cookie bake off! Last year we got together and decorated sugar cookies, but this year we wanted to actually put in some effort! I baked a batch of sugar cookies to keep with tradition, then each of us picked our favorite holiday cookie recipe and we set out on our baking spree. (I picked two...surprise, surprise!)

We started with Becky's grandmother's Ginger Spice cookies. She couldn't find the actual recipe, but found the closest one she could from All Recipes. When we started to make these
we had no idea how they'd turn out. This recipe calls for a LOT of molasses and and 4 cups of flour! They were very tasty but the end result made 50+ cookies!

Next we moved on to Lauren's Peanut Butter Blossoms. She had her own recipe from home, but if you want to check one out online, this is almost the exact same from These are one of my all-time favorite cookie and
oddly enough, was my first time making them. They were delish!

While the Blossoms were baking, we moved on to my mom's No-Bake Chocolate Coconut Drop Cookies. Again, has a close recipe.
These were a holiday staple in my house growing up and super easy to make. Plus, you don't have to worry what they look like! They'd be a great cookie to make with kids. :)

The last cookie on the docket was Paula Dean's Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies. OMG! THESE WERE AMAING!!! They were so soft, creamy and super chocolatey! It was as if you were biting into a mini little cake. These were a crowd favorite when I brought left-overs in to work.

By the time we were finished with all four batches, we were so sick of being in the kitchen. We had to force ourselves to decorate the cookies and that desperation left us with some pretty funny looking designs!

When all was said and done, we baked about 200 cookies in 5 hours. That's a lot of sugar!! We were left with achy stomaches and sugar headaches but it was a lot of fun!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chicken and Rice

I just started getting Everyday Food Magazine and absolutely love it! It's so small, but packed with great recipes. The December issue has a section called "make it your own" featuring chicken and rice dishes done four different ways. The main image of this was the prepared meal freshly prepared resting in an enamel coated dutch oven! I was immediately hooked. Not only do I love chicken, but I just got the best deal on a Martha Stewart 5 Qt Dutch Oven and have been dieing to use it. This was perfect.

The four variations include: Chicken and rice with corn and sun-dried tomatoes, spiced yellow rice with chicken and veggies, Moroccan chicken and rice with chickpeas, and my choice: chicken with rice, broccoli and scallions. Yum!

On top of this being the first Everday Food recipe I prepared and my first time using my new dutch oven, this was also the first dish that required me to cut up and use a whole chicken! Boy, that was an adventure. The recipe only states that you need a whole chicken, cut in 10 pieces. Okay? So how do I get it into 10 pieces? I have no clue! I went to and found Alexandra Guarnaschelli's how-to video. It seemed easy enough. I soon learned it was not! After chopping away for 20 minutes. It wasn't perfect, but I definitely had that chicken taken apart. Alas, I was on to cooking!

1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds), cut into 10 pieces (good luck!)
course salt and ground pepper
2 tbsp veggie oil
1 small yellow onion, diced medium
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, diced medium
6 scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
3 cups broccoli florets
1 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp red pepper
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice (I used brown rice)
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lower third. Pat chicken dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper. In a large dutch oven or heavy pot with tight fitting lid, heat oil over high heat. Cook chicken, skin side down until golden and crisp, about 6 minutes. Flip chicken and cook until browned, 6 minutes. Transfer to a large plate.
2) Reduce heat to medium and add onion, garlic, and celery to pot. Cook, stirring and scrapping up browned bits with a wooden spoon, until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in in mustard powder, thyme, red pepper flakes and rice and cook 1 minute.
3) Add broccoli and scallions and season with salt and pepper. Arrange chicken, skin side up, on top of the rice mixture. Bring to a boil, cover pot, and place in the oven. Bake until chicken is cooked through and liquid is absorbed, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

This may sound like a lot of work, but it was pretty easy and super delicious. The light flavors of the celery and broccoli mix with the heat of the pepper flakes created such a nice balance of flavors and meshed perfectly with the rice and chicken. I will definitely be making this again soon! (And when I do, I will try to replicate the image of the chicken and rice in the pot...I'm a dope and forgot to get that shot.)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Left Over Lasagna

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving. I don't know about you, but I ate wayyyy too much. We had two 12 pound turkeys, with all the trimmings... and plenty of left overs afterward.

I spent two straight days last weekend watching Food Network and show after show gave great tips on how to improve your Thanksgiving dinner and ways to make use of all the left overs, but nothing I saw tops my moms turkey lasagna. She has been making it for years and it never gets old. (Especially since we only have it once a year.) It's super easy to make and tastes so great you almost forget Thanksgiving dinner ever happened. ;)


2 cups left over turkey (White and dark meat)
1/2 box lasagna noodles
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup mayo
dollop of sour cream
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 white onion, diced
1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
2 8 oz bags of shredded mozzarella

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Cook lasagna noodles as directed on box.
3) Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine soups, mayo, sour cream, celery, onion, mushroom and turkey. Mix until all ingredients are combined well.
4) Once noodles are cooked, spray an 11 x 7 baking dish with Pam, then lay 3 noodles in the bottom of the dish. Cover with 1/2 of the soup/meat mixture, then sprinkle with cheese. Lay another 3 noodles on top, then add the remaining mixture and top with more cheese. Lay the last 3 noodles on top then sprinkle with cheese. (Amount of cheese is up to you. Between the layers and the topping, I always end up using 16 oz of cheese.)
5) Bake for 35 - 45 minutes, until cheese is hot and bubbling. Let cool, then enjoy!

This is one dish I do not mind eating for a few days!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! What a great day it is. Time to relax with your family, watch the parade, Lion's football and over indulge on some of the most delicious food you'll eat all year! Who can complain about that?

My family lives in Michigan so I am spending my day in New Jersey with my boyfriend's family. Growing up, we always had Turkey, mashed potatoes, ambrosia, dinner rolls and GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE!! To me, green bean casserole screams Thanksgiving and oddly enough, my New Jersey "fam" has NEVER had it! I was stunned! So of course I had to make it.

My friend recently made a gluten free version of the casserole the that was absolutely amazing! But I was in no position to get crazy with the recipe since the kitchen was already full of chaos so I stuck what millions across the country love: Campbell's Classic Recipe.

How great did it look? It was definitely a hit.

If you follow my blog regularly, you know that I couldn't go to Thanksgiving dinner without dessert in hand. I wanted to bring something chocolately, since I knew pumpkin and pecan pie were being served. I found the perfect recipe on Picky-Palate for Roasted Apples N' Cream Caramel Topped Brownies! That's a mouthful right?? It was even more than a mouthful when time to eat! ;)

1 box brownie Mix, family size (13 X 9) (I used a walnut brownie mix since the original recipe called for walnuts later in the process.)
8 ox softened cream cheese
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tbsp butter
4 small to medium baking apples (I use courtland,) peeled and thinly sliced
4 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (ignore if using walnut brownie mix)
Prepared Caramel sauce, warmed in the microwave (I used the recipe I found for my Halloween Caramel Apple Cupcakes and cut it in 1/2 - 10 Kraft Caramels mixed with 2 tbsp milk, microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between, until Caramel is smooth)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare brownie mix according to package. Pour into an 11 x 7 pan (makes thicker brownies) that has been lined and sprayed with foil. Place softened cream cheese and sugar into a mixing bowl until smooth. Place dollops of cheese over brownie batter. Use a butter knife to carefully swirl cream cheese into batter, without dragging against bottom of dish. (If you're not a huge fan of cream cheese, only use half of cheese/sugar mix. I used all, and found it to be too much.)

2) Place butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat to melt. Add apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts (or not, if in batter.) Cook and stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour evenly over brownies. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until center of brownies are cooked through. (It's really hard to tell with this recipe so use your best judgement.) Remove brownies and let cool completely. Just before serving, drizzle the Caramel sauce on top. Cut into square and serve.

As you can see from my picture, we just dug right in! The brownies were oozing with Caramel and apple so it was nearly impossible to get perfect squares, but no one cared! These are definitely one of my favorite brownies!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup

I LOVE picking up rotisserie chicken from Costo. For $4.99, you get 3 1/2 pounds of tender and flavorful chicken. My boyfriend and I will have it for dinner when we buy it, and for the next day or two he'll make sandwiches until he is sick of it, then we throw it out. We have yet to eat the entire thing, since they are so big.

This time I promised myself that I would make chicken noodle soup from scratch. I've said it before, but today I meant it. I had nothing else going on and as it turns out, my boyfriend woke up feeling under the weather.

I went to the grocery store right after Costco, so I didn't have a chance to scope out a recipe, but I knew onion, celery and carrots were needed. I also picked up a box of Chicken Stock. Little did I know, I'd be making my own stock...and it was easy!

1 (2 1/2 to 3-pound) fryer chicken, cut up
3 1/2 quarts water
- I bought 1 quart of Chicken stock so I substituted that for extra flavor, and added 2 more quarts of water
1 onion, peeled and diced

1 1/2 to 2 tsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp lemon-pepper seasoning

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 bay leaves

3 chicken bullion cubes
*Since I add stock, I skipped this ingredient.
Salt and black pepper


2 cups sliced carrots

2 cups sliced celery, with leafy green tops

2 1/2 cups uncooked egg noodles

1 cup sliced mushrooms
(I left this out, as I did not have any on hand)
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves

Seasoning salt

black pepper


For the stock: Add all ingredients to a soup pot. Cook until chicken is tender, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool. Remove and discard bay leaves and onion (I left the onion in mine.) You should have approximately 3 quarts of stock. When chicken is cool enough to touch, pick bones clean, discarding bones, skin and cartilage. Set chicken aside.

For the soup: bring stock back to a boil, add carrots, and cook for 3 minutes. Add celery and continue to cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Add egg noodles and cook according to directions on package. When noodles are done, add chicken, and parsley. Cook for another 2 minutes. Adjust seasoning, if needed, by adding seasoning salt and pepper.

Recipe adapted from

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sweet and Salty Cookie

I was having a total chocolate craving on Sunday, but didn't have enough eggs in my fridge to make cupcakes. I looked around for the next best thing and realized I had chocolate chips in my freezer and potato chips in my pantry! I HAD to make chocolate chip potato chip cookies! It may sound odd, but one of my former co-workers mom made them for us all the time and they are amazing!!! The potato chips add the perfect amount of crunchy salt and it just melts perfectly with the sweetness of the chocolate.

Since I'm not much of a cookie maker, it took me a while to think back to the last time I baked them and unfortunately, it was last Christmas. With that in mind, I plated mine in preparation for the Holiday. :)

One thing to point out: read a recipe completely before cooking. I literally had zero eggs in my fridge, and didn't see egg in the recipe so I got to work. A few minutes later, it was time to add the egg...the very same egg I didn't have on-hand. Luckily, I have great neighbors and was able to borrow one. Phew!! It was close. Anyway, on to the recipe.

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup crushed (not too fine) potato chips
1 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 350F.
2) In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda and baking powder; mix well.
In a mixer combine butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
3) Add egg and vanilla. Gradually add in the flour mixture and combine well.
4) Stir in potato chips and chocolate chips by hand.
5) Shape cookies by forming 1-inch balls. Place on an ungreased baking sheet, 2 inches apart. (They spread quite a bit while baking.)
6) Bake 14 to 18 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on baking sheet.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Snowy Cupcakes

I'm a little ahead of myself here, but I've been dieing to make cupcakes with coconut, and since it's getting colder and colder by the minute I whipped up a batch of snow topped cupcakes for a friends housewarming party.

Coconut could be used in a variety of ways with cupcakes, but while in Santa Monica a few months back, I tried a chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting, topped with coconut. It was to die for, and I had to make a batch for myself.

I brought a dozen to the party and they were immediately devoured by all. Plus, just to be on the safe side, I made a few cupcakes without coconut, since coconut tends to be a hit-or-miss.

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's Getting Chili Out There!

Now that the temperature is quickly dropping, I've been doing everything I can do to stay warm. After all of the Halloween weekend festivities I knew the perfect way to do it: Make chili!! I don't eat chili often, but sometimes it just hits the spot. I've also never made it from scratch before so what better time to do it than now?

I searched numerous websites for the perfect recipe and was about to give up when I looked over at my bookshelf and remembered that I got the Better Home and Gardens New Cook Book last year for Christmas. I was not surprised when I found the perfect recipe. It was very easy to make and packed full of flavor.

1 1/2 lbs ground beef (I used ground turkey)
2 cups chopped onion (2 large)
1 cup chopped green sweet pepper (1 large)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 15 to 16 oz cans of kidney beans, pinto beans and/or black beans, rinsed and drained
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup water
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp dried basil, crushed
1/2 tsp black pepper
shredded cheese and sour cream for topping, if desired

1) In a 4-quart dutch oven cook ground beef, onion, sweet pepper and garlic until meat is brown and onion tender; drain fat.
2) Stir in kidney beans, undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, chili powder, basil and black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat.
3) Simmer, covered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4) Top with your favorite chili toppings. (I LOVE making mine taste like a taco salad - loads of cheese and sour cream! Yum.)

Two bowls later, I was stuffed to the gills and did not need to use my blanket for warmth for the rest of the night. :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!!

I couldn't let Halloween pass by without making a seasonal cupcake. My office hosts a Halloween party and we are urged to participate in pumpkin carving, costume and dessert baking contests. Naturally, I had to join in! Although I didn't win (weird, right?) I made the most delicious and satisfying cupcakes I've had yet.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

These cupcakes tasted just like biting into a caramel apple, minus the texture of course. They were so moist and exceptionally flavorful. The candy topping made them beyond perfect!

1 box spiced cake mix or carrot cake mix (makes no difference - and I actually made them both ways and like them both)
Water and eggs as directed on box
substitute apple sauce for veggie oil directed
2 cups, chopped Granny Smith apples.

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cupcake pans with liners and set aside.
2) Prepare cake batter, with apple sauce instead of veggie oil and blend.
3) Once fully combined, fold in apples.
4) Gently scoop batter into cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake as directed on box.

Icing Recipe:
20 cubes Kraft Caramel
3 tbsp milk

Place caramels in a microwave safe bowl. Add milk and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir then return to microwave for another 30 seconds. Continue the process until caramel is melted. Let it sit for 5 minutes before drizzling over cupcakes.

I topped my cakes with little candy, chocolate chips and peanuts to really add the caramel affect. It was a PERFECT addition! ;)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dinner Party Worthy Salad

Last week, my boyfriend and I got together with a group of friends to carve pumpkins and have one last BBQ of the season. Aside from perfect weather and good company, we had some GREAT food. Our grill master did an amazing job grilling pre-marinated pork-loin and hamburgers (sounds like a weird combo, but you just can't have a BBQ without a burger, in my opinion!) To go along with our meat, I took a short-cut, and baked frozen potato wedges. To round out the meal, I threw together what is now my new favorite salad.

I tossed together spinach with cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, pepper jack cheese, ranch flavored almond slivers (right from the package) with a balsamic and olive oil drizzle. It was so delicious and super easy to prepare. The hint of ranch on the almonds really mellowed out the kick in the pepper jack cheese. YUM! It is good in fact, I've been making it at home ever since. It would be a great dish to throw together when you need a little extra for dinner, or even better to serve at a dinner party.

Since I was busy in the kitchen, I didn't have much time to carve my pumpkin, so I did the simplest, yet cutest thing I could think of. A CUPCAKE! :)

I just love fall!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sausage - Cauliflower Spaghetti

I LOVE making pasta dishes and especially love trying new options. I was thrilled to see a recipe for Sausage - Cauliflower Spaghetti in Food Network Magazine. I was somewhat taken back at the idea of having cauliflower in pasta, but I did try their recipe that included potatoes with pasta and that was amazing, so I had to give this a try. Coincidentally, the night before making it, Iron Chef America: Battle Cauliflower was on FN. It was a sign! I had to make this dish.

After fumbling around my kitchen preparing this dish (because I didn't read the directions before hand, oops!) I sat down with my best friend Renee, who was visiting for the weekend, and devoured my meal. I loved how well the cauliflower and sausage married together, and a small pop of scallions really made the dish kick. I will definitely make this again. It's a great way to get all your main food groups in on bowl. :)



12 ounces spaghetti

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

12 ounces sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed

6 cloves garlic, sliced

1 small head cauliflower, broken into small florets

1 bunch scallions, chopped

1 cup grated parmesan cheese


1) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook as directed. Reserve 2 cups of cooking water, then drain.

2) Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble the sausage into the skillet and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned and no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Clear a space in the pan, add the garlic and cook until just golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook until the edges are browned, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the reserved cooking water, cover and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 8 more minutes. Uncover and boil over high heat until the liquid is almost evaporated, about 2 more minutes.

3) Add the spaghetti to the skillet along with the scallions. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Toss for a minute or two to wilt the scallions and coat the pasta with the sauce adding up to 1 cup cooking water, if needed, to loosen. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with the cheese and toss. Divide among shallow bowls and drizzle with more olive oil, if desired.

Photos Courtesy of: Renee Thomas

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Double Whammy!

One of the best things about Fall are all of the great seasonal flavors and nothing tops my list like PUMPKIN! A co-worker of mine made delicious pumpkin spice cupcakes recently, and I just had to try them. And what better time than now? My friend Lauren wanted to surprise her sister and treat her to 4 dozen of my scrumptious cakes for her house warming party and these were perfect for the job.

Since 48 cupcakes is quite a bit, I wanted to mix up the flavors so I made
2 dozen pumpkin spice with cream cheese frosting and 2 dozen orange infused chocolate cakes with orange zest frosting. They were heavenly!

Pumpkin Spice Cupcake Recipe:
1 box spice cake mix
eggs, water, oil as directed
15 oz can of pumpkin puree

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Prepare spice batter as directed on box. Mix well then add in 3/4 of the can pf pumpkin puree. Continue mixing until puree has combined.
3) Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. These cakes don't rise very much, so don't underfill. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes.
4) Top with cream cheese frosting.

Orange Infused Chocolate Cupcake Recipe:
1 box devil's food cake
eggs, 1/2 cup water and oil, as directed on box
3/4 cup orange juice

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Add egg, oil and 1/2 cup of water to cake mix. Blend until combined then add 3/4 cup of orange juice, mixing until combined. (Most devil's food mixes require 1 1/4 cup of water. The orange juice substitutes part of that, then the water fills in the remaining. If you really love orange flavoring, substitute for all water.)
3) Fill liners and bake for 18 to 22 minutes.

Orange Zest Frosting Recipe:2 to 3 tbsp of orange zest
3 tbsp butter, at room temp
1/4 cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1) Cream together butter and orange zest.
2) Beat in milk, sugar and vanilla. If needed, add more sugar to thicken.
3) Frost cupcakes and serve.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happy Anniversary to ME!!!

I am so excited to say it is my ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of Stirring Up A Dream!!!! To make my celebration even more exciting, today also marks my 100 post!! These are two huge feats for me.

If you asked me 1 year ago today where this blog would be I wouldn't
have had a concrete answer. My original reason for starting this was to cook outside the box, literally! (By box, I meant pasta box.) I knew the idea of the blog would stick for a while, but like most things, I assumed this would fall to the wayside. Well, here I am! 1 year and 100 posts in. I've had some amazing dishes and some pretty funny failures, but each and every new dish has made me a better cook. It's made me more aware of what you can do with a little butter here or heavy cream there. Things I never knew how to do a year ago have become second nature to me. It's such an incredible feeling for me. Every time I try out a new dish, I expand my horizons and cannot wait to continue to do so. I'd love to take a look back at my top ten favorite dishes...which by the way have been so hard to pick since EVERY time I make something, that becomes my new fave.

Before I can share my favorites with you, I want to take a moment to remember some of the best blunders. How about the time
my Chicken Adobo recipe called for 15 cloves of garlic, and stupid me bought 15 HEADS because I didn't know the difference. Ooops! That garlic sure lasted a long time. Then there were the infamous shallots! For over 6 months, I thought shallots and scallions were the same thing! Not so much! And after trying the REAL shallots, I fell in love and cook with them all the time. There were countless overcooked steaks, and one steak relish that caught my pan on fire, my overly BBQ'd blue cheese burgers and most recently my fried rice, gone rice crispies. I'm sure there will be many more to come in the next year, so be sure to check back.

Anyway... on to the best!

10) Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

9) Chicken Cordon Blue - Italian Style

8) Tortellini with Peas and Pancetta

7) Spicy Corn, Mac & Cheese Hot Dog

6) S'more's Bars

5) Greek Turkey Meatballs

4) Scallops in Shallot Wine Sauce

3) Caramel S'more Brownies

2) Baked Potato Soup

1) Honey-Mustard Chicken with Apples


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cooking Party #3: Chicken Marsala

Emily and I were well over due for our second cooking party together, so we met up last Thursday with one thing on our mind: DINNER! I was stuck in work later than expected so we picked a recipe that would be somewhat quick to make, but equally delicious. Emily had Cookbook packed full of great options so we settled on Chicken Marsala.

This dish is always available on almost any Italian restaurant you go to, but oddly enough I've never tried it so I couldn't wait. And to top it off, Emily and I only had to buy a few ingredients so this meal was very budget friendly.

I have only have one complaint about this was so good that we were both so full after that we felt sick!!

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1.5 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp veggie oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
3/4 lbs white button mushrooms
1/2 cup dry marsala
1/2 cup chicken stock

1) Season the chicken with salt and pepper then dredge chicken in flour, shaking access off.
2) In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts and cook, turning once, until lightly brown on both sides and barely firm when pressed in center, about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to plate and cover to keep warm.
3) In the same pan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add sliced fresh mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 6 minutes. Stir in shallots and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add Marsala and raise heat to medium-high and boil for 30 seconds. Add stock and return to boil.
4) Return the chicken to pan and turn to coat chicken with the sauce. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with rice or potatoes.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Last weekend, my boyfriend and I took a trip to Philadelphia to enjoy the city before the cold weather hits us. I heard about Reading Terminal Market from watching Throw Down with Bobby Flay on FN. I was interested to see what this market was and once we arrived, I could not believe my eyes! Isle after isle of food shops ranging from cheese markets to fish mongers, delis to bakeries and so much more.

I was in
heaven!!! I literally walked from shop to shop snapping photos as I went. For those of you not in the Philly area, check out how cool this place is! And if you live near by, you have to go see it yourself. You could spend the entire day in their eating and sampling the local foodie hot spots.

Our first stop was Hershsel's Eastside Deli, where we shared a corned beef sandwich. It was delicious!

Next up, Naturally...I went to find myself a cupcake and ended up at The Flying Monkey. I had a mocha latte cupcake, filled with mocha frosting, topped with powdered espresso. Amazing!!!

Now on to the rest...

Bobby's Throw Down contestant: Delilah's!