Sunday, February 27, 2011

Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal

Oatmeal is such a great breakfast. It's healthy, filling, and quick. This baked oatmeal is perfect for weekday mornings when you're in a rush. It kicks the butt of the Quaker Oat envelopes I usually eat! I'd seen Baked Oatmeal on several blogs but Megan's sold me. She gives so many different variations it was hard for me to choose. I went with the Apple Pie version because I wanted to use fresh fruit and because Apple Pie is just too yummy sounding not to try. I also added in chopped pecans for a little crunch. This baked oatmeal is super easy, very comforting, and delicious when heated up with a little milk. When cut into squares, baked oatmeal also travels well for an easy snack. I'm going to try Megan's peanut butter recipe next.  
Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal
From Food and Whine
Printable Version

1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons flax seed meal
1/4 cup honey or brown sugar
3/4 cup milk (I used Vanilla Almond Milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla (my Homemade Vanilla Extract is pictured in the vodka bottle)
1 egg
1 tablespoon melted butter (I omitted this accidentally and couldn't taste a difference!)
1 diced apple
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix wet ingredients separately and add to the dry ingredients. Mix until combined. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 8X8 pan. Cook for 20-25 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Will keep for about a week if covered in an airtight container.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sweet Potato Salad with Bacon and Celery

I saw this recipe of Rachel Ray's on Taste and Tell and not only thought it looked delicious, by figured it was going to be the only way I could get my hubby to eat some of the sweet potatoes I bought and wanted to use. Anytime there is bacon involved, the hubs is there. I did not have onions or parsley on hand, and I overcooked the sweet potatoes but despite all these set backs, this salad was really good! I love the crunch of the celery with the softness of the sweet potatoes. The bacon is definitely the star in this dish. Hubby even said, "You can't really taste the sweet potatoes". I'm thinking he really does like sweet potatoes but won't admit it! :)
Sweet Potato Salad with Bacon and Celery
As seen on Taste and Tell from Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals
Serves 4
Printable Version

1 1/2 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling
1/2 cup beef stock (I didn't have any so substituted chicken broth)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Few dashes hot sauce
1 teaspoon sweet paprika (Didn't have so used regular paprika)
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
4 slices of bacon
2 - 3 celery ribs, finely chopped (I added more to compensate for lacking onions and parsley!)
Handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
Put the potatoes in a pot over medium heat, then cover with water. Bring to a boil and salt the water. Cook just until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return to the hot pot. Heat a small pan over medium-high heat and drizzle in some extra virgin olive oil. Add the bacon and cook just until crisp. Add the stock (or broth) to the pot with the potatoes, along with the vinegar and hot sauce and stir over low heat until combined. 
Turn off the heat and season with paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl and stir in the chopped onions, celery, bacon, and parsley. Dress the salad with a liberal drizzle of olive oil and serve immediately. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Morel Mushroom Gnocchi

Morel mushrooms are a highly prized fungi in the midwest, especially in Michigan where hubby and I are from. They are hard to find, very expensive, and out of this world delicious. When I saw dried Morels in my local grocery store, I just about yelled, "Eureka!!" It was truly like finding treasure! 
On the back of the package was directions for the Morel sauce that I made and served with gnocchi. Of course I neglected to save the package, so will try to remember the recipe to the best of my ability. But really, how can you go wrong with wine, butter, onion, garlic and heavenly Morels??
Morel Mushroom Gnocchi
Serves 2 
Printable Version

4 ounces Morel Mushrooms
1 package of your favorite gnocchi
1/2 cup heavy cream (I always use fat free half & half and never notice a difference)
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Tabor Hill, our favorite Michigan wine)
5 tablespoons butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small white or yellow onion, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese for garnishing

Boil water and cook gnocchi according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile melt butter in a saute pan and add in onions and garlic. Saute until soft, but not brown. Add in wine, cream and Morels. 
Stir frequently sauce thickens and mushrooms are tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over hot gnocchi. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Southwestern Quinoa Salad

I've finally jumped on the Quinoa bandwagon. When we were shopping at Costco a couple of weeks ago, I saw an enormous bag of Quinoa and decided to purchase it to see what all the hype is about. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is all the rage in the food blogging world. I read up on it to share a little bit of info with you:

  • Quinoa is an amino-acid rich seed
  • It is a relative of spinach and swiss chard
  • It includes all nine essential amino acids
  • It is a good source of magnesium, iron, copper, and phosphorus
  • It is gluten free
Basically, quinoa is extremely healthy and has a lot of health benefits. I am using it in my cooking as a substitute for rice or Cous Cous, but in my reading I found it is commonly used in soups. Please share with me your favorite way to use quinoa, as this is all new to me! 
I was browsing some of my favorite food blogs for ideas to use my quinoa and found this recipe for Black Bean and Bell Pepper Cous Cous Salad on Beantown Baker. I loved how Jen's salad uses so many of hubby and my favorite flavors: corn, black beans, cilantro, lime. Although Jen's salad uses Cous Cous, I substituted quinoa and added fresh sliced avocado on top. This salad was so filling and flavorsome. I loved the taste of  all the veggies with the zesty citrus dressing. The quinoa added a nutty, grainy taste and was a perfect addition. We ate it chilled for two days. It will be hard to find a more tasty use of quinoa!
Southwestern Quinoa Salad
Adapted from Beantown Baker
Makes 8 Servings

1 cup cooked quinoa
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
8 green onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (my store was out so I used cilantro in a tube - great substitute)
1 cup corn (I used frozen corn kernels, thawed)
2 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook 1 cup of quinoa according to directions and set aside. In a large bowl whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar and cumin. 
Add green onions, red bell pepper, cilantro, corn, and beans and toss to coat.
Fluff the quinoa and break up any chunks. Add the quinoa to the bowl with the veggies and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

DSC_4392I'm baaaaaack! Oh blogging, I missed you so! I didn't realize how much I love sharing recipes with you until I literally couldn't. I am happily back to blogging on a beautiful brand new MacBook Pro, which I am already in love with. It's so fast and a HUGE step up from the hand-me-down laptop I was using before. 
Without further ado, I give you Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting. This cake is more than just another banana cake. The recipe comes from a cookbook complied by members of the church that my parents have faithfully attended since 1984. The title of this recipe in the Haven Cookbook is, "AJ's Secret Banana Cake". My dad was A.J.'s Sunday School teacher and they became buddies. AJ has made the cake for my Dad several times over the years, and my parents have bought his cake at Church Auctions. It is a very well known cake at Haven Church. People really go nuts over it. Or maybe just my family goes nuts over it, but regardless, it is one incredible banana cake. Otherwise I don't think it would be titled, "AJ's Secret Banana Cake", do you?? Since it was published in the church cook book, the secret is out, and now that the recipe is on my blog, is most definitely is out. But the world is a better place with this banana cake recipe being shared. This cake actually melts in your mouth. It's so moist and delicious. AJ frosts his cake with cream cheese or vanilla frosting, which is how I've had it before. I decided to get a little creative and frost it with peanut butter frosting because there really is no better combination than peanut butter and banana. 

If AJ or his family reads this I would like them to know that my family is forever grateful for your banana cake. It truly is one of the best cakes I've ever had. The next time you are thinking of making banana bread, you must make this cake instead. It's a much better way to use your over ripe bananas.
AJ's Not So Secret Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
Printable Version

Ingredients for the cake:
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 to 2 cups mashed bananas
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, and bananas together well. (I used my KitchenAid). Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to mix well. Pour into a greased and well floured 9X13 inch pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Frost as desired. 
Ingredients for the Peanut Butter Frosting
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (my Homemade Vanilla Extract is pictured in the vodka bottle!)
3 cup powdered sugar
Beat peanut butter milk, and vanilla until blended. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Spread over cake. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Unintentional Blogging Hiatus

Dear Readers,
I will be going on a blogging hiatus for the next week due to the death of my laptop. My laptop lived a long and wonderful life, and it was definitely it's time to go! Until hubby and I get to the Apple store next weekend, I am unable to upload pictures and therefore won't be posting any recipes for several days. I enourage you to check out my favorite blogs on the sidebar until I'm back to blogging!
Happy Valentines Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Red and White Velvet Cookies

This is a first for me - I've never blogged about a recipe the same day that I made it. But I am so excited to share this recipe with you that I just couldn't wait! The cookies are still cooling while I am blogging away. 
Today there was no school because we had three inches of snow (everything in Virginia shuts down with the slightest amount of snow, I love it!) so I decided to do some baking. I'd bookmarked several red velvet recipes to try around Valentine's Day, but I had a hard time finding one that seemed in my league. Whoopie pies are most definitely not in my league, but maybe someday. I found the recipe for these cookies on the Duncan Hines site. They are super cute and festive, not to mention buttery, crisp, and delicious! I am sending them with hubby to work because I do not want them sitting around my house - too dangerous! I hope these inspire you to make a Valentine goodie yourself!
Red and White Velvet Cookies
From Duncan
Makes 4 dozen
Printable Version

1/2 cup butter
1 box Duncan Hines Red Velvet cake mix
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla (I used Homemade Vanilla Extract, pictured in the vodka bottle)
12 ounces white chocolate
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

Melt the butter and set aside to cool. Place cake mix, egg, cooled butter, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Mix by hand until well blended. (I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer, of course!) 
Form dough into smooth 12-inch log on wax or parchment paper. Make sure it is even in thickness from end to end. Wrap in wax paper and seal in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets. Unwrap dough log and set on wax paper. Use a sharp knife to cut into 48 slices, about 1/4 inch thick. Place on cool baking sheets about 2 inches apart. 
Bake 1 sheet at a time in center of oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool for 1 minute then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 
Make chocolate dip by placing white chocolate in a small dry microwave safe bowl along with shortening. Microwave on 50% power for 30 seconds. Stir to blend. If needed, continue to microwave at 15 second intervals. Stir each time and avoid overheating.
Dip each cookie halfway to coat in chocolate. Place on wax paper or baking sheet and refrigerate about 15 minutes until chocolate is set.
 Store in an airtight container with wax paper separating each layer. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

White Mushroom Pizza

My husband is a pizza freak. Before we were married it was the main food group in his diet - yes food group. The man would eat it every day if he could - that and hot dogs. Needless to say, hubby is not the healthiest eater. On Friday nights when we are debating where we should order dinner from, he always throws in a "pizza?" and every once in a while, I let him get his way. I'm such a sweet wife, I know! :) The problem with the two of us ordering pizza is that we are complete polar opposites on pizza toppings. He loves pepperoni, the more the better. I love my pizzas sans meat with tons of veggies and pineapple. The one compromise for our pizzas is mushrooms because we both love mushrooms, especially a variety of mushrooms.
So during the month of January when we were eating vegetarian at home, I made a white mushroom pizza, using white truffle oil instead of pizza sauce and of course lots and lots of cheese. I went crazy and put a little goat cheese on the pizza, but do not recommend it. Hubby picked it off!! Oops, lesson learned. Despite the goat cheese mistake, this was super yummy. Even my pepperoni loving hubby admitted it was pretty good.
White Mushroom Pizza
An Ashley Original
Printable Version

Pizza crust (I was lazy this time and used store bought crust)
Variety of mushrooms, washed and sliced (I used button, cremini, and baby bellas)
1 white onion, sliced
Olive oil
White Truffle Oil
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Italian cheese mix, shredded
Fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium. Saute sliced mushrooms and onions until softened, about seven minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
Brush pizza crust with white truffle oil. Place mushrooms and onions on crust and cover with cheese.
Bake for 10 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted and bubbly. Garnish with parsley.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Meatless Muffalettas

Thank goodness for Tasty Kitchen! Toward the end of January I was running out of ideas for vegetarian meals to make at home, so I turned to Tasty Kitchen for inspiration. I was so happy when came across these Meatless Muffalettas from Three Many Cooks because I've been wanting to make Muffalettas at home anyway! Muffalettas are an Italian sandwich that originated in New Orleans. The traditional Muffaletta is layered with Italian salami, ham, and provolone cheese, then topped with olive salad. This vegetarian take on the Muffaletta replaces the meat with marinated veggies but still incorporates the olive salad and cheeses. It was over the top delicious! My husband, who loves meat sandwiches, was a huge fan of this sandwich. The olive salad really makes this sandwich. I ate it two days in a row and the second day added banana peppers because they are my favorite sandwich topping. I think next time I make it I will use sliced cheese instead of cutting a block of cheese into chunks, but other than that, I wouldn't change a thing!
Meatless Muffalettas
Makes 4 sandwiches

2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup capers
1 cup drained black olives
1 cup drained pimento stuffed olives
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped celery hearts
4 whole Portuguese rolls, split (I used ciabatta bread)
4 slices each of mozzarella, provolone, and pepper jack cheese
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 jar (14 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
3/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil, chopped

Mince garlic in a food processor. Add in capers and pulse to chop. Add olives, vinegar, and oregano. 
Pulse to chop again. Scoop into a medium sized bowl and stir in olive oil and celery. (This salad can be refrigerated in an airtight container for several weeks.)
When ready to make sandwiches, spread 2 tablespoons of the olive salad on the cut side of each half roll.
Divide cheese evenly between bread. 
On the bottom half of each sandwich arrange artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes and onion slices. 
Place sandwich halves together. Halve crosswise on the diagonal and serve. 


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