May 31, 2012

Busy-Day Berry Cake

It's almost summer, which means it's berry time!  Berries have been on sale like crazy lately, and who can resist a good berry?  Not me.  I wanted to make a nice summery dessert with the berries that wasn't too sweet, and I found this recipe in my good old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  Someday I will have a giant porch with lots of rocking chairs, and in the summertime, we'll all sit on the rocking chairs and eat this berry cake as we watch the sunset.  I can hardly wait.

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Busy-Day Berry Cake
(from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook--15th edition)

1-1/3 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1tsp vanilla

1 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup strawberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup raspberries or blackberries

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease one 8-inch round cake pan.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and baking powder.  Add milk, butter, egg, and vanilla, and beat on a low speed until they're combined.  Beat for 1-2 more minutes on a medium speed, and spread the batter into your prepared cake pan.
3. Bake about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack about 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, whip up a batch of fresh whipped cream by combining the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla and beating them on high until soft peaks form.  Or, to simplify things, just grab a container of Cool Whip--because we all know that if you're going to use store-bought, Cool Whip is the only way to go.
5. You can serve the cake warm or wait for it to cool completely.  Top it with whipped cream and berries.  Go find yourself a rocking chair and a sunset.

May 29, 2012

Tip Tuesday #6 {Re-Steam Your Leftover Rice}

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Have you ever noticed that leftover rice is only good for one thing?  Fried rice.  Any other way, leftover rice tastes dry and gross--hardly even worth saving sometimes.  But not anymore!  My friend, Melissa, shared this tip with me, and it makes all the difference.  When re-heating your rice, just add a tablespoon or two of water.  As the rice heats up, the water will turn to steam, causing the rice to "re-steam" and gain back lost moisture.  The result?  Delicious, freshly-cooked-tasting rice.  Now that sounds good.

May 22, 2012

Tomato Avocado Chicken

Back at good old BYU, one of my roommates would always make this for dinner, and it would make our apartment smell amazing, and I would be silently jealous of her extraordinary cooking skills.  And when she told me how to make it, I thought, "Wow!  I can make that!"  And this, my friends, is how I was first introduced to one of my favorite things ever--Montreal Chicken Seasoning.

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Tomato Avocado Chicken
(from Rochelle)

1 Tbsp cooking oil
1 bonleless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tsp Montreal Chicken Seasoning
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 avocado, sliced or cut into small chunks
1 tomato, diced

1.  Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the cubed chicken, and sprinkle on the Montreal Chicken Seasoning and cayenne pepper.  
2.  Continue and stir until the chicken is browning but isn't quite cooked through.  Add the avocado and tomato, and mix it all up.  Continue cooking until the chicken is no longer pink.  If you want, add a bit more of the seasoning to taste.  
3.  That was easy.  Eat up!

Tip Tuesday #5 {Bake Your Hard-Boiled Eggs}

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Did you know that you can bake eggs and that they come out just like hard-boiled eggs?  Neither did I!  I didn't, that is, until my brother-in-law informed me of this last week.  Just stick the eggs in a preheated oven and bake them at 325 for 30 minutes.  You can either rest them on the oven rack or put the eggs in muffin tins to keep them from rolling around.  As soon as you take them out of the oven, plunge them in ice water to prevent them from overcooking.  Baked eggs tend to be creamier, less smelly, and generally don't get that gross green color you sometimes get with hard-boiled eggs.  And they're easier to peel!  And honestly, doesn't this sound a lot less technical than most of the boiling methods?  Give it a shot.

May 15, 2012

Tip Tuesday #4 {What to Do When You Forgot the Yeast}

Image thanks to Our Best Bites
Last week I decided to make some delicious homemade bread.  I made the dough, kneaded it, put it in the oven to rise...and came back an hour later to find that the dough hadn't risen at all.  I had forgotten the yeast!  So I did a little investigating (because there is almost nothing I hate more than wasting food) and found that you can add it later and that it actually improves the flavor of your dough slightly by increasing the time the flavors meld together.  Cool, huh?  All you have to do to fix it is dissolve the yeast in just a tablespoon or two of warm water.  When it's all dissolved, knead it right into the dough.  If it's too wet, add a bit more flour to even it out.  Voila!  Perfect dough!  Isn't that awesome?  Three cheers for salvaging almost ruined bread!

May 11, 2012

Hearty Bacon Waffles

Wait!  Before you recoil in disgust at the name of this recipe, just hear me out.  When my husband (then fiance) told me to get excited about having waffle pancakes when we went to meet his family, I was hardly excited.  But the image that popped into my head of a waffle topped with butter, strawberries and whipped cream with a greasy slice of bacon on top was far from the truth.

Never fear, folks.  That's not what this recipe is.  Rather, these whole wheat waffles (which, by the way, don't taste like the gross wheat flavor some of you are probably thinking of) are hearty and delicious.  With crumbled bacon cooked right in, they are delicious by themselves or topped with warm applesauce and cinnamon sugar.

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I was extremely skeptical before I took my first bite, but now when I go to visit his family, the conversation goes about like this: "Hi!  How are you?  Are we having waffles for breakfast?" I request these pancakes every time we go to see his family.  And I made them myself for the first time the other day.  Am I turning into a wheat person?  Times, they are a-changin'.

Also, did you know that they sell pre-cooked, crumbled bacon at Costco that's perfect for this?  Okay, here we go.

Hearty Bacon Waffles

1 cup wheat berries (if you have a fancy blender that will mill it into flour for you...) OR 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1-1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Crumbled bacon (as much as you want!)

1. Preheat your waffle iron so it's all ready to go.  Who wants to wait for waffles any longer than necessary, really?  Let's get going!
2. If using a fancy blender (like a Blendtec or a Vitamix), blend the wheat berries with 1 cup of the milk for 30-60 seconds or until well combined.  Then add the rest of the milk.  For the rest of us, just combine the wheat flour with all of the milk.
3. Add the oil, eggs, baking powder, and salt.  Mix until well-combined.  Get our your crumbled bacon and put it where it's handy by the waffle iron.
4. Pour some waffle batter into the waffle iron, then sprinkle as many bacon crumbles as you want over the batter.  Close the lid, and cook until the waffles are browned and delicious.
5. Bacon waffles!  Eat them as they are or topped with warm applesauce and cinnamon sugar.

May 8, 2012

Tip Tuesday #3 {Spray Your Cupcake Liners}

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 Cupcake liners.  They are amazing and wonderful and beautiful.  They make a cupcake look amazing and keep little fingers clean(er) when kids are eating them.  But if you take a second to spray the cupcake liners with non-stick cooking spray before you fill the them with batter, the liners will peel right off without taking part of the cupcakes with them.  The result?  Fewer crumbs (and mess) and more cupcake deliciousness in your mouth.  And who doesn't love more cupcake?

Image Source (which also has the cutest little coconut chick cupcakes!)

May 4, 2012

Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

I got this cookie recipe from the label of my peanut butter jar.  It was absolutely incredible.  The cookies were soft, tender, peanut buttery goodness in cookie form.  And then I remembered the good old days of going to Smart Cookie to celebrate that finals were over when I was back at college.  Bam!  Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches!  You have got to try these.  Now.

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Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup shortening
1-1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 egg
1-3/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
Vanilla ice cream (as much as you can pack in there!)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Place sheets of aluminum foil on the counter top for cooling cookies.  I had never heard of this method before, but it worked like a charm.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together peanut butter, shortening, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla until well blended.  Add the egg and beat until just blended.
3. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, salt, and baking soda.  Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and beat at low speed until just blended.
4. Drop spoonfuls 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.  If you want your cookies to be perfect little cookie circles, just roll the dough into a ball before placing it on the cookie sheet.  Flatten each cookie slightly with a fork in the traditional criss-cross pattern (my favorite part about peanut butter cookies).
5.  Bake for 7-8 minutes or until the cookies are set and just barely beginning to brown.  Cool two minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer the cookies to the aluminum foil sheets to finish cooling completely.  Once they're completely cool, spread some vanilla ice cream on half of the cookies, then top them with the other cookies to make delicious little ice cream cookie sandwiches.
6. Partake.  Are they irresistible?  Oh yes, yes they are.

May 1, 2012

Tip Tuesday #2 {Wash the Dough Bowl with Cold Water}

Today's tip is one that seems obvious once you hear it, but it was like a revelation to me.  After you've just made a delicious dough, it's tempting to fill the bowl up with hot water and get scrubbing.  But the hot water can actually cook the dough (expecially whole grain doughs) onto the bowl, making it nearly impossible to get off.  So what's the solution?  Wash it out first in cold (soak it with cold water if needed), to get off any remaining dough bits.  When it looks pretty clean, then bring on the hot water and get that thing sanitized.  Cool, right?  Give it a shot next time you make dough.

Cold water.  Hot water.  Clean bowl.

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