Monday, January 31, 2011

Butterscotch Bread Pudding

I missed my work Christmas party/lunch this year because we were picking up Honey from the rescue agency. Lucky for me they brought back some leftovers, and the left over butterscotch bread pudding was amazing.

I was worried I wouldn't be able to duplicate it because I tried to make bread pudding for my grandpa a couple years ago and the end result tasted like smooshed french toast. Not this stuff though,  I really think I hit this one out of the park.

We had it for breakfast AND dinner yesterday. We had to bring the leftovers to work today so we would stop eating it! (Allison if you see this, ask Nick for some!) Warning: Not a dish for dieters. Run while you can. 

Butterscotch Bread Pudding
serving size 10-12 small ramekins
or large casserole pan (recipe adapted from this one)
1 loaf Wonder Bread
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups milk
3 small beaten eggs
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups butterscotch chips

1. Grease ramekins or casserole pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Cube the loaf of Wonder bread.
3. Add cream, milk, beaten eggs, brown sugar, 1 cup of the butterscotch chips (save the other for later) and vanilla. Mix well. Consistency should be like oatmeal.
4. Pour into ramekins or pan and bake for 50 mins. Cool.
5. Run a butter knife along the inside of the ramekin to loosen the bread pudding. Flip upside down on a plate. (not necessary if in casserole pan)
6. (Optional) Melt 1 cup of butterscotch chips and 1 table spoon of shorting in the microwave for 30 second intervals mixing in between until chips are melted into a sauce. Drizzle over pudding and serve.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Banana Brownies

Nick and I try to be healthy. We buy fruits and vegetables and wheat bread instead of white. I try to not use cheese and butter in my cooking all the time (that's a hard one). We go to the gym and I take the dog for a run/walk everyday. But then things like this happen...

The bananas start to go bad, because we've been eating bagels for breakfast and I have to use them before they go to waste... I can't just throw them out! So we put them brownies :)

*2 Bananas *1 box brownie mix *1/4 cup water *3 eggs *1 cup oil

This recipe is super simple and the bananas make the brownies extra moist and chewy. I've often thought of putting peanut butter chips into the mix as well but the simplicity of the chocolate and banana is too good on it's own. (I love my Le Creuset pink glitter spatula)

 1. Follow instructions on the box for the brownie mix and baking.

2. Pour half of the batter into a pan lined with foil and then greased (better for removing stick free). Place your sliced bananas in rows and then top with the rest of the batter.

3. Let your boyfriend lick the remaining batter in the bowl and on the spoon. (That's a rule in this household)

4. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center perfectly clean. Cool before you cut and serve.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow Day!

Honey told me at about 8am this morning that her crate called and said she didn't have to go in today because of the snow storm last night. After we jumped up and down on the bed for a few minutes in joy I suited up to get some photos of the snow outside. I love the morning light...

It was so pretty and quiet out there. Quiet except for the crunching of my awesome rubber boots in the snow (thanks mom!)... and well... the tow trucks out around back rescuing cars that got stuck in our parking lot last night.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chocolate Covered Orange Peel

Chocolate covered orange peel is one of my moms favorites candies. I think of her every time I walk by Godiva and pop in quickly to see if they have any (they usually don't, people prefer chocolate covered strawberries. Weird).When they do I savor the little gold bag filled with orangy goodness like it's the last on earth. I try to eat just one and put it away, but it's usually gone within an hour. I can't believe I pulled off making these fabulous treats on my own.

*2 oranges *Chocolate (milk or dark) candy melts *1 cup sugar *1 cup water

1. Score 2 oranges, making sure there is no fruit left on the peel, and slice them into thin clean strips.

2. Blanch (soak) the orange peel strips in boiling water for a couple minutes and remove them. Dry them off and blanch them one more time. (This removes the bitterness, in retrospect I enjoy a little bit of the bitter taste and would only blanch them once)

3. Simmer them in a simple syrup for one hour. 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar. Caution: Keep your eye on them. Seriously. They sugar can burn quickly.

4. Let them sit on a drying wrack for a few hours. I even put mine outside in the cold to harden a bit.

5. Melt your chocolate and dip the ends or the whole peel. Refrigerate and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mango, Pineapple Salsa

I prefer a fresh salsa over jarred any day. I've been making this one for "casual entertaining" for years. I used to make it every week when the girls would come over to my old apartment to watch "The Bachelor." Wine, laughing, gossiping and making fun of all the women making fools of themselves on national television. I love that show! My boyfriend watches with me now, he says he hates it but I think he secretly looks forward to "Monday Bachelor night" too. (Girls come over and watch with me soon!)

*4 Tomatoes *1 Mango *3 Pineapple Spears *1 Garlic clove *1 Small onion *Cilantro *Lime juice *Salt and pepper *Teaspoon sugar

1. Chop tomatoes in quarters, removing the gooey insides (they will turn your salsa to soup). Add tomatoes, garlic, half of a small onion, and cilantro. Pulse in the food processor 6-8 times leaving a rough chop. If you turn it on for more than 15 seconds you will have tomato gazpacho. Pour contents into a separate bowl.

2. Score the mangos, removing the peel. Chop into small chunks along with the pineapple. Toss fruit in with the rest of the salsa. Season with some fresh squeezed lime juice, a sprinkle of salt and a teaspoon of sugar, stir and serve. (great with lime tostitos) 

Have Honey on the scene to catch any dropped chips :) 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Breakfast Pizza

This is the second "pizza" recipe I have posted. Nick made the other one, and this one is mine. I guess we just really like pizza. (Doesn't everyone?) This dish is perfect for brunch and easy to make.


*1 small package bacon (fried and chopped, I just threw mine in the food processor)
*1 bunch parsely
*Chopped scallions or chives
*Mozzarella cheese
*Parmesan cheese
*1 ready made pizza crust

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle desired amount of cheeses on pizza crust. Fry three eggs over easy on your stove top. (Just fry the bottom no need to flip them the rest will cook in the oven.) Place the eggs on top of the sprinkled cheese then salt and pepper. Place the pizza in the oven on a pizza stone for 8 to 12 minutes or until the top of the egg looks cooked and the crust is golden brown. Top with chopped parsley and scallions.Cool and serve.

Don't be afraid to change up the ingredients. Any kind of cheese or topping will do (mushrooms for a vegetarian version would be delish).

It's game day today and we already got started and ate the breakfast pizza with cold beers! Don't worry it was after 12 noon :)  Last weekend the Steelers beat my Ravens and today the Jets better take the Steelers out.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Birthday Cake Pops

These cake pops aren't anything new, I've posted the recipe before, but aren't they pretty? I made them for Helen's birthday today (a co-worker) . Truthfully they take less time now for me than it would for me to make cupcakes or a whole cake.

Funny Story about Helen's Birthday: At my job when it's someones birthday a card is circulated around the office secretly so the recipient wont see it. There is a method to this. Inside a brightly colored folder there is a post-it note that says "Return to Helen" and the initials of everyone who has to sign the card. After you sign it you cross off your name and it is passed around to whomever has not signed it yet, the last person brings it back to Helen. Helen is keeper of the cards and head of the "birthday party committee."

My first week I was unfamiliar with the routine. Someone came into my office handed me the folder and left. I opened it, saw the card and read the post-it note quickly. I saw "Helen blah blah blah" (Obviously I am detail oriented). "Oh!" I thought, "A birthday card for Helen."

Actually no, it was ANDY'S birthday. Not knowing this I signed the card to Helen. Then making things worse, there were cute little party monkeys all over the card. Kind of like this. I drew caption bubbles making the monkeys say "Helen is Amazing!" "We LOVE Helen." It gets worse... I then brought the card to Andy to sign next. His own birthday card. Frown. 

After making the connection I panicked and told a couple people in the office my mistake. I was new and assumed that ruining someones birthday surprise was not a good way to start off and was practically in tears. Luckily everyone thought it was hysterical and now every time there is a birthday people crack jokes about it. I still turn bright red.

Now it really is Helen's birthday. I wanted to make this one special for real, hence the cake pops. I'm headed to target to pray there is a card with party monkeys on it :)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Wontons for my Ravens

It's a big game day for the Baltimore Ravens. If we win we go on to one more playoff game before we are in the Super Bowl. I wore my jersey all day, even at the dog park and grocery store.

The best football snack out there is buffalo chicken dip. Period. It's my signature party dish (those cake balls might get a few requests too). Memorial day parties, birthday parties, New Years Eve parties you name it they love it. Ladies you will win your mans heart with this dip. Why haven't I blogged about it earlier you ask? Because it's ugly! This pinkish creamy chicken dip does not photograph well at all, so we are going to go a different route ...

We will fill wontons with the dip and fry them up! Of course feel free to skip the wontons though and just make the dip to serve with celery or chips.

3 small chicken breasts - poached (Don't over cook them, you will taste it in your dip, yuck)
1 package of cream cheese (soft enough to combine with other ingredients)
1/2 cup ranch or blue cheese dressing (your choice)
1/2 cup Franks Red Hot (or more if you like it really hot)
1 cup shredded cheese
1 package wonton wrappers

Cut your poached chicken in halves and shred them with your food processor (use the shedding attachment). Some recipes call for using canned chuck chicken, but that makes me want to throw up. I find that a food processor gets the chicken to a nice creamy dip with out losing the fresh chicken flavor.

Pour the processed chicken in with the cream cheese, hot sauce, dressing, and cheddar. Mix until they are incorporated.

Place a dollop of the dip, about a quarter size, in the center of your wonton wrapper. Pull one corner over to the other forming a triangle. Connect the bottom corners in the center and then the top so you have wonton envelops. (Dampen your fingers with water when closing the wontons so they will stick.) Trick: If they are kept in the freezer for about 5 minutes before you fry them they will hold up better.

Fry them in about an inch of canola oil until they are golden brown. Serve with hot sauce and ranch or blue cheese.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Brie, Apple, and Prosciutto Grilled Cheese

So this probably has to be the best sandwich I’ve ever had. No really, it was perfect. My mouth is watering and I can't wait to make it again.

I really wanted breakfast for dinner last night. I was craving that sweet and savory combination of pancakes, runny eggs and bacon. But my practical and frugal instincts kept flashing images of all the brie cheese we have left over from our New Years party.

Then it came to me… a sweet and savory grilled cheese. YUM. The sweetness of the bread and tart apples balance the creamy brie and salty prosciutto perfectly. I took a bite and literally said “Oh wow, this is really good.” It was extremely hard to focus on taking photos, I kept thinking  that the cheese wouldn't be as melted and gooey if I didn't eat it immediately. 

Pepperidge Farm cinnamon raisin swirl bread
Brie cheese
Green apple
Fresh prosciutto
Gruyere (optional)

Place one tablespoon of butter on your frying pan or skillet and lightly butter the outsides of the bread. On medium heat place your bread on the pan, butter side down. The sequence of ingredients that comes next is very important. First is the gruyere layer. Just two thinly sliced small pieces is fine. I used the gruyere to give it more of a sharp cheesy flavor. Brie can be bland at times depending on where you buy it.

Next is one slice of prosciutto. On top of the prosciutto is the apple. Very important: The apple slices must be paper thin. It will be difficult to eat and too tart if not. I used a mandolin and it worked well.

The last layer is the brie, about three strips without the rind (because the cheeses are closest to the grill you get the right gooey consistency with out burning the bread). By the time you are done layering and your bread top goes on butter side up, you should be ready to flip. Check the color and crisp of the bread. It should be golden brown and just slightly crunchy. 

With all this good food lately it’s a good thing I have been running but I miss my yoga. If anyone knows of a good studio in the Northern VA area that isn’t Bikram. Please, please let me know.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Yes! Cake Pops

I think these cake balls might just be my best accomplishment yet! I wish I could show you what they looked like the first time I tried back in July but I wouldn't dare. Oh boy what a mess. Picture this: large, brown, icicled, chocolate balls with frosting spikes. Sounds delicious no? Actually they tasted amazing, they just looked awful. If you have attempted these trendy balls of goodness and failed I bet you did the same thing I did. Melting regular chocolate chips or frosting will not work for the outer shell. 

You must buy "candy melts." You can get them at Michaels or other specialty stores for candy making. I actually found them (after I went to Michaels of course) at my local grocery store. I also picked up some lolly pop sticks at Michaels as well. I like them better on sticks, easier to eat and way more fun.

I followed Ree's instructions over at The Pioneer Woman. Her photos were extremely helpful. She of course adapter her recipe from bakerella's signature cake pops.

My separate advice: After you freeze the cake balls (small cake balls the size of a walnut) stick in your lolly pop stick next and then swirl and coat them in the melted chocolate. I found that they were more evenly coated that way.  

I went with a coconut cake mixed with a cream cheese frosting. The candy shell is dark chocolate and white. The crumbs on the outside are some cookies and toffee.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Fancy Schmancy Jello Shots

We had a little party on New Years Eve. I made some treats that I will be sharing with you this week but these were by far the coolest.

Jello shots are always fun at a party, but those flimsy Dixie cups can be such an eye sore. Try this instead!

(One orange makes 4 shots so buy accordingly) We made about 50 shots with two boxes of jello. Cut the orange in half and scoop out the insides. Then make your jello and vodka mix. 1 packet of jello, any flavor, gets 1 cup of water and 1 cup of vodka. (Follow the instructions on the jello box. They call for two cups of water and use your liquor of choice instead for one cup) Fill your orange halves with the mixture and then place them in the fridge until they are very firm. When they are ready carefully cut the halves into quarters and voila!

We used cherry because we already had it in the pantry but think of all the delicious and pretty combination's you can come up with. Imagine lime peels with lemon and tequila jello! Or lemon peels with pink lemonade and vodka jello!

Check out more interesting jello shot recipes here (these kids really put some effort in this).
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