Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pumpkin Banana Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Fall is slowly coming to Texas.  WooHoo!  The highs all week have been in the low 80's, and the mornings have been chilly enough for my girls to wear a light jacket to school.  Fall is my favorite season.  The cool weather, soups/stews/chilis simmering on the stove top, girls playing outside since it's not 100+ degrees outside.  And there are so many great pumpkin recipes out there I want to try.  I found this recipe over at Mommy's Kitchen.  I added banana since it goes so well with pumpkin.  If you can't find pumpkin pie mix, just use regular pumpkin puree and increase the sugar to 2 cups total. 


15 oz can pumpkin pie mix
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 10 x 15 inch baking pan (jellyroll pan) with non-stick cooking spray. 

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the pumpkin, bananas, sugar and oil. Add the eggs and mix well. Combine the dry ingredients and add to the pumpkin mixture, beating until combined. Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake for 25 minutes. Cool the cake completely before frosting.  

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 - stick butter, softened (1/2 cup)
8 oz - cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 - tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 - cups powdered sugar
2 T milk

Beat the butter and cream cheese together. Add the vanilla and blend till smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix well. Add the milk a bit at a time until you get it to a spreadable consistency. Spread on top of the sheet cake. You can also top this cake with some chopped pecans or walnuts, but that is optional.  

Cut into squares and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's Not Delivery...It's DiGiorno!

No, seriously, it's DiGiorno!  I made some homemade pizza dough for the first time ever.  Bread recipes (anything involving using yeast) totally intimidates me.  I don't know why.  This is a simple pizza dough that you can make in the morning and let rise until you're ready to make pizzas for lunch.  My big girl Taylor helped me knead the dough.

I made some pizza sauce and I had some extra homemade BBQ sauce leftover from our smoked brisket last week.  I laid out everybody's favorite toppings and we all made our own pizzas.  My girls and I made mini pizzas and my husband, a.k.a. "Big Daddy", made a 12 inch pizza.  He kept going back to the kitchen and putting a few slices on his plate, and before long, it was all gone.  He said he shared with Jordyn, but come on, she's a 3 year old that takes little bites.  I'm just happy he enjoyed it.  He's picky about his pizza since he's a true Italian.  I rolled his dough out really thin, since that's the way he likes it.

Ingredients for Pizza Dough:

1 cup warm water (between 100-110 degrees)
1 package active dry yeast (1/4 oz.)
3 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sugar

In a mixing bowl, combine the yeast, warm water, and sugar.  Stir and let sit for about 10 minutes, until the top becomes frothy and foamy.  Add the olive oil, salt, and flour.  Stir together until it starts to come together.  Pour out onto clean countertop and knead the dough until smooth and firm, about 10 minutes.  If you're lucky and have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, you can use the dough attachment and it only takes about 5 minutes.  Otherwise, get ready for a great arm workout.  Use the heels of your hands and really work the dough.  When the dough is smooth, form into a ball.  Transfer to a bowl coated lightly in olive oil, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 1/2-2 hours.  I put it in the oven since it was really humid from raining the day before. 

After the dough has doubled in size, remove it from the bowl and divide into three equal sections (if you want 3-12 inch pizzas). Form each section of dough into a ball by rolling it under the palm of your hand to create a smooth surface. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet and cover with a damp towel.  Allow the dough to rise again for about 30 minutes.

Stretch or roll the dough out as thin as you'd like (recommend 12 inch circles).  Add sauce and your favorite toppings. Bake at 425°F until golden brown and crispy, about 12-15 minutes for a large pizza.

We made pizza 4 ways:

Salami, Pepperoni and Canadian Bacon Pizza (Big Daddy's)

BBQ Chicken Pizza (Big Mama's)

Girls Pizzas: BBQ Canadian Bacon Pizza & Canadian Bacon and BBQ Chicken Pizza

The prepared pizza dough disks can be refrigerator in zip lock storage bags for 2 days, or frozen for 2 weeks.  My husband wants to have a pizza party and let everybody make their own.  Sounds like a fun Sunday afternoon to me!  Pizza, football, and family...what more can you ask for? 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been craving some Mrs. Field's chocolate chip cookies lately but there's no way I'm driving all the way to the mall just for my cookie fix.  There's a cooking blog I came across recently with some really good desserts.  And this is where I found my new favorite chocolate chip cookies!  Jamie Cooks It Up!

Watch out Mrs. Fields...there's a new cookie in town!  They are soft and chewy, and of course, very chocolately.  This recipe makes a ton of cookies, so you can always make a half batch.  I made the entire recipe so I could send some to work for my husband's guys to enjoy while selling lots of cars on Saturday.  Hopefully these will give the guys lots of energy rather than putting them in a cookie coma!   

My big girl Taylor helped me roll out the cookies.  She loves baking with Mommy.


1 1/2 C butter, softened
1 1/2 C sugar
1 1/2 C brown sugar
4 eggs
2 t vanilla
5 cups all purpose flour
pinch of salt
2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 bag Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips
1 bag Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  You will need 2 non-stick cookie sheets.

With a mixer, cream together butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, add the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  Stir to combine.  

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed ingredients and mix until all the flour is incorporated.

Add the chocolate chips and stir with a wooden spoon.

Put about 2 Tablespoons in your hands and roll into balls.  Place on non-stick cookie sheet.  

Bake for about 10 minutes. Do not over bake. You'll want to take the cookies out of the oven when they start to crack, then let them stay on the hot cookie sheet to continue cooking for about 5 minutes.  Now put at least 2 cookies aside for tasting purposes.  Place the rest on a cooling rack, then store in an airtight container when cooled.  

Now pour yourself a tall glass of ice cold milk and enjoy a couple of warm double chocolate chip cookies! 

Here's my tasting cookies...just kidding...I only ate far.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Jordyn's Dora Birthday Party

Jordyn told me she would blow out the candles on her Dora birthday cake at her party this weekend.  Success!!!

Candles are lit...not so sure about this now...

OK, here she goes...with big sisters' help

Big applause from family

She's so proud of herself...big hug from Sissy

Baked Jalapeno Peppers with Cheddar Cheese

When my parents were over for Grandparent's Day last week, I asked them what they would like to eat at my daughter's birthday party.  My father in law quickly said he wanted to try some of those jalapeno peppers he saw on my blog.  Easy enough, done!  I had to change it up a little since I had already used all of our cream cheese to make the fruit dip.  I didn't have time to run to the store, and my husband was getting some much needed rest from staying up all night smoking a brisket, which was FABULOUS!!!  I prepped the jalapeno peppers the night before and stored them in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator.  This made party day less stressful and they were assembled and cooked quickly.


12 fresh jalapeno peppers
1 1/2 cups finely shredded cheddar cheese
4 slices american cheese, finely diced
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
garlic powder
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 T melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil.  Prepare the jalapeno peppers.  Slice the tops off, cut the peppers lengthwise in half, and cut out the membrane and seeds.  

Place the cooled jalapenos on the prepared baking sheet.  In a large bowl, add the cheeses, bacon, and spices.  Stir to combine.  Add cheese mixture to each jalapeno half. 

In a small bowl, melt the butter and add the panko bread crumbs.  Stir to combine.  Sprinkle some bread crumbs on each stuffed jalapeno and press down to pack it tight.  This will help you cheese from oozing out. 

Bake in the oven for 3-4 minutes until cheese is melted.  Turn the broiler on and cook another minute or so until bread crumbs are lightly browned.  Remove and place on a serving platter.  I served these with cayenne pepper sour cream.  Ranch dressing is always a good topper too!  Enjoy!

Watermelon Fruit Bowl

We had a birthday party for my big 3 year old this weekend.  I always make a fruit plate with fruit dip for my girls.  I came across some pictures of some carved watermelon fruit bowls.  Many of them were too elaborate for my carving skills.  Here's a link for lots of great watermelon carving ideas:

I grew up carving pumpkins every Halloween, but it's been a very long time.  My girls love to paint, so they paint beautiful pumpkins every year for Halloween.  Here's the watermelon I attempted to carve.  I used a strawberry cookie cutter for the decorations on the handle and hand carved a letter "J" for her name.  Any cute cookie cutters will work.  Attach the cutouts to the watermelon using toothpicks.  You can make this the day ahead and wrap tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.  Wait to add the the watermelon balls and cut up fruit the day you plan on eating it-otherwise the watermelon creates lots of juice and it will become a mushy mess. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jordyn's Birthday Cupcakes - Vanilla with Buttercream Frosting

Today is my daughter's 3rd birthday.  Her favorite cupcakes are vanilla with buttercream frosting...well, come to think of it...she likes every cupcake she's ever tried.  But our family's favorite happens to be vanilla. 

Jordyn helped me make these this morning after her big sisters went to school.  Daddy and I took Jordyn to a special lunch at a Hibachi grill, which she didn't enjoy too much from all the "fire" shows our chef kept performing for our scared little girl.  He was very friendly but must have mistaken her fear for laughter or something.  Anyway, we came home and Jordyn took a nice long nap.  When she woke up, she was ready for a cupcake NOW.  Her big sisters got home soon after I finished taking all my blog pictures.  So silly me decides she of course needs 3 candles on her birthday cupcake...yes, more fire.  She cried halfway through her birthday song and wasn't getting anywhere near those candles to blow them out.  I promptly removed the candles and she was all smiles again.

These are the same cupcakes that I made for Strawberry Shortcakes, which is my favorite dessert.

Cupcake Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Line a cupcake pan with 12 paper liners.  In a large stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl to thoroughly combine all the ingredients together.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Add to the cream mixture, along with the milk, and mix until a smooth batter is formed.  Use a large ice cream scoop to divide the batter evenly into the cupcake liners. Bake for 14-18 minutes until golden brown and the cupcakes spring back to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing and decorating.

Frosting Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
dash salt
food coloring gel

1/4 milk (add half, then add more as needed)

In a small mixing bowl, cream together the butter and powdered sugar until combined.  Add the vanilla extract, salt, food coloring, and half of the milk.  Beat slightly and decide how much more milk you will need to make frosting the right thickness.  It needs to be fairly thick if piping, and not as thick when using a cake spatula to spread.  Go ahead and add milk as needed.  Beat at high speed until it forms a nice fluffy frosting, about 3-4 minutes.  Pipe or spread icing on cupcakes and decorate as you like.  We always have sprinkles and jimmys in our pantry.  Enjoy!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY LITTLE "J" and I'm so sorry about scaring you with more fire on your cupcake!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Jalapeno Blue Cheese Burgers with Bacon & Swiss

I was craving a good homemade burger cooked by my grill master husband on his Weber grill.  To close him on the deal of dragging the Weber out of the garage and firing it up, I decided to make a very flavorful burger he couldn't turn down.  He grilled some hot dogs for our girls since these burgers aren't exactly kid friendly with the jalapenos and blue cheese.  Everything was delicious!  I made a Party Pasta Salad to go with our burgers and hot dogs as seen here on my blog.

After dinner, we watched our Dallas Cowboys gets spanked by the Washington Redskins.  What's up with that!?!  Next weekend is my youngest daughters' 3rd birthday.  My husband and I will be smoking a beef brisket.  I will find some new sides to try, and hopefully they will be post worthy.


1 lb 85/15 ground beef
2-3 fresh jalapenos, finely diced
2 Tbsp soy sauce
4 Tbsp A-1 steak sauce, or your favorite
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp onion powder
blue cheese crumbles
sliced bacon, cooked
sliced swiss cheese

Prepare your Weber grill and get it really hot.  It's ready when you can only hold your hand 4 inches above the fire for 2 seconds before pulling away.

In a large bowl, add the ground beef, jalapenos, soy sauce, steak sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper.  Mix with your hands until combined.  Divide the mixture into 4 pieces if you want 1/2 lb burgers, or 8 pieces if you want 1/4 pound burgers.  Form patties and place on a baking sheet.  On half of the patties, press the center in to make a well, and add some blue cheese crumbles.  Place another patty on top and seal the edges with your hands.  Set aside if your grill is almost ready, or place in the refrigerator if it's still getting HOT.  

When your grill is ready, place the burgers in the middle of the grill over the direct heat.  Cook until both sides are almost cooked to your preferred doneness.  During the last minute of cooking time, add the bacon strips and top with swiss cheese.  The burgers are done when the cheese is melted.  Serve on toasted buns.  Now that's a big delicious burger!!! Enjoy!  

First side grilling with hot dogs on indirect heat

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna

My girls celebrated Grandparent's Day at school on Friday with their Gree, Mimi and Dandad.  I tend to show my love for family with cooking.  I wanted to make them something special that they could take home and enjoy instead of worrying what to make for dinner.  I decided on a Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna that I promised my Mom I would make for her soon.  I got the recipe from For The Love Of Cooking.  I changed the recipe a little to fit our tastes.  I also doubled the recipe to make two casseroles.  

The recipe below is for a single 8 x 8 inch lasagna.  

8x8 assembled and ready to cook

10x7 assembled ready to cook
My mom shared her lasagna with me that night at our house and took the leftovers home. Mimi and Dandad took their lasagna home and are cooking it tonight for dinner.  You can store an assembled  lasagna in the refrigerator for a day or two before cooking.  I used the no boil lasagna noodles so it doesn't get too mushy.  I also made the homemade marinara.


2 T olive oil
8 oz baby portobella mushrooms, sliced
8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (reserve 1 cup for top)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 T Italian seasoning
1 1/2 cups of baby spinach leaves, stems removed
6 lasagna noodles (no boil)
3 1/2 cups of marinara sauce (homemade or store bought)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and cook the sliced mushrooms until tender, about 15 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.  Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper.

In a large bowl, add 2 cups of the mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, ricotta, egg, Italian seasoning, and salt and freshly cracked pepper. Combine until mixed thoroughly.

Spray an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Ladle in just enough marinara to cover the bottom of the pan. Lay two lasagna noodles in the pan. Spread some of the ricotta mixture on the noodles, then spoon some of the mushroom mixture on top, and finish by layering some spinach leaves on top; repeat layering. Finish with a layer of noodles and the sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese and some Italian seasoning.  Cover with non-stick foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing so it can set up.  Enjoy!

Creamy Garlic Risotto

My favorite tv chef is the sweet little Italian Giada De Laurentiis.  All of her meals look and taste delicious!  This is only the second time I've made risotto.  It's easy enough, but requires your full attention for about 45 minutes or more.  Giada's recipe says it should take about 20 minutes total, but my risotto was still too firm.  So I added even more chicken broth and kept stirring and stirring until it was tender and creamy.  Giada also uses 1/2 cup white wine with the rice on the first round of stirring, but I just prefer to use all chicken broth.  I also added lots of garlic.  Substituting roasted garlic instead of the sauteed garlic would be delicious too.  You definitely have time to roast garlic in the oven while the risotto is cooking..just stir it in at the end of the cooking process with the parmesan cheese. 


7 cups reduced sodium chicken broth (give or take)
3 T butter
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a simmer.  Cover the broth and keep hot over low heat.  In a large saucepan, melt 2 T butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until tender, about 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.  Add the rice, stir, and cook 3 minutes.  Ladle in 1/2 cup of simmering chicken broth and stir until almost completely absorbed.  Add another 1/2 cup of broth and keep cooking rice while stirring.  Continue this process until the rice is tender and the mixture is creamy.  Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese, 1 T butter, and pepper.  Taste for seasoning and adjust.  Be careful with the salt since the parmesan cheese and broth are both salty.  Serve immediately...or it will become very gummy quickly.  Enjoy!

Sweet Crescent Roll Snacks

My girls are home sick today and just woke up from a nice long nap.  I wanted to make them a quick, sweet snack to help energize their sleepy little bodies.  I got the idea of stuffing store bought crescent rolls with all sorts of sweet toppings from For the Love of Cooking

You can put whatever your kids like inside.  I made several different combinations to see what we would like best for next time.  I cut them all in half and thirds so we each sample them all.

Brown sugar and cinnamon

Peanut butter and milk chocolate chips
Apricot jelly and white chocolate chips
Strawberry jelly and white chocolate chips
Coconut and white chocolate chips


Strawberry jelly
Apricot jelly
Shite chocolate chips
Milk chocolate chips
Peanut butter
Sweetened coconut
Brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.  Unroll crescent rolls and line up on cookie sheet.  This way you can lay down toppings and then roll them up at one time.  Place your toppings all over crescent rolls.  Roll up from long end to triangular small tip end.  Shape into crescent.  Bake for 10-13 minutes until lightly browned on top.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Filet Mignon - Restaurant Style

This is the way my favorite steak restaurants cook their filets.  The filets are simply seasoned with salt and pepper, seared in a smokin' hot skillet in olive oil, then finished in a very hot oven.  You will have a juicy filet with a nice crust on the outside and tender on the inside.  It will absolutely melt in your mouth.  There really isn't a recipe's the technique that's important.  I served some of my country style mac 'n cheese.


Filet Mignon - cut 2 inches thick
olive oil

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  In a large skillet (cast iron if you have one), heat olive oil over high heat until it starts to slightly smoke and look wavy.  Use a paper towel to dry steaks completely.  This will help give you a nice sear on the outside.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  When your oil is ready, add the steaks to the skillet.  Cook until a nice brown crust forms.  See the smokin' hot I was talking about...

Turn steak over and put the skillet in the hot oven.  Cook until done to your likeness.  I cooked my husband's filet for 8 minutes for a true medium rare.  You can either do the poke test for doneness or insert a meat thermometer into middle to test.  Beware...when you remove the thermometer, you will lose some of the wonderful juices.  Put the steaks on a cutting board or plate to rest for 5 minutes to let the juices redistribute.  Enjoy! 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ham, Provolone & Carmelized Onion Hoagie

Hubby's Rainy Day Lunch

It rained all last night and all this morning.  Most of the streets around our house were flooded and closed.  So instead of sending my hubby out to pick us up some take-out lunch from a restaurant, I decided to make some hot sandwiches.  You don't need a recipe for this sandwich, but here's how I made it.


Slices of deli ham
Slices of provolone cheese
1/2 yellow onion, sliced into half rings
1 T butter
1 tsp olive oil
Cayenne pepper
Garlic powder
Hoagie buns

Preheat oven broiler to 400 degrees.  

In a skillet, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add sliced onions, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper.  Cook onions until golden brown and caramelized, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with foil.  Split the hoagie buns in half.  Drizzle insides of bread with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder.  Broil in oven until nicely toasted, about 3 minutes.  Remove and set aside.  

When the onions are caramelized, place in a small bowl and set aside.  Put 2-3 slices of ham in same skillet.  Cook on both sides for 1-2 minutes.  I used 2 pieces of ham on my sandwich and 4 slices on my husband's.  Cook all the ham and set aside.  

Spread mayonnaise on the top half of the hoagie bun and set aside.  On the bottom half of hoagie, layer ham, caramelized onions, and provolone cheese.  Broil in oven until cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.  

Remove and assemble your sandwiches.  Enjoy!      

Monday, September 6, 2010

Taquitos 3 Ways

My husband is a HUGE Notre Dame fan!  Unfortunately, he works on Saturdays and can't watch the game live.  I always tape the game and we watch it together when he gets home from work.  He inpatiently waited until Sunday afternoon so we could watch the game with my brother.  It's too bad my husband saw the final score run across the bottom of the screen when we were watching the TCU game Saturday night! 

We needed some good snacks to go along with the big opening season game, so I made some taquitos, rotel dip, and homemade salsa.  My girls enjoyed the fruit tray with the Irish fruit dip (sorry, forget to take a picture).  You can fill your taquitos with whatever your family likes or whatever leftovers you have in the fridge.  I made chicken and cheese, steak fajita and cheese, and just plain cheese taquitos.  Once you learn the method it's easy.  This method does not involve holding them together with any toothpicks.  You can either fry them in vegetable or canola oil, or spray them with butter cooking spray and bake in the oven for a healthier version.  I fried them this time because I wanted authentic taquitos.  Enjoy!

Chicken and Cheese Taquitos


Rotisserie chicken, shredded
Shredded cheese (whatever you like...I used colby jack)
Garlic powder
Corn tortillas
Vegetable or canola oil

In a medium sized bowl, add chicken, shredded cheese, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Put a tortilla on a microwavable plate and brush top side with oil, stack another tortilla on top and brush top side with oil, and repeat this process for all tortillas.  Cover with a damp paper towel.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds.  In a large skillet, pour enough oil in to cover taquitos half way for a shallow fry. Heat oil to about 325 degrees.  On your work surface, lay a tortilla down, put a row of filling across the middle, and roll up tightly.  Lay seam side down on a baking sheet until ready to fry.    You can test your oil by dipping the very end of a wooden spoon in the oil.  If small bubbles form around it, the oil is the right temperature.  Use tongs to pick up a taquito and place seam side down in the skillet.  Hold down for a few seconds to make sure seam seals together.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, then turn over to cook the other side until golden and crispy.  Remove to a paper towel lined baking sheet to drain excess oil. 

Steak Fajita and Cheese Taquitos

We cooked Carne Asada (Steak Fajitas) for dinner last night, and had some leftovers.  I decided to cook up some more taquitos for a quick lunch today using simply the steak fajita meat and shredded cheddar cheese.  The fajita meat has plenty of flavor and did not need any extra seasonings.

Cheese Taquitos

My oldest daughter prefers cheese taquitos so I cooked up some with shredded cheddar cheese.  She dipped them in sour cream since we ate all the rotel yesterday.

Arrange the cooked taquitos on a serving platter with all your favorite condiments.  We like rotel dip, sour cream, Homemade Salsa and guacamole.  Enjoy!

Linked up at Tailgating Time at The Tiny Skillet

Mexican Rice

I'm guilty of always buying the boxed/packaged rice.  The bottom line is rice intimidates me.  It is either still crunchy or too mushy when I attempt a homemade version.  I did some research and learned that the trick to the perfect rice when cooking on a stove top is to cook it with the lid on for 20 minutes over a low simmer before stirring.  It's also important to use a non-stick pan since you can't stir for 20 minutes.  It turned out perfect this time!


11/2 cups long grain white rice
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth, heated
1 cube chicken bouillon
1 small 8 oz. can Goya spanish tomato sauce
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped

In a medium sauce pan, cook rice in vegetable oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes.  Stir in the onion, green pepper, and jalapeno.  Saute for 5 minutes.  Add minced garlic and cook another minute.  Pour in heated chicken broth/bouillon cube mixture (I pour mine in glass measuring cup and heat it in the microwave with the chicken bouillon cube), tomato sauce, and cumin.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover.  Simmer on low for 20 minutes.  Do not be tempted to open and stir.  After 20 minutes, turn off the heat, remove the lid, and stir.  Cover and let sit for 10 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.  Stir in the chopped tomato.  Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Layered Cake...with Cream Cheese Frosting, Raspberries, and Chocolate Ganache

I wanted to make something special for my brother who was coming over to visit us while he was in town this weekend.  He rarely cheats on his strict diet, so this dessert better be good!  I do believe I succeeded.  He ate a huge piece with 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream (and I sent another big piece for him to enjoy later).  

I decided on this layered chocolate cake.  Raspberries and chocolate are fabulous together.  The tartness of the raspeberries cuts through the richness of the ganache.  Add in some cream cheese frosting and you have an amazing decadent dessert.  There are several steps to making this cake but it was definitely worth it!

I already shared my first chocolate cake disaster with you.  I decided to make Ina Garten's chocolate cake for the layers instead of using my original recipe.  

Chocolate Cake


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two 9 inch round cake pans VERY liberally with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.  Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk throughly until combined.  In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla.  Whisk to combine.  Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk.  Add the hot coffee and whisk.  Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans.  Bake for 25-35 minutes until the cake springs back to the touch and toothhpick comes out clean.  Cool in the pans for 30 minutes.  Turn cakes out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

While the cake bakes, you can make the chocolate ganache.

Chocolate Ganache


2/3 cup heavy cream
8 ozs. semisweet chocolate bars (2 bars), broken into small pieces
pinch of salt
1 T unsalted butter, room temperature

Place broken chocolate in medium sized glass bowl.  Heat the heavy cream on the stove, bringing it to a gentle simmer.  When bubbles form around edges of pan, turn heat off.  Pour hot cream over chocolate and let sit untouched for 5 minutes.  Whisk together until smooth.  Add in the salt and butter and whisk until combined and silky.  Refrigerate until ready to assemble cake.

While the cake cools, you can make the cream cheese frosting and slice up the fresh raspberries.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 T unsalted butter
8 oz. (1/2 pound) powdered sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 pint fresh raspberries, sliced and set aside (Reserve a few whole for decorating cake)

In a medium sized bowl, add the cream cheese and butter.  Use a hand mixer and beat until creamy.  Add the powdered sugar and lemon juice.  Beat for 5 minutes until a nice thick frosting is created.  Set aside.  Rinse and slice the fresh raspberries and set aside.


When the cake has cooled completely, use a long serrated knife to cut each cake in half.  Place your hand on top of the cake and carefully cut through the middle while turning the cake to make even layers. 

Lay all your layering ingredients out on the counter.  The chocolate ganache might need to soften at room temperature for about 5 minutes so it's easier to spread onto cake.  Place the bottom layer of one of the cakes on a service platter.  Spread 1/2 of the chocolate ganache evenly over cake.  Place the top cake layer over ganache.  Spread 1/2 of the cream cheese frosting over layer.  Top with sliced fresh raspberries. 

Add the bottom layer of the other cake on top.  Spread the remaining ganache over layer.  Add the remaining cake layer.  Spread the remaining cream cheese frosting on top.  You can decorate as you like.  I dusted the very top with cocoa powder and added some fresh raspberries.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.  When you are ready to indulge your sweet tooth, remove the cake from the refrigerator.  Take the cover off and leave at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

BBQ Chicken Hoagie

I picked up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store today so that I can easily make some chicken and cheese flautas tomorrow.  My daughter loves the chicken legs, so she ate them for lunch.  I shredded the remaining chicken to cut down my work tomorrow...we are having my big brother over and cooking a Mexican feast.  There was way too much chicken for 20 flautas so I decided to make myself some lunch too.  I also bought hoagie buns for my kids' lunches next week.  You seriously don't need a recipe for this, but I wanted to share it since it was so tasty.  I love BBQ chicken.  I love chicken phillys.  I didn't have time to caramelize onions, but that would have made my sandwich complete.  Here's what I did.


1/4 cup shredded rotisserie chicken
Lite mayonnaise
BBQ sauce
Sweet or sour pickle slices
2 slices provolone cheese
Hoagie bun

Preheat oven broiler to 400 degrees.  Split hoagie bun in half.  Lay open face on foil lined baking sheet.  Spread mayonnaise on bottom piece of bread and butter on the top piece.  On the bottom bread, layer on the chicken, BBQ sauce, pickles, and provolone cheese.  Place sandwich in the oven and watch it (it will burn quickly if you walk away).  Broil until top is slightly toasted and provolone cheese is melted.  Remove from oven and enjoy.  Like I said, caramelized onions would have been excellent on this sammy too!!! Enjoy!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

French Bread

I decided to bake up some homemade French Bread yesterday.  It was good, but needs some improvement.  It was slightly too dense and would not rise as the recipe said.  I assume this problem was because it was raining outside and extremely humid in our house.  I also should have let it rise in the oven as recommended by other bakers.  I wanted to share the picture because I'm still very proud I even accomplished an edible loaf of bread (actually 2)!!!  I made one plain loaf with just melted butter on top, and the other with melted butter, garlic powder, and ground black pepper.  My family enjoyed the plain one best...warm out of the oven and slathered with honey butter.

Any experienced bread bakers out there, please forward me some tips and tricks for bread making.  I would love some recipes to try too.  I do own a bread maker that my Mom bought me a few years ago.  Our favorite bread is sourdough, but I have no idea how to create the important "starter".  
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