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Welcome to my collection of recipes and cooking related ramblings. Please don't expect culinary perfection during your time here... for I am a frustrated foodie with very little patience and more than a tendency for often unnecessary creativity in the kitchen. I have a hard time following instructions (Never fear, I can read, I just don't like being told what to do), so cooking is a good exercise in discipline for me. Luckily I have a willing husband to taste test these creations, good and bad, so I don't have to suffer alone in my experimentations.  

If you dare - learn along with me as I try out recipes, tweak them to my liking, learn what NOT to do and share all the mundane details with you! Let's do this... 

Saturday
Jul052014

Pineapple Banana Upside Down Cake

Ever have one of those days where you want an excuse to eat a few bites of whipped cream, so you bake a cake to put underneath it? Yeah, me too. That's pretty much what happened this afternoon when I spent an anxious two or three whole minutes scouring the interwebs looking for something I could whip together like a pantry ninja and snack on for the next few days. This, friends, was the beginning of my love story with this cake. We're in love, it happens. Don't hate...

Anyhoo... here's a recipe for one of the most delicious and decadently simple cakes you can throw together in a flash and wow your friends and fam with. This cake is perfect for a hot summer afternoon... so pull up a fan, tuck a hibiscus bloom behind your ear, put your feet up and bite into a little bit of paradise.... if you think you can stop shy of half the cake. I have dibs on the other half... just sayin.

Pineapple Banana Upside Down Cake

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 bananas, sliced
  • 1 28 oz can crushed pineapple (juice reserved)
  • 12 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 cup pineapple juice/water
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spray a 9"x13" baking pan with Pam Baking spray. While your oven is heating up, put the butter in the baking dish and put it in the oven until the butter is melted, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the cake mix as directed with the boxed mix, oil, eggs and, in place of the water, used the reserved pineapple juice. (If you don't have enough, fill up the measuring cup with water to 1 cup). Set cake batter aside.

When the butter is melted, remove from oven and stir in the brown sugar until fully dissolved into the butter. Begin by layering sliced bananas on top of the butter/sugar, followed by chopped walnuts and crushed pineapple. Spread ingredients evenly in the pan. Pour the cake batter over the top of the pineapple. Bake for 40 minutes until the top/bottom of the cake is golden brown.

Cool cake for 5-6 minutes. Now comes the fun part... the next best thing to flipping a pancake is flipping a pineapple cake! Take a serving tray or cookie sheet and place on top of the cake pan. Flip the cake and cookie sheet overin one smooth motion. The cake should easily slide out of its' dish... it's easier than it sounds. :)

Serve warm with whipped cream on top.  Serves about 12. 

Sunday
Jun082014

Lady-like Lemon White Chocolate Cookies

Okay, I should really call these Vacation Bible School cookies- because that's when my mom would make plates and plates of them because they were really easy, and really cheap. In reality, they are just a variation of the basic cake mix cookie recipe which can be made probably a gazillion different ways. My mom would always use orange or strawberry cake mix and make them with no chips or nuts mixed in. That's pretty much what my childhood tasted like... you know, if you were wondering. lol

Anyways, I have a few favorites of this recipe, and this is most definitely one of them. They're fancy enough for a ladies brunch and perfect with a cup of tea to begin or end your day. Come on, admit it, you eat cookies for breakfast when no one is looking, just like the rest of us...

Lemon White Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies

INGREDIENTS: Makes 22-24 cookies

  • 1 box lemon cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups white chocolate chips (I like more, just saying. :)
  • You could add some lemon zest or poppyseed for extra fancyness - go crazy.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a mixing bowl, stir together beaten eggs, oil and cake mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips and scoop 1" balls of dough onto cookie sheets. Bake for 10-11 minutes. Cookies should be a bit puffy - be careful not to overcook. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a rack to finish cooling. That's it... pretty big bang for your lazy cookie-making buck!

Sunday
Dec022012

Goin' bananas for some nutty muffins... pardon my puns.

 

I'm just gonna say it... I love a muffin. The chunkier and clunkier, the better. I like em chocolaty, spicy, fruity, nutty, whatever you got. I like it all, but even I have to admit it's hard to beat a classic combo like boring old banana and walnut.  Sprinkle in a little cinnamon and voilá breakfast is served... not to mention my afternoon snack and midnight munchy.

For those of you watching your waistline (and not wanting to watch it expand exponentially from all the deliciousness), never fear... this recipe can be doctored up to make it more healthful. Just substitute a sugar alternative like Splenda or Stevia - or completely replace part or all flour with whole wheat flour - I promise they will taste just as good. Good for you and super easy... five minutes and these babies are in the oven. Um, why haven't you started baking them yet??

Banana Walnut Muffins

INGREDIENTS: Makes 1 dozen 

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar (or equivalent substitute)
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cups chopped walnuts

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 375F.  In a small bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, 1/2 cup of the walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a separate bowl, mash bananas and then add applesauce, oil, beaten egg and vanilla. Stir until completely combined. Add the dry mixture into the wet mixture and stir until just combined. 

2. Grease a muffin tin with Pam baking spray or whatever you like and fill cups about 3/4 full. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup walnuts onto the top of each muffin. Bake for 16-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes and then remove to cool completely on a rack. 

3. Try to resist the urge to skip dinner and eat the whole batch - you're gonna want at least one in the morning with your coffee. : )

4. Watch the video below. This is what happens when you google "banana nut muffin video". I'm kinda speechless. 

Saturday
Oct132012

Caramel Apple Enchiladas... oh, yeah. 

I was killing time in the work lunchroom the other afternoon diggin through the food section of the newspaper while waiting for the clock to inch closer to five o'clock. I ran across this "easy apple dessert" that was "perfect for the cooler season". It promised to remind me of crisp fall air, trudging through pumpkin patches, apple bobbing and other fall traditions by merely catching a glancing whiff of the stuff. Well darned if it wasn't actually "easy" and "perfect" and made the air smell like some sort of holiday.  See what people are missing by not reading the paper anymore? I'm sure this recipe is all over the internet... but I found it in the good old smudgy newspaper, just like my mom would have, and just like her mom. Somehow that made it more nostalgic... and what's more nostalgic than baked goods in the fall. So when no one was looking I snatched the recipe and set out to torture my sweet tooth.

I have to say, these enchiladas were so good we ate them before dinner. They were really good... caramelly good...so sweet you need to see a dentist good....best-under-vanilla-ice-cream good. I couldn't stop eating the "sauce" with a spoon. I prefer to think of it as quality control instead of a lack of self control. Anyways, something this good must be shared so here you go - you probably have everything you need in the pantry, so go for it, you can thank me later.

Caramel Apple Enchiladas

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can apple pie filling
  • 6 flour (or whole wheat) tortillas
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

INSTRUCTIONS:

First, lightly grease a baking dish. Spoon equal amounts of apple pie filling down the center of each tortilla. Roll up each tortilla and place them side by side, seam side down, in your baking dish. In a small saucepan, heat brown and white sugars, butter and water - stirring until sugars are dissolved and butter is completely melted. Bring mixture to a slow boil, stirring frequently, and boil for at three additional minutes. Remove from heat and pour mixture over tortillas. Let stand for half an hour. Meanwhile...

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Baste a little of the sauce from the sides of the dish over the top of the enchiladas. Sprinkle walnuts on top and bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbly. Remove from oven cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm with whipped or ice cream and spoon additional caramel sauce over the top. Try not to lick the plate in front of your guests... you'll embarass yourself.

Friday
Sep282012

We call it Superskilletsupper, but you can call it what you want.

 

Okay, I've said it before and I'll say it again - I'm a lousy food photographer. I tried to take a lot of pictures of this meal and never really got a good shot... I think I was trying to capture how delicious it smelled (and ultimately tasted) in the photo and that was just impossible. Lucky for you - you don't have to eat this picture so you're not really missing anything. 

I make this all the time when I don't really feel like cooking - it's a one pot meal... goes from stove to oven and can be served with a variety of accoutrements. (I just wanted to see if I could type accoutrement without needing spellcheck, lol) In other words, serve it with crusty bread, on top of asparagus, with some sturdy tortilla chips or straight out of the skillet with a spoon. I won't judge you.

You can scale this if you need to - as written this serves about 3 people as a main course. Don't be afraid to adjust the amount of any of the ingredients - this is a "throw it together" kind of dish. Go with your gut, literally.

Cheese Super Skillet Supper

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6-8 oz. Fontina cheese, cubed
  • 2 Tbsp. Boursin cheese spread (I use Allouette cheese spread - you could substitute 2 Tbsp. cream cheese)
  • 1 pkg prosciutto, shredded (abt 3 oz.)
  • 2  cups frozen chicken fajita strips, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. butter

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 450ºF. In a cast iron skillet (or any oven-proof skillet) melt butter and sauté onion until it begins to soften. Add frozen chicken to skillet and cook until onions are translucent and chicken is warmed through. Toss in shredded prosciutto and cook for an additional minute - prosciutto will crisp up a bit. Remove skillet from heat. Mix in the boursin cheese spread and stir until completely melted. Top mixture with cubed cheese and put in the oven for about 6-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly and irresistable.

Serve straight out of the skillet with crusty bread or veggies. Then sit back and behold the power of cheese.