Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sweet sweet weekend

My my what a relaxing weekend this has been.  I have literally done nothing but veg on the retro 70's green/blue/yellow loveseat in my living room.  Okay maybe that's a fib.  I've done a little bit more.  But not much.  Friday, as you know, I cooked some din din and then baked some cookies for my sisters--which I will share with you below.  Bear with my story telling for a little while longer, pleaseeee.  

Saturday in the AM I cleaned the whole pink house and replaced all of the wallflowers with fresh "cinnamon glazed doughnut" refills.  It is smellin' good over here for sure.  Then I volunteered with Habitat restore for a couple hours.  I got a free old window that I hope to make a cool something or other out of.  Maybe I can share that one day soon.  

THEN, my daddy came to visit.  We went to lunch and then the basketball game, and then to dinner.  

Then I ordered him some new swim trunks and a new sweatshirt from Land's End.  

Over the phone. 

 Using his Christmas gift card.  

And we had a coupon!  

What a successful day!!

This morning I went for an early morning stroll.  Just because the weather looked too darn perfect not to.  

Then I got to skype my Swedish friend, attend an amazing church service, bake some yummy oatmeal for lunch, take a nap, do some studying, watch lion king, go to the gym, take a drive, and now I am watching aladdin/mean girls/pirates--because yes, I would rather flip between the 3 than watch the Oscars.  

Whew there I got that off my chest.  

That being said, I must give a shout-out to Octavia for winning best supporting actress for The Help.  She even gave a "War Eagle" on the red carpet!  How cool!!

Okay, now that you know my life, let's talk baking.  

I made these for my sisters in honor of them both making the varsity cheer squad at school last week!  I usually send them a candy gram or cards in the mail beforehand, but I was just behind this year.  So, I knew my Dad was coming and he could take these home for them.  Of course, I had to test a few...make sure they're edible, ya know.

 Makes approximately 25 cookies
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (optional)
  • Pinch of salt
 Mix the ingredients really well, and then bake the puppies at 350 F for 10-12 minutes.  They almost have more of a bread-like consistency than a cookie.  Kindof cakeish.  Either way, they are still scrumptious.  and even good for you too with some fiber from the oats.

with PB:  see how they are more flat and also lighter in color than the above picture of the regular cookies
(note these pics are after baking)

Me, being the lover of PB that I am, stirred in a little of the nut butter to half the batter.  And honestly, I was kinda disappointed.  You couldn't really taste the PB and it made the cookies not as fluffy.  I think this is the first, and possibly the only time, I will tell you to skip PB.

Unless of course you enjoy a spoonful while you wait ten whole minutes for your cookies.

I won't judge, cuz you know you want to.

Friday, February 24, 2012

technology fail.....

Okay, so I was so excited to post this dinner I had tonight because guess what, it was simple, DELICIOUS, and nutritious.  I documented it perfectly taking before and after pics. Then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, my camera/memory card decided to play a mean trick on me.  It said it needed to be re-formatted.  So I clicked okay.  Then a message popped up saying in order for that to happen it would delete all of my pictures.  So I hit cancel of course.  Well, turns out it canceled all of my pictures from tonight anyways.  

So sad  :'(

Lucky for you, this one of the brussels sprouts only got half way damaged.  

I suppose the one good thing about this picture is it gives me some evidence that I am not fibbing to you.

I don't like liars.

Well, my dinner was so delicious that I am going to give you the recipes (more like simple, very flexible guidelines) to make it for yourself!  I will not be defeated by my technological incompetence!

I made a Publix run last night.  What can I say, I'm obsessed.  

While there, I decided I was going to treat myself to one new-aka one I've never personally cooked before-, fresh, vegetable to cook tonight.  I knew I was going to be home alone tonight, so I wanted to cook to provide myself with some entertainment.  

I had some frozen chicken breast tenderloins already so I thawed out two of them before I went to the gym this evening.  When I got home, I was ready to get in the kitchen!  I am always ravenous after I workout.  

Imagine that.  Me? ravenous?  Never.  

Anywho, back to the kitchen.  Okay so to make the PERFECT brussells sprouts is really so easy!  First, preheat the oven to 400F.  Wash the sprouts and cut the brown stems off the bottom.  Peel away any loose leafy greens that may be yellowing or spotty, or just don't look right.  Put the sprouts in a bowl and drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil, throw on some salt, and some freshly ground black pepper.  Give the sprouts a good toss making sure each one is sufficiently covered and seasoned.  Place them on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 35 minutes.  Every 7-10 minutes you should wiggle the pan so that the sprouts become brown/eventually blackened on each side.  They will turn black by the time they finish cooking, but I promise it does not mean they are burning!  

For the chicken, I melted 2 spoonfuls of butter in the microwave and then added a sprinkle of dried oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  I brushed the mixture over the chicken fingers.  Butter is great because it gives a wonderful crunch to the outside of the chicken without being too overpowering.  When the sprouts had about 15 minutes left on the timer, I stuck the chicken in the oven to cook while the sprouts finished up.  I always love when I can cook two things at once.  It makes me feel so efficient!

Now, let me tell you.  The aroma of the sprouts cooking mixed with the smells of the garlic and oregano from the chicken was lovely and savoury and made my tummy growl even louder.

I didn't fix any starch or grain or carb to accompany the chicken and sprouts because I made some cookies for after dinner, and I didn't want to be too full to enjoy them.  Check back soon for the recipe.  They're worth it I promise  ;)

Okay well, hopefully my all words post didn't bore you too much.  

Or maybe you're so bored that you just want to go cook.  

Either way, I hope you'll experiment with brussells sprouts.  I was kindof afraid to, but they were perfectly soft and flavorful.  Blessing to you all!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Perfect Cheesecake

This weekend was so much fun for me!  The pink house was full once again with lots of visitors and one of those lucky visitors was my third-in-line sister, Ashton!  I was so excited she got to come stay the weekend in Auburn  :)  We did lots of fun things like:  walked around the ecology preserve here in AU, geocached with friends, sampled lots of yummy freebies at the new Publix, discovered chocolate graham crackers (which we proceeded to fill with peanut butter-of course!), watched the Harry Potter marathon on Sat afternoon (since it was monsooning),  baked a cheesecake, watched the Auburn men's basketball team dominate Miss. State, and we even had time to walk around the lovely Auburn campus just before she had to head home for cheer practice.  What a great weekend!  Too bad she had to leave because that meant it was study time for me.

Wait, did I mention we baked a cheesecake?  

I think I did.

Shame on you if you didn't expect me to elaborate on that one. 

And shame on me for making you read this far to see it.

Like I mentioned earlier, it rained allllllllllll day Saturday.  And we went to Publix.  And Ashton's favorite food is cheesecake.  And her birthday is next week.  Lucky her, I happen to be a super sweet sis  ;)  So, we baked a cheesecake....or possibly 2.

I have made quite a few cheesecakes for her in the past.  But never saved the recipe.  Oops.  Luckily, we found this recipe that looked decent--I mean it is from Philadelphia--the creators of cream cheese, right?  So I would hope it would be trustworthy.  Anyways, it was definitely successful.  DEFINITELY!!

It wasn't too involved and didn't call for really strange ingredients.  

you will simply need:

cups HONEY MAID Graham Cracker Crumbs

Tbsp. sugar

cup butter or margarine, melted

pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened

cup sugar

tsp. vanilla


Like I said we went to Publix.  They had graham crackers on the BOGO sale.  Hints one box of chocolate graham crackers and one box of regular-no need to buy graham cracker crumbs when I can crush these cracker sheets myself AND get a box for free!  duh.  

Well, I put Ashton on the task of crushing the graham crackers.  She did it the hard way.  After she had crushed about half of the crackers we needed, I showed her how it was done.  

Example 1:  What not to do:  crush with fingers.  

Example 2:  The way we experienced people do it:  Ziploc.


While Ashton slaved away over the crumbs, I was busy doing some mixing.  I mixed the cream cheese (yes, all 4 blocks of it) with the cup of sugar and cap full of vanilla.  

Next, add some eggs.  1 at a time til you've added all 4.  I obviously followed directions based on the photo below.......

This is when I showed my impressive knowledge of Ziploc and Ashton melted the butter for the crust.

Once this was all melted, we combined it with the crumbs and 3 T sugar.  

About this time I thought of a problem.  I don't have a spring form pan.  I felt dumb.  How can you bake a cheesecake without a spring form pan?  Well, I asked my roommate, and fellow baker, Allison for advice and she showed me these things.  I'm not sure what you call them, but they were great!    That little piece of metal spins all the way around the pan and made "dumping" the cheesecakes out a flawless process!  I just sprayed them with Pam and then "swooshed" the spinny thing and they were perfect!  

Since they were small pans we were able to make 2 cheesecakes--one for us to eat together  :)  and one for Ashton to take home and share with the fam!  

I was really worried the cheesecakes would rise and spill over since the pans were so full.  But they didn't.  Whew!

Doin' a little cleanin' up.........

 We baked the cheesecakes for about 45 minutes at 325 F until they were just barely jiggly on the inside and looked perfectly golden around the edges.

We let them cool for about 20 minutes and then I spun the cool spinny thing and bam.....there sat the perfect cheesecake.

Refrigerate this sucker for about 4 hours--or immediately put in the freezer for more immediate enjoyment--and you are all set!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Oatmeal Whole Wheat Bread

So most of you, okay honestly the few of you who actually read this blog, probably notice two very contradicting things about my posts.  1. I am a nutrition major/student  2. All I ever bake are sweets that are fattening, unhealthy, and souped up on sugar.  But, I promise my diet does consist of things other than sugar and cookies.  Those are just the items I love to bake and give to people for pick-me-ups/birthdays/just because.  But yes, I will be the first to admit I do sample everything I make.  Maybe taking seconds if it is worth it  ;)

All of that being said (solely for my personal reassurance), I actually did bake something really delicious, and yes you guessed it, healthy too!  This bread recipe is full of oats, whole wheat flour, and honey  aka:  fiber, whole grain, and natural sweetener.  It was so delicious right out of the oven with some honey drizzled on top!  I advise reheating slices in the microwave and adding honey (or butter--but remember I was being healthy! lol) for a great afternoon snack or even for dessert.  This bread would be perfect as an appetizer or served at a brunch or shower, etc.  It is so light and sweet and perfect any time of the day!  

Here is the recipe.  From start to finish it only takes about 35 minutes to bake your own loaf of fresh bread!

You will need:
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 T honey
1 T veg. oil
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450 F.  Combine all ingredients in large bowl.  Pour into a well-greased bread pan (you could also form the dough into a ball and place it on a greased baking sheet if you prefer a round loaf over a square loaf).  Bake bread for 20 minutes.  Slice and enjoy  :)

I hope your weekend has been fantastic---it has been chilly here in the South.  Something we have yet to experience this winter season.  No bueno.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Blueberry Cookies

Okay, so I know the idea of cookies without chocolate chips is sort of unheard of.  Unless of course we are talking about the Great American cookie factory sugar cookie rolled in rainbow sugar sprinkles.  or white chocolate macadamia nut.  or snicker doodle.  So see its not that bad to leave out the infamous chocolate morsels.  Here is a tasty alternative!

Well, I have had these fresh blueberries in the freezer for quite some time and got them out last week to eat on my yogurt in the mornings.  As to be expected, I can not eat all of them fast enough and I knew they needed to be used.  I did some browsing today at work...don't rat me out....and came across this recipe.  I thought it sounded like it was worth a shot.  And boy was I right!

Let me tell you, this was some of the best cookie dough I have EVER eaten.  And trust me, I have consumed quite a bit  ;)  The cookies are so fluffy and almost have a cake-like texture rather than a crumbly, typical cookie texture.  The berries add such an unexpected element to the cookies too.  It's hard to describe (which is why you should make these for yourself!), but they cookies are tangy and refreshing and light.  Meaning it is easy to keep shoving them down your throat---perfect!!  

You know you want some....

To make these blueberry cookies you will need:

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups+ 3 T plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy and smooth.  Add the brown sugar, white sugar, egg, and vanilla.  Beat until well blended.

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

Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and blend using mixer.

Stir in the rest of the flour mixture and the blueberries using a spoon  Be careful not to overmix.

Spoon your desired amount of dough onto baking sheets and bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes.

Stuff your face with goodness.  I recommend a glass of milk to wash them down-calcium to accompany your antioxidants  :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chocolate Fix

Well, I am sitting here "watching" the Superbowl.  I have had quite the party at my house this my kitchen!  I ended up turning this super night into a baking night for me.  It has been so long since I have been able to try out some new recipes!  I have quite a few I want to get to pretty quick like...try to hold me accountable!

Like I said, tonight was all about the oven.  On the menu:  brownies!  Just what I need, right?!  However, I will note that the brownies are going to be gifted--though I did sample for quality purposes only.

I have made these brownies multiple times before and I swear, every time I make them they are better!  I have never found another recipe that delivers the gooey center and perfectly crisp outer shell that these brownies always have.  They are simply a staple in the world of brownies!!  Oh and did I mention the prep is all of 10 minutes--take a look:

The perfect brownies:
1. Melt 4 squares of unsweetened bakers chocolate and 3/4 c butter in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl.  It takes about 2 minutes, but stir at 1 minute.

2. Whisk together the melted chocolate and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and 1/2 c brown sugar.
Add 3 eggs, whisking after each addition.  

Then add 1 cup flour, 1 tsp vanilla flavoring, and 1/8 tsp salt.  Mix all of that together and pour it into a pan lined with aluminum foil and lightly sprayed.  Bake at 350 for 40-44 minutes.  42 is pretty perfect!

And that ladies and gents, is the perfect pan of brownies!  Trust me on this one.

Before I go, I wanted to share with you the festivities of my mother's surprise 50th party last Saturday evening.  Yep, that's right, I actually pulled off my first surprise party.  It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do to keep it a secret from her, but it was so worth it.  My sisters and I had invitations made and invited a few of Mama's friends from around town, our neighbors from Monroeville, and it even worked out that Granny and Grandpa (her parents) got to come and surprise her too!  I think she had a blast  :)

The table!  I had the cake made here in Auburn by Cindy Anderson.  She was so friendly and easy to work with.  She is open to any ideas you have and can pretty much create anything you ask her to.  I envy her creativity and artistic talent.  Here is the link to her FB page if you ever need a good cake maker in the Auburn, AL area.

    Mama (on the right) with our sweet friend, Kelly!

I am so blessed to have such a wonderful, loving, caring, comforting....the list could go on and on and on.....mother.  Se is truly the most selfless person I know and I hope to one day be as great of a mother and person as she is.

Now go bake some brownies!