Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I still have no time to cook. Hopefully in a couple of weeks things will slow done and I'll be home in the afternoons and dinner time so I can start cooking again. I'm not sure anyone else will be since the girls have so many activities that fall at dinner time or just after, but I'm going to start cooking again soon!

I've been thinking of this post since last month. At the beginning of January, along with lots of New Year's resolutions, I saw many of people talking about the books they were going to read this year, either a specific list of books or a number of books per month. I do have a bunch of books on my "to read" list, but this list is my list of cookbooks to dig into this year. I have lots of cookbooks, plus tons of loose recipes. Most of the cookbooks I have I either got from my grandmother's collection or were given to me at some point. I got several new ones relatively recently that I can't wait to use (or use some more).

When Border's closed, I picked up two of Ellie Krieger's cookbooks, The Food You Crave and So Easy. I've looked through both and have found some recipes that will be good for breakfast. Since we do want to eat healthier I'm excited to look through these more.

About the same time I got Jamie's America by Jamie Oliver. I just love the food he cooks! This cookbook isn't typical of what I think of when I think of his food but I want to take a closer look at his take on some typical American dishes.

I think I got The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond at Border's along with the Ellie Krieger books. I have used this one a few times and found several more recipes that I want to make. I know she's coming out with another cookbook soon, which I can't wait for; I'll probably get that one as well. I like her home cooking, it's really my style. I just have to be careful, some of her dishes are really good, but not so good for you.

Giada's Family Dinners is the last one on my list (at least for now). This one by Giada de Laurentiis was a Christmas present. I've had time to look through it, find some things that I know we'll like and I want to try. Now I just need to find the time for a family dinner so I can try some of her recipes.

I think all these cookbooks, except maybe Jamie's America, have easy to make food that my family is going to like. Some of Jamie's recipes look a bit more complicated and some include stuff, like spices, that my meat and potatoes man doesn't care for although if I cook it, he'll eat it. As we go through the year and I make some yummy food from my new cookbooks, I'll come back and give a review on how the dishes tasted and how my family liked them.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chicken Soup

I've caught the cold the rest of the family has had for a few days and decided some chicken soup would be good for dinner. This is a super quick, easy recipe, nothing fancy or long cooked about it.

Chicken Soup
serves 6

1-2 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 box low sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
salt, pepper, basil
cooked noodles

In a soup pot, cook the onions, chicken, garlic, carrots, and celery in some oil until the onion is softened and the chicken is cooked through. Add the chicken broth and water, season to taste with salt and pepper and a couple shakes of basil. Stir and bring to a boil; turn down the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve the soup over a portion of noodles.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Apple Pancake

This is one of those special occasion breakfasts, or a "just because" breakfast when we have time. How can you miss with apples and a nice, poufy pancake? You can't!

Apple Pancake
from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham
serves about 3-4

6 Tbsp butter
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
about 5 Tbsp confectioners' sugar (depending on the sweetness of the apples)
3 eggs, room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c flour
1/2 c milk

Preheat the oven to 425*.

Melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet or shallow pan and take off the heat. If the handle of the skillet is not ovenproof, wrap it with several layers of foil.  Remove 2 tablespoons of the melted butter and set aside in a small bowl.

Put the apple slices in a large bowl with the lemon juice. Stir the cinnamon into the sugar and sprinkle the sugar mixture over the apple slices. Toss to mix. Put the skillet back on the burner and turn the heat to medium. Add the apples and cook, stirring often, for about 3 or 4 minutes or until the apples are tender but still hold their shape.

In a separate bowl (or blender or food processor) combine the eggs, salt, flour, milk, and the reserved 2 tablespoons of butter. Beat until smooth. Spread the apples evenly over the bottom of the skillet and pour the batter on top. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden and puffy. Turn immediately onto a warm platter so the apples are on top. Dust with a little confectioners' sugar and serve at once.

Notes: I use one of my cast iron skillets so no worries in the oven. I also have never been able to flip the pancake out, so I just cut and serve from the skillet. I also like to use as few dishes as possible, so I melt 4 tablespoons of butter in the skillet, mix up the apples and dump them in, then use the same bowl (microwave safe) and melt the rest of the butter and mix the batter in there. I realized this morning that I got an immersion blender for Christmas that came with a bowl and whisk and should have used that to mix the batter. Oh well, next time.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Not sure why, but I've had whoopie pies on my mind recently and really wanted to try them. Since we don't really need a bunch hanging around, I had to wait for an "event" to make them. Perfect opportunity came up with the church youth group's Super Bowl party. I went with red velvet since Rosie Jane loves red velvet and since they're red, it worked well with Sweet Pea and Bob's love of the New England Patriots. Sadly, we got no love back from them last night.

I used my best friend Google to find a recipe. I thought about using Paula Deen's except she didn't have a cream cheese filling. With red velvet, you must have cream cheese filling so I kept looking. I found this recipe from the Brown Eyed Baker, which does have cream cheese filling.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
modified from browneyedbaker

makes 2 dozen whoopie pies

For the pies:
3 cups flour, sifted
1/2 c cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c vegetable shortening
1/2 c brown sugar
1 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp red food coloring
1 c buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350* and line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Beat the butter, shortening, and both sugars on low speed until just combined.  Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 5 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the vanilla and the red food coloring and beat until just blended.

Add half of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk to the batter and beat on low until just incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the remaining flour mixture and buttermilk and beat until completely combined.

Using a medium cookie scoop, drop a tablespoon of batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 2 inches apart.  Bake one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes each, or until the cakes spring back when pressed gently.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

While the cakes are cooling, prepare the filling....

For the cream cheese filling:
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
4 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed.  Add the sugar and beat on low speed until combined.  Add the vanilla and increase the speed to medium-high; beat until creamy and smooth, about 4 minutes.

To assemble:  spread the filling onto the flat side of one cake using a knife or back of a spoon. Top with another cake, flat side down.  Repeat with the rest of the cakes and filling.

To store:  Assembled whoopie pies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days (like they'll last that long).  If you need to stack layers, place a piece of wax paper between layers.