Monday, August 31, 2009

Milky Way Cupcakes for My Girl Paula

Run, don't walk, to the kitchen and make this cake! It's that good! I made these little cupcakes today and I am already guilty of eating two of them!! This Milky Way cake/cupcakes is this week's recipe for My Girl Paula, a group who is cooking recipes from Paula Deen's Lady & Sons Too cookbook. I knew the recipe would be good, but I didn't know it would be SO DARN DELICIOUS!!

The cake has a melt in your mouth quality (probably all that butter) and is quite dense. Both the cake and the frosting have a caramel flavor. I happen to love caramel, especially with bites of chocolate throughout. I am also sharing this information for those of you who might think "milky way cake" sounds like it would be a chocolate cake, which was my initial thought. Paula's recipe calls for pecans in the cake and also pecans in the frosting, but I didn't include them and I am very happy that I left them out. The frosting is cooked on the stove and is very ooey, gooey and sticky. It is kind of a buttercream meets a fudge. It is a little on the runny side(see pics above & below) when first applied to cupcake/cake, but will harden as it sits.

This is probably the most fattening of all Paula's desserts. There are 3 sticks of butter in the actual cake, and another stick of butter in the frosting. This is part of the reason why I left the pecans out, but I also enjoy a smooth cake and frosting. In addition to all this butter, there are 8 whole milky way bars in the cake. This is not for someone watching their waistline, unless they want a total indulgence! For all these reasons, I chose to make cupcakes again. I like to spread the calories around!!

MILKY WAY CAKE- adapted from Paula Deen's Lady & Sons, Too
Confectioners' sugar for dusting pan/or make cupcakes with liners
Eight 1-3/4 oz. Milky War Bars
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter ** Yes, 3 sticks : )
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, well beaten
2 -1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans, if using

2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup marshmallow cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
6-ounces chocolate chips -I used milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans, if using
additional Milky Way bars - for garnishing (it adds a wonderful bite to the cupcake)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease 3 9-inch cake pans and dust with confectioner sugar OR make cupcakes and use liners. To make the cake, melt the Milky way bars with 1 stick of butter. Remove from the heat and let cool. Cream the remaining 2 sticks of butter with the granulated sugar. Add the beaten eggs and the cooled chocolate mixture. Sift the flour and the baking soda together. Alternately add the flour and buttermilk to the batter, blending well. Add the nuts and vanilla. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 30-40 minutes (Note: I also baked my cupcakes about 30 -35 mins), or until firm to the touch. Cool for 5 minutes, remove from the pans, and place on cooling racks. While the cake cools, prepare the icing: Combine the sugar and milk in a heavy saucepan. Cook to the soft-ball stage (234 degrees on a candy thermometer). Remove the pan from the heat and add the marshmallow cream, butter, and chocolate chips, stirring until melted. Add the pecans (optional). When the cake has cooled completely, frost each layer, sides and the top of the Milky Way Cake.

Enjoy a very decadent and extremely indulgent treat!!

Don't forget to vote for the winner of the pitch your own Food Network Show contest here. You can vote by leaving a comment at the end of the post, or by sending an email to

Lastly, I was tagged by Sylwia of Unsifted and am sharing the ABC's of me below. If I tag you, and you choose to play along, here are the guidelines:
1. Link the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Share the ABCs of you.
4. Tag 4 people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
5. Let the 4 tagged people know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
6. Do not tag the same person repeatedly but try to tag different people, so that there is a big network of bloggers doing this tag. it goes:
1. A – Available/Single? Married
2. B – Best friend? I have a ton of best friends. My children, my parents, my husband, and my three childhood friends
3. C – Cake or Pie? Pie
4. D – Drink of choice? Diet Pepsi or Diet Coke or Crystal Light Peach Iced Tea
5. E – Essential item you use every day? Chapstick and Lotion (I'm addicted)
6. F – Favorite color? Probably gray, but I love black and white (are those colors?)
7. G – Gummy Bears Or Worms? Gummy Bear
8. H – Hometown? Elyria, Ohio
9. I – Indulgence? Chocolate, Pasta and various bath and body products
10. J – January or February? February - I love Valentine's Day
11. K – Kids & their names? Olivia Faith and Jackson Anthony
12. L – Life is incomplete without? Family and Friends and Food!!
13. M – Marriage date? April 19th - Las Vegas
14. N – Number of siblings? I have no siblings, however my 3 childhood friends are much like sisters to me.
15. O – Oranges or Apples? Apples
16. P – Phobias/Fears? being without my chapstick
17. Q – Quote for today? Butter is better!! (hey, I did cook a Paula recipe)
18. R – Reason to smile? My 2 year old telling me that I'm his favorite person
19. S – Season? Fall/Autumn
20. T – Tag 3 People? Joanne of Eats Well With Others, Libby of Cooking with Libby, CaSaundraLeigh over at A Pinch of This, and a Dash of That
21. U – Unknown fact about me? I can't fix anything that is broken. I give it to hubby.
22. V – Vegetable you don't like? Okra
23. W – Worst habit? Playing with my hair
24. X – X-rays you've had? Lower back x-rays
25. Y – Your favorite food? Pasta, chocolate, bread, peanut butter, biscuits.... I heart Carbs!!
26. Z – Zodiac sign? Virgo - yesterday was my birthday

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Oikos Greek Yogurt Week #4, Contest Information, and Thanks!!

Happy Sunday! This is going to be another big post! First, I want to thank everyone at Tyler Florence Fridays. I am so excited that my version of Tyler's Chicken and Smoked Sausage Etouffee was chosen to be the featured recipe on Tyler's blog. This particular feature means a lot to me because this weekend is my birthday and let's face it.....when a girl is starting to approach the hill, she always appreciates a boost! Thanks again to all my friends at Tyler Florence Fridays.

I also want to thank Beth at The Seventh Level of Boredom. She held a contest and chose one lucky winner to receive a Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker. I still can't believe I won and I am beyond ecstatic to receive such a generous gift! The deep covered baker was even more beautiful in person. I love the cranberry color. I would recommend this baker to anyone and I will tell you that it is definitely worth the asking price of $69. I adore stoneware and love to cook and bake with it. However, I must say that I don't get super excited about cleaning my stoneware. The whole issue is that you cannot use dish soap, making it nearly impossible to get the dish clean. Are you ready for this???? This Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker comes clean and shines like new in all its glory. It even comes with a handy little scraper to help scrap off all the little bits!! This product definitely deserves two thumbs up, five stars, and will be a much-loved piece in my kitchen. Thanks Beth : )

5 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed
3/4 cup sour cream *I used Oikos Greek Yogurt*
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I didn't use nearly this much)
1/2 pound sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled (I only topped mine with bacon when thru baking)
3 green onions, sliced
Boil potatoes until tender. Drain and place in mixing bowl. Add sour cream (yogurt), milk, butter, salt & pepper. Beat on med-low speed until light and fluffy. Stir in 2 cups of cheese, bacon and onions. Transfer to a 3-quart baking dish. Top with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350F for 30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Makes 14 servings.

Notes: I used the Oikos Greek Yogurt to replace all the sour cream, which was 3/4 cup. Next time I would do half sour cream, half Greek yogurt. The large amount of Greek Yogurt (3/4 cup) was a little overpowering in this potato dish. A half and half combination to save calories would most likely taste better. I also did not use all the cheese or bacon. I simply sprinkled a little cheese on before baking and then topped the potatoes with some bacon before serving. They were pretty darn tasty and a lot lighter than the cream and butter mashed potatoes I usually make.

Onto the fun part!!! Thank you to everyone who shared their ideas for this contest. The idea was to imagine your own Food Network Show, come up with a name for your show and share your signature dish! Please take a moment to look at all the entries. I hope that everyone is comfortable choosing their favorite concept and voting. You can vote simply by leaving a comment. If you are uncomfortable voting publicly, feel free to submit your vote via email to The winner with the most votes will receive the 3 Lush goodies: Ocean Salt, Lemony Flutter, and Up You Gets Emotibomb. Voting will end at midnight this Wednesday, Sept. 2nd. If I have left you out, or misrepresented your ideas please let me know.

Jenna Z -
Name of Show: The Meat and Potatoes Vegetarian
Concept: Comfort Food done healthy and vegetarian
Signature dish: Mean-not Loaf

HannahBanana aka Amanda-
Concept: VaVaVoom Vegetarian
Signature dish: 15 Veggie/7 Cheese Lasagna

Donna of My Tasty Treasures
Name of Show: Girl Next Door Cooking
Concept: Everyday cooking done by mothers, wives, neighbors & friends. Down to earth food.

Debby at Feast for the Eyes
Concept: Ina Garten style, cooking and baking classic recipes

Joanne of Eats Well With Others
Name of a Show: Healthy with a Twist
Concept: No boring food allowed! Flavorful and healthy dishes with lots of pizazz.
Signature dish: Rosemary Mac N Cheese W/ Caramelized Onions & Sweet Potatoes

Pam of Sidewalk Shoes
Concept: Pam would select one featured herb and make an appetizer, entree and dessert showcasing the featured herb.

CaSaundraLeigh -
Name of Show: A Pinch of This, and a Dash of That!
Concept: Being creative in the kitchen by adding a bit of this and that
Signature Dish: Sinless Strata (includes egg, bread, onion, sausage, apple, and milk)

Kristin of Sogkonnite Living
Concept: Healthy, Frugal, Kid-Friendly

Beth/Ty's Mommy - The Seventh Level of Boredom
Name of Show: Recipe, We Don't Need No Stinkin' Recipe!
Concept: Adapting recipes to your liking, making substitutions, using what you have on hand, and being creative
Signature Dish: Kitchen Sink Risotto Cakes -uses risotto as a base and adds in whatever else you
have on hand

Sweet & Savory-
Name of Show: Chaya Bakes Kosher
Concept: Emphasis on Kosher and adapting recipes for baked goods.

Melody of Cheat Day Cafe
Name of Show: Cheat Day Cafe
Concept: Melody describes her eating as schizophrenic - healthy, but loves sweets
Signature Dish: If eating healthy, something fruity and light. If not being healthy, something with Oreos

Jesstyler of Black Cat Kitchen
Name of Show: Yes, Please!
Concept: Jess picked the name Yes, Please because that is what her husband says when she suggests something tasty for dinner.
Signature Dish: Her family's traditional Nisua (finnish cardamom bread)

My idea for a new Food Network show is simple. I would love for them to pick one extensive cookbook, like Joy of Cooking, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, or something like How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman and then cook through the entire book. It would even be better if they cooked an appetizer, entree and dessert that all complemented each other. It wouldn't matter the cookbook, only that it would be extensive. I would love to see this done on television. I think it would be great for beginner cooks and also fun and exciting for experienced cooks.

Good luck to everyone!! Please remember to vote for your favorite by either leaving a comment or sending an email. Also, please vote only for the entries that are highlighted. Thanks!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Creative Thursdays: Chicken and Smoked Sausage Etouffee for Tyler Florence Fridays

I had a dream about Tyler last night. You wanna know what happened in my big crazy dream?? We went grocery shopping........of all things!! Anyway, Tyler and I were having a fantastic time grocery shopping. We had elaborate conversations about food and in depth conversations about what ingredient to use in a recipe. We were calling each other, texting each other, and planning a big menu. I had his phone number on speed dial!! How crazy is that? Wouldn't you love to have Tyler's number on speed dial?

With Tyler on the brain, I was eager to find a recipe for Tyler Florence Fridays. I didn't want to head out to the store with my two year old, so I decided to make do with what I had on hand. I gathered a lot of recipes, but this one for chicken and smoked sausage etouffee caught my eye right away.

The history of etouffee goes along very well with the idea of Creative Thursdays. After all, an etouffee is all about using what is on hand. Etouffee was originally made with crawfish, but nowadays it is made with chicken, sausage, fish, crawfish, shrimp, and vegetables. You probably have everything you need to throw together a version of etouffee.

The base of an etouffee is a roux, which is simply flour and butter. You will need a liquid (broth, beer,water, etc) and a couple of staple veggies (bell pepper, onion, celery, garlic). Throw in some chicken, sausage, shrimp, or cubed up veggies and you are all set. This week's featured ingredient is broth, beer, wine, or any kind of cooking liquid. I usually keep lots of broth on hand as a pantry ingredient for soups, risotto, rice and a wide variety of other dishes.

Tyler's version of chicken and sausage etouffee can be found here. Tyler's recipe begins with sauteing the smoked sausage, saving the rendered fat. The chicken is sauteed in the rendered sausage fat. The meat is removed and the roux is made. Tyler's recipe calls for all the veggies to be processed in a food processor. When the roux is dark (like peanut butter) the veggies are added and cooked another 5-7 minutes. Deglaze pan with one can of beer, then add 4 cups of chicken broth. Bay leaf, paprika and cayenne pepper are all added at this stage, as well as the chicken. Simmer for around 1 hour, shred chicken, add in sausage. Warm through and serve over rice.

Notes: We loved it!! My husband called it a delightful change from the normal dinner! He must have said how delicious it was at least ten times: ) A Perfect combination of flavors and ingredients. Slightly spicy with a smooth and creamy base, almost like a gravy. Packed with layers and layers of flavor. Went very well with cornbread muffins and served over rice. This is one of those recipes that you love to come home to. A recipe where you might find yourself arguing over who gets the leftovers. Leftovers that are even better the next day when all the flavors have a chance to mingle and get happy : )

Don't forget about the contest/giveaway ending Saturday, August 29th. Click here to see the details.

Click here to see what all the other Tyler Florence members made this week!!

Sweet dreams ; )

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Peanut Butter Pie

Paula called. She was concerned that yesterday's vegetable pancakes had me forgetting about the four basic food groups: butter, cream, cheese, and more butter. She reminded me to be sure to get my 5 a day in before bedtime. I felt like such a slacker!! I had to redeem myself : )

Truth is, I've had the ingredients for this pie on hand for awhile. I've been waiting for just the right time to make it. My son, who is 2, is allergic to peanuts. The rest of the house loves peanuts. We try to avoid all nuts in our house, but sometimes you have to indulge. I finally had some time to whip this pie up while Jackson was sleeping. I knew the pie would be easy to throw together, leaving time for disinfecting everything.

I had this pie made in about 10 minutes. No, it is not healthy, but it was totally worth the indulgence. My daughter has deemed it better than a buckeye, which is a great peanut butter ball covered in chocolate. I think it is worthy of a 10+ and found it extremely addictive. I made the pie last night and between the three of us, it is already gone!! It is totally sinful, decadent, creamy, and luscious all in one. It's not a heavy dessert, requires no baking, and is served cold, so it is perfect for summer.

Paula's version is served with peanuts sprinkled on top. Our version was served with cool whip and Reese's cups!! Yep, I actually made something more fattening than Paula did!! The Reese cups really topped off this pie wonderfully. This pie is a total delight, one that every peanut butter lover will go crazy for!! One of my favorite desserts to date! I will be making it a lot in the future, especially when I have the chance.

Peanut Butter Pie - adapted from Lady & Sons, Too - Paula Deen
One 3-ounce package cream cheese, room temp
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 and 1/2 cups cool whip
One 8-inch graham cracker crust
1/2 cup chopped peanuts OR go big and get about 8-10 Reese Cups

Whip the cream cheese until fluffy, then beat in the sugar and peanut butter. Slowly add the milk, blending well. Fold the Cool Whip into the cream cheese mixture and spoon this into the pie crust. Sprinkle with peanuts or just before serving sprinkle with Reese Cups.

This pie is best served after it has had a chance to chill for several hours or overnight. It is cold and creamy deliciousness!!

Paula deserves a big kiss for this one!!

P.S. Tomorrow I'll be busy burning off the calories...hmm....3 slices of pie in 2 days!! I better get busy.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Vegetable Pancakes for My Girl Paula

We all know that Paula Deen is not known for creating super healthy recipes. However, this recipe might just catch you by surprise-and a pleasant one! I threw these vegetable pancakes together in no time this morning. As I was grating the carrots and zucchini it dawned on me that this recipe could be considered as one of Paula's healthiest. The recipe makes 8 veggie pancakes. I was curious about the calorie content, so I added up each ingredient. Each pancake comes in at 55-60 calories a piece, assuming you use only one tablespoon of vegetable oil. Not bad, Paula!!

These vegetable pancakes are quick and easy to throw together and were delicious! I enjoyed them and will be making them again. I think they are a great side dish or breakfast dish to keep in mind when you are low on ingredients. I would like to try the recipe again and make one large pancake (much like a frittata) and serve it pie-style. One big pancake means that I don't have to stand there doling out batter and flipping pancakes for several minutes. Instead, I can pour it all in at once and be done much quicker. I also think that you could get away with using less oil if you made one large pancake. Additionally, the presentation might be prettier as you could throw some garnishes on the top and let people cut wedges. Just ideas to play around with. Either way, this is a keeper recipe! Try it out, especially if you happen to have all the ingredients on hand!

Vegetable Pancakes - Lady & Sons Too, Paula Deen
*Paula serves hers with sour cream
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 cup grated carrots (about 2 carrots)
1 cup grated zucchini (1 medium zucchini)
2 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used one TBSP-I think you could use less)

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. In another bowl, beat together the egg, milk, carrots, zucchini, and onions. Add this to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Pour the batter (I had to spoon it) by tablespoonsfuls into the pan, making a few pancakes at a time. Cook until golden, about 2 minutes on each side. Add the remaining oil to the pan as needed. Serve at once.

Another advantage to this recipe is that all these ingredients keep well and you can throw this together for literally pennies. This is an extremely inexpensive lunch, side dish or breakfast.

Thanks Paula!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cookbook Review: Taste of Home Winning Recipes, Oikos Greek Yogurt Week #3, and Souper Sundays

Last week I received three new cookbooks in the mail. One of them was the Taste Of Home Winning Recipes. I ordered this through The Good Cook, which is a great cookbook club. I have never had a Taste of Home cookbook before, nor have I ever bought the magazine. I have noticed fellow bloggers referring to Taste of Home, so I decided to check them out. I reviewed all the Taste of Home cookbooks and the Winning Recipes had received the best ratings. Taste of Home Winning Recipes was given five stars on both Amazon and The Good Cook. No one had anything bad to say about it. I knew that this was going to be a solid purchase.

This is not a fancy cookbook by any means. You will not find fancy plating or fancy ingredients. What you will find are family friendly recipes that everyone is sure to love. In fact, there are 645 award winning recipes included in this book and there is a picture of every recipe! The book is broken down into seventeen chapters: Appetizers & Beverages, Salads, Soups & Chili, Sandwiches, Breakfast & Brunch, Beef, Pork, Poultry, Seafood, Meatless, Sides, Quick Breads, Yeast Breads, Cookies & Bars, Cakes & Cheesecakes, Pies and Desserts. Each chapter will have many tasty recipes, such as:
Taco Meatball Ring
Hawaiian Egg Rolls
Orange Lemonade
Chicken Chopped Salad w/ peaches & peanuts
Chili Corn Bread Salad
Layered Fresh Fruit Salad
Creamy Celery Seed Dressing
Swedish Meatball Soup
Tasty Reuben Soup
Sizzling Rice Soup
Pepperoni Pizza Chili
Ultimate Grilled Cheese (made with cream cheese)
BLT Egg Bake
Bacon n' Egg Lasagna
Brunch Berry Pizza
Garlic Beef Enchiladas
Steak with Citrus Salsa
Cheese-Stuffed Pork Roast
Chicken in Basil Cream
Saucy Skillet Fish
Artichokes Au Gratin
Two-tone Baked Potatoes
Confetti Carrot Fritters
Whole Wheat Biscuits
Dijon Ham Muffins
Buttermilk Pan Rolls
Pull-Apart Bacon Bread
Mashed Potato Rolls
No-Fry Doughnuts
Triple Chocolate Kisses
Macaroon Brownies
Jewel Nut Bars
Fresh Grapefruit Cake
Caramel Apple Cupcakes
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake
Apple Meringue Pie
Caramel Pear Pie

Anyway, I'm getting carried away. The point is that when I sat down with this book I grabbed some paper and a pen. I started writing down recipes I wanted to try. Normally, I'll jot down a couple of recipes and ingredients and run to the store. This time I sat, for a long time, pouring over this cookbook until I had three full sheets of paper covered. All in all, I had written down something like 162 recipes to try!! There are just some fabulous, quick, easy and fun recipes in this book! Great dishes for entertaining, potlucks, church socials, bake sales, and gifts! I knew I was going to be happy with this cookbook, but I didn't expect it to be one of my all-time favorites!

I wanted to get cooking right away, so I just worked with what I had on hand. This first recipe I made was this Aloha Bread from the Quick Breads chapter. I had never seen a quick bread quite like this before and was intrigued. It is essentially a banana bread with coconut, orange peel, pineapple, and nuts. This bread was enjoyed by all. It was moist and flavorful. Everyone loved the bread and commented on how they enjoyed the flavor of the orange zest in this recipe.
Next I made S'more Sandwich Cookies, which were every bit as delicious as they sound!! This was the first recipe in the Cookies & Bars chapter and I knew I had to make them straight away! It was marked as a first prize winner and for very good reason. They were excellent and disappeared very quickly!! The recipe is essentially a chocolate chip recipe with about 1-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs mixed into the batter. Once the cookies have cooled, you place a few of them bottom side up in the microwave, place a large marshmallow on top and microwave for about 10 seconds, or until the marshmallow puffs up. Then you top it off with another cookie and there you have delicious s'more sandwich cookie! These cookies are the ultimate in ooey, gooey and sticky goodness. They may even be tastier than a good old fashioned campfire s'more.Next I made Apple-Walnut Turkey Sandwiches. This is a perfect no-cook lunch or dinner that is quick to throw together. For this recipe, I replaced the mayo with my Oikos Greek Yogurt. I love the idea of using the greek yogurt to replace the mayo because the yogurt has zero fat, is lower in calories, and is much creamier than mayo!
Apple-Walnut Dressing:
3/4 cup mayo/greek yogurt
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 medium tart apple, chopped
The dressing makes 4 sandwiches. The recipe calls for sourdough bread, but I'm quite sure any bread is suitable. I think I would enjoy the bread toasted next time. This was sandwich was delicious, filling and just plain lovely. I really enjoyed the crunch of the celery, apples, and walnuts. This sandwich was so filling, I ate only one half and saved the rest for later. This sandwich represents all four food groups rolled into one and has a fabulous presentation. My picture doesn't do it any justice.
This is my entry for my weekly Oikos Greek Yogurt post and I am also submitting the above sandwich to Deb at Kakakai Kitchen for Souper Sundays. Head over to her site to see what everyone else made for Souper Sundays.
As I write this post, I have the cookbook sitting next to me and I'm pondering what to make next. I'm also extremely happy that I purchased this book. I'm not sure if I have ever bookmarked so many recipes to make from one book. I am certain that this is one of my top ten favorite cookbooks of all time. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys cooking and baking!

P.S. If you already have this book, let me know how you like it! I'd love to hear some of your favorites!!

Happy Cooking!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chicken Paillard with Creamy Parmesan Salad for TFF

This is a five star recipe!! My husband and I really enjoy this chicken paillard. It has fast become a staple in my house for its ease and versatility. In fact, I have made this recipe twice this month and each time it has been a huge hit!! The panko coating gives a wonderful crunchy texture that is phenomenal, even when leftover and served the next day. This chicken is moist and juicy and cooks up in a flash! Another thing about this recipe is that its great when served hot and equally as delicious served cold and sliced atop a salad. I don't think you could go wrong with this recipe. My husband likes to dip his chicken in bbq sauce. I enjoyed mine the next day with the Creamy Parmesan Dressing, which I also thought was deliciously creamy and luxurious. This recipe is available on the Food Network website, here. Check it out, you won't be disappointed.

The first time I followed the recipe exactly and the chicken breasts were huge when they were pounded thin. The second time, I cut the chicken breast in half and then pounded them thin. This was a much better size for us. I also followed Tyler's tip to refrigerate the chicken for 10 minutes once breaded. This step is great for allowing that coating to dry out and creates a crispier coating. I used anchovy paste instead of anchovies, which worked out fine. I also cut back on the lemon in the salad dressing. The juice of two lemons is a lot of lemon juice.

This is my entry for Tyler Florence Fridays this week. Head on over to the TFF site this weekend to check out all the goodies!!

Awhile back I made Tyler's Baked Goat Cheese, which is served with crostini and black olive tapenade. None of my pictures turned out well enough to post, so I am choosing to comment about it on this post. You can find the recipe for the baked goat cheese here. The recipe online is different than the recipe in Tyler's Dinner At My Place. The recipe online advises not to buy the goat cheese in a log form. In his cookbook this is not mentioned. I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this..... yes, I had to buy the goat cheese in the form of a log. That was the only way it was available in my supermarket. Baking goat cheese sounds really easy and I think it would've been if I had bought the right goat cheese. My log of goat cheese never browned. I'm pretty sure I baked it too long. It tasted okay on its own, but it just didn't look as pretty as the round. The salty and briny flavor of the black tapenade really did a lot for the goat cheese. I enjoyed this dish. I don't know if I would make it again, primarily because no one else in the house would eat it. I also think it would've tasted much better if I was able to buy the goat cheese round. If you make this recipe, be sure to buy a round of goat cheese with a rind as advised online.

Happy Weekend!!

Creative Thursdays: Pulled BBQ Chicken

Let me start by saying that you have to make this recipe!! In a total of 10 days, I have made this recipe twice!! I love when a recipe uses minimal ingredients, is super simple to throw together, and then yields a wonderful outcome. It really doesn't get any better! I owe a huge thank you to two wonderful food bloggers. Thank you to Lisaloo, of One Step at a Time, who first posted this recipe here. The ease of this recipe caught Monica's attention over at Lick the Bowl Good, and she posted the recipe on her blog here. I would like to give you both this award:
I chose this recipe for Creative Thursdays because it only uses two ingredients: frozen chicken breasts and barbecue sauce! Yes, I said frozen chicken!! Using the frozen chicken is great for people like me who always forget to thaw out meat for dinner the night before. I usually always have frozen chicken breasts in my freezer that I have bought in bulk and rewrapped. Barbecue sauce is another great staple around my house that I almost always have on hand. But, why stop there? I think this recipe would still work with many other sauces, both homemade and jarred. For instance, my husband and I both love chicken with buffalo sauce. Why not use buffalo sauce? I'm willing to bet there are a wide variety of sauces that would be perfect with this chicken. Why not try teriyaki, lemon pepper, honey mustard, salsa or even just plain chicken broth. Serve the chicken on a bun as a sandwich, or put it over rice or who knows what else. I think the possibilities are endless, and that's what makes this recipe so great!!

Pulled BBQ Chicken - adapted from Lisaloo at One Step at a Time & Monica of Lick the Bowl Good

4 frozen chicken breasts (I had boneless, skinless chicken breast)
1 - 18 oz bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce (make sure you love the flavor, whatever you chose)

Place the frozen chicken in the crockpot and top with sauce (making sure the sauce covers the chicken). Let cool on low in crockpot for 8-12 hours. Remove chicken from crockpot and let cool slightly before shredding. After shredding, return to pot and let cook another couple hours.

Notes: I have made this recipe twice now using jarred barbecue sauce. Each time I have let the chicken cook on low for around 8 hours. The chicken is very tender at this point and will break up easily or hold it's shape if removed with a spatula. Although I enjoy shredded chicken and pork, I prefer it to be in chunks. After it cools a bit I break the chicken breasts into chunks and serve on a roll or over rice. Yesterday I made some garlic bread, topped it with hot pepper cheese and put the chicken on the roll. It was really, really good!!

I can tell you that next time I will be experimenting with buffalo sauce and I will be sure to post my results. If I am successful with the buffalo sauce, then I can definitely see a lot of experiments with this recipe. It's what I would refer to as WIDE OPEN, which is also how I refer to my two year old : )

Be sure to check out both Lisaloo and Monica's sites above to see how they enjoyed the chicken. They both have wonderful blogs that you are either already enjoying or will enjoy in the future.

I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas for this recipe! I'm willing to bet that there are some great ideas using this concept!!

Enjoy : )

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Do you have a specific style of cooking? If you wanted to be The Next Food Network Star, what would your pitch be? For example, Giada cooks Italian, Rachel does 30 minutes, Bobby does grilling/southwestern cuisine, Paula does butter, and both Tyler and Ina cook classic dishes with great style. There are so many styles of cooking. You can be be healthy, vegetarian or vegan, kosher, gluten-free, or just plain eat raw food. Have you ever thought about which style of cooking best describes you? Call me crazy, but I enjoy asking myself these types of questions! It's not like I'm signing up to be the next food network star, but it gives me something to think about. So, just for fun, I decided to have another giveaway in the form of a contest.

Here are the contest guidelines:

Leave a comment describing your style of cooking. Pretend you won The Next Food Network Star and come up with a name for your new Food Network show. You also have to tell us what your "signature dish" would be. Feel free to have as many entries as you like, the more the merrier. They can be funny or serious, either way it doesn't matter since it's just for fun.

The contest will end next Saturday, the 29th at midnight. On Sunday, August 30th, I will post all the results/ideas of each participant and we will all vote for our favorite!! The winner with the most votes will receive these bestselling goodies from LUSH FRESH HANDMADE COSMETICS!!The first product is called Lemony Flutter, which is a lemony scented cuticle butter for use on all rough patches: elbows, knees, and heels. It is a Shea butter base infused with lemon, mango, avocado and flax seed oils and let me tell you....a little goes a long way!! Great for cooks, nurses, or anyone who washes and uses their hands a lot!

The second product is Ocean Salt, which is just plain awesome! It is an exfoliating scrub that smells like a margarita and is safe for the face and body! It has a sea salt base, with grapefruit and lime oils, and vodka. Feels terrific and makes your skin clean and super soft.

The third product is an Up You Gets Emotibomb for use in the shower. Stick this little guy on the shower floor, or on the soap shelf, and inhale the fresh citrus scent that will hopefully help wake you up! Just like a bath bomb, but for the shower instead.

Have fun!! I'm looking forward to see some very creative and funny ideas : )

Now, onto the food and then some award announcements!! I made this casserole from Paula Deen's Lady & Sons, Too cookbook. It would feed an army and is certainly a very filling dish. Extremely easy to throw together and one that everyone will like. Great for big crowds!! Fresh out of the oven it qualifies as good, but the next day it is even better. You could certainly cut back on the meat, using one pound instead of two. Additionally, you can also cut back on the cheese, there are so many other flavors you just wouldn't miss it. This dish made the hubby very happy because it is just simple and "normal" food (with tons of meat)!! Sometimes the hubby gets tired of trying new recipes and likes plain and simple. Who could blame him??

Wayne's Beef Macaroni and Cheese - adapted from The Lady & Sons by Paula Deen
One 1-pound box elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chopped green bell pepper
2 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped garlic (I used about 5 garlic cloves)
2 pounds lean ground beef
3 cups canned crush tomatoes (about one 28 oz. can or 2 14 oz. cans)
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon each dried basil, cumin, and dried oregano (I used Italian seasoning)
2-3 cup grated Cheddar cheese (I love cheese and I think this quantity is just too much

Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Heat the oil in a skillet; add the peppers, onion, and garlic, and saute until soft. Add the ground beef and saute until browned. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, and the basil, cumin, and oregano. In a large bowl (and I do mean very large), combine the macaroni and the beef mixture. Spread this mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Top with the cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbly. Ground turkey or chicken can be used in place of beef, if desired.

This was a great, easy, and tasty casserole that we have all probably made and loved over time.

Now onto the awards......

I received this award from Libby of Cooking with Libby. Libby is a great blogging friend that I met in the My Girl Paula group. Thanks Libby!

I also received this award from Joanne of Eats Well With Others. Joanne is another great blogging friend that I met through the Tyler Florence Fridays group! Thanks Joanne.

This last award requires that it be passed on to 7 bloggers and that each person list 7 personality traits about themselves.

Here goes mine:
1) Loyal/Dedicated -I love my family and friends and would do anything/stand up for them no matter what.
2) Curious-Full of questions
3)Passionate/Extreme- I really like something/someone or I really don't. Not a lot of in between with me.
4)Real/Honest - I don't like to put on airs or be "politically correct". I think we should all be okay with being who we are as long as we are kind about it.
5)Forgetful/Somewhat Oblivious - *ahem* ask my husband about this. I have a tendency to look for things that are right in front of my face, or hit parked cars, or write checks from the wrong account *ahem*. I'm hopeful this will all change, but not holding my breath.
6)Anxious/Nervous- This probably feeds the forgetfulness and obliviousness (is that a word?) I mentioned above. I'm constantly thinking about to-do lists and what needs to be done.
7)Bad Temper - Assume being happy is a 1 and being very angry is a 10. I'm super laid back until I get to about a 7 on the scale. It takes A LOT for me to start getting to an 8. I feel sorry for the person who is around me when I'm a 10! Once that happens I'm angry the rest of the day and can't shake it off. I've been told this improves with age, but I'm finding it to be quite the opposite~

Here is a list of the 7 bloggers that I am passing this second award to:
1) Beth of The Seventh Level of Boredom
2) Kristin of Sogkonnite Living
3) Libby of Cooking with Libby
4) Glennis of Can't Believe We Ate
5) Arlene at The Food of Love
6) Debby at A Feast For the Eyes
7) Coleen of Coleen's Recipes

Don't forget about the contest/giveaway!! I'm really excited to see what great and creative ideas you can come up with : )

See ya tomorrow for a Creative Thursdays!! It's gonna be a delicious, super quick, and extremely easy recipe from another foodie friend.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blackberry Muffins for My Girl Paula

Have you ever had a blackberry muffin? I haven't, until today! I was so excited to try this recipe simply because I had never heard of a blackberry muffin before. I had a hard time finding blackberries, but finally located some and my search was well worth it!! These blackberry muffins are addictive!! They are super moist, slightly sweet and the sugary topping is delightful!!! I halved the recipe and ended up with 6 large muffins. It will be no problem eating them up this week! If you can find some blackberries, give these a whirl. They are fantastic and unique!!

These muffins are so simple and quick to throw together. I had them whipped up and in the oven in less than 10 minutes! The batter was very thick and the muffins needed about 30-35 minutes to bake instead of the 25 minutes in the recipe.

Blackberry Muffins - adapted from The Lady & Sons by Paula Deen
1 stick melted butter
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs, room temp
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups ( plus 4 teaspoons sugar reserved for sprinkling on top of muffins)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh blackberries, or frozen blackberries, thawed and drained

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease eighteen 2-1/2 inch muffin tins or line them with paper or foil liners. In a bowl, stir together the butter, milk, and eggs. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, 1-1/4 cups of the sugar, the baking powder, and the salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk mixture all at once; stir until blended. The batter will be lumpy; Do no overmix. Fold in the berries. Divide the batter among the prepared cups and sprinkle the remaining 4 teaspoons of sugar over the batter. bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden.

Delicious and Easy!! Head on over to My Girl Paula to see how the others enjoyed this recipe. Or, better yet, sign up and join us!! Next week we are making Paula's vegetable pancakes!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Oikos Greek Yogurt Week #2 - Almost-Famous Frozen Yogurt

This is my second week working with the Oikos Greek Yogurt and I made Food Network's Almost-Famous Frozen Yogurt. This almost-famous frozen yogurt is a copycat recipe for the famous and yummy Pinkberry frozen yogurt. Pinkberry is located in New York, California, and Texas and is becoming really popular as a healthy treat. Check out the Pinkberry website here. They have many toppings for their frozen yogurt, such as lychee, mango, fruity pebbles, granola, honey, and many others. I chose to top my frozen yogurt with fresh raspberries.

Food Network features a brand new almost-famous recipe in each issue of their magazine. These are my favorites recipes in the magazine. So far, I have made every one of them and have yet to be disappointed. This recipe is marvelous! I feel like it is a healthy treat that is very satisfying. I found the end product to be creamy and tangy with lots of possibilities. I would love to add mix-ins to the yogurt and also make a frozen yogurt parfait.

Food Network recommends using Greek yogurt when making this frozen yogurt. I made this recipe both ways and found that when using Greek yogurt the end product was much creamier. This is one delicious recipe that you will love and feel good about serving to your family. You can even set up a frozen yogurt bar with all different kinds of toppings!!

Almost-Famous Frozen Yogurt - adapted from Food Network Magazine
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
2 cups plain nonfat or reduced fat Greek yogurt **Greek yogurt is much creamier**
1/2 cup superfine sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
fresh fruit or other toppings

Whisk both yogurts, the sugar and corn syrup in a bowl until combined. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

For a soft consistency, serve right out of the ice cream maker. For a firmer texture, transfer the frozen yogurt to a covered container and freeze for up to 2 hours. Serve with assorted toppings.

This recipe takes only 10 minutes and makes 1 quart of frozen yogurt. The kids and I really enjoyed making this and we feel even better about eating it. We had some leftovers that we stored in a reusable Tupperware container with great results.

We loved this recipe so much that we are thinking about experimenting with the other flavors of Greek yogurt at the market. I used plain in this recipe, but I am tempted to try both the honey and the strawberry!! This recipe was delicious.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Paula Deen's Blueberry Cream Pie

My Dad, along with his wife and her sister, came to visit us this week. My Dad's wife, Lesley, has lived in the U.S. for over 30 years, but she is originally from Scotland. Her sister, Eileen, still lives in Scotland but comes to visit often during the summertime. We were so happy to have them all. It was a real treat!!Eileen loves to cook and I showed her my blog. We talked all about different kinds of recipes and I gave her some recipes before they left. We had so much fun talking about all kinds of recipes. Eileen mentioned that she had bought cups and tablespoons so she could follow American recipes at home.

My Dad's birthday was the very first week of August so I made him Paula's Blueberry Cream Pie. Ever since I can remember, both me and my Dad have loved blueberry pie. There is a little diner in my hometown that has the best blueberry pie and we both would order it every time it was on the menu. Although we always have traditional blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream, I thought I would try something new.

Paula's recipe is very fun and simple. Let's face bad can blueberry cream pie actually be? This pie is served cold and the filling is not baked at all. The final product was light and fluffy. Some were skeptical at first, mainly because they didn't love blueberry pie the traditional way. They enjoyed this pie because it was not overwhelming in the blueberry department. At first, I thought the pie was a bit too mild. I guess what I mean by that is simply that it didn't have a lot of flavor. However, the next day, the pie was better. Maybe it needed extra time in the refrigerator. The next day, the flavors seemed to blend a little better and my Dad and I finished it off : ) I thought the cream portion of the pie might taste somewhat like cheesecake, but it didn't. It almost tasted a bit like a cream cheese frosting, if that makes any sense. In the end, I think I prefer traditional blueberry pie a la mode, but this was fun and enjoyed by all. I'm glad that I made it at least once to test it out. If you need a quick dessert, don't be ashamed to throw this together!!

Blueberry Cream Pie- adapted from The Lady & Sons by Paula Deen
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I used pecans)
One 9-inch deep-dish pie crust (thawed if frozen)
Two 3-ounce packages cream cheese, room temp
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
One 21-ounce can blueberry pie filing

Press the chopped nuts into the bottom of the pie crust. Bake as directed on the package and let cool. Beat the cream cheese with the confectioners sugar. Beat the heavy cream with the granulated sugar until it forms soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Spoon this mixture into the cooled pie shell and top with blueberry pie filling. Refrigerate until well chilled.

On a fun note, I received a shipment of cookbooks yesterday from The Good Cook. I started wondering how many other food bloggers belong to their cookbook club. When I arrived home to see the box on my mailbox I was SO excited. I just couldn't wait to tear into the package. I have been wanting some of these cookbooks for months and I finally ordered them. I received Carmine's Family-Style Cookbook, Taste of Home's Winning Recipes Cookbook, and also a fun book all about Halloween called Matthew mead's Monster Book of Halloween. All of these books are great, but the Taste of Home Winning Recipes is an ABSOLUTE MUST HAVE FOR EVERY FOOD LOVER!! I'm not kidding when I say that you simply have to have this book. It contains 645 recipes from National Cooking Contests and I have bookmarked over 150 recipes to try. Everything sounds delicious. In fact, I'm going to post about this book soon. If you don't have this book, you need to seriously think about getting it. If you do have this book, I'm curious what some of your favorites are. I don't know where to start : )

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Creative Thursdays: Poached Eggs on Black Bean Cakes with Salsa

I love breakfast foods! I absolute love going out to eat for breakfast and making it at home. I think it has to do with the sheer variety of foods that one can eat for breakfast. When I think of all those possibilities, it just makes me hungry! How can you decide between the egg platter or the pancake platter? What about the stuffed french toast, crepes, fruit platters, biscuits, rolls, bagels, hashbrowns.....not to mention all those pastries.........what's a girl to do??

Well, I have a great breakfast recipe that is one of my favorites to cook at home. It is a little fancier than most at-home breakfasts, pretty healthy, and can be made with pantry ingredients. Plus, it uses this week's featured ingredient.....beans!!

This is really quite a healthy breakfast. This recipe makes 6 black bean cakes. I halved the recipe because I had only one can of beans and I ended up with 3 black bean cakes. Each serving has 13g of protein and about 7-9 g of fiber, almost your daily allowance! In addition, this recipe is low in fat, low in carbs and just plain delicious.

I've made this recipe several times and I can tell you that it is much, much easier if you use store-bought salsa over the Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce. The red bell pepper sauce adds quite a bit more time and a whole lot of dirty dishes. On the flip side, it was tasty, and might be worthwhile to you if you love peppers. I didn't have any red bell pepper this morning, so I opted for the store-bought salsa.

Poached Eggs on Black Bean Cakes with Salsa - adapted from The Big Book of Breakfast by Maryana Vollstedt
8 saltines, broken up (I used Ritz crackers)
2 cans (15 oz. each) black beans, drained and rinsed
6 green onions, including some tender green tops, cut into pieces
2 garlic cloves, cut into pieces
2 sprigs cilantro or parsley, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salsa or Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce
6 poached eggs
cilantro sprigs for garnish

Place saltines in a food processor and process until crushed. Add beans, green onions, garlic, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste and process until chuncky. Form into 6 cakes. (Mixture will be sticky). Place cornmeal in a flat dish or on waxed paper. Add cakes and turn to coat.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons oil. Fry cakes until crisp, about 5 minutes on each side. Add more oil, if needed.
If serving with bell pepper sauce, have the sauce warmed and ready. If serving with salsa, warm the salsa.
To assemble, top each cake with a poached egg and a spoonful of Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce/Salsa. Garnish each with a sprig of cilantro and serve immediately.

Note: The black bean cakes make great vegetarian burgers.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon a/p flour
1/2 cup milk
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and cut-up
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
*Makes about a cup of sauce*

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add flour and stir until bubbly. Stir in milk and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Sauce will be thick.
Place roasted bell pepper in food processor or blender and puree. Add onion mixture and process until smooth. Return to pan and add paprika, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
Note: To roast the pepper, preheat the broiler. Cut pepper in half lengthwise and remove seeds and ribs. Make several 1-inch slashes around the edge of each pepper half. Place skin-side up on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Press peppers down with the palm of your hand to flatten them. Broil until skin is charred, about 10 minutes. Remove from broiler, fold foil tightly over peppers, and let them steam for 10 minutes. Unwrap peppers and peel off skin.

As mentioned above, these are great alone or as a veggie burger. Head on over to these sites to find other delicious recipes using beans:

Reeni of Cinnamon & Spice has compiled a whole folder of recipes using black beans. Click here to check them out, every one of them looks excellent!!

Joanne of Eats Well With Others, made these delicious Louisiana Red Beans, found here.

Deb of Kahakai Kitchen made these tasty-looking Pinto Bean Patties that she learned from a vegetarian cooking class, here.

Or, how about adding your black beans to a quesadilla, like Kevin at Closet Cooking. Head over to check out his recipe for Corn and Black Bean Quesadillas, found here.

Well, I hope there are some tasty bean recipes that you will enjoy here. I'm off to wash an entire sink full of dishes only to dirty them all up again. The hubby invited two of his co-workers over for dinner and I'll be a busy girl today!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Black Bean Dip for My Girl Paula

This is my third recipe for My Girl Paula, and it was delicious! In fact, I made it again a couple of days later. It really hit the spot! I have to admit, I haven't had Velveeta cheese in many years. But, I stuck with the recipe and made the dip with Velveeta cheese. This dip was flavorful the night it was made, but even better the next day.

A couple of days later, I made this dip again without the Velveeta cheese. I added 4 oz. of cream cheese instead of the Velveeta and I liked this version even better. I'm tempted to make this dip again, but there is such a thing as too much beans ; )

Black Bean Dip - Adapted from The Lady & Sons, Too! -Paula Deen
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons chopped onions
One 4-oz. can green chiles, chopped
1 tomato, diced *I used 1/2 cup salsa*
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
1 teaspoon The Lady's House Seasoning
One 15 oz. can black beans with jalapenos
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
4-ounce block Velveeta Mexican cheese product, diced
1- 3 oz. package cream cheese, diced

Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the green chiles, tomato, cilantro, and House Seasoning, and cook for 5 minutes longer. Add the beans and cheeses, and simmer until hot and bubbling. Serve hot with white-corn tortilla chips.

Oikos Greek Yogurt Week #1

Today is the perfect day to Go Greek!! At work today, we had a toga party and celebrated all of the Greek ingredients in our products. We wore togas and the florist made all of us girls very pretty wreaths to wear on our hair. It was so much fun. When I came home, I noticed that even Ina Garten went Greek today cooking all kinds of Greek goodies. I decided it was the perfect day to start my posts about Oikos Greek Yogurt.

A couple weeks ago Kristina at Stonyfield Farm contacted me about trying Oikos Greek Yogurt. I was very interested and welcomed the package with open arms. Kristina was so sweet...she sent me tons of coupons and a very cute Stonyfield reusable bag. In the package were also coupons for five FREE 5.3 oz. greek yogurts! I also received another packet of coupons for some of their other products. I was so excited to receive this package and try the yogurt!!

Oikos Greek Yogurt comes in a variety of flavors: plain, vanilla, blueberry, and honey were all available in my supermarket. They use a centuries-old straining process to remove the whey (liquid) from the yogurt which leaves the end product both rich and creamy. The Oikos Greek Yogurt is organic and has twice the protein of normal yogurt. There is 0% fat, and each 5.3 oz. container has just 80 calories! The very best part is that the Oikos Greek Yogurt is deliciously creamy and seems very decadent! Not only is it great to eat on its own, it is also great to bake with PLUS use in smoothies, salad dressings, frozen get the idea : )

I've been dreaming up recipes and ideas for posting and have decided that each Sunday, for the next 4-6 weeks, I will post a new recipe using the Oikos Greek Yogurt. In the meantime, have fun thinking of ways that you might like to use Oikos Greek Yogurt. At the end of my 4-6 week series, there will be a very generous giveaway!! Kristina at Stonyfield Farm will send one lucky winner the following:


This is definitely something that you would want to win!!

Now, onto the food!!

Tip # 1 - Use greek yogurt in place of sour cream when baking! It is delicious and much healthier!

I chose Martha Stewart's Date-Bran Muffins and replaced the sour cream with the Oikos Plain Greek Yogurt. The muffins were moist from the yogurt and delicious with a hint of orange flavor. I would recommend baking with the greek yogurt anyday! This recipe makes 1 dozen, but I halved the recipe and everything worked out just fine.

Date-Bran Muffins- Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp, plus more for pans
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups wheat bran
1/4 cup plus 2 TBSP packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups sour cream OR Oikos Greek Yogurt
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses (do not substitute sulfured of blackstrap)
1-1/2 cups (8 ozs.) pitted chopped dates
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

Preheat the oven to 375F. Generously butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin. *I used muffin/cupcake liners.** In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and bran; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on med-high spped until light and fluffy; 2 to 3 minutes. Scrap bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add greek yogurt/sour cream and molasses; mix on low speed until just combined.

Using a rubber spatula, fold in the reserved flour mixture, dates, and orange zest until just combined; do not over mix. Divide and fill muffin pans. Bake, rotating halfway through, until a cake tester comes out clean, 22-25 minutes. Transfer the pan to wire rack and let rest for 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

The next morning, I served these date-bran muffins alongside Tyler's Greek Yogurt with a Fig, Date, and Honey Swirl. Do yourself a HUGE favor and find the recipe here. It was heavenly, creamy, crunchy, sweet and just plain delicious. I couldn't even believe it was healthy!! I am already craving more. Plus, this is probably the easiest Tyler recipe that I have ever made!! If you don't believe me, check out Beth's post at The Seventh Level of Boredom. Beth and I both loved this creamy and decadent breakfast treat!!

Come back next Sunday for more recipes using greek yogurt!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

CREATIVE THURSDAYS: Baked Jalapeno Poppers

Do you think of a jalapeno pepper as a blank canvas? If not, you should consider it. Most often, we cut them up and add them to chili, tex-mex, or we might top our burgers with them. They are probably not a staple on the grocery list. However, jalapenos are extremely inexpensive, keep well for long periods of time, and are a terrific canvas for cheese, bacon, sausage, and breadcrumbs. For all these reasons, jalapenos are this week's featured ingredient.

Create your own filling for them, roll them in breadcrumbs and bake away. You can even freeze them and bake them later when you need to have a quick appetizer or treat!

Both my mom and neighbor have an abundance of jalapenos in their garden. I literally received bags of jalapenos. My husband and I love spicy food, but there was no way we could eat all the peppers we received in time. I thought about canning, but just wasn't feeling it. I started looking up recipes for jalapenos and found a recipe for poppers.

I made a huge batch of poppers and froze them so that we could have them whenever we want. These poppers were so delicious, you would never know they were baked and not fried! When you bite into these, they are so crunchy and the cheese just comes oozing out! The poppers bake for around 30 minutes which allows the peppers to soften just perfectly. In other words, when you bite into them, it is a clean bite. You will not find yourself biting into the popper and pulling out the whole jalapeno in one bite, leaving only a shell of breadcrumbs behind. (Does that ever happen to you?)

The recipe that I used is from the Food Network and can be found here. Basically, you remove the stems and halve the jalapenos. You then create a mixture of cheese (I used garden vegetable cream cheese and monterey jack) and stuff the jalapenos. Once all jalapenos are stuffed, you roll them in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs. This recipe uses panko, but I'm sure any breadcrumb would be fine. You can bake them right away at 350F for 30 minutes or freeze them and bake later. I brushed mine with a little bit of olive oil before baking to help achieve a golden brown color. Use this recipe as a guide only. Feel free to stuff your jalopenos with any kind of cheese, wrap them in bacon, or use regular breadcrumbs.

The Pioneer Woman also has a recipe for bacon-wrapped jalapeno thingies, found here. She has said on more than one occasion that she absolutely loves these jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon.

And, if you can't stand the heat.....don't get out of the kitchen just yet!!! Try Kevin's Baked Jalapeno Popper Dip, recipe found here. This dip looks simply delicious and would be great with tortilla chips or crackers. Surely the all that ooey gooey cream cheese, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, and mayo will balance out the heat. The breadcrumb topping looks to die for!!

I also want to post my carrot flowers for a wonderful giveaway over on my friend Beth's site. Please go to The Seventh Level of Boredom and check out Beth's extremely generous giveaway. It is a Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker!! I saw what those bakers can do at a recent Pampered Chef party and they are fabulous! You can even cook with them in the microwave.

Beth is going to a baby shower coming up and will be creating a vegetable garden to take with her. She is looking for good ideas from readers about cutting veggies into flowers. Submissions can be posted on your blog or sent to Beth directly. I searched and searched and found a carrot flower that I thought was pretty cute. It is suppose to be set alongside sprigs of rosemary to look much like a flower with a pretty rosemary stem. Please don't laugh, I'm not very artsy at all.

Pita Bread for Tyler Florence Fridays and BYOB

I am crazy about pita bread and was looking for an excuse to make them at home. Normally, I would love to have pita bread filled with hummus and veggies or maybe chicken and veggies. But, I saw someone on TV eating a Philly cheesesteak and I was inspired. I decided to get straight to work and try Tyler's version, which can be found here. Who knew making pita bread was SO MUCH FUN??

The dough is very simple and then rises for an hour and a half. Once the dough rises, you cut it into 8 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. It is important to keep each ball of dough covered so that it doesn't dry out. Once divided, the dough rests for another 15 minutes, covered. Meanwhile you are allowing your oven to reach 500F (not so perfect for summertime).

One by one, you remove a ball of dough and roll out with a rolling pin, being careful to make a smooth circle. Place the circle of dough directly on the hot pizza stone and watch it puff in the oven!! So exciting and the kids get a big kick out of it : ) They bake in about 3-4 minutes. They are delicious warm and also when they are room temperature. If you love pita bread and are thinking about baking some from scratch, try this Tyler recipe. It is rated 5 stars on the food network website.

I am submitting this recipe to both BYOB, Bake Your Own Bread, and Tyler Florence Fridays. Tyler Florence Fridays is a great group that showcases a variety of Tyler's recipes each Friday. It is so much fun to see what everyone has created throughout the week. Head on over there Friday evening and see for yourself : )

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hummingbird Cupcakes for My Girl Paula

Years ago I lost my copy of The Lady & Sons, Too! at the grocery store. It was a much-loved copy complete with food stains, dog-ears, and hand-written notes. I left it in the grocery cart during checkout and apparently someone else took it home. When I discovered there was a blogging group called My Girl Paula, I knew it was time to join and repurchase the book. I am so excited to say that I was able to purchase a copy of the book for just $.79 from Amazon! The book and shipping were only $4.29 and I couldn't have been any happier!

Last week, we made basil grilled chicken, which was fabulous, and a total keeper! This week, we are making Paula's Hummingbird Cake, which I made into cupcakes! If you've never had Hummingbird Cake before, then you are seriously missing out! These cupcakes were delicious! The cake is full of chopped pecans, mashed banana, and crushed pineapple. Add the cream cheese frosting and you are in heaven! My husband gave these his top rating, along with my in-law's, and all the girlies at work!! Thanks Paula!

Hummingbird Cake- adapted from Paula Deen's The Lady & Sons, Too!

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1-3/4 cup mashed bananas
One 8-oz. can crushed pineapple, with juice
1 cup chopped pecans
1-1/2 tsps. vanilla extract

One 8-oz. package cream cheese, at room temp
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temp
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans (For cupcakes use cupcake/muffin liners or grease and flour cupcake pans) For the cake, in a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add the eggs and oil and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not beat. Stir in the banana, the pineapple and its juice, the pecans, and the vanilla.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 23-28 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. (For cupcakes, this recipe made 24 cupcakes which were baked for 25- 30 minutes). Cool the cake layers in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a rack to cool completely.

While the cake cools, make the frosting: In a bowl, blend together the cream cheese and butter. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. Stir in the pecans, or reserve them to sprinkle over the frosted cake. Fill and frost the cake.

Head on over to My Girl Paula to see how others enjoyed this cake. Next Monday, we will be making Paula's Black Bean Dip!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Baked Potato Skins

It all started with nail polish, purple nail polish to be exact. I thought that I would paint my toes since I had some time alone. I must have had butterfingers because I dropped that purple nail polish and it broke. In fact, it broke all over my white tile floor in the bathroom!! I don't think I'll ever forget the bright purple against all that white tile! I went into a total panic and my husband ran upstairs. He was able to get out all the stains and I was so thankful. I have never had an accident with nail polish and I couldn't believe I had broke an entire bottle.

The next morning I woke up, went into the pantry and looked in horror at my wood laminate floor. When I had got the cleaner out for the nail polish spill, another cleaner had fell and leaked onto the wood laminate floor. There isn't too much you can do to fix that damage.

The next weekend, when leaving work, I backed my car up into a guard rail and pretty much took off the front bumper. Don't you hate that sick feeling you get in your stomach as you get out and walk around to survey the damage?

That evening, I came home and made Paula's basil grilled chicken. When I downloaded the pictures I noticed that they were all blurry and out of focus. I hadn't had time to download any of the pictures for the past eight or so recipes I had made. My husband spent the evening trying to fix the camera and now it is working better than ever. The downside is that I have several blurry pictures for you coming up. The upside is that my new pictures are better than ever.

In the meantime, I'm wondering, if I've become clumsy and accident-prone. Should I be allowed to paint my nails, drive my car and operate a camera? I'm not sure. I did however manage to bake these delicious baked potato skins. The recipe can be found here on Recipezaar.

It is a simple recipe that begins by baking the potatoes. Once baked, you remove most of the potato flesh and season with a great combination of oil, paprika, garlic and Parmesan. You bake the skins cut side up for 8 minutes and then turn over and bake another 8 minutes. Once the skins are crispy, you add the cheese and bacon filling and throw back in the oven until melted. Top with all your favorite toppings and enjoy! They were ooey, gooey delicious!! The seasoning added to the potato skins put them over the top!

P.S. Last night at work I dropped a batch of bath bombs and broke one. After watching me drop the bags and various other things for hours they felt bad for me. They let me take home the broken bath bomb, which happened to be one of my favorites. Maybe my luck is looking up!!