Saturday, May 28, 2011

Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins

I found this recipe in my Garfield Recipe book. It's called "I'm in the Mood for Food: In the Kitchen with Garfield". I bought it for Alex as a wedding present because it combined Garfield and food. It has recipes, cartoon strips, and more! Part of the present was that I would cook too!

Anyway, I bought it as kind of a joke but it really has a lot of great recipes inside! I use quite a few recipes out of there so I'm sure it will come up again. Any mini-muffin is a hit when it comes to kids but I love this one too! They bake quickly, add a little whole wheat to the diet, and use up the old bananas in the pantry.

Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375. Coat mini-muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray. In large bowl combine first 5 ingredients and set aside. In another bowl or mixer, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in eggs. Stir in bananas, milk and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Stir in walnuts.

Spoon batter into muffin cups. (Don't overfill or it will be hard to remove muffins after baking). Bake for about 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.

Remove muffin tin and let cool for 5 minutes on wire rack. Remove muffins from the tins. Serve warm or cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chocolate Cream Cake

So this isn't the greatest picture ever...maybe I was just in a rush to eat some cake! :-) I found this recipe in an old Taste of Home recipe book. The little recipe books at the check out in the grocery store are my weakness! Anyway, it's a fun twist to a plain chocolate cake and has even replaced the triple chocolate bundt cake as Alex's favorite. Those who know about him and his love affair with the bundt cake know that is a big deal! My friend compared it to a homemade hostess cupcake...which is a pretty good description. It's a little involved to make but uses only basic baking ingredients which is nice. It's for sure worth the extra effort!

Chocolate Cream Cake

Cake and Filling:
1 box Devil's food cake, prepared according to package directions
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk, heated to about 140 degrees and cooled for two minutes
1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup cold water
3 tablespoons butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Prepare cake according to package directions, making sure to grease and flour the 9x13 pan well so that cake can be removed easily. Cool 10 minutes and invert onto wire cooling rack. Cool completely.

To start the filling: cream butter, shortening and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. In a small pan heat milk to 140 and then cool for 2 minutes. (Just FYI, I tried making it once without heating the milk to see how important it was and the cream eventually worked out but it took much longer to whip than when it was heated. So it's worth it to heat the milk) Gradually add heated milk to creamed mixture. Beat until sugar is dissolved. Stir in vanilla.

Split cake into two horizontal layers and place bottom layer back in 9x13 pan. Top bottom layer with filling and top with remaining cake layer.

For glaze, combine sugar, cocoa and starch in a large saucepan. Slowly add water. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened (about 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla until smooth. Cool to lukewarm. Spread over top of the cake. Let stand until set. Refrigerate leftovers. (Alex and I both think this cake is better when it's been in the fridge overnight so it's a great make-ahead dessert) Enjoy and try not to eat the whole thing! :-)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cowboy Caviar (Sandy's Famous Salsa)

My friend Val gave me this recipe for her sister-in-law's salsa! She also put it in our church cookbook...which is good because I'm pretty sure I had lost it by that point. I've changed it a little bit because I love lots of avocado and I threw in some black beans for good measure. It makes a great dip for chips but is also yummy as a summer side dish!

Sandy's Famous Salsa

1 can white shoe peg corn, drained (I've only found this from Green Giant...and it is worth the extra cost!)
1 can black beans, drained (the recipe really calls for black-eyed peas but I just use beans I have on hand)
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. red wine vinaigrette (or you can mix red wine vinegar and olive oil)
salt and pepper (to taste)
3 avocados, chopped just before serving
1 lime, juiced to prevent avocado from browning

Mix all ingredients together except avocados and lime. When ready to serve add avocado and lime juice. Mix carefully. Keep chilled. Serve with tortilla chips.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Baked Artichoke Spinach Dip

This is something I crave every pregnancy so I'm always looking for an excuse to make it! My college roomates have been visiting me this week so it was the perfect opportunity! It's quick to make and, other than the artichoke hearts, consists mostlIy of ingredients I have on hand. It's also a nice recipe to make ahead. It can stay in the fridge for 24 hours before baking so you can make it up to a day in advance!

Baked Artichoke Spinach Dip

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayo
8 oz. cream cheese (softened) (optional)
1-2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, divided
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 (14 oz.) can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 1/2 cups spinach leaves, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1 Roma tomato, chopped
Thinly sliced french bread or crackers (Our Smith's has thin baguettes already sliced in the bakery)

Combine mozzarella, sour cream, mayo, cream cheese,1/4 cup of the Parmesan, and the mustard in an 8x8 pan or 9 inch pie plate. Stir in chopped artichoke hearts, spinach, and red onion. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, top with tomatoes, and bake an additional 5 minutes until hot and bubbly. OR cover it and put in the fridge to bake later. When ready to serve increase bake time to 30 minutes, top with tomato, and bake an additional 5 minutes. Serve with thin slices of french bread and/or crackers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sausage and Peppers Penne

I adapted this recipe from an old pampered chef recipe that I had. I love this recipe because everything (including the pasta) cooks in the same pot! It also makes a ton so I use it for company a lot! It's one of those recipes that makes great leftovers.

This is one of Alex's favorites. The sausage makes it a little spicy but my kids still gobble it down so it's not that hot! If you want to make it with less spice you can always substitute mild sausage for the hot Italian sausage.

Once you've tried it you will crave it all the time! In fact, this picture is making me hungry right now so I'm going to go ahead and put it on my weekly menu for next week. Yum!

Sausage and Peppers Penne

5 hot Italian sausage links (they usually come in packs of 5)
1 green bell pepper (sliced into strips)
1 red bell pepper (sliced into strips)
1/2 medium yellow onion (sliced into strips)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (really just a dash if you don't want it spicy)
4 cups penne pasta (a 1 lb. package of penne is about 4 cups)
4 cups water
1 jar spaghetti sauce (any kind works but I usually use the sun-dried tomato basil Ragu)
dash of salt
dash of pepper
4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 to 2 cups shredded mozzarella (I usually top the skillet with about 1 cup and then have the rest in a bowl for people to top their own with as much as they like)

Remove casings from sausage and then cut meat into 1 inch pieces. Brown meat in a large pan or skillet. When meat is done, add bell peppers and onion and cook until tender. Add garlic and pepper flakes. Stir well.

Add uncooked pasta, water, sauce, salt and pepper. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Let simmer for 15 minutes or until pasta is done, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat. Stir in cream cheese and parmesan until sauce is smooth. Top with 1/2 cup to 1 cup mozzarella. Place the rest of the mozzarella on the table for people to top their pasta with later. Enjoy!

Freezer Meal Prep and Cooking Instructions:
Cook italian sausage until done.  In a gallon sized freezer bag combine sausage, bell pepper strips, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, garlic, spaghetti sauce, salt and pepper.  Cut cream cheese into small chunks and add to sauce along with grated parmesan. 

Pour dry pasta in another gallon sized freezer bag, release any extra air from bag and seal tightly.
Place the shredded mozzarella in a small sandwich bag. Place all three bags (sauce, pasta, cheese) inside another gallon sized freezer bag and freeze.

When ready to serve: Thaw sauce and pour into a large stock pot. Cook until heated through. Add 4 cups water and pasta and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until pasta is al dente and veggies are tender.  Top with mozzarella and enjoy!

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

I got this recipe from one of my roomates in college! It's delicious and super easy! The only downside is that it's so quick I almost never take the time to roll out real enchiladas anymore (and my husband misses them sometimes!). Anyway, serve this with some black beans and you are good to go!

Enchilada Casserole (recipe for an 8x8 pan, double recipe fits great in a 9x13)

2 cups cooked chicken (shredded or cubed)
15 corn tortillas ripped into 1 inch pieces
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese (shredded)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup frozen green chile (or 1 can green chile)

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Spread evenly in an 8x8 pan. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly! (If desired sprinkle with some extra cheese 5 minutes before removing from oven.


Freezer Meal Instructions
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Spread evenly in a disposable 8x8 pan.  Cover with two layers of foil. Label and freeze.

Freezer meal can be cooked thawed or frozen.  If thawed- bake according to directions above.  If frozen- bake at 400 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or until heated throughout.