Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Teak loves to ride in the car--preferably in Bizzuck's lap, even when he's driving.  Teak's favorite thing to do is stick his nose as far as he possibly can into one of the air conditioning vents, and then he'll breathe out through is nose really loudly.  Here he is in action.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Banana Oat Muffins

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

These muffins don't have anything to do with my parents' anniversary, but since I didn't get stamps this week to send them their anniversary card, I need to say it here.  Thanks for setting such a great example for us!  I love you SO much!

And now for some healthy muffins.

I felt very good about serving these to some of the teachers yesterday.  I guess I'm never too worried about how healthy something is, but I was proud of the substitutions I made in this recipe to make it healthier for us.  I used whole wheat flour, and in these I used applesauce instead of vegetable oil--a substitution that can always be made. 

A note about the bananas: If you're not going to eat all your bananas and they're getting too ripe, unpeel them and stick them in the freezer.  They're perfect for banana breads and muffins.  I pulled mine from the freezer, they defrosted in minutes, and they tasted great in this recipe. 

It yields 12 regular sized muffins or 36 mini-muffins.  I went with the mini-muffins, and they were yummy. 

Banana Oat Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil (or applesauce!)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup mashed bananas

Preheat oven to 400.  In a bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a separate large bowl, beat the egg lightly.  Stir in the milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla.  Add the mashed banana, and combine thoroughly.  Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined.  Line muffin tin with paper cups or spray with cooking spray.  Divide the batter among them.  For regular muffins, bake for 18-20 minutes.  For mini-muffins, bake 11-13 minutes.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Spinach, Mushroom, and Sun Dried Tomato Pasta

Every time I cook pasta, I wonder why I don't cook more of it.  It's cheap, it makes so much, and it's delicious.  I got the idea for this recipe from AllRecipes and added changed some things up.  To be completely honest, I didn't measure the amount of sun dried tomatoes, spinach, or mushrooms I put in, so I'm estimating on the recipe.  Use the measurements I'm using if you're curious, but if you know you love mushrooms (or any other ingredient), add more!   To make it heartier next time, I'll add grilled chicken strips.  Hope you enjoy!

Spinach, Mushroom, and Sun Dried Tomatoes

1 lb penne pasta
1 cup reserved pasta water
3  Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp sun dried tomatoes (packed in oil)
1/4 cup baby portabello mushrooms
1 handful fresh spinach, runsed and torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Pour in penne and cook for 9-12 minutes or until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining.  Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and red pepper flakes over medium heat, and saute the garlic for 1 minute or until tender.  Mix in the spinach, and cook until almost wilted.  Pour in the reserved pasta water, mushrooms, and sun dried tomatoes.  Continue cooking 2 minutes or until heated through. 

In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the mushroom-tomato mixture.  Stir in Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pizza Dough with Wine

Mario Batali knows his Italian food, so I adapted this pizza dough recipe from his.  He mixes the yeast in a mixture of wine and water!  I love the idea of it, and the crust was good and sweet.  Honestly, I like just about anything with wine and honey. 

When you use the wine, make sure it's room temperature so it won't upset the temperature balance the yeast needs to work its magic.  I used Riesling, my favorite, but you can use any white or light red wine.  I also used whole-wheat flour for this since it was all I had, and it didn't take away any of the taste.  If anything, it made me feel better about eating more of it.  It wasn't a thin crust, so if you want a dough that's a bit heartier, this is the one for you. 

Also interesting about Mario Batali's recipe is that it ends as you're about to bake it.  He gives no time or temperature, so use what you know to work.  I don't have a pizza stone, so I baked it on a baking sheet at 425.  I prebaked the crust for 8 minutes, covered it with toppings, and then baked it an additional 10 minutes. 

You really should try this.  Once the wine is open to cook with, just pour a glass for yourself!

Pizza Dough with Wine

1/4 cup light red or white wine
3/4 cup warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3 cups flour

Place wine, water, and yeast in a large bowl, and stir until dissolved.  Add the honey, salt, and 1 Tbsp olive oil, and mix well to combine.  Add 1 cup flour and mix with a wooden spoon until it becomes a loose batter.  Add 2 more cups of the flour and stir for 2-3 minutes, incorporating as much of the flour as you can with the wooden spoon.

Bring the dough together by hand and turn out onto a floured surface.  Knead for 6-8 minutes, or until dough is smooth and firm.  Place in a clean, lightly-oiled bowl, using remaining tablespoon of oil, and cover with a towel.  Let rise in the warmest part of the kitchen for 45 minutes. 

For individual pizzas or calzones, cut the dough into four equal pizzas and knead into rounds.  For one large pizza, knead into one large round.  For either, let rest fifteen minutes. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Today's edition of Teak Dog Tuesday consists of one picture of Teak and two pictures of shoes he destroyed--within the week.  Teak and I have not had a good week.

Goodbye, pair of black and white wedges.  I used to love wearing you with a black dress.

Goodbye, favorite pair of brown sandals.  I loved your sequins; they really dressed up the flats.  I'll miss you dearly.

Not innocent.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

If you like Reese's peanut butter cups, you're about to thank me.

This little recipe from AllRecipes couldn't be any easier or tastier.  All you need is a box of brownie mix (with the eggs/oil/water it requires), a bag of miniature Reese's peanut butter cups, and a mini-muffin tin.  What you get is a chocolately and peanut-buttery bite of goodness. 

The recipe below won't be exact in its amounts of oil, eggs, and water simply because you follow whatever the directions are on the back of the box of brownie mix that you have.  I used Pillsbury brownie mix because it was on sale last week.  I'm sure Duncan Hines or Ghiradelli or especially a homemade recipe would be wonderful.  Just make it easy on yourself--and really, this couldn't be easier.

You're welcome.

Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

1 box brownie mix
vegetable oil
1 bag mini Reese's peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare brownie batter according to package directions.  Thoroughly spray mini-muffin tins with cookie spray or use foil liners.  Fill muffin tin cups half full with batter, and then place an unwrapped peanut butter cup in the center of each cup.  Bake for 20 minutes, and allow to cool before removing them from tins.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Creamy Mac and Cheese

When Bizzuck told me recently that his favorite food was macaroni and cheese, I knew it was time to search for another good recipe.  Found it!  Thanks, AllRecipes!

We loved how creamy this macaroni and cheese is, and I loved that this particular recipe won't break the bank.  Sometimes, the fancy macaroni and cheese recipes can get pricey when you have to buy 3 ounces of this fancy cheese and 3 ounces of that expensive cheese.  This recipe isn't putting on airs.  It uses Velveeta.  And it is delicious. 

When you're making it, you may wonder, like Biz did, where the rest of the macaroni is.  Don't worry; the ratio is perfect after it's baked.  I hope you like it as much as we did. 

Creamy Mac and Cheese

1 1/2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups milk
8 oz American cheese, shredded (I used the four-cheese Mexican blend)
8 oz Velveeta, cubed
1/4 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400.  Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.  In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Blend in flour, mustard powder, and pepper until smooth.  Slowly stir in the milk, beating out any lumps.  Add the cheese and Velveeta, stirring constantly until smooth. 

Drain the cooked noodles and stir into cheese sauce.  Transfer the mixture into the casserole dish, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs over the top.  Cover the dish, and bake fro 20-25 minutes or until the sauce is thick and bubbly.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bacon Breadstick Wraps

When I made these, Bizzuck was glad we didn't have anyone over for dinner--more for us!  These bacon-wrapped goodies are a wonderful appetizer from Paula Deen's cookbook, The Lady and Sons.  When I was trying to wrap the bacon around the breadstick, it didn't want to twist for the entire length of the breadstick, so I did the best I could.  I was surprised at how much the breadsticks twisted with the bacon crisping on top of it.  I'm including a picture of the box of sesame breadsticks I used; they were on the pasta aisle of the grocery store.  Enjoy!

Bacon Breadstick Wraps

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp garlic salt or powder
12 slices bacon
24 (1 pkg) sesame breadsticks

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix Parmesan cheese with garlic salt or pwoder in a shallow bowl, and set aside.  Cut the slices of bacon in half so that each in approximately 5 inches long.  Wrap one piece of bacon around a breadstick, starting at one end of breadstick and finishing at the other end.  Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or foil.  Repeat this process, using all of the breadsticks.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bacon is browned.  Remove from cookie sheet and immediately roll bacon wraps in cheese mixture.  Let cool and serve at room temperature. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Asleep with just a little grin on his face.  I love him.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken

The honey mustard sauce made this chicken so delicious!  You marinate the chicken in it, baste it with it, and then use it as a dipping sauce.  I made extra of the sauce, and we ended up dipping every part of dinner in that sauce.  It was so good and would be great to have on hand as a condiment everyday.  I'll probably make this chicken again later this week; we liked it that much.  I saved this recipe from AllRecipes a long time ago, and I should have made it sooner. 

Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken

1/3 cup dijon mustard (I used honey mustard)
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp mayonaisse
1 tsp steak sauce
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Place chicken breasts in a ziploc bag.  In a shallow bowl, mix the first four ingredients.  Set aside a small amount in another bowl to use when basting the chicken, and pour enough of the mixed sauce into the ziploc bag to coat the chicken breasts.  Allow them to marinate for at least 30 minutes. 

When ready to grill, preheat grill to medium heat.  Lightly oil the grill grate.  Cook chicken over indirect heat for 20 minutes or until juices run clear, turning occasionally.  Baste occasionally with the reserved sauce during the last 10 minutes, and watch carefully to prevent burning.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Garlic Cheese Bread

This garlic bread was amazing.  It was perfect with the chicken parmesan, just as it would be perfect with bacon and eggs in the morning or with some soup for lunch.  I adapted the recipe from Pioneer Woman, whom I love.

I changed some of what she did, though, just to make it work with what I already had.  I didn't buy and grate Cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheeses separately since I already had a store-bought bag of grated cheeses in the fridge.  I didn't use nearly as much butter as she did, and I used light mayo, but I don't think any flavor was lost.  Also, I didn't have a loaf of French bread at the house (although when I make it again, I'll remember to get some), but I did have split deli rolls that still tasted wonderful.  Next time I'd add some green onions or a dash of red pepper flakes.

Garlic Cheese Bread

1 cup grated Cheddar-Jack cheese (the kind in the bag from the store)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mayonaisse
1 loaf French bread (or deli rolls)
2 Tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves, minced

Preheat oven to 425.  Mix the cheese and mayonaisse, and set aside or keep in the refrigerator until needed. 

Melt butter in a skillet and add garlic.  Place roll halves (or French bread loaf halves) in the skillet, allowing them to get lightly toasted while soaking up butter and garlic.  Remove garlic if it gets too brown. 

Spread cheese mixture on warm bread and bake at 425 until cheese is melted and golden, about 10 minutes. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chicken Parmesan

Yum.  Chicken Parmesan is always a tempting option on a menu at an Italian restaurant, and it certainly didn't disappoint at home.  I served it over pasta, but there's no reason why you couldn't throw this on some thick bread for a hearty sandwich.  The recipe is from my Southern Living cookbook, so you know it's good. 

Chicken Parmesan

1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4" thickness
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp olive oil
Tomato sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare breadcrumbs, flour, and red pepper in a small dish, and set aside.

Dip one chicken breast in egg, and coat with breadcrumb mixture.  Dip again in egg, and coat again in breadcrumb mixture.  Repeat procedure with other chicken breast. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Teak can retrieve his bumper like nobody's business.

Here he is, sneaking a peak at what's for dinner.

He watches Bizzuck's every move. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cheesy Bacon Potatoes

What's not to love about this?  Potatoes, cheese, and bacon.  More, please!  I had some red potatoes left from an earlier recipe, and I needed a good side dish for some of the biggest steaks I'd ever seen.  This fit the bill.  It couldn't be easier, and I already had everything at the house. 

When you saw this post, if one of your first thoughts was about fat and cholesterol, then just thank me for omitting the entire stick of butter that the original recipe called for.  See?  Now you can feel good about eating this. 

You're welcome.

Cheesy Bacon Potatoes

1.5-2 lbs red potatoes, washed and cut into small wedges
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
salt and pepper
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease bottom and sides of a baking dish with cooking spray.  Place potatoes in dish, and drizzle with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cover with foil, and bake potatoes until tender, 45-60 minutes.  Remove foil and cover with cheese and bacon pieces.  Place back in oven until cheese is melted, 5-10 minutes. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Soft Pretzels

Most nights during the summer at Biz's house, you will find a Braves game on TV (that is, when Mediacom is actually working, but that's another story).  Since we've been watching a lot of baseball lately, I wanted to make something you might eat at a ballpark.  Deciding against hot dogs and nachos (I love real nachos, but not that bright orange cheese you get at the ballpark), I opted for a soft pretzel.  These are good, and they were fun to make.

The recipe calls for four cups of flour--one cup of bread flour and three cups of all-purpose flour--but I used all all-purpose.  It also says to knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  There was nothing elastic about my dough, but I kneaded it until it was smooth, and it was fine.  It makes a dozen big pretzels, so I'm saving some for later.  When you want one, just warm it up in the microwave, and then brush some butter on it with whatever else you want to top it with--kosher salt, garlic salt, cinnamon sugar, etc.  Serve with whatever dipping sauce you like and enjoy!

Soft Pretzels

1 (0.25 ounce) pkg active dry yeast
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/8 salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp baking soda
2 Tbsp butter, melted
kosher salt

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast, brown sugar, and salt in the 1 1/2 cups warm water.  Stir in flour, and knead dough on floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl (I used probably 1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil), and turn to coat the surface.  Cover, and let rise for one hour.

Combine two cups of warm water and baking soda in an 8" square pan.  After the dough has risen, cut into twelve pieces.  Roll each piece into a three-foot rope.  Twist into a pretzel shape, and dip into the water-baking soda solution.  Blot pretzel on a paper towel, place on a cookie sheet, and let rise for 15-20 more minutes. 

Bake at 450 for 8-10 minutes.  Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with salt.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Here is Teak resting up for the beach trip.

He couldn't handle being in the backseat while we were driving, so he crawled up and wedged himself between the seat and Biz's back.

We found a new way for all of us to exercise yesterday when we discovered that Teak could jog alongside a bike while Bizzuck rides and holds his leash.  (I can't take my hands off the handlebars.)  He is such a good dog!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Firefly Cocktails

We've been lucky enough to have two beach trips this summer, and let me tell you, this is the drink you want to have in your hand while you're sitting in the sand (or while you're sitting on the back porch, or probably while you're sitting at your office desk).  It will also be a great tailgating drink when football season starts.  This is our new favorite.  If you haven't tried Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka yet, go get some.  Now. 

In the picture is (what's left of) the Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka and Firefly Lemonade Vodka.  (And yes, they're in coffee mugs.  We're renting a beach house, and we apparently hadn't yet found normal cups or glasses.)  I like the drink much better with plain lemonade.  The lemonade vodka is over the top for me since there's already sweet tea vodka in the drink, but it's up to you.  I am telling you--you will love this drink.

Firefly Cocktails

1 part Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka
1 part sweet tea
1 part lemonade

Stir and serve over ice.