Monthly Archives: February 2013

New To Me Cooking Challenge, Wks 5-8

 
Week 5- Kahlua & Coffee BBQ Sauce
I’m really excited that this recipe came out so good! ‘Specially because I made a few changes from the original version. Click here for the ORIGINAL.
I don’t own a food processor. I should, but I don’t want to spend $30+ on a kitchen appliance that I don’t have room for in my tiny, tiny space! Which leads me to the peeling & chopping. The shallots weren’t so bad… but I’m pretty sure they’re just small onions. Right? The garlic was a-whole-nother story. It was oddly comical. I couldn’t figure out an easy way to peel the skin. Then about half way through the 3rd clove I realized that all the chefs on TV always squish their garlic (and I never knew why), turns out if you squish the little sections hard enough the skin pretty much peels itself. Darn. At anyrate because I don’t own a food processor, and my chopping skills aren’t that great, my sauce has A LOT of visible garlic chunks.
I’m one of those people who swear she knows what she has in the kitchen… and then doesn’t have it. That happened to me 2x while I was collecting my ingredients for this BBQ. The first time was soy sauce (which was going to replace the tamari), and the second was ginger. Ooops. Instead of freaking out like I normally would… I (in a totally relaxed manner without any cussing) replaced the soy sauce with teriyaki, and the ground ginger with cinnamon. I just assumed that teriyaki would make a good replacement for the soy sauce, and I read online that cinnamon makes an OK replacement for ginger.
:::SIDE NOTE: I didn’t know what tamari is. I had to look it up online, and I wasn’t sure if I could even find it in my grocery store. When I saw that it was like soy sauce, I decided to make that change.:::
Overall I really like the flavor in this sauce, even though it isn’t very Kahlua-y or coffee-y. Maybe I needed to make the coffee SUPER strong? I’m super excited that it came out so well even with my little issues. I also discovered that I like Sweet Chili Sauce! AND last but not least, this was the first time I’ve ever tried to “reduce” something that it actually worked! YAY!!
 
Week 6- Potato, Broccoli, and Cheese Soup
Thanks to Inside Bru Crew Life for inspiring me to make this! You should def check out her Nacho Potato Chowder! It’s delish. I did change a few little things from the original recipe.  Mostly because I don’t like celery or mushrooms, and I didn’t want to eat the extra calories from the bacon bits. I also couldn’t find Nacho Cheese Soup at the grocery. Hmph.
This would have been pretty easy-peasy… if only I knew an easier way to peel potatoes! Ugh, not fun. I’ll also need a bigger pot. I almost had some overflow. But that’s life as a “new cook”. I never used to worry about what size my pots & pans are. After all, the only thing they got used for was spaghetti! LOL.
Confession: I used frozen broccoli. I know. I’m horrible. But let me explain? What had happened was… I (try to) do all my grocery shopping on Saturday afternoon… Hubs had to travel most of this week, we weren’t sure when he’d be home. So I didn’t want to buy fresh broccoli, and have it go bad. That makes it OK, right? So, I steamed it for about 4 minutes in the microwave (just long enough to thaw), then put it in with the rest of the ingredients to finish cooking. 
This soup will be great for one of those cold days when we want something hot! It’s almost easy enough to make for lunch.
 
Week 7- Cheater’s Shepherd’s Pie
Week 7 of the “New To Me Cooking Challenge” was a success! Husband said he’d ask for it again AND I actually liked it too!
The only thing I didn’t like was that I had to use 3 pans. Pffft, I hate washing dishes!
I call this “Cheater” Shepherd’s Pie because, well… I cheated. I used pre-minced garlic, fake flake mashed potatoes, and pre-made beef gravy. Sue me. 😉 If you want to completely homemade version check out this one by Picky Palate. It inspired my version.
I used all reduced fat products when I made it… Super lean ground beef, reduced fat gravy, reduced fat shredded cheese, and made the potatoes w/ 2% milk & 1 tablespoon margarine. I count calories, and I need to cut them when I can (I like to save room for all the cupcakes/ desserts)!
 
Week 8- American Chop Suey
So, this American Chop Suey was a last-minute choice for week 8 of the New 2 Me Cooking Challenge. I wanted to make THIS recipe from Cravings Of A Lunatic… but I forgot to pick up the taco seasoning, and I didn’t have anything to substitute for it. Total bummer.
My mom used to make a version of this recipe pretty often, and I had all the required ingredients… so I figured I’d throw it together.
I know that Chop Suey is usually made with stewed or diced tomatoes, but I HATE (HATE, HATE) stewed tomatoes, and I didn’t have any fresh ones to cut up. I also know that most people sauté the peppers and onions then brown the meat, but I also HATE mushy cooked veggies. ::: I have a really weird thing about food textures:::
Overall it’s unassuming and pretty average dinner. It needs some sort of pizazz. Some sort of extra flavor! Hmmmm… I need to think about this.
 
 
That wraps up February’s “New To Me Cooking Challenge”!
 
Happy Cooking!
-Hey Waitress!!
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Peanut Butter Banana Bread Muffins w/ Reeses Cups!

Mom On Timeout is a banana/ peanut butter/ chocolate genius! Seriously.
 
I’ve been wanting to try to make banana bread for some time now… and when I stumbled on her version… I HAD to have it. BUT the muffins I actually made are a combination of 2 of her recipes… I used the PB Banana Bread as a base, and then added the Reeses Cups just like in her Reeses Explosion Banana Bread! HEAVEN!
 
I got 24 small muffins out of this batch, but the next time I make them I’ll fill the muffin liners to the very top, ‘cause this batter doesn’t rise very much.
 
I learned something new while making these! I bought these bananas with the intention of making the muffins later in the week, but then I realized that we’re going to my Nana’s (in Maryland) for her 90th birthday Friday. Knowing that my bananas might not be ripe enough to use by Thursday was driving me CRAZY! Fortunately one of my friends from back home sent me this little tip… “Bake” the bananas in the oven! Seriously, put them in the oven at 300 degrees F for 30-60 minutes, until the skins get nice and black. Perfect for baking! I was so excited when it worked!
 
Now, it’s time to go… those little muffins are calling my name for a little snack.
 
Happy Baking!
-Hey Waitress!!
 
My version is HERE!
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Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Stuffed Cupcakes

These cupcakes use 3 of my favorite things. Bailey’s. Chocolate. AND peanut butter. Seriously… you can’t go wrong.
 
I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe, AND my favorite buttercream recipe, then add delish raw (eggless) peanut butter cookie dough… heaven.
I saw a version of these on one of the food blogs, and could believe that I hadn’t thought of doing this myself! ‘Specially after I made the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes. If I can find the recipe that inspired these I’ll add a link later.
 
Make the cookie dough the night before, and put them into the batter still frozen. That way the cookie dough will stay nice and soft. It’s the same pb cookie dough that I used in the Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Brownies, from foodnetwork.com. It’s a bit salty, so next time I’ll probably only use half the amount called for.
 
When I baked the first dozen cupcakes, I filled the lined muffin tin 1/3 of the way full, put the cookie dough in the middle, and then covered it with more batter. It took too long and they still caved a little bit in the middle.
So, for the second batch I just filled the liner THEN pressed the frozen cookie dough gently on top. It left a small depression that ended up being a perfect spot to put the frosting on!
For the last 8 cupcakes I figured I’d give my silicone baking cups another try. The last time I used them, the cupcakes stuck to the silicone, so this time I used a paper liner on the inside. Basically what happened was that they didn’t bake all the way through. The batter rose really high while the cookie dough sank! I had to bake them for a few minutes longer (about 20minutes). At some point I also thought it started to smell funny, but Husband didn’t smell anything. Maybe I’m just not supposed to use silicone.
 
The buttercream recipe makes just enough to frost these cupcakes, but lightly. There wasn’t near enough to smother them like I usually do. But that’s probably a good thing.
 
At any rate… I’ve got to go. Worst Cooks in America is on, and that show REALLY makes me feel better about my cooking abilities.
 
Happy Sunday Bakery!!
-Hey Waitress!!
 
Click HERE for the RECIPE.
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Conversation Heart “Petit Fours” & Pink Rice Krispie Hearts

Happy VD! Eeeer, I mean Happy Valentine’s Day!
 
Now that that’s out of the way… I don’t particularly like V-day. It’s fake holiday. And silly. The only time I actually enjoyed it was when I was a little kid, and EVERYONE got & gave those little cards, and you got to have a party in school…
But now I use it as an excuse to bake. And Bake. AND BAKE.
 
This year, I wanted to try something “fun”.  And I’ve seen these ALL OVER the blogs! My version of Conversation Hearts weren’t much fun. It ended up being kind of complicated, and I’m not really sure where to start.
I know I needed a dense or smaller crumbed cake to hold up to the cutting and the poured icing… so I looked online at sponge cakes, pound cakes, angle food cakes… and every recipe was just too complicated for me. I didn’t want to deal with stiff eggs, and other directions I don’t really understand. 😉 So, I ended up “doctoring” a cake mix from a recipe I found on Yahoo Answers (and forgot to bookmark).
I used a medium-sized jelly roll pan. I’m not actually sure how big it is, but it didn’t fit all my batter! Oops. Lucky for me I had 2 super adorbs heart-shaped ramekins my Nana sent me and I just used those for the extra batter. I also forgot to write down how long I baked the cake for. Sorry! I’d probably start at 20 minutes. When I was cutting the ❤ shapes out I dipped the cookie cutters in some flour to help keep the cake from sticking to them. I also found that pushing the cake out from the bottom of the cutter (gently) worked better than pushing it out from the top. It kept the tops intact and fingerprintless.
 
Then came the icing (Food Network website, Poured Fondant)… it didn’t really work out for me and I’m not sure why. I ended up adding another cup of powdered sugar to it, then had to let it sit for a while before it was thick enough that it wouldn’t run off the cakes completely. That’s why there aren’t any pix of the blue hearts… I tried those first with the original recipe… and what wasn’t absorbed pretty much ran right off the cakes. I let them sit for a few minutes, and then tried icing it again… still no good. So I added more powdered sugar, let it sit for about 5 or 10 more minutes and iced them AGAIN. It finally (kind of) worked.
After the experimenting with the blue I tried the other 3 colors, and they worked a little bit better. I guess I just had to add more powdered sugar, and then let it sit for a few minutes. And coat them 2x. let them sit for a few more minutes before you add your favorite Conversation Heart sayings. Did you know they have <3’s that say “Text Me” now!? Seriously. I don’t know if I should be disturbed or not. What ever happened to “B Mine” & “Luv U”? Geez…
 
Now that the Conversation Heart “Petit Fours” are done and assuming you didn’t eat the leftovers (like I ALMOST did)… you’re probably wondering what to do with them. I would suggest adding them to some Pink Rice Krispie Treat hearts. Yes, you read that right. Add the crumbs/ chunks of leftover Funfetti cake to some Rice Krispie Treats! Muhahahaha!
I made mine just like regular Rice Krispie Treats. EXCEPT: add a titch of red food coloring to the marshmallows to dye it pink and mix the cake chunks in with the Rice Krispies. Then flatten your mixed Krispies & marshmallow on to a cookie sheet, stick some Conversation Hearts onto the top, and flatten it out. I layered it between 2 sheets of parchment paper and flattened it with a rolling pin!  Finally let it cool, then cut out your heart shapes! Tah-Dah!
 
At this point I have a confession. I ate the leftover Rice Krispie Treat pieces. All of them. And I’m only a little ashamed.
 
Happy Baking!
-Hey Waitress!!
 
PS. I didn’t give serving sizes ‘cuz it’ll depend on what size cookie cutter you use! Duh.
 
Conversation Heart “Petit Fours” Recipe here!
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