Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Menu Plan Monday


Monday: Tacos

Tuesday: BLT's and tomato soup

Wednesday: Mango chicken stir fry

Thursday: Spag bol and salad

Friday: Eating out
See other menu plans over at Organizing Junkie

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Menu Plan Monday


I am so late in posting our menu plan this week, but it has just been a crazy few days for us.  Last Thursday night we found out that Randal's dad had collapsed at home and was in very bad shape in hospital, so we just packed up the car and drove all night to Tulsa.  We finally got back home at 2am Tuesday morning after days of hospital visits and trying to find a nursing center to move him to, not to mention trying to organise the sale of his business.  We also brought back a new member of the family, my father in laws dog who he can no longer care for, so meals and meal planning has been the last thing on our minds recently, but it is back to our routine so this is what we have for this week.

Monday: Fast food on the way home from Tulsa

Tuesday: We grabbed bbq from Rudy's

Wednesday: Mexican stuffed shells with salad (didn't make this last week)

Thursday: Patty melts, fries

Friday: Eating out
See other menu plans over at Organizing Junkie

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Buttermilk White Bread

I had a lot of buttermilk leftover from baking cupcakes last weekend, I usually have good intentions of using it but most of the time it just sits in the fridge until it goes bad, but this time I had so much of it left that I was determined to use it.  The first thing I thought of was making some home made bread as we had planned on having bacon sandwiches for dinner anyway.  I did a quick search and found this buttermilk bread recipe from Blissful and Domestic.  It looked really good, the dough was made in the bread machine which is always a plus when I have little kids running around wanting all my attention, and I had everything on hand to make it.  It did bake up as very soft bread so I was a little concerned about that, but in the end we both enjoyed it and used it for our sandwiches.

1/3 cup Water
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp of butter
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp brown sugar
3 cups flour
2 1/4 tsp yeast
2 tbsp vital wheat gluten 

Place ingredients in the bread machine in the order listed.  Select dough setting, mine took 1 hour and 20 minutes.
When the dough cycle has finished, turn out dough onto floured surface, knead by hand for a minute just to smooth out the dough and form it to fit a greased loaf pan.  Cover and leave to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, until golden brown.  Brush with melted butter as soon as it comes out of the oven.  
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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Lemon Cream Cupcakes

I have been making a version of Olive Garden's lemon cream cake for years and it has always been one of my most popular cakes.  Over the last few years though I have made a shift from making whole cakes to cupcakes more frequently, so I knew I had to turn the lemon cake into cupcakes.  I started out just using the lemon cream filling to also frost the cupcakes, but I quickly discovered that the filling was just too soft and wouldn't hold it's shape when piped onto the cupcakes, so I quickly abandoned that and instead started frosting the cupcakes with a lemon cream cheese frosting.

I actually think the cupcakes are better than the original whole lemon cream cake, which can be quite messy, the lemon cream cheese frosting really adds an extra flavour to these cupcakes, and everyone seems to love them!

1 (18 1/4 ounce) white cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup oil
3 egg whites

Lemon cream filling:
8 ounces cream cheese
2 cups icing sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Crumb topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup cold butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream cheese frosting:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 8oz. package cream cheese
Seeds from 1 plumped vanilla bean (vanilla beans plumped in rum for at least 2 weeks)
2 cups icing sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest

Make white cake following directions on box. Pour batter into paper lined cupcake pans, filling each liner 2/3 full.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Make lemon cream filling by mixing cream cheese and icing sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Mix in lemon juice.

Whip cream in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until it forms stiff peaks. Combine cream cheese mixture with whipped cream.

Make crumb topping by combining flour and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Add butter and dribble in the vanilla extract. Use your hands to mix cold butter into flour and sugar. Break butter into smaller and smaller pieces as you incorporate it into the dry ingredients. Be sure not to press the mixture together. You want to end up with a very crumbly consistency with pieces no bigger than a pea.

To make the cream cheese frosting in the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla, lemon juice and zest and icing sugar and beat for 3 minutes, until thick and fluffy.

To assemble the lemon cream cupcakes, using the cone method fill the center of each cupcake with the lemon cream.  Frost with the cream cheese frosting, sprinkle with the crumb topping and a lemon slice.

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Menu Plan Monday


Monday: Breakfast for dinner - sausage, bacon, eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes with toast

Tuesday: BLT's and tomato soup

Wednesday: Mexican stuffed shells with salad

Thursday: Sausage casserole, mashed potatoes

Friday: Eating out
See other menu plans over at Organizing Junkie

Sunday, June 7, 2015

SRC - Carrot Cake Cookies

Time for another Secret Recipe Club reveal I love getting my blog assignment each month and this month I was assigned the blog Its Yummi.    I know I have said it before but I always go straight to the desserts, and more specifically cupcakes if there are any.  I surprised myself this month though, because I kept looking at and thinking about these  Carrot Cake Cookies.  Usually I don't even consider making a cookie recipe no matter how good it looks as cookies are just not my thing (and by that I mean, I generally cannot make a decent cookie).  I have burnt so many cookies it is ridiculous, I just have zero instincts for baking a decent cookie so I usually avoid them.   

However, around the time I was deciding on my SRC choice I was asked to make cupcakes for a bridal shower, and one of the requested items was my pineapple carrot cakeSadly, I have tried but failed before at turning that recipe into cupcakes but I kept thinking that these cookies would be a great alternative if I could actually get them to come out good. Plus, it would give the bridal shower a taste of carrot cake but in cookie form.

They turned out amazing!!   Wow - they came out perfectly - probably the best batch of cookies I've made, and the customer for the bridal shower was thrilled that I threw these in with their cupcake order.   

I was a little concerned as I made them because they were very stiff as the wet and dry ingredients came together, but I stuck with the recipe (okay, I added another tsp of vanilla even though it wasn't needed, but see, no instincts for making a good cookie!) and they baked perfectly.  They were perfectly round, had a lightly crisp bottom and a cake-like texture.   Best of all, they tasted really, really good.  I will definitely be making these cookies again.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract 
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups oats
1 cup grated carrots 
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup flaked coconut

Cream cheese frosting:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 8oz. package cream cheese
Seeds from 1 plumped vanilla bean (vanilla beans plumped in rum for at least 2 weeks)
2 cups icing sugar

Walnut halves for topping

Preheat oven to 350.
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter and sugars until combined.  Add in the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Beat until combined.
Add in the eggs, orange zest, vanilla extract and flour, mix until combined.

Take the bowl off the stand mixer and stir in by hand the oats, carrots, coconut and walnuts.

Drop cookie dough by tablespoons about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 12 minutes.

To make the cream cheese frosting in the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and icing sugar and beat for 3 minutes, until thick and fluffy.

Frost the cooled cookies with the cream cheese frosting and top with a walnut half.
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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Strawberry Balsamic Cupcakes

I love to bake cupcakes, especially ones that are a bit different than the standard cupcakes.  These strawberry balsamic cakes from Annie's Eats  definitely fit the bill for being different and interesting, and they are a really pretty looking cupcake.  I was a little concerned about the balsamic vinegar and if people would want to try them, but I think I was worried for nothing as they went over well and let people try something just a little bit different in cupcake form.

16 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
3 cups cake flour
5 eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

1 lb strawberries, hulled and chopped
1 cup and 6 tbsp sugar, divided
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks unsalted butter

3 cups strawberries
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350.  Line cupcake pan with paper liners.

To make the cupcakes, put the butter in a pan and melt over medium heat, let cook until the butter is golden brown.  Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.  

Put the cooled butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, add the sugars and beat until smooth.  Add the eggs one at a time, add in the vanilla followed by the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk and ending with the last of the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.

Fill each cupcake line 2/3 full.  Bake for 18 minutes.

To make the frosting, put the strawberries, 2 tablespoons of sugar and the balsamic vinegar in a small pan.  Cook for 5 minutes, until the berries have softened.  Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.  Strain the puree to remove any seeds and cool in the refrigerator before using in frosting.

Combine egg whites and remaining sugar in a heatproof bowl, over a pan of boiling water.  Whisk until the sugar has dissolved, around 5 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer, beat on high speed until the mixture is room temp and the egg whites have formed stiff peaks.  Add the butter 2 tablespoons at a time, blend in the strawberry puree.

To make the topping, combine the strawberries, sugar, vinegar and vanilla in a medium bowl.  Mix together and let sit for 20 minutes.

To make the glaze, combine the vinegar and sugar in a small pan, heat until boiling, reduce the heat and let simmer until glaze has reduced to about 4 tablespoons.

Frost the cupcakes with the strawberry frosting.  Use a spoon to scoop out the center of the frosting and fill with the strawberry topping, drizzle with the glaze.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Cinnamon Stewed Chicken

I have mentioned before that I am loving all things cinnamon these days, so when I saw Cat Cora make this cinnamon stewed chicken on tv a few weeks ago I knew I had to try it.  I love greek food anyway and it looked so good and I knew Randal would like it.  I did add in some cherry tomatoes just because I had some in the fridge I needed to use, but this chicken stew lived up to my expectations and was delicious.  We will definitely be making this again soon!

8 chicken thighs
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
½ cup dry white wine
2 cups water
1 can tomato paste
1 tbsp oregano
1 cup cherry tomatoes

Dry the chicken with paper towels.  Mix the cinnamon, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl and rub the chicken pieces on all sides with the mixture.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan.  Brown the chicken thighs on each side, remove from pan and set aside.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan, cook for around 3 minutes, until onions are softened.  Add the wine and cook for a minute, add in the water, tomato paste, cherry tomatoes, oregano and the browned chicken.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

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Monday, June 1, 2015

Biscuits and Gravy Sliders

We have been on quite the slider kick in this house recently.  I have been trying to come up with different versions and a few weeks ago I was watching Randal make his cream gravy and I thought why not make a biscuit and gravy slider.  Randal, of course, was definitely willing to try it and he makes the best cream gravy so I just had him make a sausage version and I made the oven baked burgers without the cheese as they are so quick and easy to make.  I cheated and used refrigerated biscuits and even though the sliders were very messy they were very good and a nice change.

1 lb ground beef
1/2 red onion, diced
1 tsp worcester sauce
salt and pepper

1 can refrigerated biscuits

1 lb sausage
4 tbsp all purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 tsp allspice
pinch of ceyenne
salt and pepper

To make the gravy, brown the sausage in a large frying pan, sprinkle the flour over the sausage and cook for a few minutes.  Slowly add in the milk and cream and stir until smooth, add in the seasonings. 

Bake the biscuits according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 400.

To make the burgers, in a bowl, mix together the beef, onion, worcester sauce and salt and pepper.  Press beef into an 8x8 baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, drain any fat that is in the pan. 

Cut the beef into squares, and serve on the biscuits topped with gravy.

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Menu Plan Monday


Monday: Patty melts, corn on the cob

Tuesday: Herb roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans

Wednesday: Shrimp fried rice

Thursday: Pizza

Friday: Eating out
See other menu plans over at Organizing Junkie