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Sunday, July 29, 2007


I LOVE blondies. I'm not so big on chocolate, and typical brownies have no allure for me, but give me a blondie and I'm set. I decided to make this recipe from Baking Blonde, as it was recommended by many. I was hesitant when removing them from the oven (the recipe stresses not to overbake them) because they seemed too gooey to be "done", but I wanted them to be right because I planned on sharing them with friends. I was assured that 'gooey' is just what they are supposed to be. mmmmmmm :-)

Basic Blondies
Source: Baking Blonde

  • 8 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla or 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • Add ins: ½ to 1 cup of: chocolate chips, chopped nuts, dried cranberries, chopped up candy bars, etc. (I used about 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, 1/3 cup white chocolate morsels, 1/3 cup butterscotch morsels)
Preheat oven to 350. Butter an 8x8" pan. Mix melted butter with brown sugar-beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla. Add salt, Stir in flour. Mix in any additions. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes (err on the side of caution, do NOT over bake these babies) or until set in the middle. Cool on rack before cutting.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Spicy Garlic Lime Chicken

This recipe is becoming legendary on What's Cooking, and given my fiance's enjoyment for anything spicy, garlicy, or limey, I knew it would be a hit at our house. I was right. :-)

I think the only thing I changed from her recipe was to also add a little crushed red pepper to the sauce (since he loves it and thinks it belongs in everything).

This was SO good. I was worried that there wouldn't enough sauce, but it just clings to the pasta like nothing else. SO GOOD!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Cheesy Baked Tortellini

Tonight I made something I know my fiance enjoys: Giada's Cheesy Baked Tortellini.  It's a gooey comfort dish that always hits the spot for us.  I have found that we like to use a little more cheese and add in some ground turkey or chicken, whatever we have on hand, to add some extra protein.  

Cheesy Baked Tortellini
Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis
  • Olive oil or cooking spray
  • 2 cups marinara sauce, we like to use Puttanesca sauce
  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley or 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 8 ounces purchased cheese tortellini
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced fresh mozzarella 
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 pound ground turkey or chicken

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8x8x2-inch baking dish.  Brown the ground turkey or chicken in a skillet over medium heat, until no longer pink. Meanwhile, whisk the sauce, mascarpone cheese, parsley and thyme in a large bowl to blend. Cook the tortellini in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 8 minutes.  Drain. Add the tortellini and browned meat to the sauce and toss to coat. Transfer the tortellini mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top the mixture with the smoked mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and bake until the sauce bubbles and the cheeses on top melt, about 30 minutes.

Here is mine, ready for the oven:

And fresh out of the oven....

aaaaand on the plate:

YUM :-)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

What to do with Bananas, Week 2

Ok, so AGAIN I ended up with nearly-over-ripe bananas. This week I had another recipe in the queue - Amber's Banana Roll with Blueberry Lemon Cream Cheese Filling. I didn't change anything except adding a little extra banana (I used two bananas). Oh, I also used half fat free and half 'regular' cream cheese. This was REALLY good. I shared this with friends - and got a recipe request!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

What to do with Bananas, Week 1

So this weekend I had the inevitable nearly-over-ripe banana situation. I did a little perusing and decided to make Deborah's White Chocolate Banana Cake. The only modification I did was to use 1/2 Butterscotch morsels and 1/2 White Chocolate morsels. It was delicious! This one will certainly remain in the "ripe banana" recipe rotation.

I must have been on a Deborah 'kick' because I was also intrigued by her Toffee Coconut Cookies. There were a few changes to this, I used half 'light' butter and half regular butter, as I have been experimenting with lately. (So far so good). I had Heath bar to break up for the toffee part, so with the chocolate there I decided to substitute the chocolate chips with (again) butterscotch morsels.

These were also a hit! Both desserts were shared with friends and devoured in short order. Both will be made again!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

New Love for Butternut Squash

Growing up, I HATED butternut squash. There wasn't enough cinnamon (or mashed potatoes for that matter) in the world to get me to eat mine. It was torture for my mother trying to me to "finish my vegetables" when squash was involved.

I haven't had butternut in years, but I was drawn to Cara's fries-made-from-sqaush. Today, I bought a butternut squash for the first time ever. I never saw my mom prepare it, so I didn't even know what it looked like inside (and I was, for some reason, surprised!). Well, as Cara suggests, I parboiled first. Then I dabbed with evoo and sprinkled with some homemade Essence. (Looking at Cara's blog, I now realized I didn't put them in the ice bath after parboiling.... no worries, they were no worse for wear). I fired up non-other than my toaster oven (just lazy, really) and put them at about 375 degrees F for maybe 20 minutes.

These are SERIOUSLY good. I don't know if it's just because essence may quite effectively void all other flavors, but it did NOT taste like my mother's butternut squash. There is a new squash lover out there, all thanks to Cara.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy 4th!

The 4th was a low-key day for us this year. I made my favorite for the 4th: my mom's chicken kabobs. I paired it with some rosemary potatoes, roasted on the grill.

Chicken (or beef!) Kabobs:
2 lbs chicken or beef, cut to 'kabob' size :-)
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp salad oil
1 tsp garlic (about 1 clove)
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
few dashes of worcestershire sauce

Combine ingredients and marinate overnight, refigerated. Skewer kabobs, grill til cooked through.

For the potatoes, I cut red potatoes down about about 1" cubes. I tossed with some extra-virgin olive oil, fresh rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I wrapped them in a foil packet and placed on the grill. After about 30 minutes, I added some chopped zucchini that also had been rubbed with evoo, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I let them finish cooking about 20 more minutes.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

WC Platinum Chef Challenge, Round 2!

So it's time for round 2 of the What's Cooking Platinum Chef Challenge (currently hosted by Bensbabe823 at Cara's Cravings). The ingredients this time around are corn, cheese, pepper, blueberries, and citrus. I had lots of ideas on how to use them spread across two dishes, but ultimately ended up putting them all in one: an appetizer. In the spirit of Aunt Sandy, I also am presenting a cocktail.

So, first things first: Blueberry Martini. This wonderful martini mix is courtesy of Stirrings. Initially, my local liquor store did not carry the blueberry mix, but I asked for it and a week later they had a shelf stocked. :-)

  • 2 parts Stirrings Wild Blueberry Martini mix
  • 1 part citrus vodka (I used Skyy Limon)
  • 3-4 blueberries (frozen ones sink, fresh ones float....I like sinking better)

Combine mix and vodka on ice; shake. Pour over blueberries in chilled martini glass.

Ok, onto the food! I've been wanting to make something with wontons, so I decided to make a mexican style filling and include the blueberries to give a sweetness that would balance the onion and pepper.

Sweet and Spicy Wontons
  • one can (11oz) corn
  • 2/3 cup blueberries (I used fresh and halved them)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup white onion, diced
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1-2 cups 4 cheese mexican blend (I wanted them to be cheesy, so I mixed some in the filling, then added some on top just before closing the wontons.)
  • approx 30 wonton wraps

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine all ingredients (except wonton wraps) in bowl. Drop spoonfuls of mixture in center of wonton wrap. Sprinkle extra cheese if desired. Dot edge of wrap with water, fold up to seal into a pocket. Place on baking sheet lined with non-stick foil (or parchment or cooking spray).

Here are mine, ready for the oven:
Bake wontons at 400 degrees F for approx. 10 -12 minutes, until wontons are crisp.
Here is the finished product! My fiance actually was brave enough to try my creation after I made a small first batch. His response was that I should make more :-)