April 28, 2011

Cranberry-Orange Muffins

It's been a crazy week.  I've recently spent more time in a hospital than I ever have previously, and I totally have a new-found respective for nurses.  Doctors flit in and out, while nurses seem to do all of the work...no offense to my brother the doctor :)  My grandpa should be released tomorrow, and then he and my step-grandma will spend a few days with us, while he recovers from this throat surgery.

When I had breakfast with my step-grandma yesterday she really wanted a muffin, but not the prepackaged type available at the hotel, so I decided to make muffins tonight.  The last time I made this recipe I was attempting to make scones, but the batter was more muffin-like and I had a really hard time making scones.  Here's the kicker - the batter today was perfect for scones and I have no idea why it turned out differently.  I went ahead with muffins, since the pans were out and lined.

I would definitely make these again as muffins.  Using a large Oxo scoop, I got fairly small muffins, just barely higher than the top of the muffin tin, and they cooked in 13 minutes.  The only change I made to the allrecipes.com recipe was to use half wheat, half white flour.  Now I need to hit publish on this post, because it's almost 8pm and I'm looking forward to watching Michael Scott's last episode of The Office!

April 21, 2011

Mexican Tortilla Pizzas

Chris loves all Mexican food, so I was pretty certain he'd like this recipe I saw on Amanda's blog.  In fact, he couldn't stop saying good things about it tonight.  I liked it too, so I was happy to find a new quick recipe for weeknight dinners.

The only slight problem I had when making this recipe was spreading the refried beans, which were much easier to spread after being heated in the microwave for one minute.  I also had Chris hold the tortillas while I spread the beans because they kept moving around on me.  Macho man thought he could hold them with his fingers, until he realized what a 400 degree pan feels like.  Then he switched to using the ends of two wooden spoons :)

Next time I'd probably chop the green pepper and green onion a little smaller, but I was in a hurry and it all tastes the same.  We'll definitely be making this recipe again!

Mexican Tortilla Pizzas
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • 6 (7-inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1/3 cup taco sauce
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 2 cups (8oz) shredded 4-cheese Mexican blend
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place tortillas in a single-layer on baking sheets. Bake for 5 minutes, or until crisp.
  • Spread 1/4 cup of the refried beans, 1 tablespoon taco sauce, green pepper and tomato on each tortilla.
  • Top with cheese and finally green onions.
  • Bake for an additional 8 minutes or until cheese has melted.
  • Use a pizza cutter to cut each tortilla into 8 wedges to serve. Serve immediately because the pizza cools quickly!
Recipe Source: Sargento.com
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April 16, 2011

Morning Glory Muffins

I can remember eating this type of muffin at my Grandma's church after the service.  I think that generation had some serious baking talent!  This recipe tasted just like the muffins I remember, when I had one for breakfast this morning.

This is one of the three recipes I made last night, that put me in bed after midnight, but it was so worth it :)  It's pretty quick to make, despite the fairly long list of ingredients.  I made the recipe exactly as written with one exception, I subbed craisins for raisins and skipped the soaking method because I don't like plump craisins nor raisins...to me, it's weird to plump up dried fruit.

One recommendation I have is to use a mini food processor to grate the carrots, since 7 oz is needed.  I started hand-grating mine, but quickly grabbed my Cuisinart Mini-Prep when I weighed the first two carrots and it was only a little over an ounce!

We're heading to Madison this morning, where I'll be attending a bridal shower and then meeting up with a large group of Chris' friends from his PhD days at UW-Madison.  Not quite the weekend we had initially planned, since opening day at the Dane County Farmers' Market was going to be first priority, but it's Wisconsin so we've learned how to roll with 40 degrees temperature drops :)

Reese's Pieces Peanut Butter Cups

This cookie recipe has become one of my favorites, despite the fact that peanut butter cookies typically are not a favorite of mine.  I wanted to make a spring version tonight, so I added Reese's Pieces eggs.

I wasn't sure of the best method for shaping the dough and adding the candy, so I made the recipe America's Test Kitchen style and tried four different methods.

The dough shaped before and after baking (on the right below) had a much deeper center that held the candy more easily. 

So the winner was....dough shaped before and after baking, and adding candy after the cookies had completely cooled.  I used a Pampered Chef tart shaper to shape the dough, and a paring knife to remove the cookies from the pan.

April 15, 2011

Pasta with Balsamic Vegetables

Everything I picked up at the farmer's market today was green!  It started with the guy from Growing Power telling me the turnip greens were fantastic this week and that he just cut the spinach in Oak Creek this morning, so I got both, in addition to green beans and green peppers.

For dinner, I tried this recipe because I'm in love with the balsamic vinegar I got last month.  I had planned to add the turnip greens, but found baby spinach in our fridge that needed to be used first.  So I added broccoli, green beans, and spinach (and tomatoes on Chris' portion).  The recipe was ok, but really lacked flavor.  Even Chris, the world's non-pickiest eater, didn't care for it.

I plan to spend the remainder of the evening in the kitchen baking three things for tomorrow, if time allows!  Might be back yet tonight, with another post :)

April 12, 2011

Mini Pizzas

Tonight was my first and last time attending Monday night bodyflow because the instructor is terrible.  It's too bad because the 7:30pm start time works well with my schedule.  I'd love to do bodyflow more than once a week, but so far have not found an instructor nearly as good as the Wednesday night one :(

I typically just have a quick, light dinner around 9pm when I get home after class, but decided to make pizza rolls instead tonight.  I had leftover sauce and mozzarella cheese from making them the other night, and this time added green pepper and baby spinach.

After one tray of pizza rolls, I decided to make mini pizzas with the remaining dough.  I like the pizza rolls, but I really liked the mini pizzas!  It's weird how the exact same ingredients taste different in a slightly different form.

April 10, 2011

Easter Egg Cookies

I saw this Easter Eye Candy post yesterday and thought the timing was perfect because I could use some cookie decorating inspiration.  However, I now sort of think it's defeating to see the beautiful cookies others create, compared to what transpires in my kitchen :( 

Don't look too closely at the photos below because my piping needs some serious practice.  However, Chris and I sampled a couple and they are delicious, so I guess it doesn't matter too much what they look like :)

I think the problem is that I haven't practiced much because it's kind of a pain to bake the cookies, make the frosting, and then get out all the decorating supplies.  Below was my very haphazard setup this morning.

One tip I picked up at the cookie decorating class I attended recently was to use an angled spatula to frost cookies, and it works so well!  I picked up a Wilton 9-inch at Michael's.

Now I'm headed to a concert at Wisconsin Lutheran College where my cousin Joan is performing.  I've finished just enough cookies this morning so that I have a few to give to her and her husband Lee.

April 07, 2011

Three-Bean Vegetable Chili

Today was definitely an off day.  Woke up feeling like I hadn't slept.  I blame two cats that think nighttime = playtime, but also the fact that I ran out of loratadine and figured my allergies would be ok without it for a couple days. 

The recipe for tonight's dinner looked promising but sadly it did not deliver.  Neither Chris nor I liked it.  I really liked the concept but the seasoning was all wrong.  Way too much cumin, not enough chili powder...it could probably be tweaked, but I don't want to mess around with it again. 

I'm very happy that tomorrow is Friday.  No big plans for the weekend, but I am looking forward to a forecasted high of 72 on Sunday, even though thunderstorms are also in the forecast.

April 05, 2011

Cranberry-Oatmeal Bars

After dinner tonight, I made cranberry-oatmeal bars which I recently saw on Natalie's blog, and was based on this recipe.  The only changes I made were to sub greek yogurt for the sour cream, and I used an 8x8 pan instead of an 11x7.  The perfect treat with tea to end the day!