3.13.2017

Texas Sheet Cake



This is a sheet cake my mom made growing up. This milk chocolate dessert (with a hint of cinnamon) will be enjoyed by any chocolate lover!

In bowl combine:

1 1/2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
In saucepan bring to rapid boil:
1 c. butter
5 TBS cocoa
1 c. water
-Pour over flour and sugar mixture and mix well.
Add and mix well:
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp soda
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon (secret ingredient!)
-Pour in large 11x17 cookie sheet. Bake 350 for 25 minutes. Cool.

Icing:
2 TBS cocoa
2/3 stick butter
4 TBS milk or buttermilk
-Bring to boil, remove from heat and add:
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 c. nuts (optional)
-Spread on top of cake and let cool. Cut into squares.

2.27.2017

Winter Orange Party Favor

A simple, colorful, and healthy party favor!  Wrap small or large oranges with tissue.  Customize to party theme by color of tissue, ribbon, and attached tag.

2.20.2017

Apple Onion Tart

This is a little bit on the unusual side and you may be hesitant to try it :)  This is kind of a hit or miss recipe.  Some people LOVE it and others can leave it.  I personally like the unusual combo of apple, onion, cheese, and bacon.  You can make mini ones, or family style as pictured above.


Ingredients 

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Asiago cheese, divided 
2 tablespoons butter 
1 3/4 cups diced sweet onion 
1 3/4 cups peeled and diced Granny Smith apples (about 2 large) 
1 tablespoon light brown sugar 
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
1/2 teaspoon table salt 

2 teaspoons dried thyme 
bacon slices, cooked and finely chopped
1 Package Puff Pastry

Preparation 

1. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a medium skillet over medium heat; add onion and brown sugar, and sauté 5 minutes. Add apple and vinegar, pepper, salt, and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat, and cool completely.
2. Preheat oven to 400. Roll out puff pastry and cut each square of pastry into 3rds making six rectangles.  Lay rectangles on a 111x 17 baking sheets lined with parchment.  Spoon apple onion mixture then Sprinkle bacon and cheese on top.
4. Bake at 400 for 20  minutes or until edges of puff pastry are golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack and cut into desired size after it has cooled.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

2.15.2017

Trader Joes Cooking Class Handouts


I finally have some pictures of one of my cooking classes.  My sister was in town to help me out with this one!  It is always so much work to plan these, but I love sharing recipes and seeing other women get excited about cooking for their families.

Baguette with Trader Joes Garlic Onion Jam and Dubliner Cheese

Brushetta





Favorites from Trader Joes
Thursday, February 2, 2017



Produce:
Colored Carrots
Cauliflower Rice
Premade salads
Salad Dressings
Deli Meats
Yogurt
Cream Fraiche
Pizza Dough

Breads:
Tortillas: 
Handmade (thicker)
Whole Wheat/Corn
Flour/Corn
Cracked Wheat Sourdough


Canned Goods:
Coconut Cream
Coconut Milk


Bottled Goods:
Pickles
BBQ Sriacha/Garlic
BBW Carolina
Smokey Peach Salsa
Masala Simmer Sauce
Balsamic Glaze
Soyaki
Roasted Garlic and Onion Jam
Eggplant Spread
Cookie Butter
Pumpkin Butter (Seasonal)

Drinks:
Spiced Cider (Seasonal)
Honeycrisp Cider
Sparkling French Lemonades

Frozen:
Italian Style Meatballs $3.99
Frozen Roasted (Blackened) Corn
Garam Masala Veggie Burgers
Coconut Shrimp $5.99
Fries
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Pesto Pizza $4.99
BBQ Pizza
Samosas Chicken Tikka Appetizer $3.99

Other:
Coconut Oil Can Spray
Shelf Stable Whipping Cream$1.29
Organic Vegetable/Chicken Broth $1.99
Dried Fruit (not sulphered)
Dried Fruit Bar (fruit leather)$.69
Fruit Bar (thicker than fruit leather bars)$0.99
Fruit Bar w/ Chia Seeds $.99
Herb Popcorn
Colored Corn Chips
Pita Multigrain Crackers $2.49
Raisin & Rosemary Crackers $3.99
Popcorn Seeds (to make own popcorn)
Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix (seasonal)
Flowers/Plants at entrance
Seasonal Gifts
Coconut Body Butter

Treats
Caramel Sauce
Fudge Sauce
Cookie Thins (lemon, coconut, ginger)
Cat Cookies $2.99
Vanilla Wafers

Spices:
$2 a bottle
Everyday Seasonings Grinder




Bruschetta with Feta Spread and Balsamic Glaze

Serves 12-15
Cheese mixture:
6-8 ounces good feta, crumbled
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup good olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
-Place the feta and cream cheese in bowl and mix with a spoon until the cheeses are blended. Add 1/3 cup olive oil, the lemon juice, ½- teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and stir until smooth.

Tomato mixture:
2 teaspoons minced garlic (I prefer just one clove)
2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
2 TBS balsamic glaze (or balsamic vinegar)
2 pounds ripe heirloom or cherry tomatoes, diced
3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving
-Combine the garlic, vinegars, tomatoes and basil.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Assembly:
30 diagonal baguette slices, toasted
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
-To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top. Put the crostini on plates and scatter with the pine nuts. Sprinkle with extra basil, drizzle Trader Joes Balsamic Glaze on top and serve.

Roasted Vegetables
This is a DELICIOUS vegetarian main dish, or you can use it as a side dish.  We eat a big bowl of this with a spinach smoothie.  The purple potatoes really make the dish look colorful and gourmet.  Note, the smaller you cut the vegetables the faster they will roast.  This recipe is flexible when it comes to proportions and feel free to experiment with your spices!

Cut a medley of the following:
Carrots
Purple potatoes
Mini-creamer fingerling potatoes
Zucchini
Bell peppers
onion
Cauliflower
Cherry Tomatoes
Kale
Parsnips


-Pre-heat oven to 425
-Chop the veggies you are using into bite size pieces and place on 11x 17 cookie sheet.
-Drizzle on some olive oil, season with salt/pepper, and other desired spices & mix thoroughly
-Spice ideas: Season with Tones Spicy Spaghetti Seasoning (from Sam's Club) or Italian Seasoning or whatever seasoning you want!  You can add a bit of cayenne or red pepper flakes, fresh garlic, garlic powder, etc.
- Roast for 15-25 minutes until veggies begin to brown around edges.
-Sprinkle with some grated parmesan and toasted pine nuts and serve.  What sends this over the top is to drizzle with Trader Joes Balsamic Glaze


Thai Vegetable Salad
When it comes to salads, I like a LOT of toppings!  I make this salad all the time and it varies depending what I have in my fridge.  Feel free to use ALL or just some of any of the following ingredients!


Shredded red and green Cabbage
Romaine lettuce
spinach
Shredded Carrots
Cucumbers
Sliced Red Peppers
Pea pods
Sesame Seeds

Blanched green beans
avocado
Grilled Chicken
Canned mandarin oranges, juice drained
Peanuts or Cashews or toasted almonds
Crushed Ramen Noodles or Rice/Chow Mein Noodles



-Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Toss with Trader Joes Asian Style Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette

2.02.2017

Trader Joes!

Where to start?  Here are just a few Trader Joe items you may want to try!

Coconut Cream is often hard to find. Great for Indian and Thai cooking. This is also tasty in smoothies.

This veggie broth is darker in color and more robust in flavor than your average brands.

These fruit bars have only two ingredients: Apple and Mango. No added sugar, dye, or preservatives.

I love this Soyaki sauce! It's great as a marinade for steak (I like to use thinly cut flank steak for a beef stir fry served over rice). It also makes a great teriyaki sauce for salmon.

With a hint of mustard, the Carolina Gold BBQ sauce is one of our favorites!

The Roasted Garlic & Onion Jam is to die for! It's great as an accompaniment with bread and cheeses. Try it on a gourmet hamburger with your favorite brie cheese and a little bacon!

The Caramel Sauce and Fudge Sauces could make concrete taste good. We fight over who gets to enjoy the spoon that's been used to serve the sauce!

These spreads are great with any Greek platters, pitas, crackers, bread, etc. Try them on your panini or regular sandwiches.

Use on waffles, tarts, crepes, fruit pizza, filling for cupcakes and cakes. Delicious with berries!

This Sriracha BBQ sauce is quite addictive with a sweet flavor up front and a kick at the end! It's great on beef brisket, pulled pork or chicken sandwiches.

TJ's spices are really high quality for a low price.

This shelf stable whipping cream is a cook's best friend. There's often times when I need whipping cream and don't have any in the fridge.

The Handmade Flour Tortillas taste truly homemade. They don't have the pasty flavor of Mission tortillas and don't have the preservative-y taste either.

I love popcorn as a healthy snack. This version is great because it skips the butter calories in favor of herbs and spices.

These don't have any added sugar although they are plenty sweet since they're made from juice concentrates.

This is hands down the best store spiced apple cider! It's delicious cold; however, it makes a great hot cider. I use this in making wassail which is a winter staple.

It's always nice to have a good pie crust on hand to simplify some desserts. This one has a more buttery flavor and browns nicely, although this BUTTER HOMEMADE CRUST is always better!

For French Macaron fans, these are beautiful.  Avoid the stress of making your own--they are very tricky to make, I've tried!  Look in the Freezer section. These are a great Gluten Free dessert!

As good as Haagen Daz, this ice cream is for those who will appreciate it!

The best Mint Chip ice cream in my sister's opinion.  I prefer mint chip ice cream with smaller chocolate pieces, but this is good.

For a quick dinner, TJ pizza's are nice to have on hand.
Our favorite frozen pizza!

While you can buy hash browns anywhere, I'm partial to these.

These cookies come in Myer Lemon, Coconut, and Triple Ginger. I love serving the Lemon ones with my frozen berry yogurt. The coconut ones are a great foundation for individual cheesecakes (add some lime zest and juice to the cheesecake for a yummy Coconut Lime Cheesecake).

This shrimp makes great fish tacos with a cabbage slaw. You can also pair this with an Asian chili sauce for an appetizer.

I have an addiction!

TJ fries are just really tasty.  Just bake them in your oven and you have a tasty side dish with your favorite burger.


Great plain or with cheese spreads.  These seem very weird and you may be hesitant to try, but be daring and give them a try.  They just may become your favorite.

The best prepared Spinach/Artichoke dip. Keep in the freezer and just microwave for a quick appetizer with chips or bread.

Great crackers for appetizers

I love the Dark Chocolate Truffle bar. Hide it so it doesn't disappear without you getting some!

2.01.2017

Valentines Fun!

Valentines Day is one of my favorite holidays.  One of the reasons is probably because I LOVE making Valentine Cards.  I planned and schemed every year as a child coming up with fun homemade ideas.  Valentines Day is an all-inclusive "tell everyone close to you you love them holiday" for me!

This is a picture of my sister's kitchen table chandelier.  I love her cute paper valentines streamers!  My mother-in-law decorates her chandelier for every holiday.  It is such a simple way to decorate!

1.31.2017

The BEST Pie Crust

I'm a fan of ALL BUTTER 
when it comes to my pie crust.  
It has a flakiness and tastiness that you can't get any other way!  
You can roll out and press into your pan days ahead of time and just keep it in the fridge, 
or even freeze the pie crust in it's pan.  This makes the stress of pie making much easier when it comes to entertaining and holidays. 

For 1  9” PIE CRUST
1 c. all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1/3 c. butter (cold)
2 TBS cold water (more if needed)
-Stir flour and salt together.  Cut or grate in cold butter.  Add 2 TBS water.  Mix together with fork, then work to mixture into a ball with your hands.  Work as little as possible!
-Roll out on floured flat surface.  Flour top of dough and rolling pin as needed during rolling out process.