My Latest Addiction

I hate watching the news before bed at night. It's so depressing and scary! You would think that there is nothing good in the world going on. The last thing I want to hear about before I fall asleep is who was murdered and who is getting laid off. So what do I watch before bed? The Food Network. Specifically Alton Brown's Good Eats and if I'm not tired Unwrapped. I used to think Alton Brown was just plain weird. I thought his show was stupid and didn't want to hear all of his "useless" factoids. Somewhere along the line though he grew on me and I now love tuning into him and his interesting facts at night.

Last week on the episode Sandwich-craft he made an simple, but delicious sounding Roasted Vegetable Spread. Roasted Veggies, Cream Cheese, EVOO and S&P and you got yourself an awesome dip. When I made this, I altered up the recipe a tiny bit by adding some extra vegetables. It almost reminds me of Panera's Veggie Cream Cheese, but much, much better. The roasted vegetables give the cream cheese a great flavor, especially the sweet roasted garlic flavor. I'm so glad I found this recipe. I'm starting to get bored with hummus and laughing cow cheese, this is a great way to change up my lunches and snacks. I served this with pita wedges, home made pita crisps, and veggies. Besides starring in my lunch this will also make an appearance at my next get together. It's simple to throw together, but the flavor is sure to impress company.

Roasted Vegetable Spread
Source: Alton Brown Good Eats

1 red bell pepper, sliced into rings I used 1/2 red pepper, 1/2 green pepper
1 medium onion, sliced into rings
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 handful broccoli florets
1 handful of baby carrots
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces cream cheese
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper (I added quite a bit of pepper)
Challah, foccacia, pita bread, or veggies


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the bell pepper, onion, garlic, zucchini, broccoli, carrots and olive oil in a medium mixing bowl and toss until the vegetables are coated. Spread the vegetables evenly on sheet pan lined with foil and place to the oven. Roast, tossing occasionally, until they are soft and are beginning to turn brown around the edges, approximately 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Place the vegetables in the bowl of a food processor along with the cream cheese and process until well combined and spreadable; do not process until completely smooth.
Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Spread on soft bread, such as challah, foccacia, pita bread, or serve with vegetables. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

White Cake with Strawberry-Lime Frosting

I had the urge to bake a cake the other day despite the fact I don't normally care for cake. I was going to go with Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake, but then decided I wasn't in the mood for chocolate. (I know, I know, what on earth got into me!?) I found a few different recipes but ultimately settled on Classic White Cake that Baking Blonde posted about a few months ago. I distinctively remember this post because it was a change up from the chocolate/peanut butter/cookie goodness I find so often on her blog. I was confident the cake would be delicious because everything I've tried on her blog has been wonderful.

I wanted a layer cake, but only have one round baking pan. (Isn't that odd?) So, I improvised a bit.... I baked the cake in a 9x13 glass pan that I had COATED with butter. When I pulled the pan out, the cake had pulled itself away from the edges a bit. I also took a Spatula and ran it around the edge of the cake. After it cooled, I flipped the cake upside down and gently shook the pan so the cake kind of worked its way out onto a cutting board. I let it cool completely and then I cut the cake in half so I had two squares.

Then, I started on the frosting. The other night we went to Matt's cousin's house and had delicious strawberry short cake. Ever since then strawberry desserts have been on my mind. I had strawberries in the fridge and thought I'd make a strawberry butter cream frosting. I ran the idea by Matt and he told me he wanted cream cheese frosting. I did a little research on strawberry frosting/fillings and found one similarity in all the recipes. I had to put the strawberries in a saucepan, bring them to a boil and crush them. When I went to the fridge to pull out the strawberries, I saw lovely limes looking me in the eye and decided they needed to be used too. The result was an amazing Strawberry-Lime Cream Cheese Frosting. A frosting that I will make again and again.

I definitely need to practice my cake decorating skills, but over all I was happy with how my cake looked and very happy with how it tasted. The cake was moist and dense with a very subtle flavor and the frosting almost tastes like a Strawberry Daiquiri. The strawberries are nice and sweet, but then the sweetness is cut by the lime flavor - it's very refreshing. I have some left over frosting that I'm going to use on sugar cookies.

When I asked Matt if he liked it, he told me he did and said this, "You know honey, you're baking skills and my home remodeling skills are pretty similar. Every once in a while something turns out bad, but mostly the results are good things. This cake is a great thing". Men and their compliments. :) He keeps getting himself massive pieces so there isn't enough for him to take to work tomorrow... sneaky, sneaky.

White Cake with Strawberry-Lime Frosting
Cake Source: Baking Blonde
Frosting: Me

Classic White Cake
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 large egg whites
3/4 cup milk
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Bring all ingredients to room temperature. Butter two 9-inch diameter by 1 1/2-inch deep layer pans or 1 (13 by 9 by 2-inch) pan and line bottoms with parchment or waxed paper. (I was out of parchment paper so I just buttered the pan really well. There was no way I was using waxed paper, I had a bad experience with that once!)

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar for about 5-7 minutes, until light and fluffy. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.Combine egg whites, milk and vanilla extract.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to butter mixture then add half the milk mixture. Continue to alternate beginning and ending with flour mixture.Scrape bowl and beater often. Pour batter into prepared pan (s) and smooth top with a metal spatula. Bake cake (s) about 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean.
Strawberry-Lime Cream Cheese Frosting
2 sticks butter, very soft
1 8oz pkg cream cheese, very soft
2 tsp vanilla
3-4 C powdered sugar
8oz strawberries, hulled and chopped
1/2 - 1 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
zest from 1 lime
Combine strawberries, brown sugar, and 2 tbsp lime juice in a small saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring constantly and crushing strawberries with the back of the spoon. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
Cream butter, cream cheese, and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer. Add 1 C of powdered sugar, mix well. Add the second cup and mix well. Add the strawberry mixture, lime zest, and remaining lime juice and (oh wait, you know what's next..) mix well. Add the rest of the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. I ended up adding about 1 3/4 cup more powdered sugar. This made a ton, I had enough to frost the cake, use it as the filling, and still have some leftover.


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I hope everyone had an awesome day. I know I sure did! I took the day off to enjoy some green beer and the gorgeous weather. I also made some cookies.....

I took them into work on Monday. My coworkers all loved them. I made Chocolate Shamrock Rollout Cookies with my favorite Dorie Recipe and made Cookies on a Stick with a Candy Four Leaf Clover. I used Royal Icing which I am still learning how to use the right way. I know it's famous for it's smooth look, but I do love when it's a little bit thicker, it gives me an opportunity to practice using my different decorating tips. When I decorated the cookies on a stick though, I thinned it out and got the smooth look.

For the Candy Four Leaf Clover, I used an idea I saw on Pennies on a Platter last week. I printed off an image from the Internet, placed it under a piece of wax paper and piped green candy melts over the image. When the candy set I just CAREFULLY peeled it off.

Blurry Pic of my Cookies on a Stick:

My chocolate cookies and you can also see my candy clovers:

Close up of some of the decorating detail:

I still have a long way to go in the world of decorating, but I think I'm definitely improving.


Are you a Ten? How 'bout a Time Bandit?

I just joined the TBTL Tens Metablog . There has to be at least one other time bandit (or maybe you’re cool and live in Seattle) that knows what I’m talking about. If you don’t, click here and check out the AWESOME that is TBTL.



Southwestern Shredded Beef Sandwiches

I've been receiving the BHG daily recipe emails for a few years now but I rarely pay attention to them. The other day though I was procrastinating (what's new, right?) and my phone buzzed with a new email. It was from BHG. I decided to look at the featured recipes and saw quite a few that looked good. One in particular that caught my eye was Southwestern Shredded Beef Sandwiches.

You make the beef in the crockpot and then throw it in a saucepan with a few other ingredients right before serving. The meat had this awesome spicy flavor to it. I'm usually not a big shredded beef fan, but this was so good. I even had the leftovers for dinner the next night. This meal was perfect for my crazy life because the bulk of the cooking is in the crockpot. We threw it in at 5 when we went to the gym and by the time we left for work at 7:45 the house was already full of the wonderful aroma of our dinner in the crockpot. I was also happy because the nutritional value of the sandwiches wasn't too shabby. I am positive we'll be making this again.

Southwestern Shredded Beef Sandwiches
Better Homes and Gardens

1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
1 sliced red pepper, orange pepper, and yellow pepper
1 Tbsp. cooking oil
2 cups Shredded Beef Master Recipe (see recipe below)
1 10-oz. can diced tomatoes and green chiles I used the Hot/Spicy Rotel
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro I used 1/4 Cup
1/2 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (2 ounces)
4 rolls, split and toasted, if desired
1 cup shredded lettuce

1. In a large saucepan, cook onion in hot oil over medium heat about 4 minutes or until tender. Add shredded beef, undrained tomatoes, cumin, and chili powder. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 5 minutes or until heated through and desired consistency. Stir in cilantro.

2. To serve, sprinkle some of the cheese over bottoms of onion rolls. Spoon about 1/2 cup meat mixture over cheese on each bun. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and the shredded lettuce. Add roll tops.

Makes 4 servings.

Shredded Beef Master Recipe: Trim fat from a 3 to 3-1/2 pound boneless beef chuck pot roast. If necessary, cut beef to fit a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker. Place 2 large onions, cut into thin wedges, sliced peppers and 2 cloves garlic, minced in the cooker. Top with beef.

In a medium bowl, combine 1, 14-ounce can beef broth, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons dry mustard, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed; 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Pour over beef in cooker. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 11 to 12 hours or on high-heat setting for 5-1/2 to 6 hours.

Remove beef and onion from cooker, reserving juices. Using two forks, shred beef, discarding any fat. Skim fat from juices. Add onion to beef; add enough juices to beef to moisten. Place 2-cup portions of beef in airtight containers and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Makes 6 cups.

** Nutrition Facts: Calories 114, Total Fat (g) 4, Saturated Fat (g) 1, Monounsaturated Fat (g) 1, Polyunsaturated Fat (g) 1, Cholesterol (mg) 16, Sodium (mg) 230, Carbohydrate (g) 10, Total Sugar (g) 1, Fiber (g) 1, Protein (g) 9, Vitamin C (DV%) 7, Calcium (DV%) 5, Iron (DV%) 7, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet**

Peanut Butter, Chocolate, and Oats

I can't believe it's been 2 weeks since I last posted. I've made a few things including these fabulously yummy cookies. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies. I took the ATK Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies and messed around with the recipe a bit. I don't remember why I made these, but my coworkers were crazy for them. I had multiple people ask if I put crack in them because they were so addicting. My bosslady had 6! When you take a bite it's like a flavor explosion. The peanut butter makes these especially moist and the oats give them a somewhat crunchy texture. I must say I agree with my coworkers, these are damn good.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from: ATK

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
2c rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & slightly cooled
1 c peanut butter
1 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 large egg plus
1 yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions. Mix flour, oats, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Either by hand or with electric mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Mix in egg, yolk, vanilla, and peanut butter. Add dry ingredients; mix until just combined. Stir in chips. I didn't follow this next step. I just used my good old PC cookie scoop. Although I did use parchment paper and refrigerate my dough for a bit. For an illustration of step 3 click here

3. Form scant 1/4 cup dough into ball. Holding dough ball using fingertips of both hands, pull into two equal halves. Rotate halves ninety degrees and, with jagged surfaces exposed, join halves together at their base, again forming a single cookie, being careful not to smooth dough’s uneven surface. Place formed dough onto one of two parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. (Dough can be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month—shaped or not.)

4. Bake, reversing cookie sheets’ positions halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes (start checking at 13 minutes). (Frozen dough requires an extra 1 to 2 minutes baking time.) Cool cookies on cookie sheets. Serve or store in airtight container.I found the trick to these cookies was taking them out of the oven before they looked like they were done. They stayed moist on the inside but slightly crunchy on the outside.


The Latest in Baby Shower Dessert

Hosting a baby shower soon? Tired of traditional baby shower food and games? Pay attention to this post.
Jules is having a baby. Somewhere along the line an idea for a Fetus theme came to light. (I think this happened at a lonnnggg happy hour one night.) It may have been a joke at first, but it slowly turned into reality. The evite, the games, the cookies, the shirt Jules wore... all fetus themed.

Around Christmas Julie stopped by and happened to see some of my mad cookie decorating skillz. I had put all the decent looking cookies away, but the super ugly ones were still out. I think it was then she knew I'd be the perfect partner to decorate the fetus cookies

So on Wednesday I headed over to her house and we got busy decorating cookies. Some were normal and others had stories. Each cookie had a bottle in hand, an umbilical cord (Twizzlers Pull and Peel), and a placenta (prune). The whole time we were decorating we just kept cracking up... it was just weirdly hilarious that we were actually decorating these cookies.
I couldn't make it to the shower because I had a wedding to go to, but I went over after the reception (the shower was still goin on... my friends know how to throw one hell of a party!) and found out they were a big hit. There were still a few cookies left so I had to try one, they were surprisingly tasty and believe it or not, it wasn't strange taking a bite out of one of the cookies.

So if you're hosting a shower and are running out of original ideas, consider the fetus theme... you too can have cookies in the shape of a fetus from "America's #1 Fetus Cookie Cutter" (no really that's what the package the cookie cutter came in says).

The somewhat normal cookies...

These fetuses had stories...

And these guys REALLY had stories...

Non-Traditional Soda Bead

After my success with Food and Wine last weekend I went back to the website to find a recipe to use my leftover buttermilk. I also decided to search for an Irish Soda Bread recipe. I was pleasantly surprised to learn buttermilk is one of the ingredients in Irish Soda Bread.

The recipe was very simple and while it was baking I did a little research on Irish Soda Bread and came across this website: http://www.sodabread.info/. It's dedicated to the preservation of traditional Irish Soda Bread. Contrary to popular belief Traditional Irish Soda Bread is made of only flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. So when people talk about making Traditional Irish Soda Bread and then post a recipe for Spotted Dog, it's not really Irish Soda Bread. Interesting, isn't it?

So was my Irish Soda Bread traditional? Nope. The recipe includes sugar which is an absolute no. It also includes butter. The website says butter is ok if you want to deviate a bit.

According to the website,Traditional Irish Soda Bread does not contain:

*"zest", orange or any other kind
*Irish Whiskey
*Heavy Cream
*Sour Cream

Anyway, back to my experience with the Non-Traditional Irish Soda Bread... it was delicious, very dense and moist. It was amazing warm with some butter. Matt and I almost polished off half the loaf right after I took it out of the oven. I was surprised at how my finish loaf turned out... it didn't maintain the shape of the original ball of dough. ..

Getting ready to go in the oven...

Right out of the oven.. woah!

Irish Soda Bread

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, whisk the all-purpose flour with the whole wheat flour, rolled oats, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda. Add the buttermilk and cooled butter and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough is well combined.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it 10 times. Shape the dough into a 9-inch round loaf and transfer to a baking sheet. Slash an X about 1/4 inch deep in the top of the bread. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the bread is golden and the bottom sounds hollow when lightly tapped. Transfer the soda bread to a wire rack and let cool completely.