Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Eve Dinner

I made these two dishes for New Years Eve, while my dad made a ham to make it a "not so vegetarian" meal.

Nutty Warm Brussell Sprouts Salad
From Cooking Light


  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 1/3  cup  fresh breadcrumbs
  • 3/4  pound  Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (about 8 cups)
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  finely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2  ounce  shaved Asiago cheese


1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute or just until golden, stirring constantly. Add breadcrumbs; cook 1 minute or until lightly browned, stirring constantly. Transfer garlic mixture to a small bowl.
2. Separate leaves from Brussels sprouts; quarter cores. Heat remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil over medium heat. Add leaves and cores to pan; cook 8 minutes or just until leaves wilt and cores are crisp-tender, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; toss with breadcrumb mixture, salt, and pepper. Top with walnuts and cheese.

Pesto Quiche with Sun-dried Tomatoes
From The Gracious Pantry


1 cup spinach
1 cup broccoli
16 oz. carton of egg whites 
1 cup shredded low fat cheese
1/4 cup parmesan
1 tbsp. italian spice
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup (generous) sun dried tomatoes (I used the kind packed in oil.)
1 tbsp. pesto
1/2 cup diced mushrooms (optional)
1 refrigerated pie crust
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Put all the ingredients (except for the crust) in a bowl and mix it all together to distribute the spices evenly.
3. Pour into your pie crust and place in a pre-heated oven for about 45 minutes, or until cooked through (There should be no liquid when you cut into it).

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bagel Sticks

I saw this recipe when I was at the gym watching Rachael Ray while on the treadmill.  It looked like an easy recipe, plus I still had a lot of extra refrigerated pizza crust at home.  Dunking the dough in water didn't really work out because it just made the dough extremely soggy, so I resorted to just baking it in the oven.  I didn't have all the necessary ingredients, so I just used cream cheese and salami (one of my favorite flavor combos).  Here is the Rachael Ray recipe in case you want to try the real thing.  Here is my rendition:

Scallion Cream Cheese-Stuffed Bagel Sticks

1 package cream cheese (8 ounces), softened
3-4 scallions, sliced
1 ball store-bought pizza dough
1 egg, lightly beaten
Sesame seeds


In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and scallions until thoroughly mixed.
Cut each pizza dough into four pieces and roll each piece of dough out into 9-inch x 4-inch rectangles. Spread some of the cream cheese mixture lengthwise down the middle of each rectangle.
Brush one of the long sides of dough with egg wash and fold a half-inch of the short ends of the dough over the cream cheese. Then fold the long side without egg wash over, folding it over the cream cheese to enclose the filling and crimping slightly to secure. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining rectangles.
Drop a bagel stick into the boiling water and boil for 4 minutes. Remove and place on a baking sheet, seam-side down. Brush the top with remaining egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Repeat with the remaining sticks. Make three small slits in each stick to release steam and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Steak & Pesto Pasta Concoction

Nothing to eat?  What to do?  Pasta is the easiest thing to concoct out of a mixture of nothing, next to a salad.  Its simple to throw a multitude of different ingredients into this base to produce a mixture that is edible and tastebuddingly satisfying.  I made this for Julian for dinner.  I used ingredients found in his pantry and fridge to create a pasta dish that was worthy enough to be eaten.  This pasta dish included steak, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, some minced garlic, and creamy pesto sauce (made from a powder packet).  Here's how it turned out:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

blog birthday!

Today is my blog's one year anniversary since its creation last December 26th.  For this celebration I invited a few friends over to Julian's house to eat some treats.  I would have liked to have put more time and effort into this occassion, but my family was coming home from Pacific Grove, so I had approximately two hours to shop, prep and prepare everything for my party.  So I decided to go with crescent rolls, pizza sticks, and two different types of cookie dough.  To make things easier for myself and to create a diversity of cookies, I separated a cookie recipe that produces a lot of dough into four quadrants, mixing in different types of chocolate chips and candies. 
Cream Cheese Crecsent Rolls
This recipe I first experienced at Costco via samples.  I thought it was really good, and its taste resembled a warm and soft bagel filled with cream cheese.
2 cans (8oz) crescent rolls
1/2 block of cream cheese
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Unroll crescent rolls, and spread desired amount of cream cheese in the center of each roll.  Then proceed to roll up crescents as you normally would.
3. Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until nice and golden brown.
Pigs in a Blanket
1 package (of 8) hot dogs
2 cans (80z) crescent rolls
1. Heat oven to 375°F. Cut hot dogs in half.
2. Separate dough into triangles. Wrap dough triangle around each hot dog. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake at  375°F for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Pizza Sticks
With these I kind of winged it. My first intention was to make a whole pepperoni pizza, but the dough would not cooperate. Instead it unrolled with holes, so I decided to make pieces of pizza, and call it pizza sticks. I used 1 can of pillsbury refrigerated dough, some tomato sauce, some mozzarella, and a few pepperonis. The outcome was slightly doughy pizza sticks. Satisfying enough to be eaten up, but I might have made some changes if I were to make these again.

Holiday Funfetti Cookies
from Pillsbury
I have never made funfetti cookies with frosting because I always find the cookies themselves to be extremely sweet.  However, to make the cookies more festive and presentable, I decided to cover them with frosting.  These turned out similar to the "lard" cookies you can buy in the supermarkets.
1 box Funfetti cake mix
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 (15.6 oz) can Holiday Funfetti frosting
1. Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, combine cake mix, oil and eggs; stir with spoon until thoroughly moistened. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. With bottom of glass dipped in flour, flatten to 1/4-inch thickness.
2. Bake at 375°F. for 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets.
3. Spread frosting over warm cookies. Immediately sprinkle each with candy bits from frosting. Let frosting set before storing. Store in tightly covered container.

Four Kinds of Cookies
For the base of this dough, I used the NYT cookie because it produces a large quantity of dough
(White Chocolate Chip)
(Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chip)
NYT Cookie dough
adopted from Ezra Pound Cake
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons AP flour
1 2/3 cups  AP flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Separate dough into four sections and add desired mix-ins for each.  Refrigerate for an hour or so.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (about 1/3 cup) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Bake until golden brown but still soft, about 13 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.


On our way home from Pacific Grove, my dad made a pit stop in Castroville to the Giant Artichoke Restaurant which sells deep fried artichoke hearts.  I absolutely love artichoke hearts and these were meaty and fresh, even shelled within the fried batter.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Breakfast Sandwich of First's

Tonight I made Julian a breakfast for dinner kind of meal.  It wasn't my first intention to serve breakfast for dinner, but I looked for ingredients all over the house (mainly just kitchen) to inspire me or give me something to make.  But it seems we're out of food.  So I resorted to trying to make, for the first time, bacon, and also a fried egg.  
DSC04796Everything went well, and as of now Julian is still alive.  So I guess I passed my test and now have the confidence to remake both.
Breakfast Sandwich
1 Parmesan cheese bagel
2 slices Swiss cheese
1 egg
3 pieces bacon
1. Toast the bagel, make the bacon, and fry the egg.  Melt a slice of cheese on each side of the bagel, and layer the egg and bacon slices on the bagel.  Microwave to meld the sandwich together and create and oozy goodness of cheese.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chocolate Macadamia Lace Cookies

This recipe reminds me of the cookies available at Whole Foods and Trader Joes.  They are really good store-bought cookies.  I tried to recreate them with this recipe I found online.  However, I did not have the exact what did I do?  What I always do (even if it makes the recipe not so good)...improvised!  I did not have vanilla paste, so I used extract, which probably led to the cookies being even more fragile than initially intended.  I don't know how I feel about these...maybe I used too much chocolate.  Eating these gives you an extreme sugar rush, where you feel out of it and jittery.  So maybe a word of advice, just follow the actual recipe, and maybe I'll try the same some day.  

Chocolate Macadamia Lace Cookies
based on recipe by Gourmet Betty

½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, Ghirardelli or other fine quality chocolate, cut into pieces (I used chips, and I think I ended up using 1/2-3/4 cups of them).
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla paste (I substituted with vanilla extract)
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and chocolate, cook stirring with rubber spatula frequently for about 5 minutes.

3. Pour butter mixture into small bowl and let cool slightly.

4. In a large bowl, combine chopped nuts, sugar, egg, vanilla, and salt until blended. Fold in butter and combine until blended.

5. Drop the batter by tablespoons about 3" apart.

6. Bake 6 -8 minutes. You know they're done when the cookies are bubbling and completely flat.

7. Let cool until hard enough to transfer to container. Very fragile, not very good cookies for transporting.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Levain Cookie Copycats

Again, I made the Levain cookie recipe, but this time I used walnuts and chocolate chips in addition to chocolate chunks.  I'm obsessed with massive cookies and I want to try the real version of these cookies,
Levain Chocolate Chip Cookie Clone
from vanilla sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, cold
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt (I used sea salt)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 ounces (2 cups) good quality semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (In addition, I used 2 squares of chopped Baker's chocolate)
1 cup nuts (pecans or walnuts) (I used walnuts)

If using dough right away, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars just until creamy. Don’t overbeat. Add the egg and vanilla and beat just until incorporated.

Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. When thoroughly mixed, add to batter and stir just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

Divide dough into 12 big 4 oz lumps. Bake on ungreased cookies sheets (one sheet at a time).

Bake times:

Put the cookies in a 375 degree oven and set timer for 8 minutes. When timer rings, without opening oven or removing cookies, reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until cookies appear set.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pumpkin Party!

Today I had a pumpkin party that consisted of pumpkin macaroni and cheese, pumpkin quesadillas, pumpkin pie bars, and Heidi's sweet potato casserole.
The pumpkin quesadillas were soooooo good (executed by London)!


Pumpkin Macaroni
Adapted from Aquired Taste

1 Box Macaroni Noodles
1/2 Pumpkin Pie Pumpkin
1/2 cup Milk
1 bag Shredded Mozzarella
1/3 cup Pumpkin Puree

1. Cut the top off like you would if you were carving a pumpkin and set it to the side after cutting a bit of the flesh and guts/seeds off. Take a spoon and spoon out the stringy stuff and the seeds out and rinse it out. Cut half the pumpkin into chunks and put on to a cookie sheet to roast for about 20 - 30 minutes on about 400F in the oven.

2. Cook a box of macaroni noodles till they are al dente (about 10 minutes). Mix with 1/2 a cup of milk, and bag of shredded mozzarella.
3. At this time the pumpkin should be about done, take out the chunks and with a fork scoop out the fleshy part from the skin. Mash up the flesh and add it to the pan with the noodles, cheese, and milk. Mix them well and salt and pepper to taste. To enhance the pumpkin flavor, I added about a 1/3 cup of pumpkin puree to the mixture.

Pumpkin Quesadillas
made by London: 

1/2 Pumpkin Pie Pumpkin, oven roasted
1/4 cup Black Beans
1/4 cup Canned Corn
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 bag Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese

1. Use the other half of the pumpkin pie pumpkin from the previous recipe and cut into chunks.  Put on a cookie sheet to roast for about 20 - 30 minutes on about 400F in the oven.
2. Mix the pumpkin, black beans, corn and puree.
3. Place a tortilla in the pan and top with the pumpkin mixture, the cheese and the remaining tortilla.
4. Fry until both sides are golden brown and the cheese has melted.

Pumpkin Pie Bars
(Made previously on blog)

Sweet Potato Casserole
by Heidi 

2-1/4 lbs 
sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup packed 
brown sugar
1 tea. salt
2 tea. vanilla
2 eggs
Cooking Spray

1-1/2 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tea. salt
2 TB chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1.  Preheat oven to 375
2. Place potatoes in large pot and cover with water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 
20 minutes or until very tender. Drain, cool slightly.
3. Place potatoes in large bowl. Add half-and-half, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tea salt and vanilla. Beat with mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add eggs, beat well (mixture will be thin) Scrape mixture into 13 X 9 inch 
baking dish coated with cooking spray.
4.  To prepare topping, sprinkle mini marshmallows over top of potatoes. Combine flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 tea salt in medium bowl. Cut in butter with 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. (move knives criss cross each other) Stir in pecans and sprinkle over potato mixture and marshmallows. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 16 servings.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cranberry Biscotti Cookies

So with this recipe, I kind of failed.  I didn't form a large enough loaf, so I ended up with just a large, rectangular, flat cookie on a tray.  So I decided to cut it with an anchor cookie cutter ("DG spirited") and frost with melted white chocolate.  With the little pieces in between I coated them also, as to not waste.

Cranberry Biscotti Cookies
from Pillsbury
1 pkg. Pillsbury Cranberry Quick Bread mix
½ cup butter, melted
½ cup white vanilla chips
2 to 5 tbsp. all purpose flour
2 to 4 tbsp. powdered sugar

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray large cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. In large bowl, combine quick bread mix, butter and eggs; stir 50 to 75 strokes with spoon until mix is moistened. (Dough will be sticky.) Stir in vanilla chips.
2. Sprinkle work surface with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the flour. Turn dough out onto floured surface. Roll dough into ball, adding flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Divide dough in half; place on sprayed cookie sheet. Form each half into 9x3-inch loaf, placing 4 inches apart. Flatten tops slightly.
3. Bake at 350°F for 23 to 30 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven. Cool 15 minutes.
4. On cutting board cut each loaf into 3/4-inch crosswise slices. Place slices upright and 1 inch apart on same cookie sheet.
5. Return to oven; bake an additional 12 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven; sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cool 10 minutes. Serve warm or cool.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dirt and Worms Cake

This cake was my brother's request and I promised to make it for him before I left.  I know Savemart sells 2-layer "Dirt and Worm" cakes in the bakery, but when I searched online I could only find recipes for "cakes" (more like trifles) consisting of cream cheese and broken up oreo pieces stuffed into flower pots or sand pails.  However, I wanted to make an actual cake.  So this is my rendition of what I believe to be a dirt and worms cake.  I made two of these small cakes, one for my brother's pleasure, and another one to take to work for my self-declared going away party.

Dirt and Worms Cake
1 box Devil's food cake mix
1 box Jell-O chocolate fudge instant pudding mix
1/2 package Oreo Cookies, crushed
1 6 oz. package gummy worms

Bake the cake as directed on the package.  Let the cake cool for at least one hour.  Remove from pan and slice in half.  
Prepare pudding as directed on package.  Spread pudding onto the first layer of cake.  Cover with crushed Oreo cookies.  
Place second cake layer on top.  Poke holes with a chopstick or other instrument similar in size in various places on top.  Stick gummy worms through the holes until they reach the second layer but are still visible on the top.  Spread pudding mix around the worms to coat the cake.  Top with more crushed oreos.  
Lick up any excess of pudding, oreo crumbs, gummy worms, or any sign of mess, and enjoy the cake!