December 12, 2011

Loaded Baked Potatoes with Bacon and Cheese

Sometimes I go through writer's block.

Or rather, food block. I'm sure you've noticed the lack of posts these past few weeks. Every day I attempt to find something new to try and come up with nothing. Not that there hasn't been an endless amount of stuff to choose from with the holidays and all. I guess go through phases sometimes, surrounding myself with everything food and every now and then I get burned out. I'm sure this happens to you too, maybe not with food, but other things that you enjoy. So annoying!

So instead I've been focusing on my other hobbies. Reading and crafting. I finally read the first book of The Hunger Games (not sure how I feel about it..) and I've started reading Room, so interesting! I made all my Christmas cards and decorated the house, bought a small tree, and shopped for gifts. Then one night I realized I really wanted a baked potato..

I've never made twice baked potatoes, which these kind of are. You'll bake the potatoes like normal and then scoop out the flesh and mash it up with cream cheese, oregano, cheddar cheese, and whatever else you like. The potatoes and the stuffing go back in the oven again and when they come out you can sprinkle them with bacon and green onions. I think they'd be great for a Christmas party!

Source: adapted from Cooking Light
Servings: 4

4 large baking potatoes
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

Preheat oven to 400°. Pierce potatoes with a fork; bake at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. Cool slightly. Cut each potato in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp into a large bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Mash pulp with a potato masher. Add milk and cream cheese to mashed potato; stir with a whisk. Add cheddar cheese, oregano, salt, and pepper; stir well. Spoon potato mixture into shells. Place on a baking sheet; bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons green onions; top with bacon.

What are your holiday plans?

December 5, 2011

Holiday Baking Ideas

I like to do most of my holiday baking when I'm surrounded by family. When I know I can give it away and watch everyone enjoy a sweet bite after the big meal. With my mom, we bake sugar cookies and pies, cheesecakes, whatever new recipe we've had our eye on for a while. I'll be making some goodie bags to give away as gifts too and I'll still collecting ideas for that.

There's one thing I'll be making for sure this holiday season. Fudge.

White Chocolate Covered Pretzels- in Christmas colors!

Christmas Tree Cookie Balls- crumble up Oreo's and mix with cream cheese!

Melting Snowmen Cookie Balls- smashed Nutter Butter cookies and peanut butter

Peppermint Oreo Cookie Balls- I've got a thing for cookie balls this year.

French Mint Silk Pie- Perfect for after Christmas dinner!

Chocolate Cream Pie- I've had my eye on this for months.

M&M Peanut Butter Bars- How cute would these be with red and green M&M's?

What's on your baking list?

December 2, 2011

Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo

Do you like shrimp?

I do! I'm in love with the bang bang shrimp tacos at Bonefish Grill. If I knew how to make those tacos, we'd have that once a week! But I'm still very fishy (pun intended!) about fish. I stick to the same cooking method for salmon and for shrimp (the only two seafoods (is that a word)? I make at home). I still have lots to learn about fish and I definitely have room for improvement.

Despite my lack of fishy skills, I do know how to throw shrimp into pasta. This was really good, easy, and quick to put together on a weeknight. Dinner ready in 20 minutes? I'll take it. You might prefer using heavy cream instead of half and half, I bet it would add richness as the half and half just isn't the same. I also think more cheese is necessary, or adding a second cheese might do the trick. It was a Cooking Light recipe after all, so if you're trying to eat healthier after Thanksgiving and before the holiday baking begins, it's a good way to satisfy a pasta craving!

Source: Cooking Light
Serves: 3-4

1 pound fettuccine
1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup half-and-half
3 tablespoons 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

How do you like to make shrimp?

November 28, 2011

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don't know about you, but chocolate chip cookies should be baked all year round.

Who says they're not part of the holiday baking season? Not that I know anyone who would say that...I can't imagine not having them around among all the other holiday baked gooies. Who won't be thrilled to receive a batch of these babies freshly made? With love. <3

After taking a break from cooking since Thursday, I got my bake on Sunday night. This recipe makes a lot of chocolate chip cookies- I think I've got 24 sitting in my cookie box! They are soooo much better than the other chocolate chip cookie I've got on my blog, I'd even go so far as to say they're the best I've ever made.

Oh yes. I said it. These are my favorite chocolate chip cookies!

Source: Life of a Wife
Servings: at least 24

2 cups + 2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325. Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside.  With electric mixer or by hand, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly combined.  Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined.  Add dry ingredients and beat at low-speed just until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges are just starting to harden but the centers are still soft and puffy (about 11-14 minutes).  Do not overbake!

Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking.  Transfer to wire rack to cool. 

What's on your holiday baking list?

November 23, 2011

Pumpkin Butterscotch Cheesecake Bars

Oh hello there before-Thanksgiving-prep-day.

I'm so glad I had the day off. I can't imagine running around my house like a turkey with it's head cut off (haha) the day of. I've got my turkey brining, the house is relatively clean, and dessert is done! Tomorrow I'll make the sweet potatoes and set the table. 

I thought I'd share these with you now justincase. You know, in case you want to add another dessert and make another trip to the store. These bars smelled amazing as they were baking and even better after they came out of the oven. Once they cooled I had to test them and see if they were good...let's just say, I don't think I'll have any left over tomorrow!

Source: Beantown Baker
Servings: 24

2 cups flour
1/2 + 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup of dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup cold butter
11/2 cup quick cooking oats
3/4 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1 8 oz package of cream cheese
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
pinch of cloves
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup butterscotch chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13×9 pan with parchment paper.

In a bowl mix flour, 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar; cut butter into mixture with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oats and pecans. Remove 3/4 cup of mixture and add in butterscotch chips. Set aside and reserve for topping. Press remaining mixture into bottom of parchment lined pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

Combine cream cheese and pumpkin; add remaining sugar, cinnamon, ginger, all spice, cloves and vanilla and mix until well blended. Pour over crust and bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle reserved oat crumb mixture and continue to bake for another 15 minutes.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before storing. Cut into 2×2 squares and serve.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

November 19, 2011

The Week Wrap Up 11/14-11/19

I've got my shopping list done and ready for Thursday. I'll probably hit the store tomorrow and buy everything, including the turkey! Have you done your shopping yet? Are you hosting, attending, baking, cooking? I'm a big fan of traditions and sticking to the same turkey recipe I used three years ago (ah! how embarrassing are these pictures!) and same sweet potato casserole. Which I dream about all year until turkey day. I like to try out new desserts and will be making these butterscotch pumpkin cheesecake bars. We're celebrating with friends this year and they've be bringing dishes to pass as well- broccoli cheese casserole and stuffing! I'm so excited to eat all this food!

Here's what I shared this week:

Here's what I bookmarked:

Texas Fudge Cake- The Pastry Chef's Baking

Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup- A Farmgirl's Dabbles

Double Bread Stuffing- How Sweet It Is

Creamy Cheesy Potatoes- Get Off Your Butt and Bake!

Hope you're enjoying this chilly weekend!

November 16, 2011

Ham and Cheese Apple Panini

I hate cold sandwiches.

There are times when I don't have a choice and have to eat my sandwiches cold; i.e. at work. It's the worst thing ever! Unless it's a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I like my bread toasted and crunchy. My cheese has to be warm and melted. On the weekends I like to make elaborate sandwiches so that I can actually enjoy them pressed between my panini maker.

Bread and cheese. I've got a thing for you.

This is sandwich is very easy to make with staples I'm sure you have in your fridge. Ham, cheese, dijon mustard, and mayonnaise. I don't normally have red onions in the house but I had half of one leftover from pizza night. I think it really makes a difference in this sandwich.

Source: adapted from Kraft Foods

2 tsp. mayonnaise 
1 tsp. dijon mustard
2 sliceswhole wheat bread
1 thin red onion slice
4 slices ham
6 thin apple slices
1 slice cheese
Heat panini grill. Mix mayo and  mustard; spread onto bread slices. Fill with onion, apple, ham, and cheese. Grill 3 minutes or until golden brown.
What do you like to put in your sandwiches?

November 14, 2011

Whole Wheat Autumn Apple Pizza

Oh hello there Monday. We meet again.

I'm never quite ready for you Monday. Most Sunday nights I cook a warm comforting dinner and sit down on the couch with my hubby and watch our Sunday night Tv. Have you seen that new show, Once Upon a Time? It's so good. Afterwards I linger on the couch, dreading that I have to get up and figure out lunches for the next day.

I wish I had packed some of this leftover pizza for my lunch today.

But there were no leftovers!

This pizza is insanely delicious. And actually nutritious! It's covered in apples after all, right? I made this pizza while talking to a friend via Skype. She was so excited to be a part of my kitchen and see this pizza come together. Sadly, we lost connection right before the pizza was ready to come out of the oven. I had to post this for her today (and for you), so that she can get a move on and make it herself! ;P

Source: How Sweet It Is

For the dough:
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of your electric mixer with an attached dough hook, combine warm water, yeast, honey and oil and mix with a spoon. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until foamy, then add in flour and salt. Mix on low speed until just combined, then turn to medium speed to knead the dough for 5-6 minutes. If it seems to sticky, add a bit more flour 1 tablespoon at a time.

Brush a separate bowl with olive oil, add dough, turning once, then set in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2-2 hours. Cover with a towel.

For the pizza:
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large apple, very thinly sliced
5 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into squares
1 small red onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup freshly grated gouda cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
8-10 sage leaves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 15 minutes befor dough is ready to use, slice onions. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, then add onions with a sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, soft and juicy. In the last minute, add garlic and cook for 60 seconds, then set aside off heat. While onions are cooking, cut bacon. Place on a paper-towel lined plate, and cover with another paper towel. Microwave for 3-4 minutes, just until the fat is rendered so the pizza is not incredible greasy. Set aside.

Remove pizza dough from the bowl and throw on a floured surface. Using a rolling pin or your hands, roll and shape it into your desired shape. Brush with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with nutmeg. Slice apples (do not do this earlier unless you don’t mind brown apples), then add about 1/4 cup cheese onto the dough. Place a layer of apples on the cheese, then add the onions and garlic. Add the remaining cheese evenly over top, then finish with bacon and another layer of apples. Add a few pieces of sage if desired.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly.

I'm obsessed.

November 9, 2011

8 Things Wednesday

I'm sorry to say that I have no new recipe today. :(

But! Before you go away, I have a cooking failure to share and 8 random things about me (I couldn't think of 10!). That's more fun than a new recipe, right? I know you're dying to learn more about me!

First, my story- last night, I wanted to make something new. My own spin on bruschetta chicken. I didn't have fresh tomatoes so I used a can. I didn't want to grill my chicken so I breaded it and popped it in the oven. I seasoned the canned tomatoes with basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Then I decided it was going to be served on top of a bed of lettuce.

Worst. dinner. ever.

Sigh. So sad. It was not a happy night in the This Woman Cooks! household. However, I did make something really good last night to make up for it (to the hubby and to myself). I hope to share that with you soon!

Moving on...

1. I'm super duper excited this year about Christmas. I don't know why. I'm not asking/getting anything special. I tried really hard to enjoy Halloween and I'm trying to look forward to Thanksgiving... but I really want to skip November all together!

This may or may not already be playing in my car...

2. The hubby and I were ninja turtles for Halloween. I wore my costume to school (over my jeans and long sleeved shirt!) and the kids loved it.

3. When I was in Miami recently, my best friend got married. She asked me to be her matron of honor. :)

4. I just finished reading the sweetest book, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Despite being an English major and teacher, I haven't read very many of the classics. Which would you recommend?

5. When the hubby is finally a rich doctor, I'd like this entryway please.

6. ...and this kitchen.

7. I'm obsessed with dresses lately.

8. Have you seen this show?

Normally, I don't like scary anything. I can't watch scary movies without covering my eyes for 98% of it. Yet I'm engrossed with this show.

What are you loving lately?

November 7, 2011

Double Crunch Honey Garlic Pork Chops

I've got lots of good things to say about these pork chops.

They're coated in two layers of seasoned flour, fried in oil, and basted in a honey garlic soy sauce. What happened to that "diet" I told you guys about? Well, to be perfectly honest with you, I've made this quite a few times already because a. we both love it and b. it's really easy to crank out of the kitchen on a weeknight. I made it again the other day and realized I still had not shared with you! What kind of food blogger am I?

I managed to make it somewhat "healthier" by using egg beaters instead of an egg wash and coated the chop that I was going to eat in only one layer of flour. I also used olive oil to fry them in and drizzled about a teaspoon of the sauce on my chop. Hubby got the full works, but wants to gain weight. So not fair!

Source: Rock Recipes
Serves: 2 

For the Pork Chops
2 boneless pork chops
1 cup flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp ground sage
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 eggs
4 tbsp water
canola oil

Sift together flour and spices. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper, then dip the chops in the flour and spice mixture. Dip the chop into the eggwash and then a final time into the flour and spice mix, pressing the mix into the chop to get good contact.

Heat a skillet on the stove with about a half inch of canola oil covering the bottom. You will want to carefully regulate the temperature  (medium) here so that the chops do not brown too quickly on the outside before they are fully cooked on the inside. Fry them gently for about 4 to 5 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy. Drain on a wire rack for a couple of minutes before dipping the cooked chops into the sauce. Serve with noodles or rice.

Honey Garlic Sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
3 – 4 cloves minced garlic
1 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp ground black pepper

In a medium sauce pan add olive oil and garlic. Cook over medium heat to soften the garlic but don't let it brown. Add the honey, soy sauce, and black pepper. Simmer together for 5-10 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Watch this carefully as it simmers because it can foam up over the pot very easily.

Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? If not, are you bringing something?

November 5, 2011

The Week Wrap Up 10/31-11/5

Happy Saturday! What do you have planned for this picturesque Fall weekend? It's a beautiful day in Michigan and usually I'd feel a tad guilty about spending such a beautiful day indoors, but...I was in the mood for a lazy Saturday. I've been spending the day with a window open, book and magazine by my side, and an occasional glance through Pinterest. Not too shabby, won't you say?

Here's what I shared with you this week: 

Here's what I bookmarked:

Biscoff French Toast- Shugary Sweet

Taco Pizza- Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts

Have a great weekend!

November 2, 2011

Autumn Mac and Cheese

I think it's finally caught up to me.

All this cheesy, gooey pasta, chocolate chip waffles, banana bread, cookies, and brownies I've been consuming since starting my blog has taken residence... around my belly. It's time for an intervention! And when I say intervention I mean swapping out a few things here and there- egg beaters for egg wash, low fat milk, yogurt or applesauce in baking, and lots and lots of veggies. Hence why I decided this decant pasta dish was just the ticket to start off my "diet-" it's got butternut squash (swoon), brussel sprouts, and apple! I thought the whole combination sounded weird but I was willing to experiment. Especially since I had never had butternut squash before. Craziness. I know.

I'm also sorry to say this is the only decent shot I managed to take. Now that it's getting darker earlier and earlier, my photos are coming out blurry. Lame. Oh well! Rest assured, this is delicious, nutritious, and what Fall is all about.

Source: How Sweet Eats
Servings: 4

1 pound whole wheat pasta 
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small cubes
1 large apple, peeled and chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 cup brussels sprouts, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cup low fat milk
8 ounces cheese, grated (I used cheddar and pecorino)
2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.Lay chopped squash and apples on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Roast for 25 minutes, flipping once.

While the squash is roasting, heat a skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onions and brussels sprouts with a pinch of salt and pan roast for 6-8 minutes, turning frequently. Heat a large pot of water to a boil, and begin to cook your pasta.

Set aside squash/apples and sprouts/onion mixture. If pasta is cooked, set it aside as well. Reduce oven heat to 350.

In a medium saucepan, heat one tablespoon of butter on medium heat and whisk in the flour to create a roux. Add the milk while continuing to whisk, and begin adding cheese as well. I find that adding cheese in batches about 3 minutes apart works best. Continue to whisk together so the cheese melts and doesn’t stick to the bottom. The entire process takes about 10 minutes and you want the heat on medium-low, this will help thicken the cheese sauce. I find you don’t want it too thick, as it will thicken in the over.
Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick spray. Begin to layer pasta, vegetables and apples, and cheese sauce in batches, just mixing to make sure all is combined. Top with panko and another sprinkling of parmesan. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

How do you try to eat healthy?

October 31, 2011

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Waffles

This weekend was action packed with all things Fall.

I made pumpkin waffles. I got all dressed up and went to a Halloween party. I burned my fall candles, took a scenic drive down my favorite street to see the leaves, and snuggled on the couch with a thick blanket.

Not to mention grocery shopping, cleaning, re-stocking our pantry at Costco, and loads of laundry. It's hard to get back on track after an improv trip to Miami. 

I'm absolutely in love with these waffles. I think they're the best ones I've made so far. And they're healthy...since they're made with whole wheat flour. The chocolate chips aren't necessary, but when do I pass up a chance to add them to something? I'd do it if I were you.

Note: I was only able to make three waffles with this recipe. Perfect for two people, but double up if serving three or four.

Source: slightly adapted from The Spiffy Cookie
Servings: 3 waffles

1 cup milk
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup plain pureed pumpkin
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Preheat waffle iron. In a large bowl, combine milk, egg yolk, pumpkin, vanilla, oil and brown sugar together. Stir to combine. Shift flours, baking powder, salt, and spices. Pour in remaining dry ingredients to the wet and slowly incorporate. Fold in chocolate chips.

Butter your waffle iron. Pour about 1/2 cup of batter onto waffle iron. Close the top slowly. Cook about 2 minutes or until waffles are crispy. Serve immediately with butter and maple syrup.

Happy Halloween! How are you celebrating?

October 29, 2011

The Week Wrap Up 10/24-10/29

I apologize for the lack of posts this week. If you're a follower of mine on Twitter, you know I had to suddenly rush out and see my family. All is well now, we are back home, but there's been absolutely no time for cooking and baking! I hope you'll forgive me as I get back in the swing of things.

Since I wasn't able to do a Week Wrap Up post last weekend, here's what I've shared on the blog lately.

Here's what I've bookmarked:

                                                                    Source: via This Woman Cooks! on Pinterest

                                                              Source: via This Woman Cooks! on Pinterest

                                                               Source: via This Woman Cooks! on Pinterest

                                                           Source: via This Woman Cooks! on Pinterest

                                                    Source: via This Woman Cooks! on Pinterest

I promise to be back soon! Have a great Halloween weekend!