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: thespiffycookie.com via This Woman Cooks! on Pinterest

                                                              Source: howsweeteats.com via This Woman Cooks! on Pinterest

                                                               Source: notrachaelray.com via This Woman Cooks! on Pinterest

                                                           Source: ezrapoundcake.com via This Woman Cooks! on Pinterest

                                                    Source: stephaniecooks.blogspot.com via This Woman Cooks! on Pinterest

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

October 24, 2011

Buttery Dinner Rolls

These are the best rolls ever.

I'm on a roll (haha, no pun intended) finding easy recipes lately. Spanish chicken? I could do that in my sleep! Egg and Bacon Salad for lunch? Um, yes please. A reason to use my crockpot? Who you kidding.

Today I hope to break bread with you. I promise the whole process (not counting oven time) takes 30 minutes. Less if you have a helper- come here, husband! Or if you've got kids, they can definitely help with this too. It's fun, it's relaxing, it's an activity for the whole family. Grandma visiting? They like bread too, no? Get everybody in the kitchen!

What I love most about making bread is watching the dough rise. With these rolls, you don't need to get the dough to rise. Instead, you'll get to see what happens to yeast after it sits in a bowl of warm water and honey. I've made these rolls 3 times already and I'm still amazed. Easily entertained.

After the yeast has gotten all foamy and bubbly, you'll make the dough. If you have a stand mixer this is easy. If not, that's okay, your hands will work just fine. Once the dough has been kneaded, you'll cut out strips and roll them into little balls. Easy peasy!

Source: Sprinkles of Parsley
Servings: 20 rolls

2 cups very warm water
1 packet yeast
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 1/2 cups flour (I used half whole wheat, half white)
melted butter (about 1/2 stick)

Begin with preheating your oven to 350 degrees.  Then in a mixing bowl, combine your water, yeast, and honey.  Gently stir until your honey dissolves.  Place the bowl on your stove top and cover with a dry towel.  Make sure your oven is preheated to 350 degrees because when working with dough, you have to create a warm environment to activate the yeast so that it properly rises.  Let your bowl sit untouched for 15 minutes.  

After 15 minutes, your mixture should appear slightly foamy.   Add your salt and baking powder and stir until incorporated.  Then transfer your liquid mixture to an electric mixer if you have one.  Otherwise do this next step by hand.  With the paddle attachment, mix on low speed, gradually adding a 1/2 cup of flour at a time until you've reached 4 1/2 cups.  Mix on low until the flour is incorporated.  Then switch your paddle attachment with the dough hook attachment and mix on high speed for 2-3 minutes.  The dough hook does the kneading for you.  Don't be alarmed when your dough slashes around violently- that's normal! All in the act of kneading.  If you don't have a mixer, transfer your dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 2-3 minutes.  

Once your dough has finished kneading, transfer to a lightly floured surface and sprinkle with flour.  Shape your ball of dough into a rectangle and cut into 4 even strips.  Then cut and shape into 20 balls of dough.   Cut an x into each ball. 

Grease a 9x13 pan with butter and place your balls of dough evenly into the pan.  Brush with melted butter. Then place your buns into the preheated oven (should still be preheated to 350 degrees).  Immediately after your close the oven door, increase the temperature to 400 degrees and bake for 17-19 minutes or until golden brown.  

Break apart your dinner rolls and serve warm. 

October 21, 2011

Steph's Virtual Bridal Shower: Chicken Cordon Bleu

Today's post is a special one.

A fellow blogger is getting married!! Today is her Virtual Bridal Shower. If you don't know Steph from Steph's Bite by Bite, you should. Her blog is one of the first I started to read before I decided to create a blog of my own. She's funny, cute, quirky, beautiful, and honest. I can always count on her to share a new and creative recipe that I'll immediately want to make myself. 

I was contacted by Kita to participate in Steph's Virtual Bridal Shower. To say I was so excited is an understatement- I love weddings! And bridal showers? I loved mine so much, from the food, decor, generous gifts, and amazing family and friends. Throughout this post I thought I'd share some pictures from my own shower.

I feel very honored to be a part of Steph's celebration. I decided to take the theme, Date Night, to heart. Last Saturday the hubby was home and I said, "Hey, go put on something nice and come cook with me in the kitchen."

"I have to cook?" hubby exclaimed.

"If you call putting a salad together and buttering some dinner rolls cooking, yes." 

Giving him any other task would be too stressful. At least he was a good sport!

I handled the main dish while we chatted about how annoying it is to shred romaine leaves. Once the chicken was in the oven, the rest was a piece of cake. He lit the candles so we could eat by candlelight. Our wedding china was pulled out. I set the table with our formal dinnerware. Soft music played in the background. Date night at home.

Our menu consisted of chicken cordon bleu, roasted broccoli, a side cesar salad, buttery dinner rolls, and apple crumble for dessert. It was the perfect evening. I encourage you to do the same. But dress up! It's so much more fun.

Source: slightly adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything
Servings: 4

For the Cordon Bleu:
2 large, thick boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half length-wise (to make two thinner chicken breast cutlets)
4 slices good quality deli ham
1 cup panko
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 slices Swiss cheese

For the Parmesan-Dijon Cream Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs and melted butter. Set aside.

Lay the cut chicken breasts in a single layer in the 9X13-inch dish. Layer each chicken breast with a slice of ham and top with a slice of Swiss cheese, layering across the chicken breast to make sure the entire chicken breast is covered with ham and cheese. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top of the chicken.

Bake the chicken for 30-35 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through completely, the cheese is bubbling and the bread crumbs are golden.

When the chicken is almost done, in a medium saucepan, melt the 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in the flour, whisking constantly. Cook the flour/butter mixture for 1-2 minutes. Slowly pour in the milk while whisking quickly. Stir in the chicken bouillon granules and salt. Whisk mixture constantly over medium heat until the mixture begins to simmer and thicken, about 3-5 minutes.

Once the sauce has bubbled and thickened, remove from heat and stir in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce and Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted. Keep the sauce warm until the chicken is finished baking. If your sauce is too thick, whisk in some more milk. If it's too thin, simmer longer.

Serve each chicken cordon bleu portion with warm sauce. 
Congratulations once again Steph! I hope you enjoy your Virtual Bridal Shower and have a gorgeous wedding!!

October 20, 2011

Chocolate Chip Caramel Apple Cookies

I've got a new favorite cookie.

Perfect for Halloween, perfect for Fall, perfect for two ingredients to come together: Apples and Caramel. Who doesn't love apples? And caramel? Be still my heart. You may have noticed these two ingredients marrying together on many blogs today. It is the first of Lady Behind the Curtain's Improv Cooking Challenge. You can join in on the fun too! Just click her button to sign up for next month.

The Improve Cooking Challenge

I've known about the theme for this month for a while now. I pondered over what to do with my apples and caramel melts for weeks and weeks. I thought about making this, or this, or maybe even this! All so delicious, decadent, mouth-watering....all ideas that I still really want to make. However, I opted for the lazy route and procrastinated. Until four days ago...

...I found these cookies. And I loved them. A unique combination for me, as I've never combined chocolate chips and diced apples in cookie form. They're moist and chewy, with crisp edges. I love the sweet tartness from the apple and the richness of the chocolate chips. Bake them as a Halloween treat, kids will love them!

Source: Sweet Tooth and Sweet Life
Servings: 24 cookies

2 1/4 cups flour 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
10 caramels, unwrapped

1 tbsp milk
2 small apples, peeled, cored, & diced
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy.

In a small, microwave-safe bowl, heat your unwrapped caramels & milk until smooth and creamy, about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Check the caramel every 30-40 seconds and stir. Allow caramel to cool for about 10 minutes, then add to cookie batter. Fold in your diced apples, followed by the sifted dry ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chopped candy bars and chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough with a cookie scoop onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Note: I find that these cookies are best enjoyed right after they've cooled. They don't keep well for very long.

October 17, 2011

Spanish Chicken with Potatoes and Chorizo

The simplicity of this can't be beat.

Go get one of your best oven-safe porcelain baking dishes (so that you can transfer from the oven to the table), make a side salad (if you wish) and maybe some dinner rolls. Throw on a 1950's housewife dress, dust the furniture, and make a cocktail for your hubby before he gets home.

Not that I did any of that.

No, really. I didn't. I may be a good wife, but I'm not that good. It might be fun though?


Here's what I did do and what I'm getting at: this is so incredibly easy that I might make this once a week. I went to Trader Joe's and bought a chicken already cut up for me, i.e. the lazy route. I scrubbed some baby potatoes, sliced my chorizo, chopped an onion, zested an orange, and gathered up my spices: oregano, salt, and pepper. Pour some olive oil in that pretty baking dish and arrange your chicken pieces. Nestle the potatoes and slices of chorizo wherever you wish and sprinkle the onion, orange zest, and seasonings over everything. Slide that into the oven. Dance. Sing. Shower. Run 3 miles. Pat yourself on the back because dinner is done!

Source: adapted from Life is Great
Servings: 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
6 assorted pieces of chicken (breasts, legs, or thighs)
2 chorizos, sliced
5 baby potatoes, halved
1 shallot, sliced
2 teaspoons oregano

1 orange, zested
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425. Put the oil in the bottom of a roasting pan. Rub the skin of the chicken in the oil, season with salt accordingly, then turn them skin-side up. Nestle the chorizo sausages and the new potatoes. 

Sprinkle the onion and the oregano over, then grate the orange zest over the entire pan. Cook for 30 minutes, then baste the contents with the orange-colored juices. Continue cooking for about 30 minutes or till chicken is done. Note: Mine was done in 50 minutes, check regularly. 

Would you share some of your best one-pan/one-pot dishes?

October 15, 2011

The Week Wrap Up 10/10-10/15

Oh the weekend! You couldn't have come soon enough. Here's to baking, cooking, shopping, cleaning, resting, reading, and TV watching. 

Here's what I shared with you:

Here's what I bookmarked:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies- Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts

 The Best Chocolate Cake- My Baking Addiction

Reese's Fudge Pie- Cookies and Cups

Brown Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecake- The Hungry Mouse

Have a great weekend!

October 12, 2011

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

The love affair with my crock pot continues.

This is one of those dinners that I think can please everyone. Got cranky kids? Serve them this. A busy mom? Stick this in the crock pot by noon and you'll have dinner by 6:00. And really- who doesn't like cheese, salsa, or sour cream? Sorry to the vegetarians though- there is chicken in this dish. :/

I believe many of us have some salsa, sour cream, taco seasoning, a can of cream of chicken soup, and some cheese hanging out in the kitchen (although it wasn't in the original recipe, I deemed it necessary). I also had some scallions to use up so I added it for garnish. Take two chicken breasts and set them in your crock pot. Pour everything except the cheese and sour cream inside and let it get to work. When it's done you can shred the chicken or leave it as it- it'll be super soft anyway so it'll fall a part on it's own.

As you can see, I served it a top a bed of rice and called it a day. Next time I think I'll add black beans and cilantro. If you're into spicy food, you could definitely amp it up by using a hot salsa and adding peppers. Win for everyone!  

Source: adapted from Chef Mommy
Servings: 3-4

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup
1 cup salsa
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons cheddar cheese
scallions (optional)

Put chicken, soup, and salsa in slow cooker. Sprinkle taco seasoning over everything. Cook on low for 6 hours. If shredding the chicken, pull the breasts out and shred; return back to slow cooker. Stir in sour cream and heat just until everything is combined. Garnish with cheese and scallions if desired.

Who would you serve this to?

October 10, 2011

Egg and Bacon Salad

Okay, we all know eggs and bacon were meant to be together.

A match made in heaven by the food gods. We pair bacon with lettuce and tomatoes and call it a BLT. Eggs and bacon and toast = breakfast. We make bacon omelets. Cobb salads. But this my friends, this...is something I never thought possible. Egg and bacon salad. So simple. So genius. And top it with some honey chicken tenders (from the giant Tyson bag) and you've got yourself a meal.

One day, a very good friend told me to make this salad when I blasted on my Facebook page that I couldn't figure out what to eat for lunch. I had eggs, bacon, and lettuce in the house and she posted this video on my page. My starvation had already gotten the best of me so I had already made some sort of crappy sandwich and didn't make it that day. When I finally got around to making it (four days ago), I was blown away.

I posted this picture just for the bacon. Oh yes.

If you read the original recipe, you'll see that you can make your own dressing using the leftover bacon grease (!). I tried doing that the first time but didn't read the measurements correctly and poured a bit too much of the vinegar. So I tossed it with some honey mustard and olive oil and ohmygod it's perfecttttt!! So that's what I'd suggest doing. But I'm curious to try Nigella's way. Let me know if you do!

Source: adapted from Nigella Lawson
Servings: 2

2 eggs
1/2 bag of mixed greens (arugula, spinach, escarole)
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
4 slices bacon, cut into chunks
6 honey chicken tenders (I used Tyson)
2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

Put the eggs into a saucepan of water, over medium heat. Bring to boil, and cook for 1 minute, then turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the pan for 10 minutes. Microwave/bake the chicken tenders.

Transfer the eggs to a bowl of cold water and let cool.

Meanwhile, tear the salad leaves into bite-sized pieces and drop them into a serving bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat and sprinkle in the garlic powder. Fry the bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes or so. Transfer bacon with a slotted spatula to some paper towels to drain.

Add the bacon, cheddar cheese, and chicken tenders to the salad greens. Toss with the honey mustard and some olive oil. Quarter the eggs and add them to the salad once they're cool. Gently mix to combine, trying not to break up the eggs.

What do you like to add to salads?

October 9, 2011

The Week Wrap Up 10/3-10/9

Shame on me for not posting my Week Wrap Up this week! I hope you can forgive me. I wish I had a good excuse, but I don't...I just got, oh what's the word, lazy? Are you familiar with the term? :P What I do want to work on are some blog posts, but alas, I have a problem- my camera battery is dead. Remember that wedding I went to a few weeks back? Apparently we forgot the camera charger at our hotel room. Whoops! So until we get the new one in the mail, there might be some not-so-pretty photos of old recipes I wanted to remake before posting.

Here's what I shared with you this week:

Here's what I bookmarked:
I made these yesterday. They're great!

Is it too soon to be thinking about Christmas? 

How fun would these be for a Halloween party!

I'd also like to share that I won an award from Edesia from Edesia's Notebook. She's a sweetheart and shares so many wonderful recipes on her blog. I hope you'll check her out! Thanks again Edesia. 

Liebster means "beloved" in German. If you'd like to nominate a blog for this word, feel free to do so!

That's a wrap! Hope you're having a great weekend. 

October 5, 2011

Best Ever Pumpkin Pancakes

I've come a long way since my first pancake fiasco. If you didn't know, my pancakes used to turn out awful. They were burned, gooey, undercooked, or...too salty. Sigh. Those were some sad times in my kitchen.

But, I improved, tackling pancake recipe after pancake recipe. I found what I believe to be the greatest pancakes ever and I usually make those over and over again, with lots of chocolate chips. Now I've come to believe that I've found the greatest pumpkin pancakes.

I've tried a few pumpkin pancake recipes in the past and nothing compares to these. They're sweet without being overly sweet, super fluffy, and have a good amount of spice. I poured  drizzled mine with some pure maple syrup and a pat of butter.

Doesn't get any better.

Source: Annie's Eats
Servings: 6-8

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Dash of ground ginger
Dash of ground cloves
1 cup milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tbsp. vegetable oil or melted butter

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and spices and stir with a fork to combine.  Mix together the milk, pumpkin puree, egg and oil or butter in a liquid measuring cup.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk together just until combine.  (The batter may still have a few lumps – that is okay.)

Preheat the oven to 200° F.  Have an oven safe plate or serving dish ready.  Heat a greased skillet or griddle over medium heat.  Once the skillet is hot, add a 1/3 cup scoop of batter to the pan.  Let cool until bubbles begin to form on the top surface.  Carefully flip with a spatula and cook the second side until golden brown, a couple minutes more.  Transfer the cooked pancake to the oven safe dish, and place in the oven to keep warm.  Repeat with the rest of the batter until it has all been cooked, regreasing the pan as needed.  Serve with cinnamon sugar, maple syrup, and/or whipped cream.

What kind of pancakes do you like?

October 3, 2011

Pumpkin Apple Bread

It's beginning to look a lot like Fall.

Everywhere you goooo. Soon the leaves will falllllll. Apples are ripe-n-ing, pumpkins are carol-i-ng, ghosts and goblins are on the callll.

Okay. Too much? Sorry. It's too soon for Christmas carols and I'm not singing the Monster Mash yet (what are you going to be for Halloween?). Why aren't there any Fall songs? It's not fair!

Despite the lack of Fall carols, I loved this bread. It's got all the flavors of Fall: apples, pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon, ground cloves...it smells amazing, looks amazing, and tastes amazing. If you haven't made anything with pumpkin yet, I'd suggest this. You'll love it and start making up your own Fall songs. Like me. Isn't that great!

P.S. What do you think of my new photo location?

Source: Life of a Wife
Servings: 2 loaves

For the Topping
1 Tbsp flour
5 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

For the Bread
3 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 ground cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 (15 oz) can solid-pack pumpkin
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (about 2 cups)

Make the topping: Blend together flour, sugar, cinnamon, and butter in a small bowl with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Make the bread: Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon into a medium bowl. Whisk together pumpkin, oil, sugar, and eggs in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients, stirring until well combined. Fold in apples.

Divide batter between two buttered 9x5" loaf pans. Sprinkle half of the topping evenly over each loaf. Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted in center of bread comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.

Cool loaves in pans on a rack for 45 minutes, then turn out onto rack and cool completely, about 1 hour. This bread keeps, wrapped in plastic wrap and foil and refrigerated, for up to 1 week. It can also be frozen for up to 1 month.

Have you started to plan for Halloween?

October 2, 2011

Weekend Bites + Menu Plan Monday 10/3

I'm loving every minute of October so far.

Saturday: Cleaned the house from top to bottom. Took a trip to the farmer's market to pick up these beautiful Fall mums. My favorite plant because I can't seem to kill them. Yay! 

Saturday night: A movie and DVR'd shows on the couch with hubby. <3

Sunday: Hubby had to work. Boo. However, he did just manage to come home early- yay! I went to the store and found this pumpkin cream cheese spread. Love.

These are my favorite cookies in the whole world. Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip. I only make them in October because I'm weird like that.

Sunday night: Salsa chicken in the crock pot. Finishing up with our DVR'd shows. Perhaps some hot chocolate with our pumpkin cookies? Oh the possibilites.

I love Fall. How was your weekend?

Menu Plan

How have you been enjoying the start of October? What's on your menu this week?