Caramel- Butterscotch’s Little Sister

Or maybe little brother… or cousin… or third cousin four times removed. Or who knows; maybe it’s a step child. That wicked red headed one. But I know that for me caramel has never ranked as high on the family list of sweets. Mind you, that doesn’t mean I don’t like it. Ahem… hello, you DO recall whose blog you’re on don’t you?ย  Janet… liver hating, sweet loving, the richer and creamier the better silly kinda needs massive therapy blog writer. Yep, that’s me!

I love caramel. Just not as much as I love butterscotch. But please… don’t tell either of them where I rank them. I don’t want to be responsible for gooey hurt feelings. There is a time and a place for both. Butterscotch gets my love on sundaes and in schnapps (Oh.My.God. Is that stuff awesome or what?! Liquid “I’m gonna get you tipsy” butterscotch candy) and as a great add in to coffee. Yes, I know; caramel is the normal add in flavor for coffee but if you’ve never tried butterscotch in coffee, you have to try it. Or just buy some, decide you don’t like it and then send it to me. Caramel is for the guts of candy bars that you freeze and then nibble off layer by layer. It’s also for Dulce De leche which is meant to be eaten by the spoonful. Really; it is. It’s the law. Would I lie to you? It’s also for the following recipe. Along with the dulce de leche. I am currently browsing through the Southern Living 1001 Ways To Cook Southern cookbook and among the 3 million four hundred thousand pages I have folded down, one kept saying “try me… NOW. Do NOT wait, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars” (if anyone wants to send me that two hundred dollars, I’m not gonna argue ๐Ÿ˜› ). So I listened. Cause I’m cool like that. When books talk to me, I listen. After I stop cowering in the closet cause a book just talked to me.

So try this. Caramel… more caramel. All tucked into a thick brown sugary square… or circle. Or an octagon if that’s what makes you happy.

Death By Caramel Squares

  • 3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened (yes, 2 cups)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract (optional; my addition)
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup regular uncooked oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 regular sized Snickers bars, chopped
  • 1 14 ounce can dulce de leche
  1. Preheat your oven to 325. Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil (I used the non stick kind) and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well.
  3. In another bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture, stirring just until blended. Fold in the chopped candy.
  4. Spread batter in the lined pan. It’s quite thick so you will probably have to pat it down some. I used the tips of my dampened fingers so that I didn’t get covered in goop.
  5. Spoon dollops of the dulce de leche onto the top of the batter. Use a knife to swirl it into the batter. Eat some because again… it’s the law. I swear it is!
  6. Bake for an hour and 20 minutes. The recipe said an hour and five minutes but in my oven, it was still very jiggly in the center. Your oven may vary so check after an hour.
  7. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. This is gonna take a while cause these bad boys are thick! Use the foil to lift the brownies out and cut into squares. Or you could do that octagon thingย  again. Just sayin’.
  8. These are very chewy which I liked and very thick; also liked. But next time I think I will add something to it… maybe a little maple flavor. It just needs that little something extra.

Have Rice Will… Kill All Nutritional Value In It

I have heard a lot of people decry pudding as a boring dessert alternative. I completely disagree. Pudding is awesome darn it! Smeared all over… ok, wait, let’s change the tangent I was about to go off on there. My bad. ๐Ÿ˜›ย  Where was I? Pudding is awesome. When I was a kid back in the 60’s and 70’s (yes, I’m older than most other bloggers. I like to think that makes me wiser and smarter and more experienced and a better cook… and far cuter. Or something like that.) when most women were entering the work force for the first time, pudding meant the dry powder in a box mixed with milk because none of our mothers had the time to actually MAKE pudding home made. I have to admit to still having a certain fondness for the Butterscotch flavor. I still buy it as well as the newer types of pudding that have come out. The Jello Temptations are pretty darn good and are low calorie and Jello brands sugar free Creme Brulee Rice Pudding is…wait for it… “to die for” *grins cause you all know what I think of that phrase ๐Ÿ˜› .

But rice pudding for me has always been a sort of comfort food and nothing beats home made. But… *sighs deeply*… being me, I am never content to leave well enough alone. Nooooooo… I have to mess with things I like to try and make more things I like. Like I did last night with rice pudding. Mind you, it worked. Quite nicely. But now I have a craving for regular warm rice pudding covered in a few pounds of Cinnamon (sorry Ann … I know you can’t do Cinnamon. But that’s why you should keep reading :-P). But until I decide to make that, this is a wonderful Summery alternative. If you like coconut (no coconut pieces in it cause I just don’t care for the texture as much as I love the flavor) and Pineapple, you should love this. Plus, if you want to lighten it, it can be done by using low fat coconut milk, lighter milk and light or fat free whipped topping instead of the heavy cream. The Greek yogurt in this adds a nice tang as well as some extra nutrition. All in all, while this isn’t exactly great for you (this IS me after all ๐Ÿ˜› ), it’s certainly not BAD for you either if you use lighter ingredients. I hope you like it! There was no way to really photograph rice pudding to make it look exciting lol, but it sure does taste good ๐Ÿ˜€ This makes a lot so it could be cut in half if needed.

ย Pina Colada Rice Pudding With A Greek Yogurt Twist

  • 4 cups cooked rice (I used leftover Basmati Coconut rice but any cooked rice would do. I actually think this would be better with plain white rice. )
  • 2 cans coconut milk (I used full fat cause the low fat tastes watery to me in all the brands I have tried but you could sub low fat)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 20 ounce can pineapple chunks, well drained
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped or 1 1/2 cups whipped topping
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (I used honey flavored because it was what I had on hand)
  1. In a medium heavy bottomed (preferably non stick) sauce pot, combine the cooked rice and the coconut milk. Stir well to mix. Over medium heat, bring the mix to a gentle boil stirring very often.
  2. Turn heat down to low (I had it on two) and cover. Cook the rice until all the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Mine took about 30 minutes.
  3. Pour mixture into a large bowl and cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.
  4. When rice is cold, mix the whipped cream (or whipped topping) with the Greek yogurt.
  5. Break up the rice pudding (it will be stiff) and fold the cream/yogurt mixture into it.
  6. Add the drained pineapple and mix well. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

Pigging Out

 

I’ve mentioned before that my husband and I are trying to buy a house. To be specific, this house right here *points down to photo*

Housing prices in this part of the country are pretty darn good especially if you consider that this has ten acres of land along with the house and pool. We’re slowly working through the process and have gotten to the point where they have it listed as “pending” now when one tries to find it online. I love seeing that word. Pending. Such a lovely word ๐Ÿ˜€

I have a ton of plans for the land when we get it (I refuse to say “if”). I want a huge garden; big enough that we can share with family as well as let local churches and food banks have some. I plan on planting a lot of fruit trees and fruit bushes & vines and nut trees with the same goal in mind though I know that will take longer before they produce. We also want to have chickens, sheep and some pigs to use for meat and in the case of the chickens, eggs. I also love the idea of my youngest being able to grow up learning to care for the land and animals. The garden tub, nice kitchen and pool have no bearing on the decision to get this house. Nope, none at all *cough cough*

I have joked more than once that I can see us getting these animals and instead of them being food, they will take over the household. I will get up in the mornings to see a Sheep wearing my fluffy pink robe and pink slippers. The chickens will use up all my tea bags and steal my chocolate stash. And the pigs will hoard the remote for the TV and I’ll be forced to watch the movie Charlottes Web 17 times a day.

But assuming we can ever find the heart to have the animules slaughtered (I have extreme doubts and see all our future meat still being wrapped in plastic and on styrofoam trays while the animules get fat as houses) one of the things I will be makingย  frequently is the dinner I made tonight. (Was that a smooth segue into the recipe or WHAT?! *grins and moves along knowing that yes, I AM a dolt ๐Ÿ˜› )

I had 4 bone in extra thick pork chops I had gotten on special and I didn’t want to just fry them up and serve them. B…o…r…i…n…ggggg. My husband suggested stuffing them but as much as I don’t go by the certain foods for certain seasons thing, even I have to say that something about stuffed pork chops screams Autumn to me. So I played. If I do say so myself, it turned out pretty darn good. The pork chops are fork tender and the sauce is awesome. It’s sweet, fruity, spicy and fragrant and has a nice curry flavor without tasting like it is just a curry dish. It has much more flavor than that and this is coming from a woman who loves curry. The sauce was stupendous on the coconut rice I made. So if you like pork, like fruity sauces, like a bit of heat, you’ll probably love this. Give it a try. ๐Ÿ™‚

Bone In Pork Chops With A

Spicy & Sweet Curried Apricot Sauce

  • 4 large bone in pork chops
  • SAUCE-
  • 2 20 ounce cans apricot halves (either syrup or juice; syrup= sweeter sauce, juice= not so much so. I used one of each)
  • 1 large jalapeno (seeded if desired. I kinda liked the heat and really, it isn’t too intense ๐Ÿ˜€ )
  • 1/3 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 3 heaping tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt to taste
  1. Spray a large fry pan with cooking spray. Let pan heat over medium high heat for about 2 minutes
  2. Add pork chops (two at a time; never crowd your pan) and sear on both sides.
  3. In bowl of food processor or blender, mix all sauce ingredients while chops are browning.
  4. When all the chops are browned, add them back to the pan. Pour the sauce over them and cover the pan. Turn the heat to medium low and let simmer until fork tender, about 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the size of the chops.ย  Adjust the heat if the sauce seems to be sticking.
  5. Serve the chops with extra sauce; perfectly with some Basmati rice to soak up a few gazillion spoonsful more of the sauce. I made coconut rice to go with it and the flavors melded so so well.

 

Just a different view cause they were both so shiny and purty I couldn't choose lol

That Bread Pudding Thing Again

I’ve mentioned before my love/hate relationship with bread pudding. I love to hate it. More specifically I love to hate the insipid things that some pass off as bread pudding. Stale white bread from the grocery store mixed with 2%milk (or worse… let’s make bread pudding healthy and use skim. Ummm.. gag?) and a handful of raisins and some cinnamon cooked until it is a hardened pile of gunk. I’ll take Twinkies instead thank you. On that note though, I cringe every time I see recipes for bread pudding that use things like Twinkies or doughnuts. Even I have some health standards (says the woman about to give you a recipe using 3 cups of heavy cream. But hey! If it were also made with Twinkies, it would be even worse! So see? I DO care for your arteries!! I do, I do I do!)

I do though love to play with bread pudding. Not THAT way… get your mind out of the gutter ! I like to take flavors that one typically sees elsewhere (like my apricot white chocolate bread pudding that I more or less based on the idea of white chocolate dipped apricots) and turn them into bread pudding. So many things can be done with a loaf of a sweet bread (or french or Italian in the case of savory bread puddings), some rich custard and simple ingredients. You can take what started out generations ago as a way to use up leftovers and feed people a hearty breakfast (or lunch or dinner or dessert) and turn it into something that even die hard bread pudding haters (such as me) will love.

I decided I wanted to try a take on one of my favorite desserts; Pineapple Upside Down Cake. I didn’t want it inverted though. I wanted the bulk of the pineapple in it as well as the accompanying flavors (brown sugar and butter. YUM!) with the rest of those flavors in a sauce for over the top of it. I think this turned out rather well. I made it in mini spring form pans which technically are big enough for two servings. I say technically because I will stab with my fork anyone who gets near the one I am eating. yes, yes, I AM meek mild and gentle. Why do you ask? Back to the pudding…or…erhmmm, moving on ๐Ÿ˜€ The edges of these got all crispy and caramelized and sticky from the brown sugar and the natural sugars in the pineapple and that alone makes these oh so good. Add in the caramelly flavor of the pudding itself with the tang of the pineapple pieces then the creamy custard and rich sauce and I was in heaven. I am so so glad that I usually eat very little of what I make (as I’ve said before, I prefer to NOT weigh 600 pounds thank you very much) because then I won’t feel so guilty if I eat a whole mini cake of this.

Pineapple Upside Down Bread Pudding

With Creamy Pineapple Amaretto Sauce

  • SAUCE-
  • 1 20 ounce can crushed pineapple in juice, drained
  • 1 20 ounce can pineapple chunks in heavy syrup, drained, 1/2 cup syrup reserved
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup Amaretto liquor
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • PUDDING-
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup amaretto (or sub 2 teaspoons almond extract)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 loaf Kings Hawaiian Bread, cut into small cubes
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 6 mini spring-form pans or a two quart baking dish.
  2. In a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan, combine all sauce ingredients other than the cream.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower heat to a simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool somewhat while you prepare pudding.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add in the brown sugar and beat until well blended. Add the vanilla, reserved 1/2 cup pineapple syrup, melted butter, the 2 cups of heavy cream and the amaretto. Mix well.
  5. Add 2 cups of the pineapple mixture, mixing well.
  6. Take the cubed bread and add to the cream mixture, pressing down with a spoon, fork, knife, shovel, whatever makes you happy, making sure to get all the bread submerged in the liquid. Let sit for at least 30 minutes to give the bread time to soak up the custard mix.
  7. Divide mixture between 6 greased mini spring-form pans (or a 2 quart pan, preferably glass, could be used) and bake at 325 for about 60 minutes or until you can stick a knife in the center of the custard and have no liquid custard seep up into the hole.
  8. Set aside to cool, still in the pans, for at least 2 hours (or take one out like I did and eat it piping hot and burn your tongue off. That works too.).
  9. While it is cooling, go back to your sauce. Eat a spoonful and moan cause it’s yummy and just like the stuff on pineapple upside down cake.
  10. Add the 1 cup of heavy cream to the pineapple sauce. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Let simmer for ten minutes, still stirring often.ย  Set aside.
  11. Carefully remove the sides and bottom of the spring-form pans. Put each pudding onto a serving plate and serve with some of the pineapple amaretto cream sauce

Spicing Things Up

 

I asked a while back on my facebook page (you can find me under this blog name if you’re interested btw. Well? What are you waiting for?ย  Go look for petes sake!) if people were interested in my making posts about home made spice blends. The answer was a resounding yes. So being the person that I am, one who is always on top of things, strictly organized and gets things done the second they come up, I made a post on the subject immediately.

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STOP LAUGHING!!! It’s not nice! MOM!!!! They’re being mean to me!!!!

Ok, you can stop laughing now. Really. I don’t blame you though. I grinned as I typed that. Actually, I laughed hysterically and had to stop to wipe my streaming eyes. It took a while cause I couldn’t find the kleenex.

But here I am…right here…right now… finally making this first post in what will over time (probably much much time since I am so NOT organized I may have trouble finding my own spices) become a series of sorts. Today I chose what is my personal favorite. Back story- 1) I love love love dill weed. I don’t particularly like dill pickles but I love most things made with dill, be it fresh or dried. I love the smell, the flavor… all of it. And 2) I have always liked the Spice Hunters brand of spices. They are outstanding. My favorite was one called “Deliciously Dill”. The problem is, I don’t have the disposable income it takes to spend 6 bucks per bottle and shipping costs whenever I want it. So I decided to make it. This is a blend that goes great on sooooo many dishes. We love it in scrambled eggs (or “Janet Eggs” as my husband calls them), on fish, over steamed vegetables, in potato salad…. you name it, where ever dill can go, this can go. Making it at home saves so much money. You have the initial outlay for the bottled spices to make it but then you can make so many batches of this from those bottles.ย  So if you enjoy different spices (and chances are you wouldn’t be reading a food blog if that weren’t the case lol) try this. It’s easy (if you can pour and use a spoon, you’ve got it ๐Ÿ˜› ) and so worth it. If the quantities listed are too much for you, you can cut this in half easily. This is a salt free blend but feel free to add salt if you want.

Dill/Onion Spice Blend

(For Use On Fish, Veggies, Eggs & Lots More ๐Ÿ™‚ย ย  )

  • 1/4 cup dried dill weed
  • 1/3 cup dried minced onions
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried lemon peel
  • 3 tablespoons dried chives
  1. Mix everything together.
  2. The end. Added this yet again just cause one instruction looks funny ๐Ÿ˜›

Reinventing The Wheel…Or Biscuit

Can you see all the little layers?? Huh huh huh?




We’ve all done it. Or at least if you’ve cooked for any length of time and are more than a casual “I HAVE to cook so I do” sort of foodie you’ve done it. What the heck am I talking about? Food reinvention. Aka the times you want to make something you’ve made before but just want to do it differently. You want something traditional but you want something new. That train of thought has brought us so very many of the foods we all love. Though I doubt Twinkies and Cheetos were somebody’s brain child as to how to reinvent cheese and cake. Mores the pity. ๐Ÿ˜›

I have been wanting biscuits. I have also been wanting croissants. But biscuits were boring and croissants are a pain in the proverbial tushie. I can make both with no problem. You can’t live in the south and cook without learning to make good buttermilk biscuits or you may as well hide in a hole. And I taught myself to make croissants years back just cause I wanted to prove I could do it. But neither was exciting me yesterday when I was contemplating today’s post. So I figured I’d make Angel Biscuits- those biscuit/yeast roll hybrids. But I wanted to play with them and see if I could get them to be more akin to croissants with out all the trouble and time that croissants take. I have to say; I’m pretty tickled with how they turned out.

Hours before I started the dough, I cut two sticks of butter in half. Then I rolled out each half in between sheets of waxed paper and froze them. After I got the dough finished later, I did the rolling and turning technique (more or less) that you use when making croissants after inserting the sheets of butter in them. After baking, I tried one (I wanted to eat more but controlled myself lol) with some of my home made Apricot Honey Jam. All I can say is… oh my. These turned out fantastic. Are they the prettiest rolls in the world? Nope. But I couldn’t care less nor will you. I promise. These are tender and buttery and the tops and bottoms get a slight crispy almost fried taste and texture due to the butter. You can see the layers in this and they are reminiscent of the flaky biscuits you can make from a can (the ones where you can peel apart the layers) but without the canned taste, thank God and the Pillsbury Dough Boy. So give these a try. They aren’t time consuming at all and taste so darn good!

Croissant Style Buttermilk Biscuits

  • 2 sticks butter (1/2 pound), room temp, cut in half (preferably salted for this recipe contrary to what I usually advise)
  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) regular yeast
  • 2 tablespoons warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup buttermilk (you may need a touch more if the dough is dry)
  1. Put one of your pieces of butter onto a large piece of waxed paper. Fold the paper over it and smoosh the butter down. Then roll the butter out flat into a thin sheet. Do this with each of the four pieces. Put into the freezer for at least an hour.

    See? The butter doesn’t have to look pretty. Just nice and thin and flat. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. When the butter has been in for about 50 minutes, preheat your oven to 400 and start your dough.
  3. Mix the yeast with the warm water in a small container. Set aside.
  4. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until mixture is the consistency of fine crumbs. Stir in the buttermilk, then the yeast. Mixture should leave sides of bowl and be a cohesive mass. If not, add a little more buttermilk at a time until it does.
  5. Place the dough on a generously floured board. Knead until it comes together smoothly. Gently roll out the dough into a rectangle. It doesn’t need to be perfect.
  6. Place one of the frozen butter sheets on it and fold the dough in half, enclosing the butter. Seal the edges well.ย  Gently roll back out into a rectangle large enough to insert another sheet of butter.
  7. Do this three more times with each of the other pieces of butter. Make sure your board stays decently floured. Seal the dough well after inserting each sheet of butter using fingers moistened with a bit of buttermilk if necessary. Cover any cracks with a light sprinkling of flour and just continue on as you have been doing. Work quickly so that the butter doesn’t have time to soften up too much. The steam is what helps create the layers and warm butter won’t steam as well. When you have all the butter rolled in, you will end up with a thick fairly heavy piece of dough that looks more or less like this:
  8. Roll out a LITTLE bit. You’re not trying to flatten it out again just make it a touch bigger. Once you have this done, cut the dough into 16 pieces. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve with jam or preserves or chocolate sauce if that makes you happy. But you won’t need butter on these I promise you. ๐Ÿ˜›

 

But…But…But…It Has CARROTS In It!

Admit it. You want this.

I have never been a fan of carrots. I actually go through salads and pick out all the little shreds of carrots. I do however like them heavily buttered but only baby carrots. So carrot cake was never a dessert on my radar. It was so far OFF of my radar that liver may actually have been in front of it by virtue of the fact that I had at least tried liver. But carrot cake? Nope. Wasn’t doing it. No way no how. No carrots for this woman.

I DO however love frosting. And Oranges. So when I was at the grocery store one day a few years backย  casually perusing drooling over the baked goods in their bakery department and trying to figure out why there was a check out boy with a mop & bucket in front of me as a voice said “CLEAN UP IN FRONT OF THE FAT LADY AT THE BAKERY…AGAIN!!!” ย  I saw a huge cake. It was decorated in this thick creamy white frosting and on the little sign that I still remember fondly (I took a photo of that sign and framed it. It hangs in a sacred spot in my home now; the bathroom) were printed the words, “Carrot Cake With Orange Frosting- More Money Than You Can Really Afford Per Slice But Buy It Anyway!” .Ok, it didn’t really say part of that but it may as well have. So I looked… glared at the kid with the bucket because he kept cutting off my view of the cake…and told myself that yes, it was carrot cake… i.e. a cake with the dreaded carrots in it but that if nothing else, I could always pay 3 gazillion dollars for a slice of this and just eat that heavenly looking frosting. So I bought it. I took it home. I ate all the frosting off the top. I drooled some more. Then I took a deep breath and took a bite of the cake part. It was the only way to get to the frosting packed between the layers. Then… I fell in love.

Kind of.

I still don’t like most carrot cake. I do though like carrot cake the way I make it now (and from that same store when I feel like blowing the rent money on cake). I like moist and tender cake chock full of pineapple and raisins and orange zest and spices and oh yeah, thoseย  carrot things too. And frosting that is buttery and cream cheesy (ahem; yes, this too is now a word) and also full of that lovely orange flavor I so drool over in store bakery sections.

If you like carrot cake, you should like this. It isn’t overly sweet (I actually think I will add a bit more sugar next time; maybe 1/2 cup. It’s more muffiny than I like.) and is nice and moist and the frosting I made to go with it is quite yummy if I do say so myself. The cake comes from (adapted slightly) The King Arthur Whole Grain Baking Book (other than the orange zest and using both pineapple and raisins; they had it as a choice, silly people.) and the frosting comes from my warped brain. Enjoy!! You can also make this as a layer or sheet cake (that is what it is in the book) but I wanted cupcakes. It makes 33 cupcakes so it is perfect for a pot luck or church supper or for kids at school and this is actually semi nutritious (I know; scary huh?) cause of the fruits and carrots and whole wheat flour.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes With

An Orange Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour, traditional or white whole wheat
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 1/2 cups grated carrots (yes… THOSE)
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
  • 1 can (8 ounces) well drained crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup raisins
  • FROSTING-
  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice
  • 4 cups (more or less as needed to get proper consistency) powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Either grease and flour 2 9 inch cake pans or line 33 (can be done in batches) muffin cups with paper or foil liners.
  2. Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and beat until well blended. Add the vanilla then the sugars.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, mixing until it is smooth. Add in the carrots, nuts, pineapple and raisins. Mix well.
  4. Spoon batter into the prepared cupcake cups. Bake at 350 for about 16 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pans for 2 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling while you make the oh so delectable frosting ๐Ÿ˜€
  5. For Frosting- in a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese and butter until creamy and well combined. Add in the orange zest, extracts and orange juice. Beat well. Add in the powdered sugar and beat at low speed until combined (I always do this with the bowl set in the sink so that I don’t have sugar flying everywhere) then turn speed up to high and beat for five minutes. If frosting it too thick, add a touch of OJ to it. If too thin, add more powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time until you have the desired consistency.
  6. ย Spoon or pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Eat. Don’t share. Tell the kids that these are poison.

When I Was A Kid, It Was All “Noodles”

I don’t know if I have ever mentioned my love for noodles aka “noodoos” when you’ve raised as many kids as I have. I have mentioned Twinkies and Cheetos, I have mentioned chocolate and panini sandwiches. I have mentioned citrus in any way shape or form. But noodoos??? I mean noodles? Nope, I forgot all about those slippery bits of tasty goodness. When I was a kid, noodles meant…well… any of it. For some reason it was all noodles. It wasn’t called “pasta” back then; at least not in my home on the South Side of Chicago. It was noodles darn it! Spaghetti for dinner? Noodles. Lasagna? Ok, that was still lasagna. My main noodle memory though is my mom making egg noodles that she tossed with onions that had been sauteed in butter. So simple but so good. I still love that. Mac & Cheese? Noodles. From a box… gritty…soupy…ickย  *shudders and moves on*

As I got older, my love for noodoos increased as my foodie experience grew as I aged. Not that I have aged much… twenty nine and holding here. Ignore the fact that my oldest child is 25. I started early ok!!?

Erhmmm…. moving on. Again. Noodoos.

I got to try so many other types of noodles as I expanded my eating experiences (and my waistline). But my favorite, even today, as I age…very gracefully and wrinkle free I might add… is any sort of Asian noodoos…noodles. Lo Mein, Cellophane noodles, Udon, Pad Thai, even ramen (if fixed correctly which IS possible). Add some sort of meat in there because I am a rabid carnivore (maybe the rabid part isn’t a good thing to say. Would it help if I say I’ve had all my shots?) and I’m in noodoo Heaven. So today I wanted noodles. I wanted spice, I wanted an excuse to make the Shrimp I splurged on, I wanted sriracha, I wanted veggies. Strange I know… me saying I wanted veggies instead of Twinkies. I’ll have those later. But for now, I have noodles… and veggies… and a tangy spicy sweet sauce. And Shrimp. Did I mention the Shrimp? So if all of that sounds good to you, try this.

Hokkien Noodles In A

Spicy Teriyaki Sauce With Stir Fry Veggies And Sriracha!

  • 1 pound raw shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 14.2 ounce packages hokkien noodles (found in the Asian aisle of most grocery stores)
  • 1 15 ounce bottle of Kona Coast Pineapple Paradise Teriyaki Sauce (sub your favorite if you can’t find this one. I just happen to like it)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1 lb bag frozen stir fry veggies
  • 1 12 ounce bag frozen snow peas
  • 3 green onions, sliced into 4 pieces
  1. In a medium bowl (you can use a large or extra large. I won’t tell. Or a small but you may end up with a mess. You could even use a plate but I don’t recommend it) mix together the teriyaki sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder, lime zest, lime juice and srirachaย  mix well.ย  Break up the noodles and set aside.
  2. Over high heat, in a large pan, saute the shrimp in the oil until cooked and a nice purty pink; about 4 minutes. When they are almost done, toss the shrimp with 1/4 cup of the sauce.ย  Set aside.
  3. Add the veggies to the same pan and stir fry for five minutes or until crisp tender. Add the noodles and the rest of the sauce to the pan. Toss to coat well and cover the pan. Cook for about 90 seconds.
  4. Put noodles in bowl and cover with a few gazillion shrimp. Add more sriracha because it isn’t spicy enough and you don’t like having taste buds. Scream in pain then eat more. Rinse and repeat.

Is It Permissable To Marry A Panini?

And what do I do if my husband protests the union? Can we all live in gooey panini sin together?ย  How do we put the sandwich on our health insurance? And would said insurance cover bite marks in the panini? Can I be hit with domestic abuse charges for the bite marks? I don’t even want to THINK about the issues surrounding procreation and paternal rights!

I like Paninis aka smooshed up crispy sandwiches. I have posted paninis before. Because I like them.

Paninis.

I like.

Them.

Or something.

Shutting up now.

I lied. No shutting up.

I, like most people who didn’t live in whatever city they originated in, hadn’t heard of paninis until fairly recently. Maybe 6, 7 years ago? When I was a kid, crispy sandwiches were old fashioned grilled cheese. Preferably served with tomato soup (though I actually had never heard of that either until I got married the first time at 20). Now though, grilled cheese has given way to paninis, which, if we are to be honest, are really grilled cheese with grill marks and fancy ingredients. Not that I mind. I tend to like fancier ingredients on sandwiches. I grew up in the era of Oscar Mayer bologna, processed cheese food (you hear that Chef Dennis? ๐Ÿ˜› ) and because I am a product of the Chicago public school system, ham sandwiches on mushy white bread that has been spread with butter. I am shamefaced as I admit to still having a certain fondness for that last one.

But I love paninis. Mentioning that in case I didn’t make it clear earlier. I especially love them with “fancy” ingredients. The following is one I created tonight when I realized I had some Brie I needed to use (I ALWAYS forget it and find it somewhere in the back of the fridge and have to smack myself). I had also bought some white peaches today and had some thin sliced chicken breast to use. Add in some bacon and a couple of other assorted yummies and it made one hell of a sandwich. So go… make this. Eat.

Sourdough Panini With Caribbean Jerk Chicken,

Brie, Bacon & White Peaches

  • 2 slices sourdough bread (preferably the square loaf)
  • 1 tablespoon peach or apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced uncooked chicken breast (I used Tysons thin cut chicken)
  • 1 tablespoon (more or less as desired) of your favorite brand Caribbean Jerk seasoning (I used McCormicks)
  • 4 to 6 slices crispy bacon (depends on how gluttonous you’re feeling & whether you’re sharing ๐Ÿ˜› )
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced Brie, rind removed
  • 1/2 of 1 white peach, thinly sliced
  1. Preheat the panini press.Over medium high heat, heat a medium (lots of medium here) sized pan on the stove until very hot. Add your chicken slices, doing one at a time. Quickly cook on one side until golden brown then flip over. Sprinkle seasoning on chicken and cook other side until it is brown. It probably won’t be cooked all the way but that’s what you want. It will finish in the sandwich cooking process.
  2. Spread one piece of bread with the preserves. On top of that, layer the brie, chicken, peach slices and bacon.ย  Slap on (yes, you have to slap it on. Just cause.) the other piece of bread. You can lightly (and I do mean lightly) butter the bread on the outside to increase crispiness if you want but really in panini presses there is usually no need.
  3. Toast…grill…cook…. dry fry… call it what you want the sandwich until it is nice and toasty and golden brown. Cut in half and it will serve two people; one if they are starving to death.

I have NO idea how my camera "messed up" and focused on that bag of cheetos in the background! I plead the fifth!!

I STILL Don’t Like Peanut Butter But…

 

My family does. I have kids still at home including a two year old who eats his weight in peanut butter on a weekly basis. To me, peanut butter is that stuff they put in Reeses Cups, Butterfingers and Nutter Butter Cookies. Oh, and a PB&J maybe two times a year. But I’ve never had the obsession with it that many people do. I have other obsessions thank you very much ๐Ÿ˜€ (cough cough Twinkies and Cheetos)

I have said that I will never make peanut butter cookies and I have stuck to that. They smell ick to me. But I still sometimes make treats with peanut butter for my husband and kids. And with Russ’s kids being here too, it seemed like a good time because I knew there would be no leftovers ๐Ÿ˜€

I am currently reading the King Arthur Whole Grain Cookbook (yes reading; not scanning; doesn’t everyone do that? ๐Ÿ˜› ) and they have a recipe in there for peanut butter chocolate chip waffles. I saw that and knew it would perfect for both my family and the peanut butter loving blog community. This also takes it into the Elvis realm with a banana topping. Now THAT I liked. With a spoon. In my mouth. by itself. YUM! The recipe didn’t call for the following but to up the “OMG” level for everyone I made a chocolate/peanut butter sauce to put on top also.

If you like waffles, or like peanut butter or like chocolate or like bananas, you will like this ๐Ÿ˜€ As they cooked the whole kitchen smelled like a peanut butter factory lol. The original recipe calls for spelt flour so feel free to sub that if you want. This is a long list of ingredients but very quickly put together.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Waffles

With Banana Cream And

Peanut Butter/Fudge Topping

  • For the waffles-
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • For the banana cream-
  • 2 large bananas
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • For the Peanut Butter/Fudge Topping
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup hot fudge sauce
  1. Banana Cream- Mash the bananas in a small bowl with the sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. In separate bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the banana mixture into into the heavy cream and refrigerate until the waffles are done.
  2. Waffles- Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cream the peanut butter and sugar together until the peanut softens up. Pour in the melted butter.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until well blended and mixture is smooth. Add the milk gradually. The mixture will be very soupy.
  5. Add the flour all at once and stir just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.ย  Set aside to rest for at least ten minutes while you preheat your waffle iron and make the fudge sauce.
  6. Peanut Butter/Fudge Sauce-
  7. Mix the peanut butter and hot fudge sauce in a small bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir well. Microwave again until mixture is smooth.
  8. Pour about 1/3 to 1/2 cup waffle batter (depends on the size of your iron; mine took close to half a cup) in the waffle iron and cook waffles until are golden brown. Top with some of the banana cream and peanut butter fudge sauce. This will make about 5 waffles.