Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Claire's Granola

Claire's Granola

Claire and I have been trying to get together to make granola since I can remember.  I finally made it to her house on Sunday.  Claire has been making this recipe for a long time and I have been determined to learn how she does it.  She changes up the ingredients - easy to do.  She was making her own batch on Sunday with walnuts.  I made her standard with the ingredients below, and it is scrumptious.  

Disclaimer: I stopped by Whole Foods and the scale was broken so I didn't get the right amount of oats.  (I don't do well guestimating).  So what you see in pictures (a little more than a cookie sheet) is half the recipe below.  
When you make this your house will smell AMAZING...AMAZING!
2 lbs rolled oats (4ish cups)
Sunflower seeds
Slivered almonds
Shredded coconut (unsweet)
1/4 c. water
3/4 c. oil
1 1/2 c. honey (I like mine sweet)
Parchment paper (optional but it saves your cookie sheet and the time spent scrubbing off baked honey)

Place a stock pan on the stove and turn the temperature to medium heat.

Measure out 1/4 cup of water and pour into the pan.  Then measure/pour 3/4 cup canola oil.  

*Claire taught me a trick.  If you follow this order, the next step (honey) pours MUCH easier due to the oil coating the measuring cup.  Brilliant.  
Add 1 1/2 cup of honey.  You can do less.  I like mine sweet.

This is what it will look like.  I apologize...these photos leave much to be desired!

Cook on medium heat for just a minute or two and it turns into liquid.  This is what you want.
Then be prepared to stir in oats and nuts/seeds/coconut. 
Stir, stir, stir.  It is important everything is coated with the liquid mixture so it doesn't burn in the oven.  You will stir until it feels like your arm might fall off.
Lay down a piece of parchment paper. (This is optional.  Claire never used it before we tried it Sunday.  It definitely saves cleanup!)
Pour granola mix onto the cookie sheet (I used non-insulated to be sure it became crispy).  Spread the mixture into a big rectangle.  You don't want any pieces off to the side or they will burn quickly.  That was another trick Claire shared with me.
We baked the shown cookie sheet on 325 degrees for 15 minutes, flipped with a spatula, and then baked 20 minutes on the other side.  (Update:  My electric stove takes a little longer.  More like 20+ minutes and another 20.)

This was the end result.  I'm eating it with milk in the mornings and sometimes for snack with yogurt.  We will see if I can do this again without Claire! The rate I am eating this, it won't last long!  Thanks, Claire!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Brody-approved Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

How simple? 4 ingredients!  I first found this recipe on Pinterest of course.  Brody is going to stay at his home-away-from-home this weekend (Marcia and her daughter Claire are who I have to thank for Brody today).  I figure this would be a nice "thank-you."  Gus, Marcia's dog, is one of Brody's favorite playmates.  Tomorrow I search for a cute jar for packaging!

2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup low-fat milk ( I used skim and it was fine)

375 degree preheat

In a bowl, combine flour and baking powder. In another bowl, mix peanut butter and milk. Add wet mixture to dry, and mix well.  To the left are the wet ingredients (what milk and PB look like mixed together).

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and knead. This is the easiest dough I've worked with in a long time!

Roll out to 1/4-inch thickness and cut out shapes. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake 20 minutes or until lightly brown.

Here they were once cooled on the rack!

Finally, let your best taste-tester sample.  Brody was "wild" about them!

(The recipe made about 3 dozen with my 3 inch dog bone cutter.)

Friday, August 31, 2012

"Neiman Marcus" Oatmeal/Chocolate Chip Cookies

I will never forget the time I googled this recipe instead of going to my recipe book.  I ended up with  112 cookies. I should have known better but it was in my early baking days.  Even halved, like the recipe below, makes plenty of cookies (about 4-5 dozen!).  I usually freeze a log for later and/or for use it in Hunter's cookie dough ice cream.  

If you are not familiar with this recipe, you must try it.  It's a mix of my oatmeal crispies and a chocolate chip cookie.

Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe

  • 1 cup unsalted room temp or softened butter 
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour 
  • 2.5 cups blended oatmeal (I use my food processor to make it into a powder)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces chocolate chips (I use 10 oz Trade Joes semi-sweet chunks, my favorite)
  • 4 oz grated chocolate bar (Hersheys, Ghirardelli, etc - I use the food processor)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (optional)
My food processor gets to work on the oatmeal.

AND the chocolate bar because I am lazy....

  • Preheat the oven for 375 degrees.
  • Grease your insulated cookie sheets.
  • Cream the butter and both sugars, stopping to scrape the bowl.
  • Add eggs and vanilla.
  • Mix together with oatmeal, flour, salt, baking powder and soda 
  • Add chocolate chips, grated hershey bar and nuts (optional).  Stir by hand (your workout).
The mixer gets full!  Mix in chips by hand to save the motor. The batter is stiff.

To freeze a log I lay it out on wax paper and wrap it/smush it as I roll.
This will go into a cookie dough ice cream recipe eventually (Yes, I know it has raw eggs).  I have also cooked from the frozen logs and they taste just wonderful. 
I am always curious how the cookies spread for recipes and how many you can fit on a sheet.  So, just for you, I included the not-so-glamorous yet handy photos.

Bake 10 minutes or 375 degrees until the tops begin to turn golden.

Let sit for a couple minutes before moving to a cooking rack.  Enjoy with a big glass of milk!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

O'Carr's Copycat Cheesecake Recipe - Take 1

I did it! Thanks for the encouragement.  Tonight I tried a fudge-filled cheesecake in an effort to mimic the O'Carr's cheesecake recipe.  I admit I need to give it another try but wanted to go ahead and post my first attempt to see if any of you have suggestions/recommendations.  I found a Southern-Living recipe from 1998...Warm Fudge-Filled Cheesecake Recipe.  It sounded similar enough to compare.   I will walk you through the steps I documented with photos.  Taking these pictures, I realized it had been quite some time since I photo-documented my adventures.  Each time I intend to bake in the morning to use natural light, but it never works out.

I've become an advocate of lining pans with parchment paper.  Since I've starting using parchment paper I haven't had a cake stick to the pan!

This is really unrelated to this post but I took this picture to admire my new mixer spatula for my Kitchenaid.  I debated the purchase for about 6 months before I took the plunge.  I still scrape the bowl here and there but it is totally worth it!

One thing is certain, the crust is HEAVENLY.  I highly recommend it for ANY cheesecake recipe.  It was not terribly easy spreading the dough, however.  I floured my fingers to keep the stickiness at a minimum!

It amazes me how cheesecake batter becomes so light and fluffy!
Next time I would use maybe a ganache?  My chocolate chips did not melt enough!

...a picture of the 12 oz package of mini chips.  I could use more!

The pan is full.  At a point (during baking) it rose above the sides of the pan!

This is the first time a cheesecake of mine didn't crack.  Although it did get a huge bubble (hence the brown blob).

Sadly it was not done in the center.  At 350 degrees it was browning so I turned it to 325 half through and baked it for 7 extra minutes.  I needed to bake it an extra 15.  Next time I will try that.  

Just another picture...

The baker has to sample, you know, for pictures!

I cannot figure out how O'Carr's is able to get such a clean slice.  Oh,  I bet I know.  I didn't have the patience to let it cool before I dove in!

O'Carr's Cheesecake Recipe: Fudge-filled Warm Cheesecake

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons vanilla, divided
  • (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temp/softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate mini-morsels (next time I think I will take it a step further and melt a ganache)
  • Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; add 1/3 cup sugar, beating well. Gradually add flour, beating at low speed until blended. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Press into bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of a 9-inch springform pan. (I was not successful spreading the crust 1 1/2 inches up the sides.  I did mine at 3/4' and it was just fine!)
  • Bake at 350° for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.
  • Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy; gradually add 1 1/2 cups sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears. Stir in remaining 2 teaspoons vanilla. (Do not overmix.)
  • Pour half of batter into crust; sprinkle with chocolate morsels to within 3/4 inch of edge. Pour in remaining batter, starting at outer edge and working toward center. Place cheesecake on a baking sheet.
  • Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until set. (Mine was browning too much on 350 so I turned it to 325 half through. I would add 15 minutes if you did that).  Cool on a wire rack 1 hour.
  • Serve slightly warm with sweetened whipped cream, if desired. I suggest the microwave for about 25 seconds a slice!
***Do you like O'Carr's chicken salad?  I do! I do!  Julie and I tried the recipe here.  ***

Thursday, July 19, 2012

THE best Red Velvet Cake

THE BEST Red Velvet Cake

I tried another banner for the cake and found flowers to match!
This week was Shannon's work wedding shower...and I baked a cake (no surprise there). Luckily the groom loves red velvet and it just so happens to be MY favorite kind of cake.  Not to mention a red velvet is also a great excuse to make cream cheese icing! Since work tends to be the best place to try out new recipes, I went for a new one. 

How does one decide which recipe to try?  I start by reading MANY reviews.  One particular recipe stood out to me because it was very similar to the Beatty recipe.  It also has coffee.  This recipe has half the coffee but is even MORE moist.   I am keeping this recipe in a safe place!  Let me know if you enjoy it as much as I do.  Mom was making it for a church event so I will let you know how that turns out!

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 Tablespoon of unsweetened, cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1-2 oz. red food coloring (I used Wilton Burgandy - 1/3 the pot)
  • 1 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of prepared plain hot coffee (don’t skip this ingredient)
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and vegetable oil.
  4. Mix in the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and red food coloring until combined.
  5. Stir in the coffee and white vinegar.
  6. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients a little at time, mixing after each addition, just until combined.
  7. Generously grease and flour two round cake pans (I used 2 8-inch and it worked wonderfully) with butter and flour.  I used parchment paper to line it again.  With a cake this moist it will certainly help it from sticking!
  8. Pour the batter evenly into each pan.
  9. Bake in the middle rack for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not over bake as cake will continue to cook as it cools. (I baked mine for 34 minutes and was scared it was not done but it was perfect.)
  10. Let cool on a cooling rack until the pan are warm to the touch.
  11. Slide a knife or offset spatula around the inside of the pans to loosen the cake from the pan.
  12. Remove the cakes from the pan and let them cool.
  13. Frost the cake with cream cheese frosting when the cakes have cooled completely.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Beatty's Chocolate Cake

Cute party theme (including cake banner) all done by Kat!
It is true.  I have officially gone into school recovery mode - doing the things I have missed.  I baked cakes for two events this past week.  When I am baking for events I am extra careful.  I sift the flour a little more....I watch the oven a little is probably good for me!  Brody has learned the phrase "get out of the kitchen" (as I point to his spot on the rug).  He was a good sport.  I spent too much time at first tripping over him and making sure I didn't drop cocoa (aka doggie poison) on the floor. 

I mentioned this cake in earlier post about Katharyn's baby shower.  That was the first time I made this cake.  It was such a hit it returned for Louis' first bday.  It is now my go-to chocolate cake recipe.  It is a moist chocolate cake.  I am not super crazy about buttercream icings (such as this fact...i wont even list the one I did on this blog).  Next time I plan on trying it with cream cheese icing. 
I hate to even let the cat out of the bag but it has ONE CUP of coffee in the recipe.  It wigs people out if they don't like coffee but I PROMISE it is the secret ingredent (to my red velvet recipe too, actually).  It makes the cakes SUPER MOIST.   Credit does to Ina Garten and with about 1500 reviews and 5 stars on the Food Network website, you can't go wrong! 

Beatty's Chocolate Cake
  • Butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder (honestly, i used Hershey)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken (the smallest of containers I found was 2 cups worth)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (Keurig makes the perfect one cup amount)
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans. (I read of people using 9 inch pans with no problem. In fact, it may help the sinking that happens easily when overbeating?)
  • Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.  (My kitchenaid made a MESS doing this...the bowl was not large enough so beware!)
  • In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. (I literally did mine for 36 minutes...note to oven is cooking MUCH faster on the right side).
  • Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ice, Ice (Cream) Baby


If you've spoken with me lately about my baking and cooking adventures you know my FAVORITE new Cuisinart ice cream maker.  I was terrible any time it came to using rock salt so I rarely used my old maker.

Example A) I was always out of rock salt when I needed it B) I killed my grass once and C) It rusted parts of my washing machine once when the ice melted and it overflowed out of the side of my old maker.

Solution: Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker

My friend received it as a wedding gift and served some ice cream from it at her house.  The canister itself freezes the ice cream in MINUTES.  Ashley was quite the saleswoman because I bought it the next day.  In fact,  I know 3 other people who have one now due to my love of this gadget.  It is actually reasonably priced.  I purchased mine from Williams Sonoma because they had a rebate offer and were selling it with an extra container.  It comes with a 1.5 qt canister so I figured 2 would be good to have.  And I was correct.  I always have a cylinder cold in the freezer.   (There is a larger, nicer and more expensive 2 qt stainless).  

I have a boyfriend who LOVES ice cream so I found myself buying it often and keeping it in the freezer.  Lucky for me, I can resist ice cream.  (Well, I could.)  Having two quarts lets me try different kinds.  My favorite by far are from the recipe Ashley gave me (although the ones from the booklet are amazing too).  I will put them on here to share with you and so I never, never, ever lose them. 

Vanilla Ice Cream  (base I use for both recipes below)

2 cups cream
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 dash salt
2 tsp vanilla

  • Combine cream and milk in saucepan and bring to a boil. 
  • Meanwhile combine eggs, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and beat for 3 minutes until fluffy.  
  • When cream and milk reach a boil, immediately turn off the heat.
  • Temper the eggs; pour in about a cup of the hot cream into the eggs (verrrry slowly) while the mixer is running.  Repeat with another cup of hot cream.  Go slow and make sure the mixer is on.  
  • After it is all mixed together, pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining hot cream.  Crank up the heat until the temp reaches 170 (usually is a minute for me).  
  • Turn the heat off, stir in the vanilla, and stick the mixture in the frig overnight or in the freezer for a couple hours.  After the mixture is cold, mix it in the ice cream maker for 20ish minutes, adding in cookie cough or other topings last minute once the ice cream is pretty much set.  Put into a tupperware and store,

Safe Cookie Dough - makes twice as much as what you need so keep some in the freezer OR eat it all like I do - with a little help from HTH

4 T butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 c white sugar
1 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/ tsp soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips processed (I sometimes just take a chocolate bar and put it into my food processor!)

  • Cream butter vanilla and sugars in a mixing bowl for a couple minutes until fluffy.  In another bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda,  Stir.  Add flour mixture into creamy butter mixture.  Mix.  Add Chocolate chips.  Mix.  Shape into a long 1/2 inch wide snake.  Cut little 1/2 pieces and put into a bowl in the frig or freezer.  

Mint Chocolate Chip

Crush up a hershey candy bar into the processor and I usually put about 1/4 tsp of peppermint extract into the mix at the end.  If I get ambitious I add green coloring. :)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Cake Failure Turned Work-of-Art Trifle

I am a little rusty on my cake decorating.  If you followed me when I started this blog you remember my cakes at the time were looking more like this:

This is my cake on Thursday.  The cake turned out ok but the see what happened.  I have been told this happened because of the low fat butter and cream cheese I used.  If anyone knows, please tell me.  Cream cheese icing is what I was going for...with strawberries added.

I was to take this cake to work for Good Friday.  Keep in mind this happened Thursday at lunch so I wasn't sure exactly what to do.  I had plans that night.  When speaking with "the other Shelly" in my office,  it dawned on me.  TRIFLE!  Hunter was with me that night so we had a trifle lesson.  I obviously didn't describe it well when I described it because Hunter told me it sounded like a parfait!  Come to think of it, it is like a giant parfait, without the ice cream.  According to Wikipedia:

Trifle is a dessert dish made from thick (or often solidified) custardfruitsponge cake, fruit juice or gelatin, and whipped cream. These ingredients are usually arranged in alternating layers.

I took my strawberry trifle recipe Mom makes using angel food cake and made it my own.  I must say, it turned out fabulous.  It had a strawberry shortcake theme.  SO I am calling it my

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

Layer 1 - Stawberry Cake (I used the Paula Dean Recipe)
Layer 2 - Cool whip (Yes, I used light even though that is what got me in trouble to begin with.)
Layer 3 - Pudding - 2.5 cups milk, large box vanilla pudding, and 8 oz of sour cream (trust me on this)

Garnish the top with strawberries.  Hunter jumped in and helped with the decorating.  He even got creative with the icing-which tasted fabulous.

Brody wanted nothing to do with the strawberries.  Here he is snubbing the strawberry...or maybe it was the camera. :)

Who knows, maybe next time I will make this dessert on purpose!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pioneer Woman - Book Signing

Ree Drummond, you might know her as The Pioneer Woman, came to the mall steps away from my office.  I am so thankful to Sarah for motivating me to go (I'm a little stressed with finals to say the least).  We had a blast.    It was my first book signing, ever!  She is exactly what I pictured, down to earth and a normal person.  I must imagine it has to be weird for her.   I believe we started our blogs at the same time (she may be 6 months before me) and even broke out to second blogs about cooking about the same time.  Needless to say, she is QUITE successful!  I think it is wonderful.   Maybe one day...

Friday, March 30, 2012

Asparagus Poppyseed Casserole

Chicken Poppyseed Casserole WITH Asparagus

Do you ever feel guilty when eating Chicken Poppyseed Casserole?  I do many times because when I am cooking for myself I am totally neglecting veggies.  I found a recipe about a year ago that incorporates asparagus.  Wallah...a meal in one.

I really think you can probably add asparagus to any poppyseed casserole.  Just cook it slightly before the casserole is put together.  I sautéed the asparagus in a skillet for this casserole because that is what the recipe called for.  I really like blanching asparagus in order to keep the crispiness so I may try that next time.  Also, this time I had to substitute cream of mushroom soup instead of cream of chicken because that is what I had in my pantry.  I definitely like cream of chicken better!  

This is what makes the casserole so yummy.  

 And this...I have tried to mash the crackers in the actual packaging but the Ritz sleeve always busts.  With a ziplock of this size I typically don't even get out my rolling pin!  I don't think it would be right to make the casserole without the Ritz.  Something would be missing!

I cheated.  I had 2 of these in my pantry and they were about to expire.  You can't get easier than this.  Microwave for 90 seconds!

This recipe calls for layering.   I tried to look for my other recipe but it calls for rice on the side, I believe.

350 degrees for 30 minutes in the oven and you get this:

Tonight I brought the casserole preassembled to Hunter's house for dinner.  This is a good and easy dish for preparing ahead of time!

And another shot...

To find the original recipe, go to Tammy's Recipes:  

Poppy Seed Chicken and Asparagus

8 servings
4 cups fresh asparagus (trim and cut into inch-long pieces)
1/2 onion, diced
1 tablespoon oil
1 1/2 cups rice, cooked according to package instructions (should be about 4 1/2 cups of cooked rice)
5 cups (loosely packed) cooked cubed chicken
3 cups homemade cream of chicken soup*
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 sleeve of Ritz crackers and 1/4 cup melted butter, optional
1. Saute asparagus and onion in oil until crisp-tender.
2. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Spread cooked rice in the bottom. Top with the cooked asparagus.
3. In a large bowl** combine chicken, cream of chicken soup, milk, sour cream, and poppy seeds. Pour evenly over the asparagus and rice.
4. Optional: Crush 1 sleeve of Ritz crackers and sprinkle over top of chicken. Drizzle with melted butter.***
5. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly.