Saturday, July 30, 2011

30 Minute Rolls and a Giveaway

***Giveaway is now closed***
I have some exciting news for you today! I have been lucky enough to have been given a chance to review Real Mom Kitchen's Cookbook and the publishing company (Cedar Fort Books) has been kind enough to give a copy away to one of my lucky readers!!!  

I have been very impressed with Laura's cookbook so far.  It is one that I could see myself cooking my way through (yes, each and every recipe).  Each recipe uses standard ingredients (nothing weird) and the majority are fast and simple!  Her instructions are numbered and easy to follow.  Not to mention - her photos are amazing!  Some recipes are from scratch while others use packaged ingredients.  She also has several that are exclusive only to her cookbook and you will not find on her blog.  I would recommend this cookbook to any person wanting quick and easy meals!  It will be released on August 8, 2011!      

How To Enter My Giveaway (two possible entries):
1.  For one entry: You must be a follower of Eat Cake For Dinner (on the right hand side of my blog).  If you are already a follower, just leave me a comment and let me know!  If you are a new follower, leave me a comment and let me know!


2.  For a second entry: Visit Real Mom Kitchen and leave me a separate comment with which of her recipes you would most like to try!


Giveaway will end Wednesday, August 3rd at midnight (winner will be selected at random) and the winner will be announced August 4th!  Winner must contact me within 48 hours or a new winner will be selected!  Good Luck to Everyone!  


I was thrilled when I saw that Laura included this 30-minute roll recipe in her cookbook.  I have been making this recipe for a few years now.  I absolutely LOVE them and they are by far the best QUICK rolls I have ever tried.  These are so easy that you can whip them up on a weekday, after work, in no time!  I think this is a no-fail recipe and would be great to try for beginner bread makers!!   
30 Minute Rolls
adapted from: Real Mom Kitchen

1 c. plus 2 Tbl. warm water
1/3 c. vegetable oil
2 Tbl. active dry yeast
1/4 c. sugar 
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine warm water, oil, yeast and sugar; let rest for 5-10 minutes or until frothy and bubbly.  With a dough hook, mix in salt, egg and 2 cups of flour until combined.  Add remaining 1/2 cup flour at a time (dough will be sticky).  Spray your hands with cooking spray and shape the dough into 12 balls.  After shaped, place on lightly greased cookie sheet and let rest for 10 minutes.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until tops are lightly golden.  Yield: 12 good-sized rolls.  You can also use this same dough for cinnamon rolls!      

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Skillet Chicken Parmesan

When I see that a recipe is from Cook's Country or America's Test Kitchen I am more likely to try it, even if it is something I normally wouldn't care for.  I do like chicken parmesan, but I don't think I would have ever attempted it if it wasn't for this super easy recipe.  I really really liked this.  Sometimes I have a hard time with homemade marinara sauce, because it tastes too much like raw tomatoes, but this one was really really good.  The chicken also came out delicious.  I served with some toasted baguette slices and it was a great quick and easy meal.  I will be making this again!
Skillet Chicken Parmesan
adapted from: Cook's Country and Mel's Kitchen Cafe

2 cloves garlic, finely minced
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
    lengthwise to make 6 thinner chicken cutlets
salt and pepper
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. Panko bread crumbs
2 Tbl. vegetable oil
3/4 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese
3/4 c. shredded Provolone cheese
hot spaghetti noodles for serving

In a medium bowl, combine the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, oregano, basil, sugar, salt, pepper and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese; set aside.  In a large 12-inch skillet, heat 1 1/2 Tablespoons oil over medium heat until hot.  Combine the flour and panko bread crumbs in a shallow dish.  Dry the chicken pieces with a paper towel.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Dredge the chicken in the flour/panko mixture, coating both sides.  Gently place 3-4 of the chicken pieces in the hot oil and cook for about 3 minutes and then flip and cook 3 minutes longer until a nice golden crust has formed on the chicken (they'll continue to cook in a later step).  Remove the chicken to a plate and cover with foil. Continue with the remaining pieces, removing them to the plate when they have been browned.  

Turn the heat down to medium.  Wipe the skillet of any burnt flour pieces.  Add the remaining 1/2 Tablespoon oil and saute the minced garlic for about 30 seconds.  Pour the reserved sauce into the skillet, taking care of splatters if the skillet is still piping hot.  cook a minute or two.  Then, gently nestle the pieces of  browned chicken into the sauce.  Cover the skillet and simmer the sauce and chicken on medium to medium-low for 15 minutes, checking every few minutes to make sure the chicken isn't sticking to the bottom of the skillet.  If so, turn the heat down a bit.  Uncover the skillet, sprinkle the Mozzarella, Provolone and remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan over the chicken and sauce.  Cover and cook for five more minutes or until cheese is nicely melted.  Serve over hot spaghetti noodles, if desired.  Serves: 6

Jenn's Notes: I used one thick chicken breast and cut it into two cutlets.  I cut the sauce recipe in half.  I did not add the diced tomatoes, but I added a little extra crushed tomatoes instead.  If you prefer your chicken crispy, I would finish cooking it in the oven or even in the skillet and not add it to the sauce.  I liked it just the way it was, but I know some people prefer it crispy.        

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Banana Cream Pie Cupcakes


What is your favorite season?  Random question, I know.  I would have to say mine is Fall and I have to admit that I got a little "Fall sick" today (It only lasted for about 30 seconds, then I was over it), but I was looking through my candles, trying to decide what scent I wanted to use today and I saw all my Fall time scents - vanilla acorn, pumpkin pie, baked apple pie, spiced orange harvest, etc . . .  

Fall is such a cozy time of year.  I love anything and everything pumpkin - muffins, cookies, scones, cornbread, etc . . . , I love soups and chilis and I love when the weather is starting to get cool enough for a jacket or when it's cold enough to curl up on the couch with a blanket.  Don't get me wrong, I sure do love having a nice suntan in the Summertime and I love wearing my flip flops everywhere I go, but there is just something about the Fall time?  I might just have to give in and make something with pumpkin.  
Anyway, Banana Cream Pie is my all time favorite pie - no questions asked and Cake with frosting is my all time favorite dessert.  Combine the two together and it is a match made in heaven!  These cupcakes are delicious.  The cupcake has the perfect balanced banana flavor with a yummy banana pudding filling and the frosting is light and creamy and very vanilla-y and almost tastes like vanilla ice cream!  These would be a huge hit with any banana fan! 
Banana Cream Pie Cupcakes
adapted from: Landee See Landee Do

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tbl. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. mashed ripe bananas
2/3 c. plain yogurt or sour cream
crushed graham crackers, for garnish
banana slices or banana chips, for garnish

Banana Filling:
1 pkg. instant banana pudding
2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

 -Combine all ingredients until smooth.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before using.  

Vanilla Frosting:
1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. whipped topping or real whipped cream
1/4 c. powdered sugar

-Mix vanilla pudding with milk and vanilla.  Whisk in the powdered sugar.  Fold in the cream until no streaks remain.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before using.


For Cupcakes: Pre-make filling and frosting.  They both need to be refrigerated for at least 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside.  In mixer, cream butter with sugars until light.  Add eggs, one at a time, then vanilla.  Add flour mixture alternating with mashed bananas and yogurt or sour cream.  Mix on low until just moistened.  Batter may be lumpy - do not over mix.  Bake 17-20 minutes.  Remove to rack and cool completely.  When cool, take a paring knife and cut a small circle out of the top middle of each cupcake.  Fill with banana filling.  Top with vanilla frosting.  Garnish with crushed graham crackers and bananas, if desired.  Keep refrigerated.  Yield: 24-28 cupcakes.

Jenn's Notes: I am still eating these cupcakes (3 days later) and they are still amazing, if not, even better?  I really really like them.  I cut the cupcake recipe in half and got 13 cupcakes.  I made the entire frosting recipe and had just enough to pipe onto each cupcake.  The frosting pipes beautifully after it has been refrigerated (I even used Light Cool Whip).  So, if you are going to pipe a pretty swirl on each cupcake, you will probably want to double the frosting recipe.  Mine were done at 17 minutes.  They got very dark brown, but they do not taste burned, but be careful not to overbake! 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cafe Rio Type Salads

Cafe Rio is my ALL TIME FAVORITE MEXICAN FOOD PLACE EVER.  I could live on this place.  I love their burritos, tacos, salads, quesadillas, etc . . . . My favorite part is their amazing house dressing, which is a creamy tomatillo ranch dressing.  Oh - it is to die for.  Nothing even comes close to Cafe Rio.

I thought it would be fun to try and make a homemade version of their salad.  I have seen copy-cat recipes all over the internet, so I gave some of them a try.  Well, it wasn't Cafe Rio, but it was still really really good.  It was a lot of work for only two people, but it was still a great way to curb that craving.  This would be fun to have for a family get together.  You could assign one part to each family member and then have an assembly line to make your own!   
Cafe Rio Type Salads

Shredded Chicken
1/2 bottle Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
1/2 Tbl. chili powder
1/2 Tbl. cumin
1 1/2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 -2 Lbs. chicken breast

Combine dressing, chili powder, cumin and garlic.  Pour into crockpot and add chicken.  Cook on low for about 4 hours or until done and shreds easily.  Shred meat (with the liquid) and cook 1 additional hour.  (I had enough extra chicken to use the leftovers in another meal during the week).  

Creamy Tomatillo Dressing
1 buttermilk ranch dressing packet
1 c. Mayonnaise
1 c. buttermilk
2-3 tomatillos, husks removed and washed
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno, ribbed and seeded
3 green onions, opt.

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth and creamy.  Taste and adjust ingredients as needed.  Refrigerate for awhile to allow to thicken slightly. (This makes a ton of dressing.  I cut the recipe in half and used it for two different meals during the week and I still have some left over).  

For Serving:
Flour tortillas
Cheddar Cheese, shredded
I made 1/4 of a batch of this Mexican Green Rice
1 can black or pinto beans, rinsed and drained 
chopped lettuce
fresh pico de gallo
crunchy corn strips (I cut a few corn tortillas into 
   strips and fried them in a little bit of vegetable oil 
   until crispy)
Cotija cheese, for topping (I didn't use)
sprig of cilantro, for garnish


Place flour tortillas on baking sheet.  Sprinkle shredded Cheddar cheese over the top of each tortilla.  Bake a few minutes until tortilla is slightly crispy and cheese is melted.  You still want the tortilla to be soft, you only want it crispy around the edges.  Remove from oven and layer with rice, beans, shredded chicken, chopped lettuce, fresh pico, drizzle with dressing and top with crunchy corn strips, crumbled Cotija and top with a spring of fresh cilantro.  Serve.  

Friday, July 22, 2011

Zucchini Cake Sandwich Cookies

One of my favorite cookies are my carrot cake cookies.  They are a delicious carrot cake cookie sandwiched with cream cheese frosting.  I always get rave reviews when I make them.  I thought, why not make my favorite carrot cake cookies with zucchini instead of carrots?  Carrots and Zucchini both taste great with the same spices . . . cinnamon and nutmeg.  I anxiously waited until my Mom's garden had some fresh zucchini.  Well, she showed up at work the other day with two good-sized zucchini for me.  

I finally got to try these cookies.  They turned out DELICIOUS!!!  The cookie is so soft yet somewhat chewy from the oats with amazing flavor.  I love them cold, straight from the fridge and I savor each and every bite, because they are that good.  They taste amazing for days.  This is the PERFECT RECIPE to use up some of that overabundance of zucchini you will have this year.  If you don't feel like making cream cheese frosting, the cookies taste great on their own.  You could always add some chocolate chips to them. 
  
Zucchini Cake Sandwich Cookies
from: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe)

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 c. butter-flavored shortening
1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. + 2 Tbl. granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract   
1 c. oats
1 c. grated zucchini
cream cheese frosting


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; set aside.  Cream together the shortening and both sugars until very light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Add the oats and grated zucchini and mix very well.  Dough will be pretty sticky.  Drop dough onto lightly greased baking sheet, using a scant one tablespoon (at the most), leaving 2-inches between cookies.  It will look like a small amount of batter, but they spread during baking.  These cookies work better the smaller they are, because they are so soft.  Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool completely.  Yield:  about 36 cookies or 18 sandwiches.  Spread cream cheese frosting on the flat side of one cookie and top with the flat side of another cookie.  Store in the refrigerator.  I like them best when they are chilled!


Cream Cheese Frosting
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
1 cube (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 stick (4 oz.) cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 - 3 c. powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1-2 tsp. vanilla extract
milk, only if needed


Beat softened butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the salt and vanilla and mix well.  If frosting is too stiff, add a little milk until reaches desired consistency.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches

I never thought I would like this sandwich as much as I did?  I really really really LIKED it!!  It was one of those sandwiches where you are so full, but you don't want to stop eating, because it tastes so good!!  This sandwich will be making a frequent visit to my dinner table!  I served them with these yummy steak fries and it was one heck of a meal!! 
Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches
adapted from: Our Best Bites

2 Tbl. olive oil
1 (2 1/2 - 3 Lb) beef roast
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 (1 oz.) pkgs. dry onion soup mix (or 6 Tbl.)
2 c. water
2 (14.5 oz.) cans low-sodium beef broth
Provolone or Swiss cheese, sliced
Crusty buns or hoagies

Heat olive oil in a large pot or skillet over medium-high heat.  While oil is heating, sprinkle all sides of the roast with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  When the oil is very hot, carefully place the roast in the pan and sear it on all sides.  This shouldn't take more than a few minutes - you just want to quickly brown the roast to add flavor and seal in the juices.  Transfer the roast to your slow cooker.  Sprinkle onion soup mix over the roast and add water and beef broth.  Cook on high 4-6 hours or on low for 8-10 hours.  You can also cook it on high until it begins to boil and then switch the heat setting to low; this is our preferred method because it seems to make the meat more tender.  When the meat shreds easily with a fork, shred the entire roast.  Serve on sliced crusty rolls with a slice or two of  cheese.  If desired, you can slide these under the broiler on your oven to toast the bun and melt the cheese.  Serve with the juices from the slow cooker as au jus for dipping.  Serves: 6-8.

Jenn's Notes:  I used just over one pound of roast and it was perfect for two very large sandwiches.  I cooked my roast in my dutch oven instead of the crock pot.  I seared it, added all the ingredients and then brought it up to a boil and covered with the lid and put in the oven.  Cook at 275 degrees for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours per pound of meat or until it easily shreds with a fork.  I served on toasted Garlic Parmesan subs and topped with provolone cheese!  My sauce had thickened so much during cooking that I had to add some water to it, so I would be able to dip my sandwich in it!! All around this sandwich was DELICIOUS!!!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Oven-Baked Steak Fries

Up until a few years ago, I honestly had no idea that Fry Sauce was a Utah thing?  I guess I don't get out of state much.  I grew up on this stuff.  I never ate a french fry without my fry sauce.  Fry sauce is a combination of either Mayonnaise and Ketchup or Miracle Whip and Ketchup.  You can also fancy it up by adding some finely chopped pickles (yum - my fave!!) or some hickory smoke flavoring, barbeque sauce, chili powder, etc . . . It might sound a little odd - but boy are you missing out if you haven't ever tried fry sauce.  


These oven-baked steak fries are CRISPY AND DELICIOUS.  I will never buy a frozen bag of french fries ever again.  You can switch them up by adding whichever types of spices you prefer.  This time I used seasoned salt and pepper.  They were really really good and I will be making them again and again.  They are best if eaten right away.  After a while, they start to loose their crispiness.  

OVEN-BAKED STEAK FRIES
adapted from: Our Best Bites
(Printable Recipe)

4 Russet potatoes, washed
2 Tbl. olive oil


Original Recipe:
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


Garlic Pepper Fries:
1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
2 1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. parsley


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix desired spices in a medium bowl.  Add olive oil and combine well.  Cut the potatoes into 8 wedges each.  Add potato wedges to seasonings and toss to coat.  Cover sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.  This makes cleanup easy, because your potatoes won't stick and it also ensures that they're cooked evenly.  Bake for about 40 minutes.


Jenn's Notes:  I used two large russet potatoes and cut each in half lengthwise and then in half again and each quarter in half again, making 8 total wedges.  I tossed my wedges with olive oil, seasoned salt and black pepper.  I spread out onto my cooking sheet (I forgot to cover it with foil) and flipped the fries over halfway through baking.  They turned out delicious!  I served with fry sauce.  Combine equal amounts of Mayo or Miracle Whip and Ketchup and any other desired spices.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Quick Biscuit Style Cinnamon Rolls

These are TO-DIE-FOR!!! Oh my goodness, I can't even explain how delicious these are and how bad I want you all to make them and be in heaven like I was!!  I LOVE cinnamon rolls, but I don't get to make them very often, because they take forever, they make a ton and honestly, I only like cinnamon rolls the day they are made?  I'm kinda a cinnamon roll snob like that.  

These biscuit-type cinnamon rolls are perfect for me, because: 
1.  They don't have eggs, so I can cut the recipe back as much as I want! 
2.  I can make them right when I get a craving, because there is no wait time required!  Or whip together for unexpected company.   
3.  They TASTE GREAT THE NEXT DAY!!  I LOVED THEM! 
They have the best texture and they are very moist, not dry at all.  To make them even better, I topped them with a vanilla bean glaze - oh my - Is your mouth watering yet?  MAKE THESE RIGHT NOW!  
Quick Biscuit Style Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from: Evil Shenanigans

2 Tbl. packed light brown sugar
2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbl. unsalted butter, divided
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 c. whole milk 

Filling:
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 Tbl. butter, melted

Vanilla Glaze:
1 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbl. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste)
1 c. powdered sugar
milk, if needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13-inch cake pan with cooking spray.  Whisk together the brown sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Dice 2 Tbl. of the butter and rub into flour mixture until it resembles coarse sand (I used my pastry cutter).  Melt remaining 4 Tbl. butter and combine with sour cream and milk.  Pour into dry ingredients and stir until just combined (I had to add a little more milk, because my mixture was too dry).  Lightly flour work surface.  Roll out dough to 1/4'' - 1/2'' thickness.  Combine filling ingredients to form a paste and spread over dough.  Roll up tightly and slice into 1'' - 1 1/2'' slices.  Place into greased pan.  Leave a little room between them to allow to expand while cooking.  Bake 20-25 minutes (mine took 24 min.) or until golden brown and puffed.  Cool 5 minutes.  Combine all glaze ingredients until smooth and spread over warm rolls.  Now, take a bite of one and jump up and down with joy because they are soooo good!!  People will think you slaved all day!  Yield: around 8 rolls (I cut recipe in half and got 4 rolls).    

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Microwave Lemon Curd or Lemon Pie Bars

I seriously could eat this lemon curd by the spoonful.  I found a microwaveable recipe over at Real Mom Kitchen.  It was so easy and so good.  I will be making this again without a doubt.  The first night it was PERFECT, not too tart, just right.  The 2nd night, after sitting in the refrigerator, it was a little more sour than the first night and it might make you pucker a little, but oh I loved it!

I used my lemon curd for some LEMON PIE BARS.  I found this idea in a new cookbook I just got the other day.  The picture looked so yummy.  They use a sugar cookie crust and top it with lemon curd and whipped topping.  Honestly, the bars didn't turn out as good as I had hoped.  I overbaked my sugar cookie crust, so it was a little dry and it turned out thicker than I had wanted, but oh well, that hasn't stopped me from eating them. 

Microwave Lemon Curd
1 c. granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 c. fresh lemon juice
zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted

In a very large microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until very smooth.  Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest and melted butter.  Cook in the microwave for one minute intervals, stirring after each minute until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes total.  Remove from the microwave and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface.  Cool for one hour.  Store for up to three weeks in the refrigerator in a sealed container.  It will thicken a little more once it has been refrigerated.  Yield: around 2 cups.      
adapted from: Real Mom Kitchen originally from All Recipes    

Whipped Topping
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 (6oz.) container French Vanilla fat-free yogurt
3/4 c. marshmallow cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. Cool Whip, thawed

Cream together the cream cheese, yogurt, marshmallow cream and vanilla.  Fold in the Cool Whip.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  

Jenn's Notes:  I cut the lemon curd recipe in half.  I used 3 1/2 lemons to get exactly 1/2 cup of lemon juice.  I had to stop and stir my mixture every 30 seconds, because it was getting so hot that it was overflowing my microwave-safe bowl.  So, make sure to use a very large bowl or you will have to stir it every 30-45 seconds.  For the bars, I used a homemade sugar cookie crust (you could always use store-bought if you chose to make the bars) The whipped topping is delicious.  I think if you folded the whipped topping into the lemon curd it would make an AMAZING dessert.  It would be great layered in a trifle.  If you love Lemon desserts, then I know you will LOVE this lemon curd!!!  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Baked Ham and Cheese Croissants

It is so HOT outside and sometimes all you want is a nice quick and easy sandwich for dinner.  I am always looking for new quick and easy sandwich recipes.  This baked ham and cheese croissant was delicious.  I was pretty skeptical at first, baking an already baked croissant?  Weird.  I tried it anyway and lets just say that it was even more flaky than it usually is (if that's possible - yes it is)!!  You get a nice crisp crust when you first bite into it.  Then, light and incredibly flaky layers followed by the creaminess from the cream cheese and then the delicious ham flavor.  Oh it was pretty darn good.

Baked Ham and Cheese Croissants
adapted from: Real Mom Kitchen    

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 Tbl. honey dijon mustard, opt. 
6 large croissants
Monterey or Colby Jack cheese, sliced
3/4 Lb. sliced deli ham

Combine the cream cheese and honey dijon mustard.  Slice the croissants in half, horizontally.  Spread top half with some of the cream cheese mixture.  Layer the ham over the bottom half of each croissant and top with a slice or two of cheese.  Cover sandwich with top layer and place on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until slightly golden and crispy and cheese is melted.  Serve immediately. 

Jenn's Notes:  I did not add the honey dijon mustard, because I didn't have any.  I also used Cheddar cheese instead of the Monterey and Colby.  I loved it with the cream cheese and I wished I would have added a little extra.  I served with some corn on the cob and it was delicious.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Neapolitan Whoopie Pies

Remember my Neapolitan Cake that I LOVED?  Well these cookies are a much smaller and faster take on that cake.  I saw this idea over at this blog and I thought, what a genius idea.  I made a 1/2 batch of these whoopie pies and an amazing vanilla bean icing.  I divided the vanilla icing in half and adding some strawberry extract and red food coloring to one bowl and left the other bowl plain vanilla.  That's it - There you have it - Neapolitan Whoopie Pies!  The chocolate cookie is very chocolatey, so I think these need a lot of filling to be able to compete with the cookie.  These whoopie pies are very very yummy!      
Chocolate Cake Cookies
Cookie adapted from: Dessert First

1 1 /2 c. + 2 Tbl. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. +2 Tbl. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 Tbl. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1/4 c. + 2 Tbl. sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 c. milk chocolate, melted and cooled 
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 
1 c. buttermilk, room temperature

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.  Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.  With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, 4 minutes.  Add your egg and mix until combined.  Mix in the chocolate and vanilla, making sure to combine really well.  Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk, in 3 batches, starting and ending with the flour mixture.  Make sure to let it mix thoroughly.

Heap the batter onto the baking sheets with a 1-ounce ice cream scoop.  Bake until the tops crack, 12-15 minutes or so (mine are perfect at 12 min).  Cool on a rack.  Repeat with remaining batter. Yield: 30 cookies - 15 pies.  

Vanilla Bean Buttercream
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 vanilla bean or 1 Tbl. vanilla extract 
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbl. heavy whipping cream

Strawberry Frosting
1/2 of the above vanilla bean frosting
1 - 1 1/2 tsp. strawberry extract
red food coloring

In your mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter for 20 seconds.  Add the vanilla bean seeds (I use vanilla bean paste) and beat for 15 seconds.  Add the powdered sugar and salt and beat on medium-low for one minute.  Scrape bowl.  Increase speed to medium and beat until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds.  Scrape bowl.  Add the 1 tsp. vanilla extract and whipping cream and beat for 20 seconds on medium.  Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Yield: 3 cups.  Divide frosting into two bowls.  Add strawberry extract and a few drops of red food coloring to one of the bowls and leave the other bowl plain vanilla.       

To Assemble Pies:  Spread some vanilla icing on the flat side of one cookie, then spread some strawberry icing over the vanilla icing.  Top with the flat side of another cookie.  Repeat with remaining pies.  Or another great way to fill the cookies would be to add both the vanilla icing and the strawberry icing to a piping bag and pipe onto the flat side of one cookie.  This will give you a pretty pink and white swirl of both of the fillings combined.   If you would like a more "natural strawberry" tasting frosting recipe, try my favorite recipe that I used on my Neapolitan Cake, just minus the shortening and scale the recipe back or you will have tonz!    (Printable Recipes)    

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mexican Green Rice

I LOVE Mexican Food and I LOVE rice!  So, Mexican Rice is even better!  This rice turned out delicious!!  It has those Mexican flavors that I love, but it was not too spicy.  I think kids could even eat this one?  I served this with one of my favorite tacos (I will post recipe soon)!  I think this rice would be so good in a taco salad or in a copy-cat Cafe Rio salad!      
Mexican Green Rice
adapted from: The Naptime Chef

3 c. low-sodium chicken broth
2-3 poblano peppers, seeded and deveined, roughly chopped
cilantro, to taste
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbl. olive oil
2 c. white rice
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced

Bring chicken broth, poblanos and salt to a boil.  Simmer 10-12 minutes or until chiles are soft.  Pour mixture into a blender.  Let cool a few minutes, then add cilantro and liquify.  If you do not want any chunks, pour blended liquid through a strainer before adding to the rice.  Heat the olive oil in a large pan.  Add the onion and saute until soft.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.  Add the rice and stir well.  Last, add the blended chile liquid.  Simmer on medium-low, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until rice is cooked completely.  If all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is not quite tender, just add a little water and cook for another few minutes.  Fluff with a fork before serving.  

Jenn's Notes:  I made a half of a batch of this rice and I used one very large poblano and a handful of cilantro.  I had to add extra liquid towards the end, because my rice was still a little crunchy and all the liquid had been absorbed.  Half of a batch still made tonz!  Way more than two people could eat.  Next time, I will try 1/4 of a batch or plan another meal for the extra rice!!  I really really liked this rice!   

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