Saturday, June 30, 2012

Funfetti Cupcakes for Two!

This recipe was just meant to be.  I found it at the perfect moment!
I was craving something sweet and I didn't want a big batch of goodies hanging around for me to munch on all day, because I AM a muncher!  My sweet tooth "sweet teeth" have no willpower.

And besides, I had a little extra frosting leftover from some cookies I had made a few days earlier that I couldn't bear to throw away, because a spoonful of frosting fits perfectly in my hand!
Two cupcakes are the perfect treat for the weekend.  One for me and one for the Mr. (or two for me)!
I mixed these up in a cereal bowl, using a fork, and it took about 2 seconds.  They are a dense cupcake and are very moist and I love the vanilla flavor. I think they would be amazing with almond extract too.  I flavored my leftover frosting with some Orange Bakery Emulsion that I personally think has an awesome orange taste. The orange flavored frosting paired perfectly with the vanilla cake.

You could easily make these using only red and blue sprinkles for a cute Fourth of July goodie!  

Come on now . . . treat yourself to a cupcake. . . you won't regret it!!  
Funfetti Cupcakes for Two {or three}
1 egg white
2 Tbl. sugar
2 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
heaping 1/4 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 1/2 Tbl. milk
1 Tbl. sprinkles

Whisk together the egg white, sugar, melted butter and vanilla.  Add the flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir in the milk and sprinkles.  Divide between two cupcake liners (I actually got 3 cupcakes) that have been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes (mine took 17 min.) or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely and top with frosting.  
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 - 1 Tbl. milk
small pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to beat together the powdered sugar and butter.  Add 1/2 Tablespoon of milk, the salt and vanilla extract and beat on high until smooth and fluffy.  Add the additional 1/2 Tablespoon of milk, if necessary, to get a spreadable consistency.  Spread on cooled cupcakes and garnish with sprinkles.  

Jenn's Notes:  These cupcakes were awesome! I used leftover frosting and I added some Orange Bakery Emulsion to it.  I did not make the above Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, but I added it for you guys just incase you don't have any leftover frosting hanging around.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sloppy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

When is the last time your power went out?  I'm not talking about just a flicker of the lights, but an actual power outage for hours and hours?  That happened to me the other night.  I was getting ready to make dinner.  I pulled everything out of the fridge and pantry.  I already had a chicken breast in the oven that I was going to use in my casserole.  Then, the lights went out and I hear the sound of everything shutting down.  So, I wait a few minutes, then a few minutes more.  Nothing.   A while goes bye and still nothing.  I called the power companies number and listened to the recording which said estimated up time 9:30 p.m.  Great. I guess we're going out for dinner and going shopping for a few hours.  

We got home around 10:00 p.m and as we pull in, I notice all of the neighbors lights are still out.  Crap.  I called the power companies number again and now it says estimated up time midnight.  Luckily, I had some candles in the cupboard.  I showered to candle light and I brushed my teeth to candlelight.  I couldn't imagine having a power outage for more than a day.  Things like that make me realize how much we rely on power.  
No lights, no oven (which means no cookies), no computer or internet (no blogging), no T.V., no radio, NO AIR CONDITIONER.  

Anyway, that really had nothing to do with anything, except for maybe the reason why it took me an extra day or two to get up my blog post.

Now, onto the sloppy grilled cheese sandwiches.

This was a nice twist on a regular sloppy joe.   I had never eaten a sloppy joe sandwich with cheese on it, but could cheese really be bad on something.  I don't think so!  I thought these were great.  They are fast and easy and your whole family will gobble them up.  I loved the crunch from the toasted bread with the melty cheese and sloppy filling and I loved that this used regular white bread (I actually used french bread I had on hand).    

Sloppy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
(Printable Recipe)

8-10 slices white bread
butter or butter spray
shredded or sliced Cheddar cheese

Prepare sloppy joe filling according to recipe directions.  Meanwhile, heat skillet over medium heat.  Spread butter over one side of each slice of bread.  For each sandwich, place one slice of bread, butter side down into a skillet.  Top each slice with some cheese, some of the beef mixture and additional cheese.  Place an additional slice of bread on top, butter side up, creating the sandwich.  Cook until bread is nicely browned, carefully flip over and cook until other side is browned.  Repeat until all the sandwiches are made.  Makes 4-5 sandwiches.  

Jenn's Notes: I used store-bought french bread, that I sliced like sandwich bread.  I use butter spray, which makes it so much easier than trying to spread butter onto soft bread.  I only did one layer of cheese and I thought that would be plenty, but I ended up wishing there was more.  So, add both layers!  I cooked these in a cast iron skillet and they browned up very nicely. 

idea from: Real Mom Kitchen

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Watermelon Frosty

I got a crazy good deal on a watermelon the other day, but since it is kinda hard for only two people to eat an entire watermelon, I figured I needed another plan.  After going to the pool yesterday and being out under the HOT sun, the only thing that sounded good was something ice cold.  How about a watermelon frosty?  I knew I had seen one on Pinterest, so I searched around and sure enough there it was.  Remember when I made Banana Ice Cream by only using frozen bananas and it turned out so smooth and creamy.  Well, this frosty uses frozen watermelon chunks, but since watermelon is very watery, you also have to add a banana to give it than creamy consistency.
This frosty turned out thick and creamy and was so refreshing - the perfect way to beat the heat.  It did end up tasting more like banana and lime than watermelon, but it was still great.  If you have any watermelon in your fridge that needs used up, cut it up and freeze it to either make this frosty now or another day. 
Watermelon Frosty
2 1/4 cups frozen watermelon cubes
1/2+ c. milk
2 Tbl. sugar
juice of 1 lemon or 1 lime 
1 fresh banana

Add the frozen watermelon cubes, 1/4 cup of milk, sugar, lemon or lime juice and the banana to a blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth, gradually adding remaining milk as need to reach desired consistency.  Pour into 2 small glasses and garnish with a frozen watermelon slice.  Serve immediately.  

Jenn's Notes: The easiest way to get the watermelon to freeze fast is to cut it up into cubes and place those in a single layer on a plate and set in the freezer.  I used my food processor to blend this up very easily.  If you use a blender, you might have to stop and stir it a few times.  I used lime, but I want to try lemon next to see which one I prefer.   

adapted from: Healthy Happy Life and Foodess

Friday, June 22, 2012

"Skinny" Peanut Butter Swirled Brownies

Have you ever heard the words "skinny" and "brownie" in the same sentence?  Me neither until the other day.  The blogger that made these went on and on about how incredibly yummy they are and I trusted her, because she is always making yummy treats, so it's not like she hadn't eaten chocolate in forever, so anything would have tasted good (you know what I mean). 
For a "skinny" brownie, I think they are great.  They are extremely rich and fudgy and I was amazed they baked up so well with such a unique combination of ingredients!  They are super thick and coat your whole mouth while you are eating them.  You definitely need to finish these off with a glass of milk.  The chocolate part does have a slight tangy/sour flavor from the yogurt, but as long as you get peanut butter in every bite, it won't stand out.  

They are made with healthy ingredients like yogurt, peanut butter and oats, so you don't have to feel guilty about eating one or two or even three!!  Plus, they are made in a blender - all you have to do is measure and push a button.  Easy enough?
"Skinny" Peanut Butter Swirled Brownies
6 oz. low-fat or fat-free vanilla yogurt (I used plain)
1/4 c. skim milk
1 egg
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. sugar (or Splenda)
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)
3/4 c. creamy peanut butter

Add all the ingredients to a blender, except the peanut butter, adding the wet first to help it mix easier.  Blend until smooth and oats are ground.  Stopping to scrape once or twice.  Pour into a lightly greased 8x8 baking dish.  Microwave peanut butter for 30 seconds.  Drop spoonfuls over brownie batter and swirl with a knife, creating a marble look.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until they pull away from the pan.  They will be extra fudgy, so make sure to wait until completely cooled before cutting.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sausage and Rice Casserole with an Interesting Ingredient

I am really starting to like sausage.  If I ever said back in the day, in my early posts, that I hated sausage, well . . . things have changed.  You see, I think it was one of those things where I didn't like it when I was younger, so I figured I still didn't like it, without thinking maybe my tastes have changed and I will like it now.  I started tasting it in my dishes rather than picking it out and I have realized how much flavor it adds.  

I found this recipe in Rush Hour Recipes and it sounded a little odd, but the lady that submitted it claims it was a childhood favorite, then when she grew up and got married, her husband started to love it too, so she had to learn how to make it herself.  

The thing that sounded odd was combining chicken noodle soup mix and sausage, but it must work together to be a family favorite recipe.  I liked it.  The chicken noodle soup mix added this yummy coating to the rice which added a lot of flavor.   

Wondering what to do with any leftover chicken noodle soup mix?  Try this Smothered Chicken Recipe!  

Sausage and Rice Casserole
2 Lbs. ground pork sausage
1 onion, chopped
3 - 4 c. celery, chopped
9 c. water
2 c. long-cooking rice, uncooked
3 (2 oz.) envs. chicken noodle soup mix, uncooked

In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, cook sausage, onion and celery, stirring often to break up sausage.  Drain.  Meanwhile, in a very large stockpot over high heat, bring water to a boil.  Add uncooked rice and soup mix to boiling water; stir well and add sausage mixture.  Stir to mix completely; mixture will be very watery.  Transfer to a greased deep 3-quart casserole dish.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven; stir.  Cover and bake an additional 30-40 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.  Makes 10-12 servings.  

Jenn's Notes: I made 1/4 batch of this and with two of us eating it, we still had plenty leftover.  I added some red and green diced bell pepper, because I had some in my fridge and peppers make everything better!  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Get Yo' Man Chicken

Get Yo' Man Chicken, huh?  That is quite the name to live up to.  The story goes: Gina used to make this for Pat when she was courting him and says the key to this dish is the scent it gives off while simmering on the stove and the minute your man walks in the house and gets a wiff, it's "game over" and she makes this anytime she needs Pat to come around to her way of thinking, like when he finds that handbag she just splurged on!  

I say . . . Good Luck with that!  I don't think that would work in my house.  This chicken was good, but not get your man to do anything you want good.  It was easy to throw together and I even had all of the ingredients on hand, which is always a plus.  The sauce was flavorful and the chicken was juicy and it pulled apart with very little effort.  I thought it was great over rice.    
Get Yo' Man Chicken
8 bone-in chicken thighs (or breasts), skins removed
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbl. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 -2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 c. white wine (I used chicken broth)
1 c. chicken stock
1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbl. honey
1 tsp. red-wine vinegar
2 Tbl. chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
1 Tbl. chopped fresh thyme leaves (I used dried)
1 Tbl. chopped fresh rosemary leaves (I used dried)
hot buttered rice, for serving

Rinse the chicken, pat dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown the chicken, meat-side down first, and turn once, cooking about 4 minutes on each side.  Transfer to a plate and reserve.  Pour off all but 1 Tablespoon of oil from the pan.  Add the onion and celery to the skillet and saute until tender, about 4 minutes.  Add the stock and wine to the pan and stir, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan; reduce by half, cooking 7-8 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes, honey, vinegar, parsley, thyme and rosemary and return to a simmer.  Add the chicken, turning to coat, then cover and cook over medium-low heat until the chicken is very tender and pulls easily from the bone, about 40 minutes.  Remove the cover, increase the heat to medium and cook for another 10-15 minutes to reduce the sauce.  Serve over hot buttered rice with sauce ladled on top and garnish with chopped fresh parsley.  Serves 4-6.  

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Easy BBQ Pulled Pork

Are you still looking for a last minute meal idea to make for Father's Day?  Do you have people coming over and have no idea what to make?  I know this pulled pork would be a hit with adults and kids, not to mention it is so easy to throw together and although my recipe is for a small portion, you can easily make it into a large batch.  This is the perfect way to feed a large crowd.  You could even make this right now if you wanted and re-heat it tomorrow.  It still tastes just as amazing the next day, heck, it might even be better!  Say goodbye to dry and flavorless pork, because this pork is so tender and juicy and it makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

Easy BBQ Pulled Pork
from: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe)

1 1/2 Lbs. boneless country style ribs
1 can beef broth
favorite barbeque sauce
 (we like to mix Sweet Baby Rays and Famous Daves)

1 Tbl. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
Trim pork of any excess fat.  Combine all rub ingredients and rub over every last inch of the pork.  Refrigerate for at least several hours or overnight.  Add pork to a large dutch oven and add the can of beef broth.  Bring up to a simmer, cover, and transfer to a preheated 225 degree oven.  Cook for 1 1/2 hours.  Increase temperature to 300 degrees and cook another 45 minutes - 1 hour or until pork easily pulls apart with a fork.  Transfer pork to a mixing bowl and shred, adding some of the cooking liquid to help it stay juicy.  Stir in barbeque sauce, however much you like.  (We add about 3 Tbl. of the cooking liquid and 1/2 cup of barbeque sauce).  Drain remaining cooking liquid and add the pork back to the pot and keep warm or serve right away on toasted hamburger buns.  Serves 4-5 people.  

You could use a different cut of pork if you like.  A pork shoulder makes great pulled pork, and since those usually come in large sizes, it would work great for a crowd.  It will take a lot longer to cook (8-10 hours in a slow cooker or a few hours less in the oven), so just make sure to adjust your cooking time accordingly.

On The Side

For Dessert

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Maple Texas Sheet Cake

Since Grammy's Sheet Cake is the most requested dessert in my house right now and has been for the last few months, I figured I would venture into trying other sheet cake recipes.  The blog where I found this one says it tastes like a maple bar and I love the flavor of maple bars.  

It turned out so moist and light and the texture is perfect.  I added chopped pecans to half and left the other half plain and I MUCH prefer it with the pecans.  It seemed pretty sweet to me without the pecans, so I highly recommend adding them to help cut all the sweetness.

If you have maple lovers in your family, I think this cake would be a hit.
Maple Texas Sheet Cake
adapted from: Singing with Birds 

3/4 c. butter
1 c. water
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 c. sour cream
1 1/2 tsp. maple extract

1 c. butter
6 Tbl. evaporated milk
4 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp. maple extract, to taste
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Melt butter and water in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until butter is melted.  Remove from heat and stir in the sugar, flour, salt and baking soda.  Stir with a wire whisk until smooth. Add eggs, sour cream and maple extract and stir until blended.  Pour the batter into a well greased 11''x17'' sheet pan.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched or a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove cake from oven and allow to cool slightly while you make the icing.  Put the butter and milk into a medium saucepan.  Heat until butter is melted and bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat and stir in the powdered sugar, maple extract and salt.  Whisk until completely smooth.  Spread over cake and top with chopped nuts.

Jenn's Notes:  I used a lot less maple extract than the recipe called for, because I didn't want it to be overpowering and instead just wanted a light maple flavor.  I added 1/2 tsp. maple and 1 tsp. vanilla to the cake and I added 1/2 tsp. maple and 1/2 tsp. vanilla to the icing.  I let my cake cool completely before I added the icing.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

Crunchy Potato Wedges . . . better than that fried chicken joint!

I just found the perfect recipe for Better than KFC's Crunchy Potato Wedges and I couldn't wait one second longer to share them with all of you!  

I was going to be healthy and make Oven Baked Steak Fries, then I turned on an episode of Cook's Country and they are the ones that had to go and bring out a box of KFC Potato Wedges and claim their recipe is even BETTER.  Don't they know that I LOVE those potato wedges.  

You see . . . I used to live on those wedges in highschool (along with bread and cinnamon sticks).  I had a very balanced diet.  I would go there and order a box of potato wedges and eat that for dinner.  They were/are the best fried potato around.  So, how do you expect me to resist a recipe that claims to be better?  

Well . . . . they turned out sooooooo good!  The outside was super crunchy (thanks to the double coating) and that spice mixture really tasted like the real deal while the potato inside was perfectly cooked (thanks to microwaving them first).  I was so impressed with this recipe and they definitely rival the real thing.

If you click on this link you can watch the episode where they made these!
Crunchy Potato Wedges
1 1/2 Lbs. russet potatoes (about 3 large)
4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
3/4 tsp. cayenne (I only used a pinch)
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. cornstarch
1 c. buttermilk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 quarts vegetable or peanut oil

Wash and dry the potatoes.  Cut each potato in half lengthwise, then each half in half, then each quarter in half, making 8 wedges per potato.  Place wedges in a large glass bowl.  Combine kosher salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, dried oregano and cayenne.  Add 4 teaspoons of the spice mixture along with 1/4 cup of vegetable oil to the potatoes and toss to coat each potato evenly.  Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and microwave for 7-9 minutes (I did 7) until the potatoes are tender, tossing the potatoes occasionally to ensure even cooking.  Using oven mitts, carefully remove hot bowl from microwave and discard plastic wrap.  Turn out potatoes onto a baking sheet and allow to set for 10 minutes, so the potatoes can firm up.  

Combine flour and cornstarch in a medium sized dish and combine the buttermilk and baking soda in another medium sized dish.  Heat vegetable oil in a large dutch oven to 340 degrees.  Take half of the potatoes and toss in the dry ingredients, then wet, then dry again, making sure to shake off any excess flour.  Add to hot oil and cook for 4 - 6 minutes or until golden brown.  Using tongs, remove to a paper-towel lined plate and sprinkle with a little spice mixture.  Repeat with remaining potatoes.

Jenn's Notes:  Make sure to shake off the excess flour or your coating will be very thick.  I didn't do a very good job of that and ended up with a pretty thick coating, but they were still amazing.  I recommend cooking the potatoes in three or four batches rather than two.  My first batch, I added half and it lowered my oil temperature a huge amount, so it took longer than 4-6 minutes to cook.  The next few batches, I added less potatoes and they cooked a lot more evenly.  These turned out so good, even for someone that doesn't know how to deep-fry very well!  They were great plain and dipped in ranch dressing (just how I used to eat them)! 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Easy Baked Ziti with Cottage Cheese

I have made this recipe several times and I think it is fast and easy and tastes delicious.  If you'd like, you can throw in whatever you have leftover in your fridge . . . chopped olives, fresh spinach, chopped onion, peppers, parsley, etc . . . You could even switch up the cheese if you wanted.

I like to keep several containers of my homemade spaghetti sauce in the freezer for quick weeknight dishes.  So, if you have done the same thing, this will be the easiest ziti you have ever made.  All you would have to do is get your sauce out of the freezer (remember it already has the meat in it), cook the pasta, stir together with the cottage cheese and Mozzarella and anything else you might want to add, bake and eat.  Is that easy enough for you?  I have also made this using store-bought sauce and ground beef and it tastes great too, it will just take a few extra minutes to cook the meat, which isn't a big deal, because you will be cooking the pasta anyway.  Serve with some soft and chewy French Bread or garlic bread on the side! 
Easy Baked Ziti with Cottage Cheese
8 oz. ziti or rigatoni, cooked and drained
8 oz. Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 c. cottage cheese
1 jar (approx. 24 oz.) spaghetti sauce or homemade
salt and pepper (if using store-bought sauce)
1 tsp. italian seasoning (if using store-bought sauce)
1/2 Lb. ground beef, cooked (if using store-bought sauce)

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients (reserving a little Mozzarella for topping) and mix well.  Pour into a greased 8x8 casserole dish.  Top with remaining cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until heated through and sauce is bubbly.  Serves 4-5.

Jenn's Notes:  If you use my homemade sauce that already has the meat and all the seasonings in it, I would use around 2 1/2 - 3 cups.  It will just depend on how saucy you like your pasta.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Nutella No Bake Cookies

No Bake Cookies are one of those cookies that I could eat EVERY SINGLE DAY.  I have been eating them as long as I can remember and I still have never gotten sick of them.  The funny thing is, that I had been craving no-bakes for the past few weeks, but I never made them, because I thought - no one wants to see the same old no bake recipe.  Then, last night I found NUTELLA NO BAKE COOKIES!  For real!!!

What a fun twist on an old classic.  I crossed my fingers that I still had enough Nutella left in the jar - oh and I did, but only for a half a batch.  But hey, better than nothing.  They turned out delicious.  So creamy and chewy just how I like them.  We ate these things so fast and I only have one left.  I want to try them with all Nutella and no peanut butter just to see if the hazelnut flavor will stand out a little more.  Either way, they are super yummy.

Nutella No Bake Cookies
adapted from: Shugary Sweets
2 c. sugar
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1/4 c. Nutella
3 c. quick-cooking oats

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, milk and butter.  Cook over medium heat, stirring until the butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, salt, peanut butter and Nutella.  Last, stir in the oats and quickly drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper.  Allow to harden and enjoy!  

Monday, June 4, 2012

Spicy Chicken and Pepper Jack Pizza

This pizza quickly caught my attention, because I love every single ingredient involved.  Well, at least I love all of those ingredients in tacos?  But a pizza, sounds interesting.  It uses salsa in the same way you would pizza sauce and is topped with peppers, shredded chicken and spicy Pepper Jack cheese (which I absolutely love) and you finish it all off with chopped cilantro.  I love spicy things and I thought this was just right.  The Pepper Jack cheese has a little kick to it, but the rest of the spice is going to depend on the salsa you use.  
I really liked how it turned out and I would make it again, but next time I want to try it with some kind of creamy white garlicky sauce in addition to the salsa.  I think that would make this an AMAZING gourmet pizza.  If anyone has a recipe for a creamy white pizza sauce (not alfredo) please send it my way.      
Spicy Chicken and Pepper Jack Pizza
(Printable Recipe)
**These measurements are estimates.  Depending on the size of pizza you make, you may want to adjust the ingredients to your desired taste.
1 batch pizza dough
3/4 - 1 c. homemade salsa
1/2 - 3/4 c. diced red and/or green bell pepper 
1 1/2 c. cooked chicken, shredded 
2 c. Pepper Jack cheese, grated
chopped cilantro, for garnish

On a lightly floured surface, roll out pizza dough into desired size.  I roll the dough fairly thin, because it puffs up a lot while baking.  Transfer dough to a greased baking sheet.  Bake in a 425 degree preheated oven for 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and top dough with an even layer of salsa (like you would pizza sauce), diced peppers and shredded chicken.  Then, sprinkle cheese evenly over the top.  Return to oven and bake another 10-12 minutes or until crust is browned and cheese is melted and bubbly.  Remove from oven, garnish with chopped cilantro, slice and serve.  

If using a pizza stone (What I do):  Place pizza stone in a cold oven. Preheat to 500 degrees.  Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll out pizza dough into desired size.  I roll the dough fairly thin, because it puffs up a lot while baking.  Transfer dough to a pizza peel that has been lightly dusted with cornmeal (this is so the pizza will slide off easily).  Spread salsa evenly over pizza dough (like you would pizza sauce).  Then, top with chopped bell peppers and shredded chicken.  Last, sprinkle cheese evenly over the top.  Transfer pizza from pizza peel onto preheated pizza stone and turn the oven temperature down to 425 degrees.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crust is nicely browned and cheese is melted and bubbly.  Very carefully, using a spatula, slide pizza back onto pizza peel, garnish with chopped cilantro, slice and serve.   

Jenn's Notes: I baked my chicken with a few dashes of Worcestershire and hot sauce and sprinkled with some Italian seasoning.  

Slightly adapted from: Baking with Blondie    

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Red, White and Blue Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies

Since I am always a procrastinator when it comes to posting Holiday Themed treats, I figured I would get a jump start on the next one.  The Fourth of July is only a month away! Can you believe it is already June?

We went to a BBQ the other day and I wanted to bring something red, white and blue and since I love anything and everything slathered in frosting, I went with sugar cookies!  I have made this recipe twice now and I am still not sure what makes them Old-Fashioned.  They are big and soft,  yet chewy at the same time.  By the way, does anyone know the secret to getting something to actually turn red and not pink?       

If you don't feel like trying this old fashioned version, here are a few other yummy sugar cookie recipes Kneader's Sugar CookiesNo Roll Sugar Cookies and Soft Cookies with Pink Icing.
My original plan was to pipe the frosting onto each cookie, so my stripes would be straight and look clean, but I decided I wanted to try a regular old butter knife,  that way anybody could make these without needing any fancy equipment.  I think they turned out okay, they look homemade, right?  I used glitter crystal sprinkles for the "stars" on the flag, which was a nice finishing touch.  They were super easy and the taste delicious!   
Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 c. evaporated milk or whipping cream

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Mix in the vanilla.  Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar.  Add dry ingredients alternately with milk/cream and mix well.  Chill dough for three hours or overnight.  Roll out to 1/4''-1/2'' thick.  Cut into desired shapes and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes (mine took 12).  Cookies will not brown, but the top should spring back when lightly pressed when they are done.  

Jenn's Notes: My first batch, using whipping cream, I baked until the top kind of sprung back when lightly touched and that took 12 minutes.  The 2nd batch, using evaporated milk, I baked them 12 minutes and they were slightly underdone, so I must have rolled them thicker than the first time.  So, you'll just have to do the best you can to tell when they are done.  I made all kinds of shapes and sizes and I think I got around 30 cookies or so.    

Vanilla Frosting
from: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
2 oz. cream cheese, softened, opt.
pinch of salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. powdered sugar
2-3 Tbl. heavy cream or milk

Cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Add the salt and vanilla and mix to combine.  Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, adding cream/milk as needed.  Beat until smooth and fluffy.  Divide between three bowls and color one blue, one red and leave one white.  Frost cookies.      

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