Monday, April 30, 2012

Raspberry Lemonade Cake

I linked this recipe to Weekend Potluck!

My big girl turned FOUR this weekend.  I can't believe I have a four-year-old.

Then again,  I can't believe I'm now officially in my thirties.

Because when you say something happened 10 years ago, I totally think 1990.  Apparently 10 years ago was actually 2002.


So when I asked Big Sis what kind of birthday cake she wanted, she said

well, I had a pink cake last year (how does she remember her third birthday?)

so this year I'd like a green cake.

Of course you would.  I suppose it's my fault for asking.

When I pictured everyone in the family smiling and showing their green teeth, lips and tongues, I managed to steer her back around towards pink.

It worked.  She decided a pink cake would be wonderful.  But not cupcakes, like the Middle had; Big Sis wanted a big cake.

I can do that.  As long as it doesn't involve dying my mouth green.

And here it is.  I must say that my family loved it.  The cake part was dense but super moist and the icing was tangy, sweet and smooth (my husband said the icing was awesome).  

Eat cake, y'all!

Raspberry Lemonade Cake
Cake recipe adapted from Southern Living; icing adapted from this strawberry icing

Lemonade Cake:
6 oz. frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
18.25 oz. package white cake mix
8 oz. sour cream
3 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3 eggs
1 tsp lemon extract

Raspberry Icing:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick (4 T) butter, softened
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/4 cup raspberry puree (pureed from frozen unsweetened raspberries or fresh raspberries)
1/2 tsp raspberry extract

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all cake ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds.  Increase speed to medium-high and beat for another two minutes, until well incorporated (make sure you scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl).

Pour cake batter into a greased 9x13 baking dish.  Bake on 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out just clean.  Cool completely.

Beat together the icing ingredients until smooth.  Spread the icing evenly over the cooled cake.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sunny Anderson's Spicy Mac & Cheese

Did you know that in the South, mac 'n cheese is actually considered a vegetable?

On a related note, I have a great idea!  Go make this mac 'n cheese.

What do you think?  Sound good?

My husband and I were watching Best Thing I Ever Made, and Sunny made this mac 'n cheese.  I felt so justified because I'm not the only one who uses (over) a pound of cheese in one dish!  In the spirit of full disclosure, this recipe actually has a pound and a half.  I thought it looked soooo good, so I made it.  Only I made it my own way.

For example, I just couldn't bring myself to put cream and half-and-half in it, so I used whole milk.

This just in: even I have limits.

And I left out the nutmeg.  I'm just not a fan of nutmeg in my cream sauces (how very un-French of me).

Oh, and I left off the croutons on top.  But if you want to include that step, just check out Sunny's actual recipe (before I adulterated it).

And I left out the cayenne pepper, because I wanted my kids to eat it.

Other than those things, this is just like Sunny's.  Either way, it's totally awesome.

This mac 'n cheese is pretty much incredible.  Yeah, it really is.  If I could tell you how good it is, I totally would.  But I just can't.

You should try it right now.  After all, we all need more veggies in our diet.

I said now.  Go.

Sunny Anderson's Spicy Mac & Cheese
Heavily Adapted from Sunny Anderson

8 oz. (about 2 cups uncooked) elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions and drained
4 oz. sharp cheddar, cubed
4 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded
8 oz. Colby cheese, cubed
8 oz. Pepper jack, shredded
2 tsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/4 cup sour cream
1 egg, beaten
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup grated onion

In a greased 7x11 inch (or you can use a 9x13 inch dish if you want it thinner) baking dish, toss together the hot pasta and cubed cheddar and Colby cheeses and the shredded pepper jack.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, pepper, mustard, sour cream, egg, milk and onion.  Pour over the pasta and cheese.  Top with the shredded cheddar.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30-35 minutes, until golden and bubbly.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

King Ranch Chicken

I made this forever ago and just realized that I forgot to post it.

It was so long ago, I can't even blame it on the bar exam.

Maybe I could blame it on moving.  That's my back-up excuse these days.

Anyway, this is a Southern Living classic.

And it's delicious, of course.

One of our faves.

Oh, and King Ranch is a real place in Texas.  I asked my cousin, who is a real Texan.  So there you go.

King Ranch Chicken
Adapted from Southern Living

3-4 cups shredded cooked chicken (white and dark meat)
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
10 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
10 oz. can cream of chicken soup
2 10 oz. cans Rotel, partially drained
1 cup chicken stock
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
3 cups (about 12 oz.) shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
12 six-inch white corn tortillas, cut into strips

Melt the butter and olive oil in a skillet and saute the onion and green bell pepper until soft, about 8-10 minutes.  Stir in the soups, tomatoes, chicken stock and spices.  Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

In a greased 9x13 casserole dish, layer the chicken, sauce, tortilla strips and cheese in 2-3 layers, ending with a layer of cheese.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, until bubbly.  Allow it to sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Cheesy Chicken Skillet with Mushrooms

I'm pretty sure my love of mushrooms comes from my dad.  He loves them.  And I married a man who loves them.

So anything I make with a mushroom, my husband is happy.

Needless to say, he loved this dinner.

Saute the mushrooms and shallots.  Good start.

Add the chicken.

Still good.

Make a gravy by adding some flour and chicken stock.


Add cheese.

Perfect.  Eat with whole wheat orzo: it's a healthy dinner!

Cheesy Chicken Skillet with Mushrooms
Inspired by Paula Deen

2 T butter
2 T olive oil
4 shallots, diced
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced thin
8 oz. white button mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced thin
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
2 T flour
1 cup chicken stock
8 oz. mozzarella-provolone shredded cheese blend
Cooked whole wheat orzo, for serving

Melt the butter and olive oil together in a large skillet that has a lid.  Saute the shallots and mushrooms for about 5 minutes, until they begin to soften.  Scoot the mushroom mixture to the middle of the skillet and lay the chicken around the outside.  Sprinkle with the salt, pepper and thyme.  Saute the chicken for about 4-5 minutes on each side, until it begins to brown.

Remove the chicken from the skillet - it's okay if it is not cooked through - and stir the flour into the mushrooms in the skillet.  Cook for about a minute.  Add the chicken stock and stir to combine.  Bring to a simmer and return the chicken to the skillet.  Cover and cook on low for about 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove skillet from the heat and sprinkle the cheese over each chicken breast.  Cover until the cheese is melted.  Serve with orzo.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Chocolate-Hazelnut Granola Bars

After my first was born, I worked hard to recapture my former self after nine months (technically it's 10 months...don't even get me started) of pregnancy.  Problem was, all I craved was Nutella.

The more I told myself I shouldn't have it, the more I wanted it.

Why does that always happen?

I'm sure I'll crave spinach after Baby Bear is born.

I'm thinking positively.  Until then, I'll just keep eating Nutella with a spoon.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Granola Bars
Adapted from Mother Thyme

3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cup Rice Krispies cereal
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
6 T butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup honey
3/4 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (like Nutella or Kroger brand)
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts (optional)

In a bowl, stir together the oats, Rice Krispies, coconut, brown sugar and wheat germ.  In a small sauce pan, melt the butter.  Remove from the heat and stir in the honey, Nutella, extracts and salt.  Pour over the oat mixture and stir to coat.  Add the chocolate chips and hazelnuts and combine.  Spread in a 9x13 baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Press the granola bars down so that they will be dense like granola bars should be.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, until set and lightly golden.  Cool and cut into bars.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fluffy Fruit Dip

I passed the bar exam, y'all.  What, like it's hard?  (Name that movie.)

That was on Friday.  So I celebrated with family on Friday night.  And had a wedding shower on Saturday morning.  And then celebrated again with more family on Saturday night.  And then went to a Passover Seder on Sunday night.

It was a fabulous weekend.  I'm hiding out at home trying to dig my way out from under the mound of laundry I found at my house.  Who wears all these clothes, anyway?

But I wanted to tell you about the shower.  It was wonderful, the bride is beautiful and sweet (two important qualities of a Southern girl).  We had yummy food, too!

The menu...

Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche
Quiche Lorraine
Country Ham on Butter Biscuits

Benedictine Sandwiches

Strawberries with Fluffy Fruit Dip

Party Punch (which I will be sharing soon)

Coffee (with cream and sugar, of course)

I love showers, for brides and babies alike.  Have a shower.  Or at least go make this food, because it's good enough to eat.

Fluffy Fruit Dip

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
3 oz. box instant vanilla pudding
1 cup whole milk
8 oz. Cool Whip
Fruit, for serving

Beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar.  Add the vanilla pudding mix.  Mix together.  Add the milk and mix well, scraping the sides of the bowl.  Fold in the Cool Whip gently, being careful to not deflate it.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve with a variety of fruit.

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Mom's Buttermilk Pound Cake

It's Monday and here's dessert.  That's more like it.  Much better than last week, when I started with bran muffins.  Let's face it: the best bran muffin in the world can't compete with pound cake.

Let me introduce you to the best pound cake ever.

It's my mom's.  It's insanely moist and delicious.

Remember what I said about the bran muffins?  The part about how anything containing oil and buttermilk has to be good and moist.  Still true.  And this pound cake has beaten egg whites, which makes it so fluffy and delicious.

This is a little different than most pound cakes, because it does use oil instead of butter.  And you separate the eggs, beat the whites, then fold the whites into the batter.

Bake in a slow oven.

Yum!  Moistest yummiest pound cake of my life.

My Mom's Buttermilk Pound Cake

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
6 eggs, separated
2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp almond extract)
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups flour

Whisk together the sugar, oil, egg yolks and extracts.  Mix together the flour, soda and salt in a separate bowl.  Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk to the sugar mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.  Gently fold the beaten whites into the batter, being careful not to deflate the egg whites.  Pour batter into a greased bundt pan and bake in a 325 degree oven for 60-70 minutes (or until a cake tester or knife comes out just clean).

Friday, April 13, 2012

Perfectly Seared Salmon

I learned this technique from Barefoot.  It really is perfect and it's seriously foolproof.

We get these huge bags of salmon filets from Sam's a few times a year and this is my favorite way to fix it.

My toddlers fight over the last bites.

And I feel so good because I'm feeding them salmon, which is full of Omega-3s. Whatever those are.

So you need a really hot skillet.

Just like this one.

And you need some salmon that you seasoned heavily on both sides with salt and pepper.

Cook it in some olive oil for only three minutes.

Flip it over and put it in the oven for five to seven minutes...

And there it is.  Simply perfect.  Seared on the outside, moist and perfectly cooked inside.  Full of Omega-3s.

And you have the option of serving it with awesome mango salsa...just sayin'.

Perfectly Seared Salmon

Salmon filets, about 1 1/2 inches thick
Kosher Salt
Olive Oil

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat until very hot.  Add about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Season the salmon generously on both sides with salt and pepper.  Place the salmon in the skillet and cook on one side for three minutes.  Flip the salmon and immediately place it - in the skillet - into a 400 degree oven.  Roast for 5-7 minutes, until desired doneness.  Allow the salmon to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Asparagus Quiche

Have you read Pioneer Woman's autobiography?  It's actually the love story of how she and her husband (Marlboro Man) met, fell in love, got married, and had their first (of four) babies.

It's insanely funny.  For real.

It's one of those books that I laughed all the way through.  When I tried to share the really funny parts with my husband, though, he would just give me a polite, are you done yet look and then smile sweetly.  I guess you'll just have to read it for yourself.

But if you HAVE read it, this will make total sense to you.  While pregnant with her first, PW would plan her OB visits in the morning so that she could drive through McDonald's and get a bag full of breakfast on her way home.

It's way funnier in the book, y'all.

How this relates in some remote way to me and this recipe: I had my 20-week checkup the day I made this quiche.  I'm halfway there, y'all!  Baby Bear looks great and is exactly the size of every other 20-week-old baby (I just hate the word fetus.  It's a baby; everybody knows it's a baby; let's just call it a baby thankyouverymuch), apparently.  Whew.

So ANYWAY, I came home and made this quiche.  It wasn't quite as good as McDonald's breakfast, but it's close.

Okay, seriously, this is probably the best quiche I've ever made.  I actually put the asparagus on the crust before the cheese, but the crust was a bit soft.  I think it will work best to put the cheese on the bottom, then the asparagus.  But however you get in the dish, just do it.  There's no better way to eat asparagus this spring!

Asparagus Quiche

1 bunch fresh asparagus, woody ends trimmed off and chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 T butter
4 eggs
2 cups half-and-half
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups (about 8 oz.) grated Gruyere cheese
1 piecrust (I use Pillsbury roll-out pie crust in the dairy aisle)

Place the pie crust in a pie plate and crimp the edges.  Heat the butter in a skillet and saute the asparagus for about 5 minutes, until crisp-tender.  In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, salt and pepper.  Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the bottom of the pie crust.  Spread the asparagus on top.  Pour the egg/custard mixture on top.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 300 and bake for another 22-25 minutes until set.  Allow quiche to sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing.  Serve hot or at room temperature.