Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Radish & Green Onion Spread

When life (or your produce box) gives you radishes, what do you do?

Make a Radish & Green Onion Spread of course!! Actually, I had no idea what to do with them, so I did the easiest thing possible and crossed my fingers.

I really should try the "crossing fingers" method in the kitchen more often - it worked wonders on this dish. ;)

The Radish & Green Onion Spread was a hit! We served it with Sourdough Baguette, Salami, Black Peppered Bacon and Colby Jack Cheese.

Mr. Hungry Harp said he liked having a veggie spread instead of veggies on his plate, since they just get in the way- such a carnivore. :) Check out the 'wich he made me... 

Radish & Green Onion Spread
8 radishes, quartered
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
3 green onions, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Place radishes in food processor and process until finely chopped – there will be some big pieces, but they will get chopped up in the next two steps
2. Add cream cheese and blend thoroughly
3. Add green onions and process until just combined
4. Chill for a couple hours, season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fruity Pebbles Cookies

Post Fruity Pebbles has been my favorite cereal for as long as I can remember. I could eat it every morning for breakfast - I don’t, but I could. I recently got the craving for my favorite cereal and wanted an excuse to buy a box, so I went and checked out the Post cereal website to see if there were any recipes that call for Fruity Pebbles. Not only did I discover that Post makes Marshmallow Pebbles cereal (I MUST find them and try them, soon) but I also found a recipe for Pebbles Cookie Crispies, cookies made with my favorite cereal!

I have thought that many cookies are amazingly delicious and these are now one of those cookies. My favorite cereal in a cookie makes the perfect pair. Mr. Hungry Harp was not too fond of them, but he is not a fan of Fruity Pebbles... oh, the agony of having tasty cookies all to myself is just unbearable. ;)

Fruity Pebbles Cookies
adapted from Post Cereal Pebbles Cookie Crispies recipe
1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup water
1 large egg
3 cups Fruity or Cocoa Pebbles Cereal
1. Heat oven to 350
2. Mix together cake mix, oil, water and egg until well blended
3. Fold in cereal
4. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased baking sheet
5. Bake for 11 min. or just until cookies begin to brown
6. Let cool, preferably on wire racks
7. Enjoy! (Don’t forget the milk!)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Butternut Squash-Banana Bread with Cranberries

I have a huge collection of cookbooks. It’s really huge, in fact a little too big. I need to find new, loving homes for some of my cookbooks, and I really didn’t know where to start. I thought about taking them to a used bookstore, donating them to a charity, giving them away on Craigslist or maybe having a garage sale and hawking them off… oh, what to do! I ultimately decided to give them away, to my readers. That’s right; I am going to give away my cookbook collection to my readers!! One a week until they are gone – perhaps during the holidays it will be one every two weeks…

This is how it will work: I will post a cookbook up for grabs, if the book is of interest to someone, all you have to do is mention it in a comment. At the end of the week I will take all the individuals interested in the cookbook and pick a reader at Random.org – then I will send that person the cookbook that is up for grabs. Shipping is on me, that’s why we are doing these once a week folks. :) Whatever books do not get picked will all end up going to a charity that has not yet been selected.

This will be fun and I am looking forward to sharing my cookbooks with all of you! The first one up for grabby-grabs is The Frugal Gourmet written by Jeff Smith. This was the first of eleven cookbooks written by Jeff Smith, the host of The Frugal Gourmet TV show that aired on PBS from 1983-1997. I can’t give a review of it because I have never cooked anything from it, as is the case with most of my cookbooks. I love them, I love to collect them – but I rarely use them, hence the giveaway.

I will pick the new owner of The Frugal Gourmet on January 28th and will contact via email – so be sure to include it in your comment. :)

Ok… so about that Butternut Squash-Banana Bread with Cranberries. I received the Butternut Squash in my produce box and wanted to do something fun with it. Since I have been on a Quick Bread kick lately I decided to look around for a Butternut Squash Bread recipe and was OH SO LUCKY to find one at My Baking Addiction. Jamie from Baking Addiction also has an awesome recipe for Butternut Squash Purée, so check it out if you are in need. :) I ended up not having enough Butternut Squash since I was making two loaves, so I substituted the rest with bananas. Since I was not sure how the cranberries would work out I only added them to one loaf – however, if I had to do it again I would have added them to both. These 3 flavors ROCK together. Yes, ROCK!!

Butternut Squash-Banana Bread with Cranberries
1 cup butternut squash purée
1 cup mashed bananas
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
2 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup dried cranberries, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, grease two 6-cup loaf pans
2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg
3. Mix together butternut squash, bananas, eggs, oil, water and sugars
4. Combine flour mixture with butternut squash mixture - making sure to not overmix
5. Fold in cranberries
6. Pour into loaf pans
7. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean
8. Let cool, enjoy!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Apple

When the smoker is fired up and I have extra bacon on hand, nothing is safe! This was my own little science experiment - a Fuji apple wrapped in 4 pieces of thick cut bacon and then smoked for 3 hours. The apple was smoky and tart, maybe good to make applesauce out of – and the bacon was incredibly tasty, I am talking TASTY!! The apple gave the bacon a sweet taste on top of the smoky flavor from the smoker. Oh goodness, I just had to share. :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hazelnut Coffee Cheesecake - #MyBaristaMoment

This cheesecake may be the richest and most delicious dessert I have ever tasted – but let’s get back to that in a second. First, let me tell you about the inspiration for this dessert – Smart & Final’s Ambiance coffee. We are HUGE coffee drinkers in our house, I am talking between a pot or two of coffee a day, so when I find out about a coffee I have not yet tried – I jump on the chance to get it brewing in our coffee maker. When I found out that Smart & Final had their own line of coffees, named Ambiance, I couldn’t drive to their store fast enough. Smart & Final has two brands I am already in love with, First Street and La Romanella – so I was sure their Ambiance coffee was going to make me an instant fan as well. Ambiance does not only have a line of delicious coffees, but they also have soy milk, coffee creamer, coffee filters, coffee toppings, sugar and a sugar substitute. How awesome is that?

When I got to the store the first thing I looked for was the Ambiance coffee, and when I found it I was pleasantly surprised to see they carried my favorite flavor, Hazelnut! I grabbed a bag of it without hesitation. Then I checked out their other flavors for Mr. Hungry Harp – he is less of a flavored coffee type guy, he likes his coffee dark and strong. I chose the Kona Style blend for him, simple and no frills. ;) After picking out a couple coffees to try I set out for the ingredients I would need to make the cheesecake of a lifetime – and lucky for me, Smart & Final had everything I needed! Check out everything I found on my trip to Smart & Final here on Google+.

Hazelnut Coffee Cheesecake
Chocolate Hazelnut Crust
20 chocolate sandwich cookies, finely crushed
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup finely ground Ambiance Hazelnut Flavored Coffee
5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1. Combine cookies, brown sugar, coffee and butter in food processer until smooth
2. Press crumbs into bottom of springform pan

Hazelnut Coffee Cheesecake Filling
32 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 shot of strongly-brewed Ambiance Hazelnut Flavored Coffee
2 tablespoons finely ground Ambiance Hazelnut Flavored Coffee
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1. Preheat oven to 350°F
2. Combine cream cheese and sugar until smooth
3. Stir in brewed coffee, ground coffee, and vanilla
4. Add flour, mix enough to just combine
5. Mix in eggs 1 at a time
6. Pour filling into springform on top of crust – place springform on rimmed baking sheet
7. Bake for about an hour. The top will be browned and will slightly jiggle when moved
8. Let cheesecake cool completely
9. Top with ganache and sprinkle with crumb topping
10. Refrigerate overnight or until ganache is set.

Chocolate Ganache
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
16 ounces First Street semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup strongly-brewed Ambiance Hazelnut Flavored Coffee
1. Bring whipping cream to simmer in large saucepan, remove from heat
2. Add chocolate and coffee

I am very happy to report that both the Kona Blend and the Hazelnut coffees rocked! As soon as I got home from shopping I was pouring the Hazelnut coffee into my coffeemaker and within minutes I was enjoying a cup of Ambiance coffee. Delicious and a great deal – I am sold on Ambiance coffee as I knew I would be. :)

Anyone who decides to give Smart & Final’s Ambiance coffee a try in the next 3 weeks can go to www.smartandfinal.com/Ambiance2012 and enter a code on the receipt from their purchase of Ambiance and be entered to win some awesome prizes including a DeLonghi BCO264B Cafe Nero Combo Coffee/Espresso Maker and $50 SmartCash cards. Check it out!!

PLUS visitors to the www.smartandfinal.com/Ambiance2012 will be able to vote for their favorite Ambiance Coffee recipe and everyone who votes will be entered for a chance to win $50 worth of Ambiance products! If you have the time it would be awesome for you to pop over there and vote for this recipe. I think it’s pretty awesome myself. :)

I even let the little man try it, he can't talk yet but I think he liked it...
This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #collectivebias #CBias. All opinions are my own, I swear. :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Leek Bruschetta

Ever since I started hearing about people get produce boxes delivered to their homes I was jealous. I looked in my area and could not find anything of the sort, so I was buying my produce at the grocery store and occasionally the farmer’s market. Then one day there was a knock on my door. It was a young lady from FarmFreshToYou soliciting their Organic Produce Boxes. Yes! I was sold from the moment she told me what she was selling. It was the week before Christmas so I decided to not start receiving the produce boxes until the week after the holidays – oh, the wait!! I started off with a Mostly Fruit box and then gave the Valley Box a try my next go around, I have been completely satisfied thus far. I love getting fresh produce delivered to my front door, especially since I am being “forced” to try things I have never cooked with before. Very exciting!

Last week I received Leeks in the Valley Box. To be honest, I had never cooked with Leeks and I was pretty sure I had never tasted them before either. I was not quite sure what to do with these Leeks so I checked online how to cook them and then decided to make a bruschetta. First I sautéed the Leeks, let them cool. Combined them with sliced cherry tomatoes, blue cheese and bacon. Serving this bruschetta over crostini made a wonderful appetizer to a steak dinner. Enjoy!

Leek Bruschetta
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups leeks, halved and chopped
2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced
¾ cup blue cheese crumbles
¾ cup bacon, cooked and crumbled

1. Over medium-high heat add 2 tablespoons olive oil
2. Sautee leeks until starting to turn golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool
3. Once leeks are cool, combine remaining ingredients and combine well
4. Let cool and serve over crostini
5. Enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Bacon-And-Egg Tarts & Ladies Home Journal

I found these Bacon-And-Egg Tarts in the February issue of Ladies Home Journal, I just had to share them. This issue is already out at stores and has the beautiful Brooke Burke Charvet on the cover:

This month’s issue of Ladies Home Journal is a Special Health Issue. On top of the featured healthy recipes, such as Winter Risotto with Apples & Butternut Squash, there are also a few articles on ways to make your life healthier. One of my favorite features is a special Healthy-Heart Action Plan for women over 30. Three things I will definitely do after reading this article are:

*Make myself a priority
*Get my cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure checked by my physician
*Get more sleep

Well, the first two are easy – the 3rd can be a challenge with 2 kids under the age of 3 running around. :)

There is also an article about 3 inspiring women who in the course of giving back to organizations close to their heart were able to lose weight. One lost 111 pounds running for Girls on the Run, another lost 65 pounds biking for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the third dropped 120 pounds walking for the Susan G. Korman for the Cure. Amazing women, great stories and wonderful organizations. I included links to the organizations in case anyone wanted more information on them.

There were more than a few recipes that caught my eye, but this recipe of Bacon-And-Egg Tarts had me intrigued. This is like nothing I had ever tried before, let alone try to make. I made my shopping list of ingredients and set off to find them. Check out my shopping trip here on Google +.

The other recipes I found in this month's LHJ and have bookmarked to try VERY soon are Homemade English Muffins, Lemon-Blueberry Drizzle Bread, Mini Banana Maple Pancake Muffins and Gooey Cinnamon Rolls. Yum on all accounts here!

We got everything needed to make the oh-so-wonderful Bacon-And-Egg Tarts:

And some chocolate milk I saw being advertised in Ladies Home Journal… TruMoo, chocolate milk made with no high fructose corn syrup!

I also found a few other products that I had never heard of, such as; Campbell’s Bean with Bacon Soup, Jif Peanut Butter with Omega-3 DHA & EPA and Blue Buffalo Company dog food. If you visit the Blue Buffalo Company site there is a dog comparison feature that will show their dog food compared to the one your currently using. Very cool, and if you do the comparison Blue Buffalo will provide a $5 coupon to try their dog food.

Another cool find was an ad for McCormick Spices for Health. I had never heard of this before, so I visited the website on the ad, SPICESFORHEALTH.COM. Of course I knew that herbs and spices held a nutritional value, but McCormick has listed tips and recipes that feature using antioxidant boosting spices. Thank you McCormick! :)

So, getting back to those Bacon-And-Egg Tarts, would you like to know how to make them?

Let me share with you...

1. Cook and chop bacon. I used 4 pieces, but it really just depends on how much bacon you like.

2. Mix together 1/3 cup sour cream and 3/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

3. Lay a single sheet of thawed pastry sheet out, trim edges and cut into 6 equal pieces.

4. Using a fork, press ridges around edge of each pastry piece.

5. Evenly distribute sour cream and cheese mixture among the 6 pastry pieces.

6. Top with bacon to your liking.

7. Place in oven at 400 degrees until edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Doesn't that look beautiful?

8. Top each pastry piece with a fried egg...

9. and chopped chives.

10. Enjoy!
This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Banana Nut Bread with Chocolate Chips

The first cookbook I ever fell in love with was Joy of Cooking, the 1997 edition. I have read every recipe at least ten times and I still like to flip through it. Although I have owned the cookbook for over a decade, I have only cooked a handful of recipes from it. The first recipe I tried was the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies p. 821 – a must try. I could not believe that my two hands were able to create such tastiness. Although my copy of Joy of Cooking is a bit worn now, it is my favorite cookbook. While writing this post I have discovered there was another release of Joy in 2006; a 75th Anniversary edition with 500 new recipes! Oh my goodness, what’s a girl to do?

So about that bread…

Last week I bought enough bananas for us and the primates at the zoo, so I decided to make some Banana Nut Bread. I had never made it before and didn’t have a recipe – so I turned to Joy. Oh yes, there was a recipe for Banana Nut Bread! I knew it was going to turn out good, mostly because Joy has never let me down. I added some dark chocolate chips since I had some on hand. Delicious! :)

Banana Bread
Adapted from Joy of Cooking
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon Baking powder
5 ½ tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup mashed bananas – I used two med-large bananas so it was a bit more than a cup, but it still worked great
½ cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup chocolate chips, dark or semi-sweet
1. Heat oven to 350, grease 6-cup loaf pan
2. Mix flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder
3. Beat together butter and sugar until fully combined
4. Slowly add flour mixture
5. Add eggs and mix until combined
6. Fold in bananas, walnuts and chocolate chips
7. Pour into loaf pan
8. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean
9. Let cool and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Quick Bread

Fuji apples were on sale at my local grocery store for .78 cents a pound, so I loaded up on them. Then I went home and started searching for some apple recipes, because I had no idea what I was going to do with this new stock I had. I happened across this recipe and gave it a shot – which I am so glad I did. This bread may appear a bit plain but it is bursting with flavor. Everyone in our house loved this bread, even the kids. Enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon Quick Bread
adapted from Food.com
recipe yields 2 loaves
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups diced apples (, without skins)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, coated in 1 tsp of flour
1. Preheat oven to 350, grease two loaf pans
2. Mix together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and baking powder
3. Beat eggs and add sugar, oil and vanilla
4. Combine flour mixture with egg mixture
5. Add apples and walnuts, mix until just combined
6. Pour into loaf pans
7. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean
8. Let cool and enjoy!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Peanut Butter Dip

Neither one of my kids are big veggie eaters but they can both devour a plate of fruit. They feed on fruit like they are starved creatures on a desolate land who have just discovered means of survival. No joke.

He could probably take podium at a Strawberry Eating Contest. haha

I found this recipe in my son's cookbook. Yes, at the tender age of 3 he has already started his cookbook collection. Or maybe I should say that I have started it for him... but hey, boys have to know how to cook too! I started his collection off with Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cookbook, it has awesome kid-friendly recipes and fun cartoon images to keep him interested in the book while we go through it together.

Peanut Butter Dip
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cookbook
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup peanut butter, smooth or chunky or crunchy
2 tablespoons of your favorite jam
3 tablespoons of milk

1. Mix all ingredients together with electric mixer until well combined
2. Chill before serving (optional)
3. Enjoy! (not optional) ;)

Don't forget to use plasticware on your muffin pans, scratches are the worst!

I am proud to say that using a muffin pan as the serving tray for our peanut butter dip and fruit was an idea I had all on my own! Not too often do these strokes of ingenuity hit me, I just know I need to act upon them when they do. :)

So freakin' delicious!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lucky Enchiladas

Why are they lucky? Well, mostly because I didn't have to cook them. haha My parents brought over Enchiladas for the New Years and my Aunt brought over the sides. That's right, they brought all this goodness to our house! We are spoiled. :)

Even though I did not make these enchiladas, I do know the recipe. My family has been making them for years. These are not your regular enchiladas since we use flour tortillas instead of the traditional corn ones. The first time I made these for my husband he said they were not enchiladas, but more like burritos. I told him to eat his food...

Easy & Big Enchiladas
2 lb ground turkey, browned and crumbled (or whatever meat you want to use)
1 packet taco seasoning
1/3 cup water
2 large cans Enchilada sauce (red or green)
12 burrito tortillas, flour
3 lbs cheese, shredded (I use the pre-shredded Mexican blend or shred my own Colby Jack)- reserve 1 of theses cups of cheese to sprinkle over the top of the completed Enchiladas

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Combine turkey, taco seasoning and water
3. On a large plate pour some enchilada sauce, about 1 cup
4. Dip both sides of tortilla in enchilada sauce on plate
5. Place same tortilla on separate plate and fill with a little under a 1/4 lb. of meat and 1/4 lb. of cheese. There is really no science to it and I always end up having more meat leftover than cheese because I am a cheese fanatic!
6. Roll the filled tortilla up
7. Place in 9x13 baking dish
8. Repeat steps 4. thru 7. until all tortillas are filled up. It will require two 9x13 dishes for 12 enchiladas
9. Sprinkle with the 1 cup of cheese and remaining enchilada sauce
10. Bake, uncovered for 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden
11. Enjoy!