Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Surprise Monkey Bread

 
 Do you have a favorite recipe that you don't even use a recipe for? If I had to choose one go-to dessert (this could be breakfast too, or lunch or dinner, hehe) that I no longer read the actual recipe for it would be this yummy ring of goodness!  I first made this for a snack party at my former job and it was an instant hit. In fact, at every snack party I was asked to bring this.  I was watching TV tonight with my hubby and it hit me....MONKEY BREAD, MUST MAKE NOW!  So, I headed to the kitchen and whipped this up.  I had to find the original recipe in order to post.  Although I use the same ingredients the amounts tend to change and vary each time I make this depending on my mood. Shall I add more brown sugar, more cinnamon, no walnuts, etc...you get the idea.  You could really add or omit any of the ingredients depending on your personal tastes, another reason I love this so much....adaptability (is that even a word?)
Ingredients
Depending on what's in the frig, I sometimes use extra flaky buttermilk biscuits, grands, really just whatever I have on hand.  Sometimes I don't have walnuts, chopped peanuts are nice as well.  So is caramel sauce instead of brown sugar/butter combo.  Although this is a pretty good treat warmed up the next day, if I'm taking this to work or a social gathering there are NEVER leftovers.  So, if you want to take this somewhere and want to have some yourself, just make two :)

Another reason I love this, as if I need another reason aside from the brown sugar, cinnamon/sugar combo (so delish) is that if you don't like cream cheese, or you THINK you don't, you will change your mind after this.  My step-dad claims to loath cream cheese, as did many of my fellow co-workers.  When asked what the "surprise" component was, a HUGE, yet evil grin came to my lips as I stated. "That would be cream cheese, a whole brick of it!" YAY, score for cream cheese! I personally LOVE cream cheese and often spent many summer lunches in the kitchen making cream cheese and olive sandwiches with my Grandmother, but that's another story for another day.  

So, go ahead and make this. You can thank me now or later, I'm not picky ;)

Surprise Monkey Bread
Printable Recipe

Source:  Taste of Home Prize Winning Recipes, April 2010
Ingredients:

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, cubed
2 tubes refrigerated biscuits
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, cut into 20 cubes (if each biscuit tube has 10 biscuits)
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven 350 degrees F

Melt butter and brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl until the sugar is dissolved.  I start on 2 minutes on 50% power and then go longer in 30 second increments.  Set aside. 
brown sugar & butter
Combine cinnamon and sugar, set aside.

Flatten each biscuit into a 3 inch circle and sprinkle 1/2 tsp of cinnamon/sugar mixture in the middle of the circle and spread so the whole biscuit is covered.  Top with 1 cream cheese cube then fold dough over filling; pinch edges to seal tightly. 

Sprinkle 1/2 cup walnuts into a 10 inch fluted tube pan coated with non-stick cooking spray.  Layer with half the biscuits, cinnamon/sugar mixture, & butter/brown sugar mixture and 1/2 cup walnuts.  Repeat layers.
 
layer one


add brown sugar/butter mixture
layer two










Bake 40-45 minutes or until golden brown, invert pan onto serving dish and enjoy! Best served warm

Oh, so yummy.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ale-8 Cupcakes

If you're from Kentucky then you know what Ale-8 is, if you aren't from Kentucky then you probably don't-considering it's mostly sold only in Kentucky.  It's a ginger-blended soda and I adore it.  Most people I know either love it or hate it, there are few that can take it or leave it.  Although it's produced in plastic bottles and aluminum cans, I prefer the glass bottle :) I also love this drink because it's made in Winchester, Kentucky which isn't far from where I live and the best part.... you can buy it in a vending machine for only 75 cents! What other drink can you purchase in a glass bottle for that cheap?  Please visit Ale-8 for more info. on my favorite drink.

I decided to make these cupcakes but using a box yellow cake mix and following the regular directions and just substituting the water with Ale-8, however the taste was not very strong so I had to add more Ale-8. These were made with a Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting that next time will have some added Ale-8 as well.

Here's what you need for the cupcakes, I forgot to include ginger, sorry!




Ale-8 Cupcakes 
Printable Recipe 

*makes 18 regular size cupcakes*

Ingredients

For Cupcakes:
1 box yellow or white cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 cup Ale-8
1 tsp fresh ginger (grate with micro-plane zester)


For Swiss Meringue Buttercream*
5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter (cut into tablespoons) at room temp
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp fresh ginger

Directions:

Preheat oven 350 degrees F

Make the cupcake batter by box directions (leave out the water and replace with Ale-8) and add 1 tsp grated fresh ginger

Spray cupcake tin with non-stick cooking spray or use liners.  Fill each cupcake tin with about 1/4 cup of batter and bake per box directions (about 18-20 minutes, rotating pans half way through)  When a cake tester or tooth pick comes out clean from center of cupcakes, they're done.

Frosting Directions:


Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in a heatproof bowl (bowl of stand mixer) and place over pot of simmering water (make sure the water is not touching the bottom of your bowl).  Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved.






Attach the bowl to your stand mixer and use whisk attachment.  Start whisking on low and gradually increase speed to medium-high, whisk until stuff peaks form.  Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool.  This takes about 10 minutes.

With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tbsp. at a time.  Before adding more, make sure it's completely incorporated.  Once all the butter is added, whisk in vanilla.  Switch to paddle attachment and beat on low speed until all the air-bubbles are gone.  This takes about 2 minutes.  Scrap down with spatula and continue beating until frosting is smooth. 

Keep buttercream at room temp. if using the same day. If not, refrigerate and bring to room temp. before using.

Pipe icing or decorate cupcakes as desired.  I used a 1A Wilton tip with a piping bag :)



Allow cupcakes to cool on wire racks completely before frosting.

*Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe from Martha Stewart's Cupcakesclick here to check out the book

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spiced Chipotle Honey Chicken Breasts with Sweet Potatoes

I hope everyone had a fabulous week and weekend. We had a very busy week so I wasn't able to post until this weekend.  Between meeting our new church life-group on Tuesday night (I'm super excited about this by the way), watching MARCH MADNESS all week and buying a car this weekend, I haven't had a second to post this yummy recipe!  Speaking of March madness, Kentucky beat Ohio State, the overall number one seed! It was quite the nail-biter.  Thankfully, we pulled off the upset :) YAY UK!

Anyway, back to cooking...

Do you need a super-easy yet very flavorful mid-week chicken meal? This is it! I made this last week after work and it was so fast and easy. I have a love for sweet potatoes so when I saw this over at Pink Parsley, I knew this was a must-make.  A few years ago when I was in college my mom and I would meet after my night class at a local restaurant almost every week and I would always get a sweet potato, topped with butter & cinnamon (so amazing) and I was also eating one at home a week as well.  My skin started to take a tint of orange, NO LIE!  If you eat too many sweet potatoes, your skin will turn a little orange, especially if you are pasty white like myself.  Nonetheless, I didn't quit eating them, they are one of my all-time favorites!


Spiced Chipotle Honey Chicken Breasts with Sweet Potatoes
Printable Recipe 
Source: Pink Parsley

Ingredients:

4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tbsp olive oil
4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs)
chopped cilantro, for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 

Place sweet potatoes into a medium bowl, set aside.


In a small bowl, mix together: 1 tbsp olive oil, chipotles, garlic, honey, vinegar, salt, cumin, & cinnamon, reserve 2 tbsp of paste.  Toss with the sweet potatoes.   Mix 2 tbsp olive oil with reserved 2 tsp of the paste and set aside.

Place sweet potatoes in the bottom of a roasting pan (I used a 9x13 cake baking pan b/c I don't have a roasting pan) and bake for 15 minutes.  meanwhile, rub the chicken breasted with remaining paste.

Stir the potatoes and place the chicken breasts on top, carefully.  Continue to roast until chicken is just cooked through, registering 165 on an instant read thermometer-about 15-25 minutes longer.

Divide the potatoes and chicken evenly among plates and serve.  Drizzle with a little extra honey if desired and garnish with fresh cilantro, ENJOY!


*I halved this to make a dinner for two, however I made the same amount of paste :)  
 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Kitchen Fail: Fusilli with Crispy Kale & Ricotta



It didn't take long into my blogging experience to have a cooking fail. :( This recipe wasn't a total fail, it came out nicely and looked very appetizing; it was just flavorless.  This is mostly my fault (I know Rachael Ray never writes a bad recipe!) for leaving out the meat, just wanting a veggie meal.  It wasn't terrible, it was very much edible, just bland. 

Kale
When I first discovered this recipe, it grabbed my attention because it used kale-something I hadn't cooked with before. That part of the dish was a major success, I ate quite a bit of it by itself after roasting.  I will certainly try this again, but I won't leave out the italian sausage (the recipe said was optional)

Another issue I had with this recipe and many others written by Rachael Ray and many other food network stars that I adore is finding ingredients that they say you can find at your "average grocery store".  I don't know about you, but I live in Central Kentucky and although I live 10 minutes from the second largest city in my wonderful state, my grocery stores (even the specialty ones) do not have italian chili peppers and 5 different types of kale and many international spices and ingredients.
Heck, half the time I can't even buy arugula for crying out loud! And I LOVE arugula.  Do you have this problem?


Fusilli with Crispy Kale & Ricotta
Printable Recipe 
Source: Everyday with Rachael Ray March 2011 

1 lb black kale - stemmed, washed and dried
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
1 lb fusilli pasta
1 lb hot or sweet italian bulk sausage (I left this out)
3 to 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small italian red cherry chili pepper (my grocery didn't have these so I just used a few red & yellow mini peppers)
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
A couple small sprigs rosemary, finely chopped (I omitted these due to my loathing of rosemary)*
1 1/2 cups fresh sheep's or cow's milk ricotta (my grocery doesn't carry fresh ricotta so I used regular whole milk)
freshly grader nutmeg
shaved pecorino-romano cheese



Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Sprinkle a few tbsp of extra virgin olive oil over the kale (place 1/2 of kale on a baking sheet and the other half on another baking sheet) and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, rotate baking sheets half way through baking time.  
fusilli


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain pasta and return to pot, reserve 1 cup of pasta water.

If using sausage, drizzle 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet and heat over medium-high.  Add the sausage by crumbling the meat into skillet and cook until browned.  Using a slotted spoon, remove sausage to a plate and set aside.  Add remaining 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to skillet and reduce heat to medium and add garlic and chili pepper and stir a couple minutes.  Stir in the thyme and rosemary.
peppers, garlic, & thyme


Whisk reserved pasta water into the garlic oil, pour over pasta and add half the crispy kale, the sausage, ricotta, and some nutmeg.  Toss to coat, season with salt and pepper and extra nutmeg if needed. Serve with pecorino-romano cheese and piles of crispy kale on the side. 
*I cannot stand the sight or smell of rosemary due to a bad accident my step-dad had with rosemary and chicken. Instead of using a few tsp of dried rosemary, he used about 1/2 a cup in a chicken dish. Ever since I cannot bring myself to make anything with rosemary. Perhaps, some day in the future I will be brave and try it again. :)

If at first you don't succeed, try and try again! :) Happy Cooking everyone. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Light Wheat Sandwich Bread


 I'm not a great bread maker, at least not yet.  One cause for this may be lack of patients. All the waiting for the bread to rise and then rise again, and again! UGH, not for me!  The other issue I have is that I get the baking urge around 10:00 pm.  It's hard to start making bread at such a late hour and be able to do all that waiting I was talking about.  Just like always, last night at 9:30 I felt the need to bake this wonderful wheat bread I saw over at Cook Like a Champion.  Instead of trying to hurry the process along I just stopped right before the actual baking and put my dough in the refrigerator until this morning.  However, it wasn't too fun allowing the bread dough to come to room temperature until I could actually bake.  Like most things, it was worth the wait and although my bread did not look perfect, it tastes pretty darn good!  I was proud of my first wheat bread attempt :)

flour


Light Wheat Sandwich Bread
Printable Recipe 
from Cook Like a Champion

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp powdered milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 tbsp shortening, at room temp
  • 1 1/4 cups water, at room temp 

Directions:


In stand-mixer bowl, using paddle attachment, stir together flours, honey, salt, powdered milk, and the yeast.  Add the shortening, and water.  Mix on low speed until the ingredients from a ball.  The dough will be soft and supple.

Change from the paddle attachment to the dough hook and knead on medium speed 6 minutes.
Kneading is so easy with my mixer :)
Sprinkle your work surface with flour and knead for about 10 minutes, you can add a little flour if needed.  The dough should be tacky but not sticky.

Lightly oil a large bowl and place dough inside, turn the dough to coat with oil then cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until dough has doubled in size.

Remove dough and make a rectangle 5 inches wide and 6-8 inches long.  Working from the short side, roll up the length one section at a time, pinching the crease after every turn.

The loaf will spread as you roll and the final length should be 8-9 inches. Make sure to pinch the final seam closed then roll the dough back and forth so it evens out.


Put the loaf in a lightly oiled pan, make sure the ends of the loaf touch the pan. Spray the top of the dough lightly with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 90 minutes.

Preheat oven 350 degrees F and place on the middle rack of oven.

Bake for 25 minutes then rotate the loaf pan 180 degrees and bake 20-30 minutes. The top and sides will be golden brown and the center of the loaf should be 190 degrees F.

Remove from pan and allow to cool 1-2 hours before serving.

Store in plastic wrap or paper bag in a dark, cool place for about 3 days.


If refrigerated the bread will dry out, no one wants that!
Finished Product

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cinamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread


If you want a simple yet delicious treat MAKE THIS! Not next week, tomorrow, or even in an hour, make it right now.  It's that good, trust me (I ate the whole loaf myself, well almost).  I was browsing through some of my favorite food blogs and when I saw this over at Joy The Baker I knew it was going to be a match made in heaven.  If you don't know me then you don't know about my love affair with cinnamon & sugar.  I love almost anything that is made with these two ingredients. This is now a new favorite.

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread
 Printable Recipe
source: Joy the Baker 
*The only change I made was leaving out the nutmeg 

Dough:
  • 2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
 Filling:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted until browned


In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.  Set aside.
Whisk together eggs and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt milk and butter until butter has just melted.  Remove from the heat and add water and vanilla extract. 

 Let mixture stand for a minute or two, or until the mixture registers between 115 to 125 degrees F.

Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix.  Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter.  The eggs will feel soupy and will seem like the dough and the eggs are never going to come together.  Keep up the stirring, it will come together.  Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir for about 2 minutes.  The mixture will be sticky.  

Place the dough is a large,  greased bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel.  Place in a warm space and allow to rest about 1 hour, or until dough is double in size.  *The dough can be risen until doubled in size, then refrigerated overnight for use in the morning.  If you do this, let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before following the roll-out directions below.

While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon. Set aside.  

Melt 2 ounces of butter until browned.  Set aside.  Grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch  loaf pan.  Set aside.

Deflate the risen dough and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes.  On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out.  The dough should be 12-inches tall and about 20-inches long.  If you can't get the dough to 20-inches long... that's okay.  Just roll it as large as the dough will go.  Spread melted butter across all of the dough.  Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture.  

Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips.  Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again.  You'll have six stacks of six squares.  Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan like a flip-book.  Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.   

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown.  The top may be lightly browned, but the center may still be raw.  A nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked as well.  

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes.   Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and invert onto  a clean board.  Place a plate (or whatever you wish to display this yummy loaf ) on top of the  upside down loaf, and carefully invert so it's right side up. 

*Try not to eat the whole loaf in one sitting, if you can resist! :) 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spinach Manicotti


At the end of the week I am usually a little too tired to make a big elaborate meal, so I don't mind getting some help from a box and some pre-made sauce.  This meal has become a favorite, quick, go-to dinner in our house.  
Ingredients

Yum, shredded Parmesan

Manicotti
 
Ready to Bake

Spinach Manicotti
Printable Recipe 
adapted from the Barilla Manicotti Box

  • 1 box Barilla Manicotti
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 bag (6 oz) fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 container (15 oz) ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 jar Barilla Marinara Sauce
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese  
*We aren't mushroom fans so I omit those from the original recipe
*I tend to use more than 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese :)
*I also only used half the Manicotti since I am only cooking for two (original recipe serves 6)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook Manicotti 7 minutes; drain and rinse in cool water.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and let cook for about 3 minutes then stir in spinach; continue cooking 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool

Beat eggs lightly in medium bowl.  Stir in ricotta cheese, basil and salt.  

Spread 3/4 cup Marinara Sauce over bottom of 13x9 baking dish.  Fill Manicotti with spinach mixture (use piping bag or zip-lock bag with the tip cut off); place in dish and cover with the remaining Marinara Sauce.  Then sprinkle Parmesan over top and bake, covered 30 minutes.  Uncover; continue baking 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted. 

Hope everyone has a blessed weekend!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Brown Sugar Meatloaf


 I had always hated meatloaf; at least I thought so.  Actually, as a child I would never touch the stuff.  My mom wasn't one of those people who made me eat things I didn't like or didn't think I liked, but she also didn't fix me a special meal on meatloaf night.  Instead, I usually just ate the biggest plate of mashed potatoes and green beans that you'd ever seen!  My adversion to meatloaf came to a sudden end when I attend my first Sunday lunch at Stephen's grandmother's house.  We hadn't been dating very long and he invited me to the annual Sunday lunch his grandmother prepares (for 8-15 people) EVERY SUNDAY! Now, that's a lot of cooking.  And I'm talking a HUGE meal- meatloaf, green beans, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, relish plate, mac & cheese, rolls, and a dessert! Yes, she does it all and she does it EVERY SUNDAY except the winter months they spend in Florida.  Anyway, back to my meatloaf story.  I show up for lunch and guess what's on the menu? Yup, you guess it, meatloaf! YIKES!  After I had a moment of panic I pulled myself together and told myself I can get anything as long as it's bathing in ketchup. So, when the meatloaf came to my plate, I took one slice and put so much ketchup on it that it was hardly recongnizable :) After I finished my first slice, I decided it wasn't too much and went for a second, with very little ketchup! And do you know what? I LIKED IT! It still wasn't my favorite meal by any means but I could eat it without gaging and didn't need a lot of ketchup.  That's what I call a success.





Not long after we got married I decided to make a meatloaf so I searched the internet and found this recipe (I changed it to meet my taste) and it's my favorite! It's even on my top 10 list of favorite things to make! And that's not just because it's so dang easy.

Brown Sugar Meatloaf
Printable Recipe 
adapted from allrecipies.com

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 & 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
1 cup saltine crackers, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 5x9 loaf pan

Mix brown sugar and ketchup together (I often add more brown sugar), set aside

In a large mixing bowl, mix beef, milk, eggs, salt, pepper, ginger, onion & crackers until well combined.  Form into a loaf and place into loaf pan.  

Spread the ketchup/brown sugar mixture on top of meatloaf

Bake in preheated oven 1 hour or until juices run clear. Drain off juices and serve.

*Serves 6 people or 4 very hungry people :) ENJOY! 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rigatoni With Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch

I have a confession...I had never eaten eggplant until I made this dinner.  I have always wanted to try it, it's a little funny looking in my opinion but that deep almost plum color always looked appealing to me.  However, I didn't know how to cook it and since I'd never had it didn't know what it taste like.  Well, I am a fan now! This is a great dinner option if you don't like meat, but with all the veggies, it's very filling and did I mention the cheese? Oh, the cheese! Mozzarella and Parmesan! YUM, YUM, YUM.
Ingredients, oops I left out the cream!



Rigatoni with Eggplant & Pine Nut Crunch
Printable Recipe 
Bon Appetit 

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 unpeeled large eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 medium yellow bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch squares
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 3 large garlic cloves, divided
  • olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh basil, divided
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1, 28oz. can whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1 pound Mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Preheat oven to 425 F.  Spray a large rimmed baking sheet w/ your nonstick spray then add the eggplant and peppers.  Cut tomatoes in half and add to baking sheet. Grate 1 garlic clove over veggies and drizzle with olive oil; toss.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast the veggies until tender, tossing them every 10, 15 minutes.  Roast for about 35 minutes.

Veggies, pre roasting


Combine 2/3 cup basil, 1/2 cup Parmesan, pine nuts, and 1 garlic clove in food processor. Blend ingredients until crumbly then season with salt to taste.

Basil, pine nut, Parmesan crumble


Blend tomatoes with juice, cream, 1 1/3 cps basil, and 1 garlic clove in food processor until smooth then add salt and pepper.

Cook pasta in pot of boiling, salted water until tender, but still firm to bite.  Drain then return to pot.  Add the veggies, sauce, and 1/2 cup Parmesan. Transfer to a large baking dish (13x9x2) and add the Mozzarella and pine nut topping.

Ready to bake


Bake pasta until heated through, 25-35 minutes then let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Eat & Enjoy!



This is a great family dish or a dinner for two with lots left over for lunch or dinner the next day :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Orange Crunch Cake

Have you eaten something at a restaurant and thought you had to duplicate it at home? While on vacation in Captiva, my sister-in-law told us about a place called The Bubble Room; it's a very unique restaurant and they have amazing desserts.  Although we did not eat dinner there, we did visit twice to get dessert! The first night I picked their famous Moist Chocolate Cake although the Orange Crunch was recommended to me.  The Orange Crunch looked amazing but Chocolate was calling my name.  The Chocolate Cake was great but two nights later when we returned I took home the best piece of cake I have ever had-THE ORANGE CRUNCH! WOW, the chocolate cake did not compare to this amazing cake! So moist with the sweet taste of orange and the crunch-what's better than walnuts and brown sugar!? The icing was my favorite part. It resembled a less firm, almost fondant texture but unlike fondant this icing was good (I have never met a fondant icing I liked, always tastes like cardboard to me).  It was firm yet creamy with just the right amount of orange flavor. I knew I had to make this at home.  I did a google search and found many recipes, all about the same but what concerned me was the icing.  I looked and looked but didn't find an icing recipe that I thought would be the right one, but I tried it anyway.  Although the cake I made was very good, it was not exactly like the one from the Bubble Room :(  No worries, I will continue my search and when I hit the jack pot I will be sure to let you know! But, until then, here is my closest version of the Orange Crunch Cake from the Bubble Room.

Finished Product

ingredients
The Crunch
Mixing Away
Put wax paper until the edge of your cake so you don't make a mess of your cake stand, I learned this tip from Ina Garten
So Yummy!

Orange Crunch Cake
adapted from  Food.com (I doubled this to make 3 layers & had extra left over)

Crunch Layer:



  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs









  • 1 cup brown sugar









  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped









  • 1 cup butter, melted   







  • Cake:



  • 2 yellow cake mixes









  • 1 cup water









  • 1 cup orange juice









  •  2/3 cup vegetable oil  









  • 6 eggs









  • 4 tablespoons orange zest







  • Frosting:



  •  2 (16 ounce) can vanilla frosting









  •  2 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed









  • 6 tablespoons orange zest









  • 2 teaspoon lemon zest








    1. Combine crunch layer ingredients. Press 1/3 into each bottom of 3 greased and floured 8" or 9" pans.
    2. In stand mixer, blend cake ingredients at low speed until moistened. Beat 2 mins at high speed. Pour into pans.
    3. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes Cool 10 minutes Remove from pans and cool completely. 
    4. In a large bowl (or stand mixer), mix frosting & topping. Fold in lemon & orange zest.
    5. Place one layer, crunch side up, on plate. Spread with 1/3 frosting. Repeat two times and enjoy!



    I need some icing lessons :)





    I hope everyone had a great weekend! I must give a shout out to my Kentucky Wildcats for winning the SEC tournament!

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