Friday, February 27, 2009

Orzo with Spinach and Red Peppers

I love spinach. This is a fairly recent discovery, so I am still experimenting with recipes that use it. But I do love it, especially with pasta.

Orzo with Spinach and Red Peppers

I got this recipe from All*You magazine's February 2009 issue. It was good, but not the greatest thing ever. I do love the texture, and with my additions it was okay, but it was still a bit bland. Regardless, I will probably make it again. It was a great side dish (we had it with lemon cilantro chicken), and perfect for when I have vegetarian friends over.

-1 pound orzo
-2 Tablespoons olive oil
-1 onion, chopped
-1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
-1 clove garlic, chopped (I used 3 cloves)
-1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
-1/4 cup grated Parmesan (I omitted)
I also added 1 Tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon garlic and pepper seasoning.


1. Bring pot of water to a boil. Add orzo and cook, stirring often, until done.
2. While cooking orzo, cook onion and bell pepper in 1 Tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook until tender, about eight minutes. Stir in garlic and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted.
3. Drain orzo and return to pot. Add remaining olive oil, vegetable mixture, butter, and garlic and pepper seasoning. Stir to combine.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

My cousin requested cookies. I asked him what kind, and he asked for the traditional favorite. And so, here they are.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I got this recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

-1/2 cup shortening
-1/2 cup butter
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-1 cup packed brown sugar
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-2 eggs
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-2 cups semisweet chocolate pieces (I used milk chocolate chips)
-1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts (filberts) (optional) I ommitted.


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl beat the shortening and butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.
3. Add the brown sugar, sugar, and baking soda and beat until combined.
4. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined.
5. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour. Stir in chocolate pieces and, if desired, nuts.
6. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
7. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In-a-Bind Taco Seasoning

Tonight, I wanted to make tacos. I was sure we had taco seasoning in the house, because we always have taco seasoning in the house. We did not, in fact, have taco seasoning in the house. So, I improvised.

In-a-Bind Taco Seasoning

Due to one particular ingredient, this is not particuarly a recipe for ANYONE in a bind. And it is not, in our opinions, as good as the taco seasoning we usually use. However, the meat tastes like taco meat, and that is what I was going for.

The particular ingredient is pictured above: A Tastefully Simple Rockin' Chipotle Dip Mix sample pack that my aunt gave me (among other things, of course) for Christmas. I knew I would never use it for dip, anyway, and it worked quite well here. Its ingredients included chopped onions, red bell peppers, chipotle peppers, garlic, and salt. So, it worked fairly well for tacos.

-1 1/2 Tablespoons chili powder
-1/8 teaspoon paprika
-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-1 sample package Tastefully Simple Rockin' Chipotle Dip Mix
-1/4 teaspoon cumin
-5 Tablespoons taco sauce
-1/4 cup pizza sauce
-1/2 cup water

1. Combine dry ingredients. Set aside.
2. Brown ground beef or cook chicken. Drain if necessary.
3. Combine all ingredients and cook over medium heat until liquid is evaporated and meat is fully coated.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Honey Mustard Chicken

I love honey mustard on chicken. It is one of my favorite condiment-food combinations. And while this is the first time I cooked with Panko, I found that I love it, too.

Honey Mustard Chicken

I LOVE this recipe. It came from Joelen's blog. All of her food is just so fantastic. I cannot wait to try more of her recipes!

-2 chicken breasts
-2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
-2 tablespoons honey
-garlic powder, onion powder, salt & pepper to taste (I, of course, used lots)
-1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine honey and mustard. In a separate dish, place panko.
3. Season chicken to your liking. Dip and coat in honey mustard mixture. Coat chicken in panko.
4. Place chicken on greased baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165 when placed in center of each breast.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Be My Valentine Blueberry Pancakes

Walter and I had our first date on Valentine's Day five years ago. Naturally, it is very special to us. :)

Blueberry Pancakes

My heart pancakes are not as creative and lovely as Erin's, but Walter did enjoy them quite a bit. The mould I used was a silicone one that came with a large spatula (great for flipping pancakes) from Michaels. I got the recipe from the same page I got the baking mix recipe. I used the last two cups of my baking mix today!

-2 cups baking mix
-1 1/3 cup milk
-1 egg
-Blueberries to your liking
I also added one teaspoon vanilla.


1. Preheat griddle to 375 degrees.
2. Combine baking mix, milk, egg, and vanilla (if using) and mix until smooth.
3. Pour batter onto griddle. Sprinkle blueberries on top of batter. Cook for about two minutes, until the top begins to bubble and the sides are beginning to stiffen. Flip and cook for another two minutes.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Princess Birthday Cake--Maddie

This is the first cake I've decorated. It did not turn out as beautiful as I would have liked because the crown was hard to frost. In hindsight, I should have used royal icing to make the crown instead of cake, but it still turned out okay. And the recipient was two years old, so she did not particularly care what the cake looked like.

It was a white cake with vanilla icing. The butterflies and hearts were made from white modeling chocolate. I also used Wilton's edible glitter.

1-2-3-4 Cake
This recipe came from the back of the Swan's Down Cake Flour box. I used one and a half recipes for two 9-inch cakes and two 6-inch cakes (which I cut the centers out of with a circle cookie-cutter for the crown).

-1 cup butter, softened
-2 cups sugar
-3 cups sifted cake flour
-3 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-4 eggs
-1 cup milk
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cake pans and set aside.
2. Cream butter, gradually adding sugar, until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a separate bowl, sift flour with baking powder and salt.
3. Add flour mixture alternately with milk and flavorings to creamed butter, beating after each addition until smooth.
4. Pour batter into cake pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
5. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans and finish cooling on wire rack.

Wilton's Classic Buttercream Icing
I got this recipe from the Course Book for the first Wilton cake decorating class (which I have yet to take, but I bought the book separately).

-1 cup solid white vegetable shortening
-1 teaspoon flavoring (Vanilla, Almond, or Butter) (I used vanilla)
-2 Tablespoons milk or water (I used milk)
-4 cups powdered sugar
-1 Tablespoon meringue powder
-Pinch of salt (optional) (I ommitted)

1. Cream shortening, flavoring, and milk. Add dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until thoroughly mixed. Blend an additional minute or so, until creamy.
2. This recipe is for stiff consistency. To make thinner, add one teaspoon of milk per cup of icing until desired consistency.

Modeling Chocolate
I found this recipe in a cake decorating book I checked out at the library months ago. If anyone knows where it came from, please let me know.

-12-ounces chocolate (your choice of flavor)
-5 Tablespoons light corn syrup

1. Chop chocolate and combine in bowl with corn syrup.
2. In a double boiler (or a bowl over a pot of boiling water), melt chocolate, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat and continue stirring until it cools enough to handle.
3. Knead chocolate continuously until it feels plasticine, or similar to modeling clay. This is very oily work, so wipe your hands occasionally if you feel the need.
4. Once chocolate is of desired texture, use as you would desire. White chocolate colors well, but as you knead the color in it will bleed on your hands.
5. Store at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap tightly. Keeps for up to two months.