Friday, May 29, 2009

Watery Spaghetti Sauce

I have to say that there is nothing like a bowl of spaghetti with lots of sauce.  Yeah, I know, I'm stuffing myself with carbs, but I don't care.  The one problem that we have with spaghetti sauce is that when it's ready to be served, it usually ends up watery on the plate.  Yes, I do drain my pasta and let it sit for a little bit before serving, but it never seems to work the way I want it to.  So, while browsing one of my cooking magazines, I came across a tip to prevent it from becoming watery...BREADCRUMBS.  Who would have thought?  The breadcrumbs absorb a lot of the moisture and even makes the sauce thicker.  I'm all about having think sauce.  So next time you're making your spaghetti, add the breadcrumbs to the last few minutes of your cooking time and they'll work.  It's like magic!

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Yes, I know that I have been slacking, but life has just gotten away from me. In our second class, we have the priviledge of making clowns to put on cupcakes, as well as putting flowers on the cupcakes.

I decided to make "periwinkle" colored clowns because I had to be a little different. One of my favorite things about cake decorating class is that we get experiment with colors.

I have to say that I had no problems making the flowers, but when it came to the clowns, I sucked royally. I'm sure that I can make lots of excuses for the way that they turned out, but no, because it was so worth the laughs we had at class.

So if you look closely, the clown on the left is just chilling, but his friend is having some issues. We believe that has was partying too much and just had one drink too many.

All he was missing was a little clown toilet bowl to puke in!

Here's pictures of the flowers I did on my cupcakes...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cake #1

For the second cake decorating class, we had to bring an iced cake, as well as several containers of buttercream icing (which were 3 different consistencies).  The buttercream icing is actually pretty easy (and pretty tasty) to make.  Thank Dan that I have a stand mixer because the icing will kill hand-held mixers.

For the cake, I decided to use the cookbook that Tina gave me for my birthday:

Inside, there is a recipe for a 1-2-3-4 cake, which I have determined tastes like pound cake and goes VERY well with the almond flavored icing.

After the cakes were baked and the icing (all three consistencies) was made, I started coloring my icing.  The design for the first cake was going to be a rainbow.  I wanted to be a little different with my rainbow colors, so I chose burgundy, green, orange, and purple.  Now, I know that the shades aren't what you might expect, but I'm still learning here.  Oh, and my clouds aren't white and I don't care.

Icing my first cake proved to be a little challenging.  I didn't set aside enough icing to frost my cake, so the frosting didn't look as pretty as I wanted, but you live and you learn.  

In class, we got the chance to practice making stars and zig zags and writing (that's hard).  Oh, and we learned how to make the base for roses.  After we practiced, we got the chance to start decorating our cakes.  We had to transfer the rainbow from the book to our cakes using piping gel and wax paper.  I love how simple that is to do.  Once the rainbow was transfered onto our cakes, we got to work filling in the rainbow.  I enjoyed that.  Once our rainbow was done, we had to make the clouds using zig zags.  Oh, and we got to put a border on our cakes.  Before I knew it, it was time to go home, so I didn't get to finish my cake at class, but I was able to finish it at home.

Here's my cake before I went home...

Once I got home, I pulled out the extra icing and got to work on finishing the cake.  I decided to finish up my cake.  I put my name on it and added little blue dots to my star border.  So here's the finished product...

Thursday, April 9, 2009


So far, April has not been the kindest to folks (ha, what a funny word) all over the place.  It's been way too cold here in NC this week, so I decided last night, on my way home from work that I wanted chili for dinner tonight.  Little did I know that today was supposed to actually be quite nice, but what do I care?  I'll eat chili in the middle of the summer because it is so yummy.

I remember as a kid, my mom would make two pots of chili at a time.  One with onions (yuck) and one without.  Am I right Lisa?  She had two crock pots and this was the only time I can remember that both of them were in use at the same time.  I loved when my mom made it because the house would smell so delicious and I used to take a spoon out of the drawer and taste the chili.  YUM!

Once I was finally out of the house and (trying to) live on my own, I got a crock pot for Christmas.  I never made chili in it until I was living with Dan.

Now since I like to use recipes from my mom, I had to call her up and ask her how to make her chili.  One of my favorite things about it is how easy it is to make.  All you need is 2 cans of kidney beans (I love lite and dark combined), 1 pound ground beef, 2 can of diced tomatoes, and a packet of McCormick's chili seasoning.

1.  Take out everything you need to make this meal, including the crock pot.
2.  Brown the meat.
3. Pour beans and tomatoes into crock pot while meat is browning.  And no, don't drain any of the cans because you need the liquid.
4. Add the chili seasoning.
5. Drain the meat and add to crock pot.
6. Plug in crock pot before you leave for work in the morning and let it cook all day.  The longer it sits the better.
7. Scoop out enough for you into your own bowl and sprinkle (or overload) it with cheese.
8.  Dig in.

*** A great side to this is Fritos ***

Monday, March 30, 2009

Cake Decorating

Oh, I'm so excited!  I am finally going to be taking a cake decorating class!  While in Michael's last week, I saw that they were offering the classes 1/2 off for the month of April.  I contemplated about doing one and while talking with Dan yesterday, he said that I should do it.  We were at Michael's yesterday and I know that he got annoyed with me for not asking about it while we were there, but I told him that I would call today while at work.

So I did make that phone call.  And, sadly, the class is full for that store.  But, not one to always take no for an answer, I called the new Michael's that's a little bit further from our house, but is probably not well known because they just opened within the past 4 months or so, and the class isn't full.  I signed up for it over the phone and I just have to go in and pay for the course this week.  Oh, I'm so excited.  I get to try something that I've been wanting to do for a while.  I can't wait to see how it turns out.  

Friday, March 27, 2009

Peanut Butter Mini Jumbos

Why do we name things what we name them? Well, these almost speak for themselves. They're mini because I used my mini scoop and jumbo because they pack a lot stuff in them. I love the fact that they're made with peanut butter. Most recipes use mini M&M's, but I couldn't find any at the grocery store, but I found something even better: mini Reese's Pieces. The more peanut butter the better, at least that's what I say. Oh, and most recipes also use chocolate chips, but I didn't feel like it this time.

So, this is my version, I suppose.

1 1/2 c peanut butter
1/2 c butter, softened
1 c sugar
1 c packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 1/2 c quick-cooking oats
2 tsp baking soda
1 c mini Reese's pieces
1 c M&Ms

1. In a large bowl (or a Kitchen Aid stand mixer if you're cool like me), cream peanut butter, butter, and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine oats and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in candies.

2. Using your fabulous cookie scoop (the smaller the better because you get more cookies that way), drop cookies onto cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10-14, depending on how big they are and how soft you like your cookies. Remove the wire racks.

3. Share with all of your coworkers and friends.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Simple Chicken Parm

Alright, I know that I've been slacking a bit on here, but rest assured, it hasn't been in the kitchen. One thing that I love and can't get enough of is pasta. It doesn't matter what the shape, color, or whatnot, but I love it. So we decided that we were going to have spaghetti one night for dinner. I decided to do better than just plain spaghetti, so who doesn't like chicken parm (besides people who don't like cheese)?

All you need for this is:
- Frozen breaded chicken patties
- Spaghetti
- Sauce
- Mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese

Make your pasta according to the directions on the box.
Cook your chicken patties according to the directions on the bag/box.
Heat your sauce on the stove.
When chicken patties are done, put some sauce on the patties, sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top and put back in the oven (or in my case, the toaster oven) and back until cheese is melted.
Drain the pasta.
Put pasta on plate, add sauce, add chicken, add more sauce if desired, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Oh what to eat on gym nights? Dan and I have a list of no-no's for gym nights - no spaghetti, tacos, and things like that. Don't ask. We're just weird like that. So on Wednesday night, we opted for pizza. Dan would have pizza every day if he could, but that's not happening here.

Well, since I do not have the skills at making pizza from scratch, we usually get pizza from any of the local pizza chains or we buy a frozen one. Frozen is so much cheaper and easier than calling up (or going on line) and dealing with the chains. No delivery to wait for. In less than the time it takes for delivery to arrive, my oven had been preheated, pizza gone in, and pizza come out.

Last week, I had a coupon for a Freshetta pizza, so I used it. We both really liked the pizza and said that we would have to get it again. On Tuesday night, we were heading out to get a few things from Target (my fave!) and I found another coupon for the pizza. Score! We could have it again.

If you don't like frozen pizzas, that's fine by me. However, if you do, try this one out. One of the things that I really enjoyed was the different spices that could be tasted in every bite. Delish. Oh, and by the way, it already comes pre-sliced for perfect sizes. I used the pizza cutter to make sure that all of the pieces were separated.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Homemade Brownies

While on my lunch break this week, I came across this one blog called Cooking Stuff, which belongs to Bob. Bob had posted his 100th post and it contained a list of his top 10 list of his personal favorites. Well, on that list, was "The Brownies". I had to check it out since the last time I made homemade brownies was a disaster and I really wanted to try it again. After looking at the pictures and really craving chocolate (who doesn't crave chocolate?), I decided that I had to make them.

After doing some test driving today with Dan's cousin, Kevin, I said to them that I was going to make homemade brownies. And let me tell you, I'm so glad that I did. I'm hooked on these and now I have Bob to thank for some awesome brownies. Oh, and Bob, I did tweak the recipe just a bit...I don't use semi-sweet chocolate chips anymore. I made them with milk chocolate chips. Sorry!

I'll let you check out his blog for the recipe, but I will share my pictures. I think that his are better, but hey, why not? The inspiration came from him.

Bringing the water, sugar, and butter to a boil.

Adding the chocolate chips.

Can't forget the eggs.

Dry ingredients.

Ready to go in the oven.

No soup for you!

The other day, I was at work earlier this week when I came across a recipe for a steak and potato soup. I think I was playing around on the different links on Yahoo! and thought that it sounded delish, so I had to give it a try. The best night for me to make it was last night, but I could have made it sooner since it was very easy and didn't take long to make. I modified the recipe a little bit, so to me, it was a Vegetable Beef soup. The recipe says that it yields 4 servings, but that's a lie. Dan and I each had a mug last night and I've had 2 bowls of it today (leftovers for lunch and dinner, no surprise) and there's still about 3 more servings left. So, you do the math!

Here's my own version...

What you need:
1 lb. beef for stew
3 tbsp cooking oil
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 large onion (if you know me, you know that I left that crap out!)
1 lb baking potatoes (peeled and cut into 1" chunks)
1/2 lb green beans (ends trimmed) {you could use canned beans if desired, but make sure to drain them first}
baby carrots (sliced) {it's up to you how much you want to put in}
1 can corn (drain first)
2 cups water
1 quart broth {32 oz for dummies like myself} (I used beef, but chicken would work too, I suppose)
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1. In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp oil over moderately high heat. Add half of the steak and cook, stirring frequently, until well browned. Remove with a slotted spoon. Repeat with another tablespoon of oil and the remaining half of the beef. Remove the beef and toss all of the beef with 1/4 tsp salt.

2. Reduce the heat to moderately low and add the final tbsp of oil to the pot. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent.

3. Add the potatoes, green beans, carrots, corn, water, broth, salt, and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pot with a spoon to get the "good stuff" off the bottom. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Return the beef to the soup and stir in the Worcestershire sauce.

4. Let the beef get warm again, serve in your best soup mugs or soup bowls, and enjoy!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Who doesn't love lasagna?

Tuesday night was grocery shopping night. Since I had been in NY visiting the wonderful fam, Dan had done no grocery shopping. Like usual, it waits until I get back, but I can deal with it because then I get to pick what I want! As we're walking around in the freezer section of Target, Dan spies Stouffer's lasagna and calls out, "Hey Beck, will you make lasagna?" How can I say no? Anytime I can have it, I'm all for it. So we had to get some ingredients for it: cottage cheese (Dan won't eat ricotta), sauce, and cheese (2 bags because the cheesier the better).

Because Wednesday night is gym night for us, and we can't do pasta on gym nights, Dan decided on Thursday night. I knew that I had to make it Wednesday night because I had an eye doctor's appt Thursday after work. So while our frozen pizza was "baking" in the oven, I got to work on my lasagna.

1 lb. ground beef (or turkey or chicken, you choose)
1 jar spaghetti sauce (whatever flavor you like)
2 cups cottage cheese (or 15 oz. ricotta cheese)
2 cups mozzarella cheese (or if you're like me, MORE)
lasagna noodles
garlic powder

1. Put pot of water on to boil for noodles. When water is ready, add the noodles, and cook until they're done to your liking. I like mine cooked all the way through. None of that al dente junk. I don't want "crunchy" pasta!
2. Brown meat in large skillet. I chose to sprinkle in some garlic powder while the meat was cooking.
3. When meat is browned, drain, and return pan to stove and add sauce.

4. At this point in time, I sprinkled in oregano, basil, thyme, and more garlic powder.
5. Pour cottage cheese into bowl and add oregano and basil and stir.
6. When noodles are done, drain and I try to rinse them off a little bit to get them unstuck.
7. To assemble lasagna...
a. Pour some of meat sauce mixture in bottom of baking dish (enough to cover the bottom).

b. Put enough noodles in the dish to cover the sauce.

c. Pour about half of the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles and spread to cover the

d. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese on top of the cottage cheese.

e. Repeat once, starting with the sauce mixture and ending with the mozzarella cheese.

8. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
9. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.
10. Let sit for about 15 minutes so it can set, or if you're like me, put it on the table and let everyone dig in.

Mine sat in the fridge overnight and I didn't cook it long enough because it wasn't as golden as I would have liked on top, but that doesn't matter, people It was done and delish!

Normally when I make this, I do add Parmesan cheese to the cottage cheese mixture, but I was trying to convince Dan's mom (who despises cheese, but will eat pizza and Stouffer's lasagna) that my lasagna is really good. And no surprise, I was right! She even helped herself to seconds and said that it was good. I'm proud of her for trying something different!