Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Slow Cooker Pork Roast

I've had these pork roasts in my freezer and I got tired of the same old-same old. I wanted to switch it up. I looked in my cupboards to see what I had to transform this hunk of meat into a magical, tasty, mouth-watering meal. I came up with this. It's incredibly delicious and I also love it because I basically do nothing and have an instant dinner. You could even do this with pork chops in the crock pot...I bet that would change your life:)

1 (2-3 pound) pork roast
1 (1 oz) packet Lipton's Savory Herb and Garlic seasoning mix
2 cups beef broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T soy sauce
1/2 onion, diced

Mix seasoning mix, beef broth, garlic, soy sauce and onion in a large bowl. Pour into crock pot. Place roast in the middle of the crock pot. Cook on high for 6 hours basting and turning every few hours. Remove roast and strain leftover juices in a strainer. Use for a sauce to top the pork or as a gravy for rice or mashed potatoes. You'll be amazed!!

Alfredo Pasta Bake

This is a perfect, easy dinner that your family is sure to love. Come's a creamy Alfredo sauce!! I made it meat-less because sometimes I just love to go against the norm and personally, I don't love meat. You can definitely add some cooked, diced chicken if you feel the need, but I really feel it's great on it's own! It does have bacon so maybe you could count that as meat:) I also love how by adding the tomatoes it gives it a feel of adding a red sauce to a white sauce, which is one of my favorite things. It's so delicious and sure to please your picky eaters.

16 ounce package uncooked radiator pasta
1 cup butter
1 cup whipping cream**
1 1/2 cups freshly shredded Parmesan Cheese (I used Asiago)
4 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 cups uncooked, fresh broccoli
1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled bacon
1 cup shredded mozzerella (I used shredded provolone)

In a large pot, cook the pasta according to package directions. With 2 minutes remaining, add the broccoli and green onions to the pasta. Meanwhile in another sauce pan over medium to low heat, heat the butter and whipping cream until butter is melted, stirring constantly. Add cream cheese, parmesan and pepper and stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Drain the pasta, broccoli and green onions. Add to cheese sauce. Add tomatoes and bacon. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish and top with shredded mozzarella (or provolone.) Broil under high heat until cheese is melted and bubbly.

** Note: evaporated fat free milk can be substituted for whipping cream for a lower fat option.

*Adapted from Real Mom Kitchen

Peanut Butter Stuffed Hot Fudge Cupcakes

One of my favorite things is peanut butter and chocolate. To me there's nothing better. This cupcake really reminds me of a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup. The frosting is the perfect balance of salty peanut butter and sweet. Oh, and the hot fudge is the perfect touch. It sets up perfectly for a cupcake like this. If you're having a peanut butter and chocolate craving, you should definitely make these!

1 box chocolate fudge cake mix
1 small box chocolate fudge pudding mix
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Peanut Butter Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cups creamy peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar (you may want 1 more cup depending on how sweet you want it)
2-3 T whipping cream (may need more to reach your desired consistency)
1 t vanilla

Hot Fudge Sauce:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups sugar
1 (12oz) can evaporated milk
1 t vanilla

For the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake tins with liners. To prepare cupcakes place the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, milk and sour cream into stand mixer. Beat until well combined, about 1 1/2 minutes. Scoop batter evenly into 24 cupcake liners. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cupcakes are cooked through, a toothpick comes clean from center. Remove and let cool.

For the Frosting:
Cream butter and peanut butter together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add powdered sugar with mixer on low speed and gradually add milk and vanilla. Beat until frosting is smooth. If too thick, add more milk; if too thin, add more sugar.

For the Hot Fudge Sauce:
Combine butter, cocoa powder, sugar and evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes, or until very thick. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

After cupcakes have cooled completely, take the core out to prepare to fill them. Drizzle some hot fudge sauce into the center and then fill the rest of the hole with peanut butter frosting. Then dip the tops of the cupcakes into the hot fudge sauce. It sets up pretty fast, so it shouldn't be too messy. Top with peanut butter frosting and then drizzle with hot fudge. It might seem like a lot of work, but believe me...IT'S WORTH IT!!

*Peanut Butter Frosting adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Buttermilk Bread

Sweet, smooth, soft and sturdy. That's how I like my homemade bread. I do love incredibly soft homemade breads, but sometimes I like to have one that can be sturdy enough to hold up a stuffed sandwich. Justin has been all about this certain buttermilk bread we buy at the store, so when we ran out I decided I would see if I could make something similar that he would love. This hit the spot! It has such interesting ingredients also: buttermilk, mashed potatoes and honey. I love things that are out of the box! Well it really made a difference here. It rose perfectly and baked up good and soft. If you're looking for a twist on your regular homemade bread routine, try this one!
1 cup warm water
1 T active dry yeast
1 cup warm buttermilk*
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 T salt
1/2 cup mashed potatoes**
6 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in very warm water. Combine all ingredients besides flour. Add flour and knead til smooth and springy, 5-10 minutes by hand, adding a little flour only if necessary, dough will be slightly sticky (I did this all in my Kitchenaid with the dough hook attachment and let it knead itself until it completely cleaned all of the sides of the mixing bowl.) Place in greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and then a dish towel. Let rise til doubled. I usually turn my oven on to 100 degrees and turn it off and then place my covered dough in the warm oven for about 2 hours. Gently deflate dough, divide into two equal halves and place into 2 greased loaf pans. Punch them down into the pans. Place back in a warm oven covered with a dishtowel. Leave until dough has topped the pan but not over-proofed, about 45 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until well-browned and sounds hollow when thumped. Remove from pans to cool and brush tops with melted butter. Immediately enjoy a thick slice smothered with butter and homemade strawberry jam...or maybe that's just what I do:)

*If you're like me and go through spurts when you use buttermilk, but don't constantly keep it on hand, I would recommend buying powdered buttermilk. I buy SaCo Cultured Buttermilk Blend and it works great and lasts a lot longer than fresh buttermilk.

**If you don't have any leftover mashed potatoes, I use instant. I actually use Augason Farms Potato Gems food storage potatoes. They are wonderful and super quick!

*Adapted from The Fresh Loaf

Monday, April 18, 2011

Buttermilk Brown Sugar Cookies

If you want to eat the best cookie you've ever tasted, try these. I was shocked at how wonderful they were. The cookies are super soft and the glaze is decadent. Justin took these to work and they were gone in 30 seconds flat. Even people that don't eat sweets ate 2 or 3 and then asked for the recipe. Believe me they are that good. So just make them and impress everyone at your next dinner party:) They do require to sit in the fridge overnight, but don't's worth it. They are so interesting because they contain ONLY brown sugar so they have a deep, rich flavor that is unbelievable. They also plump up so light and fluffy because you use basically double the baking powder and soda. I can't say anything better about these cookies...they are divine.

For the Cookies:
2 cups Brown Sugar
1 cup butter
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
2 t baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
4 cups Flour
2 t baking powder
brown sugar for sprinkling

For the Frosting:
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 t salt
1/4 cup milk
1 t vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

*NOTE: Dough needs to be refrigerated overnight!**

Cream sugar and butter; add vanilla and eggs and beat well. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk. Sift together flour and baking powder. Add buttermilk and flour mixture alternately to the creamed butter mixture. Combine thoroughly (the dough will be very sticky.) Then store covered in refrigerator overnight.

Scoop cookie dough and roll into 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheets. Sprinkle a little bit more brown sugar on top of the balls (this gives a nice little crunch against the soft, fluffy cookie) and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. The cookies may seem like they need more time and will be really soft, but you REALLY don't want to overcook them! Remove from the sheets onto cooling rack to cool. While they are cooling, make the brown sugar caramel frosting.

Melt butter over low heat in a saucepan. Blend in brown sugar and salt. Cook this on low heat for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Add milk and remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Let cool. At this point you can either frost the cookies like you would a sugar cookie (with a knife) or you can pour into a piping bag and drizzle over the cookies for a fancier look.

* Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Friday, April 15, 2011

Cream Cheesy Mac and Cheese

If you're looking for a quick, easy, delicious dinner look no further! This is the ultimate comfort food. I love how the cream cheese adds a little tang...and oh do I love cream cheese! Try it and you won't be disappointed.

1 pound elbow macaroni
4 T butter
3 T flour
2 cups milk
1 (8oz) package cream cheese
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and keep warm until sauce is ready.

For the sauce, melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan or deep pan. Add flour to the butter and stir until smooth. Gradually add in milk, stirring continuously. Allow milk mixture to come to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.

Reduce heat to low and add cream cheese, cheddar cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir until cheeses are melted and sauce is smooth. Pour the sauce over the elbow macaroni and mix together.

Pour mixture into greased, large casserole dish. Sprinkle a small amount of cheese over the top. I used grated Parmesan and cheddar. Broil until cheese is bubbly and browned.

*Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

No-Bake Nutella Cheesecake

I know it seems weird, but I had never actually tried Nutella until about a year ago. It just seemed so bizarre. Then I tried it. It has to be one of the most delicious spreads out there! I saw this recipe and knew I had to try it because it was so easy and such a great twist on a regular "cheesecake." In fact, the original recipe says to just make it in a 9 inch pie dish, but it reminded me so much of a cheesecake that I ended up seeing if it would stand up in a springform pan. It was a success! And I think it was easier to cut and serve. I wish I would have gotten a picture of it sliced because it cut so beautifully...but I took it to a dinner party. I took this horrible picture right before we left. Either way, people were begging me for the recipe because it was so good. I'm definitely going to be making this again especially since it's getting to be summer and I love a no-bake dessert recipe!

For the Crust:
20 whole Nutter Butter Cookies
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

For the Filling:
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 t vanilla
1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 cup whipping cream

For the Nutella Ganache:
1/4 cup Nutella
1/4 cup whipping cream

Spray a cheesecake pan (springform pan) with non-stick cooking spray and set aside (you may use a 9-inch pie plate.)

Place Nutter Butter cookies into a food processor and grind until they are fine crumbs. Stir together with melted butter.

Press into the bottom of the prepared springform pan. Place into refrigerator to chill.

For the filling, whip cream cheese and sugar together until well blended. Mix in vanilla extract and Nutella. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly. Mix in cream and then increase speed and whip 3 minutes or until very thick.

Pour on top of Nutter Butter crust and smooth the top. Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours.

To serve, prepare Nutella ganache by microwaving Nutella and cream together until a thin sauce forms. Spread on top of pie. Refrigerate until set. Keep refrigerated until serving.

*From Tasty Kitchen

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Caramello Cupcakes

I woke up at 5am this morning with an idea...what about a Caramello Cupcake? I don't know about you, but Caramello is one of my most favorite candy bars!! When I was younger it was my candy bar of choice...every time. I don't know how you can go wrong with chocolate and caramel. So that's why I thought it was a MUST to do a Caramello cupcake. Soft caramel on the inside encased in a decadent, soft, moist and chocolaty cupcake then topped with a light, whipped milk chocolate frosting (check out the secret ingredient:) and a drizzle of caramel. Yum!!

And do you see my new purchase? I love it!!! I would recommend a cupcake stand to anyone and everyone. This one holds 24 cupcakes and it's incredibly sturdy. I can put it on the front seat floor in the car and not worry at all about it tipping over. I found it at my new favorite store...Home Goods. If you have this store anywhere near you, you must go! Also...don't you love my flowers? I'm pretty sure I have the greatest husband in the world...a "hope you have a good day" gift. I live for times like those:)
Just look at that ooey, gooey caramel!! The best part is that when it cools it firms up, but is still very soft so when you bite into the cupcake it oozes all down your kind of treat!

1 recipe of your favorite chocolate cupcakes (I would recommend this's the only one I use now)
6 Caramello candy bars
Caramel Ice Cream Topping (NOT the syrup)
1 bag Caramel Bits (unwrapped caramel balls used for cooking - found by the chocolate chips and they look like this)
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 recipe Chocolate Buttercream (recipe follows)

Make cupcakes, cool and scoop out center (a good tool for this is the Cuisipro Cupcake Corer - It works wonderfully.) In a microwave-safe bowl place the entire contents of the Caramel Bits and the whipping cream. Microwave for 2 minutes, stopping every 30 seconds to stir. Let cool about 5 minutes. You can either put it in a piping bag to fill the cupcakes or just scoop with a spoon. I actually preferred to do it with a spoon. As the caramel cools even more, it will seep into the cupcake. After about 5-10 minutes I actually went back and filled the cupcakes again with more caramel and used it all up. Pipe with chocolate buttercream frosting. Then drizzle with Caramel topping. Top the cupcake off with a square of a Caramello candy bar. Enjoy the gooey goodness!!

Chocolate Buttercream:
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, softened
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 t salt
2 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
2 T milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup Ovaltine

Cream together butter, cocoa powder and salt. Butter mixture will be very thick. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add powdered sugar. Turn mixer on low and mix in powdered sugar while adding milk and vanilla extract. As the sugar incorporates, raise the speed of the mixer to beat the frosting. Beat until smooth. In a 1-cup measuring glass, stir together heavy cream and Ovaltine. Turn mixer speed to medium and pour cream mixture into frosting in a slow, steady stream, until you’ve reached your desired consistency. You may not need the full amount of Ovaltine and cream. Spread or pipe onto cupcakes. This makes enough to pipe 24 cupcakes. **This frosting recipe from Joy the Baker

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Asian Lettuce Wraps

I saw this one on Our Best Bites and knew I needed to try it right away. It definitely hit the spot! It was simple and delicious. Instead of using ground chicken, I used ground turkey and we loved it! I tell ya...I'm completely converted to ground turkey. I have not been disappointed yet. Try this and you'll love it!

2 t olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (I used about 1 t ground ginger since my fresh ginger was bad)
1 lb ground chicken (I used ground turkey)
3 ounces mushrooms, finely chopped (about 8 small mushrooms)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 C bagged coleslaw mix or thinly shredded cabbage ( I used about 3 cups of shredded cabbage)
1 8oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained, rinsed, and finely minced
1/2 C thinly sliced green onions
4 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 lemon, zested and juiced (about 3-4 Tbs juice)
1/2-1 tsp sriracha or other hot sauce (I omitted this)
1/3 C roughly chopped cilantro (I omitted this)
1-2 heads iceberg lettuce

Dipping/Drizzling Sauce
4 Tbs soy sauce
4 Tbs rice vinegar
3 Tbs water
2 tsp honey
1-2 tsp finely minced fresh ginger (I used a few sprinkles of ground ginger)

Heat a very large skillet to medium-high heat on the stove top. When hot, add vegetable oil and then garlic and ginger. Saute for about 30 seconds, until fragrant, and then add ground chicken, chopped mushrooms, and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until chicken is cooked through. (*At this point, sometimes I have some extra liquid in the pan from the chicken. If it’s quite a bit, I tilt the pan and spoon it out so the chicken can cook and not boil.) Add cabbage/coleslaw, water chestnuts, and green onions. Cook for about 2 minutes, until cabbage starts to wilt. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, the zest from the lemon and the lemon juice, and hot sauce to taste. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro (if you are adding.)

To prepare dipping sauce, combine all ingredients and whisk to combine.

To serve, carefully remove the individual leaves from the head of lettuce. (The closer you get to the center, the easier it becomes!) Place chicken mixture in the leaves and serve with sauce.

Yield: about 5 C chicken mixture. Makes 14-16 lettuce wraps.

*From Our Best Bites