December 31, 2010

Corn Bread Muffins to Knock You Out, Literally

So my office decided to have a potluck Thanksgiving brunch/lunch/snackfest and everyone was supposed to join in. We had just successfully had some kind of football tailgating one a few months prior and everyone was game. No pun intended.

Since it was Thanksgiving, I immediately searched one of my many recipe hoarding places. Yes, I have many. I think I have a problem as you can tell I do not attempt to actually cook that often. Maybe in the new year? As my husband would say, "promises, promises." Actually he would say "HAHAHAHAHAHHA", but that's a different story.

So I found this recipe for cornbread muffins from (formerly Mel's Kitchen when I found the recipe) and decided to give it a try.

The ingredients I used:

In case you don't have your magnifying glass with you, that would be 2 cups of flour (all purpose), 1 cup yellow cornmeal (I bought the Kroger brand), 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 large eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, 8 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled (I believe this was one whole stick), 1/2 cup of milk.

What I did not use: 3/4 cup sour cream. This will be important later.  I am also not sure I put in enough sugar because the original recipe only said "3/4" and I am not sure if I did cup or spoon. That will also be important later.

First, you whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl (in the back in the picture). Actually, first you have to find a whisk. I searched high and low. Later I had to explain to my husband what a whisk was. Then he showed it to me in my bucket of gadgets. Nice.

Next, whisk eggs in second bowl until combined.  Add sugar and whisk vigorously until thick and homogeneous, which I think means thick and one? I need a chef.

Add the melted butter in 3 additions, whisking every time.  Add half the milk (and half the sour cream if you are following directions unlike me) and whisk to combine, then repeat.

Next, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently combine with a rubber spatula - that I had and knew where it was. Yay me!

Here is where it gets tricky - you are not supposed to overmix, just get everything wet which is probably why some of the muffin batter still looked like flour. Or maybe it was the missing sour cream.

Put them in the muffin pan like so, but preferably less messy. Then put the pan (or pans in my case) into your preheated 400 degree oven and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and a skewer in the middle comes out clean. It is also recommended that you move the pan(s) from the front to the back midway through baking.

As I am sure you can guess, these did not turn out well. I take full blame as I am sure Mel's recipe is good.  From what I can tell from the comments, the sour cream makes all of the difference. Figures, since I didn't use it.

Thankfully, I had a box of this in my cupboard:

I also made some chocolate chocolate chip muffins from a box that turned out to be a hit. That is not even Thanksgiving food people!


Too dry and hard as a rock. I assume too dry due to the lack of sour cream and overbaking. Hard as a rock definitely from overbaking. If I would bake more, I would remember that my oven is supercharged and I need to always take things out on the low end.  My only other complaint is that they were not sweet enough. That might have to do with the sugar problem too.

What I learned:

  1. Do not omit ingredients. I am not nearly a good enough cook to know when something is important or not.
  2. Remember how your oven cooks. 15 minutes was plenty. 18 minutes turned these to golf balls.
  3. Use your Kitchen Aid mixer more.  Luckily my husband now proudly displays it on our counter.
  4. Do not attempt to make a brand new, never cooked recipe before a big party. Didn't I learn that last year?
  5. Birds will eat anything
Any thoughts on this recipe, folks?  

September 6, 2010

Salsa Crockpot Chicken - Not Exactly Making Me Want to Dance Just Yet

It's about time I updated this blog. According to my stats, I have only cooked nine times since January 1st. That seems about right. That also seems quite sad.  Also? I haven't cooked anything since April, almost five months ago.  My husband thinks that is quite sad.

So thank you Julie & Julia. I watched you the other day and was inspired. Mostly to eat lots of gourmet food, but also to cook a meal and blog it.  Unfortunately, I was only a little bit inspired so you get a slow cooker meal.  Even sadder? I kind of phoned it in and even apologized to my husband.  Good news though - I have figured out ways to make this better the second time around.  

It's a start.

First, this recipe came from so it is supposed to be healthier.  At least if you follow the instructions. I did not.  We got the full fat salty mostly unhealthy version and it still didn't taste as good as it could have.  Sigh.

The ingredients I used:

That would be two chicken breasts, 1 cup mild salsa, half of a package of taco seasoning, one can of healthier cream of mushroom soup, and a splatter of dried onion flakes.

What I was SUPPOSED to use was low sodium taco seasoning and low sodium cream of mushroom soup.  It would have helped as this was quite salty.

First, put the chicken breasts in the crockpot:

Then sprinkle them with taco seasoning (although not as much as I did or it will have a REAL taco taste):

Then cover those breasts with the salsa:

Then the cream of mushroom soup:

And then the onion flakes which I added because I wanted it to have a kick, but you could leave out because it didn't seem to do a damn thing:

I didn't take a picture of the finished product because it just looked like shredded chicken. Also I forgot.


Too salty and too taco tasty.  As I told B, I just phone this one in.

What I Learned:

  1. There is a reason a recipe says no sodium - listen to it!
  2. This needs more of a spicier salsa to get rid of the taco flavor.
  3. Bell peppers would have been a nice addition
  4. The sour cream the recipe calls for and I left out might have neutralized the salty taste.
  5. When making mexican dishes, it is best to have lettuce or some mexican cheese, not just shredded mozarella on hand. 
  6. You really should have rice or beans or something on hand when making burrito type meals.

This one will be revisited, folks.

April 5, 2010

Veggie Pizza Pie - My Oh My

Recently I had a party at my house. You know, one of those come over to my house and buy things from my hostess and this catalog type parties. Unlike candles and jewelry, though, mine was focused on food things - cooking utensils, cookware, spices, etc. That meant that my guests (all 3 of them) got to feast on a meal basically prepared at my dining room table by the hostess using all of the things found in the catalog and which, of course, you could buy.

I am a sucker. I want to buy everything.

Anyway, the meal was a vegetable pizza that was so yummy, so light and so incredibly easy to make, that I thought I would share it with you.

Sadly there are no pictures.

For ingredients you will need:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 package refrigerated pizza crust
2 garlic cloves*
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 small onion
1 medium zucchini**
2 plum tomatoes***
1 cup fresh mushrooms

You also need an oven preheated to 400 degrees.

Start by putting the crust on your choice of pan. Of course, since this was a demonstration, we used the special pizza stone or whatever. Thus, we didn't need to spray or oil it. If you don't have one, and need to oil your pan, use 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil.

Spread the pizza crust on the pan. Spread the tablespoon of vegetable oil over the crust. Press two garlic cloves and spread that over the crust.

Combine the 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, and 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese into a bowl. Spread half of the cheese mixture on to the crust, over the garlic. Pop the pizza in the oven for about 6 minutes.

Six minutes later, put the onion, zucchini, tomatoes and mushrooms on the top of the pizza. Sprinkle with the remainder of cheese mixture.

Now go back to the refrigerator and get more cheese. More cheese will be needed. More cheese makes everything okay.

Bake for another 12 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.


And if you are like my husband, yes you can remove all of the vegetables and just eat pizza crust with garlic and cheese on it.

Actually, I imagine you could substitute various different vegetables on here. I might have to try that some day.

Now go have a relatively healthy pizza party!

You deserve it.

*No, I did not know that there were more than one clove in a bulb of garlic. Yes, I bought two bulbs of garlic. That is a LOT of garlic.

**No, I never purchased a zucchini before. Yes, I thought it looked like a cucumber. Of course there was a mini argument between me and my husband during the party as to whether he needed to go "RIGHT NOW to get a REAL zucchini." Luckily, mine was good enough.

***No, I don't know what plum tomatoes are. Yes, I deduced they need to be kind of longer so they could be cut in perfect little circles and not big quarter pieces like I normally do with my tomatoes. Also, I usually don't spell that with an "e".

February 23, 2010

Chicken Parmesan in a Crockpot

The minute I saw this recipe, I was intrigued. It also helped that one of B's favorite dishes is Chicken Parmesan. Make your husband's favorite dish in a crockpot with minimal effort? Score!

To make this dish, you need the following ingredients:

First mix together the spices and dry ingredients including 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (I just had plain white salt - so common), like so:

Then take 1 tablespoon olive oil and spread it at the bottom of the stoneware of your crockpot. Or, if you are me, create an eclipse like effect as so:

Meanwhile, in another bowl beat one egg with a fork. Note that you will use this bowl and the dry ingredients bowl to dip the chicken into so make sure you have room:

Dip each chicken breast in the egg bowl and then the dry bowl until completely covered and then place in the bottom of your crockpot:

Then cover the chicken with slices of mozzarella. I may have gone a bit overboard with the cheese:

Finally, add one jar of your favorite sauce:

Then cook on low for 7 hours and serve over your favorite pasta. I chose plain ol' spaghetti although, secretly, I am a mostaccoli girl. How do you even spell mostaccoli? My husband likes spaghetti so I went that route.


B didn't like it because the breading wasn't crunchy and the cheese was all "goopy." I didnt mind the cheese or lack of breading, however, the overall taste was lacking.

Things I learned:
  • I still really don't like salt and I keep tasting it in everything. I am going to stop adding it.
  • I like my sauce a bit sweeter (thanks Mom!) so when I make another dish with sauce, I will add some molasses (double thanks Mom!)
  • Cheese will melt and just blend in with the sauce if you cook it for 7 hours
  • I like cheese a lot!
  • Some things are better done the old-fashioned way rather than in a crockpot

Tell me:

Do you have a good Chicken Parmesan recipe?

February 14, 2010

It's a Hit! Asian Shredded Beef in the Crockpot a/k/a I Will Eat Anything with Chow Mein Noodles

Since today was Valentine's Day and I *love* my husband, I decided it was guinea pig day and that we needed to try a new dish in our crockpot rotation. Isn't that what love is all about, experimentation?

Not so much in this house, but I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. And it was good. Very, very good.

Taken from my favorite food blogger, The Crockpot Lady, I went with:

These are the ingredients you need. I used an almost 4 lb roast. We have plenty left over.

First you need to plop your roast in the pot like so:

Then add 2 teaspoons of garlic powder and 2 teaspoons of Chinese 5-spice. Add to that 6 tablespoons of ketchup and 6 tablespoons of honey. Then on top of that add 1/2 cup soy sauce and a 1/2 cup of hoisin sauce so it looks messy like this:

Set the crockpot to low for 8 hours. After 8 hours, cut up the roast in big chunks and turn to high for another hour. Then the roast will shred so simply with a fork like so:

Okay, maybe not the most attractive picture, but you have to trust. I served it with white rice and chow mein noodles. So beautiful:


B said this was really good. I liked it, but felt it was a bit salty and needed a bit more flavor.

Things I learned:

  • I really don't like salt so I may either get a half sodium soy sauce next time or cut the amount in half
  • I like things with a bit of kick so I am looking for an ingredient to slightly spice this up
  • I may either add more honey or some brown sugar next time for a bit of a sweeter taste
  • Chow mein noodles rock (but I already knew that)
  • Shredded beef is more than just for sandwiches
  • Tell me:

    Any thoughts on what I could use to sweeten and/or spice this dish up?

    January 24, 2010

    Dessert Time! Let's Talk Pancake Cookies a/k/a Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookies

    These are, so far, my favorite homemade cookies. At this point, my husband is probably saying "how many homemade cookies have you even made?" That is beside the point. These are good. Really, really good. He would agree with me.

    I got the recipe from She is a genius with creative recipes, especially cookies. I plan on trying out some more. However, for right now, I am stuck on these. Especially since I bought the industrial size bag of Oreo cookie pieces. Who knew they made such things? Probably people that bake from scratch more than I. To me, though, they are the greatest thing since chocolate chips in flavors other than chocolate.

    Anyhow, to make these great cookies you need the following ingredients:

    Although you do not need to line them up on your counter like that. See that big bag of Oreo pieces? Did I lie?

    Also, when looking for your ingredients, you may also find this recent stocking stuffer from Santa and think it is also a little piece of genius:

    You may also wonder why it has not found its way into your giant hard block of brown sugar yet. Must. Rectify. Soon.

    You also need some bowls. One for dry ingredients and a larger one for the wet ingredients, and then later the combined ingredients. Actually a stand mixer would be best. I have one in the basement. If only I had more counter space to keep it up here all the time so I wouldn't forget to use it!

    If you have a small puppy, you may realize that while you are trying to bake, she is trying to make sweet love to your husband's shoes:

    Back to our baking - you need measuring cups and spoons too, so grab some:

    Then, if you are like me, you will look and wistfully dream of more counter space. Just a bit more:

    Measure out 6 tablespoons of sugar and 6 tablespoons of brown sugar. Realize some of your flour has spilled into your brown sugar. Decide it will just make it extra flavorful:

    Yep, puppy still loving the shoes:

    Mix the dry ingredients which include 1 1/4 cup of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in a bowl:

    Next, take one stick of softened butter and the sugars and put them in the larger bowl where you will cream them together. Here they are pre-creamed:

    I actually don't think my butter was softened enough, but I made do. After that is creamed, you add 1 egg and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and mix it all together. Next, add 1 cup of chocolate chips and Oreo pieces (the recipes call for 8 whole cookies crushed but I just throw in whatever I feel like at the time). Sometimes I put in a tad much:

    During this process, your oven should be preheating to 350 degrees. Once everything is all mixed up, use a medium cookie scoop (or a spoon or your hand) and drop the cookie dough on a cookie sheet.

    And if you want to take a picture but forget, you can try to get one through the oven door:

    Bake 7-9 minutes until the edges are golden but the cookie is still soft. Stand for about 3 minutes before putting on a cooling rack. I stored mine in our bottom drawer. The dog kept watch:

    Then heaven:

    These are almost gone. I made them yesterday:

    I am eating one now.

    Things I learned:
    • This recipe calls for salt but every time I use it, the cookies taste too salty. My husband didn't notice until I mentioned it, but then he noticed it. I eliminated the salt this time and they tasted better.
    • These would probably be better made with a mixer and not by Dani hands.
    • I need a silipat liner for my cookie sheet
    • I really don't know what a silipat liner sheet is.
    Tell me:
    • Should I get a silipat liner?
    • Can anyone recommend a good cookie scoop? The one I use is made of silicon but the dough just seems to stick to it?
    • Do you have a chocolate chip cookie recipe that is a bit different?

    *Bet you are wondering why these are called Pancake Cookies, right? Well, the first time I made them, I did not have a cookie scoop so I used a tablespoon. The cookies turned out HUGE. Yummy, but quite large. From then on, my husband and I have referred to them as the Pancake Cookies.

    January 17, 2010

    Let's Dip: Sausage, Cream Cheese and Rotel? Maybe I Am Not a Crack Addict

    As I stated in my introduction, this blog stemmed from my desire to make dips and desserts, for better or for worse. New dips were recently explored at a holiday party my husband and I threw in December. However, the two new dips did not turn out quite as I expected. I blamed this on two things (1) no trial run/taste test and (2) that stupid basketball crockpot.

    So last night I decided to recreate the one dip I really wanted that night and which I found on the Crockpot Lady's Blog:

    The Crockpot Lady likened it to Mommy Crack. I thought "I like crack!". While that is not exactly true, I do like food crack - you know, that stuff that is horrible for you but so addicting you just cannot stop eating it. In dip form? Heaven.

    So I got out the smaller 2 qt crockpot I bought just for the holiday party:

    And began gathering the ingredients. First up, pork sausage:

    I used Bob Evans because I like to buy expensive things. Ha! Actually I had a coupon. Next up, cream cheese:

    That is HEAVEN. Really, what doesn't taste good with cream cheese? I got the 1/3 less fat to convince, I mean fool, myself that this dish would not be so bad for me. Finally, the last ingredient:

    If you don't know what Rotel is (because frankly I didn't), it is basically what the can says, diced tomatoes and green chilies. I am loving that concept.

    The instructions were simple. Plop the cream cheese in your crockpot:

    Dump in the cooked and crumbled sausage on top:

    And then dump in the Rotel:

    Cook on high for 45 minutes or low for 90 minutes. I opted for low. It smelled good. It was piping hot. It looked like this:

    Um, does that look like a dip? It kind of looks like sausage soup.* I think it was the consistency that bugged me the most. I like my dip to be a bit thicker. Also? Apparently pork sausage doesn't really agree with me. Who knew?

    I REALLY wanted to like this dip. But, I can't. It is too soupy for me.

    Things I Learned:
    • Cream cheese does not make everything okay
    • I will try anything with cream cheese in it
    • I am a sucker for dips
    • Warm food makes for a warm tummy which will warm up your ice cold fingers
    • I fling a lot of raw meat around when frying it
    • I need some taste testers
    Tell me:

    Have any of you made this before? Is there something else I should do? I am not beyond trying this dip again. Commenters on the Crockpot Lady's website mention Velveeta in the place of the cream cheese. Generally that has a thicker consistency and I have had it as a dip before. I might have to give that a try since I still have a can of Rotel.

    What are your thoughts?

    *I even checked my photo against the original recipe photo from the Crockpot Lady's site. It was basically the same. Apparently it is supposed to look like that?