Monday, November 30, 2009

Pear Fritters

I'm back from the beach and it was definitely a much needed mini vacation! We love going to Chincoteague Island because it is just so laid back. Nice little sleepy town with some really nice shops and a movie theatre that is reminiscent of the 1970's. Not a multiplex. We saw New Moon there and boy was that good. I think I've mentioned that I'm a Twilight fan. Very good movie! My husband and I have been seriously thinking of some day moving to the Island. I grew up on Long Island, NY so I would love to be near the water again. I've never gotten used to living far from the ocean and even though where we live now is several hours away, that is too far for me.

Anyhow, this dish was another husband request and it was really good. Of course, it's from Paula Deen! He just loves her recipes! This one is another winner. Simple, delicious, fattening but there is some fruit in this so maybe it's not all bad! I would recommend trying it. I never made any type of fritter before and it's so easy!

Pear Fritters

1/2 cup milk

1 egg, slightly beaten

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup sour cream

1 cup self rising flour

2 peeled and cored pears

Vegetable oil, for frying

Vanilla ice cream, optional

Confectioners' sugar, optional

Maple syrup, optional (I did not use any)

Whisk together milk, egg, sugar, cinnamon and sour cream. Add flour. Set aside.

Slice the cored pears into rings. Heat the oil in skillet. Dip rings into batter and place in hot oil.

Fry until golden brown.

Top with vanilla ice cream and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, if desired. Drizzle with maple syrup, if desired.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

200th Post - Banana Walnut Bread

I'd like to say thank you for all your kinds words and prayers that you left on my blog regarding my uncle. Even though I've never met any of you I still think of you as my friends and appreciate all your messages. I cannot believe that this is my 200th post!!! I don't think I've ever baked as much as I have since I started this blog 1 1/2 years ago! Many of you know that one of my favorites cakes is banana bread and this one is special to me since it is the recipe that Starbucks uses and it's great! When I visited King's Dominion Amusement Park this summer there was a Starbucks in the park. They had recipe cards they were giving out at their counter with their banana bread recipe. I was thrilled since not only do I love their cafe mocha's but I'm crazy about their banana bread too!

I'm wishing all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving. My husband and I and our son will be heading to the beach for the holidays and I am looking very forward to getting away and walking on the beach (even though it's cold) and visiting different restaurants!!!

Starbucks Banana Walnut Bread

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

1 1/8 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 tbsp buttermilk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3 ripe medium large bananas, mashed

1/2 cup + 1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan and dust with flour.

Blend together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. Mix together the egg, sugar and vegetable oil until combined. Add the flour mixture and when blended add the buttermilk, vanilla and mashed bananas and mix until combined. Fold in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Top batter with remaining 1/3 cup chopped walnuts. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before removing from pan.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Sad Day......

Sorry I haven't posted anything for several days but unfortunately a very precious family member passed away. He was my wonderful Uncle Danny who had been the best uncle anyone could ever ask for. He was much more like a father to me. His death was very unexpected and we thought he would recover from the minor illness that he had. Little did we know he was much more sick than anyone realized and that he would pass within days. My whole family is in shock and I'm hoping you will keep me and my family in your prayers. I hate to have to post such sad news on this blog since it is mainly an upbeat, fun cooking blog but I feel like I "know" many of you and want to share this.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pioneer Woman's Lasagna

I don't know how many of you have the Pioneer Woman Cooks new cookbook, but I can tell you that it is as fantastic as her website is. I've been visiting her blog for close to 2 years now and her recipes have never let me down. I am thrilled to have her book and I just wish she would come to Virginia to do a book signing. Yes, I would wait in line to meet her and I wouldn't wait in line for just anyone....believe me! This lasagna is excellent! I had been been making a different one for several years that I found at allrecipes that is very good but uses so many ingredients. You know those recipes that have about 30 ingredients in them....some ingredients you will never use again? Well, this one is just as good, if not better, with way less ingredients. It even uses cottage cheese instead of ricotta (I am Italian myself and at first had a "hard" time with this), but it doesn't take anything away from how good this is. Please do yourself a favor and make this! It's kid friendly too, at least in this house!

Hey, I wanted to tell you that I am now wireless....a big deal for me. I have a laptop and don't like to venture too much into using it in different ways so I always just used the broadband. I finally decided to try to set up a wireless connection...OMG....You are dealing with a person that has no patience and doesn't understand hardly any computer lingo. Well, it just so happens that my son (yes, my 10 year old son) has a 12 year old friend who is just a whiz at this type of thing. I'll let you guess the rest......but I am wireless!!! Yipee!!!!

Pioneer Woman's Lasgana

1 tablespoon olive oil


10 ounces lasagna noodles

1 pound mozzarella cheese

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 pound hot breakfast sausage (I used Bob Evan's regular breakfast sausage and removed the casings)

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 14.5 ounce cans whole tomatoes

2 6 ounce cans tomato paste

freshly ground black pepper

10 to 12 basil leaves

1/4 cup finely chopped flat parsley

3 cups low fat cottage cheese

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the olive oil and a dash of salt. Cook the lasagna

noodles according to the package directions until al dente. Drain the noodles and lay them flat on a piece of aluminum foil.

Grate the mozzarella cheese and set aside. In a large skillet over medium high heat , saute the hamburger, sausage and garlic until brown. Drain off excess fat. Add the tomatoes with their juice, tomato paste, 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir together well. Simmer over low heat uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cut basil into chiffonade by stacking leaves on top of one another and rolling them tightly, then cutting across. Finely chop the parsley. Add half the herbs to the meat mixture and stir together.

In a medium bowl combine the cottage cheese, eggs, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese and the other half of the herbs. Stir together well.

To Assemble: Begin by laying 4 lasagna noodles in the bottom of a deep rectangular baking pan. The noodles should overlap. (I used no bake noodles and followed the instructions on the box regarding assembling the lasagna...this will differ from what is written in Pioneer Woman's directions for assembly so make sure to follow instructions on the box as written for no bake noodles).

Spoon cottage cheese mixture onto the noodles. Spread to distribute evenly. Sprinkle half the mozzarella on top of the cottage cheese mixture. Spoon just enough of the meat mixture on top of the mozzarella. Spread evenly, being careful not to distrupt the layers below. Now repeat the process, beginnning with a layer of the lasagna noodles followed by the cottage cheese mixture followed by the mozzarella mixture and ending with a thick layer of the meat mixture. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes until lasagna is hot and bubbly. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before cutting into squares.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nutella-Swirl Pound Cake

This is an absolutely fantastic cake. One of the best I have ever had! The Nutella just puts it over the top. I also found myself digging out every little bit of Nutella that was left in the jar after I used it for the cake. I literally licked the spoon clean. Let's just say that I highly recommend making this cake but keeping a close eye on it because it won't last long!

I'm adding some pictures to the post from my recent trip to Sharp Top Mountain. I'm picture here with my youngest son Zach. This was after we hiked up the mountain and were at the very top! I had such a fun day.

I was supposed to go down to Richmond tomorrow to visit my dad and sons and granddaughters but what do they said about the best laid plans never working out? I feel like I'm getting the flu here. I had my H1N1 vaccine last week so who knows what's going on. Maybe it's the plain, old flu or even a different strain. Who knows, it seems everyone is sick these days....

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 stick butter, unsalted, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 jar (13 oz) Nutella

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9x5 in loaf pan, tapping out any excess flour. In a glass measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk the 1 1/2 cups flour with the baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer at medium low speed, gradually beat in the egg mixture until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating at low speed between additions until just incorporated. Continue to beat for 30 seconds longer.

Spread 1/3 of the batter in the prepared pan, then spread half of the Nutell on top. Repeat with another 1/3 of the batter and the remaining Nutella. Top with the remaining batter. Lightly swirl the Nutella into the batter into the batter with a butter knife. Do not overmix.

Bake the cake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack, turn it right side up, and let cool completely, about 2 hours. Cut the cake into slices and serve.

From Food & Wine Magazine

(Has anyone noticed I FINALLY found out how to move my pictures around and not just have them all clustered at the top....oh well, it only took a year and a half!!!!).

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Coconut Bundt Cake

This is a very, very good pound cake recipe. My husband saw The Neely's on the Food Network make this and thought it sounded great. He was right. He certainly does have a knack for picking out good cake recipes! I really love the glaze on this. It has a delicious light pineapple taste and that just balances out the sweetness from the powdered sugar perfectly. Very, very good. I'd like to try this glaze also on some other cakes. I also used unsweetened coconut flakes on top of the cake.

Did you all have a good weekend? We had a great time at the Ham & Oyster Dinner at our church and of course, ate way too much! I also saw my granddaughter who is now 3 1/2 months old and getting bigger every day. Did I tell you she is adorable???!!! I will probably be going down to Richmond again this Friday (only 200 miles round trip). I can't keep away from this little one! I even bought her Christmas outfit already. I will have to take a pic of her in it on Christmas and post it for all of you to see. The selection of clothing for girls is way better than it is for boys. My youngest son is 10 and the selection of clothes in the stores for him is not nearly as great as it is for girls!

Nonstick baking spray, for pan
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
Pineapple glaze, recipe follows
1/2 cup flaked coconut (I used unsweetened)

Preheat over to 350 degrees F.

Spray a Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray and dust with flour

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder.

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Once incorporated, add the extracts. Stir in the coconut milk and beat until combined. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool cake in pan 5 minutes (I waited for 10 minutes) before turning it out onto a rack. Let cool completely on the rack.

Once the cake has cooled, ladle the glaze over the cake and top with flaked coconut. Let glaze set before serving. Transfer the cake to a platter or serving dish and serve.

Pineapple Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons pineapple juice

In a mixing bowl, whisk the powdered sugar and the pineapple juice together until smooth.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Katy's Simply Great Chicken

I only have two words to say about this chicken recipe and that is - make it!!! I found this a few weeks back on Katy's blog, Food for a Hungry Soul. I knew when I saw this that I just had to make it. It's so simple and delicious. All it requires are 1 packet of Good Season's Italian salad dressing mix and brown sugar. Can it get any simpler, no. Can it get any tastier than this, no. Please check out Katy's blog if you haven't already. You will not be disappointed. Her recipes are all terrific and I love reading some of her stories behind them.

This weekend we are going to a Ham & Oyster Dinner that our church has been having for probably at least 60 years! I never had oysters until I had them at church and these are terrific. And get this - all the food is prepared in the church's kitchen. It's like having one terrific home cooked meal. And the desserts are all baked and donated by church members. You know that I save room for that. The church has this twice a year and I literally count the weeks until Ham & Oyster time rolls around again! Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Simply Great Chicken

About 3 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken (I used legs and thighs and simply removed the skin)
1 (.7 ounce) packet of dried Italian dressing mix (I used Good Seasons)
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed (I used light brown)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 9 x 13 inch pan or cover with foil (I used foil and sprayed it with Pam).

Mix together in large bowl dried Italian dressing mix with brown sugar. Coat chicken pieces with this mixture. You may have to really pat this down on the chicken like I did. Don't be afraid to have a thick coating of this on the chicken. It will melt and carmalize somewhat and is so good. Any extra coating that is left just sprinkle on top of chicken.

Bake for 50 to 60 mintes. Pour any juices over chicken. I served rice with this dish.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Praline-Apple Bread

I first saw this bread over at Cookies with Boys. I saw how delicious it looked and knew that with all the apples I had on hand from our mountain trip last month I would be making this. It really is a delicious bread. I brought this to work with me and several of my coworkers wanted the recipe right away.

It's back to school around these parts tomorrow. Thank goodness! My son will have been home from school since last Wednesday! Between our mountain hike and 2 days off this week due to teacher conferences and election day, he has certainly had an extended vacation! We've also both gotten our H1N1 vaccines. I work in a local hospital so I certainly felt I needed one. Normally, I don't even get a flu shot but this virus has me very nervous. My son is also asthmatic so we definitely wanted to make sure he had his. Poor guy, he was a nervous wreck this morning on the way to his doctors to get the shot. He was glad when it was over...and so was I!

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, divided
1 (8 oz container) sour cream
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups finely chopped, peeled Granny Smith apples (about 3/4 pound)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake 1/2 cup pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 6 to 8 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring after 4 minutes.

Beat sour cream and next 3 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until blended.

Stir together flour and next 3 ingredients. Add to sour cream mixture, beating just until blended. Stir in apples and 1/2 cup toasted pecans. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup chopped pecans; lightly press pecans into batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, shielding with aluminum foil after 50 minutes to prevent excesive browning. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack.

Bring butter and brown sugar to a boil in a 1 qt heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly; boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and spoon over top of bread; let cool completely (about 1 hour).

Monday, November 2, 2009

Peaks of Otter

I'm back and I survived (actually did quite well) on the mountain hike with my oldest and youngest son. Peaks of Otter consists of a group of 3 mountain peaks on the Blue Ridge Parkway, outside of Bedford, Virginia. They are Sharp Top, (the one we climbed and the most strenuous) with an elevation of a little over 3800 ft, Flat Top and Harkening Hill. There is also a very nice lodge with a large lake around it. The colors this time of year are beautiful along the parkway. Here is a picture of Sharp Top, the lodge and lake. I'll be back in the next day or so with a recipe. Hope you all had a fun Halloween!