Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats: June 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cappuccino Walnut Scones

I am not a coffee drinker. Never have, and probably never will be.

But, I do love the smell of coffee, walking into a Starbucks or little coffee joint, yes, I do love that smell. Not sure why I don't like the taste? I bet, if I doctored it all up, you know, with cream, sugar, etc., I might like it, but I'd rather take in my calories with food.

Like these scones. I got the recipe from the book I'm reading right now, The Baker's Apprentice. Great read, I high recommend it, along with the prequel before it. I substituted walnuts for the hazelnuts (which I didn't have on hand) and instant cappuccino powder instead of the instant espresso powder (which I also didn't have on hand).

I'm testing these scones out at the farmer's market today. If they are a hit, they'll be back, and maybe some other versions too. I'm thinking blueberry? Or chocolate chip?

Cappuccino Walnut Scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. cinnamon
6 T. butter, very cold, cut into small cubes or shredded frozen with grater
3/4 c. walnuts
2 T. instant cappuccino powder (I used french vanilla)
3/4 c. heavy cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Additional cream and sugar for glaze

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the first five ingredients. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork until pieces are about pea size. Add the walnuts and toss to combine.

In a small bowl, stir the cappuccino powder into the cream until dissolved, add egg just to blend. Add to the flour mixture and stir with a large fork, until just barely combined. Finish by kneading gently with your hands until all dry ingredients are absorbed and the dough can be gathered into a moist ball. Do not over knead.

Set the ball in the center of the baking sheet and pat gently into a round circle, around 1 1/2 in. thick and 7 in. in diameter. With a sharp knife, cut into 8 wedges and gently separate. Brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 18-22 minutes until scones are a deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack.
*These can be frozen, unbaked, and baked without thawing; just allow 5-10 extra minutes of baking time.

I know it sounds like a lot of directions, but trust me, they are easy and come together quickly. I can't wait to try one, as they look delicious!

Have a great hump day everyone!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sweet & Spicy BBQ Turkey Meatloaf


Last night's Bachelorette. That Justin is a real winner, right? In all honesty, it does not surprise me one bit that he would simply go on the show to enhance his wrestling career. Wonder how far he'll get now...

And we can all only hope his "girlfriend" back home gives him the boot.

Yesterday was beautiful here, as is the rest of week according to Mr. Weatherman, so we are looking forward to that at our house! Tomorrow is the farmer's market and Saturday will be spent all day on a boat, on the river...can't get better than that.

Last night for dinner I made meatloaf. Can I first just say, I've never liked meatloaf. I don't remember liking it growing up, nor liking it as an adult, but I've always wanted too. Just how I never used to like oatmeal growing up, but somehow I willed myself to keep trying it and now I love it.

I think that has happened with meatloaf too.

I found a recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook I was reading this weekend, and tweaked it a little to our liking. Here it goes!

Sweet & Spicy BBQ Turkey Meatloaf
1 lb. ground turkey
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c. Italian style breadcrumbs
1/2 c. shredded Swiss cheese
1 t. garlic salt
1/2 of jalapeno pepper, diced (seed the jalapeno, if you want it less spicy)
1 t. pepper
1/2 c. barbecue sauce, additional for topping

In large bowl mix all ingredients with wooden spoon or hands, until just combined. Do not over mix. Place in loaf form, in an 8x8 baking pan. Spoon additional barbecue sauce on top of meatloaf. Bake in an 375 degree oven for 40 minutes.

Surprisingly, this was a HIT. Even the husband who remembers "gagging and washing down meatloaf as a child with a glass of water", loved it. There was not a piece left!

And, as a special treat (which usually doesn't happen during the week), I pulled out the one and only Strawberry Rhubarb Dump Cake I didn't sell last week from the freezer, and we had a serving of that with homemade whipped cream.

Yep, I took an egg white and beat the living _____ out of it in my Kitchen Aid for around 8 minutes, until soft peaks formed and a pinch of sugar was added. Not to shabby!

What meal did you hate as a child?

Monday, June 28, 2010

GIANT Snickerdoodles

Did y'all have a nice weekend? For the most part it only rained here during the night, so we were able to spend a lot of time outside - grilling, playing and even for a little outing yesterday to a Mexican restaurant for lunch. We both ate so much, neither of us had that is saying something.

Little man has a new love for blueberries. We ate a lot of those outside this keeps him entertained when those restless evening hours hit (all you mothers out there know what I mean!)

We also grilled one of our favorite easy meals on Saturday - marinated chicken and roasted potatoes.

And I spent some time reading and bookmarking this book I checked out at the library. The best of Better Homes and Garden's 2009 recipes. It first caught my eye for the cake on the cover - holy delicious! But, also because last year before we moved I worked part time at the Meredith headquarters, where they publish Better Homes and Gardens, along with many other popular magazines. Even though I only spent 6 months there, I still feel like I have a little bit of a connection:)

Anyone else a geek like me and read cookbooks for fun? I'm sure many of my friends are just rolling their eyes right about now...

For today's recipe, this is one I made last week for the farmer's market. Nothing better than picking up an individually wrapped cookie at the market for a small (or big) snack later, right?

GIANT Snickerdoodles
1 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar, plus 2 T. additional
2 eggs
2 3/4 c. flour
2 t. cream of tarter
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon

Cream butter, sugar, eggs in a mixer until fluffy. Add other remaining ingredients (minus the 2 T. sugar and 2 t. cinnamon) and combine. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. With a large spoon or ice cream scoop, form into 2 inch balls. Roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture and place on greased baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes or just until golden. Cool on wire rack. Do not over bake - these are much better a little chewy than crispy.

Ta da! An easy cookie for your family, a bake sale, etc. as they hold up well, when wrapped individually in plastic wrap. I never said these were don't dog me on the ingredients! It didn't matter to me though...I'm selling them to other folks, so they can get fat.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Chicken Florentine Spaghetti

First off congrats to one of my friends Tiffany (or Biff, as I like to call her), her and her husband had their baby boy in the wee hours this morning! Your world is now forever changed Biff!


So yesterday our dryer died and I pulled weeds for a couple of hours. Two horrible things in my opinion. My hamstrings are aching this morning! I need to get back out there after reading group at the library today and finish.

I will just say this once - I hate weeding flower beds. I like how flowers look, smell, etc., but I cannot stand weeding or the maintenance. If I had the money for a gardener, I would glady invest.

After my day yesterday, I came in last night and made a new dish. I saw it on Taylor's blog, greens and chocolate. I have come to love reading her recipes, and I believe she is a fellow Iowa girl.

You can find the recipe here. The only change I made was adding a little swiss cheese to the dish, because I only had about half of the parmesan cheese it recommended. And, the husband, ate some of my fresh spinach, so I could only add about a cup and a half, but it still turned out great!

I also tried this new pasta, as I had a coupon for a $1 off. Anyone had this?

This is a great dish. Light, yet creamy and oh so delicious. I'm thinking it will be great leftover for lunch later today as well.
Well, I'm off - it's Friday! And a beautiful day as well - sun is shining and I need to get outside!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chicken Salad Cheddar Melts

Little man and I came home yesterday looking like two drowned rats. I could have probably passed for a love torn ex-girlfriend who has just gotten dumped. The mascara was dripping down my face and the curls were out of control.

Needless to say, we got about 30 minutes of the market in before the downpour came once again, tornado sirens were blaring, and we were heading home. Oh well, there is always next week!

So, last week my friend Lisa sent me an email asking for my chicken salad recipe. I guess I was supposed to send it to her, like ages ago, but I forgot, so I sent it to her before I would forget again. That got me thinking that we hadn't had homemade chicken salad in a long time, and my visit to the Candy Kitchen a few weeks back made me only want it even more.

I always like a sandwich toasted or in panini form, just seems better? So that is what we made, Chicken Salad Cheddar Melts. This is an easy dinner as you can make the salad up the night before as it only gets better sitting in the fridge!

Chicken Salad Cheddar Melts (makes 4 sandwiches)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c. mayo
3 T. mustard
1 T. dill pickle relish
1 T. dill, plus an additional 1 t. dill for sauce
sliced cheddar cheese
whole wheat bread

Place chicken breasts in a saucepan and cover with water. Add 1 T. dill to cooking water and bring to a boil. Then turn down to a simmer and cook until chicken is firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Removed chicken and place in bowl to cool. Meanwhile mix other ingredients and set aside.

When chicken is cool, shred with fork, or dice into chunks. Mix with dressing and chill. Can be eaten cold in salads, or pressed between two slices of whole wheat bread with cheddar cheese for sandwiches or melts.

The dill is what does it for me in these melts. It just brings the chicken to a whole new level. Try it!

And I promise, one day, if I ever get a new camera, the pictures will do it justice:)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Dump Cake


We had the sirens going off at 4:30 a.m. this morning and since then the rain has just kept on, keeping on. It's looking like I won't be making the market, unless it clears up soon.

Regardless, I did make a dessert yesterday that I haven't made in a long time. An old co-worker (Hi, Bridget!) gave me this recipe, and it is so easy. It's called a dump cake, because that is what you do "dump" everything into the pan.

You don't even stir it!

It's been a challenge keeping it away from the husband, so let's all say a silent prayer I make it to the market, otherwise he'll feel like he needs to eat it.

Strawberry Rhubarb Dump Cake
4-5 c. chopped rhubarb
1 c. sugar
1 pkg. strawberry jello
1 box yellow cake mix
1 1/4 c. water
1/2 c. melted butter

Spray 9x13 pan (or two 8x8 pans, like I did) and layer ingredients in order they are listed. Do not mix! Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Your house will smell like strawberry shortcake. I'm imagining whipped cream or ice cream accompanying this dish! As always...everything in moderation, one small bite of this will NOT put you over the edge.

It will just make you feel better.
What is your go to dessert?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Crispy Sweet Potato Fries

Agenda today if jammed packed! Heading to Iowa City for a meet-up with a dear friend (an old college roommate!) and her daughter. Our kids are only 5 days apart...

Maybe their marry each other someday?

Then back home to make strawberry rhubarb dump cake, spinach artichoke dip, giant snickerdoodles, and english muffin bread, all for the farmer's market tomorrow. Full day!

But, first - crispy sweet potato fries. If you want a healthier alternative to your regular oven baked fries, these are it. I'll be honest, the very first time I even had a sweet potato was a few years ago when I was in Orlando for work and we had dinner at Ruth Chris Steakhouse. Now, their sweet potato dish is by NO means healthy, but it's heavenly, loaded with butter, pecans, brown sugar, cream, the list goes on and on.

But, that is where I fell in love.

Try these the next time you need a side. They showed up this week at our house, when we grilled turkey brats.

Crispy Sweet Potato Fries
1 large sweet potato
olive oil
garlic salt

Wash and peel sweet potato. Cut into skinny shoestring "fries". Try and make sure they are relatively the same size, so they'll cook evenly. Toss with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings. Place on baking sheet, making sure not to overlap or touch.

Bake at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until crispy. Turn halfway through, so they get crispy on both sides.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day Feast: Spicy Shrimp, Tomato & Sausage Kabobs

I modeled our Father's Day dinner after this cover of Bon Appetit magazine. In the end, mine probably didn't look as pretty as this photograph, but they sure tasted good!

The husband loves shrimp, and we don't eat it at, ever. So, I thought I'd be nice and pick up a bag of it (on sale for $4!) the other day when I was at the store. I highly recommend this recipe when you are stick of grilling the same old burger and brat this summer.

Spicy Shrimp, Tomato & Sausage Kabobs
grape tomatoes
sausage (I used Al Fresco's sun dried tomato & asiago links)
2 c. italian dressing
2 T. fresh garlic
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
wooden or metal screwers

Assemble shrimp, tomatoes and sausage on screwers. In large dish, that can fit all kabobs, pour in 1 c. of italian dressing, garlic and red pepper flakes. Lay in screwers and toss to coat. Pour remaining 1 c. dressing on top. Cover with lid and marinate.

I marinated mine all day, but you could easily do this overnight or just for a few hours.

Grill for 4-5 minutes a side on super hot grill.

We enjoyed this with a mix of a spinach and iceberg lettuce salad, and dessert! I went the easy route and baked a heart shaped chocolate chip cookie. Gosh, the husband is so particular about his "chocolate chip cookies". He likes them with minimal chocolate chips, kinda doughy, and when in bar form eats all the ones out of the center and leaves the edges.

Guess what? He claimed dessert was "the best I had ever made". Little did he know it was simply the Nestle Toll House recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag. Ha - reminds me of Friends, when Pheobe thought she had her grandma's winning recipe, when all along it was from Nestle Toll House!

And he did eat out the whole center, leaving another heart cut-out in the middle. Boys.

So, that was our night, hope yours was just as good! I get a little "me" time later today to head to the library and work on some writing projects.......enjoy your Monday!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Weekend Fun & Eats

First off, Happy Father's Day! The husband has to work ALL day, bummer. So, I plan on making him a nice meal (including dessert!) for later tonight when he gets home.

Also, a BIG thank you, to my great friend Pam, for adjusting my banner at the top of this page, so it doesn't look so out-of-sorts. I did a little rearranging with the page last week, and it finally looks put back together!

This weekend, so far, has been spent with family and lots of time in the sun! Friday night we had dinner at Osaka, a Japanese Steak House. Holy yum. It had been way too long since I had sushi, and thankfully they provided.

Word of caution - 9 month olds DO NOT like the fireball explosions at these places!!!

Yesterday little man and I had to pick up a few things at Menards (or should I say, more like the husband gave me a list...), and guess what was on sale for $6.88?

A pool! Just his size! If the rain stays away, I'm sure we'll be back in it today.

Oh, and the dogs loved it too.

Have a great Father's Day everyone!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Produce Haul

Minus the torrential downpour/straight line winds/sirens that were ear-numbing, my trip to the grocery store this afternoon wasn't too bad.

You'd be surprised how many shoppers took off when the storm came rolling in. Me? No, I wasn't about to leave a full cart of goodies. You have to have priorities. Some people save their purse, their children, I save my produce.

Pretty good haul. Does having fresh produce stockpiled just "make" you want to eat better? It does for me.

Today's stash consisted of:
grape tomatoes
sweet potatoes
baby red potatoes
iceberg lettuce

I think we are set for awhile. Some of this produce will be used in some new recipes this coming week. Think - spicy shrimp, tomato and sausage kabobs, chicken florentine pasta, and sweet potato fries.

My stomach is rumbling just thinking about it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Honey Wheat English Muffin Bread

My mom is probably cringing reading this right now, as her exact words were, "I tried to make the english muffin bread with whole wheat flour and it just didn't taste good".

Well, I proved her wrong.

I think the trick to changing something to a healthier version, is to still put a little indulgence in it. In this case, still a little white flour and some honey.

Mom, it was good - in fact great! I even sold some at the market yesterday. By the way, it was another great, HOT, day there. I need to invest in a tent! I added peach and blackberry jam to my collection, along with the tried and true spinach artichoke dip and english muffin bread.

Honey Wheat English Muffin Bread
2 pkg. yeast
1 T. sugar
2 c. milk
1/2 c. water
3 T. honey
3 c. whole wheat flour
3 c. regular flour
2 t. salt
1/4 t. baking soda

Heat liquids and add to dry ingredients - mix well. Put into two greased loaf pans. Let rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

You need to try this bread. Treat it just like you would an english muffin, slice and toast it nice and dark. Spread with butter and jam, and the world is perfect in my opinion.

Our dinner was simple last night - scrambled eggs (farm fresh!) with cheese and diced ham, along with this bread. Yum, yum.

Today, the husband is working a later shift, and little man and I are off to visit some family halfway between our two towns - at McDonald's none-the-less, not for the food, but for the playhouse.

I might need Tylenol before the afternoon is over.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Winners of Organic Valley Giveaways!

Thank you for all that entered my Organic Valley Giveaway last week. I have two very lucky winners!

(1) - Winner of 4 tickets to the Kickapoo Country Fair is...Autumn of Good Eats Girl! Autumn, I hope you can find it in your summer plans to make a short trip up to WI, even though you recently moved, I believe you are still within driving distance? It should be a good time!

(2) - Winner of 5 coupons to try Organic Valley products is...Fresh Local & Best! Enjoy these free products!

Girls, please email me your shipping address to so we can get your prizes sent out!

Everyone have a happy hump day! We are off for little man's 9 month doctor appointment, along with the market later this afternoon. And guess what? The sun is finally shining!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Chip Bars

***Last day to enter my Organic Valley Giveaway!***

Before I start talking food, can we have a moment for The Bachelorette last night? Wow. Man, this show sucks me in!

What is with crazy Casey as I like to call him? He is weird, obsessed, and just plain odd. And Ali still gave him a rose! Wow.

My front runners are Roberto and Kirk. But, I'm a little worried as the preview for next week shows Kirk with Ali, divulging a secret of his....Who do you like?

Another dreary day here - this needs to stop! But, thankfully that gives me the non-guilt feeling of being in the kitchen and not being outside, for at least part of the day. Today I am making a batch of peach and black raspberry freezer jam and some homemade english muffin bread for the market tomorrow. Hopefully it all turns out!

For today's delicious dessert, Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Chips Bars...I took this dessert to a party we went to last Friday night. Very easy to put together, and another great bar recipe from this book.

Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Chip Bars
2 pkg. chocolate chip cookie dough (or your own homemade recipe, doubled)
1 1/2 c. peanut butter
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In greased 9x13 pan, press down one package of the cookie dough for the bottom layer. In a small bowl, mix together peanut butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. When smooth, spread on bottom layer. Break apart remaining package of cookie dough and cover the peanut butter layer.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Cool on wire rack for 30 minutes, then put in the fridge for 1 hour to set. Cut into bars and enjoy!

I will say that someone in this house, I won't name names, made this into a chocolate chip, peanut butter, ice cream concoction the other night, and it was declared "next best to that place that sells Blizzards".

Just sayin'.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Crock pot BBQ Pork

It's pouring once again. Which means another day inside. We are saturated here - make it stop! Thank god for dogs that entertain the little man, and good books that entertain mom when he's napping.

So on to last night's meal, Iowa is the land of pork (and corn). Hog heaven. Since, we've got these little buggers running around everywhere, pork has a tendency to go on sale a lot. When I saw this pork roast on sale for $4.00 I knew it'd fit right in our dinner.

This crock pot meal is one the easiest ever, and in fact I believe I posted about it when I first started this blog, but it is worth it to post again.

It is that good.

We had it last night with twice baked potatoes and our-ever-so-faithful roasted garlic asparagus.

Crock pot BBQ Pork
pork roast or butt (I used a 4 lb. roast)
1 can diet soda
bbq sauce of your choice
seasoning of your choice (I used garlic salt and chili powder)

Cover roast in seasonings and place in crock pot. Pour in soda and drizzle with bbq sauce. Cook on low for 4-6 hours, until meat is tender and able to shred with fork. Serve on a kaiser roll.

Yum! This meat is also great as leftovers, as it just tastes better the next day. Trust me, you'll forget that you are eating a "butt".

***Don't forget to enter my giveaway!***

Friday, June 11, 2010

Two Giveaways from Organic Valley!

I was recently contacted by Heidi, and the nice folks over at Organic Valley, about hosting a giveaway for some of their products -AND- 4 tickets to their 7th annual Kickapoo Country Fair organic food festival. For those that live in the area (La Farge, Wisconsin) or other Midwesterners this is a great opportunity!
So, here's the scoop:

Two Giveaways!

(1) 4 tickets to attend the fair on July 24-25th (a $40 value). This a weekend full of delicious organic food, cooking demonstrations, live music, readings by renowned authors, bike and farm tours, theater, kids’ activities, and dancing – all offered at an affordable price for families. You can find the ticket information and event schedule at, or see the press release and download the schedule.

(2) For those not in the Midwest or who cannot attend, Organic Valley has graciously offered to giveaway five coupons for free Organic Valley products (a $50 value), and an Organic Valley packable shopping bag.

Is this great or what?

So, here's how to enter the two SEPARATE giveaways:

1. For the tickets to the Kickapoo Country Fair, simply leave me a comment saying why you'd like to attend or by befriending Kickapoo Country Fair or Organic Valley on Facebook. That is 3 separate chances....if you're counting.

2. For the free Organic Valley products, simply leave me a comment telling me your favorite Organic Valley product, a product you'd like to try, or by befriending Organic Valley on Facebook. Again, that is 3 separate chances!

This giveaway will be open until 8:00 a.m. CST, Wednesday, June 16th, where I will pick two random winners, one for the Kickapoo Country Fair tickets and one for the Organic Valley products.

Please, tell all your friends in Wisconsin or surrounding states who would like to attend this one-of-a-kind festival - it sounds like a blast!

Good Luck!!!
*Disclaimer - Organic Valley contacted me about hosting this giveaway, I am not getting compensation for hosting this giveaway.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Candy Kitchen, Market and Upcoming Giveaway!

So yesterday was filled with a great day at the market, visiting the local candy kitchen for lunch and an easy, simple dinner.

Doesn't get much better than that.

My mom, little man and I visited the local candy kitchen for lunch. Now, this place has been in business since the 1860's. Yes, it is known to be the oldest candy/soda fountain shop in the nation. And they are still going strong!

George Nopoulos, one of the owners, was there to serve us a tasty grilled chicken salad sandwich, along with a scoop of his homemade butter brickle ice cream. We all three enjoyed!

Here's little man and I sitting in an old-timed booth. Please take note, it was hot and humid, therefore my hair goes curly...

After lunch, I headed to the farmer's market, and it was a great day! Beautiful weather, nice people, and LOTS of jam sold. All in all, a great day. I even had a request to make sugar-free or Splenda made jam - anyone know how to do this?

After sweating buckets at the market, getting home and putting everything away, we decided on a simple supper of CPK's White Pizza, salad and fruit. My idea of a simple, easy and yummy supper.

I hope everyone has a great Thursday (weekend is almost here!) and you have to check back tomorrow for a great GIVEAWAY from the folks over at Organic Valley. You don't want to miss it!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Strawberry & Raspberry Jam Fest

My mom and I have been up to our ears in jam since yesterday. But it was a success! I do think, however, all 1000 sq. ft. of our humble mansion seems to be covered in a sticky mess.

When you work with fruit and sugar, it just happens.

We used the tried and true recipe that my mom has been making for YEARS. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

You can find this freezer jam recipe here. Don't be intimidated. Freezer jam is so easy. I think we made around 30 jars in under 3 hours. Personally, I will always make freezer jam, as you do not have to mess with cooking the fruit, canning, etc.

But, if that is your sort of thing, by all means...

Obviously, my jam will be making an appearance at the market later today. Wish me luck!

We also enjoyed a pretty good meal last night of baked pasta, roasted garlic asparagus, bread sticks, and vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberries.

The baked pasta I threw together the night before consisted of this - whole wheat pasta, organic Bertolli tomato and basil spaghetti sauce, ricotta cheese, parmesan, garlic, parsley and topped with mozzarella. So easy.

Well, I am off to get ready for the market later today - BY MYSELF. Yep, have grandma as a babysitter so I'm rather excited.

It's the little things.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pizzeria Style Semi-Whole Wheat Crust

Better late, than never.

As most of my followers know, my posts are usually up and running before many of you are out of bed. Well, today blogger was "down" and it is finally back "up". Thanks for waiting for me!

I hope everyone had a nice weekend. Ours was filled with friends, wine, beer, and lots of yummy food. Can't beat that!

So, I stole this recipe from Meg, over at Be Fit, Be Full. She has a great blog, if you don't already follow her. Those east coast girls seem to have endless places to visit, eat at, and in general just have a good time!

Don't get me wrong, I love the Midwest, but we all know everything travels so SLOW to get here in the middle of the country. Hence, why Iowa is just know getting their first Trader Joes.

I made homemade pizza last night - which is usually our Friday night or Sunday night meal. Those are the two nights during the week where I don't feel like cooking anything elaborate. Therefore, pizza it is.

Pizzeria Style Semi-Whole Wheat Crust
2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 T. olive oil
1 1/3 c. warm water
1 pkg. yeast
1/2 t. salt

Combine water and yeast and let sit for a few minutes. Stir in salt and flour and mix on medium high for 5 minutes (I used my Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook). Drizzle in olive oil while it is mixing. When soft and elastic, remove from bowl and cover with more olive oil. Put back in the mixing bowl, cover with a dish towel and let it rise for 1 hour.

After it has risen, punch down and divide in half (this makes two pizzas). I froze the other half, as it was just the hubby and I eating last night. With oiled hands stretch dough to cover pizza pan. Top with sauce, toppings and cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

This crust is SO GOOD. It gets nice and crispy, which reminds me so much of many restaurant pizzas...but right in my own home.

I also used my homemade pizza sauce, which made it all that much better. I'm just saying...

What is your favorite pizza topping?

In our house it is usually mushrooms, Canadian bacon, black olives and sometimes some peppers. Can't seem to venture away from that combo!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Farmer's Market Recap

There are many mornings, where I cannot think of a darn thing to write, let alone make it interesting for y'all. So bare with me this morning.

Little man is getting into a really bad habit of getting up EARLY. Like 5:30 a.m. early. Therefore, my brain still isn't turned on it seems.

Regardless, I am going to do my best giving you a recap of the farmer's market on Wednesday. I apologize in advance if my words sound scrambled....

For those of you that don't know, this past Wednesday was my first day selling at the local farmer's market. I am doing this, well, for something to do. I figured what the heck, I like to bake and cook, and it only requires a little prep work on Tuesday and being at the stand for two hours on Wednesday.

Now, the town I live in is small, hence why there is currently only two vendors at the market. But, I have been promised more come as the season moves along - let's hope!

Here was just a sampling of my menu:

The dip and salsa were the main attractions I must say, so they'll be making a comeback for sure. Next week my mom is coming for a few days and we are literally having a jam fest. We will be up to our ears in freezer jam, so that will be making an appearance at my booth as well.

I will give myself one word of advice - SUNSCREEN! It had been raining earlier in the day and cloudy, so I didn't even think of putting on sunscreen, but low and behold the clouds cleared and that sun came out in full force later, leaving my left arm burnt to a crisp.

Live and learn.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. We are supposed to be boating again tomorrow, but it looks like rain is in the picture....we'll see.

Happy Anniversary to my mom and dad today - how many years is it????

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Baja Fresh Salsa

Well, let me just say Miss Biggest Diabetic Loser really knew what she was talking about when she said this is a good salsa.

She sent it to me awhile back and I finally got around to making it yesterday, and selling it at the farmer's market.

I wonder if she wants a cut? Hope not.

I love a good fresh salsa. As you know, I'm a little of a salsa snob, when it comes to the jarred varieties. So, put me in a Mexican restaurant with some good chips and a fresh batch, and it's all downhill from there. I've been known to make that my meal...

You NEED to try this recipe. I take that back, you HAVE to try this recipe. It is that good. I'll be making batches every week from here on out. Hopefully my garden starts producing so all I'll need to do is head to my backyard for the ingredients!

Baja Fresh Salsa
7 firm tomatoes (I used Roma)
1 jalapeno pepper
1/4 onion
1 clove garlic
1 t. salt
1/2 c. fresh cilantro
juice of 1 lime

Toss tomatoes, pepper, onion and garlic with some olive oil. On an indoor grill pan or outdoor barbecue grill until charred. Turning every 10 minutes or so.

Place all ingredients into the food processor and blend until you've reached your desired consistency (mine was pretty smooth - the way I like it!). Chill until ready to serve.

This salsa was a hit at the market yesterday. I only came back home with one container, and that was eaten in one sitting by the husband. Full recap of the market to come tomorrow!

Oh, and before I forget - did you hear? Trader Joe's in coming to West Des Moines, Iowa! I still have never been to this store, but I've heard great things!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Most Requested Dip: Spinach & Artichoke

What a rainy, yucky day to start off this Wednesday. And it's the first day of the farmer's market for me none-the-less! Ugh.

We'll see how it goes, I'll be sure to report on it tomorrow - stay tuned!

So, I have been making this dip for as long as I can remember. I think I first came upon it in a church potluck recipe book I have, but since then I've tweaked it to my liking.

Many, many, many times I am asked to bring this dip for work gatherings (when I worked in an office) or over to friend's houses. I prefer it baked, so the cheeses get all gooey and melty, but I guess you can eat it cold too (if you want to, that is).

Spinach Artichoke Dip
1 box frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
1 can artichoke hearts, diced
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
1 c. shredded mozzarella, fontina or monterrey jack cheese
1 clove garlic, minced

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and place in an 8x8 baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until brown and bubbly.

Serve with a good quality toasted bread, pita chips or veggies. Shockingly, I prefer the warm, toasted bread!

This is also good slathered on grilled sandwiches, or even a BLT. To-die-for.

Have a great hump day!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Oatmeal Carmelitas

We had a few friends over yesterday for a traditional Memorial Day barbecue, which of course always means good food!

Too much good food. I think I'm still stuffed this morning.

Regardless, I made dessert from this great cookbook. You can't go wrong with a recipe from this book, as each recipe has been a winner at some point in the annual Pillsbury Bake-Offs. This one was the winner way back in 1967!

Long time ago, but still a great recipe.

Oatmeal Carmelitas
Base: 2 cups flour, 2 cups oats, 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, 1 t. baking soda, 1/2 t. salt, 1 1/4 c. butter, softened

Filling: 1 jar caramel topping, 3 T. flour, 1 c. chocolate chips, 1/2 chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9x13 pan. In large bowl, beat all base ingredients on low speed until crumbly. Reserve half of mixture for topping and press remaining crumb mixture in bottom of pan.

Bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile in a small bowl, mix caramel topping with 3 T. flour.

Sprinkle nuts and chocolate chips over partially baked base. Drizzle evenly with caramel mixture, then sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake another 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely for an hour, then place in fridge for another 1-2 hours until filling is set. Remove from fridge and store in a tightly covered container.

There you have it - oatmeal carmelitas! Fun to say, right?

Well, I'm off to spend the day in the kitchen and outside as the high is 87! Hopefully everyone is recovering from yesterday...