Friday, November 22, 2013

Moving to Wordpress!

It's official I am making the leap!  I have moved over to wordpress! Please check out my new site location at

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sour Cream Citrus Pound Cake

A few mere days ago, my biggest views per day number was 65 and I had hoped that maybe someday soon I would hit 100. I figured a reasonable goal. Well I am so proud to say that thanks to all of you coming over from foodgawker, because I have hit well over 700 now in one day! And of course that got me a little sentimental and made me start looking back through my blog posts. I went back to my very first recipe I posted and (gasp!) will you believe I didn't put a picture with it? Nope. Not one photo. Not even a quick camera shot from my phone! So I figured it was high time we got a photo of what I have come to believe is the best pound cake I have put to my lips.  Seriously, folks, I can't stress to you just how good this cake is. I finally present to you (with photo) my sour cream citrus pound cake.

This cake is light and bursting with fresh citrus flavor. I think what sets this cake over the edge is the tangy yet sweet lemon icing.  This cake is a citrus pound cake and not a lemon pound cake, because this cake is made with the zest of a lemon, lime, AND orange! If zesting is new to you, a microplane makes quick work and leaves you with pretty small ribbons of citrus.  You want the colorful outer rind, but be careful not to zest down too far. You don't want the white pith (that bitter part of the citrus right under the zest).  Pith make not a flavorful anything! The zest is where all the beautiful citrus oils are hanging out and provides a punch of citrus flavor.

I made this cake in a bundt pan this time, but generally I make it in two loaf pans. The bundt pan was great for presentation, but I think the loaf pans allow for more cake to icing ratio.  So if I were you make it in a loaf pan if you are like me and live for the sweet gooey icing.  If presentation is what you are going for, you could always make more icing!  This cake make a great Christmas present for family members, co-workers, the mailman, whoever is on your list.  I made it for my co-workers last year and it was well received and got the stamp of approval statement of "I must have that recipe."

So, now after what has been technically two years (with a whole lot of stops and starts in there). I present to you my first recipe post finally with picture! Thanks to all who have visited, read, and hopefully you will visit again.

Sour Cream Citrus Pound Cake with Lemon Glaze
From Cambridge School of Culinary Arts
from Boston Girl Bakes
Ingredients for Cake:
1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4  cups sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
Grated zest of 1 orange, 1 lemon, 1 lime
1. Sift dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
2.  In another bowl, combine grated orange, lemon, and lime zests, vanilla extract and sour cream.
3. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.   Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the mixing bowl well after each addition and mix until blended.  Add dry and wet ingredients alternately to butter-sugar-egg mixture until uniformly incorporated- do not overmix.
4. Grease and flour one bundt cake pan (or 2 large loaf pans- or 6-7 mini loaf pans).  Pour batter into pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for approximately 50 minutes (be sure to lower the baking time if you are making things smaller).  The cake is done when a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool before glazing.

Lemon Glaze
1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon zest

Mix all ingredients until smooth.  Pour over top of cake and serve.  For a thicker glaze use less lemon juice.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

10 minute steel cut oats

I know it may sound boring, but I love steel cut oats. No, really I do. Steel cut oats unless you are unfamiliar with them are actually the inner oat kernel (or groats- thank you Wikipedia!) cut into small pieces. They are generally used in Scotland for porridges, whereas rolled oats are more of a British thing (or basically what I grew up on).  Steel cut oats are less processed (i.e. healthier for you as well!) , and because of this requires a much longer cooking time. I think a lot of people (and I am totally putting myself in this category) shy away from steel cut oats because of the time they take to cook.  This recipe is a brilliant solution to the problem of "I just don't have time to cook steel cut oats!".  Thank you, Cook's Illustrated. You have done it again.

This post is more of a how-to then follow an exact recipe. Steel cut oats can be made the day of, but take about 30 to 40 minutes to make. (I know, 40 minutes!?) Ain't nobody got time for that. (ok I just had to say that.) This recipe cuts the time to a mere 10 minutes from boil to bowl. Now that I got time for! It does however, require you soaking the oats overnight. So it does require a little forethought. But, hey, it saves me a half hour in the morning. I'm all for that.

You start by boiling 3 cups water and once it is boiling, take the pot off the heat and stir in your oats.  To cook steel cut oats, it's a rule of thumb to follow a 4:1 liquid to oat ratio. We will let the oats soak in the hot boiling water overnight, and add in that last cup of liquid the morning of. Easy, peasy. The next morning, add in your last cup of liquid. Now here is where you can be as creative as you want. I added water (to save a few calories), but milk definitely adds more flavor and some richness.  Then go ahead in fresh or dried fruit, spices, nuts, or whatever you want. Sky's the limit here! I added in cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, two grated apples, raspberries, honey, and pecans. Like, I said, add in whatever floats your boat.

Here are some great steel cut oatmeal recipes I found online from some of my favorite bloggers and I think they are worth a look. All the recipes could be adapted to use the 10-minute cooking method.

10 minute Steel Cut Oats
From Cook's Illustrated
Note:  Cook's Illustrated notes that the oats will continue to thicken as it cools.  If it becomes a little too thick for your liking, thin it out with a little boiling water until it reaches your desired consistency.

3 cups water
1 cup steel cut oats
1 cup of another liquid (you could you more water or any type of milk you like)

Add Ins:
Fresh fruit cut up (I grated in two apples and raspberries
Nuts (I used pecans)
Spices (Cinnamon and Nutmeg add great flavor!)
Sweetness (Brown sugar is ideal, but I used raw honey and stevia)

1.  The night before, prepare a pot with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil.
2. When the water is boiling, remove from heat and stir in the oats.
3. Cover and let sit overnight.
4. The next morning, add in your 1 cup of liquid, and any add-ins you like and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium, and continue to stir for about 4-6 minutes until it resembles warm pudding and the oats still retain some chewiness to them in texture.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bacon and Cheese Strata

A couple days ago I posted those easy caramel pecan sticky rolls. And I was so excited because I submitted them to foodgawker and they helped me get to my first time viewing number of over 250!! Before that, I had an all time one day blog viewing number of 65, so you can imagine how excited I was to see a number of 100, 200, 300! Thank you foodgawker and pinterest! (I even now have an official "foodgawker" logo on the side of my blog.) I'm feeling pretty legit today folks! Well today I am presenting another fabulous brunch recipe for you to make for those holiday breakfasts that are fast approaching. It's perfect for those overnight holiday guests.  (I should know, I am one every holiday!)  This one is for those savory at heart- a bacon and cheese strata. A what-a? A strata!  A strata if you are unfamiliar is a layered breakfast casserole of scrumptious items like bread, eggs, and cheese.  Think savory bread pudding.

This dish is extremely versatile as well.  It adapts well to adding in whatever meats, cheese, herbs, and veggies you feel like adding in or happen to have on hand.  It's a great pantry clean out recipe.  I happen to have bacons and onion to add in, Monterey jack and cheddar cheeses to sprinkle on, and fresh thyme that was rapidly approaching its expiration date.  (Let me tell you, though, the fresh earthy thyme gave this dish that little something extra to it)

Ok so this dish was adapted from a cooking light recipe.  Yeah, ok I totally took the light out of this recipe.  You can definitely put it back in if you want to feel a little less guilty this holiday season.  You could use turkey bacon.  You could add in some vegetables.  You could use egg substitute or egg whites. could not and do what I did which was say bring on the full fat comfort food version!

Bacon and Cheese Strata
Adapted from Cooking Light
*  1 loaf of French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 7 cups)                 
*  2 tablespoons butter
*  2 cups chopped onion
*  Cooking spray
*  1 1/2 cups cheese (I used Monterey jack and cheddar)
*  8 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
*  3 cups low-fat milk
*  12 eggs
*  2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
*  1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
*  1/4 teaspoon salt


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Arrange bread in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until toasted. 
3. Place bread cubes in a large bowl.
4. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions to pan and sauté for 10 minutes or until tender.
5.  Add onion mixture to bread and toss well to combine.
6.  Arrange half of bread mixture in a 13 x 9 baking dish coated with cooking spray.
7.  Sprinkle with half of the cheese and half of the bacon.  Top with remaining bread mixture, cheese, and bacon.
8.  Combine milk and the next 4 ingredients, stirring with a whisk.  Pour milk mixture over bread mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours (or overnight).
9.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
10.  Remove strata from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.  Bake strata, covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until set.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Easy Overnight Caramel Pecan Rolls

I present for you an easy and scrumptious brunch recipe that will get you rave reviews and have you saying, "Oh this dish? It was nothing!" I present to you caramel pecan sticky rolls. As the holidays approach, time gets even more precious and schedules more hectic it seems like the last thing in the world you might have is time to make sticky buns. Trust me, these rolls are a cinch to put together. And the best part, they can be prepared in a snap the day before. 
These rolls start with frozen bread rolls. Hence, the easy part. There is no fussing around with yeast, and rise time, and curse words when it doesn't quite rise right. Come, on admit we have all been there. Just let the rolls thaw out, and bam! Place them on a bed of pecans.

Once the rolls are ready. It's time to prepare the caramel sauce that will get poured over them.  Nothing could be easier than this. It requires vanilla pudding and butterscotch pudding mixes. Just be careful, don't get the instant kind. It has to be the cook and serve kind. I have no scientific explanation as to why this is. But just get the cook and serve kind. You're welcome.  This sauce started to seize up on me a little. If this happens to you, just keep stirring. Just keep stirring. It will eventually smooth out. Once it is all smooth, go ahead and drizzle that scrumptious sauce over all those rolls. Cover, refrigerate. Sleep. Done.

The next day, take the rolls out and let them sit on the counter for a few minutes to come back to room temperature.  Let your oven pre-heat, and when your oven is ready these will be ready to be popped in.  Easy. Peasy. Lemon squeezy.

I'm telling you, these rolls are fluffy and insanely delicious.  And so you didn't make the dough from scratch. Who cares, don't hesitate to rake in all the compliments when you get them. And trust me, you will get them.

The hardest part of these rolls, trying to resist eating them all!  

Like, seriously look all that ooey, gooey caramel-ness going on in that picture.  I think it's time I go eat another one. Diet starts...tomorrow.

Easy Overnight Caramel Pecan Rolls
Adapted slightly from Sweet Anna's
Print this recipe!

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
24 frozen bread rolls (2 bags of 12 rolls each), thawed
1 1/4 cups butter
1 regular package vanilla pudding mix (cook, not instant!)
1 regular package butterscotch pudding mix (cook, not instant!)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk or cream

Grease a 9×13″ or larger baking dish with lots of butter.  Sprinkle the chopped pecans into the bottom of the dish.  Place the rolls out evenly on top of the pecans, filling the pan evenly.

In a medium saucepan, melt together the butter and the pudding mixes.  Stir until smooth.  Turn off the heat and stir in the cinnamon, brown sugar and milk until smooth.  Pour the caramel mixture over the bread dough in the baking dish.
Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, remove the pan from the fridge to warm up to room temperature and raise a bit more while you preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Place the rolls into the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes, until a piece taken out of the center and is cooked through and no longer doughy.
Place a large platter over the top of the baking dish and gently flip the caramel rolls out onto the platter so the caramel sauce and pecans can pour all over the buns.  Serve warm and enjoy!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pumpkin and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

 It's that time of year where everything has turned pumpkin. Every corner you look it's pumpkin lattes, pumpkin muffins, heck why not then turn a macaroni and cheese pumpkin too?  In the Cinderalla movie, turning back into a pumpkin was a bad thing.  For macaroni and cheese, however, it is a beautiful Fall comfort food. 

What inspired this dish, was a science experiment that was going on in my classroom where students test which substance will help to preserve a pumpkin better. So that means for two weeks, my classroom is filled with rotting pumpkin pieces. Oh the joys of my job! For this experiment, this means I had to carve a pumpkin into small chunks for each group. This left me with a half of a very large pumpkin. Not one to waste food, I took it home, and continued to carve it into small chunks and roasted it in the oven for an hour at 400 degrees seasoned with fresh thyme. It roasted up so easily! I highly recommend going to the trouble of roasting fresh pumpkin. (Ok, yea I can hear you laughing). Go to the trouble if you want and happen to have spare time on your hands (spare time? What's that?!)  I normally don't have a spare minute, so please feel free to use canned pumpkin. 

The great thing about macaroni and cheese is its versatility. I, mean, what doesn't go with cheese and pasta? One thing that definitely goes well is bacon. Bacon just makes things better. God bless bacon. The bacon helped to balance out the sweetness of the pumpkin fall flavors and added that much loved smokiness to the dish.  I also used and a combination of smoked gouda and cheddar cheese. The smoked gouda cheese gave a wonderful flavor, so if you can get a hold of some it's worth the splurge.

So although my classroom does not have lovely smells coming out of it, this macaroni and cheese filled up my kitchen with delicious Autumnal aromas. Oh and smells of bacon.

Pumpkin and Bacon Mac-n-Cheese
Print this recipe!
Adapted from Rachael Ray

Note:  I used fresh roasted pumpkin for this recipe but feel free to use the canned stuff. Trust me, I won't judge you.  I normally would too but I just so happen to have half of a pumpkin sitting around from a science experiment. (No, really I did). As for the bacon, I found the original recipe just needed a balance from the sweet, earthy spiciness from the pumpkin, honey, and other spices.  And bacon always makes things better right? I also used half gouda and half cheddar. The gouda gave it great flavor, but use whatever cheese you have it on hand. Overall, this macaroni and cheese got great reviews from my tastetesters and every noodle was devoured.

  • 1 lb. pasta rigatoni
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup pumpkin beer
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 2 cups roasted  pumpkin, or pumpkin puree
  • 6-7 strips bacon, crumbled
  • 2 1/2 cups cheese (gouda and cheddar)
  • couple pinche of cloves or allspice
  • pinch of cayenne pepper and nutmeg
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it and cook pasta to al dente. Drain and reserve. Preheat broiler.
2. Cook bacon according to package directions (I was lazy and did mine in the microwave!). Then on a cutting board, after the bacon has cooled, crumble the bacon into small pieces.
 3.  Melt butter in a medium saucepot over medium heat. Whisk in flour, cook for 1 minute, then raise heat a bit and add beer.
4. Reduce until almost evaporated then whisk in honey
5. Season with cloves or allspice, mustard, cayenne, a little freshly grated nutmeg, some salt and pepper. Thicken to coat spoon, a couple of minutes, then taste to adjust seasonings. 
6. Whisk in pumpkin puree then stir in about 2 cups grated cheese with a wooden spoon until melted. Combine pasta with sauce and arrange in a casserole or individual ramekins. Sprinkle remaining cheese and a light dusting of paprika. Broil to brown and bubble. Garnish with chopped parsley or chives.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Apple Spice Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream frosting

A couple of posts ago, you might remember I went apple picking and came back with ahhhhh-lot of apples. I decided some of the apples should go into cupcake form. And combined with salted caramel. I mean how could you go wrong? Yup, I'm right. You can't.

This was a easy cupcake recipe chock full of apples and fall spices. I made them miniature form to serve at a faculty meeting. I find that people cannot resist a cupcake in miniature form. And following Halloween and eating way too much candy, there is a less guilt that follows. The recipe made for me about 3 dozen mini cupcakes. If I had to guess, it would make about a dozen cupcakes, give or take a few. But that is only a guess, folks! If you make them in regular form let me know!

Apple Spice Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
Print this recipe!

Cupcake ingredients: (makes 10-12 regular-sized cupcakes, 36 mini cupcakes)

 4 Tbsp brown sugar
 1/2 C granulated sugar
 1/2 C applesauce
 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
 1/2 tsp vanilla
 2 egg
 1 C all purpose flour
 1 tsp baking soda
 1/2 tsp baking powder
 1/8 tsp salt
 1 tsp cinnamon
 1/4 tsp nutmeg
 Pinch of ground cloves
2 apples, chopped 

Buttercream frosting:
2 1/2 sticks butter, softened
 2 1/2 C powdered sugar
 1 tsp vanilla
 4 tablespoons caramel sauce
 2 Tbsp heavy cream 
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcake pans with liners.
2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix together sugars, applesauce and vegetable oil. Mix in eggs and vanilla, followed by remaining ingredients. 
3. Mix just into all ingredients are combined. Use a spoon or cookie scoop to divide mixture among prepared liners. 
4.  Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted only has a few moist crumbs. Cool on a wire rack.
5.  Prepare buttercream in a medium bowl or stand mixer. Cream butter and powdered sugar together. Mixture may become slightly crumbly, that's okay. Add vanilla, caramel syrup and heavy cream. Beat until smooth and spreadable consistency. Add additional heavy cream if needed.
6. When cupcakes have cooled completely. Use a knife or cupcake corer to remove the center of the cupcake. Fill with apple pie filling, leaving a 1/2-inch space at the top. Slice off the dome of the cored piece of cupcake, place over the apple pie filling.
7. Pipe or frost cupcakes as desired. Drizzle with additional caramel syrup. Serve immediately or store in a covered container.