Food, Faith, and Other Fabulous Finds

Recipes, devotional thoughts, and other cool things I come across.

Back to Normal August 28, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — foodfaithandfinds @ 10:44 PM
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Whew!  The past 2 weeks (and even this one) have been utterly crazy.  A little more than 2 weeks ago, my husband took an intense training course that had him at work for 10-12 hours each day.  He would come home, eat dinner, and just crash.  At the same time, I was trying to get my house in order for our vacation.  (Surprise!  I was on vacation in FL last week, hence the abbreviated post.)  Last week, we went to go visit my parents in FL.  It was a very relaxing week with lots of good food and plenty of downtime catching up with my family.    I talk to my mom every week, but there’s just nothing like being in the same kitchen cooking together or sitting around the table for a family dinner.  We got home last Saturday, and I’ve been playing catch-up ever since.  I’m still not completely caught up, but I’m getting there.  I’ll share some of the recipes we tried soon.  For today, I’m just going to share two super easy recipes (great for a lazy labor day) and some pictures of the wildlife in my parents’ yard.

This first recipe is another version of meringues.  I fell in love with them from this picture, but mine didn’t turn out nearly as pretty.  The original recipe calls for raspberry jelly, and that might be a better route to go.  I used strawberry, but the flavor didn’t really come through.  I wasn’t worried about looks (though I apparently should have been), so I omitted the food coloring step.  My biggest problem with this recipe was actually the cooking method.  They want you to preheat the oven to 300 degrees, put in the meringues, turn the oven off, then let them sit for an hour or so.  I did this, but my meringues were FAR from dry and crisp when I checked on them.  I ended up turning the oven on low (200) and cooking them for another 2-2 1/2 hours.  They got cooked through, but they also turned a light golden color (the picture shows them a lovely white with red swirls).  I’m not sure if I’ll use this recipe again, but I love the idea of it.  If you do plan to use a lighter flavored jam, you could amp up the flavor by folding in crushed, freeze-dried fruit.  I think I”ll try that next time, and maybe let them sit in the oven for 2 hours before I check on them.  I’ll let you know how it turns out when I do.

Raspberry Meringues (from Better Homes & Gardens)

2 egg whites

1 tbsp. room temperature seedless raspberry jam

6 drops red food coloring

1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

1/3 c. superfine sugar

1/3 c. confectioner’s sugar

1. Let the egg whites stand for 30 minutes at room temperature in a large bowl.  Cover 2 large baking sheets with parchment.

2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix together the jam and food coloring; set aside.

3. In another small bowl, combine the sugars and set aside.  Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat on medium til soft peaks form.  At medium speed, add the sugar mix 1 tbsp. at a time.  Beat 5-7 minutes or til stiff glossy peaks form and the sugar is dissolved.

4. Use a spatula to gently fold 1/2 c. of the meringue mix into the jam, then gently fold the jam mix into the remaining egg whites.

5. Pipe or spoon the meringues onto the baking sheets.  Place the baking sheets in the oven and turn it off.  Let them sit in the closed oven for 1 hour or til dry and crisp but still light in color.  Let cool.

Raspberry MeringuesRaspberry Meringues 2

The other recipe I wanted to share is another quick, flavorful, and easy shrimp dish.  I served my shrimp on top of a simply cooked pasta (topped with just a little butter and Parm.  The recipe calls for these to be sauteed, but you could easily (and quickly!) grill them.

Four Minute Spicy Garlic Shrimp (from Food Network)

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves crushed garlic

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 1/2 lb. peeled, deveined, tail on jumbo shrimp  (I just used a medium-sized shrimp without the tail since that’s what I had on hand.)

2 tsp. grill/steak seasoning

Juice of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 lemon

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the oil, garlic, pepper, and shrimp.

2. Season the shrimp with the grill seasoning and cook 3 minutes or til just pink.  Top with the lemon zest and juice and the parsley.

Four Minute Spicy Garlic ShrimpFour Minute Spicy Garlic Shrimp 2

And lastly, here are the pictures I promised of my parent’s wildlife.

Bird A catbird enjoying some bird seed.

Birds A lovely cardinal.  (We saw his mate too, but she was hard to see in the photos I took.)

Caterpillars 2Caterpillars 3 Some very fat monarch (I think) caterpillars that devoured my mom’s parsley.

I hope that you’ve had a less hectic couple of weeks and that you’ve got some great, relaxing plans for labor day.  Talk to you again soon.


Despicable Cookies August 19, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — foodfaithandfinds @ 9:26 PM
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Well, I didn’t mean to miss last week’s post; it just sort of happened.  We were having an extremely busy week, but I still meant to post.  I guess the time just got away from me.  There’s tons going on this week too, so I’m going to keep this post on the short and sweet side.  Rest assured, I’m still cooking up plenty of treats, and I don’t think you’ll be sorry for waiting.  :)

This short post is going to be a continuation of our movie/recipe series.  This time it was one of my absolute favorite kid’s movies: Despicable Me.  This movie is about an evil villain, Gru, who adopts 3 orphan girls to help further his plan of stealing the moon.  Through his association with them, he starts to realize that there’s more to life than stealing and that he might not be the villain after all.  (It’s sounds dry when I say it, but if you watch the trailer, you’ll see how funny it is.)

There’s just so much to love about this movie.  Agnes is my favorite character (It’s so fluffy!!), but I also love pretty much any scene the minions are in.  (If you just watched the trailer for the first time, the minions are the yellow characters.)  I also really enjoy Gru’s mom (voiced by the fab Julie Andrews).  Here are a few of my very favorite lines from the movie: “Light bulb”, “You have a face ‘como un burro’.”, “Why are you so old?”, “Whaaa?”, “He’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!”, “Knocked over!”, “It’s so fluffy!!”, “The physical appearance of the ‘please’ makes no difference.”, “Sorry, that book was accidentally destroyed maliciously.”  Hilarious, right?  (And if you don’t believe me, watch the movie.)

The movie does have a few food scenes, but what I latched on to was the cookies the girls were selling.  Instead of making a homemade girl scout cookie, I decided to just make an awesome cookie.  I had a few contenders, but these s’mores cookies won the day.  They’re not the cheapest cookie to make, but they are certainly delicious.  They made nearly 3 dozen cookies, so I gave about half of them away.  The folks I shared with said they were amazing, and I would have to agree.  The ones I kept at our house certainly didn’t last long; hubby and I were constantly sneaking bites of them.  These are also a great summery treat; what goes better with grilling, then s’mores?  These cookies are so sweet and delicious, though next time I’ll add even more marshmallows for extra s’more flavor.

S’mores Cookies (from The Girl Who Ate Everything)

11 tbsp. softened butter

1 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 1/2 c. flour

1/2 c. chocolate chips

1 c. mini marshmallows (I’d do 2 c. next time.)

3 Hershey’s bars in pieces

1-2 sleeves graham crackers in squares

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and flour; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars til light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat til combined.  Add the dry mix to the creamed mix and beat on low til combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips and marshmallows.  Chill the dough at least 1 hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment.  (She recommends a 9×13 and an 11×17, and that was perfect for me.)  Lay the graham crackers out on the pans as closely as possible.  Place the dough by tablespoonfuls onto the graham squares.  Flatten the dough slightly.  (I like to make sure that some marshmallows are near the top on each square so that they can get toasted.)

3. Bake 5 minutes then remove from the oven.  Press a piece of the Hershey’s bars on top of each square.  Put back in the oven and bake 5-7 minutes more or til the edges are golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.

S'mores CookiesS'mores Cookies 2


Of Two Minds August 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — foodfaithandfinds @ 10:25 PM
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So, I’ve been struggling lately.  Ever since last week, the “I want Fall” switch in my brain has been turned on and working overtime.  (What?  You know you have one too!)  I guess it’s because I had looked at several November blog posts, and it just got me wanting the cool weather with all its attendant joys.  I’ve been craving chili and cornbread, warm spices, crisp air, and golden leaves.  At the same time, the logic part of my brain is telling me that I have a couple more months of summer to go, and I should make the most of it while it’s here.  And I want to!  I just can’t seem to quiet that other part of my brain.

So, what do you do when it’s 100 degrees outside and your brain wants fall?  Bribe it with ice cream, of course!  You must know by now that I adore ice cream, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise.  My hubby also knows, so he recently brought a couple of Bluebell pints home as a treat.  For me, he brought home coconut fudge, which I adored.  For himself, he got pecan pralines ‘n’ cream, which I’d never tried.  Naturally, he gave me a couple bites.  Oh.  My.  Cow!!!!  It was so incredible!  If you like pralines (candy made from brown sugar and pecans), then you HAVE to try this.  No really, I insist.

I also tried (yet) another chocolate and peanut butter ice cream recipe.  This one is good, but I think I need to work with it more before it’s great.  The ice cream itself is tasty and easy to make.  The peanut butter swirl is also very easy and has a different taste because of the coconut oil used in it.  My problem with the ice cream and its swirl, is that they froze really hard in my freezer.  I had to set them out at room temp for 10 minutes or so just to be able to scoop them out.  I would guess that’s due to using low-fat (1%) milk in the ice cream base.  I’ll probably try it with half and half next time to see if that makes a difference.  Still, it’s an easy ice cream to throw together with items that you probably already have on hand, and it did taste very good.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Ice Cream (from Yammie’s Noshery)

For the ice cream:

1/2 c. cocoa

1 c. peanut butter

1/2 c. brown sugar

3 c. milk

1 tbsp. vanilla

For the swirl:

1/4 c. peanut butter

1/4 c. coconut oil

2 tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the cocoa, 1 c. peanut butter, 1/2 c. brown sugar, and 1/4 c. milk.  Microwave, stirring occasionally, til the peanut butter is melted.  (I put mine on for 30 seconds at a time, then stirred after each one.  I think it took at most 2 minutes.)

2. Slowly whisk in the remaining 2 3/4 c. milk til the mix is completely combined and smooth.  Add in the vanilla.  If the mix is too warm (over 40 degrees), chill it til completely cool.

3. Once chilled, churn the ice cream according your ice cream maker’s instructions.

4. In another microwave-safe bowl, combine 1/4 c. peanut butter, coconut oil, 2 tbsp. brown sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla.  Microwave til melted and smooth.  (I used the same method, and this took less than a minute.)

5. When the ice cream’s done churning, place it in a wide container and pour on a thin layer of the peanut butter swirl on top.  Let the swirl freeze (it should be fast because of the coconut oil), then fold it in.  Repeat til the swirl is used up, then freeze for 3 hours or til firm.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Ice CreamChocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Ice Cream 3

What about you?  Are you getting in a fall frame of mind or are you still enjoying summer?


Flavor in a Flash July 29, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — foodfaithandfinds @ 10:36 PM
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I know you’ll think I’m crazy, but I only just recently discovered the joy of cooking with cast iron.  I’d been given a cast iron grill pan as a wedding present, but I’d only ever used it once because I just didn’t know how to clean or care for it.  Another friend gave me a cast iron skillet when she moved overseas last year, but I hadn’t really touched it either.  After organizing my kitchen cabinets recently, I decided that it was high time I learned to use my pans.  I cleaned them both with salt and oil, then seasoned them.  It really wasn’t hard at all, and I’m a little annoyed with myself for waiting so long to do it.  My husband was especially excited about the grill pan, so we’ve been using it as often as we can.  Today I’m sharing a couple recipes that cook quickly and that can be cooked on a grill.  (Though they also work in a regular saute pan if you don’t have any grilling apparatus available.)

I didn’t cook this burger on my grill pan (it was before I’d cleaned it), but you could easily adjust the recipe for the grill.  It’s an easy to make recipe that packs plenty of flavor in a relatively healthy package.  It includes a flavorful mayo sauce, but I felt like it made WAY too much for just 4 burgers.  In the future, I’ll cut it in half, so I don’t end up with leftovers.  I wrote down the original recipe amounts so just decide how much sauce you want and proceed.  You do also want to make sure that you prep the onions ahead of time, since they’re supposed to cool before you mix them in with the meat.

Buffalo Wing Burgers (from Cooking with Love by Carla Hall)

3/4 c. mayo

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. + 2 tsp. hot sauce

2 tsp. honey

1/2 tsp. cayenne

1 tbsp. butter

1 tsp. olive oil

1/3 c. minced yellow onion

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 tsp. thyme

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 1/4 lb. ground chicken or turkey

4 brioche or potato buns

Blue cheese

1. In a small bowl, stir together the mayo, lemon juice, 1 tbsp. hot sauce, honey, and cayenne til smooth.  Refrigerate til needed.

2. In a small skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat.  When the butter’s almost melted, add the onions and salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes, then stir in the garlic.  When the onion’s golden and tender, stir in 2 tsp. hot sauce, thyme, and both peppers.  Transfer to a large bowl and let cool to room temp.

3. With damp hands, combine the chicken and onion mix.  Form into 4 burgers.

4. Coat a large nonstick skillet with oil and put over medium-high heat.  Add the burgers and cook til browned, about 3 minutes, then flip and cook til cooked through, 3 more minutes.

5. Place the burgers on the buns and top with the mayo and blue cheese.  (Or some other cheese if you, like my husband, don’t like the stinky cheeses.  I thought the blue cheese added the perfect creamy element.)

Buffalo Wing BurgerBuffalo Wing Burger 2

For my next act, how about some flavorful, oriental-inspired pork chops.  This is the recipe I made to break in the renewed grill pan.  FYI, you’re supposed to marinate the pork chops for 8 hours before you plan to cook them.  Please take that into account.  I neglected to read the recipe beforehand, so my first batch only marinated for about 45 minutes.  Whoops!  They still tasted good, but the ones I made the next day were even better.  The marinade comes together quickly and the chops cook quickly, so really the only time it takes is the down time when it’s getting tender and flavorful (AKA – marinating).

Hoisin-Marinated Pork Chops (from the August 2002 issue of Cooking Light)

1/4 c. low-sodium soy sauce

1/4 c. hoisin sauce (This is usually referred to as a type of Chinese bbq sauce.)

1/4 c. honey

1 tsp. crushed red pepper (This makes it a bit spicy, so cut it down if you’re not a fan.)

2 cloves minced garlic

8 4 oz. 3/4 in. thick boneless, center-cut, loin pork chops

1. Combine everything but the chops in a large Ziploc bag.  Add the pork chops, seal, and let marinate in a fridge for 8 hours or overnight.

2. Preheat the grill and spray it with cooking spray.  Remove the chops from the bag and discard the marinade.  Place the pork on the grill and cook 3 minutes per side or til cooked through.

Hoisin-Marinated Pork ChopsHoisin-Marinated Pork Chops 2

And, though it has nothing to do with grilling, I couldn’t help but share this recipe that I recently found.  It’s a chocolate hazelnut spread from Weelicious that requires just 4 ingredients, (hazelnuts, cocoa, honey, and water).  I love Nutella, but the thought of being able to make it without refined sugar is intriguing.  I’ll let you know as soon as I try it.

So, did you find some inspiration to fire up the grill?  I’m pretty new to using a grill pan, so I’d love to hear some of your tried and true favorites.


Summer Flavors July 23, 2014

Are you ready to indulge in some incredibly delicious dishes that highlight some of the flavors of summer?  I’ve already indulged in the two recipes I’m sharing, but they’re so good I’d gladly eat them again.   First though, I’ve got to share a nice deal for you to take advantage of.  Starbucks is once again offering their treat receipt program.  If you buy something in the morning, you can bring your receipt in after 2 PM and receive an iced grande drink for just $2.  If you know you’re going to have a long day, this might make it just a little brighter.

This first recipe is one I could have sworn I’d already shared with you.  I actually searched the archive twice to make sure I hadn’t missed it somehow.  I made this for the first time several years ago with one of my best friends.  That summer, she’d planted a garden that was producing plenty of basil and zucchini.  We made this delectable looking dish to use up some of that bounty.  For those of you who might be wondering, a galette (in this sense) is just a freeform pie.  The crust for this one is a little easier to work with than regular pie dough because it’s made with sour cream as well as butter.  Then you top the galette with a cheese mixture, and finish with some garlic-basted zucchini.  None of the flavors are very bold; they just all harmonize into a tasty treat.

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette (from Smitten Kitchen)

1 1/4 c. chilled all-purpose flour (When you make pie crust, it’s best for all ingredients to be very cold.)

1/4 tsp. salt

8 tbsp. cubed butter

1/4 c. sour cream

2 tsp. lemon juice

1/4 c. ice water

1 large (or 2 small) zucchini sliced in 1/4 in. thick rounds

1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil

1 clove minced garlic

1/2 c. ricotta

1/2 c. grated Parmesan

1/4 c. shredded mozzarella

1 tbsp. slivered basil leaves

1 egg yolk

1 tsp. water

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.  Sprinkle the butter over the flour, then cut in (with a pastry mixer or 2 forks) the butter, til the mix resembles coarse meal with the biggest pieces the size of peas.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice, and ice water; add this mixture to the butter mix.  Mix together til large lumps form.  Pat the lumps into ball, but do not overwork it.  Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 1 hour.

2. Spread the cut zucchini over several layers of paper towels.  Sprinkle the zucchini with 1/2 tsp. salt, then let it drain for 30 minutes.  Gently blot the tops dry with paper towels.  In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and garlic; set aside.  In a separate bowl, mix together the 3 cheeses with 1 tsp. of the garlic oil; season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 12 inch round.  Transfer the dough to an ungreased baking sheet.  Spread the ricotta mix evenly on the dough, leaving a 2 inch border.  Shingle the zucchini on top of the ricotta, then drizzle it with the remaining garlic oil.  Fold the border of dough over the filling, pleating to make it fit.  In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk and 1 tsp. water; brush over the crust.

4. Bake til the cheese is puffed, the zucchini is slightly wilted and the galette is golden brown, 30-40 minutes.  Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the basil, and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Zucchini and Ricotta GaletteZucchini and Ricotta Galette 2Zucchini and Ricotta Galette 3

And as good as that is (and it’s really, REALLY good), this next one is even better.  Imagine my surprise when, towards the end of last week, my husband announced that he’s not really a fan of coconut milk.  What?!  I’m obsessed with coconut milk, how can he not like it?  How did I not know this?  What was I going to do about the coconut milk ice cream that I had just bought the ingredients for?

So I did what I thought made the most sense, I made the ice cream and didn’t tell him what was in it until he said that he liked it.  Success!  After I told him it was made from coconut milk, he said that he could taste it, but that it worked in the ice cream.  Personally, I think he’s actually just ambivalent about coconut milk, but that he didn’t like the last couple of dishes that I had used it in.  (I didn’t really like those last few dishes either, which is why they haven’t been posted on the blog.)  But this…  This was amazing!  Do you remember the coconut ice milk I blogged about last month?  This ice cream is its alter ego.  Coconut milk is mixed with just a hint of cocoa and sugar, then churned and studded with a wealth of Oreo cookies.  (But you could leave the cookies out and still have an incredible ice cream.)  This recipe only makes a half batch of ice cream which could be good or bad.  Good because I didn’t gorge on it; bad because I’m already craving more.  You must know by now that I adore the flavor combination of chocolate and coconut, and this ice cream brings them together beautifully.  I also love that you can make it with pantry ingredients (minus the Oreos, which I wouldn’t dare keep in my pantry at all times), so it’s ready to be made at any time.  Okay, I think I’ve hyped it enough; let me tell you how to make it.

Chocolate Cookies ‘N’ Cream Ice Cream (from Savory Sweet Life by Alice Currah)

1 14 oz. can coconut milk (She recommends the Chaokoh brand.  I haven’t seen that in my stores, but Goya is a consistently good and available brand for me.)

1/3 c. sugar

2 tbsp. cocoa

10 crushed Oreos

1. In a blender, combine the coconut milk, sugar, and cocoa.  Blend for 20 seconds.  Pour into your ice cream maker and churn according to your manufacturer’s instructions.  In the last 5 minutes of churning, pour in the Oreos.  Freeze until ready to eat.

Chocolate Cookies 'n' Cream Ice CreamChocolate Cookies 'n' Cream Ice Cream 2

On a sad note, you may have noticed the absence lately of recipes that I’ve recently found to drool over.  While I certainly wouldn’t mind being struck hungry by a new recipe, I didn’t want to leave you bereft until that happens.  A lot of people associate summer with going to the movies.  Though I don’t personally enjoy movie theaters (The noise and occasionally the cinematography give me headaches.), I do enjoy watching all the new movie trailers that come out during this time.  I thought I’d end today’s post with previews of several movies that I’m looking forward to seeing when they come out on DVD.

The first movie I’m interested in is called The Boxtrolls.  I love the whimsy and silliness of this movie.

The next movie is called Home and is about a hilarious alien’s adventures on earth.  I especially love how Oh got his name and his dancing!

The last one that I’m most excited about is The Hundred Foot Journey.  It’s about Indian and French food; is it any wonder I’m dying to see it?

What movie are you looking forward to?


Return of the… Granola? July 15, 2014

We’ll return to that unusual theme in a second. (I’ll also tell you why I bought a can of pumpkin in the middle of July.)  First, I wanted to tell you about Krispy Kreme’s latest flavors.  For a limited time they are offering two new flavors.  The first is a banana pudding doughnut: a yeast doughnut filled with a banana cream filling and topped with a yellow icing and vanilla wafer crumbs.  The other doughnut is carrot cake:  a cake doughnut flavored with carrots and spices and topped with a cream cheese icing (yum!).  Those sound like some pretty convincing reasons to take a trip to Krispy Kreme.

While my husband’s been on night shift, our eating schedule has been very mixed up.  We’ve both been a lot more prone to snacking, so I’ve been trying to make sure that we have a lot of healthy snack options to keep us full.  One of the options I’ve been trying to stock is granola.  (Still don’t understand the title?  Just wait, it’s coming.)  It’s a nice chewy treat that can be both savory and sweet.  The first granola recipe I want to share is probably the easiest granola I’ve ever made.  It uses just 5 basic pantry ingredients and takes less than 30 minutes to make (including cook time).  This granola is really basic, but you could always add in extra flavors.  It doesn’t make a ton of granola, but that’s probably for the best since it’s kind of addictive.

Peanut Butter Granola (from Table for Two)

4 tbsp. peanut butter

4 tbsp. honey

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 c. old-fashioned oats

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment (or a silpat).  In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter and honey.  Nuke them 30-45 seconds or til melted.  Stir in the vanilla and cinnamon, then add in the oats and stir til well coated.

2. Spread in the pan and bake 15 minutes or til golden brown.  (The granola will harden as it cools, so don’t worry if it seems a little soft when you take it out.)

Peanut Butter GranolaPeanut Butter Granola 2

Now we come to the explanation for today’s title.  It’s been 3 months, but I’m finally getting back to the movie and recipe series.  This time, I watched a classic Disney movie and one of my favorites, Cinderella.  (See a very old trailer here.)  The movie follows the main points of the classic fairy tale, but it also adds a lot of personality with all of the animal friends.  (Who doesn’t love those adorable and hilarious mice and birds?)  And of course there’s the music, so many of the songs are still well-known and well-loved by both kids and adults.  (My favorite is A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes.)  Though I adore the whole movie, I think my favorite scene is when the mice are gathering materials for Cinderella’s dress, and they have to outwit the cat, Lucifer.

At first, I wasn’t sure what I could possibly make to go along with the movie:  something French? something about mice? :P (The mice thing was actually the hubby’s suggestion.)  Then I got to the fairy godmother scene, and it clicked.  Pumpkin!  I’d make something with pumpkin.  Then I had to argue with myself.  Pumpkin?  In July?  If you’ve read this blog for a while, you probably realize that I have some weird quirks concerning food, most notably, that I relegate some foods to certain seasons.  In our 90+ degree weather, pumpkin bread (a favorite fall treat) just didn’t appeal to me.  Not wanting to give up, I looked through my ingredient index and found this tasty granola that uses pumpkin puree in place of oil.  Then I made it.  And now I’m sharing it with you!

Though this granola has pumpkin and pumpkin spice in it, it wasn’t so overpowering that I would insist it be limited to autumnal use.  This is a pretty healthy granola, and I like how it has a lot of different textures and flavors.  Like the peanut butter granola, this is easy to whip together and fairly fast too.

Pumpkin Spice Granola (from Healthy Food for Living)

1 1/2 c. rolled oats

1 1/2 c. puffed rice cereal (I used a plain puffed brown rice that didn’t have any added sugar.  I’m sure you could use regular rice krispies too.)

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (If, like me, you refuse to pay $5 for a tiny container that holds a mix of spices you probably already have on hand, you can make your own.  I used 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ginger, and 1/8 tsp. each of allspice and nutmeg.)

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. pumpkin puree

2 tbsp. applesauce

2 tbsp. maple syrup

1/2 tsp. vanilla

3/4 c. chopped nuts or seeds (I used 1/4 c. each of pecans, walnuts, and pistachios.)

1/2 c. dried fruit (I used 1/4 c. each of craisins and chopped dried cherries.)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment.  Put the oats and rice puffs in a large bowl and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin pie spice, salt, brown sugar, pumpkin, applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla.  Whisk together til very smooth.

3. Pour the pumpkin mix over the oat mix and stir til evenly coated.  Spread on the cookie sheet.

4. Bake 20 minutes, then remove it from the oven and stir in the nuts.  Return to the oven and bake 15 more minutes or til golden brown and crisp.

5. Once the granola is cooked, toss it with the dried fruit, and let it cool completely.

Pumpkin Spice GranolaPumpkin Spice Granola 2  (I really love the added color from the pistachios and craisins.)

So, does the title make more sense now?

Unfortunately, I still don’t have any eye-catching recipes to share (Come on, bloggers, catch my attention with something decadent!), but I did want to share a few pics.  Let’s start with an update on my garden.

7-9 Alive 2  The basil and chives are both doing great.

7-9 Alive 3  The spiny succulents are growing flowers and the other is growing some new leaves.

7-9 Alive  The mint has also continued to grow and thrive.

This last picture comes from my photo a day challenge.  It’s captioned torn.

7-15 Torn  Which one should I eat first?


Richly Delicious July 9, 2014

Let’s talk about some rich, delicious foods.  I know that it’s summer, and people are trying to eat lighter food to fit into their bathing suits.  But you can’t eat light all the time.  Sometimes, you just need to indulge a little.  Let’s start our indulgences with a favorite of mine: Krispy Kreme!  For their 77th birthday, Krispy Kreme is offering a deal where you can go to a participating store on July 11, buy any dozen doughnuts, and receive a dozen original glazed doughnuts for just 77 cents.  I doubt I’ll be able to get any, but someone should enjoy some. :D

This first dish wasn’t my personal favorite, but my husband really enjoyed it.  It’s very rich, but with a nice combination of flavors.  If you haven’t heard of them before, a Cuban sandwich usually involves ham and pickles, while a monte cristo is a ham and turkey sandwich that’s battered and fried.  You probably already know that I’m not a huge meat-eater, so it shouldn’t be a big shock that I’m not over the moon for this one.  To me, the best part of the sandwich was the pickle because the acidity of it helped cut through all the fatty, richness of the rest of the sandwich.  If you’re feeling especially decadent, you should definitely consider putting this on the menu.  I did find that the amount of sauce the recipe made was double what we needed, so you may want to scale it back.

Cuban Style Monte Cristos (from Rachael Ray)

5 tbsp. butter

1 clove finely chopped garlic

2 tbsp. flour

1 1/2 c. milk

1/4 c. mustard

8 slices white bread

8 slices Swiss

8 slices baked ham

8 slices smoked turkey

4 slices dill pickle

3 eggs

1. In a small pot over medium heat, melt 3 tbsp. butter.  Add the garlic and saute 2 minutes; then whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute.  Whisk in 1 1/4 c. milk and let thicken for 1 minute; season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the mustard and remove from the heat.

2. Spread some of the mustard sauce on each piece of bread.  Layer the sandwiches with 2 slices each of Swiss, ham, and turkey and 1 slice of pickle.  In a shallow dish, whisk together the eggs and 1/4 c. milk.

3. Heat a large skillet on medium heat; add 2 tbsp. butter and let melt.  Dip the sandwiches in the egg mixture, then place them in the pan.  Cook the sandwiches til they’re golden brown on both sides, 3-4 minutes per side.

Cuban Style Monte CristoCuban Style Monte Cristo 3

What was more exciting to me was the cupcake recipe that I whipped up for one of my SIL’s birthdays.  She wasn’t set on a specific recipe, she just asked for some kind of cake involving chocolate.  I decided to go with an amazing recipe that combines a rich chocolate cake with a creamy cheesecake filling.  I’m not sure what she thought (yet), but we thought they were to die for.  The original recipe says that this yields 12 cupcakes, but I think it actually yields 18.  (I didn’t want to bother cleaning the pan and cooking 6 more cupcakes, so I put the leftover in a loaf pan.)  Though they aren’t as composed as your usual birthday treat, I really loved their rustic look.  These were really easy to whip up, and I think they’ve clinched a spot as my go-to cake recipe.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Cupcakes (from the March 2009 issue of Bon Appetit)

For the cream cheese filling:

1 8 oz. pkg. softened cream cheese

1 egg

2 tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt (Some people on the BA site said that this was too salty for them.  I didn’t have a problem with it, but you could cut it in half if you’re sensitive to salt.)

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the cupcakes:

1 c. all-purpose flour

3 tbsp. cocoa

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. baking soda

3/4 c. + 2 tbsp. sugar

1/2 c. softened butter

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

3 oz. melted bittersweet chocolate

1/2 c. milk

1. In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese in a medium bowl.  Add the egg, 2 tbsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. vanilla; beat til almost smooth.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin pan with paper liners.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, and baking soda.  In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar (3/4 c. + 2 tbsp.) til fluffy.  Beat in the eggs.  Stir in the chocolate and vanilla, then beat on high for 5 seconds.   Alternate beating in the flour mix and the milk.  Once incorporated, beat on high for 5 seconds.

3. Divide the batter among the paper cups, filling them 1/3 full.  (That’s not a typo, just 1/3 full.)  Using a tbsp., hollow out the center of each cupcake.  (I know that sounds impossible, but this isn’t your typical cake batter.  This was so fluffy and silky; it reminded me of a mousse.)  Place 1 heaping tbsp. of cream cheese filling in the center of each cupcake.

4. Bake the cupcakes til a toothpick inserted in the center (of the cupcake, not the filling) removes cleanly, about 20 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then finish cooling on a wire rack.

Chocolate Cream Cheese CupcakesChocolate Cream Cheese Cupcakes 2

These cupcakes are my new go-to; have you discovered a new indulgence lately?



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