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Easter Lunch

April 5, 2010
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Boy was this ever a crazy weekend! We had church choir performances, my brother-in-law’s wedding, and we hosted the family Easter party, all this weekend! And there was a ton of cooking involved, most of which, I am sad to say, I didn’t even get a chance to take a picture of before it was all gobbled up. BUT! I did snag a picture of the cute cupcakes I made. :D  The cupcake is just DH Banana Cake mix because I was pressed for time, but the icing is a recipe I found on Tasty Kitchen that really is the best! It was just like whip cream in texture but never melted and held its shape well enough to decorate with too, perfect for those of us who hate the really thick sugary icing some cupcakes have. I will be using this icing from now on! Just note some of the comments say it doesn’t refridgerate well, so leave it at room temperature and you’ll be fine. I used the wilton hair tip to make the grass and just topped them with some pearl jelly beans and a chocolate bunny. The chocolate bunnies were easy to make ahead of time. I just found a cute little picture of a bunny online and slipped it under some wax paper for tracing. Then I just melted a bar of chocolate in a ziploc baggie, snipped the tip, and started drawing. Let it set in the freezer for about 20 minutes and they were done! And you can store any extras in a baggie in the fridge and pull them out whenever! Personally, I think it’s much more user friendly than chocolate molds.

The entire menu was a hit (which sadly meant that every bite was eaten and none left for my lunch today :( )  and most dishes were new recipes I tried from my to-do list and every single one listed below was FANTASTIC and you should make as soon as you can find an excuse. I’m thinking of making those mashed potatoes again right now…

 Mashed Potatoes - yes, it has blue cheese but you cannot tell. Everyone was asking what the secret ingredient was to make it taste so good and no one believed me when I told them it was the cheese. I should have made a double batch because they were gone that fast!

Green Beans - TX roadhouse green beans are the best, and this is the closest I have found to their recipe. It has bacon, what more do you need?

Garlic Cheese Bread – monkey bread turned into garlic bread, nuff said.

Easter Sugar Cookies

March 29, 2010
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Ok you guys, I think I have found the holy grail of sugar cookies. For months I have been desperately looking for a good sugar cookie dough that was easy to manage and tastes great, and I can officially say I’m done now. :) I found the recipe on Bake at 350 and it makes about 2-3 dozen cookies. I was worried initially since the dough looked really crumbly, but after kneading it with my hands for a little while it came together. This texture works to my advantage because no additional flour was needed for rolling out and cutting. Less mess is a HUGE plus in my book. And bonus, there was no chilling necessary either!  Already I was smitten with this recipe, but then I took them out of the oven and was delighted to see that there was no spreading issues either, the cookies retained all their detail and shape! And of course, the taste test revealed a tender cookie with a hint of almond, not too dry and not too moist. This my friends is the best sugar cookie cut out recipe ever!

(The royal icing was just created with the instructions on my meringue powder can.)

(And yes, those are M&Ms on the bunny, I work with what I got!)

3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar
2 sticks butter (salted)
1 egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract (or substitute for preferred flavor)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour and baking soda in small bowl and set aside.

2. Cream the butter and sugar. (tip: if using cold butter, cut into small cubes to mix easier) Add the egg and extracts and mix. Slowly add in the flour mixture and beat until combined. You might need to just dig in with your hands near the end.

3.  Roll out between 2 sheets of parchment paper and cut with cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes. Let cool and decorate.

Bunny Bento

March 25, 2010
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I had some spare time to play with my food this morning :) and look who came to visit? The easter bunny! The flower on the chicken salad is the imagination of my little boy, who promptly named it Red Fred. I love the thoughts of a three year old, they say the cutest things! :) The bunny is a silcone muffin cup of mashed potatoes with a nori face and chicken ears.  The flower is just some babybel cheese and chicken on top of the greens. Grapes to fill in the gap and a little dressing on the side and I’m good to go! Made from leftovers this bento only took about 10 minutes and was very delicious. Who knew nori and mashed potatoes tasted so good together?

Peanut Butter Rice Krispies

March 24, 2010
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So since my  little guy is going through a picky phase, he refused to even try the apple pie! I know he would adore it, but I can’t force it in his mouth either…so I decided to do a family treat next. This is just your standard rice krispie recipe with about 1/4 cup peanut butter added. We decorated with chocolate icing and M&Ms since nothing goes better with peanut butter than chocolate. :) The peanut butter actually comes through very strong, so you can lay on the chocolate and still taste the peanut butter. I pressed them into my gingerbread men cookie pan after spraying it down really well with PAM and they came out like a breeze.  And my boy was very proud of his rice krispie boy that he was doing “all by his-self”. :)

Caramel Apple Pie

March 22, 2010
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Oh my, this pie! Absolutely fantastic!! And the crust was so easy! Every preconceived notion I had about pie is tossed out the window! You see, I have always been frustrated by pie crust. The thought of keeping the butter at the right temperature just drove me crazy, I didn’t want to spend 2 hours to make a crust! And of course, whenever the  desire to make pie struck, I didn’t have any of the premade stuff on hand. I happened to stumble upon a recipe for an oil based pie crust on Allrecipes.com that just required you to mix everything in the pie plate and press into place. That sounded too good to be true! And yet it had thousands of rave reviews, so why not try it? I did modify it slightly based on some reviewers suggestions and the finished product was so tender and flaky! And the coup de gras for this recipe was the filling, which  I found on recipe rhapsody, which incorporates a caramel sauce. I know, how genius is that?! Topped with some extra brown sugar on the top and my eyes just rolled when I tasted it. I shall never let my lips touch canned pie filling again! Start to finish this pie took about 2 hours, including baking time, and with the random snow we had in TX this weekend (I know, snow on the first day of spring! Only in Texas!) it was comfort food at its finest next to the fireplace. :) 

Oil Pie Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 heaping tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Place all ingredients into your pie pan and mix together with a fork. Press dough on bottom and up the sides and set aside. (If you have a no bake pie then you can prick it with a fork and bake at 400 for about 9 minutes, then just fill it.)

    Caramel Apple Filling

    5-7 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
    1 tsp. cinnamon + 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour, mixed together
    1/2 cup unsalted butter
    3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup white sugar
    1/2 cup packed brown sugar + extra to sprinkle on top
    1/4 cup water
    1 egg, beaten

    1. Preheat oven to 425

    2. Toss sliced apples with the cinnamon flour mix until coated and place them in the pie crust.

    3. Melt the butter in a sauce pan over low heat, then whisk in the flour until there is no more lumps. Whisk in the brown sugar, white sugar, and water.

    4. Bring to a boil over medium head and let boil for 5 minutes. (In the meantime you can whip up another pie crust for the topping)

    5. Pour the caramel sauce on top of the apples slowly to let it seep between the slices. Top with your second pie crust and place on a cookie sheet. (Note: I ended up doing a lattice top because the crust can  break easily when transferring)

    6. Brush top crust with egg and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce the oven temp to 350 and cover with foil to bake for an additional 40 minutes.

    Tilapia Bento

    March 19, 2010

    Mmmm I get to indulge in some Tilapia today! My son is allergic, so the only time I can eat it is if I cook it for my lunch after he goes to bed. So it’s a rare occasion that I still have energy to cook  after putting the kids down for the night. :) I had strawberries again today because I need to use them before they go bad, and the chocolate sprinkles actually go really well with them. I need to spice up my veggie variety though, carrots are getting a little tiresome. I’m thinking of getting some eggplant and grilling it or something, I’ve never had it but they say it tastes like a potato when you grill it so it can’t be that bad….more on that later I suppose! Sorry for the dark photos, my 1995 Nikon camera has never been my best friend, but I am hoping to get a new one soon! Anyway, Happy Friday to all!

    St Paddy’s Strawberry Bento

    March 18, 2010
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    Yesterday was St Patricks Day, but since I had a company lunch I didn’t need a Bento, but you know I can’t do nothing! So I made a breakfast bento real quick. Just some strawberries with green sprinkled whipped cream, but the way the kids hovered over it you would have thought it was gold lol. My boy gets props for all the sprinkle work too. :) I plan on correcting my St Paddy’s Day lack of baking this weekend too!

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