Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sangria Weather!

It's suppose to be winter but it kind of felt like summer today. This is a problem. The solution? Winter Sangria! I'm a fan of this pomegranate vanilla sangria. With it's underlying hints of cinnamon and vanilla it was just different enough from summer sangria but had a nice toasty wintery feeling. I used a bottle of Hazlitt Red Cat (Woo NY Wine!) and my special vanilla beans that Miss Boo brought me from Tonga.
Obviously I need to get a pretty pitcher so my beverages can look all nice and classy instead of looking like a super alcoholic vat of booze.
Pomegranate Vanilla Sangria
(adapted from how sweet it is)
1 orange, sliced
1 apple, chopped
1 pear, chopped
1 pomegranate
1 cinnamon sticks
2 vanilla beans
1 bottle red wine
1/2 cup brandy (I subbed Rum)
Club Soda, personal preference
1. Add orange slices, apples, pears, cinnamon stick and pomegranate seeds to the bottom of a big pitcher. 
2. Pour wine and brandy in. Scrape vanilla beans and add to the mix. Throw in the bean pods too! 
3. Stir it all up and chill for 1 hour. Add desired amount of club soda.
4. Serve with spoons so you can eat all the yummy fruit!

Sad Leftovers

This dish played out much better in my head. I wasn't happy about it, it's just not what I envisioned but I suppose that's the point of kitchen experimentation. Mr. Lawyer informed me that "I was being dumb" and proceeded to eat ALL of it. Psh.
I stir fried the leftover shrimp with peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Then I added the leftover bang bang shrimp sauce and wrapped everything up in a quesadilla.
Not cool.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Blackberry-Lemon Gin Love

It's no secret, I love gin. So when I saw this recipe, I had to make it immediately even though it's more of a summer drink. I omitted the mint and thought it was fine. The blackberry taste is very faint (Mr. Lawyer couldn't taste it at all). My only warning is to watch the club soda and not add too much!
Blackberry-Lemon Gin
(from we are not martha)
6 oz. blackberries
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon mint, chopped finely
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 oz. gin
1/2-3/4 C club soda
1. Place blackberries, sugar, and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
2. Once blackberries are warm, smush them all up.
3. Strain blackberry mixture and put the juice in the fridge for 15 minutes. Reserve pulp if you'd like to use as a garnish.
4. Add ice, mint, lemon juice, gin and blackberry juice to a shaker filled with ice. Shake, shake, shake! Divide between two glasses.
5) Add club soda until glasses are filled. Garnish with whole blackberries, blackberry pulp or lemon twist.

Bang Bang!

One time for a semi-fancy date in the 'Cuse, Mr. Lawyer took me out to Bonefish Grill. I fell madly in love with the Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos. There are two copy cat recipes floating around the net. I went the the more simple one (that doesn't involve milk and panko). It was good, had a nice bit of crunch, but could have used some more spice. 
In other words: Wicket and I got down and dirty with the frying.
Wicket did a much better job at containing the splatter than The General did. Respect. 
In other news: peanut oil is a smokeless gift from the gods. My apartment is not smokey or smelly. Props.
The shrimp was delicious. I would be curious in trying the more intense recipe but this was a nice imitation. My special talent for making salads unhealthy shined tonight.
Fake Bang Bang Shrimp
(inspired by Bonefish Grill)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
3 drops Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (or to taste)
1 pound shelled and deveined shrimp
Dry cornstarch
oil for frying
chopped scallions
1. Mix mayonnaise with Thai Sweet Chili Sauce. Add hot sauce to taste. 
2. Dredge the shrimp in cornstarch. Deep fat fry the shrimp until lightly brown. Drain on paper towel, put in a bowl and coat with the sauce. 
3. Serve in a lettuce lined bowl, top with chopped scallions.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Yet another Party Post! I think this is the last one from our basketball party. This served it's purpose but I was not overly impressed with it. It worked in a pinch and it made a HUGE cheese ball (seriously, I'd only make half) but I'm still on the lookout for a better cheese ball recipe. At least my plate was super adorable!
5 Cheese Cheese Ball
(adapted from Ritz)
2 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 C 4 cheese blend (Make sure there's cheddar!)
3/4 C fresh grated parmesan cheese
1/2 C mayonnaise
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 C chopped pecans
1. Mix together parmesan cheese, cream cheese and cheese blend. Add in green onions, red pepper flakes and mayonnaise.
2. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
3. Shape into a ball
4. Press pecans into the cheeseball until coated (I rolled mine in more cheese)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

On a Stick!

Another Party Post! This recipe was always a special treat for the Dork and I growing up. I'm not quite sure why....it's simple and quick! This was one of the top disappearing dishes at the party. Make sure you soak the bamboo skewers in water so they don't catch on fire or anything....
Marinated Beef on a Stick!
(from the Mother Unit)
1.5 pounds boneless top sirloin
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (I also added some fresh grated ginger too!)
1. Cut steak across the grain in 1/4 inch slices.
2. Mix everything in a bowl and add steak. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
3. Weave strips onto skewers then grill 4-6 inches from coals, turning once. Cook until browned (4-5 minutes total for medium rare). Or broil in oven until cooked.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Crescent Roll Heaven

Our friends brought these yummy snacks to our basketball party. I don't have the recipe but it seems that all the filling consisted of was some caramelized onions and chopped up sausage. It was wrapped up in a crescent roll and therefore an amazing creation (I love crescent rolls). There was some extra filling and crescent rolls left over so we made some tonight for dinner. We added a piece of swiss cheese to each puff which made it even better. I followed the directions on the package and baked them for 11 minutes at 375.

Date Night!

Mr. Lawyer can add personal drink master extraordinaire to his resume. Not only did he keep the mixed drinks following at our basketball party this past weekend but tonight he whipped up a couple of these yummy treats. I've seen a couple of recipes that call for Bailey's instead of vodka which might be interesting. This tasted good but not quite like a sugar cookie. My sprinkles were too heavy to stick to the rim so I just threw them all in the bottom.
 Sugar Cookie Martini
(makes 2, adapted from we are not martha)
6 oz. vodka
3 oz. butterscotch schnapps
3 oz. milk
Sprinkles for decorating rim
1. Rim the glass with sprinkles if desired.
2. Pour vodka, schnapps and milk in a shaker filled with ice.
3. Shake, shake, shake!
4. Serve it up!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Classic

This was the Mother Unit's favorite dish growing up (and still is?). She always asked her parents for it for her special birthday meal. In our little college apartment I taught Guenevere how to make it and when she studied abroad, she made it for people in Britain. Most importantly, this is the first meal I ever cooked for Mr. Lawyer! Although I just found out at dinner he doesn't remember! Or the first dish he cooked for me (Chicken Parm!).
Normally I don'd mess with tradition and perfection but I had to lighten this up and use what we had on hand. I only used 2 tablespoons of butter and it was fine (1/2 stick Grandpa?! Are you trying to kill me?).   I used leftover cheese from our party and since the Cabot Seriously Sharp was everyone's favorite there wasn't a single piece left for this dish! I used a combination of swiss, smoked cheddar and a handful of shredded four cheese mix. It was pretty good especially when you got a hunk of smoked cheddar but I still prefer the original version.
Grandpa Norm's Chicken with Sherry
(from Grandpa Norm!)
2 half chicken breasts (I normally cut them into tender sized for easier cooking and serving)
1/2 stick butter (I got away with 2 tablespoons)
1 can green beans (french cut!)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded (and a little extra for good luck!)
1/2 cup sherry
Salt, pepper, garlic powder
1. Melt butter in pan. While butter is melting season chicken with salt, pepper and garlic. Pan fry chicken.
2. Drain green beans and put in 8x8 casserole dish. Remove chicken from pan and place on top of green beans. Do not drain the chicken pan.
3. Add soup and cheese to chicken pan, heat until melted.
4. Add sherry to pan and let simmer.
5. Pour sauce over chicken and green beans. Bake for 45 minutes at 325 degrees. Serve with rice or noodles.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Minty Fresh!

For Meatless Monday we had veggie stir fry with brown garlic sauce from the freezer. This batch was better than the first batch I made. I simmered it at a lower temperature for longer amount of time and it defrosted better than when I defrosted the General Tso's sauce (which I just microwaved and threw in the wok). We need to eat lots of veggies to make up for all the food we ate this weekend (too much company and parties!). Plus we had these bad boys: delicious chocolate mint brownies which I like to call Andes Candies Bars. I think this is the third or fourth time I've made these. The brownie is nice and fudgie and the mint is perfect. The only thing I would change is how you melt the chocolate. If you have the time I would use a double boiler to melt it, it looks  prettier and gets more of a shine. This is the first time I melted it in the microwave and it wasn't pretty.
Andes Candies Bars
(adapted from Cooking Light)
Bottom layer:
1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute (or switch out for more eggs)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten
1 (16-ounce) can chocolate syrup
Cooking spray
Mint layer:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 drops green food coloring
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. To prepare bottom layer combine flour and salt; stir with a whisk. Combine granulated sugar, egg substitute, 1/4 cup melted butter, 2 tablespoons water, vanilla, eggs, and chocolate syrup in a medium bowl; stir until smooth. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring until blended. Pour batter into a 13 x 9–inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 23 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
3. To prepare mint layer, combine powdered sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter, and next 3 ingredients (through food coloring) in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer until smooth. Spread mint mixture over cooled cake.
4. To prepare the glaze, combine the chocolate chips and 3 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until melted, stirring after 30 seconds. Let stand 2 minutes. Spread chocolate mixture evenly over top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into 20 pieces.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Party Time!

Woo! We had a great group of people over for a great night of games and food! Unfortunately the Syracuse game was not so great. Ah well. We had quite the spread, I did not get a shot of the whole table once everyone brought their yummy food items (and there was a ton!) but I did get a shot of everything Sandy and I whipped up. More recipes from this night to follow shortly!
Putting Sandy to work in the kitchen as punishment for leaving the country for four years.
This was the second time I made these pretzels. I like them because they are easy and they don't have a ton of sugar or butter like some recipes do. However, I'm sure any pretzel would be much improved if you dunked it in a butter bath. I really like making the pretzel bites with cheese in them. I've made them with cheddar and asiago, both are delicious but you need to watch the cheddar because it will ooze out pretty quickly. They disappeared pretty quick with a couple of requests for the recipe.
Homemade Hot Pretzels!
(From the Mother Unit)

1 tablespoon yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/4 cups flour
Cheese, optional
Egg white, for egg wash
Sea salt
For baking soda bath:
1/3 cup baking soda
3 cups warm water
1. Sprinkle yeast in warm water. Let sit 5 minutes until frothy.
2. Add milk, brown sugar, butter, salt and flour to yeast mixture. Knead 10 minutes until dough is tacky.
3. Put dough in a greased bowl and let rise until doubled in size, about one hour.
4. Make your pretzels! Traditional pretzel shapes, pretzel sticks or cheesy pretzel bites! To make the pretzel bites take a small ball of dough and press a small block of cheese into it. Cover it completely and seal it up well so the cheese won't ooze out.
5. Put pretzels on greased baking sheet and let sit 15 minutes.
6. Mix baking soda with three cups warm water, dip pretzels in water for no more than 5 seconds and place on the baking sheet.
7. Brush pretzels with egg wash and sprinkle on sea salt.
8. Bake at 400 for about 12-15 minutes.
Trying different shapes the first time around.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Meatloaf Sauce!

"I really wanted a piece of meatloaf but this is so much better." What Mr. Lawyer says right after he takes a bite of dinner is usually the best compliment ever and this dish deserved it. I threw the leftover meatloaf, a jar of sauce, and a few dashes of garlic powder into a pot and simmered it for 30+ minutes. What made it amazing was when you'd get a bite that was all sweet from the bbq sauce. To die for. I will totally make another meatloaf just to make meatloaf sauce.
Plus my soup and sandwich plate looked super cool with spaghetti. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Best Idea Ever?

Let's talk about how excited I am that my last birthday present just came in the mail today. Surprise Dad and Melissa! And thank you for my birthday present.
Oh. My. God. Is it not perfectly amazing and convenient? Behold the Soup and Sandwich Tray! Or Sandwich and Salad Tray. Or chips and dip. Or you can just ditch the bowl and use it as a fun plate or serving platter for cheese and crackers. Gone are the days of balancing your soup bowl and sandwich plate! Which I was a pro at by the way because my dining hall survival skills prominently featured soup and grilled cheese. Don't worry, it's a set of two so Mr. Lawyer was able to partake in the nerdy soup/sandwich eating.
It's from one of my favorite websites, uncommongoods. They have such fun and pretty things. I bought one of Mr. Lawyer's Christmas presents there, a friend's baby gift, Mr. Lawyer got my birthday present there, Dad and Melissa sent me a gift certificate which bought me my snazzy soup and sandwich tray. I highly recommend it. 
mmmm warm soup belly.

Side-note: I'm covering for a fellow teacher the rest of this week which means full days and no brunch at home. Sad story. I packed my lunch tonight. Best lunch at the teacher table baby!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Well, it's not like my dad's

I never really had meatloaf until high school. I suppose that's when my dad decided he should learn how to cook (So Ben and I weren't exclusive raised on chicken fingers and mac and cheese. Hi Dad! Just joking...mostly.) and he made a delicious meatloaf. I called him up to ask him his recipe but he couldn't find it/couldn't remember it. So not helpful. Getting forgetful in retirement dad. Tsk tsk. This one was okay (although it had rave reviews). I used a pre-packaged mix of beef, pork and veal (on sale!). Between the milk and the bread it was just a tad too soft for me plus there was a lot of extra liquid bubbling up. I poured it off when the time was up but luckily Mr. Lawyer wasn't home yet so I let it sit in the oven after I turned it off. This decreased the soupiness. I would decrease the milk and use some bread crumbs the next go around. For me the key is to use Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce in place of the ketchup. It's what dad always did so it tastes like my childhood and I love it. Half the loaf is gone so I guess it wasn't that bad! Also, meatloaf is a gross name.
Savory Meat Loaf
(Adapted from Betty Crocker)
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup milk
1tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1teaspoon chopped fresh sage leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried sage leaves (omitted)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 garlic clove, finely chopped or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg
3 slices bread, torn into small pieces
1small onion, chopped (1/4 cup)
1/2 cup ketchup, chili sauce or barbecue sauce
1. Heat oven to 350°F.
2. Mix all ingredients except ketchup. Spread mixture in ungreased loaf pan, 8 1/2x4 1/2x2 1/2 or 9x5x3 inches, or shape into 9x5-inch loaf in ungreased rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches. Spread ketchup over top.
3. Insert meat thermometer so tip is in center of loaf. Bake uncovered 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until thermometer reads 160°F.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Stir Frying Beast!

I finally gathered up the guts to stir fry meat. I decided on beef because if you mess up and it's kind of raw you'll be okay. It was also on sale at the grocery store, buy one get one! The frozen stir fry veggies were also on sale. I pulled the General Tso's sauce out of the freezer and it worked out fairly well. My main complaint was that it wasn't as thick and pretty looking as when I made it fresh. I'm assuming this is a freezing/thawing issue. It still tasted amazing.
Technique! In my search for stir fry recipes I've found a couple of tips that are incredible useful. The first is how to slice the meat. A slightly frozen piece of meat will make slicing more easy (this I learned from my mother). To make the perfect sized stir fry pieces cut steak crosswise in 1/2 inch strips and then cut each strip lengthwise. All the pieces will be uniform in size and it's easy to trim all the fat.
The second thing is to take the meat out while it's still a little rare. You'll be throwing it back in with the veggies and sauce so it will finish cooking.
Beef and Pepper Stir Fry
(a hodgepodge of different recipes)
Beef, sliced into small strips
Choice of veggies (We used frozen peppers and onions)
Choice of stir fry sauce
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
1. Combine vinegar, soy, honey and ginger. Marinate beef for 30+ minutes.
2. Heat oil in wok until smoking. Pat meat dry and stir fry in small batches until brown outside but still rare inside, about 1 minute. Set aside.
3. Add your veggies and stir fry until desired tenderness. We prefer ours a little on the crunchy side.
4. Add in cooked meat and stir fry sauce. Continue to cook until sauce thickens.

Kitchen Project

I took a break from cleaning and reorganizing the apartment (because that's what you do on a day off right?) to work on a little craft project. A couple of months ago I had printed out some of my favorite food photos from my blog. This was very tough as there are so many yummy pictures that I am in love with. I had wanted to do some kind of art project in the kitchen with them but couldn't figure out what without spending a gazillion dollars on frames which seemed a little bit to fancy for the kitchen anyway. Today inspiration struck! I don't really use my kitchen white board a lot. I only use it to hold recipes I want to try, groceries I need to buy, and kids art work (which was easily moved to the fridge).
It was hard to decide which pictures to put up but I went with ones that were extra special or yummy. After the jump are the full size pictures and explanations!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Birthday Breakfast and Dinner!

My awesome sweet boyfriend made me Polly's Pancakes for breakfast and cooked me up a yummy Dinosaur BBQ dinner. Best birthday pampering ever!
Mr. Lawyer whipping up breakfast.
 He brought out another part of his Dinosaur BBQ Christmas Gift: Cajun Foreplay Spice Rub!
The collard greens were okay but we weren't impressed. The pork chops on the other hand....delicious!
Dinosaur Pork Chops!
4 boneless pork chops (they were thin ones)
Dinosaur spice rub
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Season pork chops with spice run and back for 25-30 minutes until done.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hoot Owl Hoot!

It's my birthday weekend, woo! Or should I say hoo?! I promised my kids I'd bring in cupcakes on Friday, I think these will blow their socks off. Special thanks to Christine for my cupcake decorating book and pen! These were fairly simple to make and required the least amount of ingredients and effort/talent out of the whole book. I love that you can change the personality of each owl just by the placement of the eyes or ears. Adorable!
There's a whole bunch of pictures! And 43 cupcakes....yikes!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Salad Bar

It's been a leftover/clean out the fridge week. The fish smell had finally started to go away and then Mr. Lawyer reheated the one leftover fillet tonight. Blerg. My Yankee Candles are getting a work out this week.
Behold my salad bar made from leftover turkey burger condiments!
I have a wonderful knack for making my salads unhealthy.
Oh well.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Stupid Sad Smelly Fish

Mr. Lawyer bet me that I wouldn't name this post "Stupid Sad Smelly Fish"....well who wins this one!? It is an apt name anyway because I was randomly in a sad mood even though my day was good, the fish was super smelly and therefore stupid. I've done a few things with frozen tilapia but over all I do not have a lot of experience with cooking fish. Especially fresh fish from the market. Evidently fresh fish is suppose to smell like the sea and not too fishy but it smelled like fish! So obviously I was worried about killing us all with food poisoning or at the very least having to fight for the bathroom. It also made my apartment smell like fishy fish. Gross.
I substituted collard greens for the mustard greens and it was delicious. However I was not impressed with the fish. I thought it was too fishy and didn't pick up any of the other flavors of the dish. Mr. Lawyer gobbled down two fillets and declared it was good. Obviously flounder is not my fish....unless it's fried.
Quick Steamed Flounder with Ginger Garlic Mustard Greens
(adapted from the NY Times)
1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, more for drizzling
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1-inch-thick slice peeled fresh ginger root, minced
2 small bunches mustard greens, cleaned, stemmed and torn into pieces
1 tablespoon soy sauce, more for drizzling
2 flounder fillets, 12 ounces each
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
1. Heat oils in a very large skillet. Add garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add mustard greens, soy sauce and 3 tablespoons water, and sauté until greens start to wilt, 2 minutes longer.
2. Spread greens out in pan. Season flounder with salt and pepper, and place on top of greens. Cover pan, reduce heat to medium, and let fish steam until just cooked through, about 6 minutes. If pan dries out before fish is cooked through, add a little more water, a teaspoon at a time.
3. Uncover pan and transfer fish to serving plates. If greens seem wet, turn heat to high to cook off excess moisture. Serve greens on top of fish, drizzled with a little more sesame oil and soy sauce, if desired.

So to make myself feel better about the stupid sad smelly fish I made some cookies for our maintenance crew and door people who once again fixed a new problem (bathroom light switch) within four hours. Danny, the head maintenance guy (who lived across from us for a year before moving to a different floor) made a point of coming over to me in the lobby to inform me that he took care of everything and replaced the whole switch. It was really sweet that he wanted to let me know. It's also really nice to not have to worry that the light will go off in the middle of your shower. Unfortunately I am currently out of flour and had to cheat a little bit.
One should always have some Betty Crocker in the cupboards for emergencies. 
They are not as delicious as the homemade gingersnaps I made and they don't have the pretty crackly top but they still taste pretty good. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Official Bun Toaster

My little brother has been in town for a few days so the Mother Unit decided to pop up this weekend to visit the two of us. It was the perfect excuse for a dinner party. Appetizers away! We went with the standard cheese and cracker set up (2 cheese, 1 meat): Cabot Cheddar, Cranberry Wensleydale, summer sausage, and various crackers. The Dork picked out some garlic hummus so I whipped up some of my delicious homemade pita chips. We had the Cranberry Wensleydale on New Years and it was delicious so when I saw it at the store I scooped some up. The boys decimated half of the dishes before I could get a (horrible) picture, there was a lot more to start with!

Birthday Cake!

The Mother Unit came up and she brought a birthday cake! Woo! 
I asked for something that wasn't too sweet as I haven't recovered from my holiday sugar overdose. This pumpkin cake was perfect! Mom says that it's better if you make it ahead of time and let it sit overnight (minus the caramel and nut topping, add those right before serving). We may or may not have had some for breakfast.
Luscious Four-Layer Pumpkin Cake
(from the Mother Unit)
1 pkg. (2-layer size) yellow cake mix 
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin, divided 
1.5 cup milk 
1 1/3 cup oil 
4 Eggs 
1-1.5 tsp. pumpkin pie spice , divided 
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened 
1 cup powdered sugar 
1 tub (8 oz.) cool whip, thawed 
1 1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping 
1 1/4 cup chopped pecans
1. Heat oven to 350 F. 
2. Beat cake mix, 1 cup pumpkin, milk, oil, eggs and 1 tsp. spice in large bowl with mixer until well blended. 
3. Pour into two greased and floured 9·inch round pans. Bake 28 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 min. Remove from pans to wire racks; cool completely.
4. Beat cream cheese in medium bowl with mixer until creamy. Add sugar, remaining pumpkin and spice; mix well. Gently stir in cool whip. Cut each cake layer horizontally in half with serrated knife; stack on serving plate, spreading cream cheese filling between layers. (Do not frost top layer.) Drizzle with caramel topping just before serving; top with nuts. Refrigerate leftovers.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Muffin Girl

I made some muffins because my kids have been asking for them all week (and it's been a good week) but my boys at home are eating them all before I even get to school! Between Mr. Lawyer and the Dork (my baby bro is here!) I have four less muffins. Can't they just have some pulled pork for breakfast?!
I made a bunch of regular sized muffins and then some mini-muffins in case anyone is unsure if they like Apple Cinnamon Muffins but why wouldn't you?! I made them last year and the recipe is here!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

BBQ Lefties

I'll start with a disclaimer: due to my weird teaching schedule I normally skip breakfast (horrible!) and eat a heavier brunch. Today I had the genius idea of putting the leftover bbq pork and beans on a tortilla instead of a roll and it was so much better. To start with all the flavors are more prominent without all the bread (although I'm sure some of the flavors melted together after sitting in the fridge overnight). As an added bonus it is slightly more healthy! The tortilla had 110 calories where your average hard roll has 190. There was about 10 less carbs as well. Not a huge deal, especially when you're dumping bbq pork on it, but it's a small thing that makes me feel better. I know tortillas are one of those things I should upgrade to whole wheat but I still have texture issues with that but I suppose it's something to work towards.
I find that tortillas freeze well (very useful when there is a sale!). This helps feed my quesadilla addiction. I pop them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds with a damp paper towel over them. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Evidently I'm Awesome

"The beans are awesome. The pork is awesome. You are awesome." The follow up to that statement was "but you know what this meal is going to do to me right?" Lovely. And so goes the third installment of my "Yearning for Home" series. First we recreated the delicious cheese platter and beef sandwiches of Clark's, our favorite Syracuse hangout. Then we grilled up some coneys to pretend we were at Heid's. Tonight we ventured back to our favorite pig-out place: Dinosaur BBQ!
I was pretty happy with our imitation bbq. Of course, it's all due to the sauce which Mr. Lawyer received for Christmas. The original recipe called for pork tenderloin which we all know is a pretty outrageous cut of meat to use for crockpot bbq, any cheaper cut would work just fine. It cooked in root beer, I'm not sure it made a huge difference once the sauce was added in but the final product was delicious so I wouldn't change a thing! I also used enough root beer to cover the meat instead of just one can. The beans were a last minute addition but they were delicious!
Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork
(adapted from allrecipes.com)
1 (2 pound) pork tenderloin (or any hunk of pork)
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle root beer (I used enough to cover all the meat)
1 (18 ounce) bottle your favorite barbecue sauce
8 rolls
1. Place the pork tenderloin in a slow cooker; pour the root beer over the meat. Cover and cook on low until well cooked and the pork shreds easily, 6 to 7 hours.
2. Drain well. Stir in barbecue sauce and cook on low for 1 hour.
3. Serve it up!
Baked Beans
(adapted from bushbeans.com)
2 (15 ounce) cans baked beans with pork
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
2 slices bacon (we omitted the bacon)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a 9x9 inch baking dish, combine the pork and beans, brown sugar, onion, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with the bacon slices.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until sauce is thickened and bacon is cooked.

Cookie Update!

The gingersnaps from yesterday get even better with time! I totally bribed our doorman with some to push through our maintenance request for a broken electrical plug. It was fixed when I got home. I also took this cool picture.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Gingery Love

I can rationalize making these cookies because ginger is good for your tummy and aids in digestion right?! Therefore these cookies are completely medicinal and okay for the second day of the new year. I think I like them better than the Molasses Cookies I made back in November. The Molasses ones were moist and cake-like, the Gingersnaps are slightly chewy (but not hard like store bought ones) and have more gingery zip to them. 
Gingersnap Cookies
(adapted from allrecipes.com)
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/3 cup cinnamon sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Sift the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir the mixture to blend evenly, and sift a second time into another bowl.
3. Place the shortening into a mixing bowl and beat until creamy. Gradually beat in the white sugar. Beat in the egg, and dark molasses. Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture into the shortening mixture; stir to thoroughly blend. Sift in the remaining flour mixture, and mix together until a soft dough forms.
4. Pinch off small amounts of dough and roll into 1 inch diameter balls between your hands. Roll each ball in cinnamon sugar, and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
5. Bake in preheated oven until the tops are rounded and slightly cracked, about 10 minutes. Cool cookies on a wire rack. Store in an air tight container.
I love the crackly top!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Woo! The first post better be something amazing right? Behold Brussels Sprouts! I suppose it's like a New Year's Resolution: More veggies! Healthier eating! Which I think will be pretty fun and easy with all my new toys.
Side note: things that are carbon steel (like my wok) or cast iron need to be cared for properly. One of the tips I have come across while researching recipes is that you should wash your pan immediately (warm water and sponge), dry it and put it back on the burner. The residual heat will ensure that all the moisture evaporates and won't rust your pan! Easy Peasy! 

Yet another recipe (3rd one!) from the January Bon Appetit: Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts! Which just happened to be one sale at WF the other day. Cheap and healthy, score. The New Year is off to a good start. Even though I didn't have the oyster sauce it still came out fine. Mr. Lawyer liked it better than the Martha Stewart Maple and Cayenne Brussels Sprouts because he preferred the savoriness of this recipe over the sweetness of the Martha one. I am on the fence. I loved the sweetness (um, it's maple = amazing all the time) but the savoriness was very delicious and it had a nice underlying asian cuisine flavor.
Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Chile
(adapted from Bon Appetit) 
4 cups halved brussels sprouts
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons thinly sliced garlic
1/4 cup oyster sauce (I didn't have any but it came out fine!)
4 teaspoons Thai fish sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon (or more) 1/8"-thick slices of red Thai chiles
Pinch of ground white pepper
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
1. Blanch brussels sprouts in a large pot of boiling salted water until bright green, about 15 seconds. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and stir until light golden brown, about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a small bowl.
3. Increase heat to high; add brussels sprouts. Stir-fry until they begin to soften, 2–3 minutes. Add oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar, pepper and chiles. Stir fry for 30 seconds.
4. Add chicken broth. Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced slightly, about 2 minutes; add more chiles, if desired. Stir in garlic.