Monday, November 28, 2005

Pumpkin Pie Bars

I know that I said that I was not going to be making pumpkin stuff for a while but the Thanksgiving holiday inspired me to give this recipe a try. It came from the most recent Kraft Food and Family Magazine. The recipe is here. I think that there might be an error in the recipe however. If you only bake it for the required 25 minutes the inner portions of the pan do not get cooked. A baking time of 45 minutes is more appropriate.

I will also admit to making a mistake in my bars. The recipe calls for 3/4 cup of sugar (1/4 goes in the top and bottom mixture and 1/2 goes in the middle). I didn't read far enough ahead and put all 3/4 in the top and bottom mixture. To make up for this I only put a 1/4 cup of sugar in the middle. Other than being a little on the sweet side I do not think that it caused any real trouble.

It wasn't a hard recipe to follow and it didn't use any pre-made ingredients (which is often the case with this magazine). With baking time included it took about an hour and a half from start to finish which isn't too bad. I think if I would make this again I would make the bottom a little thinner and add that to the top. I think that would make a more even bar.

Labels: ,

Monday, November 21, 2005

Pineapple-Coconut Cake

A few weeks ago I picked up a pineapple cake mix since it was on sale and it was new (at least I don't recalling seeing it before). This was an actual pineapple cake mix, not a pineapple upside-down cake mix (even though the box says that you can make an upside-down cake from this mix).

Last night I was looking through my cupboards to decide what to make and I saw the cake mix and thought that I would give it a try. But since I do not like to make just a plain cake I kept searching the cupboards and ran across a can of coconut milk and a can of crushed pineapple. The coconut milk was purchased months ago for a future Thai meal that never happened and as for the pineapple, I don't even remember buying it. So getting back to the cake. I looked at the ingredient list on the box and decided I would substitute the 1 cup of water with 1 cup of coconut milk. Oil and eggs were also required for the cake and I did not adjust those.

The cake baked up well in 2 9" pans. I've lately been using the "non-stick sprayed parchment paper in the bottom of the pan" method and that has made removing the cake from the pan so easy.

I decided that the cake should also be iced with Cool Whip since a light icing seemed the most appropriate. But this time I made sure to let the cakes fully cool before icing (unlike the peppermint cake). For the icing in between the cake layers I mixed the Cool Whip with the crushed pineapple. Once iced all over I sprinkled some toasted coconut over the top.

I'm really happy with this one. It's a very "light" cake as compared to the "Peppermint Dreams" cake of a few posts ago and that's a good thing since its almost Thanksgiving.

There wasn't much by way of a recipe for this one other than substituting coconut milk for water but if you want more details on how I made the cake just let me know.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Popcorn Chicken Bites

I've been wanting to make these for a while now. I saw Rachel Ray make them on her 30 Minute Meals show and I thought I should give them a try. Who would have thought that you can make popcorn chicken bites with just chicken and instant pancake mix. Yes, you read correctly, the only ingredients were chicken and pancake mix (oh, and some water). I'm not a fan of the "just add water" mixes since the pancakes are typically really bland; however, this is a great use for the instant batter.

Like I said earlier, its just two ingredients. First heat your oil (you want a decent sized pan so the chicken has room to cook). Then you mix the pancake powder with water (a little less than you would with pancakes since you want the batter sort of thick) in a bowl and cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Toss the chicken in the batter and coat it evenly. Then in small batches fry the chicken bites. They take a few minutes to cook.

To complete the meal I paired the chicken bites with some curly fries. It isn't the healthiest of meals, but it was tasty (and simple!). Mine was about a 15 minute meal! Yum!

Labels: ,

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Peppermint-Dreams Cake

Holiday cooking has begun. I recently got the newest issue of Kraft Food and Family Magazine and a cake very similar to this one was on the cover. I was inspired to give it a try.

If you've read my other cake posts you will know that I like to make cakes that use a box mix to start. This is another of those. To "doctor up" this one, pudding, sour cream, chocolate, and peppermint candy is added. The icing is cool whip.

If I hadn't been in a hurry, you would have seen that the cake was actually cut into 4 layers and cool whip was in between each. In my haste, I did not let the cakes fully cool before I put in the filling and it melted into the cakes (not that it was a bad thing in the end, but it would have looked much more impressive with all 4 layers showing).

The cake is one of the tastiest chocolate cakes I've had in a long time. Its super chocolately and really really moist. I'm not the happiest with the cool whip icing so I would suggest using real icing instead. And possibly doing a peppermint cream in between the layers since the mint flavor was a little too subtle for my tastes.

Labels: , ,

Monday, November 07, 2005

My Take on Shepherd's Pie

I had a beef roast that needed to be cooked. On Thursday night I put the roast into the crock pot with some chicken stock (I didn't have any other stock) and half a bottle of Italian salad dressing (it did seem like a strange combination at the time, but I went with it anyway). I let this cook for about 4 hours on the high setting. At the end of the evening, the meat was not very tender and I still didn't know exactly what I wanted to do with it, so I put it into the fridge for the night. Then on Friday morning I pulled the crock out of the fridge and let the crock pot do its thing on low all day. Late Friday night, I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the meat (it was rather tender by now), so again, into the fridge it went for the night. Then on Saturday morning, I started heating up the roast again (still on low) and that's when I decided I would try to make a shepherd's pie.

I looked through my cabinets and found a can of green beans and some instant mashed potatoes. I had considered using other vegetables had I had them on hand, but since my choices were green beans or corn, I figured the beans would work best. To begin, I drained the liquid from the crock pot and started cooking it down with some flour and butter to make gravy. I put the meat in a glass baking dish and topped it with some cheese and then the can of green beans (drained). I then poured some of the gravy over the dish. I next made a big batch of instant potatoes and spread it over the meat and beans. I then covered the dish with foil and put into the fridge since I had to be leaving soon and would not have time to let it bake.

I had planned on having it for dinner on Saturday night, but I had a large lunch and wasn't hungry in the evening. So it remained in the fridge until Sunday morning. I baked it, covered with foil, for about 45 minutes at 325 degrees. I then removed the foil, put some butter on the potatoes and continued to bake it for another 15 minutes uncovered.

I had also reserved some of the gravy so I could pour it over the dish when it was served.

The picture above does not do this dish justice. It was one of the best non-dessert dishes that I've made in a long while. Even though I was full, I went back for more (it was that good). I don't know if it was due to the fact that the meat cooked for 3 days or that the dish sat for a day before being baked or that it contained some of my favorite foods or a combination of all 3, but this meal was great and definitely something I will do again.


Friday, November 04, 2005

Double Crusted Quiche

This again is a case of necessity/frugality leading to invention. I had a surplus of eggs and a box of pie crusts about to go bad and I didn't want to throw them out. I also didn't want to make another dessert. The simplest thing I could think of was to make another quiche. I don't know why people these are a fancy food. Quiche is one of the most simple breakfast type foods that I know how to make.

So anyway, this one has ground pork and broccoli. Since I put a top on it, I skipped the cheese. I figured there was more than enough fat in the double crusts and that cheese would not be necessary. I don't recall all the spices I used when cooking the pork but I know there was salt, pepper, onion powder, and I think basil and some other stuff. I basically went through the spice drawer and put in a bit of everything that I think sounded good. I also did an egg wash on the top on the top crust.

I baked it at 350 degrees for approximately an hour at which point the crust was golden brown. I stuck a knife in the center and no liquid seeped out which was my indicator that it was done.

Its good. I will probably have it for dinner this evening and continue snacking on it over the weekend.


Chocolate-Orange Cake

I admit, I cheated on this one. I was at Marc's last night (if you do not know about Marc's, its a discount/closeout chain in Ohio) and I saw this in their closeouts section. My Mom had picked up one of the other varieties a few weeks ago (oatmeal cookies) and those were good so I thought I would give this one a try. And it was only $1.88 so I figured I could spare the money to give it a try.

Other than the mix, the only ingredients necessary were melted butter and water. If someone messed up this recipe, they have serious issues.

It wasn't bad. Its definitely orange and chocolate and very dense. A couple little slices and some whipped topping made a nice treat. If you have a Marc's around you, take a look in the closeout section for these mixes. There are about 5 or 6 varieties and they come packaged in fabric pouches.

Labels: , ,