Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Caesar-Inspired Salad with Homemade Sour Dough Croutons

Not sure if anyone has notice but I have been MIA lately...well to say the least I have been a busy busy lady. For starters I graduated college! AH! The day always seemed so far away but it snuck up on me. I graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in strategic communication. It feels so weird to have graduated and to now be considered Ohio State Alum! I am still going to another school to get licensed in sign language interpretation but the hard part is over, and I will ALWAYS be a buckeye :)

In the midst of all that I moved into a one-bedroom apartment. I have been dying to live alone, just be and Kirby (my dog). I'm very particular and like things my way and am such a homebody that I just needed my own space. I finally moved off of campus away from the noise, beer can littered streets and vandalism into my dream neighborhood. Well, I guess I'm not exactly IN the neighborhood, I'm more on the border but I can walk around in it and that makes me smile. I moved around German Village. It's a quiant, cute, rustic little village just south of downtown Columbus. The streets are made of brick and lined with cozy cottages, cute shops and hole-in-the wall restaraunts that have food so amazing you can't find it anywhere else.

I am so in love with this neighborhood, I never want to leave. It would be my dream to someday own one of the victorian houses and cottages and live here forever but it's expensive...perhaps if I devise a perfect plan to rob a bank...I think part of why I like this neighborhood so much is how much history and character it has. Everything is old...which I love because old things have flaws...and I appreciate flaws. Growing up I was abnormally obsessed with having an old cozy home...I used to beg my mom if we could move into one of the victorian houses in the historic district in Troy. I don't know what it is, but I have always dreamed of living in a house and neighborhood like German Village. German village is a neighborhood of simplicity and enjoying the basics. There are so many things to do an see here, I've only barely experienced it, but when I get a significant amount of exposure I will devote a post to it. I want to include some pictures because I am just smitten...(I didn't take these...lets face it my camera and photography skills are lacking)

Anyway, on to the salad! This is one of my favorite salads I ever made. Sour dough is my favorite bread so I was very intrigued by this. When the croutons are baking you're whole kitchen instantly smells AMAZING. The croutons definitely made this salad...

Caesar-Inspired Salad with Homemade Sour Dough Croutons
Adapted from foodnetwork.com

2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups cubed sourdough bread
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/2 teaspoons dried herbs de provence

Salad and Dressing:
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
2 large hearts Romaine lettuce, chopped, 7 to 8 cups
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
Salt and coarse black pepper


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Heat garlic and oil over low heat and melt butter into the oil. Place the bread in a large bowl and toss with garlic oil and butter. Season with pepper, Parmesan and herbs de provence. Spread croutons evenly on a baking sheet and bake until crisp and golden, 15 minutes.

In the bowl you made the croutons in, combine garlic, lemon juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Whisk in extra-virgin olive oil while mixing the dressing.

Remove croutons and let cool. When you are ready to serve, add lettuce to the dressing in the bowl and toss to coat evenly. Add cheese, salt and pepper, croutons. Toss again. Adjust seasonings and serve


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Homemade Funfetti Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

These are some of my favorite cupcakes to make! I love the concept of cupcakes that look like ice cream. My mom and cousin had a birthday in early august so I wanted to make them something summery since summer is coming to an end, and what better than ice cream cone cupcakes? When I think Ice cream cones I think sprinkles and when I think of sprinkles I think of my all-time favorite cake...funfetti! I don't know what it is about white cake with sprinkles in it but funfetti rubs me the right way. As you all know by now, I'm  not a huge fan of baking out of a box so I searched for a good homemade funfetti recipe and found one from Lovin' From the Oven. I recently discovered her blog and love it because she bakes a lot of my favorite things and things that I would LOOOOVE to make. These turned out just like the box mix. I love the use of fat free plain yogurt, gives it an interesting texture and tang.

Homemade Funfetti Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes
Cake and Frosting from Lovintheoven.com


Funfetti cake: (this fills about 18 cake cones)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 XL egg whites
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/8 cup plain nonfat yogurt
a handful of rainbow sprinkles

Cream Cheese Frosting:
About 1/3 cup and 3 T of softened butter
10 oz cream cheese
3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325°F. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

Mix together in a bowl: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together melted butter and sugar until combined. Add egg whites and beat until mixture is smooth and light. Stir in vanilla extract. Add flour mixture in two additions, alternating with the yogurt.

Gently fold in sprinkles, if using. Scoop batter about 3/4 of the way in your cake cones (you can put bake them in a cupcake pan or tin.

Bake for 25 minutes, until cupcakes are barely golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out with a couple of loose crumbs. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes in tins.

Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Beat butter and cream cheese together until well blended. Mix in the vanilla. Gradually incorporate the powdered sugar into the batter. Beat until smooth. Add more powdered sugar if necessary to get the desired consistency.

Pipe onto cupcakes using rounded tip or ziplock bag with corner cut and top with cherry and/or rainbow jimmies


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Yes, this is as awesome as it sounds. This is one of my all-time favorite meals I have ever made. I mean buffalo chicken and macaroni and cheese combined? OH...MY...GOSH. I will say though that by no means is this good for you (yeah hi butter, carbs and cheese) but it was for Shawns birthday and special occasions call for special food and were both huge fans of buffalo-anything. I did lighten this up as much as I could and will post my changes as well as the link for the origional recipe. Me and Shawn generally like to eat healthy so that we can indulge at times with no guilt so I usually try to lighten up our meals without compromising the flavor.

I'm telling you, the changes I made were not even noticeable and so worth it. Shawn even said this might be his favorite thing I have ever made. It is perfectly cheesy and has just the right amount of heat spice. You also get an awesome crunch from the celery and onions. This dish is just perfect. Between the two of us, we polished off maybe 5 servings, but thankfully there were tons left for a few days worth of yummy leftovers.

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Foodnetwork.com


7 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
Kosher salt
1 pound whole grain elbow macaroni
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup hot sauce (I used Franks Hot Buffalo)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half
1/2 pound yellow sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 1/2 cups)
1/2 pound fat-free mild cheddar
8 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
2/3 cup fat free sour cream
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup crumbled reduced-fat blue cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and garlic and cook 2 minutes, then add 1/2 cup hot sauce and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 more minute.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and mustard with a wooden spoon until smooth. Whisk in the half-and-half, then add the remaining 1/4 cup hot sauce and stir until thick, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, then whisk in the sour cream until smooth.

Mix together the pasta, cheese mixture and chicken mixture and pour into prepared baking dish.

Put the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Stir in the panko, blue cheese and parsley. Sprinkle over the macaroni and bake until bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Lime and Cilantro

I am so in love with sweet potatoes. This love affair began when I went to this restaraunt in downtown Columbus called "Tip Top". I ordered the sweet potato fries with spicy mayo and a pot roast sandwich with swiss cheese on a pretzel roll and it was lifechanging. This is now one of my favorite restaraunts because of those two things. It's "Ohio" comfort food at it's finest in a chill, dimly lit hole in the wall. LOVE IT. Anyway, back to the sweet potatoes. Those fries are a.m.a.z.i.n.g. They inspired me to try out different things with sweet potatoes. I often buy them, pop them in the microwave and put plain yogurt and cinnamon on them, its super yummy. I came across this recipe by one of my God's, Bobby Flay himself. Not only are they sweet potatoes, but they include my favorite herb, cilantro. Cilantro didn't know I was having an affair with sweet potatoes before, but its all okay now after making these. Love em, plain and simple :)

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Lime and Cilantro
From Foodnetwork.com


3 sweet potatoes, unpeeled
Kosher salt
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup canola oil
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro


Parcook the potatoes: Place in a pot of water and boil until fork-tender; let cool. Slice each potato lengthwise into eighths.

Preheat a grill to medium or place a cast-iron grill pan over medium heat. Mix 1 tablespoon salt, the lime zest and cayenne in a small bowl.

Brush the potato wedges with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until golden brown on all sides (including the skin) and just cooked through, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter; immediately season with the salt mixture and sprinkle with cilantro.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

I nearly had a heart attack when I found this recipe...no joke. There are so many desserts that I just LOVE so desserts that combine my loves are right up my alley. Cookie dough is one of my all time favorite things, e-coli who? This recipe is awesome because the cookie dough is eggless, so induldge all you want. I brought these to my sign language class one day and everyone loved them. If you're not a freak like me, one small piece is rich enough to satisfy your sweet tooth. Me? I ate probably 4...or 5...okay maybe 6? I cut small(ish) pieces, lay off. Enjoy, these rock.

Cookie Dough Brownies
From lovintheoven.com


1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup AP flour
½ cup cocoa
½ teaspoon salt

Cookie Dough:
1-1/2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
4-1/2 tbsp milk
1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups mini chocolate chips.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 8"x8" pan.
Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Once melted remove from heat and add sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Blend together.
In separate bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, and salt. Add dry mixture to the wet and mix well.
Pour into greased pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Cookie Dough:
Next, combine the butter, sugars, milk and flour until well combined. Then stir in the mini chocolate chips.
Spread the cookie dough on the cooled brownies.
Then chill the brownies until the cookie dough is firm. Cut into bars and serve.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

I love hummus! It is very rare that I leave the grocery store without some roasted garlic hummus and lightly salted pita chips. I go to town with those two. I had never even thought about making my own until I was browsing online for ways to use these extra peppers I had and found this roasted red bell pepper hummus. I thought it was delicious. I had some other extra veggies too and bought some whole grain pita pockets and stuffed them with this spicy hummus, tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers. It not only tasted great but felt great in that its virtually guilt-free. The only thing I should warn people about with this hummus is not to plan on smooching anytime after eating it :)

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Adapted from Foodnetwork.com


16 ounces chickpeas
6 ounces roasted red bell peppers
1 jalapeno, seeded, diced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2  teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons chopped onion
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon chipotle pepper in adobo
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


Mix all ingredients, except olive oil, in food processor until pureed, then slowly add in olive oil.

Let set up for 1 hour prior to serving.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Asian Chicken Salad

I had a lot of random vegetables that I needed to use and wanted to make something different. I don't make a whole lot of asian food (although I love to eat it...don't get me started on crab rangoons and chinese donuts/bread). I found this recipe online and actually had all the ingredients. I was pleased with how it turned out It was very light and refreshing.

Asian Chicken Salad
Adapted from Foodnetwork.com


1 large carrot, peeled
3 cups shredded napa cabbage, from 1 small cabbage
3 cups shredded romaine lettuce, from 1 small lettuce
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and deveined, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh Thai basil leaves or fresh mint leaves, chopped** see Cook's Note
2 small chicken breasts, grilled
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted** see Cook's note
1 tablespoon toasted white or black sesame seeds*

1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar*
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, optional


For the salad: Using a vegetable peeler, shave the carrot and add to a large salad bowl. Stir in the cabbage, lettuce, pepper, Thai basil, chicken, almonds, and sesame seeds.

For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, if using.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well.

*Cook's Note: can be found in specialty Asian markets
**Cook's Note: To toast the slivered almonds, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly golden. Cool completely before using.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Strawberry Cream Angel Food Cake

Alas! I finally have a successful angel food cake. Thank God I did because this was Shawn's birtheday cake (he's old now, I'm dating a grandpa...haha ok 24 isn't bad) but he's been requesting an angel food cake with strawberries for a while now so I thought for his birthday I would make it happen (since I messed it up the first time I tried). I tried to make one for Shawn before when I made the Angel Food Cake with a Honey Lemon Yogurt Sauce but didn't nail the texture. With the tips I talked about on that post, I'd say I nailed this one. This one actually reminds me a lot of my great grandmas angel food cake. This is DELICIOUS and super super easy. And one other thing that makes angel  food cake so great aside from its heavenly light fluffy texture is that is has no fat...a cake with no fat! Yay! This recipe seems intimidating but I promise you it is not as hard as it looks at all and it is soooo worth it. The strawberry cream is to die for. I will be making this for the rest of my life...

Strawberry Cream Angel Food Cake
Cake Adapted From Foodnetwork.com
Strawberry Cream From Foodnetwork.com


for the cake:
1 3/4 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cake flour, sifted
12 egg whites (the closer to room temperature the better)
1/3 cup warm water
1 teaspoon orange extract, or extract of your choice
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

for the strawberry cream:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature (I used neufchatel)
1 (12 ounce) can condensed milk (I used reduced fat)
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons almond liqueur, plus 2 teaspoons, or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, plus 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
Whole strawberries, stems removed, as garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor spin sugar about 2 minutes until it is superfine. Sift half of the sugar with the salt the cake flour, setting the remaining sugar aside.

In a large bowl, use a balloon whisk to thoroughly combine egg whites, water, orange extract, and cream of tartar. After 2 minutes, switch to a hand mixer. Slowly sift the reserved sugar, beating continuously at medium speed. Once you have achieved medium peaks, sift enough of the flour mixture in to dust the top of the foam. Using a spatula fold in gently. Continue until all of the flour mixture is incorporated.

Carefully spoon mixture into an ungreased tube pan. Bake for 35 minutes before checking for doneness with a wooden skewer. (When inserted halfway between the inner and outer wall, the skewer should come out dry).

Cool upside down on cooling rack for at least an hour before removing from pan.

Using a serrated cake or bread knife, carefully cut the top 1-inch from the cake. Carefully remove and set aside. Using the tip of the knife, cut into the cake along the inner and outer edges, leaving a 1-inch border of cake intact. Using your fingers, carefully hollow out the cake between the two cuts, leaving an empty "tunnel". Tear the removed cake into bite-size pieces and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the condensed milk and beat until thoroughly combined. Stir in lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of the liqueur. Gently fold in the cake pieces and strawberries. Spoon the mixture into the tunnel in the center of the hollowed out cake, and cover with the reserved cake top. Cover cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

When ready to serve the cake, whip the cream until it begins to form peaks Add the confectioners' sugar and remaining 2 teaspoons of liqueur. Whip until the cream forms stiff peaks but is not dry. Frost the cake with the whipped cream and decorate with reserved whole strawberries. Refrigerate for up to 1 hour, or serve immediately


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Chili-Rubbed Steak Tacos

Me and Shawn were both in the mood for steak one night (mmm red meat) and as we all know by now, I love me some mexican-style food. I found an interesting recipe online for steak tacos. Not only did they look good but they were healthy...I also had some shrimp in the freezer and decided to grill some to add to the tacos. Gotta love some surf and turf!

The only thing I did not like about these was the strong cinnamon flavor. I was worried about it so I halved what the recipe origionally called for and still found the flavor overwhelming. I wouldn't want to leave it out because it gives the steak a nice hint of warmth, so I guess it depends on your personal taste preferences how much to put in. Also, I really need to get more experience in working with meat...the meat was a little tough but I think it was my fault...perhaps the way I cut it or cooked it influenced the toughness. Other than that, these weren't bad at all, especially the cucumber avacado salsa, its so refreshing and delicious!

Chili-Rubbed Steak Tacos
Adapted from Foodnetwork.com


1 tablespoon chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or less)
1/4 teaspoon salt
A pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/4 pound top sirloin steaks cut 1-inch thick
12 small corn tortillas (5 to 6 inches in diameter)
3 cups shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 lime, cut into wedges
2 cups Avocado Lime Salsa, recipe follows


In a small bowl stir together chili powder, garlic, cinnamon, salt and cayenne pepper. Rub spice mixture on both sides of steaks.

Grill or broil steaks for 5 to 6 minutes on each side for medium rare, turning once. Remove from grill and let meat sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Carve into thin slices.

Warm tortillas by placing them on the grill, for about 30 seconds, turning once. Or place 6 tortillas at a time between 2 moist paper towels and microwave for 45 seconds. Wrap in cloth napkin or place in a tortilla warmer to keep warm. Place the carved steak, warm tortillas, cabbage, cilantro, lime and Avocado Lime Salsa in serving dishes and let diners make their own tacos at the table.

Avocado Lime Salsa:

1 large cucumber peeled, seeded and cut into chunks (about 2 cups)
2 avocados, cut into chunks
1/2 red onion, diced
2 limes, juiced (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 jalapeno chiles, chopped, plus more to taste

Place cucumber, avocado and onion in a large bowl and add lime juice and salt. Add cilantro and chiles and toss gently.

Yield: 2 cups (1 serving is 1/3 cup)

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