Wrinkles by Amy Rae

Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

Because I have no real recipes in my bag o’ tricks, I decided to start collecting them this past summer.  The hoarder in me hopes to pass them down to the boys as they get older.  I think it’s because every time I open one of my grandmother’s cookbooks and see her neat handwriting, my heart jerks a double beat and I’m whisked back through the smells and comforts of her house.

Pinterest and Gawker feed this desire nicely for me.  I love seeing all the pictures of good food and whenever I’m in a rut, I can easily select a new recipe to try out.  Here are some we’ve had recently:

Hawaiian Crockpot Chicken:  ♥ 1/5 hearts

recipe retrieved from here

My husband really liked this one, but I was *not* a fan.  I did like that it was super easy to make, but I was really disappointed with how flat this dish turned out.  There is an initial sweetness to each bite that is soon overpowered by the spiciness of the barbecue sauce.  The bug took a bite and said “Mmm!” which quickly turned into “My tongue is burning!”  Given that I had to get up and make him a PB+J, I was not a happy camper.  And since my husband puts hot sauce on EV-erything, he gets no vote here.

 

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole:  ♥♥♥♥  4/5 hearts

recipe from here

I *loved* this dish.  It is super-cheesy comfort food that will make it into my permanent go-to recipe book.  Lost one star only because, as my husband says, “It’s just broccoli and mushroom soup.”

 

Cinnamon French Toast Bake:  ♥♥♥♥♥  5/5 hearts

recipe retrieved from here

This was a fantastic weekend breakfast that stretched across two households.  Instead of baking in a 13×9 dish, I broke the recipe out into (2) 2 qt. dishes.  One for our family, one for my in-laws.  I added pumpkin puree* to the recipe so I wouldn’t feel completely guilty for serving this ooey-gooey sugary goodness to my peeps.

*OBSESSED with adding purees to our meals:  cauliflower to mashed potatoes, pumpkin to french toast, etc.  I’m not foolish enough to think this makes bad foods good for you, but it does add necessary vitamins!

 

Ugly Pecan Pie:  ♥♥♥♥♥  5/5 hearts

recipe retrieved from here

This was my first attempt at making a pie – any kind of pie – and while it was truly ugly (and a little burnt) – OH MY GAWD it was fantastic.  I used a prepared graham cracker crust (because what does someone use?) and cooked the tar out of it, but this only made this bad boy better in my opinion.

Ever since we ate at the Rocky Mountain Diner in Denver, CO last year, my husband – who doesn’t like pecan pie – has been raving about pecan pie. Theirs was a chocolate pecan pie kind of goodness.  I’ve searched all over for a recipe that was similar but couldn’t find one that came close.

But this was the best restaurant ever.  EVER.   The kind of food that makes you want to slap your mama. I honestly believe that that restaurant couldn’t serve anything that wasn’t fantastically memorable.  I was in Denver less than a week and ate there three times – no lie.  Every bite I ate I was exclaiming or shaking my head.  Sadly, the RMD closed down shortly after we left Denver.  That still makes me sad to know, and we don’t live anywhere near Denver.

While this pecan pie is nowhere near as good as RMD’s, it’s pretty darn good.

Since the hubbers loves Oreos (me, too!  me, too!), I thought this cookie recipe would be a happy surprise for him.  Truth be told, he was happily surprised and gobbled them up.  However, our opinions were split down the middle.  While the hubbers and others said these cookies were good, I was not so thrilled with them and rather upset that I’d wasted so many perfectly fine Oreos.  However, I was thrilled with my new PPM (since this was the first recipe I used with it).

Oreo Cheesecake Cookies ♥♥ (2/5 hearts)

recipe retrieved from here

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
3 oz. cream cheese, room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup Oreo cookie crumbs

(full disclosure:  I used salty butter, whole wheat flour, and forgot to add the chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine butter and cream cheese on medium until smooth.   Add sugar and vanilla and mix.  Add flour and mix.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Put Oreo crumbs in a bowl.  Scoop cream cheese dough mixture into 1.5 – 2″ balls and then roll in cookie crumbs.  Place cookie balls on cookie sheet and bake 12-15 minutes.

 

Sounds easy enough, right?  This recipe gave me all sorts of trouble.

Meh.

The final step (rolling the dough in Oreo crumbs) was way more difficult than it should’ve been, and I’m still not really sure why. In the first batch, I used Oreos mashed up in a plastic Ziploc bag.  This is how they came out:

the red is from the Holiday Oreos

Ugly, right?  The cookies were HUGE because apparently I didn’t consider how big these crumbly monsters would be after adding the chunky crumbs.  Plus, mashing Oreos in the bag seemed to waste a TON of Oreos (half the bag) on just a few rolled up balls.

For the second batch, I broke out the food processor and ground up the Oreos (mint ones this time – my favorite!).  This method was much preferred, since it was easier to roll the dough in the crumbs and it wasted less Oreos.  However, I had to pre-flatten the cookies before baking, otherwise they stayed puffed up chunky monsters.

Maybe these would’ve been better with the chocolate chips, but I’m hesitant to try again to find out.  I’d much rather just eat regular ol’ Oreos.

So, I did it.

I finally discovered parchment paper.  And I.am.addicted.  THis stuff is FAB-U-LOUS.

(If my excessive punctuation doesn’t convince you, you will just have to trust me.  You can do that.)

You can pull cookies right off the paper, with just a twist and a zip!

Twist and Zip!

Ever since my oh-so recent discovery of ParchmentPaperMagic (hereafter known as PPM), I’ve been baking up a storm!  Oreo cheesecake cookies (seen above), haystacks, chocolate-dipped pretzels, homemade Mounds

The best part of PPM is that nothing sticks to it.  PPM really is magic!   *love!*

I’ve recently tried my hand at a few recipes and figured I’d add my two cents for posterity.  So here goes:

Broccoli Chicken Casserole:   5/5 hearts

(recipe retrieved from here)

This casserole is AMAZING.  The salty, buttery goodness of the cracker crust finishes this piece to perfection.  However, this is not your 15 minute whip-it-up casserole.  It took me a good hour to put in the oven, but there are some time savers.  For instance, you could boil and chop your chicken beforehand.  I like to boil several chicken breasts at one time and separate the product into dinners over the course of a few nights, e.g., chicken salad, brunswick stew, chicken and dumplings.  Added bonus:  you can save and reuse the water from boiling method as chicken broth!

Another time saver is to have a kitchen helper – someone on hand to chop and mix along with you would certainly speed this along!

Ingredients:

1 lb. broccoli (I used steam-in-the-bag and chopped it up afterwards)
3 cups cooked chicken breasts
3 cups grated SHARP cheddar cheese
2 sleeves Ritz crackers
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 cups milk

Directions:

Grease a 13×9 pan and layer broccoli and chicken.  Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, cornstarch, chicken broth, salt + pepper, and milk.  Stir well and continue to stir until sauce has thickened.  (I just stirred for five minutes or so)  Add 1.5 cups of cheese and stir until melted.  Stir, stir, stir.

Pour over chicken and broccoli and top with remaining cheese.

Add poppy seeds to melted butter, stir.  Add crushed Ritz crackers, stir.  Spread crumbs over top of casserole.  (note:  I crushed my crackers while they were still in the sleeve.  I recommend crunching them lightly – the bigger chunks make this casserole terrific!)

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until bubbling goodness.

My husband and I ate this for DAYS afterwards and it never got old.  It heats up nicely and satisfies every time.  I highly recommend this recipe!

I have jumped whole-heartedly into fall.  My favorite season.  If the husband would let me, I’d be baking nothing but pumpkin-spiced or flavored goodies.  How awesome do these treats look?!

cream cheese pumpkin bread

But alas, he is a definite no-go on pumpkin flavors.  So, in lieu of baking, I’ve filled the house with apple cinnamon scented candles and potpourri (thank you Glade) and gone on a decorating binge.  The fall flag has been hung, the pumpkins have been selected from the patch, the table set and the wreath made.

I was really pleased with how the wreath came out.  It’s the first one I’ve done in a long time.  With all the fall stuff that’s marked down at Michaels, plus a smooth 40% off, I think I spent *maybe* $15 on this wreath.  Some time ago, one of my friend’s mom gave me her old Bowdabra, which is surprisingly super easy to use.  My mom wants me to make her some bows for Christmas.(Inspiration for wreath found here.)

For the centerpiece, I simply collected pinecones from the yard and sprayed them with gold glitter.  The glitter doesn’t show up well in the pictures, but it adds a nice touch to the table.  I still feel like the whole thing needs *something* though.

Picking out the pumpkins was by far the best part.  We visited a local farm, Phillips Farms, and had a great time of corn + pumpkin filled fun.  By the end of the day, I was family-funned out!  My parents were here and even little Teddy came along.  Who says newborns can’t have fun?

The adventures of the domestic goddess continue, aided in part to my newfound devotion to Pinterest.  I tell you, I’m obsessed.  OBSESSED!

So far, I’ve recreated:

Broccoli Cheese Bites So yummy!  My cousins came over for dinner and everyone just snapped these bad boys up.  I wasn’t sure what parchment paper was (Hey – I’m new at this!), so I used wax paper.  I also failed to flip them halfway through, so either that or my use of wax paper (or both) made it a bit difficult to pull these off the sheet once they were ready.  However, we still gobbled up the crumbly goodness.

BBQ Chicken in the Crock Pot   This one was super easy, since you can use frozen chicken breasts.  However, I would recommend scooping up some sauce when serving the chicken.  The chicken breasts I used were really large and so some bites were dry until we went back for extra sauce.

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells  I made this one tonight and the husband absolutely loved it.  It is freaking tasty!  A definite favorite so far!

This morning, I tried to make Nutella Stuffed french toast, but alas, I had no heavy cream.  Instead, I used this easy peanut butter and banana stuffed french toast recipe and added Nutella to one side of the sandwich.  The result was heavenly, but also deliciously deadly!  This is a once-in-a-long-while kind of breakfast.    Even thinking about it makes my mouth water!

These few successes have definitely kept me interested in learning more about parchment paper and all these strange goings-on that other people can do in their kitchen!

It’s probably an aspect of my pregnancy (helllllooooo nesting!), my fabulous ability to procrastinate, or it could even be a freak occurrence – but I’ve been blowing it up in the kitchen.  This past week, I went shopping and managed to successfully plan a full week of meals on the fly.  Then, I cooked the durn things!

See, I’ve always been tripped up by that in the past.  An urge to grocery shop usually leads to a refrigerator full of food that eventually spoils.  I typically end up rooting through the fridge and tossing mushy cucumbers ($1), wilted lettuce ($3), expired yogurt (10/$5), and other goods (asparagus, meats, eggs, the list goes on and on…).  It’s like an exercise in wasting money.  This past week, not so much.  Hence my total excitement.

I found this super easy recipe in a Taste of Home magazine I’ve had for years, and I’ve made it a couple of times now.  The hubbers absolutely loves it.   Even the little monster will ask for seconds.  Now, I’m not so on top of things to take pictures of the food I cook, so you’ll have to trust me.  And believe me, the ish is good.

Stuffed Shells

Ingredients:

Jumbo pasta shells
bag of frozen meatballs
jar of spaghetti sauce
mozzarella cheese

Cook pasta shells according to directions; drain and rinse with cold water.  In a 13×9 pan, spread a bit of spaghetti sauce.  Place a meatball in each shell.  Douse dish with remaining spaghetti sauce; sprinkle with cheese.  Bake for 35 minutes.  Eat your heart out!
Enjoy!


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