Friday, November 29, 2013

Cherry Coffee Cake

This Cherry Coffee Cake from Controlling my Chaos was amazing.  Yes.  It IS ugly as sin.  But don't let that fool you.

I made this for Mrblocko to take as a dish to pass for breakfast with the 8th graders who are going through Confirmation at church.  There was a LOT of food so I thought it was a great testament to the goodness that he only came home with half the pan as leftovers. 

Poor us.  Forced to eat half a pan of Cherry Coffee Cake!  The horror! 

Actually, Blockette didn't want to try any at first.  She "hates" cherries.  I convinced her to take a taste test and I think her eyes rolled back in her head with delicious delight.

Truth be told, I don't like cherries either.  I didn't think I was going to like it, especially since it looked so hideous.  The cake mix is so sweet that it balances out any tart from the cherries.  Also, the crumble on the top tastes like cake batter.  I love cake batter.

I made one minor change to this recipe.  I used about half the glaze as a drizzled topping.  The cake was already so sweet with the cake mix and canned cherries.  I felt too much glaze would have made the cake overly sweet.  I say this and I have the biggest sweet tooth of anyone I know.  Half the glaze was just enough to help moisten the crumble topping and keep it in place for transport. 

Cherry Coffee Cake from Controlling my Chaos
1 box yellow cake mix, divided
1c flour
2 1/4 t yeast (or one package)
2/3 c warm water
2 eggs, beaten
1-21 oz can cherry pie filling
1/3 c cold butter cut into cubes

Glaze (use sparingly)
1c powdered sugar
1T corn syrup
1 t vanilla
1-2 T water

Mix 1 1/2 c cake mix, flour, yeast and water til smooth. Add eggs.  Pour in greased 9x13 pan. Top w cherries.  In small bowl mix remaining cake mix and butter with hands til crumbly.  Sprinkle over cherries.  Bake at 350F for 35-40 min.  (at 35 min the contents of the pan giggled a bit, after another 5 min they had firmed up)  Once cake is cool, combine glaze ingredients and drizzle liberally over the top of the cake.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Chicken Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries

In the summer we grill hamburgers at least once a week.  I love it because it means Mrblocko is in charge of dinner.  However, by the time September rolls around, I'm sick of burgers.  Of course I start missing those easy dinners by the time October rolls around, not to mention the tasty goodness of grilled meat.

While this meal of BBQ Chicken burgers and Baked Sweet Potato Fries (both from How Sweet it Is) isn't as speedy preparation wise as those burgers we ate this summer, it is a nice autumnal twist on the whole burger and fry combo.

We ate our burger sans bun and cheese, topped with onions.  The burgers were incredibly moist and paired well with the sweet from the caramelized onions and roasted sweet potatoes.  It was a perfect meal for a warmer fall day that was too windy to use the grill.  Double thumbs up from the whole Blocko clan.

BBQ Chicken Burgers from How Sweet it Is (makes 4)
1 lb gr chicken (I used semi frozen breast and my stand mixer w the meat grinder attachment)
1/4 c finely grated sharp cheddar
1 t smoked paprika
1/2 t onion powder
1/4 t garlic powder
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 cup BBQ sauce (We used Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Chipotle cause it's our fav.)
2 onions, sliced into half moon rounds
1 T olive oil

In lg bowl, combine chicken, BBQ, spices and cheese. Mix just til combined, and form 4 patties. Preheat skillet and cook burgers until fully cooked through about 8 min per side. (Remember these burgers are chicken, not beef.  You want them cooked all the way through. Salmonella is not your friend.) While burgers cooking, heat med skillet on med heat with olive oil. Cook onions til caramelized, about 10 min. Top burgers with onions(and cheese, BBQ sauce, lettuce and a bun if desired.)

Sweet Potato Fries (serves 2-3)  from How Sweet it Is
2 lg sweet potatoes
3 T olive oil
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1/2 t smoked paprika
2 T br sugar

Preheat oven to 425F.

If desired, peel potatoes and cut into wedges of desired size and shape. Add potatoes to bowl, combine w remaining ingred. Toss with hands so every wedge is coated. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet and spray with non-stick spray. Lay wedges on wire rack. Bake for 25 min, then check to see if potatoes are done. Rotate and bake for 15 minutes. They may need  5-10 min after that. (I did not have a wire rack so my potatoes did not get as crisp as I would have hoped, but nevertheless they were omnomnom good.)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies

A while ago I had the intention of posting a chocolate chip cookie recipe that I had tested once a month.  We became overwhelmed with cookies, so that thought became a bit impractical.

 If I make cookies and bake up the entire batch, the cookies will be gone in a few days.  We all decided as a family that was not the healthiest thing for us.  Now, instead of baking up the entire batch, I bake up one cookie sheet and freeze the rest of the dough.  I think I've mentioned that before.  Not only is it portion control, but it makes for quick preparation when we want a tasty treat.

These whole wheat chocolate chip cookies from Baked Bree cook up great from the freezer.  I think even better than they were when I baked them initially.  As usual, when baking cookies from frozen dough, you'll need to add a few minutes to your bake time.

The whole family liked the flavor twist that the peanut butter chips added.  If you don't (or can't) have peanut butter chips, I think butterscotch chips would be an excellent replacement.  I liked the slightly nutty flavor that the whole wheat flour imparted.  I also like that I can pretend they are healthy.

This recipe goes in the make again pile for sure.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies from Baked Bree
1 c butter, room temp
1 c sugar
1 c br sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
2 c whole wheat flour
2 c old fashioned oats
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 c chips (I used a combination of semisweet, milk, and peanut butter chips)

Cream butter and sugars til lt and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. In separate bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mix to butter mix. Add chips. Line baking sheet w parchment. Scoop dough leaving 2 " between cookies. Bake 350F for 11-13 min. (or15 to 17 min if using a big scoop.) Cool on a cooling rack.

Friday, November 22, 2013

From Scratch Chicken and Dumplings

I've made chicken dumplings before, but never from scratch.  The kind that I made before consisted of a few veggies, condensed soup, chicken and biscuits from a can.  Very easy and tasty. 

This version from Hip Foodie Mom was pretty tasty as well.  It contains mushrooms and dumplings with dill.  Since you are in control of the salt and fat, it's oodles healthier than the quick version.  Since there isn't all that salt and fat, it's not quite as tasty.  It does come in a close second though! 

I'm sure it would be tied if I had fresh instead of dried dill.  Fresh herbs are just so tasty!

Chicken and Dill Seasoned Dumplings from Hip Foodie Mom
3 T butter
1 med onion, cut in half moons
5 med carrots, cut crosswise into 1½" pieces
½ t dried thyme
1 c flour; split
29 oz reduced-sodium chicken broth (I used homemade chicken stock)
½ c mushrooms; sliced
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1½ lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breastts, cut into 2" pieces
2 T chopped fresh dill (I used 2t dried)
1¾ t baking powder
½ c plus 2 T milk
1 package (10 oz) frozen peas

In Dutch oven heat butter over med-high heat. Add onions, carrots, and thyme. Cover and cook, til onion is soft, 5 min. Add ¼ c flour and cook, stirring, for 30 sec to make roux. Add chicken broth and mushrooms. bring to boil, stirring constantly; season w salt and pepper. Nestle chicken in pot; reduce heat to med-low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 20 min. Meanwhile, make dumplings: In a med bowl, whisk remaining ¾ c flour, dill, baking powder, and ½ t salt. With fork, gradually stir in ½ c milk to form moist, soft batter. It should be just a little thicker than pancake batter; you can add an additional 2 T milk if too thick. Set aside. Pour peas in pot. And using a cookie scooper or spoon, drop batter in simmering liquid in 10 heaping tablespoonfuls (or smaller if desired), keeping them spaced apart. The dumplings will swell as they cook. Flip dumplings to ensure even cooking. Cover and simmer until chicken cooked through and tender and dumplings are firm, for about 20-25 min. Serve.  (Note:  I didn't think there were enough dumplings so I doubled the dumpling part.  After 4 servings I thought the soup was pretty dumpling sparse so when I reheated the soup for leftovers I made yet another batch of dumplings.)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Butternut Squash Sloppy Joes

A few days ago I wrote about how my mom came to visit and brought cookie dough mix in tow.  She also brought me several butternut squash (squashes?) from a relative's garden.  We aren't the biggest fan of squash in this house.  Although I gotta say that I turned everyone around with zucchini from the garden.  However, as a general rule, squash is not food for happy fun time at the dinner table.

I hemmed and hawed so much that one of the squash started crying.  I'm going to guess it was crying cause it was oozing this weird yellow stuff from it's eye, bellybutton, place where it was attached to the stalk. 

So I stepped up the pace and decided on Butternut Squash Sloppy Joes from A Sunshiny Day.

Surprise surprise...They were delicious!

I guess my mom should give me stuff she doesn't want more often. 
I really hope she starts not wanting boxes of $100 bills!

Butternut Squash Sloppy Joes adapted from A Sunshiny Day
1lb gr beef
1 T olive oil
2 med onion (diced)
1 c butternut squash (peeled & finely diced)
1 med red pepper (diced)
14.5oz fire roasted diced tomatoes (I used tomatoes from the garden that were pureed)
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 t cinnamon
2 t oregano
2 t sugar
1 t worcestershire sauce

 In lg pan heat oil over med-high heat. Add onions, peppers and squash. Cook 8-10 min stir occasionally. Mix all spices in sm bowl and set aside. Add gr beef to onion mix and cook 5-10 min til meat cooked through. add spice mix.  stir to coat meat. Add tomatoes and worcestershire and cook  5 min til reduced. Serve on a roll.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sugar Cookie Apple Crisp

My mom came to visit and brought lots of goodies with her a while back.  She had this almost expired package of cookie dough mix that she didn't have time to make before it "went bad."

I usually make cookies from scratch so I thought that if I made cookies from the mix my family might be grumbly that they weren't "homemade."  So I did some searching...and searching... and searching.  Finally, I found a recipe I thought would be perfect, Sugar Cookie Apple Crisp from

The sugar cookie put a fun spin on a classic dessert.  While we all enjoyed the Apple Crisp immensely, I think I still prefer the basic crisp with oats, brown sugar and oats. 

I'm glad I had the chance to try it.  If you've got some sugar cookie dough mix laying around in your pantry, I highly recommend trying it.

Sugar Cookie Apple Crisp from
2 T butter, melt and cool
1/4  br sugar
1 t lemon juice
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t allspice
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch salt
6 med apples, peel, core and chop in bite-size chunks
1 (14 oz) pkg refrigerated sugar cookie dough, broken into chunks(Or mix up your cookie dough mix per pkg instructions)
1/2 c rolled oats

Heat oven to 375F. Spray 9x9"casserole or deep baking dish with oil. In lg bowl combine butter, sugar, lemon, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt. Add apples and toss to coat. Transfer to casserole dish. Set aside. In food processor, combine cookie dough and oats. Pulse several times, til mix like coarse, wet sand. Sprinkle mixture over apples. Bake 20-25 min, til topping lightly browned and  apples bubble. Let cool slightly before serving.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Big Fat Brown Sugar Maple Cookies

These cookies are like a big ole slice of fall.  Sink your teeth into them!

The original recipe called for dark brown sugar,  but I never have any of that on hand so I used 1 c of light brown sugar and 1 T molasses!  It worked out great. 

As usual, my cookies didn't poof up as I thought they should have, never the less, they were still just as tasty as can be!

Brown Sugar Maple Cookies  adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen
1 c bread flour
1 c all-purpose flour
2 t cornstarch
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 c brown sugar, packed
1 T Molasses
1 egg, room temp (I forgot to do this part!)
2 t vanilla
1 1/2 t maple extract

In med bowl, whisk flours, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In stand mixer with paddle , cream butter and sugars on med til light and fluffy, 3 min. Scrape sides and add molasses, egg, vanilla and maple extract. Beat til well combined. Add half  flour mix and mix for 15 sec. Add remaining flour and beat til just incorporated. Roll scant 1/4 c dough into ball (about 2 1/4 ounces) and place on a parchment paper lined plate, cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate  2 hrs.Heat oven to 350 F. Line 2 sheets w parchment paper. Bake, til barely golden brown around edges, 10-12 min. Tap down lightly with back of spoon to flatten if too poofy.  Cool on sheet 5 min, then cool on rack.  I thought the cookies baked better from frozen.  If baking from frozen add another 5 min to bake time. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cheater Pull Apart Apple Bread

I think I've said on this blog once or maybe a trillion times that I love bread.  Carbs=love.  Even Blockette has been known to choose bread over dessert at times.  Particularly if its fresh bread.  I can't really blame her.  Bread is just so tasty.

So bread in dessert form? brainer.

This recipe is super simple.  All you need is a can of biscuits, an apple, and cinnamon sugar. 

Where have you been all my life?

Apple Pie Pull Apart Bread from Heather's French Press
1 can Biscuits (I used Grands)
1 medium apple, peeled,cored and thinly sliced
cinnamon - sugar {1/3 c sugar mixed w 1 t cinn and 1/4 t nutmeg}

Line a bread pan w parchment. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Toss apples in cinn-sugar. Set aside.
Slice each biscuit in half  to get 16 rounds and coat in cinn sugar too.  Place in pan starting with bread and alternating with apple and bread, ending with bread.  Bake for 20 min or until brown, then cover with foil and bake for 20-30 more min until the bread is fully cooked.  Top with a glaze made from milk and powdered sugar, or caramel sauce, or ice cream if desired!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Stuffed Pepper Hotdish

I'm slowly learning to love peppers.  I'm still not a fan of green peppers, or raw peppers of any kind.  However, red, yellow and orange peppers that have been roasted, that's a different story.  Roasting them really brings out their sweet flavors.  Super yum in my book.

Mostly Homemade Mom had this recipe for a Stuffed Pepper Casserole that I thought was high time I gave a try.  Of course, I used roasted red peppers instead of green peppers.  I also added black and pinto beans, just because.  This made an enormous casserole, and the leftovers froze very well.  I'd totally make this recipe again.

Cheesy Stuffed Pepper Casserole serves 10 - 12: from Mostly Homemade Mom
2 c cooked rice
1 lb ground beef (Shredded or ground chicken or turkey also tastes great)
1 T olive oil
2 roasted red peppers, diced
1 large diced onion
29 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
3 (14 oz) cans tomato sauce (I used tomatoes from my garden!)
2 (14 oz) cans corn, drained (I used 2 c frozen corn)
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
1 can each black and pinto beans (or 1.5c each)
2 c shredded cheddar cheese

Brown gr beef in a large stock pot, drain, remove from pan and set aside. Heat oil in stock pot on med high. Add peppers and onion. Saute 5-10 min. To pot, add tomatoes, sauce, corn, garlic, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5 min. Stir in rice and beans. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish. (Mine was too full so I froze the remainder in a 8x8 dish.) Top with shredded cheese. Bake 350 for 12-15 min til cheese melts.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Whole Wheat Tortillas

Whole wheat tortillas have been my obsession as of late.  I find them super tasty for some reason.  Even more tasty than white flour tortillas.  I love me some carbs.  (Let me tell you, when I had to take a test to see if I had celiac disease a few years ago I sang from the roof tops when the test came back all clear.)

I had made homemade tortillas in the past, but only with all purpose or unbleached flour.  Fresh homemade tortillas are a kajillion bazillion times better than the stuff you can buy at the grocery store.  That is a scientific fact.

I've attempted to make a direct swap with whole wheat in the past, and it didn't work out so well.  Whole wheat is tricky because, in my opinion, it acts like a little sponge and soaks up all the moisture.  If you don't have the right liquid to flour ratio, your resulting product can end up dry and crumbly.  Bleck.

As luck would have it I stumbled across this recipe from Handle the Heat for Whole Wheat Tortillas.  Hot damn.  These tortillas are the bomb. 

The tortillas are not dry or crumbly at all.  They have this lovely almost nutty flavor to them when they get toasted on the griddle.

Too bad no one else in my family knows this.  I made a batch one Monday morning and had quesadillas for lunch every day.  Yeah.  I ate the whole batch by my onsies.  I have no shame.

Whole Wheat Tortillas from Handle The Heat : Makes 10 tortillas
2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 t salt
3 T veg oil
2/3 c warm water

Combine flour and salt in med bowl. Add oil and warm water.  The dough should be soft.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 20 min.  Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface, knead a few times, and pat into disk. Cut into 10 pieces, and roll each piece into ball. Cover with plastic wrap for 20 min more. If you are lucky enough to have a tortilla press, use it to flatten each ball. If you’re like me, flatten each ball into a disk and then roll flat on a lightly floured work surface.  Tortillas should be 6-8" across.  On ungreased griddle, on med, heat tortilla on first side for 1 min, then flip and cook for another min.  I find that I have enough time to roll out the next tortilla while the first one is cooking.  Stack the cooked tortillas on a plate covered with a cloth kitchen towel to keep them warm.  I've been told the cooked tortillas last 1 week in the fridge, or frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months.  My tortillas never last that long though!

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Fledge

I am the queen of misheard lyrics.  When I first heard LMFAO's  "Party Rock Anthem," I swear it sounded like they were singing, "Polly Pocket's in the house tonight.  Everybody just have a good time."
Now I know they are singing "party rock is," not "Polly Pocket," but it totally sounds like Polly Pocket.  I even intentionally sing the song that way to make Blockette crack up.  Works every time.

Anyhow, flash back to when I was a wee kindergartener.  I was a pretty skilled reader, which back in the 70's was fairly rare for a kindergartener.  When we learned the Pledge of Allegiance it wasn't written down anywhere.  I guess they figured they didn't need it written anywhere if they thought we couldn't read it.  We just had to pick it up by listening to what the teacher was saying. 

I came home from school asking my mom why we had to talk about witches every day.  Naturally she inquired further, to which I replied, "Yeah you know.  When we say the Fledge of Allegiance?  Four witches stand.  Who are these witches?  Why are they standing? etc...."

Oh yes.  Much hilarity ensued.  I'm pushing 40 and I will never live that one down.  So, to embrace and celebrate my dorkiness, I created this cross stitch.

I adapted it from a pattern called "Wicked? or Wise?" by The Stitcherhood. 

Notice the witch on the far left is holding a flag.  (You can't say "The Fledge" without a flag, Amirite?)  The witch on the far right is sporting ruby slippers, in red metallic thread, of course.  You can't tell from this photo, but the two witches in the middle are fist bumping each other.  Yeah.  It's a pretty hip bunch of witches.

The design is 53x93 stitches.

The threads I used are as follows (2 strands of each unless specified):
Dresses and hats: GAST Black crow
Skin: GAST Spring Grass
Lettering: WDW Mulberry
Cauldron Whisps: one strand each -Whisper W79 and DMC5272
Stars and Moon: WDW curry
Ruby Slippers: on strand Kreinik #4 braid 061
Red on flag:814
Blue on flag: 336
White on flag: 00
Flag pole: 3784
Cauldron: Crescent Colours Black Coffee
Cat: Rainbow Gallery Splendor 5801

The design is stitched on some sort of 28 count light tan linen.  My guess is that it is DMC brand.