So, you say you're hungry and don't know WHAT to make?
Yeah, I know, I know...everyone's New Year's resolution is to lose a few (or a lot) of pounds and get in better shape. In the strange, convoluted life that I live, however, I have somehow managed to make "Cook and bake more" one of my resolutions for 2009. Crazy, I know. And, yes, I may totally regret that as my weight continues to go up and up as the year goes along.
But I really can't help it. I love to cook. I love to bake. I love to try new recipes. And...let me totally honest here...I love to eat. It is, after all, pretty vital to surviving.
(Not that making cupcakes and brownies and all manners of sweetness is necessarily "vital" to surviving, but it does make it more enjoyable.)
I thought I'd share some of my latest recipes with you. Just in case you want to get a jump on breaking your New Year's resolutions...
You may remember that the girls got me all sorts of fun cupcake-making paraphanelia for Christmas. You may also remember that one of my favorite quotes is, "Life is worth living, as long as there's another cake around the corner."
That being said...I had gone a long time without finding the perfect frosting for all of those cakes and cupcakes I love to make. Now, I do already have a fantabulous chocolate cream cheese frosting that I love to make, but I've wanted to discover that "go to" frosting for any flavor of cake or cupcake. So that I can avoid the canned kind from the store.
And I found it.
I tried out this Classic Buttercream Frosting for the first time on the cupcakes I made on New Year's Eve and all I can say is...leave enough in the bowl so that you can continually clean it throughout the evening. Because you will be licking that bowl dry.
An extra benefit is that it's so danged easy.
Classic Buttercream Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) butter (room temperature, or melted slightly in the microwave)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lb. box of confectionery sugar
1 to 3 teaspoons milk
Using a mixer, cream softened butter and vanilla until smooth. Add sugar gradually, allowing butter and sugar to cream together before adding more. If you want your frosting a little creamier, add a teaspoon of milk at a time and beat on high until you get the right texture. (This makes enough frosting for a generously-frosted two layer cake. It makes enough for a pile of cupcakes, with enough left over to lick from the bowl).
After o.d.-ing on the cupcakes (and bowl of extra frosting), I needed a new, warm, stick-to-your-ribs sort of comfort food a few days later. I tried this and found it to be a perfect casserole (that everyone in the family loved). It will be a a new go-to meal for me.
2 cups cooked chicken
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cups grated cheddar cheese (mild or sharp, depending on your preference)
1/4 cup finely diced green pepper
1/4 cup finely diced onion
(The original recipe also calls for a jar of pimentos. Being Anti Pimento, though, I deleted this from my recipe. If you are Pro Pimento, feel free to add them in.)
3 cups dry spaghetti, torn into two inch pieces
2 cups reserved chicken broth from pot
1 tsp. seasoned sat (I added more for taste)
salt, pepper, and other seasonings to taste (some people like cayenne pepper as well)
1 additional cup grated cheese
After you've cooked your chicken, tear up enough pieces to make 2 cups (reserve extra chicken for later use...I recommend a lunch of Chicken Nachos the next day...I'll have to share the recipe with you sometime!) and go ahead and scoop out 2 cups of broth from the pot. Cook spaghetti in remaining broth in the pot; don't overcook. Instead, cook it to "al dente" (around 6 or 7 minutes); the spaghetti will continue to cook when it's baked, so it doesn't need to be overdone. Combine cooked spaghetti with all remaining ingredients (except the extra cheese) in a baking dish. Top with remaining cheese. Cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly. (This recipe is also a great make-ahead dish that can be frozen and cooked later.)
This was a home run! SO good.
A few days later, I offered to make some treats for a bonfire that my in-laws were hosting for our church's youth group. I knew I wanted to make brownies and...gasp!...I was all set to make some from a boxed mix. The Baking Gods were smiling down on me, though, when the store I shopped at was out of every.single.brownie.mix they usually stock. I knew it was time to try a homemade brownie recipe.
I'll never use a boxed mix again.
Quick & Easy Homemade Brownies
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Melt the butter or margarine and then mix all ingredients in the order given. (You can also add nuts--walnuts or pecans--if you like. I don't care for nuts, so I added some chocolate chips into the batter.) Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes in a 13 x 9 inch pan. (Yep, it's that quick!) For a special touch, I melted white chocolate and drizzled it onto my brownies after they came out of the oven.
And if all else fails...or I haven't given you a recipe yet that really floats your boat...you can always go with a classic standby. One of my favorite, so-easy-anyone-can-do-it, treat. One I made for the bonfire as well because, well, they needed to be made.
Yep, Homemade Rice Krispy Treats.
I duded mine up with some drizzled white and dark chocolate, and sprinkles, on top.
A grand finish, if I do say so myself.
cook, bake, eat. Break those resolutions (just don't blame me).