Monday, January 12, 2009

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.)

So, anyhoo...

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.

Chicken Spaghetti

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
4 eggs
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 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).


Lynilu said...

Cheryl, with Rice Crispy treats, I've also thrown in chocolate chips (or another kind, like butterscotch, if you like), cashews (or other nuts that your family prefers), crushed up candy canes, or anything your imagination can come up with! Once I took a dozen or caramels, cut them into smaller pieces and tossed them in at the last moment before dumping the whole thing into the pan to cool. Have fun!

Gretchen said...

Making that chicken casserole this week, thank you very much. :) Also printed out the brownie recipe.

Man, you make it hard to be good on one's diet!

BTW, your letter is "D". xxxooo

Cheryl Wray said...

Lynilu--YUM! There is so much you can do with those things. Love em!

Gretchen--You will love that chicken dish. It is SO good!!! And the brownies too! Yay, I'm so glad the "D" will help me out for my post tomorrow.

Laura said...

If you are the reason I gain back my 4 pounds, I am going to be SOOO mad!! LOL!!

Phats said...

This is just plain mean cheryl, to tempt me with such delicious looking pictures!! SHARE :)

Susie Q said...

Oh wow...this all looks so good. Umm....I have to make this casserole. It just sounds like something we would all love.

I LOVED seeing that Delaney thinks the 80s games are better! : )
How cute is that!
Dan downloaded his old favorite, Mario Bros but Grace just was not intrigued...: ( The girl is a killer with the bowling tho'. She LOVES that!


Kingcover said...

Chicken spaghetti? Huh? I love spaghetti and I love chicken but I ain't had no rootin' tootin' chicken spaghetti in the same bowl before. - Did you like my new accent??? All I need now is a piece of straw to put in my mouth and practice saying yeehaw a few times. Ha!

My granny made the best Rice Krispy Treats ever. She used to put the mixture into separate little paper cake cases. Yum yum. I like your idea of just putting it all into one large bowl and presumably just letting everyone take a piece of it when they want to :-)
Have you ever tried the same idea with Corn Flakes? They are a little more yummy in my book ;-)

Adrienne said...

Ahhhhh too much food!!! LOL

Marjolein said...

Oh my gosh Cheryl...... I just finished supper...... and I'm full....and you show this....... mmmmmmmmmh........looks so delicious!

Dawn Bibbs said...

Ok, now...which exit do I get off at to come to your house??? YUMMY!!!

Edleen said...

seriously Cheryl, this isn't good to start my Tuesday morning! hehe...

those look really scrumptious! wish i could try some of those cupcakes *drooling*

wishing you a Fab Week ahead!

Leah said...

I LOVE buttercream frosting. I made it for the first time when Natalie turned one. I vow to never buy the canned stuff again.
Great Recipes!

Cheryl Wray said...

Laura--LOL Go ahead. Blame it on me!

Phats--I wish I were closer to you. I'd bring you decadent treats all the time. I love a guy who'll eat! :-)

Susie--The casserole is really delicious; I think you guys would love it! We all really love the bowling on Wii too. It's fun!

King--Mmmm.Yes, them made with the corn flakes is really good too. That may be next on my list to make!

Adrienne--LOL Yep, there are ALWAYS sweets in my house. I'm bad!

Cheryl Wray said...

Marjolein--LOL Sorry... :-)


Ed--The cupcakes were absolutely drool-worthy, I'll tell you that.

Leah--Yes, I'm with you. I will always make the homemade buttercream frosting from now on. It is too good!

hippo chick said...


Jim and I are back on our WW food plan, but I'm copying these down for a later date. Especially the chicken/spaghetti. I so love pasta.

~hippo hugs~

Auburn Kat said...

That did not help my diet! =)

Monogram Queen said...

Cheryl - you are KILLING ME OVER HERE. KILLING ME!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dettao said...

That buttercream recipe is the exact one I use on my Christmas cookies. Curtis likes to dip the undecorated cookie into it like chips and dip!