Thursday, February 04, 2010

In the Kitchen (and then gobbling it down) with Cheryl

I definitely go through phases when I like to cook and bake a lot. For some reason, I've been in that phase pretty much non-stop for...well, as long as I can remember.

I love to cook and, for some reason, during the long cold winter days of Alabama (okay, they really aren't usually that long or cold, but this January and February have been unusually chilly), I especially love to get into the kitchen and make warm, satisfying things for my family.

It helped that I received the Pioneer Woman Cookbook for Christmas this year, and I've already tried several of her recipes. (Let me tell you that the recipes are great and I highly recommend the book!)

This first one was Fantastic with a capital F. I love party meatballs (which I usually make with the standard barbecue sauce or grape jelly sauce creation), and when I saw this recipe in the PW cookbook I knew I had to try them. They'd be great as a party food (I'm thinking great for the Super Bowl coming up), but I made a batch of egg noodles to go with them and they made a wonderful entree.

BBQ Meatballs

(for meatballs)
1-½ lbs ground beef
¾ cups oats
1 cup milk
3 ablespoons onion (finely minced)
1-½ teaspoon salt
Black pepper, to taste (I like a lot of it. But I'm a pepper kind of gal!)

(to cook the meatballs)
1 cup all-purpose flour (for coating them)
cooking oil (canola or whatever you like)

(for sauce)
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4-6 tablespoons onion flakes (or powder)
1 dash Tabasco

Combine all meatball ingredients. Roll into medium-small balls and place on a cookie sheet. Place sheet in freezer for five minutes. After 5 minutes, remove meatballs from freezer and immediately dredge in unseasoned flour. Brown meatballs in canola oil until just brown. Place into a baking dish.

Combine all sauce ingredients. Pour over meatballs and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. (I served mine with egg noodles, but these would be great with mashed potatoes as a side or I could seriously see them going on some hoagie rolls for meatball sandwiches.)

Holy Sheesh. They are reallllly good.

And then I gotta say that I LOVE me some hot and spicy food. And with my native Texan blood running through me, nothing's quite as a good as a hot jalepeno (or any other pepper variety). I knew, then, that these stuffed jalepeno popper thingies would be perfect for me.

Only problem is that I ended up being the only one who liked this so hot and I ate them all by myself (I made half of the following recipe, cause I sorta knew I'd end up eating most of them, and I didn't need more than ten; but the recipe here makes 20 and I think you need to make that many! LOL)

Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Jalepenos

20 whole fresh jalapenos
2 blocks of cream cheese, softened
1 pound regular bacon (not thick sliced), sliced into thirds

If you have them, slip on some latex gloves for the pepper prep. (I didn't have any, and I can testify that my fingers hurt for a while after doing this. So if you have em, wear em!) Cut jalapenos in half, length-wise. With a spoon, remove the seeds and white membrane (that's where the heat really comes from). Smear softened cream cheese into each jalapeno half. Wrap jalapeno with bacon pieces, and then secure by sticking toothpick through the middle.

Bake on a pan with a rack in a 375-degree oven for 20-25 minutes. You don’t want the bacon to shrink so much it starts to the squeeze the jalapeno. If, after 20 minutes, the bacon doesn’t look brown enough, just turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes to finish it off.

These things are HOT...but delicious!! (And they worked well refrigerated. I ate them for breakfast the next day. Seriously, we native Texans do things like that!)

(Oh yeah. A good glass of wine helps the heat. Just saying.)

After those recipes, I think we need a good sweet thing (don't you agree?). And you all know how much I love to make cupcakes and cakes and all sorts of desserts, so I can't fail you there.
I just made these White Chocolate Banana Muffins yesterday and they were absolutely delicious, especially when they came right out of the hot oven. (They work great as a dessert, but are also a really yummy breakfast or brunch treat.)

White Chocolate Banana Muffins/Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (these are best if a little over-ripe)
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil (or oil of your choice)
2 eggs, beaten
3 tsps vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups white chocolate chips (you can also do semi-sweet or milk chocolate, but I love the taste of white chocolate and banana together)
handful of chopped almonds (again, add what sort of nuts you like. Or leave them out completely)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 24 muffin tins, or line with cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, blend the bananas, oil, eggs, and vanilla together. In a large bowl, combine the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, and salt and mix well.

Fold in the banana mixture into the dry mixture until just blended. Add the the chocolate chips and nuts. Fold in carefully.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin/cupcake tins. I fill it 3/4 of the way full. You wan't these to be large, full muffins. Bake for 15-20 minutes, checking batter near the end to see if done. Cool completely. (OR, if you're like me...take one directly out of the oven and eat it hot. These are delicious hot!)

I ate a few as muffins, then decided that I would like them even better as White Chocolate Banana Cupcakes. So I made my favorite, mix-together-in-a-bowl, easy-peasy buttercream frosting and added some to top of each. (To make: soften/almost melt a stick of butter or margarine. Add confectionery sugar, vanilla, and milk (just a little bit) to taste. Frost top of muffins and, voila, delicious cupcakes!)

And then one more, just because I think you need one more. And because this one is so easy that I'm not even using a "real" recipe to describe it.

Easy Chocolate Trifle

Bake your favorite chocolate cake (I used a dark chocolate cake mix, and any kind will work). After slightly cooled, break the cake into bite-sized pieces and layer on the bottom of a trifle bowl (or punch bowl, or any kind of large bowl)

Make the trifle by layering these different ingredients: Cake pieces, vanilla or chocolate pudding (depending on how sweet you like), whipped topping (Cool Whip works well, or be industrious and make your own whipped cream), sweetened condensed milk (my FAVorite part of it all; mmmm!); and your choice of candy pieces (my favorite is Hershey's chocolate almond bars, but Snickers or Butterfingers or Reese cups or pretty much anything works well). End it with whipped cream on top.

This is so easy, and pretty much makes anyone happy (I know it made me happy!).

And on that note, I will close...and go figure out what I might can whip up in the kitchen. Because that post totally made me hungry!

(Love you all!)


Adrienne said...

Ok, what's at your house NOW LOL, can I come over!? LOL Everything looks sooooo good!

CrAzY Working Mom said...

OMG, now I'm hungry! Hubby makes those peppers w/bacon and they are yummy. It's a lot of prep work, but so worth it in the end. :)

Have a great weekend!

Cheryl Wray said...

Adrienne--LOL Not much of anything now! I did make a yummy noodle dish for dinner, but it's all gone now. :-)

Crazy--Those peppers are DELICIOUS!!

Edleen said...

oh Wow Cheryl! what are you doing to me??? they must really be soooo delicious!!!

hope to see more and enjoy the weekend! :)

hippo chick said...

You are ruining my diet.

~hippo hugs~

I haven't made anything out of my PW cookbook yet. I just read it and dream.


Gin said...

Awesome post, Cheryl. I think we all need to come to your house to eat.

Linda said...

you are killing me with all of this food!!!!!! LOL...I have to eat properly while training and it's hard to do with all this fab yummilicious stuff on your blog...

Cheryl Wray said...

Ed--It was all good! LOL You have a great weekend too!

Hippo--You HAVE to try some of the PW recipes!

Gin--Come on over! :-)

Linda--I need YOU to inspire me to exercise. LOL

Daisy said...

I can't wait to try some of these recipes!!! Especially the meatballs and the banana muffins.

Phats said...

YOU ARE SO CRUEL!!!! :) hahahahaha

Those cupcakes look sooooo good I really want one. Are you making these goodies for your super bowl party?

yes hearing ppl down south complain about winter makes me smile, we're currently under a winter storm watch our second in as many weeks BOO gladly change you weather now :)

Gretchen said...

Mmmm...Can I come over? Mercy, Cheryl. You know how to cook! I really see Delaney in that picture of you on the lounge chair (header).

Lael said...

Oooohmygosh! I need those peppers!