Monday, May 28, 2012

Vanilla Pudding Sauce over Blackberry Pancakes

This was amazing!  I wish I could eat this every morning, or evening, as was the case today.  It was amazing over blackberry pancakes.  Doesn’t that just sound incredible, Vanilla Pudding Sauce over Blackberry Pancakes.  It was as good as it sounds.

Vanilla Pudding Sauce
Adapted from Creations by Kara

2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 Tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla

Mix cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Whisk together milk and egg thoroughly and gradually stir in. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, till mixture comes to a boil. (Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat; if it gets hot too fast, the egg will cook.) Boil for at least 1 minute, still stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Serve warm or chilled.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Leek Macaroni and Cheese

I went to a coworker’s house a little while ago and she had this awesome macaroni and cheese dish for us to try.  I was just going to have a little, as I was eating dinner with my husband later, but somehow couldn’t help asking for a little more, and then a little more.  My husband had to eat dinner by himself that night…  Anyways, I couldn’t wait to make it myself.

A few notes about this recipe.  The original recipe called for chanterelle mushrooms, which were really good when I first tried this; however, my husband is more of a meat-lover rather than squeaky-vegetable-lover so I used sausage instead.  You could use any sausage but I used and love Hillshire Farm’s Chicken Apple Sausage with Gouda Cheese.  Mmmmmm.

Also, it called for milk white cheddar cheese and the first time I made this I used a mild yellow cheddar and it did not have enough flavor for me.  So this time I used a sharp white cheddar and it was awesome!! 

Oh, and I think my favorite flavors in this are the leek and ground pepper.  Who knew?

Leek Macaroni & Cheese
Adapted from A Chow Life

1 lb. macaroni pasta (large elbows)
4 cups whole milk
6 tblsp. flour
4 tblsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 tsp. sweet or smoked paprika
1 chicken (or other) sausage, sliced (see note below)
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (green part only)
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
8 oz. sharp (or other) white cheddar cheese

Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook at a rolling boil until just tender. Drain. Rinse. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bring the milk to just a boil in a heavy saucepan. Set aside.
Melt the butter in another pan. Add the flour and whisk over low heat for about 5 minutes. Do not brown. Remove from the heat.
Add the butter mixture to the milk and whisk well to get rid of lumps. Add 1/2 tsp of paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Return to heat. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly until it’s smooth and it thickens. About 5 minutes.
Add mixture, sausage, and leeks to the pasta and stir until well coated and mixed. Spread the grated cheese over the top of the pasta. Sprinkle the top with the remaining paprika.
Cover the dish in foil and bake for 25 minutes. Then, remove the foil, place dish under the broiler (about 4 inches away from heat) and cook for another 3-4 minutes until slightly golden.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Easy Herbed Pork Chops

I wanted a quick and easy pork chop marinade that I could throw together on days when I'm too exhausted after work to make something time consuming, and with all this nice weather we've been getting I want to grill out all the time.  (Not to mention, when we grill, that usually means my husband is doing it:)

I found this recipe while randomly surfing the internet one day from  It was so easy and turned out really tender and tasty.  Why didn't I think of using Italian dressing before?  This has become my go-to, weeknight, pork chop grilling recipe.

Herbed Pork Chops

4 pork chops, 3/4-in. thick
1 c. reduced fat Italian dressing
4 tbsp. fresh herbs (combination of your choice, such as basil, oregano, chives, rosemary)

Marinate pork chops in bowl or plastic bag for at least 1 hour before grilling.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sour Cream Waffles With White Chocolate and Cranberries

I have been working on this recipe in my mind for a while now.  I love the flavor combination of cranberries and white chocolate and thought it would be great in a waffle.  And I was right!  The sour cream waffle was soft on the inside, crispy on the outside.  The craisens (much easier than cranberries) and white chocolate added a delicious sweetness.

Sour Cream Waffles with White Chocolate and Cranberries
adapted from

1 1/4 c. water
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. plain yogurt (I used Greek)
1/4 tsp. lemon juice
1 c. white flour
1 c. wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
white chocolate chips
Craisens (dried cranberries)

In a bowl, combine the water, sour cream, yogurt and lemon juice.  Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar and mix well.  Add the eggs and vanilla and stir to combine.  Heat your waffle iron.  Spray it with cooking spray and pour some batter on (the normal amount).  Take a little handful of white chocolate chips and Craisens and sprinkle them onto your waffle batter before closing the lid (as you can see, I had children who requested no Craisens on their half :).

Cook it.  Serve it with buttermilk syrup or powdered sugar. 
See the little white chocolate chips, peeking out?  Mmmm.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Blueberry Cream Cheese Almond Braid

I recently hosted a baby shower for the first time and as I was searching for good brunch recipes, I found this one that I've been saving for a special occasion and couldn't wait to make it!  It's been staring at me from my Pinterest board for weeks and I just knew it would taste as yummy as it looked.  (Yes, I did test a new recipe out on other people.  And yes, I always do that.)  One of my favorite blogs is Willow Bird Baking!  If you haven't checked it out, she bakes some of the yummiest things.  I could have eaten the cream cheese filling alone it was so good.  And the crunchy almond topping with the blueberry was heaven for breakfast. 

Blueberry Cream Cheese Almond Braid
Recipe only slightly adapted from Willow Bird Baking

Dough and Filling Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 ounces best quality cream cheese
1/2 cup milk, minus 1/2 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup blueberry preserves (or your favorite preserves)

Cream Cheese Filling Ingredients:
8 ounces regular or fat free cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Icing Ingredients:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds

NOTE: To prepare this braid in advance, complete all steps and assemble the braid but do not bake. Cover the braid on its parchment lined baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Set out in the morning as you preheat the oven and then bake as usual.

Make the cream cheese filling. In your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the 8 ounces of room temperature cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla extract and beat until creamy and smooth. Set aside while you make your braid. (I chose to use fat free cream cheese.  It was a thinner consistency than hers but tasted and baked up perfectly.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In the bowl of a food processor, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the cream cheese and butter into the flour mixture and pulse to cut the fat into the flour (about 6 pulses). Add the milk and almond extract and blend into a loose dough.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead VERY LIGHTLY for 4-5 strokes. (NOTE: This is the step at which you can ruin the braid. If you overwork the dough, the pastry will be tough. Just gather the dough together and don’t worry about making it smooth. It will still look a little rough. That’s perfect.)

Between two sheets of waxed paper, roll the dough to an 10x15-inch rectangle. Turn dough out onto a lightly greased baking sheet and remove the waxed paper. Measure and mark the dough lengthwise into thirds. Spread preserves down the middle third of the dough and spread a thick line of the cream cheese mixture on either side of the preserves (still remaining in the middle third of the dough — try to keep your filling about ½ inch from the mark on both sides.)

Make 2¾-inch slight diagonal cuts at 1-inch intervals on each the long sides. Do not cut into the center jam-filled area. Fold strips, first one from one side and then one from the other side in a rotating fashion, over the filling. It will now resemble a braid. Bake in a 425° oven for 12-15 minutes, until the dough is cooked through and the top is lightly browned.

In a small glass measuring cup with a pouring spout, combine the sugar, milk, vanilla, and almond extract. Drizzle over the top of the braid. If desired, sprinkle on the toasted sliced almonds while the icing is still wet. Serve warm.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Homemade Chocolate Cream Filled Cookies (the best recipe!!)

I have had a number of homemade Oreo cookies in my life.  This version is, by far, the best I have had.  I made them and shared them last week, and my friend texted me something like this: "Those were the most delicious cookies!  I seriously could have taken the whole plate into my room and eaten every one of them. And I almost did!"  I feel the same way.  I got the recipe from my friend, Jen.  the same friend who gave me this lemony deliciousness.  The cream cheese frosting in the cookies helps them to be not too sweet.  I used a melon ball scooper thing to put them onto to pan and the kids had a lot of fun helping me with that.  In lieu of Mother's Day tomorrow, maybe you should make a batch, and then be sure to hide a few extra for yourself!

Chocolate Cream Filled Cookies  

2 devil's food cake mixes
1/2 c. flour
2 Tbsp. water
4 eggs
1 c. oil (I know, I  know.  Next time I may try reducing this, or substituting apple sauce for some of it.)

Cream Cheese Filling

1/2 c. butter, softened
1 lb. powdered sugar
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla

In a medium bowl, combine the vanilla, softenend butter and softenend cream cheese and stir it until it is well combined.  Add the powdered sugar and continue to stir it until it is mixed well (no clumps).  Let it sit in your fridge for about 30 minutes, or until it gets a little firmer.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the cake mixes, flour, water, eggs and oil.  Using a wooden spoon, stir it all together.  Drop by tablespoonful onto a cookie sheet.  I used a melon baller.  It worked great.  Bake them for 10 minutes, remove them from the pan and cool completely.

When the cookies are cooled, spread a generous amount of the cream cheese frosting on the back side of one cookie and stick another cookie on the other side, back side in (you get this, right?).  After I had made my little cookie sandwiches, I put them in the fridge for a little longer, so that the frosting didn't all come right out as I bit into one.  That seemed to do the trick (Maybe it was unnecessary.  I didn't test it.  Hmmm.).

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fresh Asparagus Omelette with Smoked Gouda and Hollandaise Sauce

The other day, I went to lunch with some friends and one of them ordered the most amazing omelette I had ever tasted.  So I recreated it.  And although it was a little more time intensive than I normally like, it got easier the second time around (I made it again a couple of days later for Lynnette).  I had to research how to make the perfect omelette and found a great blog that gave a step by step guide (  I also found an easy blender hollandaise sauce recipe.  In the end, I have made this as easy as I could for posterity's sake.  But I don't think you'll be disappointed in the amount of effort.  The Gouda and the asparagus with the omelette were amazing.  It really is one of the most delicious egg recipes I have ever had!

Fresh Asparagus Omelette with Smoked Gouda and Hollandaise Sauce

3 eggs
2 Tbsp. milk
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. butter
4-5 asparagus stalks
1 small tomato, diced
1/4-1/2 c. shredded smoked Gouda cheese
Hollandaise sauce (see recipe below)

To start off, steam your asparagus.  When the asparagus is tender, take it off the heat and set it aside.  Then make the hollandaise sauce and set it aside.  You will want to keep it warm if you can.  I kept mine on the stove top, where I had heat from my steaming asparagus and then my cooking omelette.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs with a wire whisk.  You will want to beat them for a couple of minutes, until they are very frothy.  Add the milk and salt and pepper to taste.  Melt the butter in your pan.  Add the tomatoes and cook them for a couple of minutes, or until slightly tender.  Then pour in your egg, over the top of the tomatoes.  For instructions on how to cook the omelette (there is no shame in not knowing, I had to research like crazy) read the above link, or this one helped, too:

So, according to those lovely directions, cook the omelette.  When the omelette is close to being done, place the steamed asparagus on one side and then sprinkle the gouda over the entire thing.  Let it cook for a few more minutes.  You may want to put a lid on the pan to help the gouda melt.  I didn't.  But, it might have helped my cheese to melt a little better.  Fold the omelette in half, over the top of the asparagus and put it on a plate.  Pour the hollandaise sauce over the top of the whole thing.  Then sit back, (finally) relax and enjoy the fruits of all that hard work!

Easy Blender Hollandaise Sauce
adapted from:

3 egg yolks
pinch of chili powder
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 c. warm water

Melt the butter in a small saucepan.  Try not to let it boil.  Put the egg yolks, chili powder, lemon juice and salt in the blender and mix it at a medium high speed until it lightens in color, about 30 seconds.  Turn the blender to its lowest setting and slowly add in the melted butter.  Continue to blend for a couple more seconds after the butter is all incorporated.  If you want yours a little thinner, add the warm water and blend it again.  It should taste buttery, lemony and a little bit salty.  If you need to add a little more lemon or a little more salt, just blend it well after you add it.  (The link gives more detail on the creaminess and flavor, if you are interested)