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I seem to be on a little baking kick lately which is very unlike me. I think it probably has something to do with the fact that Gabriel now enjoys “helping” and it is something we can do together and it gives him such a sense of pride. Well my little sous chef and I rolled up our sleeves again last night and made Blondies. These are incredibly easy to make and allow you to be creative with the add-ins. This time we added white chocolate chips and cinnamon chips. These are so rich and yummy! I think I undercooked them just a bit and next time I might reduce the amount of butter just a bit but neither issue is going to stop me from eating these!! It also appears that I am the ONLY one to have any issues whatsoever with how they turned out. We’ll just see how many of these I actually get to eat. LOL I hope your family will enjoy these as much as mine is.
blondies

White Chocolate and Cinnamon Blondies
adapted from a Blondie recipe found at Joelen’s Culinary Adventures from 2005 America’s Test Kitchen Live! cookbook

1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted & cooled
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup cinnamon chips

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 by 9 inch baking pan with two pieces of foil. Spray the foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk the melted butter and brown sugar together in a medium bowl until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just combined. Do not over mix. Fold in the morsels and the nuts and turn the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula.

Bake until the top is shiny and cracked and feels firm to the touch, about 22 to 25 minutes (it took me at least 30 mins.). Place the pan on a rack and cool completely. Cut into bars.

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Simple Baked Salmon

We eat salmon a lot in this house. It is definitely the household favorite and it is the one fish that my very picky daughter actually requests. This our go to preparation. It is simple, flavorful, and allows the salmon to shine through. If you are looking for an new way to season your salmon give this a try. Yummm.
simple baked salmon

Simple Baked Salmon by Me

1 1lb salmon filet
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/8-1/4 tsp lemon pepper
1/8-1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8-1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/8 cup shredded parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Place the salmon filet on a foil covered cookie sheet and then cover with the lemon juice, lemon pepper, onion powder, garlic salt, and finally the parmesan cheese.

Cook for 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the filet. Salmon will flake easily when done.

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Oh My Gosh! I couldn’t stop eating it!!! I have only made quinoa once before. It was at one of my cooking club dinners. I liked it but it wasn’t until later that I learned of it’s amazing nutritional value. After finding out how good it was for you I added it to the list of rice/seeds/grains/legumes that I wanted to experiment with. The box of quinoa has been sitting in my cabinet for a couple of months now just waiting for it’s time to shine. Shine it did! This really hit the spot this evening. It was fresh, light, and tasty. The lime and cayenne complimented each other well. I just kept eating more of it and more of it. Good thing it is so good for you! The only thing I would do differently next time is add a little more of the dressing. If you are looking for an easy, tasty recipe to enjoy quinoa this is definitely a winner.

quinoa and black bean salad 3

Quinoa Black Bean and Corn Salad
adapted from American Institute for Cancer Research
1-1/2 cups quinoa
1-1/2 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1-1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1-1/2 cups cooked corn (fresh, canned or frozen)
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 small red onion minced
1 tsp. garlic, minced fine
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/3 cup olive oil

Prepare quinoa per directions on package and allow to cool.

While quinoa is cooking, in a large bowl toss black beans with vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste.

Add corn, bell pepper, onions, garlic, cayenne, and quinoa. Toss well.

In a small bowl whisk lime juice, salt, cumin. Add oil in a stream while whisking. Drizzle over salad and toss well with salt and pepper. Salad may be made a day ahead and refrigerated, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Enjoy!!

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I know, right now you’re thinking to yourself “really, brussel sprouts?!” Well you’d be surprised. I have been wanting to try stuffed shells for awhile now. I’m not really sure how I’ve never made them before but so it is. Anyways, once I decided to make them I was having a hard time deciding what to actually stuff them with. I didn’t want them to be just cheese and the next natural thought is spinach but it just wasn’t appealing to me. I remembered a sauteed shredded brussel sprout side we’d had awhile back and started to think that it would go well with the ricotta cheese mixture for stuffed shells and as luck would have it I had bought a large container of brussel sprouts just a couple of days ago. It turned out that we also had a container of mushrooms in the fridge so brussel sprout and mushroom stuffed shells it was. To Ed’s credit he didn’t even bat an eye when I suggested it. This turned out very good. The only thing I would do differently is increase the amount of the brussel sprout and mushroom mixture in the filling by a half. The recipe below is how I made it today. Give it a try…you just might like it! That means you brussel sprout nay sayers too. Oh, and it is a great way to get the kids to eat some veggies. Gabriel didn’t know what hit him.
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Brussel Sprout and Mushroom Stuffed Shells by Me

3/4lb brussel sprouts trimmed, cleaned, and shredded – you may want to increase a little
8oz mushrooms minced – you may want to increase a little
3tbsp butter
32oz ricotta cheese
2 eggs
2oz shredded parmesan cheese
1 tsp fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups marinara sauce
4oz mozzarella cheese
12oz jumbo shells prepared per instructions on box
**I forgot to add some garlic which you may want to do.

Melt butter in a large sauce pan. Add brussel sprouts and mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms are soft and have released their juices. Lightly salt and pepper and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine ricotta cheese, eggs, thyme, and parmesan cheese and mix well. Add brussel sprout and mushroom mixture and combine well. Salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 9×13 baking pan (note that there will probably be enough shells to fill a smaller pan also) spread a small amount of marinara sauce across the bottom. Fill each shell with ricotta mixture and place in pan. When finished top shells with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 mins or until cheese is melted.

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I used to love to cook a special breakfast on Sundays. However since life has gotten so hectic with two babies and me being sick for awhile that seemed to fall to the wayside. Well it is something that I have really wanted to start back up. This morning seemed like a perfect opportunity. I had seen a recipe for Spiced Oatmeal Pudding Bake awhile ago and it seemed like a perfect, feel good, Sunday morning breakfast. Especially with this morning being overcast and gray a little warmth and comfort would be just the thing. This was very good. It would be absolutely perfect on that cold winter morning when you need something to take away the chill. Next time I would add some more spices, totally substitute the white sugar with brown sugar and maple syrup, and maybe substitute the raisins with something else. Who knows…the possibilities are endless.
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Baked Spiced Maple and Brown Sugar Oatmeal Pudding
adapted from Inn Cuisine

2 cups oatmeal cooked with milk
2 cups small curd cottage cheese
2 large eggs
1/2 cup raisins
2 tbsps sugar
2 tbsps brown sugar
2 tbsps maple syrup
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup milk

preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray an 8×8 baking dish with butter flavored cooking spray

In a large bowl mix all ingredients (making sure first that the oatmeal is cool enough to not cook the eggs) together until well blended and pour into baking dish.

Bake for 1 hr or until middle is set.

Enjoy!!!

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Weekly Menu

Monday March 30, 2009 – Sunday April 5, 2009

Monday -Quesadillas
Tuesday – Sushi Bowls
Wednesday – Cauliflower and Mushroom Pie
Thursday -Pad Thai
Friday – Tomato Bisque and Grilled Cheese
Saturday –
Sunday –

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When I saw this on Cooking This and That who found it on Culinary Concoctions by Peabody who found it in the January 2009 issue of Bon Appetit I had an instant craving. What was it about this that caused such a reaction you might ask. Well if you did I’m not sure what I would tell you. I hated peanut butter and jelly as a kid. I always had to have a fluffer nutter sandwich instead. As an adult my dislike for jelly has mellowed a little but not completely. However none of that mattered as I glanced upon this creation. So rational or not, made it I did. I am really glad I did. Grown up PB&J…who new it could be so good?! By the way my 19mo son loved it too!

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread Wedges
adapted from Bon Appetit Jan. 2009

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup creamy (smooth) natural peanut butter (I used Jif)
½ cup sugar
Large pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup blackberry preserves

Spray bottom of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with nonstick spray. Beat butter and peanut butter in large bowl until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and salt and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Add flour; beat on low speed just until blended. (I did all my beating with a fork and it seemed to work fine.)

Transfer 1/3 cup dough to work surface. Shape into 1/2-inch-thick disk, place on plate, and freeze until hard, about 1 hour (I skipped this step and just divided the dough in 1/3 and 2/3 parts and set the 1/3 aside). Press remaining dough evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Spread jam over dough in pan, leaving 1/3-inch plain border. Refrigerate while dough disk freezes (I skipped this step).
Preheat oven to 350°F. Using large holes of box grater, grate frozen dough evenly over jam (I just broke the remaining 1/3 of the dough in pieces and dropped on the top).

Bake shortbread until dough edge is deep golden and grated dough on top looks dry and baked through, about 50 minutes (Mine was done after 40 mins). Cool shortbread completely in pan. Release pan sides. Cut shortbread into wedges. Store airtight at room temperature.
pb&j tart 4

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I enjoy shrimp scampi. You’ve got melted butter, garlic, lemon, and shrimp. What’s not to like? However, for some reason, every time I think of shrimp scampi I also envision pasta. So the last time that I felt like I wanted shrimp scampi I decided to make it into a pasta dish. This has since become one of our favorite dishes around here. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
creamy shrimp scampi pasta
Creamy Shrimp Scampi Pasta by Me

1 lb 31-40 count shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut into thirds
2 tbsps butter
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 small onion diced
1/3 cup white wine
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
salt to taste
1 lb pasta cooked per package directions- we used fusilli

Heat butter over medium high heat, add mushrooms, onion, thyme, and garlic and saute til mushrooms are soft and starting to brown. Add white wine, lemon juice, and shrimp and cook until shrimp are white. Add cream and cayenne and allow to very gently simmer for approx. 5 mins. Finally mix in the parmesan cheese and stir until cheese is completely melted and has become a part of the sauce.

Combine sauce and pasta, mix well, and ENJOY!!

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I have belonged to a cooking club for about 5 yrs now. It could be 4 years or maybe 6, I’m not really sure, but however long it has actually been it sure has been a lot of fun! I found the group when I responded to an ad on CookingLight.com. We don’t actualy do Cooking Light recipes but it was a great way to connect. It is an awesome group of women and it’s not just the food and wine that leaves me with a warm and fuzzy feeling after each meeting. This time we had a wonderful New Orlean’s style dinner with all recipes from Emeril.

We started out with a lovely Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce appetizer
Shrimp Boil
Emeril’s Favorite Boiled Shrimp
shrimp with cocktail sauce
These were so good I could have eaten them all myself!!!!

Next we had a dinner consisting of Herb Rice Pilaf, Nutty Green Beans, Hush Puppies, ( I thought that these were a little salty so I would reduce the salt a bit next time.) and Oven Baked Crabmeat Stuffed Sole with Meuniere Sauce (we substituted flounder for the sole). Nothing to complain about here!!!
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hush puppies
herb rice pilaf
sauce
dinner plate

And now for dessert…….
bananas foster cooking
Bananas Foster!!!!!
bananas foster

ENJOY I know we did!!!!!

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I joined my first online blogging group. It is called the Barefoot Bloggers. They are dedicated to trying as many of the Barefoot Contessa’s aka Ina Garten’s wonderful recipes as possible. I love Ina so this seemed to be the perfect inaugural group for me. I was very excited about this first recipe for many reasons. First of all it didn’t contain any meat which is a necessity until Lent is over. It will also be my first time using puff pastry and who doesn’t like tomatoes, goat cheese, and fresh basil. The anticipation while cooking was very high and I must say that I was not disappointed in the least! My puff pastry did not rise as much as I expected but other than that these were incredible! They would be perfect on a cool summer evening.Anne of Anne Strawberry picked an awesome recipe. Give them a try.
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Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart
2008, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

* 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
* Good olive oil
* 4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
* 3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 3 tablespoons dry white wine
* 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
* 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
* 4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet)
* 1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
* 3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves

Directions

Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. Using a 6-inch wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.

Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.

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