Home Cooking

I’m starting to loathe the term “comfort food” but I think no other phrase better describes meatloaf and macaroni and cheese, right?

I tried a new recipe for the meatloaf tonight. I felt brave, adding bacon to turkey meatloaf!

This recipe comes via Take Heart, I pinned it on Friday and decided to give it a try. I loved the idea of wrapping something healthy in bacon.

I made a few slight adjustments:

I had some dried stuffing in my cabinet, so I just took that and crushed it up into crumbs.
I omitted the carrots because Mike doesn’t like cooked carrots.
I omitted the green onions because I don’t like cooked green onions. (I love them raw though!) I wound up substituting them with one shallot and a l/4 cup of sweet onions.
I omitted the egg because I hate when eggs are used as binders. (I’m weird like that!)
With those few changes, I really enjoyed the way this turned out. I loved the smokiness of the bacon and the lightness of the turkey with the onions and zucchini. Mike was less enthused by the sweetness of the sauce, but I found it delicious.

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I also made steamed asparagus with lemon zest. Always a favorite!

And to finish off this meal, I made mac and cheese via the Pioneer Woman.

I made a few changes to this recipe too:

I used cavatappi pasta.
I used colby jack and cheddar cheese.
I omitted the egg. (see note above!)
Once I melted my butter, I added one finely chopped shallot and four cloves of minced garlic. I let them cook for a bit, then I added my flour.
I used 2% milk instead of whole milk. To save some calories. And honestly, you never miss the extra fat!
I used AT LEAST 2 and 1/2 tsp of dried mustard. I love the stuff!

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Apple Streusel Dessert

Three of my favorite things: apple, streusel, and dessert.

This pinned recipe comes from Lovin’ From the Oven. I found it over a year ago and boy am I glad I did. I think this is the third time making this particular sweet.

It’s lovely and delicious!

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I only made about a third of the glaze and that was more than enough. I also used Gala and MacIntosh apples, seven total.

A Beautiful Cake

Mike requests the same thing every birthday, an apple pie. Which is so darned cute. But, our boys never go for it. They indicate, “A birthday must have cake! You cannot put candles in a pie!” Well, okay then. So I make a cake AND a pie. Although this year, I made the cake on his actual birthday and I baked the pie two days later. Which means we ate a lot of sugar that weekend.

I loosely based this confection on Rhee Drummond’s Chocolate Devils.

“Loosely based it on” is accurate because I used my own favored chocolate cake recipe, my own cherry buttercream filling, and Baking Illustrated’s ganache.

It was delicious and a beauty to behold!

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Quiche!

Truth be told, I don’t even really like quiche. Because it’s made with so many eggs, which I find gross, especially because they’re baked and usually overdone. Nothing worse than overdone eggs. Blech.
But! I was watching FoodNetwork (per usual) and Trisha Yearwood was making this Country Quiche and for some reason I thought, why not?!

I changed the recipe up a lot though. I don’t like cooked tomatoes, so I omitted those from the recipe and just added cut up cherry tomatoes to our plates right before serving. It was good to have a fresh raw veggie (fruit!) with the baked quiche.

I also used chicken sausage instead of pork. And I used two less eggs. Oh and added some cut up bell peppers (red) and a jalapeno pepper for good measure. I love the way it turned out! I’ve made it a few times now, sometimes making my own pie crust and other times buying one from Whole Foods. The premade crust is obviously easier, but the homemade crust tastes really great!

Whatever you do, add a lot of cheese, it’s luscious!

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For my Bubs

It is my tradition to make my family’s birthday cakes myself. I’ve made a lot of cakes over the last 9 years. With pleasure. My ideas mostly are simple. Every so often there will be a specific request. This year, I was left to my own devices, so I hit Pinterest in search of something cool and yummy.

It was my darling’s nine birthday, so nothing too twee. He LOVES Kit-Kats, so I figured, why not do the Kit-Kat cake? Okay!

I made both a vanilla layer and a chocolate layer from scratch. I then made some vanilla buttercream for the filling between the rounds. Next I made some chocolate buttercream to ice the whole thing. I put the cake in the fridge so the frosting would set nicely. Next I cut a piece of round wax paper the same size as the cake. Once I laid the Kit-Kats out along the edge of the cake, I placed the wax paper on the cake. I poured the m&ms inside the little pool and then added the ribbon. (I didn’t want to make the m&ms all slimy with frosting. Once we sang and the candles were blown out and wishes were made, we simply scooped the m&ms out and removed the wax paper.It didn’t look as pretty, but it sure was delicious!)

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Wow!

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Wee Pinapple Upside Down Cakes

Don’t you just love things in miniature? Me too. These adorable little cakes are the perfect portion for the right size dessert. Or you can blow it up and enjoy two! Or three! Okay, not really, calm down.

In the days of google reader (boo-hoo, I’m still pissed about it), I was reading A Beautiful Mess everyday. And that’s where I found this recipe. It was easy to follow and the mini cakes look and taste wonderful!

The only thing I omitted was the whiskey. It’s just not something I keep in the house, and I couldn’t see hauling it to the liquor store for one teaspoon!

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Easter Eats

I don’t much like hardboiled eggs to eat (though I guess egg salad is okay if it’s made right), but they sure are pretty all dolled up with food coloring.

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My sister Cindi posted a how-to of this cake and I knew I HAD to make it. Look how cute! I cannot find the original link that I used, but this one is almost exactly the same.

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I made one round chocolate cake and one round vanilla cake and cut according to instructions. I used jelly beans, Hershey kiss eyes, and red writing gel for the decorations. Mr. Bunny is laid on top of some colored coconut flakes.

And finally, I used some of our dyed eggs to make deviled eggs, a favorite of Mikes. We actually made them together. Some had capers, some bacon bits, and some paprika. They looked yummy!

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Coffee and Food

It’s too warm here. I think we’re supposed to be in the sixties by the weekend. I do not like this! It’s WINTER. W-I-N-T-E-R-!-!-!

You see I grew up in central NJ. We had seasons. All four of them even! I miss it so. We ice skated outside on ponds and lakes. We went skiing and sledding on real, non man-made snow. It was COLD. Frigid even. You know that serious snap of cold that hits you in the face when you walk outside in January? Yeah, I miss that.

See some pics while I whine about the weather?

It’s always interesting to see what they write on my cups. Lots of people get my name right. Some, do not. For some reason. Donna is so plain and non-exotic and I can never understand when people get it wrong.

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That little cup sleeve? I made that yo. I keep it in my purse, so I actually remember to use it when I’m out and about and pick up a latte. Saving trees, one sleeve at a time. You can check out my craftgrrl post about them here. There’s a link to the tutorial I used to make it.

Last night I made calzones. It’s definitely a go-to recipe for me. Mike makes the dough in the morning and lets it rise all day. Then I assemble them right before they go into the oven. Not super healthy, no, but fresh and delicious and filling. Bread and cheese and veg, what’s not to love! I roasted some asparagus to go with it. Got to get that green!

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Oh and look here’s my lunch from today:

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One of my favorite sandwiches to make and eat. Tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella. I make a light balsamic vinaigrette which I drizzle onto the ciabatta bread. Oh my God, SO GOOD!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

So I made dinner tonight.
I make dinner most nights!

Tonight was a new recipe though. It came from…PINTEREST! So I don’t just trawl there, I actually make things from there too.

The recipe, sweet and sour chicken, was very simple and easy to follow. Easy to execute too, albeit slightly fussy, a there are multiple steps in cooking the chicken. But really nothing difficult. The only adjustments I made were adding chopped red bell pepper and pineapple. Oh and I used some of the pineapple juice in the sauce too.

Here’s my shitty Instagram pic:

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I served it with brown rice and snap peas and broccoli. The broccoli and snap peas I blanched for two minutes (then shocked in ice water) and then sauteed with a little light olive oil and garlic.

The chicken was UNBELIEVABLY tender. The flavors were really good too. The pineapple and pepper added some really nice deliciousness. The only complaint Mike had was that he would like the sauce to be a little thicker and that there be more of it.

PS, how do you feel about the word “chunks”. Not too good right?

A New Tradition?

Hardly.

Last year I wanted to start a new Christmas Eve tradition and either make (or buy) a Yule Log for dessert. We called around to a few bakeries to see our options. Since we waited until the day before, there weren’t many. Our local Le Pain and they did have a few left. We picked up the hazelnut one and hoped for the best. It looked lovely! But it turns out, the boys just weren’t thrilled with it and would not eat it. I don’t blame them though, they’re young kids, it was sort of a sophisticated presentation.
This year, I had pinned what seemed like an easy recipe for a tradition french Buche de Noel. I thought I’d give it a go.

I tried to find the recipe I used, but alas, I think I deleted the link when my results didn’t work out quite like I wanted them to.

To be fair, it does look really pretty:

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The decorations were made from Airheads, you know that weird sour candy? Just heat it up in your hands and roll it out into the shapes you need. This part was surprisingly easy and quite satisfying as I adore the holly and candy cane.

The chocolate buttercream ganache frosting was DELICIOUS. I need to find the recipe again, because I will make it again for sure. It was light and airy and scrumptious.

But the cake part was awful. Just a dry thin sponge. I don’t think it could have tasted any worse.

So we don’t have a new tradition yet, but we have our old ones and I think I’ll attempt this again in the future. I’m determined!