Saturday, July 9, 2011

Banana Oatmeal Muffins


OK, I can't help it. Lately I've been in a cooking sort of mood. I'm taking advantage of it, especially since a woman is supposed to lose energy in the third trimester. Other rumors are the "nesting syndrome" a woman can get... but considering I'm 29 weeks, and I haven't had the urge to clean or do laundry, I'm thinking I'm just lucky with the fact that I've wanted to cook so much lately and have had the energy to do it.

Once again, a new muffin recipe. I have three VERY ripe bananas and wanted to do something with them. Having made Banana Blueberry Muffins within the past three weeks, I decided it was time to try another banana muffin recipe. So, here are Banana Oatmeal Muffins!

SUPPLIES:

- 1 C Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 C Oats
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1/2 tsp Salt

- 1/2 C Oil
- 1/4 C Sugar
- 1 Egg
- 3 Mashed (as ripe as possible) Bananas

--> Optional: 1 C Blueberries OR 1/2 C to 1 C Chocolate Chips OR any other fruit or nut you can think of adding!

DIRECTIONS:

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

- Mix together the Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, and Salt in a smaller bowl. Set aside.

- In a larger bowl, mix together the Oil, beaten Egg, Sugar, and mashed Bananas. Add the flour mixture after this has been well combined. Last, but not least, add the oats, followed by any of the "extras" you're in the mood for, if any at all. (I added 1/2 C chocolate chips this time around!)
- Scoop the mixture into a prepared muffin pan, either sprayed or lined; each hole should be about 2/3rds of the way full.
- Cook the muffins for 15-25 minutes, completely depending on your oven. After 15 minutes has passed, check every two to five minutes by sticking a tooth pick (or utensil of some kind) into the middle of the muffin to make sure it has cooked all the way through. If you have added extras, make sure you are judging the cooked-muffins by gooey-bread-like-substance sticking to the toothpick/utensil, not melted chocolate or blueberry juice!

This recipe makes one dozen muffins, so if you're having company you may want to double up or so! Make sure to let the muffins cool for at least five to ten minutes on a cooling rack. Enjoy with some hot tea, coffee, milk... or drink of your choice!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Red, White, & Blue... CAKE!





HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

I have always been a lover of the Fourth of July. It intensified when my dad was activated with the Army, and even more when my husband joined the Marine Corps. I am so proud of my country and countrymen.

So, every year I try to make it special. Even if there isn't an opportunity for us to have the "typical" celebration, I always make goodies and make sure we see a few fireworks. Two years ago Clark was home for his ten days in between his boot camp days and MCT (Marine Combat Training, I believe). We had this huge picnic where we cooked out and then went and parked the car at Tweetsie (a theme park in Blowing Rock, NC) and watched fireworks. It was amazing. Last year Clark's newlywed cousins came and visited us where we had a wonderful cookout and drove to Tweetsie once again. It became a sort of tradition.

Now that we're in a new town, we have to start new traditions! Our friends Jessica and Zach are coming to visit us to have a cookout and then walk downtown to experience the small-town celebration of Independence Day.

To add to our new traditions, I wanted to try a new recipe. I've never made a yellow cake from scratch, and what better way to do it then fix it up in a new and improved way to make it a Red, White, & Blue (yellow) Cake! This recipe includes: Three Layered Yellow Cake from scratch, and a Cream Cheese frosting, topped with some blueberries and strawberries! I'm so excited for this one!

YELLOW CAKE

SUPPLIES for the CAKE:

- 2 1/4 C All-Purpose, Unbleached Flour
- 1 1/4 C Sugar
- 3 1/2 TSP Baking Powder
- 1 TSP Salt
- 1 C Milk
- 1/4 C Vegetable Oil
- 1/2 C (1 Stick) of Butter or Margarine, softened
- 1 TBLSP + 1 TSP Vanilla
- 3 Eggs
- Wax Paper

DIRECTIONS for CAKE:

- Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut wax paper to fit the bottom of three 9" round pans. Spray the pans with cooking spray with the wax paper in the pans.
- Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the milk, vegetable oil, butter, and vanilla. Mix for approximately two minutes.
- Add the eggs and beat for an additional two minutes.

- Pour the batter into the pans lined with the wax paper. About two cups of batter into each pan. Do not worry if this doesn't look like enough. These are three thin layers of cake, but three layers just the same!
- Cook the cakes for 20 to 25 minutes. Make sure to check the middle of the cake with a tooth pick or knife, knowing that it has cooked all the way through.
- Cook the cakes on cooling racks for 10 to 20 minutes.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

SUPPLIES for FROSTING:

- 8 oz Cream Cheese (Low Fat, if you can!), softened
- 1 to 2 C Powdered Sugar
- 5 TBLSP Butter or Margarine, softened
- 1 TBLSP Vanilla

DIRECTIONS for FROSTING:

- While the cake is cooling or cooking, whichever makes you happier, start the frosting! Beat the Cream Cheese with the butter and vanilla until nicely whipped and soft.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar to the mixture. You can add more than two cups of powdered sugar if you need it. Mix until you reach a consistency/taste that makes you happy! I used about 1 1/2 C of the powdered sugar, but you may decide you want it sweeter, or not quite as sweet!


TO PUT THE WHOLE CAKE TOGETHER!!:

Supplies:

- Three layers of Yellow Cake
- Finished Cream cheese Frosting
- Fresh, Slivered Strawberries
- Fresh Blueberries

Directions:

- Put one layer of the cake on a plate or cake stand. Frost only the top of it. Spread Strawberries evenly over the frosted top.
- Put another layer of cake on top of the strawberries. Frost only the top of this layer. Spread blueberries evenly over the frosted area.
- Put the last layer of cake on top of the blueberries. Frost only the top, once again. Make it look pretty with strawberries and blueberries, designed as you wish!

If you want to frost the sides of the cake you may, but I chose not to. I wanted the layers to be seen, and I also think too much cream cheese frosting can be a little over-kill. This could always work for cupcakes! Make a variety with blueberries and strawberries and some with both!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Bow-Tie Affair


I LOVE pasta.

There it is. The awful truth.

Pasta is definitely not something that should be cooked on a regular basis. To be sure, it should really only be enjoyed on special occasions.

My husband's favorite pasta is bow-tie pasta, or Farfalle. I've never really cooked it, to be perfectly honest, because I am partial to Penne (see Lucky Penne if you haven't before) or the typical spaghetti. Beyond that, my pasta love is minimal... at least when it comes to cooking.

So, since Clark has been a dear and hung pictures, worked, and is working at getting back into shape... not to mention starts school in August and has a baby due in September... and has been working on furniture for said baby... I decided it was about time I tried to make a pasta just for him.

SUPPLIES: (Forgot the Sea Salt in the picture... oops!)

- 1 lb Chicken Breasts, cut into strips
- 1/3 C Chopped White Onion
- 4 Chopped Garlic Cloves
- 8 oz of Quartered Cherry Tomatoes
- 1/2 C Chopped Red Bell Pepper
- 12 oz box or bag of Farfalle (aka Bow-Tie Pasta)
- 2-3 TBLSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or whatever level of Olive Oil you wish)
- 2 TBLSP + 1 TSP Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 TBLSP + 1 TSP Basil
- 1 TSP Red Pepper Flakes (this is optional... I just always like to spice things up a bit!)
- 1 TSP Sea Salt

DIRECTIONS:

- Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box or bag. Do this while you are cooking everything else. More than likely, the pasta will be ready first. Set aside for the moment while you finish preparing the other yummies!
- Saute the Cherry Tomatoes,Bell Pepper, Onion, and Garlic together with 1 TBLSP of the Olive Oil and 1 TBLSP of the Vinegar. Do this until the onion has softened and is starting to brown along with the garlic.
- Remove the veggies to a larger pan. I am using my Wok, only because I do not have a large, deep frying pan. If you do, use that!

- Saute the already cut up chicken in the pan once used for the veggies with 1 TBLSP of the Olive Oil and 1 TSP of the Vinegar. It is important to use the same pan so the chicken can soak up the flavors of the veggies, BUT you do not want the veggies and the chicken together just yet. That comes when you put everything together! Cook the chicken until it's completely cooked through... you can cut into the strips to make sure there's no more red, pink, or any coloring that doesn't seem normal!
- Now, combine the pasta and chicken into your larger pan with the veggies. Add the spices and the last TBLSP of the Vinegar. Toss everything together every two minutes or so for about 10 to 15 minutes, allowing everything to come together to make a delicious Bow-Tie Affair!