Friday, March 30, 2012

Chocolate Granola Bars

My kids and I are big snackers. I like to try to have healthy snacks laying around the kitchen for us to eat and was excited to try this recipe for homemade granola bars. They turned out great and taste great too! They won't last long!

Chocolate Granola Bars
Source: The Marathon Mom

1/2 c. natural peanut butter
1/3 c. local honey
1/4 c. unsalted butter
1 c. oats (not quick oats)
2 T. wheat germ
1/2 c. coconut
1/2 c. chocolate chips (Mini work best, but it doesn’t really matter.)

Melt the butter, peanut butter and honey in a pot over medium to low heat, stirring constantly. Turn off the burner when melted. Pour in the cup of oats and the wheat germ. Stir until combined.
Wait until it cools and stir in the coconut and chocolate chips. Or, if you’re impatient with things like this, like I am, go ahead and dump it all right in. The result will be a more uniform chocolate taste.

Pour into foil-lined 8 X 8 pan and stick in the fridge. Once cooled, flip out onto cutting board and cut to the size you like.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


First of all I want to thank everyone for all the kind graduation wishes. They all meant so much to me. We had such a fun weekend with my brother-in-law, his family and our friends from Chicago who came in town to participate in the graduation festivities. Today felt kind of weird not driving to school and being in class for 8 hours. I also had the day off from work so it was a nice relaxing day spent with my kiddos.

We had this stromboli recipe for dinner last night. It was delicious! It makes 2 whole strombolis so guess what we had for dinner tonight? I love leftovers and now that I am working a full-time job, it's nice to have a break from the kitchen every now and then.

Source: Burn Me Not

Yields 2 loaves
1 (.25 oz) package active dry yeast
1 1/3 c. warm water (110° to 115°)
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 t. salt
4 to 5 c. all-purpose flour

Filling (for 2 loaves):
1/2 lb. thinly sliced ham
1/2 lb. reduced fat pepperoni
Dried basil
Dried oregano
8 slices provolone cheese
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add oil, salt and 2 cups flour; fitted with the paddle attachment, beat until smooth. Stir in enough flour to form a soft dough. Switching to the dough hook attachment, knead dough on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Roll each portion into a 15 x 12-inch rectangle. Arrange ham slices lengthwise down half of rectangle. Place pepperoni on top. Sprinkle with a little bit of basil and oregano. Arrange provolone slices over the top and then add the mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with a little more basil and oregano. Fold plain half of dough over filling and seal ends well. Brush with oil; sprinkle with oregano.

Bake on a baking sheet at 400°F for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; cut into 1-inch slices.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Culinary School - GRADUATION!

I did it! Yesterday I graduated from culinary school with a certificate in Professional Baking & Pastry. The ceremony was held at The Masonic Temple in Detroit and I graduated with honors!

I met many great people during my time at The Art Institute and here are two of my closest friends, Malissa and Heather. We were in every single class together and I will miss seeing their smiling faces each week!

Shaking hands with the Dean...

Walking down the aisle at the end of the ceremony. It's official...I'm a graduate!

The Baking & Pastry graduates...

The man I couldn't have done this without. He's the one that encouraged me to follow my dreams, sign up for culinary school, and supported me 110% the entire way.

It feels good to be done. It was such an amazing journey but I now look forward to using all of my new skills at my new job at the bakery. This new chapter in my life has been very exciting so far and I can't wait to see what the next 5 years have in store for me.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Culinary School - Finals....Part 2

I am officially done with culinary school. My last final is over and all my grades have been submitted. I ended this quarter with all A's. That means I was a straight A student during my entire time at The Art Institute of Michigan. But more importantly, I had so much fun and learned a TON! I stepped out of my comfort zone (after being a stay-at-home-mom for 5 years), replaced my jeans and t-shirt with chef whites and non-skid shoes and went after my dream. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED and boy does it feel wonderful!

Here's a quick look at my final for Artisan Breads. My group had to make 8 different doughs and shape then accordingly. We made: Challah, Soft Rolls, Baguettes, Regular Sourdough, Sourdough with Cheese, Olive Sourdough, Monkey Bread, and Portuguese Sweet Bread. Once all the bread was baked and cooled we had to set up a display and talk to the chef individually about each bread that we made. My group worked so well together and we ended the class with a bang! Check out all of our bread! We had so much bread that I couldn't even fit it all in the picture!

Graduation is this Saturday! What an exciting day it will be. Stay tuned for some graduation pictures...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Culinary School - Finals....Part 1

It's finals week! I will graduate this Saturday with a Certificate in Professional Baking & Pastries. It's a one year program and that year could not have flown by any faster!

For the final in my Showpieces class, we were paired in small groups and had to create a themed showpiece out of "dead dough". The dead dough contains no yeast so what you see is what you get...the bread looks the same before and after you bake it in the oven except with some browning. Dave and I choose an African theme. Our showpiece includes a drum, tooth necklace, totem poles, shield, feathers, and a giselle head. In the picture it is hard to see how big it is but it was tall!

Another view plus a couple of pieces that my classmates made:

For my Advanced Cake Decorating class we had to create a 3+ tiered wedding cake in fondant. I went for a more non-traditional cake and here's how it turned out.

Stay tuned to hear how the rest of finals week goes...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Simple Sesame Noodles

This recipe is a new favorite in my house. It received 8 thumbs up...well, 12 thumbs up if you include the friends we had over for dinner that night too! It went well with my Asian dinner of noodles, bok choy, and steamed fish with soy sauce and black beans (recipe to come). These noodles are so easy to throw together and make a delicious side dish! Thanks Pioneer Woman! I can always count on you for fabulous recipes!

Simple Sesame Noodles
Source: The Pioneer Woman

12 oz, Thin Noodles, Cooked And Drained
1/4 c. Soy Sauce
2 T. Sugar
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
2 T. Rice Vinegar
3 T. Pure Sesame Oil
1/2 t. Hot Chili Oil
4 T. Canola Oil
4 whole Green Onions, Sliced Thin

Whisk all ingredients (except noodles and green onions) together in a bowl. Taste and adjust ingredients as needed. Pour sauce over warm noodles and toss to coat. Sprinkle with green onions and toss. Serve in a bowl with chopsticks.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Culinary School - Weeks 9 and 10 (Bread Class)

It's been a couple weeks since I last updated you on my culinary classes. I am on the home stretch and will graduate in exactly ONE WEEK!!!!

Two weeks ago in Artisan breads we made: Croissants, Whole Wheat Croissants (half filled with ham & cheese and the other half filled with spinach & feta cheese), Danish, Egg Bread, Challah, Pain au Lait, and Marbled Rye. We got to practice braiding the bread with 2, 4, 5, and 6 strands. With the croissants we learned how to use the sheeter to roll out and fold the dough several times creating flaky layers.

Last week in bread class we made a German bread called Kugelhopf and an Easter favorite, Hot Cross Buns.

Next came the fun part! We each made a batch of decorative dough and created individual bread centerpieces. We were allowed to create anything we wanted. He's my creation:

With the use of a checkerboard pattern, a 3 strand braid, and rose with leaves - all made out of bread, I was able to create this awesome centerpiece. It was a blast!

Stay tuned for an update on my Show Pieces and Advanced Cake Decorating classes. Finals are next week too!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Star Wars Cupcakes

I was playing around in the kitchen the other day. Wanted to play with a new Star Wars stencil set that I bought at Williams Sonoma. My 5 year old is into Star Wars everything right now so he was super excited to see what I was up to. I baked a boxed cake mix {gasp}, topped it with a dollop of buttercream icing, then rolled out a thin circle of fondant and placed it on top of the cupcake. Using the stencil I sprinkled some cocoa powder on top of the cupcakes and ta-da...Star Wars Cupcakes. I think I will use the stencils and powdered sugar on some pancakes next, or even french toast. Star Wars characters can spruce up a lot of things!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Simple Macaroni and Beef with Cheese

I spotted this recipe on Pinterest. Hamburger, noodles, and cheese always makes a good meal and since my almost-two year old LOVES pasta, I wanted to give it a try. It turned out great and reminds me of goulash.

Simple Macaroni and Beef with Cheese
Source: Michael Ruhlman

1 large onion, diced
1 T. oil
salt to taste
Optional seasonings: black pepper, oregano, cumin, chopped garlic, hot smoked paprika, chili powder — whatever you’re in the mood for.
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 box macaroni
1 c. each grated cheddar and mozzarella cheeses

Sweat the onions in the oil with a pinch of salt. Add the beef and cook it, breaking it up as you do. Once hamburger is cooked thru, drain grease. Add another pinch of salt or two, along with any dry seasonings you want. Add the tomatoes and any fresh seasonings you may be using, bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook for an hour.

Cook the macaroni in boiling water until it’s half done. Drain it and add it to the tomatoes. Stir it into the sauce. Taste it. Add more salt and other seasonings as needed, and cover. When it’s cooled and the pasta has absorbed the tomato juices, transfer it to a large baking dish and cover it with foil. It can sit out for several hours like this, be refrigerated for up to two days, or frozen a few weeks.

Bake it in a 400 degree oven until it’s piping hot (about 45 minutes if it’s cold to room temperature). Just before you’re ready to eat, remove the foil, cover macaroni with the cheese and broil until cheese is melted.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Blueberry Pudding Cake

Boy, last week was busy! Thanks so much for being patient with me and understanding the lack of posts recently. I worked on Monday & Tuesday, had class on Wednesday, worked on Thursday & Friday, and had class again on Saturday! I was wiped out! Luckily my parents came for a visit and were a tremendous help with the kids. I even came home one day to a clean house and clean laundry! I love my parents!!! :)

Today's recipe is Blueberry Pudding Cake. My neighbor brought some of this over to me awhile back and of course I had to ask them for the recipe. I made it this time and my family devoured it. It's full of yummy blueberries and is simple to make.

Have a great Sunday!

Blueberry Pudding Cake
Source: Taste of Home

2 c. fresh blueberries
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. lemon juice
1 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/2 c. milk
3 T. butter, melted

3/4 c. sugar
1 T. cornstarch
1 c. boiling water

Toss the blueberries with cinnamon and lemon juice; place in a greased 8-in. square baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar and baking powder; stir in milk and butter. Spoon over berries.

Combine sugar and cornstarch; sprinkle over batter. Slowly pour boiling water over all. Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake portion comes out clean.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Corn Dog Muffins

My apologies for being a bit slower at posting recipes lately. With school AND working, I now have a full plate, but I promise to be back in the groove again real soon. Just bare with me, I only have 3 more weeks until I graduate from school. I'll then be able to focus 100% of my blog and new job and not have any more homework and tests/finals to study for. :)

Speaking of the new job, it is going wonderful! I absolutely love it and there is so much creative freedom there with cakes and cupcakes. We are having fun creating adorable St. Patrick's Day desserts as well as in the initial stages of planning out some wedding cakes for a friend of mine. Also, this week, I was able to decorate a cake for two birthdays at my hubby's workplace. Some of my biggest {local} blogger fans are now becoming my best customers!

On to today's recipe...Corn Dog Muffins! Several similar recipes are popping up all over Pinterest. Corn dog muffins are super easy to make and very popular with little ones. I made these a couple weeks ago to accomodate some chili soup. Super easy and super good!

Corn Dog Muffins
Source: Our Crazy Crafty Life

1 (8.5 oz.) package corn bread mix
2 T. brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 c. milk
1 can corn, drained
5 hot dogs, sliced
ketchup, mustard, or honey mustard (for dipping)

Combine mix and sugar, stir in eggs and milk. Add corn and hot dogs. Fill greased muffin pans 3/4 full. Bake at 400 F for 18 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Key Lime Pie

Key lime pie...brings back memories of when my husband and I went to the Florida Keys several years ago. Lots of sun, deep sea fishing, parasailing, and of course, lots of good eats including fresh key lime pie!

I love key lime pie and until we made it in class, I never realized how easy it is to make! Garnish with some lime slices and whipped cream and you will put many people at awe.

I whipped up my own crust by throwing some graham crackers and melted butter into my food processor. All I had on hand were Cinnamon graham crackers. I was a bit worried about the cinnamon flavor with the key lime but it turned out amazing. I think I may have discovered something there!

Key Lime Pie
Source: Advanced Cakes and Classical Tortes Class

1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust (homemade or store bought)
3 c. sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. sour cream
3/4 c. key lime juice
1 T. grated lime zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine condensed milk, sour cream, lime juice, and lime rind. Mix well and pour into a graham cracker crust.

Bake in a preheated oven for 8 minutes or until tiny pinhole bubbles burst on the surface of pie. Do not brown! Chill pie thoroughly before serving. Garnish with lime slices and whipped cream if desired.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Creamy Cool Corn Dip

Here's a different kind of chip dip for you. At least for's the first time I've ever made a chip dip with corn being the main ingredient. It was super easy - just throw the ingredients together, stir, and refrigerate! My preschooler loved it and so did I!

Creamy Cool Corn Dip
Source: Real Mom Kitchen

3 (11 oz.) cans of mexi or fiesta corn, drained (The kind that has peppers added to it.)
3 green onions, diced
1/3 c. light mayonnaise
1/3 c. light sour cream
1 T. lime juice
1 t. garlic salt
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. chili powder
1 t. sugar
Frito scoops or other corn chips

Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve with Frito scoops.