Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dog Birthday Cake

My baby turned TWO this week! We celebrated by having a BBQ and small party with family. K just adores dogs of all shapes and sizes. We don't have any pets at our house but every time we drive past a dog or see one going on a walk she will yell with excitement. I thought is was only appropriate to make her birthday cake in the shape of a doggie this year. It was made with 1/2 chocolate cake and 1/2 banana cake with chocolate buttercream icing. My inspiration came from this tutorial on Cake Central. I was very pleased with how it turned out and K liked it even more! It was the perfect cake for her second birthday.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ham and Bean Soup

The hubby and I made time for a date night this past weekend. We dined at a restaurant that I've been wanting to try for a long time now called Paesano's. My hubby ordered ham and bean soup for the 1st course of his meal. Not something I would normally try but it was delicious! So good that I wanted to try a version myself at home.

After dinner we went to see the movie American Reunion. That group of actors always makes us laugh! It was such a fun night out and I look forward to many more to come.

Ham and Bean Soup
Source: Taste of Home

2 medium carrots, sliced
2 celery ribs, chopped
1/2 c. onion, chopped
2 T. butter
4 cans (15.5 oz each) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
4 c. chicken broth
2 c. fully cooked ham, cubed
1 t. chili powder
1/2 t. minced garlic
1/4 t. pepper
1 bay leaf

In a large saucepan, saute the carrots, celery and onion in butter until tender. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook for 15 minutes or until heated through. Discard bay leaf.

*Kathie's tip:  If your ham comes with the bone inside do not throw it away! After the soup came to a boil, I let it simmer on low for about 45 minutes with the bone in the soup. This gives the soup wonderful flavor. Then you can discard the bone before serving the soup.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cheesy Sausage and Tomato Shells

This is one busy week! Full time hours at the bakery, kindergarten open house for my son, my daughter will be turning TWO on Thursday followed by her 2 year doctor appointment, swim lessons, and then the week will end with my family coming to town to celebrate my daughter's birthday! It's going to be a fun week but I didn't want to have to worry too much about meal planning so I made this yummy pasta dish yesterday. It makes a huge meal (plenty for either lots of leftovers or even some for freezing). It was really good and my whole family cleaned their plates!

Cheesy Sausage and Tomato Shells
Source: Jamie Cooks It Up!

1 (16 oz) box elbow macaroni or medium shell pasta
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T. olive oil 
1 lb. sausage
2 (14.5 oz.) cans Italian Stewed Tomatoes
1 t. cumin
1 t. basil, dried
1 t. oregano, dried
salt and pepper
2-3 c. cheddar cheese, grated
Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil. Salt it well, and pour in your dried pasta. Cook it according to package directions. Don't let it get over cooked. Al dente is the texture you are looking for. Once the pasta is cooked pour the contents of the pot into a strainer resting nicely in your sink. Pour warm water over the top of the pasta and let it hang out there for a bit. 

While you pasta cooks, chop up one green pepper, one onion and 4 cloves of garlic.  Heat up a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 T of olive oil to the pan.  Add the chopped veggies and cook them until the onions are translucent.  Add the sausage and cook until browned. 

Open up 2 cans of Italian Stewed Tomatoes and pour the contents into a medium sized bowl. Stick some kitchen scissors into the bowl and cut the tomatoes up into large chunks. Pour the chopped up tomatoes into the skillet with the sausage and veggies. Add 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon dried basil and 1 teaspoon dried oregano. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over the top and give it all a nice stir to combine. 

Pour the cooked pasta into the skillet and stir it into the tomato mixture. Spray a 9x13 with cooking spray and pour the pasta/tomato mixture of bliss into it. Sprinkle it with grated cheddar cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbly. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Morning Time Breakfast Granola Cups

We love eating yogurt in our house. The kids and I love granola equally as much so why not pair the two together in this fun granola cup?  My kids were super excited when I served these for breakfast and they devoured them seconds later! Granola and's what's for breakfast!

Morning Time Breakfast Granola Cups
Source: Mommie Cooks

Yield: 12 regular sized cups or 24 to 30 Mini Cups

4 T. Butter
1/4 c. Honey
1/4 c. Molasses
2 T. Brown Sugar
1 t. Cinnamon
1/2 t. Ginger
1/4 t. Cloves
1/4 t. Salt
1 t. Vanilla
2 c. Old Fashioned Oats (Not Quick Cook)
1/2 c. Wheat Germ
1/4 c. Flax Seed
1/4 c. Sliced Almonds
1/4 c. Dried Cranberries

In a small sauce pan, add the butter, honey, molasses, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Heat until butter is melted and ingredients are combined. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

In a separate bowl mix together the oats, wheat germ, flax seed, almonds and cranberries. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and stir until completely coated. Place the mixture into the fridge for about 30 minutes to cool. When ready to bake, grease up a muffin tin and fill each opening about 2/3 full. Using your fingers press into the center of the hole and then work your way around the edges to form a bowl. If the dough is sticky, wet your fingers with cold water, shake them out, and proceed. Repeat as necessary.

Place the bowls into an oven preheated to 325 degrees. For regular sized muffin cups, cook about 15-17 minutes. For mini muffin cups, cook about 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely before removing from the tin. Store in an air tight container. When ready to eat, pull one out and fill with the yogurt of your choice. Top with fresh berries.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wedding Cookies

A couple weeks ago at the bakery I had my first wedding cake consultation! My friend Leah is getting married in May and wants me to make her wedding cake(s). I am so excited for Leah and Connor's big day and even more excited to be able to decorate her cakes! They are doing something very cool for their reception! Instead of having one big bridal cake they are going to have a cake as the centerpiece for EACH table! Each cake will be a different flavor and decorated differently. I can't wait! These are going to be such fun cakes to decorate!!!

In the meantime, I saw these wedding cookies on a blog called My Sweet and Saucy. I found the cookie cutter online and couldn't wait to decorate some wedding cookies. So the other day I surprised Leah with a few of them. Their big day is almost here and I wish them a lifetime of joy and happiness!

Design of the Wedding Cookies
Source: My Sweet and Saucy

Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies
Source: Bake at 350

3 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1 c. sugar
2 sticks (salted) butter, cold & cut into chunks
1 egg
3/4 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. almond extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling (video on University of Cookie).

Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets (I recommend freezing the cut out shape on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking) and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Royal Icing
Source: Bake at 350

4 T. meringue powder
scant 1/2 c. water
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 - 1 t. light corn syrup
few drops clear extract (optional)

Combine the meringue powder and water. With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat until combined and foamy. Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine. (Do NOT skip the sifting!) Add in the corn syrup and extract if desired. (The corn syrup helps keep the icing shiny.)

Increase speed to med-high/high and beat for about 5 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form. (You should be able to remove the beater from the mixer and hold up and jiggle without the peak falling.) Do not overbeat. Cover with plastic wrap touching the icing or divide and color using gel paste food colorings.

This "stiff" icing is perfect for outlining and even for building gingerbread houses and monogramming. To fill in your cookies, add water to your icing a teaspoon at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula, until it is the consistency of syrup. This technique of filling a cookie with thinned icing is called "flooding."

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Green Tea Kit Kat

I have an unusual post to share with you today. While there is no recipe, I wanted to share something my friend brought back from Japan for me to try...Green Tea Kit Kats! YUM!!!

I love green tea so of course I loved eating this Kit Kat. It had a very subtle green tea flavor but was quite good! It also got my mind wandering. What other kinds of Kit Kats are sold in Japan? Turns out, Japan has sold over 80 different kinds of Kit Kats! I feel so left out with just the milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate versions sold here in the US.

According to this article, one of the reasons Kit Kats are so popular in Japan is because Kit Kat is very similar to the phrase “kitto katsu”, which is a common sentiment of good luck (the phrase literally means “You shall surely win!”). Because of this, Kit Kats have become a small good luck charm given out to students taking school entrance exams.

Another reason Kit Kats are such a hit in Japan has to do with their marketing. Varieties of Kit Kats are quickly introduced and then pulled from the market to increase demand. In addition, certain varieties of Kit Kats are based on regional tastes, and are not always available nationwide.

Here are some of the Kit Kat flavors in Japan. Would you try them all? I know there are several I would love to eat and others I would probably stay away from.

* Soy Sauce
* Strawberry
* Apple Vinegar
* Salted Caramel
* Apple
* Pineapple
* ChocoBanana
* Yuzu and Pepper
* Red Soup
* Muscat Grape
* Watermelon
* Candied Sweet Potato
* Baked Potato
* Blood Orange
* Ginger Ale
* Veggie
* Royal Milk Tea
* Berry Wine
* Grilled Corn
* Miso

Thanks Nicha! Thank you for bringing back this delicious candy from Japan and for sparking my interest in Kit Kats!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Egg Veggie Pizza

Happy Easter from Kathie Cooks!!!

Here's a quick peek at what I made for our family get-together. It's a vegetable pizza in the shape of an Easter egg and made with celery, yellow pepper, red pepper, carrots, and black olives. You can use any kinds and color of vegetables you want!

Now I am going to log off for the day to spend time with my family in Indiana. Have a wonderful day!

Easter Egg Veggie Pizza
Source: Hungry Happenings

Dusting of flour
1 Sheet puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions
8 oz. Tub of vegetable cream cheese
Veggies of your choice, finely chopped
Optional, 2 T. heavy cream or egg wash

For step by step instructions, visit Hungry Happenings!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Parmesan Roasted Asparagus

Yum! I knew I was going to love this recipe even before I made it. I love asparagus; I love Parmesan cheese; and I love roasted veggies with fresh lemon juice squeezed on top. They make such a perfect combination! What a great side dish to serve this summer. Try it - I think you'll like it!

Parmesan Roasted Asparagus
Source: Barefoot Contessa - Family Style

2 1/2 lb. fresh asparagus (about 30 large)
2 T. olive oil
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 lemons cut in wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In the stalks of the asparagus are thick, peel the bottom half of each. Lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Sprinkle with Parmesan and return to the oven for another minute. Serve with lemon wedges.