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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Campfire Delight Cake





Independence Day isn’t Independence Day without some toasted marshmallows.  So why not kick it up a notch and enjoy them in cake form?

Complete with a rich chocolate cake, decadent frosting, and an ooey gooey marshmallow filling, this cake is sure bring a smile to your face!


Recipe Notes:
*I was able to find Nestle Malted Milk in my local grocery store.  If it’s not available in your area, use Ovaltine instead.


Rich Chocolate Cake
Adapted from My Baking Addiction

1 box Devil’s Food Cake Mix
1 (5.9 oz) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
1 cup canola oil
4 eggs
1 tbsp special dark cocoa powder
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp instant espresso granules
½ cup warm water


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray two 8-inch pans with non-stick spray.

Stir together the warm water and the instant espresso, until the espresso is dissolved.

Add the espresso mixture, along with all of the remaining ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed until smooth and well combined.  The mixture will be thick and pudding-like.

Spread the cake batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Move to wire racks and cool for 10 minutes.  Then, run a knife along the edges of the pan and flip to remove the cake.  Cool the cakes completely before icing.


Toasted Marshmallow Filling
Recipe from Sweetapolita

16 large white marshmallows
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
8 oz Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Crème


Friday, June 29, 2012

Whole Wheat Pitas




What’s that?  Two 30x30 recipes in one week?  Why yes, yes I did.  After starting off strong and then slacking off for the entire month of May and most of June, I figure if was high time I got back on the 30x30 horse.


So today is all about pitas!

So pitas.  I’ve had them at my favorite pita place.  And I’ve bought them at the grocery store.  But homemade.  Oh my.  These just don’t even compare.  They are so soft, and tender, and delicious!  And they’re whole wheat!   

I served these with a super amazing Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (I’m making you wait for next week’s vegetarian Friday for that – tee hee!) last time we had company over and the entire batch was gone in a flash.  And frankly, I was a bit disappointed, I really really wanted to have one for lunch the next day!  Luckily they bake up in a flash, so pitas can become part of our regular bread rotation.  So go forth and make some pitas!  (Oh and maybe this salad – can you even imagine homemade pitas with this salad.  Holy smokes – I think I need to make it!)


Whole Wheat Pitas
Recipe from Tammy’s Recipes

1 ¼ cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)
1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
2 ¾ cups whole wheat flour

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Caramelized Onion Burgers




You didn’t think I’d tease you with those delicious Hamburger Buns and then not share a delicious burger, did you?

These burgers are made with caramelized onions mixed right in to the patty and topped with even more caramelized onion deliciousness.  These are guaranteed to be the hit of the Independence Day BBQ!


Caramelized Onion Burgers
An Amy’s cooking Adventures Original

Caramelized Onions
2 tbsp canola oil, divided
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
½ tsp salt (or to taste)

Patties
1 lb lean ground beef
1 egg
¼ cup bread crumbs
Salt & pepper
¼ cup caramelized onions

Toppings and such
1 tomato, sliced
Swiss cheese slices
Caramelized onions

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Potato Chip Cookies



Hello on a Tuesday!  I adding in a last minute post today to help out with yesterday’s Secret Recipe Club reveal.

Today I’m baking up some completely fabulous cookies from Kate’s blog, Food Babbles.

Kate describes herself as a (mostly) stay at home mom, and part time paramedic, and amateur photographer.  She sure sounds busy!  And yet she has time to make all sorts of wonderful, beautifully photographed recipes. 

While I was browsing through her recipes, I noticed a half bag of potato chips taunting me in the background.  So when I saw potato chip cookies, I knew that was the way to go (and we all know how much I adore the salty-sweet combination!)

So stop by and say Hi to Kate and enjoy some delicious cookies!


Recipe Notes:
*I used a mini food processor to finely crush the potato chips.
*For the coarsely crushed potato chips, I simply took a couple handfuls of chips and crushed them in my hands directly into the measuring cup.
*Since the potato chips are so greasy, I cut the amount of Crisco in this recipe down by 1/3.

Potato Chip Cookies
Adapted from Food Babbles

½ cup Crisco (or butter)
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup finely crushed potato chips (about 4 cups uncrushed)
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp table salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup coarsely crushed potato chips
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Monday, June 25, 2012

Honey Wheat Hamburger Buns




There’s nothing better than a freshly grilled hamburger (I am not going to say juicy.  Juicy burgers horrify me – pink ground beef is bad! *shudder*) on a freshly baked hamburger bun.

This recipe is whole wheat adaptation of my Grandma’s fabulous Two Hour Buns.  The addition of the vital wheat gluten and just a bit of all purpose flour keeps these (mostly) whole wheat buns light and fluffy and perfect for a rustic burger on the grill!


Recipe Notes:
*Adding the vital wheat gluten helps keep whole wheat dough stretchy and elastic.  It also helps to form lighter rolls.
*When making whole wheat breads, you will generally have to increase kneading time by several minutes.  The dough may also need additional time to rise, compared to white bread.  These times are noted in the recipe below.

Honey Wheat Hamburger Buns
An Amy’s Cooking Adventures Original Recipe

2 cups warm water (around 110 degrees F)
2 packages (4 ½ tsp) active dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
¼ cup vital wheat gluten
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
4 ½ cups whole wheat flour

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cosmic Brownies




During the summer, my husband is gone a lot on work related trips.  When he comes home I like to make him something special.   After his most recent trip, I decided to make him some brownies.  And this time I finally decided to bite the bullet and make them from scratch and cross another recipe off of that 30x30 list (because, holy cow, time is flying and that list is just sitting!)


These make a delicious, fudgy brownie, though I really could have done without the frosting – the brownies were fabulous enough on their own!


Cosmic Brownies
Adapted from Sarah Cupcake

Brownies
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking powder
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup mini M&Ms


Frosting
4 oz dark chocolate chips
¼ cup whole milk/cream/half and half
Pinch of salt

Friday, June 22, 2012

Simple Cheese Enchiladas




Sometimes the simplest things are the best.  I have made so many enchilada recipes and do you know how many I’ve posted?  None.  Most of the recipes I’ve tried have come out with super soggy tortillas after soaking in enchilada sauce.  I don’t like soggy tortillas.

Then a few weeks ago, one of my husband’s friends made us some cheese enchiladas and they were perfect.  And do you want to know what?  They had three ingredients!  Three!  Tortillas, enchilada sauce, and cheese.  No fancy sauces, no fancy fillings, just those three little ingredients made the best enchiladas I’ve ever had.  Just top these off with salsa, sour cream, and avocado and you’re set!


Simple Cheese Enchiladas
Jordan’s Enchiladas”

2 (10 oz) cans red enchilada sauce
12 (8-inch) flour tortillas
16 oz Mexican style shredded cheese

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rosemary-Beer Marinated Pork Chops




Pork chops are one of my favorite things to grill.  Put them in a marinade the night before (or morning) you plan to cook them, and you’re set for a nice, juicy pork chop for dinner. 

Plus, my husband is the grill master in our house, so I don’t have to cook!  I prefer boneless loin chops, but bone-in cuts will work as well.


Recipe Notes:
*I used Fat Tire for the beer in this marinade


Rosemary-Beer Marinated Pork Chops
An Amy’s Cooking Adventures Original Recipe

1 lb pork chops (3-4 depending on thickness)
1 (12 oz) bottle beer
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig rosemary, woody stems discarded, leaves minced
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper


Monday, June 18, 2012

Tortellini Spinach Salad




Once the weather turns warm, I immediately start craving cold pasta salads.

I love this one because it has all of my favorite Greek salad components along with tortellini!  You can’t go wrong with tortellini.  And also bacon.  You could cook and crumble bacon for this one, but I’m a big fan of the bacon pieces you can buy at the grocery store (yes, I know that fresh bacon tastes better, but I’m lazy and I don’t like to fry bacon). 

Extra bonus – picky eaters x2 ate the spinach from this salad – woot!


Recipe Notes:
*I used regular spinach when I made the salad, but baby spinach would be a bit more manageable.


Tortellini Spinach Salad

1 (9 oz) package of cheese tortellini

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp garlic powder
Dash of salt & pepper

Small bunch chives, about 1 tbsp chopped
1 green onion, chopped
¼ cup reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup Kalamata olives, diced
¼ cup crumbled bacon
1 small tomato, diced
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
4 oz fresh spinach

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Rosary Cake




I’ve mentioned my brother’s college graduation a couple times now.  But what I haven’t mentioned is that he graduated from the seminary.  He now goes on to 4 more years of seminary and when he graduates, he will be ordained a Catholic Priest.

For his undergraduate graduation, my mom wanted a cake.  And since he was graduated from the seminary, I decided to make a cake that looked like a priest’s collar with a rosary (purple, since that was the school color).


There are actually 3 different versions of the same cake.  Here’s what went down.

I made the cake several days in advance, before I left town for the graduation.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted an inscription on it, so I took some before photos. 


Then I wrote a crooked inscription in bright purple icing and mentally kicked myself for not being able to write in a straight line.  That’s version 1 and 2, version 3 is where things get exciting.


We got checked in to the hotel room and were leaving to my Aunt’s house (with the cake).  My little one got away from my mom and went running gleefully down the hall with my 4 year old laughing (loudly) and running after him.  Which made a little boy (about 5) from another hotel room open his door.  Not a problem except that he had a PITBULL with him and his door slammed shut behind him.  Now we had a crying kid (who was in the hotel room alone – parenting fail), a big scary dog and several people who are afraid of dogs.  We left my brother (who was not afraid of dogs, but holding the cake) with the dog while we went to go find someone to let this poor kid back into his room.  Long story short, the parents came back, yelled at the kid for leaving the room, & startled the dog, who pulled on his leash and jolted my brother, who dropped the cake.

So most of the decorations fell off the cake but it stayed mostly intact, but (decorator fail) I didn’t bring more icing for patchwork.  So I ended up mending the poor cake with the gloopy store-bought gel icing.  And that is version 3, which you see here.


Despite its adventures, the cake was still delicious and now it’s got a fun story behind it to boot!


If you’re interested in making a cake like this here are the supplies you’ll need, the construction is pretty self explanatory.

Supplies used:

*1/2 recipe White Almond Sour Cream Cake, baked in 8 inch pans
*1 recipe Buttercream icing, almond flavored, small portion tinted purple
*1 recipe Marshmallow Fondant, white with a small portion tinted black, and a very small potion tinted purple
*Sugar Pearls tinted with Purple Luster Dust


Friday, June 15, 2012

Blackberry Pancakes




About a month ago, I went out of town for my brother’s graduation.  Our hotel room had a fully equipped kitchen, so in preparation, I made (another) Target trip and stocked up on convenience foods.  Things like single serving cups of fruits and cereal.  And bags of mini oreos and teddy grahams and such (remember that Buffalo Chickpea Wrap?  I needed that after a weekend of bags of mini oreos).  After it was all said and done, I went through the checkout line and paid about 50% more than I usually do on a typical Target trip—and I wasn’t even going to be cooking most of the time!  ACK!

When I got home to my nearly bare refrigerator, I set out to Target again.  This time I stocked up on fresh fruit (strawberries, kiwi, blackberries, raspberries, & apples) and vegetables (broccoli, spinach, cucumbers, sweet corn, avocados, tomatoes) and even some fresh meat and filled my refrigerator to the brim.  And I spent $60 LESS than when I shopped for one weekend’s worth of convenience foods.  It was eye opening to say the least and proves that cooking at home from scratch truly does save money in the end.  It makes me feel a lot better about staying home instead of working full time (I only teach at the gym 3-ish hours per week) and about all of my experimentation in the kitchen.

I made these pancakes with some those delicious blackberries that I picked up on that shopping trip and enjoyed another much better than fast or convenience food meal!


Blackberry Pancakes
An Amy’s Cooking Adventures Original Recipe

1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 egg
½ cup blackberries, mashed
½ tbsp orange zest


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Margherita Grilled Cheese




I recently stopped by a greenhouse on my way to pick up my week’s groceries, with the kids in tow, of course.  I love walking through the warm, fragrant greenhouses, even if I don’t have any plans for purchasing flowers.  On this occasion we picked up a few beautiful basil plants to round out the herb garden.

When we got home, Little One was so excited about the plants.  He would pick them up and gently pat the leaves.  Then he’d run to his sandbox and try to plant it.   He was happily playing and I was gleefully taking pictures when I turned my back for a second.  And Little One kindly relieved my little basil plant of nearly all of its leaves!


I had planned to let my baby basil mature a bit before harvesting, but since Little One helped me harvest early, I got to enjoy my basil right away!   The best news (besides the amazing sandwich that came out of this) is that my basil had just enough leaves to survive and it currently has some new growth and actually looks the healthiest out of the bunch…go figure!


Margherita Grilled Cheese
An Amy’s Cooking Adventures Original Recipe

2 slices 100% whole wheat bread
½ tomato, sliced, seeds removed
¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 basil leaves, sliced
8 pieces pepperoni (optional)
Butter or margarine


Monday, June 11, 2012

Berry Basil Iced Tea





It’s Secret Recipe Club time again!

Secret Recipe Club

This month, I was assigned Angela’s Kitchen.  Angela is an expert in all things gluten and diary-free.  And I love her blog’s tagline: “Because Everyone Deserves a Cookie!”  Love it!

 I have already recommended her blog to several friends who have needed to adopt gluten and dairy-free lifestyles!  So many of her dishes looked fantastic, but since the first day of summer is upon us, I was instantly drawn to her delicious drinks!


This iced tea was absolutely amazing!  I made only half a batch since I was nervous about harvest more basil from my young plants, but will definitely make a full gallon next time.   A big mug of this iced tea is perfect on a hot summer day and so much healthier than commercial green tea beverages.  So pull up a mug and enjoy a cold glass of tea with me!


Recipe Notes:
*I used a mix of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries in this tea.
*If using frozen berries, be sure they aren’t sweetened.  Run them under warm water for a few seconds to lightly thaw before mashing.
*I used decaffeinated green tea so my children could enjoy the tea as well.
*The white grape juice and honey are optional sweeteners, but with the spicy bite of the herbs, I thought the hint of sweetness was perfect.


Berry Basil Iced Tea
Adapted from Angela’s Kitchen

1 quart (4 cups) water, boiling
1 cup berries, lightly mashed
¼ cup basil leaves, loosely packed
1 small sprig rosemary, woody stems removed
6 bags green tea
1 tbsp honey
3 cups ice cubes, plus more for serving
½ cup white grape juice

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Pig Sty Cake




For my husband’s 29th birthday, I threw him a bacon party.  Since I thought a bacon flavored cake would be going a bit too far, I made him a little piggy cake instead.

The decadent, chocolaty cake was the hit of the party and everyone loved the little fondant pigs!


Recipe Notes:
*I used a new chocolate frosting recipe for this cake, but wasn’t particularly thrilled with it.  I recommend using this one instead.

Pig Sty Cake

1 recipe Chocolate Sour Cream Cake, baked in three 8-inch layers
1 jar Hershey Hot Fudge Ice Cream Topping
1 cup chocolate wafer cookies, crushed
Fondant (about 1/8 recipe), tinted pink
Edible ink marker, black

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Chocolate Banana Muffins




Every so often when I shopping, I see those pretty, yellow bunches of bananas and I just can’t resist buying a bunch.   I have visions of my children suddenly loving the texture of bananas and begging for more.  Or of myself making grand breakfasts every morning teeming with bananas and all sorts of other healthy things.

But in reality, I give my boys bananas for lunch and they crinkle their noses and tell me they’re slimy.  And I make myself peanut butter and banana toast once and promptly forget that I have bananas.  Until, of course, the smell of overripe bananas permeates my kitchen.

When this happened (again) I was about to make some banana bread.   But my boys sometimes get finicky about banana bread (have I mentioned that they’re picky?) so I decided to make some muffins instead.  And not just any muffins, chocolate muffins…with flax seed…and two kinds of chocolate chips.  I think I might hide these from the kids and just eat them myself.


Recipe Notes:
*Don’t have access to flax seed?  Replace it with additional whole wheat or all purpose flour.


Chocolate Banana Muffins
Adapted from Edesia’s Notebook

3 very ripe bananas, mashed
½ cup canola oil
½ brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup ground flax seed
6 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup white chocolate chips
¼ cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips


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