Google Amy's Cooking Adventures: February 2012

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Quick Pink Pizza Dough

I’ve made a red/pink pizza dough in the past.  And while I still love that recipe, I often want pizza to be a quick meal (and therefore forget to start the dough early enough!)   So, I thought it was high time we had a super quick (less than 15 minutes) flatbread pizza dough with all that lovely color and nutrition that comes from beets! 

Seriously, I am in love with the color that pureed beets gives to dough. Love. It!  Honestly, you can do wrong here…Valentine’s Day or not.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chocolate Cut Out Cookies

I love cookies, but I can usually take ‘em or leave ‘em unless they involve chocolate or lots of frosting.  So how about the best of both worlds?  A chocolate roll out cookie covered in royal icing…yum!

Recipe Notes:
*I used natural cocoa powder.  Dutch process cocoa powder will also work in this recipe.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Kale and Sweet Potato Soup

Happy Friday!  It’s already time for the first Vegetarian Friday!

I absolutely love this recipe because it boasts three, count ‘em, THREE super foods: kale, sweet potatoes, and turmeric.  This was my first time cooking with kale and I can say that I’m converted—I love it!  The kale is a hearty leafy green that holds up well to soup.

The flavors of this soup just scream comfort.  It is perfect for a cold day, or when you’re feeling under the weather or when you just want a huge boost of super foods!  Can someone pass me another bowl?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Spinach & Feta Pizza

Wow!  Can you believe it is already Ash Wednesday?  For my non-Catholic followers, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent.  Lent is a season of prayer and fasting ending with Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday.  Specifically, Catholics abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and every Friday during Lent.  I won’t go in to more here, but if you have any questions, please e-mail me and I will answer to the best of my ability.

During Lent, I will be featuring vegetarian meals Fridays, so you can all abstain from meat with me!  You’ll notice that fish likely won’t make an appearance on Vegetarian Fridays because I don’t care for seafood or fish.

To kick things off this year, I’m sharing one of my favorite vegetarian pizzas.  Now, I’m usually a load it up with pepperoni and/or bacon kind of girl, but when I want to lighten things up, I head to spinach & feta (during the summer I love a good margherita pizza, but alas, that requires fresh herbs).  Simple ingredients and quick pizza dough make this the perfect way to start off Lent.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Glazed Clementine Muffins

My 4 year old loves those little Mandarin Oranges that come out of a can.  So, I bought him a bag of Clementine Oranges thinking (of course) that a fresh product would be infinitely better than canned.

He will not touch them.

Not even one little bite.  I tried putting them into a can, but he was not fooled.  Now, I don’t particularly like oranges myself and the entire bag was a bit too much for my husband to eat alone, so it was muffin time!

I’m not a huge orange fan, but I LOVED these muffins.  The muffin itself is not overly sweet (not a cupcake – yay!)  The drizzle of glaze adds just enough sweetness to make it indulgent.

Recipe Notes:
*If you don’t have Clementines, use Naval Oranges, or Tangerines instead

Friday, February 17, 2012

Bacon Cheeseburger Meatballs

These meatball initially caught my eye simply because they were meatballs (and my 4 year old loves meatballs.)  Then my bacon loving eyes nearly popped out of my head when I realized that these meatballs were made with bacon and cheddar.  Sign. Me.Up.

These tasted a lot like a cheeseburger without the bun.  The perfect winter treat (when the grill is buried in a snow bank).   This meat mixture would also be fantastic flattened out and grilled up as sliders…is it summer yet?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Our Valentine's Day

Happy “day after Valentine’s Day”!  Is all the sugar out of your system yet?  Here’s what our Valentine’s Day looked like:

Little one was super excited about opening his Valentine cards!

Both boys have been sick (just colds) so Tylenol was a big part of our day, too.  Good thing it is festively pink!

Snuggled up to watch Fraggle Rock together (I love that they enjoy a show that I watched when I was young!)

Here’s my gift from my husband.

A bouquet of Gerber daisies…

…and chocolate covered potato chips from a local candy shop! 

I guess I wasn’t feeling sentimental this year, because this is what I got my husband

Okay, I also made him this.  I found this cool “old” key at Michaels and glued it to the outside of a picture frame.  The text in the background is the lyrics to our first dance song at our wedding.

Little one is fascinated with my Gerber Daisies.

Heart themed muffin tin lunch!  They had heart hot dogs, heart bologna, heart cheese, heart carrots, heart cucumbers, and heart apples to choose from.

This is the first time I’ve done a muffin tin lunch and the boys loved it!  They had so much fun choosing their own lunch, and were thrilled that everything was heart shaped!

The muffin tin continued to be entertaining, even after they’d eaten.  Don’t you love his shirt?

Pretty pink pizza dough!  It’s based off this recipe, but quicker—I’ll share it soon.

Heart pizza, before baking.  I broke out the cookie cutters again for the toppings!

I also made heart breadsticks with the leftover dough!  My husband was not so secretly wishing that I'd glaze these and serve them as donuts.

Heart pizza: baked & ready to eat!

This poor little guy ate one bite & went to sleep--go away gunky cold!

Let’s not forget dessert!  Chocolate cut out cookies (recipe coming soon).

And then, once the kids are in bed…

A fire, champagne, and chocolate fondue.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Greek Salad with Gryo Style Pork

After a month off during January, The Secret Recipe Club is back!  As a reminder, participants of SRC are assigned a blog for the month and secretly choose and make a recipe from said blog.

This month, I was assigned From Arepas to Zwetschgen, a blog dedicated to cooking foods from around the world!  Since I have a tendency to stick with American cuisine, I was super excited about this challenge.

Straight away the Greek food caught my eye and once I saw this salad, I was sold!  I’ve never actually eaten a Gyro (or anything with Gryo seasoning) so I was eager to try something new.  I can now say, “I love Gryo seasoning!”  I liked it so much that I plan to make some more of the seasoning mix, just to have on hand!

The salad had such a wonderful balance of flavors, that I was not even tempted to add any dressing!

As a side, I loved the recipe as is, but it does have a lot of olive oil.  So, when I made the recipe the second time, I cut down the oil drastically.  To start, drizzle 2 teaspoons of oil on the meat and toss, then add the spices and marinate.  Then add an additional 1-2 teaspoons of oil to the skillet before adding the meat and stir fry as directed.  This resulted in a much lighter (a quarter of the oil!) meal that was just as tasty as the original.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Toasted Pita Bread (Pita Chips)

While I always love a good garlic toast, sometimes I just want something a bit lighter.  Cue Pita Chips!  These are a bit lighter than garlic toast and the perfect accompaniment to salads or dips.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sausage Risotto

Over a year ago I tried to make Risotto for the first time.  It was good for a first try (and super easy since it was made in the slow cooker), but it didn’t wow me enough to make it again.

Then I had one of those “clean out the refrigerator” type of days and decided it was time tackle risotto again.  This time, I made a (slightly) more authentic risotto, using a white wine and making the risotto stove top.  It didn’t take an hour as I had previously assumed and my family was crazy about the resulting meal!

Recipe Notes:
*Not a wine drinker?  Use an additional ½ cup chicken broth in place of the wine.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What’s in the Bag?

Today’s bonus post departs from the regular recipe line up for a fun time out with the kids.  Rachelle at Tinkerlab created a fun challenge this month.  Followers were invited to create an activity for children using paper bags and share it with others.

For this challenge, I created the game: What’s in the Bag?

While both of my boys (18 months and 4 years) enjoyed the activity, it was more specifically designed for my preschooler since it an exploration activity that focuses on deductive reasoning.

To do this activity you will need:
4 paper bags
5-8 Matchbox cars
5-8 building blocks
Handful of cottonballs
Large handful Cheerios

While the kids aren’t around, fill each bag with one group of  items and tape or staple them closed.

I left one of each item out on the table as a visual cue for my son.  Then comes the fun part.  Call the kids in and let the exploration begin!

Ask children to do the following:

1.      Lift the bag.  Is it heavy or light?
2.    Shake the bag. Is it loud or quiet?
3.    Squish the bag.  Is it soft or hard? Big or small?

After handling the bags, children make predictions about what is in the bag.  Then the kids open the bags (it’s like opening presents!) and see if their predictions were correct!


Monday, February 6, 2012

Red Velvet Pancakes with Cream Cheese Glaze

Did you ever wonder how pancakes got to be a breakfast food?  Yeah, me too.  Carbs smothered in syrup or glaze (both of which are totally just frosting is disguise, by the way).  What about donuts, for that matter, or caramel rolls?  What up, breakfast?

Anyhow, these pancakes are sure to make you whole family smile with a sugar crazed gleam in their eyes.  Which naturally makes them perfect for Valentine’s Day (yay chocolates!  Hint, hint, husband…)  I already made a Red Velvet Pancake last year, but thought it deserved another (more sugary) look.

But we are going to offset that cream cheese frosting…ahem…glaze, by making these healthy pancakes.  We’re going to start of with some whole wheat flour (yay, fiber!), and swap out sugar for honey…and use 2/3rds less (seriously pancakes—you don’t need all that sugar, you’re about to be smothered with it!)  Then, instead of adding a whole bottle of red food dye (ummm, ew) we’re going to add…wait for it…beets!  Yay, veggies!  But you can still add a bit of food dye to enhance the color if you’d like.  All that along with the antioxidant power of unsweetened cocoa, and we have ourselves a winner.  Just don’t forget the glaze.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Hungry Caterpillar Cake

My older son recently turned four.  These past four year have passed in the blink of an eye.  I absolutely love watching my children grow and learn.  Four is already turning out to be a fun and challenging year. 

One of my son’s favorite books is the Very Hungry Caterpillar.  So when it came time to decide on a birthday cake, it was easy to sway him in the hungry caterpillar direction.  Months ago, I found a hungry caterpillar cake on Pinterest and I knew I wanted to replicate it.  Then I found hungry caterpillar shirts at Target and I knew this party was meant to be!

To make the cake, I stuck cake pops into a decadent four layer sour cream chocolate cake covered with chocolate frosting and painstakingly painted a white cake pop red (a word from the wise: almond bark does not like to be painted – spend the extra money for red candy melts!)

For party snacks, we had a delicious fruit tray as a play on the Hungry Caterpillar story.  On Monday, the caterpillar eats through one apple, but is still hungry.  Tuesday he eats through two pears, but is still hungry, and on through strawberries, plums, and oranges.  Therefore, the fruit tray was a journey through the Hungry Caterpillar’s story.

In addition to the party, I also added another Pinterest inspiration to my son’s birthday and had him answer 20 questions about his favorite things.  The idea is that I will give him this little survey every year (for as long as he’ll tolerate it) and all of the surveys will be placed in his scrapbook or memory box.  It will be a fun way to track his interests through the years, in his own words.  Since this time was his first time doing the survey, a couple of the responses were prompted, but it was still quite fun.  Here are his answers this year:

Birthday Survey: Age 4

1. What is your favorite color?  Blue
2. What is your favorite toy?  cars
3. What is your favorite fruit?  oranges
4. What is your favorite tv show movie?  Cars
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?  Hot dogs
6. What is your favorite vegetable?  Little trees (broccoli)
7. What is your favorite game?  Kinect-rafting game
8. What is your favorite snack? Fun fruits
(Fruit snacks)
9. What is your favorite animal? elephant
10. What is your favorite song? Cat song
(from his keyboard)
11. What is your favorite book? Tractors
12. Who is your best friend? Teddy
13. What is your favorite cereal? Crispies
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Go to the park
15. What is your favorite drink? milk
16. What is your favorite holiday? My birthday
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Teddy
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Mini Wheats
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? Chicken nuggets
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? Teach the class and fly the airplane like Daddy

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ground Hog Pudding Cups

Ground hog day is not usually a big deal at my house, but these little guys were just too cute to pass up!  A Nilla Wafer ground hog peeking out of pudding dirt?  I ate two…urm…I mean, the kids loved these!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chocolate Fudge Cake Pops

I love cake pops.  They are a little fussy to make, but are so worth it for the instant portion control!  And have you tried serving cake pops to kids?  Amazing!  Cake pops are fun and exciting with a fraction of the mess of traditional cake. 

Recipe Notes:
*I typically make my own frosting, but in this case, I use store bought frosting, because it is sure to be the perfect consistancy and amount needed for the cake pops.
*Cookie/Lollipop/Cakepop sticks are typically found in the cake decorating section of craft stores.
*I highly recommend using candy melts (found at craft stores) instead of almond bark to dip the cake pops.  In my experience, candy melts are easier to work with and provide a more polished, finished look.
*It is extremely important to dip the stick into the melted candy before sticking it into the cake pop.  This is the “glue” that holds the cake onto the stick.
*To stand the cake pops while the candy hardens, you can stick them into a chunk of Styrofoam or the holes of a colander.  Or you can have your wonderful husband drill holes into a piece of scrap wood for your own custom cake pop holder.



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