Google Amy's Cooking Adventures: 2020

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Harry Potter Wedding Cake

Where are my Harry Potter fans??

July 31st (yesterday) is always a fun day for Potter fans, since July 31st is Harry’s birthday!

So what better day than to share this fun Harry Potter themed cake?


To make things even better, Tina from Squirrel Head Manor is hosting this month's Food n Flix and she chose Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Caprese Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms


It’s time again for Food n Flix - the online club where participants watch the selected movie and whip up something delicious!

This month’s movie was Coyote Ugly, hosted by Kimberly at Coffee and Casseroles.

The movie Coyote Ugly is inspired by the actual bar/saloon by the same name.  As always, there are similarities and differences between the movie and real life.  The movie follows a small town girl as she moves to New York to follow her dreams to become a songwriter.  Her dreams aren’t as easy to follow as she thought, so she ends up working at the Coyote Ugly Bar where each night is a party, including line dances on the bar.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Patriotic Cauliflower and Beet Salad

*Disclosure: I received an advanced reader copy of All Stirred Up, courtesy of The Book Club Cook Book, Pegasus Books, and Laura Kumin.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.


This month, I got the opportunity to read an advance copy for the book All Stirred Up by Laura Kumin.

All Stirred Up provide a comprehensive history of the women's suffrage movement from the late 1800’s to the 1920s.  Plus, the end of each chapter includes recipes!  The recipes come from suffragists cookbooks and are accompanied by modern adaptations!


 I have to say, I learned a lot I did not previously know about the suffrage movement.  For instance, I did not know that cookbooks were commonly used to get the suffragist message to a wider audience.  The suffragists had a number of other fascinating methods of getting their message across as well.


Sunday, July 26, 2020

Peking-Style Pork



This month’s Cook the Books Club pick was Kitchen Chinese.  Kitchen Chinese is a novel that follows Isabelle (Iz) as her personal and professional life hit a dead end in the United States, where Isabelle is a first generation American born to Chinese parents.


In response to the loss of her job and romantic relationship, Iz decides to move to Beijing to rediscover her roots and to reconnect with her older sister who has also returned to Beijing.

Through her well-connected sister, Iz gets a job as a restaurant critic at an Expat magazine.  It’s at this point that the book becomes a foodie’s dream, as Iz eats her way through Beijing!

The rest of the story follows Iz’s personal life as she navigates life in Beijing looking like everyone else, but unfamiliar with the language and customs while also navigating her relationship with her sister and attempts at romance.  This book got 3 ½ stars from me.

So how about the food?  The very first recipe mentioned in the book is Peking Duck and the main character loves it so much that I almost wanted to make it - but having never prepared duck (or even knowing where to acquire a duck for that matter), I quickly passed it by.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Super Soft Sugar Cookies (Small Batch)

This recipe originally appeared on my other blog, but since I'm no longer updating it, I'm merging the recipes here for all to enjoy!


Over the summer, my parents celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary!  And they were in town to see the kids play their summer sports, so I wanted to make them something a little special to celebrate!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Cucumber Pomegranate Mule

When Hubs and I went out for our anniversary last month, the restaurant had 2 signature cocktails: a cucumber mule, and a pomegranate rosemary mule.  Only I misread the menu and thought it was a cucumber pomegranate rosemary mule.  Once corrected, I ordered the pomegranate, but couldn’t get my misinterpreted idea out of my head.

So, I infused my own Cucumber-Rosemary Vodka and created my signature cocktail.  And it was everything I’d hoped it would be!  The fruity pomegranate, mixed with the fresh cucumber earthy rosemary is the perfect summer drink!

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Ice Cream Sundae Cupcakes



These fun Ice Cream Sundae Cupcakes were made for my son’s Cub Scout Blue & Gold Banquet this year!

The theme was “Scouts are Cool” and there was a whole sundae bar set up for the kids (and parents!)

Friday, July 10, 2020

Oven-Baked Ribs with Cola BBQ Sauce

It’s the 10th, which means it’s time for this month’s Eat the World Recipe challenge!

This month’s challenge takes us to the USA!  But since the USA is so large and diverse, the theme was narrowed down to Soul Food.  Soul Food in the USA typically refers to foods and cooking techniques used by people of African American heritage in the Southern United States.

One of the best soul food recipes I came across was BBQ Ribs.  In the past, I’ve only eaten bone-in ribs at restaurants.  But that tender meat, falling off the bones, drenched in BBQ sauce was amazing.  When I saw this challenge and then found a couple racks of ribs at the grocery store, I knew it was time to make these myself!

The recipe below is intense.  The flavors build and build as these ribs cook, with a dry rub, a baste/marinade, and a homemade BBQ sauce.  It is incredibly time consuming as well, but well worth the effort.  The ribs were bursting with flavor and melted in our mouths.  While the ribs likely won’t be on a regular rotation (so time consuming!) I know I’ll make these again, the next time we’re craving ribs!

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Cucumber Rosemary Infused Vodka

 


Walk down the aisle at the liquor store and there are an abundance of flavored liqueurs and vodkas.

I recently learned about cucumber vodka, but then had trouble finding it locally, so I decided to make my own! After all, I’ve dabbled with infused vodkas in the past, making both lemon and strawberry infused vodkas!

Friday, July 3, 2020

4th of July Flag Cookies

This post originally appeared on my other blog in 2014.  Since I'm no longer keeping it up, I'm migrating all of my favorites over here!


Happy July!!

Can’t you believe it’s almost the 4th?

This year, I decided to make some easy flag cookies! (See my inspiration here and here)

To make these I split a batch of sugar cookie dough in 3 parts, one (for the red) slightly bigger than the others.  One part was left alone and the others were tinted red and blue with gel food coloring.

After that, I rolled the red and white dough thin, cut them in strips with a pizza cutter and started stacking!  After the long and short red and white strips were stacked, I rolled the blue into a long log and used a knife to cut it into a square shape and place it.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Chocolate Lava Cake


It’s time for this month’s Food n Flix!  Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla gave us a bit of free reign this month by choosing a broad theme of any movie filmed or set in Hawaii.  She had a virtual vacation all lined up for us!

I had a much more difficult time with this theme than I thought I would.  First, I looked up movies fitting the theme and made a short list.  I wanted to watch something I hadn’t seen before.  Then, nothing, read NOTHING was available on any of the 3 streaming serves I have access to.  AHHHHHH!!!!  And the library is still closed (but is opening for curbside pickup next month - woot woot!)

I know the movie 50 First Dates pretty well, so I almost just went from memory, but it didn’t feel like it was in the spirit of the challenge.

In the end, I picked the Disney Pixar short: Lava.

All of the Pixar shorts are fabulous, but Lava is my favorite.  

Anyway, the problem is, there is no food to speak of in Lava.

None.  Zilch.

It’s a love story about volcanoes.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

S'mores Campfire Cake

I used to have a second blog, but since I'm not keeping it up anymore, I'm slowly migrating my favorite recipes over to this blog!  


I saw this idea for a campfire cake a while ago and I knew I had to make it happen!

My boys had a Cub Scout potluck and I knew it was the perfect opportunity to make the cake!

Friday, June 26, 2020

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake

 

To me, brunch is usually all about the carbs and protein. Duchess Potatoes, Corned Beef Hash, Egg Bakes...the possibilities are endless.

Though, sometimes the sweet tooth wins out.  Rainbow Sprinkle Cinnamon Rolls, Caramel Rolls, Muffins...again, the list goes on.

Then sometimes the sweet tooth really asserts itself and dessert happens at brunch, like that one time we had pie for breakfast with Hubs’ family.

So why not cheesecake?

I made this for Hubs’ birthday, but I was working a 12 hour shift that day, so you eat cheesecake when you eat cheesecake, ya know?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Corned Beef & Potato Hash

 

I have a memory from when I was little of eating some canned hash.  It was a glorious feast  to nine-year-old me.  Every once in a while, as an adult, I think of that hash and how great it tasted.  But adult me knows that actual canned hash would never live up to that memory (more than likely, it would be disgusting).

So when I made my own corned beef in the crock pot, I knew immediately that I wanted to make the leftovers (little though they were) to make hash.  I seriously had to fight my kids for the leftovers - they looooved the corned beef!

Monday, June 22, 2020

Duchess Potatoes #BrunchWeek

What if mashed potatoes got all dressed up and fancy?

The answer is Duchess Potatoes!

These little delights are a basic mashed potato, with the addition of an egg for stability, then they’re piped onto a baking sheet and baked again, twice baked potato-style.

They are amazing and such a fun way to serve up plain old mashed potatoes.  These are the perfect accompaniment to an elegant brunch or dinner!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Mini Cheez-It Crusted Apple Pie

 

Ya know, sometimes when we get stuck inside, quarantined for months, creativity abounds.

Other times, things get kinda weird.

Case in point: Cheez-It Crusted Apple Pie.

While stuck at home I got to thinking about apple pie.  And how many people (in the mid-west, at least) like to accompany their apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese (personally, I can take it or leave it).  

This unusual pairing does, however, have a tendency to inspire creativity in me. The first time I tried this, I put shredded cheddar directly into the crust and was completely underwhelmed. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Crock Pot Corned Beef & Cabbage

 

It seems a little bit like the wrong season for corned beef and cabbage, after all, it seems to be a St. Patrick’s Day staple in the US.  And indeed, that’s when I made this.  

This year, however, Mid-March and St. Patrick’s Day were utter chaos as that was the first week we were in quarantine.  I was in meetings all day, so I was thankful to have had a crockpot recipe planned for that day.  Then I was in a bit of a blogging funk while working from home and distance learning the kids, etc.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Foodie Road Trip...2019 vs. 2020


Let’s talk vacay!  

Last year,  Hubs & I packed up the kids andtook them on a 2-week adventure through the Midwest, going through 9 states and 1 Canadian province and all 5 great lakes along the way!

We went to the National Museum of the US Air Force, Chicago (Willis Tower & the Shedd Aquarium), the Wisconsin Dells, The Painted Rocks, several waterfalls, a shipwreck museum, the Soo Locks, Mackinac Island, an automotive museum (comlete with a collection of player pianos and theater organs), a professional baseball game, a wedding recpetion, 4th of July parade, a Harry Potter escape room, a farm (we got to pet a calf), Niagara Falls, and a number of National Parks (the kids earned 2 Junior ranger badges!). Mid-trip, we took 5 days to stay in one place and visit family.

It was intense but tons of fun!

Donuts from Do-Rite Donuts in Chicago
Donuts from Do-Rite Donuts in Chicago


This year, after being quarantined for 2 months, our state (and the neighboring states) are slowly starting to open up.  It was time to visit family, as responsibly as possible.

For the first trip, I planned for weeks and weeks to make sure we had everything we needed for such a long trip.  This year, I planned and packed in 2 days.  The opportunity to travel came up suddenly, so we mobilized quickly.  I was very thankful that I’d done a trip like this before, so that I could plan and pack that quickly.

Chicago Style Pizza in Chicago
Chicago Style Pizza in Chicago

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Cañón de Cerdo (Colombia-Style Pork Loin Roast)



It’s time for the Eat the World Recipe challenge and this month we went to South America to the country of Colombia!

While I wasn’t familiar with Colombian food before this challenge, I was quite familiar with Colombian music and dance!  Singer Sharika is from Colombia, and well as creator of Zumba, Beto.

So, I was super excited to look into Colombian food, all of which looked totally delicious.  As I was researching, I ended up Arroz con Coca Cola (Rice with Coca Cola) and couldn’t resist trying it along with the pork I ended up making for this challenge.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Baguettes

 


It’s time for this month Food N Flix!  This month’s movie is Midnight in Paris, hosted by Debra at Eliot’s Eats.

 

This is a new to me movie and I am so glad Debra suggested it!  I’m no good at writing synopses, I always leave them to the experts, (why reinvent the wheel?)  here’s synopsis from IMDB:

 

Gil and Inez travel to Paris as a tag-along vacation on her parents' business trip. Gil is a successful Hollywood writer but is struggling on his first novel. He falls in love with the city and thinks he and Inez should move there after they get married, but Inez does not share his romantic notions of the city or the idea that the 1920s were the golden age. When Inez goes off dancing with her friends, Gil takes a walk at midnight and discovers what could be the ultimate source of inspiration for writing. Gil's daily walks at midnight in Paris could take him closer to the heart of the city but further from the woman he's about to marry.

 

 The movie was quirky and funny.  I loved the sense of whimsy, the 1920’s setting, and everything.  I loved that it made me realize that so many of the great writers and artists of that time would have known each other and interacted on a regular basis.  It’s amazing!

 

I didn’t notice ton of food while I was watching (maybe I was too interested in the story to pay attention to food).

 

However, I did notice some baguettes in several scenes.  So I decided to make my own baguettes.  And I also remade croissants!

 

The baguettes I made were super delicious (I used this recipe from King Arthur Flour), but they didn’t look like the picture!  How to people get their bread to rise and brown like that?!?  I even bought a baguette pan this time around!

 

Long story short, I’m going to keep trying on the baguettes until they look like that picture.   But if you’re not worried about picture perfect - definitely make these baguettes - they are delicious!

 


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Arroz con Coca-Cola (Brown Rice with Coca-Cola)


Oh boy.

It’s Cook the Books Club time and this one was a doozy.


The book follows the history or what is sometimes termed “hippie food” (as the title suggests).  Here’s the thing though, with the internet and the sharing of cultures, are brown rice, lentils, and brown bread (and the like) still even referred to as hippie food anymore?  Regardless of what it’s called now, in the 1970’s when these foods really started to take off in some subcultures in the US, it was called hippie food.

As I started reading, there were certainly some interesting tidbits, but between those tidbits, it was a slog, almost like reading a textbook.  I got about halfway through the brown rice chapter when I started skimming.  I read most of the brown bread chapter (as a bread baker, I thoroughly enjoyed that chapter.  And after that I just lost interest. 

One of the most interesting things I noted as I read was that the trend of hippie food started as a pursuit for optimal health and longevity...while on copious amounts of illicit drugs.  Kinda mind boggling.

As luck would have it, right as I decided to be finished skimming the rest of the book, I came across a brown rice recipe as I was researching for a different blog event. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

Wookie Cookies


It’s time to continue on with the last of this year’s Star Wars themed recipes: Wookie Cookies!

I kept this one simple.  I used my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and played with the chocolate chip ratio a bit - plus decorated them to look like wookies!   So fun!  

Wookie Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
1 (3.4 oz) package vanilla instant pudding
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
¾ cup mini chocolate chips, divided
2 tablespoons Mallow Bits (or while chocolate chips)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment.

Place the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth and creamy.  Add the pudding mix and mix until combined.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix each one thoroughly; stir in the vanilla.

Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the baking soda, salt, and flour. 

Stir in ½ cup of the chocolate chips.

Use a 2 tablespoon scoop to drop the cookies onto the prepared sheets.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool on wire racks.

Melt the remaining chocolate chips.  Use a piping bag or zipper bag with one corner cut off to pipe a face and bandolier.  Place Mallow Bits across the bandolier (alternately, melt the while chocolate and pipe white onto the bandolier).

Makes about 36 cookies

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Spinach & Caramelized Onion Bread (Star Wars Portion Bread)

Last week, I started sharing my Star Wars themed recipes from my Star Wars Day meal, with my Roast Porg (Cornish Game Hens).  Then I started binge watching Westworld in my evenings and had no time for blogging (daytime is spent distance learning and child-wrangling).
But now I’m done watching Westworld and back to Star Wars…

My real goal here was to make food that was iconically Star Wars without having to take a huge stretch of the imagination or anything gross.  There are tons of Star Wars Themed snacks and desserts out there, but not many main dishes.

Even portion bread exists out there.  Most of the recipes are more like a mug cake, as a nod to the quickly cooking portion bread seen in The Force Awakens.  Since portion bread is green in hue, most recipes color the “bread” with food dye or matcha powder.

I’ve never cared for the texture of mug cake (or bread) and have never used matcha powder (I probably will someday, but I’m not even sure if it’s available locally!)  So I wanted to try and create a portion bread that my whole family could enjoy with ingredients I had readily on hand.

I realized immediately that I would have to forgo the “quick cooking” aspect of portion bread.  I definitely wanted to dye my bread naturally, which left spinach.  However, I didn’t want it to taste like spinach, so I also added caramelized onions and garlic.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Koledna Pitka (Bulgarian Christmas Bread)


Welcome to this month’s Eat the World Recipe challenge!  In this group, Evelyn from CulturEatz hosts by picking a country of the month, then we take to the internet to find an authentic recipe to make, enjoy, and share.

This month’s country takes us deeper into Eastern Europe to Bulgaria.  I was very excited to be headed to Europe again.  European food tends to be more familiar to me since my ancestry is European anyway.  As I was researching, I found many recipes I wanted to try and couldn’t narrow it down to just one!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Supa Topcheta (Bulgarian Meatball Soup)


Can one ever have enough delicious soup recipes?

I don’t think so.

As I was researching for another event (coming soon), I came across this recipe and knew I had to try it!

Supa Topcheta is popular is Bulgaria and is one of those soups with TONS of variations - it seems that everyone has their own version of this.  However, several aspects show up in all of the recipes: meatballs (usually a mix of pork and beef), simple vegetables (carrot, onion, celery), and a yogurt-egg mix to finish.

Other recipes include potato, vermicelli, or rice, a more complex spice mixture, and/or more vegetables.

After a lot of research, I landed on a recipe that I would call a “middle of the road” version of this soup.  I added a nice flavor profile to the meatballs, but kept the vegetables simple - and, of course, added that yogurt-egg mixture in at the end.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Cornish Game Hens, or Rotisserie Porgs for Star Wars Fans!


Last year, I made Cornish Game Hens with Orange Glaze for the first time and they were super delicious.  

Shortly afterward, we were watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens and noticed that the Porg that Chewbacca Roasts looks remarkably like a roasted Cornish Hen.

Hmmmm…

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Chicken Divan


About a month into social distance/quarantine, I decided that I was going to start cooking my way through my cookbooks as a way of keeping myself challenged and entertained.  Plus it keeps me from falling into a food rut, plus I’m finally pulling out those cookbooks that I’ve never (or rarely) cracked!

I was gifted this cookbook, even though I’ve never seen an episode of Cook Country.  But I have to say, after perusing this cookbook, I might have to check it out.  I had numerous recipes marked as “might try”.  I made 4 of them and they were all amazing!

The Complete Cook's Country TV Show Cookbook Season 7The Complete Cook's Country TV Show Cookbook Season 7 by America's Test Kitchen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantastic cookbook! I've never watched Cook's Country, but I love the cookbook. All the recipes I cooked from this cookbook so far have turned out perfectly! Can't wait to try more!

View all my reviews

The first recipe I decided to try was Chicken Divan.  In the very early days of blogging, I made two approximations to Chicken Divan.  I loved both at the time.  They were quite easy and used ingredients I was familiar with at the time.  Some of those ingredients aren’t even available anymore and a couple are ones I just don’t use on a regular basis anymore, since my own cooking skills and confidence have grown in the 9+ years since I started blogging.  

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Cucumbers and Cream


Remember the Shoup Noodle recipe I shared last time?  Shoups are a Good Friday tradition at my parents’ house.  But Shoups aren’t complete without a side of Cukes and Cream.

While Shoups are delicious on their own, they’re even better when dipped in the creamy sauce from Cucumber and Cream.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Shoup Noodles


Every year, on Good Friday, my mom makes Shoup Noodles for dinner.  It’s one of those traditions that has passed down through generations.  My mom remembers eating Shoup Noodles on many Fridays (Lent or no as she grew up never eating meat on Fridays (my children’s’ hearts just stopped at the thought of meatless pizza-movie night always - haha)).

Until this year, I’ve never had a reason to make shoups, since I’m always at my parents’ house for Easter.  Until quarantine and COVID and this year.  My state was not shelter in place for Easter, yet we made the extremely difficult decision to stay home for Easter (the kids were devastated).

So I called my mom and asked her for the recipes for the Easter weekend meals (happy to have family recipes, yet wishing I was at her house).

So here we are with shoups. 

Monday, April 27, 2020

Lefse


Every fall, lefse appears in local grocery stores and craft fairs.  For those unfamiliar, lefse is a Norwegian flatbread (similar to a tortilla) made with a mix of flour and potatoes. 

It is delicious.

It also typically requires specialized equipment: a potato ricer, a corrugated lefse rolling pin and a lefse griddle…Ugh.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Crockpot BBQ Bourbon Bacon Shredded Chicken


It’s Food n’ Flix time! In this club, those who want to watch the selected movie, whip up something delicious and blog (or Instagram) it!  This month’s movie is hosted by my IRL friend Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm and the chose The Biggest Little Farm.


The Biggest Little Farm follows a couple who leave their successful LA jobs on a promise to their dog.  Yep, you read that right.  They adopted a dog and promised him that they’d be their forever home.  Then the dog barked incessantly when they weren’t home.  Facing eviction, they decided to buy and start a farm, rather than give up Toby (the dog).  To each his own I guess (I am not a pet owner, so I admittedly do not understand).

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