Friday, January 6, 2012

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

This cake is not only yummy, it makes a wonderful presentation. It's great for spring and summer (or a winter day when you WISH it was spring or summer!).

Let's get started.

I box yellow cake, 1 small box lemon instant jello pudding (the moist key!), 1/2c. oil, 2T. lemon juice, 4 eggs, 1 cup water, 2-3Tbsp. poppy seeds.

Add the cake mix and jello mix to a mixing bowl.

Add 1 cup of water.

Add 1/2. vegetable oil.

Add 4 eggs.

Add poppyseeds.  Look they almost match the counter!  I get my poppyseeds at a bulk store!

Dump them in the mixing bowl.

Add 2Tbsp. lemon juice (the stuff outta the bottle!).

Finally mix, about 3 minutes.  This is a big heavy cake.  Make sure it's mixed well.  I use the whisk attachment.

This is important with this, and any bundt.  Don't cheap out, I especially love this Pam with flour.

And coat that baby good!  Real good.  When you flip this cake, you want it to fall out flawlessly.

Put in your batter and bake for approximately 50 minutes at 350 degrees.

Check the cake with a toothpick.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool, in the pan, for 10 minutes.  I usually cool on an elevated rack so the bottom has a chance to cool.

After 10 minutes, I place the plate on top of the bundt, and invert.  The cake slides out.  Perfect.  Bingo-bango.  Time for glaze.

1 cup powdered sugar (either get the good stuff or sift it; you don't want clumps), 3Tbsp. lemon juice.  Mix.

Let this sit to thicken.  On some days; depending on the humidity, you may need to add a bit more of powder sugar or a bit more lemon juice.  If you pour it directly on the cake and it runs off; you had it too runny.  I like it pretty thick and allow it to crawl down the cake.

Keep this in the refrigerator.
Happy baking (and sharing this cake!),

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Once A Month Cooking, January 2012

It had been approximately 30 days since I'd ventured to the grocery (except when I needed cream cheese for the 10-batches of truffles we made).  It.  Was. Empty.  In.  Here.  Chicken was on special at 1.99/lb and I had been toying with the idea to try Once A Month Cooking, especially with the new job. Previously I would beat Mr. Sweetest Designs (Mr. SD) home and would prepare dinner and have it mostly ready when he came home.  Now we're going to carpool 3 days a week.  What's a girl to do?  Push back dinners another 45 minutes?  Eat out?  Eat take-out?  $200 at the grocery, 4 hours later, several pans washed and rewashed and we have 26 meals in the freezer and fridge.  We have baked ziti, stuffed shells, cashew chickenchicken pot piecripsy chicken wrapssavory chickentaco bake, taco meat and spagetti sauce.  I actually have supplies for four other recipes (probably yielding another 12-16 meals), but had to quit when the freezer was full!!  I packaged everything in 8"x8" foil pans and ziplock bags.  This will also reduce the evening dishes!  In theory I can be doing better things in the evening - better than cooking and cleaning the dishes and kitchen.  (And if my math is right, we're at $5 a meal, $2.50/serving).

Some general notes about my adventure today:
The baked ziti made 4 full pans.  I could not find my cornstarch quickly, so that was skipped.  I added a bit more parm cheese to make it thicker.  Serve with a salad or garlic bread.
One pound of shells needed 4 cups of filling and used one jar of sauce (yep, cheated on that one).  I used lasagna filling and meat sauce.  This yielded three pans.  Serve with a salad or garlic bread.
As a time saver, I did not change the hot pasta water, I spooned out the cooked pasta, added a bit more water and the next batch of pasta noodles.
For the cashew chicken, I added water chestnuts, omitted bamboo shots and peas and used can mushrooms.  I didn't read the instructions carefully enough the first two times, so I have all the ingredients (including the cashews) in a bag.  I placed small baggies frozen flat.  I will reheat quickly on a skillet and serve with steamed broccoli and rice.
I also froze flat the chicken pot pie in baggies.  I will heat in a skillet and serve over biscuits.  I used fresh carrots and celery, canned corn and frozen peas.  It was a mish-mash of things I already had on-hand.
Because I boiled several pounds of chicken today, several meals are chicken based.  After the chicken was cool, I shredded and cubed the chicken.  I combined the meat-mixture for the chicken wraps and froze it.  I will heat the meat in a skillet quickly and assemble the wraps as instructed.
I am most nervous about the savory chicken (company's coming chicken).  Most of these are new versions of recipes we already use/have/like.  This is completely new but Mr. SD loves stove top stuffing.  I remember in college, he made it weekly.  I feel like it has way too much sour cream in it.  We'll see after it bakes.  This yielded three very full pans.
My sister-in-law made Taco Bake on vacation several years ago.  We have it in our rotation, but I've never tried to freeze it.  I've stopped short of baking it.  In addition to the chicken, we also browned several pounds of hamburger.  I used one bag to make the taco-meat for this dish.
One bag will join jar-sauce and frozen cheese ravioli's (they were already in my freezer).
I will update photos and reviews of the post-served meals.

I have a goal to stay out of the grocery store for another 30 days, except for lunch food.  We also pack our lunches; the meals are 8"x8" foil pans packed full.  I'm sure there is more than 2-3 servings in the pans; but I was working with limited freezer space and wanted the pans full (to mitigate air in the dish.  air = freezer burn).  I will take any left-overs for lunch the next day.  I'm always looking for fresh new things to try for lunch.  Leave me any comments with what you pack for lunch.

Here's to a great 2012.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Pioneer Woman

Swoon. That's me and her in Fairfax earlier this week. She was so very lovely. We had a great conversation while she was signing my books (including her mismatched earrings). Thanks for bringing the country to the big city. A shout-out to my Capitol Hill friend Jemma - hope you made it home safely. And sweet Pam for snapping this photo (minus the man in the YELLOW shirt in the background).
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Friday, March 19, 2010

What's For Dinner?

Hi friends.  It's the most wonderful time of the year (not that Mr. Bing didn't know what he was talking about), SPRING.  Yes, it's wonderful.  It's still daylight in the evenings, a gentle breeze, kids are out playing, birds are chirping and we're grilling.  Yesterday evening, I decided to nix my dinner plans and instead GRILL.  This was a complete in-promptu change.  I stopped at Roots and picked up two nice steaks, some green beans and a small container of strawberries.  When it's truly warm in the summer - I hate turning on the oven.  Here's how I served dinner in record time and minimum preparation.  I phoned ahead and asked the grill to be turned on.  I did not have time to marinate the meat, so I used
Montreal Steak seasoning.  Coat it real good - it's got salt, it's got pepper, a little garlic all in ONE shaker.  Coat the steaks, them 'em on the grill.  I brought two pans of water to a boil.  While those are boiling, wash and snap the beans.  Here I've dumped the beans in.  Beans take just a few minutes! 
I washed the berries and added a small can of pineapple chunks from the pantry.  Yes, I paired fresh and canned fruit.  I'm a rebel!!  The second pan of boiling water was for (gasp!) instant mashed potatoes.  A nice garlic-herb blend.  Sorry mom, I'm a workin' girl (she wouldn't understand a powdered potato product; trust me!).  Here's what was for dinner last night (the steaks are a nice dark color because of the seasoning):
Have a great grilling weekend!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Easy Spanakopita

I found this great recipe over at Tasty Kitchen!
1 lb. fresh baby spinach.
Wilt spinach in Tbsp. of olive oil. Make in batches. Remove from heat, cool, sqeeze out liquid. Chop.

Saute 1/2 small onion, 4 Tbsp. parsley in olive oil until the onions are translucent.
Add to spinach mixture.

Add 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1 well-beaten egg, 1/2 lb. Feta cheese, 1 tsp. nutmeg.

I cheated and used these adorable little cups (one recipe yields 60 cuppies!!). I left the box in the background so you can see exactly what I used! Fill the cuppies, bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

I made the mixture the evening before serving these lil' delights at brunch. Minutes later the tray will be EMPTY!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Taco Dip

A famous appetizer. And it's so quick.
Ingredients: Cottage cheese, taco seasoning, tomatoes, green bell peppers (or orange, yellow, red), cheese.
I use about half of a large container of cottage cheese and one packet of taco seasoning. Mix the seasoning and the cottage cheese in a pie plate or deep serving dish.
Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese, approx 1 cup.
Sprinkle the chopped tomatoes and peppers.
Serve with your favorite tortilla scoop chips.

This is a great, quick, festive-ly colored HEALTHY dish. This is best served chilled, and does not keep well. Serve and eat in the same day.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Croissant Breakfast

Quick, easy, just a couple ingredients. (Milk not shown)
You can throw this together in the morning in minutes. In fact, let's say, for instance, you just spent a couple hours shoveling mammoth amounts of snow and realize you're so very very hungry. This is perfect.

Here I'm making a smaller portion - but if you need this for a crowd, there's a large portion-sized recipe at the end of this post.

Preheat the oven at 400 degrees.
I'm going to make a sausage croissant today. You can substitute cubed ham (left over from the holidays) or crumbled bacon bits or just have it plain - egg and cheese. I usually use the hot breakfast sausage because we're admist a blizzard here in MD, I had to make-do with other sausage (seems we won't be grilling out for a long long time!). Fry up your sausage. If you're using ham or bacon that's already been cooked, you don't need to fry it. You can skip to the next step. Spray a 5"x7" glass dish or a 8"x8" would work too. Open up the refrigerator croissant and press it into the dish.
Sprinkle meat over the croissant.
Whisk three eggs. Add a dash of pepper and 1/2 cup milk.

Pour the egg mixture over the meat.

Top off with 1 cup of shredded cheese. Yummm.

Bake about 15-20 minutes (until the egg is completely baked).

To make a larger croissant for the crowd:
Grease 9"x13" pan.
One package of refrigerator croissants. This will be less crusty.
Use one roll of breakfast sausage.
Whisk 5 large eggs with 3/4 cup milk.
Top with 2 cups shredded cheese.
Bake 20-22 minutes at 425 degrees.