Thursday, March 19, 2015

Comfort Meatballs by Ree Drummond

On our meatball recipe quest we whipped up a double batch of these tasty comfort meatballs (recipe by Ree Drummond - The Pioneer Woman - Food Network) last night.  Alex and I both liked the tangy sauce but Anthony thought the flavor was too heavy in the vinegar department for his taste buds.  He is more of a brown gravy sort of guy.  Still the meatballs were incredibly moist and I would highly recommend the base of the recipe even if you select a different sauce. 

Comfort Meatballs 
Recipe by:  Ree Drummond (Food Network - The Pioneer Woman)

For Meatballs
1-1/2 pound Ground Beef
3/4 cups Oats
1 cup Milk
3 Tablespoons Very Finely Minced Onion
1-1/2 teaspoon Salt
Plenty Of Ground Black Pepper, to taste
For Cooking Meatballs
1 cup All-Purpose Flour (coating For Frozen Meatballs)
Canola Oil  

For Sauce
1 cup Ketchup
2 Tablespoons Sugar
3 Tablespoons Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire
4 Tablespoons (to 6 Tablespoons) Onion
1 dash Tabasco

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all meatball ingredients. Roll into medium-small balls and place on a cookie sheet. Place sheet in freezer for five minutes.

After 5 minutes, remove meatballs from freezer and immediately dredge in unseasoned flour.
Brown meatballs in canola oil until just brown. Place into a baking dish.

Combine all sauce ingredients. Pour over meatballs and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Serve with egg noodles, rice, mashed potatoes, or crusty French bread.

Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

Last night I baked up a batch of Rosemary Shortbread Cookies.  The Rosemary gives the cookies a very Victorian twist.  I like the combination of herbs in cookies.  This recipe is from (

Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons white or colored sugar for decoration

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and 2/3 cup of sugar until light and fluffy.  Stir in the flour, salt and rosemary until well blended.  The dough will be somewhat soft.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut into rectangles or use your favorite cookie cutters.  Place cookies 1 inch apart on the lined cookie sheets.  Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the tops.

Bake for 8 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden at the edges.  Cool on wire racks, and store in an airtight container at room temperature.  The flavor improve with age (best two days after), keeping for about a week.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lemon Loaf Cake

Kelly Reed introduced me to this amazing bread.  It can be made gluten free or with regular flour. It is very moist and lemony! I have already made a loaf for work and it was a huge hit!

Lemon Loaf Cake
This is a knock off recipe of Starbucks Lemon Loaf Cake


1 1/2 gluten free (or regular) flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, room temp.
1 c. sugar
2 TBS butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 (I added a tad more as I love lemon!) fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. canola or corn or coconut oil
zest of one lemon (reserve 1/2 tsp for the glaze)

1 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
(You can adjust these quantities depending on if you want a more sweet or more tart glaze.)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9x5 loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl; combine flour, baking powder and soda, and salt.
3. In a medium bowl; combine eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, and lemon juice with a mixer until blended.
4. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and blend until smooth. Add lemon zest and mix well.
5. Pour into a 9 x 5" loaf pan and bake for 30-45 minutes; until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
6. Glaze; whisk all ingredients to combine.
7. Pour glaze over cooled cake.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

I have made these cookies many times since printing the recipe in December 2013 from Starbucks.  They have not posted it again but I believe it is from the cookbook by La Boulage:  Café Cooking at Home which you can purchase from the Starbucks on-line store.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
(Makes 30 Cookies)

1 and ¼ cups (2 and ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 egg for egg wash (if desired)

Gather your ingredients.

Cut the butter into cubes.  In a large bowl, mix the sugar and butter with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Add the flour and salt and use your hands to mix until you have dough with a crumbly consistency.  Add the vanilla extract and water, and mix again with your hands.

Add the chocolate chips and mix.

Roll the dough into one large log.  Cut in half lengthwise, and roll each piece to create two equal logs, about 2-inches in diameter.   Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut the dough into rounds 1/3 inch thick.  Arrange as many as you can fit on a nonstick baking sheet or parchment paper-lined sheet.  Brush with egg wash, if desired.  Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown.  Repeat with the remaining dough.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Italian Beef Meatballs and Four Ways to Cook Meatballs

The March 2015 issue of Food Network Magazine features 50 Meatball recipes. Alex offered to help with meatball making so I figured why not start with recipe # 1 - Italian Beef Meatballs.  The meatballs turned out moist and very flavorful.

Below is the recipe and also I have included the four Ways to Cook Meatballs that they featured in the small inserted booklet.  So far our favorite method is baking.

# 1 – Italian Meatballs
Mix 1 pound of ground beef, ½ cup grated parmesan, ¼ cup each breadcrumbs, chopped Italian parsley and milk, 2 grated garlic cloves, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon kosher salt; season with pepper.  Form into 2 inch balls; bake.  Serve with your favorite marinara sauce.

Four Ways to Cook Meatballs
Food Network Magazine
March 2015

Arrange on a parchment – lined baking sheet; bake at 425 degrees, about 15 minutes for 2-inch meatballs.

Arrange on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; broil 5 to 8 minutes for 2-inch meatballs.

Cook, in batches, in 2 inches of 350 degrees vegetable oil, 3 to 6 minutes for 1-inch meatballs (small meatballs are best for deep-frying). 

Cook, in batches, in ½ cup vegetable oil over medium-high heat, turning, 8 to 10 minutes for 2-inch meatballs; pour off excess fat before adding any sauce.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mom’s Meat Loaf – Disney MGM Studio’s

Mom’s Meat Loaf – Disney MGM Studio’s
50’s Prime Time Cafe

Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs
Recipes from Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and Disney Cruise Line

One of the funnest places to eat in Walt Disney World is the 50s Prime Time Cafe which is located in Disneys MGM Studios. This themed restaurant is made to look like you were dropped into a 1950′s kitchen with all your other relatives (many of whom you’ve never met before!) Be sure to keep you elbows off the table and eat all your green beans or Mom will get upset.

Meatloaf is one of the specialties on the menu.  The leftovers make great sandwiches.

2 lb Ground Beef
1 lb Ground Pork
4 Eggs
1 cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs
½ cup Diced Onions
1/4 cup Diced Green Peppers
1/4 cup Diced Red Peppers
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
Cracked Black Pepper (to taste)
Kosher Salt (to taste)
½ cup Meatloaf Glaze (see recipe below)

Dice peppers and onions and set aside for later use. Combine meats and seasonings. Add vegetables. Place meat mixture in oiled loaf pan. Bake at 350º F oven for 50-60 minutes (internal temperature should be 155º). Remove meatloaf and brush with meatloaf glaze (see recipe below.) Bake another 10 minutes, remove from oven and set aside for 10 minutes. Cut loaf and serve.

Meatloaf Glaze Ingredients:
½ cup Ketchup
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Tsp Dijon Mustard
½ Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
(Combine all ingredients until mixture is smooth.)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Banana Bread with Pecans Baked in Jars

My first attempt turned out tasty but the jars were definitely the wrong jars to use as once the bread was baked it would not slide out of the mouth of the blue Mason jars because it was too small.  I love the blue Mason jars but they are not ideal for this recipe.  Anthony ate the bread out of the jar with a spoon.  My second attempt with the small Jelly Jars worked perfectly.  The bread slides out of the jars easily with little or no effort.  I added a ribbon and quick tag to dress them up a bit.

Banana Bread with Pecans Baked in Jars

2/3 Cup Shortening
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
4 Eggs
2 Cups Mashed Bananas (Approximately 4 Medium-Sized Bananas)
2/3 Cup Water
3 1/3 Cup All-Purpose Flour
½ tsp. Baking Powder
2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 ½ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
½ tsp. Ground Cloves
2/3 Cup Chopped Pecans
12 Half Pint (8 oz. Jars)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare the jars by greasing the insides of the jars with cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the shortening and sugar with a mixer until well incorporated.  Beat in the eggs, bananas, and water until light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves and pour into the banana mixture a little at a time mixing well with each addition.  Fold in pecans.
Spoon batter into jars filling ½ way full.  Wipe off any spills on jars before baking.  Do not add the lids.

Line the jars on a baking sheet and bake for 35+ minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  I rotated the baking sheet ½ way through cooking time to help ensure even baking of all jars.

Sterilize the lids and rings in boiling water.

Remove the jars from the oven and screw on the lids and rings to the jars while the bread is cooling.  The jars will seal as the bread cools down.  You will hear a light “pop’ when the jar seals itself.  If you don’t, press down on the lid to see if it is firm.  If it doesn’t “give”, it is sealed.  If the bread breaks above the rim of the jar just gently press the top of the bread down with the lid and seal.
Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or eat when cooled.  The jars can also be stored in the freezer for a few months.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Chocolate Truffle Blossom Cookies from Hershey's

I am in the process of making homemade whole wheat bread and there is a timing to bread that can take hours based on the multiple risings it requires.  What's a girl to do while her dough rises?  Bake cookies of course!  Bread dough needs a warm environment to rise so a warm oven is a welcome on a cold rainy day.  These little chocolate morsels are Chocolate Truffle Blossom Cookies.  Recipe compliments of Hershey's Chocolate Truffle Kisses.

Chocolate Truffle Blossom Cookies
  • 48 Hershey's Kisses Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolates or Hershey's Chocolate Truffle Kisses.
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white decorator's sugar or granulated sugar for rolling

Remove wrappers from chocolates; place in freezer for several hours or overnight.

Beat butter, 1-1/3 cups sugar, egg yolks, milk and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Stir together flour, cocoa and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Refrigerate dough 1 to 2 hours or until firm enough to handle.

Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease. Shape dough into 48 equal (about 1-1/4 inch) balls; roll in decorator's sugar or granulated sugar. Place on prepared cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute; press chocolate piece into center of each cookie. Slide parchment paper and cookies to wire rack or remove cookies from greased sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes 48 cookies.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Miniature Pumpkin-Spice Cakes and New Bundt Pans

Sometimes a gift you would like for yourself is really in disguise as a gift for others.  I have had my eye on these miniature Bundt pans and finally treated myself to a set after the holidays.  I thought these would be great to use when you want to give a small treat to friends, co-workers and neighbors.  Sometimes a large cake is way too overwhelming.  But a miniature cake is just right.

I whipped up a batch (12) Miniature Pumpkin-Spice Cakes this morning.  They were featured in the October 2014 Victoria Magazine in the Cooking and Entertaining section (Page 36) with the actual recipe in the Recipe Index on page 89.

I could not find the recipe on-line but here is a link to the magazine:

Miniature Pumpkin-Spice Cakes

Nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger mingle with pumpkin and vanilla to fill each tasty bite, kept moist during baking thanks to dollops of Greek yogurt in the batter.  Serve this classic dessert with a fine dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

1 cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, well packed
3 large eggs
1 (14-oz) can pumpkin puree
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup Greek yogurt
3 ½ cups sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin-pie spice
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp baking soda
Garnish:  Sifted confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously spray 2 (6-well) miniature Bundt pans with baking spray with flour; set aside.

In a medium bowl and using a mixer at medium speed, blend vegetable oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and eggs until combined.  Add pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, and yogurt, beating to combine.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, pumpkin-pie spice, ginger, and baking soda.  Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, and beat until batter is smooth.  Divide batter among wells of pans.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted near centers of cakes comes out clean.
Remove from oven, and let cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Transfer cakes to a wire rack, and let cool completely.  Garnish with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.  Cakes can be stored, at room temperature, in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pre-Purchased Advent Inspiration

A small moment of inspiration. I love Advent gifts especially for adults. This year I spotted these great Advent tins from Starbucks already filled with treats. I gave one to my niece "as is" but then I realized that I could personalize them by adding my own touch. I purchased one for a friend as part of a birthday gift and several for work for recognition gifts. I then hand picked inspirational quotes for each person, printed them and tucked them into the tins. I originally wanted to alter the tins by adding card making embellishments to the top of each but the quotes took quite a bit of time to prepare and stuff. I was worried about running out of time (before December 1st) so I ended up leaving them undecorated. Another thing I love about these tins is that they can be reused.


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