Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pink & Blue Cupcakes

My friend Lisa's baby shower is tomorrow afternoon, and I volunteered to be in charge of the dessert. I had seen these yummy looking Strawberry cupcakes in another food blog I like, Good Things Catered, and thought pink cupcakes would be cute for a baby shower. Since Lisa isn't finding out what sex her baby is, I decided to do one batch with strawberries, and another batch swapping the strawberries for blueberries. Both flavors came out great!

Strawberry Cupcakes

Cake Ingredients:
2 1/2 c. cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/3 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c. chopped strawberries

Frosting Ingredients:
1/4 c. strawberries
1 Tbsp. strawberry liquor (I sub 1 tsp. vanilla & 2 tsp. water)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
8 oz. cream cheese, room temp
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 3/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 Tbsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare 2 cupcake pans. Sift flour, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl. In bowl of mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until combined. Add buttermilk, oil and vanilla until combined. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in berries. Fill cupcake pans 3/4 way. Bake for 20 minutes. For frosting, put berries, liquor, and juice in saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and then reduce to a simmer for 5 mins. Let cool then blend until smooth. In bowl of mixer mix cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add sugar, then vanilla. Add berry puree until smooth. Frost cupcakes when they are completely cooled.

Ooey Gooey Goodness

Since I was going to be doing some baking today, I figured I might as well make something for dinner that utilized the oven. After searching for a good baked pasta dish, I found this recipe that sounded really good and cheesy, and it turned out great. It made a TON so I guess we'll be eating this for a few days.

Baked Ziti

1 pound dry ziti pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef 2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce
6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
1 1/2 cups sour cream
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain. In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, Provolone cheese, sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fun at the Farmers' Market

For the first time since I've lived in Indy (7 years in August), I ventured to the Broad Ripple Farmers' Market. There are tons of booths with all kinds of fruits, veggies, and baked goods, not to mention a ton of other neat stuff. To get my energy up to fight the crowds on the hunt for the best deals, I stopped by the Rene's Bakery stand to get a chocolate croissant. If you've never been to Rene's I highly recommend it, everything I've ever tried has been delicious.

After doing a lap to see what all the vendors were selling, I managed to do all of my shopping at one booth, lots of fresh fruits and veggies, which I used in the very fresh and yummy recipes below.

Green Beans & Potatoes

2 pounds fresh green beans (rinsed & trimmed)
5 red potatoes (cleaned & quartered, not peeled)
1/4 lb bacon, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped fine
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion and bacon in a dutch oven until desired crispness. Place green beans and potatoes in the dutch oven with just enough water to almost cover. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down to medium and let beans cook slowly for 1 1/2 to 2 hours depending on how tender you want them.

Creamy Corn

4 cups fresh sweet corn cut from the cob or equivalent amount of frozen corn
1/2 of an 8oz tub chive and onion-flavored cream cheese
1/2 can (10 3/4 ounces) cream of celery soup
1/4 cup green pepper, diced
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
1/3 cup milk

Blanch corn in large saucepan of boiling water and drain. Add chive cream cheese, soup and green and red pepper. Stir in milk to thin the mixture and make it creamy. Warm over medium heat until the diced peppers are medium crisp.

Source: Indianapolis Woman Magazine

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hot Crash Potatoes!

Oh my gosh, these are so good! You really have to try them! Everything that the Pioneer Woman cooks looks so yummy, and after seeing these on a lot of other food blogs with rave reviews, I knew I had to try them. But first I had to run to Target, my happy place, and buy a potato masher. It was a good investment, even if I only use it to make this recipe!

Hot Crashed Potatoes

red new potatoes (as many as you'd like)
olive oil
dried herbs (I used rosemary)

Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Pre-heat oven to 450. Place potatoes on an oiled cookie sheet. Press down in a criss-cross with the potato masher to flatten potatoes like a cookie. Brush each potato with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and desired herbs. Bake on the top rack of the oven for 20-25 min.

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Morning Cheddar Biscuits & Gravy

I don't think I've made biscuits and gravy since 8th grade home-ec, but it is still just as easy now as it was then. This time I took a hint from our local Taste Cafe and added some Sharp Cheddar to the mix and they were delicious! (Pardon the shadows in the picture, just the metal cris-crosses on the old 1920's windows)

Cheddar Biscuits & Gravy

1 cup all-purpose flour 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon butter, melted
1/4 cup shredded Sharp Cheddar
1/2 pound bulk pork sausage
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Combine milk and butter; stir into dry ingredients just until blended, then stir in cheese. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, cook the sausage over medium heat until no longer pink. Stir in butter until melted. Sprinkle with flour. Gradually stir in milk, and seasonings. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until desired thickness. Serve over biscuits and top with additional cheese if desired.

Source: adapted from

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Back in the day...

In college, a bazillion years ago, I waitresses at a little Mexican place called Tortilla Flat. We had the best salsa! (don't ever get fresh salsa in your eye by the way) Most of the food was grilled and or vegan, so as Mexican restaurants go, this one was on the healthier side. One of my favorite dishes were the grilled chicken quesadillas. So tonight I replicated them the best I could, and they turned out great!

Grilled Chicken Quesadillas

4 large flour tortillas
2 small tomatoes, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 chicken breast, grilled & diced
2 cups shredded montery jack
sour cream

Grill chicken (I used a mesquite marinade) and dice. Place 2 tortillas on a cookie sheet (for easy transportation) Top each tortilla with half of the chicken, onion, tomato, and cheese and then top with the other tortillas. Grill the tortillas over medium high heat for about 3 minutes on both sides or until cheese is nice and gooey. Slice and serve with salsa and sour cream.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Cleaning out the Fridge Fried Rice

We've had a busy weekend with no time for grocery shopping! Ok, well we probably had a lot of time for grocery shopping, but chose to be lazy. We kicked off our fun 4th of July weekend by attending a Tom Petty concert with my parents on Thursday night. I even caught Mom & Dad singing along and dancing a few times! For the 4th, we went to a cookout at our friends, the Stones. As always it was a great time with lots of great food. We had planned on heading downtown to see the fireworks, but after driving down and seeing that parking could be an issue, and both of us being downright tired, we headed home. Much to our surprise, our backyard neighbors had closed off their block and were putting on a professional show of their own. I'm sure it was highly illegal, and I cringed every time I watched ashes fall towards my roof, but the fireworks were amazing. On Saturday, Ali and I rode our bikes into Broadripple Village for lunch at La Piedad. It is so great to live in the heart of a city near so many cute shops and restaurants. If you've never been to Broad Ripple, come check it out! Saturday evening, Scott and I headed back up to Verizon Wireless Music Center to see John Mayer. (my 5th time!-yes I'm a huge fan) Sunday morning we headed out for some of the city's best biscuits and gravy at Taste Cafe & Marketplace, also in our neighborhood. We wrapped up the weekend by setting off fireworks with Scott's cousin Bill's family.
So back to my non-grocery shopping laziness...tonight I cleaned out the freezer, pantry, and fridge to create some fried rice. It was great, and you can mix it up with any ingredient you have on hand.

Clean out the Fridge Fried Rice

1 chicken breast, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 egg
1 cup frozen corn
1 medium white onion chopped
1 roasted red pepper chopped
4 cups white rice (cooked)
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
salt, pepper, garlic salt to taste

Scramble the egg in a large skillet, then set aside. Season and saute the chicken, and set aside. Add about a tablespoon of oil to the skillet and saute rice and veggies until veggies are tender. Add desired amount of soy sauce while cooking. Add all ingredients back into the skillet and toss.

The Fresh Market!

I'm so excited that we finally have a long awaited grocery store in my very own neighborhood. It has been a few years since Meridian Kessler had a grocery, making it a real pain, especially when you realized you are only one item short of a recipe, or just need milk for your cereal.

Luckily, The Fresh Market, chose to build a brand new store complete with rooftop parking.

In honor of the new store, and to have a good excuse to go shopping, I picked two recipes from the store's website to try. They were both delicious!

Asiago Cheese Dip

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Asiago cheese, shredded and divided
2 green onions, sliced and white ends removed
1/4 cup white mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped

Preheat oven to 350°. In a bowl, blend mayonnaise, sour cream and 1/2 cup Asiago cheese. Fold in onions, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. Pour mixture into a loaf pan. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with crackers, TFM French Rounds or pita chips. (I used TFM Garlic French Rounds)

Sausage & Spinach Penne Pasta (w/Mushrooms)
1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage
1 (16 ounce) bag fresh spinach
4 tablespoons TFM Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 - 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
dried crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1/4 cup Romano cheese
1 pound TFM Whole Wheat Penne Pasta
* I added about 6 ounces of fresh mushrooms*

Take sausage meat out of casings. Sauté until cooked and then place on paper towel lined plate to absorb fat. Keep warm.
Heat olive oil in pan; add sliced garlic and sauté for 1 minute. (Cook mushrooms here if desired.) Add washed spinach leaves and sprinkle with salt and crushed red pepper. Simmer 4 minutes until cooked and stems are soft. Add sausage, toss to mix. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile cook penne according to package directions, drain. Toss spinach mixture, cheese, and pasta together. Top with additional cheese before serving.
Source: The Fresh Market