Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Paula Deen’s Caramel Apple Cheesecake

    I’m on a roll here branching out from Giada recipes! I’m not sure why I picked this to make. For some reason I just thought that I should make a cheesecake and I let C choose between a couple and this was the winner. It was much easier than I thought making a cheesecake would be, but maybe that’s because there’s not a whole lot to it :) Recipe.

  • 1 (21-ounce) can apple pie filling
  • 1 (9-inch) graham cracker crust
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup caramel topping
  • 12 pecan halves, plus 2 tablespoons chopped pecans Note: Omitted.

    I made it mostly exactly like the recipe stated except that I added some cinnamon and allspice to the apple/caramel mixture. As far as cheesecakes go, this one didn’t wow my socks off, but that certainly didn’t stop me from eating it :) C actually really liked it, so that made it worth it!

   Husband rating: 8. C said he would’ve given it a 9 had the apple pieces been smaller, so give them a little chop! The one’s I used were like whole slices of apple…

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

    Today I saw Giada make a mango cheesecake with mint (?) simple syrup drizzled overtop. Yum!!! ;)

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Taco Soup

    ‘Tis the season for soups, no? I love this soup as well and although it it’s not as creamy and rich as the Cheeseburger Soup, it makes up for it in easy of preparation. This is another gem from Allrecipes. I love that website!

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (16 ounce) can chili beans (drained)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans (drained)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer Note: Omitted.
  • 2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained Note: I use one; C is not a fan of tomatoes
  • 1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning
  • 3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)
  • sour cream (optional)
  • crushed tortilla chips (optional)

    This is so easy to make it’s ridiculous. Put 1lb of chicken breasts in the fridge the night before you plan to make this so that the chicken is thawed enough to remove the paper/padding stuff attached to the bottom of it in the package. Sometimes (most of the time) I forget to do this and will put some hot water in the sink with the chicken and let it thaw in there for about 30 minutes, just until I can get that paper stuff off (does anyone know the point of this?). Put the chicken in the crock pot. I season it with salt, pepper and garlic powder on top of the taco seasoning. Put the drained corn and beans in the pot, along with the rest of the ingredients. I substitute 12oz of chicken broth (made with bouillon cubes ;)) for the beer. Turn the crock pot on high, go do whatever you need to do for about 6 or 7 hours, come home and dinner is served! If you do not not start out with frozen chicken, put the crock pot on low instead of high. The chicken is tender and flavorful. The beans and corn are hearty and healthy. The whole thing is just easy and wonderful!

Topped with cheese and sour cream

Giada’s Zeppole

    What can I say? I don’t know what it is about Giada. Habit I guess? I like her show and it’s format, the lighting, etc? Anyhow, I made another recipe of hers :) It left a teensy bit to be desired, but that’s mostly because I left out a key ingredient and don’t own an ice cream scoop (Um mom, you catch that? The kind with the button that scrapes the contents out, k thanks, love you! :)). I also really wished that this recipe included the video, but it didn’t :( Good news though! I found one to add to this post :)
    Don’t mind the train wreck that is the video, thank goodness Giada was staying on task because I needed to see this made again and Hoda and Kathy Lee were really trying to ruin it for me!

    Orange Zeppole:

  • 1 stick butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest Note: I DIDN’T HAVE AN ORANGE!! :(((
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Orange Sugar:

  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Chocolate Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup cream Note: I used light cream; it doesn’t really specify..? I also quartered this and it made plenty of sauce! ¼ cup cream, ¼ cup chips
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) bittersweet chocolate chips Note: I only had semisweet. No problemo.

    It was little overwhelming with all the separate components, but start the oil heating first. Get the butter, sugar and water mixture going. Make the sugar. Get out the eggs. Get the flour measured out. Make the sauce last (I put my cream in the same pot my butter mixture melted in to cut down on dishes :)). It was really easy to make once you got everything prepped. After I added the flour to the butter mixture it formed a ball almost immediately, but I still let it cook for a few minutes, stirring every once in a while, to make sure the flour taste cooked out.



    This is where things got a bit dicey. As I mentioned before, I don’t have an ice cream scoop, so my Zeppole balls look a hot mess. I also don’t have a thermometer for this type of thing. So, I used some of the methods found on this website to determine whether or not my oil was hot enough. I had some wooden dowels laying around from a previous project so I stuck that in there and used that method. It sizzled…a lot? Enough? Not really sure-fire so I’ll buy a thermometer next grocery day.
    Final verdict? They were alright. I really thought I bought an orange specifically for this recipe because I really like the idea of citrus and chocolate together, so I was a little disappointed (I’d already poured the oil, too late to turn back) about that. I will make them again and include the orange. I really think that would take these from ho-hum to yum yum! I just made that up, nice huh? hah :) The chocolate sauce was good, and made plenty even with my cut down mixture, so keep that in mind. They taste like donuts and if you watch the video, Giada says they’re Italian donuts; I wasn’t aware of that beforehand or I might’ve skipped these because I’ve made homemade donuts before. But like I said, I’ll make ’em again and let you know!

Would I make these for someone else? Yes, with modifications. I would include the orange and make sure I had a proper scooper, because I’m telling you, these look awful. Kind of like a pork rind. Yuck. But tasty enough :)

Not so visually appetizing. To be continued...

Chicken Pot Pie 2 Ways

    C (husband) loves my chicken pot pie. I decided to be a rebel and make it different way though to see if he noticed! :) The only/main difference is in how the filling is made. In one recipe, you simply use cream of chicken soup and in the other you make your own cream of chicken-like mixture. I kind of prefer the do-it-yourself way, but C prefers the easy way, which is nice sometimes too :)
The more involved, rebel recipe can be found here.

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cubed
  • 1 cup sliced carrots Note: I put in one can of drained peas and carrots for all veggies.
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • ½ cup sliced celery Note: Omitted.
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seed
  • 1¾ cups chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts

    The recipe says to cube and then boil the chicken. I’ve boiled and pan fried the chicken in a little olive oil and I don’t really have a preference. If you do decided to boil the chicken though, throw some bouillon cubes in the water and use that as your chicken broth ingredient :) The advantage to starting out with cubed meat is that you don’t have to burn your hands trying to cut it into cubes once it’s cooked. The trickiest part with this one is making enough filling and getting it to the right consistency. The reviewers at Allrecipes suggest doubling the sauce ingredients, with which I agree. There’s nothing worse than a dry pot pie! They’re supposed to gooey and creamy, not pasty, so I definitely suggest making more filling. You make this kind of like you make the roux discussed in the Cheeseburger Soup post, except you’re adding chicken broth and milk as well.

Thankfully, it tastes better than it looks. The sauce.

    The sauce looks disgusting, kind of like um..well, I won’t go there for those of you with a weak stomach. Trying to increase readership you know, so I don’t need to turn the five of you who aren’t my momma away ;) ha! But really, it’s good. Very flavorful. However, C doesn’t like the onions in it! I guess you could just omit those if your family isn’t big on onions, but I think it gives it a lot of flavor. The recipe says to put the chicken in the bottom and pour the sauce on top. Why? We don’t know. I mix it all together and then put it in the crust.
    Popping the second pie crust from it’s tin is tricky and I destroyed many a crust before getting the hang of it. This could be totally in my head, but I find that the Walmart brand deep dish frozen crusts work best. Keep the second crust in the freezer until about five minutes before you’re ready to use it. Place it on top of the other crust with the pot pie in it and use your fingernails to pull the tin away from the crust, moving around the tin freeing little areas as you go. It usually pops out before you even make it all the way around. Make sure to gently poke some holes in the top with a knife! Place the pie on a cookie sheet to prevent drips from making you have to clean your oven!



   Beautiful! Aesthetically, it’s kind of hit or miss. Sometimes they come out pretty like this one did, but sometimes I’ve got explosions and glops of pie falling onto the cookie sheet below.

    Pot Pie numero dos is here.


  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
  • 1 carrot, chopped Note: I just use one can of drained peas and carrots.
  • 1 head fresh broccoli, chopped Note: Omitted.
  • 2 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and chopped Note: 1lb.
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup Note: I use 98% fat free.
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt

    The only changes I make to this except for the ingredients noted above is the cooking time and temperature. If I need to make this in a hurry, I stick with the 425° and 30 minutes. However, if I have time, I lower the temp to about 350° and cook it for 45 minutes to an hour. Either way is ok, I just prefer the second option if I have time :) Hope you enjoy! C LOVES the second version of pot pie.

Would I make this for someone else?: Yes! Either one of them depending on how much time I had. The first one takes a little longer to make.

Cheeseburger Soup

    Let me be honest: this review/how-to/whatever you want to call this is completely biased because I LOVE Cheeseburger Soup. A Bible study friend of mine introduced me to it and now I’m pretty sure we eat at least every 10 days. It’s probably not all that healthy, but you can sneak a lot of vegetables in if you so choose!
Cheeseburger Soup

  • ½ pound ground beef Note: 1lb for me.
  • ¾ cup chopped onion
  • ¾ cup shredded carrots Note: I use two lg carrots, chopped.
  • ¾ cup chopped celery Note: 3 lg stalks for me.
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 4 tablespoons butter Note: I eyeball this…
  • 3 cups chicken broth Note: Eyeball for the roux.
  • 4 cups cubed potatoes Note: 2 Russet’s for me
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flourNote: 1/8 for me.
  • 2 cups cubed Cheddar cheese Note: 1 block (8oz) sharp cheddar.
  • 1½ cups milk Note: Eyeball for the roux, but no more than half this.
  • ¼ cup sour cream

    There is one thing I dislike about this recipe: the prep time! There are a lot of things to chop and peel and at the close of my day (the hour or so before daddy comes home! Thank the Lord!), it’s just a lot of stuff to do. A is tired and ready to see someone else, I’m tired and ready to not be the only adult in the house, etc. So, during the day, if the opportunity presents itself, I’ll chop and peel everything beforehand and stick it in the fridge. The day I made this, A was playing so nicely by herself that I seized the moment and got everything done (I forgot the potatoes though) in about 10 minutes! I highly recommend doing all the prep work before hand. To prevent the potatoes from turning brown, keep them in a water+ice bath in the fridge; works perfectly :)

Large carrot

Prepped :)

Yummy vegetables

    As for making the roux, I half the flour, butter, and milk because I don’t like my soup to be too thick. Roux’s are tricky, but they’re basically just butter and flour blended together. Start by first melting the butter on low heat and then add the flour, whisking all the while. It will thicken. Let it cook a few minutes to get rid of the flour flavor; when it’s thickened and you’re happy with the taste, whisk it into your soup! My first few times were pretty horrible and I was totally turned off from even trying it again, but you get the hang of it eventually :)

Not thickened


    I use less cheese than it calls for, but I’ve never missed it. I just cube up a block of cheese of my choosing. I also add a dollop of mascarpone cheese as a nod to my favorite cheftess, Giada! hah :) And because I buy it for a handful of recipes and it usually just sits in my fridge going bad unless I invent ways to use it, but it’s totally optional. With or without, this soup is beyond delicious!

Husband rating: 8.5

Would I make this for someone else?: Absolutely!


    I did the best I could with this little nutritional information chart. Can’t be too horribly off, but don’t be your diet on it!

Nutrition Facts

User Entered Recipe

6 Servings

Amount Per Serving

Calories 348.9
Total Fat 19.0 g
Saturated Fat 9.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.4 g
Cholesterol 74.3 mg
Sodium 668.3 mg
Potassium 505.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 22.3 g
Dietary Fiber 2.6 g
Sugars 2.9 g

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Chili & Cookies

*I wrote this last night at work, so my use of ‘yesterday’ and ‘tomorrow’ might be confusing?
    Has all this snow gotten anyone else’s mood in funk? Is it just me? Maybe today was just an off day for me, but A (easier than daughter. A, that’s her!) and I had a movie day today–which is rare for us because I’m usually pretty strict about time spent watching the boob tube; you know what they say, garbage in, garbage out. Anywho, I was just over the snow today. Maybe it was the fact that I was facing a double at work today. I sure hope so, because there is so much snow in our front yard just begging for some foot/paw prints! :) I hope tomorrow is better than today! Random: 1 in 4 women misread pregnancy tests? Really?! That’s serious.

   Alright, alright, on to the juicy stuff! What’s for dinner?! Actually, I must confess that on the previous dinner (Giada’s whole chicken), I was so sketched out about whether or not it was good (I was two days past on my “Sell by” date!) that I made another dinner while the chicken was roasting :p The second dinner that night was an old, easy, kind of no brainer dinner. No one loves it, but it’ll do the trick, and it’s good for you!
Abs Diet Chili

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey breast Note: Lean ground beef works great too.
  • 1 14 ½ oz can diced tomatoes with jalapenos
  • 1 10 ½ oz can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 10 ½ oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 10 ½ oz can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 10 ½ oz can low-soduim chicken broth Note: Bouillon cube it!
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne Note: I never have this, so I don’t use it. Am I missing out?

    It’s pretty straightforward. I like to start the turkey browning first, then get the beans drained and the onion chopped. I just had the thought that corn would probably be good in this, but I’ve never actually tried it before. It’s filling and healthy, straightforward and simple. For some reason,
C (that’s husband!) doesn’t like this anymore. We went on the Abs Diet a few years ago and had this chili at least once every ten days; maybe that’s what did him in? :) I think it was just fine, but C has actually requested I not make it again! Boo! Oooooh well, maybe your families will enjoy it more since hopefully its something new for them.

Husband rating: 3! He’s just over it. Don’t be scared, it really is good! :)

Would I make this for someone else? No. There are other recipes above this in my ‘send out’ list, but if this was all I had, I suppose I would… :)

   Now for the cookies! Since I made two dinners in one night, I had some free time to do a little recipe experimenting :)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

    1 cup shortening Note: I substituted butter as did many people who reviewed this recipe on allrecipes.
    ¾ cup packed brown sugar Note: 98% of the time I use Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
    ¾ cup white sugar
    2 eggs
    1½ cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 cups rolled oats
    2 cups semisweet chocolate chips Note: All I had were mini morsels, and only 1½ cups, so I’m sure that would’ve helped make these cookies a 8 or 9 as opposed to a 6 or 7.

        As with most baking that requires butter, it needs softened. It seems to take forever for butter to soften just by sitting out (like hours?!), so I had to microwave it. I did it for 45 seconds on 50% power and voila–softened butter.

    Softened butter :)

       I’ve also heard that it’s important not to overmix; I don’t recall why (should I know these things since I’m writing about them? :p), so I just made sure everything was blended well and then I used a spatula to fold in the oats and chips. I like my cookies crispy crisp, so mine took 15-16 minutes, but probably would’ve been ok around 10-13 too, depending on how you like your cookie.


       They came out ok. Nothing life changing, and I probably won’t make them again, unless that’s just all I happen to be able to make and want cookies. I prefer oatmeal raisin.I think this recipe could’ve been ok with some added spices (cinammon, all spice, something), but the lack of a ‘wow factor’ sure didn’t stop me from eating about 23 :) Don’t get me wrong, they certainly weren’t bad and they require items that one ususally has on hand at all times, so if you want to try something new, give them a try! :) Daughter had a fabulous time just playing in the water, so that made the whole thing worth it anyway.


    Husband rating: 6.5 at first, but as the evening wore on, they grew on him to a 7 :)
    Would I make this for someone else? No. There are other cookie recipes that I prefer and would make for others.

       Friday is grocery day (who’s with me!?) so I will pick up some raisins and try an oatmeal raisin recipe. I also want to try that whole apple substitution method so I can let you know how that
    goes. I’m going to try some new shopping techniqes on Friday too. Gonna hit Kroger, Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aide (boy, that’s pretty ambitious seeing it all written out). I want to be a better, smarter,
    thriftier shopper! C and I decided that I could take a Friday or Saturday evening and go alone in order to hit more than one place (and sneak in some mommy alone time! woop woop). I’ve been scouring the
    sale papers online and have a little notebook comparing prices of the things I need <—- hello time consumption! But that's the beauty of working doubles and having your relief for evening shift show up two hours early, giving you an hour and a half before midnight shift to head on over to the library for some internet time! I mean, come on, Rite Aide has 9 Quilted Northern rolls on sale for $3.99!! WILD right?! :) I mean, it ain't Charmin, but it won't kill you. That's my motto.

Pork Chops a la Giada

    Let me start off by saying that I got a little behind and began dinner a little late. I was rushed and trying to do about 5,783 other things (I’m a great multi-tasker), so when you plan on making a brand new recipe, give yourself the proper time to accomplish the task! It will come out better and you will enjoy the experience more :) The full recipe can be found here.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced. Note: I didn’t have any so I used garlic powder instead. Not ideal, but you gotta use what you got girl!
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes, diced.
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag of frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning.
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning.
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme.
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese. Note: Out yonder (aka where I live), goat cheese is not readily available so I substituted Feta cheese and it was fantastic.
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat cream cheese.
  • 4 (4-ounce) center-cut pork chops.
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth. Note: I always make my own using bouillon cubes because it’s cheaper.
  • 1/2 lemon, zested. Note: Omitted
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard.

    The way Giada lists the ‘to-do’s’ in her recipe were out of order for me. I would start out by first cutting the pocket into the pork. After completing this, I would put the sauce together, even though it’s not used until later. I’m a Type A person and like to have everything mixed, set out, chopped up, etc before actually beginning the recipe, but that’s just me :) So now that you’ve done all that, back to Giada’s way.

    My cream cheese wasn’t all that great; it was the rectangular kind and not all that susceptible to smushing, which presented a problem for me.

Entirely too chunky!

    Buy the soft kind or try a blender or food processor? I just review ’em, I can’t always fix ’em :) After some laborious stirring, I got it to the consistency I remember seeing on the episode.

Bigger bowl, desired consistency

    Frozen spinach is just disgusting. I’m not even gonna lie. Squeezing the water out of it was not fun, but what Giada said, I tried to do! P.S. I think the spinach smells bad too, yuck. I want so badly to like frozen and cooked spinach, but so far, not good. Cooking the cream cheese/goat (or Feta) mixture went just fine. Smells kind of scary but press on.

    I was a little apprehensive about cutting a pocket into the pork chops and I’ve always avoided recipes that involved such a task. Why? Who knows, but it went great! I bought a two-pack instead of four because the two-pack chops looked thicker and more suited to having a pocket cut into them. Don’t cut too deep and slice your hand open. I’m very accident prone and you might be too–cut slowly.

Pork Pocket


    No surprises with the pocket stuffing, pretty straightforward. Giada and other recipes always say to cook meats like this four minutes per side. Does this ever get a meat done for anyone? Am I missing something!? It’s more like 10 minutes per side for me, if not more, and I’m a medium doneness kinda girl! The cooking from here on out went downhill for me :(

    Making a reduction. Pretty sure I’ve never succeeded. I tried though, I did! I let it simmer for the recommended eight minutes and it was still very liquid-y. So I thought, what the hay, my chops aren’t done either, lets cook it all together shall we? OH! I also squirted some regular mustard into the ‘sauce’ for some reason, um, so that’s completely up to you. Not a ton, but a few squirts.  Ok, back to the mess in the pan. Sauce and chops cooking together. Waiting for it to reduce. Daughter is standing on her knees on a chair ‘washing’ dishes in the sink. Next thing I know she’s tumbling off the chair–she’s totally fine, no worries. There were tears shed and a mess to be cleaned, sorry porkchops (a measuring cup full of water tumbled with her and I’m a sucker for a mess). Crisis solved, back to the stove I go, and lo and behold! My sauce has reduced…to a dried, burnt on hot mess. I was a little sad about not having a sauce, but the chops kept cooking and finally finished.


Bon appetite!

    So how was it?! DELCIOUS. I find it hard to make really flavorful pork for some reason. This was just insanely good. It didn’t look good, but it was flavorful and tangy from the feta and cream cheeses, moist. I gave daughter a few bites of pork and spinach mixture, looked up a few minutes later and it was gone! She didn’t like the spinach/cheese mixture alone, but with the pork she ate it up. I liked it all; seperate, together, whatever. Great. Now, husband abhors frozen spinach. In fact, the first thing he said when he finally saw it was, “Uh, you put spinach in it? I hate cooked spinach.” But he was in class and wouldn’t get some until later, re-heated…his verdict?

Husband rating: 8.5! He loved it :)

Would I make this for someone: Possibly. I’d want to make it again with the sauce, with plenty of time to make it. It also wasn’t that pretty? I mean, you can judge for yourself. I’d consider making this if I ever had a couple over for dinner, but no, I wouldn’t send this out to someone. Not really a traveling kind of meal.