Thursday, March 31, 2011
Last year was really the first year I put any effort into making "different" things with matzo for Passover. I never kept Passover growing up, but my husband did so now I try. I still hate it so much.
We made matzo pizza in the past (who doesn't), but this recipe on AllRecipes.com for Passover Lasagna caught my eye and was super easy to make. It was also REALLY tasty and my favorite dish from last year.
This recipe yields 12 servings.. I halved it.
* 1 (10 ounce) package matzo sheets
* 1 quart tomato sauce
* salt and pepper to taste
* 1 (8 ounce) package sliced Swiss cheese
* 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray.
Break matzo sheets in half and run under warm water to soften. Pour tomato sauce into bowl, and season with salt and pepper.
Coat the bottom of the prepared pan with some of the tomato sauce, then begin layering with the softened matzo sheet, Swiss cheese, mozzarella cheese, and tomato sauce.
Continue layering until the cheeses are used up, finishing with a layer of matzo. Top with the remaining tomato sauce, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and oregano.
Bake in the preheated oven until the cheese is melted, 25 to 30 minutes.
Well, flu season is technically over, but with the crazy weather we've still been having where I live, people are still feeling sick all the time.
This recipe came to us from our Food Network Magazine back in October 2009, and we made them winter 2010. Did they work? I can't say for sure, but neither my husband nor I had the flu that year. So, I guess all the healthy ingredients packed into these little cookies boosted our immune systems somewhat!!
They are kind of heavy cookies, but tasty. They are definitely not the kind of cookie you will eat 5 of in one sitting, at least in our opinion. I used to eat it in the morning between breakfast and lunch, for me, it seemed like a good mid-morning snack because they didn't really feel like treat cookies like chocolate chip do.
Anyway, they are easy to make, but this cookies seriously has a crap-load of ingredients. When we made them, we actually had all but 5 in the house, which wasn't too bad.
So, here is the recipe for these little immunity boosters - try them out!
* 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
* 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
* Pinch of ground cloves
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
* 2 large eggs
* 1/4 cup molasses
* 1/4 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
* 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
* 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
* 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
* 1 1/4 cups golden raisins
* 1 1/4 cups dried cranberries
* 1 1/4 cups roughly chopped walnuts, toasted
Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a medium bowl.
Beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next.
Add the molasses, yogurt, ginger and lemon zest and beat until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour mixture to make a sticky batter (do not overmix).
Fold in the oats and half of the raisins, cranberries and walnuts. Mix the remaining dried fruit and nuts in a small bowl and set aside.
Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of batter onto the prepared baking sheets. Top each with some of the reserved dried-fruit-and-nut mixture and chill for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bake the cookies until dark golden but still soft, 10 to 12 minutes; cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Welcome to all new readers - thanks for coming. I just want to remind everyone that you can follow me on Facebook with the group Eating With A or on Twitter with @Eating_With_A.
If you join one of these groups you will get notifications every time I post a new article or recipe.
Thanks for your support! Keep eating!
If you join one of these groups you will get notifications every time I post a new article or recipe.
Thanks for your support! Keep eating!
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Steak & Mushroom Florentine...sounds fancy, right? Well, it could be, but it was a Campbell's recipe I found a little over a year ago, before I started the blog. I hadn't made it again, simply because the recipe got buried in the pile of printed recipes in the cabinet, but it was really good. The spinach part is so deliciously creamy and smooth - we saved some reserve to eat over pasta or rice!!
Anyway, I'm posting it now - and then it will be written up on a recipe card and placed into the nice recipe binder someone gave me as a housewarming gift a long, long time ago!
If I remember...the recipe said prep time is 15 minutes and cook time is 20...I think it took me a little longer than that because I had to chop some ingredients. I think this recipe is good for someone home a few hours before dinner time and can properly prepare, or for a weekend.
I also left out the tomato in the recipe because, well, I do not like tomatoes! I also used frozen chopped spinach (which is always on standby in the freezer) instead of fresh baby spinach leaves.
Now, the recipe...
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 LB beef sirloin steak or beef top round steak, 3/4-inch thick, cut into thin strips
1 small onion, sliced (about 1/4 cup)
4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 cup water
1 large tomato, thickly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the beef and cook until well browned, stirring often. Remove the beef from the skillet. Pour off any fat.
Heat the remaining oil in the skillet over medium heat.
Add the onion and cook until tender-crisp. Add the spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted (or warmed through if using frozen).
Stir the soup and water in the skillet and heat to a boil. Return the beef to the skillet.
Reduce the heat to low. Cook until the beef is cooked through. Serve the beef mixture over the tomato. Season with the black pepper.
**Serving Suggestion: Serve with hot cooked whole-grain egg noodles. (That was from the actual recipe...I served mine with rice pilaf and a side of french cut green beans! Yum!)
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Last weekend my husband and I had the most DELICIOUS cupcakes in our little cupcake brigade so far. Unfortunately (or fortunately, for calorie sake), they are located an hour away from us in NJ. Luckily, they aren't far from my in-laws so we can always ask them to bring us some when they come over!
Anyway, we first heard of Stuffed Cupcakes on some show on Cooking Channel's show called Unique Eats. When we found out it was close to my in-laws, we were so excited. We knew the next time we'd be heading to NJ we'd be heading there! It was just a matter of time.
Well, the opportunity finally arose and off we went. The bakery has a menu with like, a hundred cupcake flavors but they only put a handful out per day... maybe around 25 or so. If even that much...I can't remember. We were too busy trying to pick out which 6 we were taking with us.
After much deliberation, we ended up with Sexy Sadie (Chocolate Cupcake With White Chocolate Raspberry Amaretto Mousse And Topped With Vanilla Icing, A Dollop of Mousse And Almonds), Butterscotch Hug (Butterscotch Cupcake Stuffed With Butterscotch Mousse And Topped With Vanilla Icing And Butterscotch Chips), Raspberry Beret (Chocolate Cupcake Stuffed with Chocolate Raspberry Mousse and Topped with Raspberry Whipped Cream), Peanut Butter Fluff (Peanut Butter Cupcake Stuffed With Marshmallow Mousse, Topped With Chocolate Icing, Crusted Nuts And Marshmallows), Chocolate Kiss (Chocolate Cupcake Stuffed With White Chocolate And Strawberry Mousse With Chocolate Icing And Dollop Of Strawberry Mousse) and Simply Delicious (Chocolate Cupcake Stuffed With Whipped Cream Topped With Chocolate Icing And Nonpareils).
I couldn't wait... as soon as we left the store and got back into the car, I dove into my Simply Delicious... and delicious it was!!
It was a very moist cupcake with a lot of flavor and a generous amount of stuffing in the middle. I got through 3/4 of it before I got full and felt like I needed milk, but you can be sure I saved the rest for another time!!
Over the week, my husband and I would split the cupcakes in half and share them (well, all but the peanut butter one - that was all him...I hate peanut butter). We had a ranking but none of them were bad...and these cupcakes are better than ANYPLACE around us...even Crumbs, which was our favorite so far.
So, good job Stuffed Cupcakes, good job. You have my vote!! And if you live ANYWHERE near Nutley, NJ - go check them out!!
So, the recipe below is what I consider the "grown up" version of THIS recipe (mushroom mozzarella bruschetta). I used to make the bruschetta all the time when I was a recent (poor) college graduate because it is very cheap to make and it serves you for a couple of meals, especially if you pair it with a half can of soup. (While I provided the link, see below for the recipe I used during my poor recent college graduate days!)
I actually had forgotten about my staple meal ever since I moved from the DC metro area in 2006. But the other week my husband and I had acquired a loaf of whole wheat Italian bread from the "day old" bakery section of the grocery store for a very low price. I was thinking and thinking about what to do with it, and when I typed "Italian bread" into the ingredients list of Allrecipes.com, my old standby came up.
Bingo!! A light went on in my head. I wanted to do something similar, but with a little more substance. Slowly, an idea formed in my head. I also had an unopened container of Philly's brand new product, their cooking creme, in my refrigerator. I got it for 50 cents because there was a $1.50 coupon in the Sunday newspaper one week and the grocery store had it on sale for $2.00. So I figured I would try it out. We bought the savory garlic flavor. I also had some ground turkey. I knew exactly what I was going to do now.
So, here is my recipe:
1/2 pound ground turkey
1/2 loaf Italian bread, sliced again in half lengthwise
1/4 - 1/2 container Philly's Cooking Creme, Savory Garlic (amount depends on how much you want to use)
Chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
Chopped bell pepper (any color desired)
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a skillet, saute ground turkey with some salt and pepper until no longer pink. Set aside for a few minutes to cool.
Combine spinach, chopped onions and bell pepper in a bowl. Once manageable, add turkey and combine well.
Spread the cooking cream on the halves of bread. Top with turkey/vegetable mixture.
Sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top.
Place on baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes until thoroughly heated and cheese is melted on top.
Serve hot and enjoy!
This is such an easy and quick idea to make, especially on a rushed week night. You can always play with the portions to make them smaller. We ate some large pieces because we didn't have a side with them, and they definitely were tasty and filling. It's also a relatively inexpensive meal and easy to interchange ingredients such as ground chicken or beef for the turkey.
Since Philly makes 4 different flavors of their cooking creme right now, you can also play with flavors and ingredients to make your own! I could see using their Santa Fe flavor as a base for a Mexican boat.
The possibilities are endless!
Recipe for Mushroom Mozzarella Bruschetta, my staple as a poor college graduate. This fed me for a few days, especially when paired with soup! Courtesy of Campbell's Kitchen.
* 1 (16 ounce) loaf Italian bread, cut in half lengthwise
* 1 (10.75 ounce) can Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
* 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning, crushed
* 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
* 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
* 1 small red pepper, chopped
* 2 green onions, chopped
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place the bread on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes or until it's lightly toasted.
3. Stir the soup, garlic powder and Italian seasoning in a medium bowl. Stir in the mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, pepper and onions.
4. Spread the soup mixture over the bread to within 1/4-inch of the edges. Bake for 5 minutes or until it's hot and bubbling. Cut each half into 12 slices.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
So, THIS recipe that I am posting below is actually Kosher for Passover. BUT, it can easily be made into a regular non-Passover recipe! These are really good, and fun to eat for dinner, especially for kids.
My husband told me his mother used to make these all the time when he was a kid, I personally just made and ate them for the first time last year when I made them for Passover. They were very tasty!
They are pretty easy to make but will take some time because you need to let the batter rest for about 45 minutes.
For the Popover
2 teaspoons oil
2/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper (or black pepper, the only difference is color!)
1/2 cup cake meal
For the Hamburger
1/2 pound ground beef or veal
1 tablespoon matzo meal
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion or 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
oil for muffin cups
In a medium sized mixing bowl, prepare the popover batter by beating the eggs with the oil, water, and seasonings.
Stir in the cake meal. Blend well and let rest for 30-45 minutes.
Thoroughly blend the hamburger ingredients in a small bowl.
Shape the mixture into 12 balls and set them aside on a dish.
Grease and heat twelve 2 1/2 inch muffin cups. Pour the batter into the heated cups.
Put a meatball in each muffin cup.
Bake in a preheated 450 degree F. oven for 35 minutes.
This recipe serves 3-4.
Now, like I said, I could see making this as a normal, non-Passover recipe. In fact, I could TOTALLY see making this totally like non Kosher and adding some cheese into them, but that's another story. :-)
For the popover, you would use actual flour instead of cake meal, and maybe a splash of milk. In the meatballs, you would use breadcrumbs instead of matzo meal. I found THIS recipe online, just googling around for a regular hamburger popover recipe, so they are out there!
We like eating these with a little ketchup too!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
My husband and I made this recipe a while ago, but it was delicious. This was also long before blog days, and I sometimes posted pictures of dinner up on Facebook. One of my friends commented that this looked really good and she wanted the recipe. I e-mailed it to her back then, but now I'll post it up!
I originally found it on a website I used to read a lot called YumSugar.com.
It is definitely easy, and something you can make on a Sunday and keep in the fridge for dinner during the week.
* 2 cups purchased pasta sauce
* 1/3 cup water
* 1 9-ounce package refrigerated or frozen cheese - or meat- filled ravioli
* 1 egg, lightly beaten
* 1 15-ounce carton ricotta cheese
* 1/4 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
* 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
* Grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
In a 10-inch skillet combine pasta sauce and the water.
Bring to boiling; stir in ravioli. Reduce heat.
Cook, covered, over medium heat about 5 minutes or until ravioli are nearly tender, stirring once to prevent sticking.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl stir together egg, ricotta cheese, and the 1/4 cup Romano cheese.
Top ravioli with spinach. Spoon ricotta mixture on top of spinach.
Cook, covered, over low heat about 10 minutes or until ricotta layer is set and ravioli are tender.
Sprinkle each serving with additional Romano cheese.
Makes 4 main-dish servings.
Monday, March 21, 2011
So, I spent close to two hours yesterday trying something new...and I am not sure if I will ever do it again - so much effort!!
I found an intriguing recipe for these cheddar apple pies that I wanted to make about a week ago. I actually don't really like apple pie at all...I'm not really a pie girl. It was the cheese that got me. SO, I halved the recipe and tried it out.
Right off the bat...a warning. This is TIME CONSUMING. You really need to not have anything else to do, or really LOVE baking pies.
Also, if you don't have a food processor, this recipe is tough. I have a magic bullet, but it was too small for even half the recipe. So, I used my Kitchen Aid blender, which is awesome, but wasn't the best tool for this project. It worked - just took longer.
Lastly, be sure to totally seal the top and bottom layers of crust together... somehow I must not have done the best job and when I went to pop them out of the cupcake tin, out of the 8 I made, 5 of them separated. So my husband will be eating apple pie mush :-) Luckily, he doesn't mind.
The only change I made to the recipe was only using Granny Smith apples since those are my favorite and I figured I would like the pie more with the only kind of apple I even eat. I originally found the recipe through my Facebook - it was one of the Betty Crocker notifications since I "like" that company. Here is the link they included...
They came out pretty well, my husband really liked them. I tasted them, and while I know they are good, I think baked apples just really aren't my thing. Oh well. At least I have other people who will eat them!
And now, the recipe.
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
10 ounces extra-sharp cheddar, grated
3/4 cup cold lard (non-hydrogenated if available)*
3/4 cup cold butter, chopped
6-8 tablespoons cold water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
1/4 cup white sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon for sprinkling
*you can substitute vegetable shortening here if you wish, but lard was recommended. I used vegetable shortening personally.
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 cups mixed apples, peeled and chopped (4 medium -- Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, and Golden Delicious)
1 tablespoon butter
Pulse flour and salt together to combine. Add scoops of lard/shortening and pulse into the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds.
Add in chunks of butter and cheese and pulse until butter pieces are no larger than small peas, about 10 pulses.
Add minimum amount of water and pulse on low. If dough remains crumbly and doesn’t come together, add another 2 tablespoons of water. Add as little as is required to enable the dough to be rolled into a ball.
Form the dough into 2 disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes while preparing your filling.
Prepare filling: Mix all ingredients together except for butter.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Use cupcake pans, mini-cupcake pans or both for your pies, as desired. After crust has chilled, roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper until it's relatively thin -- a little thinner than 1/4 inch.
Pull the parchment paper off the dough every now and then (flipping to do this on both sides) to ensure your dough isn't sticking. Use a big round cookie cutter or a knife to cut out a piece of dough about 2 inches larger around than your cupcake wells (or about 1 inch larger around than your mini-cupcake wells).
Fit this dough down into a well as a bottom crust. Fill it with filling, top it with a few bits of butter, and use another circle of dough to form the top crust. Crimp the edges (careful not to make your crimping too elaborate -- if your edge is too big, your pies can be top-heavy and pull apart.
You may just want to use a fork to create decorative edges instead of traditional "crimping.") Repeat this process until all of your mini pies are ready for the oven.
Brush them all with egg wash and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture over the top.
Bake mini pies at 400 degrees for 15 minutes (for cupcake-sized) or 10 minutes (for mini-cupcake sized).
Turn temperature down to 375 degrees F, open then oven to rotate your pans and cool it off for a few seconds.
Bake cupcake-size pies for 7-9 minutes longer, and mini-cupcake sized pies for 6-7 minutes longer.
Remove from the oven and let pies cool completely in the pan -- then gently "twist" the pies in their wells to be sure they aren't sticking and pull them out.
Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
A year ago, my husband and I were watching one of Giada's cooking shows on the Food Network (we love Giada!) and she made baked macaroni and cheese cupcakes with a bunch of kids.
Well, I like cupcakes...and I like macaroni and cheese...so we decided to try them out. We altered the recipe a little, just because at the time we didn't have some of the vegetables in the house... so we left out tomatoes and asparagus and used corn, green beans, and peppers instead.
The recipe wasn't too difficult, but a little time consuming and I think I baked them a little too long because they were a little dry. Tasty, but dry. I also made these long before I really got into cooking, so I wonder if I am just better with cooking overall now that I would do a better job with the recipe. I also think the recipe needed an egg to hold the cupcakes better together.
I honestly haven't tried them again, but that's mostly because the recipe got buried in our cabinet and I just took the time to sort out all of the papers and figure out what I need to actually write into my recipe book!
I would definitely try making these again. I remember when I posted a picture of them up on my regular Facebook account, one of my sorority sisters replied to it and asked about them because she too saw the episode of the show and wanted to try them out. I don't know if she ever did though!
Anyway, you can find the recipe here, but it is posted below as well! Enjoy!
* Vegetable cooking spray
* 2 cups dried bread crumbs, divided
* 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
* 8 ounces ground turkey or chicken, preferably dark meat
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
* 8 ounces small pasta, such as pennette, shells, or elbows
* 2 cups grated Parmesan
* 1 1/2 cups grated white Cheddar
* 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
* 2 cups chopped broccoli, blanched,* see Cook's Note
* 1 pound asparagus, cut into 3/4-inch pieces, blanched
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Spray 2 (12-cup) muffin or cupcake pans with vegetable cooking spray. Using 1 cup of the bread crumbs, coat the inside of each muffin cup with bread crumbs, shaking off any excess.
In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground turkey or chicken, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, Cook, stirring frequently, until cooked through, about 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside and cover to keep warm.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Drain and add to a large bowl. Stir in the cooked turkey and the cheeses.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon the prepared pasta mixture into the cupcake molds, filling evenly to about 2/3 full.
Arrange a few pieces of tomato, broccoli and asparagus into each cup. Top with a thin layer of the remaining bread crumbs and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and carefully unmold with a spoon onto a serving platter.
*Cook's Note: To blanch vegetables, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the vegetables and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until very crisp. Using a small strainer, remove the vegetables and immediately plunge into a bowl of iced water. Drain and use.
Well, Passover is coming. My least favorite time of year, when many of the bagel stores around me are closed, and you aren't supposed to eat anything like bread, pasta, regular cookies, etc. I never kept Passover growing up, but my husband did, so now I do (at least in the house!). No, I try to keep it for lunch too, while at work. So last year I struggled to find decent recipes, and I did pretty well. I'm busy gearing up for this Passover season, so if you have any good recipes, send them my way!!
I apologize to anyone who doesn't celebrate this holiday...for the next few weeks there will be Passover recipes sporadically scattered in the posts.
I also apologize for the picture accompanying this post. It doesn't look appetizing at ALL - and I know that. It's partly due to the blueberry filling I used for the recipe, and also that I didn't have any "topping" on it. But trust me - it tastes GOOD. It was actually much prettier when I made it with apple pie filling the year before. But I wasn't photographing my work at that point!
I made the matzo pudding for the first time in 2009, one of the women I worked with gave it to me after I was telling her how I needed to find desserts my husband could eat during Passover. I'm going to post the original recipe below - it actually was for apple matzo pudding. But I am not fond of apple stuff, and didn't eat it the first year I made it - but my husband LOVED it. We decided that for 2010, we would make it blueberry so I would eat it too.
The recipe is very versatile with flavors, so it is easy to create something new and different every year. This recipe is also very easy to pack up and bring to wherever you are celebrating Passover. It can be eaten warm, or cold. If you take it out of the refrigerator, it's also easy to pop in the microwave for 10 seconds to warm it up slightly.
10 pieces of matzo
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 or 2 tsp of cinnamon (to taste)
6 large Macintosh apples ****
1 small can crushed pineapples, drained - reserve juice for later
**** The woman I worked with told me to substitute a can of apple pie filling for the actual apples, which is where we got the idea to use different pie fillings for other flavors as well.
Break pieces of matzo into small pieces and soak in colander until soft. Drain, but don't squeeze dry...make sure the matzo is moist.
Cut the apples into quarters, then peel and slice. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar, salt, cinnamon and melted butter.
Then add the matzo pieces, apples, pineapple and a small splash of pineapple juice.
Put mixture in greased tin or baking dish. Sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar over the top.
Bake at 350 degrees F, uncovered, for 45 minutes to an hour.
Serves 6 (generous portions, could serve more).
In 2010, I made this to bring to our family friend's house for Passover dinner and someone suggested maybe making some sort of topping to make it look "pretty." It doesn't really need a topping because it does taste good, it would be more as an additional taste and something to make it eye catching.
As long as my husband likes it for dessert though, I am golden, especially since it is pretty easy to make and doesn't take much time to prepare. But maybe one year I will try it with fresh fruit!
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Last night was one of the rare nights that my husband made dinner. He knew he was going to be home from work early and decided to use food that we had in the house to make dinner for us.
He could have copped out and heated up our pot pie leftovers. He could have stopped for pizza. But, he cooked. Which he can do, he just doesn’t very often.
While at work he thought about what we had in the house…we had some frozen vegetables like pre-cut bell peppers and artichoke hearts from Trader Joe’s, we had light Alfredo-Parmesan sauce, we had onions and we had pierogies. So he googled Alfredo Pierogies and what would you know, there were recipes for it.
He didn’t use a recipe, he was just checking to see if people had ever done this before. Since they had, he formed a plan in his mind.
First he chopped up some red onion and sautéed it in a pan along with the pre-sliced bell peppers and artichoke hearts.
Then, he sautéed the pierogies in another pan until they were heated through. He burned parts of the pierogies slightly, but that was because he forgot to put a little oil or margarine in the pan. He also forgot a drop of oil for the vegetables, but luckily they didn’t burn! (This is where it is obvious he doesn’t cook much!)
Once the pierogies were heated, he combined them with the vegetables and poured some of the light Alfredo-Parmesan sauce into the pan. The pan then went into the oven at 375 degrees F for about 7-10 minutes to complete the heating process. Two minutes before they were done, he added freshly grated Parmesan cheese to the pan to melt over the pierogies.
He told me he had toyed with the idea of adding some crushed red pepper for extra taste, and it definitely would have worked. I could also see him adding some oregano. The only other thing I would have changed is slicing the artichoke hearts in half instead of leaving them whole.
This was a quick meal that took him about a half hour to prepare, and it was very tasty! Thanks for cooking! :-)
Poppy’s Pierogies (Potato & Onion flavor) – 8 (4 per person)
Sliced bell peppers, mixed colors
Ragu Light Alfredo-Parmesan sauce
Onion, chopped – amount used depends on how much you want
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Since I touched on dining on Royal Caribbean, I felt it was only fare to touch on the other cruise line I have most recently dined on – NCL! In the past two years I have been on the NCL Dawn and NCL Jade. Dawn was a route to Bermuda with my husband’s entire family, and Jade was our honeymoon in the Mediterranean.
NCL, in my opinion, essentially forces passengers to dine out at the specialty restaurants, all which have a nominal fee. Granted, they do have two (free) main dining rooms, the free buffet area and a cute little café called Blue Lagoon, also free. You can definitely survive without paying for the other restaurants. However, the food is like, 50x better in the specialty restaurants, so we are always tempted to go. And we have no kids at the moment so it’s not as expensive. We totally understand people with larger families not wanting to spend the extra cover charges, and again, there are many people who don’t want to pay extra for food when they already paid for an expensive vacation and there is free food available.
Each ship has a few differences, but the main specialties are as follows: Cagney’s Steakhouse ($25 pp), Teppanyaki (hibachi style, $25 pp), an Asian fusion area ($15 pp), Sushi area ($15 pp), French bistro ($15 pp), a Tex-Mex restaurant ($10 pp) and an Italian restaurant ($10 pp). (Prices may have changed…this was at my last sailing in 2010). And I believe the mega ships may have more than this!
I am pretty confident that NCL has changed this policy since when we went on the Jade less than a year later, this was no longer the case, but when we were on Dawn, the two main dining rooms each had their own menu…that stayed exactly the same all week. The ONLY difference was 1 solitary special for each category (appetizer, entrée, dessert), and the “specials” were the same in both dining rooms.
I HATED this and basically loathed eating in the dining rooms. I didn’t really love either menu and I had to get creative so I didn’t eat the same thing multiple nights. Since we were with my husband’s family, we were all eating together so my husband and I couldn’t just go eat at one of their specialty restaurants. Luckily, I only had to tolerate the main dining room food for 4 nights out of 7 due to his parents generously treating everyone to dinner one night in the Teppanyaki restaurant and one night in the Italian restaurant, and my husband and I got one “date night” alone, so we went to the steakhouse. On Jade, we actually ate at specialty restaurants 6 out of 9 nights (it was our honeymoon – we splurged!), but they did change their main dining room menu’s nightly…but both dining rooms had the same menu. One dining room was just a little “dressier” than the other.
The Blue Lagoon was by far better on the Dawn. It had a really cute nook that was decorated in bright colors and had fun seating on essentially large “blocks” of cushion. On the Jade, they took half of what used to be a main dining area and turned it into Blue Lagoon, yet it still has that classy look…and there was no counter service if you wanted it like on Dawn. You were seated formally…and it didn’t feel like a quick place to have a snack. We only went to Blue Lagoon once on Jade…but many times on Dawn! Here is a general idea of the menu at the time when we went.
We LOVED the food there! My husband was a huge fan of the wings where as I loved the pound cake the best for dessert. The spinach & artichoke dip is also pretty good!
On both cruises we ate at the Italian restaurant, however, we also enjoyed that much more on the Dawn than the Jade. It is standard fare, pastas, chicken parm, calzones, etc. But for some reason, it was much tastier on Dawn.
We also ate at the Teppanyaki hibachi restaurant on both cruises. Both were delicious, and the only thing that gave Jade the bigger plus was that they gave us a free martini as you sat down – and a sizable one at that! I don’t know if it was because it was a smaller ship, or a European cruise, or an off-season cruise, but that was an awesome surprise.
We ate at the steakhouse on Dawn for our “date night.” We picked it for a few reasons…1) my parents RAVED about the NCL steakhouse from their Hawaiian cruise and 2) my husband LOVES steakhouses. The food was pretty good, but I was disappointed there was no shrimp as an entrée. And, we also didn’t think it was anything super special, so maybe the ship that my parents went on had a better chef! They can’t stop talking about how “the steak melted like butter in their mouth!”
While we were on Jade, we also dined at the Asian Garden, which was a mix of Japanese and Chinese food with gourmet flair, as well as a special specialty they only have on a few ships called Mongolian Hot Pots. This was AWESOME. It was Mongolian fondue, so it was a pot of broth and we were given dumplings, meats and vegetables to cook. It was seriously SO delicious. That was the first dinner we had on board and it was a fantastic choice.
Also on the Jade, we dined at the Tex-Mex restaurant twice – it was that good! Plus, all you can eat at $10 a pop is not too shabby. We stayed mostly with the Mexican part of it getting fajitas, nachos, quesadillas, tortilla soup, etc. My husband tried the BBQ Pork Back Ribs the first time we were there and he said they were just “okay.” There were also spicy southwestern spring rolls he wanted, as well as black bean soup. I had the southwestern Caesar salad, which was delicious! We ate very gluttonously at this restaurant both nights we went – there was just too much we loved! In addition, on Jade, we were each given a small complimentary margarita both times. Again, not sure what the stipulation was that allowed the cruise line to give out the free booze to its diners, but we were psyched.
We never dined at the French Bistro because there really was just one dish that appealed to each of us – but that is just us. We also don’t eat sushi so we never ate at that area either.
Generally, the buffet area was pretty good, I can’t remember any major complaints or negatives I had. I do know I frequently searched the kiddie area buffet because they had better cookies (love the chocolate chip cookies!) and they had my all time favorite, mini spring rolls! They should give that to the adults too!
This website had a great overview of many menus from NCL, especially on the Dawn. (See link)
Overall, I prefer the NCL specialty restaurants to the free main dining rooms, but all of the food everywhere is great, in my opinion. But if you can swing it – try out a specialty restaurant! And order as much as you can eat – get the most for that $$$!!
Monday was Pi day, 3-14...aka 3.14. Channel your inner math geek. To tell you the truth, I forgot this year as I was home from work, and didn't watch the news so I didn't hear any of the usual Pi day jokes or announcements. The only reason I remembered is because one of my friends posted up a message on Facebook saying that in honor of Pi day, her family was having their annual chicken pot pie dinner.
I thought that it was so adorable that they had a tradition for this random day in March, and it also made me want to make my own pot pie for dinner. I did a quick search for recipes, to see if I could find something "different."
I found this one for vegetable pot pie. It was easy enough, and I had all the ingredients but two - two that were easy enough to get. Since I was heading to the store anyway, I added those ingredients to my list and off I went. And I was excited that this gave me an excuse to finally use the remaining pie crust I had frozen in my freezer for quite a while.
I felt like this needed something with more substance, but didn't want to use chicken or turkey like normal. Instead, we had mango chicken sausage in our freezer and I felt that was make a new and different taste to the pot pie. And, it did. It ended up turning out pretty great, so I am glad I thought to pair this with my dish.
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of potato soup **
1 (15 ounce) can of mixed vegetables ***
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 (9 inch) prepared pie crusts – thawed if frozen kind
1 egg, lightly beaten
Dash of water
1 link of chicken mango sausage from Trader Joes, sliced and diced
** note… I had trouble finding cream of potato soup in a can near me so I found a pouch of powder cream of potato soup, where I had to add water to it and heat. So I made that batch first and let it cool down.
***I also bought a can of white potatoes and diced up a few to throw into the pot pie for some extra tater-ness.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C)
In a pie dish, lay out the bottom crust.
In a medium bowl, combine potato soup, vegetables, sausage, potato, milk, thyme and black pepper.
Spoon filling into bottom pie crust.
Cover with top crust and crimp edges to seal.
Slit top crust (if desired, and looking back, I wish I slit a Pi sign, not an X!).
Prepare egg wash by beating the egg and mixing it with a little bit of water. Brush over the top crust.
Bake for 45 minutes – remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.
My husband and I were both pleasantly surprised at how the addition of the sausage turned out and this ended up being a very quick and easy dish that I threw together in the afternoon.
The picture below is the beautiful pot pie that my friend (the one who inspired me to cook my own pot pie) made. And below that, is the very detailed recipe she used to make her pot pie entirely from scratch - very impressive!! I don't know if I could pull that off just yet. So check out her recipe and hopefully you are confident enough to try it from scratch! She used Mark Bittman's recipe from his cookbook How to Cook Everything.
And, thanks for inspiring me JT!
1 whole chicken, 3-4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat
2 onions, quartered
3 bay leaves
10 whole black peppercorns
1 recipe Savory Tart Crust (below), chilled
2 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing the baking dish
1 cup pearl onions, peeled (frozen are fine)
2 large or 4 small to medium carrots, diced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried sage
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cream
1 cup peas (frozen are fine; don't bother to thaw)
1 egg beaten
1: Put the chicken and onions in a large pot with just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then immediately reduce the heat to medium-low. Skim any foam that rises to the surface. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns, and a generous pinch of salt. Simmer until the chicken and vegetables are nearly tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes; the bird is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 155-165
2: Remove the chicken to cool and save the cooking liquid. (This is a good time to make the tart dough if you haven't already done so.)
3: Remove the chicken meat from the bones, roughly chop or pull into pieces, and reserve. Return the carcass to the pot (break the pieces up a bit so they're all submerged, but don't add any more water), and bring the liquid back to a boil. Reduce the heat so the liquid bubbles steadily and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or so. Strain into a wide pot, bring the liquid to a boil, and reduce until you have about 1 1/2 cups, 10 to 30 minutes, depending on how much you started with. (At this point, the chicken and cooking liquid may be stored separately in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.) If you're baking the pie now, heat the oven to 375 and generously grease a 2-quart baking dish.
4: Put 2 tablespoons butter or oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the flour; continue cooking and stirring until it just turns tan. Add teh sage and cook and stir for another minute. (At this point you can refrigerate the vegetable mixture for up to a day, then reheat just before proceeding.)
5: Add the chicken-cooking liquid and the cream to the vegetable-flour mixture and turn the heat up to medium. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble and thicken, but don't let it come to a rolling boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning, turn off the heat, and stir in the chicken pieces and the peas. Put the mixture into the prepared baking dish. (At this point, you may cover and refrigerate the filling for up to a day; bring to room temperature before proceeding.)
6: Roll out the tart crust large enough to cover the baking dish. Lay it on top of the dish and flute it as for a piecrust or just leave it draped over the sides a little. Use a sharp knife to cut 3 or 4 vents in the top. Brush the top with the beaten egg. Bake for 50 or 60 minutes, until the crust is deeply golden and the filling is bubbling.
Savory Tart Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons frozen or cold unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if necessary
1: Combine the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse once or twice. Add the butter all at once; process until the mixture is uniform, about 10 seconds (do not overprocess). Add the egg yolk and process for another few seconds.
2: Put the mixture in a bowl and add 3 tablespoons ice water; mix with your hands until you can form the dough into a ball, adding another tablespoon or two of ice water if necessary (if you overdo it and the mixture becomes sodden, add a little more flour). form into a ball, wrap in plastic, and freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (You can refrigerate for up to a couple of days or freeze, tightly wrapped, for up to a couple of weeks.)
3: Sprinkle a countertop with flour and put the dough on it; sprinkle the top with a little flour. Use a rolling pin to roll with light pressure from the center out. If the dough is sticky, add a little flour (if it continues to become sticky, and it's taking you more than a few minutes to roll it out, refrigerate or freeze again). Roll, adding flour and rotating and turning the dough as needed; use ragged edges of dough to repair any tears, adding a drop of water while you press the patch into place. The dough is ready when it is two inches larger than your baking dish.
Monday, March 14, 2011
I just got back from a wonderful weekend in the Washington DC area, seeing wonderful old friends, and most importantly, getting to eat my FAVORITE sandwich in...the...world!!
The Potbelly Sandwich Shop is amazing. Seriously. If you are lucky enough to live in the DC Metro area (including VA and MD), Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan or Kentucky, I officially hate you. Well, not really, but I sure am jealous of you. Because that is the small, small region where Potbelly exists.
I seriously beg them every few months via their website to come up to NY - people would go nuts here.
I can't explain why these sandwiches are so magical. But ever since I had my first taste in DC, only about a year before I moved back north, I have been hooked. And I think everyone who has eaten Potbelly who I have talked to at least, proclaims their love for it shortly after I mention it. Hmmm...what is IN these sandwiches that make them so lovable?!?
They have a decent size menu, all made to order. My favorite is the Turkey Breast, or the TKY which is the same thing but in "skinny" mode, made with less bread, meat and cheese for less carbage and fat!
You pick your bread and the type of sandwich you want...they put the meats and cheeses on and send it through a little toasting thing. Then all of the toppings go on. I usually just get lettuce and maybe some onions or pickles. I used to get mayo, but I cut that out... and I don't like mustard. I REALLY wish they offered honey mustard, but not yet. Maybe one day!
After it is assembled, they cut it in half and wrap it up - the way they wrap it is great because you can use it sort of as a sandwich diaper and eat it so nothing falls out, or you can unwrap it and eat it the regular way. The sandwiches are the perfect temperature and I swear they melt in your mouth.
You can also get soups, salads, milkshakes, cookies and breakfast. All of the employees I have encountered in various stores are consistently friendly and seem happy.
I look forward to this treat whenever I can get it - I once asked my parents to bring me some home when they went to Maryland but they refused. :-( Thanks a lot!!
Hopefully one day my dream will come true and they will move north so I can have this more regularly. Until then, those of you who can, enjoy your Potbelly!! And those of you visiting any of the above mentioned states... find a Potbelly and try it!!
Friday, March 11, 2011
The other day, my husband and I were feasting on pizza-flavored Lean Pockets. Classy, I know, but we keep these around for quick lunches on the weekend when we have no idea what else to eat.
Anyway, we wanted something to go with the Lean Pocket, and the frozen pretzels were calling to me. When I saw the salt packet, I decided to use the opportunity to create a flavored pretzel, and decided on making “Italian Pretzels” since we were eating pizza…sort of.
First I wet the pretzel gently and patted it with a paper towel. Then I smeared a light layer of margarine on the pretzels. Garlic powder was sprinkled next, over the margarine. After the garlic powder I sprinkled some oregano and crushed red pepper flakes, topped off with some sesame seeds.
I popped my concoction into the microwave for about 50 seconds and out came some garlic Italian pretzels!
They were delicious. My husband suggested for next time, to also sprinkle some Parmesan cheese over the pretzel as well, and I couldn’t believe I didn’t think of that to begin with, being the cheese lover I am.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
My husband really likes sloppy joes. I, do not. In fact, I had them once in my life when he made me try them a few years ago. So, unfortunately for him, we have not eaten them since.
Until this past week. In looking for recipes to use my ground chicken with, I came across what someone called “Fancy Joes,” and decided to give it one more try.
I have to admit – it wasn’t that bad. I think the rice component had a lot to do with why I could tolerate it more, and it wasn’t dripping with sauce, which I liked as well.
The recipe was very easy to prepare and I would definitely make it again. Here it is…
1 pound ground chicken or turkey
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
2 (15 ounce) cans sloppy joe sauce
3 cups cooked rice
8 English muffins, split and toasted
In a large skillet, cook the chicken, onion and pepper over medium heat until chicken is no longer pink – then drain.
Stir in the sloppy joe sauce and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in the rice and cook 5 minutes longer or until heated through.
Spoon 1 cup on each English muffin.
The recipe above yields 8. I halved it, as usual, so we had more than enough for two nights. I also used orange, yellow and red peppers, in addition to green, because I had a frozen chopped mix from Trader Joe’s, which comes in handy for recipes like this one.
I could also see making this for a game day during football season!
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
I really shouldn’t be posting up this recipe. This will probably be more of a cautionary tale.
I don’t know how it happened, it’s not like I’ve never fried anything in a pan before. I’ve made little donut things for Passover…I’ve made potato pancakes… I’ve tried tempura…I made churros… I’ve made lots of things by frying them in oil in a pan on my stove.
So…why did the oil catch on fire when I tried to make these onion rings? I really don’t know. But, I almost set my house on fire making these.
I put the oil up on the stove to heat and luckily I put one of those wire splatter covers on top.
I turned around to start battering some of the onion rings, next thing I know, there are flames under the wire splatter cover. Oh sh*t.
I didn’t know what to do – I panicked! I never had to deal with fire before. We do have a fire extinguisher, but I didn’t want to use it since the flames were contained under the splatter cover and then you could never use that fire extinguisher again. So, I called my husband in a panic. While dialing, I shut off the stove and moved the pan, but that didn’t help.
Luckily, being the Eagle Scout that he was, he knew what to do and told me to pour baking soda over it. I scrambled for the baking soda and dumped it on. The flames went out! Success! Of course, smoke rose everywhere and my fire alarm started going off. I frantically ran around the house opening windows and turning on fans. Finally, the alarm stopped, but my house reeked… and it still does a little. Sigh.
I cleaned up the mess… but I still had all of my cut onion rings and a bowl of batter to use. So, a few hours later, I cautiously tried again, this time successfully completing the onion rings.
I was making these because I had used half a bottle of beer making the beer bread earlier in the day. I didn’t want to waste good beer, so I quickly looked for another recipe and came across the onion rings. Simple and easy, plus we had plenty of onions in the house.
I halved the recipe because it was just my husband and I eating these and we definitely did not need a ton of fried onion rings in the house. In the end, they came out well, and we really enjoyed them with dinner that night. Though, I think it will be a while before I try frying anything again. Maybe we SHOULD have put one of those deep fryers on our registry…
Here is the recipe: (full recipe)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs, separated
1 cup beer
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Salt to taste
3 large onions, sliced into rings
Oil for frying
Sift flour into large bowl.
In another large bowl, whisk egg yolks.
Mix the beer, butter and salt into the egg yolks.
Set aside 1 cup of flour for dipping the onion rings.
Slowly stir the egg yolk mixture into the remaining flour and mix well.
Allow the mixture to stand for 30-60 minutes.
Heat deep fryer to 375 degrees F. (Or heat the oil in your pan)
In a small bowl, stiffly beat the egg whites, then gently combine the egg whites with the batter.
Coat each onion ring with flour, then dip into batter.
Fry the onion rings, several at a time, until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels and serve.
Monday, March 7, 2011
I found a recipe for homemade bread in under an hour in the USA Weekend circular that come with my Sunday paper and I just HAD to try it. I never made bread before, and this looked easy enough, plus I had all of the ingredients in the house.
The beer we had was Bud Light Lime, which I thought would bring a nice tang to the bread. So I set out to make the following recipe - but I halved it, just in case.
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 TBS sugar
1 TB baking powder
1 1/2 tsps salt
12 ounces of beer
1 egg, beaten
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Add beer and stir with a fork until just combined.
Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead quickly to form a ball.
Place bread on a baking sheet and confidently slit an X on top with a serrated or very sharp knife.
Brush loaf with egg wash.
Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
The full recipe yields 12.
My husband and I both really enjoyed the bread, and I am so happy it came out looking pretty and tasting good!
It really was easy, and I will definitely be looking for more quick bread recipes!
Sunday, March 6, 2011
The other day, one of my good friends sent me a message saying that she needed appetizer ideas for a Games Night event she attends where there are about 200 people or so milling about. It's a pot luck event and everyone is in charge of appetizer, main course, dessert, etc. My friend got appetizers this time around.
She is a fantastic cook, and baker, but she needed ideas because the theme was Florida! So she needed an appetizer fitting for that sunny theme. I only had one I could give her that I made - the Surf Dogs I made back in July for a block party. But I went trolling on the Internet for ideas.
Another friend of ours suggested chicken skewers with an orange glaze, since oranges are big in Florida, but I think my friend wanted something a little different. I stumbled across a recipe for a pineapple cheese ball, and I jokingly told her to make it and call it a Little Ray of Sunshine. (I don't think she did, but she did make the recipe!)
Her report back to me was the following: "I wasn't a huge fan of the cheese ball, but most other people said it was awesome."
Well, good! Not all tastes are good for everyone, but at least this wasn't a failure recipe, and people liked what she brought. Good job, friend!
Here is the recipe I sent to her:
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 can small pineapple, crushed
2 green onions
1/4 cup cheese, shredded, Jack or Colby
Mix the package of ranch dressing mix with the softened cream cheese until well mixed.
Then add 1/2 can of crushed pineapple, (no juice), the 2 stalks of green onion chopped and the shredded cheese.
Mix well and cool in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Turn out onto a cheese board or platter. Mound it in the center and shape into a ball with a spoon.
If you like, you can cover the ball with sliced almonds, sprinkle with dill weed, parsley or paprika.
Chill completely before serving.
I know she wanted something simple and easy to make, and this seems pretty easy. She didn't tell me how long it took her to put together, but I can't imagine the active time would be too long. Just allow some ample time for cooling.
Maybe I'll try this one out myself one of these days!
(PS - the picture was borrowed from Google Images, as I did not make this myself and do not have my own picture. Thanks to the photographer!)
The search continued this weekend for some good cupcakes near where my husband and I live. As I was flipping through our Entertainment Book that we get every year because my mother-in-law gets them through where she works, I came across a bakery called the Slap Happy Baking Company, about 10 minutes from my house.
While this is not just a cupcakery, it is a full bakery, I can tell you, they do a fantastic job. They have about 10 different cupcakes, along with different types of bars, cakes, cookies and whoopie pies!
Our coupon for the entertainment book allowed us 50% off our entire order, up to $5. So, we wanted to spend at least $10 to get the maximum value of our coupon - and we did! We ordered 3 cupcakes and 1 bar. Each item was $2.50, so it worked out well. My husband got a Nuts n' Jam cupcake, which was sort of like a peanut butter and jelly cupcake. It was a chocolate cake with a strawberry jelly filling and a peanut butter frosting. The cake was moist and it was very peanut buttery, so he loved it!
I got a Cocoa Mint cupcake - a chocolate cupcake with a chocolate filling and a very minty frosting with some chocolate chips sprinkled on top. It was delicious! Also a moist cake and very flavorful.
The third cupcake we got to share was their Dulce de Leche, and it was also perfect. Very moist vanilla cake with a dulce de leche filling.
The cupcakes are standard size you can make at home, but they were all packed with flavors and done perfectly. The $2.50 price tag is justified on these babies.
Lastly, we indulged in a S'mores Bar, some type of graham crackery brownie with graham cracker crumbs, marshmallows and chocolate chips on top. It was a very sizable bar for $2.50 and also, very, very delicious.
So, we FINALLY found a good place to get cupcakes near us. Of course, there is Crumbs about 20 minutes away, but the cupcakes are pretty expensive and it is more like a special treat than a dessert for any random night.
This place is reasonably priced and has fantastic cupcakes. The first out of a few that we've tried around us - so we're happy with the Slap.