11 October 2013

Cranberry Bliss Bars just in time for the weekend!

Have you ever noticed that most days multitasking is inevitable? Usually its doing laundry while simultaneously trying to make dinner or something of the like. Rarely, do I get to multitask with things that I love to do. Saturday was a busy day but one that I felt was really fun and productive. You see I ordered 24 pounds of peaches from a co-op that I get groceries from once a month. I honestly had no idea what 24 pounds of peaches looked like so when I signed my name to pick them up in a large and very heavy box I was pretty overwhelmed. Mind you that I rarely like fruit. I know what you are thinking and it is entirely possible for a human to not like fruit. Ergo Me. Its a texture thing mostly but some of the tastes just aren't for me either. However, like the wonderful woman that I am (shameless plug) I buy them for my husband who is a peach cobbler aficionado and just my luck he likes eating them right out of the can.

Let's be honest there are only so many ways that you can eat peaches before they start getting on your nerves. While looking at the box of peaches I kept thinking that of dishes to make and ways to use them in everything that I was going to make in the next week. Then the thought came to me. Rather than buying canned peaches from a big box store for the Hubbs to eat I might as well can them myself. Can I just say I loved it. Really it's cathartic to work really hard on something and be able to see/ use the final product. Canning is hard, hot and time consuming but if you like to do it, its worth it. I have always loved the fact that I get to choose what goes into the food that I prepare. I get to seal in summer freshness to use all year round and I get to do it without chemical preservatives.
One thing that I always do when canning is to consult the Ball® Complete Book of Home Preserving. If you are a novice at preserving like I am I highly recommend this book. Canning at home can get a little hairy when trying to make sure that you aren't canning a giant bottle of bacteria. This will help to keep you on the straight and narrow for with tried and true tips of the trade. They also have a bunch of great recipes that lend themselves to a hot pack or raw pack canning method. Okay soap box rant over. Canning can be fun. that's the moral here.

When I first started to can the peaches it was pretty warm but as the day went on cooler air started to settle in and I stared to crave hot chocolate and not just any hot chocolate homemade hot chocolate with half and half and Ghiradelli semi- sweet chocolate chips. The more I thought about the hot chocolate the more that I knew that I would need to make something to eat with that hot chocolate. Its the "If you give a mouse a cookie" syndrome, if I get one thing I'll need something to go with it. I was lead to Cranberry Bliss Bars from Starbucks, sweet, creamy with just a hint of tang from the cranberries. It would be the perfect combo to a dark and luscious cup of hot chocolate. Most likely why these babies have been made famous by Starbucks.



I had tried out a few different recipes for the Bliss Bars previously but one of my favorites is from The Girl Who Ate Everything. As my husband says I can never leave a good recipe alone I always have to add my spin on it. I feel like that is the basis of cooking, making something good into something that totally suits your tastes. That being said I have followed The Girl Who Ate Everything's recipe to the letter previously and it was awesome! No matter what you are going to get an awesome end product. I must tell you that I love Christy's recipes and her blog in general she is really creative and super talented, If you have a spare second go over and check her out by clicking here. You can find my version of the recipe below or if you would like a printable version go a head and click here. Obviously, you can make these anytime not just when you are completely overwhelmed by stone fruit and feverish temperatures. What are your favorite ways to multitask? Any time savers that I should know about?

Cranberry Bliss Bars

Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

If you want to download the recipe to print it out click here!




Cranberry Bliss Blondie Layer:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour- maybe a little extra if you are at a high altitude like I am.  
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice



1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper. (Yes I bake these in a 9 x 13 even though it gives me the heebie jeebies)
2. To prepare the blondie layer: In mixer, melt butter for one minute in the microwave or until melted; add butter and brown sugar to mixer.* Pour the butter and sugar into a large bowl. Beat together and add the vanilla and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and orange zest; gradually add the dry mixture to the butter mixture. Stir in the cranberries and chopped chocolate (batter will be thick).
** If you want more cake like consistency for your blondies don’t melt the butter and then cream the butter and sugar together.
3. Spread the blondie batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.* Cool completely on a wire rack.
** Note, don’t over bake these babies. If you do you’ll severely regret it so make sure to check them and set a timer. Also because they are in a glass dish they will continue to cook once you remove them from the oven, they won’t cook a ton more but just for a note if they are on the cusp of being overdone.
4. Prepare the White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting: In an electric mixer beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until combined. Pour the chocolate chips and cream into the bowl of a double broiler and melt until combined. Make sure to stir and keep an eye on it. Gradually add half of the melted white chocolate mixture to the cream cheese and beat until blended.
5. Once the blondie’s are cool go ahead and frost!  Sprinkle with chopped cranberries. Drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate. Let the frosting set or you will have a mess on your hands if you want to eat them quickly The Girl Who Ate Everything suggested to throw them in the fridge. I obviously threw caution to the wind and just slathered myself in them. Cut them into triangles or squares or any shape you want and serve, preferably with a nice hot chocolate. Oh and don’t be afraid to eat them in the morning, because they have cranberries it makes them an acceptable breakfast food, at least that is what I tell myself when I eat three before 10 am.







12 September 2013

C is for Chicken Philly Cheese Steak


Let me start of by saying hello. Now that the pleasantries are out of the way we can really get down to business. The business of the day of course is Philly Cheese Steaks. Now this Philly Cheese Steak is not original by any means, It is derived from two cheese steak places where I unabashedly get a foot-long every time no matter my level of hunger and chow down like its my last meal. They are pretty darn good folks.

After getting married to an athlete I had to quickly learn what "game day" food was. Now this sandwich that I am about to share is not considered fuel for an actual game its heavy, fatty and all kinds of naughty but it is in fact perfect for sitting on the couch with your bros watching your favorite player ball out in super human form. (I am just throwing it out there that next week when I make these for the game I am going to be the best wife ever)

Now the nice things with Philly Cheese Steaks is that you can make them to your liking. I love chicken and because the fixings on this sandwich are all pretty heavy it helps lighten it up just enough. However, it would be really really good with some sliced flank steak or roast beef, just a suggestion. So enough talk let's get down to the recipe.

**Bonus**
These would be great for a party because guess what you can make them in Slider form to feed a bundle of people and have them sing your praises.

Chicken Philly Cheese Steaks

From The Desperately Happy Housewife

4 Hoagie Rolls (or dinner rolls, or slider buns)
3-4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (sliced into thin strips)
1/2 lb. of Provolone Cheese Slices
1 8 oz. container of Jalapeno cream cheese (softened)
1 8 oz. pkg. of Mushrooms (sliced)
1 med. Onion (sliced)
1 med. Green Bell Pepper (sliced or chopped, whichever skirts your fancy)
1-2 tsp. of L & L Spade Seasoning
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
3-4 Tbsp. Butter
Maybe some spicy mustard if you want to be a rebel like that.

1. Melt butter in a frying pan and add onions. Begin to sauté until the onion just start to turn brown on their edges. Add in mushrooms, bell peppers and garlic powder and continue to sauté. (Just a quick note, I don't like adding the peppers and the onions to the sauté pan at the same time. I feel like they loose a little bit of their bite and just meld into the onions. By adding them later they don't cook as long and still keep a little bit of their bite giving some texture distinction between the veggies. You can honestly add them in whenever you want.)

2. Once vegetables have been sautéed and have a wonderful aroma, remove them from the pan and set them to the side. Melt a little butter into the pan again.

 
3. While the butter is melting season the sliced chicken breast with salt, pepper and the L & L Spade Seasoning. Add the chicken to the melted butter and sauté until cooked throughout.  I then add back in the vegetables and make sure that everything is warmed through again.

4. At this point I start to toast my hoagie rolls, I like them nice and crisp for an added textural element, but alas the Hubbs would rather them still be soft so you choose crisp or soft either way is excellent.

5. Once the chicken mixture is almost done, and the buns are toasted. I slather the hoagie rolls with Jalapeno cream cheese on both sides.

6. Place a heaping serving of the chicken filling into the hoagie and cover with slices of provolone cheese. Then slap those babies under the broiler for a minute or two. Please take my advice don't leave them. Don't multitask, don't look at anything other than your sandwiches because the Broiler is not your friend when it doesn't have your full attention. It will burn your food to a crisp just to spite you for ignoring it. Just a warning.


7. Serve with some chips or some oven fries (tutorial to come) Eat and enjoy. If you like spicy mustard like I do, I put some on with my Jalapeno Cream cheese just for kicks and giggles!







09 September 2013

Junk Drawer No More

You know what one of my favorite things to do is, besides reading obviously, I love to stop fights before they start. I know I know y'all have excellent marriages and you haven't had a fight bigger than I feel like the dishwasher isn't full enough to run yet. But if I am being honest the Hubbs and I have a far from perfect marriage. Can I tell you that I love it that way, it keeps things interesting. Seriously, if I told the Hubbs to do something and I wasn't met with a smirk of complete annoyance and a sigh (this mostly happens when I ask to watch the Real Housewives of _________ or Harry Potter during a football game) I literally wouldn't know what to do with myself.

In all seriousness though I was able to completely avoid a fight this weekend. That's right folks, I cleaned out our "Junk" drawer. Something that apparently has been completely erking the Hubbs for probably as long as we have lived in our home. You see I grew up in a home that always had a junk drawer. It was a catch all for everything small and supposedly necessary. The mini containers of auto oil that a very generous salesman gave to my father at a teaching conference, they made an appearance in the drawer along with countless pens that didn't work and batteries that only had half of a charge. Our junk drawer usually held anything that you needed, though. It was like Hermione's bottomless bag in Harry Potter #7 P1.

Since it was a magical drawer I figured that I would establish one in our new home. Little did I know that the magic would not rub off on the Hubbs. It's ok though it really was a mess. I didn't even take a picture for your because it was that out of control. Since I have been trying to do some Fall cleaning that drawer was on my hit list and yesterday was its day. This my friends is how I avoided the inevitable argument of why is there a bunch of crap shoved in this drawer.



Please don't get me wrong, I really believe that you need to have a place in your house that is sort of a home for all things you will need when you least expect it. There are little things that you always need but don't necessarily have a permanent place for in your home. Little screwdrivers, a place for nails and screws, or a place for those batteries that notoriously grow feet and get a mind of their own right before Christmas. Honestly, a magical place like this has saved me more times than I can count. The key is keeping out the riffraff like pens that don't work and half sucked on cough drops that disgustingly find their way into the drawer.  So do you want to tackle a junk drawer too? The best way that I have found to do this is to plan it. Get everything that you will need ahead of time.

Junk Drawer No More- 

From The Desperately Happy Housewife

What you need: 

Space Organizers
Garbage Bag 
Give Away Box 
Scrap Paper
Sweep Box 
Ziplock Bags

First, get a measuring tape and measure the drawer you will be cleaning out. Record you measurements and then head over to the store and buy some little boxes or a utensil organizer. Either will work. When you get back to your house dig right in before you loose your willpower. Grab your give away and garbage bags and then get to work. If you haven't needed to use an item in the last year I say either chuck it or give it away, but its your drawer so do what works for you. 

I usually try to put things in categories and keep them in Ziplock bag: pens, batteries, nails, and little tiny hand sanitizer bottles. Only place like items in the Ziplock bags if the home for them will be in that drawer if they belong somewhere else then put them in your sweep box to be put away in their proper place at the end of the day. Will you do me a favor though, before you put any pens in a bag will you test them on a pad of paper. If they don't work let them go they have served their purpose.

Once the drawer is cleaned out then wipe it down and put in your space organizers. I took my drawer out and worked on it on my couch because it was a Harry Potter weekend on ABC Family and I wouldn't even miss it if I broke my leg and needed to get it super glued together. I'm lazy like that, it also made fitting the organizing cubbies in much easier. Once you think you have figured out a good system. Put your drawer back into its slot and then take all of the items you have already organized in your Ziplock bags and shuffle them into the space organizers. See you did a pretty time consuming step without even knowing it huh. I know I am so very clever, but only sometimes and never on Friday. 

When you organize everything you need make sure that it makes sense to you. I had to shuffle everything around a few times so that the items that we used the most were closest to the front etc. Oh and make sure that your drawer shuts, if not you might have a minor meltdown like I did when you feel like you have the PERFECT set up and then a pair of pliers just manages to get in the way. Guess what though, now you are done and you now are down one junk drawer and have a magical "utility" drawer? Would that be the best way to put it? Yeah that's what we will go with. Now go and do friends.
06 September 2013

It's that time again!

Hey all!

I am so excited about today's post! You see right now the Hubbs and I are kid sitting. I know you can't believe me but it actually is true, No one has gotten hurt or cried yet so I call it a win! That however is besides the point. When the kiddos were out playing with friends and watching football games I snuck away to my house to meet a contractor for a bid. While driving home I got an overwhelming feeling that Fall was a commin' (yep I showed you my Lehi Pioneer self). You see some of the leaves up here on our mountains were already changing colors, the fall fruits were out for sale on the fruit stands, it was the first game of the season for my Alma Mater, and (now this is going to sound crazy) the air smelled like fall. It was full, woodsy and with a hint of a crisp cold to it. If you think I have completely lost it you can stop reading I won't judge you. Promise.

 I got to my house just 2 minutes shy of the contractor arriving and when I walked in I was completely shocked at how messy the darn thing was. This is going to get personal here folks... and I will be completely embarrassed for even telling you this the next time I see you. Be warned. Since both the Hubbs and I work full time and don't see each other all day I usually will make the excuse that the little things can wait. Sweeping a room used to get done right when I got home. Now its half hearted and sometimes not done. I do however surface and deep clean on Saturdays but when a more appealing offer comes round (like attending the SLC Farmers Market) I have to jump at it.

I decided since it was the beginning of Fall and since the house was a considerable mess. That it was time to start the first leg of the Fall Seasons deep clean. I don't know about you but I will usually be so excited and get head first into a project, like a deep clean, and then about half way through I will usually loose my steam and go take a nap in my grubbies. I think that I have devised a plan to stop it from happening. I am going to do this deep clean over a week long period- maybe even longer if things get busy. It's gonna happen folks!


Today I am going to let you know how I best tackled my kitchen, I chose it first because its where most of the action happens in our house. We not only feed ourselves but feed our four legged companions as well. Because of the high traffic in the room it sees a lot of dirt and clutter. This isn't just a my house is really dirty cleaning schedule either I like to do at least 4 deep deep cleanings a year because it helps to make sure clutter doesn't build up and it keeps appliances in tip top shape. So off we go with my 25 steps to a repetitively deep cleaned kitchen.

Fall Kitchen Cleaning Schedule

Things you will need-
Clorox wipes
Gloves -If something is going to gross you out, or if you use bleach
Cleaning Cloths
Scrubber Brush
Garbage bags
Goodwill or DI boxes
Decision Box
Bleach, Pine sol and De-greasing soap
Broom or vacuum
Mop and bucket.


Ready... Set... Clean! (Don't want to read my diatribe... Just click here for a printable cleaning google doc)

1. Do a sweep of the kitchen and get all items out of the area that don't belong in the space.
2. Go through the remaining items that have been left on the counter and decide if you need the item. If so great make sure that it is in its place. If not then decide if you need it if yes we'll find a place for it. If you don't use or need it (this is where the Give away box comes in) then place it in the giveaway box to help someone who really needs it.
3. Once the sweeping is done, go through and wipe off all counter tops and then sweep the floors. This step may seem redundant but I hate trying to clean in a messy area. That makes me sound crazy. Let me explain. When deep cleaning I find it easier to deep clean an area when it is moderately clean and tidy. So everything put in its place already and dishes done floors swept etc. It doesn't have to be hospital clean just something that I can walk around without my shoes on and not get the dry heaves.
4. Now we can get into the nitty gritty. I move cabinet by cabinet and deep clean and de-junk. I first take out everything from the cabinet and go through them. If its food I make sure that I use it and that it hasn't expired. If it has I chuck it. then I use a Clorox wipe and wipe down all surfaces of the cabinet inside and out.
5. Finally I re-organize the products that were in there. For example all pasta products go together. Then I move onto the next cabinet until all of the upper cabinets are cleaned.
6. Once the upper cabinets are cleaned I usually have to empty out the garbage and take a little breather. If that's not for you then keep going and get all of your cabinets or pantry from the eye level down.
7. Next,  I move on to the fridge.

8. Throw away all of the past due condiments and anything that has eyes or feet that weren't there in the beginning. Then remove all of the items from the fridge and set them on your counters.
9.  I'll usually fill up a bucket with piping hot water and add some soap to scrub out everything.
10. I take a quick swipe to remove all loose debris from the fridge and then get my scrubber brush and hot soapy water and go to town. (Since the fridge is cold your water will end up being luke warm quickly enough so don't fret about the heat but if you are sensitive to it regular tap water will work too.
11. I dry the fridge and then re-organize the food and condiments and continue the process with the freezer. Generally, my freezer doesn't need much scrubbing so the process is pretty quick.
12. I will then take my vacuum and remove all of the debris from the bottom coils of the fridge. The first time you do this its pretty gross, but it can actually help your refrigerator run more efficiently.          
13. Now lets move onto the counter tops. Once every thing is organized. I split the room in half. All of the items that reside on top of the right counters I move over to the left side of the kitchen so nothing impedes my superior cleaning skills (or lack thereof).
14. I then begin my three step cleaning and disinfecting process.  First I dry dust. Then I wipe down everything with a Clorox wipe.
15. At this point I usually stop up my sink and make a warm bleach and water solution in it. ( if your hands are sensitive to bleach make sure to wear gloves because as magical as bleach is it can burn your hands like the dickens) I usually mix up 1 part bleach to 16 parts water maybe just a little stronger if someone in the house has been sick. I wipe down all of the surfaces and then dry with a clean cloth.
16. I move all of the appliances and necessities back in their places and then start the whole process over for the left side of the Kitchen. Looking pretty clean eh?!
17. At some point I will usually take down any curtains or material that decorates my kitchen and toss it into the wash to freshen it up. If your curtains can't be washed etc. spot clean and dust with a vacuum nozzle. When they are dry just hang them right on back up there. 
18. Window time. Take some window cleaner and have at it because you are almost done. Really I mean it just a few more steps.
19. Once the windows are clean and there aren't any little smudges I take to the floors.
20. First I sweep up all remnants of the days cleaning.
21. Then I vacuum the exact same places that I have swept because I am crazy and my broom never picks up as much as it should.
22. Then I get down on the floor, (yep!) and remove any stain or food etc that would be really hard to remove with a simple mop. These are usually few and far between so it doesn't take very long.
23. I also take a Clorox wipe and wipe down the walls and baseboards while I'm down there.
24. I mix up a bucket of Pine Sol and water and then go to town with my mop.
25. See all things are shiny and new, looking at least and don't you love the smell of a clean kitchen that is full of new possibilities.



31 August 2013

Just Beet It.... oh and M is for Mushroom Chicken

 I have been signing Michael Jackson's epic hit "Just Beat It" in the back of my mind ever since I made dinner last Sunday. It has been raining around these parts lately and so while I was feeling the fall season coming on I made this dish and let me tell you it hit all of the right spots; Warm, comforting and rooty (it's a made up word, I know but you'll see it works for these purposes.)

Can I start off with a small disclaimer, The recipe that I am about to share with you is the first one in the history of the Hubbs eating my cooking that he refused to eat, but he is crazy and obviously a root vegetable bigot. Wanna know why he wouldn't eat it? Get ready for the ridiculous... he doesn't like beets. I get it beats are like the Brussel Sprouts of root vegetables but he honestly wouldn't eat anything that had touched the beets and gotten their juice on it. I was literally aghast, it was my first toddler moment with a grown adult. I now feel like plates with separate containers would be a decent investment if our children turn out to be anything like either of us. You best believe that he at least had to try one bite of it, but of course since he is an adult that was all I could con him into doing. That being said, it really is a great side dish, I'll be giving you the main dish recipe too, which on a side note the Hubbs did eat and liked quite a lot.

Maple Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots and Beets

From the Desperately Happy Housewife

Ingredients

4 Fresh beets, washed and peeled
2 C Carrots
(1 C Parsnips, if you want to get crazy)
1/4 C Brown Sugar
1/4 C Pure Maple Syrup
1/4 T Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Pre- heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Wash and cut up all vegetables into 1in pieces.
3. Wrap cooking vessel (I used a 9x13 pan) with tin foil and then spray with a non-stick cooking spray.
4. Place vegetables in pan and sprinkle in some salt and pepper.
5. Pour in Maple Syrup,  add brown sugar and garlic powder.
6. Mix all ingredients together and place in oven for 35-45 minutes, or until fork tender.
7. Remove from pan and add a little salt and pepper if that's your thing, because we all know it's mine.

Mushroom Chicken 

From the Desperately Happy Housewife 

Ingredients

4 Boneless skinless chicken breasts
8 oz package of sliced mushrooms
1 T Butter
2 T Flour
1 c Chicken broth
1 c Milk (or if you like rich things 1/2 c milk and 1/2 c heavy cream)
1 T Fresh Rosemary, chopped (if using dried use 2 t to taste)
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Salt and pepper chicken breasts and set aside.
2. Heat 1 T butter in a frying pan, place chicken breasts in pan and start to brown them on both sides.

3. When chicken is brown on both sides and almost done remove from pan and set aside.
4. Remove any excess moisture from pan and heat 1/2 T of butter. Place mushrooms into skillet and begin to saute.
5. Once mushrooms are soft and brown remove from pan and add in the rest of the butter. Once butter is melted sprinkle in the 2 T of flour and mix well. (Don't leave at all during this point or it will burn, believe me I know).
6. This will make a roux, let it cook for about 15-20 seconds and whisk in half of the chicken broth a little at a time. The mixture should tighten up, when it does continue adding in chicken broth.
7. This is basically the beginnings of a chicken gravy so allow it to cook and then add a little salt and pepper.
8. Once the gravy has cooked down a little bit, usually 2-4 minutes, whisk in half of the milk a little at a time.
9. Place chicken and accumulated juices back into sauce and let come to a simmer.
10. Add in rosemary and let the chicken finish cooking.
11. Once chicken is done cooking add in mushrooms and stir to combine.
12. Serve Roasted Veggies and mashed potatoes for a perfect fall meal.
I hope y'all love this as much as I did, If you don't please don't tell my Hubbs because I just don't know if my fragile psyche could handle it. Beets are good for you, eat your beets, and your brussel sprouts, and spinach and liver. Okay okay I crossed the line with that I won't even eat liver. My bad guys, Mom moment over.



29 August 2013

Z is for Devilishly Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Recently we had some family come into town. The Hubbs best friend and little brother, Rhen and his wife Kori, were in town for a few weddings and we were able to spend some time with them and try to convince them to move back to Utah because everyone misses them a whole heck of a lot (can you tell that I am shamelessly advocating for their return?)
Needless to say that they were pretty busy between our constant calls to hang out, wedding's to go to, and other friends and family to see. Their busy schedule provided us with some lag time at my in-laws house. I have a pretty severe opinion about lag time, you see I feel like it has to be filled with something productive, its a weird opinion to have and I am sure I retained it from my, strict as a military bell schedule, upbringing. Sometimes is can be a pain, especially when one is really really unproductive and just reads books all day (of course I am not talking about myself or the fact that I may have done this very exercise last Saturday). But on nights like last Friday it ends up paying great dividends in the form of oozy, gooey, Devilishly Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake.

I was lucky in the fact that when we got to my in-laws house no one was to be found. So I had time to raid their garden surplus and figure out what I wanted for a Friday night treat. I had been perusing some zucchini brownie and cake recipes on Pinterest when I came across two recipes that just said MAKE ME NOW. How can you say no to Pinterest?

Now this recipe is my adaption of the Chocolate Zucchini Cake recipe from Key Ingredient.com If you would like the original recipe click here. It is also the first installment of my series of The Food Alphabet on the blog (there are already a few that have been posted if you follow me on instagram). First things first I hate 9x13in cakes. I don't know why but I have a serious prejudice. Sheet cakes, great, bunt cakes, awesome, rolled cakes, even better... But put a cake in a 9x13in pan in front of me and I just want to scream. I think it reminds me of casseroles, and I am almost completely adverse to casseroles save a select few. I decided to make this recipe in two 9 in circular pans. This is where the oozy, gooey will come in.

The second major adaptation is the addition of some smartly sweet whipped cream. When you are looking for something light to offset something dark. In this case semi- sweet and dark chocolate my favorite inclination is towards either a fruit or whipped cream. I feel like it just helps relieve your palate from the bitter notes that deeper chocolates can have.

And just a note, I don't cook much with Coffee or wine so I tend to use alternatives to give me the same flavor combinations. One of my very best pastry chef friends turned me onto a coffee alternative called Pero. Its a caffeine free product that helps develop the flavor of chocolate just like espresso or coffee does. This recipe only calls for 3 tsp but I really feel like it adds so much depth. So if you want you can definitely omit it but I say go crazy and make a midnight run to Walmart to purchase it (or if your Hubbs owes you a favor like mine did make him go and ask 13 different stock boys where you can find the non- coffee coffee... Then when he calls you and can't find it beg and plead with him to ask just one more person. Its really hilarious)

Devilishly Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake

From the Desperately Happy Housewife, Adapted from Key Ingredient.com


½

cup (1 stick) butter
½

cup vegetable oil 
1⅔

cups granulated sugar
1

tsp. vanilla
1

tsp. baking soda
½

tsp. baking powder
½

tsp. salt
2

large eggs
½

cup  Greek yogurt 
 2½

cups Flour
¾

cup cocoa
  2

tsp. Pero
   2½

cups shredded zucchini or cucumber
1

cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Whipped cream Filling

2 cups Heavy whipping cream

1 tsp Vanilla

4 T Sugar



Chocolate Ganache Topping

6

oz heavy cream
1 1/2

cups Semi-sweet chocolate chips ( or dark chocolate chips) 


1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly coat 2 9″round pans with baking spray
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, oil, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until each is incorporated.
3. Stir in the yogurt alternately with the flour. 
4. Stir in the cocoa and Pero powder, mixing until smooth.
5. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips and add the melted chocolate into the batter. Mix until incorporated. 
6. Finally, fold in the zucchini. 
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake the cake for 35 – 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
8. Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a rack.
 9. To prepare the ganache topping heat the heavy cream a glass bowl on top of a bot of boiling water, add in the chocolate chips and whisk until chocolate is melted and the mixture becomes silky and shiney. 
 10. To prepare Whipped Cream. Place heavy whipping cream in the bowl of a mixer with the vanilla and sugar. Mix on high to incorporate air and make it fluffy. Beat until stiff peaks form. Cover and put in the fridge until the cake has cooled. 
11. Once cake has cooled. Place one layer on a cake plate and then add a generous layer of the whipped cream that you made earlier. 
12. Place the second layer of cake on top and pour ganache topping over. Feel free to let the topping drip down the sides of the cake. If you have extra whipped cream you can put it on top of the ganache or you can use it to garnish your cake slices when you serve them. Enjoy!
28 August 2013

Rainy Day Banger's and Mash with a Warm Mustard Cabbage Slaw

Hey All,

Can I just tell you how excited I am that everyday this week is showing a 40-60% chance of rain. I literally don't know if I have been so happy or completely inspired to cook because of weather all summer long. Its probably a sickness and I should get it checked out but why ruin a good thing right?
So I was sitting at home on Sunday night watching The Very Thought of You on Netflix and watching the drizzly rain when I started to develop a hankering for Bratwurst. Now if y'all know me like my husband does, I don't really crave bratwurst. I'll eat one casually at a friend BBQ and I'll fix them for the Hubbs but I haven't every really wanted one, if you know what I mean, so craving a bratwurst is really unheard of.

I tried to put it out of my mind and made an awesome chicken dish for dinner on Sunday (recipe coming soon) but alas Tuesday at work it was all I could think about. I looked up a bunch of recipes for bratwurst (or hot dogs if your kids are picky eaters) and cabbage, a dish that my mother often made when we were growing up. Many looked good but they were just missing something. That warm, hearty, stick in your stomach element. Then I remembered that the movie The Very Thought of You was set in England and what is one of England's most traditional dishes but Banger's and Mash! That is what all of those recipes were missing the warm, and creamy mashed potatoes.

Right after work I went to the store. Which if you, can avoid it. It was an absolute nightmare, but it ended up being worth the agony. I got home and started the whirlwind that is my cooking and tried to remember to write things down. That's my biggest issue when creating a new dish, I cook by feeling and taste so its hard to remember to write down when I add a pinch of this or a dash of that. It's the Hubbs greatest plight since he married me. I'll make something for dinner and he will ask for the same dish a week later and to his dismay I can't remember exactly how I made it so nothing is really the same twice.

As I started cooking I ran out to play with the dogs for a few minutes and when I came back into the house I was completely salivating. That is how good this smells, if you have a neighbor that you are trying to win over or you want a promotion from your boss I highly recommend this dish. That's how much I love it I would feed it to my boss and let him critique it all the way to Timbuktu because I know that its a keeper and its going into the recipe vault to be made whenever the weather is reminiscent of England, Fox Hunting and warm cozy afternoons.

Banger's and Mash with a Warm Mustard Cabbage Slaw

From The Desperately Happy Housewife


1  package German Style Bratwurst
 ½ Cabbage thinly sliced
½ onion thinly sliced
1 ½ t chopped garlic
  Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Small bottle of Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Juice
6 Yukon Gold potatoes
2 C Heavy Whipping cream
2 ½ t Stone Ground Mustard ( Private Selection)
 1 t Whole Grain Mustard
 3-4 C Chicken Broth
  4 t butter
 1 Golden Delicious apple
Sauerkraut
¼ t garlic powder
 2-3 T all purpose flour



1. Melt 1 t butter in a large oven proof frying pan. Add cabbage and onions and sauté until they begin to turn golden brown. Add in Garlic, 1 t whole grain mustard, and 1¼ t stone ground mustard, stir well and let simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add in a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Nestle each Bratwurst into the cabbage mixture and let cook for 2 minutes and flip them over to the other side. Cook for another minute and then, Add in ¾ of the bottle of Martinelli's Sparking Apple Juice and let reduce for 4-5 minutes. Add in a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
3. Once reduced add in 1 cup of chicken broth and let simmer for a few moments while you cover the saute pan with aluminum foil. Place pan in preheated oven and set timer for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, cut up Yukon gold potatoes in 2 inch half moons and place them in a pot of water. Place pot onto boil. Boil until potatoes are fork tender then drain and place potatoes back in hot cooking pot on the stove.

** While bratwurst and potatoes are cooking, go into your living room and watch and episode of Rules of Engagement, then get back to work. Just kidding but really, you don't want this dinner to burn**

5. Melt 2 t of butter into potatoes while you remove aluminum foil from bratwurst pan.
6. Pour in ½ c of chicken broth to melted butter and potatoes along with ¼c of heavy cream. Begin mashing and add more cream if desired. Finally add salt and pepper and garlic powder and stir to combine.


7. Remove Bratwurst pan from the oven *please take note to always use a pot holder on the pan as it will be hot for quite a while after removing the pan, not that I would know…*
8. Place Bratwurst on a plate and cabbage mixture in a bowl reserving the liquid in sauté pan. Add in remaining 1 t of butter and let melt.
9. Once butter is melted add in the rest of the stone ground mustard and stir to combine.
10. Sprinkle in 2 T of flour (3 if needed) to make a rue and whisk to combine with cooking liquid in the pan. Let cook for 30 seconds and slowly stir in 1 cup of chicken broth ( if you need more feel free to add it, you want it to look like a medium to loose liquid).
11. Once mixture is a loose liquid whisk in 1/3 c of heavy whipping cream. Keep burner on medium low heat and reduce the mixture until it meets your desired constancy. ( I wanted it to have the consistency of a loose pan gravy) .
12. Julianne the Golden Delicious apple for garnish and pull out your sauerkraut.  

13. Plate up your bangers, mash and cooked cabbage slaw and you are ready to eat. 



12 July 2013

Mary Mary Quite Contrary...

The Hubbs loves summer. Its really weird because I just don't.  Not many people agree with me but I'll take cold over hot any day unless there is a seal involved then there is no contest put me in the Sahara because those things are mean...( sigh )...

Sorry y'all I was wildly eating the leftovers of the Summer Garden Pasta that I stashed for lunch. Think of a starving Caribou finding a whole stock of grass (or whatever they eat) because that is how I just looked. You are welcome for that mental image by the way I am sure that you really wanted it. But that is just how good this pasta is. You see the Hubbs and I have been trying to shed some lbs before we go into winter hibernation and that means being a little more strict about what we put in our food. Don't get me wrong, I am a big believer in a having small portions of things that tend to make us salivate, but sometimes you have to dial it back even more. This recipe is perfect for that. Good on its own but its got enough of a clean palate that you can jazz it up too.

But to back track summer has its perks, you see summer is the perfect time of year to get fresh produce from the store, farm stands and your garden so the season has its redeeming qualities including; drive ins, swimming, and outdoor bar-b-ques. I just cannot get enough of all the really fresh options available to us. So when I saw some fresh cherry tomatoes and asparagus I knew we had to make something healthy out of them. Now this recipe is really easy and won't have you hovering over the stove for hours. It has a few steps and they are all workable around your schedule *BOOM* I just blew your mind huh?!

So lets get started huh,
Ingredients:

2 strips of thick cut bacon
Thick column of asparagus
1c of cherry tomatoes
1/4 - 1-2 C red onion
1T of chopped garlic
Olive oil 
Salt
Pepper
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Chicken stock
Parmesan cheese 
Whole Grain Pasta

To start I don't fry my bacon. It always gets everywhere and seeps into every crevasse of the house. Now I love bacon but having my neighbor know how much I love bacon isn't on my to do list. I cook my bacon in the oven on a sheet of parchment paper at 375* for about 15-20 minutes and then I flip it over. No mess during cooking time and all I have to do is pull up the parchment paper and throw it away. Just my opinion but it looks more like TV bacon when I bake it too. But that is besides the point. On to the cooking!

Step 1- Put your two slices of bacon on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Step 2- Slice the bacon into a 375* oven for 45-60 minutes ( this time will vary depending on how hot your oven runs) 

Step 3- Wash your produce

Step 4- Cut tomatoes in half and pout them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper

Step 5- Cut your asparagus into diagonal bite sized pieces, place these right next to the tomatoes on the cookie sheet.

Step 6- Cut up your red onion and throw it on the cookie sheet as well.

** If you want to cover your veggies and pop them in the fridge you can and cook them later if not go a head and spray some oil on them and hit them with some salt and pepper.

Step 7- place them in the oven at 375* and let them get cozy for 30-45 minutes. Check your bacon and flip it too for good measure.

Now go watch a show- preferably not Gone With The Wind or you will burn your dinner.


Step 8- Pull out your veggies and put the garlic on them and put them back in the oven. At the same time put your pasta on to boil.

Step 9- Once your pasta is done drain it and leave it in the pot. ( I cooked mine past al dente because there isn't really a sauce that it was going to finish cooking in) Then crumble up your bacon slices and put them in the pot with the veggies you roasted as well.

Step 10- Toss it all together ( add your spices)  and add a little bit of olive oil or chicken broth if its looking dry. Then plate it up and top it with some Parmesan cheese.

There you have it folks a pretty hassle free dinner that allows you to clean the lint traps while your veggies roast. I of course watched The Real Housewives instead of cleaning the lint traps because they have trained me that eventually someone else will do that for you.
* The Hubbs wanted Grilled chicken with it so oops on the
inconsistency with my pictures!






Hey y'all I am Sara otherwise known as the Desperately Happy Housewife. When I am not working I am busy crafting, blogging and re-decorating my house. I channel Lucille Ball and Lauren Graham on a daily basis to get me through the "Oh my gosh I just sewed my finger" moments that often happen. I hope you stay a while and get a chance to see what makes me desperately happy.

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