Saturday, November 28, 2009

Indoor Smores

I should preface this recipe by telling all of you that I think campfire s'mores suck.  I do not like burned marshmallows, I think that my chocolate bars should be consumed in a polite fashion and I love graham crackers.  Why mess with individual perfection?

On the other hand, if you present one of these treats to me I will embarrass myself trying to snarf down these little bars 'o heaven.  My love affair with indoor s'mores goes back to college when the Caf would take the stale Golden Grahams cereal from the bins in the breakfast area and make industrial sheet pans of these bad boys.  But when I think of indoor s'mores, I think of my friend Rhonda that I met in Manitowoc.  She is one of those people who make cooking look effortless and she would make these bars for my friends and I.  Only when I was making these myself, did I realize what a pain in the ass these bars truly are.  So thank you Rhonda for making these whenever we requested them - you are the bomb.

Indoor S'mores


    * 4 cups honey graham cereal
    * 3 tablespoons butter
    * 6 cups miniature marshmallows
    * 1/4 cup light corn syrup
    * 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips


   1. Coat a 9x13 inch dish with cooking spray. Place cereal into a large bowl; set aside.
   2. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt margarine. Add marshmallows and corn syrup and stir until melted and smooth. Stir in chocolate chips until melted. Remove from heat and pour over waiting cereal; stir well to coat. Press into prepared pan. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chocolate Spice Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

First and foremost - many thanks and most humble adoration to Kelly of Evil Shenanigans who dreamed this recipe up in the first place. 

I made this cake recipe for a Halloween shindig that the husband and I attended and wow ... want to be popular at a party?  Bring a recipe that features either booze or chocolate and you will become the belle of the ball.  There were two themes that I heard from the comments I received - the cloves used in this recipe are delightful.  People had a hard time putting their finger on the taste, but as soon as you said "cloves," it was an "a-HA!" moment.  (A moment - not the Norweigan pop band ...)  The second - and maybe I'm imagining this because it was my favorite part of the cake - was the brown butter frosting.  This frosting is almost a typical buttercream, but browning the butter before assembling the frosting just takes it all the way down to the goalpost.  I usually hate frosting, but I could cheerfully eat this frosting every day of my life and never fit into my pants again.

Well - maybe I won't go that far, but make this cake!  You will see that for once I am not exaggerating!

Chocolate Spice Cake with Brown Butter Frosting   
from Kelly at Evil Shenanigans

Serves 9

For the cake:

6 T. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 ounce dark (at least 64%) chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cake flour
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon all-spice
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

For the frosting:
3 tablespoons butter
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-3 tablespoons cream (**I omitted)

Heat the oven to 350 F and spray an 8″x8″ cake pan with non-stick spray.  In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar until well mixed.  Add the vanilla and the egg and whisk until lighter in color and well mixed.  Stir in the melted chocolate.

In another bowl sift the flour, cocoa powder, spices, baking soda, and baking powder. Alternately add the flour mixture and milk into the butter, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sides of the cake begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Cool in the pan for ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cake cools prepare the frosting.

In a small pan over medium heat brown the butter until it is nut brown.  Be sure to stir the butter constantly.  Allow the butter to cool to room temperature.  Beat the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until combined.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Michael Chiarello's Whole Roasted Turkey with Citrus Rosemary Salt

'Tis the season to be thinking about turkey.  And since I don't have a lot of room in my freezer and one of our local grocery stores had turkey on sale for .39 a pound, I jumped the gun a bit and made this recipe a few weeks ago so I could get my turkey fix early.

I found a ton of recipes on the Internet for roasted turkeys, but given my love for rosemary and lemon, this one stood out for me.

Mr. Chiarello's recipe calls for 2 8-10 pound turkeys, so I basically halved this recipe.  Also, I didn't utilize his recipe for making turkey gravy because necks and giblets freak me out.  Other than all of that?  This recipe is incredible.

Whole Roasted Turkey with Citrus Rosemary Salt                          by Michael Chiarello - Food Network

Citrus Rosemary Salt:

    * 1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
    * 1 tablespoons lemon zest
    * 1/4 cup coarse salt

Roasted Turkey:

    * Turkey (I used a 13-lb.)
    * 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    * 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
    * 1 lemons, halved
    * 4 large carrots, halved lengthwise
    * 4 celery stalks


For the Citrus Rosemary Salt: In food processor, process all the ingredients. Pulse until well blended. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

For the Turkey: Wash the turkeys, inside and out, and dry well. Coat turkey, inside and out, with the olive oil. Season turkey on the outside with a tablespoon or two of the Citrus Rosemary Salt, pressing it in to adhere. Place 4 rosemary sprigs and 2 lemon halves inside the cavity of each turkey.

Arrange the halved carrots and celery stalks on baking sheets with a lip. Position turkey on top of the carrots and celery so that the turkey does not rest directly on the bottom of the pan. Drizzle turkey with remaining olive oil.

Roast until an instant-read thermometer (inserted deep into the thigh but away from the bone) reads 165 degrees F and juices in the thigh run clear when pierced with a fork, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours; begin checking at 2 hours. Remove from the pans and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

For the past two years, I've worked weekends at my town's local cab company.  It's a job that I've done to make some extra bills so I can pay off MY extra bills and have generally enjoyed it enough to stay there longer than I have ever stayed at a part-time job.

That's not to say my part-time job is perfect.  In fact, since I'm in the communication business at the cab company (I basically take phone calls, put cab requests in the computer and panic if the dispatcher steps away from their microphone for a smoke break.), the worst moments are when we have miscommunication.

These cookies were an apology gift to Pablo, who was driving the airport shuttle bus on Sunday.  He called me to see if there was a credit card number in the office on one of his fares, I thought he was checking to see if he could accept credit cards and long story short, Pablo got screwed out of $11.50.  Since Pablo is an all-around nice guy, I promised him that I would bake some cookies as a mea culpa and even let him pick what kind of cookie he wanted.  So he picked these.

That was a wise choice ... they are damn tasty.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
adapted from Brown Eyed Baker who adapted them from Crepes of Wrath

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies (depending on size)

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter, melted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
8 oz. white chocolate (Brown Eyed Baker used 2 c. of white chocolate chips. I used 2 Ghiardelli White Chocolate bars and chopped them roughly with my knife.)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

3. Beat together the melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the egg, then beat in the egg yolk, then beat in the vanilla.

4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture until just moistened. Stir in the macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips by hand with a rubber spatula.

5. Roll into balls or drop by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheets.

6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges look golden brown and the middles don’t look quite set. Allow to finish cooling on the baking sheet.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I've been tagged!

 The lovely Renee at Flamingo Musings tagged me this morning with this list of questions ... I did a similar one and I think the rule is that you can only use one word to answer the questions ...

1. Where is your cell phone? Hidden
2. Your hair? Short
3. Your mother? Gorgeous
4. Your father? Chatty
5. Your favorite food? Indian
6. Your dream last night? Unending
7. Your favorite drink? Beer
8. Your dream/goal? Travel
9. What room are you in? Office
10. Your hobby? Many
11. Your fear? Ignorance
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Wealthy
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. Something you aren’t? Quiet
15. Muffins? Bran
16. Wish list item? Cookbooks
17. Where did you grow up? Iowa
18. Last thing you did? Type
19. What are you wearing? khakis
20. Your TV? Home
21. Your pets? Cat
22. Friends? Several
23. Your life? Tiring
24. Your mood? Meh
25. Missing someone? Family
26. Vehicle? Tank
27. Something you’re not wearing? coat
28. Your favorite store? Target
29.Your favorite color? blue
30. When was the last time you laughed? yesterday
31. Last time you cried? Hmmm ...
32. Your best friend? Ryan
33. One place you go to over and over again? Work
34. One person who e-mails you regularly? Deb
35. Favorite place to eat? Erin's

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chipotle Honey Roasted Peanuts

Oh, how do I love this recipe?  So much, I had made this to bring to a get-together with some friends and nearly punked out at the last minute so my hubby and I could keep this to ourselves.  But good sense and hospitality prevailed.  I will make this again - I have a feeling that this will be one that will make an appearance at many more get-togethers.  It's just that simple and it is just that good.

Chipotle Honey Roasted Peanuts

    * 1/3 cup white sugar
    * 1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
    * 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
    * 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    * 2 tablespoons butter
    * 2 tablespoons honey
    * 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    * 1 pound skinless peanuts (I bought a jar of unsalted, roasted peanuts)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Stir together the sugar, chipotle powder, chili powder, and garlic powder in a small bowl; set aside.
2. Stir together the butter, honey, and kosher salt in a large saucepan over medium heat until the butter has melted, and the mixture is bubbly. Stir in the peanuts until well coated, then pour out into a 9x13 inch baking dish.
3. Bake in preheated oven until the nuts are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Stir the mixture 2 or 3 times to ensure even cooking. Once done, scrape the peanuts into a large metal bowl, and sprinkle with the spice mixture. Toss the peanuts to evenly coat with the spice mixture. Allow the peanuts to cool to room temperature, tossing every few minutes so the nuts do not stick together.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Paula Deen's Sausage Balls

This was one of the easiest recipes that I ever considered harming myself over.  Let me paint the picture ... I was home sick a few weeks ago and the Cat and I found ourselves snuggling in our favorite chair, watching some vintage Paula Deen.  While Paula is not my favorite Food Network icon (that place is held firmly by that goddess named Ina), I do appreciate her Southern sensibility and her penchant for using whole sticks of butter.  So when she made these Sausage Balls and I heard a subtle crunch as she bit into one of the finished products - I was intrigued.  And with only three ingredients, all of which are usually in my pantry - what a winning appetizer to whip up for my next get together with my buddies.

Well - it's a winner, but if you like to use your bare hands to form about five-dozen one-inch balls, be a martyr and make this recipe.  It's good, don't get me wrong - and I shouldn't complain because this recipe makes a ton, but this recipe only reminds me that I have a short attention span that is not conducive to making fussy appetizers and that I hate it when I get my hands dirty and Bisquick under my fingernails.  Paula made it look so easy on TV!

Sausage Balls
from Paula Deen


    * 1 (1-pound) package ground sausage
    * 3 cups baking mix (recommended: Bisquick)
    * 4 cups grated sharp Cheddar


    * 1 cup mayonnaise
    * 1 tablespoon mustard


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray.  Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl. Mix well with your fingers. The mixture will be very crumbly. Form into 1 inch balls, squeezing the mixture so it holds together, then rolling it between the palms of your hands to form balls.  Place the balls on the baking sheet. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. To prevent sticking, move the balls with a spatula halfway through cooking. To make the dip, combine the mayonnaise and mustard. Serve with sausage balls.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Mama's Beef Stroganoff

I called my mom the other day and was chatting with her about my food blog ... and somewhere during the conversation, I had a revelation that I've been writing a lot about her lately ... her unnatural hatred of turkey (truth be told - I'm not entirely sure where I got that from - she doesn't eat turkey, that doesn't necessarily equate hatred ...), how I learned how to cook from her copy of the Betty Crocker cookbook, her amazing cinnamon rolls, etc.

Truth be told?  My mom is the reason that I cook the way that I do and she also influences some of the departures that I make in cooking.  Case in point - my mother would probably cheerfully die rather than eat a smidgen of cream of mushroom soup.  Her hatred of that particular atrocity causes her to call my favorite green bean casserole "those slimy green beans."  So when you hear a nuclear explosion somewhere in northeast Iowa, it is because I have taken one of her signature dishes and have made it my own - complete with ground turkey and cream of mushroom soup instead of ground beef and cream of chicken soup.

There is nothing sexy or difficult about this dish, but for me - when I eat my mom's beef stroganoff or even my own bastardized version of it, I am instantly transported to my mom's kitchen and can picture the perfect roasting pan full of this casserole on Sundays when she was diverting from the Sunday roast routine.  This is one of those dishes that I've probably altered for my own purposes because I will never get it to taste as good as it did when I was a kid and mom would serve this with a side of garlic bread (leftover hamburger buns slathered with buttered and damn near dredged in garlic salt) and salad. 

I'm not sexy, but I put the "comfort" in comfort food

Mama's Beef Stroganoff - the ShelleyBakes version
by Mama Sharon and ShelleyBakes

1/2 bag wide egg noodles, cooked per directions
1 lb. ground turkey or beef, browned and drained
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cans cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup
1 c. sour cream

Make the noodles and drain.  While noodles are cooking, brown the meat together with the chopped onion.  If you're going to bake it, it can be a little pink, but if you think you'll eat it straight from the pan like my husband and I do?  Brown it till it is no longer clucking or mooing.  After the noodles and the meat are done, throw in a big bowl and add the soup and the sour cream.  You can get by with just one can of soup, but adding the extra makes it damn near velvety. 

This step truly makes it better, although you do not have to follow it ... if you decide you want to bake this casserole - have your oven preheated to 350 degrees.  Dump the contents of the bowl into a large casserole dish or a roasting pan (if your my mom and have doubled this recipe because you are feeding a herd of hungry folks) and bake until the top is slightly golden.  (Probably about 45 minutes?)

If you are like me and do not have the patience - you can eat it now, but only if you browned the hamburger properly. 

A couple of notes - this recipe is a cinch to double and it freezes incredibly well.  In fact, this is something I make on a relatively frequent basis when I know I'll be working extra shifts and I keep quart freezer bags of stroganoff in our freezer.  You can thaw and serve after nuking it for awhile or you can go that martyr's extra mile and bake it after it thaws. 

On a personal note - I love you Mom!  I promise I won't ever make stroganoff when you come over!.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Congrats to my friend Lindsey!

I've been blessed by my friend Lindsey who has been a faithful contributor to Shelley Bakes.  And as you guys saw in the Creepy Crawly Spiders post, this lady makes adorable babies.  Well, she welcomed baby number three today and since Baby Girl was three weeks early, she is currently nameless, but I'm just thrilled to know that Mommy and baby are healthy and well. 

Congrats to Ryan, Lindsey, Kyler and Anya!

Bastardized Bean Soup in the Crockpot

I gotta say - when I first saw this recipe on the Cooking Light website - it looked so damn cosmopolitan.  You know that recipe - the kind with the sexy title that just begs for you to invite over company so they can revel in your culinary prowess, but also a wee bit intimidating ... a recipe with such a great title MUST be complicated to pull off, right?  Right?

Um ... yeah.  After putting off and putting off this recipe because I was a bit daunted by the title (apparently I hadn't read the actual TEXT of what had seduced me ...), I realized something.  This was basically a version of my mom's bad-ass bean soup, but with stuff she wouldn't even IMAGINE crossing her palate (i.e. - smoked turkey sausage ... the woman has an unnatural hatred for turkey ... love you ma!)

So after reading the recipe and realizing that the only thing that was daunting me was the process of browning the sausage (unnecessary step, by the way) and the garlic and shallots, I made the next ultimate mistake of putting this soup in overnight in my crockpot.  And sometime after reassuring myself that the house wouldn't spontaneously combust in the middle of the night (I have that irrational fear when I leave the crockpot on for extended periods of time, which truly negates the use of a slow cooker), my sleep was plagued by dreams of baking and I was literally tormented by the smells of awesome bean soup goodness that leeched into my subconscious.

I woke myself up when I heard myself talking and when I accidentally hit my husband in the head because I was gesturing some point in my dream.  So despite the unintentional injuries and the fact that I basically had to quarantine myself from society after consuming bean soup for breakfast, lunch AND dinner in the span of one day (I never said my love for bean soup was reasonable), I hereby present my version of Cooking Light's "Tiny French Beans with Smoked Sausage" otherwise known to my husband as "that damn soup that my wife made in the middle of the night and assaulted me over at 2 a.m."

I am a bowl of pooty goodness

Bastardized Crockpot Bean Soup with Smoked Sausage
adapted from Cooking Light


* 1 lb. smoked turkey sausage, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
* 1 T olive oil
* 1/3 cup minced shallots
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 C dried flageolets or other dried white beans, (about 1 pound - I used lima beans, apparently Hyvee doesn't carry flageolets? What the hell are flageolets?)
* 2 C water
* 1/4 C minced fresh or 1 tablespoon dried thyme (**I used rosemary ... it's what was in my kitchen)
* 1 teaspoon celery seeds (**don't have it - omitted)
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth


Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add sausage; sauté 5 minutes or until browned. Remove from pan, and place in an electric slow cooker. Heat the oil in pan over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Sort and wash beans. Add beans, shallot mixture, water, and the remaining ingredients to slow cooker. Cover and cook on high 8 hours or until beans are tender.

WARNING ... cooking times are approximate.  After accidentally nailing hubby in the head and checking the soup at 2 a.m. (I had been in bed since 10 - four hours), the liquid had cooked down substantially and I ended up using an entire box (32 oz.) of chicken broth.

Would I make this again?  Most definitely - I'd also add a Shelley twist and chuck a few chopped carrots into the mix.  But if I make it again, I will not consume bean soup for an entire day's worth of meals and I'll make it on weekend when I won't obsessively dream over my culinary concoctions.