Jalapeno Popper Dip

{ya know, like those popper thingies from Chili's}
You may or may not know this about me, but I really want to be a socialite. It's on my bucket list. Since my natural charm is masked by coyness, the only way to wiggle my way into the socialite life is through people's stomachs. I like to throw parties and I like to cook for large crowds, I don't know what it is, but I like it. My itty bitty ghetto kitchen makes it difficult but that's half the fun! I'm pretty much excited for this recipe (and so was Tressa, she called this morning for the recipe even before I had it posted). Are you wondering whether or not it was deliciously divine? Let me answer that with another question- why don't I have a picture of the dish without a spoonful missing? People started eating it before I was able to even get a picture!
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup Mayonnaise
1 8oz (250 ml) jar sliced Jalapeno peppers
1 4oz can chopped green chilies, drained
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
1/2 cup Corn Flake crumbs (or bread crumbs)
Parmesan cheese
Jalapeno slices for garnish

Preheat oven to 375F, spray a round or square 9x9 or 8x8 inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl mix together cream cheese, mayo, chilies, Jalapeno's, red pepper and shredded cheese together until smooth and creamy. Pour mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and corn flake crumbs/bread crumbs. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until hot and melted through. Let cool for 10 minutes and garnish with slices of Jalapenos, serve warm with Baguettes, veggies, crackers, etc. There ya go!

Source: Annie's Eats via My Baking Addiction


Coconut Chicken with Mango-Pineapple Salsa

{something new for dinner}
When I was a kid, I used to get into my grandma's freezer, open up the old Pringle's can and eat the frozen coconut. She always kept it on the shelve on the inside of the door. I remember it well. She would walk in, see me eating said coconut and proceed to chase me out of the kitchen removing the can from my hands. Coconut always brings back memories from my grandma's for that exact reason. When I read this recipe, the coconut first caught my eye, and then whole mango-pineapple salsa sealed the deal. It was so good, can I just say that right off the bat? This will definitely be making another appearance in our household.
3 chicken breasts- trimmed and cut into small strips
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 mango- peeled and cut into small chunks
1 1/2 cup canned or fresh pineapple
2 tablespoons lime juice
cilantro (optional)

Preheat oven to degrees 400F, and line a baking sheet with foil- spray with cooking spray .In shallow bowl add the egg, salt, and cayenne pepper. In a second shallow bowl add coconut. Dip strips of chicken in egg mixture and allow excess to drip off- then dip in coconut, pressing down so more coconut sticks. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with each piece of chicken. 

Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and coconut is lightly browned. Meanwhile, combine mango, pineapple, lime juice and cilantro together in a bowl and mix slightly. And there ya go!
*You can use any type of coconut that you'd like- I used the really fine stuff, unsweetened. 
Source: Better Homes and Garden's Cookbook


Chicken Cordon Bleu (Reposted)

{crock pot style, baby!}
In case you hadn't heard from my family blog, my oven has sort of... died. So most of my postings are going to be things that need little to no use of an oven. This is actually a re-post from one of my early posts. I just updated it and took a nicer picture. I can't get over how good this cordon bleu recipe is. I crave it some days! We like ours served over rice, but the original recipe says to serve it over penne pasta. I guess the world is your oyster in that field!
2-3 chicken breasts (depending on size of course) butterflied
8-12 slices of deli honey ham (2 per each piece of chicken)
4-6 slices of Swiss cheese
1 can condenced Cream of Chicken Soup
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a large crock pot, combine soup and milk and whisk together. Arrange chicken in crock pot laying them as flat as possible. Place 2 slices of ham on each chicken breast, then place a slice of cheese on top of the ham. Sprinkle garlic powder and pepper over top of everything. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. Serve over rice or your favorite pasta, or with a side of veggies!


Quick Caramels

{quick... and easy}
Well, I'm on this candy making kick. However, I wanted something simple and quick and somewhat fool proof. Also I learned something cool (well most people probably know this but I obviously was not paying attention in class) but water boils at a different temperature depending on your altitude. Which would explain why my last candy making endeavor was just that, an endeavor. The way you can test your thermometer- boil water and see what temperature your thermometer levels off at once the water comes to a rolling boil. Easy. The boiling point at sea level is 100C (212F) so depending on what temperature your water boils at, you will either add or subtract that number from the boiling point at sea level. I wasn't very good at word problems in math class so if this doesn't make sense you can blame it on that fact. This little fact can either make or break your candy making (or teeth...).
1/2 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/4 cup Sweetened Condensed Milk (16oz can)
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Line 8x8 inch square or circle baking dish with foil, and spray generously with cooking spray. In a medium saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup, stir till sugar is dissolved. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils. Insert candy thermometer, and reduce heat to medium and continue boiling at a moderate rate stirring frequently until the thermometer registers 248F (about 30-45 minutes).
Remove from heat and add vanilla, then quickly pour caramel into baking dish and let cool completely. Cut into pieces and wrap all cute like! Ta-da!

Source: Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book 15th Edition


Apple Cider Caramels

{christmas and candy wrapped up together in one simple bite}
So I saw these, and thought "um, yum." I could not form words other than "those would look good on my blog." Thus, I had to make them. This was my first time making candy without my mom's supervision. I remember when I was a kid coming over to my grandma's and seeing rows and rows and pans spread out all over the house full of home made candy. The only thing I was allowed to do was stir the sugary syrup. Making these caramels brought back a lot of good memories. It's too bad all my hard work and hours of effort turned rock solid almost immediately the minute it left the hot burner. I was so upset and disappointed- yet determined so the next day I got right back up and started again. So without further adieu, I would like to present my first ever batch of caramels!
I've got a lot of pictures of these babies... fair warning!
2 cups Simply Apple, apple juice (found next to the Simply Orange in your grocery store's juice department)
1 cup whipping cream, divided
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 cup brown sugar (or white sugar)
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup butter

Other things you will need:
candy thermometer
large stock pot and a medium sauce pan
cooking spray
glass measuring cup (or one that can stand up against high heat)

Pour apple cider into medium sauce pan, boil on high until it reduces to 1/3 cup- about 20 minutes, this is where the glass measuring up comes in handy. Once it's reduced, set aside to cool, but not too cool or else it will turn into a jelly (I found that out the hard way). If that does happen, put it back on the heat and stir.
Line an 8x8 inch square baking dish with wax paper leaving about an inch over the top for easy removal, and spray generously with cooking spray and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine 2/3 cup whipping cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and reduced apple cider. Set aside.
In large stock pot, combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/3 cup whipping cream plus enough water to reach the 1/2 cup mark. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves, insert the candy thermometer and simmer until it reaches 234 degrees Fahrenheit. This took about 45 minutes for me, and because of the altitude my candy never reached that exact temperature- you can tell when it should be removed. The candy will turn dark in color and begin to thicken, the bubbles will look differently as well. Don't over cook.
Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream and cider mixture- might splatter a little, be careful. Add butter a little at a time in cubes or spoonfuls and mix until well incorporated. Return to low heat and re-insert candy thermometer and cook, stirring frequently until the mixture reaches 248F, about another 30(ish) minutes. Again, mine never quite got that hot- you can tell by the texture and color etc. Again, don't over cook. You'll end up with toffee instead of a caramel. Trust me!
Remove from heat and pour into prepared baking dish. Let cool completely before removing from pan (with the wax paper). Cut horizontally... (I used a pizza cutter)
Then cut again vertically...
You can kind of make whatever size caramels you'd like... I ended up cutting these in half again to about the size of a Tootsie Roll. Cut wax paper into 2x4 inch squares, and wrap each individual caramel, and twist the ends, also like a Tootsie Roll.
Wrapping them is very tedious, I wont lie. If your caramels stick to the wax paper as you are trying to remove each little square, don't worry mine did that, too. Just go slow and use a knife to scrap them off... patience young Padawan.
Makes about 80 Tootsie Roll size pieces, and 40 average caramel size pieces.  
Source: Our Best Bites   


Turkey Pesto Sliders

{it's like homemade quiznos}
I miss American Quiznos a lot. They have Quiznos in Canada, but the menu is different. It makes me sad sometimes. One thing I miss most is the Turkey Pesto. Mmmmm... so good. I had no idea pesto was so easy to make... I've been missing out. We had these for dinner, and I was impressed! I thought it would just taste like a good sandwich, but no- I couldn't stop eating them! I felt like such a fatty because I downed two at night, and then two again for breakfast!
6 slider buns (I used Kaiser Buns, the soft ones)
6 slices of Provolone cheese
12 Deli Turkey slices
Pesto Sauce (see recipe below)

Make an open faced sandwich- come on, it's pretty easy. I 'toasted' mine to get the full Quiznos effect by setting my oven to broil and placing my sandwich on a baking sheet (open faced) for about 5 minutes until the turkey was heated through and the cheese was melted. Then spread as much or as little mayo as you'd like, then a couple spoonfuls of pesto sauce- and shove in your mouth!

Pesto Sauce Recipe:
2 cups fresh/frozen basil (or 16 frozen cubes)
1/4 cup sunflower kernels (or pine nuts)
2 gloves of garlic, peeled
a dash of salt
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In food processor (or blender) blend all the ingredients together for about 30 seconds. So easy. Who knew?


The best chocolate frosting, ever.

{i couldn't stop eating it}
I'm really picky with frosting. I'm not a fan of the buttercream you get on premade cakes at the store bakeries... and the canned stuff is good, but it leaves a film of something plasticy on the roof of my mouth, and not to mention, I can't pronounce half the ingredients used- and it's so sweet, it seriously knocks me out. So when I came across this recipe, I really had to give it a try. What caught my eye, was that it was made with flour as opposed to powdered or icing sugar- so I knew it wouldn't be too sweet. Plus, it has real melted chocolate in it, and isn't that just the cherry on top? I really had no idea it would be THIS GOOD! It's slightly labor intensive, I wont lie. I kind of found out the hard way- I read the comments and I guess I didn't read carefully enough because I didn't think it would take quite as long as it did, but in the end it was so worth it. And now we know, Kelsey, that we can't rush things. So, if you plan on making this delightful recipe, just plan in about an extra 20 to 30 minutes for cooling. 
kinda blurry, you'll get over it
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup all purpose or whole wheat flour (I used wheat)
3 tablespoons baking cocoa powder
1 cup milk
1 cup butter
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Start by cooking the flour, sugar, milk, and cocoa. Whisk together until mixture begins to thicken to the consistency of thin pudding. For me, it took about 10 minutes on medium-high heat. Don't use high-high because it the cause the bottom to burn and you'll get black chunks- I learned that the hard way, too. After it's thickened up, stick the pot of chocolate in the freezer to cool completely. This is where it took up a ton of time when I wasn't expecting it. If you have it too warm, it will melt the butter and you will end up having to let the icing cool once it's all mixed together, also you run the risk of the butter separating when it melts. So make sure this is completely cool before you go on to the next step. Again, took me about 20-30 minutes, good thing I had other things to do in that time.
Next step, melt chocolate chips in the microwave. And add your butter to a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the chilled chocolate mixture, and mix again until it's combined. Then add the melted chocolate! Mix again, and give it a taste! If you'd like a darker and richer chocolate taste, you can add a couple more tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Oh  my goodness, look at my next picture. I'm so impressed with myself!
You'll notice my Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Cupcakes... everything went like wild fire!
source: Our Best Bites


Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Cupcakes

{my house smells like the cheesecake factory}
I've been anxiously awaiting for today to come for many weeks. Why? I finally have the chance to make a ton of baked goods- and have a place with many mouths to transport said baked goods to. Sometimes I run into the problem of not having enough people to eat all the things I make- and that doesn't make husby very happy. I've been wanting to make these baby cakes for a really long time. Unfortunately, I skipped the water bath as suggested by Martha Stewart because I didn't have a way to create one- so I think these could have been better, but I'm not complaining. I found these to be a bit of a more challenging recipe, which is right up my ally. Go big or go home is my motto. Don't let that scare you, there are definitely some short cuts.
for the cheesecake:
16 oz cream cheese (two regular size packages)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 eggs
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional- but after tasting one, I think a little zip of lemon would go really well)

for the raspberry topping:
6 oz fresh or frozen raspberries
2 tablespoons sugar

for the crust: (you could buy the premade crumbs, but I found with one box of graham crackers, I could double the recipe whereas with the premade crumbs, I could only do one batch)
22 Graham crackers
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar 

Preheat oven to 325F. Line cupcake pan with liners. In a food processor, process graham crackers until crumbly. Switch crumbs into a bowl, and mix in butter and sugar and stir with a fork until the crumbs are moistened. Fill each cupcake liner with 1 tablespoon of crumbs. Use a small drinking glass to press the crumbs down. Bake for 5 minutes or until set. Set aside to cool.

Also in your food processor (obviously you can make the crumbs ahead of time) puree raspberries and sugar. Strain puree into a bowl using a strainer to collect the seeds. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, blend cream cheese until fluffy. Add sugar and blend again until well mixed. Add vanilla and mix again. Add each egg one at a time, mixing in between each addition. Pour 3 tablespoons (or 1/4 cup if you have a little measuring up like me ;) ) of cheesecake mixture onto the graham cracker crusts. Once each one has been filled, take a 1/2 teaspoon of raspberry puree and dot it on the top. Take a tooth pick and swirl it around.
Pop them in the oven and bake for about 22 minutes. Now, if you have a pan big enough and have enough room in your kitchen feel free to do a water bath, but again, I skipped it and the only thing that happened was my cheesecakes kind of sank down little in the centers. Make sure you sit in front of your oven and watch them like a nerd. Just kidding, you don't have to.
Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Not so bad, right? You will die when you smell these out of the oven... :)

Source: Annie's Eats via Martha Stewart


Quick Cinnamon Rolls

{so sweet i can feel the cavities and diabetes setting in}
I don't know about you but when you are out shopping at the malls with the scent of the CinnaBun station from what seems like miles away, some form of symbiosis happens in my brain, and I immediately think- Christmas. But really, they are good any time of the year! Just make sure to go see your dentist after wards. 
1 3/4 cup warm water
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup oil
3 tablespoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
5 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon (essentially as much or as little as you'd like)

In a medium bowl add water, sugar, oil and yeast. Mix to combine and let rise for 15 minutes. In a large bowl, or stand mixer with bread hook, add yeast mixture, half the flour, salt and eggs. Mix with hook, once it's combined add remaining flour. Dough should clear the sides of the bowl. If you don't have a stand mixer, your hands work just fine! Spray your counter, and roll out dough into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Spread with a thin layer of butter, enough so your cinnamon and brown sugar will stick to the dough. Sprinkle cinnamon, and then sprinkle with brown sugar. Roll up long ways, and cut into 18 (1 inch thick) slices. Dental floss works great. Place on sprayed cookie sheet. Let rise for for 15 minutes.

After a final rising, pop them in the oven and bake at 400F for 15 minutes, or until the tops are slightly browned. Cool slightly and frost with your favorite icing.
Powdered Sugar Icing:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
Mix together in a medium bowl. Add more milk or powdered sugar to reach the consistency to drizzle over cinnamon rolls.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 3oz package of cream cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Beat cream cheese and butter with electric mixer until smooth, then add powdered sugar and mix until well blended, then add vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy.


Chicken Enchiladas III

{seriously, i should expand my horizons}
If we all could just be honest for a second, myself included, I'm super excited for my latest chicken enchilada recipe. I think it's actually the number one favorite in our house. We are talking all time record here, people. It's sad, because it's not really any different from my other two recipes, yet it is the the cream of the crop. 
Instead of using regular flour tortillas, I went bold and got the Roasted Tomato Tortillas. It made all the difference. Not only did it give the dish a fun burst of color, it also gave it a yummy kick of flavor! I'm so impressed with myself, it's hard to contain my joy.
Also, you are just going to have to ignore the giant typo on my picture... I'm far too lazy to go back and fix it. No judgments, please! ;)
Can you see my typo?
1 package of Roasted Tomato Tortillas
1 8oz. package of cream cheese, cut into cubes
2 small cans, or 1 large can of chopped green chilies.
1/2 cup of chunky salsa (or a different kind, if you prefer)
2 cups Monterrey Jack cheese, or equal of a Mexican style
1 small onion, chopped
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 pint of heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon butter

In a frying pan, cook your chicken with some basic seasonings, like salt and pepper. Once it's cooked through, set aside. In a large skillet, add your butter. Once your butter is melted and your pan is hot, add onion and saute until translucent. Reduce heat and add the cream cheese. While your cream cheese is melting, shred the chicken breasts. Once the cream cheese is fairly melted, add in the chilies, salsa, and chicken. Stir till combined and heated through.
Spray a 9x9 inch baking dish, and preheat your oven to 350F. For each tortilla, take a few wooden spoon fulls of the chicken mixture and spoon it down the center. Fold up the ends and roll up, then place in baking dish, seam side down. Continue until each tortilla has been filled. *Note that the packages of the Roasted Tomato Tortillas come only in packs of 6, as opposed to 10 in the regular flour tortilla packages*. If you have any chicken mixture left over, spread it over the enchiladas.

Grate your cheese, and spread over the enchiladas. Feel free to use more if you are a big fan of cheese, like myself. Then drizzle the heavy cream over everything. Cover with foil, and pop it in the oven for 30-35 minutes, remove foil and continue baking for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly on the sides.

*For a healthier version, you can use wheat tortillas, low fat cream cheese, and can omit the heavy cream if desired.


Orange Chicken

{crock pot style}
This recipe is the outcome of what can happen when you believe. If you know me, or read this blog often, you know that I am still struggling with the whole raw-meat-touching-my-hands, thing. No one is perfect. We are all human. Everyone has their own cross to bear. This is just mine. My hands are always clean. I like to play in the mud sometimes, but when it's time to come inside, I b-line it for the sink. My dear husband is awesome- he always cuts up the chicken for me. However, I worked really hard on creating a menu for the entire week, and I am bound to stick to it. Which meant that I had to touch the chicken because husby forgot to do it the night before. YUCK! It's truly a milestone in my book. Anyways, on to the recipe!
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced (I used 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder because that's just what I had)
3/4 cup orange marmalade
8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Stir the cornstarch, broth, teriyaki, garlic, marmalade together in your crock pot. Add the chicken, either whole breasts or you can cut it up into small pieces. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with rice.

Source: Campbell's 3 Books in 1


Grab Button

It took me a while, but I did it! I now have a grab button for you to put on your blog! Go grab it from my sidebar! Enjoy!


Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

{pumpkin pie has met its match}
I saw these when I was browsing... somewhere out there in cyberspace. And all it took was one look, and I was immediately head over heels and the site was saved in my bookmarks three seconds later. To say that I was excited to try this out, is an understatement. This definitely worked as a great test run for YW's In Excellence in two weeks- I'm in charge of treats, and I've been brainstorming ideas for the evening, and these I think are in my top 5. 
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon ginger
1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the frosting:
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 8oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325F. Combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a bowl, and whisk together. In another bowl, beat brown sugar and oil until combined, then add the pumpkin, and whisk together. Add vanilla and the egg, and mix again until combined. Fold in dry ingredients until incorporated. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Use a melon baller (or something that measures 2 tablespoons) to scoop the batter on to the cookie sheet- two inches apart. Bake for 9-10 minutes, OR until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cookies sit for 5 minutes before moving to a wire wrack to cool. 
To make the frosting, beat the butter until creamy, about 30 seconds, then add in the cream cheese. Beat on medium for about 1 minute until mixture is creamy and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat again until desired consistency. If too thick, add a couple teaspoons of milk and if too runny, add 1/2 cup powdered sugar. 

Once the cookies are cooled, and the frosting is all frosting-y, using a small spoon, scoop up some frosting and dollop it on the flat underside of one cookie, and sandwich it with another cookie, flat sides together. Repeat. If you wanted to get fancy, you could pipe the frosting.
Once they are all assembled, put them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving!

Just a tip: if the tops of your little cookies are a bit rigid from sticking to the utensil you used to scoop them onto the baking sheet- before baking, dip the tips of your fingers in water and smooth out the little peaks. 
Source: Teenie Cakes 



{oh my goodness i love thanksgiving}
This was my first time hosting Thanksgiving. You're thinking, 'Thanksgiving, on October 24th?'. Yes. I missed Canadian Thanksgiving, and here in Canada, American Thanksgiving isn't recognized, and you don't get time off of work. So we decided to do it yesterday, and it was a success! I have to admit, without Warren it wouldn't have happened... I gagged the whole time when he was playing with the bird before it was cooked. Blech! You laugh, but it's true. Also, let me tell you the secret that made our turkey especially delicious. Thanks to my good friend Erin, who sent me a link on to do this with a chicken, we now have a perfect recipe for turkey to go into our recipe collection. Boo ya! Want to know the secret? Okay, you twisted my arm. It's Mayo! Say what?! Yeah, Mayo.
Ingredients... really?
A turkey
a cup of Mayo
basic seasonings

What ya do is, once all the giblet bags are out (you're gonna wanna make sure it's thawed first), you are going to spread Mayo all over the turkey (minus the bottom, obviously). Then add your seasonings. I used thyme, some oregano, some garlic powder, and some salt and pepper. Cover with foil, then pop that bad boy into the oven and cook it for the time specified on the package. Best part... no basting needed!
Ta da!
Source: Rookie Cookie Roast Chicken   


Cranberry Pummmmpkin Bread

{tis' the freakin' season}
Can I just tell you how much I love pumpkin flavored anything? It's funny because pumpkin pie, is not my number one favorite. But put pumpkin in anything else, and I'm yours. I can't get enough of it! I especially love the way it makes your house smell. Reminds me of grandma's house during November and December. It's so welcoming and pleasant. I thought that breads like this were for experienced bakers only. To my surprise, it was quite easy-- minus of course, my big flaw of not cooking the first loaf entirely before taking it out of the oven. That's right my friends, this is the second loaf! The inside of the first loaf, literally was the same consistency of the batter that went into the oven in the beginning. I went ahead and did some research on why this happened, and what I could do to rectify it. So here is what I found:
Bread sticks to pan. Unless you're using high-quality nonstick metal or silicone baking pans, you should always grease the pans before you pour in the batter. The best thing to use for greasing the pan is shortening, because its melting point is higher than any other kind of fat, which helps maintain a "shield" between pan and batter while the bread is baking. A high-quality cooking spray--one that won't bake on to your pans and discolor them--is also a fast, easy fix. You can also prevent sticking by removing the bread from the pan sooner: let the bread cool for at least twenty minutes in order to set (Bundt loaves should cool twice as long) before inverting the pan.
There are big holes and "tunnels" in the bread, and/or the bread is tough. These problems are usually caused by over-mixing. See above, Mixing the Batter, about mixing technique.
There's a big crack down the middle of the quick bread loaf. The crack on top happens when top of the loaf "sets" in the heat of the oven before the bread is finished rising. Don't worry--it's normal for quick breads. Drizzle the loaf with icing or dust with confectioners' sugar.
The bread looks done on the outside but it's still raw in the middle. This is one of the most common quick bread problems, and it can be caused by a few different factors. The oven temperature could be too high. (Use an oven thermometer to check: they're cheap and available at most supermarkets.)
Try lowering the oven temperature and/or putting a loose tent of foil over the top of the bread so it won't burn before the middle has time to catch up.

Another cause of "raw center" syndrome could be using a different pan than the recipe calls for. One of the nice things about quick breads is that you can use the same batter to make muffins, mini loaves, jumbo loaves, or rounds. But each size requires different baking times--and some require different baking temperatures. The larger and thicker the loaf, the longer it's going to take to bake. If you're using a different size pan than your recipe calls for, adjust the baking time accordingly and check the bread often.
Taken from allrecipes.com. So... I had to try it again to prove that I could do it. And whadda know... it worked! I adjusted my oven temperature and I covered it with foil the last 10 minutes, and now I have yummy, yummy pumpkin bread to eat!
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (optional) (you could also throw in nuts and/or chocolate chips)

Cream butter, sugar, and eggs. Add pumpkin and mix; set aside. In another bowl sift flour, baking soda, and spices. Gradually add dry ingredients to creamy mixture. Mix until just blended. Fold in cranberries. Grease one loaf pan or four mini loaves. Pour batter into pans. For one loaf, bake at 350F for about 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean. For mini loaves, bake at 350F for about 35-40 minutes.

FYI... this makes a fantastic gift to give to your neighbors and friends!
recipe adapted from The Essential Mormon Cookbook.

Aunt Judi's Shepard's Pie

{thanks aunt judi!} 
A family recipe that I'm glad to finally have as part of my recipe collection. Mmm... it's so good. I was a bit skeptical because I'm not a fan of things that are too meaty. I like the taste and the flavor but sometimes it's just too much for me, and I end up picking it out and eating around it. This was perfect. Not too much, and it had just enough mashed potatoes to balance it out! Give it a whirl, I'm guessing you'll love it, too!
1 lb. lean ground beef sirloin
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 cup fresh or frozen peas (or you could use green beans...)
1 8oz can Tomato Soup
6 potatoes, peeled, boiled, and mashed (or 8 servings of instant mashed potatoes)
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Brown ground beef in oil, then add onion, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook until onion is tender. Drain. Put into a greased 9x13 baking dish. Top with peas (or green beans). Spread/pour tomato soup over peas. Top with mashed potatoes. Then sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes, or until it's bubbly on the sides the cheese is melted.


A Couple New Things!

You may or may not have noticed my flood of posting I've done in the last couple weeks. First I have to say thanks to all my close friends who graciously accepted the mission to help me eat it all before it went bad! Second, all the posting wasn't just an accident. I'm going to be going on hiatus for a couple of weeks due to some traveling back to the States. A lot has been happening in my family and the baking and cooking kind of helped me cope with it. Once I get back, things will pan out a little with a couple posts a week, more or less depending on special events- unlike lately, where I've had to stagger the blogging as to not overwhelm my readers ;).

I've added a couple new things to my blog... You'll notice at the end of each post are 3 other posts that are similar to that post, and a list on the side bar of the most popular posts. I thought this would make me look more "official" and also to help organize things and make it easier for people to navigate their way around.

Also on my side bar, you'll notice I now have sponsors. They are great people and I can't thank them enough! I'm still working on adding the rest of them, only a few are posted as of right now. If you have any questions about my sponsors (who they are, and what they do) let me know, or you can click on their pictures and that will link you to them directly. ALSO if you would like to become an awesome sponsor, please contact me via email k[dot]thompson[at]aggiemail[dot]usu[dot]edu.

Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for reading!


Soft Pretzels

{i could just eat these all day}
I have to give credit to my dear hubby, Warren, for coming up with the idea of making pretzels. It was his idea. I hate to admit it, but that's what we had for dinner... straight pretzels. Sad, huh? Oh the joys of being poor married students- livin' on a prayer, baby!
For the dough:
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
4 1/2 cups flour
4 tablespoons melted butter
veggie oil for greasing the bowl

Cooking spray
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel or Kosher Salt

In a medium bowl, combine water, sugar, salt and yeast. Mix with mixer on low to dissolve yeast. Add in flour and melted butter and mix until just before dough starts to come together. Then add dough to your awesome 1980's Bosch mixer, using the bowl fitted for the dough hook (or if you are living in today's world, your Kitchen Aid mixer with dough hook). Mix until dough comes together and clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Transfer dough to a bowl lightly greased with veggie oil, turn once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 50-55 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 450F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray. Bring the 10 cups of water and baking soda to a boil in a large pot.

Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope shape about 20-24 inches long. Make a "U" shape, and then twist, pinching the ends down to secure (you all know how to make a pretzel shape... we've all watched the guy do it at the Pretzel place in the mall). Don't judge my kitchen... or my husband who has his tongue sticking out.

Once each piece is in the shape of a pretzel, pop one or two in the boiling water. Keep it in there for 30 seconds, removing it using a slotted spatula. Place it back on the parchment paper. Once they have all had their boiling bath, brush them with the egg wash and sprinkle with salt. Then bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown or darker on the edges. Let cool before eating!
Serve with whatever you like to eat them with... my top favorites are cream cheese with marinara, nacho cheese, caramel, and chili (weird, huh?).

Directions for freezing:
You can do this many ways, they all work just fine. After the dough was split into 8 pieces, I froze them just in their ball form. You can also twist and boil them, and then freeze, so you just have to bake them straight from the freezer. I don't, however, recommend baking them and then freezing because reheating causes them to be tough and chewy.

Source: Annie's Eats via Alton Brown

Stuffing & Mashed Potato Cupcakes, anyone?

{i have no idea what to call these- other than delicious}
I saw these on one of my new favorite foodie blogs, way far back in her archives. I must have been looking for something specific. With Thanksgiving coming up (Canadian Thanksgiving is just around the corner) these looked and sounded wonderful, not to mention EASY and ADORABLE!

1 box Turkey Stuffing (and the ingredients to make it)
4 servings of instant mashed potatoes (or the real stuff depending on how much time you have) (and the ingredients to make it)
1 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar)
Dried Parsley 

What ya do is: Prepare stuffing as per directions. Spray cupcake pan with cooking spray. Scoop a spoonful of stuffing into each little cupcake slot, and press the stuffing down so not to have air pockets, like this:

Then make your mashed potatoes (or if you are making them scratch, you probably would have wanted to start making them hours ago). Once your mashed potatoes are done, scoop a spoonful and plop it on top of the stuffing in each cupcake slot. Press down. If you have left over potatoes you can obviously add more to each cupcake. Sprinkle with cheese and Parsley. Bake for 10 minutes at 325F. Goes great with turkey for Turkey Day! 
Source: The Ungourmet


Cream Cheese Brownies

{it's okay, they are cooked all the way this time}
I just have to say thank you to my wonderful oven and kitchen, for being on good terms with me right now. Without them on my side, these brownies would have come out gooey, and uncooked and unprepared to be eaten. Thank you! Seriously, some days that's what it feels like. I know I'm only limited in my skillz (ya like that?) but really, sometimes I know it's not entirely my fault. Luckily for me (and anyone else who eats these) everything was in perfect working order.
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup all purpose flour

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

In a medium sauce pan, bring to a boil: sugar, water and butter. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips, stir until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and stir until completely blended together. Then add flour and baking soda, mix well. Pour into greased 8x8 inch baking dish. To make the topping, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Then add sugar, vanilla and egg and beat again until completely smooth and blended. Spoon small amounts on to brownie batter, evenly. Once the cream cheese layer is spread over the brownie batter, take a small knife or a toothpick and make cool designs on the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 325F, or until brownies set up. Use a toothpick to determine when brownies are finished. Let cool and serve.

Brownie source from allrecipes.com "mmm... brownies"  
Cream cheese topping from Joy Of Baking

Snickers Cupcakes

{cupcakes sent from heaven}
I saw these on Annie's Eats, and I just had to make them! So I gave it a whirl only I simplified them because again, I'm not having much luck with cakes from scratch. 
1 Chocolate Cake Mix- any flavor you'd like, really! (and the ingredients to make it)
5 Regular size Snicker Bars, cut into chunks
1/3 cup Caramel sauce (you can make your own if you feel so inclined, but I used the Smucker's brand)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup caramel sauce
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Bake your cupcakes per directions on box. Once they are cooled. Cut a cone shape out of the top center of each cupcake. In a medium bowl, mix 1/3 cup of caramel sauce with Snickers Bars, enough to coat. Then scoop a spoonful of candy mixture into each hollowed out cupcake, like this.
To make the frosting, mix butter with electric mixer for 2-3 minutes on medium or until butter is smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add vanilla, caramel and mix until blended, then whip in heavy cream until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Decorate cupcakes however you wish! ... And don't forget to garnish with more Snickers Bars!

Source: Annie's Eats

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