Monday, January 28, 2008

Lowcountry Cookies

You know I love Paula Deen, but I also love coconut and pecans. So these LowCountry Cookies seemed like the perfect, right-up-my-alley kind of dessert. And they are incredibly easy!

I had no clue what "lowcountry" meant. So, of course, I went to Wikipedia for an answer:
"Lowcountry cuisine is the cooking traditionally associated with the South Carolina Low Country. While it shares features with Southern cooking, its geography, economics, demographics, and culture pushed its culinary identity in a different direction from regions above the fall line."

This region includes Savannah, which of course is why it's one of Paula's recipes.

Here's The Recipe (found on food network):

1 (16-ounce) box graham crackers
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup or 3 (1/2-ounce) cans shredded coconut

2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla 4
tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
3 tablespoons milk

For the filling:
Line a 13 by 9-inch pan with whole graham crackers. Melt the butter in saucepan and add sugar. Beat the egg and milk together; add to butter mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add the nuts, coconut, and 1 cup graham cracker crumbs. Pour over the crackers in the pan. Cover with another layer of whole graham crackers.

For the topping:
Beat all the ingredients together and spread over top layer of crackers. Chill. Cut into squares.

Here's What I Got:

I got prepped for the filling by lining my pan with graham crackers and measuring out all my ingredients:
They might as well put this picture in the dictionary under "Paula Deen":
The combined butter, egg, milk, graham cracker crumbs, pecans, and coconut. This stuff was seriously good to lick off the spoon:
Get ready to drown the crackers in pecan gooey goodness:
Looks mushy, tastes delicious:
Create another layer of graham crackers over the filling:
Who doesn't love icing?! This stuff was EASY. Just combine quick and pour:
The icing poured right on top of the second layer of graham cracker:
It's time to chill!! You have to get these things cold so they stick together. If you happened to be in St. Louis over the weekend, a garage works perfectly as a fridge!

The finished product. DELICIOUS!

What I learned:
- Do everything the EXACT same way next time. These were VERY sweet but oh-so-good.
- You must keep them stored in the fridge
- Dip left over grham crackers in the icing while you are waiting for the bars to chill
- I saw a review of this recipe that recommended using chocolate and marshmallows instead of the pecans and coconut to make smores cookies. I think they would be awesome!
This was a fun recipe to make over the weekend with my Mom. Stay tuned.... caramel cinnamon rolls coming soon!! (I took a bread making class, watch out!)

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, January 18, 2008

My Favorite Coffee Cake...In Muffin Form?!

I am really striking out lately on presentation, as you will find out in just a second. But I'm learning and that is what this is all about. Next time, these lil' guys should just look killer.

So, I LOVE LOVE LOVE my mom's recipe for sour cream coffee cake. It's deliciously unhealthy and yummy. It's basically pound cake that you justify eating for breakfast by calling it coffee cake. So, I thought to myself, how cute would it be if they were made in little muffin tins instead of the standard 9 x 13. I was trying to be adventurous, and it turned out ok. I just had a bit of trouble with the topping. However, for round one (an experiment) I think it went well and I WILL make these again after adjusting the recipe to what I've learned.

WARNING! NOT POINTS FRIENDLY ON WEIGHT WATCHERS. But, nice small single servings so you don't over indulge.

I don't remember the recipe. I will post it once I find the piece of paper. I do know it has all the goodness you could ask for in a cake, eggs, butter, sour cream, flour, sugar, vanilla, baking powder, salt..etc. It makes a REALLY THICK batter (which tastes really good on it's own) and then you mix together brown sugar and cinnamon to put on top. YUM.

Here's What I Got:

Don't they look yummy and adorable in the oven?! HA! Just wait till I try to take the suckers out:

The beginnings of the crumbly top nightmare. ALL OF THE TOPS FELL OFF!!!
So, I had to reaffix them or try and crumble up the cooked topping and put it back on the muffin.

They look a little bit better when you put them in a basket with a cute napkin:

Here they are the next day when I did some "recrumbling action." I took these to a work meeting, and everyone enjoyed them. Hooray!

What I learned:
- I cooked these a shade too long, probably only by 3 minutes or so
- I filled the muffin tins too high with batter. This caused the topping to stick to the outer rim of the muffin tin as it cooked, and pulled it off of the little cakes when I tried to get them out
- I need to press the topping into the batter.
- Next time I might try and make the crumbles I do for apple pie. With these crumbles, you cut in butter with flour, sugar and cinnamon. I think would help it "stick" better. Here's a picture from Thanksgiving so you can visualize:

This weekend, I might tackle scones or mini meatloaves!
Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Shepherds Pie...Oh My!!

I told you I would post anything, good lookin' or not, so here goes....

When I get home at 5, I tend to turn Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meals on. I like to watch how quickly she can chop things and most of the time her creations look quite delicious. Now, I always thought Shepherds Pie sounded gross, but on Monday I saw her make this delicious looking Smokey Turkey Shepherd's Pie and I realized all Shepherds Pie consists of is meat, veggies, and mashed potatoes. Sounds easy enough right?

All I can say is... 30 minute meals my behind!

This is defiantly not a dig on Rachel Ray, or the show, I love it but boy she moves a lot quicker than I can, and let's just say my Shepherd's Pie did not turn out even close to good looking, but at least it tasted good (boyfriend approved) and it fit into my daily points allowance on weight watchers with a few substitutions. Only 7 points for 1/9 of the casserole.

Here's the Recipe:
- 3 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
- Coarse salt
- 2 tablespoons EVOO - extra-virgin olive oil - 2 turns of the pan
- 1/4 pound smoky bacon or turkey bacon, chopped
- 1 1/3 pound ground turkey breast
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, available in small cans on spice aisle of market (You may substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons each sweet paprika and cumin combined)
- Coarse black pepper
- 2 tablespoons, 5 or 6 sprigs, fresh thyme leaves
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 ribs celery from the heart, chopped
- 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 cups frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup sour cream, divided
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 10 to 12 blades fresh chives, chopped or snipped

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, salt it, and cook the potatoes until tender, 12 to 15 minutes.

Heat a deep, large skillet over medium-high heat. Add EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, to the skillet. Add bacon and brown it up, then add ground turkey to the pan and break it up. Season the turkey with smoked paprika, salt and pepper and thyme. When turkey browns up, add: onions, carrots, celery. Season the veggies with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes, then add red pepper and peas cook another 2 minutes. Stir in flour and cook flour 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and combine. Add 1/2 cup of sour cream and combine. Simmer mixture over low heat. Preheat your broiler to high.

When potatoes are tender, add a ladle of cooking water to the egg. Drain potatoes and return to the warm pot to dry them out a little. Add remaining 1/2 cup sour cream, butter, half of the chives, and salt and pepper. Smash and mash the potatoes, mashing in the beaten, tempered egg. If the potatoes are too tight, mix in a splash of milk.

Pour turkey mixture into a medium casserole dish. Top turkey with an even layer of smashed potatoes and place casserole 5 inches from hot broiler. Broil the potatoes until golden at edges and remove the casserole from the oven. Garnish the casserole with the remaining chives and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.

What I did differently:
- I used extra lean ground beef instead of Turkey. The grocery store was out of ground turkey for the second time in a row! boo!
- I used reduced fat sour cream
- I used fat free chicken broth

What I did wrong:
- You say potato...I say disaster! PUT THE POTATOES ON FIRST THING. I was a little bit absent minded and forgot about the potatoes till mid way through the beef cookin' process. Not only did I put them on late, but I did not have NEARLY enough potato for the liquids you add in according the the recipe. I should've sliced up two more potatoes. Having the potatoes go on late wasn't all bad because it let the beef mixture thicken up a bit, but boy were they RUNNY!

- Broiler Boo Boo...I have never used a broiler. Remember, I'm really new to this cooking thing. Let's just say my pie was very very crusty on top! I left it in there waaaay too long.

- I am very happy the the tragedies of the recipe had nothing to do with my substitution

Here's What I Got: (Warning...looks gross, tastes me)

Meat Mixture Simmering:
The bacon and smokey seasonings in this really made my kitchen smell wonderful.

Potato Soup instead of Mashed Potatoes:

Ready for some toppin'...

Those are not delicious cheesecake brownies, that is one charred set of soupy mashed potatoes!

Luckily, it peeled off quite easily:

Salvaged Finished Product: YUM!

What I Learned:
- Don't leave anything in the broiler for very long!
- Next time, I'll start my potatoes early and be generous with the amount used
- Seasonings REALLY make a recipe delicious. The Thyme, Cumin, Paprika, and S&P make this seriously jam packed with delicious flavor

Let me know if you've had any similar tragedies ;)

Thanks for stopping by!


Friday, January 11, 2008

Spaghetti Squash, I just can't make up my mind...

I know I'm late to jump on the bandwagon but tis the season for healthy eatin so....I made spaghetti squash for the first time and it was quite the easy process, after I got the darn thing cut open! I'm just no so sure I'm hip to the flavor. I'm thinking it's not the squash itself that is putting me off. It's what I put on top.

I topped mine with butter, salt, pepper, and some Parmesan cheese. What do you think would be better? Tomato based sauce, Italian dressing? What do you put on your spaghetti squash? I'm thinking a garlic and olive oil sauce with tons of chopped up cooked veggies could be yummy. I saved the leftovers, I think that's what I may do.

Here's what I got:

That's one big squash!

I cut the squash in half length-wise. This would have been very comical for someone to watch. Luckily, I live alone.

Here's what all the guts look like.

According to the directions that come on a little sticker when you buy the squash, I placed in a dish, cut side down, with 1/4 cup of water, covered with plastic wrap and microwaved for 1o minutes. You can also bake, but I was on my way to bowling with friends so there was no time!

You spoon out all the seeds and goop and then pull the sides off with a fork. It shreds out just like pasta.

What I learned:
- Get Saucy! I have GOT to put something else on here besides just some Parmesan cheese.
- Ask for help! What should I put over all this squash?!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

My 1st non-recipe experience- FAJITAS!

I went to the grocery store this week, after swiftly returning to weight watchers post-holidays. I bought tons of fresh meat and veggies with ZERO plan of what I was going to make with them. I wanted to do something on the lighter side, and being that I'm very much a beginner in the kitchen, I thought I'd give fajitas a go.

Here's what I made:
-Chicken Fajitas with onions & green peppers
- Pico de Gallo creation
- Mexi rice with Corn

Here's what I got:

Some of the elements. I love when I actually have fresh produce!

In a pan I grilled together:
- One garlic clove minced. I used the trick I see on food netowrk where they smash the garlic clove with the side of a large knife. It worked wonderfully.
- 2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts thawed and cut in strips
- Half of white onion, sliced
- One large green pepper, sliced
- Cumin, Cayenne Pepper, and S&P, to taste

While the chicken was cookin' I got to working on my fajita fixins.I had tomato, onion, and cilantro. So I figured I'd mix that up with a little EVOO to make a little pico de gallo. Next time, I will add chilies and lime juice.

I also shredded some spinach leaves and grated half a block of colby jack cheese for toppings

I got those ready on plates so the boyfriend and I could fix ourselves dinner "buffet style." I microwaved flour tortillas for 15 seconds.

Here's an assembled fajita. I topped with reduced fat, or lite, sour cream.

All rolled up and ready for eatin'!

We finished the plate of with mexican rice. I can't lie, all I did was buy "mexican style" Rice a Roni and added in a can of sweet corn. Next time I'd like to conquer the rice on my own and make it taste a bit more like it does at my favorite mexican place!

What I learned:

- Next time I will prepare a marinade for the fajita meat and let it sit for a few hours
- I will add chilies and some spice to the pico de gallo
- I might experiment with wheat or other types of tortillas
- It was delicious to put a little bit of rice into the fajita, which really just makes it more like a burrito "california style"

All in all this was a YUMMY meal, and I stayed on plan with weight watchers and used only my allotted points for the day. Even cooking healthy can be quite delicious!

Thanks for stopping by!