Monday, July 21, 2008

Lunch Lady Bars, a recipe by Mrs.Lee, a nestie

As soon as I saw the recipe and picture of these delightful little cookies in Mrs.Lee's blog, I saved the recipe because I knew that I would be trying them soon. I wanted to make some chocolate chip cookie bars because I figured that they would hold up better for travel and not crumble as easily as "regular" chocolate chip cookies. I immediately thought of this recipe, tucked away in my google documents just waiting for the day that I needed it.

This recipe came out great!!! I made them on Saturday night and let them cool completely before I cut them. I cut them in about 1 1/2 X 1 1/2 inch squares because these cookies are very thick. I don't have an exact amount of time that I baked them because I baked them for 15 minutes and then monitored them after that until they were done, but I would estimate that it took 24-26 minutes. I wanted to make sure that they were good and baked through in the middle and they turned out perfectly.

I would recommend trying this recipe soon. I know I'll be making them again once my husband gets back and can help me eat them!

Here is the link to Mrs.Lee's blog with pictures and recipe:

Dried Fruit Muffins... there's nothing dry about these!

I made these yesterday morning to send with my husband on his trip, but I had to keep a few for myself. My husband is notoriously NOT a morning person, but he needed to leave early for his trip and I have found that if he smells something yummy in the oven it helps to wake him up. While the fruit in these muffins may be dry, the muffins themselves are moist and delicious. I will definitely be making these again, possibly even tonight to freeze since I accidentally bought a 16 oz. container of sour cream instead of 8 oz. For the fruit I used Cherry Berry Blend that I got at Publix and for the nuts I used Walnuts. I really would have liked to use Almonds since they are my favorite but I was all out.

This recipe says that it makes 12 muffins. It really probably technically makes 14 or 15 muffins because after filling my muffin tins I still had plenty of batter left over. So, I just filled each one a little more and they came out HUGE. They stayed together well though and I didn't have any problems with the centers being undercooked while the outsides are overcooked, like you can sometimes have with big muffins like this.

Dried Fruit Muffins
Source: Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook Cook for the Cure (the pink plaid binder cookbook)

Prep: 20 minutes Bake: 20 minutes Oven: 400 degrees Makes 12 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or nutmeg (I used 1/4 teaspoon of each)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup dried cherries, apricots, raisins, and/or cranberries, or dried blueberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, or hazelnuts, toasted
Sugar (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line twelve 2 1/2 inch muffin cups with paper bake cups; set aside. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda; set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1 cup sugar; beat until well combined. Beat in eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until just moistened (batter should be lumpy). Stir in dried fruit and nuts.

3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each almost full. If desired, sprinkle with additional sugar. bake about 20 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cusp; serve warm.

Sending off the husband with some homemade goodies

This week my husband is out of town for work. All week he will dine on steak, ribs and other very expensive, very bad for your things thanks to the project manager's company credit card. I, however, am convinced that he should always be sent off with some homemade goodie to remind him of home, and of me. Before my husband started traveling, and I would see Ina make Jeffrey treats when either of them was going to be gone I thought "get a grip Ina he's a big boy I'm pretty sure he can figure out how to feed himself," but now that my husband travels I understand wanting to send him off with something that reminds him of me.

This time he took:
Lunch Lady Bars (see post above)- basically really yummy chocolate chip cookie bars
Homemade popcorn (not the microwave stuff from a bag)
Dried Fruit Muffins (see post above)- he was leaving early in the morning so I packed some muffins that I made that morning for the road and for breakfast during the week
Cherry tomatoes- I cracked out and bought these for him forgetting that he was leaving so I decided to pack those for him too.

I packed all of this up in a large paper bag from the grocery store so it looks like a really big bagged lunch. Someone already made a comment about his "goodie" bag... they are just jealous.

I can't wait until he gets home. I don't like being separated from him and our girls always go crazy!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bacon, Egg and Chese Strata a recipe from aggiesgirl, a nestie

Are you all getting tired of the nestie recipes yet? :-) Like I said I have been doing a lot of cooking from my google documents, where I store all those great recipes that I find in the nestie blogs.

On Friday we went over to our friends' house for dinner and the wife made her famous challah, which happens to be one of my husband's favorite things ever. She always sends us home with 1/2 a loaf and my favorite thing to do with it is make french toast. If you have never had challah french toast, you do not know what you are missing. Well my husband had to work this weekend and I didn't want to make the french toast just for myself so I started thinking about what I could make with it that I could take to my husband's work to have lunch with him before my pizza making class at Williams Sonoma that afternoon.

I remembered saving some strata recipes to my google documents so I located those and found one for bacon, egg and cheese strata and thought that it would be perfect to make since I had all of the ingredients and my husband LOOOOOOVES bacon. I also really liked that I could prep it the night before and then bake it in the morning. This transported really well and was still warm after transporting it 30 minutes away (I covered it with aluminum foil).

I didn't have enough bread to make a 9X13 pan of this so I used my 8X8 and luckily my husband was there to help me figure out how much of everything to use because otherwise I would still be standing in my kitchen trying to figure it out. :-)

Here is the link to aggie's blog with the recipe: (it is the bottom recipe) Thanks for a great recipe!

Bourbon Chicken, a recipe from Krashed, a nestie

When I was dating my husband and we would hang out at his parents' house his mom would often make big dinners that would take a while to cook and fill the entire house with yummy smells that would make my tummy rumble and just generally drive me crazy with wanting. I told her that these were "mean meals" because I always had to suffer a little before eating them, but that in the end the wait was well worth it.

Well for me, Bourbon Chicken is a "mean meal" it just smells so dadgum good while it is cooking that I had to resist the urge to eat it before it was done. I even told my husband at one point "I don't care how hot that pan is and if I burn off ever single taste bud I have in the process I am going to the kitchen right now to lick every bit of the sauce out of that pan because I can't wait anymore."

Well, I didn't go and burn my tongue on the sauce but I sure was tempted. Thankfully this was even better than I could have imagined. My husband and I both ate in complete silence because we were too busy savoring every bite to talk. When we were done my husband said "you're making this again, right?" He is such a picky eater than when I find an easy to make meal that he really likes I am happy to add it to the regular rotation (I usually make one rotation meal a week and the rest of the time we try something new).

In this case he asked me to make it his welcome home dinner for when he gets back from out of town. I will be happy to, but I wish I didn't have to wait that long to have it again!

Here's the link to Amber's (Krashed) blog with the recipe:

Falling off the bone chicken wings, a recipe from bunney, a nestie

This was so good that my husband and I were both disappointed that I didn't make more. I got 20 whole wings on sale for under $6.00. That means that I got a 40 piece "order" of wings for $6.00. At a restaurant that would be at least $20.00! I didn't fix all of those at once, I divided them into three meals and froze two and just fixed six wings (12 pieces) for this recipe.

I like flats and my husband likes the drumettes so this really works out because we can both get only the things that we like. My husband is going out of town on Sunday and will be gone for a week and he asked that I fix this for him before he leaves even though we just had it last week. I have already starred this recipe in my google documents because I know I will be making it often.

Here is the link to the recipe on bunney's blog. Thanks bunney for a great recipe!

Perfect Pan-Seared Steak, a recipe from mlr513, a nestie!

Over the last couple of weeks I have tried several recipes from other nesties that we have really, really enjoyed so I decided to blog about them all separately otherwise this one post would seem to go on forever. First I am going to blog about my dinner last night. I was reading the blog and came across a recipe for Perfect Pan-Seared Steak. I had a sirloin steak in the freezer so I thought that would be perfect for dinner. It was really great. The flavor was excellent, there was a nice crispy crust on the outside, while the inside was moist and tender. I couldn't have asked for a better steak. Even my husband, who thinks that a steak isn't a steak unless it is grilled, said "this is better than grilled."

Thanks for a great recipe!

Side note: I do not have any cast iron. I just used my big heavy stainless steel skillet that is oven proof to make this.