14 November 2010

My crazy, happy, psychotic med school life

I haven't posted on here in forever... which makes me sad because that means I haven't cooked in forever.

I made some pumpkin cupcakes a couple weeks back for some of my classmates (huge hit! yay!), and I will probably post the recipe around Thanksgiving, when I will have the most glorious five days off.

Aside from studying 24/7, I have finally found my "niche" in medical school.  It took a lifetime of hard work, and two very trying years to get in... But after finishing our first module of med school and starting the second, I have to say I am the happiest I have even been in my life, which probably is mostly due to certain people in my class that make it easy to get out of bed at the awful hour of 6:30am and stay up studying until well after midnight.

My life is now summed up by many late nights of crazy 1st years blaring the Backstreet boys and dancing at 12:30am in Volker Hall (the med school building) to my now routine mental breakdown before every exam... but it's all worth it because one glorious day (about 10 years down the road) I will finally be able to setup a practice and do what I love, helping others.

Happy baking,

PS. I have to admit I went against my own rule and broke the cardinal sin... I bought brownie mix in a box... which I intend to make at some point this week... I am ashamed, and next time, they will be homemade... I swear!!

09 September 2010

Chocolate Tart

Needless to say, med school is intense.  My posts are going to be few and far between except for breaks... One thing I look forward to every week is our Thursday night "supper club".  There is a group of 7 that rotates cooking for each other every week... it's a nice thing to look forward to once a week.  For my week I made steak and blue cheese tacos and this amazing chocolate tart for dessert.  I didn't take many pictures because I was crunched for time.  I have to warn you, this tart takes a lot of time and patience! BUT, if you can get through it, the end result is sooo worth it!

I got this recipe from Tyler Florence, off of Food Network.  Please, serve with some cool whip and a large glass of milk!

Ingredients for crust:
2 cups all purpose flour
3T sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold, and chopped into squares
1 large egg, seperated
2T ice water, plus more if needed

Directions for crust:
1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in large mixing bowl.  Add butter and mix with pastry cutter, until it resembles coarse crumbles.
2. Make a well in the middle of the pastry.  Combine the egg yolk with the ice water, whisk to blend.  Pour mixture into well and mix until it all comes together.  Squeeze a small amount together, if it is still really crumbly, add more ice water.
3. Form dough into disk, and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.
4. Roll out dough into a 12 in circle, that is 1/4in thick.  Carefully roll dough into tart pin.  Press dough neatly into all edges and then shave off the excess crust.  Place tart in refrigerator for 15 mins to let it relax.
5. Preheat oven to 350.  Place tart on a cookie sheet.  Layer the crust with aluminum foil and place pie weights (or I use uncooked red beans) on top of the crust.  Bake for 30 mins.
6. Remove the aluminum foil and weights.  Brush top of crust with a beaten egg white.  Bake for 8 more mins or until lightly golden in color.

Ingredients for Tart:
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
10 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2T sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs at room temperature

Directions for Tart:
1. Heat the cream and milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it simmers slightly along the edges.
2. Remove from heat, add chocolate and stir until it is all melted.
3. Add sugar and salt and whisk until incorporated.
4. Beat eggs in a small bowl, add them to the chocolate mixture, and whisk until incorporated.
5. Pour filling into a cooled tart pan and bake at 325 for 20-25 mins (mine took more like 40mins).  Stop baking when the filling is set and the top looks glossy.  If there are any cracks or many bubbles on the surface, take out the tart.
6. Cool and serve with whip cream!!!

Happy Baking!!

24 July 2010

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Thought I would post a little something sweet for a nice weekend treat :)  I made these cupcakes for my friend Libby's birthday a few weeks ago.  If you like chocolate and cheesecake then you will LOVE these, because it's a mixture of both :)  And add some cream cheese frosting... even though they are already pretty sweet, I just think it gives them a little something extra!

The recipe makes 12 cupcakes and is from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook!  Some advice on these, even though there is cream cheese in the frosting don't refrigerate them... I think it takes away the moistness in the cake!

Chocolate Cake Base:
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 T sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1.5 tsp distilled white vinegar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup water

Cream Cheese filling:
4.5 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2.3 cup chocolate chips

For Chocolate Base:
1.  Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, and baking soda in a large bowl and mix with a handheld mixer on slow speed until all dry ingredients are incorporated.

2. Put the oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water in a glass and whisk to combine.  Slowly incorporate this into the dry ingredients, increasing the speed of the mixer as it thickens.  Continue beating until just incorporated and spoon batter into cupcake pan.

The mixture will be very thick!

For Cheescake Filling:
1.  Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, vanilla, and salt.  Beat on medium-slow speed until smooth and fluffy. 

2.  Stir in chocolate chips by hand until evenly dispersed (don't overmix!!!).  Scoop 1 T of filling on to pf the cupcake batter in the cases.

3.  Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for ~20 mins. 

4.  Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting!

Happy baking and have a great weekend!

16 July 2010

I LOVE the beach!

Wednesday my family and I drove down to Destin, Fl to relax and have a few days in the sun!  The good news?  There is absolutely no oil on the beach!  I am told there hasn't been any yet this far down the coast, and hopefully it won't reach here as the beaches are beautiful!

Last night we drove to Grayton Beach to eat at The Red Bar... and let me tell you it is The most delicious place down here!  I was planning on taking pictures to post up here, but we got seated fast, the food came out faster, and I was too hungry to stop and photograph lol... but if you're ever within a 30 mile radius, it's really worth the drive.

Tonight my aunt and uncle are driving over from Daphne to eat out... I will try to photograph tonights food, where a large plate of amazing swordfish is calling my name!

Hope everyone has a great weekend! I will be moving into my new aparment in Birmingham on Sunday/Monday and then starting med school in one week (ahhh)... but I'm so excited to finally get started!

12 July 2010

The Big Apple

I thought I would share some of my pictures from my trip to NYC to see my friend Mallory... it was more like a sorority reunion, aka we had soo much fun!
Of course we had to celebrate me getting into medical school! We were at a pub on the Upper West Side.

Serendipity was soo good! Advice, arrive before it opens if you don't want to wait four hours!  I have to try and make their frozen hot chocolates... they are HUGE!

Brooklyn Bridge!

Times Square!

View from central park!

We had so much fun while we were there, and it was great to see Mallory!!

I am leaving for the beach Wednesday.  Hopefully there won't be any oil :(((

11 July 2010

Oh my! Sweet apple pie!

So I'm sorry for the almost month long break in blogging.  Apperently when you get into medical school you can't just sit back and enjoy the few weeks of freedom, because there is a massive checklist of stuff you have to complete... in just two weeks! But I am finally done, and except for packing and moving back to Birmingham, my last 2 weeks of freedom should be nice and relaxing!!

For Father's day I made my Dad homemade apple pie, one of his all time favorite desserts!  This recipe is from the amazing Martha Stewart from her cookbook, The Baking Handbook.

I have to say, it was definiately a hit that I will be making again and again, so you should try it out... and please, serve it was some good, cold vanilla ice cream... it just adds to the flavor!

3 T all purpose flour
2 frozen pie crusts, thawed
1 large egg yolk
1 T heavy cream
3 lbs assorted apples (Granny Smith, Fuji, Macoun, Courtland, etc.)
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
1 T unsalted, cold butter, cut into small pieces
extra sugar for sprinkling

1.  On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll out one disk of dough to a 12-inch round.  Sweep off extra flour with a pastry brush.  Fit the dough into a 9in glass pie dish, and press it to the sides.  Allow 1/2 in to hang off the edge, all around.  Chill for 30 mins, until the dough is firm.

2.  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and cream and set aside, this is the egg wash to be used later.

3.  Peel and chop the apples.

4. In a large bowl, toss together the apples, lemon juice, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Arrange these in the chilled pie shell.

5.  Dot all over with the cold, choppped butter.

4.  Brush rim of pie shell with egg wash.  Place the second piece of dough on top, and gently press over apples.  Trim dough to a 1in overhang.  Tuck dough under and crimp edge if desired.

5.  Brush entire surface of pie with egg wash and sprinkle genrously with sugar.  Cut three vents into top to allow steam to escape.  Freeze until firm, about 30 mins.

6.  Preheat oven to 400, with the rack in the lower third of the oven.  Place pie on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20 mins, or until the crust starts to turn golden brown.  Reduce oven temp to 350 and continue baking, rotating the pan halfway through, for 40-50 mins or until the crust is a deep golden brown and the juices have thickened and are bubbling.

7.  Transfer pie to wire rack and allow to cool completely.  It can be stored at room temp for up to 2 days covered loosely in plastic wrap, but it is best when eaten the same day as cooked.

Happy Baking!

15 June 2010

Life Updates!

So a few life updates... I got back from NYC yesterday after a whirlwind day of flying that included flight cancellations, re-routing through DC, running in the airport, and 2 drives back and forth to Birmingham, but I'm home.  Pictures to come later.

More importantly though, I got into med school!!! So I will begin school at UAB School of Medicine July 26th... there goes the next for years of my life... but sooo worth it!  I already have a roomate and will finalize my apartment on Friday, so everything is finally coming together!

Our kitchen is almost done, so I will finally be able to bake... that is after the dishwasher is installed back in.  After the look my Dad gave me when I told him I was going to bake before it was installed, I thought it better to wait.... because he does dishes in our house.

Well hopefully I will be able to post again soon!

02 June 2010

Chicken Poppyseed Casserole

So if you were born even remotely near the south, you have heard of/eaten chicken poppyseed casserole.  When I came home from work today, I was fully expecting yet another set of take out menus placed on the kitchen table for me to pick from... and my body was silently preparing itself for the billion miles I would have to run to work off said takeout.  BUT, I amazingly came home to find my Mom getting out the ingredients to make the one and only casserole I will eat... I swear I'm not a picky eater, I just reallyyy don't like casseroles for some reason... probably because I have been force fed them my entire life.

Anyways, this recipe is from my sister-in-law Kristin... The first time I put it in my mouth, something like this was said, "OMG this is like crack.... (big mouth full of food)... you just can't stop eating it".  Then I began making it for friends. Again. And again. And again.  Concensus?? Everyone agrees.  Just try it. Love it.  Die.  Then try it again.

PS.  We still don't have an oven, but we finally got a convection oven!!! YAY!! real food will be made again! And I can start posting recipes!!

3-4 chicken breasts
8oz fat free sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup chicken broth
1.5 rolls of ritz crackers
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 T poppy seeds

1.  Place the raw chicken breasts in a pot filled with water.  Bring water to a boil.  Boil for 30 mins.  Once cooled off slightly, shread the chicken breasts.

2.  Preheat oven to 350.  Mix together the sour cream, chicken soup, chicken broth, and chicken breast pieces.  Set aside.

3.  Crush the ritz crackers and pour them into a bowl.  Pour the poppy seeds and melted butter over the crackers, mix together.

4.  Spray an 8x8 pan with Pam.  Layer half the cracker mixture on the bottom of the pan.  Top with all the chicken mixture.  Top with the other half of the cracker mixture.

5.  Bake for 30 mins.  You may have to cover the pan with aluminum foil if the crackers start to get too dark.  Serve with brown rice (trust me on this one) and enjoy!!!

Sorry there are no pictures... my camera died... sad day.

Happy Baking!!

PS. Countdown to NYC, 8 days!!!

30 May 2010


So, our kitchen now has flooring,  counters should come in this wednesday, and finally our oven will come in this week too!!! (Sooo excited, it's a double oven!!!)  So I will finally be able to begin baking again... yayy!!!!

Until then, here are some links to some awesome, healthy foods, courtesy of Hungry Girl!

In the mood for an AWESOME California Pizza Kitchen pizza?? Well, try this on for size, it only has 340 calories, compared to the actual one with 1,136 calories!!!

Click here for the recipe!

And if you have a sweet tooth, try these guilt free cupcakes!!!!  They have next to no calories.  I am going to bake these next week to try them out and will give you the results! Gah I can't wait to have an oven again!!

Click here for the recipe!

On June 9th I leave for NYC for 5 days of fun and a reunion with all my college girls!! I can't wait to post about all the goodies I will eat and everything I will see, so stay tuned!!

Happy Baking!

25 May 2010

The Destruction of our Kitchen...

Question:  Want to know what happens when you get a little ity bity leak underneath your dishwasher??

Answer: They have to not only take out your dishwasher, but also replace ALL the hardwood flooring in your house.  Which also involves ripping out alllll the cabinets.  Oh, and to top it all off my Mom decided to completely redo the entire kitchen... aka new appliances, granite countertops, strip wallpaper, paint walls.... the list goes on and on and on.

So, for the next two weeks (and the past week) the bottom floor of my house looks like a death trap war zone with random planks fitted into random places on the floor.

What does this all mean for my blog? Hiatus... again... no baking, nada... I may go insane, what will I do to relieve my stress??  Idk...  If the blog posts get exceedingly crazy, I'm sorry.  I will try to entertain you with my mundane annoying life in the meantime.

Mundane fact #1:  I hurt my knee at work today, pain shooting up and down my leg... who do I work for you may ask?? Oh, that would be the knee specialist at The Orthopedic Center, who didn't seem to care, fml.

18 May 2010

Making beautiful cupcakes!

Many big cities, and a bunch of smaller towns, have bakeries that make the most beautifully decorated cupcakes.  The worst part is that these cupcakes can cost anywhere between $3-6, each... and frankly, I think that is ridiculous when you can just decorate them yourselves.

I had to bake a bunch of cupcakes last week for people's birthdays, graduations, house warming gifts, etc.  For the first time, I didn't want to decorate them by hand with a knife, I wanted them to look like they were bought in those same stores that charge an outrageous amount of money.

SO, I made a TON of strawberry cupcakes and decorated them with vanilla buttercream icing.  The recipe for the cakes is found hereThis recipe made about 36 cupcakes total (remember it is cake flour and not all purpose flour).  The recipe for the buttercream can be found here.

One of the finished cupcakes!

To decorate the cupcakes you simply need the following: 1 icing decorating bag and the tip 2D made by Wilton, these can be found at Hobby Lobby or any cake decorating store (fyi, you do not need a coupler for this tip).

This is the 2D tip, it can also be used to make these flowers when decorating cakes!

These clear decorating bags can come in large packs, and are disposable or you can clean and reuse them like I do!

Now, like everything else when it comes to decorating, practice and a LOT of patience is necessary.  After the cupcakes have cooled you can use your 2D tip, fill the bag with icing, and begin decorating!

1.  Start with the tip pointing towards the outside of the cupcake.  Slowly begin to swirl the bag around from the outside-in, using medium pressure.  Make sure you decorate the uggliest cupcakes first, because if you're like me, they don't turn out looking very pretty!

These are sloppy... yucky... not swirled.  But it's okay!! I kept going!

2.  Keep practicing, and eventually they will look like these!

Just like the store ones :)

Happy Decorating!!

14 May 2010

Chocolate Chip Pie

Most families tend to have some sort of "secret family recipe" that they have always used.  Well, this could be said to be ours, since it is made for almost every family gathering.  The first time I made it for friends, I made it when I was living at the sorority house in college... needless to say it was devoured within 1 day (2 pies, 1 day, 4 girls, do the math).  Saying it is a huge hit everytime I make it is an understatement.

So I guess the recipe will no longer be a secret, but I have to share it with yall, because I love my readers... few though they may be!

Ingredients: (makes 1 pie)
1 defrosted pie shell (9in, not deep dish)
defrosted fat free cool whip
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 cup chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 325.  In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, melted butter, milk and vanilla extract.  Stir well.  After butter has cooled down some mix in the eggs (beaten already).

2.  Add the chocolate chips and pour it into the pie crust.

And to show that everyone makes mistakes... I accidently bought the deep dish pie crust. Oh well!

3.  Bake for 40-50mins, or until slightly browned on the top!  Serve warm with cool whip, enjoy!!

Happy Baking!!! And I hope everyone has a great weekend!

11 May 2010

Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding!

So this past wek has been insane! I have finished school and moved back home (boo).  Moving has been stressfull, to say the least, and my entire family is here visiting, so I have been super busy and not able to post, sorry!!

On Mother's day I made Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding from the cooking light cookbook!! So it's healthy... well healthier then normal.  It's very easy to make and tastes sooo good!  It is the perfect dessert to make for a dinner with friends or family because you can make it ahead of time and then place it in the oven when you're ready to eat!

The following recipe serves 2 ppl, so adjust the ingredients accordingly to the number of people you are serving.

1 3/4 cup of 1/2 in cubed Hawaiian Sweet Bread (at publix it comes in rolls by the bakery)
2/3 cup milk (i use skim or 2%)
2 T sugar
1.5 T unsweetend cocoa
1 T kahlua
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped (not chips)
2 T fat free cool whip, defrosted

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet, bake for 5mins of until lightly toasted.

2.  Combine milk and next 5 ingredients in a bowl, mix well with a whisk.  Add bread and toss gently to coat.  Chill for 30mins to 4 hours.

3.  Preheat oven to 325.  Divide half of the mixture between two 6-ounce ramekins coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle evenly with half of the chocolate.

4.  Divide remaining mixture between the ramekins.  Top with remaining chocolate.

5.  Place ramekins in an baking pan with hot water added to a depth of 1in.  Bake for 35 mins or until set.  Serve warm with cool whip topping!

Happy Baking, and happy belated Mother's Day to all of you amazing Mom's out there! (especially mine)

28 April 2010

Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies!

So, I am gaining an addition to my sorority family today, and have no money to buy her a big monogrammed gift.  So I am doing what I do best, bake.  In this case, I am baking her a TON of warm, amazing chocolate chip cookies.  And really, I think she will like them more than a Vera Bradley bag.... maybe.... oh well.

This recipe is from Alton Brown.. and the cookies have this cakey consistency.  They just may be the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever eaten.... And I have eaten a lot in my time, bonus? the batter is soooo good to snack on. And, lets be honest, who doesn't love to snack on cookie dough?!

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 and 1/4 cups bread flour (NOT all-purpose flour)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 and 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 T milk
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 375.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
2.  Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

3.  Pour melted butter into a mixing bowl.  Add sugars.  Cream together the butter and sugar.

4.  Add the egg, egg yolk, milk, and vanilla extract to the pan and mix together completely.

5.  Slowly add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and mix completely.

6.  Add the chocolate chips.  Chill the dough.  Then spoon it out onto parchment lined baking sheets, and bake for ~14mins.  Cool completely and store them in an airtight container.

I threw in some white chocolate chips too... because that's just how I felt in the moment... but still only added 2 cups of chocolate chips total.

Happy Baking!

26 April 2010


Sorry for not posting much lately, my life is slowly becoming more hectic... Last week I had an exam, this week I have an exam, and I am very, very, very sadly moving the following week... so life is, needless to say, crazy lately.  BUT, this week I will be baking two cakes!!! One for a friend simply craving a good, homemade yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  And the other for my Grandlil's 21st birthday (if you don't know what a grandlittle is, no worries... sorority thing)! But I am sooo excited about her birthday so she can finally come out with us instead of us trying to sneak her into bars, lol!

SO, sorry for the delay, but stay tuned later this week for more recipes...

PS. Olivia, I know you are out there, I know you are moving, text me an idea for your "apartment warming" present/cupcakes you have been asking me to bake for 2 weeks now, lol!

Hope everyone has a great week! Now, back to not procrastinating... I'm in the library... Sorry Mom...

21 April 2010


Sunday mornings are my lazy mornings... I do nothing but sleep in, possibly go to church (though I still haven't found a good one in this city), lay out by the pool, oh! and bake random things :)  This past Sunday, I decided I just wasn't really in the mood for my normal cereal/banana/coffee combo for breakfast, well except for the coffee... that's a necessity. 

I decided to make pancakes from scratch instead!! Of course I turned to my favorite rancher, Pioneer Woman, for a good, hearty (fatty... shhhh!) recipe to satisfy my need for breakfast rebellion.  I really think the reason I decided to bake was that I woke up at 8am... which NEVER happens on the weekend...  and I was slightly delirious.

Since I am not a morning person... at all... and I was only half way through my first cup of coffee (emphasis on the first cup... I did say I woke up at 8am, right??)  Well, I just didn't feel like walking down 3 flights of stairs and back up 3 flights of stairs to get my camera... SO, like the last post, I have no step by step pictures... but it's ok, I SWEAR this recipe is soo easy!!!  You don't need the pictures... it's that good!!

So this is the picture from PW's website of the AMAZING pancakes!!
3 cups plus 2 T cake flour (see below if you don't have any)
1/2 tsp salt
3 T baking powder
2 T sugar
2 cups milk
2 whole eggs
3 tsp vanilla
4 T butter

*This recipe makes enough to feed 6ppl, so you may want to half it or you will be standing over the stove for awhile*

1. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Mix together the milk, eggs, and vanilla in a seperate bowl.

3. Add wet ingredients slowly to dry ingredients, stirring very gently just until combined!

4. Melt the butter and add it to the batter, stirring gently to combine.

5. Cook on a greased skillet over medium-high heat.  I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to spoon the perfect amount of batter onto the skillet!!

Another awesome picture from PW... thanks Ree!

See?? You don't need pictures, this is the easiest recipe everrr. 

Oh almost forgot, if you do not have any cake flour, you can make it from all-purpose flour like I had to Sunday morning... because if I was to lazy to go get my camera, you know I was to lazy to go to Publix...

1 cup cake flour= 3/4 cup and 2 T all-purpose flour + 2 T corn starch... sift them together to get 1 cup!

Happy Baking!!

19 April 2010

Pasta with Mushrooms

So, this weekend I had some friends over for dinner on Saturday night.  After a little thought, I decided to make this Mushroom Rigatoni Bake... its easy, only takes a hour, and is from the Cooking Light cookbook... aka its a healthy pasta... that seems like an oxymoron, oh well.  It was fantastic though!!

Here's the thing though, I didn't take any pictures of it.... at all... You see, my friends were there, and I thought they would think I was reallyyy weird if I busted out my camera to take a picture of mushrooms in a pan... even though they all read my blog... oh well, one day I will not be camera shy!! When I make it again, I will post pictures.  Just trust me when I say you should make it!

This is the picture of it from the cookbook!!
8oz uncooked rigatoni, radiatore, or gigli pasta
2 tsp butter
1/4 cup shallots, sliced
12 oz mushrooms (cremini and shitaki)...I used the "gourmet mixed pack" at publix!
1 T chopped, fresh thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 T dry sherry (I used cooking sherry)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups 1% reduced fat milk
1 cups (4 oz) grated Asiago cheese
Cooking Spray

Directions: (Makes 4 servings)
1.  Preheat oven to 375.  Then cook the pasta according the directions on the box, just until al dente.  Set aside.

2.  Melt butter in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat.  Add shallots, saute 3 mins.  Add mushrooms, thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic.  Saute 8 mins.  Add sherry, cook 1 min, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat.

3.  Place flour in a dutch oven or a large pan over medium-high heat, and slowly add milk, whisking constantly.  Bring mixture to a boil, cook 1 min or until it's thick after it begins boiling.  Remove from heat, add half of the cheese (1/2 cup), stirring until melted.  Add mushrooms and pasta to the cheese mixture.  Tossing well to combine.

4.  Spoon mixture into an 8in baking dish.  Sprikle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese on top.  Bake for 30mins.  Then devour it in 15 mins like we did!!! 

Happy Baking!!

15 April 2010

Chicken Salad... the way I make it!

If you are from the South, or your name is Sarah, you consider chicken salad to be its own level on the food pyramid.  Seriously, name 5 people you know who hate it... I dare you! BUT, if you could only hear the stats from most restaurants, you may never buy it again... It's all in the sauce, these places LOAD up on the mayonaise, and they are NOT using the fat free mayo either..

Panera Bread: 680 cal, 26 g of FAT... why you ask? mayonaise...

Zoe's Kitchen: 365 cal, but 31 g of fat... aka 50% of daily fat intake... wayy too much!

Chick-fil-a: 500 cal, 20 g of fat, 95mg of cholesterol... that's a lot!

and the killer...
Arby's Pecan Chicken Salad: 870 cal, 44 g of fat... WTF!?

If these stats don't convince you, then you should try this recipe below... because not only is it low fat and easy to make, but it also tastes better than anything you will buy at the store!!

My Easy Chicken Salad Recipe:
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Grapes or Apples (or both)
Fat Free Mayonaise
Fat Free Sour Cream
Lemon Juice
Little bit of light brown sugar
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)

1.  Place your chicken breasts into a large dutch oven, cover with large amount of water.  Bring water to a boil.  Once it's at a boil, continue to cook for ~30-40 mins.  Remove from water and allow it to cool for a little bit.

2.  Cut up the chicken with two forks, or your fingers, whatever floats your boat.  Place in a large bowl.  Throw in your celery and apples/grapes/both.

3.  In a seperate bowl, make your sauce.  I never use exact amounts, but use a 2-1 mixture of mayo to sour cream.  Add 1 T lemon juice or vinegar, whichever you like better.  Then throw in 1 T or so of brown sugar... this counteracts the acidity of the lemon juice. 

4.  Mix the sauce together.  Taste it.  Add salt and pepper to your taste.  Add chopped dill and a couple sprinkles of tarragon... because fresh herbs just make everything taste better...

5.  Pour this over your chicken.  Mix it all together.  Then, and this is the most important part, refrigerate this for at least an hour or so before eating it... this allows all the different flavors to gel together and just taste yummy.

6.  Make yourself a sandwich (in which I use spinach and honey mustard) and eat up!!

Happy Baking!

14 April 2010

Wrap ideas!

So I am reallyyyy trying to lose these last 7 lbs that I swore to my personal trainer I would lose by December (just a little fyi... its April) so that when I come back to him in May we could work to lose the FINAL last 5 lbs.... so needless to say, I have some work to do.  Therefore, Welcome Back strict/evil diet!! (jk, its not that evil... just strict). 

So, part of my diet is seriously cutting back some carbs, keeping a food diary, limiting/cutting out my already limited alcohol intake (even though I enjoy pretending wine has 0 calories), and not snacking... serious problem with the last one.  SO, when I went to the grocery store yesterday, I brought back all the stuff for my awesome wraps!

Get the La Tortilla Factory wraps, they specialize in low-cal, low-carb wraps!!  On these wraps I put a spoonful or two or plain hummus, a large handful of spinach, a couple slices of tomato, and turkey or chicken.  Its good to have a least 3oz of turkey or chicken (not ham, too fatty), so you can get enough protein in you to keep you full!!  I eat this with a handful or cheddar rice cakes, an apple, or a small salad with low-cal dressing.  AND a large glass of water. 

Later today I am going to be making my homemade chicken salad, and giving you the god awful nutrition stats of store bought chicken salad to convince you to always make your own, so stay tuned!!

Happy Baking!

11 April 2010

Early Birthday Love.

So one of my best friends from college came home this weekend!!  She took a break from her new life in the Big Apple (totally jealous by the way) and came back to see friends and family, it was a great weekend!  Her birthday is at the end of April, so duh I wanted to celebrate it early so she could have cake with all of us.... so I baked an awesome chocolate cake with strawberry meringue buttercream frosting... so delicious.... just trust me.

The cake recipe I have already given before, so click here for it (for a 2 layer, 8in cake double the recipe).

The strawberry frosting has this really good, creamy texture that only Martha Stewart can achieve.  I'm uncertain about a lot of things in this world.. but this frosting isn't one of them... try it on something chocolate (because everything is better with chocolate.... I think I've said that before...).  And, of course, in honor of Mallory's birthday, drink it with some champagne, because that's what she does.

1.25 cups sugar
4 egg whites
3 sticks (1.5 cups) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
12 oz strawberry jam, pureed in a food processor

1. In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the sugar and egg whites.  Cook, whisking continuously, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.

2. Attach the bowl to the mixer with the whisk attachment, and beat on a high speed until it holds stiff, not dry, peaks.  Continue beating until the mixer is fluffy and cooled (~6mins).
You can tell when the peaks form, it will look like this when you put your finger into it.

3.  Switch to the paddle attachment.  With the mixer on a medium-low speed, add the butter a couple tablespoons at a time, it must be at room temperature, and beat well after each addition.  If the frosting seems to seperate after all the butter is added, mix on a medium-high speed for 3-5mins.

4.  Add the vanilla.  Beat on the lowest speed for a few mins to eliminate any air bubbles.

5.  Stir in the strawberry jam with a rubber spatula until frosting is smooth.
Just puree the jam first...

Pour it over the frosting...

And mix it all together!! (I only used about 3/4 of the pureed jam)

Frost the middle layer of your cake!

Then frost the rest of it...

Add some chocolate covered strawberries... some candles... and sing Happy Birthday!!!

Oh, and don't forget the champagne...it's a celebration after all!!!

Happy Baking and Happy Early Birthday Mallory! Miss you a ton!