Friday, October 30, 2009

Mandarin Chicken

I was pleasantly surprised at how yummy this dish wound up being. I'm not sure what I expected, but what this recipe delivered was basically a very similar taste to the Mandarin Chicken at Panda Express. Except way tastier. Way more fresh tasting, and way more fulfilling because I made it myself. Unfortunately, Baby was not too into this meal. Husband and I loved it and snarfed down every last morsel, but Baby was not interested. I'm not sure why that was, but I'm going to chalk it up to him still recovering a little from the swine flu, so hopefully we'll be able to try this dish again and have him really like it next time around.

One thing I did differently is that I didn't actually use a grill for grilling the chicken - I used my Calphalon grill pan that someone bought me when I got married (can't remember who anymore!), that I'd honestly never used in the three and a half years since I got married. It was totally worth it for this. It made beautiful grill marks and worked like a charm. I will definitely be using it again, now that I mostly know how!

So add this one to your menu next week, you'll thank me for it. It's way easy, and way tasty!

Mandarin Chicken

2-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
½ tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon of garlic powder

Mandarin Sauce-
2/3 cup sugar
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh garlic (minced)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger (minced)
¼ cup water
4 teaspoons cornstarch

1. Pound chicken breasts with a mallet to an even thickness and season both sides with sugar, salt, and garlic powder. Grill chicken 4-6 minutes on each side or until no longer pink inside.
2. Remove from grill and cut into bit sized strips. Set aside.
3. In a bowl combine sugar, soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic and ginger. Pour into a wok or sauce pan. Heat the mixture until almost at a boil. Combine cornstarch and water. Once the sauce starts to boil add the cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened.
4. Add grilled chicken to the wok and coat with the sauce. Simmer until heated thoroughly. I served it over cooked rice.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oven Fried Chicken Fingers with Honey Mustard

I was pleasantly surprised at how crispy these little chicken fingers turned out to be. And totally shocked that even my swine flu addled munchkin ate every bite that was put in front of him. That was perhaps more because of the honey mustard, or "special sauce" as we call it. Either way, I was super excited to see him eat all of his chicken for once. Especially given the circumstances.

This was really easy to prepare. Quick, not too messy, and it tasted darn good. Next time, I will do two things differently - I will spray the wire rack with Pam and I will also sprinkle some Lawry's Seasoned Salt on the fingers instead of salt, to see if that adds a little bit more flavor. That was the only thing that was mildly lacking in this recipe. Otherwise, I would totally recommend this one hands down. Way better than any other oven fried chicken recipe I've seen!

Oven Fried Chicken Fingers with Honey Mustard

For the chicken:
1-2 pounds chicken cutlets, pounded thin and cut into strips
2 egg, lightly beaten
2 cup panko
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp salt

For the honey mustard:
2/3 cup mayo
4 tbsp mustard
4 tbsp honey

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Dig out a large baking sheet and a wire rack, just like what you would use to cool cookies or cupcakes on. Spray your wire rack with Pam or other nonstick spray to make cleanup easier. If you don't have a wire rack, just place the chicken directly on a baking sheet, but you will need to turn them halfway through baking.
2. Place the beaten egg on one plate (pie plates work great!) for breading, and the panko on another plate. For each chicken strip, dip it first in the egg and then in the panko, and place it on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Sprinkle the garlic powder and salt across the chicken fingers.
3. Bake the chicken for 10 minutes, and then increase heat to 450 and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until browned nicely. Serve hot, with honey mustard on the side.
4. To make the honey mustard, whisk together the mayo, mustard, and honey and serve immediately, or chill until ready to use.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Swine Flu Quarantine Day Five: Almost Done!

I'm happy to share to share with you all that the fever is finally gone. Phew. And it has been for 24 hours now, so we're officially clear to rejoin the general population! I am so insanely relieved that there aren't words to describe it. Baby is mostly feeling better at this point, although he still is a bit crabby. I'm chalking that up to cabin fever at the moment. We'll put that to the test tomorrow when we venture out into the wide wide world again for the first time in almost a week.

Today was another rough day in terms of sleep for Baby - another nap that was barely an hour long. I sure hope this isn't the start of a new pattern. I don't think I could handle that. An hour is not enough to get anything done. Seriously. I'm hoping it's just that he needs to get out and burn off some energy, and then he'll sleep better tomorrow. We'll see.

Anyway, this concludes the swine flu portion of my blog (I hope!), and I sure hope that none of you, my dear readers, happen to fall victim to the swine flu. Husband and I were fortunate enough to stay healthy throughout Baby's bout with it, so we're very thankful for that. Back to normal tomorrow! Yay! Or yippee, as Baby would say (it's his favorite happy word). Back to some good books and good food!

Chicken Lo Mein

I love Chinese food. I really do. I especially love lo mein noodles, and since Baby is obsessed with Yo Gabba Gabba's red character, Muno, who loves noodles, I figured now was a good time to introduce lo mein to him. I did make some omissions in the recipe, based on my family's preferences, but I left the recipe in tact, in case you happen to enjoy snow peas, mushrooms and bell peppers.

I wasn't thrilled with this dish, and neither was my family, admittedly. The chicken was cooked well, but bland and kind of boring. The noodles were OK, I suppose. Perhaps all those things I omitted would have made the dish more flavorful - if you try this recipe and find that's true, let me know! I think for now, I'll stick with my garlic noodles and teriyaki chicken.

Chicken Lo Mein

6 oz lo mein noodles
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp canola oil
1 medium chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin
1 cup snow peas
4 oz sliced mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sesame oil

1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Cook the lo mein noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside. In the meantime, make the sauce by combining the oyster sauce, soy sauce, chicken broth and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Whisk well and set aside.
2. Heat the canola oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until browned and cooked through. Add in the vegetables, each a few minutes apart, starting with the onion and bell pepper and ending with the mushrooms. Cook until just tender-crisp. Add in the garlic and saute just until fragrant, about 1 minute.
3. Add the sauce to the pan, then the cooked lo mein noodles. Toss the mixture well to coat everything. Drizzle with the sesame oil and toss once more. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oooh, a contest!

Yes, a contest, but I'm not the host. Haha - I just spotted that one of the other blogs I happen to follow, The (anti) Socialite (which is hilarious, BTW), is hosting a book-related contest. You should totally check it out. Here's the rules:

so here's what ya do: leave me a comment. but not just any comment. i want to know what book YOU think i should read next and why. give me a short (75 words or less) review of the book you're recommending. the review that compels me to purchase the book wins!
"what do i win, oh great and gorgeous one?" you may be wondering (and who can blame you - i'm having an
excellent hair day).

winner gets a $25 gift card to Borders so you, too, can go out and purchase yourself a book or two (or 5 lattes, if you prefer).

deadline for entries: November 26th (Thanksgiving Day)
winner will be notified by e-mail (and on my blog) by November 29th.

I am SO entering this contest - I can always use a couple of extra bucks for buying books! If you've read an awesome book, go visit The (anti) Socialite to enter the contest before November 26th!!

Swine Flu Quarantine Day Four

Baby has watched more television in the last four days than he has in his entire life. I've been pretty strict about TV, because he gets so sucked into TV show - always has - so we try to avoid it as much as possible. But, these last few days, he's just so...drained. He isn't napping well, at all - Husband thinks, and he might be right, that his fever seems to spike during naptime, and that wakes him up. His longest swine flu nap thus far I think was about an hour. Normally, he naps for two to three hours, so he's positively exhausted in the afternoon. Tonight he was falling asleep before he even hit the crib mattress.

Today, we watched "Cars" and "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh." He was totally bored by "Cars," but captivated by "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh," because he knows the characters very well. In fact, he sleeps every night with a stuffed Pooh from the Disney Store.

Husband came up with a brilliant idea to help Baby feel a little better - Skype. My best friend's daughter is Baby's best friend, and the two of them are very much missing each other. Husband thought they would get a huge kick of seeing each other through Skype. Unfortunately, my best friend does not currently have a webcam, but I do have to give Husband brownie points for effort on this idea.

Baby's still running a fever, so it looks like we've got at least one more day of quarantine. Yay. Can you feel my excitement? I don't know that any of us can take much more of this. I sure hope this is over soon!

What's on My Nightstand: October

I had a really hard time this month remembering what I read...I knew I read Kitchen Confidential, but for the life of me, I couldn't remember what else I read. I picked up and put down a ton of books, trying to find something that would really hook me. I've got some great reads planned for this month, and I'm hoping I can really get through them. I'm disappointed that I have read so few books lately!

What I read this month:
1. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
2. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
3. Christmas Cookies by Lisa Zwirk
5. The Joy of Cookies by Sharon Tyler Herbst
6. Perfect Light Desserts by Nick Malgieri

What I plan to read next month:
1. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving - I'm reading this now, but I'm thinking I may have to put it down for a while. I am enjoying it, but I'm having a hard time getting through it.
2. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult - This is our December book club selection, and I need to re-read it so I can pass it around to my friends in book club
3. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
4. The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacqueline Mitchard
5. The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton

BTW, if you know of a good book that I positively ought to read, please let me know!! I'm desperate for book recommendations, because ever since I read "The Help," I'm starting to feel like it's possible that I now have too-high-expectations for other books, because I don't know that anything else can hold a candle to that book. So, if you know of a book that's as good or better, share it with me!!! I beg of you! With all this cabin fever, reading (and cooking/baking) is the only thing keeping me sane!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Swine Flu Quarantine Day Three

Seriously, is the quarantine over yet? Not only are we are suffering from a serious case of the stir crazies, but if we don't get to leave the house soon, I might just eat it. Yes, I eat when I'm bored. I also bake when I'm bored. Thus far, I've made cinnamon muffins (yum - think a cinnamon roll in a muffin, minus the frosting) and a big Mardi Glade cake.

Yesterday, we skipped a dose of Motrin, because Baby was having a holy mother of God fit when we tried to give it to him before naptime, and sure enough, when he woke up, his fever had spiked back up to 102. So clearly, he's still sick. He was feeling pretty puny after that, so we parked it on the couch and tried to watch a movie with him. He really loved saying "movie," but he didn't love the movie he picked ("The Muppet Movie"). Ultimately, we turned on "Elmo in Grouchland," which he liked very much.

He's been awfully crabby. I think more because of the stir craziness than because he's feeling yucky, because I think once he's had the ear drops in his ears (once we survive that ordeal, that is), and he has some Motrin in his system, he feels mostly okay. I mean, he feels okay enough to color (or "cuggle" as he calls it) for long periods of time. He even demands that Husband and I try to draw some of his favorite characters on his coloring paper. Try, being the operative word there. Really. That child has far more artistic skill than his father and I put together.

Can't you see Muno and Brobee there? Oh yes, Baby scribbled all over them...

At least Husband is still home with us - and rightly so, from what I've read. Baby will be shedding the flu virus (according to the CDC) until 24 hours after his fever finally ends, so we're all potentially contagious until then. I mean, if Husband were off at work, and out of the house, I think I might just tear my hair out. Baby has these moments where he more resembles some kind of screaming banshee than my normally sweet little boy, so it's been tough these last few days. Really tough. Admittedly, I don't know how I would've done this if Husband were out of town. I know I'd just do it, and get through it, but man, it would be way harder.

Is it awful that I'm a little frustrated that the swine flu is keeping me from the Y? Probably, right? Well, I do own an elliptical in our guest room. I ought to roll it out and use it today, and not just use the swine flu as an excuse to slack off on working out, especially since I've been so good about it lately. And so bad about eating these last few days. Stay tuned to see if I manage to dust off the elliptical!!

Kitchen Confidential review

I borrowed this book from my best friend - I was snooping on her bookshelf and spotted it, which reminded me of the series that of the same name that was based on the book a few years ago on Fox. Bradley Cooper was in it, and it was a good show...but it didn't make it beyond the first season. I've picked this book up many, many times at Borders, so it seemed like a great book to borrow.

I thought I would adore this book. I can't say that I didn't enjoy it - I did enjoy parts of it. I wouldn't say I enjoyed the entire thing, and perhaps that's because for whatever reason it started to feel laborious to get through it. I really enjoyed the earlier half of the book, where Mr. Bourdain talks about how he became a chef, his first attempts to work in the restaurant business, and so forth. I think things just started to feel repetitive, as he switched from restaurant to restaurant over his career. I did enjoy when Mr. Bourdain talked about the types of tools that are necessary in a good chef's kitchen. I learned a bunch about knives, that's for sure.

I was really happy to put this book down once and for all. I've got a huge stack of books in my to-be-read pile, and hopefully they'll be much more worth my time!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Menu Plan Monday for October 26th

As you probably know, we're all quarantined with the swine flu at the moment (so far with only one sufferer, and that's Baby), so dinners for the first few days of the week are going to be blah and boring. We're supposed to be all better (in theory) by Tuesday/Wednesday, but I'm aiming for more like Wednesday to plan on being back to normal, assuming we survive our stir craziness. Without any further ado, here's the menu for this week...

Monday - Brinner - Buttermilk Waffles
Tuesday - Spaghetti
Wednesday - Chicken with Mustard Pan Sauce (recipe to be posted!)
Thursday - Beef Teriyaki
Friday - Burgers on the Grill
Sunday - Crispy Orange Chicken (new recipe!)

Don't forget - if my menu doesn't inspire you, you can always visit Org Junkie to find hundreds of other bloggers' menus and sometimes even recipes. Happy menu planning friends!

Swine Flu Quarantine Day Two

There's a reason why they call it being stir crazy. I think we're all getting on each other's nerves at this point. The munchkin has been pretty irritable today thus far, he's had several fits over various and sundry things, like wanting to go for a walk around the neighborhood, then refusing to go with Daddy alone (because obviously Mommy doesn't need a break), then getting furious when we came home from our twenty minute walk around the neighborhood. Teeth brushing was also quite an ordeal this morning. He seems to be just having a really hard time expressing or deciding what he wants, and it's just as frustrating for us as it is him.

Then there was the fact that he was awake well before I was this morning - I got up around 5:45, flipped on the monitor, and sure enough, there he was, rolling around. Who knows what time he actually woke up, he fell right to sleep when we put him to bed at 7 last night (whereas he usually takes at least 45 minutes to settle down for sleep). I'm about to put him down for a nap, and hopefully it will be longer than yesterday's pathetic hour and a half. He certainly needs the sleep.

He still positively hates taking all the medicine he's on, but he hates the numbing ear drops for his ear infection the most. They require him to lay on his side, with the affected ear facing upward, both while the drops are put into the ear and then for a period afterward, none of which he's interested in. We've started to turn the TV on while we do this, which helps, but it certainly doesn't make the process easy.

I only wish there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Some kind of indication that he's getting better. That he's not just medicated to a point where he can function. And some kind of indication as to when it will be safe again for any of us to leave the house. I truly, truly despise all this uncertainty. Totally not something I enjoy, as I'm sure you guys well know. On the bright side, I will be posting a recipe tomorrow, so we will be starting to get back to normal in that respect. Wish me luck, bloggy friends!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Swine Flu Quarantine Day One

After a stressful morning during which Baby went from normal to practically catatonic within the span of five hours, we discovered yesterday afternoon that Baby has the swine flu. And an ear infection. When it rains, it pours, you know. So we are officially on Swine Flu Quarantine island, cooped up in the house with a sometimes-okay, sometimes-inconsolable toddler who doesn't understand why he doesn't feel good. Definitely not my idea of a good time. Then again, I'm pretty sure that Baby and Husband just as displeased with being housebound.

I must say, it was awfully scary to see how quickly things went downhill for Baby, but at the same time, I'm so relieved at how lucky we are that it's not worse. Baby is home with us, not in a hospital, he's responding well to the ear drops and antibiotics for his ear infection, and Motrin is keeping his fever at bay thus far.

The first several hours after diagnosis, but before medicine, were awfully difficult. Baby was just inconsolable, just wanted me and to be on top of me, mainly. We turned on the TV after the visit to the pediatrician, which is a luxury for him because we don't let him watch it much, but it seemed to be the only thing that would distract him from how he felt. He had zero interest in talking or playing, and was so tired that at one point he fell asleep on me. He hasn't done that since he was a tiny infant. And as much as I enjoyed being that close to him again, it was ridiculously uncomfortable, now that he's 20 pounds bigger than he was back then.

Once we got him started on the various medications and he was able to keep them down, things brightened considerably. This morning, he has been much, much better, albeit tired and definitely still cranky. But he actually wanted to play. He wanted to walk around, he wanted to play with his toys, so that was a big relief. I'm certainly hoping the worst is over, and that Husband and I can manage to stay healthy, so cross your fingers for us. I'll keep you guys posted throughout our quarantine, and then hopefully things can get back to normal!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Homemade Garlic Bread

My mom used to make garlic bread every time we had spaghetti at our house when I was growing up. When I became an adult, I discovered the ease of frozen garlic bread, which you can't beat, when you live by yourself. I got so used to frozen garlic bread that I kind of forgot about making homemade garlic bread. Until I happened to shop at Sweet Bay one day and spotted Italian bread - a bread that the Publix bakery seems to no longer carry. I picked it up and brought it home to make some yummy homemade garlic bread. This recipe comes straight from my mother, and is a sure-fire hit. This is one you'll make over and over and over again. And even though I make it over and over again, my family continually polishes it off before I can manage to take a picture of it.

Garlic Bread
16-ounce loaf of Italian bread or French bread
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
2 tsp garlic powder
1 heaping tablespoon of freshly chopped parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Make the butter, garlic, parsley mixture as above.
3. Make 1-inch thick slices into the bread, but do not go all the way through, just to the bottom crust. Put a teaspoon or two of the butter mixture between each slice.
4. Wrap the bread in aluminum foil and heat for 15 minutes in the oven.

NOTE: You can also toast the bread, if you'd rather - you can cut the bread in half, rather than in slices, lay on a cookie sheet on top of some aluminum foil, smear the garlic butter all over both sides, and then put in a 400 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes, depending on the amount of browning you'd like.

Printable recipe

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Yellow Layer Cake with Fudge Frosting

Mmmm, before I started hardcore baking, I loved to make silly little yellow cake mixes into cupcakes and top them with jarred chocolate frosting. This is the grown-up, I-baked-it-myself-so-it-tastes-way-better version. This cake is ridiculously flavorful, but if your oven's like mine, you're going to want to bake it closer to 25 minutes rather than 20. And beware - this cake is the kind of thing it's hard to keep your hands off of, so it's perfect for potlucks and such. Trust me, I'm having a hard time not having a slice for breakfast right now. BTW, this was the something chocolate-y I decided to bake on Monday during Friend Making Monday.

Yellow Layer Cake with Fudge Frosting
adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Baking Book and Hershey's

1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cake flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter and softened, cut into 16 pieces (before softening)

Fudge Frosting:
1 cup butter
1 1/3 cup natural cocoa powder (NOT dutched cocoa)
6 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup milk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment paper. Whsik the milk, eggs, and vanilla together in a small bowl.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat the butter into the flour mixture, one piece at a time, until it resembles moist crumbs, 1 to 3 minutes.
3. Beat in all but 1/2 cup of the milk mixture, then increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter until smooth, light and fluffy, 1-3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly beat in the remaining 1/2 cup milk mixture until the batter looks slightly curdled, about 15 seconds.
4. Give the batter a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure it's thoroughly combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the tops, then gently tap the pans on the counter to settle the batter. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 20-25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking.
5. Let the cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes. Then run a small knife around the edge of the cakes,then flip them out onto a wire rack. Peel off the parchment paper, flip the cakes right side up, and let cool completely before frosting, about 2 hours.
6. For the frosting, melt the butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to a spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. This makes about 4 cups of frosting.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Beef Stroganoff

Beef stroganoff wasn't a recipe I was familiar with until I grew up. I always knew it as noodles and mushrooms as a kid. It was actually one of my favorite things to eat back then. And, interestingly enough, I didn't even have the mushroom version. My parents did, but my mom would make a separate pan for me without the mushrooms - I've never been a fan, even as a kid. It's the texture that creeps me out. I don't hate the flavor they give, but I definitely don't want one in my mouth. Husband's the same way, so I skip the mushrooms when I make beef stroganoff. If one mushroom were to happen to wind up on his plate, I think he'd never forgive me, so my beef stroganoff isn't quite as tasty as my mom's was. Oh well.

Beef Stroganoff

2 pounds top round steak or London broil (should serve 4-6 people)
3 medium-sized yellow onions and a tbsp of olive oil
1 carton button mushrooms (I always skip these!)
1 container sour cream (not the smallest - but the one just larger)
2 Knorr beef stock cubes and half a cup of water
Egg noodles to serve with

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Slice onions and fry on medium heat in a large pot with a tablespoon of olive oil and a dash of salt for about five minutes. Set aside.
3. Slice beef into thin strips about 2 inches long.
4. In small portions, put beef in hot pot; sear and set aside. Repeat until all beef has beef has been seared (2-3 minutes, tops!).
5. Slice mushrooms in half.
6. Turn heat off your burner. Combine all onions, mushrooms and beef in pot.
7. Heat up about half a cup of water in the microwave and dissolve the two Knorr stock cubes in the water. Add to pot. Add four heaping spoonfuls of sour cream and mix it all up.
8. Add salt and pepper to taste. Don't be tempted to add any more water; it may look dry, but a lot of water is going to come out of the onions, mushrooms and steak.
9. Cover with lid, put in oven, and cook for about an hour in a half. When it's done, stir in two more heaping spoonfuls of sour cream and you're done!

Serve atop hot egg noodles and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

Growing up, we ate Mom's cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning after we opened our presents. Cinnamon rolls were always something special to me. Now, as a grown up with my own family, I'm a little more liberal about making cinnamon rolls - it's not just a once a year occurrence. Last week, I baked some cinnamon rolls for my friends when I hosted a playgroup at my house, and I even tried a different cinnamon roll recipe. Not surprisingly, it was not as yummy as the one my mother used to make. I'll have to ask her to write it down one of these days, because I don't think I've ever been able to reproduce them as good as she did. In the meantime, here's a pretty good recipe - my friends loved them - but not the creme de la creme.

Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

3/4 cup buttermilk, warmed to 110 degrees
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 envelope instant or rapid rise yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons buttermilk or milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Whisk the buttermilk, melted butter and eggs together in a large liquid measuring cup. Combine 4 cups of the flour, sugar, yeast and salt together in a standing mixer with the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes.
2. Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If after 5 minutes more flour is needed, add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough clears the side of the bowl but still sticks to the botom.
3. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
4. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan. Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt together in a small bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and press it into a 16x12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the melted butter, then sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over top of it, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge. Press on the filling to adhere it to the dough.
5. Loosen the dough from the counter using a bench scrape or metal spatula, and roll the dough into a tight log. Pinch the seam closed and roll the log seam side down. Gently stretch the log to be 18 inches in length with an even diameter and pat the ends to even them.
6. Slice the cylinder into 12 evenly sized rolls (about 1 1/2 inches wide) using a serrated knife. Arrange the rolls cut side down in the prepared baking pan and wrap tightly with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until the rolls have nearly doubled in size and are pressed against one another, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
7. Flip the rolls out onto a wire rack set over a sheet of parchment paper (for easy cleanup) and let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk the confectioners' sugar, softened cream cheese, buttermilk and vanilla together in a medium bowl until smooth. Flip the rolls upright, drizzle with the glaze and serve.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Friend Making Monday: The Joy Edition

Good morning and happy Monday to you all. Aefilkins is hosting another Friend Making Monday (sorry to those of you who are regulars, I forgot it was Monday last week!), and this time she's curious about the small things in life that bring a smile to your face. Want to make some new bloggy friends? Friend Making Monday is a great way to do it - visit Aefilkins to learn more.
So...the small things in life that make me happy?

This morning, a good cup of hot cocoa (because it's 48 degrees outside! And this is Florida!)

Knowing that I will be baking something chocolate-y this afternoon - heck, baking of any kind makes me happy

Spending time with my friends - inevitably there is tons of laughter!

Hearing my munchkin laugh or say "love you"

Reading a good book

Need a fall pick-me-up? Check out my pumpkin muffin recipe, it's a sure-fire hit!

Pumpkin Muffins

I have never been a huge pumpkin fan. Growing up, I avoided anything pumpkin. Never had a bite of pumpkin pie, in fact, because I decided that I didn't like the scent, so I wouldn't like the taste. I truly didn't try pumpkin until this year. I'm proud of myself for trying, but I'm still not a fan. It tastes okay, but I'd much prefer chocolate any day. Husband is a huge pumpkin fan - he'd have me bake pumpkin bread all the time if I would, so fortunately, I'm still able to do some pumpkin-related baking and have it all get eaten up. And it turns out, Baby is a huge pumpkin fan.

These muffins were a bit hit with the playgroup crowd - I had baked them mostly for the kids, and Baby seems to want to have one every day at this point. He calls them "pumcake," like a combination of pumpkin and pancake which is really, really cute.

Pumpkin Muffins
from Gourmet magazine, 2006

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/3 c vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp pumpkin-pie spice (or 1/8 tsp of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and allspice)
1 1/4 cups of sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar (for the topping)
1 tsp cinnamon (for the topping)

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line muffin cups with paper liners or lightly grease the tin.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder in a small bowl.
3.Whisk together pumpkin puree, oil, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.
4. Stir together cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in another bowl.
5. Divide batter among muffin cups (each should be about 3/4 full), then sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until puffed and golden brown and a wooden pick or skewer inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.
6. Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Menu Plan Monday for October 19th

Last week, my menu totally went to pot. I didn't make any of the new stuff I planned to, for numerous reasons, so this week's menu is OVERLOADED with new stuff! We'll have to see how I do with all these new recipes, especially since Husband's going to be super extra busy for most of the week on a big work project.

Tuesday - Beef Stroganoff (recipe forthcoming!)
Wednesday - Spaghetti and Homemade Garlic Bread (recipe forthcoming!)
Thursday - Chicken Lo Mein (recipe forthcoming!)
Friday - Oven Fried Chicken Fingers (recipe forthcoming!)
Saturday - Barbecued Pork Chops (recipe forthcoming!)
Sunday - Mandarin Chicken (recipe forthcoming!)

Need further menu inspiration? Visit Org Junkie for over 300 other bloggers' menus, complete with recipes, shopping lists, the whole nine yards!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Homemade Oreos

How can you go wrong with homemade Oreos? Heck, how can you go wrong with store-bought Oreos? Oreos are one of those things that I just love. Can't get enough of them. But only if they are accompanied by a tall glass of milk. Without the milk, it's just not the same. I still like them, but nowhere near in the same way.

When I first spotted this recipe almost a year ago, I knew I had to try it, I just hadn't found the right reason to try it. I decided this month to make it for book club. I love bringing treats to book club, and I think for the most part, everyone enjoys them, although I know that some of them probably curse me for bringing temptation to the table. Oh well, everything in moderation, right? Except when you're watching Real Housewives on Bravo with a plate full of homemade Oreos and a glass of milk. Ooh, sounds like heaven.

The wafers were ridiculously easy to put together, and I had them all baked up within 45 minutes of turning my oven on. They smelled wonderful! I wanted desperately to eat one, for taste testing purposes you know, but I had exactly an even number of cookies, so I didn't want to mess with that.

Piping on the frosting was also relatively easy, and only took me ten minutes or so. theory...55 minutes of work for homemade Oreos? Well, let me tell you, they're totally worth it. And it's quite possible that I may never be able to enjoy a store-bought Oreo again. They're that good.

And just so you know, I tinted the frosting pink because some of us (myself included) are participating in a breast cancer walk this weekend, and the theme for all of the food at Book Club was breast cancer awareness month. Festive, right?

Homemade Oreos
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Note from Smitten Kitchen: Let’s talk about the sugar for a minute, shall we? This is a sweet cookie. A good, sweet cookie. Yet, if you think of an actual Oreos, the wafers are fairly un-sweet and actually on the slightly salty side, which contrasts with the super-sweetness of the filling bringing harmony, happiness, yada yada. If you want your cookie closer to that original, you can take out a full half-cup of the sugar.

Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies

For the chocolate wafers:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar [see recipe note]
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.
2. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.
4. To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
5. To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

MSC: Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes

This month's Martha Stewart Cupcakes recipe was selected by Kim at What the Whisk. We baked the Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes on p. 236.

I was admittedly excited to try these cupcakes. First of all, marzipan scares the crap out of me, and this time I let the fear win. When I saw the picture of Martha's cupcakes, the first thing I thought of was one of my favorite Halloween treats - Mellowcreme Pumpkins. So, yes, I cheated, and planned to use Mellowcreme Pumpkins on my cupcakes. Sue me. Then I promptly forgot to put the damn pumpkins on the cupcakes before my little photo session. So imagine a Mellowcreme Pumpkin atop this lovely cupcake.

The batter for this recipe was really easy to put together - no muss, no fuss. Nothing too complicated, although I did halve the recipe, and double-checked my math no less than 3 times before I let myself get started (I've gotten burned too many times by halving recipes!). I do think that the cupcakes should have cooked perhaps a minute longer than they did - they felt especially spongy after cooling off fully. Speaking of which, does anyone really turn out their cupcakes the way Martha says to? Whenever I try this method, my cupcakes either totally fall apart, or they stick to my countertop. Any advice? Tips? Tricks? I usually wind up using a knife to try my cupcakes out of the pans.

I did taste these, which is especially daring for me, because I'm not a pumpkin fan (nor am I a big fan of spice cake). I didn't despise the taste, but I also didn't love them. I didn't feel compelled to to eat an entire cupcake. This is precisely why I have an impartial taste tester, who loves spice cakes and anything pumpkin to determine how they were. Husband said the flavor was awfully tasty and the cupcakes were super moist. He likened them to pumpkin pie in a cupcake, although the cream cheese frosting didn't exactly evoke the whole pumpkin pie flavor. He did say that these are another "muff-cake," just like the Banana Pecan Cupcakes and Zucchini Spice Cupcakes.

I strongly considered making a different frosting for these cupcakes, because this would be the third time I've made Martha's cream cheese frosting - not to say that I don't enjoy the cream cheese frosting, it just kind of gets tiring to make the same frosting over and over and over. But I only thought about it briefly before remembering that I had bought all that I needed for cream cheese frosting, so I stuck with it.

Next month, we'll be doing Candied Sweet Potato Cupcakes, I'm very curious about those, given that I've never heard of a sweet potato cupcake. It will be interesting, I'm sure! Stay tuned for more Martha Stewart Cupcakes adventures!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Crisp Mustard Glazed Chicken Breasts

This was one messy meal to prepare. It was definitely tasty, and Husband especially enjoyed it, although Baby despised it and actually pried it out of his mouth after he tried it. I liked it, but I didn't love it, so I don't know that this will be making it into our regular meal rotation. The addition of the breadcrumbs was awfully tasty, even though I was out of thyme and used sage instead. This dish reminded me a lot of a recipe I tried quite some time ago that called for making a mustard pan sauce. I wasn't very good at pan sauces then, so maybe I ought to try it again. It's all one skillet, and no prep bowls, so it would certainly make fewer dirty dishes...

Crisp Mustard Glazed Chicken Breasts
adapted from

4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on
2 tbsp olive oil, plus a little more
Coarse salt and black pepper
4 tbsp butter, softened
2 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
3/4 cup coarse breadcrumbs (think stuffing)
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped fine
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 375. Rub chicken breasts lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
2. Combine 2 tbsp butter with the mustard. Reserve 2 tsp and set aside. In a small saucepan, melt the other 2 tbsp butter; mix with breadcrumbs and thyme (or sage - I was out of thyme and used sage). Season with salt and pepper.
3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Sear chicken skin side down until crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Smear with mustard mixture, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Turn skin side up; sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
4. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until chicken is cooked through, 15-20 minutes.
5. Transfer chicken to serving platter. Add stock and cream to skillet over medium heat, and stir with wooden spoon until creamy and reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in reserved mustard mixture. Strain through a fine sieve and serve with chicken.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Brown Sugar Barbecued Chicken

This was insanely easy dinner to put together, which came together really quickly and tastily. The barbecue sauce was very good, and I will definitely be making it again, although next time I will try chicken breasts instead of drumsticks because it took me forever to get all the chicken off the bone - which I did because that's how Baby eats it, and if he sees something different on our plates, we're usually in store for some kind of meltdown. It's the path of least resistance, if you will.

A few words of advice on this recipe - Martha isn't kidding about using aluminum foil. It makes clean up a breeze for this dish. Also, this recipe also calls for using drumettes - I used actually drums (more meat!), and altered the cooking time by adding 5-10 minutes. Finally, I used a rack on top of my baking sheet, thinking it wold help the skin crisp a little - it didn't. I think it may have helped the chicken cook through a little faster, but next time I will skip it.

Brown Sugar Barbecued Chicken
adapted from Everyday Food

2 cups ketchup
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp cider vinegar
Coarse salt and pepper
6 pounds chicken drumettes, patted dry

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together ketchup, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce, and cider vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside 1 cup of sauce for tossing raw chicken; use the rest for baked chicken.
2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line two rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil.
3. Toss chicken drumettes with reserved 1 cup of sauce and divide among baking sheets.
4. Bake chicken until opaque throughout, 30-35 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Toss baked chicken with 1/2 cup of reserved sauce and serve the remaining alongside chicken.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Martha's Snickerdoodles

I had high hopes for these snickerdoodles. I am still looking for the quintessential snickerdoodle recipe, one like the snickerdoodle I had at Fresh Market one day. Soft, chewy, and maybe a little bit cakey. Every one I've baked so far is crunchy, crunchy, crunchy. I wound up ultimately undercooking these a little bit to achieve a little bit of the soft and chewy effect I was going for. It sort of worked, but not quite the way I wanted it to. So, I'm still hunting. I saw that Smitten Kitchen also did Martha's recipe, and found them to be precisely the kind of cookie I want them to be, so I may give it another try with a larger scoop and with chilling the dough a little bit next time. In the meantime, if you have a good snickerdoodle recipe, shoot it my way! You can email me at typeamommyblog(at)gmail(dot)com.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes three dozen 3 to 4-inch cookies. Your mileage will vary by the size scoop you use.

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, plus more if needed
2 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 400°, with one rack in top third and one rack in bottom third of oven. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.
2. Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs, and beat to combine. Add dry ingredients, and beat to combine. At this point, I chilled the dough for an hour (or you can overnight) before scooping it, because I otherwise found it too difficult to scoop into balls and roll but the original recipe doesn’t find this step necessary.
3. Once dough has chilled, in a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the ground cinnamon. Use a small ice-cream scoop* to form balls of the dough, and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place about two inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are set in center and begin to crack (they will not brown), about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets after five minutes. Transfer the sheets to a wire rack to cool about five minutes before transferring the cookies to the rack. In theory, they can be stored in an airtight container up to one week, but they won't last that long, trust me.

* Martha recommends a size 30 (1 1/4 ounce) ice cream scoop for your cookies.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Menu Plan Monday for October 12th

This year is quickly drawing to a close, it seems. How did it get to be the middle of October already? Is it ever going to feel like fall around here??? We had a brief cold front - or cool front, really - almost two weeks ago now, but since then, we've been back at summer-type temperatures here in Florida, so it's hard to get into making neat fall recipes with the weather so warm. For instance, I'd love to make French Onion Soup, but it's way too hot to appreciate it at the moment. It's funny, because this happens every year - I get impatient about fall in Florida, because it feels like it will never happen. I was watching the weather on the Today show the other day, and it seemed like every other state in the whole country had lovely, comfortable temperatures, but not Florida. This is precisely why I don't think I would mind living up north someday - says a girl who has pretty much lived in Florida her whole life and has never shoveled so much as an inch of snow, let alone driven in snow or ice. But anyway, I digress...

There are a whopping four new recipes on the schedule this week - wow! I'm really excited for all of them and can't wait to share with you how they all turn out. I've been working on my menu plans for the next few months (yes, I really write my menu plans that far in advance - it helps me grocery shop for items I will need when they're on sale, rather than when I need them, which helps us save money), and I must say, there are some pretty awesome new recipes I'm going to be trying out in the weeks to come!

Monday - Waffles
Tuesday - Awesome Pretzel Chicken Tenders (a new recipe to be posted!)
Wednesday - Spaghetti and Garlic Knots
Thursday - Mac and Cheese and Garlic-Cheddar Biscuits
Friday - Beef Stroganoff (a new recipe to be posted!)
Saturday - Chicken Lo Mein (a new recipe to be posted!)
Sunday - Barbecued Pork Chops (a new recipe to be posted!)

Don't forget to visit Org Junkie, if you're in need of menu-related inspiration!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Brown Sugar Glazed Pork

This was a super easy meal to put together, but in hindsight, I think I would skip the Montreal steak seasoning in favor of some simple salt and pepper. Then again, I'm not normally a huge Montreal steak seasoning kind of person. I was pleasantly surprised as to how flavorful this recipe was. I especially liked the red wine pan sauce that this recipe makes to go along with the pork. I also think I'd try pork chops with this rather than pork medallions, just because it's easier to make the appropriate amount of meat for my family that way. I served this pork with mashed sweet potatoes and green beans, and it went over quite well. I will definitely be making this again!

Brown Sugar Glazed Pork
adapted from Publix Aprons Meals

3 fresh garlic clove
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons Montreal steak seasoning
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb)
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup red wine

1. Crush garlic, using garlic press, into medium bowl. Use knife to remove garlic from bottom of press. Stir in brown sugar and steak seasoning until well blended.
2. Preheat large sauté pan on medium 2–3 minutes. Cut pork diagonally into about eight 1-inch-thick slices. Place pork slices in bowl and press into mixture. Turn and press again to lightly season both sides (wash hands).
3. Place 1 tablespoon of the butter in pan; swirl to coat. Add pork (wash hands); cook 5–6 minutes on each side or until well browned and internal temperature reaches 160°F (for medium). Use a meat thermometer to accurately ensure doneness.
4. Remove pork from pan. Stir in wine and remaining 1 tablespoon butter; simmer 1 minute, stirring continually. Serve wine sauce with pork.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Well, I've finished it. I'm relieved to be done, that's for sure. This was a bit of a laborious read. And don't worry, there are no spoilers to be seen here!

Let me give you some background first. I read Angels and Demons, well after everyone and their brother started reading The Da Vinci Code. I loved Angels & Demons. It was suspenseful, it was fast-moving, it was I had high expectations for The Da Vinci Code. I was totally let down by The Da Vinci Code. I wanted it to be wonderful, and it didn't live up to the high expectations I set for it. When I heard about The Lost Symbol, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read it. I suppose I'm glad I did read it, because parts of the story were very interesting, but all in all, it felt kind of like something I didn't need to have read. It wasn't all-consuming, like Angels & Demons was for me some years ago.

This was an okay book, but definitely not something I will read again and not something I will recommend to others. If you're big on conspiracy theories and such, you'll enjoy it, but if you appreciate a well-written suspense novel, you will be disappointed with this one. I hope the next book I read will be better!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Work Out Schmork Out

Yikes. It's been a while since I've mentioned my working out, and Colleen was so kind as to point it out to me yesterday. I am still going to the gym regularly, working out with my trainer (and friends) twice a week, and trying to get in some additional cardio at least twice a week. Sometimes that cardio comes in the form of some quality time with the elliptical machine, and sometimes it's a step class, just depends on the week and the timing.

This week, though, has been a challenge. I seem to have done something to my back - what, I don't have a clue - and it's made working out, and heck even just moving, really difficult. I seem to have strained some kind of muscle in my back, but fortunately my trainer was able to show me some stretches to help alleviate my super-fun discomfort yesterday, so hopefully that will help. She also prescribed a heating pad, which shockingly, I don't own, so I had to run out to get one.

Working out has been a really good stress reliever, and over the last month, our trainer has added some interesting new exercises to our routine. We've even being doing ab exercises, which has been interesting, since I haven't done crunches in years. We use the balance balls for most of our ab exercises, though we do some of them on the floor. We also still do those evil deadlifts, and walking lunges, and we've done squats with the balance ball at our back, which has been interesting. Admittedly, I haven't gotten on a scale in the last month, in part because I don't feel like being disappointed by it, but both our trainer and Husband think that I look skinnier than before, so hopefully all the work is doing something for me. I also haven't been really changing my diet, outside of trying not to eat excessively, which I think is a big problem for me. I'm trying to learn to listen to my body when it says that it's full. It's hard sometimes to be in tune with my body, especially when there's so much else going on, like the mess in the kitchen or Baby trying to have a conversation with me, or what-have-you, but it's a work in progress.

How about you? Are you working on losing some weight? Toning some muscle? Tell me about it! I think it's great to hear what other people are doing at the gym, sometimes it can give you inspiration to try something new.

Fall Into Reading 2009

Have you ever visited Callapidder Days? It's a great blog, especially when it comes to book challenges and such! I'm joining one now, albeit a little late, for the fall. Here's a brief recap on how to participate in Fall into Reading 2009:

Make a list of books you want to read (or finish reading) this fall. Your list can be as long or as short as you’d like. (Also, feel free to modify your list during the challenge if it’s not working for you.)

- Write a blog post containing your list and submit it to this post using the Mr. Linky.
- Get reading! The challenge goes from today, September 22nd, through December 20th.
- Check out other participants’ lists and add to your own to-read-someday pile!
- Write a post about your challenge experience in December, telling us all about whether you reached your goals and how Fall Into Reading went for you. But remember: this is a low-pressure challenge that should be fun. As long as you do some reading this fall (and enjoy it!), that’s good enough for me.

So, here is my official list, we'll see how well I do between now and December 20th...

- A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
- Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
- The Wednesday Letters by Meg Waite Clayton
- The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
- Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (I'm joining in with the Jane Austen Project on this one!)
- Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
- Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall
- The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown - done!
- The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain - done!
- Going Overboard by Sarah Smiley - done!

I've already started Owen Meany, so I'm on my way, and

I'm excited about visiting the other blogs that are involved to see what everyone else is reading. I love getting book recommendations, in fact Owen Meany is a book recommendation from my best friend, who was appalled to learn that I've never read anything by John Irving. I'm also excited to read my very first Jane Austen book in this challenge. I really want to see this challenge through, so wish me luck! And don't forget to keep passing on those book recommendations, I love hearing what other people are reading!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

BBQ Chicken on Garlic Toast

I was impressed with this super easy recipe from Everyday Food. It was ridiculously easy to put together, super tasty, and even reheated well when my husband missed dinnertime thanks to a meeting with a client. I would fully recommend this recipe, two thumbs up! Even Baby liked it, which was awesome. He has a thing for eating meat with "special sauce," and given that this was doused in "special sauce," he was quite thrilled. So much so that he didn't even eat all of his garlic toast, which is terribly unusual for him. He's a big carb fan.

I used Pepperidge Farm Hearty White bread for my garlic toast. I love that bread. It's so tasty and makes wonderful homemade breadcrumbs. It was perfect for this garlic toast. I was also able to get my hands on a barbecue flavored rotisserie chicken, which probably added to the awesome flavor of this dish. This will definitely be a recipe I use again, especially on a busy night!

BBQ Chicken on Garlic Toast
adapted from Everyday Food

1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed, meat shredded (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups (14 ounces) bottled barbecue sauce
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 garlic cloves, crushed with a garlic press
Coarse salt and ground pepper
8 slices white sandwich bread

1. Heat broiler, with rack set 4 inches from heat. In a medium saucepan, cook chicken and barbecue sauce over medium until heated through, 6 to 8 minutes
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine butter and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Spread one side of each slice of bread with garlic butter. Place on a baking sheet, buttered side up. Broil until golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes, then turn over, and broil until light brown, about 1 minute longer.
3. To serve, sandwich chicken mixture between slices of bread.

Monday, October 5, 2009

100 Followers Deserve Cookies...

If only I could figure out how to mail them...darn logistics!

Anyway, so on Friday, I received my 100th follower...and then my 101st...and 102nd! It was so exciting that I had to plan to bake to celebrate over the weekend. I'd been wanting to bake a new chocolate chip cookie recipe, so it was a good excuse. I even decided to include my munchkin in my baking today, although it turned out that he was less than interested. I guess sitting on the floor and stirring with Mommy was boring. Oh well.

He was very intrigued by stirring, but not really into helping

However, he did help me stir the butter and sugars together, and did a nice job. He also tasted the fruits of his (okay, mostly my) labor, which I am disappointed to report that he didn't exactly enjoy. He took about three bites of the cookie, two of which included chocolate chips, and I could tell the instant he tasted the chocolate chips. He made an awful face and then after two tastes of chocolate, he refused to eat any more cookie. I'm starting to wonder if he was switched at birth (I'm kidding!!!) Husband isn't a huge chocolate fan, so I guess this is just one of those things that the munchkin and I won't have in common. This was his very first exposure to chocolate, so it was an eventful day indeed.

This was a nice chocolate chip cookie - not as thick as I would have liked, especially given that Martha calls them her Soft and Chewy Cookie. But they had wonderful chocolate flavor in every bite, with a nice crisp crunch to the edges. I think I might try to add a little more flour the next time I bake these to encourage a thicker cookie. All in all, though, they were some very nice cookies to share with my munchkin.

Martha's Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies: The Very Best Treats to Bake and to Share (Martha Stewart Living Magazine)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups semisweet or milk chocolate chips, or a combination (about 12 ounces)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together flour and baking soda in a bowl. Put butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add salt, vanilla, and eggs; mix until well blended, about 1 minute. Mix in flour mixture. Sitr in chocolate chips.
2. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges turn golden but centers are still soft, 10-12 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 1 week.

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