Friday, September 28, 2012

Banana Pumpkin Nutella Bread

Hi everyone! I'm back!

Well.  Not really.  But, back long enough to write my own recipe post anyway.  I won't be home for good until early October but at least now it's a short trip for pleasure rather than business.

Before I jump into today's recipe, how about those fantastic guest posters of mine these past few weeks?  Which blogger's recipe was your favorite?  Serious big kudos to each of the wonderful bloggers that shared yummy recipes here on my page:
The weather really changed dramatically since I came back to The States.  Sure, the fact that I came from the tropical weather of the Equator makes it feel even cooler but there are definitive signs of Fall in the air.  The mornings are cool and require jacket...and sometimes even heat in the car.  The leaves on the trees are starting to display beautiful Fall colors.  And, I'm feeling like making warm, comforting foods again.

In my book, nothing says fall more than pumpkin.  Hence, I'm sharing this recipe with you today.  It was just one of many recipes that I made with my homemade Nutella.  The bananas and pumpkin made it super moist and the Nutella gave it a great look and just enough chocolate boost.  Lovely to welcome Fall!

One Year Ago: French Onion Soup
Three Years Ago: Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

Banana Pumpkin Nutella Bread

Photo Credit: Emily H.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 bananas (preferably overly ripe), mashed
  • 1 cup canned or freshly pureed pumpkin
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 Tbsp Nutella, divided
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 9x5 loaf pan by spraying with cooking spray.
  2. Add sugar and butter to a mixing bowl and cream together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla extract, mixing well until combined.  Then add the mashed bananas and pumpkin.  Again mixing until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, add flour, salt, and baking soda.  Whisk together to combine.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until combined.  The batter will be thick.
  4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and dollop Nutella on top.  Using a toothpick, swirl the Nutella through the batter.  Bake for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. 
Source: As seen on The World in my Kitchen and adapted by Mom's Crazy Cooking from Babble - The Family Kitchen

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Guest Post by SteakNPotatoesKindaGurl: Grilled Filet with Bourbon Butter

Here we are with my final guest blogger.  Did you enjoy all of the new blogs that I shared?  As I said from the beginning, I hope you found a new one to love and follow.  There was a bit of something for everyone because bloggers come from all life-stages...from high school to young professional to mommy.  All of us are so different and yet we all share a love for cooking and blogging!

Desiree (or Desi for short) the voice of SteakNPotatoesKindaGurl, is a fellow Cincinnatian and Secret Recipe Club Group C member.  I'm always excited to meet others in the area that share my passion for food.  Desi and I even joked about how we annoy our (not-as-food-loving) friends by taking pictures of our food whenever we go out to eat.  I told her we really ought to get together for dinner or drinks sometime :).

When Desi sent me her recipe, I could practically smell and taste the steak through my screen.  Like...I wanted to go over to her house immediately to eat this thing!  My husband's favorite cut of meat is filet and yet we have never tried to make it a home ourselves.  We did take a cooking class together once at The Learning Kitchen where we made filet on a grill pan but that was the end of that (so much for using our newly acquired skills, huh?).  But now, between this recipe, her Filet Mignon with Creamy Mushroom Sauce, and the fact that we're buying 1/16th of a cow this fall, we have no excuses!  (Seriously, you can come back and ask me later if I made some succulent filet mignon with those cows...who...oddly enough are named T-Bone and Ribeye...but that will be a story for another day.)

I'd also love to try making her Bacon Pancakes with Maple-Peanut Butter Syrup (BACON!  And breakfast foods again with peanut butter for the hubby...surprised?  I think not.).  After all is said and done, I'd wash everything down with Cherry Limeade Slushies, my favorite drink to order when we go to Sonic Drive-In.

I'll be seeing you all with a personal post next week if I'm not entirely jetlagged.  Hello to all of my new (and veteran) readers!  Where do you come from?  Any other Great Cincinnatians?  Leave me a comment and stay tuned, okay? :)

One Year Ago: French Onion Soup
Three Years Ago: Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

Why hello there! I'm so happy to be guest posting on Christine's blog today! My name is Desi and I host a little blog called SteakNPotatoesKindaGurl. It's so cool that Christine and I are both part of the Secret Recipe Club, and both live in the Cincinnati area. 

I love bacon, salted caramel, margaritas, and steak and potatoes of course :) 

But I realized something. I don't have many steak recipes on my blog. 

And I'm the steak n potatoes kinda gurl! 

So here's my attempt to change that. 

A delicious and simple grilled steak recipe that I personally love...

...Grilled Filet with Bourbon Butter.

The perfect steak with the perfect topping. 

Grilled Filet with Bourbon Butter
Bourbon Butter from Traeger

  • Two filet mignons
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning, if desired
 Bourbon Butter
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Note: Butter can be prepared ahead and refrigerated until serving time. You may want to let the steaks sit out of the fridge for 10-20 minutes also to come to room temp.

In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic, bourbon, green onion, parsley, salt and pepper and stir with a wooden spoon.

Season steaks with salt and pepper, if desired. Place steaks on the grill on medium-high and cook, turning once, until done to your liking in the center of thickest part. Transfer the steaks to a plate and top with the bourbon butter. 

You can use whatever cut of meat you like but we like tender filet steaks. The bourbon butter was a nice topping and the bourbon wasn't overpowering, for me at least. And we like our steaks cooked medium with a touch of pink inside.

You can even make the steaks indoors using a skillet. And the bourbon butter is oh so easy. 

This is definitely going in the grilling rotation! And it's been a pleasure guest posting here at Christine's Kitchen Chronicles :)

Peace, and bacon grease!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Guest Post by Coffee and Cannolis: Mini Frittatas

Any coffee lovers out there?  How about cannolis?

Well, like I said in my last post, I'm not much of a coffee drinker but I do LOVE cannolis (Umm have you been to Mike's Pastry in Boston? Yum!).  I also am a fan of  Coffee and Cannolis!  Angie, the voice behind this blog, is another What's Cooking message board member but I only recently started following her myself.
She had my attention at her Baked Cinnamon Sugar Churros (I had tried a fried Churro Bites recipe but am always looking for equally delicious baked versions of fried foods).  After that point, I went back and pursued her other recipes.  I bookmarked a couple recipes that I know my peanut butter, dessert loving husband would go crazy over: Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake with Pretzel Crust and Peanut Butterfinger Mini Cheesecakes.  I honestly don't know which one would he'd like more but can say that they'll definitely be contenders for future birthday cakes.  I also saw Angie post a recipe for Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips, one that I love but realized I have never shared on my own blog.

Today she has chosen to share a super easy savory recipe and she must have read my mind because I love breakfast foods!  I love a good frittata or quiche but my egg-hating husband would never go for it.  This recipe would work well in my house because I could eat a few and then freeze the rest for later.  I can also add whatever leftover veggies and meats I have for customized flavors.  Awesome! It'll get filed right next to the Bacon Egg and Toast Cups for quick, bite-sized eggy breakfast treats.

One Year Ago: Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cheesecake - A past birthday cake for my husband...and it was 9 LAYERS high!
Three Years Ago: Cha Cha's White Chicken Chili

Hi!  My name is Angie from Coffee and Cannolis, and I’m so excited to be able to guest post today on Christine’s Kitchen Chronicles!  I have been following Christine for a few years now, so it’s an honor to be able to help her out with a post while she’s busy!  (And PS – have you seen that S’Mores Pizza?  I cannot wait to try it!)

Since you may not know me – a few things… I am a (new) mom to 15-month-old Tyler, who takes up A LOT of my time, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!  With what little free time I get, I enjoy baking and cooking (and Pinterest, Netflix Instant Queue, reading…).  Since my free time has been cut significantly, I’ve learned to take some shortcuts, make adjustments, and that I don’t have to get a completely gourmet meal on the table every night.  My new goal (aside from just getting the kid to eat!) is to create REAL food that anyone can make.  Quickly and easily, with as few convenience foods as possible.  I wish I were superwoman, but alas I am not.

In efforts to save some time in the kitchen while still getting a healthy breakfast in my son’s tummy, I’ve discovered my love of these mini frittatas!  I like to make them on Sunday during nap time, or even once he’s down for the night, and freeze them to grab throughout the week.  Not only are they quick and freezer-friendly, they’re very versatile.  Your kids LOVE broccoli?  Throw some in.  You have a kid like mine that loves turkey sausage and super sharp white cheddar cheese?  Well, good news – these are fantastic with sausage and cheese!

Mini Frittatas

  • 8 large eggs
  • ½ cup milk or half and half
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Assorted Mix Ins, such as: Shredded Cheese, Cooked Sausage Crumbles, Diced Peppers, Diced Steamed Broccoli
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray
  2. Whisk together eggs, milk and salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Evenly distribute egg mixture among the 12 muffin cups.  Add about 2 tablespoons of mix-ins to each cup.
  3. Bake about 20-25 minutes until the eggs are puffy and the edges are golden brown.  (If necessary, run a butter knife around the edges to loosen before removing from pan). 
Makes 12-mini frittatas

* These can be frozen in a freezer-weight bag.  To defrost I pull them out and keep in the fridge overnight, and just microwave for 10 seconds for my son, 30-45 seconds for me!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Guest Post by Mother Thyme: Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

New week, 3 new guest posters!  And today, I'm FINALLY flying back home from Asia.  But my travels don't stop there because on Sunday I'm off to drive to another US city for a couple days and then this coming weekend, it's yet another flight to New York City for a friend's wedding and visiting my grandma and other extended family while I'm out there.  Phew.  September is certainly a whirlwind of a month for me!

To start the week, I'm sharing one of my new favorite blogs, Mother Thyme. Jennifer is the author of the blog and I first discovered it through being in Secret Recipe Club Group C together. I fell in love with her gorgeous photography (lots of beautiful examples below!) and am just thoroughly impressed by the catalog of recipes that she has amassed on her blog.  Seriously, the number of her recipes I've recently bookmarked to try is out of control and I struggled with which to highlight in my post today.  

I decided on a theme of Fall flavors and comfort foods.  There's something about the weather turning cooler that makes me crave things like:
Amazingly, Jennifer does this all while being a mother to two year old twins!! I can only aspire to the level of cooking, blogging, and motherhood that Jennifer has achieved. I also think perhaps I should get tips from her for my friend Emily, also expecting twin girls soon!

Today she shares a yummy looking coffee cake which will also make my "to-make" list. Some of my other favorite coffee cakes: Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake and Berry Buttermilk Cake...both are sorta dessert, sorta breakfast!

Three Years Ago: Barbecue and Chicken Pizza


Hi I’m Jennifer, the voice behind the blog Mother Thyme.   A big thank you to Christine for inviting me to her delicious blog today.  

When I head out with my adorable twins to visit friends or family I like to bring something sweet.  And who doesn’t like to be the recipient of a sweet treat?  I often bake a warm batch of cookies, a loaf of one of my favorite quick breads or my Cream Cheese Coffee Cake.  Packaging any of these goodies and taking it to someone to share can brighten anyones day.  

This delicious cake is perfect for breakfast, brunch or dessert.  It is a  classic coffee cake with a thick layer of sweet cream cheese in the center.  
Ready to dive in?

Anytime I cake justify cake for breakfast I’m happy.

Want to know the best part?

It is so easy to make!  

Now won’t this impress everyone the next time you serve this?  

Let me not forget to mention this is so good!  No.  It is actually really, really good.   

Make a pot of coffee, and enjoy a slice or go ahead and have two.  Trust me, you’ll be happy!

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake


For Filling:
  • 2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened (light or regular)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
For Cake:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream (light or regular)
  • For Streusel Topping:
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter, chilled and cubed
For Topping:
  • ¼ cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease and flour a 9” x 13” cake pan and set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer in a medium bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla and blend on medium-low speed until creamy.  Set mixture aside.
  3. In separate bowl stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.  
  4. Using an electric mixer in a large bowl cream butter and sugar on medium-low speed.  Add eggs one at a time then vanilla extract.   Gradually add in flour mixture alternating with sour cream until it is all combined.  
  5. Spread half the batter in prepared cake pan.  Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on top.  Top with remaining cake batter.  Using a butter knife, gently swirl in the batter.  
  6. Add sugar, flour and butter in a small bowl and stir using a fork or pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle on top of cake.
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes until cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool on rack.
  9. In a small bowl combine confectioners sugar and milk until creamy.  Drizzle over cake.  
About Mother Thyme
Jennifer is a mom to two year old twins and the creator of Mother Thyme creating fast and easy family friendly meals that incorporate fresh ingredients with common ingredients already on hand.

Find Mother Thyme-
Facebook- Mother Thyme
Twitter- @MotherThyme
Pinterest- MotherThyme

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Guest Post by The Barbee Housewife: Chicken Bacon Ranch Taquitos

So what did you think of my latest Secret Recipe Club post on Monday?  It was nice to be back and "talking" with you again, even if it was scheduled in advance.  By now, I've now jetted off to my second Asian destination...but still a few days yet before I get to come home.

And so continues the series of guest posters.  We're on #3 of 6 so the fun is still just beginning!  Caroline of The Barbee Housewife is another What's Cooking message board member.

For her post, she chose to share a taquito recipe.  Now, I have tried the Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos that have been floating around the blogosphere before and enjoyed them (freeze well, too!).  I can't wait to try this version as well because can you really go wrong with the addition of bacon?  No, you cannot.  Plus, it gives me another reason to use my Homemade Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning!

Other things that caught my eye on Caroline's blog?  Pig Candy (Candied Bacon), Orange and Rosemary Pork Tenderloin, and S'mores Popcorn!  Looks like I'll have quite a bit of cooking to do once I return home!

One Year Ago: Potato and Tomato Gratin and Foil-Baked Fish with Black Beans and Corn (featured on Once a Month Mom's freezer cooking May 2012 Diet Menu!)


Hi, I am Caroline, of The Barbee Housewife, and I have the great honor of featuring on Christine's Kitchen Chronicles today, and I am so excited! My blog is a way for me to share my love for cooking with the world, because otherwise it would only be for my husband and myself, which seemed like a shame to me. We love to entertain at the Barbee household so on my blog you will find a lot of delicious appetizers that will impress others and the ease of the preparation will be just our secret!

Today, I am going to share one of our very favorite appetizers, chicken bacon ranch taquitos. The ingredients in the name say it all, who couldn't like these? It is perfect for a crowd, they are delicious and I think even your pickiest eaters will love them. These are a win-win situation because you can prep them before hand and just throw in the oven minutes before your guests arrive so you will have your house smelling amazing. Did I just say throw in the oven and taquitos? That is right, a good, ole' fashioned favorite baked instead of fried, and you will not miss the fried one bit, I can promise you that.  This recipe is for a party appetizer so it makes twenty, however,  it can easily be halved!

Chicken Bacon Ranch Taquitos
Source: Carrie's Sweet Life, via Six Sisters' Stuff

  • 1 package of Cream Cheese, 8 oz. softened
  • 12 slices of Bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 4 cups of Chicken, cooked and shredded, Rotisserie Chicken is perfect for this
  • 1 packet of Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 2 cups of Monterrey Jack Cheese, shredded
  • 3-4 tablespoons of Green Onions, chopped
  • 20 Flour Tortillas, 6-inch size
  • Salt
  • Non-Stick Cooking Spray
  1. First, pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Next, get out a large baking sheet and line it with aluminum foil. Spray it with your non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Now, get out a large bowl. Mix together the cream cheese, bacon, chicken, ranch dressing mix, cheese, and green onions. Make sure all of these ingredients are combined well so you get some in each bite.
  4. Now, you are going to roll these taquitos one at a time so get ready. Have one tortilla and place 2-3 tablespoons of the mixture in each taquito and roll it up. Place it seam-side down on the cooking sheet. Repeat until all of your tortillas are made and no mixture is left to spare.
  5. Next, spray the tops of the taquitos with your non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle with a little bit of salt.
  6. Finally, place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes for the last 30 seconds-1 minute change the temperature on your oven from bake to broil so these taquitos will get a nice browning on top.
  7. When you pull them out of the oven, let cool and then slice in half diagonally and serve with ranch dressing for dipping.

Happy Cooking,
The Barbee Housewife

Monday, September 17, 2012

SRC: Chicken Fajita Lettuce Wraps

How's it going friends?  Miss me yet?  Unfortunately I'm not back quite yet but I do hope that you're enjoying all my wonderful guest posters so far (2 down, 4 more to go!).  I can't say it enough but they are making my life infinitely easier this month as I'm busily globetrotting in Asia for work.  They really are a great bunch of ladies with drool-worthy blogs, aren't they?

Anyway, it's time for another edition of Secret Recipe Club.  Has it really been a month already?  It seems what goes around, comes around because this month I received my fellow Jazzercising friend Joanna's blog, Cairns Manor.  For those who are facebook fans or that follow me on twitter, you might recognize her name because last month I gave her a shout out for being my SRC swap partner and making my Watermelon Slush.

As I perused her blog, I also considered Sriracha Macaroni Salad which I would have brought to our annual family Labor Day picnic...except it rained so there was none.  Another one that I'd like to try when I have more time is her Char Siu Bao.  If you've followed my blog for any period of time you'll know that this was my FAVORITE growing up and I was left with my Grandpa's original recipe on an old scrap of paper.  But when I made it, it just wasn't right to me.  So, I vowed that it would be the first trial of many in order to tweak the recipe and get it just right...but...I haven't done it any more trials yet.  D'oh!  Of course, I digress so back to this post.

Ultimately I ended up choosing these chicken fajita lettuce wraps.  Not only am I a fan of trying people's original recipes but I might just be obsessed with lettuce wraps lately what with my BLT Corn Salad Wraps, Chorizo and Sweet Potato Lettuce Wraps, Asian Lettuce Wraps, and not-yet-posted California Roll Up Lettuce Wraps!  Fajitas are one of my favorite Mexican foods so this was an awesome way for me to keep the Summery lettuce wrap theme going AND cut some carbs.  The flavor was very good and came together quickly though in the future, I'd probably only use a single lime instead of two.  It was a bit too limey (is that a word?) and tart for me.  Also, I didn't have any chipotle peppers on-hand so substituted 1/4 tsp of chipotle chili powder in the dry rub and added a few slices of minced jarred jalapenos.  Perfect level of spiciness and added smoky flavor!

As usual a special thank you to April of the blog Angel's Homestead, SRC ring leader and Debbi of the blog Debbi Does Dinner, our new Group C Hostess!

Chicken Fajita Lettuce Wraps

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • Several slices of jalapeno pepper, sliced (optional for added heat)
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Toppings as desired: diced tomatoes, avocados, cheese, sour cream, etc.
  1. In a plastic ziplock bag, add the onion powder, garlic powder, coriander, chipotle powder, salt, and pepper.  Add the diced chicken then seal and shake and squish the bag to combine.  Allow chicken to  marinate in the dry rub for about 30 minutes.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally until chicken is cooked through.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan.  Add the onion and bell pepper and saute until just starting to get soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the jalapeno peppers, honey, and lime juice stirring to combine.  Bring to a light simmer and add back in the chicken, cooking until warmed.  Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve with lettuce and whatever toppings you like.
Source: Slightly modified from Cairns Manor

Friday, September 14, 2012

Guest Post by Jenna's Cooking Journey: Oatmeal Caramelitas

Today I'm happy to share with you a blogger from a local online cooking community that I participate in, What's Cooking?.  I love how vibrant the community is and there are people on there from novices to the food blog famous.  Each day, everyone shares the recipes that they've created.  It is also how I came to become part of the Recipe Swap.

Jenna and I both started cooking about the same stage in our lives - when we were in college and therefore needing to be able to provide sustenance for ourselves.  She, again like me, shares a variety of foods on her blog - mostly savory (such as this Breakfast Grilled Cheese that I think would be delicious...any excuse to eat grilled cheese all times of day!) with a sprinkling of sweet (such as Better than Sex Cake - my mother-in-law introduced me to this is pretty darn amazing! and S'mores Brownies).

Please check out the rest of Jenna's blog at Jenna’s Cooking Journey!

Three Years Ago: Sausage, Onion, and Green Pepper Fra Diavolo


When Christine asked for people to guest post on her blog, I jumped at it. I still feel pretty new to blogging (about a year and a half), and have only done one guest post, so I thought it would be fun.

I got into cooking in college, but really started cooking when I met my husband. I love finding new recipes and challenging both of us to try new things. Please drop by my blog Jenna’s Cooking Journey to check out my posts.

These bars are absolutely delicious. It was hard for me to send these bars into my husband’s office because I wanted to keep them all for myself. The bars are a little crumbly, so they definitely have to be paired with a napkin or a plate, but the chocolate and caramel center is so good that you forget about the crumbles going everywhere.

Oatmeal Caramelitas

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks of butter (1 cup), at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 cups Quick-Cooking Oats
  • 1 (14-ounce) bag Kraft soft caramel candies (about 50), unwrapped
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch baking dish (or use nonstick baking spray).
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Place the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until creamy.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture and blend until incorporated. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to fold in the oats. The mixture will be crumbly.
  5. Transfer half (about 3 cups) of the mixture to the baking dish. Use your fingers to gently press and spread the mixture evenly on the bottom of the baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes to set.
  6. While the first layer is baking, place the caramels and milk in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramels are melted. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  7. Remove the crust from the oven. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the top. Carefully pour the caramel mixture on top of the chocolate chips, and spread evenly. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until the bars are set. Cut into squares.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Guest Post by Whisks & Ruffles: Beef with Black Pepper Sauce

Good morning friends!

As this post goes live, it is currently 7PM on Wednesday in Asia and I am STILL on a plane.  Yep, I left just before 7AM on Tuesday (September 11th...still gets small gasps from people...) and will not arrive to my final destination in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia until nearly 10PM local time (10AM for those in the US Eastern Time Zone).  Aye!

So, while I'm gone, I have several guest posters that I will be featuring here on my site.  I am so extremely thankful for them to be helping me out with posting or I'm pretty sure I'd lose my mind.  I highly encourage you to check out their sites and hopefully you'll follow them regularly as I do, too.

My first guest poster is Angelina of Whisks & Ruffles.  Though she's new to blogging, you can tell she's dedicated to her nurturing her blog because she invested in a custom domain name AND a received a new DSLR to take those beautiful photos that make you drool on your keyboard. A couple of  recipes I would love to try sometime are her Korean Samgyeopsal (Pork Belly) with Ssam Jang (Soybean Past Dipping Sauce) and Pajori (Green Onion Salad) and Fancy 4-Cheese Mac and Cheese (omg am I sucker for a good mac and cheese!).

Angelina volunteered to guest post when I put out a request on my facebook fan page.  When I looked at her profile on facebook, I realized we had a mutual real-life friend in common.  She went to college with my good friend Jackie.  But that's not all we have in common, as you'll see from her introduction below.

By the way, everything she says about growing up in an Asian household and trying to replicate "recipes" is totally true!  If you don't believe me, check out my post on Grandpa N's Char Siu Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns) - See the theme with the recipes scrawled on tiny scraps of paper! - and family recipes tag to see my own (mis)adventures!


Hello! This is Angelina from Whisks & Ruffles. Like Christine, I’m a twenty-something engineer by day and a cooking wife by night. I love to cook, bake, decorate, party plan, and anything wedding-related! Yes, I’m a newlywed and I just can’t help it! Head over to my site to read on my adventures!

Beef with Black Pepper Sauce

Growing up in an Asian household, I’m always in awe of what my mom whips up in the kitchen. It’s so hard to pin-point her recipes though, since she always seems to eye-ball the ingredients. Her food always tastes so amazing, and it’s difficult for me to replicate, because well… her eye-balling is not the same as my eye-balling I guess... but with time, I became wiser, and I learned. At least I’d like to think so!

Whenever I feel like an easy Asian stir-fry, I use the Beef with Black Pepper recipe I found on the Taiwan Center website as a guide. This recipe actually has been posted on my fridge door for quite some time, but whenever I feel like making this dish, I only use it to remind me of the ingredients, and I find myself eye-balling the amount of sauces I add in.

For my guest post at Christine’s Kitchen Chronicles, I attempted to pin-point my recipes, so that you readers can actually try this at home! As I added ingredients, I actually measured them and wrote them down. Finally, I updated the recipe on my fridge! Hooray!

Here’s the before and after recipes (pardon my Disney magnets)

  • ¾ - 1 Lbs. Beef
  • 2 Tbsp. Chopped Garlic
  • ½ Large Onion, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. Canola Oil
  • 1 Broccoli Bunch
Beef Marinade (mix all together)
  • 2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • ½ Tbsp. Sesame Oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Corn Starch
  • 1 tsp. Rice Vinegar
Black Pepper Sauce (mix all together):
  • 3 Tbsp. Oyster Sauce
  • 2 tsp. Sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. Water
  • 2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper (use less if you don’t like your food spicy!)

Marinade the beef for about 30 minutes using the marinade recipe above. I used “beef hanging tenders” that’s already pre-sliced, but you can slice your own beef sirloin.

Cut up broccoli and steam. Set aside.

In a large wok, heat up canola oil and toss in chopped garlic and onion. Stir until onions are starting  to brown and garlic becomes fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Introduce the marinated beef and stir-fry for about 3 minutes, until beef is half-cooked.

Pour in the Black Pepper Sauce, and continue to stir-fry for another 3 minutes, until beef is fully cooked.

Serve beef on top of a bed of steamed broccoli from step #2. You can also use Chinese Broccoli (Gai-Lan) or Bok Choy. If you don’t feel like eating veggies you can also skip this part.

I ate my Beef with Black Pepper with a bowl of steamed rice. Delish!

Thank you Christine for letting me guest-post on your blog!

When I ran across the street to buy my last-minute much-needed oyster sauce from a local grocery, I saw some corn on sale, and it reminds me of your Creamed Corn! I wish summer never went away, but Ican’t wait to try this recipe and reminisce the good summer days…


Monday, September 10, 2012

Mini Corn Dog Muffins

Hi, it's me!  Bet you weren't expecting me after I told you I was leaving, huh?  Well it turns out that my scheduled guest poster for today, Erika of Teenage Taste, had a family emergency and ended up not being able to complete her post to share on my blog today.  I really LOVE her blog so still think you should check it out anyway.  She had me for Secret Recipe Club once and took some beautiful photos of my Cheddar Cauliflower Soup.  Plus, pretty much everything she posts just looks incredibly delicious.  The part I think is the coolest?  She's still in high school!  My what talent Erika has and I know she will go far in life :).

But that left me with a hole in my blog lineup at about 10PM on Sunday.  Thank goodness I have a stockpile of posts!  Today, I'm choosing to share a very simple recipe with you.  And one that's PERFECT for Monday night football in case you need something to nosh on during the big game (WHO DEY!).

It's also a great quick meal to bring to new parents.  They freeze well (zap them in the microwave to refresh!) and their bite-sized nature makes them easy to pop in your mouth with one hand (sans plate) as you try to maneuver a baby with the other.  Just ask my friends Sigmund and Kristen whom I brought these little muffins all way from Cincinnati to New York City to Boston when I visited them and their new baby earlier this Summer.

Mini Corn Dog Muffins

The first time I made them was to give away and Chris was so sad that they weren't for us.  Given I had leftover buttermilk and needed a quick dinner, they made the menu for just us to enjoy.  We love these muffins and found it hard to not eat the entire pan (I make half a recipe).  They taste just like corn dogs but are bite-sized and healthier because they're not fried.  The funniest part of all was when I plated mine with ketchup and mustard, Chris' arch enemy.  He was so grossed out that when we sat down for dinner together, he ate and talked to me with his eyes closed the whole time!  Silly hubby!

Looking for more game day foods?  Try...
Three Years Ago: Finn Nisu Bread

Okay, signing out for now.  Guest posters coming up next!

Mini Corn Dog Muffins

Mini Corn Dog Muffins

Yields: 48 mini muffins


  • 1/2 cup melted butter (or 1/4 cup butter + 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8-10 hot dogs, cut into 1" bites


  1. Preheat oven to 375F.  Spray a mini muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Combine the butter and sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine.  Add the eggs and whisk together.  Add the buttermilk and whisk again.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine baking soda, cornmeal, flour, and salt.  Stir to combine.  Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry in two batches.
  4. Spoon 1 Tablespoon of batter into each prepared mini muffin cup.  Place one hot dog bite into the middle of each cup.
  5. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until cornbread is golden brown.  Cool in mini muffin tin for 5 minutes before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator and reheat for 20-30 seconds before serving.  Can also be frozen and reheated!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Canning Whole Peeled Tomatoes

If you've been following my blog these past few years, you'll know that I'm part of Cedarmore CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  Each week is a new surprise bounty of wholesome goodness.  One of my favorite things to receive are the tomatoes.  They have SO much more flavor than the ones that you get at a grocery store.  Those impostors really shouldn't even be called tomatoes!  So when the farm said they had canning tomatoes available for just $0.50/lb, I jumped at the chance to give canning, something I'd always wanted to try, a shot.

My first order of tomatoes was 20 pounds.  I figured it would be a trial run without too much risk (I can spare $10!) and would give me lots of fresh organically grown tomatoes throughout the dreary Winter months if things went right.  The first adventure was whole tomatoes because it looked like it would require the least amount of effort.  It actually turned out so well and was quite fun so I ended up ordering ANOTHER 20 pounds for myself to make tomato sauce!

How did it go?  Well, I'd say quite well!  My labor yielded 12 pints (2 cups each) of whole tomatoes and 5 quarts (4 cups each) of fresh tomato sauce.  I used the Ball regular-mouth pints and quarts because their jars are high quality and made right here in the USA!

Sure, it was a lot of work (maybe 5-6 hours?) and each pint cost roughly $0.50 or $1 per quart for the tomatoes plus the cost of jars (less than $1/jar) but the satisfaction of knowing EXACTLY where my tomatoes came from and how they came to be, knowing they were pesticide free and packed in BPA-free, glass jars.  This was priceless to me and I know my long-term health will be all the better for it.

But how did we get to such a glorious end result?  By starting with a big 'ol box of tomatoes!  This was the box that contained my first 20 pounds....

The first step to canning tomatoes is to core them then remove the skins by blanching them.  Some people say to cut an "X" into the bottom of the tomato to make the peeling easier but personally, I find that the skins slide off just fine without that step so I skip it.  I'm all about simplification.  Since these are canning tomatoes and therefore contain imperfections, you want to cut out any bad parts, too.  You don't want that yucky stuff in your jars.

So here are the first batch of blanched tomatoes, naked and ready to be placed into their jars.

Now, when canning whole tomatoes, you'd want to keep them as...well...whole as possible!  After gently squishing (we're not making crushed tomatoes, here!) a few whole ones into my pint-sized jars, I found there was still extra room so I cut some into holes and even quarters to fill the voids.  In the case of making sauce, you'd use the handy wide-mouth funnel to help you easily transfer the saucy goodness.

Now acidify the jars with a tablespoon of lemon juice (Note: For quarts, add 2 tablespoons).  This will make sure the tomatoes have the proper pH level to be safely canned using a simple water bath.  I ran out of bottled lemon juice here so had to use fresh lemons but again for simplicity's sake, TOTALLY recommend getting a big bottle of pre-squeezed lemon juice when you can your tomatoes!

Then you use this handy dandy bubble remover which came with my new Ball Canning Utensils Set.  See how much fun I was having?!  Die bubbles, die!

You'd think that the jar is ready to be closed with the lid but not quite yet.  First you want to wipe the mouth of the jar real clean with a clean, dry, lint-free cloth.  My mother-in-law, Mary Lynn, helped with that.  You may have tried your darndest to be neat but let's face it, things get a little messy in the kitchen.  If you skip this step, you risk the chance of not forming a good seal and then all your hard work will have gone to waste!

Now time to use the magnetic tool from the Ball Canning Utensils Set.  This thing was so handy because you could dip it right into your pot of simmering water to retrieve a sterilized lid and ring without contaminating them with your super tomatoey hands!  Onto the jars they go and then into the water bath.  For our first batch, we just used a regular old pot which unfortunately only held four jars at a time.  It did the job without added cost but you know what they say, time is money!  To speed things along in subsequent canning adventures, Mary Lynn bought huge pot with lots of capacity because it is designed for canning.

Once you process the jars forever for 45 minutes (pints), you lift them out guessed, it, more handy tools from your Ball Canning Utensils Set!  Place them on a clean, dry kitchen towel to cool and then pray that you hear the glorious sound of popping which indicates that they have sealed correctly.  I can't tell you how elated I was to hear that first pop and then to my delight, an entire SYMPHONY of popping soon followed.  SUCCESS!

Before you tuck your pretty new jars of homemade, canned tomatoes away, make sure you label them so you know what they are and when you made them :).

I hope you enjoyed my photo adventure.  Check out the real instructions for canning at Food in Jars or Annie's Eats also did a wonderful feature including step-by-step photos recently, too.  

By the way, to do tomato sauce, there's an extra step of milling your whole tomatoes in a food mill to get rid of those pesky seeds and cooking them down to your desired thickness but worth the effort!  We had just about a cup or two extra so made some dipping sauce for stromboli.  It was the richest, freshest sauce I've ever experienced and was so proud that it came out of MY kitchen!

Now, I'm leaving on a jet plane for a few weeks for work.  But no worries, starting tomorrow, I have lined up SEVEN fabulous bloggers who will be guest posting for me while I'm gone.  There are some seriously drool-worthy recipes coming up and a little bit of something for everyone.  I hope that you discover a new blog to love! :)

Happy canning and until we meet again!