November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Cheer

Thanksgiving's over (insert very, very, very sad face), and I'm back in Athens, ready to finish this last week of classes and take on my first set of college finals! I thought I would sit down and write this post before studying starts to take over my free time.

Anyway, Thanksgiving break was so great. I spent most of it cooking, shopping, and relaxing with friends and family. I'm so thankful for each and every moment I had with them this past week. I love being at home. Home is good. I also love Athens, though. It's an awesome city with awesome people. You know what else is awesome about it? Our SEC East Champion Bulldawgs are going to the SEC CHAMPIONSHIP this weekend! I. Am. So. Excited. It's going to be a good weekend full of Christmas parties, football, and friends.

Onto the main topic: food. First, here are some Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes...

Now for the FOUR Thanksgiving pies. Last year, my mom and I made four pies for the four members of our family. This seems excessive. It IS excessive. However, everyone has their pie that they HAVE to have if it's gonna be a traditional Thanksgiving. Dad's is Pumpkin, Mom's is Pecan, Drew's is Apple, and mine is Chocolate Chip. Luckily, my wonderful grandparents came to our house for Thanksgiving this year, so we had two extra mouths to help us eat our pies :) 




Chocolate Chip 

That's all for now! I'll be back in a couple of weeks with Christmas goodies to share! 

November 23, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom

So I'm a little late getting to this blog post, but better late than never, right? Anyway, last Tuesday (the 15th) was my brother's birthday and last Thursday (the 17th) was my mom's birthday. I came home from school on Thursday to surprise my mom for her birthday, but before she got home from work, I had some time to make some yummy birthday cupcakes! I asked my mom what kind of dessert she wanted for her birthday, and her special request was just some vanilla cake with vanilla icing. Yes, it's that good! We do love chocolate around here, but this cake is just about even with anything chocolate!

Tomorrow is THANKSGIVING! Be prepared for some pie pictures, along with Pumpkin Spice Cupcake pictures and come in the next few days!

November 1, 2011

Apple Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

Hey y'all!
This is my final post for quite a while. I'm not going home again until Thanksgiving, and this cake is the last of what I baked this past weekend. It's a good one to end on, though, because this cake is the epitome of a perfect fall recipe! It's not too hard, and it tastes delicious. I wish I had pictures of the inside of the cake, but I don't. I was in a rush to cut and serve it, and I never got around to taking a picture of the pretty inside. Just imagine a nice cream cheese swirl through the center! 
Apple Cream Cheese Bundt Cake 
Apple Cream Cheese Bundt Cake 
            1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
            1/4 cup butter, softened
            1/2 cup granulated sugar
            1 large egg
            2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
            1 teaspoon vanilla extract
            APPLE CAKE BATTER:
            1 cup finely chopped pecans
            3 cups all-purpose flour
            1 cup granulated sugar
            1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
            2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
            1 teaspoon salt
            1 teaspoon baking soda
            1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
            1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
            3 large eggs, lightly beaten
            3/4 cup canola oil
            3/4 cup applesauce
            1 teaspoon vanilla extract
            3 cups peeled and finely chopped Gala apples (about 1 1/2 lb.)
            1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
            1/4 cup butter
            3 tablespoons milk
            1 teaspoon vanilla extract
            1 cup powdered sugar
            1. Prepare Filling: Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended and smooth. Add egg, flour, and vanilla; beat just until blended.
            2. Prepare Batter: Preheat oven to 350º. Bake pecans in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Stir together 3 cups flour and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in eggs and next 3 ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in apples and pecans.
            3. Spoon two-thirds of apple mixture into a greased and floured 14-cup Bundt pan. Spoon Cream Cheese Filling over apple mixture, leaving a 1-inch border around edges of pan. Swirl filling through apple mixture using a paring knife. Spoon remaining apple mixture over Cream Cheese Filling.
            4. Bake at 350º for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 2 hours).
            5. Prepare Frosting: Bring 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter, and 3 Tbsp. milk
            to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly; boil 1
            minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Gradually whisk in
            powdered sugar until smooth; stir gently 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to
            cool and thickens slightly. Pour immediately over cooled cake.

Garlic Breadsticks & Penne Rustica

Last Saturday, the day of being in the kitchen ALL day long, I made something REALLY good. I'm not trying to brag. I'm just trying to emphasize how good this recipe is so you'll make it yourself. The recipe is for copycat Olive Garden breadsticks, and luckily, they really do taste like Olive Garden breadsticks. If you don't believe me, give it a shot! We made copycat Macaroni Grill Penne Rustica to go along with it, and I don't have a good picture of that, but I'll give you the recipe anyway! It was SO good. However, big took a lot of effort to make. If you're looking for a quick pasta recipe, this is not the one for you :)

Olive Garden Breadsticks 

Olive Garden Breadsticks 
1 1/2 cups warm water (between 110 - 120 degrees F)
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt

In a large bowl, dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water and allow to sit for 10 minutes, covered. Mixture should be frothy.

In separate bowl, combine flour and salt.

Add to yeast mixture. Add melted butter. Mix with paddle attachment of stand mixer or wooden spoon until fully combined.

Knead dough for a few minutes just until dough is smooth. Do not overknead!

Grease a cookie sheet. Pull off pieces of dough and roll out into strips.

I ended up with 10 breadsticks, but you could easily make more by rolling them shorter or thinner.

Cover the dough and let sit in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and once heated, pop in the breadsticks. In microwave, combine the following:

1 stick unsalted butter (or 1/2 cup margarine)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt

After 6 or 7 minutes, brush the breadsticks with half the butter mixture.
Then continue to bake for 12-15 minutes. Immediately upon removal from the oven, brush the other half of the butter on the breadsticks.

Macaroni Grill Penne Rustica 
Gratinata sauce (use 4 1/2 cups )
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dill
1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1/2 cup marsala cooking wine
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups heavy cream

Penne Rustica
1/2 ounce pancetta or bacon (I used an ounce which was 1 strip of bacon for me)
9 raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 ounces grilled chicken breasts, sliced (1 large breast or 2 small)
8-12 ounces penne pasta, cooked
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped pimiento (optional)
3 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon chopped shallot
 pinch salt and pepper
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon paprika
3 sprigs fresh rosemary (for garnish)

1. For Gratinata Sauce: Saute butter, garlic, and rosemary until garlic begins to brown.
2. Add Marsala wine and reduce by one-third.
3. Add remaining ingredients, reduce by half of the original volume.
4. Set aside.
5. For Penne Rustica: Saute pancetta or bacon until it begins to brown.
6. Add butter, shallots, and shrimp.
7. Cook until shrimp are evenly pink but still translucent.
8. Add chicken, salt, pepper, and mix thoroughly.
9. Add gratinata sauce and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
10. Simmer until sauce thickens.
11. In a large bowl, combine shrimp and chicken mixture with the cooked pasta.
12. Pour into a large casserole dish or roaster.
13. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup more parmesan cheese, pimientos and sprinkle with paprika.
14. Bake at 475 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.

15. Remove and garnish with fresh rosemary sprig.