Kitchen Concoctions: August 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fiber One 80 Calorie Cereal Giveaway

Since this is the last week of August I had planned on sharing the recipes and review for August's Magazine of the Month but as I mentioned a few days ago I have had computer issues. Since my computer is being repaired, which has all the photos for those recipes on it, I will have to post pone those recipes and review for a few days. But in the mean time how about a small giveaway!

Cereal is my go to breakfast and snack option. I eat A LOT of cereal. And boy was I excited when I saw the new Fiber One 80 Calorie Cereal! Now I can get my cold cereal fix without any guilt!

Each crunchy wheat and corn puff square in every bowl of Fiber One 80 Calories cereal has a light honey flavor. It is full of fiber, containing 40% of the daily value, which helps satisfy your hunger and helps you feel full longer.

Want to try this new low calorie, full fiber cereal? Well Fiber One has offered one lucky Kitchen Concoctions reader a Fiber One 80 Calorie Cereal Prize Pack containing the following:

  • 1 box of Fiber One 80 Calories Cereal

  • 1 sensor pedometer with USB connector to chart walking progress

  • 1 neoprene iPod/smartphone holder with armstrap

  • You have FIVE separate ways to enter the Fiber One 80 Calorie Cereal Giveaway! (NOTE: Please leave a SEPARATE comment for each response below):

    1. Leave a comment on this post answering the following question: What is your favorite breakfast option?

    2. Become a follower of Kitchen Concoctions through Google Friend Connect.

    3. Tell someone about this giveaway, whether it be on a blog, Facebook or Twitter and leave a new comment letting me know and sharing the link.

    4. For a fourth entry to this giveaway, head over to Kitchen Concoction’s Facebook page and click ”Like”. Then come back here and leave a separate comment letting me know you did.

    5. And for a fifth and final entry follow Kitchen Concoctions on Twitter.

    This give-away closes Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 11:00 PM CST. Winner will be chosen at random and will be announced sometime shortly after the give-away ends. Winner must contact Kitchen Concoctions within 72 hours at kitchen_concoctions at hotmail dot com to claim prize. If winner has not claimed prize within 72 hours then a new winner will be notified. Giveaway for US residents only.

    Disclaimer: Fiber One 80 Calories cereal, information, and giveaway have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.

    Monday, August 29, 2011

    Week of S'mores (A Review)

    To bad today isn't the end of Lemonade Week (two weeks ago) because the title of this post should be, "When Life Gives You Lemons...". This past week/weekend has been overwhelming. Super busy with work, emergency car repairs and my brand new laptop (only a few months old) broke and of course the problem is not covered under the warranty! Grrr!!! Seriously when it rains it pours (but if we are literally speaking, it has not rained here in Texas in about 9 months, and we are in a severe drought, causing all sorts of heat/drought/fire problems)!

    But being the optimistic person I am, I will restate that sentence with "when life gives you lemons eat S'MORES!!!!" Haha!

    I don't tend to be an emotional/stress eater but I tell you what, I would give anything to have one of these S'mores treats right now to comfort me in my time of stress! Or maybe I should go create a new S'mores recipe to try! LOL! I'm already feeling better just thinking about it!

    So in case you missed S'mores week here is all that yummy, gooey, goodness!

    Looking for an easy snack for movie or game night? Give this S'mores Snack Mix a try!

    This Chocolate Bar S'mores Pie is my twist on an old family favorite. Rich and gooey this pie is a sure winner.

    This S'mores Oatmeal has totally made it into my weekly oatmeal routine. If I am making a recipe that frequently you know it's got to be good.

    S'mores Doughnuts anyone? Yes please? These doughnuts were my pride and joy of the week and my favorite of them all!

    And last but not least, this S'mores Ice Cream Sundae with Marshmallow Sauce was a knock out!

    Saturday, August 27, 2011

    "A Hot Mess"

    What do you get when you combine ice cream and a 110 degree day?

    A hot mess or a cool treat depending on how you look at it!

    With summer expected to stick around for many more weeks to come in these parts, ice cream is the perfect cool me down dessert after a family dinner. However, with this massive heat wave you better eat it quick before all you have left is a puddle of cream!

    This extravagant S’mores Ice Cream Sundae is simple to make treat that incorporates all the fun flavors of s’mores in a unique but satisfying way.

    One Year Ago: Foil Packet Tilapia
    Two Years Ago: Texas Chili

    S’mores Ice Cream Sundae
    By Heather of Kitchen Concoctions:
    Printable Version

    premade brownies (homemade or store bought)
    Graham crackers
    Vanilla ice cream
    Chocolate sauce
    Marshmallow sauce (recipe below)

    Break graham crackers in half into two squares. Cut brownies into squares the size of the graham cracker squares. Sandwich the prepared brownie between the two graham crackers.

    Top brownie/graham cracker sandwich with vanilla ice cream. Drizzle ice cream with both chocolate and marshmallow sauce. Top ice cream with additional crushed graham crackers.

    Marshmallow Sauce
    by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions:
    Printable Version

    Prep Time: 2 minutes Cook Time: 7 minutes Makes: 1 ½ cups

    2/3 cup marshmallow crème
    1 tablespoon butter
    4 tablespoons milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 cup confectioners’ sugar

    Place marshmallow crème, butter, milk, and vanilla extract in a small sauce pan and heat to a boil.

    Gradually stir in confectioners’ sugar until thoroughly mixed in and sauce is smooth.

    Reduce heat and allow sauce to simmer for 5 minutes.

    Friday, August 26, 2011

    D is for Doughnuts

    Eric loves donuts! On trips to the grocery store they are his special treat reward for tagging along and helping me unload bags and bags of groceries! (Wink. Wink.)

    And while our local grocery store produces half way decent baked goods they are not the greatest. And obviously depending the time of day can be stale and just blah.

    So for what seems like ions and ions Eric has been asking me to make his favorite doughnuts (cake doughnuts) at home. I am not a fan of frying foods so this was a request that I did not immediately jump on. That is until I discovered Wilton’s Doughnut Pan (insert white light and angle halo)!

    This pan is the best thing ever!! It is perfect for making those dense cake doughnuts Eric loves. When I bought this perfect pan, I envisioned all the endless doughnut possibilities available. And boy was I giddy when I dreamt up these S’mores doughnuts. Then when I finally made these doughnuts, they were love at first bite, causing me to do ‘the happy dance’ in my kitchen.

    So take my word for it, make the small investment and get this pan, because you will be seeing many more delightful doughnut creations to come.

    One Year Ago: Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole
    Two Years Ago: Texas Chili

    S’mores Doughnuts
    by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions:
    Printable Version

    Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 9-12 minutes Makes about 1 dozen donuts

    1 1/4 cups flour
    1 ¼ cup graham cracker crumbs (ground using food processor)
    3/4 cup sugar
    2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    2 large eggs
    1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
    2 tablespoons butter, melted
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Marshmallow Crème Glaze (recipe below)
    ¼ cup mini chocolate chips

    Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a donut pan with cooking spray.

    In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, ground graham crackers crumbs, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add eggs, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla. Beat just until combined.

    Fill prepared donut pan with the batter, filling each doughnut cup approximately 2/3 full. Bake in the preheated oven for 9-12 minutes or until doughnuts spring back when touched.

    Let doughnuts cool in pan for 4-5 minutes before removing. Top cooled doughnuts with glaze (recipe below) and mini chocolate chips.

    Marshmallow Crème Glaze
    by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions:

    1/3 cup marshmallow crème
    3 tablespoons milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

    Place marshmallow crème in microwave safe bowl. Microwave on medium heat for 30 seconds.
    Stir in remaining ingredients until sugar is dissolved and glaze is smooth.
    Immediately dip cooled doughnuts into glaze. Top with mini chocolate chips.

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011

    Chocolate Lovers Breakfast

    If you are NOT a chocolate lover like me then you probably don't think thoughts like, "where did I hide safely tuck away that candy bar" or do things like call EVERYONE I know when said candy bar is no where to be found and accuse them of "stealing" MY candy bar (no really *hanging my head in shame*).

    If you are not an obsessive chocoholic like me then you probably don't know every flavor M&M ever made or make up national holidays just so you have an excuse plausible reason to make a any form of chocolate dessert and not feel guilty about eating it.
    If you don't think like me then you don't know approximately one thousand and one reasons excuses I think of on a daily basis on why my chocolate indulgences are ok. (number 5 being dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and number 119 being if you eat chocolate filled with peanut butter then you are totally getting protein AND antioxidants all in one delicious bite.)

    If you ARE a chocolate lover though, then you DO probably think like me and are always thinking how you can incorporate chocolate into E.V.E.R.Y. meal. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Snacks. Appetizers. Drinks. OK! that's just me!

    But because I do think like that, then I get really excited, no down right giddy when I see meals other than just dessert with chocolate in them. Take this S'mores Oatmeal. NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL BREAKFAST!!!!. Hearty oatmeal, double chocolate flavor, gooey melted marshmallows, crunchy graham crackers, and HEALTHY (wait how did that word get in there)! I can't think of a better way to start my morning! How 'bout you?

    S'mores Oatmeal
    Printable Version
    Prep Time: 2 minutes Cook Time: 10-12 minutes Serves 1-2

    3/4 cup old fashioned oats
    One 25-calories packet hot cocoa mix
    Dash Salt
    1 cup skim milk
    1 cup water
    ¼ teaspoon vanilla
    2 teaspoons mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
    2 tablespoons mini marshmallows
    1 cracker sheet low-fat honey graham crackers crushed

    Combine oats, cocoa mix and salt in a nonstick pot on the stove.

    Add milk, water, and vanilla. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.

    Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very thick and creamy.

    Remove pot from heat. Add 1 teaspoon chocolate chips and stir until melted.

    Transfer to bowl and top with marshmallows, crushed graham cracker, and remaining 1 teaspoon chocolate chips. Enjoy!

    adapted from Hungry Girl: 300 Recipes Under 300 Calories

    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    The Studio

    Eric (as well as friends and family) sometimes like to tease me about my blogging. I often hear "is this recipe going on your blog?" or "we have to wait for Heather to take her blog pictures before we can eat." And then it is quite comical to see everyone fight over the plate of food that gets all ‘dressed’ up for the photo shoot.

    But mostly I am teased about my "studio". You see where I used to live the only place with best natural light for my food pictures was my bedroom (a little blogging secret for you). So in a corner of my room near the window, I had a table set up to take all my pics and all my props (scrapbook papers, tablecloths, placemats, etc.) were stored underneath this table. It was the perfect food photography studio!
    My new place also doesn't have good lighting either. There are shade trees everywhere, which is perfect for keeping the house cool but bad for taking pics of food. So I am still trying to figure out the best spots for food pictures.

    And don’t even get me started if I make something that I want to blog about away from home. That is always a challenge trying to take food photos in an unfamiliar location scrambling around looking for props and good lighting.

    The picture of this Chocolate Bar S’mores Pie is a perfect example of that. I recently went to visit my family and I made this pie to celebrate my brother’s birthday (he is a HUGE pie lover). I knew I wanted this pie as part of my S’mores week but was faced with the photography dilemma.
    So don’t let the lack of photo quality below, discourage you from making this recipe. This pie is extremely rich and gooey. If you are a s’mores lover or even just a chocoholic (you could omit the marshmallows) this is the pie for you!

    Chocolate Bar S’mores Pie
    Printable Version
    Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Serves 6-8
    5 milk chocolate candy bars
    ¼ cup milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    15 large marshmallows, cut into quarters
    1 (9 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
    1 premade graham cracker pie crust
    20 large marshmallows, cut in half, for topping

    Preheat broiler.

    Heat milk, chocolate bars, vanilla, and 15 marshmallows (cut into quarters), over low heat until melted and well blended. Cool slightly.

    Slowly fold in frozen whipped topping and blend well. Pour into prepared graham cracker crust.
    Top pie with remaining 20 halved marshmallows. Place pie under broiler for 1 or 2 minutes until marshmallows start to brown.

    Allow pie to cool before serving.

    adapted from a recipe my Mom always made

    I am linking this recipe to Tidy Mom's Hoilday Pie round up (here is the info): Come join Love the Pie with TidyMom sponsored by Cherokee USA, Le Creuset, Wilton, Bags by Bloom and Harvard Common Press

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    S'mores Week Is Here

    I am so excited at the moment. For today. This week. Because it is the much anticipated...


    I have been brainstorming, preparing, eating my way for weeks to bring you this week of ALL s'mores recipes. I have been giving hints and mentioning that this week was in the works for sometime and had everything planned and ready to go for last week but life had different plans. But alas it is here.

    I don't know who is more excited, me, you, or Eric. Me because of my undying love for all things s'mores and the phenomenal s'mores recipes I have in store for this week. You because of the love you all have expressed for other s'more recipes I have featured (and their popularity). Or Eric because as much as he loves s'mores (a good thing since he is with me), I think that he is kinda tired of all my s'mores hoopla and is ready for a new dessert obsession (hummm what should I do next? red velvet, German chocolate, cake batter flavored treats??? Please. send. help.)

    First up this S'mores Snack Mix (inspired by this recipe). Crunchy grahmn cereal, toasted Cheerios, slightly melted chocolate and plump mallows, it doesn't get much better than that! This sncak mix made a great movie night treat for us, but I am sure it will make future appearances at game night, parties, and with school back in session would be perfect for a rewarding after school snack. And even if you just make this and sit on the floor staring at the mound of laundry needing to be done (judgement free zone here), making eating this snack mix will surely make happy (or desperate) times better.

    S’mores Snack Mix
    By Heather of Kitchen Concoction:
    4 cups Cheerios
    4 cups Golden Grahams
    1/2 cup butter, melted
    3 tablespoons sugar
    3 tablespoons cocoa
    1 ½ cups chocolate chips
    2 cups mini marshmallows
    Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
    Combine cereals. In a small bowl mix butter, sugar, and cocoa. Pour evenly over cereal and toss to coat. Pour into a 9x13 pan and bake for 1 hour stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly and stir in chocolate chips and marshmallows.

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    Shucking the Myths About Corn

    It seems so hard to believe that school has started or is starting for most of the country. Thus a sign that summer is quickly coming to the end. (frowny face) And although I am more than looking forward to cool temperatures (I have had more than enough 105 degree days), football, recipes full of pumpkin and apples, and the upcoming holidays, I sure will miss all the wonderful, beautiful fruit and veggies of the summer (as well as long days, playing at the pool and beach, and the lazy less hectic days of summer). Anyways, one veggie I can't get enough in the summer is corn!! If you ever wondered about the health benefits of corn or how to prepare it check out the article and recipe below that I wrote for meal planning/recipe site Food on the Table.

    Summer screams fresh produce and nothing is more popular this warm season than corn! Since corn isAmerica’s number one crop, grown from May until September, corn consumption helps boost the U.S. economy and supports fresh, local eating.

    Even though corn has had a bad reputation over the years, accused of having very little nutritional value and bland taste; it is actually a very versatile, tasty and nutritional food. Corn is not only high in fiber, but is also a good source of Vitamin C, mineral manganese, and recent research shows corn providing antioxidant benefits.
    Corn is ripe when it has bright green, moist husks and plump, firm kernels. It is best consumed the day
    it is purchased, but can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Fresh corn
    freezes well and can be stored in the freezer for 4 to 6 months. If freezing corn, it should be blanched
    first and then stored in heavy duty freezer packaging.

    Fresh corn on the cob can be cooked in a variety of ways, from roasting, boiling, microwaving and of
    course grilling. Grilled corn in the cob is probably the most popular way to enjoy this summertime
    vegetable. To grill corn in the husks, first prepare the grill to medium heat. Soak the whole cobs in
    cold water for 15 minutes. After soaking, remove the corn from the water, shake off excess water and
    remove the silk part of the husks. Place the prepared ears of corn on grill (avoiding direct flames), and
    allow corn to cook for 20 minutes. Corn is done when husk is dark and kernels begin to pull away from
    the tip of the ear.

    Corn is a staple in most American households and enjoyed in a variety of dishes and cuisines. This
    Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa can be served with tortilla chips for the perfect summer snack,
    appetizer, or side dish. It is also a very fresh and flavorful topping for grilled chicken or fish!

    One Year Ago: Canadian Bacon and Pineapple Pizza
    Two Years Ago: Fried Pork Chops

    Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa
    by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions:
    Printable Version
    Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook time: 20-25 minutes Serves 6

    ½ tablespoon olive oil
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon black pepper
    3 ears of corn
    3 Roma tomatoes, diced
    2 jalapenos, minced
    ½ medium red onion, diced
    1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
    3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
    ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
    1 tablespoon lime juice

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    Remove husks from corn. Drizzle corn with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap each ear of corn with aluminum foil and cook in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Once cooked, allow corn to cool and carefully slice off kernels.

    In a large bowl, combine corn with all remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Serve with tortilla chips or over grilled chicken or fish.

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Building My Career

    I mentioned yesterday that my life has been extremely busy as of late. And it is going to get busier!! But in a good way! I am excited to share that I have taken a part time position (in addition to my freelance work for Food on the Table) teaching children and adult cooking classes. I will be teaching these classes through Lori's Culinary Co. I am very excited about this opportunity to share my passion and knowledge about food and cooking in a different more hands on avenue. Allowing me to push myself and gain experience doing cooking demonstations and building my presention skills and area of expertise. If you are in central Texas and are interested in learning more about these classes be sure and check this site out. I will also keep you posted regarding this new adventure as it unfolds!

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Christmas Gift Idea: Family Cookbook

    I have mentioned it before but I am a planner. I like to have calendars and to-do lists and a schedule. I hate grocery shopping without a list and meals planned. When my plans go array I try to roll with the punches but sometimes it can get stressful. This week is a prime example of this. At the beginning of the month I planned out all my blog posts. Lemonade week, S’mores week (YES it is still coming) and the Magazine of the month. Recipes were scheduled to be made and blogged about. Things were going good and then life got busy!! So look for those recipes to come!

    In the meantime I thought I would share an idea for a nice, creative, and fun Christmas gift, Yes you read right, I’m talking Christmas gifts today. Like I said, never too early to plan ahead! Lol! Yes I am already trying to get a jumpstart on Christmas!

    Since this is cooking blog I thought that a fun creative gift would be a family cookbook. Back in May I featured a whole slew of my Mom’s recipes that I grew up eating. Since my siblings and I are all ‘growing up’ and having families of our own, having a cookbook with each of these recipes (and family memories) would be fun and useful.

    Sure I could go and have these recipes printed and bound in a basic book but why not include photos too? So I am not only going to include recipes, family stories and memories, but photos of the recipes and family photos over the years. Also including the recipes and pictures of both my sister's wedding cakes and groom's cakes!
    There are a lot of programs and companies that can accommodate my family cookbook vision but Kodak Gallery has been so easy to use to make this special Christmas gift come true. With many different book formats available, multiple picture upload and the ability to add text, Kodak Gallery photo books are perfect for preserving a variety of memories.
    And good news from now until August 31, 2011 Kodak is offering Kitchen Concoctions readers 40% off any medium photo book orders. Click here to find out more.

    My book is still on the way but in the meantime check out some of the personal family recipes I will be including in my book:

    Mom's Sugar Cookies with Butter Cream Frosting:

    Creamy Fruit Salad:

    Mom’s Lemon Peppered Chicken:

    Disclosure: As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a Kodak Gallery Photo book of my own.

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Week of: Lemonade (a review)

    Have you seen those tea commercials (I think it is Luzianne??) where they portray tea as the drink of the summer (with a scene where a grandma and little boy are sitting on a porch swing sipping iced tea). Since I didn’t grow up drinking tea, lemonade is that drink for me. The symbol of a comforting lazy summer day sipping a drink sitting on a porch swing.

    All the recipes I shared this week as part of my lemonade themed week capture that essence, that comforting feeling. To me that is a sure sign of a successful week!

    This Crunchy Lemonade Chicken was juicy and tender, full of lemon flavor but not overwhelming.

    My family could not get enough of this Lemonade Fruit Dip! The tart lemon flavor pairs perfectly with just about any fruit, making for a light summertime snack.

    Who knew that I could incorporate lemonade into two main dishes this week! But this Crock-pot Lemonade Chicken and Broccoli was defiantly another keep, even with its more pronounced tart lemon flavor.

    I love these Luscious Lemonade Cupcakes! They are tart and tangy! A cupcake flavor I have indulged in for years.

    And last but not least, these Lemonade Cookies are what sparked the idea of a whole week centered around lemonade. I don’t know why it took me so long to finally make these cookies but once I did they didn’t last long!

    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    When Life Gives You Lemons, Sell Lemonade

    With all this talk about lemonade I am reminded of the first, wait make that the only, lemonade stand I ever had. It was way back when side ponytails, bad at home perms, and double layered socks were all the rage. I had big pink glasses, wanted to be Nancy Drew when I grew up and thought it was soooo cool that at my friend’s house we could run up and down the streets with little no supervision (just kidding Ma!) But it was that same friend that I could count on inviting me to her birthday every year and joining my save the whales, world, or rainforest campaign.
    I was in third grade and the sky was the limit. We thought that our little ‘club’ could raise money to help conquer the troubling woes of the world and sell one glass of lemonade at a time. We had big dreams but were suck in a third grade body. So off we went to make the best lemonade eva (honestly I think it was really red Kool-ade, but who could tell?) and have a kickin’ lemonade stand. After about 30 minutes and 2 drinks later (to my friend’s Mom and little sister) we got bored, gave up, and went to seek fun in better places. The end.

    This week as I have focused on lemonade recipes I reminisced about that fun time. Maybe that was the underlying reason for this lemonade week. Lemonade reminds me of simpler times and boy do I need that right now! Or maybe I will just take any excuse I can get to make sweet treats! Heehee!

    I have had this Lemonade Cookie recipe for almost a decade and finally decided to make it (one of the many great finds I have recently re-discovered in my blue recipe binder). Having a whole week of lemonade recipes then naturally fell into place.

    These cookies are soft and sweet like sugary cookies but tangy and tart on the taste buds like lemonade. AKA these cookies were gobbled up by all!

    Lemonade Cookies
    Printable Version
    Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 10-12 minutes Makes 24-36 cookies

    ½ cup plus 4 tablespoons butter, softened
    2/3 Cups sugar
    1 cup powdered sweetened lemonade mix, divided
    1 egg
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon lemon extract or 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
    2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda

    Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and 2/3 cup of the lemonade mix until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract, and lemon extract or grated lemon rind.

    In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the batter, beating until thoroughly combined (dough will be slightly crumbly).

    Place the remaining 1/3 cup of lemonade mix in a shallow dish. Form the dough into 1-inch balls and roll them in the lemonade mix, then place them 2 inches apart on a well-greased cookie sheet.

    Bake the cookies until the edges just begin to brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet before removing to a rack.

    adapted from Family Fun Magazine, August 2002

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    "What's your favorite?"

    I have years of experience in the restaurant/food service industry. From host, to prep/pantry cook, to sever, bartender, to catering sales, to staff developer. I did it all. I know restaurants backwards and forwards.

    People who work in this industry all have long running jokes, stories, and complaints. We all may work at different restaurants/bars/etc. but we deal with the same types of customers and day to day activities.

    But one of my biggest pet peeves when I worked ‘the industry’ was the question “What is your favorite (fill in the blank)?” Well this question could go several ways: I give you my opinion you take it, order the food suggested and either a.) like it and thank me for my recommendation or b.) hate it and complain or 3.) have me share my opinion and completely ignore it or make comments about it.

    This is all fine and dandy because I am entitled to my opinion as you are yours. But don’t complain or put me down for my opinion. I mean heck there are plenty of people I waited on that ordered such weird food combinations that I would never eat but who was I to tell them they could or couldn’t have it?

    This could be applied to all things in life, not only food, to each his (or her, to be PC) own. But because this is a food blog we’ll continue to talk food and these Luscious Lemonade Cupcakes. I triple puffy heart these cupcakes. They are super moist and have extreme lemon flavor. As much as I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic, I love a good tart citrus dessert, especially in the summer. But some of my family and friends that I served these to thought that they were way to tart and tangy.

    To. Each. Their. Own.

    What’s your OPINION? Do you love a tart and tangy citrus dessert? Or can it be too much for your taste buds?

    Luscious Lemonade Cupcakes
    By Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
    Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time 18-20 minutes Makes 18-24 cupcakes

    1 (18.25 ounce) box lemon cake mix
    1 (3.4 ounce) package instant lemon pudding mix
    1 cup vanilla yogurt
    4 eggs
    3/4 cup vegetable oil
    3/4 cup fresh lemonade


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
    In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, yogurt, eggs, oil and lemonade. Pour batter into prepared muffin tin.

    Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

    Citrus Buttercream Icing
    By Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
    Printable Version
    Prep Time: 10 minutes Makes approximately 2 cups icing


    1 cup butter, softened
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    3 tablespoons orange juice
    3 tablespoons fresh lemonade
    6 cups powdered sugar


    Cream the butter and vanilla. Slowly add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, alternating with the lemon juice and orange juice mixing until desired consistency is reached.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    Flour Power

    I am still on my lemonade kick with today's recipe for Crock-pot Lemonade Chicken and Broccoli but I am talking all about flour. Go figure! The below article is one I wrote for meal planning/recipe site Food on the Table, all about different types of flour and how you can subsitute all-purpose flour for some of those specialty varities. Very useful if I do say so myself!

    Flour is a basic household ingredient that is often misunderstood due to the different varieties available. To help understand this classic ingredient, below are the most popular types of flour and how they differ in cooking and baking:

    All-purpose flour is made from a blend of hard and soft wheat flours. It is the most common type of flour and is used in a wide variety of cooking and baking including gravy, sauces, cookies, cakes, and muffins.

    Cake flour is made from soft wheat flour that is further processed and chlorinated to produce smooth, velvety flour. Cake flour is good for making cakes and biscuits where a tender and delicate texture is desired. To substitute 1 cup cake flour, sift together ¾ cup all-purpose flour with 2 tablespoons cornstarch.

    Pastry flour is similar to cake flour in that it is made from soft wheat flour, however it is not put through the chlorinate process. Pastry flour is a soft, slightly ivory color that produces tender, flaky pastries. It is often harder to find than cake flour and can be made at home by combining 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour with 2/3 cup cake flour to yield 2 cups pastry flour.

    Self-rising flour is flour that has a leavening agent, baking powder, as well as salt, added during packaging. If you notice, recipes that call for self-rising flour don’t call for these ingredients. Self-rising flour can also be made at home by combining 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt.

    Bread flour is made from hard wheat flour and has high levels of protein. This high protein level helps the bread to rise and give it a firmer shape and structure.

    Put the power of flour to the test and try this this sweet and tangy Crock-pot Lemon Chicken and Broccoli which uses flour as a breading for the chicken and a thickening agent for the sauce.

    Crock-pot Lemonade Chicken and Broccoli
    by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions:
    Printable Version
    Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 380 minutes Serves 6

    4 boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces or equivalent
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 ½ teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 (12 ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
    ½ cup chicken broth
    2 tablespoon brown sugar
    2 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    2 tablespoon soy sauce
    3 tablespoon ketchup
    1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    ½ teaspoon dried thyme
    1 ½ cup frozen chopped broccoli
    Cooked rice, for serving

    Cut chicken into 1 inch large chunks. Mix flour with salt and lemon pepper seasoning. Set 3 teaspoons of flour mixture aside. Dredge chicken in flour mixture and shake off excess.
    Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until just browned on all sides. Add browned chicken to the crockpot.

    Mix the remaining ingredients, except broccoli and thyme in a separate bowl and pour over the top of chicken pieces.
    Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 6-8. During the last hour of cooking stir in the broccoli and thyme.
    Serve over rice and drizzle with remaining sauce.

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    My Long Winded Thought Process

    When I decide on a theme for these ‘week of’ series it usually starts by seeing (or thinking up) one recipe and then if I don’t make that recipe soon enough I start to obese over it. I then think about other recipes and so on and there you have it, after obsessing and searching and thinking of recipes long enough, I have an overwhelming amount of recipes that I want need to make all centered around that one particular ingredient/cooking technique/etc.

    This is true for this lemonade themed week. When I was going through my trusty blue binder a few months ago looking for recipes for my magazine of the month series I stumbled upon a recipe for Lemonade Cookies (coming later this week, of course). I became obsessed with them and then started looking for as many lemonade inspired recipes I could. I had narrowed it down to my 5 recipes for the week and started making them. Then of course I saw another lemonade recipe that I just had to make and then another. That list went out the window.

    While I was on the recipe hunt, The Girl Who Ate Everything shared a recipe for a Orange Creamsicle Dip. The components were simple: whipped topping, pudding mix, and a liquid. It reminded me of another recipe I had stumbled upon a few months back with that Lemonade Cookie recipe. A little hand written recipe on a faded note card with no title but similar ingredients. The light bulb went off and this lemonade version was born!

    This fruit dip is so simple and versatile (and obviously popular). I used simular ingredients for my Light Strawberry Trifle for Two. I have also seen a pumpkin version: whipped topping, vanilla pudding and canned pumpkin puree. And the one on the note card? Strawberry: whipped topping, strawberry/banana pudding and strawberry preserves. So, so easy and the possibilities are endless! What flavor combination would you come up with?

    Lemonade Fruit Dip
    by Heather of Kitchen Concoctions:
    Printable Version

    1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
    1 (3.4 ounce) small package instant lemon pudding mix
    1 (6 ounce) container of frozen lemon juice, slightly thawed
    Assorted fruit (strawberries, apples, grapes), washed and sliced

    Mix the whipped topping, pudding mix, and lemonade together until well combined.

    Refrigerate dip until ready to serve. Serve with prepared fruit.

    inspired by an old family recipe, this trifle, and here, and here
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