Monday, May 9, 2011

Tuesday Tip- Freezing Butter

I go through butter... a lot of I mean A LOT of butter. When I first started actively baking, it felt like I was buying butter every couple of days. Those days are over. I now buy my butter in bulk, 4 pounds at a time. I never thought I would be "that girl" who walks out of the store with her arms full of butter. Buying butter in bulk allows me to save some money (usually around $1.50/lb). While it's not a huge savings, it does add up after awhile, especially at the rate I go through it.

While there have been streaks where I probably went through 4 lbs of butter in a few days, I usually spread it out a little. I store my butter in the freezer. Here I go again with the freezer but it truly is convenient. I try to always have 1 lb in the fridge ready to use. The rest hangs out in the freezer. According to articles I've read, butter can be frozen for up to 6 months. Sometimes I'm lucky if it lasts a month.

Oh, and for the record, that's 3 sticks (3/4 of a pound) of butter sliced up waiting to become part of a batch of strawberry meringue buttercream frosting. If you haven't experienced meringue buttercream, you are missing out!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pecan Rolls

You have to know, these are SUPER easy but look and taste like you slaved away in the kitchen. You can con all of your friends and family into thinking you are a whiz in the kitchen with this recipe. You might want to throw a little flour on your face and bang around a few pots and pans to make it seem like something is really going down in the kitchen. You actually assemble these the night before and bake them in the morning.

Pecan Rolls

20-24 frozen dinner rolls (I use Rhodes. How many depends on the baking dish.)
1/2 pecan pieces (I usually use less but you can adjust to your taste)
1 small box of cook and serve butterscotch pudding (MUST be cook and serve, NOT instant)
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. brown sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon

Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle the pecan pieces on the bottom of the dish. Place the frozen rolls on top of the pecans. Feel free to place them close together. They like being next to one another. Sprinkle the pudding mix over the rolls. Mix together the melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and pour that on top of the rolls. Spray a piece of wax paper with non-stick spray and place it "spray side down" on top of the rolls. Let sit for 8 hours to allow the rolls to rise. Go to bed and dream about the goodness you will consume the next morning.

When you wake up, you will find that the rolls have grown. It's a good thing. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and remove the wax paper. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. The tops will be a medium shade of brown. Remove the pan. Lay a piece of foil over the pan and flip the pan upside down on a baking sheet or large serving platter to dump the rolls out. The foil is completely optional but it makes clean up a whole lot easier and this recipe is about easy. Now you see that I'm not crazy for putting the pecan pieces on the bottom because the bottom now becomes the top. Talk about sticky, sugary heaven!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Last year I stumbled upon a show on ABC called Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. I was familiar with Jamie Oliver as the "Naked Chef" on the Food Network so I decided to check it out. I was hooked from episode 1. Last season, Jamie was in Huntington, West Virgina (home of Marshall University) to revolutionize the way Americans eat. He focused on the public schools as well as the community. It was extremely eye opening and totally changed the way that I looked at the food that I was eating. I've never looked at a chicken nugget the same way since.

Thank goodness the show was renewed for a second season. This time, Jamie is in Los Angeles and again is trying to educated the community, specifically the public schools. If you haven't seen the show, you MUST check it out. You can catch the first two episodes on either Hulu or He is meeting some major opposition and it will be very interesting to see how this pans out. While this season is a little high on the "drama" factor, the message is still there. We need to pay attention to what we are putting in our bodies.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chocolate Chip Coffeecake

I like to eat coffeecake for breakfast. Over the years I've had many different kinds but one of my favorites is my mom's Chocolate Chip Coffeecake. I don't know where the recipe originated but I remember as a little girl that it was so much fun to get to eat chocolate chips for breakfast! The cake portion of this is coffeecake is moist and isn't overly sweet which leaves room for the sweetness of the chocolate chips. You can adjust the amount of chocolate chips to help control the sweetness. It's great with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk.

Chocolate Chip Coffeecake

1 c. sour cream
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. butter, softened
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs

1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips (I use semi-sweet)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together sour cream and baking soda. Add remaining ingredients and mix until combined. Spread evenly 1/2 of the batter into a 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle 1/2 of the topping mixture over the batter. I find the best way to do this is use a large spoon, get a big scoop of the mixture and sprinkle it over the batter. Make sure to get some along the edges. Add the remaining batter mixture and spread over. (Spreading batter on top of a filling is never easy. I've found that if you scope up the batter on a spatula and let the batter fall off in as a "ribbon" over the filling, you can cover most of area. Then you can gently spread in the small areas that didn't get covered.) Sprinkle the remaining topping mixture on the top. Bake fore 20-30 minutes. Let cool and serve.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday Tip- Frozen Cookies

Wouldn't it be great if you could have fresh baked homemade cookies every night after dinner? Sounds like a lot of work doesn't it? Well I have great news for can!

Once you've mixed up a batch of your favorite cookies and baked what you need at the moment, portion out the remaining dough onto a baking sheet as though you were going to bake the cookies (no need for non-stick spray). Instead of popping them in the oven, pop them into the freezer for 15-20 minutes to get them firmed up. Remove them from the freezer and thrown the dough portions into a freezer bag and return them to the freezer. If it's helpful, you can write the name of the cookie along with the baking instructions (oven temp and time) on the bag. When you are craving some cookies, you can pull out what you want and bake them straight from the freezer. You might need to add an extra minute or two the original baking time.

When I want to serve fresh baked cookies for dessert, I put them in the oven when we sit down to dinner and by the time they bake and cool, they are ready to be eaten. It's not uncommon to find more than one kind of cookies in my freezer at a time.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Beef and Noodles

I love comfort food, especially on chilly, dreary days. We had some amazing spring weather early in the week and but we were plunged back into the chilly weather. I really needed some comfort food and decided to make some beef and noodles and mashed potatoes. This has always been a favorite meal of my. It's super simple but always seems to hit the spot when I make it. If you make the recipe as written, you will end up with quite a bit of beef and noodles. If you are looking for a smaller portion, feel free to half the recipe. Once you've opened the beef and broth, you can combine the two in a container and put it in the freezer. The next time you want beef and noodles, you can pull out the extra from the freezer. Since the recipe uses pre-cooked canned beef, the dish comes together quickly. You could opt to cook your own beef if you prefer.

So, while I'm excited that I got to have some more comfort food, I'm really ready for spring!

Beef and Noodles

1 large can of beef
1 large can of beef broth
16 oz. package of egg noodles

In a large pot, combine beef and beef broth. Bring to a boil. As you are waiting for the boil, you may need to break up some larger pieces of beef. Reduce the heat and add noodles. You may need to add some water to help cover the noodles. Simmer for 15-20 or until the noodles are cooked. Serve with mashed potatoes. I personally like my beef and noodles served on top of the mashed potatoes.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mint Chocolate Cookies

These are easily one of my favorite cookies. I love the mint and chocolate combination. On a trip down the baking aisle a while back, I discovered Andes Mint Baking Chips. I immediately threw them in my cart and would figure out how to use them later. I found a recipe on the back of the bag for Mint Cookies. Knowing that I love mint and chocolate I thought it would be great to adapt the recipe and make the cookie chocolate. I threw in some cocoa powder and these are what turned out.

Mint Chocolate Cookies
adapted from the Andes Mint Cookie Recipe
makes approx. 3 dozen

1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. cocoa powder
2 1/4 c. flour
1 3/4 c. Andes baking chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a bowl, whisk together baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, and flour. Set aside.

Cream together butter, sugar, brown sugar. Add egg and vanilla extract and blend well. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix until combined. Stir in Andes baking chips.

Form ping pong ball sized balls of dough and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Once removed from oven, let slightly cool on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.