Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mixed Roasted Vegetables and Pasta

My cute sister-in-law Kristen sent me this recipe. It's so yummy and quite healthy for you, which is good cuz my little family can pretty much finish the entire dish in one sitting....and it fills a cookie sheet, so...uh...good thing it's loaded with veggies! I made a couple of slight changes, but it was pretty fantastic to begin with! If you have planted zucchini and peppers in your garden, bookmark this recipe and get excited to make it soon!

Mixed Roasted Vegetables and Pasta

1 medium green or yellow bell pepper, cut into one inch pieces
1 medium red bell pepper cut into one inch pieces
1 medium onion, cut into 8 wedges and separated
2 medium zucchini, cut into one inch pieces
8 oz whole mushrooms, optional (if they're big, I cut them in half)
1/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 cloves Garlic, minced or pressed (or 2 tsp. bottled chopped garlic)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 C (6 oz) pasta - penne, cavatappi or gemelli work well
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and cut into 2 inch pieces (the picture shows cherry tomatos, which can be a bit overwhelming unless you really love them)
1 bag (8oz) shredded Italian Style 4 cheese blend (2 cups)

Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a 15x10x1 inch pan (standard cookie sheet with sides) or 3 quart casserole, place bell peppers, onion, zucchini and mushrooms. Sprinkle with 1/3 C chopped basil. In a small bowl, mix together oil, vinegar, Italian seasoning, garlic, and salt and pepper. Drizzle evenly over vegetables. Bake uncovered 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook and drain pasta according to package directions. Reduce oven temperature to 350 and add tomatoes and pasta to vegetable mixture; toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered 15 minutes longer or until veggies are tender and cheese is melted. Just before serving, sprinkle with reserved chopped basil. Serve immediately. This is excellent with a green salad and some garlic bread!

(This time I added some grilled chicken that I seasoned with olive oil, garlic, and S&P just before the 2nd baking, but really, it's so good either way!)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Baby Shower Food

My sweet friend from high school, Hillari, is now a cute cute pregnant lady. I made the food for her baby shower and had some requests for recipes, and I'm finally getting around to posting them. Uploading these pictures made me hungry, and I might need to go get a little chocolate fix when I'm done with this post!

Let's start with the lemon bars... I like Paula Deen's recipe, and who wouldn't with all of the butter that she uses in everything. One time I saw a show where she deep fried butter. Then, she ate it. True story.

Lemon Bars

Source: (Paula Deen)


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
Pinch salt
2 sticks butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing

4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch pan.

Make the crust by combining the flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter to make a crumbly mixture. Press the mixture into the prepared pan. You may need to dip your fingers into a little flour or confectioners' sugar to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers. Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the filling, mix the eggs, granulated sugar,
flour, and lemon juice. Pour this over the baked crust and bake for 25 minutes longer. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, if desired, when the bars are done.

Next, Coconut Bread. If you like coconut, you must try this. My brother doesn't like coconut and gobbled this down like he hadn't eaten in days. It's from a blog called Taste the Joy. She has some fun recipes. Her recipe calls for a glaze at the end, but it kind of soaks the bread more than glaze it...which is fabulous if you're serving it like a cake. But, I wanted it a little less messy for the shower, so I made a simple glaze with about a cup of powdered sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of milk, along with a teaspoon of coconut extract. I baked the batter in smaller (5 inch, I think) loaf pans, cooled it, glazed it and then sprinkled it with coconut flakes. Yuuuuuum. Little slices of heaven.

Coconut Bread


2 C sugar

1 C buttermilk

4 eggs

1 C vegetable or canola oil

2 tsp coconut flavoring (extract)

3 C flour

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 C coconut

1 C walnuts (optional)

Cream together sugar, buttermilk, and eggs. Gradually add oil. Mix well and add extract. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, soda, salt and coconut. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients just until incorporated. Gently fold in the nuts. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9 inch loaf pans, or 4 5 inch loaf pans. Bake 9 inch pans at 325 for 50-60 minutes, or 5 inch pans for 35 minutes. (or until lightly brown around the edges, and toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes (in the mean time, prepare the glaze) and remove from loaf pans. Place loaves on a cooling rack and place on a foil lined cookie sheet.

Glaze: (this is her original glaze recipe)

1 C sugar

½ C water

2 TBS butter

1 tsp coconut flavoring

Heat all ingredients to boiling, and boil for 5 minutes (or a few minutes longer if you want it thickened). Poke small holes in bread and pour over top. Top with additional coconut if desired.

Brownies... Mmmmm...I love brownies. If you haven't noticed, I'm a chocoholic. If it were up to me, everything I made would have had little bits of chocolate in it somewhere, but the cute prego lady was craving fruity type stuff, so I only made one chocolate treat. But, I decided that since there was just one, it had to be over-the-top, rich, yummy, with lots of chocoly chocoly (a word that my 4 year old daughter invented...bless her little heart) goodness. So, I made this yummy brownie recipe from My Kitchen Cafe. The recipe is easy, soooo good, and calls for ingredients that I always have. Then, I threw in a bunch of chocolate chips and slapped on some fluffy home made chocolate frosting. Seriously...I gained two pounds that weekend...

Easiest Brownies in the World

1 12-ounce bag chocolate chips (use the kind you prefer) ( plus 6 oz if you're making them my way!)
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter and chocolate chips. Stir constantly and remove from heat when chips are fully melted. In the same pot, blend in the sugar and vanilla. Then add eggs, blending fully one at a time. Add flour and salt and beat until air bubbles form in the batter. (This is when I added another cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips!) Pour into a greased 9 X 13-inch pan (this recipe works great doubled and poured into a large 11 X 17-inch rimmed baking sheet). Bake for 20 minutes. Turn heat down to 325 degrees and bake for 10 more minutes.

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting
Adapted From: Hershey's Cocoa Box
1 Stick (1/2 C Butter), at room temperature
2/3 C Cocoa Powder
3 C Powdered Sugar
1/3 C Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Cream butter until fluffy (1-2 minutes). In a small bowl, mix together powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Measure out your milk and add vanilla. Gradually add sugar mixture alternating with milk mixture until the frosting is the consistency you want. It should be nice and fluffy and spreadable.

Now, spread that frosting over the cooled brownies. Chill for 1-2 hours and cut into bars. Try not to eat the entire pan.

Mini Fruit Pizzas. Hillari wanted fruit, and I love fruit pizza, so I decided to make a mini version of the one I usually make. You can use your favorite sugar cookie recipe, or heck, even a refrigerated dough would work if you're really in a crunch. I used a recipe from, which worked perfectly. 2 days before the shower, I made and chilled the dough, and cut out round cookies with a 2 inch biscuit cutter. Then, I baked the cookies and layered them carefully between parchment, inside a Tupperware container, and froze them. I wanted everything to be as fresh as possible, but I couldn't make everything the day of the shower. Freezing these for a day and a half worked out great. Here's the recipe for the cookies:

Sugar Cookies

1 C real butter (no substitutions!)
1 C sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 t almond extract (I used vanilla instead)
3 C flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy- about 2 minutes. Add in eggs and extract and mix to incorporate.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt and whisk to combine. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until completely combined.

Shape the dough into 2 flat disks and wrap in waxed paper (I used plastic wrap because I didn't want the dough to dry out) and place in the fridge to chill for 1-2 hours. If you want your cookies to hold their shape well, the dough needs to be chilled properly. A great tip to speed things up is to immediately roll dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper and place on a flat surface in the fridge. It will chill super fast and be ready to go in no time.

When you're ready to roll out dough lightly sprinkle flour onto your work surface and roll out dough with a rolling pin.

Bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes. The baking time really depends on how you like them. If you like them really soft under-bake them. In my oven, about 8 minutes does it. However if you're making large cookies, or ones with small parts or heavy frosting, you might want to be careful because they might break when they're super soft.

About 8 minutes will get you a really soft cookie, a few minutes longer (when they start to just brown around the edges) and you'll get just a little crispiness around the edges and then a soft center, bake even longer (and roll thinner) and you'll get a buttery, crispy cookie that will just melt in your mouth. Any way you do it, they'll taste good. Remove onto cooling racks when you're done and let cool completely. I honestly think these even taste better the second day.

Topping the pizzas:

To make the white "frosting", mix together 1 8 oz container of Cool Whip (light works well too) and 1 8 oz package of cream cheese, at room temperature (light works okay too). Beat until nice and fluffy. Add 2-3 Tablespoons of sugar, to taste.

I frosted and topped the cookies with fruit right before the shower started so they wouldn't get soggy. I used strawberries, kiwi and little chunks of mango. You could use pineapple or mandarin oranges, blueberries, bananas, blackberries....any fruit really. Serve immediately.

These would make a super easy last minute dessert if you had some frozen cookies on hand and just had to whip up the topping and top with whatever fruit you had on hand. These are so pretty and so delicious!

Now, wake up from your sugar coma and start baking! What are your favorite finger foods to eat or make for baby/bridal showers?