Friday, September 26, 2014

Oreo Pound Cake


            You know what might be even better than having this cake to serve?

            Having ¾ of a package of Oreos left to snack on all month long!! Seriously, I think I was more excited to have leftover Oreos in my fridge than I was to bring this cake to a recent family BBQ. Haha, I guess I like to keep it more simple than most!

            Nevertheless, this cake is great. Definitely a “cheater recipe” in that it has 2 ingredients, but whose judging? C’mon, who doesn’t love a quick and tasty treat that will both wow your guests and leave you with a little treat at home? There I go again, with my beloved package of Oreos. Moving on…..yes, this recipe……I bet it would be super good with all the umpteen new flavors of Oreos out there too. I recently saw peanut butter Oreos and my goodness, those would be divine in this recipe. I hear there is even a Limited Edition Cookie Dough flavor……wowza, that is almost too much to handle. And of course, the source I got this recipe from, Miss Stephanie stands by her Birthday Cake Oreos. Again, another addition to this recipe that would be nothing short of exceptional.

            So go ahead, get some Oreos…..original or something more adventurous…..either way you’ll be left with one delicious cake and duh- a treat left for you! Enjoy….

 
Oreo Pound Cake
Servings: 8-10
Slightly adapted from: Stephanie Cooks, originally adapted from: Kraft

OBJ: TCW be able to bring a homemade dessert without spending hours in the kitchen whipping one up

Ingredients:
15 Oreos
1, 16 oz package Pound Cake Mix

Procedures:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Butter a loaf pan or cover one with foil then spray with nonstick spray
3. Prepare the pound cake mix according to package directions
5. Chop up 10 Oreos and mix into batter
6. Pour batter into prepared pan
7. Cut the remaining Oreos into quarters and scatter atop of batter, push down to help set them
8.  Bake for 1 hour and 10-15 minutes, during last half hour loosely place piece of foil on top to prevent burning
9. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Potatoes Au Gratin- Lazy Version

 
** Just taking note of today's date for this post- September 11. Wow, those two items: September and 11. They behold so much emotion and meaning for all of us. I must say it is both a sad day and a proud day to be an American. From the bottom of my heart, I thank all of those out there who have and continue to put their lives on the line so that we can live in this beautiful free country. God Bless America and may we never forget what took place 13 years ago. **
 
 
 
This week’s things to note:
1. I know this picture isn’t the prettiest

2. The Pioneer Woman is a genius

3. Peeled potatoes are overrated


            You guys, this recipe……just amazing. Cream, potatoes, cheese, whole milk…..what is there not to like? Oh yeah- the potatoes don’t have to be peeled and sliced in that scalloped style either?!? So yes, this is pretty much better than when sliced bread hit the shelves. Or I guess for this generation, when GPS was invented because we all know if left to use maps, we’d be up a creek….pun not intended. J

 
            I added the ‘Lazy Version” to this title as it has all the flavors, textures, and dreaminess of a restaurant-quality au gratin, but just with a lot less work. Not having to peel or mandolin the potatoes is a time-saver and a half. Not to mention, anytime I can avoid that mandolin thingy I do- it totally freaks me out plus I love my fingers and nails too much to use it. So anyway, without peeling or slicing, you are in one lucky predicament: more time on your hands and a delicious dish awaiting your dinner table. Just excellent….enjoy…..


Perfect Potatoes Au Gratin- “Lazy Version”
Serves: 8

OBJ: TCW be able to make a fancy side dish to accompany Hubby’s grilled steaks

Ingredients:
1 tablespoons butter, softened
4 large russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
1 ½  cups heavy cream
½  cup whole milk
2 TBS flour
1 teaspoons salt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper ( to taste)
1 cup freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 green onion, sliced thin (white and light green parts only)

Procedures:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Then, butter a baking dish with the butter- the bottom and sides
2. Slice the potatoes into sticks, and then cut the sticks to create cubes
3. Combine the cream and milk in a bowl. Add the flour, salt and pepper. Whisk it together well so that the flour is incorporated into the milk/cream mixture
4.  Add the diced potatoes to the prepared dish and pour the cream/milk mixture all over the top
5. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 to 30 minutes
6. Remove the foil and bake 15 to 20 minutes more or until bubbly
7.  Just before serving, sprinkle on the grated cheese and return it to the oven until the cheese is melted, bubbly and golden, 5 minutes
8.  Sprinkle on the green onions and serve it right away!

 

 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fleischmann's Homemade Pretzels


Fleischmann’s Simply Homemade Baking Mix:

Pretzel Creations

            Wow, it has been quite some time since I’ve added to my “What I’m buying Up” section. Not exactly sure what that means.....We all know this gal likes to shop so it can’t be the lack of that….I’m always scouring the food store well after my list has been  all checked off and completed……I’ve got a pretty big mouth so I can’t imagine it being me wanting to keep something on the DL…..

            Well than, I guess it boils down to not enough time to blog about my everyday cooking, trying different places to eat, and buying new products to share. Waahhhh, wahhhh, waahhh, where does the time go???

            Enter- my decent summer tan, a few books read and conquered, and plenty of sand to clean out of my trunkJ    Needless to say, it has been a great summer but one in which you might have missed me.

            So even though I can’t promise a more week-to-week posting schedule, I can bring you a new product that Hubby and I are just smitten with.

            I actually can’t take credit for this find. Matt came along shopping with me and spotted this product perched high above the baking goods. I think the marketing team did a swell job on this as the picture on the box definitely caught his eyes in oh, about 2 seconds. He’s a sucker for soft pretzels so once he saw the glistening twists displayed, he presented them to me with that cute smile.

            He gets me every time.

            So long behold, we bought them, made them and are definitely going to be buying more. They have a great buttery taste and are quite crisp right from the oven.  The process isn’t exactly 1-2-3, but if you can manage to give yourself 20 minutes, you will be well on your way to snack Heaven. Enjoy…


To read more about the product as well as other items, click here

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Banana Nut Muffins


             How come I have less work to do in the summer but less time to do everything else I need to get done? Honestly, I don’t have to get up at 5am, sit in rush hour parkway traffic or commute during the months of July and August, yet I still have this ongoing to-do list and things that just aint gettin’ done. HHhhmmm….could it be that I
a.) sleep until 10 am most mornings
b.) take 2 hours to read paper, eat breakfast and peruse internet
c.) take naps as often as I can
d.) all of the above

            If you chose d., yes you are correct and now you think I’m a slacker…..eh, hate if you want….I merely try to live it up during these 8 weeks off while still sacrificing an ongoing to-do list and ever-growing not-done-yet list.

            So yes I am teacher who is still trying to soak in the next few weeks of sun as well as get what I need to get done before the alarm starts to ring once again. On the list:
-          Bake more
-          Cook new recipes
-          Finish my dining room furnishings
-          Organize my cabinets

            So although I can’t say I’ll be successful conquering that entire list, I can say I am well on my way. Case and point- this recipe. More baking…..check! Now although this is not exactly some revolutionary, drool worthy recipe, it was one that continued to repay me morning after morning. The muffins were probably the best ones I’ve made yet. Moist, fluffy, with a decent amount of texture, they accompanied my coffee and fruit bowl perfectly.

            So go ahead and make these, I think your morning will brighten……even if it doesn’t last as long as mine does! …….:) Enjoy
 



Banana Nut Muffins
Servings: 12 – 14

OBJ: TCW be able to try one more banana nut recipe to see if she can stop the search for the best one

Ingredients:
2 C Flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
4 overripe bananas
1 C brown sugar
¾ C (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ C chopped walnuts
Streusel Topping:
2 TBS chopped walnuts
1/3 C brown sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
2 TBS flour
1 TBS butter, melted

Procedures:
1. Preheat oven to 365 and line muffin tin with nonstick liners
2.  In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt, set aside
3. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork just slightly, you still want them to have texture
4. With an electric mixer fitted with wire whisk, whip the remaining 2 bananas and sugar together very well, for a good 3 minutes
5. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and beat well. Make sure to scrape down bowl at least once
5. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula
6. Using a large ice cream scoop, spoon the batter into the muffin tins to fill about ¾ of the way. Give them a nice rap on the counter to get bubbles out
7. In a small bowl, mix all the streusel ingredients together except butter
8. Using a fork, blend in butter so that you have a moist crumb consistency
9. Sprinkle crumb topping over each muffin
10. Bake for about 18-20 muffins, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for a few minutes before turning out onto rack to cool
11. Serve warm or room temperature

 

 

 

 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Mistral: Princeton, NJ

 
 
Final Grade: A

            Sometimes I think this blog should be re-titled, “WilltravelforFood.blogspot.com’! We, myself and Hubby, more often than not, arrange our plans and appointments based on restaurants within the vicinity. This may sound crazy, but for us whenever we get to hit the road for any reason we know we 1- will have to eat, 2- may never get to this area again and 3- can possibly cross off a restaurant from our list. It's a win-win for all involved……unless we are coming to your house for a BBQ or dinner, we then might have an issue with you.

            Towns we love to ‘just so happen to be in’ or around are Jersey City, Morristown, New Brunswick, Westfield and most recently Princeton. The last one there being the focus for this review. Princeton- what a beauty. I had never really given the town more than just a thought involving an Ivy League school and it being close to Trenton. Basically and more realistically, I haven’t given this town its credit. Just in the past 6 months, I think I’ve pinned a handful of restaurants I need to get to  and read reviews about umpteen more. So naturally, when the opportunity presented itself a few weeks back for us to be in that area to drop off my cousin, I was like, “Slam bam, thank you Mam, we gonna chow right now!”
 
            After narrowing down our choices for that Sunday afternoon lunch, we decided to go to the much-desired Mistral.
            We opted to sit at their bar area where the kitchen is in full view. This, for me, is like being a kid in a candy store. Watching chefs work is so intriguing and entertaining. What’s more here is also getting a look at how the Chefs both handle and respect their ingredients. What I truly loved here was that many ingredients, from the croutons to the pickled vegetables, were labeled with dates.  Now I would hope most restaurants do this, but for me, actually seeing how literally fresh these items were did nothing but make me smile.
            Our lunch consisted of a few items to share, although our forks generally stayed in our own direction. I went with the Grilled Vegetable Salad ($8) and an order of the Warm Cornbread with Jalapenos and Honey Butter ($5). The salad consisted of locally grown summer vegetables tossed with fried crouton crisps, a few lettuces, fresh herbs and a light dressing to tie it all together. What I thought at first was just a heaping bowl of arugula actually turned out to be a pot of gold once I tossed what was on the bottom to the top. The vegetables had what was somewhat of a cross between a roasted and grilled flavor while the croutons dazzled up each bite with a fried crunch. Now the cornbread I knew I would have no problems with upon seeing. Arriving straight from the oven in its cast iron skillet with the butter melting more each second, I knew I had paired the salad perfectly. Oh how scrumptious that buttered and steamy bread was with each sliver of jalapeno. This was a dish hard to share.
                       Hubby had similar to say about his choices as well. He went with the Seared Halibut ($16) and a side of Bacon Beignets ($5). The fish was outstanding, simply put. Wrapped in Serrano ham skin and simmering in a broth sporting both turnips and rock shrimp, it was culinary craftsmanship at its finest. The broth alone could win awards, which is why if we had one complaint it would be: serve that dish up with some crusty bread please! The Bacon Beignets speak for themselves. Puffed, salty and rich in pork fat flavor, they had me wishing I was willing to share more of my cornbread!

            We skipped dessert as it was lunch and I, being a weirdo and all, don’t like to overstuff during the day for one reason: it ruins dinner. I live for dinner, if you haven’t noticed yet. Anyway, we did glance at the dessert offering and were both caught eyeing up our neighbor’s Pot de Crème ($9) with hazelnuts and thyme all in a too-cute tea cup. Oh well, we will be back again for dinner and will most definitely get our shot at dessert. Actually when we do go back, I already have a few things I saw the Chefs create that had my name all over them. I would list them all but I’d rather let you go there yourself and watch the spectacle of Mistral unfold before you.

 
Mistral is located at 66 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, NJ. Visit their website for more information.

 

Total score 22/25

Final Grade: A

 

A: 21-25    B: 16-20    C: 11-15   D: 6-10    F: 0-5

Restaurant Rubric

 
1
2
3
4
5
Food Taste
Bland, boring, overcooked, underdone
Very little flavor, not much aroma
Flavors apparent, basic ability to please palates
Flavor worth discussing, chef’s use of ingredients impressive
Great flavor, taste lingers and leaves diner wanting more
Restaurant service
disrespectful
Inattentive staff, no regard for wait time
Staff average in helpfulness, timing alright, either more/less needed
Staff knowledgeable and attentive to needs without asking, timing very well executed
Remarkable and noteworthy, service so good you forget it is ever an issue elsewhere
Food Presentation
Cover it up please
Sloppy and the eater can tell little thought went into it
Descent presentation: looks alright, not worth a picture but enough to make you hungry
Admirable, it is apparent the chef plated with a consideration for presentation
Presentational talents are here. Looks beautiful and too good to dig in
Prices match quality
Prices are too high for quality
Prices are still too high but not outrageously
Some items are priced accordingly but not all
Most items are priced accordingly
All items are matched accordingly
Would I go back?
Not a chance ever
Nope
Maybe
Looking forward to it
What time should I arrive?!?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Italian Ricotta Cookies



              Yum, these cookies! Little gems with just the right amount of sweetness and small enough to grab a few and have no shame. Add to that a cup of tea and you’ll have yourself one midday escape. Oh and plus they have sprinkles…..this undoubtedly makes everything better. Duh

            Only problem is….July- when a cup of tea and cranking your oven sound like we’re off our rocker!

            So maybe just wait to make these for a rainy cool day……or send the recipe to someone, like me, who bakes in the summer……or suck it up and put on a tank top and get crackin!

            Or if you must, pin the recipe and save for Christmas time. Being that the recipe makes about a million cookies, you’ll definitely want to make these come December. It will be you: 1 overwhelming Holiday stress: 0  

            Can’t believe I was just writing about Christmas…..ahh, enough of that…..Here’s to enjoying the sun, playing in the heat and (maybe) having some cookies along with! Enjoy….

Tip: place newspaper underneath cookies with sprinkling to save yourself a mess


Italian Ricotta Cookies
Makes: about 4 dozen
Source: Family Friend

OBJ: TCW be able to make one batch of cookies to feed a crowd

Ingredients:
½ lb butter, room temperature
2 C sugar
½ tsp salt
1 lb Ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Grated rind of 1 orange
4 ½ C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

Icing:
2 C confectionary sugar
¼ C butter, melted
3 TBS whole milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
Multi-colored sprinkles

Procedures:
Cookies:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper
2. Cream butter, add sugar and continue creaming.
3. Add eggs, ricotta, vanilla and beat well
4. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to batter along with orange rind and mix well
5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Let cool completely

Icing:
1. Combine all ingredients until smooth consistency
2. Spread icing on top of each cookie and add sprinkles

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Super Quick Reese's Peanut Butter Fudge


       Oh, Lauren…..you continue to amaze me with simple and delicious recipes…..I wish you were my neighbor….

            This one, super quick Reese’s ™ PB Fudge, was ridiculous. My family was smitten for hours this past weekend. The minute the outdoor gang heard that the indoor gang had fudge, the entire porch emptied out and the fudge-filled platter shrunk considerably. At one point, I think everyone had fudge in their mouths and more pieces on their plate. Needless to say, I wasn’t the one the party was for but I did get some serious recognition and praise. Don’t worry baby Mark- your Baptism was beautiful and I, your Godmother, was overjoyed to watch you be Blessed. I just won’t bring a dish to your Communion, deal?

            So this being such a hit, I had to share with my readers and those who attended the party, for which I promised the recipe ASAP. You can have this done and ready to serve in a snap. Be warned though, once it goes out- 1. There may be none left within minutes 2. Everyone will want the recipe and 3. You will be the center of attention.

            So with that, get on your Sunday best, brush them teeth and share on……Enjoy….

 

Reese’s™ Peanut Butter Fudge
Servings: about 25-30 pieces
Slightly adapted from: Lauren's Latest

OBJ: TCW be able to bring a dessert dish to a family BBQ that will please almost all

Ingredients:
1 can, sweetened condensed milk
3 Cups, semisweet chocolate chips
2 TBS sugar
24 full size Reese’s PB Cups, divided

Procedures:
1. Line an 8 x 8 baking dish with foil and lightly spray with nonstick spray
2. Place 16 peanut butter cups in single layer on bottom of dish:
3. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips, sugar and condensed milk in microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring each time until completely combined and smooth
4. Pour melted chocolate over peanut butter cups and spread it over smoothly
5. Roughly chop remaining 8 peanut butter cups and press into chocolate, let set and come to room temperature (about 45 minutes) before covering with foil and refrigerating:
6. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, remove from dish, peel away foil and cut into bite-size squares
7. Enjoy!