Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Garlic Breadsticks

Here's a quick and tasty garlic breadstick recipe to serve alongside your favorite pasta dishes.  The recipe is 'supposed' to yield 20 breadsticks, which I obediently cut, shaped, and baked...with miniscule results.  Whether it was my impatience, imagination, or lethargic yeast, my breadsticks failed to poof up to standard.  I remember reading some time ago (on the Internet!) that yeast doesn't like garlic.  Whether or not this is actually true, I never got around to finding out (I won't base my conclusion on the somewhat-less-than-desirable results of this baking experiment).  I did read it on the Internet, after all.  And if it's on the Internet, it must be true, right?  I do know this though--the vast majority of garlic bread recipes I've seen call for a garlic application in the topping, rather than in the bread itself. 

Experienced yeast bakers out there: any thoughts???

Soft Garlic Breadsticks  (Makes 20)
From Allrecipes.com

1 cup + 2 Tbl. water (70 to 80°F) (I used 1 cup in my humid climate)
2 Tbl. olive or canola oil
3 Tbl. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbl. sugar
3 tsp. garlic powder
1½ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. minced fresh basil
3 cups bread flour
2 tsp. active dry yeast (I used instant yeast)
1 Tbl. butter, melted

In bread machine pan, place the first nine ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed).  (I used my stand mixer and dough hook)
When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 20 portions. Shape each into a ball; roll each into a 9-in. rope. Place on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 40 minutes or until doubled.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Brush warm breadsticks with butter.

Spaghetti a la Philly

If you're on a budget (and let's admit it--who isn't these days?), chances are spaghetti with meat sauce makes the dinner rotation pretty often.  Noodles, sauce, meat.  It doesn't get any simpler (or tasty!) than that.  Or so I thought.  The good folks over at Kraft® have come up with a simple and tasty way to dress up plain ole spaghetti and meat sauce: add cream cheese.  This clever addition brings that 'special occasion' quality to the table without making the dish too decadent or cream cheesey.  Try it today; you just might be surprised!

Spaghetti a la Philly  (Serves 6)
From Kraft® Foods

12 oz. spaghetti noodles
1 lb. lean ground beef
24-26 oz. jar spaghetti sauce
4 oz. PHILADELPHIA® cream cheese, cubed (can use Neufchatel)
2 Tbl. parmesan cheese, optional
parsley, optional

Cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile, brown ground beef in a large skillet. Drain fat from pan.  Stir in spaghetti sauce and cream cheese; cook over low heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until sauce is blended and heated through (stir often). 

Drain spaghetti noodles.  Add to pan and mix to coat.  Top servings of spaghetti with parmesan and parsley, if desired.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cupcake Hero Winner!!!

So...here they are: the two cupcakes that made it to the end of Cupcake Hero::Blueberry.  Pictured above are the Mint Blueberry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Whipped Cream by Sharlene of small town oven and The Blue Pom-Pom by Courtney of C & C CakeryBoth cupcakes were very good (very, very good!), but in the end a winner emerged:

Congratulations to Sharlene of small town oven!
Your last-minute entry was a hit--the addition of mint to the blueberry,  white chocolate, and cream party was unique and sublimely delicious!  The flavor was cool, refreshing, and a bit unexpected...very original!  Thanks for introducing us to the wonder that is blueberry + mint :)  Fantastic job for a Cupcake Hero first-timer!  Please submit your mailing address to iheartcuppycakes[at]gmail[dot]com in order to receive your prize pack.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cupcake Hero::Blueberry [Finalists]

The votes are in!  I've posted the results above, but you can see it better HERE.  It was a close race, but the winner of the poll is "The Blue Pom Pom" by Courtney of C & C Cakery.  Making a decision about which cupcake will face off against The Blue Pom Pom was a tough call for sure, but I think I'm going to go with:

(drumroll, please)


Mint Blueberry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Whipped Cream
will square off against 
The Blue Pom-Pom!!! 

Congrats to Sharlene of small town oven and Courtney of C & C Cakery for making it to the finals!  Special thanks to all those who particpated in Cupcake Hero::Blueberry this month.  I wish I could declare you all 'Cupcake Heroes' because all of your recipes and photos were absolutely mouthwatering, but sadly there can only be one winner!  The winner of Cupcake Hero::Blueberry will be posted on Monday, so stay tuned.

Now it's off to the store to gather ingredients and back to the kitchen to bake...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cupcake Hero::Blueberry Round Up & Poll!

Cupcake Hero #3

Perfect 10.  That's the number of entries received for June's Cupcake Hero :: Blueberry event--a great selection of cupcakes, but not so many that voting would be overwhelming.  Browse through the entries, visit blogs for the recipes, then pick your favorite!  When you're ready to vote, use the poll on the right hand side of my blog.  You may only vote ONCE, so choose wisely!  The poll will close at NOON on Friday, June 25th.  Check back that night to see which cupcakes will go head to head in the Finals. 

Now's the time to beg, plead, and/or bribe your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and the person standing next to you in line at the grocery store checkout to vote for you.  Got a gazillion Facebook friends?  Round up as many as you can for votes.  But remember: you won't win Cupcake Hero on votes alone--the cupcake with the most votes will enter into the final showdown with a cupcake of my choosing.  Good luck!

Ready to see the entries? (make sure you've eaten first)

"Blue Velvet" Very Blueberry Cupcakes by Amy

The Blue Pom-Pom by Courtney of C&C Cakery

June Cupcake
White Tea Angel Food Cupcakes with Blueberry Compote and Vanilla SMBC by CR of Zabrina's Roses

Blueberry Lemon Meringue
Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberries and Meringue Frosting by Izzy

Blueberry Mojito Cupcake
Blueberry Mojito Cupcake with Ginger-Lime Mascarpone Frosting by Kimberly of Only Creative Opportunities

Cupcake Hero::Blueberry
Lemon-Blueberry Cupcakes with Blueberry-Cream Cheese Frosting by Lila

salted caramel blueberry filled cupcakes with blueberry and caramel buttercream
Salted Caramel Blueberry Filled Cupcakes with Caramel and Blueberry Buttercream by Lora of Diary of a Mad Hausfrau

Very Berry Cupcakes 2
Very Berry Cupcakes by Lucy of Heaven is a Cupcake

Blueberry Lime Yoghurt Cupcake
Blueberry Lime Yoghurt Cupcake by Shannyn of Sugary Flower

Mint Blueberry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Whipped Cream by Sharlene of Small Town Oven

It won't be easy to make a decision, will it?  You have until noon (Central Standard Time) on Friday, June 25th to cast your votes.  Good luck to all contestants!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cupcake Hero: Reminder

Hello, everyone!  Just a friendly reminder:

Cupcake Hero [Blueberry] Deadline: 
June 21st, 2010 @ 11:59 p.m. CST

That's right.  One week from now.  The first day of summer.  Get to it!

New to Cupcake Hero?  Read more HERE.

And just in case you're wondering what you could win and/or would it be worth it to enter, here's a peek at what I received as a prize package I received in the mail for winning April's event:

1) Cupcake Magnets by ThreeRabbits
2) Askinosie Cocoa Powder and Chocolate Bar
3) Cupcake Oven Mitts by SygnetCreations
4) Leather Cupcake Key Chain by Leatherprince
5) Cupcake iPhone/iTouch/iPod Pouch by GadgetGear
6) Cupcake Flavored Lip Balm by KupcakeNaturals
7) Cupcake Hero Kitchen Towels by StichesAPlenty
8) Cupcake Earrings by TinyTokenDesigns 

Read more about Cupcake Hero's sponsors HERE in CB's "Spotlight" post.

And... if that's not enough to get you motivated, the honor of hosting each month's Cupcake Hero goes to the winner of the previous month!  Think about it:  blog exposure, higher page/comment counts, increased readership, and the potential to gather some new followers!  What've you got to lose? 

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Sweetest Gift.

An innocent comment made a two months ago inspired my sweetie to have master artist CakeSpy paint a portrait of us as cupcakes.  I think I said something along the lines of "Boy, I sure hope we get picked for the Cupcake Hero Grand Prize...so I can get CakeSpy to do a painting of us as cupcakes!"  The two of us collaborated and won April's Cupcake Hero event, which got us an awesome prize pack (which I'll show you Monday).  But I had the Grand Prize in my sights:  custom artwork by Jessie Oleson, aka CakeSpy.  Turns out I didn't need to win the Grand Prize after all (though that would still be nice), because someone was thoughtful enough to have one commissioned anyway.  It was supposed to be part of his Plan, but he decided to propose 9 days ahead of schedule!  ♥

Check out....THE DETAIL!  *swoon*

How stinkin' awesome is that?  Michael gave CakeSpy my blog address, and she incorporated not only my blog name but also a few nods to my posts in the portrait!  See that pink & white cake on the left?  I totally made a strawberry cake recently.  And the chocolate swirly-top cake?  Made that too!  The only thing I can't identify is the thing near my mixer (which is accurately colored too, by the way.  Michael is a sneaky little man.) that looks like a wedge of cheese.  Slice of Bundt cake, you think?  Anyway, Michael is a whiz in the kitchen himself, baking up breads and whipping up batches of his "famous" peanut butter fudge when the mood strikes him.  Though how he can find the time to do any of that is beyond me; most of his time is spent being incredibly thoughtful and sweet.  (Sorry, enough gushing.) Don't you just adore our portrait?  We've already decided it will ABSOLUTELY be on display at our wedding reception! :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Summer Favorite: Fruit Salsa

There you have it:  photographic evidence that I am capable of contributing a potluck item that doesn't fall into the category of "baked goods" or "dessert."  Okay, so it's still a sweet dish...but at least it looks healthy, right?  Baby steps.  Per special request, I brought this Fruit Salsa to our end of the year church choir party.  It's a fruit salad really, but the fruit is diced rather finely--making it perfect for serving "chips 'n dip" style with cinnamon graham crackers or cinnamon tortilla chips.  I chose those particular fruits for variety of color, but you can certainly use whatever fruits tickle your fancy.  As written, the recipe will serve a rather large crowd, so adjust accordingly.  Get the recipe HERE.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Overnight Rotini Bake

 Hearty, cheesy and comforting, this Overnight Rotini Bake from the Betty Crocker kitchens is sure to please all members of your family.  A few minutes of stove time the night before (to brown the beef) is all the hands-on cooking time required for this dish.  You don't even need to boil the pasta!  The remaining ingredients are thrown in the mix, then the whole deal gets stashed in the fridge until the next day when you're ready to bake.  Sound easy?  It is!  Get the recipe HERE.

  • I made the recipe as is, except I decreased the amount of beef (1 lb. instead of 1½ lbs.).
  • It could use a bit more seasoning & salt (for our taste buds).
  • Use the entire 8 oz. bag of shredded cheese instead of 6 oz.  No one will be complaining.  Do you really want 2 oz. leftover cheese in your fridge?  (See related topic below)
  • If you tend towards OCD like I do, the 9 oz. dry rotini listed might bother you.  Around here, pasta comes in 8, 12, or 16-oz. boxes and bags.  I really like using entire, half, or *sometimes* quarter amounts of a package, so the idea of not having a neat and tidy amount left over was my only "beef" with the recipe!  :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cupcake Hero: June Theme

Happy June, everyone!  As you may have heard, my boyfriend (who, as of May 28th, is now my fiancĂ©!!!) and I collaborated on a cupcake project and won April's Cupcake Hero event.  Because of this, the gracious CB of I ♥ Cuppycakes! is handing me the reins to guest host June's Cupcake Hero event!  How exciting!††

Coming up with the theme ingredient was more difficult than I anticipated.  Coffee, strawberry, lemon, and soda were all top contenders.  I wanted something summery, so coffee got axed (it was also a theme ingredient in Cupcake Hero first life).  I eliminated lemon because "lime" also made its appearance in that round of Cupcake Hero events.  After much deliberation, I made my decision.  The theme ingredient for June's Cupcake Hero is:


Here's how it works:

♥ Create a cupcake using the theme ingredient [blueberries] in the cupcake, frosting, filling, and/or topping.  The more the merrier! Make sure to include the recipe in your blog entry.

♥ E-mail me at kitchenkoala [at] gmail [dot] com with your first name, blog entry link*, and cupcake name.  Be sure to make the e-mail's SUBJECT LINE = Cupcake Hero [Blueberry]

♥ You may enter more than once, but send a separate e-mail for each entry.

♥ Join our Flickr group, then upload 1 or 2 pictures of your cupcake (and a short description) to the Flickr pool:  http://www.flickr.com/groups/cupcakehero

♥ For more info, please refer to THIS page or e-mail me with any questions. 

♥ To see the monthly sponsors and view the awesome prizes, check out the Cupcake Hero FAQs page.

Deadline: June 21st @ 11:59 p.m. CST

* You don't need a blog to enter, but you'll have to e-mail me a picture and the complete cupcake recipe.

Cupcake round-up and poll will be posted on June 22nd or 23rd. 
Voting will end June 25th @ 11:59 p.m. 

The cupcake with the most votes will enter into a throwdown with a cupcake of my choosing (which won't be easy to narrow down, considering blueberries are my favorite fruit!).  I'll bake both cupcakes and offer them up to my panel of taste-testers.  Winner will be announced by the end of the month!   

You've got three weeks till deadline, so hop to it!

††Disclaimer:  This post contains high levels of exclamation points due to the poster's inability to come down from her "I-Just-Got-Engaged" high :)