Thursday, March 31, 2011

Snowball Cookies

These are such a delicious treat when it gets really cold outside.  They are very easy and such a delicious cookie.  Enjoy!

2 sticks of butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar + additional powdered sugar for rolling after they are baked
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Beat together the butter and the powdered sugar until smooth and creamy.  Then add the flour 1/2 cup at a time and beat together on low power.  Once everything is combined add the vanilla and chopped walnuts. 

Form dough into small balls about an inch in diameter.  Bake in the oven until golden brown.  It should take about 10 minutes.  Allow to cool for about 3 minutes.  Then roll in powdered sugar until they are completely covered.  Enjoy!

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sweet Potato Pie

This is a really easy recipe and it is absolutely delicious.  My mom and I make this for every Thanksgiving and everybody loves it.  Enjoy!

3 cup canned sweet potatoes, juice drained
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 beaten eggs
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 prepared pie shell
marshmallows for top

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl put the sweet potatoes that have been drained.  Mash the sweet potatoes up until they are fairly smooth.  Now add the brown sugar and continue to mash the swete potatoes.  Now you can switch to a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.  Add the beaten eggs, butter, and lemon juice and stir until all are combined.  Now add the cinnamon and salt and stir again until everything is very creamy and smooth.  There may be a few lumps here and there or sweet potatoe and butter which is fine. 

Pour the mixture into a store bought pie crust or a homemade pie crust.  Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes.  If serving today take out after 40 minutes and put the marshmallows on top to cover the entire pie and return to the oven until marshmallows become golden brown.  If you want to serve it another day, put in the refrigerator or freezer wrapped in plastic or foil.  When ready to serve bake for about 15 minutes or until the pie is warmed, and then add your marshmallows and bake until they are golden brown.  Enjoy!
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Monday, March 28, 2011

Honey BBQ Chicken Wings

Here is a great recipe for parties.  The sauce is also very versatile and can be used on chicken, ribs, or really anything.  Enjoy!

3-4 pounds of chicken wings
1/4 cup butter
1 cup diced onion
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup water
1/4 honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worchestershire Sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

After the chicken wings have been cleaned, put on a greased baking sheet for 20-25 minutes. 

In a small saucepan, melt the butter.  Then add your diced onion and saute in the butter for 5-7 minutes, or until tender.  Stir in the ketchup, water, and honey and bring to boil.  Now add the lemon juice, Worchestershire Sauce, and black pepper.  Stir and reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. 

After the wings are done coat them in the sauce and place back in the oven for 5-10 minutes.  Take out of the oven and enjoy!

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Maryland Crab Dip

Ever since going to school in Baltimore, I have come to love crab.  Here is an awesome recipe for any party that is a real crowd favorite.  You can even make this ahead and then just bake it the day you are serving it .Enjoy!

2 8-oz packages of cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
4 tsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp mustard
2 tbsp milk
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 pound blue crab meat (jumbo lump is actually not the best to use here, backfin or claw are the best to use)
crackers and bread for dipping

Always check for shells in your crab meat. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix the cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise together with an electric beater until they r completely mixed together.  Then add the lemon juice, Worchestershire Sauce, mustard, milk, and Old Bay seasoning.  Stir this together to combine.  Now stir in 3/4 of the cheddar cheese.  Gentley fold in your crab meat.  Place into a greased baking dish and top with the reserved cheddar cheese and sprinkle with a little more Old Bay on top.  If not eating today, place in the fridge until ready to bake.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes and serve with crackers and slices of bread.  Enjoy!

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Blueberry Struesel Muffins

If you didn't have time to make the blueberry muffins, you could always use a boxed mix and then just add the struesel on top.  This crumb topping makes these muffins extra special and a great breakfast treat.  Enjoy!

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, slightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Struesel topping:
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 12 cup muffin tin.

In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder and sugar.  In another bowl combine the melted butter, egg, and milk and mix well.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. 

Spoon the batter into the muffin tray, filling each cup about 2/3 full. 

For the struesel topping, in a separate bowl combine the flour and brown sugar together and mix.  Then add the 3 tablespoons of butter and mix together with your hands so that you get small pea size amounts of butter running through the topping.  Then add the cinnamon and continue to mix with your hands. 

Sprinkle each muffin with the topping and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing.  Enjoy!

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Steak Fries or Roasted Potatoes

Here is an easy recipe that can be used in two different ways depending on how you cut your potatoes.  It is great for a side dish or just a snack.  Enjoy!

1 potato per person (the spice eqivalents are for 4 potatoes)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tsp garlic powder
4 tablespoons paprika
3 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
3 tablespoons parsley
2 tsp rosemary


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut potatoes either into long wedges by slicing each potato in half and then slicing the half into thirds longways or cut potatoes into cubes. 

Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the bottom of a baking dish.  Then add the potatoes and the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top.  Toss the potatoes around in the oil.  Add the salt and pepper.  Then add the garlic powder, parsley, and rosemary.  Toss this around to coat every potato.  Now sprinle the paprika on top. 

Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until potatoes become tender and golden.  Enjoy!

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Caramel Nut Brownies

A shortcut to this recipe would be to use a boxed brownie mix, add nuts, chocolate chips and swirl in some caramel.  Here is a homemade version though that is pretty easy to make and also very delicious.  Enjoy!

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 jar of ice cream caramel topping
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla.  Beat in eggs one by one until the ingredients are completely combined.  In a separate bowl combined the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.  Add a little bit at a time and stir after each addition until all has been completely combined.  Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.

Spread batter into the bottom of a 9 x 9 greased baking dish.  Now take teaspoon fulls of caramel and dollop them on top of the brownie.  Taking a knife swirl the caramel in to get a marbelized effect of caramel throughout the brownie.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  Allow brownies to cool and enjoy!

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fried Oreos

Here is a great recipe that is really fun to make and eat.  You can even use pancake batter and just dip the oreos in it and fry if you are pressed for time, but here is my recipe for the batter.  You can use the batter on absolutely anything. Oreos, funnel cakes, deep fried candy bar! Enjoy!

1 package of oreos
1 1/3 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup milk
vegetable oil for frying
powdered sugar

Fill a deep fryer, or a fairly deep pan with oil.  Leave a few inches from the top so there is no spillage of hot oil.  Begin to heat the oil up.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder together.  In a separate bowl mix the beaten egg and the milk together until it is light and fluffy.  Add this to your bowl of dry ingredients.  Mix until smooth.  Dip each oreo in the batter until it is completely covered.  Drop it into the oil and fry until golden brown.  Put onto a plate with a paper towel and sprinkle with lots of powdered sugar. Enjoy this carnival treat!
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Baked Rigatoni

Here is a really easy recipe that is also very delicious. It is almost like baked ziti except I use rigatoni because I like the way the sauce binds to this shape of pasta.  Most of the ingredients can be found in your kitchen right now and it is very quick to make and also great for a crowd.  Enjoy this delicious pasta dish!

1 jar of store-bought tomato sauce or homemade sauce (my mom's recipe for tomato sauce will be up soon, obviously it is WAY better than the store-bought)
1 lb rigatoni pasta (ziti or any other short pasta will work too
1 8 oz bag or block of mozzarella cheese (don't use fresh here because there is too much moisture and will make pasta wattery)
1 lb ricotta cheese
5 tablespoons parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons fresh parsley
2 teaspoons garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Bring pot of boiling water to boil.  Put a handful of salt into the water, then add your pasta.  Stir pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes.  Drain the pasta and pour into a 13 x 9 greased baking dish. 

To the baking dish add the ricotta cheese until every noodle has been covered with the sauce.  Then add your parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Stir to incorporate.  Next add the sauce to the pasta and ricotta mixture and stir until everything is evenly coated.  Now add 3/4 of the shredded mozzarella cheese and all of the parmesan cheese.  Stir until everything is evenly mixed.  Add the additional mozzarella cheese on top and bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown and bubbly.  Enjoy!

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Pasta con Aglio e Olio (Pasta with garlic and oil)

Here is an easy, easy recipe that you can make using things you probably have around.  Ease doesn't always mean not very delicious, and here is a perfect example of this.  Enjoy!

5 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 lb long pasta (linguine or spaghetti work best)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (about 2 handfuls)
1 cup reserved pasta water
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1 whole fresh mozzarella (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  This will be for the pasta to cook in.

In a very large skillet, heat 1/2 cup of olive oil.  Chop garlic very fine.  The finer it is the more flavorful it will become.  Once oil is hot pinch in the red pepper flakes.  Be careful, these are very hot.  Then add the garlic.  Stir constantly so the garlic does not burn.  Once he begins to turn light brown lower the heat to low.  Burnt garlic is bitter and will ruin your dish. 

After water begins to boil, add a handful of salt to the water.  Add your pasta and stir.  Pasta will take about 8-10 minutes.  One minute before pasta is done, take out one cup of pasta water and reserve.  This water is a great thickening agent because of its high starch content.  Drain the pasta and pour into the garlic and oil.  Make sure the heat it still on low.  Using tongs, toss the pasta around while adding parmesan cheese and then pasta water.  Continue adding a little bit at a time of each until it is all gone and you see a thicker sauce.  Now you can add the parsley and 1/2 inch cubes of mozzarella cheese.  Continue tossing for about 1-2 minutes or until cheese slightly melts.  Finish with ground pepper.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake

It took me a long time to figure out the best recipe to mock the Cheesecake Factory's.  I tried a lot of fancy techniques that people say make a best cheesecake.  I searched all over the internet and I found the best recipe was actually the simplest and most like my Mom's recipe for cheesecake.  I made this recipe on Thanksgiving and it was a crowd favorite! Enjoy!


1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon of sugar

1 cup sugar
3-8 ounce packages of cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin
3 eggs
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Whipped cream for top if desired

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the graham cracker crumbs and sugar together.  Then add the melted butter and stir until a slightly moist mixture forms.  Press the crust into the bottom and 2/3 of the sides of a springform pan.  I use a metal measuring cup to press the crumbs in, but your hand will work just fine.  Bake for 5 minutes and then put into fridge to chill. 

Combine the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add the pumpkin, eggs, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg and beat again until very creamy and there are no lumps.  Pour into the graham cracker crust.  Bake in the oven for 60-70 minutes.  Many professionals recommend to use a water bath which is just a roasting an full of hot water that the springform pan is immersed in for even cooking and to prevent cracking.  I personally don't do this step because I like the crack on my cheesecake.  It makes it look homemade.  After it is finished baking, chill in the fridge.  Preferably let chill for 24 hours, but 6-8 hours will do if you can't wait that long.  You can decorate with whipped cream if you want like they do at the cheesecake factory, but I prefer to leave mine plain.  Cut and Enjoy!

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Nutella Banana Peanut Butter Stuffed French Toast

I was watching Foodnetwork one day and found a similar recipe for this French Toast.  It was just bananas and peanut butter stuffed inside bread.  I decided Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread) would be a great addition, and it definitely was.  This is great for breakfast or even dessert.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

8 slices of bread (I prefer a thick, chewy bread, but any bread is fine)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
1/4 of water
2 bananas
1 cup smooth or chunky peanut butter
1 cup nutella

Begin heating a large skillet with butter.  Peel and slice bananas into very thin slices. 

If you are using a whole loaf of bread, slice 8 pieces, about a 1/2 inch - 1inch thick.  If you are using already sliced bread that is fine too. 

To prepare the egg wash, crack 2 eggs into a shallow bowl.  Beat the eggs.  Then add cinnamon and 1/4 cup of water.  Beat eggs again until light and fluffy. 

Take one slice of bread and spread with peanut butter, then top with a thin layer of bananas.  On another piece of bread spread the nutella and place it over the first piece of bread like you are making a sandwich.  Continue this with the rest of the ingredients.  Then soak each sandwich in the egg wash and allow to drain a little bit.  Fry in pan until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.  Serve and enjoy!
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Friday, March 18, 2011

Potatoes Au Gratin

My recipe for potatoes au gratin is very similar to my macaroni and cheese recipe except for a few extra additions here and there.  It is very simple and a delicious side dish with any meal.  Hope you enjoy!!

4 slices of bacon
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons oil or butter
2 tablespoons of flour
2 cups of milk
2 cups of sharp Cheddar cheese
5 russet potatoes
1 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat oil in a medisum saucepan on medium heat.  Slice bacon into strips and put into hot pan.  Slice onion into thin slices and chop the garlic.  Add both of these to the oil with the bacon.  Once the bacon has become brown and the onions are translucent (about 5-10 minutes) add the flour and stir.  A paste should form.  Continue to cook this for 1 to 2 minutes to cook the raw flour taste out.  Lower the heat to low and slowly add in the 2 cups of milk while whisking.  Once all has been added continue to whisk until the paste and the milk have become one.  At this point you can turn the heat up to medium high and allow the sauce to thicken for about 10 minutes.  Stir often so that no lumps form.

While sauce is thickening prep the potatoes.  Peel each potatoe and slice very thin, like 1/8 -1/4 of an inch thick.  You can use a mandoline but I find a knife works just as well. 

Once sauce has thickened add the cheese and stir.  Once cheese has melted add the parsley, salt and pepper. 

Cover the bottom of a 13 x 9 greased baking dish with a few tablespoons of sauce.  Then layer the thinly sliced potatoes in one single layer, slightly overlapping.  After each layer of potatoes add enough sauce to cover the potatoes and continue to work up until all of the potatoes and sauce have been used.  Add extra cheese on top.

Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes.  Enjoy!

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Famous Macaroni and Cheese

One of my favorite dishes to eat and cook is macaroni and cheese.  Anytime I go to a restaurant, if it's on the menu I am definitely ordering it.  What most people don't know is that delicious mac and cheese is very easy to make at home, without any powdered cheese packets.  This is my recipe for mac and cheese and I hope you enjoy it!

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

4 slices of bacon
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of flour
1 lb any short cut pasta (I use shells or rigatoni usually, but elbows are classically used)
2 cups of milk (usually recipes recommend to use whole milk, but I use skim and it works out perfectly too)
1 cup sharp yellow cheddar
1/2 cup colby jack
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons breadcrumbs (optional)
2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp parsley
2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

At this point, I usually put a pot of water on the stove to boil while I am making the cheese sauce. 

In a small sauce pan heat 2 tablespoons of oil or butter on medium.  Slice the bacon into strips (lardons in French) and add to the oil.  Then chop the 2 cloves of garlic very small and add to the pan with the bacon.  Let bacon and garlic saute together until bacon begins to turn brown.  Then add 2 tablespoons of flour and begin to whisk.  A paste will begin to form, this is called a roux and is the beginning of most creamy sauces as a source of thickening.  Allow the roux to cook for 1-2 minutes to cook the raw flour taste out.  Then slowly add your milk while whisking and lower the heat to low.  Once you whisk in all of the milk so that the roux and milk have become one mixture you can turn the heat up to med-high.  Allow the sauce to thicken for about 5-10 minutes while stirring every so often. 

By now the water should be boiling.  Add a hand ful of salt to the water and then add the lb. of pasta and stir. 

Once the sauce has thickened add in your three cheeses.  I use cheddar for color, colby jack for flavor, and mozzarella for texture.  Reserve 1 cup of the combination of cheeses for the top.  Then add your parmesan cheese which I use for a salty factor.  Stir until all the cheese has melted.  Then add in your spices and taste the mixture.  It might need a touch more salt to just add it to your taste. 

Once the pasta is done cooking, about 8-10 minutes, drain the pasta and put into a greased baking dish.  Add the sauce on top and stir around to evenly coat each noodle.  Add extra cheese and breadcrumb on top and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. 

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