Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!!

I was just wondering if anyone ever went as a hollow-weenie for Halloween?  As in, like a hot dog casing or something of the like.  But that would take some creativity to pull off.  I bet someone could or has done it already, I rarely have an original thought so for sure someone's done it right?

As for me, I don't have Halloween plans.  The house is not decorated, but I did by some candy for those rascal neighborhood kiddos.  Good stuff too, snickers with almonds and twizzler nibs.  Love dem nibs!

Being as though I don't have many original thoughts, I found this creative idea from Lisa at Pickles and Cheese.  Candy Corn Brownie Bites!  Super cute and creative.  I made a new brownie recipe from my Baking by Dorie Greenspan book, tribute to Katherine Hepburn brownies, and they may be my new favorite brownie, a-maz-ing.  And I just so happened to have some fancy pants chocolate on hand:

 Given these fabulous brownies a go and have a happy safe Halloweenie!

Tribute to Katherine Hepburn Brownies
Recipe from Dorie Greenspan, Baking

1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp ground instant coffee
2 large eggs, room temp
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 and grease and flour 8in baking pan.

Whisk the flour, cinnamon, and salt together.  Put the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and place over low heat.  When butter starts to melt, sift in cocoa powder and add instant coffee.  Continue to cook, stirring, until the butter is melted and the cocoa and coffee are blended into it.  Remove from heat and cool 3 minutes.

Using a whisk or rubber spatula, beat the eggs into the saucepan one at a time.  Next, stir in the sugar and vanilla, followed by the dry ingredients, nuts, and chopped chocolate.  Scrape the batter into the pan.  Bake for 30 minutes and cool completely before cutting into squares.

Mix together 1/2 cup remaining bittersweet chocolate with 2 Tbsp butter, 1 Tbsp light corn syrup, and 1 tsp vanilla in a saucepan over low heat.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

I've had these Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins bookmarked for some time now, just waiting for a good day to bake.  I've been pretty good lately with working out so I've refrained from baking.  But seriously, a girl needs pumpkin in the fall right?  YES is the answer. 

I have varying degrees of enjoyment, you know like when I made P-Dub's Chicken Spaghetti last week and that elicits eyes closed and a yummmmmm.  Some things are "Good!" said in a high pitch.  Then the low pitch "Goooood" which is slightly better.  Then there is something so rarely outrageously delightful I simply swear like a sailor.  It's very true, and has only happened a couple times.  The first time it happened I remember vividly..being from the north I never had ChicFilA, which is only right now being introduced up there.  One day I was in Myrtle Beach, waiting for my husband's flight to come in, so I went to the Chic, and for breakfast they were serving Chicken Minis.  That was the most bizarre thing I ever did hear, Chicken for breakfast!?  I never!  Then I tried one, and oooh did I let the swear words fly, which surprised even myself that such a thing would come out of my mouth.  But really, they are da booooomb!

Long story short, the point I'm trying desperately to reach..This here recipe has made me swear it's so freaking good.  Please do try them and if you are around small children, just tell them to put on their ear muffs so they don't hear you. 

I'm really trying not to swear just looking at the pictures, much less tasting them. 

I made it as is, the only change I'd make is putting more than a tablespoon as she says, on the bottom, because see how low the cream cheese is?  I'd fill the cup halfway with the pumpkin batter, then spoon in the cream cheese, then top it off.  Just a wee little detail, still the best muffin I ever made.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What's been cooking

Lately I can't help it, I seem to have a girl crush on Pioneer Woman. Her food is amazing, I'm sure it has absolutely nothing to do with all the butter, wine, and other slimming ingredients she throws into them.  I have my favorite magazine, Taste of Home Prize Winning Recipes, that I've never found a bad recipe in..and now P-Dub's site has become the same.  Everything I make is unbelievably delicious!  Have you made any of her recipes? 

Last night for example, I made one of her latest, Chicken Cacciatore.  I don't think I've ever heard of cacciatore before this, and I have to say, I was missing out. Her photos are way better than mine, but I plan to work on that one day.  Here's how mine turned out, and here is the link to her recipe. 

I didn't make it 100% like hers, it turned out I had no wine in the fridge??  Right??  What in the world..?
I also didn't have tomatoes, which is another profound mystery..I ended up finding a can of rotel tomatoes in the back of the cabinet.  Made it more spicy but still, it tasted pretty amazing.

Right this moment, as I type, this is getting all warm and bubbly like in my oven:

And I have to say, it's become a regular in my house.  My hubs LOVES this casserole.  And LOVES is saying it mildly.  Here is the link.

Recently I baked for a bake sale.  I have a tendancy to go overboard when I get an opportunity to bake, so in the spirit of moooooooore!  I looked at what I had in the house and found a recipe to match.

Here's what I made:

(Duh!  That's where the wine went!)

I made it with an orange cake mix..I wasn't 100% on the level of moistness so I added a glaze, not pictured.  All in all though, I was pretty happy with it.

I also made some Blondies a la Dorie Greenspan.

And decided to wrap them autumnal like:

Whenever I'm at Michael's, which is next to Barnes and Noble, which means I'm there often, I pick up a spool or two of ribbon.  Such an inexpensive way to dress up a little plastic bag, don'tcha think?

All the fabulous Dorie recipes can be found here.

And that's what's been cooking!  How about you -- Made anything fabulous lately?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

If you have a gift, you have an obligation to share it with others

I know I've totally been slacking on my memoirs!  I had a busy September. Today I have time but my mind is not on it..but I will continue soon!

I am again reading Oprah's magazine,I just started reading last month and the November issue is just as good I may just subscribe.  This month there is an article about finding your life's purpose.  This is actually why I bought the magazine, although sometimes I wish the magazine was written "Finding your life's purpose for Karina" because I need it laid out in black and white for me.   If only it was so easy!  But nay, it's all about finding it for yourself, I guess some sort of journey not the destination business. 

4 years ago I decided to stop flying and find a "real" job.  I didn't know what that was, but I knew it would come.  And here I am today, still waiting for my real job.  2 years ago I decided to go back to school for my master's degree in Occupational Therapy.  I think I was more enthralled with the idea of it than the actual job, and that it would be a stable, well paying career to have.  Earlier this year I found out I was not accepted into grad school and now I find myself today back at the beginning.  Waiting for that real job.  The one that evokes passion, excitement, sense of purpose.

I took a quiz in the magazine and learned that I'm afraid of success.  I'm sorry to say, I already knew this to be true, cemented by the fact that after reading that I got a little dizzy and light headed.  Steps to progress in life are often met with panic attacks.  I am standing in my own way.  I always thought I was a confident person but turns out when it comes to fulfilling dreams, my confidence wavers severely.  It sounds like the most ridiculous thing ever, standing in my own way of success, but I am somewhat relieved to know that, being that it's in a published magazine, others must have it too?  And isn't that sad.

There is a quote from Andrea Bocelli.  He practiced law but loved singing,  "And that's how my destiny revealed itself.  I came to believe that if you have a gift, you have an obligation to share it with others.  It's as simple as that."  Simple as that.  It would be so simple as that, if I knew my gifts. 

Sometimes I wonder about people..the world needs people to fill every position in life.  But I wonder if people who are, say, secretaries, feel like they are fulfilling their purpose?  What about garbage men?  Or housewives?  The world wouldn't function the same without people who do these jobs.  I am a secretary and I for sure know this isn't my destiny.  So do the people who do these jobs feel like they want more out of life or are they fulfilled?  These are the things I wonder about.  But really, #1 for me is finding my own destiny.  I've never been one to settle, and I will not be at peace until I find it.  But for crying out loud, I'm 32, when is it going to happen?!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chicken Piccata

I've been real bad at preplanning meals and grocery shopping lately.  Some people are so organized, planning food for the week and shopping on one day.   I've been most inefficient, deciding that day what I want for dinner and going to the grocery store several times a week.  And worse than that, I am usually out somewhere when I decide and then have to search for a recipe while I'm still out.  If I go home to look for a recipe, forget it, I don't go back out.

THIS is why I love my dinner spinner.  It's a glorious iphone app, you choose the course, main ingredient, and cook time, and voila!  A whole bunch of recipes at your fingertips.  This is what I did yesterday, and found this fabulous chicken piccata recipe.  I don't think I've ever had piccata before, and after trying it, I can't wait to make this again!  This is a 5 star recipe for sure.

Hope you enjoy!

Chicken Piccata

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 egg
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder
1/2 cup boiling water
3 garlic cloves

1.In a small bowl, beat the egg together with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Set aside.

2.In a shallow bowl or dish mix together the flour, garlic powder and paprika. Dip the chicken in the egg/lemon mixture, then in the seasoned flour.

3.In a large skillet, melt butter/margarine and brown the coated chicken pieces.

4.Dissolve the bouillon in the boiling water, then add the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Pour liquid into skillet. Crush garlic cloves and let simmer in broth.  Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes, turning chicken pieces after 10 minutes, until chicken is tender. Garnish as desired and serve.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


You can wear boots!  And you can wear boots! 
And YOU can wear boots!

I have this embarrassing problem.  I love shoes, I LOVE shoes, and always want to wear boots, but when I try them on, I can't zip them all the way up.  It is mortifying, even if no one else knows, I know, and I feel ashamed.  Seriously, are my calves that darn big?

So it's hard for me to contain my excitement, I was just reading Oprah's magazine where she features these:

Boot bands!  They increase the width of any boot.  Good golly I am excited and how brilliant for someone to think of that!  Just when I resigned that I will never get to wear cute boots, someone comes along with a fantastic invention.  Gosh it's just so..brilliant.  I can't get over it!!

And a huge giant calf-size THANK YOU to Krista Barnett who invented these lovelies!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Just the other afternoon I found myself looking for something on the healthy side to have for lunch.  I wasn't in a cooking sorta mood, I just wanted something quick.  I settled on making a peanut butter banana sandwich.  Is that really healthy, I don't know, but it's better than McD's so I say yes.  It was one of those rainy days where you just want to stay in bed and watch movies all day.  So I thought what the hell, I'm going to stay in bed and watch movies all day!  So I brought my PBB sandwich, wrapped in paper towel to avoid crumbage, back to bed and watched HBO alllllll day.  I sure did.

Later the rain let up a bit and I ran out to the mailbox.  There waiting for me was my Cooking Light magazine..with the most fantastic looking bread on the cover: Peanut Butter Banana Bread.  I couldn't believe I never thought of this before, and how ironic given I just had it for lunch!  It was meant to be.  And I knew I had to make it at once...

This bread is really fantastic.  It's nicely moist and has a perfect blend between peanut butter and banana.  
And the peanut butter glaze on the top?

Good heavens.

Give it a try!

Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Recipe from Cooking Light, October 2010

1&1/2 cups mashed ripe banana
1/3 cup plain fat free yogurt
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
3 Tbsp butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1&1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed (I didn't have it and didn't miss it)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
2 Tbsp chopped dry-roasted peanuts (I didn't have this either)
Cooking Spray

1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp lowfat milk
1 Tbsp creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350.  To prepare bread, combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed.  Add granulated and brown sugars; beat until blended.

Sift together flour and next 5 ingredients (thru allspice) in a small bowl.  Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat until just blended.  Stir in nuts.  Pour batter into a 9x5 in loaf pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from oven, cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack.  Remove bread from pan, cool.

To prepare the glaze, combine ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a whisk.  Drizzle over bread.

There's several other great banana bread recipes in this issue -- Bananas Foster Bread?!  Yes please, I will make you next!!  All in all, a very recommendable issue of Cooking Light.