"Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave?" - Kathleen Kelly (You've Got Mail)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Stuffed Strawberries

1 pound fresh medium-large strawberries
8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Wash and dry the strawberries, cut the stems off and stand up straight. Cut an "x" in the tip of each strawberry going 3/4 of the way down. Cream together the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla. Place mixture into a piping bag (or in my case, a Ziploc baggie with a hole cut in the tip!) and squeeze into each strawberry from the bottom up. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Notes: Randy has had a few crazy days at work so I wanted to have a little treat waiting for him today. These were simple to make and really delicious and fresh! They were a little messy and making them made me wish I had a piping bag....oh well, I'll get one someday...maybe! These would be great for a baby or bridal shower or any party, really :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blueberry Crumb Bars

3 c. all purpose flour (I used half whole wheat)
1 1/2 c. white sugar, divided
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. chilled butter (I used half Smart Balance)
4 c. fresh blueberries
3 tsp. corn starch

Preheat oven to 375 and grease a 13x9 pan and set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, 1 cup sugar and baking powder. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter and egg until crumbly. Pieces should be no larger than a pea.
In a separate bowl, stir together the blueberries, remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch. Pour half the crumble mixture into the prepared pan. Pour blueberry mixture evenly over the top. Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture over the blueberries. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting and serving.

recipe adapted from here 

Notes: Blueberries were on sale this week at the grocery store so I picked up an 18 oz. carton (which turned out to be exactly 4 cups...perfect!) and made these bars with them. I'm not a huge blueberry fan, but these were so good! I found the recipe on allrecipes.com and made a few of my own little changes....super easy to make, I threw them together in a couple minutes! They are a great for dessert or to munch on with your morning coffee :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lemony Breaded Pork Chops

4 boneless pork loin chops
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp. butter
1 egg
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
1/3 c. plain bread crumbs
1 tsp. lemon pepper
Salt to taste

Place a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter and melt together. On a large place, whisk together the egg and lemon juice. On another large plate, combine the lemon zest, bread crumbs, lemon pepper and salt. Dip both sides each pork chop in the egg mixture and then into the bread crumb mixture. Place in the skillet and cook for 8-10 minutes on each side, or until fully cooked. Drizzle with extra lemon juice if desired. Serves 4.

Notes: I made this dish up the other night and Randy and I both loved it! I asked Randy how many stars out of 5 he'd give it and he said 4 at first and then changed his mind to 5 later on in the meal :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Caramel Macchiato Thumbprints - take 2

4 tsp. instant coffee granules
1 tbsp. hot water
1 pouch (1 lb. 1.5 oz.) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1/4 c. white flour
1/2 c. butter or margarine, melted
2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
28 soft caramels, unwrapped
1 tbsp. milk
1/2 c. white chocolate chips
1 tsp. shortening

Heat oven to 375 and grease 2 cookie sheets. Dissolve coffee granules in the hot water and pour into a large mixing bowl. Stir in cookie mix, flour, butter, vanilla and egg until soft dough forms, about 2 minutes. Shape dough into balls and place 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each dough ball. Bake 8-10 minutes in preheated oven. Transfer to cooling racks.

In a small bowl, microwave the caramels and milk for 1 minute, stir and heat 30-45 more seconds or until melted and smooth. Spoon the caramel into the center of each cookie. In another small bowl, microwave the white chocolate chips and shortening 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. Pipe the chocolate over each cookie. Allow chocolate to harden and store cookies unstacked (to prevent caramel sticking) in an airtight container.

Recipe adapted from here

Notes: I made these cookies before and they were really good but I wanted to try them again and make a few changes. I didn't think the cookies should have dark chocolate on them since caramel macchiatos are caramel and vanilla. So I used white chocolate this time and they were MUCH better. I piped it on instead of drizzling which was easier and less messy. I also added a teaspoon extra of coffee granules for a stronger coffee flavor. One more thing I did was make them about 1/2 the size I did the first time. They turned out amazing and I will make them again and again! I even had some for breakfast this morning ;)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Kettle Korn

3 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
1/2 c. popcorn kernels, divided
1/2 c. sugar, divided
food coloring, optional (I used 10 drops red & 12 drops neon blue)

In a stove top popcorn popper (I have a 4 quart Whirley Pop) heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil over medium/high heat. Add 1/4 cup popcorn kernels, 1/4 cup sugar and food coloring if using and close the lid. Once you hear the kernels being to pop, stir constantly until they are completely done popping. Immediately transfer into a large serving bowl. The kettle korn will be extremely hot at first, so allow it to cool and then break it apart using your hands or a large spoon. Repeat the entire process with the second half of the ingredients. Makes about 12 cups of kettle corn.

Notes: If you don't have a Whirley Pop already, please get one! Whenever I make this stuff for parties or get-togethers it gets eaten up so fast! And it's so simple to make and hardly has any ingredients yet so tasty and addicting :)