Target, my wallet hates you.


I know I usually just share recipes on here with random tidbits of life, but my morning has been so ridiculous, I felt it only necessary to share.

I get to work this morning, get out of my car and notice that my ass feels a bit cold. I figure its just because its 26 degrees outside. I come into the office, sit down and then notice that my ass is still cold. On my warm chair. Only then do I realize that one of my favorite pairs of jeans has a 4 inch long rip from the top of the pocket to the bottom and my lovely white ass is hanging out.

I start thinking. I'm 35 minutes from home. I have to start answering the phones at 8 AM. Its 7:45 AM. There's no possible way I can get home and back to grab another pair of jeans in time. Then I remember that my lovely husband was awake this morning when I left for work. I call him, explain my tale, listen to him laugh for a few minutes and finally bribe him with his favorite food in order for him to bring me a new pair of jeans. Success!

Now I only have to wear my sweater around my waist a la 1990's for about an hour. Ten minutes later, my lovely husband calls me and says 'So I'd bring you the jeans if I hadn't left the GPS on in my car. My battery is dead.' At this point, what can I do but laugh? Half my ass is hanging out and there is no one to save me.

I debated just wearing the sweater around my waist for the rest of the day and limiting myself to not leaving my desk. But then I realized I had checks I needed to take to the bank, I didn't have a full lunch with me, and while these things could be easily delegated to coworkers, it would involve me having cash, which I also didn't have.

So I convince one of the guys in the warehouse to answer the phones while I run to the wonderful world of Target to get a pair of jeans. I have the absolute hardest time ever finding jeans. Usually it takes an entire mall and a couple of hours before I find a pair or two that fit. But today, I have less than an hour and one store I can go to. Crossing my fingers that my bad luck streak has passed, I make a mad dash for Target.

Where I find the last pair of jeans in my size. They don't fit perfectly, they're a bit baggy in the thighs and they come up to high on my waist, but they're $24 and my only other option is sweatpants. But of course, there is some universal law that you absolutely can not go to Target and pick up one item. There's like a $100 minimum on the store. The logical part of my brain is saying "just walk right over there. Right to that empty cash register." And the evil Target store is luring me in different directions. "You need a new pad for that mop." "Don't you want to see if they have a better styling cream for your hair?" "Hey, why don't you come look at the nail polish. I bet we have that color you're looking for."

And damn it if I didn't give in. One pair of replacement jeans, a new pad for the nifty Freedom mop, nail polish I've been looking for forever, a new make up brush, razor cartridges, and a new shampoo later, I finally make it to the register, which now of course, has a line full of people. And as I stand there waiting, I notice that the drink containers have Throwback Pepsi. Which given my morning is a completely justifiable purchase.

Then I damn near have a heart attack as the man rings up my purchases. $107. Once again, the evil powers of Target have convinced me to purchase more than the one item I came there for.

So now, at nearly 10 AM, with a Throwback Pepsi and my ass properly covered, I'm making a second attempt at starting my day.

Potato and Bacon Soup


It was supposed to snow today. As in that evil white stuff that falls from the sky and reeks havoc on the roads. I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I don't do winter. Or snow. Or cold, for that matter. Winter in my mind should be in the 40's or 50's. No snow. No ice. I really need to move to Florida or something.

Anyway, when I saw that evil snow in the weather forecast, I was initially mad and irritable. Its practically April, there should no longer be snow. It needs to be spring. Now. Then I realized since it would be in the lower 40's today, it was a good excuse to make this potato and bacon soup I had planned on making a few weeks ago but never got around to.

Potato and Bacon Soup
Source: Cooking Light, December 2010
Servings: 3-4
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    • 6-8 medium baking potatoes
    • 5 slices bacon
    • 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil 
    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 2 cups milk
    • 1 1/2 cup less-sodium chicken broth
    • 1 tsp. parsley
    • 3 green onions, diced
    • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Rinse off the potatoes and piece with a fork. Wrap each potato in a paper towel. Microwave the potatoes for 15 minutes or until soft.
2. Cook the bacon until crisp. Once cool, crumble into pieces.
3. In a large pot over medium heat add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook for 3-5 minutes until soft. Then add the garlic, salt, pepper and bay leaf.
4. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl. Roughly mash them leaving the skins on.
5. Add the potato, milk and chicken broth to the pot. Stir well and bring to a boil.
6. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 3-5 minutes.
7. Scoop the potato soup into bowls and top with parsley, green onions, cheddar cheese and bacon. Serve immediately.

The original recipe is for 18 servings and I couldn't tell from the picture if it was chunkier and more stew like or a brothy soup. I wanted this to be more stew like, but you could easily add more milk and/or chicken broth to get a brothier soup.

Weekly Menu 3/27 - 4/1


Ah, Friday. How I love thee. It's been a really long week at work. My coworker had a death in the family and hasn't been in the office since Monday. Since I work in a really small office, that meant I was responsible for answering the phone. Which isn't a big deal and its not like its constantly ringing but when no one else has any desire to help out with the phones, it means I actually have to ask someone else to answer them if I need to walk away from my desk to heat up lunch, refill my coffee, or even pee. Pretty annoying.

Today I had a half day though. I met with my allergist for the third time and we've determined I'm damn near allergic to everything, including lady bugs as I had previously thought. So it appears that Zyrtec-D and Patanase nasal spray will become my close friends. I had allergies as a kid and they went away in a few years so hopefully I'll follow the same pattern this time. After my allergist, I had a hair appointment. I know its bad for your hair, but I get mine relaxed/straightened each year. Without it, I tend to resemble a really ugly poodle whether its humid or not. My hair stylist talked me into letting my bangs grow into a side-swept bang. My fingers are crossed I can patiently hold out while my bangs grow another couple of inches to get to the right length for it.

Anyway, onto the menu.

Sunday - potato and bacon soup (I didn't get to make this a few week ago)

Monday - chicken cordon bleu roll ups with fries and sugared asparagus

Tuesday - lasagna stuffed garlic bread

Wednesday - pierogi

Thursday - arroz con pollo

Friday - beef au jus sandwiches with gravy fries (after seeing someone else make it, I was reminded of how good it is and just how much I wanted it!)

Its a pretty simple menu this week, filled with tons of stuff that Tom likes. When I made the menu yesterday and showed it to him he asked if he had done something really good he didn't know about and this was his reward. Ha ha.

Recipe Swap!: Chicken & Onion Flatbread with Orange Cucumber Salad


There's a cooking message board that I read daily. A couple of weeks ago the other posters/bloggers decided to start a recipe swap. The first week they swapped a chicken dish. This weeks swap was a quick weeknight meal. I missed the chicken one, but participated this week.

I was given Lamb & Sweet Onion Pitas with Orange-Cucumber Salad from Oishii Food. A recipe like this isn't something that I'd usually make so I was definitely excited to try it out, but I knew I'd need to make some substitutions. Like I've said a million times, I live in the middle-of-no-where, Maryland and our grocery options are pretty limited. I knew it'd be pretty difficult if not impossible to find ground lamb and since I hadn't cook with it before, I decided to substitute chicken. I also quickly realized that this would be a "me-only" recipe as Tom doesn't really like onions and isn't a cucumber fan. When I went grocery shopping last week I found that all of the pitas that were there last week had mysterious disappeared. Grr! So, substitution number 2.

Anyway, onto the recipe.

Chicken and Onion Flatbread with Orange Cucumber Salad
Adapted from: Oishii Food 
Servings: 1
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    • 1 chicken breast, cut into 1 inch chunks
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/2 vidalia onion, about 12 slices
    • 1 orange
    • 1/2 small cucumber, about 15 very thin slices
    • 1/2 tsp. sugar
    • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
    • 1/2 tsp. basil 
    • 1 flatbread
    • 1 tbs. plain Greek yogurt
    • salt and pepper to taste
1. Slice the onion into very thin slices, about 1/8th inch. Finely dice one of the slices and set aside.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Separate the rings of each onion and add to the skillet. Cook for 5-6 minutes stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and golden brown.
3. Remove the onions from the pan and cover with foil to keep warm. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and cinnamon. Add the chicken to the skillet and brown for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through.
4. Add the diced onion to a small bowl. Working over the bowl, cut the orange into small segments, letting the juice drip into the bowl. Add the cucumber, sugar, red wine vinegar and basil to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Arrange the onion slices onto the flatbread, top with chicken, then the orange-cucumber salad. Top with the Greek yogurt. Roll up, slice in half and enjoy!

I thought this was delicious! I definitely could have ate two of them. As I was making the salad I remembered when I was a kid my mom would slice up cucumbers and soak them overnight in vinegar and sugar. I taste-tested the salad and thought it would make a perfect addition.The original recipe called for using 1-1/2 tbs. oil for the onion and the other 1/2 tbs. for the salad, but my orange was extra juicy so I skipped it. I also realized afterward that toasting the flatbread probably would have been a good idea. Ah well, just another reason to make this again.

We're restocking the freezer with chicken again this weekend and instead of my usual packaging for meals, I'm going to package some individually so I can make this again for lunches or nights when Tom isn't home.

Weekly Menu 3/20 - 3/25


Oh spring, how I've missed you. The weather was absolutely gorgeous yesterday, it got to almost 80 degrees. Actually, it was 80 degrees in our apartment. Spring is definitely one of my favorite seasons because it means summer is right around the corner. And oh do I love summer. Flip flops, trips to the beach, summer clothes, and warm weather. Nothing is better than that.

Which means I really need to get started on exercising. I said I was going to do it all winter but I never got around to it. Now with college classes until May I'm sure its going to be even harder, but I'm determined to lose the 5 or 6 pounds I put on over the winter.

This week's menu is pretty simple since my classes start again and I'm sure the professors have no interest in making our first week back an easy one. Another neat thing this week: the cooking message board that I read daily has started a recipe swap. I'm part of this week and really excited to try out something new!

Sunday - pork with cherry sauce, roasted red potatoes and corn

Monday - recipe swap meal!

Tuesday - velveeta mac and cheese

Wednesday - sloppy joes and fries

Thursday - leftover chicken noodle soup (I'm cleaning out the freezer)

Friday - fried shrimp and fries

I'm also going to do some baking tomorrow. I found another recipe for blueberry muffins that looks delicious. I plan on eating them for breakfast next week. I'm also going to attempt to make granola bars. For as simple as they are, I've never made them before. That definitely needs to change!

Fried Potatoes


I'm not really a fan of fried foods. I ate a lot of them growing up and once I knew they weren't healthy I pretty much stopped eating them. But today when Tom suggested that I make fried potatoes with the chicken tenders for dinner, it sounded like a great idea.

Fried Potatoes
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation 
Serves: 2
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    • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4 slices
    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
    • salt and pepper to taste
1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
2. Add the potatoes and onion. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are fork tender.
3. Transfer the potatoes to a paper towel and blot away excess butter.
4. Season with salt and pepper.

A few minutes after I had these in the pan that smell of cooking potatoes instantly reminded me of my childhood. The potatoes turned out absolutely delicious and even though I try to avoid fried foods, I'll definitely be making these again soon. And hey, at least I had a salad along with dinner. That evens out all of the butter, right? :o)

Weekly Menu 3/13 - 3/18


Ah, a week with no college homework. :-) I've already celebrated my lack of busyness by making the Strawberry Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes yesterday along with some Strawberry Lemonade. I'm debating on making some sugar cookies with royal icing for St. Patrick's Day as well.

I went on a bit of a cleaning spree on Friday night. Along with the regular cleaning, I washed all of my pot holders, kitchen towels and extra blankets lying around the house, reorganized my closet to move the sweaters toward the back, and reorganized the bathroom closet. Today I think I'm going to reorganize the pantry and move some DVDs into this nifty holder that we purchased from

Tom's mom showed us this holder over a year ago but we finally decided to cave and buy them. We purchased two of them and it appears that we're going to need a third. I can't believe how many DVDs we have, but at least it makes the bookshelf holding them look much more organized. Anyway, onto the menu for the week.

Sunday - stuffed flank steak with mexican rice

Monday - raspberry chipotle chicken with mashed potaotes

Tuesday - potstickers with sugar snap peas over rice

Wednesday - crock pot spaghetti & meatballs with garlic bread

Thursday - Parmesan and herb chicken tenders with roasted red potatoes

Friday - some type of pizza

Tom will probably have pepperoni pizza but I'm thinking of making something a bit fancier for myself. Maybe something with caramelized onions, mushrooms, or a roasted fruit. Or maybe all three. I'm not sure yet.

I'm sure some traditional Irish person is quite irritated with me since I'm at least 50% Irish but I'm not a fan of Irish foods so I didn't bother looking for something to make on St. Patrick's Day. Then again, it will also be 6 months since Tom and I got married so maybe I can use that as an excuse to go out to dinner instead. :-)

Strawberry Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting


For the past couple of weeks there have been pretty decent looking strawberries at the grocery store. It also helps that they're $1.98 per pint. I love strawberries. They are definitely one of my favorite fruits and I can't help but buy them from the second they appear on the shelves until the end of the season where you're required to inspect every pint to make sure they're not moldy.

I came across this recipe in a calendar that I picked up at the dollar store. Each month was a different dessert. I believe it was January that had the vanilla buttermilk cupcakes. I'd never heard of using buttermilk in a cupcake but it sounded like a good idea. Since I knew I'd have extra strawberries this week I figured I'd add them in there too to see what happened.

Strawberry Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes
Inspired by: A Dollar Tree 2010 Calendar
Yield: 24 cupcakes
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    • 1 stick plus 2 tbs. unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 1/2 cup sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 cups AP flour
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
    • 1/2 pint strawberries, hulled, rinsed and chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line two cupcake pans with liners.
2. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Stir to combine.
4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture. Once the flour is incorporated, add the buttermilk.
5. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the strawberries into the mixture. Spoon about 2/3 of the mixture into each cupcake liner.
6. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
7. Transfer to a wire baking rack and let cool completely.

Cream Cheese Icing
    • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and continue to beat the icing until its smooth and creamy.
2. If icing is too runny, refrigerate for 30 minutes before decorating cupcakes.

If you're not serving the cupcakes immediately, refrigerate until you're ready to serve them. 

The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 sticks of butter which I thought was just way too much along with the buttermilk. Even cutting back 2 tbs. of butter, these cupcakes were still greasier than I intended but they have a very light and airy texture to them. It reminds me of chiffon cake. Next time I'm going to try it with one stick of butter and 3/4 cup of buttermilk and see if it changes the consistency.

Overall, I thought these cupcakes were still really tasty. The cream cheese frosting makes gives them a savory hint and the strawberries inside are a nice burst of flavor.

Strawberry Lemonade


Last week when we went to the grocery store they were out of very random things in the produce section. There weren't any lemons, red peppers or mushrooms. Of course I needed all three of these ingredients. I opted for a orange pepper instead of red, skipped the mushrooms entirely and decided I could purchase an entire bag of lemons instead of an individual one.

I rarely ever cook with lemons. Tom doesn't like them in anything savory, only sweet. I usually buy one a week to slice up and add to the Turkey Hill Diet Green Tea that I drink daily. Now, I had a bag of 9 lemons.

So what do you do when Wal-mart gives you lemons? You make lemonade! (I know, I know, I'm hilarious.) :-)

Strawberry Lemonade
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Yield: 2.5 quarts
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    • 1/2 pint strawberries
    • 7 lemons
    • 2/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
    • 2 quarts water

1. Rinse, hull and dice the strawberries. Put the strawberries into a plastic bowl with a lid. Sprinkle 1 tbs. sugar over them, cover and shake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Slice up two of the lemons and set aside.
3. Juice the remaining 5 lemons. You'll need about 2/3 of a cup.
4. Transfer the strawberries to a large bowl and lightly mashed them. Add the sliced lemons, lemon juice and sugar. Stir until the sugar has mostly dissolved.
5. Pour the fruit into a large pitcher. Add the two quarts of water. Stir and refrigerate. Serve cold.

I thought this would be pretty tart so I didn't use all of the lemons that I had. It actually ended up a lot lighter and fruitier tasting than I thought. I guess the best way to describe it is that its not so concentrated that you feel like you need a glass of water after it.

Weekly Menu 3/6 - 3/11


MARCH?!?! How in the world is it March already? I swear it was just the beginning of February a few days ago. I really have no idea why time is going by so quickly. Before I know it, its going to be April and I'm going to be 26! I'm not quite ready for that just yet.

I have great news about this week. Spring break for the community college starts on the 13th. My accounting teacher has decided that since most of our work is due on Fridays and Sundays, that we won't have ANYTHING DUE UNTIL 3/25! I'm rather excited. Tomorrow I should find out if my Principles of Purchasing teacher is also giving us two weeks off. Even if he isn't, only having 3 hours worth of homework this week sounds amazing!

As you can tell, I'm a bit excited. So I decided to celebrate by making a few new things this week. Next week should have many new recipes too, most likely along with some St. Patrick's Day sugar cookies.

One more thing before the menu; Tom and I were walking into Walmart yesterday to do the grocery shopping and I told him I was going to wait until next week to pick up the ingredients/supplies for the St. Patrick's Day cookies. He asked what day St. Patrick's Day falls on and I told him the 17th, which is also the day we'll have been married for 6 months. I have no idea how that came so quickly either!

Sunday - cranberry pork with roasted red potatoes and asparagus

Monday - chicken tortilla soup

Tuesday - steak with red wine butter and loaded potatoes

Wednesday - gah-licky sizzling shrimp

Thursday - baked potato soup

Friday - tacos

I know, I know, how many times are you going to see the garlicky sizzling shrimp on my weekly menu before I finally get around to making it. I honestly think that this week I really will make it. Hopefully. If not, you have every right to yell at me and tell me you demand to see the recipe. Or not. Whatever works for ya!

Crab & Corn Chowder


We've lived in what I called middle-of-nowhere, Maryland for a year now. One thing I still can't adjust to is the lack of fresh seafood. I can't figure out how I can be the same distance from the water as we were in Baltimore and yet all of the seafood is frozen or canned here. I'm within 10 minutes of Delaware and they're also big on seafood, but no. No fresh seafood for me.

In Baltimore, every grocery store and even the seafood market outside of the flea market always had fresh seafood. It was insanely common to go to the store and pick up some back fin crab meat or a few pounds of shrimp. Hell, there were at least 20 places within a 15 minute drive where I could go pick up steamed crabs.

The lack of fresh seafood here really makes the Marylander in me cry.

Around Valentine's day one of the grocery stores near work had claw crab meat on sale. I immediately jumped at the opportunity and bought some. Maybe its just me or maybe its a Marylander thing, but backfin and lump crab meat is reserved for making crab cakes and crab cakes only. Claw meat is what you use for everything else.

Crab and Corn Chowder
Slightly Adapted from:
Servings:  10
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    • 1/2 lb. claw crab meat
    • 1 green pepper
    • 1 red pepper
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 2 carrots, chopped
    • 1 10 oz. bag frozen corn kernels
    • 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cup dry potato flakes
    • 1 can diced green chiles
    • 2 cups fat free half and half
    • 1/4 cup milk
    • 1 cup water
    • 2 tbsp. butter
    • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp. parsley
    • salt and pepper
    • 3 tbsp. Old Bay, divided
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • hot sauce, optional
1. Pick through the crab meat removing any shells or cartilage. Season with 1 tbs. Old Bay. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to broil. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Drizzle olive oil over the green and red pepper and broil until slightly charred, 4-7 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
3. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook for 10 minutes or until tender.
4. Chop the green and red pepper and add to the pot along with the corn and diced green chiles. Cook about 5 minutes until the corn is thawed.
5. Add the water, potato flakes, garlic powder, oregano, remaining Old Bay and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Stir in the milk, half and half and crab meat and cook for 5 minutes until heated through.
7. Season with additional Old Bay or hot sauce if desired. Serve with Italian bread.

This was delicious! I went light on the crab meat because I have other plans for the rest of it, but you could easily use a pound of crab meat to make the soup even heartier. I'd have to say this ranks evenly with my Maryland crab soup recipe.

Muenster Mac and Cheese


Have I mentioned that I love cheese? Like really love cheese? Pepperjack is by far my favorite, closely followed by cream cheese. But then there is American cheese, Mozzarella, Colby, Monterrey, Swiss, Muenster, Parmesan, Provolone, Cheddar and the list goes on and on. I know most of those cheeses are the common ones, but hey, when you live in the middle of no where, you can't find fancy cheese like Gruyere, Pecorino, or Emmental. There are currently two cheese that I dislike. Ricotta because the texture bugs me and Brie because of the lovely comment Tom made about it.

Do you like brie? If so, you may want to skip ahead to the recipe. At my bridal shower at Tom's mom's house, she had a platter of different cheeses. We're all gathered around this platter trying them out and Tom tries the brie. He almost instantly spits it out and says "it tastes like an aquarium would smell."

Since I already have a piece of brie on a cracker, I tell myself that my palate is much more refined than Tom's and he's crazy to make the association of cheese and an aquarium. I take a bite and...
my brain instantly transports me to the touching tank at the aquarium we visited in North Carolina two years before. I don't want to spit it out but it took everything in me to finish chewing and swallow the cheese and cracker while images of starfish, stingrays, fishies and algae swim through my mind.

I'll never get rid of that mental image so now I am forced to live a brie-less life.

Muenster Mac and Cheese
Slightly adapted from: Annie's Eats
Servings: 4-6 
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    • 1 1/2 cups pasta shells
    • 8 oz. Muenster cheese*
    • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
    • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/4 tsp. oregano
    • salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions until just a minute or so before al dente. Butter or spray a 9x13 baking dish.
2. Preheat the oven to 400.
3. If you couldn't find shredded Muenster, you can buy the slices and use a box grater to shred them. If you currently don't possess a box grater (I didn't until yesterday), dice the cheese into small pieces.
4. Place 4 tbs. of the unsalted butter in a large mixing bowl. 
5. In a medium sized saucepan over low heat, warm the heavy cream. Add the cheese and stir until the cheese begins to melt. Add the garlic powder, oregano and salt and pepper to taste.
6. Drain the pasta and add to the bowl with the butter. Toss well to coat. Add the cheese mixture and stir well.
7. Microwave the remaining 1 tbs. of butter until melted. Add the breadcrumbs to the butter and stir.
8. Transfer the pasta and cheese into the baking dish. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the pasta.
9. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top has turned a golden brown color.

Yum! Muenster is such a light cheese that I was curious to see if the flavor really came through. I definitely think it did. Tom on the other hand, can't seem to have mac and cheese unless he mixes Velveeta into it, so I have no idea what his tasted like.

Chocolate Torte with Ganache and Strawberries


Last week Tom casually mentioned that in high school he had made a chocolate torte for French class. I knew that translated to 'Honey, please find a chocolate torte recipe.' So I went off to google and found this recipe.

Fair warning, this cake is pretty time consuming if you want to include the ganache. As in make the cake early in the day if you want to eat some of it later that night.

Chocolate Torte with Ganache and Strawberries
Source: Joy of Baking
Yield: 1 cake
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Ingredients for the torte:
    • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    • 6 large eggs, divided
    • 9 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
    • 1 cup sugar, divided
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

1. Place the oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. Spray a 9x3 springform pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
2. While the eggs are still cold, separate them to have yolks in one bowl and whites in another bowl. Let them come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. (I used this time to chop up the chocolate.)
3. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in the bottom pan of a double boiler. Once boiling, add the butter pieces and chocolate to the top pan. Stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and chocolate have melted. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of your stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes. The eggs will be lemon colored, increased in volume and if you lift the beater, they will fall back into the bowl in a slow ribbon.
5. Beat in the vanilla extract and the melted chocolate mixture. If you only have one mixer bowl, transfer the chocolate mixture to a bowl and clean out your mixer bowl.
6. Add the egg whites to the stand mixer bowl and beat on high until the egg whites are foamy. Add the cream of tarter and continue beating until soft peaks form. Slowly add in the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and continue to beat on high speed until stuff peaks form.
7. Use a rubber spatula to fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in a large scoopful at a time until it is all combined. The mixture will look like a very pale chocolate mousse.
8. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake the cake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
9. Remove the cake from the oven (It will be cracked and crumbly) and cool on a wire rack. Once the cake has cooled to room temperature, remove from the rack and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

For the Strawberries:
1. Rinse and hull 6 medium strawberries. Cut into slices.
2. Place the strawberries into a small bowl.
3. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. sugar
4. Place the lid on the bowl and shake the strawberries around, distributing the sugar. Refrigerate until you're ready for them.

Ingredients for the ganache:
    • 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
    • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 2 tbs. unsalted butter
1. In a small saucepan, heat the whipping cream and butter over medium heat. Bring just to a boil.
2. In a large stainless steel mixing bowl, add the chocolate pieces.
3. Pour the whipping cream and butter mixture over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes.
4. Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth.

To Assemble the Torte:
1. Remove the torte from the fridge. Place a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet. Flip the cake over (upside down) and release the springs on the pan. Remove the pan and the bottom gently.
2. Pour the ganache over the cake and spread with a rubber spatula, getting the sides of the cake.
3. Remove the strawberries from the fridge and place the sliced strawberries on the cake.
4. If serving immediately, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
5. Store in the refrigerator.

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