Saturday's with Nichole: Kitchen Organization (Week 1)


Welcome to my first edition of Saturday's with Nichole!

If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm Nichole. A couple of weeks ago, I asked for your help on what you would like to see and none of you responded. Since I can see how many page views each post gets, I decided that you're all just shy, not that you don't need any tips, tricks or suggestions in the kitchen. 
So what is Saturday's with Nichole? Each Saturday there will be a post with something I think could be helpful to you. It can be anything from a tip or trick I've learned, a product review, suggestions on how to use leftovers or anything in between. Sound good?

This first week I'm going to tackle one of my favorite things ever...ORGANIZATION! I'm an organized person. Okay, fine, I'm overly organized. If it was completely acceptable to alphabetize or color code absolutely everything, I would. 

Organization in the kitchen is a necessity. Knowing where everything is and having a clean workspace is really key for me. Chef Anne Burrell teaches the Worst Cooks in America about mis en place. It simply means having everything prepared and in place before you begin to cook. Nothing is worse than getting half way through a recipe only to find that you're missing a key ingredient because you didn't read through it first. Or that you should have chopped the carrot instead of shredded it. Or that you need two cups of cooked rice, not uncooked.

While I'm all for mis en place, there is one part of it that I leave out. While I'll chop my ingredients ahead of time or I'll place all of them on the counter, I'm not going to separate them out into their own bowls. Why? Well, because Food Network doesn't pay my water bill. I hate washing dishes by hand and I see absolutely no reason to add additional dishes to my dishwasher. 

Recently I decided to purchase some extra organizational items for the kitchen. The following items are from The Container Store who did not ask me, beg me, pay me or offer me anything for blogging about their products. So, opinions are my own and they have nothing to do with this. 

Lids. Obviously its necessary to have lids for your pots and pans but oh boy are they one of the worst things to store! If you just stack them up in your cabinet, they constantly fall over making a ridiculous clatter. Or they aren't able to be stacked because of the knobs. Or you just have too many damn lids and not nearly enough space. 
This is the solution to your problem! First, its only $5 and second, it holds up to 8 lids. You can easily stack them from smallest to largest making them incredibly easy to access. Depending on what style of dinner plates you have, you could also use this to stand them up instead of having them lie on top of each other. It'd be great for people who have cabinets without much depth. 

Plastic Wrap/Aluminum Foil/Baggies/Etc. I used to have one drawer in my kitchen dedicated to holding these items which I quickly realized was not the best utilization of space. I also have a habit of buying different sized baggies in bulk and the larger boxes are too big to fit inside the drawer or buying the super long box of foil which can only fit into the drawer on an angle, taking up much more space than it actually needs.
So why not purchase this? It's just over $5 and can be mounted inside a cabinet door or inside your pantry. Personally, I chose the pantry option. Now my parchment paper, wax paper, foil, plastic wrap, sandwich sized bags and quart sized bags all have a nice, easily-accessible home. I'm tempted to purchase another one of these to hold my extras instead of sitting them on the floor of the pantry.

Spices. Spices are one of the hardest things to organize, I think. They aren't all the same size and shape and when you stick that one spice in the back of the cabinet its always the one you end up needing to randomly use, right? I have a pretty neat spice rack from BB&B (more on it later) but the rest of my spices take up the whole bottom shelf of a cabinet. And I still spend half of my time pushing them back and forth and to the sides trying to find the one I'm looking for.

So I bought a small Lazy Susan. I can put the spices I use most frequently on the outside of the circle and the ones I use less often in the inside of the circle. And the fact that it spins means I never have to remove 3/4 of the spices in the cabinet to find the one I am looking for. 

If Lazy Susan's aren't your thing or you don't have enough space in your cabinet to have something that spins, I'd definitely suggest going with something like this:
I'm thinking about picking one up after we move and I can see what the dimensions of my new cabinets are. This would also be a great addition in any pantry. Wouldn't it be so much easier if you could stagger your canned goods so you could see them all?

Dividers. I have A LOT of baking items. As in 4-5 baking sheets, two cupcake pans, a muffin pan, a mini doughnut pan, two 9x13 baking dishes, an 8x8 baking dish, 3 different sized springform pans, two 8" cake pans and two 9" cake pans. I also have the color coded cutting boards as well as a plastic one, bamboo one and super large wooden one.
These dividers saved a ton of space and cut down on the noise factor. Every time I needed one of the above mentioned items, there was a huge clatter while I moved everything around getting to the item I needed.
Here are a few other things I'm hoping to purchase after we move and I get a better sense of the layout of my new kitchen.
(Above) I think an organizer like this would be great to hold my baking utensils. The spatulas and measuring cups could go in the largest section, the measuring spoons, toothpicks, pastry tips, etc. all in the smaller section. 
I really hope that I have enough cabinet space to install one of these hanging shelves. Currently my dish towels and oven mitts take up an entire drawer. I'd love to free up some extra drawer space by having my kitchen towels nicely hidden away like this.

I said that I would get back to my spice rack from BB&B. Well, I found that they no longer sell it. This is the most similar one. Mine doesn't spin but holds twenty spices in 5 different rows of 4 each. I alphabetized mine, which really came in handy because somehow my spices on the bottom rack had the names wipe off, but since they're in alphabetical order, I know the Rosemary is followed by Sage, then Sesame Seeds, then Thyme. I really do need to purchase a label maker so I can resolve this issue! :)

If you have the counter space, I think have a separate utensil holder for the ones you use most frequently is a great idea. Not only does it allow you to not overcrowd any other utensils you have in a drawer, but if you're able to keep the holder next to the stove, you have super-quick access to any utensils that you need. 

Personally, I don't think you need anything fancy for this. Mine is a round open-metal one that came from Walmart and was less than $10. 

While I could go on and on about organization, I think I've provided you with enough information to get started. Hopefully, once we move I'll have just as much, if not more space so I can take pictures of how my kitchen is set up and what else I do to keep my items organized. 

Have a great weekend and stay organized!

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins


I'm usually pretty good at remembering to come up with something for breakfast each week. I need something portable that I can eat at work and since my doctor has told me my cholesterol is slightly high, I've tried to stay away from bagels and cream cheese. Well, one Sunday I realized I didn't plan anything for breakfast. I had no interest in going back to the grocery store so whatever I was going to eat for the week would have to come from what was in the pantry.

I remembered pinning something with Meyer Lemons on Pinterest a few days before and off I went to see exactly what that recipe was. Before I could get there, I was stopped by a Pumpkin Cranberry Muffin recipe. While this is a perfect combination for fall, I still have quite a bit of pumpkin puree in the pantry and since I had all of the other ingredients, I decided to go for it.

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins
Source: My Recipes
Servings: 12 muffins
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    • 2 eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 3/4 cup buttermilk
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 2 tbs. canola oil
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
    • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (optional)
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 375. Generously spray a muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Measure out the buttermilk and whisk together with eggs in the measuring cup. In a medium sized bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, sugar, brown sugar and canola oil. Whisk the buttermilk and egg mixture into it until fully combined.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and stir until combined. Fold in the cranberries.
4. Fill each muffin tin almost to the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

I got sidetracked and forgot to check my muffins at 20 minutes when I'm assuming they would have been done and a nice golden color. So even though they're a bit darker than I wanted, they still have a good flavor. The pumpkin flavor is much stronger than the cranberries and I did feel like the cranberries were getting stuck in my teeth. I think this may actually be better with fresh cranberries.  


Crispy Parmesan Asparagus


When I was a kid the only two vegetables I would eat was corn and green beans. Occasionally my mom would try to add in a new vegetable, like asparagus and I wouldn't touch it. Probably because asparagus from a can has got to be one of the grossest things in the world.

I have no idea what compelled me to pick up fresh asparagus at the grocery store a few years ago. I guess I just wanted to see if it was any better fresh. (Obviously it is!) Now asparagus is one of the vegetables I could eat on a daily basis, especially if its roasted. The sight of roasted asparagus sprinkled with Parmesan cheese makes my mouth water.

So when this recipe popped up in my reader, I knew I couldn't wait too long to make it.

Crispy Parmesan Asparagus
Source: How Sweet It Is
Yield: 2 servings
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    • 1/2 bunch asparagus
    • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
    • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 2 egg whites
    • a pinch each of garlic powder and paprika
    • salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 425. Cover a baking sheet with foil and place a wire cooling rack on top. Spray the wire rack with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In the first dish, whisk the egg whites together. In the second dish combine the bread crumbs, flour, Parmesan cheese and seasonings.
3. Snap off the ends of each asparagus and dip in the egg whites and then into the bread crumbs. Place on the wire rack. Repeat with remaining asparagus.
4. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve immediately.

Sooo good! The only thing I hate about asparagus is how quickly it gets cold. I realize that I could easily make a larger serving of something to photograph later, but I've gotten into the habit of photographing the food before I eat it.

Roasted Green Beans with Mushrooms, Balsamic and Parmesan


This was one of the first recipes I saw pinned on Pinterest. I absolutely love the flavor of roasted mushrooms and I'm always looking for something new to do with green beans so this recipe was perfect!

It took a few times of putting the recipe on my weekly menu before I was finally able to make and oh boy am I glad I finally did!

Roasted Green Beans with Mushrooms, Balsamic and Parmesan
Source: Kalyn's Kitchen
Servings: 4-6
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    • 1 lb. green beans, ends trimmed
    • 1 lb. sliced mushrooms, cleaned
    • 1 1/2 tbs. olive oil
    • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
    • 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
    • salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 450.
2. Add green beans and mushrooms to a bowl. Add olive oil and the balsamic vinegar and toss well to coat.
3. Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and spread out the green beans and mushrooms.
4. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 20-25 minutes or until it reaches your desired doneness.
5. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve hot.

Drool. I could have easily ate the entire baking tray of these myself. It's absolutely delicious. Tom didn't like them that much, probably because of the balsamic, but thats not going to stop me from making this on a regular basis!

Gwumpki Soup


Galumpki. Golumpki. Golabki. Gwumpki. Spell check is having a field day with me. But apparently all of those spelling are correct if you're talking about some ground beef being wrapped up in cabbage with a crushed/diced tomato sauce.

When I came across this recipe in my reader, it was like a lightbulb went off in my head and I recalled a memory of my aunt saying she was "makin' gwumpkies" in a silly voice. Since my moms side of the family is Polish, I assumed a gwumpki was some type of Polish food, but I had absolutely no idea what it was and considering I was an extremely picky child, I had no interest in finding out.

But since my tastes have matured, I immediately knew I wanted to make this recipe just for the nostalgia factor. I can't wait to see my mom and my aunts face on Easter (the next time I'll see them) when I tell them I made gwumpki soup!

Gwumpki Soup
Source: Mary Ellen Cooking Creations
Yield: 8-10 cups
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    • 1 lb. lean ground beef
    • 20 oz. (canned) crushed tomatoes
    • 1 small head cabbage, chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
    • 2.5 cups water
    • 1 cup beef broth
    • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tsp. basil
    • pinch of cayenne pepper
    • salt and pepper
    • 1/2 cup uncooked rice

1. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and brown the ground beef. Drain any fat.
2. Add the garlic, onions, Worcestershire, basil, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the garlic is fragrant.
3. Stir in the cabbage and tomatoes (do not drain). Then stir in the water, beef broth and rice. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour or until cabbage is tender. 

I had no idea if I was going to like this or not, I honestly just made it because I wanted to make something Polish but this was really, really good. I had seconds for dinner and the remaining soup came to work with me for lunches until it was gone. Tom also really enjoyed this and said that he'd like to try a real gwumpki sometime soon so I know I'll be adding that to the menu soon!

Stuffed Pepper Soup


I'm really liking this trend of deconstructing meals and turning them into soup. Until I saw a recipe for it I would have never thought lasagna would be good in soup form. But it was delicious and I really enjoyed making it, even though we had the zucchini issue.

Tom doesn't really like stuffed peppers. He says the filling is fine, but there's just no desire for him to eat the actual pepper. Maybe its because I don't steam my peppers first since I think stuffed peppers definitely need a crunch to them or just more texture than you currently get. So when I told him I was making stuffed pepper soup he kind of rolled his eyes and expected not to like it.

Stuffed Pepper Soup
Servings: 6
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    • 1 lb. very lean ground beef
    • 1 large onion, finely diced
    • 1 red pepper, chopped
    • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 2 cups fat-free reduced sodium chicken broth
    • 2 14.5 oz. cans petite diced tomatoes
    • 1 3/4 cups tomato sauce
    • 1/2 tsp. marjoram
    • 1 cup finely shredded Mozzarella cheese
    • 3 cups brown rice, cooked
    • salt and pepper to taste 

1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Season the ground beef with salt and pepper. Add beef to the pot.
2. Brown the ground beef and drain any fat. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
3. Add the onion, red pepper, yellow pepper and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and marjoram to the pot. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
5. Divide the rice equally into bowls and pour the soup on top. Add around 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tom managed to completely shock himself (and me) by really liking this recipe. He said that I should have doubled it because he wouldn't mind eating it for leftovers. This soup must have really impressed him because he rarely ever eats/wants leftovers.

As much as I love the warm weather we've had recently, I almost wish it would go back to normal spring-like temperatures so I could make this soup again!

Weekly Menu 3/25 - 3/30


I have news. I've held off on sharing something from you because I was afraid I was going to jinx it. But, its close enough now that I think I can finally say something...

We're moving back to civilization! It wasn't exactly planned, but once it became a possibility we just had to go with it. See, we had planned on staying here in the middle of no where and started searching for some places to live. Unfortunately, we found that only one place up here met our requirements. However, the area was known for high crime, gangs and drugs. Which kinda makes me giggle because I live in redneck country. Rednecks don't have gangs...

Anyway, we decided to start looking further south and I pretty much immediately got discouraged. Our two requirements: (1) accept two cats and (2) have a washer and dryer in the apartment/house. Apparently these things are completely unheard of. So about the time that I became resigned to the fact that we were going to live in overpriced horribly insulated current apartment hell, my Google search turned up a new location.

A new location 10 minutes from work. That accepted two pets. And had a washer and dryer. And was in our price range. It also had a pool not surrounded in flowers. And it even offered waterfront apartments. I stared at the website for a good 20 minutes in complete shock.

Then the realization hit me. A TEN minute commute. If I woke up at the same time I do now living there, I could exercise for an hour, take a non-rushed shower, blow dry and style my hair, spend some time with the cats and make my lunch all BEFORE I'd need to leave for work. Isn't that incredible? I could also leave work at 5:00 and arrive home at 5:10 PM. I'd only be 25-30 minutes from my friends. Insane amounts of shopping would be within 20 minutes away. I'D NEVER HAVE TO DRIVE ON THE HIGHWAY TO GET HOME AGAIN! I immediately told Tom that we were moving there. He didn't get a choice.

Luckily, he had no complaints. :)

Sunday - last Sunday's meal that I didn't get to make

Monday - Korean Street Tacos with Korean Cucumber Salad

Tuesday - Dirty Brown Rice with Shrimp

Wednesday - Skinny Texas Cheese Fries with Corn and Black Bean Burgers

Thursday - Oven Baked Sriracha Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Sauteed Zucchini and Squash

Friday - Tom's choice from the pantry

I figured I may as well give you the menu in case you aren't interested in my move. But if you are interested, great, because I have more to share.

We're moving in the middle of May. This leaves approximately 6 weekends before we move. There are things we said we were going to do while living up here that we never did. So now on top of my overwhelming desire to do a super-spring cleaning and get rid of anything I don't feel like packing, I also have a list of things to do before we're allowed to leave. It's going to be a pretty busy next couple of months but I absolutely can't wait.  

Recipe Swap: Chicken Cheese Enchiladas


Since it was so popular the last time, the recipe swap I participate in decided to have another SRC style swap where you can choose any recipe from the blog you are assigned.

I was assigned Does Not Cook Well With Others.  Tom laughed when he saw the name of this blog and said that it should be what I named mine. Apparently I'm a bit controlling and don't like other people in my kitchen. Which is somewhat true considering I consider the kitchen "my space" and I don't like people invading my space, especially if its just been cleaned!

Anyway, for one of the first times ever, I was easily able to pick out a recipe. I wanted something I could make ahead of time and freeze and we haven't had enchiladas in a long time.

Chicken Cheese Enchiladas
Source: Does Not Cook Well With Others from Food Network Magazine, Great Easy Meals 
Servings: 4-6
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Enchilada Sauce Ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 lbs. tomatillos, husked and rinsed
    • 1 small red onion, halved horizontally
    • 1 serrano chile, stemmed and partially seeded
    • 1/2 cup chicken broth
    • pinch each of salt and sugar
    Enchilada Ingredients:
    • 10 corn or flour tortillas
    • 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (all but 1 breast for me)
    • 2 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
    • 3/4 cup queso fresco, crumbled
    • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
    • fresh or dried cilantro, for garnish

Sauce Directions:
1. Preheat the broiler. Line a rimmed heavy duty baking sheet with foil.
2. Place the tomatillos, half of the red onion and the serrano chile on the baking sheet. Broil for 10 minutes, turning items as needed. Remove from the oven and let sit until cool enough to handle.
3. Meanwhile, fill a small bowl with ice water. With the remaining half of the red onion, cut it into thin slices and let it soak in the ice water for at least 10 minutes.
4. Transfer the contents of the baking sheet to a blender. Add the chicken broth, salt and sugar and puree until a liquid consistency is reached. Set aside.
5. Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for one minute. In a large bowl, toss together the shredded chicken and 2 cups of the Monterey Jack cheese.
6. Remove one tortilla from the pile, wrap the remaining ones back up in the paper towel, and scoop some of the chicken/cheese mixture onto one side of the tortilla. Top with fresh parsley, roll up and place in a 9x13 baking dish.
7. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Brush the tortilla shells with olive oil and place in the oven (on broil) for 2-3 minutes, checking them to make sure they don't burn.
8. Remove the baking dish from the oven. Pour the tomatillo sauce over the tortillas and top with the remaining cheese. Return to the oven for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
9. Serve enchiladas topped with red onion slices, queso fresco and cilantro.
*If you're interested in freezing this recipe to make at a later date, stop at step 6. The tomatillo sauce and enchiladas can be frozen. To heat: thaw enchiladas overnight in the refrigerator. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes until warmed through then continue with step 7*

YUM!  These enchiladas were delicious! I've only had enchiladas a few times and each time called for the store-bought sauce. I'm absolutely never going to buy that again. The homemade sauce was delicious even if I overlooked a few too many serrano chile seeds and ended up with pretty spicy sauce!

Apologies for the crappy picture. My oven must be hotter than it says it is because my tortillas got really crispy really quickly and I was absolutely starving and didn't have the time or energy to take more pictures.  Even though, we really enjoyed this and being able to make and freeze it ahead of time is great. Now I really can't wait to get a deep freezer. I'm pretty sure this is going to be the first meal I make to freeze!



It's a double recipe day! I wanted to get all of the St. Patrick's Day recipes out to you this week and tomorrow I have a recipe swap post to share so I decided to double up today. Mostly because even if you don't make anything else from my small menu, the corned beef and colcannon go great together.

Colcannon is such a funny word. I can't help but picture balls of coal being shot out of cannons. Am I alone in this?

Source: All Recipes
Servings: 4
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    • 1 1/2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and quartered
    • 4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
    • 1 cup cabbage, chopped
    • 1/3 cup onion, diced
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1/4 cup butter, melted 
1. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Add some salt and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 12-15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
3. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. Drain all but 1 tsp. of bacon grease.
4. Add the cabbage and onion to the skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are soft.
5. Drain the water from the potatoes. Add the milk and mash to you desired consistency.
6. Stir in the cabbage/onion mixture and most of the crumbled bacon.
7. Pour in the melted butter, stir to combine, garnish with remaining bacon and serve immediately.

Honestly, I'm kind of surprised I never had this as a kid. It's definitely something that falls into the category of "things my mom would make". After Easter we always heated up the leftover ham in a large pot of cabbage and water and served it with mashed potatoes. This was really tasty and a nice twist to change up the usual mashed potatoes. I think this should be made throughout the year!

Corned Beef and Cabbage


I remember being about 5 years old and out on errands with my dad when he stopped at a local place that sold corned beef sandwiches. I was incredibly picky at that age and had no interest in trying new things but I'll never forget the smell of it cooking and my first thought of "does it have corn in it?"

While this is not traditional Irish fare, its the most common thing to make for St. Patrick's Day. I'm not sure where someone decided to associate corned beef with Irish people, but the tradition definitely stuck.

Corned Beef and Cabbage
Source: All Recipes
Servings: 6-8
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    • 3 lb. corned beef brisket, with spice packet
    • 1/2 head cabbage, chopped
    • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
    • 3 potatoes, peeled and quartered 

1. Place the corned beef into a large Dutch Oven and cover the beef with water. Add the spice packet.
2. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 2.5 hours or approximately 50 minutes per pound of beef.
3. In the last hour of cooking, add the cabbage, carrots and potatoes to the pot.
4. Remove the beef from the Dutch Oven and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes. Slice into thin pieces. Serve with the cooked vegetables if desired.

If I had any idea just how easy it is to make corned beef, I'm sure I would have done it a long time ago. Luckily we did manage to have leftovers so we are able to have the leftover dinner I mentioned in the St. Patrick's Day post.

Irish Soda Bread


When I first decided that I was going to cook on St. Patrick's Day, this was one of the first recipes I found. I had no idea that soda bread was so easy to make. Since this is a bread that doesn't involve yeast, there is no time needed for it to rise. So if you're one of those people who just can't take the plunge to try a recipe with yeast, this would be a great alternative.

I chose this recipe because it was the first one I found that didn't include additions to the bread. I'm just not a person who likes fruit or anything in their bread. 

Irish Soda Bread
Source: All Recipes
Yield: 1 round
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    • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
    • 4 tbs. sugar
    • 1 tbs. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 egg
    • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk, divided
    • 1/4 cup butter, melted  

1. Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine 4 cups of flour, the  sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
3. Cut in the butter, using your fingers or a pastry blender until the dough resembles coarse crumbs.
4. Pour in 1 cup of buttermilk and add the egg. Stir until combined.
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and if needed, add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour to make the dough manageable.
6. Knead the dough for a minute and then form into a large ball.
7. Place the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk with the melted butter and brush over the dough. Use a sharp knife to cut an X into the top of the dough.
8. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, brush with remaining buttermilk mixture and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
9. Let cool on a wire rack.

I didn't know what to expect soda bread to taste like but its a combination of a biscuit, bread and a muffin. Or at least thats what it reminded me of. Since its such an easy bread to make I definitely plan on making this again and not just for St. Patrick's Day!

Corn O'Brien


When I was searching for recipes to make for St. Patrick's Day I was surprised to find that there weren't many vegetable recipes. It seems like the vegetables are always included in the main dish and not usually served as a side.

Corn O'Brien
Source: All Recipes
Servings 6-8
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    • 2 cups sweet corn kernels
    • 1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
    • 1/4 cup onion, minced
    • 2 slices bacon, cit into 1/2" pieces
    • 1 tbsp. pimento peppers, chopped
    • salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat a large skillet to medium-high and cook bacon until evenly browned.
2. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon pieces to a paper-towel lined plate. Drain the bacon grease, reserving 1 tbs. in the skillet.
3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the red pepper and onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
4. Add corn and pimento peppers and cook 4 minutes more or until heated through.
5. Serve, topped with reserved bacon crumbles.  

For such a simple recipe, this is really good. I'm guessing it has something to do with the bacon grease. Unhealthy things always make a dish taste better!

Irish Car Bomb Cheesecake Bites


Since I didn't provide you with any St. Patrick's Day recipes before the day, its only fair of me to provide you with a dessert recipe first, right?

I don't even know where I found this recipe. It didn't come from my reader and I didn't pin it. Either way, it was this recipe and how pretty those little cheesecake bites looked that made me decide to make a full meal on St. Patrick's Day. And you should know how big a deal this is considering St. Patrick's Day is on a Saturday and I just don't cook on Saturdays.

Irish Car Bomb Cheesecake Bites
Source: Sweet Natured Treats 
Servings: 24 mini cheesecake bites
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Brownie Ingredients:
    • 6 tbs. unsalted butter
    • 2.5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
    • 1/4 cup Irish Stout (Guinness)
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
    • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
    Cheesecake Ingredients:
    • 1 (8 oz.) brick cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1/4 cup Irish cream (Bailey's)
    Chocolate Glaze Ingredients:
    • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
    • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 2 tsp. Irish cream 

Brownie Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a mini muffin pan with paper liners. 
2. In a double boiler melt the butter and chocolate, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until smooth.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the stout. Then whisk in the egg and brown sugar until there are no lumps.
4. Combine the cocoa powder and flour together in a small bowl and then fold into the chocolate mixture, stirring until there are no lumps. 
5. Fill each muffin well 1/3 of the way full. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
6. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.
Cheesecake Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 300. 
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the cream cheese and sugar and mix together on medium speed until combined.
3. Add the egg and mix until combined, scraping down the sides. Then add the Irish cream and mix until well combined.
4. Fill the remaining muffin space on top of the brownie with the cheesecake mixture.
5. Bake for 20 minutes or until set.
6. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least three hours.
Chocolate Glaze Directions:
1. In a double boiler melt the chocolate and heavy whipping cream until smooth. Whisk in the Irish cream until combined. Let glaze thicken slightly before pouring over the cheesecake bites.

I don't know how I feel about these cheesecake bites. You can definitely taste the alcohol in them, but I think the glaze would be much better as a filling in a regular sized cupcake and then bake the cheesecake on top. I'm mostly sad that they're not easy to photograph since they're so tiny. 

Weekly Menu 3/18 - 3/23

I can't believe March is almost halfway over. It seems like since we didn't have a real winter we're in this limbo period where time is going by quickly but the seasons aren't keeping up. Its pretty strange that I was able to wear flip flops last week. Which reminded me that I needed some new ones from Old Navy. I have a bit of a flip flop addiction from there. Well, flip flops in general. Anyone who knows me outside of my blogging life knows that I'm completely content hanging out on a beach all day and being where I can always wear flip flops. I even have a flip flop pendant for my necklace and I'm debating on getting a flip flop tattoo.

So not only did I need to buy my flip flops early (I wear the most common size and they always run out!) but I also needed to start adjusting the menu each week to different foods. It just doesn't seem right to eat soup when you have all of your windows open because its a balmy 78 in your apartment. Usually I don't even start to think about these things until the middle of April so I'm all disorganized this year!

I'm hoping that my St. Patrick's Day menu goes over well. I've never made corned beef before. If it does, I'm hoping there are leftovers because if not, I have no idea what we're eating for dinner on Tuesday. =)

Sunday - Garlic and Herb Crusted Pork with Secret Recipe Club Side Dish

Monday - Recipe Swap Meal

Tuesday - Reuben Quesdaillas

Wednesday - Galumpki Soup

Thursday - Chicken, Bacon and Jalapeno Pasta

Friday - Tom is cooking and hasn't figured out what he wants to make yet. 

I know, I know, I just said its impossible to eat soup in warm weather but I HAVE to make the Galumpki soup. When I saw the recipe I was instantly transported back to sitting in my grandfathers kitchen watching my two aunts make it. I refuse to wait until...well, with this weather for all I know it could be cold in September. But I just refuse to wait that long. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Do you actually know anything about Saint Patrick? Tom and I were discussing this last night. For a holiday that is pretty widely celebrated, you'd think you'd know more about the guy who its named after, right?

A bit of internet searching provides that he's one of the most well known figures in Christianity but that most of his life was rather secretive. Well, that was helpful. I'm still not quite sure how he became a saint and what he did as a saint, but I guess I'm okay with that.

I do know however that most of the things we believe are traditional to St. Patrick's Day actually aren't. Corned beef and cabbage being one of them. And I doubt that any religious figure would condone drinking to the amount that most people do on his celebrated day. So what does that have to do with anything?

Well, I thought I would make what most people believe are traditional foods for the day. I've never made anything Irish before and considering I am Irish, I figured now was a good a time as any to start.

The menu for today is as follows:
Corned Beef Brisket
Corn O'Brien
Irish Soda Bread
Car Bomb Cheesecake Bites

If all goes well and each recipe actually turns out, I'll have all of the posted for you next week. I know its after the holiday and won't help you much if you were planning on finding some recipes, but at least you'll have them for next year, right? =)

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup


I'm sitting here thinking about what I should write about this soup and all that I can think of is that I wish I had gotten to enjoy more of it. See, I made a double batch over the weekend and had intended to eat it for lunch all week. But Monday, when I got into work, the refrigerator was warmer than usual so I decided not to eat the soup.

Tuesday the fridge had died. I found one on Craigslist and the guy told me he'd deliver it Wednesday morning. Well, Wednesday morning came and went with no fridge. Of course the guy also didn't answer his phone. So Wednesday night one of my coworkers picked up a fridge from Lowe's.

I didn't know until Thursday so at this point I just gave up on being able to bring my lunch to work. I should have froze the soup on Tuesday when I realized it wouldn't work out as lunch but I completely forgot and ended up throwing away the soup at the end of the week.

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup
Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride adapted from Better Homes & Garden
Servings: 6-8
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    • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" cubes
    • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
    • 1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
    • 1 cup carrots, grated
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 2 tbsp. sherry
    • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
    • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
    • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
    • 2 cups fat free/reduced sodium chicken broth
    • 4 cups water
    • 1/2 cup edamame (thawed, if frozen)
    • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
    • 4 oz. Asian style noodles 
    • salt and pepper
1. Spray a skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium-high.
2. Add the sesame oil and pieces of chicken to the skillet, turning frequently until chicken is browned on all sides. Transfer chicken to a large stock pot.
3. Add the red pepper, carrots, garlic, sherry, rice vinegar, ginger, soy sauce, chicken broth and water to the pot and simmer for 40 minutes.
4. Add the noodles and edamame to the pot and cook according to package directions.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with green onions.

I did really enjoy the flavors of this soup and I can't wait to make it again so I can have more than one bowl!

Improv Challenge: Potato and Cheese Pierogi


When I read that the ingredients for the Improv Challenge were potatoes and cheese, I immediately knew what I was going to make. Homemade pierogi has haunted me for almost three years now. After trying multiple recipes without success I decided the only way I was going to learn to make homemade pierogi is when I could steal borrow someone's Polish grandmother.

But then I came across a recipe in Eating Well magazine and I decided that I would take one more shot at making pierogi from scratch. If you're still hung up on the first sentence and wondering what in the world an Improv Challenge is, read on.

Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker created a monthly challenge where participants had to make a recipe with the two challenge ingredients. It could be any type of recipe they wanted, with the ingredients as the main stars or just flavors that blend into the recipe, as long as the recipe they made was new to their blog. Since I'm addicted to joining challenges like these, I obviously needed to participate again for March.

Potato and Cheese Pierogi
Adapted from: Eating Well, November/December 2011
Yield: 50 pierogi
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Dough Ingredients:
    • 3 cups whole wheat flour
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 1/4 cup warm water
    • 1/3 cup oil
    • 2 tsp. salt
    Filling Ingredients:
    • 1 lb. red potatoes, peeled and cubed
    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    • 2-3 tbs. milk
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 5 tbsp. olive oil, divided
    • 5 tbsp. water, divided
    • melted butter, green onions, parsley, cooked onions for garnish
Dough Directions:
1. In a large bowl combine the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and oil.
2. Pour the eggs and oil into the flour mixture and then add the water. Stir to combine, adding more flour or water (1 tbs. at a time) if necessary.
3. Continue stirring until a lightly tacky dough has formed. Lightly flour a surface and knead the dough for 1 minute.
4. Divide the dough into 3 pieces and form each piece into a disc. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Filling Directions:
1. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet and cook onion until soft and lightly browned.
3. When potatoes are done, drain excess water. Add the milk and mash potatoes. Then add in the onion and cheese, stirring until combined. Set aside.
Assembly and Cooking:
1. Lightly flour a surface and roll out one disc of dough as thin as you can get it. Using a round cookie cutter or glass (approximately 3" in diameter), cut out dough. Remove excess dough and wrap up in plastic wrap.
2. Spoon about a teaspoon of the potato mixture into the center of each dough circle. Fold the ends together, pressing down with your finger to seal the dough all the way around. Use a fork to crimp the ends of the dough, ensuring that it is sealed. Repeat with remaining discs of dough.
3. Lightly flour two large baking sheets. Transfer the sealed pierogi to the baking sheet.
* At this step, you can place the pierogi into the freezer for 2 hours on the baking sheet. Once cooled, transfer into plastic bags. *
4. Preheat the oven to 200 and lightly spray another baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pierogi in batches of 5 or 6 at a time until they float. Place them on the sprayed baking sheet. Repeat until baking sheet is full.
5.  Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and water each in a large skillet over medium heat. Place 8-10 pierogi into the pan. Place the remaining pierogi on the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. Cook the pierogi for 4-5 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.
6. Repeat with remaining pierogi. Serve with melted butter, green onions, parsley or cooked onions.

Meh. These pierogi were much better than my last attempt but they were still kind of thick and somewhat gummy. I think its because I'm not rolling out the dough thin enough. For anyone who has made pierogi before, does that make sense? So I've decided that unless a Polish grandmother would happen to fall into my lap, I'm not going to attempt pierogi again until I have a pasta roller and can get the dough super thin. 

Chocolate Chip Muffins


Have you ever had one of those days where you plan to make a specific recipe only to realize that you didn't read the instructions first and you need to either have something at room temperature or to have marinated overnight? Unfortunately, I do this quite frequently. Maybe that should have been one of my New Years resolutions: to actually read recipes in their entirety before making them.

A recent Sunday morning I had plans to make an baked oatmeal recipe. I combined the first three ingredients and read on to see what was next. Let sit overnight.

I'd done it AGAIN! I did debate on just waking up early on Monday morning and continuing the recipe as planned until I realized that it would need to bake for 40 minutes and still included more prep. It's only so early I can convince myself to wake up and I knew I just wouldn't be able to do this recipe on a Monday.

Now here it was Sunday at 9 in the morning and I had no idea what I was going to eat for breakfast this week. I didn't feel like getting dressed and going to the store. We had no fresh fruit, only frozen peaches, pineapple and strawberries. I also had a limited number of eggs and was really low on all purpose flour. Well, fudge. This wasn't looking good.

I started flipping through my recipe binder and came across one for chocolate chip muffins. I really had intended for something healthier for breakfast, but lazy beggers can't be choosers, right? I did have to adjust the recipe slightly, using half whole wheat and half all purpose flour and I skipped the topping, but otherwise, the recipe is the same.

Chocolate Chip Muffins
Source: Joy of Baking
Servings: 12 muffins
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    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour
    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 cup chocolate chips
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tbs. baking powder
    • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tsp. salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a medium sized bowl, stir together the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt.
3. In a large measuring cup whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla.
4. Pour the cooled butter and milk mixture into the dry ingredients. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold until no lumps remain. Fold in the chocolate chips.
5. Fill each muffin tin all the way with the batter.
6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the certain comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool an additional 5 minutes.

What these muffins lack in photogenic skills they make up for in taste! I'm sure I'll be making these again.

Parmesan Croutons


Confession: We waste a lot of bread. It's become a bit of habit to pick up a loaf of Italian or French bread at the grocery store if we're having any type of soup, stew or pasta. We rarely use the whole loaf before it expires.

Recently we had multiple meals planned in a week where we'd need bread and we ended up buying two loaves. I only used half of the first one and put it back into the pantry. Have I mentioned before how tall I am? If not, I'm barely 5'2 which means most things in the kitchen are above my head, including the shelf in the pantry we use for bread and cereals. I tossed the remaining 1/2 loaf up there and a few days later, grabbed the new loaf and opened it before I saw the already opened one.

I just happened to notice that we were out of croutons and I was planning on salads for lunches the following week. I had finally found a use for the leftover bread!

Parmesan Croutons
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Yield: ~3 cups croutons
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    • 3/4 loaf Italian or French bread
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
    • 2 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 tbs. garlic powder
    • 1 tbs. Italian seasoning
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Cut the bread into 1 inch cubes.
3. In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Add the bread cubes to the bowl and toss to coat.
4. Spread out the cubes into a single layer onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle liberally with the Parmesan cheese.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the bread crumbs are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
Freeze any unused croutons after 2 days.  

Weekly Menu 3/11 - 3/16


I'm just going to get right to the point and give you the menu for this week since I have a headache I can't seem to get rid of.

Sunday - spicy peach bbq chicken with baked onion rings and parmesan asparagus

Monday - leftover soup 

Tuesday - spaghetti with garlic bread and salad

Wednesday - spicy thai noodles

Thursday - chicken and mushrooms in garlic wine sauce over rice with salad

Friday - pieogi 

I did a ton of baking yesterday. Hopefully I'll get rid of this headache soon so I can get those recipes posted!  

Recipe Swap: Pasta with Poached Eggs and Peas


I was excited to participate in this recipe swap because the category was pasta. I'm always looking for new pasta dishes since they're usually quick and easy to put together.

For this swap, I was given Melissa's blog, I Was Born to Cook. When I scrolled down to the picture I did that confused Cocker Spaniel head tilt. Pasta with an egg!?! I just couldn't comprehend those two ingredients together. Knowing that I am the most adventurous to try new recipes in this house, I decided to make a single serving of this for myself for a Saturday lunch.

Pasta with Poached Eggs and Peas
Source: I Was Born to Cook
Servings: 1
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    • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • dash of crushed red pepper flakes
    • 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
    • 1/2 cup frozen peas
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 cup rigatoni pasta
    • Parmesan cheese
    • salt and pepper 

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook 1-2 minutes until garlic is brown. Add the tomato sauce.
2. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Add the peas, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes.
3. Carefully crack the egg into the pan (don't break the yolk!), cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until egg reaches your desired doneness.
4. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.
5. Drain the pasta and place onto plates. Spoon sauce and peas over the pasta, top with the egg and then add additional sauce and peas. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.

I tried a bite of the pasta with the sauce and peas first. It was pretty good but I wish I would have used half diced tomatoes and half tomato sauce because I felt like I had to force the sauce to coat the pasta. I just couldn't convince myself to eat the egg yolk (I'm not really a fan regardless of how its prepared) but the egg whites along with the pasta and sauce was pretty tasty!

Jalapeno Pepperjack Burgers


When I was chopping up the jalapenos for a recent batch of jalapeno popper dip an idea popped into my head to include these jalapenos into burgers. We haven't had burgers in a while and it would give me a good reason to also make the onion ring recipe I'd been holding onto for weeks. I knew I wanted the burger to be spicy so I looked around in the fridge and found some cubes of Pepperjack cheese.

And so this recipe was born...

Jalapeno Pepperjack Burgers
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 8 Burgers
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    • 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
    • 2 tbs. minced (canned/jarred) jalapenos
    • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. pepper
    • pinch of cayenne
    • 8 1/2 inch cubes Pepperjack cheese
    • 8 slices American cheese
    • 8 hamburger buns
    • Optional: lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, mayo

1. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients from the ground beef to the cayenne pepper. Mix together and form into 8 patties.
2. Make an indent in each patty and place the Pepperjack cube inside. Mold the meat around the cheese to make a patty form again.
3. Place the patties in the refrigerator and preheat a grill of Foreman until it reaches desired temperature.
4. Cook the burgers for 3-4 minutes or until cooked through. Add a slice of cheese and cook 1 minute more or until the cheese has melted.
5. Place burger onto bun and add desired toppings.

These burgers definitely had a kick to them! I had planned to make them with baked onion rings but I skipped over an important step in the recipe and almost all of my onion rings were stuck to pan. Since only a few were salvageable, we used them as toppings on the burger. The onion rings provided a nice crunch so I definitely need to make them again soon.

SRC: Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Vanilla Graham Cracker Crust


Have you ever wondered why February is a shorter month than the others? I've never minded because it always feels like we're just that much closer to winter being over. Since we haven't exactly encountered winter yet, I found a new reason to be happy that February is such a short month. Why?

Because it felt like a much shorter time I had to wait to make my recipe for the Secret Recipe Club. If you haven't heard of the Secret Recipe Club yet I'm going to have to ask if you live under a rock? :-) But, if you haven't click HERE and find out all about it.

For this month I was assigned Barbara Bakes. There's not joking in that title, Barbara definitely does bake. There are tons of cookie, cake, dessert and pie recipes on her blog with a decent amount of chicken, beef, soup and veggie recipes thrown in for good measure. I felt a bit overwhelmed when I clicked on the Recipe Index since there are so many recipes! But I took my time slowly going through each category and trying to determine which recipe I wanted to make.

I finally narrowed it down to Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake Bites, Chocolate Glazed Yeast Doughnuts, or Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread. I printed out the recipe for all three and told myself I'd decide the next day. Well, the next day I happened to go to the farmers market and noticed that they had vanilla beans. I can't find them at the grocery store and I'd never made anything with real vanilla before. When I got home, I immediately went back to Barbara's blog to see if she had any recipes using real vanilla and that's how I found this cheesecake recipe.

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Vanilla Graham Cracker Crust
Source: Barbara Bakes, as seen on Jenny Bakes
Yield: 1 cheesecake
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Vanilla Graham Cracker Crust Ingredients:
    • 11 honey graham crackers
    • 1 stick unsalted butter
    • 2 tbs. sugar
    • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 
    Cheesecake Ingredients:
    • 24 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature (3 8 oz. bricks)
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 tbs. lemon juice
    • seeds from one vanilla bean pod
    Special Tools:
    9" Springform Pan
    Large Roasting Pan with rack  

Crust Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9" springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Melt the butter and let cool slightly.
3. Process the graham crackers in a food processor until they are fine crumbs.
4. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl, add the sugar, melted butter and vanilla. Stir with a fork until all of the crumbs are moist.
5. Pour the crust mixture into the springform pan. Use a flat bottomed cup to press down on the bottom and sides of the pan.
6. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool while preparing the cheesecake mixture.

Cheesecake Directions:
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add one egg and mix until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides again and add the next egg. Repeat with the final egg.
3. Add the heavy cream, lemon juice, and seeds from the vanilla pod. Blend on low until smooth and creamy.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared crust, spreading to the edges if necessary. Tap the pan lightly on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
5. Fill the roasting pan with very hot tap water, about two inches high. Place the rack into the roasting pan and place the cheesecake on top. (If you have an inverted rack, wrapping the springform pan with foil makes it much sturdier and less likely to move around.)
6. Bake the cheesecake for 60-65 minutes or until it is done around the edges but still jiggly in the center.
7. Turn off the oven and let rest for 1 hour.
8. Remove the cake from the oven and discard the water. Continue to cool the cake on a wire rack to room temperature.
9. Transfer the cake to the refrigerator and chill for at least 4 hours.
To serve, place the pan on a cake dish. Carefully unhinge the springform pan and remove the sides of the pan. Slice into 8 pieces and use a cake server to remove.

This cheesecake was pretty good but I think the filling layer is just too high for this to cook and set properly. I increased my baking time by 10 minutes more than what Barbara did and after cutting into it, I realized another 10 minutes wouldn't have hurt. Either way, at least I can say I was successful that my first cheesecake didn't crack!

Weekly Menu 3/4 - 3/9


I'm posting this a bit later than I intended to, but it's been a pretty busy weekend. Yesterday Tom and I went to get our taxes done. I dreaded going because Tom had collected unemployment for a portion of the year and I had won the Le Creuset kitchen stuff which wasn't taxed. I had a feeling that we were going to owe a ton of money and just the thought of it kinda made me nauseous. Luckily, my tax guy is great and we're actually receiving a refund this year. It's not as much as last year but its sure better than owing!

After that we picked up my wedding band from the jewelry store, picked up antibiotics for the cat and then went grocery shopping. I watched my Netflix movie, made myself a late lunch/early dinner and then spent the rest of the evening re-reading The Hunger Games because the movie comes out at the end of this month!

Since yesterday consisted of nothing but errands, all of my cooking needed to be done today. Which means I've spent most of the day in the kitchen. It's 4 o'clock and I'm just getting a chance to sit down. What in the world was keeping me in the kitchen so long? Well, I can't tell you. But I can tell you its for the Improv Challenge and you'll be able to see the post on Thursday March 15th!

Sunday - Improv Challenge Recipe

Monday - Stuffed Pepper Soup over Rice 

Tuesday - Chicken Tenders with Parsnip Fries

Wednesday - Cashew Beef

Thursday - Bacon, Egg and Cheese Sandwiches

Friday - Pizza,  Caramelized Onion, Pear and Prosciutto for me

Hope you had a great weekend,
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