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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

A fabulous new recipe from my friend Melanie, mistress o' cookies!  Seriously, she inspires me to get out of my chocolate-chip zone . . . every cookie she's made for me has been reduced to crumbs in seconds.  If you like cream cheese, or chocolate, or cookies, or cake . . . then look no further.  This recipe is your new best friend.  I think the picture speaks for itself.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thai-Style Squash Soup

There are never leftovers of this soup.  As soon as the "fullness" wears off from eating my first three bowls, I polish off the rest.  It is so flavorful and unique, and delicious with bread sticks for dipping.  By far my very favorite soup to eat.

I put the first seven ingredients in the saucepan first, then add the oil and turn on the heat--otherwise it starts smoking before you can get all the ingredients in.

You can definitely make this without the
Nam Pla (fish sauce)--I hardly notice the
difference, though it's more authentic with
real Thai ingredients, of course.

After you've simmered until the squash is tender, it's a cinch to blend it up in batches--I usually pour two servings worth right into a Tupperware container to freeze so Allen and I can have some later.  My kids do like it, but not as much as Allen and I do.  It's yummy to stir in cooked rice or steamed broccoli . . . or, if you can't stand eating an entirely vegetarian meal, crumbled bacon is always good, too.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

I had to do a recipe card makeover before I posted pictures of these peanut butter cookies.  Here is the old card:
This is the old card--scroll down for the new and improved
I don't like using color pictures if I can avoid it--I don't know why I used an actual photograph on this original recipe card.  Or either of those fonts.  If you're like me, you can't afford to buy a new color printer cartridge every month.  Plus, I think black and white on a recipe card looks more authentically vintage.

I got this recipe years ago from the Martha Stewart website, and these cookies turn out perfectly every time--I've never had a batch that wasn't soft and delicious.  If you dip your fork in warm water before pressing each cookie, it won't ever stick and makes the perfect cross-hatch top.

(By the way, I love the tablecloth in the above photo--it used to be Allen's Grandmother's and I think it is so pretty and feminine.  Vintage linens are some of my favorite things to look at when I go to my local thrift store.)

And here is the new recipe card.  Much better, don't you think?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bran Muffins

If you haven't figured it out already, I am crazy about muffins.  They are the perfect food: already in serving-size portions, filling, delicious, cute, and (usually) healthy.  And they make your kitchen smell like heaven.

My friend Melanie B. surprised me with some muffin batter on Monday evening . . . I don't know if she knew it was the best gift she could possibly give me, but it was (and is . . . hint, hint).
Mel brought the batter in a big yogurt container
with instructions in her cute, precise handwriting
I am six months pregnant, and though I still enjoy cooking and baking, it's not as easy or as appetizing as usual to eat my own food.  It was WONDERFUL to just pop them in the oven on Tuesday morning, without any of the prep or cleanup time.  THANK YOU!

I've had these kind of bran muffins before (I've seen them called 6-week bran muffins) and they are perfectly scrumptious.  You can add chopped apples and a dash of cinnamon if you need more sweetness, but they are so yummy and moist as they are. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cafe Rio Trio + Smothered Burritos

My aunt Kristie was the first to give me these "secret" recipes. Then Cori sent me the lime rice recipe. Several different versions seem to be making the rounds of the Internet. This cilantro lime dressing is so good that you could drink it like a shake.

I like to serve these fajita-style, with plenty of tortillas, stir-fried onions and bell peppers, refried or black beans, salsa, guacamole, and Monterey Jack cheese. Set it up assembly-line style and let everyone make their own fabulous burrito, fajita, or salad.

*(I rarely use as much brown sugar as the pork barbacoa calls for--3/4 cup is perfect).

Okay, but you're only half-done once you make these fabulous dishes, because unless you have a large crowd of people to feed (and this will feed a large crowd) you'll have lots of yummy leftovers.  My fabulous sis-in-law, Heather, introduced me to the beauty of a burrito reheated on a George Foreman Grill.  Maybe your lean, mean, fat-grilling machine has been collecting dust since you got it as a Christmas present in 1995, but I promise that making Cafe Rio smothered burritos is its true calling.  If you happened to have gotten rid of yours, you're going to want to order a new one ASAP . . . this is my very favorite appliance for quick and easy leftover lunch.

Smothered Cafe Rio Burritos
After you construct your own burrito how you like it (and I recommend using a large tortilla, which is easier to "fold" . . . corn tortillas tear easily, but I do use them from time to time--just zap them in the microwave for 10 seconds to make them more pliable), wrap it tightly and place it on the (clean, but not greased) grill on a low heat setting, close the upper grill, then let everything slowly heat up until your cheese is melty and gooey and your tortilla is crispy and golden.

Oh, yummy.  Smother with the cilantro lime dressing and you'll be jealous of yourself.  Like I am jealous of myself because of my new green dining room wall . . .