Sunday, May 23, 2010

Apple Bars

For the kids' Professional Cooking final, we do our own version of Iron Chef. I lay out everything we have, and they have 30 minutes to plan out what they'll do, then an hour to cook their meal. I participated too this year, and it was so fun! I made a carbonara, and they made a steak with pesto and Israeli couscous, and another dish was fried tacos. Everything was great!
As I was looking at the ingredients, I saw caramel, apples, and a cake mix and decided something must be made of those. I based it off of the pumpkin bar recipe we all loved in the fall, and have to say that this was one of my best creations!! You could sub out regular ingredients for the cake mix, but we were following the motto of "work with what you have"!

Caramel Apple Bars
(a different version from the fall recipe, which was also great!!)

5 small (tiny, really!) apples, sliced thin
~1/4 cup sugar
~3 tbsp butter
~1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup caramel bits (I had the already unwrapped little balls and they worked great!)
1/2 cup butter, melted

yellow cake mix
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar

Set 1 cup of cake mix aside.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 9x13 pan.
Melt butter over medium low heat, add apples, 1/4 cup white sugar, and brown sugar and cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until the apples are soft. Stir in caramel bits and remove apples from heat.
While apples are cooking, combine all but 1 cup of the cake mix with one beaten egg and melted butter. Press in bottom of pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
After removing crust from oven, top with apple mixture (it might mix up the crust a little bit, which is fine--just be gentle when you're spreading it so you don't mix it up too much so you actually have a crust still!).
Combine the reserved cup of cake mix, sugar, and softened butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over the top of the apple mixture.
Return to oven and bake 15-20 more minutes, or until the top crumbles are turning golden brown.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cinnamon Roll Muffins

While no replacement for the real deal, these are a nice MUCH quicker alternative to cinnamon roll flavor in less than 1 hour including bake time! I got this recipe from A Dash of Sass. The only change I will make next time is to add more filling. But how cute are they? They look like cinnamon rolls in a muffin tin!

Rolled Cinnamon Roll Muffins
Adapted from Cinnamon Roll Muffins

Makes 1 dozen muffins

1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar added to it (or 1 cup buttermilk)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour

Filling: (**I would do this times 1.5 next time. I thought it was a bit dry due to lack of enough filling)
2 TBL butter, room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp milk or cream
(add some vanilla in if you like, just a splash)

- Pour milk into a measuring cup and add the lemon juice or vinegar. (Skip this step if you are using buttermilk.)
- Measure the brown sugar, baking soda, salt, vanilla and egg into a mixing bowl. Add the milk. Add the flour. Stir until thoroughly combined.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or two.
- Roll the dough into a 12-inch by 24-inch rectangle. Spread with butter. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
- Roll the dough into a log beginning at the wide side. Stretch the log slightly. Cut into two-inch pieces and put the pieces into greased muffin tins or muffin tins lined with cupcake papers.
- Bake at 375° Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes and then remove from the muffin tins.
- Drizzle with icing (if using) when cool.
Serve warm!! (reheat in microwave if necessary!)

Spicy Oven Baked Ribs

I am calling these "spicy" since I already have another oven baked ribs recipe. These were really good and a cinch to put together. I should have taken an "after" picture--a bunch of teenagers with sauce all over their chins!!

Spicy Oven Baked Ribs

4 lbs meaty ribs (used bone in)
1 onion, sliced (2 if you prefer)
4 tsp apple cider vinegar
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground red pepper (this was enough for me; if you want them "spicy", you can amp this up)
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 1/2 cups water

Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Place in roaster and cover with onions. Combine remaining ingredients and pour half of the sauce over the meat.
Cover and bake at 350 for about 1 hour, basting two times during the cooking process. Turn the ribs twice during cooking process as well. Remove cover for the last few minutes to brown ribs, if desired.

adapted from a recipe seen on

Monday, May 17, 2010 goes on...

a restful weekend at the lake..took the Gator to another little creek

Bruno's sweet ride

two tornado sirens in a week. somehow, magically, the dogs sat and stayed on this blanket while we were in the basement! pretty funny (to me anyway!)

1.5 more weeks of school, and it's summa time!!!!!!! Just found out I got approved to go to another week of culinary school, which is really exciting! Some great friends getting married, and hopefully a little anniversary getaway. looking forward to it!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Creamy Ranch Chicken Pasta

I saw this pasta on Cooking This and That and had to try it. She has really great recipes--I remade the potato salad from last year and oooooh it was as good as I remembered! Will make it again for this weekend, I think.
The pasta was really great--I had it with a side of steamed broccoli, which I think would also be good mixed in. I think you could mix in almost any green veggie into this and have good results.

I like ranch, and I liked this stuff! If you don't like ranch, you will not like this stuff :)

Creamy Ranch Chicken Pasta

from Colleen, originally from Jo's Kitchen

Makes about 4 servings
6 slices bacon
1 - 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons dry ranch mix
1 1/4 cups milk
8 ounces egg noodles
Parmesan cheese

In a large saute pan, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove from pan and save 2 tablespoons of drippings. Cook chicken in same pan with the drippings until tender and no longer pink, turning to brown.
Sprinkle flour, ranch mix, and milk over chicken. Stir to combine and continue stirring until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir one minute more. Stir in bacon.
Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and add to chicken mixture.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bourbon Chicken

Another meal that is freezer and leftover friendly. I made this on Sunday but had it for dinner on Tuesday and it was really great!
Just a link to the recipe, since I mostly followed it (I used flour instead of cornstarch because that's what I had, and I used five spice powder in place of the ginger because..that's what I had:). Just another idea for a quick weeknight or make ahead meal!!
Bourbon Chicken