Brown Sugar Pecans

Who doesn’t love that sugary vanilla smell wafting through the baseball stadium?  And who would ever think that it came from the sugared nut stand?  Well here is a great recipe for you to try at home in the offseason, and if you don’t like nuts, it will still make your house smell amazing.

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of tightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • About 2 cups of your favorite type of nut, or why not try a mix!

First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, cloves in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg, water, and vanilla.  Add your nuts to the wet ingredients bowl and stir them around so they are well coated.  Next, transfer your nuts to the dry ingredients bowl.  You may want to mix your dry ingredients in a bag so you can just shake the nuts around.  This method makes less of a mess.  Transfer the mixture to a greased foil covered pan and spread out the nuts.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  You should keep a close eye on your sugared nuts because they are quite easy to burn, especially pecans.  You should check the even every 10 minutes or so and stir up the mixture.

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Red Velvet Cheesecake

This post is a tribute to Valentine’s Day!  It is literally right around the corner so you might as well embrace it and make some special plans.  This rich cake is the perfect way to top off your date night.  As for you single gals and boys, why not enjoy a slice with your favorite Valentine’s Day movie.  CAUTION: You will want seconds.

As much as I wish it was, this recipe is not from my own genius, so I must give credit where it is deserved.  Willow Bird Baking is the mastermind to this complex culinary delight.  Please subscribe to her page.  She is a true inspiration and has posted some fantastic recipes.  In addition, there are some very helpful tutorials and tips on the site.  Here is the link to Willow Bird Baking’s Red Velvet Cheesecake: http://willowbirdbaking.com/2011/01/24/red-velvet-cheesecake/

My version does not look as professional, but hey, for my first layer cheesecake I think I did pretty great!

I actually made this cake for my extended family on Christmas.  It was a huge success!  Due to time constraints I was forced to use pre-made cream cheese frosting, but I think it went over well.  This cake freezes quite nicely and it can be made in three parts.  Good luck and happy baking!

Waste Not!

Isn’t it such a pain when you open a bag of bread and it’s moldy?  I hate wasting food so this is especially irritating to me.  Well fear not!  Here is a fantastic way to get a few more days out of your loaf: make CROUTONS!  Homemade croutons are the best.  You can season them any way you like and make them just as crispy or soft as you desire.  First, cut the bread into cubes.  Any size works, I like to make them on the bigger side so they soak up a ton of flavor.  I used leftover Ciabatta bread, which is on the firmer side, so it is easier to make bigger cubes that stay intact.  I also tried to scrape off the little mold spots because personally, blue fuzz on my food grosses me out.  Once you have cubed your bread, let it dry up in the open air for a few hours so the pieces are not so moist.  Next, toss the cubes with olive oil, just enough to cover the outside of the cubes.  If you completely saturate the cubes with oil they will not crisp properly.  Then, add your favorite seasonings.  I used a little garlic salt, pepper, and a touch of oregano.  Toss the mixture like a salad!  Finally, spread out the seasoned bread cubes on a foil covered baking pan and bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  Halfway through, stir up the croutons with a spoon.  And done!  Watch out, these croutons are so delicious you may find yourself snacking on them instead of putting them in your salad.

Teriyaki Shrimp Egg Rolls

Craving takeout but short on cash?  Try this easy egg roll recipe that is bursting with flavor and will definitely save you a couple bucks.

You should be able to find most of these ingredients in the Asian aisle in any grocery store:

  • La Choy Stir Fry Teriyaki Sauce/Marinade
  • La Choy Sweet and Sour Chicken (comes in a combo pack with one can of chicken and one can of vegetables)
  • Nasoya All Natural Egg Roll Wraps
  • Medium or Large shrimp, fresh or frozen

First, stir fry prepared/thawed shrimp and vegetable mixture with the teriyaki sauce until heated thoroughly.  I chose to save the small can with the chicken that came in the La Choy Sweet and Sour Chicken package for another time.  However, you could substitute the chicken for the shrimp.

While the shrimp and vegetables are cooking, cover a baking pan with foil and grease lightly with cooking spray.  Spread out the egg roll wrappers on the pan and spoon desired amount of filling onto wrappers in a diagonal line, from corner to corner.  The wrapper packaging should explain how to fold the egg rolls.  I could still use a little practice.

Brush the top of each roll with a little olive oil.  Bake in the oven at 400 for about 15-20 minutes.  Turn the rolls about every 5 minutes so they bake evenly.

Let the rolls cool at least 10 minutes after you take them out of the oven, I was too eager and burned myself =/.

A few days ago I experimented with frying the rolls instead of baking them in the oven.  While it was easier to cook each side of the roll this way, the wraps did not brown as nicely as they did in the oven.  Also, the oven is a healthier option.

Potato Salad

(see Veggie Pizza for picture)

This is one of those guess and check recipes.  I looked up a bunch of different potato salad recipes on the internet and then I went from there.

Ingredients:

  • Red potatoes, cooked
  • Mayonnaise
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Relish
  • Champagne or white wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Cube the precooked red potatoes and put them in a large mixing bowl.  I bought a huge bag from Walmart, but I only used about 6-8 for this recipe.  Add your mayonnaise, mustard and relish and mix.  I used a 3:1:1 ratio because I love mayo.  Next, TASTE TIME!  The key to this guess and check thing is to taste your concoction as you go.  If you are satisfied with the flavor go ahead and add the vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste.

I strongly advise you to let the salad chill in the refrigerator for a few hours before you eat it.  This way it gets nice and cold and the flavors can meld together.

Veggie Pizza

Hey everyone!  I have another quick easy recipe for Ciabatta.  Sandwiches can get old pretty quickly, so try this delicious veggie pizza.  All you need is:

  • 1 Ciabatta roll, sliced in half
  • Tomato sauce
  • Pesto
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Veggies of your choice

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix the sauce and pesto to taste then slather it onto your Ciabatta slices.  Pile on the veggies and then sprinkle with cheese!  This is a great way to eat your vegetables if you don’t really care for them.  Nothing tastes bad when it is smothered in cheese.  Personally, I love vegetables, weird right?  So I used precooked squash and sweet onion that I had roasted the previous night.  I will be sharing this recipe soon as well!  Once you have assembled your pizza, pop it directly onto the middle oven rack and bake for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

If you like crispy pizza crust, Ciabatta is a a great substitute if you do not have dough on hand.

Ham and Cheese Melt

I made this sandwich on Tuesday for lunch!  It was so simple and fast anyone can do it.  First step, preheat the oven to about 350 degrees.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Ciabatta sandwich roll
  • Pesto, I really enjoy Buitoni Pest with Basil
  • 1 roma tomato, sliced
  • Half of an avocado, sliced
  • Ham, I buy Hillshire Farm’s Deli Select, Low Sodium Honey Ham
  • Provolone cheese
Next step, slather each piece of Ciabatta with Pesto, then pile on the ingredients.  You can eat the sandwich as is or you can toast it in the oven for a few minutes.  I prefer toasting the sandwich because the cheese melts and the crust gets crispier.  Just pop the assembled sandwich directly on the middle rack and bake for about 10 minutes.  All ovens vary so you may want to keep your eye on it.  Enjoy!

Sandwich week…

This week is officially sandwich week!  As a full-time college student, I don’t always have a spare hour to whip up a fancy meal, not to mention I am on a budget.  Sandwiches are great because you can throw them in your book bag or eat them on the way to class.  So I went grocery shopping a few days ago and I picked up some freshly baked Ciabatta rolls.  I love this bread because it is soft on the inside, but it has a nice crust, especially if you pop it in the oven for a couple minutes.  Sourdough is nice too, however, I like the subtle sweetness of Ciabatta.  My refrigerator is also well stocked with a variety of toppings to go with the rolls.  I have already experimented with two different recipes that turned out to be absolutely delicious, and SO easy.  Stay tuned!

Welcome!

This blog is dedicated to my profound passion for food.  I hope to inspire other food lovers and convert the non-believers through my ideas and recipes.  For me, this blog is a small step closer to joining the ranks of the great culinary artists.  But hey, you have to start somewhere right?  Welcome and enjoy!

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