book review

Foodie Friday: Almond Sparkle Cookies

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It is Foodie Friday. Every Friday, I will be putting up a recipe that I have made the previous week.

Today’s recipe is:

Almond Sparkle Cookies

Almond Sparkle Cookies

(recipe and picture courtesy of Pillsbury. Click on the picture for link to the recipe)


Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 9-12 mins**

Cooling Time: 20 mins

Total Time: 1 hour 5 mins**

Ingredients: 7

Servings: 38


Ingredients:

Cookies

1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookies**

1/3 cup roasted blanched whole almonds**

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup coarse sugar**

Drizzle:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 to 3 teaspoons milk**

1/4 teaspoons almond extract


How to make:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, place almonds. Cover, process with on-and-off pulses until finely ground**
  3. In a large bowl, break up cookie dough. Add flour and ground almonds. Stir with spoon or hands until well blended**
  4. Shape dough into 38 (1 inch) balls. Roll balls in coarse sugar. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets**
  5. Bake 9 to 12 mins** or until edges are set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 20 mins.
  6. In a small bowl, stir powdered sugar, milk and almond extract, adding enough milk for desired drizzling consistency. Drizzle over cooled cookies**.

What I did differently in this recipe (the **’s):

  1. Surprisingly, cooking time was right on for this recipe. Which is amazing because my oven runs hot.
  2. I don’t think it took me an hour from start to finish. But I wasn’t paying attention.
  3. Normally I would have gone with Great Value or store brand sugar cookie dough. But I had a coupon (FTW) and got Pillsbury.
  4. I got sliced roasted blanched almonds.
  5. Used regular sugar because I forgot to get coarse. Worked just as well, though. Had no complaints.
  6. Used 3 tsp milk.
  7. My SO broke my food processor making laundry detergent (we make our own). So, I improvised. I took the smoothie attachment and used that to ground up my almonds. Worked great!!
  8. I used my hands. Also, the dough will look like it won’t hold together. It looked like sand but baked up great
  9. See #1 in this section
  10. I am not a good drizzler. Actually, this was my first time. FYI: a small spoon works wonders if you are going to do that.

Was it hard to make: No, it was pretty easy

How long did it take me to make (compared to the recipe’s prep+total time): About 45-50 mins

Did BK and I like it: Amazingly, yes. BK hates nuts in his food. Hates them. But he liked this. He said the almond flavor was not overwhelming and the cookie texture was perfect. I gave a bunch to my across the street neighbor and Miss R’s preschool teachers. Everyone raved about it.

More importantly, did my kids like it: Another first. Yes, they all did. Even Miss R, who is amazingly picky, thought these were great.

Will I make it again: Yes

Thoughts on the dish, after the fact: Fairly easy dessert to make. Would be wonderful around Christmas time.

The difficulty of the dish: Beginner

book review

Foodie Friday: Zucchini Bars

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It is Foodie Friday. Every Friday, I will be putting up a recipe that I have made the previous week.

Today’s recipe is:

Zucchini Bars

Zucchini Bars

(recipe and picture courtesy of Betty Crocker. Click on the picture for link to the recipe)


Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 25 to 30 mins

Total Time: 1 hour 40 mins

Serves: 24 servings


Ingredients

Bars:

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened**

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

1 cup Gold Medal all-purpose flour**

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup shredded zucchini, drained**

1/2 cup chopped nuts**

Spice Frosting:

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon butter or margarine, softened**

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

3 to 4 teaspoons milk**


How to Make:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and side of 9 or 8-inch square pan**. In a large bowl, mix brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and egg**. Stir in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon cloves.** Stir in zucchini and nuts**. Spread in pan.
  2. Bake 25 to 30 minutes** or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix all frosting ingredients until smooth and spreadable. Spread frosting over bars. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows**.

What I did differently in this recipe (the **’s):

  1. Used butter. Softened in the microwave. Put in for 20 seconds and it was perfectly soft.
  2. Used Aldi’s brand flour.
  3. Wasn’t too sure how to drain shredded zucchini, so I pressed a paper towel on top until the water was soaked up.
  4. Didn’t use nuts
  5. Used a 9-inch glass pan.
  6. Mixed by hand.
  7. Stirred by hand. The batter will be thick
  8. Didn’t use nuts. The batter is very thick.
  9. Because my oven is older and runs at a higher temp, I let it bake for 20 mins.
  10. We don’t do rows. We like to pick the size of our slices.

Was it hard to make:

How long did it take me to make (compared to the recipe’s prep+total time):

Did BK and I like it:

More importantly, did my kids like it:

Will I make it again:

Thoughts on the dish, after the fact:

The difficulty of the dish: Beginner

book review

Foodie Friday: Smoky Beef and Brown Rice Chili

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It is Foodie Friday. Every Friday, I will be putting up a recipe that I have made the previous week.

Today’s recipe is:

Smoky Beef and Brown Rice Chili

Smoky Beef and Brown Rice Chili

(recipe and picture courtesy of Betty Crocker. Click on the picture for link to the recipe)


Prep Time: 20 mins

Cook Time: 33 minutes**

Total Time: 53 mins

Serves: 8


Ingredients:

1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cups hot cooked brown rice**

2 cups Old El Paso Thick’n Chunky salsa**

1 can (28 ozs) crushed tomatoes

1 can (15 oz) Progresso black beans, drained and rinsed**

1 cup beef broth or water**

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 to 2 teaspoons smoked paprika**

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

Toppings such as shredded Cheddar cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips, if desired


How to Make

  1. In 5 to 6-quart stockpot, cook beef over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until brown, drain. Add onion, cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is tender and translucent. While browning beef, cook the rice**
  2. Add remaining ingredients except for toppings. Heat to boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 10 minutes to blend flavors.
  3. Spoon into bowls to serve. Top with desired toppings.

What I did differently in this recipe (the **’s):

  1. I included the cook time for the rice.
  2. I used white rice.
  3. 2 cups= 1 jar. I also used Aldi’s brand mild chunky salsa
  4. I used Great Value black beans
  5. Used beef broth.
  6. I used regular paprika. I went to Walmart to pick up smoked paprika and it was $4. Wasn’t going to spend that.
  7. Felt I had to put cook the rice in the instructions.

Was it hard to make:

How long did it take me to make (compared to the recipe’s prep+total time):

Did BK and I like it:

More importantly, did my kids like it:

Will I make it again:

Thoughts on the dish, after the fact:

The difficulty of the dish:

book review

Foodie Friday: Zucchini Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

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It is Foodie Friday. Every Friday, I will be putting up a recipe that I have made the previous week.

Today’s recipe is:

Zucchini Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Zucchini Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

(recipe and picture courtesy of Betty Crocker. Click on the picture for link to the recipe)


Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 35 to 40 mins**

Total Time: 2 hours and 5 min

Serves: 12


Ingredients:

Cake:

1 box Betty Crocker Supermoist yellow cake mix**

3/4 cup milk**

1/2 cup butter, melted**

3 eggs

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini (about 2 medium zucchinis)

3/4 cup chopped walnuts**

Frosting:

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened**

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar


How to Make:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom only of 13 x 9-inch pan with cooking spray
  2. In large bowl, beat cake mix, milk, 1/2 cup melted butter, eggs, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg with electric mixer** on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in zucchini and walnuts**. Pour batter into pan.
  3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes** or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven to cooling rack**. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  4. In large bowl, beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup softened butter with electric mixer** on medium speed until smooth. Beat in 1 teaspoon cinnamon and the vanilla. On low speed, beat in powdered sugar until frosting is smooth and creamy**. Spread frosting on cake. Cut into 4 rows by 3 rows**. Cover and refrigerate any remaining cake.

What I did differently in this recipe (the **’s):

  1. I used Great Value cake mix.
  2. I used whole milk
  3. The microwave is great for that. Popped it in for 40 seconds and the butter was melted.
  4. BK doesn’t like nuts, so I didn’t use them in the recipe
  5. Could use a stand mixer also
  6. I have an older oven (think 50’s era) and it runs 10-15 degrees hotter than a normal oven. I have learned to decrease the cook time by 5-10 mins. So I took the cake out after 30 mins.
  7. Keep in the pan. Didn’t say it in the recipe but I felt that I had to put it out there. Because there are people who would try to take a hot cake out of the pan and then complain when it falls apart.
  8. Could use a stand mixer also
  9. When you start beating, it will look like gravel for a few minutes. Keep it going and it will turn creamy.
  10. I didn’t do that. We like to choose the size of our cake slices…lol.

Was it hard to make: Nope, not hard at all

How long did it take me to make (compared to the recipe’s prep+total time): It took me about the same time, give or take 5 minutes.

Did BK and I like it: BK did like it. He thought that the bottom of the cake was thick. I haven’t tried it yet.

More importantly, did my kids like it: They haven’t tried it. Pffft. But, my friend, her boyfriend, her stepfather and her daughter (who is friends with Miss R) tried it and loved it.

Will I make it again: Probably. Depends if everyone likes it or not.

Thoughts on the dish, after the fact: Was one of the easier cakes I had to have. The batter is pretty thick, which concerned me. But it baked beautifully.

The difficulty of the dish: Beginner

book review

Foodie Friday: Pan Fried Cinnamon Bananas

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It is Foodie Friday. Every Friday, I will be putting up a recipe that I have made the previous week.

Today’s recipe is:

Pan Fried Cinnamon Bananas

Overhead view of pan fried cinnamon banana rounds on a white plate

(recipe and picture courtesy of Dizzy Busy and Hungry. Click on picture for link to the blog)


Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Serves: didn’t say.


Ingredients:

2 bananas, slightly overripe

2 tablespoons sugar (can substitute Splenda if you want to)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)


How to Make**:

  1. Slice the bananas into rounds, approximately 1/3 inch thick
  2. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg (if desired). Set aside
  3. Lightly spray a large skillet with nonstick oil spray. Warm over medium heat.
  4. Add the banana rounds and sprinkle 1/2 of the cinnamon mixture on top.
  5. Cook for 2-3 minutes
  6. Flip the rounds sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon mixture
  7. Cook for 2-3 more minutes or until the bananas are soft and warmed through

What I did differently in this recipe (the **’s):

I haven’t made this yet. I went to make it on Wednesday for Miss R’s snack at preschool and someone ate the bananas. So, I am saving this for next week. I will say that I probably wouldn’t have done anything different from the recipe.


Was it hard to make: I didn’t make it yet. But it looks fairly easy.

How long did it take me to make (compared to the recipe’s prep+total time): Didn’t make it. So don’t know.

Did BK and I like it: I think we will once I make it.

More importantly, did my kids like it: Well, Miss R said that she wouldn’t try it. But the other two are looking forward to me making this.

Will I make it again: Probably

Thoughts on the dish, after the fact: No thoughts right now.

The difficulty of the dish: Beginner

book review

Easy Cake Mix Zucchini Bread

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It is Foodie Friday. Every Friday, I will be putting up a recipe that I have made the previous week.

Today’s recipe is:

Easy Cake Mix Zucchini Bread

Easy Cake Mix Zucchini Bread

(recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker. Click on picture for original recipe)

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 2 hour 10 min

Serves: 24


Ingredients:

1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist yellow cake mix

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon**

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup milk or water**

3 eggs

2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini (about 2 medium)


How to make:

Heat oven to 350. Spray bottoms only of two 8 x 4 inch loaf pans** with cooking spray

In large bowl, stir cake mix, cinnamon, oil, milk, and eggs until well blended. Add zucchini, mix well. Divide batter evenly between pans.

Bake 45 to 50 mins** or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 mins. Remove from pans to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Wrap tightly, and store at room temperature up to 2 days.


What I did differently in this recipe/ screw-up (the **’s)

1 I noticed that the bread smelled very cinnamony when coming out of the oven. When BK had a slice, he said that it was almost too cinnamony tasting. So, I would suggest cutting down maybe 1/2 a tablespoon. Or if you want to live dangerously, put the whole tablespoon in. Your choice.

2 I used milk.

3 Dollar store FTW

4 The Cook Time is different for me. I have a very old oven that runs 15-20 degrees hotter when I am baking/cooking. So, I take that into consideration when I am cooking or baking. I took the bread out after 45 mins. It was <this close> to being burnt. It should have come out 10 mins sooner. But it still tasted great!!


Was it hard to make: Nope. It was easy.

How long it took me to make (compared to the prep+total time): It took me about 2 hours to make

Did BK and I like it: I haven’t tasted it yet. But BK did like it. He did say that it was too cinnamony

More importantly, did my kids like it: They won’t touch it. Because, you know, zucchini is in it.

Will I make it again: Yes

Thoughts on the dish, after the fact: Very easy. Would use less cinnamon.

The difficulty of dish: Beginner

book review

Foodie Friday: The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever

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It is Foodie Friday. Every Friday, I will be putting up a recipe that I will be making at some point in the near future.

Today’s recipe is:

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever

(recipe courtesy of Add A Pinch via Yummly. Click on picture for the recipe)

Interesting backstory to this recipe before I go into the details. I printed this out at some point last year. I went to make it in March and decided not to make it. Oh well, stuff happens. Well, it hung on my fridge from March to today (August 26th). It took me that long to get off my lazy butt and make this. Gotta say it was delicious.

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 30-35 mins**

Total Time: 45-50 mins

Serving Size: 12

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder**

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon espresso powder**

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water**

You can either make your own chocolate frosting recipe or use store-bought.

How to Make:

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 9 inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.**

For the Cake

2 Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.**

3 Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.

4 Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 min, until toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

5 Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 mins. Remove from the pan and cool completely.

6 Frost cake

Notes (very important to the recipe!!): The cake batter will be very thin after adding the boiling water. This is correct and results in a very moist and delicious chocolate cake.


What I did differently in this recipe/ screw-up (the **’s)

1) The Cook Time is different for me. I have a very old oven that runs 15-20 degrees hotter when I am baking/cooking. So, I take that into consideration when I am making a cake.

2) I used 1/4 cup of cocoa powder instead of 3/4 cup. I misread the recipe. Didn’t affect the recipe.

3) I didn’t use espresso powder. We do not drink espresso. So, I had BK finely grind up some coffee. A little bit less than what the recipe called for.

4) I almost made a huge screw-up. I misread the recipe, again..sigh. I went to add 2 cups of water to the batter. I happened to pick up the paper and look at the recipe again and noticed it said 1 cup. Whoops. Almost a huge mistake. I measured out 1 cup of water, boiled it and went on with the recipe.


My overall impressions:

Was it hard to make: Nope, not hard at all

How long it took me to make (compared to the prep+total time): It took me about 40-45 mins from start to end

Did BK and I like it: Yes, we both did.

More importantly, did my kids like it: Mr. Z and Miss. B did like it. Miss R, on the other hand, said it was soo chocolately and didn’t finish it (she’s super picky)

Will I make it again: Yes

Thoughts on the dish, after the fact: Very easy dessert. Baring my reading issues with the ingredients, it was the easiest from scratch cake that I have made.

The difficulty of dish: Beginner