Domestic Amour

"A good home must be made, not bought." - Joyce Maynard

Monday, September 04, 2006

Five Things to Eat Before You Die

I have been "tagged" by to participate in The Food Blogger's Guide to the Globe project of compiling a list of things to eat before you die. Looking at the list will just start to make your mouth water and become nostalgic about foods that you have tried and the memories they evoke. As I started thinking about the foods that really have had a special impact on my life or just really make me want them right then and there, I realized that it is quite hard to pick the top five that matter most. Here is my attempt at a list but I am sure that someone could remind me of something or suggest something that would make my list change. This is why I love food so much...not only is it utilitarian but it is such an important part of culture, family, memories, celebrations, travel, and so many other things that make life great!

1. Lombardi's , Pepperoni, Sausage, and Meatball Pizza, NYC

On a vacation with my husband to NYC we read that Lombardi's was the best pizza in the city and decided we had to make a trip to Little Italy to try it. We were on a quest while we were there to find the absolute best pizza we could find. When we found Lombardi's on Spring St. near Mulberry we knew this place was special. It is so tiny that you can barely walk between the tables and it is the first pizzeria in the United States. We tasted the pizza and were in love. It was loaded with pepperoni and sausage and the meatballs were actually meatballs cut in half. The crust was perfect and cooked in a coal oven to perfection. We had to go back twice while we were on our short four day trip. I still crave it today and cannot wait to go back.

2. Inboden's Meat Market Bratwurst, DeKalb, IL

My father's family opened a meat market over 40 years ago in a little town outside of Chicago. This family owned business has grown and grown and carries the absolute best meat you can find. There award winning bratwurst is absolutely the best I have every tasted. My uncle has the seasoning down pat and makes the most flavorful, juicy sausage that you can imagine. I love to have them on a toasted bun with sauteed onions and pickle relish.

3. Funnel Cake

Not much is better then sharing a funnel cake with the ones you love when on vacation or at a special event. My family is Disney World crazy and a trip would not be complete if we did not share a warm funnel cake. We do not need any toppings only powdered sugar. Eating a funnel cake is so worth the powdery mess you are when you are finished eating. Simple yet fantastic and I would miss it dearly if I could never have another.

4. 50's Primetime Cafe Fried Chicken Dinner

Speaking of Disney World, this restaurant seriously offers the best fried chicken I have ever had. It is fried to perfection...just crispy enough and so tender and juicy on the inside. It is a huge meal served with creamy mashed potatoes and excellent southern green beans. I have had this on several trips to Disney and on our honeymoon we ate this meal and my husband truly thought he had died and gone to heaven. FANTASTIC!

5. Banana Pudding

This is a recipe that I got from my mom and make regularly. Everyone who tries it absolutely loves it and I would hate to never have the chance to eat it again. It is my most requested dessert and when you live in the South it is a staple. The secret in this recipe is Eagle Brand Milk and leaves it extremely creamy. If you are my sister or my husband though you want your banana pudding without the bananas...crazy, huh?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Oreo Cookie Ice Cream Cake

The heat wave in Texas has been unbelievable and for my brother's birthday on August 17th I could not bear the thought of having a warm dessert for his birthday. I was considering making him a cake or some other dessert but nothing seemed refreshing enough for the hot, hot days we were having. I decided that we definitely needed some ice cream in whatever we were going to celebrate with. So as I was thinking I decided that since we still needed the birthday feel why not just go for an ice cream cake. I searched through cookbooks and the internet looking for the perfect recipe and decided to take bits and pieces from several and develop my own ice cream cake recipe. It ended up being a huge hit and very refreshing. My dad ended up eating on it for days!

Oreo Cookie Ice Cream Cake

1 package of Oreos
1 stick of butter, melted
1/2 gallon of chocolate chip ice cream, softened
1 jar of hot fudge
1 devil's food cake prepared
1 tub of Cool Whip
Magic Shell

Prepare the devil's food cake in 9 inch cake pan. Cool completely. Lightly grease a 9 inch sprinform pan. In a food processor or blender finely chop the entire package of oreos except hold back five oreos. Put into springform pan and add butter. Mix well and press down to make crust. Next, add half of the ice cream and spread to the edges. Then spread a layer of the hot fudge covering the ice cream completely. Add another layer of ice cream on top of that. Freeze overnight. Pull out the springform pan and remove from shell. Place prepared devils food cake on top of the ice cream mixture attaching using a small amount of cool whip. Ice the cake with cool whip and decorate with the leftover oreos and magic shell. Freeze for several more hours. Enjoy!

Cookie Craze

One night after a short nap I got the urge to make cookies. I knew that I wanted to take some to a friends house the next night for dinner but I could not decided which kind to take. I am sure that this was definitely a pregnancy moment in that I could not make any decision regarding food because they all just sounded so good. So I began the 2 hour cookie sprint that ended with three different types of cookies totaling about 12 dozen cookies in all. I took them to work, to friends, and then my sweet husband ate and ate till his heart was content. I made all of our old favorites and all of them and tried and true recipes. The chocolate chip are seriously probably the best I have ever had as far as staying soft and moist. It was a great week after that with cookies a plenty!

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c. Butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In electric mixer, mix butter and sugars until creamy. Add the egg and mix until well blended. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt slowly. Mix well. Add the chocolate chips and mix. The dough will be thick. Place spoonfuls on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 7-9 minutes watching carefully to make sure you do not over cook. Cool on wire rack.

~ I usually add a touch of vanilla to add a little flavor but have made them as the recipe calls for and they are just as delicious.


1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. shortening
2 large eggs
2 3/4 c. flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. sugar
2 t. ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix 1 1/2 c. sugar, butter, shortening, and eggs in large bowl. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Mix 1/4 c. sugar and cinnamon. Roll balls in cinnamon sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes each. Do not overbake and cool on a wire rack.

Sugar Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing

1 c. butter or margarine
1 c. sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp. baking powder
3 c. flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream butter and sugar in electric mixer. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add baking powder and flour one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. The dough will be very stiff, blend last flour by hand.

Do not chill dough. Divide dough into two balls. On floured surface, roll each ball in approximately 12" diameter and 1/4" thick. Use cutters of choice. Bake cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet on middle rack of oven for 6-10 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Watch them very closely and make sure that they do not overcook or cookies will become hard.

Sorry I have been neglecting my blogging duties

For the last two weeks I have completely neglected my blog! I have slowed down somewhat on the baking and cooking and have been even worse about getting on the computer. We had busy weekends and busy nights for the last few weeks as we are getting closer and closer to our little boy being born. Only about six weeks now. I am going to update today though on the few things I have been baking and cooking since I have been gone and hopefully you will find a few good recipes to try somewhere amongst them.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Cleaning out the fridge

For last nights dinner I knew that I needed to forget about stopping by the grocery store to get some extra supplies and figure out something to make with stuff we already had. We recently had another box of goodies brought to us by the veggie exchange and I definitely did not want any of that to go to waste. So, from works started thinking about what we had that I could make something tasty and southern for dinner that night. I had my husband pull out some chicken and I figured the rest out when I got home. Standing and looking into the fridge I found beautiful fresh green beans, two huge potatoes, peaches, great looking grape tomatoes, some sour cream that was about to expire, and a pound of bacon that needed cooked. The husband wanted to use his grill for the chicken. I decided on a smothered grilled chicken breast, green beans, and a loaded mashed potatoes. All sounded very simple but as we sat down to dinner my husband told me it was one of his favorite meals ever. That is always a good thing with him. The only thing that would have made it better was if I would have had some mushrooms and onions to saute as well and a good old batch of jalapeano cornbread. YUMMY! With the peaches I decided to make a super easy peach cobbler that I kind of created in my head using up an old pre-made pie crust that I had and needed to use up. Again, the hubby thought it was one of the best desserts I have ever made. Overall, clean out the fridge night was quite a success. Sometimes all you need is a simple easy comfort meal to please all the senses.

Smothered Grilled Chicken

4 chicken breasts
1 Tbsp southwest seasoning
Kosher salt
ground pepper
1/4 c. BBQ sauce
8 slices bacon, cooked
4 slices of cheddar

Season the chicken breast with the southwest seasoning, salt and pepper. Put on grill on medium heat. Cook until almost done flipping once. At the final three minutes baste with BBQ sauce and top with bacon and then cheddar. Let melt on top and serve. (This would be so tasty with sauteed onions and mushrooms as well.)

Green Beans

2 c. fresh green beans
2 slices of bacon
1 clove of garlic, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 T balsalmic vinegar

Boil enough water to cover the bottom of a medium pot by about one inch. Put in the green beans. Let them simmer about 8-10 minutes. Drain the green beans and set aside. Turn the heat to medium/low. Coat the pan with the olive oil and add the bacon. Cook until bacon is almost done. Add the diced garlic and cook until golden brown. Add the green beans back to the pot and salt and pepper to taste. Add the balsalmic and let cook for about five minutes over low heat stirring occasionally. Serve.

- The balsalmic adds so much to the green beans.

Loaded Mashed Potatoes

- 2 large potatoes, cubed
- 1/2 c. milk
- 1/2 c. butter
- 1/2 c. sour cream
- 1 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 slices bacon, crumbled
- chives

Boil potatoes until tender. Drain. Add milk, butter, and sour cream and mash. Add the cheddar, bacon bits, salt and pepper. Serve and top with chives and extra cheese.

EASY Peach Cobbler

3 large peaches sliced
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c. cornstartch
1 prepared pie crust
sugar for sprinkling

Slice the peachs and combine them with the sugar, almond extract, vanilla extract, butter, cinnamon and conrstarch. Mix and pour into greased 2 qt. baking dish. Top with the prepared pie crust and cut slits in the top to vent. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes. Cool and serve with vanilla ice cream or whip cream.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Williams Sonoma tools and other fun finds

My husband and I spend an afternoon with another couple shopping for new furniture and fabrics for their new home. We had a quick lunch at Schlotzsky's (by the way their pizza is quite tasty). Then off to some of my favorite stores...Cutting Corners for fabric, knocked for furnishings, Simple Things for the best mix of old and new furniture, and Pottery Barn. We were having quite a successful trip before I convinced the husband to let me run in "really quick" to WS. We had found a chair at a great deal that I kind of had to flirt with an old man to get him to come down off the cost for my friends, great fabrics, and some other great dining table options as well as buffets. However, when we went to WS is when I found goodies for myself. I had been wanting a 2 1/2-inch deep tart or quiche pan to make a pie in that just begs to be extra deep dish. A normal pie pan would not do. It is the best Chocolate Pecan Bourbon Pie you have ever tasted...It is tasty to me and I hate nuts. I found my perfect dish there and for only $12. I went around the store coveting all of the other gadgets and then found a sale rack that had the most adorable silicone baking pan that had muffins shaped like hearts. I could not pass up this deal. They were screaming for Molten Chocolate Cakes or tiny strawberry tarts or cakes to be made in them. Also, I have not tried any silicone bakeware as of yet. I purchased these for only $4. Again these were marked almost 75% off. I am sure they were a leftover from Valentines. But I love hearts all year round. After my "really quick" trip into the store I hurried back to the car to find my sweet husband asleep with his mouth wide open in the car...Looked to me like he was dreaming of those chocolate cakes.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Low-fat it an oxymoron?

I needed something easy to prepare for a Wednesday night meal and so I opened an old issue of Everyday with Rachel Ray and found a quick meal of Spaghetti and Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs. Looked tasty enough and I had all the ingredients on hand and ready to go. But lately I had been wanting to consider trying a low-fat, low-cal, healthier recipe for dessert at least once a week. It seems as I get further along in this preganacy a meal not followed by a little sweet is just not quite complete. So I opened up many a cookbook and searched many a sites looking for a great recipe. I was almost over my quest when in my Nestle Toll House Best-Ever Cookies Cookbook I found what I was looking for. I actually stumbled upon the picture and decided those looked great and then realized they were in deed labeled LOWER FAT! I also had all the ingredients needed for this recipe and was quite excited to start dinner.

The spaghetti and meatballs were easy enough and I love the added surprise of the mozzarella stuffed inside them. I used a pretty lean beef (90/10) and think the flavor would have been slightly better with a fattier meat. Also, I think the sauce could have used some basil and possibly some mushrooms or something for an added flavor. Overall, it was a very tasty meal and I would definitely make it again. Try it if you are looking for a quick recipe but do not just want to open a jar of sauce and brown some meat!

Spaghetti with Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs

1/4 c. plain bread crumbs
1/2 c. Milk or water
1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic gloves, 2 smashed 1 chopped
2 (28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
1 lb. Ground beef
2 TBSP chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 c. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 large egg
4 ozs. Mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
1 lb. Spaghetti

1. In a medium bowl, soak the bread crumbs in the milk.
2. In a large, wide saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the smashed garlic and cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, season to taste with the salt and let the sauce simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the beef, chopped garlic, parsley, Parmigiano-Reggiano, egg and 1 tsp of salt to the soaked bread crumbs and stir with a fork until combined. Place about 2 TBSP of the meat in your hand and press a mozzarella cube into the center. Shape the meat around the cheese forming a meatball. Repeat until all the meat is gone.
4. Stir the sauce and raise the heat to medium-low. Place the meatballs in the sauce sumberging them completely. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook without stirring about 20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti, cook until al dente, about 8 minutes, and dreain. Toss the spaghetti with sauce and meatballs, sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve.

Marbled Chocolate Brownies - Lower Fat

1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. baking cocoa
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
2 TBSP margarine
3 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 ozs. light cream cheese, softened
1 TBSP granulated sugar
1 TBSP nonfat milk

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Heat 1 1/4 c. sugar, chips, applesauce and margarine in a large, heavy-duty saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly just until chips are melted. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Stir in egg whites. Add flour mixture and vanilla extract; stir well. Spread into a greased 13x9-inch baking pan.

Stir together cream cheese, 1 TBSP sugar and milk in a small bowl. Drop by rounded teaspoon over batter; swirl over surface of batter with back of spoon.

Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 22-28 minutes or just until set. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 2 1/4 dozen brownies. About 110 calories and 3 grams of fat per brownie.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Fondant Fool

I have taken a few cake decorating classes over the last year and have been somewhat successful making basic cakes. I have been quite tempted though for awhile to make myself acquainted with fondant. It seemed scary and quite difficult so I had been putting it off for awhile. This Sunday I was looking for a project and decided that I would attempt a cake decorated with fondant. To make this task simpler I decided just to bake doctored up box cakes and make the frosting myself. For the base layer I made red velvet cake with a delicious cream cheese frosting. The second layer was a butter cake with a vanilla frosting. Both of those tasted delicious. I purchased store bought colored fondant for my decorative pieces. I had heard good things about marshmallow fondant and decided to make that for the basic cake covering. It all sounded good in theory....

The cakes came out beautiful, tasty frosting, and I was set to start the fondant. I started to make the marshmallow fondant and the beginning was easy enough. A very basic recipe. But once I started mixing I realized I was in for a project. I mixed and mixed and it took forever to get the right consistency. Once I reached that I attempted to color it and could not get the fondant one even color. I was so frustrated and worked on it for about an hour. I decided to move on to covering the second layer with fondant and it went much better. It was 11 by this point and I decided to call it a night and finish the next day.

My marshmallow fondant ended up being too hard to work with so I decided to go purchase Wilton fondant and finish the cake tonight. This was so much easier to work with and took a lot less time. I felt much less ambitious though. I covered the cake, decorated it, put it all together in less then an hour and my first attempt at a cake using fondant was complete.

It looks okay! Hopefully, I will get better and one day I could say that my cakes look great. I got the idea for the cake from my shower invitation. They were so cute and brightly colored that I though they would make a fun cake. I think that the ball on the cake looks like it is deflating. Oh well, at least I completed the cake. For my next adventure I think I will just cook up a tasty meal and call it quits on the cake decorating....for at least a week! I will post the recipe for the only thing worth attempting....hope you enjoy!

Crusting Cream Cheese Icing

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 c. solid vegetable shortening
1 bar (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 TBSP clear vanilla extract
2 lbs. sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Cream butter, shortening, cream cheese and extract. Gradually add powdered sugar and salt. Beat on low speed until nice and creamy.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Why do I feel like I am cheating?

Whenever I make a quick meal using jar tomato sauce or a packet of seasoning....why do I feel like I am cheating? Everyone in today's busy world has to make a quick and easy meal or dessert every now and then. Tonight was a night for a quick dinner pork chops, green beans, pasta roni, and Texas toast. My husband always teases me and says...."so this isn't REALLY cooking, right?" This is beacause if he ever compliments a dish that I do not feel like I have somewhat worked for I tell him that I did not really do anything. I downplay it because it seems as if I have went against everything Martha, Paula, and Julia stand for.

So, after dinner I ask him if I were to bake something what would he want? He picks a recipe that I have not made before but also to me is not REALLY cooking. It is another cheat recipe. He choose a Five Layer Delight recipe that his mother used to make him when he was young. He said it used to be his favorite dessert and he had not had it in years. So, I reluctantly pull out his old church cookbook knowing it would be in there and began to modify the incredibly simple, easy, cheater of a dessert. The orignial recipe called for a pecan crust. That did not sound appetizing to him or I and so I decided to try it with a graham cracker crust. For the cream cheese layer I decided to add a tad of almond extract for a bit of a sweeter flavor and to change it up from just tasting like cream cheese and whip cream mixed. The instant pudding just stayed as instant pudding. As I was finishing up the recipe tonight I was garnishing with curls of Hershey bar and he asked, "What are you doing? My mom never did that. You are just trying to make it fancier." I just smiled at him and he smiled back knowing that I cannot leave any matter how simple...completely alone. The finished product was actually extremely tasty and would be great for any potluck, church dinner, or picnic. Or one of those nights where you have a cheater dinner and need a quick cheater dessert.

Five Layer Delight (my version)

1 stick of butter, melted
2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/4 c. brown sugar
8 oz. cream cheese
Cool Whip
1 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1 small vanilla instant pudding, prepared
1 small chocolate instant pudding, prepared

Mix together butter, graham cracker crumbs, and powdered sugar. Put into a 9x13 inch glass pan and pack down. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Cream together cream cheese, 1 1/2 c. Cool Whip, powdered sugar, and almond extract. Layer on top of crust. Next layer prepared chocolate pudding and then prepared vanilla pudding. Top with remaining Cool Whip. Garnish with grated Hershey bar curls on top. Chill and enjoy!