Sunday, November 27, 2011


It was one of those days.  I woke up, went for a run, and then got bored.  So I decided to make some delicious food to bring back to school.  Being at home is always so comforting and I love that I get to cook in my kitchen with all of the stuff I am used to.  Plus, I get my mommy to help me! I had a bunch of recipes that I wanted to try and I ended up making three: Cinnamon Sugar Muffins, Peanut Butter Banana Nutella Muffins, and Nutella Brownie Muffins (I'm on a nutella kick).

I had such a great time being at home for Thanksgiving for the past few days.  Some highlights: eating fantastic thanksgiving food at THREE thanksgivings, being with my friends and family, and Black Friday shopping.  My mom, my boyfriend, and I went out to the stores at midnight and shopped until four in the morning! We got some great buys and I got a BEAUTIFUL coat to keep me warm while trekking to class in Madison.  It was such a fun time!

I also got to see most of my girlfriends from back home.  We all met at Love's Yogurt and enjoyed some sweets while catching up! Plus, I got to spend the whole week with my boyfriend.  I love when I get to spend that much time with him and just relax around family and friends.  It was so great to see everyone and it made me feel really thankful to have all these wonderful people in my life.

Now it is back to school for a few weeks.  I have this HUGE project coming up, it is freezing, and I am exhausted, but at least I have some yummy treats to make me feel better.

Cinnamon Sugar Muffins
adapted from Baked Perfection (I didn't have some ingredients so I improvised a turned out AWESOME!)

2 cups flour (I used 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon (heaping tsp)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (the recipe called for 1 cup of vanilla yogurt and I didn't have enough, but this was so good and I love Greek yogurt so next time I think I will use a cup of vanilla Greek yogurt)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees F. Line a standard muffin pan with paper cups. (I made 12 large muffins and 6 mini muffins)
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Add flour mixture and mix with light strokes until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Do not overmix; batter will not be smooth.
3. Divide batter among the muffin cups and bake until a toothpick inserted in one or two of the muffins come out clean, 12-15 minutes.
4. While the muffins are baking, melt 1/2 stick butter and place in a bowl just large enough to hold a muffin. Combine ½ cup of sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon in a small, shallow bowl. As soon as the muffing are done, dip them one at a time in the melted butter and then roll in the sugar mixture. Set on a rack to cool.

Peanut Butter Banana Nutella (PBBN) Muffins
adapted from My Love for Cooking

1 3/4 cup all purpose Flour (I would go with 1 cup all purpose and 3/4 cup whole wheat)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
2 eggs
4 large bananas
5 (heaping) tbsp Nutella softened (stir with a fork)

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt
3. In  a separate bowl mix butter and sugar till fluffy with electric mixer
4. Add peanut butter and banana and then mix in eggs one at a time
5. Beat in flour mixture on low till incorporated
6. Evenly distribute among greased or lined muffin tins (I made 12 large muffins and 9 mini ones)
7. In a small bowl whisk Nutella with a fork drop a small tsp into middle of each muffin
8. Use a toothpick to swirl the Nutella into the muffin
9. Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Nutella Brownie Muffins
adapted from Chocolate & Carrots

2 cups Nutella
4 large eggs
1 cup plus 4 tbsp whole wheat flour
(seriously that's it!)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Mix eggs and nutella together.
3. Mix in flour until everything is incorporated
4. Pour into muffin pans with cupcake liners (12 large and 12 mini) and bake for about 25 minutes (the mini muffins were done after about 20 minutes) or until toothpick comes out clean.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I am thankful for...PIE!

On this thanksgiving when everyone is thinking about what they are thankful for, I can't help but think about how thankful I am for everyone who is around me on this wonderful day.  I have spent the morning with my family and boyfriend doing what I love to do best, bake!

My mom has be slaving away making more vegetables than I have ever seen in one setting.  We are going to my sister's for Thanksgiving Dinner.  I am extremely excited because I have one HUGE family and EVERYONE is going to be there tonight.  Seriously, she is entertaining no less than 32 people! My mom is making Bourbon Glazed Carrots and Fresh Green Beans Parmesan (for recipes just shoot me a comment and I'll get those to you).

When I was approached with the opportunity to contribute to this feast tonight, I thought long and hard about what could be special enough for Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is all about food! You have a lot to live up to if you are cooking.  I found this wonderful recipe for a Butternut Squash pie from Une Gamine dans la Cuisine.  However, there were some things that I wanted to get creative with.  So here it goes: Butternut Squash Pie (Jodie style!).

First, I found a recipe for pie-crust without any shortening (requested my Mom, thank you for keeping me healthy).  This crust is mostly whole wheat and has NO shortening, plus it was easy to make, and amazing to eat!

Pie Crust:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup ice water
1 egg
1 pinch of cinnamon (I love cinnamon)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (frozen)

Grated Butter!
1. Take butter out of freeze and grate the butter.  Place grated butter into a bowl and stick back in freezer (this is the coolest trick I have discovered thus far, it makes mixing the butter in a piece of cake (or pie :)) and the colder the butter the better!)
2. Mix flours, salt, and cinnamon together.  I did this in an electric mixer on low speed.
3. Wisk egg right into the ice water.
4. Next, get that butter out of the freezer and add to the bowl. It is helpful to add the butter in spoonfuls to allow it to clump up in the bowl.  Continue to mix on low speed.
5. Then, add the ice water/egg mixture.  Mix on low speed.  If the texture is too dry add in a tsp or two of water.
6. Clump up the dough and divide into two disks.  Wrap disks tightly and place in refrigerator for later. I left them in the fridge overnight.

Butternut Squash Pie

1 1/4 pounds of cubed butternut squash, ready to cook
2 ripe pears, peeled/cored and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup of craisins
1/4 tsp pure almond extract
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Grated zest of 1/2 orange
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 tbsp dry breadcrumbs
sugar (for sprinkling over the pie crust)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place oven rack in lower 1/3 of the oven.
2. Roll out both disks of pie dough into 11-inch circles.  Lighly flour a clean surface and roll out the dough.  Place one into the pie pan and place other on a plate. Place both into the fridge until you are ready for them.
3. Cook squash in microwave for about 6-8 minutes or until you can stick a fork through the pieces.
Mix squash and the rest of the ingredients in a mixer on low speed.  Sugar should melt, and squash should get slightly mashed.
4. Get the pie crusts out of the fridge and add the filling to the dish.  Trim the edges and brush water along the edges.  Place other part of crust over the top of the pie and trim/press the edges together.  Cut a circle in the center of the pie and 4 1-inch slits through the top.  Using a fork press edges together.  Next, brush water over the top and sprinkle with sugar.  If you want, decorate the top by using the extra dough to cut out fun shapes (I did flowers!)

5. Place pie into preheated oven on a rack about 1/3 from the bottom.  Back for 55-60 min.  After 30 min or so check on the pie.  If the edges are starting to burn, place a foil tent over the pie and continue to cook. I checked after 40 minutes and my edges were already a little burnt :(, you should be fine if you check earlier.
6. Serve same day or tightly cover and refrigerate overnight.
Butternut Squash Pie
Enjoy :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More tomatoes and hold the Salmon

Home sweet home! I can't believe how fast the semester is flying by and that I am already home for Thanksgiving break! I found the recipe below off my favorite site: and I just couldn't wait to make it! My mom loves pesto/salmon and so I figured this would be a perfect homecoming recipe for us to make! The one problem: the boyfriend.

Me and Brian

My boyfriend is a vegetarian. Not a vegetarian who eats fish or sometimes chicken, nope, a total vegetarian.  We are in a long distance relationship with him at Washington University in St. Louis.  When I found out I could come home for Thanksgiving on Tuesday I gave him a call and found out that he was doing the same! I can't WAIT to see him and he wanted to come over as soon as possible, which means for dinner.  Uh oh! I had already planned out this fabulous salmon/pasta dish!  I looked back at the recipe and saw tomatoes were optional...this was huge.  If Brian (the boyfriend) could eat one food for the rest of his life I'm pretty sure it would be tomatoes.  So, I decided that I would make him Salmon Pesto Pasta (hold the salmon) and add in TONS of tomatoes.  

Salmon Pesto Pasta
Slightly adapted from Pink Parsley

12 oz whole wheat pasta (I used the Smart Taste brand)
12 oz salmon
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp olive oil
5 oz evaporated milk
1/2 cup pesto (make your own or use what you have)
Scalloped Tomatoes (recipe follows)

Pesto Recipe:
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
5 medium garlic cloves, unpeeled (or the equivalent of fresh garlic)
2 Tablespoons Italian parsley
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Toast nuts in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Add to the food processor. Also, add basil to food processor. Add the garlic cloves to the skillet and toast, tossing frequently, until the skins are toasted and garlic is fragrant. Peel and add to food processor as well.

Process until finely chopped, and add remaining ingredients except cheese. Transfer to a small bowl and add the cheese.  Take a little taste and adjust seasonings as you want.

Make the Pasta Dish:

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once water is boiling, add 1 Tablespoon of kosher salt, and stir to dissolve. Add pasta and stir. Allow to cook to al dente, 8-10 minutes (or as directed on box).
Lemon Zest Salmon
2. Heat broiler on the middle oven rack. Line a baking sheet with foil, and place salmon on the foil. Season with salt and pepper, and rub with lemon zest and olive oil. Broil until flesh is firm and salmon is no longer translucent, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with lemon juice. Break apart the salmon with a folk into smaller pieces. Set aside.
3. When pasta is cooked, drain and set aside. Add the evaporated milk to the empty saucepan and cook until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Return pasta to the pan and stir to combine.
4. Remove the pot from heat, and add the salmon and pesto. Stir to combine. Serve with additional lemon wedges and Parmesan cheese. Top with tomatoes if desired (or in my case, top with TONS of tomatoes and hold the salmon).

Pesto Pasta
Scalloped Tomatoes:
From the FoodNetwork/Ina Garten

olive oil
2 cubs diced French boule (no crust)
16 plum tomatoes
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1/2 cup basil leaves, lightly packed
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in large saute pan over medium heat.  Add the diced bread and stir to coat.  Cook over medium to medium-high heat for 5 min, stirring often, until diced bread is evenly browned.
3. Meanwhile, dice tomatoes into 1/2 inch pieces and combine tomatoes with garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Add tomato mixture to the bread crumbs and continue to cook, stirring often, for 5 min.  Take off the heat and stir in the basil.
4. Pour tomato mixture into a shallow 6-8 cup baking dish.  Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese and drizzle about 2 tbsp of olive oil over the top.  Bake for 35-40 min.  The top should be browned and the tomatoes should be bubbly.
5. Serve over Pasta...yum!

Scalloped Tomatoes

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Frat Parties and Chocolate Cake

I am a proud member of the co-ed fraternity Delta Theta Sigma.  I like to think of it as my extended group of friends.  Seriously, these guys are great!  This year I am living in the house and I am LOVIN it.  There is always amazing people to hang out, I got to paint my own room, and there is often Lady Gaga singing throughout the household.  In terms of my cooking situation, things are not ideal.  The kitchen is a little scary...seriously check out the mixer!

Delta Theta Sigma is practically my family now.  I am the secretary for the Little Sister Organization and it has been a blast.  We are definitely a quirky bunch.  My hand mixer recently broke and one of the brothers helped my out by attaching my mixing tools to a power drill.  Yep, that's right, I bake with power tools.  

Anyways, my fraternity has figured out by now that I love baking and I have noticed that they love eating my food! We had a fraternity-only get together a few weekends ago and I honestly made the most AMAZING cake of all time.  It was super fun to make and it was even more fun to eat! Plus, it brought everyone together for a fun and deliciously good time.

Chocolate Candy Chocolate Cake

This recipe is enough batter for 2 8-inch round cakes and 12 cupcakes


One 18.25-ounce box of chocolate cake mix
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated white sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups water
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
4 large eggs

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

1/2 cup salted butter, at room temperature
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted (I used about 3/4 of a pound)
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips (or chopped dark chocolate)


Three 4.5-ounce Giant Kit Kat Bars (you'll need 36 Kit Kat sticks total)
One 12.6-ounce bag M&M's


1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans and line a cupcake pan with 12 liners

2. In a large bowl, whisk together cake mix, flour, sugar and salt. Add remaining ingredients and beat with hand mixer for 2 minutes, or until well blended.

3. Scoop the batter into 12 cupcake liners 3/4-full. Divide the remaining batter into the prepared round pans. Bake the cupcakes for about 25 minutes, and bake the cake rounds about 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then remove the cake layers to a wire rack to cool completely.

4. When the cake is cool, you're ready to assemble. (I refrigerated the cake for 30 minutes). Place one layer on a serving plate.

5. Prepare the frosting: In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended.

Increase speed to medium, and slowly add milk and vanilla, beating until smooth. Microwave chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl at MEDIUM 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30 second intervals. Gradually add melted chocolate to mixture; beat until blended and smooth.

6. Frost the 1st cake layer. Set the 2nd layer on top of the first. Frost the 2nd layer and along the sides of the cake too. Stick Kit Kat's to the sides of the cake, leaving a very small space in between each Kit Kat (1/4-inch). Wrap a bow around the cake, securing the Kit Kat's. Fill the top of the cake with M&M's. Use any extra frosting to frost your 12 extra cupcakes. You are going to have PLENTY of frosting so go to town with it because it is amazing!

7. If you refrigerate the cake for a couple of hours or so, it will be much easier to cut and serve.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Family Thanksgiving Dinner

Welcome to my blog! I'm new at this so go easy on me.  I have been using my facebook more or less as a food blog for the past few months and so I finally broke down and created a blog.  I LOVE to cook and whenever planning a dinner, I always find about 5 desserts to every 1 dinner that I want to make.  I have a serious sweet tooth issue! 
Today I have been baking up a storm, party because I decided to get my cartilage pierced tonight and I am FREAKING out, and partly because it's Friday and I don't want to do homework.  Also, I have a thanksgiving dinner to go to tonight and as the resident sweet tooth baking queen, I am bringing dessert.
As a Secondary Education Major, I am apart of a learning team.  Every Monday and Wednesday we go to a high school to complete our Practicum experience.  We observe for half a day and help out in different classes.  We love it!  Anyways, we also have to complete numerous assignments as a group.  There are seven of us.  Do you know how hard it is to write a paper with six other people? Well, I do. We decided that we are not just a team, we are a family and that if we were going to go through this together we might as well have some fun along the way. Friday Night Family Bonding (FNFB) was created. Friday night family bonding has gone well so far, but tonight will be a night to remember.  Thanksgiving is on its way and as a family we of course have to have a Family Thanksgiving Night.  Everyone is bringing a different dish and I, of course, am bringing dessert. 
Pumpkin Pie is the traditional Thanksgiving dessert, of course.  However, I NEVER make something normal.  Pumpkin Pie just seemed too boring so I found a recipe for whole wheat (yay healthy) crust with ginger snap-pecan embellishments.

Whole Wheat Gingersnap-Pecan Pumpkin Pie

I am way too excited about this pie.

For the crust:
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter (cut up into tiny piece, about 6 cubes per tablespoon)
  • 4 tablespoons ice cold water (I probably used about 5)
  • 1 cups of gingersnaps
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 cup melted unsalted butter
  1. In a large bowl (with an electric hand mixer) or in your stand mixer, combine the flour, salt and butter.
  2. Next add in 1 tablespoon of the ice cold water into the mixer at a time, until the dough will form a ball when pressed in.
  3. Form the dough into a disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes until it’s cold.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°.
  5. Roll out the pie crust onto a floured surface.
  6. Carefully transfer it to your pie plate, crimp, and tuck under the excess dough.
  7. Now, in a food processor or blender combine the pecans and gingersnaps and chop them until they are finely chopped.
  8. Add in the powdered sugar, combine.
  9. Drizzle the butter in and combine.
  10. Push gingersnap mixture in the bottom and halfway up the sides of the crust.
  11. Bake for 15 minutes.
  12. Let cool on a cooling rack.
Then, just make the pie filling any way you want! I went with a healthy(er) recipe, but you can make anything!

On the top is a pecan streusel topping:

1/4 cup roughly chopped pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp unsalted butter (melted)

1. Mix together all dry ingredients
2. Melt butter and mix into dry ingredients
3. After the pie has been in the oven for around 30 minutes, take the pie out, sprinkle topping around the edges, then place pie back in the oven for another 40 minutes.
4. Cool for an hour

Also, true to form, I couldn't decide on just one dessert and so I made carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting as well.  My friend Mario gave me a dessert mix that he just wasn't going to make.  They came out beautifully!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes