Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rainbows and Pancakes

Seems like a funny title for a post, huh? Let me explain....

It has been SO hot here in our area of NC. I'm talking high 90's and extreme humidity. When it does rain, it's intermittent and then only for a few minutes. During one of our short stints outside so that the kids could release some of their pent up energy, we could see it raining in the distance. What started out as very dark gray skies, turned quickly into rain and then just a few minutes later we saw this....

Mother Nature's art work sure is pretty sometimes, isn't it?

Now on to the pancakes....

I admit it, I hate to sweat and who in their right mind wants to go grocery shopping when it's like this? Not me.

(Feeling sorry for me yet?  Didn't think so. Moving on....)

It's days like this that I fall back on the tried and true "breakfast for dinner" plan. Since it was going to be just the kids and me eating dinner, I decided that it was a good time to make pancakes.

Should be easy since it only takes the basic staples to make pancakes, right? Nope, out of milk. What?!? Yep, no milk in the frig and no powdered milk as a back up.

I started thinking... can you make pancakes with water instead of milk? I remember a favorite recipe that I had long ago that called for bubbly water. I wish that I hadn't lost it. It was a great recipe. But can you use regular tap water? I sat down in front of my favorite box and started searching to find out. I found that you can indeed make pancakes with water.

Here's what I came up with....

Fluffy Pancakes

2 C. flour
2 TBSP sugar
1 1/2 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
2 TBSP oil
2 TBSP vanilla
1 3/4 C water - more if thinner batter is desired

Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl. Whisk in egg, oil and vanilla, just until combined. Mix in 1 3/4 cups of water and stir until combined. If a thinner batter is desired, stir in one extra tablespoon of water at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

Pour 1/3 c. batter onto a hot griddle or lightly greased frying pan. Cook until bubbles have formed and covered the top of the pancake. Carefully flip and brown other side.

Keep warm in a 200* oven until the whole batch of pancakes have been cooked.


We enjoyed our pancakes and then headed back outside just long enough to enjoy the sunset.

For a minute everything was perfect....not too hot....perfect. The sky was so beautiful.

Then the bugs started biting......  Ok, back into the A.C. for me!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cinnamon Streusel Zucchini Muffins

Trying to find a way to get your kids (or husband) to eat more veggies? These muffins are an excellent way to sneak in some zucchini without anyone ever knowing about it.

Trust me, I did it. {smirk}

Starting with a box mix, this recipe takes literally 5 minutes to whip up.

Cinnamon Streusel Zucchini Muffins

1 box of Duncan Heinz Cinnamon Streusel Muffin Mix
+ ingredients listed on the box to make the muffins
1 C. peeled, finely shredded zucchini
3/4 C. raisins

Preheat oven as noted on muffin mix. Grease or use paper liners in muffin pans. This recipe made 22 muffins. 

Open the muffin mix. Add the dry muffin mix to a bowl; laying the streusel mix to the side for later use.

Stir the extra ingredients listed on the box into the dry muffin mix. Mix as directed.

Stir in zucchini and raisins.

Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full. Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over all muffins. Lightly sprinkle cinnamon on top of the streusel topping.

My muffins baked for 17 minutes. Keep an eye on them and do not over bake.

Serve immediately. Store extra muffins in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Very tasty for breakfast or dessert!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chocolate Covered Raisin & Oatmeal Cookies - July '10 Cookie Carnival

July's Cookie Carnival brings us an oatmeal raisin cookie from Pillsbury as the kids baking recipe for the month.

Now, I have to admit that when I chose this recipe for the carnival, I already knew that it wasn't going to be the "best" oatmeal raisin cookie because IOO (in our opinions), we already posses the world's best -- Aud' Soft Oatmeal Raisin Cookies - a delicious soft chewy oatmeal raisin cookie from my MIL.

Since I like playing around and changing the ingredients with other oatmeal cookie recipes, I decided to give the Pillsbury recipe a try. I'm certainly not disappointed by this recipe. I used chocolate covered raisins in place of the raisins and nuts. Can you say MMMMM!!!! The recipe is versatile enough that you could easily switch out the raisins or nuts for other dried fruits, butterscotch or peanut butter chips, macadamia nuts, yogurt covered fruit or nuts....the list goes on and on.

I underbaked the cookies by a minute or so and baked them until the cookies were just starting to brown - the cookies stayed chewy that way. The melted chocolate mixed very with the oatmeal and raisins.

I can't wait to see the round up to see what every does to add their own twist on this recipe!

Chocolate Covered Raisin & Oatmeal Cookies

3/4 cup sugar - I used 1/2 C.
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup raisins - I subbed 1 C. choc. covered raisins 
for raisins and nuts

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray. In large bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar and margarine; beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg; blend well. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Stir in oats, raisins and nuts.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto sprayed cookie sheets. I used my 1 1/2 in. cookie scoop for these cookies and then slightly flattened each scoop of cookies on the tray before baking. 

Bake at 375°F. for 7 to 10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets. I reduced my oven to 350* and baked the cookies for 9-10 minutes. Store in a sealed container. 

Very good with a cup of hot tea!

Even though I couldn't talk my kids into baking with me this time around, they enjoyed eating the cookies. My son raved about them.

If you love cookies like we do, why not join in on the fun!

Join the Cookie Carnival today! 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A New Award!

Sending out many thanks to Angel in the Kitchen for my new blog award!

 Isn't it pretty!?!  I love it!

Check out her blog, too. It's full of yummy recipes. {There's some peanut butter cup cookies and peanut butter bars on there that I'm drooling over!}

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

June Cookie Carnival Roud Up

The round up is finally here!  
If you like what you see, please take a minute to post here to let me know!

There were two cookies recipes this month:

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies - from Cooking Light

and a Kids Bake cookie recipe S'Mores Sandwich Cookie Bars - from Hershey

Take a look at this awesome turnout!


Michelle@SomethingNewisCooking baked both cookies.
She said...
S'mores - "Being campers, I had to make this for Jimmy and myself. Good choice!"

Thumbprints - "It was my first time using almond paste. I must say I really like the way it flavors the cookies."

Rebecca@beurrista said "The Thumbprints are a fantastic cookie, any which way you look at them."

Cristine@CookingwithCristine baked both cookies.
She said....
S'Mores - "I am excited about this because it gives me the opportunity to post a LONG overdue 'Cooking with Anya.'" "We loved these bars and they didn't last long in the house. Anya had a blast putting them together."  {Be sure to check out her blog to see what Anya had to say!}

Cristine filled her thumbprint cookies with bittersweet chocolate!

Tiffany@TheBake-OffFlunkie baked the S'mores bars and said ""Mmmmmmm....bring on the milk!"

April@Abby Sweets said "These are amazingly good!"

Tessa@TheCookin'Chemist used red, white and blue marshmallow stars to give her s'mores such a cute festive look.

Katrina@BakingandBoys! said "“Delicious Hot S’chmoes Bar Cookies”, these are certainly perfect for any upcoming July picnics, family reunions, or Independence Day celebrations."  Taylor and Sam helped with the baking. {Be sure to check out her blog to see pics of her sons....and her beautiful new home!}

Carol@NoReasonNeeded recommends taking a staycation and making s'mores!

Donna, (a friend of mine who I met through, loves to bake but she's not a blogging baker. She's joining the Cookie Carnival for the first time this month! Welcome, Donna! - Donna said "Hi, I am Donna from central California!  I love camping so I  made the s'mores cookies and they were so yummy!  I love the creamy marshmallow and melted chocolate centers! Thanks for the great recipe!

And my cookies.........

Tami said....
S'mores - {baking with Alexis!} My daughter and I had a lot of fun baking these cookies together. Alexis did such a great job measuring and mixing the cookie bars. {click on the link for pics of my little helper!}

Thumbprints - I haven't posted about the thumbprints yet because I'm working them in with a cookbook giveaway that's coming this week! Be sure to stop back and check it out!

And this just in......!!!

Rebecca@beurrista said that she decided to make s'mores bars after seeing all of the wonderful pictures and reading about them in this round up! {check out her blog to see her special little visitor. He's such a cutie!}

Thanks, Ladies, for another great month! 

What are YOU waiting for? 

Join in on the fun of the Cookie Carnival!

I hope to see everyone at July's Cookie Carnival Round Up!

Happy Baking!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Watermelon Cupcake Cones

Fun watermelon cupcake cones to go along with your summer picnics.

 Don't they just make you smile?

Watermelon Cupcake Cones

1 box white cake mix + ingredients needed to
make cake
1 - 2 TBSP red sugar-free Jell-O (any flavor)
semi-sweet chocolate chips
24 ice cream cones
1 can vanilla frosting
red and green food coloring
cupcake baking pans

Preheat oven to 350*. Place one ice cream cone into each cupcake slot in the baking pans. I used 2 (12 cupcake) baking pans to make 12 cupcake cones and 12 regular cupcakes. Set aside.

Prepare cake mix according to directions. Stir in 1 tablespoon of Jell-O mix and mix well. If the color isn't pink enough, stir in more tablespoon of the Jell-O mix.

To fill the cones:

Spoon 1 tablespoon of cake batter in the bottom of the each cone. Sprinke in 2-3 chocolate chips for "watermelon seeds". Continue with another tablespoon of batter and 2-3 more chocolate chips. Continue filling the cones in this order until the batter is almost to the top of the cone.

Bake for 15 minutes, and then stick a skewer down into the middle of one cone to see if the cake has baked through. If the skewer comes out clean, the cupcakes are done. If not, continue checking frequently until they are done.

Remove the cones from the baking pan and set on a jelly roll pan or counter to cool.

Divide the vanilla icing into 2 bowls by placing 3/4 of the icing into 1 bowl and tinting red, and then 1/4 icing into the 2nd bowl and tinting green.

I took the easy way out and used Ziploc bags for icing bags. Fill the bags, snip one corner of the bag...and voila! you have an icing bag. Granted, nothing fancy but it quick and easy with little clean up!

Decorate your "watermelon" cupcakes by piping the center of each cupcake with red icing and the outside "rind" with green. Add 2 chocolate chips in the center for "seeds".

Here you can see the "seeds" in the "watermelon". :)

Enjoy!  These cupcake cones have become a favorite of my kids.

I haven't tried freezing them so I'm not sure if the cones would become soggy once they thawed out.
Has anyone tried freezing them?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chai Lattes & Hearty Pumpkin Bread

I love chai tea lattes but I rarely treat myself to one when we are out because they are so expensive. Now I won't have to worry about the expense of it because I've found a delicious recipe that enables me to make them on the cheap at home. It's also a healthier recipe that cuts back on fat and calories - always a plus!

Chai Lattes
from Eat What You Love
makes 2 servings

1/2 C. lowfat evaporated milk
1 1/2 C. water
2 TBSP Splenda (3 packets)
2 individual chai tea bags (I used vanilla chai tea)
1 tsp honey

In a small pot, whisk together milk, water and Splenda. Bring to a low simmer.

Carefully add the tea bags and return to a low simmer. Continue simmering for 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and remove tea bags. Stir in honey.

Serve hot or cool down and serve over ice.

Here it is served hot

This chai latte paired wonderfully with this old-fashioned pumpkin bread

Also a lower fat, lower version of a traditional pumpkin bread.

Old Fashioned Pumpkin Bread

1/4 C. canola oil
1 C. canned solid pumpkin
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1/2 C. low-fat buttermilk
2 TBSP molasses - I didn't have any so I subbed honey
1 C. Splenda granules
1 C. all purpose flour
3/4 C. white whole wheat flour - I used 100% stone ground
whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon - I used 2 TBSP because we like a lot of spice flavor
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp allspice (optional) - I didn't use it
1/4 tsp cloves - I didn't use it
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350*. Lightly coat a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray - I used a pan that holds 4 mini loaves.

Whisk together oil, pumpkin, whole egg, egg whites, buttermilk, molasses, and Splenda.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, spices and stir. Make a well in the center and pour in the pumpkin mixture. With a large spoon or spatula, stir just until combined. Do not over mix.

Spoon the batter in the loaf pan and smooth tops.

Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until cracks appear dry or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean - my mini loaves baked from 34 minutes. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes and then remove the loaf from the pan. I cooled the loaves for about 5 minutes before removing them from the pan.

I sliced one loaf while it was still warm and served it with honey butter. It was delicious.

Store in a tightly sealed container. Can be frozen.

Picnic Pasta Salad

My family doesn't agree on many picnic side doesn't like mayo, one doesn't like potatoes...on and on.

The one side dish that everyone DOES agree on is my picnic pasta salad. You can personalize this recipe to your family's likes.

Picnic Pasta Salad

1 lb. of rotini (corkscrew) pasta, cooked and drained well
1 C. sliced black olives
6 oz of cheese, cut into small chunks - use your family's
favorite. I used Monterey Jack cheese this time. We also like
mozzarella, cheddar and/or Muenster.
3 plum tomatoes, diced small
1/2 of an English (seedless) cucumber, diced small
Salad Supreme topping (find it in the spice isle), to taste
1 lg. bottle of a hearty Italian dressing

To assemble:

Add the rotini to a large bowl. Stir in the olives, cheese, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Sprinkle on the Salad Supreme. I usually use 1/2 of the bottle but if you're not familiar with the taste, I would suggest stirring in one tablespoon at a time until you achieve the taste that you like. 

Stir in 1/2 of the bottle of Italian dressing or more - until the salad appears to be wet but not soaking in dressing. Mix well.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 3 hrs or overnight. In my opinion, the longer it is refrigerated, the better it tastes.

When you are ready to serve, remove from refrigerator and stir well. Stir in more Italian dressing if needed.

June '10 Cookie Carnival - Blueberry Thumbprint Cookies

My spin on the second cookie for June's Cookie Carnival is Blueberry Thumbprint Cookies.

The original recipe is Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies from Cooking Light.

I searched and searched several stores in my area here in NC but I couldn't find almond paste anywhere. Many people who I talked to had no idea what it was. I decided to try to find a recipe for making here at home. 

Almond paste is fairly easy to make yourself - providing you have blanched almonds. The recipe that I used is from Taste of Home.

I would not recommend using sliced almonds with skins. Although the almond paste turned out ok, the cookies dried out really fast and didn't last overnight. However, the cookies were really tasty right out of the oven.

My favorite part of the cookie was the blueberry jam that I made for the cooking filling. The recipe is from a cookbook that I will be doing a giveaway for in the coming days!

Classic Blueberry Jam 
from Put 'em up!

8 C. blueberries
2 C. sugar
1/4 C. bottled lemon juice

Combine the berries with a splash of water in a med. nonreactive pan. Bring to a boil, stirring and crushing the berries to release their juice. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Stir in the lemon juice. Continue to cook at a steady boil, stirring frequently, until the jam reaches the desired gel.

Remove from the heat and let the jam rest for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to release air bubbles and prevent fruit float. Skim any foam from the top of the jam.

Refrigerate: Ladle into bowls or jars. Cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

I waited until the jam had cooled down and then used it to fill the cookies.

Here's a link to the Kids Bake Cookie Carnival recipe: S'mores Cookie Bars.

From June thru August, there will be 2 recipes sent out for the Cookie Carnival - the first will be a kid's cookie recipe and the second will be a little more complex(but definitely nothing too complicated!).

Everyone is invited to bake one or both of the cookies! Get the kids involved!

If you haven't joined the Cookie Carnival yet...what are you waiting for? I'd love for you to join us!
Here's how!


I've had a few people email me to ask "Can I join the Cookie Carnival without having a blog?"

YES!  You can join the Cookie Carnival if you follow these rules:

Please email me to let me know that you would like to join. I will add you to the email list so that you will start receiving the recipes each month. At this time please let me know that you will be participating via email.

1. You must email me one picture of your cookies - no bigger than 50 x 50, please.

2. Please include a sentence or two about yourself - ex: your name and where you live

3. Please include a comment about the cookies - good or bad or just a thought pertaining to the cookies.

4. Please let me know if you followed the recipe as written or if you made changes - and if you did, what changes did you make? I will post those changes, too.

I look forward to meeting and talking to everyone! If you have any questions or comments about the Cookie Carnival, please email me! yinzerfan {at} gmail {dot} com

Happy Baking!
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