Eat New Round 2

Well my family survived being guinea pigs for a week!  If they are honest, I think they might say they actually enjoyed it!

In my last post, “Eat New Challenge,” I detailed recipes that we were going to try for supper last week, along with providing links to the recipes.

What were the results?  Well, since you asked….

Sunday – The copy cat recipes for KFC Extra Crispy Chicken and Cheddar Bay Biscuits were tasty as was the jalapeno corn dip.

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Sunday is also the day I prepared the Vanilla Bean Cream Pie.  Let me just tell you, this is THE best pie I have tasted in a very, very, very looooonnnnggggg time. Everyone wanted a second piece and was asking for another pie to be made!  So it is definitely a keeper!

Monday – Corndogs – these were good, and I don’t like hotdogs much.  I used white coarse ground cornmeal, instead of the yellow specified in the recipe, because it’s what I had and what I use.  I didn’t want to buy something new for just this single use.  I found the procedure easy and using a glass to batter the hotdogs, was complete genius!

Tuesday – The Crockpot Carnitas were one of my favorites for the week.  Super easy and super tasty.  No complaints in this house at all.  I decided to serve it with some Mexican fried rice.  The recipe was pretty straight forward and was easier than I anticipated.  You can find that recipe here.

Wednesday – The Cuban Beef tied with the Carnitas this week for me, for being the best.  It had a few more steps than I was prepared for, especially when preparing a side dish that needed a little babysitting, but it was amazing.  And, surprisingly, this was my kids’ favorite dish of the week, beating out corndogs!  Can you believe it??  The Avocado fries were not as tasteful as I hoped for.  I believe they have great potential, but I couldn’t put my finger on what ingredient I would want to add to give it a kick.  Some may find them excellent, but for my family, we will probably pass next time.  A good result that did come from making these, is learning the flour, then egg, then panko breading procedure.  I am planning on trying this to create baked onion rings!

Thursday – Tuscan Tortellini Soup.  Delicious, easy to make, and best of all, my kids devoured kale like there was no tomorrow!  Next time this graces my table, it will be accompanied by some crusty garlic bread and tossed salad.

Friday and Saturday are our unpredictable days and so meals are always prepared with our pantry/freezer staples.

One thing I learned in trying new things is it is hard to plan side dishes that compliment the meal (e.g. Thursday).  I think this is something I may develop a better skill for as we continue our “Eat New Challenge.”  I don’t have really picky eaters, but even so, I also learned this past week that it’s even easier to have them try something new when my husband and I are joining in!

Although the week has already begun, I want to share with you what’s for supper….

Sunday:  White Cheddar Chicken Pasta

Monday – White Bean Soup with Bacon

Tuesday – LEFTOVERS 🙂 Easy peasy

Wednesday – Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

Thursday – Sweet & Sour Pork Chops

This week’s dessert is Peanut Butter Chip Cupcakes!

I’m really looking forward to the soup tonight.  It’s 64 degrees here and breezy, so it’ll be the perfect meal on this fall-like day  Plus it has bacon, it’s hard to go wrong when bacon is involved!

What about you?  Up for trying something new?  Join me in the “Eat New Challenge!”  Comment below with a new recipe you’re trying, I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks for dropping by ~Kim~

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Eat New Challenge

It’s been a long time. I have taken the word “slacker” to a whole new level. Don’t think I haven’t missed you, I have. The summer got off to a rocky start in my house. Including gall bladder surgery for me, followed by recovery. All with my poor kids being home on their, oh so short, summer break.

We’ve been back to school for over a month now. It’s hard to believe!

With getting back into my groove, I have decided to try something new. First, let me remind everyone that I grocery shop on Fridays, so my menu plans normally cover Friday through the following Thursday. Because weekends are unpredictable (which is allowed for in my planning), I have decided to challenge myself to eat something new for supper each day starting Sunday, going through Thursday!

After scouring my pinned recipes, this is the menu (with links to the recipes) that I plan on preparing for my family.

Sunday – Kentucky Fried Chicken (copycat), Red Lobster biscuits, and jalapeno corn dip

Monday – Corndogs, probably with some green beans and fries, unless something else sparks my interest!

Tuesday – Crock Pot Carnitas (with rice). This is a link to the Pin, the recipe is listed there.

Wednesday – Cuban beef with baked avocado fries

Thursday – Tuscan Tortellini Soup

This week’s dessert – Vanilla Bean Cream Pie, probably will be made on Sunday!

So there you have it! Finally, my Pinterest time has come in handy 😉 They all looked sooo delicious! I figure my kids will be the most excited about Monday…and probably Sunday.

I’m looking forward to all the new flavors, and, if this coming week goes well, maybe I’ll give it another try the next week!

Now I challenge you to try something new. Maybe one of the recipes I’m trying out, or another one you’ve had tucked away. If you accept the Eat New Challenge, I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment and let me know the outcome!

Thanks for stopping by! ~Kim~

Anyone Want Waffles?

“YES!!!”  was the answer I received to this question, from all three boys, almost in unison.

We had some milder temps here yesterday, accompanied by some freezing rain.  The result?  Our schools were on a two-hour delay.  That means the bus doesn’t pick the kids up until 9!  Just enough time to prepare them a tastier breakfast than the normal cereal, yogurt or oatmeal.

I don’t know about you but I love cooking with buttermilk.  Pancakes, bread, biscuits, and even cake, all taste amazing with buttermilk as an ingredient! 

One thing that I think everyone should have in their recipe stash, is a tasty take on buttermilk waffles.  So to help you with that, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to share my recipe with you.

Buttermilk Waffles

Buttermilk waffles

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 stick of butter, melted (or 1/2 oil, in a pinch)
  • 1 3/4 cups of buttermilk
  • 1 Tablespoon of packed brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • optional ingredients – 3/4 tsp vanilla or maple extract, 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Beat eggs, then add the remainder of the ingredients.  Stir until it’s just smooth.  Don’t over do it! 

Pour prepared batter onto a preheated waffle iron.  If you would like to (and who wouldn’t) sprinkle some mini chocolate chips onto the batter before closing the iron, or even some chopped nuts.  Or blueberries….

Blueberry Waffles

Yum!

I have a 6 inch Belgian waffle iron.  A single batch of this recipe makes approximately four for us.  I normally make a double or triple batch.  Then the kids reheat the leftovers in the toaster to have for breakfast throughout the week!

Buttermilk Waffle

If you’ve never make a recipe with buttermilk, I think you should give it a try.  It definitely adds to the flavor and texture of whatever you make.  A great benefit of buttermilk is even after it is opened, it still keeps for a good while.  Just close that lid up tight! 

Are you looking for more tasty sweet breakfast treats?  Check out these past posts:

Bananas for Breakfast

Fancy Banana Bread

Do you have a post you made about a great breakfast treat?  Post a link in the comments!

If you don’t already, follow me by email by entering your email address on the side of the page.  If you’d rather, jump on over and like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter!

Thanks for stopping by ~Kim~

 

Nuts for Zucchini Bread

Zucchini again?  Well, yes.  In my area the weather has provided us with a bumper crop of zucchini.  So far, I have shredded and froze 24 pints to use for making bread through the winter.  I have also made 9 pints of zucchini relish!

So as promised, I am here to share with you a recipe for zucchini nut bread.  This is my family’s favorite version of this recipe.  It is moist and has just the right amount of flavor!

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Moist Zucchini Nut Bread

3 eggs, beaten

2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil (or canola)

2 cups shredded raw zucchini, well-drained (seeds removed)

2 cups flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup chopped pecans

Hint:  I shred my zucchini in the food processor.  It stays dry and doesn’t need to be drained this way!

Mix the eggs, sugar & oil thoroughly.  Add the zucchini.  In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.  Add flour to sugar mixture, reserving about a 1/2 of a cup in the bowl.  Mix.  Then stir in the vanilla.  Add the chopped nuts into the reserved flour mixture.  Toss to coat, then add to batter and mix until blended.  Don’t over-mix, as it will cause your bread to fall.

Pour into two greased loaf pans.  Bake at 325° for about 50 to 60 minutes.  A toothpick inserted will come out clean when it is done!  Let it cool before slicing.  It can be left plain or topped with your favorite glaze or cream cheese icing!

If you like this recipe and would like to try another similar one, try my Fancy Banana Bread.  If you’re like me and have a plethora of zucchini to deal with, then you might also be interested in my take on Fried Zucchini!

How is your garden harvest looking this year?

Keep up with all my latest recipes and tips.  All you need to do is follow Creating My Niche on FacebookTwitter, or by email (just click “Enter Email” to your left)!

Thanks for stopping by!

Who I Am: June Edition

I’m late, I know. Honestly, I forgot about this series! My kids summer vacation started last week. Well it was their first full week off. Now I’m in rescheduling mode, trying to figure out what we should be doing, when, and, most importantly, who will be doing it. I have extra helpers now, I can’t miss out on that!

I am hoping this post will move me in a more regular posting pattern…fingers crossed! I really enjoy sharing things with my readers, but I also don’t want to miss out on the time I can spend with all my kiddos during the much too short summer vacation.

Today I thought I’d talk a little about baking.

Do you like to bake? I love it!

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I will try baking just about anything (as long as coconut isn’t involved..YUK!). My favorite ingredient is chocolate. Cookies, cakes, it doesn’t matter. If chocolate is an ingredient, then the recipe shoots right to the top of my “to try” list!

Lately I have been baking quite a few cakes. I am the opposite of an expert cake decorator, but star tip in hand I can make something decent looking! My kids always want some sort of crazy character, but last spring I made my first cake for someone besides my kids.  It was my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary, and they asked me to make their cake for the party….

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They approved, and there wasn’t any left, so I will call that a success!  Now next week I get to make a cake for my nephew’s graduation party (wish me luck!).

I don’t really recall specifically being taught how to bake, but remember helping my mom and grandma make cookies at Christmas time.  I’m pretty sure that was the beginning of it all.  I remember taking home-ec in middle school and being completely bored with it, as I had already mastered most of those basic skills.  In high school, I was the birthday cake baker.  Nothing fancy.  Often times something comical written on the cake, as we were teenagers and everything funny.

Now that I have a family of my own, I love baking even more than just the occasional cake.  I, of course, try to teach my kids to eat right, but to me anything is acceptable in moderation.  Baking the treats at home gives me control over the ingredients.  Being able to pronounce them all is a big plus.  So is the fact that I don’t include preservatives 😉

My little boys love cookies, and who wouldn’t?  It’s a portable dessert!  Grab and go.  My husband likes just about anything I bake, which makes it super easy!  The way to a man’s heart, is through his stomach, right?  I guess I kind of look at it that way with everyone.  To me baking is a labor of love.  I love doing it, and it makes it more special when those I love can enjoy it also.  I always say my secret ingredient is love!

As I already mentioned, chocolate is my favorite ingredient, but one of my favorite things to bake doesn’t even include it.  It’s bread.  Just about any type.  There is something about the whole process of watching the yeast grow the bread, the smell of it baking, and the amazing taste once it is finished!  I even dabbled in sourdough for a while, but I let my starter die (it has to be fed with flour to keep the yeast active!).  I really need to start that up again, as sourdough bread makes the absolute best french toast I have every tasted!

Now with summertime fast approaching, zucchini bread will also frequent my oven.  This is definitely a family favorite!  Good plain or with some cream cheese frosting on top.  Excellent of course with a hot cup of coffee!

Baking with the seasons is a great way to make use of your own garden, farmers market, or local grocery store.  Buying produce “in season” is cheaper and makes for wonderful pies, tarts, and even cakes!   Do you enjoy any seasonal desserts, like strawberry shortcake, rhubarb pie, zucchini bread, etc.?

Now to end this month’s “Who I Am” post I want to share a family recipe with you, but first a little secret about me.  I once ate an entire pie.  Yes, the whole thing.  It was Christmas Day.  I wasn’t very old, maybe 8 or 9, and who else would let you have so much tasty sweetness, but Grandma?

Thanks Grandma, for the pie, the memory, and the recipe……

Butterscotch Pie

1 cup packed brown sugar

3 Tbsp cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt

2 cups milk

3 slightly beaten egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue)

3 Tbsp butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 – 9″ baked pie crust

In saucepan combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually stir in milk.  Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens.  Cook 2 minutes longer.  Remove from heat.

Stir in small amount of hot mixture into yolks.  Return yolk mixture to hot mixture.  Cook 2 more minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add butter and vanilla.  Cool to room temperature (to prevent a crust from forming, put plastic wrap or waxed paper directly on top, touching surface of hot pudding to the sides of the pan)

Once cooled, pour into pie crust and prepare meringue.

Preheat oven to 350°

Using a mixer, beat the 3 reserved egg whites with 1/4 tsp cream of tartar & 1 tsp vanilla, until foamy.  Gradually add 1/2 cup of sugar, continue beating until stiff peaks form and all the sugar is dissolved.  Spread on top of pie, sealing it to the edges.  Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until nicely golden brown.  Sometimes after the pie cools moisture may appear on the meringue or it may pull away from the edges.  It is either under-beat or over-beaten, but still tastes great, so don’t worry! (and don’t forget I ate a whole one once, so it has to be good, right?)

If you don’t already bake, I hope you give it a try.  You may find that you enjoy it!

If you already bake, what is your favorite thing to make?  I love to hear from my readers, so please comment below!

To find out more about me, check out my past “Who I Am” posts:

Who I Am:  February Edition

Who I Am:  March Edition

Who I Am:  April Edition

Who I Am:  May Edition

Also, don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter!

Fancy Banana Bread (with Cream Cheese Filling!)

Let me start by saying, my family loves banana bread. Pretty much every bread recipe in the world makes two loaves, right? Well when I make banana bread, there is usually some left that doesn’t get eaten.  I always thought it was because eventually you just get tired of eating it (you know, two loaves and all). Until now. After I made this, I knew immediately that it is the most delicious banana bread I have ever tasted. Ever.

I’ve seen a few versions of this floating around the web, none of which site a source. But at any rate, I made a couple changes to the version I found, so there it is:

 

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Fancy Banana Bread
(with Cream Cheese Filling)

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
3 Tbsp Sour Cream
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 mashed, ripe bananas (the blacker the better!)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350, grease two loaf pans and set aside.

Cream together the sugar and butter. Add eggs, mix well. In a separate bowl mix the sour cream and baking soda, then add to sugar mixture. Add the salt, bananas, flour and cinnamon, mix until just blended. Add the nuts and stir.

Filling:
8 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all topping ingredients together in a small bowl.

Now spread one-fourth of the batter into each loaf pan.

Spread half of the filling mixture, on top of the batter, in each pan.

Finish off by dividing the remaining batter evenly between each pan.

Mix together 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon and sprinkle on top of each loaf.

Bake for approximately one hour, check for doneness.

 

I actually made two batches of this starting Thursday afternoon.  Every last teenie tiny crumb was devoured by Monday morning. Yes, you did the math correctly, that means 4 loaves. Since there are 5 people in my house that can actually eat it (only two of which are adults), that means that we each ate close to an entire loaf. Each! I always say all things in moderation, obviously we need to revisit that definition……

Look here for another recipe using over-ripe bananas:

Bananas for Breakfast

 

 

Easy Frozen Pizza

In preparing for the birth of our 4th child, and knowing my activity will be limited, I have been trying to stock my freezer with meals that can just be reheated. It has been fairly easy so far. When making supper for the family, I make a big enough batch so I can just freeze the leftovers. Little extra work, but huge benefit. This is also a great idea for having homemade meals on hand for an extra busy evening!

One of the most loved recipes I make for the family is homemade pizza!  It is easy to do, and really easy to make ahead and freeze.  The method I use is to bake the crust slightly, then freeze.

Today I made a triple batch, but my base recipe makes enough crust for 1 pizza baked on a jelly roll or average sized baking sheet.

Pizza Parlor Style Dough

2 1/4 tsp yeast

1 cup warm water

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp canola oil

2 1/2 cups flour (can substitute some whole wheat if desired!)

Mix together everything except flour, stir until dissolved.   The oil will always float, it looks like this (so don’t panic!).

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Gradually add flour, kneading until smooth and elastic.  You may need more or less flour depending on the humidity of the day.  (Today for example, I used extra!)  The dough should not be too sticky.

Cover with a damp towel and let rise for 15 minutes

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If you made a large batch, this is when you would want to divide the dough.  Using a wet knife, cut into desired number of pieces.  In my batch today, it is three

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Lightly grease the pan.  Using oiled or floured hands, stretch the dough to fit the pan.  If it shrinks back after stretching it, let it rest for a couple of minutes, then try again.

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Bake the dough in a 475° oven (450° for convection oven).  It takes only about 5 minutes.  The dough should look like it is just done, but not browning yet.

I have a convection oven, so I am not exactly sure how cooking multiple pans will work in a standard oven.  From what I have read, my advice would be to rotate the pans about half way through to encourage even baking.

Allow to cool before packaging for the freezer.

Generally, 2 gallon freezer bags work great, but since I failed to check to see if I had any, I used press and seal wrap.  Tip: Always make sure you have everything you need before starting.  You know, do as I say, not as I do? 😉

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Just a little bit more “why,” for what I did….

A year or so ago, I used to make my own freezer dough.  But you know how easy it can be to fall out of a routine.  Recently, though, I have been following the “Fill Up Your Freezer Series” by Christa over at Brown Sugar Toast.   It was her post about freezable pizza dough that inspired me to regrow my stash.  (I encourage you to check out the entire series if you are interested in even more freezer worthy recipes)

Who knows?  Freezing extra meals have been going so good the last couple weeks, that I might actually try to continue to keep some on hand even after baby arrives!

Do you make freezer meals?  What is your favorite?