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Monday, February 28, 2011

Jacked Jambalaya!

As in build muscles, that is! Just in time for Mardi Gras, this Jambalaya is chock-full of lean protein and whole grain carbs, perfect for anyone trying to stay healthy and/or watch their fat intake! It is modified from Emeril's Kicked Up Jambalaya, made up to be a healthier version: turkey andouille sausage, chicken breast, shrimp, brown rice, low-sodium chicken stock, and cooking spray.

But first, a brief interlude into the origin of that famous Louisiana dish, Jambalaya!

Jambalaya is a combination of meat, vegetables, and rice, similar to paella, and indeed it is of dual Spanish-French origin. There are actually two types of jambalaya: Creole and Cajun. They both start with what is known as the "holy trinity" of ingredients: onion, bell peppers and celery. Meat is then added, most often a spicy smoked sausage (andouille), poulty, and seafood. Stock and rice are also an integral part of the dish. The main difference between Creole and Cajun jambalaya is the addition of tomatoes. Creole jambalaya contains tomatoes, and is often also referred to as "red jambalaya" accordingly. Cajun jambalaya is more brownish in color, and without tomatoes.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Raspberry Oat Bars (Easy Things to do with Cake Mix #2)

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am currently baking my way through some of the excess baking supplies I purchased during the holidays, most notably several boxes of yellow cake mix. If the pecan cake bars of my previous post were easy, this next recipe is still easier, and quite tasty. It has a great fruit flavor, which makes it a perfect bar to make now that the weather is (supposed to be) getting warmer. It flurried by my house this morning, and I heard on the radio that there was 6" of snow on the ground in Bergen County. So maybe these bars can make you feel like Spring is coming (so long as you don't look out the window or go outside).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pecan Chocolate Cake Bars (Easy things to do with cake mix #1)

This post is short and sweet. After Christmas, I was left with an excess of certain baking ingredients that I intended to use over the holiday but never did. Things like 4 boxes of yellow cake mix, 2 boxes of pumpkin bread mix, 1 box of red velvet cake mix, 2 bags of bright red candy wafers, 2 huge jars of marshmallow fluff, a box of graham cracker crumbs, bags of chopped pecans, gads and gads of bittersweet chocolate chips, and 3 cans of pumpkin. Now, my apartment is the size of a shoebox, which makes my closet about the size of a postage stamp. I just can't possibly horde baking ingredients forever. Well, actually...I probably could, but according to my horrified husband, I just can't possibly horde baking ingredients forever. So I need to use up my supplies, pronto.

Red velvet cake mix and red wafers are already gone, as Valentine's Day cupcakes with red molded chocolate decorations on top. I made the pumpkin bread last week, and sprinkled on some pecans. One box of yellow cake mix had a hole in the plastic holding the mix, so when I went to open up the box, it poofed all over my clothes. Said box is now in the trash, potential morph into baked goodness unfulfilled. So sad.

But this is the story of Yellow Cake Mix #2.

Yellow Cake Mix #2 has become Easy Things to do With Cake Mix #1. Still with me? Good. This yellow cake mix was destined for great things, although not the thing I thought it was destined for. I thought it was destined to become a yummy pecan pie bar, like a shortbread bar with a buttery crust.  But instead, it turned out to be more of a yummy pecan cake, and I'm advertising it as such.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Easy Favor Packaging

I have now made cookies favors for two different events, both baby showers. The first was for my cousin, where I baked up really cute Mickey Mouse sugar cookies, and packaged them to be consistent with the Disney theme that her mom chose for the shower.

The second were the Grover Cookies of my previous post, which were for my friend Allie's baby shower.

Since the process of making these favors was pretty much the same both times, and since it really can be applied to almost any favor that you would like to make, I thought a separate post that just talked about favors and favor packaging might be useful to some people wanting to create tidy-looking favors for an event. The two examples I have listed here are both edible, obviously, but this method of packaging can also be used for non-edible favors, if you like the look.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Grover Cookies (Cookie Favors)

Presenting the further adventures of everybody's favorite hero. A monster who is faster than lightning, stronger than steel, smarter than a speeding bullet. It's...SUPERGROVER! (And he's cute, too)!

This posting is about a month overdue. I had some deadlines at work to deal with, and my baking/posting predictably suffered accordingly. But within the next few weeks, I hope to be entirely back on track.

This posting isn't technically a recipe.It is a decorating and packaging idea for making Grover cookies (which could easily be adapted to make pretty much any Sesame Street monster into a yummy cookie. And, because of their very nature, they are also a great thing to make with kids!!!