Friday, April 30, 2010

Emeril's Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Emeril's Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes approximately 24 cookies.

Emeril bakes - who knew? Not me.
This a super simple recipe that would be great to make with kids. And the end result tastes good too! HAPPY FRIDAY! Have a great weekend!
Source: Everyday Food magazine, adapted from Emeril 20-40-60.

1 c. creamy peanut butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. packed light-brown sugar
1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 large egg, beaten
1 t. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Divide dough into 24 portions, about 1 heaping tablespoon each. Roll each piece between your hands to form a smooth ball. Place dough balls, 1" apart, on two ungreased baking sheets.

Using a fork, press on dough in two directions to form a crosshatch pattern.

Bake cookies until puffed and lightly golden, 10-12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cookies cool on sheets.

A Note From The Little Lady: If baking sheets separately, reduce baking time to about 9 minutes each.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Granola Bars: Revisited

Granola Bars: Revisited

Makes 14-18 bars, depending on how you cut them.

I spent a lot of time figuring out my first granola bar recipe. But I still wasn't completely satisfied. So I kept playing around with it, and I think I've finally hit the jackpot. The recipe isn't all that different. But the technique slightly is. These bars are soft, but not crumbly. They're delicious, but still carry some healthy ingredients. And anything homemade is just better than anything out of box.

3 c. heaping oats
3/4 c. wheat germ
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. salt
1 c. chocolate chips (reduce if desired)
3 eggs
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13x9 baking pan.

Combine oats, wheat germ, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Create a well in the center; add egg, peanut butter, honey, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Mix to combine. Add chocolate chips; mix well, using your hands if necessary.

Transfer mixture to the baking pan; spread evenly.
Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until golden brown. Do not overbake.

Let cool completely in pan. Cut into bars. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Jamaican Pork Chops

Jamaican Pork Chops

Serves 3 (easily doubled).

A fruitier Jamaican Jerk flavor. We had planned on grilling these, but when the grill gave us trouble, when ended up cooking them inside. Thus, the grill marks I was relying on didn't happen.
Source: The Grilling Bible Cookbook

1/3 c. prepared Italian salad dressing
1/6 c. Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/6 c. freshly-squeezed lime juice
1 T. brown sugar
1 t. dried thyme leaves
1/2 t. ground allspice
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
3 pork chops, cut 1" thick (about 1-1/4 lbs.)

Place salad dressing, hot sauce, lime juice, sugar, and seasonings in a blender or food processor. Cover and process until smooth.

Place pork chops in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour marinade over chops. Seal bag and marinate in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. You can also freeze, if desired.

Grill over medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until pork is juicy and barely pink in he center, turning and basting frequently with marinade.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Would This Interest You?

We've been living with my parents for two weeks now. And it's great. We also lived with them for a short period of time before moving into our apartment and that went well too. Really, it did. People shoot me questionable looks if it comes up that we're living with the 'rents. Looks that read,

How do you do it?
Don't you get on each other's nerves?
I could never do that...
That's kinda weird.

But I assure you, it's not. I've always had great relationships with my family. And they adore The Mr., so that's taken care of too. I mean, we're getting spoiled with home-cooked meals, friends to share a bottle of wine with, and a hot tub out back, all the while knowing we have a new place to move into that we worked hard for... only a month away.

But as I tend to do, I'm straying from the main point of this post.

I keep telling my mom I'm going to start cooking to help with the weekly meals. And I really do plan on it. But I haven't. Yet. And the blog is suffering. One idea I had way back when was to include some travel-related posts, with focus on food and restaurants of the area. I set it aside after I realized I had enough food content to keep me busy. But now that things have slowed down, it's on my mind again.

Would you be interested in this? Please vote at the top of the page. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Cake

Serves 12.

A great change from the normal layer cake! And for as fancy as it turns out, one would think it requires more work than it actually does. I omitted the nuts, but added coconut. The whole family loved it!
Source: Paula Deen Celebrates!

For the Cake:
3 c. self-rising flour
2 c. sugar
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. finely chopped pecans, optional
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
8-oz. can crushed pineapple, with juice
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1 t. ground cinnamon
4 large eggs, beaten

For the Frosting:
1 lb. powdered sugar
8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
6 T. unsalted butter, softened
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1 T. milk, or more if needed
1/2 c. finely chopped pecans, optional

Little Lady Addition:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray (3) 8" round cake pans with non-stick spray. If your pans tend to stick, lightly flour as well.

In a large bowl, stir to combine flour, sugar, oil, pecans, banana, pineapple, vanilla, cinnamon, and eggs.

Divide batter evenly among prepared pans, smoothing with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until the tops spring back when lightly touched with your fingertips, 26-28 minutes.

Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, and then invert cakes onto wire racks to cool completely.

Prepare frosting using an electric mixer. Combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and milk. Slowly cream in powdered sugar. Add more milk, if necessary.

Frost cake - in between each layer and all sides and top. Add coconut, if desired.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

This is a fantastic book. I haven't met anyone that has had negative things to say about it. It's an addicting, fascinating, and educating read. It will make you laugh, cry, love and hate the characters. I don't think you'll be disappointed if you read this book. In fact, I think you'll find yourself urging others to do the same.

Information From

From The Washington Post's Book World/ Reviewed by Sybil

SteinbergSouthern whites' guilt for not expressing gratitude to the black maids who raised them threatens to become a familiar refrain. But don't tell Kathryn Stockett because her first novel is a nuanced variation on the theme that strikes every note with authenticity. In a page-turner that brings new resonance to the moral issues involved, she spins a story of social awakening as seen from both sides of the American racial divide.

Newly graduated from Ole Miss with a degree in English but neither an engagement ring nor a steady boyfriend, Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan returns to her parents' cotton farm in Jackson. Although it's 1962, during the early years of the civil rights movement, she is largely unaware of the tensions gathering around her town.

Skeeter is in some ways an outsider. Her friends, bridge partners and fellow members of the Junior League are married. Most subscribe to the racist attitudes of the era, mistreating and despising the black maids whom they count on to raise their children. Skeeter is not racist, but she is naive and unwittingly patronizing. When her best friend makes a political issue of not allowing the "help" to use the toilets in their employers' houses, she decides to write a book in which the community's maids -- their names disguised -- talk about their experiences.

Fear of discovery and retribution at first keep the maids from complying, but a stalwart woman named Aibileen, who has raised and nurtured 17 white children, and her friend Minny, who keeps losing jobs because she talks back when insulted and abused, sign on with Skeeter's risky project, and eventually 10 others follow.

Aibileen and Minny share the narration with Skeeter, and one of Stockett's accomplishments is reproducing African American vernacular and racy humor without resorting to stilted dialogue. She unsparingly delineates the conditions of black servitude a century after the Civil War.

The murders of Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King Jr. are seen through African American eyes, but go largely unobserved by the white community. Meanwhile, a room "full of cake-eating, Tab-drinking, cigarette-smoking women" pretentiously plan a fundraiser for the "Poor Starving Children of Africa." In general, Stockett doesn't sledgehammer her ironies, though she skirts caricature with a "white trash" woman who has married into an old Jackson family. Yet even this character is portrayed with the compassion and humor that keep the novel levitating above its serious theme.

Copyright 2009, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Abouts 16 slices per loaf.

This was a hit! Someone even compared it to Panera's whole grain baguette. It's a dense, grainy bread that tastes great slathered with butter.
Source: the back of the Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flour bag

1 pkg. regular active yeast
1/8 c. warm water (105-115 degrees)
1/4 c. honey
1/8 c. butter or margarine
1-1/2 t. salt
1-1/4 c. very warm water (120-130 degrees)
2-1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1-1/2 to 2 c. all-purpose flour

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water; set aside. In large bowl, mix honey, butter, salt, and very warm water; cool 5 minutes.

To cooled honey mixture, beat in 1-1/2 c. of the whole wheat flour with an electric mixture on low speed, scraping bowl frequently, until moistened. Beat on medium speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl frequently. Beat in remaining 3/4 c. whole wheat flour and dissolved yeast. With spoon, stir in 1 to 1-1/2 c. of the all-purpose flour until dough pulls away from side of bowl.

Place dough on floured work surface. Knead in remaining 1/4-1/2 c. all-purpose flour; continue kneading 5-10 minutes until dough is smooth and springy. Grease large bowl with shortening or cooking spray; place dough in bowl, turning to grease all sides. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and cloth towel. Let rise in warm place (80-85 degrees) 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Generously grease a regular-sized loaf pan with shortening or cooking spray. Gently push fist into dough to deflate. On lightly floured surface, roll dough with rolling pin into an 18x8-inch rectangle. Starting with one 8-inch side, roll up dough tightly, pressing with thumbs to seal after each turn. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal; pinch each end to seal. Fold ends under loaf; place seam side down in pan. Cover; let rise in warm place 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Uncover dough; bake 20-25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until loaves sound hollow when lightly tapped. Immediately remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely; about 1 hour.

A Note From The Little Lady: I adjusted cooking times for one loaf. The original recipe is doubled and makes two loaves. For two loaves, double ingredients and increase baking times to 30 minutes at 375 degrees and 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spinach Dip in Pumpernickel

Spinach Dip in a Pumpernickel Bread Bowl

This dip is addicting. I love it. It's easy to prepare and, with the addition of a pumpernickel bread bowl, it completes Knorr's recipe in a way that offers a great presentation.
Source: Knorr Vegetable recipe mix packet

1 (10-oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 (16-oz.) container sour cream
1 c. mayonnaise
1 pkg. Knorr's Vegetable recipe mix
1 (8-oz.) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped (optional)
3 green onions, chopped (optional)
Round pumpernickel bread loaf

Combine all ingredients, except pumpernickel bread, and chill about 2 hours.

Hollow out pumpernickel bread to form a bowl. Fill bowl with dip. Serve with chunks of bread that have been removed from the center.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Next Month or So...

The Next Month or So... might be a little quieter here on Pineapple Grass. At the end of March, we closed on our new condo (shown above) in our new city. We're excited. But because we need to finish up our jobs before moving for good, we need to stick around here a little bit longer. Rather than paying a mortgage payment AND a rent payment, we thought we'd take advantage of good ole' Mom and Dad living in the area.

This past weekend, we moved all our furniture and home STUFF down to our new condo, and all of our day-to-day STUFF to my parents. Always a fun job, right?

Since we'll be sharing the kitchen and dinner duty with my parents, I'm not going to promise a daily blog update. I'm going to aim for M, W, and F. Consider this my summer break. :) I'm hoping to have things up and running full-time again in June.

Want to see a few pictures of our new place?

It's an older home (built in the late 1800s), and we loved the quirky touches, like this bathroom door, which was once the original front door:

The third floor looked like this:

But we (and by we, I mean WE are paying someone else to) are in the process of finishing it to be a 3rd bedroom with a full bathroom. Here's the progress that's already been made:

But probably my favorite part? Look at this kitchen! A definite upgrade from our old apartment!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese, Red Onion, and Green Apple

Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese, Red Onion, and Green Apple

Serves about 6.

A salad that's great any time of year. It's full of flavor and a wonderful addition to a fancy holiday gathering or a casual family evening at home. If you want to follow Cooking Light's recipe exactly, omit the olive oil and cider vinegar - I added those ingredients myself.
Source: Cooking Light magazine

2 T. fresh orange juice
2 T. fresh lime juice
2 t. Dijon mustard
2 t. honey
1 T. olive oil
1 T. cider vinegar
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. thinly vertically sliced red onion
8 c. bagged prewashed baby spinach (about 8 oz.)
1 large, firm, sweet-tart apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 entire container crumbled blue cheese (CL suggests 1/4 c. - no thanks!)

Combine the first 8 ingredients, stirring well with a whisk.
Combine onion, spinach, and apple in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with cheese.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Starbucks Pike Place Roast

Starbucks Pike Place Roast

I'll admit that I'm typically pretty cheap when it comes to coffee. I buy the big cans to make coffee at home. I once bought the wrong style of coffee filters and "made them work" because I didn't want to just throw them away. I cringe at the thought of spending $4 on something I could easily make at home for about $0.04 (And actually save time when you factor in the lines at those places!). I don't use sugar. I don't use milk. And I don't use flavored creamers. Okay, so maybe those last ones are simply preference. I'm not THAT cheap. :) I like it black; I got that from my mama.

Every once in a while, I'll buy a special BAG (which is important to note, because typically the bags offer less coffee and are, therefore, you got it, more expensive in the end) of flavored coffee. I started something I like to call "Flavored Coffee Fridays." And, simple to understand, I make flavored coffee on Fridays... from a small, special, bag that costs about the same price as my large, industrial can. I get excited about Flavored Coffee Fridays. The Mr., while not as enthralled with the occasion, lets me a kick of it. I get a kick out of a lot of little things. (Such as receiving this BAG of Starbucks Pike Place Roast FREE from BzzAgent!):

And they also gave me a free bag of Caffe Verona, another great coffee!

I must admit: This was good coffee. And since I strayed from my typical allowance of special coffee on Fridays only, I started to feel a little spoiled by it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tortellini with Tomatoes, Bacon, and Cheese

Tortellini with Tomatoes, Bacon, and Cheese

Serves 2.

1 pkg. cheese-filled tortellini
1 clove garlic, minced
2 wedges Laughing Cow cheese
4 fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped (or 2 cans diced tomatoes, drained)
3 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Fill a pot with lightly salted water and bring to a boil; cook tortellini according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat garlic and Laughing Cow cheese wedges over medium heat. As garlic becomes fragrant and cheese begins to melt, add tomatoes, and cook through, about 5-10 minutes. Add cooked and crumbled bacon and Parmesan cheese; stir to combine flavors.

When tortellini is finished cooking, drain and add to sauce. Toss to coat evenly.
Serve with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easiest Peanut Butter Cookies

Easiest Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes about 16 cookies.

I don't think a cookie recipe gets any easier than this. And the best part is that they taste just as good as any other peanut butter cookie recipe I've tried -- they're soft, chewy, and oh-so peanut-buttery. Any less work and you're buying break-and-bakes from the grocery store. And if you don't have any ready-to-bake cookie dough already in the fridge, chances are that whipping up this batch of cookies will always be easier than running to the store.
Source: 5 Ingredients of Less!

1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all three ingredients; mix well.
Refrigerate dough for 5 minutes.
Drop dough balls onto cookie sheet. Make a crisscross pattern on top of each cookie using the tines of a fork. Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes; transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Pork Loin Roast with Apricot Glaze

Pork Loin Roast with Apricot Glaze

Serves 2-3.

A cozy end-of-winter crock pot meal to take you into spring. Pour some of the extra sauce over the pork and rice before serving.

1 pork loin roast (mine was approximately 2.5 lbs.)
16 oz of Apricot Jam 15.75 oz.
1 can chicken broth
2-3 tablespoons of Dijon-style mustard
1 large onion, chopped

Place pork loin in crock pot. Combine preserves, broth, mustard, and onion; pour over meat.
Cook on low for 9-10 hours; high for 4-5.
Serve over rice.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sweet & Sour Pork with Rice

Sweet & Sour Pork with Rice

Serves 4.

This recipe comes from The Mr.'s grandmother. She included it in a recipe box she compiled for me a few Christmases ago. It was such a fun gift to receive -- I love looking through recipes, but family recipes hold extra special meaning.
The Mr. dubbed this "too sweet" for his tastes, but I liked that part about it. I mean, it is called SWEET and sour pork. And it's exactly that.

1 lb. boneless pork, cut into cubes
3/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. white vinegar
1 c. pineapple juice (drained from a can of pineapple chunks, reserve pineapple)
3 T. sugar
1/2 c. onion slices
1 c. green pepper chunks
1 T. cornstarch
3 T. water

Combine ketchup, vinegar, pineapple juice, and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Blend and bring to a boil.

While mixture is heating, lightly fry pork cubes in a skillet.
In a small bowl, mix together cornstarch and water.

When ketchup mixture has reached a boil, add the cornstarch mixture and blend throughout. Return to a boil and add onion slices and green pepper chunks. Boil uncovered for 3 minutes.

Add the fried pork and the pineapple to the sauce. Serve over rice.
After 3 minutes

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cheeseburger Pizza

Cheeseburger Pizza

Serves 2.

A pizza you can make and bake faster than it'd take to call for delivery. Cheaper, fresher, and faster too!

1 pizza crust, such as Boboli
1/2 c. pizza sauce
1/4 lb. ground beef
1/4 c. red onion, chopped
3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese, or cheddar blend
3 leaves fresh basil, chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef. Drain any fat.

Meanwhile, prepare pizza crust by covering with pizza sauce. Top with red onion, cooked ground beef, shredded cheese, and basil.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and crust is golden brown.
Slice and serve.