Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Monkey Bread

The first time I had monkey bread was when I was a sophmore in college.  There is a local bread company and bakery in my current hometown, which is also my college town, specializes in wonderful homemade breads both sweet and savory and this is where I first saw Monkey Bread.  I told Spencer about it, then he was my boyfriend, and his eyes opened so wide and he perked up.  Little did I know that monkey bread was one of Spencer's favorites when he was growing up and that it had been ages since he had any.  So the next day I went to Boulevard Bread and bought a loaf of bread that Spencer said was so wonderful.  I think that loaf of bread lasted all of 5 minutes once I got it hom and that's when I knew I needed to find a recipe and have it on hand at all times.

It's been quite some time since I've made this and to be honest I had forgotten about it until my brother said something about it.  He had gone to a brunch at his girlfriend's house and he was telling me about all the wonderful food they had and one of the things he mentioned was monkey bread.  He went on and on about it and how good it was and asked if I could make him some the next time our family got together.  So in honor of my brother and my husband, here is a wonderfully easy and delicious recipe that is perfect for breakfast, brunch or dessert!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pork Tenderloin with Cocoa Crust

If you've read my blog for any amount of time you know that I am a huge fan of chocolate.  I love anything chocolate and by now you also know that I haven't limited my chocolate consumption to desserts.  I have tried a few savory dishes and I've been delighted with the end result every time.  So now every time I come across another with chocolate I add it to my "to make" list.  Chocolate is slowly but surely making it's way to the savory side, as people begin to experiment and attempt to make the "newest craze" I have a feeling we will be consumed with an abundance of savory chocolate dishes to tempt us.
Pork loin is one of those things that is so easy and quick to cook and that's one thing I love about this particular cut.  This is a perfect meat to incorporate into week night meals because it cooks so quickly; while it's baking you have time to cook a few sides and have supper on the table in under 45 minutes.  It is also so versatile; some many flavors compliment this meat and it can be seasoned and flavored for whatever you're craving.  I'm sure everyone has a favorite pork loin recipe that they love, and we all know when we find something we love it's easy to make it and eat it over and over until we're burned out.  Well, if you've reached that point then I definitely have the recipe for you to get out of the same old monotonous meals.  This pork with cocoa crust is absolutely incredible.  I loved the extra added flavor the chocolate gives meat, in this case pork.  It's not overly chocolate, but there is just enough flavor to add a hint of sweetness to compliment the meat and the spices in the rub.  This was so delicious and the leftovers were even great on sandwiches.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan

Another week, another menu!  I know other parts of the country are experiencing crazy, unseasonable weather and Arkansas is no exception.  Last week the week started out with 80 degree weather and by the end of the week the temps were in the 50's and 60's.  It is spring, right?  I'm ready for spring weather, clothing and most of all the light and refreshing meals of spring.  Although I am so ready for spring food, I can't help but crave some hearty and comfort foods that we associate with the cooler seasons since we are experiencing crazy weather right now.  Here in Arkansas it's going to be another week of cool weather so our meals this week are going to be more along the lines of fall and winter food rather than spring or summer.  Hopefully next week will be warmer and I can start planning lighter menus that are more spring like!

Have a great week.

Menu for March 27- April 2, 2011

Beef and bechamel lasagna, green salad, and garlic bread
Chicken pot pie turnovers with roasted vegetables
Mushroom bolognese, sides TBD
Pasta with spinach, bacon and goat cheese, garlic bread and ceasar salad
Other cooking and baking: mandarin orange gratine with sabayon sauce, muffins

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan

The past few weeks have been crazy, I don't think I even got a meal plan up last week and I'm pretty late posting one this week.  I'm back and hope to be posting regularly soon.  Thanks for being patient with me!

I hope everyone has a great week!

Meal Plan for March 20-26, 2011

Burgers from Five Guys, I love this place
Mac and Cheese with winter pesto, corn and roasted asparagus
Going U of Ark baseball game, stadium food
Parmesan encrusted tilapia, veggies TBD
Pasta with cauliflower, brussel sprouts and bacon

Monday, March 14, 2011

Homemade Creamy Tomato Soup

Every year this happens and every year I hate it.  We are in the midst of the seasons changing; I wake up in the morning and it's freezing outside but I leave work in the evenings and it's the perfect warm, sunny day.  It's so frustrating becaue I don't really know what to wear; a sweater and I'll be fine in the morning but miserable in the afternoons OR a short sleeve shirt and I'm freezing in the morning but comfortable in the afternoons.  Not only do I have this predicament when I'm in my closet but I also when I'm planning the menu.  It's pretty bad when I have to watch the weather to plan my menu; I know some other places have this problem as well but it seems like it's intensified in Arkansas.  Here, it can be in the 50's one day and the 70's the next; this is the exact scenario that is presenting itself this week; we have two days of 50 degree weather and then it warms up to the upper 70's and we're in the 80's by this weekend...CRAZY and frustrating.  So what's a girl to do when she's frustrated and doesn't know what to cook?  Make a classic comfort food, of course!  Nothing is more comforting than tomato soup, which is perfect any time of year, and it just gets better when it's paired with a hot, cheesy grilled cheese sandwich.  Yup, this fits the bill no matter what time of year.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan

Meal Plan for March 6-12, 2011

Shrimp tacos, salsa, and cheese dip
Chicken artichoke pizza
Out to eat for our anniversary!
Burgers, bbq beans and potato salad
Chile Relleno Bake, salsa, and cheese dip

Friday, March 4, 2011

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

I love Valentine's Day, for multiple reasons, one being that it gives me an excuse to make fun Valetntine's inspired goodies and to cook a wonderful and tasty meal for me and my sweetie!  Some people don't care as much for this particular holiday because they think it's another "Hallmark" holiday that the card companies created to make more money, but I'm definitely NOT one of those people.  Although I don't really need an excuse to spend more time with my sweetie, it's nice to have a day that is designated specifically to that.  It's a day that we slow down and recognize the person we love, do something special for them and spend just a little more time with them.  Either way I love this holiday and I look forward to making fun treats inspired by it.

There are many desserts and candies that are popular to give on Valentine's but red velvet cake has to be one of the most popular, cliche' and overdone desserts of them all.  Although I love red velvet cake and there's absolutely nothing wrong with it, it's a wonderful cake but it's always a pleasant surprise to see a classic favorite with a new spin on it.  Better Homes and Gardens did just that with these red velvet whoopie pies.  It's a great way to celebrate Valentine's as well as putting this all time favorite in a more finger food friendly form.  These cookies are the perfect size to pick and snack on without requiring a fork and plate.  This is a fun way to brighten anyone's day and to give your Valentine your heart!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Giant Chocolate Chocolate Cookies

Now this is a cookie!  This type of cookie is not a cookie for just anyone, but for the avid cookie lover and connoisseur.  These cookies weigh in at a whopping 4 ounces and are packed full of creamy chocolate chips which are entwined in a gooey, fudgy cookie.  To acheive maximum enjoyment of this cookie an extra tall glass of icy, cold milk is completely necassary.  For the dessert lover this is the equivalent to a quarter pounder with cheese, you just can't get much better than a quarter pounder cookie!  Unlike other cookies, it only takes one of these bad boys to quench your dessert and/or chocolate craving.  You could even go as far as putting it on a plate and using a fork; yes it's that big and a fork could definitely be utilized.

This recipe is a knock off from the famous Levain Bakery.  They are known for making large and over the top desserts but the item that really put them on the map is this giant, chocolate, chocolate cookie.  Does it get any better than being known for such a scrumptious dessert like this?  I think not.  I've never had the opportunity to try one of their cookies first hand, but if these knock off's are anywhere close to the real thing I would be in pure cookie heaven sinking my teeth into one of their cookies.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Daring Bakers February Challenge- Vanilla Panna Cotta

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from  A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

I was so excited when I saw this month's challenge.  One reason being that I had just seen Giada making her florentine cookies; they looked absolutely delicious, so pretty and delicate and there wasn't a lot to the process.  It is one of those simple cookies that can be enjoyed by itself or dressed up a little by making a sandwich cookie with a chocolate filling.  These were so good and a great alternative to the everyday, ordinary cookie; not that I don't love a great tasting cookie! 

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