Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sarah: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge- Cream Cheese


1 box chocolate cake mix (and ingredients required by package)
3 1/2 cups of milk
8 oz of cream cheese
2 tubs Cool Whip
2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding
1/2 stick of butter (softened)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup milk chocolate chips

1. Combine milk, butter and cream cheese in a mixer until there are NO lumps. Add in milk, instant pudding and Cool Whip. Mix until completely combined (will be a bit soupy). This will be your frosting.

2. Cover frosting in bowl with foil and but in the refrigerator.

3. Make cake according to package in 2 round pans. Let cool slightly.

4. Melt chocolate in your microwave, pour melted chocolate onto one side of each of the cake halves and spread evenly. Let cool completely.

5. Pull out your icing, which is still going to be a little soupy. Pour some icing onto of one of the cake halves, onto of the chocolate you poured on. Put the other cake on top of the icing, chocolate side down. Ice cake completely.

6. Refrigerate cake. Don't let sit out, as icing will likely to bad.


When I heard that this battle had to do with cream cheese, I automatically thought of Dirt Cake, which is one of B's favorite desserts that I make. In the spirit of pushing the envelope, I decided to take elements of Dirt Cake and turn it into an actual cake.

Be careful when pouring on the icing, you should end up with A LOT left over (which I would suggest you use to make real dirt cake). I poured on way too much and spent the next 30 minutes scooping goop off of my counter and cake plate.

The next time I make this I am going to try to get the "icing" to be a bit thicker. I am thinking of adding LESS milk and maybe crushed up Oreos. Also, I think I will make the icing and let it sit over night before making the cake.


ALSO- it's not a strange picture angle, for some reason my cake is very lean-y (even though the layers are perfectly lined up).

Sarah: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Nutmeg

Spinach-and-Cheese Puff


- Butter for baking dish
- 3 packages of frozen chopped spinach (thawed and squeezed dry)
- 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Gruyere cheese
- Coarse salt and pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

1. Preheat oven t0 350. Butter a shallow 1 quart baking dish.

2. In a large bowl combine spinach, half-and-half, eggs, 1 cup cheese, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and nutmeg. Stir to combine.

3. Spread evenly in baking dish. Top with remaining cheese.

4. Bake until set and top is golden, 30-35 minutes.


Have you even had Gruyere cheese? It's like heaven in your mouth. While cooking this my sister Samantha and I must have eaten at least a handful each. I know it is pricey, but buy it, and buy lots of it, because you're going to need to eat at least a cup before you even start on cooking.

When I heard that nutmeg was a secret ingredient, my inner baker jumped up and down and did a back flip. Thoughts of cookies danced through my head and I smiled for three days straight.

Then I met up with Becky, who had picked the secret ingredient and she told me she was planning to make A REAL DINNER using nutmeg. I was completely floored. You can do that?

I did some searching and came up with the above recipe. I am the happiest clam that my household has discovered this SUPER easy, SUPER tasty dish. Even my extreme workout and dieting sister ate thirds.

Recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Carrie: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Cream Cheese

There are some obvious choices when the ingredient cream cheese comes up, like cream cheese frosting, but then my obsessive stalking of other cooks' blogs came in handy because I thought of this recipe instead. I'm a pretty big fan of spinach artichoke dip, and this looked like a particularly fun twist. It's an artichoke bread, basically artichoke dip baked into the bread, by Kevin over at Closet Cooking. I'd say this recipe gets an A, especially when Jake bit into it and went "This is awesome, Carrie!" I probably could have left it in the oven a little longer so the cheese on top could brown a little more, but I was so so hungry, and it still tasted delicious. Be warned, though, it's very, very filling.

Artichoke Bread
4 oz. cream cheese
1 14-oz can artichokes
2-3 green onions, sliced
few cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
big handful of mozzarella plus some to sprinkle on top
slightly smaller handful of Parmesan plus some to sprinkle on top
half of a loaf of Italian bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cream, artichokes, green onions, garlic, mayo, sour cream, mozzarella and Parmesan together in a bowl. Hollow out your bread just a little bit to stuff the artichoke cheese mixture in it. Spread it in the bread and top with more cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake until cheese melts and turns golden brown.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wednesday Night Dinner: Roasted Vegetable Sandwiches

I forgot to take a picture before I dug into my sandwich, so this photo is actually Jake's half-eaten sandwich. I roasted eggplant, zucchini, onions, red bell peppers, and mushrooms for Italian sandwiches topped with capicolla, salami, provolone, pepperoncinis, black olives and red wine vinegar. Scout made sweet potato fries to go along with our sandwiches and we started with an appetizer of artichoke dip bread, post to come sometime later this week. We had a few different desserts as Scout's been on a bit of a baking frenzy. Dinner just keeps turning into a feast every week. It's pretty amazing.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Carrie: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Nutmeg

Since Arizona is apparently under siege from wind, rain, potential snow, and the right conditions for a tornado, it seemed like a good night to bake banana bread. And I'm busy the rest of the weekend. This week's challenge was nutmeg, so off to google search I went. For the Love of Cooking is one of my favorite cooking blogs because her recipes are healthy and simple, the perfect recipes for the home cook. I found a recipe for Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts and since I'd been wanting to make banana bread for some crazy odd reason, it made sense that I turned it into my ICBC recipe. My sister and I decided the banana bread is delicious. I'd give you a roommate review too, but the roommate doesn't like fruit, especially bananas. I think I would definitely make this recipe again.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (adapted from For the Love of Cooking)
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 ripe bananas
1 egg
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
chocolate chips
*The recipe also called for toasted walnuts which I don't really care for and ground cloves which I didn't have, but I don't think the bread suffered very much from the missing ingredients.

Grease and flour a loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In one bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In another bowl, mash bananas, egg, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract and butter and mix thoroughly. Slowly add dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix well. Add chocolate chips to the batter (I just eyed this) and pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until knife poked into center of loaf comes out clean.

Wednesday Night Dinner: Creamy Tortellini

So for last night's Wednesday night dinner that was so packed with people we had to bring out a second table, we had fried eggplant chips, salad and creamy tortellini with spinach and tomatoes. Here's a link to the tortellini recipe because I need to leave for work. It was all delicious, by the way. Click here for recipe.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sarah: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Bacon

Remember that EPIC fail? (OF COURSE you do! It's right below this post!) I think it would be very correct to say that I have bounced back with a vengeance.

I was excited about this challenge but also a little worried. I rekindled my Pesca-tarinism at the beginning of January, so regular bacon was out of the competition for me. Luckily Brandon and I have discovered a pretty good like of "fake" meat products that has rather yummy tasting bacon.

I usually shy away from Rachel Ray recipes for the simple fact that I cannot afford to stock a pantry like she does. 24 ingredients for make one dinner? YEAH RIGHT.

I got her magazine for about 2 years while living in LA and while I collected and ogled many of the recipes she has put together, I rarely attempted.

This salmon recipe was part of one of her mag's features called "5 Ingredients", and as you have gathered only had 5 ingredients. Well, 6.

Salmon, Bacon and Tomato Packets.

4 Salmon fillets
3 cooked strips of Bacon, broken into small pieces
1/2 cup of Ranch dressing
1/2 cup of Feta cheese ( I don't like Feta, so I used Queso Fresco)
1/2 cup of diced tomatoes
Pepper for seasoning

1. Fire up your grill. It needs to be really hot when you start to cook (I heated mine for like 15 minutes).

2. Grab 4 pieces of tin foil and put one salmon filet on each piece. Fold up the sides of the tin foil so it looks like a box without a lid.

3. Put 2 tablespoons of Ranch dressing on each filet, try to cover evenly. Distribute bacon evenly over filets. Do the same with the cheese.

4. Put the packets on your grill and close the hood. Let cook for 8-11 minutes, until opaque all the way through.

5. Take off grill, top each filet with 2 tbs of tomatoes.


I served this with Uncle Ben rice pilaf (the kind that you microwave for 90 seconds in the bag) and roasted asparagus (put asparagus on some tinfoil, douse with some olive oil, season with salt, pepper and Italian seasonings, cover with more tinfoil, put on the grill for about 15 minutes, top with a little more salt and pepper, serve).

To say the least, this fish was delicious. Seriously, I don't even like fish that much and I would eat this everyday.

The recipe was super easy to follow, and everyone (we had my sister and our fried Dan over) loved it.

Make it now.

Sarah: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Grapefruit

First off- I am sorry for falling so so behind on these challenges. I am working very hard to catch up, but life is really crazy at the moment. I'll be caught up soon, promise.

Second off- I'm calling defeat. This was an EPIC fail. I am not going to even give you the recipe.

I made this iceberg lettuce, ruby red grapefruit, pasta, shrimp concoction for family dinner last week. I can only play that they let me cook again.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Carrie: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Bacon

I was pretty excited to see bacon as our secret ingredient of the week. Bacon's delicious, in my opinion, and it's so so versatile. I lucked out and this recipe for Spinach Bacon Potato Mille Feuille was posted on Hot Off the Garlic Press. It was really simple to put together and the end result was delicious. Oh my gosh, I have found a new favorite potato recipe. Make it. Now. I promise you'll love it. I can't pronounce it, but I don't even care.

Spinach Bacon Potato Mille Feuille
1/2 diced onion
2 cloves garlic
4 or 5 Yukon Gold potatoes
spinach leaves
three pieces of cooked and crumbled bacon
1 Tablespoon of flour
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons of butter
shredded cheddar cheese

Slice the potatoes.
Melt the butter in a pan and then add onions and garlic and a pinch of salt. Saute until translucent. Add tablespoon of flour, cream, and milk and whisk together. Cook over medium heat to a boil to thicken sauce. Remove from heat.
Grease muffin tin. Add a spoonful of sauce to each muffin cup, then layer in a few potato slices. Add spinach, bacon and cheese, then another spoonful of sauce, more potato slices, and then another spoonful of sauce and top with shredded cheese.
Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Sauce should be bubbling and cheese should be slightly browned, potatoes should be tender.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday Night Dinner: A Feast

We had a feast of a dinner this week. I bought a roasted chicken from Safeway and paired it with sauteed green beans made by Scott, a creamy baked potato thing for the Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Bacon, salad, homemade bread by Suzie and homemade hummus by Shelby. It was all pretty spectacular. For dessert, I made apple tart using a recipe from The Pioneer Woman. And I just want to say that this was a really fun Wednesday night dinner. Nights like these are part of the reason I host this week after week.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Becky: ICBC Brie

For this week's challenge, I actually prepared 2 recipes. The first recipe, which is listed below, was taken from

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and medium chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 cup apple cider
4 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed and cut into chunks
4 medium chicken breast halves, on the bone with skin (2 lbs.)

In Heat oil in medium size nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook until very tender, about 8 minutes. Add apple, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 cup cider; cook until apples are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool slightly. Stir in Brie. Divide stuffing into 4 equal portions.

Heat oven to 400ºF.

Run fingers under breast skin to separate from flesh. Put 1/4 of the stuffing under the skin of each breast; press gently to distribute filling evenly. Season chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place in 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish.

Bake in 400ºF oven until no longer pink, 35 minutes. (180ºF on instant - read meat thermometer). Remove chicken to platter; keep warm.

Prepare sauce:
Skim fat from baking dish. Scrape drippings into small saucepan. Heat over medium heat. Add remaining 1/2 cup apple cider; cook to reduce by half. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spoon over chicken.

Although the chicken turned out to be good, I was a little disappointed as well. For one thing, I think it would've been better if I had gotten boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of the ones that were on the bone. Cutting a slit in each breast and filling the slits with stuffing would've been better in my opinion. The reason why is because I found that when the brie cheese melted in the oven it actually stuck to the skin. I never eat the skin when I eat chicken breasts so I feel as though I missed out on the yummy flavor of the brie cheese. In fact, I wouldn't even know that this recipe even had brie cheese in it if I hadn't made it myself. Instead the chicken tasted predominantly of the onions and the thyme. So although this chicken was good, it still didn't reach my high expectations. I also think that this recipe called for too much onion.

Unfortunately I had forgotten to take a photo of this recipe and I couldn't find one on the internet. But trust me, I did cook it! :)

This was the second recipe I prepared:

1 small wheel Brie cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1 package slivered almonds

Microwave the Brie for 30 seconds, just until warmed through. Saute almonds in butter until slightly browned.

Pour almonds over warmed Brie on a pretty plate and serve with warm chunks of French bread.

I got this recipe from As stated above, I was a little disappointed in my previous recipe so I decided to try again with this simple appetizer recipe. It was delicious with the french bread! One thing that I think would've tried though is to add a little bit of almond extract to the brie. I think it would've given it more of a sweet, nutty flavor, but unfortunately I didn't have any almond extract on hand. Other than that this recipe was very tasty!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Carrie: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Grapefruit

I know, I know. I'm a little behind in posting this. I really liked the ingredient Lauren chose, but the holidays, they seep into you and keep you busy (even when you're really not). But here is grapefruit, and I swear I'm doing brie on time.

I found this Grapefruit Yogurt Cake recipe on Smitten Kitchen, and decided it would be a terrific way to utilize grapefruit. It was either this or a granita, and the granita involved being around for three hours, and that probably wasn't going to happen. So I picked up some really gorgeous grapefruit from Sunflower, at a steal of a price, and made this cake last night. Wednesday night dinner and a cake? I'm a rock star, I know. The cake wasn't too bad. Upon first bite, I was a little unsure, but it grew on me. Everyone else really enjoyed it too. In fact, we may have eaten 2/3 of the cake in about 10 minutes.

Grapefruit Yogurt Cake (Smitten Kitchen)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 extra large eggs
3 teaspoons grated grapefruit zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

For glaze
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeeze grapefruit juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, grapefruit zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the veggie oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup grapefruit juice and remaining tablespoon of sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Place it on a baking rack over a sheet pan, and while the cake is still warm, pour the grapefruit-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and grapefruit juice and pour over the cake.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wednesday Night Dinner: Sherried Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

I made The Pioneer Woman's Sherried Tomato Soup for dinner this week along with grilled cheese sandwiches. It was delicious. I really love tomato soup and grilled cheese. It's an excellent combo. This photo, by the way, was taken after I dropped my camera in my tomato soup bowl. Well done, Carrie.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Becky: Iron Chef Blogger Challenge Grapefruit

BBQ Pork Salad with Summer Fruits and Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
4 cooked pork chops, sliced
8 cups mixed greens
2 nectarines, cut into 12-wedges each
1 grapefruit, segmented
2 avocados, cut into wedges
16 cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon salad oil
2 tablespoons slivered, toasted almonds
salt and black pepper

Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/8 cup salad oil

1. For the vinaigrette: In a blender, combine all ingredients except oil. Blend at medium speed for one minute. Next, with blender at medium speed, pour oil very slowly into blender. Add salt and pepper.
2. For each serving, toss 2 cups greens with 2 tablespoons dressing, top with 4 cherry tomatoes, 1 sliced pork chop, 1/2 avocado, sliced in wedges, 1/2 nectarine sliced in wedges, 1/4 grapefruit segments. Drizzle with more dressing and sprinkle with toasted almonds. Serve immediately.

At first I wasn't sure what kind of recipes I could find with grapefruit. I looked through my cookbooks but none of the recipes really sparked my interest all that much. Then I googled "grapefruit recipes" and discovered this recipe on Even though this recipes probably wasn't the best choice for this time of year (for one thing, nectarines are not in season), I still chose it because it had a lot of ingredients that I love, like grapefruit and avocado. The fact that it has pork in it also made it a good main course dinner.

I was presented with some challenges. As I said, nectarines are not in season so I ended up using canned peaches. I wasn't sure what kind of salad to use for the mixed greens, but I finally settled on a mixed fresh herb mix.

All in all, I really enjoyed this salad. My husband wouldn't try it because he doesn't like grapefruit, avocado, pork or tomatoes. My husband is definitely a lot pickier than me when it comes to food lol. I wish I could've used fresh nectarines, but canned peaches were a good alternative. The dressing was fantastic. My husband even tried a little of the dressing and he agreed with me.