Saturday, November 6, 2010

Blueberry Muffins :)

Alright! I have found the perfect recipe for blueberry muffins! It is wonderful and it has a special ingredient... which is actually one of the staple ingredients in my kitchen, so that could be why I love it so much! However, I made three dozen last night and by this afternoon they were all gone through Alumni breakfast for homecoming and people eating them on our homecoming float! No, I did not buy them at a bakery. I made them (yes, me) from scratch and I am so excited to share the recipe with you. :)

4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sour cream
3 cups blueberries = 1 lb.
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

The recipe that I tweaked to create this recipe said this would make 2 dozen. However, I made three dozen regular medium sized muffins. :) Splendid.

First, beat the eggs and add the sugar to the eggs while beating. Then add the oil and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, spices, salt, and baking soda). Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and add the sour cream. Then, just fold in the blueberries (I mentioned the art of folding in an earlier recipe). I just bought 1 lb of frozen blueberries at Aldi's for 2.99. No need to thaw, just throw in! It is that easy folks. :) Then, I drizzled some brown sugar on top before I put it in the oven. This is kind of the best part and turns it into a bakery-quality muffin!

Bake in the preheated oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. They will be done. :) So, yes I have one muffin pan, so I cooked 3 dozen in 1 hour.

Beef Stroganoff

Alright, I know in previous posts, I have mentioned God's gifts to women... BOX MIXES. However, you always feel better and your self worth increases two notches who you make things from scratch. So, I decided that I was going to make BEEG STROGANOFF from scratch! So, I did... and it turned out splendidly. 

I found a recipe and then tweaked it. I also cut the recipe in half and I had enough to feed a family of four easily. So... here is the version I used, which is what you all want to know anyway. 

1/2 bag egg noodles (bags come in 12 oz)
1 can of mushrooms (you can use fresh if you want, I used can and it turned out great)
1 small onion chopped
1/4 cup melted butter
1 lb. ground beef
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper

Side note: When I made this it was very meaty, which I like. So, if you want more sauce... just put in less meat and it will be cheaper that way too. :)

First, you will boil your egg noodles on the stove, just like any pasta! Easy! I always add a little bit of olive oil, so that they do not stick together.

Next, you will chop your onion up and saute it in a skillet. I put the butter in with it to sauté. If you use fresh mushrooms you would put them in the skillet at the same time. However, I used can, so I put them in with the onions when the onions were almost done (soft). I did this so that the mushrooms would not get soggy. 

In another skillet add the beef and brown it until it is done. Then, mix in the flour, and beef broth. Stir it until it starts to thicken up. Then, add the onion and mushroom mixture and stir in the sour cream. Add salt and pepper on top. Continue cooking it until it is hot and warm, but do not boil it. 

Once the egg noodles are done, drain them and then pour everything on top. :) DONE! Serve it with some salad and bread for a yummy meal. 

This is not the best picture! This was the leftovers. It was so good and I was so excited about cooking that I forgot to take pictures of the process. 

Cinnamon Pecan Pear Muffins :)

Many times you find yourself looking for recipes in order to cook something to use up your leftovers. This is what frugal, domesticated women do in my eyes. If you buy all of your food little by little for each specific recipe. You could start spending a fortune. You need to always have the staples: spices, onions, potatoes, etc. Or in my kitchen the staples are sour cream, cream cheese, ranch, etc. Just kidding. Maybe next year I will have to start a more healthy blog. Anyway, over fall break I had the opportunity to go pear picking. It was an absolute blast. I have actually never gone fruit picking before, if I can recall. Which is sad, because my mom always tells me stories about how she used to go strawberry picking and ate so many in the field that she started to break out in hives. Anyway, I had around 2 dozen pears and I had no idea of what to do with them. So, I decided to make pear muffins. Pears are similar to apples, but more juicy. So, pear muffins are similar to apple muffins, but are more moist. Sounds perfect to me, and they were. :)

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
2 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
about 6 medium pears (I used about 8 because they were smaller)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

First, you need to gather your pears. This means you need to go to the store, or if you are lucky like me, go PEAR PICKING! 

Then you need to remove the skin off the pears, because we do not want those in our muffins. YUCK! I used a potato peeler, but you can use a knife, or any other sharp object that you wish (make it safe, get your tetanus shot).

Then you will need to core all of the pears, and cut them into fine little pieces. Let's use some logic, how big of pear chunks do you want in a pear? Consider the size of the muffins, how many pear pieces will be in each muffin, ratios... Ok, I love math I am getting ahead of myself. Just cut the pears. :)

Then you will need to make sure you chop your pecan up. Sometimes you can buy chopped pecans at the store in the bag. However, I would chop them a little bit more AND it is always cheaper to buy stuff that is not prepared, like pre-chopped. Chop if your self. :) Save a dime.

Next, you will combine flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, and oil. Combine the wet mixture to the dry mixture and fold in pears and pecans. If you do not know what fold means... if means to gently pretend like you are actually folding the batter, this will make is so your pears do not get leak all their wonderful juices into your batter. :) If you are making blueberry muffins, folding is important so that you do not have purple or blue muffins. I did not do this once, they were tie-dyed purple, but I have to admit... it was kind of cool :)

Then put paper muffin cups into your lovely muffin pan. Then fill about 2/3 of the way with the muffin batter. It should look a little something like this. :) Then put it in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. So, yes you should have preheated at the beginning of this recipe.

*I also like to sprinkle a little brown sugar on them before they go in the oven. Then makes a crunchy streusel topping without the big mess!

This recipe will make two dozen!! So, if you are a cheap college student and only have one muffin pan, put it in the oven for 30 minutes and then do it again. :) 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

So, everyone (who did not have a deprived childhood like me) has carved a pumpkin. My first real pumpkin carving was this Halloween. However, that is another story. Anyway, DO NOT WASTE YOUR SEEDS!  You are going to carve a pumpkin at least once a year, so you are going to use this recipe once a year. It may sound like a weird mixture, but it has gotten great reviews! :)

First, separate all the seeds from the goo, guts, inside of the pumpkin. If you have a simple way to do this, please share. It was a pretty tedious task. However, when you have help, things always go by faster. ;-)

Once you have separated the seeds from the goo, you will need to wash the seeds and try to get more guts off of them. I used a colander to try to help drain my seeds and wash the pumpkin off of them. When you are done, you will still have some pumpkin. Don't worry it is not the end of the world. It will eventually roast off. :)

2 cups pumpkin seeds (I had 4 cups from two large pumpkins... so I doubled this)
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Red Robin seasoning (this is basically seasoned salt, garlic, and paprika).
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (I truly use this in everything!)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Mix all of the ingredient together in a small bowl. Dump the mixture into a large bowl with all the seeds and stir. Then, lay them out on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and enjoy! :)



Garlic Parmesan Chicken

This recipe is so easy and it is so good! If you are looking for something you can prepare very quickly and pop in the oven, while you go to TJ Max and pick up your phone that you left on the counter while shopping earlier, then you have found it! (please disregard my previous comment... it did happen... but that is another story).

4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
1 cup dry bread crumbs
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
6 boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix your olive oil and minced garlic together in a bowl and then mix your bread crumbs, cheese, and spices together in another bowl. Dip chicken in oil mixture and then cover with dry mixture. Put all the chicken on a pan, pop in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. When it is done you will have some yummy chicken. Put it on a bed of spagetti or marinara sauce if you wish, or eat is plain. :) This is definitely a soccer mom meal, take it, use it, and let me know what you think.

God's gift to busy women- BOX MIX!

Ok! I just thought I should put something on here that is not created from scratch! Just because you are a beginning cook with a drive to be domesticated and become a great wife and mother someday doesn't mean that you have to ditch the wonderful things that God has given us. He gave us cake mixes, mac and cheese, lunch meat/bread, and hamburger helper. Do not forget these things.

So, just because you could make an elaborate dessert if may be easier and worth your precious time to just make a box mix cake.

I will tell you the secret to these. Follow the directions on the side, watch the cake, take it out when golden brown, and ice it with your favorite icing (mine is funfetti). It will look like a million bucks! DO IT! :)

Also, Jesus (my apartment-mate... yes her last name is Jesus) made a pumpkin pie that looked simply splendid. I just couldn't resist snapping a picture of it. :) Maybe I will have guest bloggers one day and they can also share their secrets with you.

Zucchini Bread or Zucchini Loaf?

The next recipe is pretty much amazing! :) So, I really wanted to make some Zucchini bread for someone special for their birthday. So, I first had to invest in a loaf pan. It was $5 at the supermarket! This is not a bad price considering the disposable ones were almost just as expensive. Every kitchen purchase is an investment. At least that is how I am justifying my purchases. :) Speaking of purchases, I also had to buy a grater to grate the zucchini. So, I purchased one at Ross for like $3. This is not a bad price considering it is Kitchen Aid and PURPLE! Yes, nothing will match, but who cares it will make me cheerful and happy whenever I see it.

3 cups flour
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
chopped walnuts (optional)

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You will need two loaf pans for this recipe. If you remember from above, I only purchased one. So, I also used a small square cake pan to cook the other half in. This was actually perfect because I had loaves of zucchini bread and small brownie-like pieces of zucchini bread.

Beat together the eggs, sugar, and oil. Blend in the grated zucchini and then the sour cream. At the end, mix in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Then, stir in the chocolate chips. Once the ingredients are blended together in a batter-like mixture pour half into a loaf pan and the other half in the cake pan, or honestly whatever baking ware you have available.

Bake for 80 minutes. For those of you who are bad at math... this is 1 hour and 20 minutes. However, check it a few minutes before, because every oven is different. Do the toothpick test! It is so fun. :)

I made one pan with chopped walnuts and one without. It is totally your preference.


Fun, Festive, Fajita Friday!

So, some of you may be wondering when someone with a schedule like mine has time to cook? Well, the answer is quite simple. I am not up on the new YOUTUBE videos. I did not know there was a three year old girl who cried over Justin Bieber until months after it happened. I was so out of the loop. Anyway, I also don't watch T.V. anymore, which could be a good or bad thing. However, I relieve stress, create masterpieces, and fill my stomach all at the same time. You should try it. :)

So, many Friday nights ago I decided to have Fajitas. :) I don't know if I can really call this cooking? I mean it was more like preparing food and putting them in dishes. However, it was delicious, easy, and precious! So, I figured that everyone and their sister would want to start having Fajita night! I am! Do it! :)

Flour Torillas
1 Orange Pepper
1 Red Pepper
Grilled Chicken Breast strips
Chopped onion

Various toppings:
Shredded cheese
Sour Cream
Have some tortilla chips on the side and have a party. :)

Directions: I must forewarn you that there is no measuring done in this recipe. Put in as much as you like and leave as much as you like out, that is what cooking is all about. Dump a couple of handfuls of frozen chicken breast strips into a skillet and add some Worcestershire sauce. In another skillet, pour in some olive oil and sauté your chopped peppers and onions. I chop the onions, but cut the peppers in strips (just cause that is the way they do it on T.V.) :) Once the veggies are sautéed and the chicken is soft and heated, mix the two together and add salsa to the skillet. Stir and serve! :) It is that easy folks. Top with all your favorites and enjoy a night of fajitas and fun!!

You can even place all the food on the coffee table and have a movie night with your fajitas. :) We are getting fancy folks!


So, today is November 2nd and the last time I posted a blog about cooking was on October 1st. I want to apologize to anyone out there who has been reading this and anxiously awaiting the next recipe from the kitchen of Leah Kniffen. From my knowledge, there is not many of you, so there are not too many people that I should be disappointing. However, I am disappointing myself. I had a goal, and I did not successfully complete it (which is a rarity for me). However, my goal has halfway been reached. I have been cooking. The issue is that I have not been blogging about my cooking. I have been enjoying the splendid things that have been baked, stirred, sauteed, etc. over the last month. However, your mouth has not had the privilege of watering over my pictures and instructions for how to create these delicious treats. My New Year's resolution, which was not made on New Years still holds true. I will continue this blog. I will continue to make food. I will continue to become domesticated and I will continue to get FAT :)