Tuesday, May 29, 2012

TIO Tuesday - Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

Recently I had the opportunity to try asparagus for the first time. I know, yet another rather common food that I haven't eaten. I always thought it was just one of those things I wouldn't like. I'm not sure there's a valid reason for it, other than I didn't eat it growing up. Well, long story short, Tara did an awesome job with the asparagus and I found that I do like it. Surprise, surprise!
I purchased a bunch of it this week, fully intending to make something fabulous with it. This wasn't what I originally had planned, but I will say it was pretty fabulous. I mean, you can't go wrong with bacon - right?! A little research and a video later, I taught myself how to prepare the asparagus. It's not rocket science, but being that I had never made it before, I wanted to do it right. The video was very helpful and the recipe was a winner. I did alter it a little to combine the two techniques.
So, starting with the asparagus, I rinsed the stalks and chopped off a little of the ends. As it mentions in the video, I peeled the ends slightly to get rid of the woodiness (is that a word?)
I drizzled  liberally doused them with olive oil, and sprinkled on a little grey sea salt.
After reading most of the reviews for the recipe, I decided to pre-cook the bacon a little so the finished product would be crispy. I put it in strips at 375 degrees for ten minutes then wrapped the bacon around the asparagus. The recipe calls for using half a strip of bacon, I would recommend using the full strip. By the time I had pre-cooked the bacon and then wrapped the asparagus, there wasn't much bacon left to go around the stalk, and that my friends should NEVER happen! I cooked them an additional twenty minutes as noted in the recipe.

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus


    • 1 lb fresh asparagus
    • 8 -10 slices bacon


  1. Wash and trim asparagus spears.
  2. Cut bacon strips in half crosswise.
  3. Wrap one-half strip bacon around each asparagus spear, leaving tip and end exposed.
  4. Lay on a cookie sheet with sides.
  5. Bake in a preheated 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until bacon is cooked.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature.

~ Misty

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Green Thumb?

Brad would say definitely not. I've been rather notorious for starting projects in the garden and not finishing them. When we lived in the country, I had high hopes of a beautiful large garden. I truly didn't realize how much work it would be, all the watering, watering, watering... And weeds too? When Brad came to the conclusion it wasn't going to work out like I had planned, he promptly mowed over the whole thing. Even the raspberry bushes I had transplanted. I was a little angry about it, but mostly relieved.
Fast forward three years, we're in our house in Cedar Falls, and we had a beautiful strawberry patch in the back yard. It was very prolific that first year and I had dreams of enjoying strawberries for the summers to come. However, Brad didn't like the large pieces of wood that surrounded and protected it (from being mowed over) so he took the wood away and you guessed it, mowed over the whole thing. Now that I was very upset about. I think that same summer I tried another garden with the same disastrous results.
So, we have two things working in tandem here. My inability to follow through with large parcels of garden and Brad's overactive desire to mow everything in his path.
My solution is to start small. I'm throwing this out there mostly to remain accountable. Anderson and I planted a few tomato and pepper plants this morning. I had to find somewhere that would be out of the way of Brad and his tractor. I decided on the back of the garage, after about noon, it gets full sun. It's not the best place, but at least it's reachable with a hose. I also guarded it with two big rocks. That should help?
 If you'll notice the dirt and "grass" around the plants, it's obvious, we can't grow grass either. To be fair, we haven't actually planted any seed in the back yard, but still, it does look sad. I'm really crossing my fingers that this works out. I can't wait to enjoy jalapeno poppers from my own "garden"!
~ Misty

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

TIO Tuesday - Doritos Cheesy Chicken Casserole

One of my favorite go-to websites/blogs is that of Plain Chicken. Her recipes are simple and family friendly. So what do you do when you try one of her recipes that she raves about, your family loves it, but you? eh, not so much. I guess, upon request, I would make it again. Maybe on a night where I wouldn't be home to eat it? Not to bash a good recipe, because obviously, there are those that really like it. I'm just being honest. With that being said, I still love her site and there are plenty of recipes that I'm still eager to try. Give it a shot and let me know what you think. Who knows, maybe it's just me?

Doritos Cheesy Chicken Casserole
3 cups cooked chicken, chopped (I used a rotisserie chicken)
8 oz sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups salsa or 1 can Rotel
1 can of corn, drained
2 cups Mexican cheese, shredded
1 bag of nacho cheese Doritos

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Crush the entire bag of Doritos and cover the bottom of the dish. Reserve one cup of cheese. Mix together remaining ingredients in a large bow. Pour chicken mixture over the Doritos. Bake for 20 min. Top casserole with the remaining cheese and bake 5 additional minutes or until melted.
***I used Rotel and regular co-jack cheese.
~ Misty

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

TIO Tuesday - Banana Cupcakes

We had another over abundance of bananas and I wanted to try something different from the usual banana bread. Anderson and I did a little research and decided to try the banana cupcakes. They were very similar to banana bread but much more moist and I love the smaller, easier to eat portion.
These are super easy to throw together, just in time for an afternoon snack.
I think they would look much nicer if they were frosted, but trust me, you don't need it. When I offered the frosting to the kids, they said they liked them just the way they were. You don't hear kids turn down frosting very often!Banana Cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk


  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar. Add the eggs, vanilla, bananas and buttermilk. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to banana mixture. Fill 18 paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. In a small mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar and enough milk to achieve desired spreading consistency. Frost cupcakes.

***The only change I made was using butter instead of the shortening, and no frosting.

~ Misty

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

TIO Tuesday - The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever.

I have been wanting to make this sheet cake from the moment I read the recipe in the Pioneer Woman's Cookbook. I'm not sure why I waited so long, I've tried many other recipes from her book and website. Finally, I took the chocolate plunge. Sure enough, delicious. I'm not really sure there's much else to say about it. Just look at this gorgeous chocolate - WOW!
 Sprinkle a few pecans on top and you're good to go.
 Pairs nicely with a strawberry mojito, don't you think?

The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever.


  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons (heaping) Cocoa
  • 2 sticks Butter
  • 1 cup Boiling Water
  • ½ cups Buttermilk
  • 2 whole Beaten Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • _____
  • ½ cups Finely Chopped Pecans
  • 1-¾ stick Butter
  • 4 Tablespoons (heaping) Cocoa
  • 6 Tablespoons Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 pound (minus 1/2 Cup) Powdered Sugar

Preparation Instructions

Note: I use an 18×13 sheet cake pan.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.
In a saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa. Stir together.
Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.
In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes.
While cake is baking, make the icing. Chop pecans finely. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir together. Add the pecans, stir together, and pour over warm cake.
Cut into squares, eat, and totally wig out over the fact that you’ve just made the best chocolate sheet cake. Ever.

*** Seriously, what are you waiting for???!!!
~ Misty

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

TIO Tuesday - Basic Alfredo Sauce

I have been reading a book that is completely changing my perspective on cooking, and in turn what I eat. I just happened to check it out from the library and I'm so glad I did. It reads like a memoir of sorts but it's also a how-to type cookbook. It's kind of hard to explain, but trust me, it's different from any other book I've read.
The author, Kathleen Flinn, is a food writer and graduate from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. A quick, basic description of the book: Her experience using nine volunteers and teaching them how to cook. Their ages and backgrounds are all different, but they range from mid-twenties to forties. All of them have different reasons for not cooking, mostly being afraid of the kitchen or simply not knowing how to cook. Naturally, the book jacket does a better job of enticing readers, but even if that's what I had read, I would have been interested.
In the whole scheme of things, I consider myself to be an okay home cook. I can follow a recipe, but rarely do I try my own thing. My palate is woefully inadequate and, I believe, prevents me from being a better cook. Her book is giving me the confidence to get back to basics and really evaluate how I can be a better cook, a better provider for my family. From one of the first chapters on knife skills, to her pasta and sauces, I have learned something new. That brings me to today's TIO - Basic Alfredo Sauce.
I typically don't make Alfredo at home, from a box, jar or otherwise. I don't know how to and the thought of screwing it up and having to start over is rather daunting. Ordering an Alfredo at a restaurant is hit or miss. Sometimes, I like it and sometimes, it's awful. It just seems to be difficult? After talking with a few friends, I found that consensus to be true for them as well.
So, last night, I told the girls I would make them pasta for dinner. We were having chili and the kids don't like it, so I made this for them. Normally, I don't make two different dinners, but I really, really wanted chili! I digress...
A quick note: After a little recipe research on the Internet, the basic skills to make a homemade Alfredo have not escaped everyone. There are thousands of recipes and cooks out there that sound like they make a pretty good one. For me though, this worked and I would be thrilled if you tried it out yourself and let me know what you think.
Recipe from the book, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School
All the necessary ingredients, minus the pasta water
Looking for the bubbles! Be patient, they will come
Finished product with mini-penne pasta.
Looks like I lost a little guy under the pan?
This sauce was so creamy and delicious, my family raved about it. Brad said it was far better than the frozen Alfredo he used to buy and the kids said it was better than anything that comes in a box. I can't wait to make this again using fettuccine and chicken. You will probably see more recipes inspired by this book. Let me know what you think!

Adapted from book, page 142

8 oz. cooked pasta
2 cups heavy cream (2 tbsp. reserved)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Carefully reserve one cup of the pasta water to use in the sauce. Over medium high heat, add all but 2 tbsp of the cream to a saute pan or skillet. When it bubbles, add the salt. Small bubbles will erupt into larger bubbles. Stir. When the sauce thickens enough to cover the back of a spoon or leaves a clean line in the bottom of the pan when you pull a spatula across it, add the pasta water. Cook over medium high heat for about 3 minutes, until it bubbles again and the sauce thickens. Add the reserved 2 tbsps. of cream, heat through and then add the cheese, garlic and a few cranks of pepper. Taste, and add more salt if needed. Add the cooked pasta and any additional ingredients and stir well to coat.

~ Misty