Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Guest Posting {Hart to Heart}

Hi everyone!! Today I am proud to be guest posting over at "Hart to Heart."   Hart to Heart is written by my sister Army wife friend, Leigh Anne.  I love that we share a version of the same name and have had enjoyed some interesting conversations about the burden involved with having two names combined to make one!!

Her blog is as cute as she is.  She blogs about crafts, recipes, fashion tips and fitness amongst other things.
 
Hart to Heart

I am sharing a little recipe love over at her blog so please go check it out and leave her a comment and let her know I sent you.  :) Thanks a bunch!! And thanks Leigh Anne for hosting me. 



Saturday, February 18, 2012

And the Winner is...{Dancing in the Kitchen Vol. 1 Cookbook Giveaway!}

 

AND THE WINNER IS.....

Using Random.org random list feature...

 

The winner is AMY HAMMOND HUMPHREY!!


Congratulation's Amy!! Thank you to everyone who entered to win, and to Carla at Dancing in the Kitchen for donating a copy of her cookbook and for teaching me a bit about Twitter.  You can now find me on Twitter Deployment Kitchen 365 and Carla Thomas and her #kitchenchat and #dancinginthekitchen Here at Carlas Ranch they have a lot of fun there!! Come on over and follow us. 

Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks for another exciting giveaway!!

-Lea-Ann

 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

{Butter Cake Donuts with Chocolate Glaze} Quick and Easy

Have you been eyeing those lovely little heart shaped donuts on the banner above?  Well...better late than never, here is the recipe for these lovely Butter Cake Donuts. They are so easy, because I used a boxed cake mix and a can of frosting.  My little taste testers thought they were super delicious and they loved the sprinkles. They actually didn't just lick the sprinkles off either, they actually ate the whole thing. 

I bet you right now you can find these heart shaped donut pans on clearance after Valentine's Day...I found mine at Target. 

{Butter Cake Donuts with Chocolate Glaze}

One box of Butter Cake Mix (the kind you add butter to, I happened to have it on hand so I gave it a try).
You will need all the ingredients to make the cake, plus one extra egg.
One cup of flour (there were a couple of flour lumps but have no fear, just pour in a little at a time)
One can of chocolate frosting
2 Tbsp or more milk

Make the cake mix according to the package directions, add in one extra egg (my package called for three, so I put in four) and then one cup of flour into the mix, a little at a time, and mix well.  Grease your donut pan, I used real butter to grease my pan.  And I made sure to grease the portion that was going to make the "hole" in the donut.  Fill your donut pan like you would a cupcake pan. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.  Turn out of the pan and cool on a baking rack.

For the Glaze:
Empty the can of frosting into a bowl, add the 2 Tbsp of milk and stir until thinned, should be about the consistency of glue.  Dip your cooled donuts down into the glaze, tap, turn over, lift up and place them back on your cooling rack and add sprinkles if you like.  The glaze will harden a bit (like when you buy them from the shop) as they sit out for about 30 minutes...if you can wait that long!!

My pan made about 2 dozen of these little guys.  I stored mine in an air tight container in the refrigerator because of the milk in the glaze but I liked them better at room temperature.  My kiddos loved them!  I mean donuts at home?  They were thrilled!!




I brought this to the party here:

It's a Blog Party

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Linguini Pescatore and Chocolate Dipped Strawberries {A Valentines Day Menu}

I am posting this Valentine dinner idea right now so you won't miss out on going out and gathering up all the ingredients you need for it this weekend.  Although, I cannot share this dinner with my sweet soldier this year I did share it with a couple of friends in celebration of a first wedding anniversary.  We thoroughly enjoyed making it together and eating it together as well.  I hope you do too.

The Linguini Pescatore is just a fancy Italian way of saying "Seafood Pasta" (in this case prawns and scallops) and really don't let it scare you, although there are multiple steps in the process the actual cooking part is a cinch and I will walk you through it. 

Sorry I am limited on pictures but most of my meals are made and photographed in "real life time" and that includes hungry dinner guests, hungry children and a hungry, overweight Beagle so I do what I can to get the best pictures in a jiff so we can get to eating!! 


The original recipe has been made by my mother for many years, and it is a family favorite, reserved for special occasions.  Here you go...

Linguini Pescatore

Ingredients:
1 lb Linguini
1lb of medium to large prawns (big ol' shrimps) cleaned, peeled and deveined (clean the "poop" out)
1/2 lb bay scallops
1/2 cup of flour
1 leek julienned (have no fear I will explain this to you...what's a leek?  How do you julienne one?)
3 Tbsp. butter
1 cup frozen baby peas
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 cup of dry white wine
olive oil
salt and pepper

The Process:

Choose your Wine:  A nice Chardonnay is usually what I use for this recipe.  If you are not afraid to splurge on a wine that is probably the best choice for this dish, but I have used a more wallet friendly Chardonnay. "Gallo Family" Chardonnay from California is not pricey and it works nicely for the dish, but I like to spend a little bit more on a bottle if I plan on drinking some too.  After all this is a special occasion dish. 

Prep the Prawns (shrimp): Start cleaning your prawns first, you will want to purchase uncooked prawns (the ones that are grey not pink) it is up to you whether or not you want to pay extra for the market to clean than for you but they are not as expensive if you do it yourself. Pinch the tails off the prawns and pull it off, then run your thumb along the inside curve, breaking the legs off of the shell and slide the shell off, rinse and make a slight slit with a paring knife into the top side of the shrimp to remove the gritty, sandy "poop" vein from them which is actually their digestive tract. No thank you!!  Just run under cold water to rinse away or scrape with the knife to loosen it. This is just the way I peel and clean my prawns, there are many techniques and Google has a ton of links.  Once clean pat dry with paper towel.



Prep the Leek: What is a leek?  Well you know those things in the produce department that look like GIANT green onions...yep, that is a leek.  It has a mild, onion flavor and is so delicious in this recipe.  You will want to rinse them under cold water, then fill a pot with cold water, cut off the roots portion but keep the white and green whole for now. Place them in the pot of cold water dark green side down, to loosen up any sand that might be inside.  They are grown in sandy dirt and if you do not do this you will be eating it later.  Give them a good swish, swish around in there.  Leave them there for a bit while you prep some other things.  This is really just an added step I take.  Remove from the water, cut the darkest green portion off of the leek and remove the first outer layer.  You will have a light green, to yellow section and then the white part of the leek intact.  Cut that portion lengthwise, leaving two long pieces...you will see all the layers, run that under cold water while keeping it in tact to be sure you have removed all sand.  Now, julienne the leek by placing the cut side down and you will slice lengthwise right with the natural lines of the leek, making thin, long slices (a julienne) you can view the process as seen in this video 

For the Scallops:  Rinse them and pat them dry with paper towel.

Dust the prawns and scallops in flour with salt and pepper.  I usually just put the flour in a 13x9 pan and coat them, keep the prawns and scallops separate as you will need to cook them at different times.  If you do not pat them dry the flour will not dust but rather get gluey. If this happens, proceed it will be fine! 

Start cooking:
Start your water for the pasta as this comes together quickly. Put on a salted pot of water to boil for your linguini.

Run a couple of drizzles of olive oil around a large skillet and allow it to warm up slightly.  Add in your leeks, peas, prawns and garlic and cook until the leeks become softer. Add your prawns to the pan until they turn pink in color, flipping them part way through.  Add the scallops.  Add wine, butter and simmer gently for about ten minutes.  Drain your pasta and toss all together.  Add in salt and pepper, as always I say to taste but you need to add salt and pepper along the steps of the cooking process, and don't forget to taste it before you serve it...you can't fail. The hardest parts are in the prep.
Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese.
ENJOY! 


A line from my favorite food movie "Ratatouille" "Anyone CAN cook!!" And I know you can too.




Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
(and pretzels...or anything else worthy of dipping into chocolate which in my book is EVERYTHING!)

1 lb large strawberries with stems
Rinse and pat the berries dry, water will ruin your chocolate
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. vegetable shortening

Put the chocolate in a double boiler and melt almost completely, add in the shortening and stir until melted and smooth.  Do not bring your water to a boil under your double boiler.  If you do not have a double boiler than a glass Pyrex bowl or metal bowl will work over the top of a pan filled with about 1.5 inch of water on a low heat.  If you are careful and use a low setting on your microwave you can do this in the microwave too.  Just stir often. 
 
Place a toothpick up by the stem of the strawberry, dip into the chocolate to coat.  Lift gently and give the strawberry a swirl to gently drizzle off excess chocolate and then sprinkle them with pretty sprinkles or drizzle them later with white chocolate.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet to set up.  We put ours in the freezer for a few minutes to speed up the process.

We repeated with some square pretzels, using a fork place a pretzel on the tines of the fork. Dip, lift and tap the bottom of the fork on the edge of the pan to get off excess chocolate. Gently lay the pretzel onto a parchment lined baking sheet to set up.




You will no doubt WOW your honey, friends, guests, whomever with this Valentine Menu.  I guarantee it.  Who needs that new Olive Garden they opened up in Anchorage anyway??? Pppssttt...three hour wait time. WHATev!!  Do it yourself. I know you can!!




I brought this to the party here:

  It's a Blog Party Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays

Friday, February 10, 2012

Cookbook GIVEAWAY {Dancing in the Kitchen by Carla Thomas}

Hooray, it is the time for Deployment Kitchen 365's *FIRST* giveaway!!

**UPDATE: Give away extended through Friday February 17th. Winner announced on Saturday the 18th at noon Alaska time!**

**UPDATE:  Winner has been announced! Congratulations to Amy!!


Dancing in the Kitchen: Volume 1 by Carla Thomas.  A cookbook written and self published by the mother of one of my dearest Army wife friends I met while stationed at Fort Irwin, California. 

Carla Thomas was born in Jacksonville Florida, her Father was stationed there with the Navy. He later cross trained into the Air Force and retired in California after several tours abroad. Carla has collected recipes from the many places she has traveled and from family and friends . She met her husband Richard Thomas while going to junior high and high school in California (They have known each other since the 7 th grade) Seven years after graduating they were married. They now reside in California and have been married 26 years and have seven grandchildren. Two of her daughter's have husbands in the military; one in the Army and one in the Navy. They are stationed at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland and Jacksonville Florida. The military has taken her family full circle.
Here is Carla in her California kitchen

*Details of the Giveaway*
Go and follow Carla at her Dancing in the Kitchen Facebook page and leave a comment on her wall that says "Deployment Kitchen 365 sent me!" and you will be entered for a chance to win. 

And/Or

Go to the Deployment Kitchen 365 blog and sign up to "follow" the blog through Google Friend Connect and then leave a comment on this blog post, write "Ready to win Dancing in the Kitchen Volume 1"  or tell me "Carla sent me!" if you are coming over from Carla's facebook or twitter.  If you are already a Google Friend Connect follower than leave me the comment on this post and that will count for your chance to win!! You must "follow" and comment for an entry :)  

**Open to US and APO addresses only** (Have no fear future giveaways will include my overseas readers!)

If you do both you get TWO chances to win!! The winner will be chosen at random and will be announced next Friday the 17th!

-Best of Luck!!
Lea-Ann

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Baked Spaghetti Throw Down {Meet the W Family}

AND...a birthday!!

When my friend Brittney was having her birthday I asked her if I could make her anything special for a birthday dinner. She requested a family favorite recipe of "baked sketti" as she called it. 

I have *never* in my life made a baked spaghetti. Baked ziti, sure...lasagna, oh yeah...stuffed shells, manicotti, all been done before.  But spaghetti?  No, hadn't experienced that one before.  So I decided to have a Baked Spaghetti Throw Down, Bobby Flay style.  She gave me the recipe for her "sketti" and I decided to make up my own version too.

There is no shortage of meat,carbs or half naked cute babies in this blog post.


*Meet the W Family*  Brittney, Daniel and sweet baby L. They are expecting "baby W" number two this Summer!  This is deployment number two for Daniel but it is Brittney's first full deployment.  Daniel has been in the Army for four years.

Brittney is sweet, and kind, she says "ya'll" and "girl" and I love it!! She was a Georgia transplant from Michigan so she doesn't mind the cold here in Alaska or collard greens and fried chicken.  We first met at the "Newcomers Brief" back in July when we first arrived to Alaska. Baby L was just a teeny tiny thing. We met again when the wives of the squadron were asked to jump out of a 40 foot tower, drive a Humvee and shoot a M16.  So, I think that made us pretty quick, and very awesome friends!  She is a bright light, a positive and trustworthy friend, someone you want beside you during a deployment and the girl likes to eat and I like to cook so we work well together!  She thinks she should just move in with me so I can feed her and the belly all the time.  I wouldn't mind that *one little bit*.  
Photograph by: Amotherseye Photography (Visit the Facebook page here)
*What are your proudest Army moments?
B:  "Knowing my husband is known as a hero." 
Brittney and Baby L. Photograph by: Lea-Ann


*Absolute favorite thing ever eaten in a restaurant:
B:  "chicken, mashed potatoes and collards"
 *What restaurant?
B:  "Sun Dial in downtown Atlanta. 
(Seriously, that restaurant looks amazing!)

*What helps you through a deployment?
B:  "Friends! And strength... faith in God..."

Brittney on her birthday. Photograph by: Lea-Ann

*If you could share a meal with anyone dead or alive who would it be and why?
B:  "Kids who are less fortunate, kids who struggle and are in a children's home. I would love to foster kids but I know that's not possible.
(Brittney, if anyone could take in foster children it would be you.  You have a huge heart and are a wonderful mother.  Maybe one day that will be in God's plans for your family.)


On to the details of the sketti versus spaghetti throw down....

Yes, you are seeing clearly, Brittney's baked sketti recipe which comes from her mother in law has bacon, chunks of cheese, ground beef and bell pepper in it.  It is one of her husband's favorites.  It was a pretty simple dish to put together, and would work nicely for a large crowd.  Certainly what her expectant belly was craving on her birthday and I was happy to oblige.  The chunks of cheese were a happy surprise in my mouth.  This comfort food made enough to feed an Army, but instead of an Army of people to devour all this pasta we had this type of Army....

A Meatball Army!!
I made these little guys to go into my baked spaghetti recipe.  So delicious, a mixture of ground turkey and Italian sausage, herbs and red chili flakes.  I made them smaller than my typical meatball because I thought they would be a nice size for the baked dish.  I used my smallest cookie dough scoop to make these in a snap, I just scoop, roll and plop on a parchment lined baking sheet.
And here is my baked spaghetti, a little bit more of a traditional take on spaghetti but the meatballs and mozzarella cheese made this dish.  

So if you like meat, meat, cheese, cheese, pasta, pasta than really any or both of these dishes would be for you.  I was partial to my meatball baked spaghetti and Brittney was partial to her baked sketti.  We should have asked for some guest judges to do an anonymous tasting for us. Darn...you can be the judges now...




Brittney's Baked "Sketti" with Bacon



1 box of spaghetti noodles
1 small can tomato paste
2 cans of diced tomatoes  (we used the ones with the Italian seasoning in them)
1 block of colby cheese cut into cubes
1 package of bacon, cut up and cooked (reserve four pieces and a small amount of the grease)
1 pound ground beef
1 bell pepper, chopped
salt and pepper

Boil the spaghetti in water with a splash of olive oil.  Cook the bacon and chop it, reserving four uncooked pieces to top the dish.  Cut up the colby cheese into cubes.  Brown the hamburger meat with the bell pepper, add salt and pepper to taste.  Drain the fat from the hamburger.  Drain your pasta and combine all ingredients, including the small amount of bacon grease into a large baking dish.  Top with the remaining four pieces of bacon and cook at 350 degrees until the bacon is cooked, about 30 minutes. 



DK365's Baked Spaghetti with Meatballs



For the Meatballs:
1 lb package of ground turkey
1 package of bulk, mild Italian sausage
1/2 Tbsp. dry Italian seasoning
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. dried red chili flakes
1 cup plain, dry bread crumbs
1 tsp. crushed garlic
1 egg
salt and pepper, about 1/2 tsp of each

Mush all ingredients together.  I use a small cookie dough scoop and scoop out small meatballs (about a tsp size) and roll them by hand and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until cooked through. 

For the Spaghetti
1 package of spaghetti
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1 16 oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce

Cook the onion and bell pepper until softened.  Boil your spaghetti in salted water until al dente (this will keep the noodles from getting too mushy in the oven).  Drain the pasta well.
Stir in all of your ingredients into a large baking dish, adding the meatballs last and gently fold them into the spaghetti so they don't break. 
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted. 


Mangia, Mangia!!