Monthly Archives: September 2011

Sweet Potato Banana Muffins

Well it is officially fall now!

(Which, if you live in the South, doesn’t really mean much. It is still pretty hot during the day…we get a little bit cooler nights though…)

If you pay any attention to food blogging trends, you will notice that around the end of August, people start throwing pumpkin recipes out at you left and right. While pumpkin is admittedly quite tasty, I prefer sweet potato.

So in honor of my first official fall food blog post, I give you one of my favorite sweet potato recipes.

These muffins are so super moist and tender. The sweet potato, cinnamon, and ginger give it a nice warm flavor and aroma. Perfect for fall baking. You are just going to love these.

And I want you to go make them.

Now.

So, no cutesy story or pictures of my kids.

…oh yeah…that’s right. I’m getting serious now…

In your mixer, beat together a ripe banana and a baked sweet potato, until fully combined.

While that those two are getting fully acquainted, stir all of your dry ingredients together.

Then add all of the wet ingredients to the banana sweet potato mixture and blend.

Now dump in the dry ingredients.

Fill up greased muffin tins with the batter and sprinkle them with a small handful of oats. It looks pretty, plus it adds a nice little bit of textural interest. Lightly toasted oats are ever so slightly crunchy and nutty.

Please set a few aside without oats on the top for The Dude. She thought that they were nuts, and consequently picked them all off or spit them out.

Some three year olds are just hard to impress I guess.

(Oops. OK. That’s the only kid story…)

These will make about 14 muffins, depending on the size of your muffin tins. Since I only have one regular sized muffin tin right now, I actually made up a dozen regular muffins and one dozen mini muffins with this recipe.

Sweet Potato Banana Muffins

makes 14 muffins

1 medium sweet potato, baked

1 medium ripe banana

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup old fashioned oats (plus additional for muffin tops)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup canola oil

2 eggs lightly beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 400.

Beat together sweet potato and banana.

In a medium bowl combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Set aside.

Stir honey, milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla into sweet potato mixture.

Fold in dry ingredients.

Fill greased muffin tins with batter and top with additional oats.

Bake for 16-18 minutes (12-14 minutes for mini-muffins).

Saturday Selections: Italian Sausage Balls

“It’s game day! I do what I want!”

If you were to happen into our house in the fall, anywhere from Friday night until Saturday night, you might find I or The Hubs screaming this at each other in an outrageously dramatic fashion.

You know how you have friends from college who are sort of immortalized by the crazy things that they said or did? And how you still find yourself giggling over these things even close to a decade later?

Honestly, I have no idea of the context surrounding this quote, or even for that matter why it is so funny to us. I just know that it happened on a Friday night before an Alabama game. I can only imagine that there were copious amounts of certain beverages traditionally found in fraternity houses involved (…Gatorade?…yeah…must have been Gatorade…). All I know is that at some point late in the evening, one of The Hubs’ fraternity brothers said this to his girlfriend. And The Hubs and I are still to this day saying it to each other.

It pretty much applies in any situation.

Me: “Well, gosh Hubs, aren’t you special that you just got to sleep in until 8:30 this morning?”

Hubs: “It’s game day! I do what I want!”

or

Hubs: “Hey, Amy, are you sure you want to have that third cup of coffee this morning? You know how crazy jittery you get.”

Me: “It’s game day! I do what I want!”

See? It’s fun.

So how does this story tie in to today’s game day fare?

Well, it doesn’t really. Except that I am feeling a little defensive for tampering with something that is already super delicious.

You know those sausage balls that are always found at parties around the holidays? Bisquick, breakfast sausage, and cheese?

Yeah…those things….

Well, I kinda tried to fix something that wasn’t broke.

I decided to give them an Italian twist.

I kept feeling like somebody was going to come in the kitchen and try to tell me to just make the regular ones since they are already great. Then I would have to inform them, “It’s game day! I do what I want!”

And I think you are going to want to do what you want too. There are few things easier to whip up than sausage balls. They can totally be made ahead of time. I have made them as early as the night before I was going to serve them. I just wrapped some plastic wrap around the entire sheet pan and popped it in the fridge until I was ready to go.

And they probably taste just as you imagine. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, cheesy, slightly sweet from the Italian seasonings, and slightly spicy.

Truth be told, The Dude, The Hubs, and I ate almost an entire pan for dinner one night.

You may wanna make a lot.

You start off with your favorite Italian sausage. I really like Jennie-O Hot Italian Turkey Sausage.

Since these come in a casing, I simply run a knife along the side of the sausage link and then peel it off. I did take some photos of this, but raw sausage links simply do not make an appetizing photo subject. And frankly (haha…see what I did there?), I’m not sure I’m really mature enough to go there.

Now on to a little Bisquick.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. But this is how you do traditional sausage balls so I decided to use it. But if you really want to do your own Bisquick type mix you can do this. (P.S. I used this recipe the first time I made these because I was out of Bisquick and it was just fine.)

Measure out some cheeses and dump everything into a mixer to blend them together, or just mix it up with a spoon and your hands.

Then get to forming about walnut sized balls.

Place them on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

Serve them up alongside your favorite smooth tomato sauce.

Italian Sausage Balls

1.22 lbs Italian sausage removed from casings

1 1/2 cups Bisquick

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine all ingredients.

Form into walnut sized balls and place on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Yup….doing what I want. Happy Saturday.

Blueberry Muffin Granola Bar Parfait

Phew….I have posted a great deal of junk as of late.

Let’s detox a bit shall we?

Look, I tried to tell you way back when I first started this blog that I am all over some homemade granola bars.

And I’ll be honest, these are kind of a mistake. When I first made them, I was really going for something else (I’m not giving up on the other ones though…stay tuned!). But I kind of liked the end result anyway. Then, yesterday morning I was totally in the mood for a yogurt parfait and knew that these would be just the thing to take one over the top.

It was nice and filling, not too sweet. A very satisfying way to start the day.

Here are all of your ingredients for the granola bars….

Woa now!

I swear to you, I did not stage this….I was taking pictures and she all of a sudden showed up in my view finder.

Ummm…excuse me, Ms. Dude….

(she’s got pretty eyes huh?)

Anyway, you start off by mixing all of your dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.

The only one that takes any effort before hand is the ground almonds. I tossed a handful in my food processor, and pulsed it up until it looked like this.

OK. So this totally cracked me up. I have to share.

The Little Dude walked up when I was taking this picture and said, “Hey Mommy what is that?”

I told her, “Ground almonds.”

She said, “Can I try some?”

Now, I already know that there is something about the texture of nuts that The Dude just cannot deal with. But at our house, trying stuff is super encouraged, so I grabbed my camera and scooped out a little taste for her.

Hahahaha! They were immediately spit onto the floor. Poor kid.

So I gave her some water to help flush the taste out of her mouth. (See? I’m not totally heartless!)

So once you feel that you have sufficiently tortured your Little Dude for one day, you can mix up all of the dry ingredients.

Then stir in some frozen blueberries.

And now fold in your milk and vanilla.

Spread them into a pan and bake them up for about 30 minutes.

Cut them into bars once they come out of the oven.

Once they have cooled a little bit, you can eat them just like this. They are perfectly delicious this way.

But crumbled up with some yogurt and bananas?

Dank-ness.

I crumbled up one granola bar in the bottom of a bowl.

Then topped it with some sliced bananas.

Then a little Greek yogurt sweetened with a bit of honey.

Then, in true parfait fashion, repeated the whole process.

Sprinkle the whole thing with some of those ground almonds, and baby, you just fixed yo’self breakfast (or lunch…hey, I’m not trying to tell you what to do)!

Blueberry Muffin Granola Bar Parfait

Serves 2

2 blueberry muffin granola bars

1/2  banana

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon ground almonds (optional)

Combine honey and yogurt.

Crumble one bar into bottom of bowl, top with banana slices, and 1/2 of yogurt. Repeat. Sprinkle with ground almonds if desired.

Blueberry Muffin Granola Bars

Makes 8 bars

1 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup wheat germ

3 tablespoons milled flax seed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup ground almonds

1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup frozen blueberries

1/2 cup milk (I used coconut)

1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl combine all dry ingredients.

Gently stir in blueberries.

In a measuring cup stir together milk and vanilla.

Fold into the other ingredients until they are wet.

Spread into a greased 8×8 pan.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Immediately cut into bars.

Breakfast is served!

Saturday Selections: Sloppy Joe Cups

I really have to give The Hubs credit for this one.

I was jotting down a recipe idea I had one afternoon when he said, “Why don’t you make sloppy joe cupcakes?” He was totally joking, but that immediately got me thinking.

What if I did make sloppy joe cupcakes?!

Then I remembered this recipe that I had made from Paula’s Best Dishes a while back.

I thought…hmmm why not use this same idea to make Sloppy Joes?

And why not serve them up on game day?

Yums!

We start off with an easy little Sloppy Joe recipe. And because I think that it is one of those dishes that gets better the longer it sits, I decided to bust out the ol’ slow cooker to let it simmer all afternoon.

In a skillet, heat up about a tablespoon of olive oil.

Chop up a bell pepper and half of a medium to large onion. Toss them over into the hot oil. Cook them until the peppers are starting to soften and the onions are just starting to brown a little bit.

Then, add in the leanest ground beef you can find. I used a 96/4. Add in a tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce and salt and pepper.

While that is browning, learn how to say Worcestershire.

As you practice saying your new favorite word to yourself, you can start throwing some stuff in your slow cooker.

Pour in ketchup, mustard, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, chili powder, Rotel, and water. Go ahead and turn on your slow cooker to low and stir up your ingredients.

I probably should have been taking pictures of these things as I was going along, but I got a little distracted by what was going on behind me.

The Dude was helping Monkey Mode play with Tupperware (and by helping her play, I of course mean, snatching them out of her hand and then sweetly telling her “No no!”…oh well).

Apparently, my little Monkey has inherited her Mom’s ability to look asleep in every picture that is taken of her.

But seriously. Does that smile not kill you??

ThenThe Dude announced, “Hey Mommmmyyyy, I’m going to the ice cream stoooore!”

Ohhhhh Kayyyy….

Monkey thought she was hiding though. So cute.

See what I mean about the closed eyes?? Poor kid….

But anywho, back to the stove…

By now, the beef should be nice and brown. If you used as lean of a cut as I did, then there really is no draining that needs to happen. I wadded up some paper towels and ran it around the bottom of the pan with my spatula just for good measure, but I don’t really think it even needed that. (I have issues with grease…ask The Hubs). Anyway, add your meat to the slow cooker and stir it all together. Taste it for salt and pepper, put the lid on it, and leave it for at least four hours, stirring it occasionally.

Now on to the “cups” part.

It is just a very basic little savory muffin recipe that I got from The Hubs’ grandmother back before we got married. I love them because they are quick and easy. And they kind of taste like pancakes to me. They just call for the usual stuff: flour, eggs, milk, oil…

Then bake them for 20 minutes.

When they come out of the oven, take a shot glass and press down into each one making a nice little nest for your Sloppy Joes.

Then, when you and your friends are ready, head on back over to that slow cooker and scoop out some of the goodness you have been smelling all afternoon. Garnish it with a sprinkling of chopped dill pickles.

This here is some good football watchin’ grub.

Tangy, sweet, and slightly spicy from the green chilies. Served up in a cute little muffin cup. Fun!

Sloppy Joe Cups

(inspired by BBQ Chicken in Cornbread Cups by Paula Deen)

Makes 9 cups

For the Sloppy Joes:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 large onion, chopped

1 lb extra lean ground beef

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons mustard

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies

1/2 cup water

In a medium sized skillet, heat up olive oil.

Add in peppers and onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook until soft and slightly brown.

Add in ground beef and Worcestershire sauce. Cook until brown and crumbly. Drain if necessary.

Combine ketchup, mustard, vinegar, sugar, chili powder, tomatoes, and water in slow cooker.

Stir in meat mixture.

Let simmer on low for at least 4 hours. Stirring occasionally.

For the muffin cups:

1 cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425.

In a medium sized bowl combine dry ingredients.

In a measuring cup, combine wet.

Add wet to dry and stir to combine (mine seemed a little dry, so I added in about 1 tablespoon more milk).

Fill greased muffin tin cups about 2/3 of the way full. Pour a little water into the remaining three cups.

Bake for 15 minutes.

While the muffins are still warm, firmly press in centers with a shot glass.

Fill centers with Sloppy Joes mixture and top with chopped dill pickles.

Kielbasa Cheddar Beer Scones

I have a little bone to pick with these scones.

Pretty much ever since I made these, I have had the Tenacious D song “Kielbasa Sausage” stuck in my head.  I’m pretty sure The Hubs has too.

I have made these twice since last Friday (yes, they are that good). And every time something is said about them, either I or The Hubs starts in, “I love ya babeh!” Then we finish it together about as obnoxiously as we can, ” but all I can think about is…KIELBASA SAUSAGE!”

Now, this would be fine I guess, except that now The Little Dude has started singing it too.

If you are unfamiliar with this little ditty, then just keep on thinking it is cute. If you are familiar with it, then you will understand that it is probably not the most appropriate song for a child to sing.

Side bar: The Hubs wanted me to make sure to iterate that she is not singing the really offensive parts…just the first two lines.

Man, we are good parents.

Oh well.

I am going to try to power through noise in my head of Jack Black’s voice to try to tell you how to make these scones.

First, cut up your kielbasa into little cubes and fry them up. Set them on a paper towel to drain and cool down.

Sizzle. Sizzle.

(…”I love ya baby”…oh lord, here we go…)

Now try to ignore The Dude’s cry for sausage samples as you cut some cold butter into your flour mixture.

Then, stir in your cheddar and kielbasa.

For some reason this tickled The Dude. When I told her that I was about to toss the kielbasa in the flour, she laughed and said, “That’s readickaleous!”

Next, pour 1/2 cup of beer into a measuring cup and stir in 1/2 teaspoon of spicy brown mustard.

And depending on what time of day it is when you are making these, or how annoying you are finding the Tenacious D song stuck in your head and/or The Little Dude saying “can I have some more sausage??”, you may choose to drink the rest of the beer now or put a little tin foil over the top of the bottle and save it for a little later in the day.

Stir the beer mixture into the flour until it is just coming together and turn it out onto a floured surface.

Gently knead it for a couple of minutes until it is one solid piece, and then flatten it out into about a 1 inch thick disc.

It is tradition in our house, for The Dude to pat bread dough and tell it “good dough.” She may sing the occasional inappropriate song, but she is a sweet and supportive kid, what can I say.

Now, cut it into six even triangles and place on a a greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes.

These are so full of cheese and butter that they literally melt in your mouth.

Then, you get those salty chunks of sausage and cheese. The beer adds a little sweetness, while making it rich and somehow lighter at the same time(…and what goes better with sausage than beer, anyway, right??) Plus, this teeny, tiny, tangy kick of the mustard.

These scones are readickaleously good.

Kielbasa Cheddar Beer Scones

3/4 cup cubed, browned kielbasa sausage

1 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

4 tablespoons cold butter

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 teaspoon spicy brown mustard

1/2 cup beer

Preheat oven to 400.

In a medium sized bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.

Cut butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or fork. Work the butter into the flour until it resembles corn meal with some pea-sized chunks of butter remaining.

Stir in the cheese until it is evenly coated with flour.

Repeat the process with the sausage.

In a measuring cup, combine mustard and beer. Stir into the rest of the ingredients until the dough is just starting to pull away from the sides of the bowl, but not in a complete clump yet.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and gently knead a couple of times until it is in one cohesive ball.

Pat down into a 1″ thick disc.

Cut into six triangles, and place on a baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes.

“…but all I can think about is KIELBASA SAUSAGE (and beer and cheese scones)!!”

Saturday Selections: Gooey Mixed Nut Pie Bars

Well, we have big big news here today. Apparently, Tom Rinaldi, dramatic and touching ESPN segment-maker extraordinaire, had a taste of this week’s Saturday Selction and was so blown away that he wanted to do a quick review on them. (which is so cool, because I don’t even know Tom Rinaldi, and as far as I know, he has never even so much as stepped a foot in my kitchen…wow…incredible)

But without further ado, here’s Tom Rinaldi with this delicious and inspirational football snack story.

In one seemingly innocent kitchen in North Central Alabama you may find a group of usually rowdy football fans standing around in complete and stunned silence.  Not from any awe-inspiring plays on the big screen, but from a delicious dessert made by a brilliant home cook and blogger mom.

Amy, from A Stool at the Counter has conjured up a wicked concoction of deliciousness that brings Tebow sized tears of joy to any and all who are lucky enough to have a bite.

These bars have not one but two sticks of butter in them. And enough sugar to fuel you for at least one quarter of a football game.

Some desserts are so decadent, you can only eat one small piece at one sitting.

The filling in between the soft shortbread crust and crunchy nuts is smooth, creamy, and oozes out after every amazing fork full.

So regardless of which team you choose to cheer for this Saturday, take a moment to make this dessert and unite. Not as football fans, but as fans of deliciousness.

Tom Rinaldi, ESPN.

Wow.

Thank you so much, Tom. I am seriously flattered that you felt so strongly about these bars that you wanted to do this little write-up for me.

I don’t know if I really need to say anything else here. I mean, Tom did such a nice job.

These are pretty straight forward to make. So I will spare you from the step by step instruction photos….although I have them…soooo if you are seriously sad that I have left these out this time, I will bust ’em out…

I will tell you this though.

The word “gooey” in the title is no joke. These bars are seriously messy.

You are going to want to eat them on a plate, with a fork, and with a great big ol’ napkin handy.

But my gracious are they good.

Gooey Mixed Nut Pie Bars

For the crust:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350.

In bowl of mixer, beat together butter and sugar until smooth.

Add in flour salt.

Mix until combined into pea sized pieces.

Turn into well greased 8×8 pan and press.

Bake for 10 minutes.

For filling:

1/2 cup melted butter, cooled

1 cup sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup chopped roasted, salted mixed nuts (I used peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, almonds, and pecans)

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Turn oven down to 325.

Sprinkle nuts on top of crust and set aside.

Mix together butter, sugar, syrup, eggs, and vanilla.

Pour butter and egg mixture gently and evenly over nuts.

Sprinkle on chocolate chips.

Bake for 60 minutes. (center will still be slightly jiggly)

Let cool completely before serving.

P.S. I’m just gonna go on ahead and state the obvious here, that Tom Rinaldi did not in fact guest post for me today, nor do I know Tom Rinaldi, nor has he ever had these pie bars. Although, I will gladly serve them up in the event that he does for some reason come to my home.

Waffle Muffins

Uh-oh.

Looks like crazy leftover lady is back.

And this time she doesn’t even have a recipe for you.

This is just something fun that I can’t stop making these days.

Which is totally sad for poor Little Dude because she is mega burned out on them.

At first she ate them happily and with excitement. Now, she always vetoes them.

I usually give her a few choices at mealtimes. And since I keep making these, I keep trying to trick her into eating them.

“So what would you like for breakfast? You could have cereal (I say in a bored tone), or oatmeal (I say with a disgusted look on my face), or WAFFLE MUFFINS?! (I say with as much enthusiasm as I can muster)”

“Ummmm maybe just cereal.”

Ok whatevs.

She didn’t buy it.

She’s over it.

I tried this again for snack and lunch, but then The Hubs called me out on it and told me to leave her alone about it. Oops.

So I am going to try to give them a rest, but not without passing them along to you first.

You know how I like to stuff muffins and breads full of healthy stuff for The Dude to eat. Well, I seriously do make up a batch of muffins about once a week for her lunch. They are rarely the same, but usually consist of some combination of chopped up fruits, oats, whole wheat flour, and milled flax seeds.

I made one batch a couple of weeks ago that were pretty moist (I think I put a good bit of Greek yogurt in…can’t really recall). And while this was delightful, fresh out of the oven; the next day at room temperature, it was not quite as charming. So I sat there thinking, wow this would be so much better if I just toasted it up with an obscene amount of butter.

Then, my eyes landed on the waffle maker that had been left sitting on the counter (who says laziness doesn’t pay off sometimes?!).

Bingo.

I split the muffins in half and placed them in the waffle maker for a couple of minutes.

Cute, hot, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside little muffin waffles.

You know you are about to go make up too many muffins so you can have some of these tomorrow.

…please just don’t offer any to The Dude. She is très bored with them now. Thanks.