Friday, April 27, 2012

Cookie Journey Thursday~Practice Cookies

This week I decided to make some practice cookies to work on improve my basic decorating skills. I used some flower cutouts, mainly because they are pretty and the colors are cheerful, but also because I have a Mother's Day and a gardening cookie brainstorm going on.
Here is what I cut out.
I started with a pink tulip. I still find myself piping too 
close to the edge. I need to remember that.
I love these colors, don't you?
So springy and happy!
I outlined the edges and the inside of the large tulips 
with a #2 tip and the small tulips with a #1 tip.
It's rather hard to see in the pics, but I think I liked the #1
tip better. With the #1 tip the result is a more delicate
look, which is perfect for the flowers.
I still need to work on ending my piping.
I don't like how it looks.
See that big blob at the bottom.
The yellow tulip looks a little better.
The pink one is my favorite. I will continue to work on this 
throughout the week. 

Thanks for joining me today!
Don't forget to join the Land O'Lakes giveaway! It ends 
Saturday, April 28, 2012 at midnight Pacific Time.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Blueberry Bars are now Blueberry Crumbs!

I went shopping to get some granola. Or maybe just to see what was available. I'm not sure. I wanted to make some homemade granola bars to send to my son at school. But I saw this box of Organic Cascadian Farm French Vanilla Almond Granola and it had this great sounding recipe on the back.  There was even a picture for this recipe called Vanilla Almond Blueberry Bars. So I brought it home and I couldn't wait to try this out. They turned out delicious, but not so pretty. :(

Blueberry Crumbs
1 Egg White
1/2 cup Butter, softened
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
1 1/4 cup Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 1/2 cups French Vanilla Almond Granola
8 oz Frozen Blueberries
1/4 cup Sugar

Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Grease an 8" square pan.
Beat your egg white, butter, brown sugar, and almond extract
in a bowl until creamy.
Mix the baking soda, baking powder, and flour together,
and then mix it into the wet mixture.
Stir the granola by hand.
It should look like this.
Take 2/3 of the mix and spread it into the bottom of your pan.
I used this Dollar Store spatula to flatten the mix in the pan.
I thought it was pretty handy for $1!! The perfect size to fit in
the pan. 
In a separate bowl, mix the blueberries and the sugar.
Pour the blueberries over the dough.
Here's where I think I made my big error. I didn't think
there were enough berries, so I added a 1/2 cup more.
Sprinkle the rest of the dough over the blueberries.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Let cool completely on cooling rack.
I let them cool for 45 minutes.
When I went to cut these bars, they started to fall apart.
So, I put them in the refrigerator for about an hour.
When I took them out and started to cut them, they fell apart again.
That's when I decided that they would have to be
blueberry crumbs instead of blueberry bars.

They were actually delicious as crumbs. I think the extra blueberries
may have added additional juices that the bottom crust just could not handle.

Next time I will not go hog wild on the blueberries~even though they are sooo good!

Thanks for joining me!

The Freshman Cook is having a great time at the following parties:
What's New Wednesday

Monday, April 23, 2012

Chicken Parmigiana!~Secret Recipe Club

Chicken Parmigiana is one of my all time favorites! I just love the creamy, cheesy, gooey Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese piled high atop a really deep tomatoey, marinara sauce, and moist, lightly breaded chicken. It's just so ~ Yum! Well, today is my day for Secret Recipe Club, and my assigned blog this month is The Savvy Kitchen. This is a great blog written by Amy, who loves to cook, and is getting married in just a couple months. Congratulation and Best Wishes, Amy! Amy has lots of fun, tasty looking recipes, you must try out~starting with this chicken parmigiana!
Chicken Parmigiana
1-1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
3/4 cup Flour
2 Eggs
1 tablespoon Water
3/4 cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs
Olive Oil
Mozzarella Cheese
Parmesan Cheese
2 cups Marinara Sauce

1  32 ounce can San Marzano Crushed Tomatoes
3 Garlic Cloves
1 tablespoon Olive Oil

I made my own tomato sauce for this recipe. 
 The recipe calls for 2 cups of Marinara sauce, and my family
loves the sauce I make, and it's so simple!
Let's make the sauce first.
Chop your three cloves of garlic.
Place one tablespoon of olive oil in your pot,
and add the chopped garlic.
Let it cook until light brown.
Add your can of crushed tomatoes. 
Let cook for 20 minutes on medium low.
Stir a couple of times.
Let your sauce sit on low while you prep your chicken.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
We need to pound out the chicken, and make it a little thinner.
Cut a piece of wax paper, fold it in half, and place your first piece
of chicken on the wax paper.
Fold wax paper over the chicken.
I could not find my meat mallet, so I used a can to 
pound out the chicken. I pounded from the center, out,
just flattening the chicken a little.
Now, lets put together our assembly line.
Make an egg wash by adding the 1 tablespoon of water
to the two eggs. 
Mix well.
Place the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. 
I try not to use salt, if I can avoid it, so I substituted
garlic powder for the salt.
 It worked out great and was delicious!
Place your seasoned bread crumbs in a bowl, or on a plate.
Take a piece of chicken, and dip it in the flour.
then coat the piece of chicken by dipping it in the egg,
and finally in the bread crumbs.  
Continue to do this with all of your pieces.
Heat a frying pan with some olive oil, 
and when it becomes hot,
 add your piece of chicken.
This is totally optional, but I wanted to make the marinara 
smooth, so while the chicken was frying, I put the
sauce in the blender, and pureed.
Use a 9" X 13" oven safe pan.
Spray the bottom with pan spray.
Spoon 2-3 spoonfuls of sauce in the bottom of the pan.
Add your chicken pieces on top of the sauce.
I left one piece plain and it was delicious.
Spoon some of the sauce onto your 
pieces of chicken.
Sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmesan on top of the sauce.
Bake for 5-7 minutes.
Cook your pasta.
Place the pasta on your plate, top with sauce,
and top with your chicken.
Serve with garlic bread!

Thanks Amy, for a delicious dish that is quickly
 becoming a family favorite!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Spring Brunch and a Giveaway!

I love a nice, civilized  Brunch, don't you? It's so nice to have the extra time to sit with friends and family enjoying delicious food and wonderful conversation. A while ago I hosted a Sunday Spring Brunch at my house. It was such a great time, and the food was so enjoyable.
Brunch Menu
Bacon Topped Deviled Eggs
Mini Mexi Bites
Mini Blueberry Muffins
Homemade Baked Doughnuts
Peanut Butter Cookies
Fresh Scrambled Eggs
Toasted Wheat Thin Bread
Fresh Fruit
Orange Juice
Fresh Milk
One of my very favorite foods I served at brunch were these
Mini Mexi Bites. They were so delicious and creamy, with a bit of a bite
that everyone loved. They were easy to make, and the recipe 
was courtesy of  Land O'Lakes! There are so many incredible recipes
on their web site, so here is a teaser to give you a hint of the
recipes Land O'Lakes has to offer!

Mini Mexi Bites
2 Land O'Lakes All Natural Eggs
1/4 cup Milk
2 tablespoons chopped, roasted Red Pepper
2 tablespoons sliced Green Onions
2 tablespoons chopped Fresh Cilantro
1/4 teaspoon Salt
6 ounces shredded, Hot Pepper Jack Cheese
1 box refrigerated Pie Crusts, at room temperature

Heat oven to 350 degrees. 
Spray 24 mini muffin pan cups with no stick cooking spray.
I started off by roasting my own red pepper. 
 I usually do this on the grill, but this works too. 
It actually works quite well. I used my tongs to heat the
pepper over the flame. I kept turning it until it was roasted
all over.
I put the pepper in a bowl 
and covered the bowl with plastic wrap. The moisture
created from the heat of the just roasted pepper covered 
with plastic helps the skin lift up and it makes it easy to remove it.
I peeled the skin off of the pepper....
and it soon looked like this.
Then I chopped it up into small pieces.
Combine all your ingredients except for the 
cheese and the pie crust.
Add the cheese and set aside.
Cut each pie crust into 12 rounds using a 2 1/2" 
round cookie cutter. 
Gently press 1 pie crust round into each muffin cup.
Evenly pour egg mixture into crust lined muffin cups.
Bake for 23-33 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve and enjoy!

I know you will love this recipe! Land O'Lakes offers lots of 
delicious, simple to make, bite sized recipes like this one. 
The deviled egg recipe I used for my spring brunch is also 
from the Land O'Lakes recipe site. 
You can find the deviled eggs and so many others
by going to the Land O'Lakes website.

Because of my participation in this fun Spring Brunch post
I received a prize pack consisting of these great items:
Land O'Lakes also has a prize pack for
 1 lucky reader of The Freshman Cook.
Here is how you can enter the giveaway:

1. Go to and check out 
all the great bite sized recipes. 
Then come back here and leave
 a comment  letting us know which recipe
from "Bite-Sized Brunch" you 
would like to try.

2. Go to the Land O'Lakes Facebook page
and "like" Land O'Lakes, then return here
and leave a comment that you did.

Each comment is good for 1 entry in the giveaway.
The giveaway will run for 1 week, and will end 
Saturday, April 28, 2012 at midnight PST.

I will send an email to the lucky winner on 
Sunday, April 29, 2012!

"Disclosure: The gift pack, coupons, information, and additional
gift pack have been provided by Land O'Lakes through


Thanks for stopping by and Good Luck!