O.M.G. it is sooooo hot outside. What does one do on a sweltering day to cool off, and pass the time?? Cook… of course. Well some of us cook, and some of us paint our daughter’s bedroom. Yep as I type this Dan is painting Victoria’s bedroom. It is super cute, and it is super pink! ☺ Happily, I made some really great dishes this week, and I am so excited to share the recipes. First I made noodle pudding. When Dan came home from Europe, noodle pudding was one of the first dishes he requested, so of course I honored his request. I love love love this recipe. I especially love that I can make use of my ramekins. I only have a few recipes that require their usage, so I am always happy to add recipes to the rotation that require them. I love my ramekins…they are so cute…I just don’t use them very much. I actually bought them before Dan and I were even married, and it wasn’t until years later that I actually cooked in them. Anyway, I found this recipe a few years ago in a magazine, and it is a recipe that Dan and Victoria absolutely love. I am sure it goes without saying that Ryan doesn’t like noodle pudding, but hopefully someday he will. It is kind of like mac and cheese, but with a little kick. I always make a few substitutions to the recipe. First, I always use whole wheat noodles, I have never used egg noodles in this dish. The whole wheat noodle substitution is a quick way to “health up” the meal by adding whole grains and reducing the number of carbs. I have found that when used in a dish like mac and cheese, or noodle pudding, my family can’t even taste the difference between whole wheat noodles and the regular ones. Also, I never use Worcestershire sauce as it isn’t veggie friendly. Instead I use a vegetarian based steak sauce… ironic right? Vegetarian friendly steak sauce?? Weird. Lastly, I only have 4 ramekins so I divide the noodle pudding between the 4 ramekins and not 6 like the recipe indicates. Here is a link to the recipe that I used:http://www.food.com/recipe/noodle-pudding-445972
I also made fried couscous salad. This is my favorite couscous recipe…it is sooooo good. I have made this a few times, but again, Dan requested it so I obliged. Ryan actually kind of eats this salad. Okay, so he eats the couscous before I add any veggies, cheese, or dressing, but I am counting it as I am not required to make him an entirely different dish. I just remove a portion before I dress it and call it good. I make substitutions to this dish as well. First, I use “Near East” brand couscous, and I always use the parmesan flavor. It is basically a box of couscous that comes with a spice packet. If you haven’t ever cooked couscous, you really should try it. It literally takes about 10 minutes from start to finish. The longest part is boiling the water. Anyway, I always use parmesan couscous when I make this salad, and I always use plain old water, never broth. Also according to the recipe, salata cheese is called for in this salad. I never have salata cheese, so I use feta and asiago cheese…YUM. This salad is so yummy, and I never ever have any left-overs, so I make 2 boxes of couscous and double the recipe. Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/fried-couscous-salad-recipe/index.html
Next I made fruit water…pineapple citrus water to be exact. I am an avid water drinker, but sometimes I crave a little more flavor. Since I don’t drink pop, I usually revert to juice. In an attempt to cut down my sugar consumption even more, I decided to try fruit water. I have had it before at the spa, but have never made it at home. The possibilities are endless when it comes to flavor combinations. I have made watermelon citrus, orange and lemon mint, cranberry orange, and now pineapple citrus. I use a lot of ice and a splash of orange juice. The result is a slightly flavored and refreshing drink. I look forward to trying more flavors including peach basil, and pineapple sage…YUM. Here is a link to a recipe that I came across: http://www.food.com/recipe/pineapple-water-457805
Last and definitely not least I made Oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies! WOW! First of all they are HUGE!!! I swear eating just one of these babies, is like eating 4 regular size cookies. The recipe said that it would make 2 dozen, but I only got 22 cookies. That said, 22 is more than enough for my family…again these cookies are enormous! Victoria found this recipe sometime last year and asked if I could make them. Of course I could make them. It took a bit though as I never have Oreo’s in the house, and they are not regularly on my shopping list. A couple of times a year, I let the kids buy Oreo’s so I had to wait until I actually remembered to buy them or the kids pestered me to pick them up. Well they were worth the wait. These cookies are sinful with a capital “S.” The only issue is that they are time-consuming to make. Unlike regular chocolate chip cookies that you just drop onto a cookie sheet, these cookies have to be hand shaped ensuring that the Oreo’s are covered on all sides by the cookie dough. Further, when forming the cookies, you need to be careful not to crack the Oreo’s while covering them with the cookie dough. I actually took a seat at the table as this task felt like it took me forever. Also, the recipe indicated that the cookies need to bake for 9 to 13 minutes. My cookies took more like 15 to 17 minutes, but I did check them at 13 minutes to make sure they didn’t burn. Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://www.tablespoon.com/recipes/oreo-stuffed-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe/1/
I loved baking these cookies today. I actually miss baking cookies every week. I have already accumulated a ton more new cookie recipes since I completed the “cookie of the week” project. Every time I come across a new cookie recipe, I think “dang…this would have been a good recipe to blog about.” Oh well, maybe sometime in the future I’ll redo the cookie of the week project with all new cookie recipes…time will tell. ☺ Even though it was mercilessly hot outside, I stayed cool in my kitchen with Frank. I love love love Frank Sinatra, and he usually keeps me company while I cook. Dan never misses an opportunity to tease me about my love of ‘ol blue eyes, but I secretly think he loves Frank too. I mean how could you not just adore “the chairman of the board?” Beats me.
Whatever recipes you made or enjoyed today to celebrate our great nation’s birthday, I hope it was delicious! Happy 4th of July everyone!!