Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Spicy Hot Artichoke Bread


Well, it's the end of January and I'm fitting in just one more foodie blog post before the end of this wonderful month!!! Although my new years resolution for healthier living hasn't gone off without a hitch, I have stuck to my work out routine..... since December. So that's good. With all the delicious food hanging around {especially on the weekends} it makes it difficult to stick to a strict diet. ::sigh::

Oh well..... Now with Super bowl Sunday coming up, I'm not a fan of football, so I will either be hanging out with my girlfriends for cocktails OR in the kitchen making some decadent treats. Either way, there will be some unhealthy form of an appetizer consumed on that day. oh well, it must be.

Hope you all have a wonderful week and a great super bowl sunday!!! ciao happy Tuesday ~b

Ingredients:

1 loaf of Italian Bread sliced in half
8 ounces softened cream cheese
8 ounces of sour cream
12 ounces of artichoke hearts
1/2  cup of mayo
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
2 tsps. crushed red pepper
2 cloves of minced garlic
Dash of garlic powder on each loaf
2 cups of shredded mozzarella & cheddar cheese
1 tsp. paprika
Dash of Salt on each loaf
A dash or two of parsley on each loaf

Directions: 

1. Slice your Italian Bread in half, making two equal pieces. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Place both pieces on a aluminum foil lined cookie sheet.

2. In a medium mixing bowl add in your cream cheese, sour cream, artichoke hearts, mayo, parmesan cheese, crushed red peppers, minced garlic and paprika.

3. Once all your ingredients are blended well and are a smooth consistency, spread it evenly on top of both bread slices. Then top each with the shredded cheese mixture, then sprinkle on top of each a little garlic powder, salt and parsley.



4. Transfer the cookie sheet to the oven and bake until bubbly brown in your preheated oven for about 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Slice into individual serving sizes and then serve hot.

Details: Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 25 minutes Yield: Two servings of Spicy Hot Artichoke Bread. Serves approximately 10-12 adults.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Rainbow Raspberry Velvet Cake


Ingredients: 

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons raspberry extract
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 assorted packs of food dye (basic yellow, blue, green and red)

Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted lightly to remove any lumps
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon raspberry extract

Directions: 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 9-inch round metal baking pans (or spray
with nonstick baking spray with flour).

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, raspberry and vinegar to the flour mixture. Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat for 1 minute, until blended. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes.

3. Separate three equal portions of batter. Add in your desired colors. If you want to make a bright purple for instance, use 10 red and 10 blue drops. Play with the colors, make this cake your own! Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until
a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.

4. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans, then invert cakes onto a rack to cool completely.

5. Once the cake is cooled. Begin frosting the cake. Separate the frosting appropriately for each in between layer. Approximately 1 1/4 cup for each in between layer. Add desired color with food dyes for each layer. For the sides of the cake, I used about 1 1/2 cups of the frosting and then for the top I used a #32 Wilton's cake decorating tip. I only needed about 1/4 of frosting for each ring, and less once I came closer to the center of the cake. Once the colored rings around the cake became smaller I switched to a #23 Wilton's cake decorating tip. Just simply placing a quick drop of frosting and then pulling up with the bag from one dot to the next.


Details: Prep Time: 1 hour Cook Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 1.5 hours Yield: 1 Cake serves 10-12 adults.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Alfredo Chicken Veggie Lasagna


Hello everyone! I made this Sunday night for dinner. Once you see the title most of you probably think...."this MUST be fattening!" ::sigh::

Good news fellow foodie peeps! It's not that evil after all!!! I used part skim mozzarella and low fat cottage cheese for the bulk of the cheese in this lasagna. I did use 3 ounces of a shredded Italian cheese blend for the Alfredo sauce. Otherwise the Alfredo sauce was made with skim milk and only two tablespoons of flour. {you may use a jarred alfredo sauce to cut back on time, but they are typically very heavy}

Also, if you want to be even more healthy, you can make this without the chicken and make it strictly vegetarian! bam.....le done. super duper healthy cubed!

I will say that this lasagna is to.die.for. like woah! This is definitely one that I will be making again for the family. My hubby loved it.... 

The original recipe called for fresh spinach, I did replace with mushrooms. You may replace some ingredients with other veggies you prefer! I also replaced feta cheese with low fat cottage cheese to cut back on the fat. 

Ciao! happy eating my tomato friends! ~b


Ingredients:
  • 1 box of lasagna noodles
  • 5 cups of cooked chicken chopped up
  • 1 whole zucchini chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes chopped
  • 1/2 cup of red onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 cups part skim mozzarella shredded
  • 3 ounces of Italian Cheese Blend shredded (ie. asiago, mozzarella or provolone blend)
  • 1-10 ounce container of light cottage cheese
  • 2 cups of fresh mushrooms
  • 3 cups of prepared Alfredo sauce (I used a homemade recipe. reference below)
  • 6 thickly cut slices of provolone cheese
  • 2 tspns. parsley
Directions:


1. Cook your lasagna noodles in a large pot in boiling water for approximately 8 minutes or until soft but not too soft. Drain the noodles and then place them in a boil, mix approximately 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil into the noodles so they don't stick together.

2. While your lasagna noodles are cooking preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Wash your veggies and then chop your plum tomatoes, zuchinni and red onion. Add your mushrooms and all your veggies to a large mixing bowl.

3. Chop up your chicken and place it in the bowl with your veggies. To that same bowl add the light cottage cheese (the entire container), add in the 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese and the minced garlic.

4. Now make your Alfredo Sauce as follows: In a large non stick frying pan melt 2 tblspns of butter over medium heat now add in 2 tblspns of all purpose flour. SLOWLY add in 3 cups of {1 or 2 % milk}. The sauce will slowly thicken. Remove the sauce from the heat add in a pinch of nutmeg, 1 tsp of oregano, 3 ounces of Italian Cheese Mix, about two teaspoons of salt {you may add more or less if need be}, pepper to taste. Stir all the ingredients together until smooth. Set aside for assembling your lasagna.

5. Now begin assembling your lasagna. In a 9 x 13 inch pan using a soup ladle add one large scoop of your alfredo sauce to the bottom of your pan. Then add a layer of the your noodles then add on top of your noodles your veggie/chicken/cheese mixture. On top of that add another ladle full of alfredo sauce. Top with noodles and then continue to layer until you are close to the top of the pan. Use all of the veggie/chicken/cheese mixture. Then top with remaining alfredo sauce, making sure not to overflow the pan as you still have to add provolone on the top.

6. Do not add another layer of noodles on top of of the veggie/chicken/cheese mixture! Top the last layer of the veggie chicken mixture with six thick slices of provolone cheese along the top of it. On top of the provolone slices sprinkle with dried parsley.

7. Once your lasagna is assembled, loosely cover the top with aluminum foil. Bake in your 425 degree preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil then bake for an additional 12-15 minutes or until bubbly and brown on top. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then serve.

Details: Prep Time: 20 Minutes Cook Time: 45 minutes Total Time: 65 minutes Yield: 8-9 servings of lasagna, feeds approximately 7-10 adults.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Bloomin' Onion Bread

Hello, everyone! hope you all had a nice weekend. I did. I went out with some friends to celebrate my friend's birthday. {which is today, btw} happy birthday girl! Otherwise, the weekend was pretty uneventful.

Actually, somewhat disappointing in some respects. Sunday started out with getting smoked out of the house when I tried to clean my oven. note to self: don't do that again. So that was fun. not.

I made this treat for company saturday night. of course it was a hit. I did snag this recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

I also found the bloomin' pizza bread on her foodie blog. So thanks lady! happy monday everyone! ciao ~b

ps. this would make for a decent superbowl party treat. also the bacon wrapped potato bites are always a hit.  check em' out!

Ingredients:
  • 1 unsliced loaf sourdough bread
  • 12-16 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup finely diced green onion
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut the bread lengthwise and widthwise without cutting through the bottom crust.

3. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Insert cheese slices between cuts.



4. Combine butter, onion, and poppy seeds. Drizzle over bread. Wrap in foil; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Unwrap the bread and bake 10 more minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Details: Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes Total Time: 35 minutes Yield: One Bloomin' Onion app, will feed approximately 4-6 adults.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies


hello everyone! here is one of my original recipes! I hope you enjoy! cookies are yum. pb & j is yum. how could you strike out with the combo of the two? impossible. seriously impossible. 

please eat responsibly, they are sinful. ::sigh:: 

ciao. happy cooking my lil' tomato friends! ~b

Ingredients: 
  • 1 bag of semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 jar of peanut butter
  • 1 cup of concord grape jelly
  • 1 lb. of Wilton's melting chocolate
  • 2 cold sticks of salted butter cut into slices
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/2  cups flour
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. In a bowl add the flour, egg and sugar. I used my whisk attachment with my Kitchenaid mixer, obviously you may use your handheld mixer. Slowly add in your salted butter a few pieces at a time.

2. Once your mixture is blended to a doughy texture, take 1 tablespoon of cookie mixture and roll it into a ball in your hand (you may need to coat your hands with a little flour to reduce sticking). Place your balls of cookie dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Now squish your cookies with the bottom of a glass to flatten. {i had to peel my cookies from the bottom of the glass until i started lightly flouring the bottom of the glass}.

3. Bake in your preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes or until lightly brown. Take them out of the oven and allow them to cool for approximately 15 minutes.

4. Melt your chocolate according to package instructions. Combine your peanut butter and semi sweet chocolate chips in a bowl.


5. Now add a 1/2 a teaspoon of jelly on top of each cookie and then a teaspoon of peanut butter/chocolate chip mixture on top of the jelly.

5. With your melted chocolate {be sure to follow package directions carefully otherwise you will ruin the chocolate} place your pb & j topped cookie on a large flat fork. Hold it over a bowl of melted chocolate now drizzle the melted chocolate over the cookie. Tapping lightly to remove excess chocolate. Now transfer your chocolate covered cookie to a parchment lined cookie sheet. ps.  you will get chocolate on your fingers when you remove it from the fork. feel free to lick said fingers.

6. Place your cookies in the fridge to allow the chocolate to harden for at least a 1/2 an hour. { i placed mine in the freezer, they are delish super chilled} Serve chilled, and  I would recommend storing your cookies in the refrigerator.

Details: Prep Time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 50-60 minutes Yield: 2 dozen cookies.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award


I recently received this Versatile Blogger Award from Carrie over at Carrie's Experimental Kitchen! I was so honored that she thought of me. Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving me love! I wanted to pass this award along to some of my other foodie peeps. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Bakeaholic Mama
Forkful of Comfort
Lark's Country Heart
South Your Mouth
The Tastetress
I like to bake and cook

Check them out they have some great stuff! ~Thanks Again Carrie. All of ya' are great! ciao happy cooking!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Spicy Hot Crab Dip

are you looking for a great hot dip recipe for your upcoming superbowl party? look no further, because here it is! This is hot and spicy and yums...... As an aside, if you prefer chicken just buy a small pre-cooked  rotisserie chicken, shred it up and add to the dip instead of the crab. This will actually save you money on the crab. although the crab is very yummy too. happy eats!

adapted from:  Cyndi's Collection of Concoctions and Creations

ciao! happy Tuesday everyone!

Ingredients: 

1 medium onion (sliced thin)
    &
6 tblspns of butter saute both in a frying pan then
add
1 - 8 ounce block of cream cheese then
add
1/4 cup of Frank's Red Hot or Texas Petes (I prefer Texas Pete) then
add
1/4 cup of milk (I did use the milk, next time I am going to replace with sour cream as I found the milk to make it a bit runny and I had to add a couple teaspoons of corn starch to thicken, it still came out good)
mix till all is melted then add in
2- 4.25 cans of crab drained then
add in
1 package of fresh crab meat (you can use imitation to save $ but I don't think it would taste the same)
then place all ingredients in a casserole dish and top with
1 cup of cheddar jack shredded cheese or cheddar cheese
place in the oven and broil for approximately 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly on the top

{I served with mini garlic breads I made with a french baguette that I cut in 1-inch pieces which I broiled to toast to a crispy brown for about 4 minutes and then brushed with olive oil, garlic salt, italian seasoning and parsley. I also included some tortilla chips for dipping as well}


Details: Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 4 minutes: Total Time: 14-15 minutes Yield: One Spicy Hot Crab Dip will feed approximately 12-15 adults.

Carrabba's Champagne Chicken


Hello everyone, this wonderful dish I made for my family and company over the weekend and every single ounce of it was demolished. -even the leftovers, two days in a row...eaten up within nanoseconds-

The recipe is actually fairly easy, with a little bit of prep time, but overall fairly quick and painless and very very delicious.

I found my inspiration at Plain Chicken. Ok, so I have used a lot of her recipes lately. ::sigh:: guilty as charged. Anyway, the original recipe included crab so I used some canned crab. It's a little pricey but I love crab. Also I doubled the sauce for this recipe as I have a rather large family to feed and I cooked a couple more cutlets than just the four.

Ingredients:

2  Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
4 chicken cutlets
1/3 cup flour
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
salt
pepper
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup champagne (Dry)
2/3 cup heavy cream (or evaporated milk)
2 - 4.25 ounces of canned crab meat
pinch Kosher Salt
pinch Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/8 tsp red peper flakes
1/4 tsp tarragon (fresh preferable)
6 oz angel hair pasta, cooked and drained (I used Penne, but any pasta is ok)

Directions:

1. Mix together the flour, salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan. 

2. Rinse the chicken pieces in water.  Pound the chicken with the flat end of a mallet with the chicken in between two pieces of plastic wrap. I usually pound the cutlets till they are about half their original size.


3. Then dredge your cutlets thoroughly in the flour mixture, until well coated.

4. Heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add half of the chicken pieces, do not crowd the pan. Brown well on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and reserve to a plate. Cook the other breasts in the same manner, remove from pan. Cover with aluminum foil and keep warm in the oven while you prepare the sauce.

5. Add the champagne, crab and mushrooms to the pan. Use a spatula to scrape up the browned bits. Reduce the sauce by half. Whisk in cream, kosher salt,  black pepper, red pepper flakes and tarragon.  Heat until sauce thickens to a creamy consistency.  Serve chicken and sauce over pasta.

Details: Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes Total Time: 35 minutes Yield: 4-5 adult servings

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mini Monte Cristos

happy monday everyone! hopefully most of you have the day off. -in other news- sometimes blogger infuriates me with it's formatting. I don't get it sometimes. After about an hour of trying to perfect the format of this recipe....well it's still not perfect with the spacing and such, but it's all there. So I said to myself, "self, this is good enough. they will get the jist of the recipe and the pic aint bad". done. i had to do this since the next option was tossing my mac out the damn window. 

::ahem:: so the recipe.....These are like wicked good. I saw these over at My Kitchen Apron, and I HAD to try these. There were no survivors, my friends.  This would be a hit if you are planning a superbowl party. They are super easy and yummy. I doubled the batch as I had company over. Also, this recipe requires that you refrigerate them wrapped tightly in Saran Wrap for about a half an hour. I put mine in the freezer for half the time. done. happy tummies sooner. 

Typically monte cristos (in the full size version) are served up fried and served with a side of jelly or jam. like so: 

Found this image at Living as a Livingston


I will admit that I wasn't adventurous enough to try the mini version with the powdered sugar and grape jelly and all my guests took a pass on said option. However, I think next time I will put out some grape jelly -just in case-. I may get dangerous adventurous here folks. Also, usually the "typical" monte cristo is served with swiss cheese. Well no one in my house likes swiss cheese so I used provolone. But if you do like swiss and you want the authentic "monte cristo flair" then go with the swiss. Just make sure which ever you buy make sure it is thinly sliced, otherwise you will have a hard time rolling up your bread. 

ciao everyone! have a wonderful day! ~b

Ingredients
  • 6 slices of white bread
  • Mayonnaise
  • 6 thin slices of ham
  • 6 thin slices turkey
  • 6 thin slices of provolone cheese
  • 1 cup buttermilk baking mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1/8 tsp of cinnamon
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
  • Grape Jelly for dipping (optional) 
    Directions: 1. Trim crusts off each slice of bread and then flatten the bread with your hand or a rolling pin. 2.Spread mayo or mustard onto each slice of bread. 3. Top each slice of bread with one slice of ham, one slice of turkey and one slice of provolone cheese.
    4. Roll up tightly in Saran Wrap.
    5. Wrap in saran wrap and let set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. 6. Meanwhile, mix together baking mix, eggs, milk and cinnamon, and salt. 7. Heat oil for frying to 375 degrees. 8. Remove rolls from fridge and then remove plastic wrap 9. Skewer each roll into 4 evenly spaced toothpicks. Slice each roll into 4 pieces.
    10. Dip each section into batter, allowing some batter to be absorbed.

    11. Fry 3 or 4 pieces at a time, in 375 degree oil for 1-2 minutes turning frequently until golden.

    12. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

    13. Serve with grape jelly for dipping (optional) and dust with powdered sugar (also optional)

    Details: Prep Time: 40 minutes (with refrigeration time) Cook Time: 1-2 minutes Total Time: 42 minutes.   Yield: 24 mini monte cristos.

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Povitica

    This sweet bread is to die for!! I made it today as I was housebound with a mini snow storm here in New Hampshire -throw in some freezing rain just for fun- This here treat from heaven is called "Povitica" and here is a little history on this wonderful sweet treat, for my favorite nerdy foodie peeps out there. Thank you Wise Geek:

    Povitica, or Croatian walnut bread, is a nostalgic favorite of many Eastern Europeans and their descendants. Also known as Orehnjača (walnut bread) and Makovnjača (poppy seed bread) in Croatia, Povitica is a favorite of many other neighboring cultures. Known also as Potica in Slovenia, Orechovnik in Slovakia and Štrudla in Serbian, recipes vary from region to region and family to family. 

    Povitica is rolled yeast bread, somewhat akin to strudel.

    Anywho, this particular recipe takes a little patience with the cooking time and rising time, but it is not difficult to make. Just the tiniest bit of effort to roll it up n' make it look nice and pretty....then tadahhhh! Whamoooh !!! You have yourself a nice hearty/buttery/chocolatey/nutty treat. It should go wonderfully with a cup of joe in the morning. Maybe half a slice, yeah let's go with that. half a slice. dieting sucks, but I do so love having a waistline.

    I'm a nut, I eat nuts, all is right in my world with a little nuts and chocolate. The more nuts the merrier is what I say. Happy Thursday all, tomorrow is Friday and that is just special! ciao ~b

    My inspiration: Girl versus Dough  ; ) thanks lady!

    ps. please make sure to follow all the directions carefully as it relates to rising time etc. yeasty recipes can turn on you like a first date gone bad. behave and follow closely please and thank you. ciao ~b
    Ingredients:

    For the dough:

    1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
    1/4 teaspoon unbleached, all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons lukewarm water
    1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
    1/2 cup milk
    3 tablespoons granulated sugar
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1 large egg, room temperature
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
    2 1/2 - 3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (I used close to 3 cups flour)

    For the filling:

    1 1/2 cups walnuts, ground
    1/4 cup milk
    1/4 cup unsalted butter
    1 egg yolk, beaten
    1 teaspoon rum extract or vanilla extract
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    For the topping –
    1 egg white, beaten
    1/2 teaspoon sugar crystals (optional)

    Directions:  

    1. In a small bowl, stir together sugar, flour, water and yeast and let stand 5 minutes until foamy. In a medium saucepan, heat milk to just below boiling. Stirring constantly to avoid that film that forms on top. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

    2. In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix the scalded milk, sugar and salt until just combined. Add eggs, yeast mixture, vanilla extract, melted butter and flour and stir until just combined. Switch to a dough hook and knead in stand mixer for about 5 minutes, adding 1 tablespoon flour at a time until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and is smooth and elastic; OR, place dough on a lightly floured countertop and knead by hand for about 10 minutes, adding 1 tablespoon of flour as necessary until dough is slightly sticky and smooth and elastic.

    3. Shape dough into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

    4. Meanwhile, make the filling: Grind the walnuts, sugar and cocoa powder in a food processor until finely ground like coarse sand, and transfer to a medium bowl. In a medium saucepan, bring milk and butter to a boil, then pour the liquid over the nut mixture. Add egg yolk and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Set aside until mixture comes to room temperature.

    5. Punch down risen dough and on a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 10-inch square. Brush with 1 teaspoon of melted butter, if desired.  Spoon filling evenly over dough.

    6. Roll the dough carefully from the long end like a jelly roll, using a bench scraper to scrape any stubborn dough up from the countertop. Carefully place rope into a greased 8-by-4-inch loaf pan into the shape of a U with the ends meeting in the middle (or really, however it ends up in the pan that resembles a uniform loaf shape). Brush the top of the loaf with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Cover pan lightly with plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes.



    7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover pan and bake bread for 15 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 300 degrees F and bake bread for another 30-40 minutes, checking on the loaf after 20 minutes to make sure it’s not too brown (if it is, cover with a dome of aluminum foil to prevent over-browning). Bake until a thermometer inserted in the center of the dough reads 200-210 degrees F {mine cooked for about 50 minutes total and my thermometer only read 185, it was fine}. Remove pan from oven and allow bread to cool in pan on a cooling rack for 20-30 minutes, then allow to cool completely outside of pan before slicing and serving.


     Details: Prep Time: 1 hour 50 minutes (with rising time) Cook Time: 40-50 minutes Total Time: Approximately 3 hours Yeild: 1 loaf of Povitica.

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese


    I made this last night for my family, and let me just say this. It's like wicked good. I wish I entered the Annual Macaroni and Cheese bake off for this one, the deadline was December 21st. ::sigh:: It was really contest winning worthy, i mean really. Even my hubby thought so, and my oldest -Myles Zappa {and he hates anything associated with "buffalo"}

    Here's the 10-4 on that Bake off, for all my foodie friends. FYI, Macaroni and Cheese Bake Off . This is totally happening next year. like totally.

    I will say this, this dish is very heavy. Obv, if you are cooking anything with 2 1/2 cups of half and half, a ton of butter and 3 cups of cheese....you don't expect to be selling this award winning recipe to the weight watcher peeps of the world. But if you are looking for a nice comfort food to cook occasionally for your family; well then... this is just the remedy. 

    Also, if you don't have a ravenous crew of tween boys then I would suggest making half the batch of this particular recipe. It is very hearty and personally, I couldn't even eat the entire portion I put on my plate. But that's just me.... it is worthy of every single bite. I did make the full portion but I will be freezing some of it for my family to enjoy another night. Total legit awesomeness. seriously.


    Inspired by: the plain chicken

    Ingredients

    Kosher salt
    1 pound elbow macaroni
    5 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
    3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken or pre-cooked grilled chicken.
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    3/4 cup Texas Pete, divided
    2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
    2 tsp dry mustard
    2-1/2 cups half-and-half
    3 cups (24 oz) extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
    2/3 cup sour cream
    1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese or gorgonzola
    2 tsp. of Frank's Hot (to sprinkle on the top for color)

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the 3/4 of the box of pasta (i found the entire box was a bit much for a 13x9 inch pan) cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain.

    2. Meanwhile, melt 3 Tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the chicken and garlic and cook 2 minutes, then add 1/2 cup hot sauce and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 more minute.

    3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and mustard until smooth. Whisk in the half-and-half, then add the remaining 1/4 cup hot sauce and stir until thick, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the cheese, then whisk in the sour cream until smooth.

    4. Mix together chicken, pasta and cheese sauce.  Pour into lightly greased 9x13 pan.  Sprinkle blue cheese or gorgonzola over the macaroni. Bake until bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving. Drizzle with some Red Hot on the top for color.

    Sunday, January 8, 2012

    Cheddar Bacon Ranch Pulls {aka. the artery clogger}

    This treat is the evil/delicious cousin to the infamous "Crack Dip". It contains the same tasty type ingredients. So naturally, when I saw this at the Plain Chicken I thought to myself, "self, this is totally happening this weekend." I know some of you were crazy about the crack dip so this should be a hit with all my foodie peeps who liked the dip. I'm a dip, and i heart dip. dippidy do. do.

    Again my apologies for not providing a better photo, it was night time {hence no natural light} and I had a bunch of lil' piggies chompin' at the bit. A quick photo snapping action with the iphone is the best I could do during a night of playing cards with company. ::sigh::

    Ehhh, we have fun, so it's all good.

    Ingredients: 

    1 unsliced loaf of (round is preferable) sourdough bread
    8-12 oz cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
    3 oz bag Oscar Mayer Real Bacon bits (I used pre-cooked bacon and just chopped it up)
    1/2 cup butter, melted
    1 Tbsp Ranch dressing mix

    Directions: 

    1. Using a sharp bread knife cut the bread going both directions. Do not cut through the bottom crust. like so:

    2. Place slices of cheese in between cuts. Sprinkle bacon bits on bread, making sure to get in between cuts. like so:

    3. Mix together butter and Ranch dressing mix. Pour over bread.

    4. Wrap in foil the entire loaf in foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Unwrap. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.


    Details: Prep Time: 10 Minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes  Total Time: 35 minutes Yield: One Cheddar Bacon Ranch Pull app, fees approximately 4-5 adults.

    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    White Pizza with Grilled Chicken & Spinach



    I made this last night for my family, and I apologize in advance for this crummy picture. {I had to snap a quick photo because I knew this pizza would literally be inhaled moments after I removed it from my oven.} Straight up shenanigans.

    This is actually quick and easy, but not "light".  I limited myself to one small slice. Course working out  4-5 days a week keeps me from looking like the female version of Pavarotti.

    la! la! la! -talented, but not a small dude.-





    Here's what makes this recipe super quick and painless. You use jarred alfredo sauce, bamm! done. and pre-cooked chicken! double bamm!

     Now I made my own dough, as I am nearly certain I came out of the womb with the ability to make the perfect pizza dough. -insert mild fleeting embarrassment for obnoxious self aggrandizing- ::ahhh, moment passed:: Anywhoo, if you don't have time to make a dough you can make this recipe even easier and buy Pillsbury pizza crust. Oh, Pillsbury you are so very heartable -in other news, if the Pillsbury doughboy were real, i'd totally adopt him all for my own and poke his belly like it's my job- :

    Now you may notice that my pizza only has spinach on half of it. That's due to the fact that I have two pre-tween boys that intimate gagging gestures if they are forced to eat too much greenery. It's silly I tell ya. You may omit the spinach if you have some picky tweens of your own. Heck, add whatever your little heart desires!  Where I got my inspiration: The Country Cook {she has some great simple recipe ideas for the busy moms out there, check her out!}

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch....i was sad to discover that my husband took the last two leftover slices to work with him today. blast!!!! I had plans for those slices, one for breakfast and one for lunch! foiled again!!! -admittedly, he did me a favor, since that wasn't really a good plan at all- Oh and here in NH it's just chilly enough to start rocking my gangsta hat.

    it's ok to be a little jealous.
    enjoy the pizza foodie peeps and happy thursday! ciao ~b

    Ingredients: 

    For the Pizza Dough (if you did not by the jarred dough):
    • 3 1/3 cups flour
    • 1 cup warm water
    • 1 package of yeast
    • 1/2 tsp of salt
    • 2 tblspoons of olive oil
    For the Topping:

    • 12 ounces of pre-cooked chicken (like pictured above)
    • 1 jar of Alfredo sauce (I used the Classico garlic flavored sauce)
    • 10 ounces of spinach (fresh or frozen, I only used five ounces of the frozen stuff as I only covered half of the pizza)
    • 1 cup of feta cheese (optional)
    • 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
    • 2 cups of mozzarella cheese
    • 1 tsp of minced garlic
    • 3 tblspoons of olive oil
    • 1 tblspoon of parsley
    Directions:

    1. Add your water and yeast into a large bowl and mix together well. Allow that to sit for about five minutes until a little bubbly and frothy looking. Add in your oil and salt and then slowly add in your flour until it is a nice doughy consistency and it doesn't stick to the side of your bowl. Cover the top of the bowl with a clean towel and let it rise for about an hour. (this is why the canned dough will save you a little time)

    2. Once your dough is done rising, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Remove dough from the bowl and knead a few times on a floured surface.  On that lightly floured surface,  roll out your dough large enough to fit whatever pan you intend to use.  I use a rolling pin and spin the dough 90 degrees every few rolls until it is large enough.

    3. Transfer the dough to a lightly sprayed pan add 1 tblspoon of olive oil to the top of the dough. Cook just the dough in your preheated oven for about 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

    4. Remove your dough from the oven and on top add two tablespoons of olive oil then spread around. Then top with half your jar of Alfredo sauce {you may add more if you like}. Then add your garlic and spread it around in the sauce. Then add your parmesan cheese, then your half your feta cheese (optional), then add half your mozzarella, add chicken then spinach and then mushrooms (optional). Top with your remaining cheeses and then sprinkle your parsley over the top of the pizza.

    5. Place your pizza in the oven and bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbly. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then serve!

    Details: Prep Time: 10 minutes (longer if you make your own dough) Cook Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes Yield: 1 pizza, feeds approximately 4-5 adults.


     <a href="http://www.mycitycuisine.org/wiki/Pizza_bianca"><img alt="Pizza bianca" src="http://www.mycitycuisine.org/exlink/index.php?pg=1414&tp=3" style="border:0px;padding:0px;width:150px;height:150px" /></a>

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    Broccoli Cheese Soup


    I live in New Hampshire and let me just say this, "It's flippin' freezing out today Mr. Bigglesworth!" I literally woke up to ice forming on my windows. It's a nice bracing seven degrees out today. I briefly considered keeping my older boys home ::briefly:: Then when that fleeting moment of insanity passed, I dragged my chilly butt to my SUV and cranked the heat like it's my job, yo.

    Anyway, a nice warm hearty soup is just the remedy for a day like this, and I mean who doesn't like broccoli and cheese? Besides my two pre-tween boys, but that doesn't count really. Where I found my inspiration, The Girl Who Ate Everything. I personally think this is a great option for a meal, especially if served in bread bowls. But if you have a crew with a bunch of hungry boys then well.....this may just get them started. hmmm....

    Enjoy!! {and if your in New England like me, don't forget to wear your long underwears and mittens!}

    Ingredients:

    1 3/4 cups chicken broth
    1 small onion, diced finely
    1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
    1/2 teaspoon pepper
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 cups milk
    1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, preferably sharp or extra sharp
    1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
    3 cups chopped, lightly steamed or blanched broccoli (I used the steam in a bag broccoli)
    1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese for the top of the soup (optional)
    1 cup of croutons (optional)

    Directions:

    1. Simmer chicken broth and chopped onion for 15 minutes in a covered small saucepan, until onions are soft. Heat milk in microwave for 1-2 minutes.

    2. In a separate medium-sized stockpot, melt butter then add flour, salt and pepper. Cook together, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, then whisk in warmed milk. Stir and heat together on medium heat until soup starts to thicken, about 5-8 minutes. Add warmed chicken broth and continue to stir until well blended.

    3. Cook your frozen or fresh broccoli in a separate container until fork tender, then set aside. (I used the microwable frozen broccoli steam package)

    4. Add cheeses and stir until completely melted. Stir in cooked broccoli. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if needed. If you need to thin it out you can whisk in some more milk or chicken broth. If it's too thin, you can simmer it a bit longer to thicken it up.

    5. Serve immediately in bowls or bread bowls. Top with a couple croutons and a small amount of cheddar cheese (optional).

    Details: Prep Time: 10 Minutes Cook Time:  20-23 minutes Total Time: 33 Minutes Details: Makes 4 servings.

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    $25.00 Target Gift Card Giveaway!!


    Hello everyone! So I have this gift card for Target for $25.00, which I received from my bank just for using my debit card {for buying groceries, gas and such} -yes debit card, no credit cards for this girl-. {actually it's a credit union, not a bank, and it is totally awesome, btw.}

    As you can see, "Vinnie" my trusty sock monkey elf, has been kind enough to pose with the gift card. {you may read Vinnie's bio if you so chose right here, clickty click:  "Vinnie" the sock monkey elf.  he's still super fly even after the holidays.}

    The gift card, yeah it's kinda like free money for me so all is good in le hood. Anywhooo, I am going to host my very first official giveaway here at the Happy Little Tomato for this $25.00 Target Gift Card.

    My inspiration is twofold: I love new fans AND I have created a facebook page for my parent's etsy store: "I've Been Framed!"  I have also created their website: http://pixax.us/

    Take a gander if you like.

    NOW HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TO WIN!
    * Every like, share or follow is eligible for you to comment. Therefore, leave a separate comment on this blog post for each one of your likes, shares or follow.  You see, each comment on this blog post counts as one entry. Therefore, the more you share/follow or like, the more you may enter an additional comment and be that much more eligible to win. (read details below) easy peasy lemon squeezy. bamm, done.*

    1. "Like" Happy Little Tomato on Facebook AND "Like" "I've Been Framed!" on Facebook (you have to like both to be eligible), then leave me a comment in the comment section below telling me you did so (the comment section of my blog, not on facebook) . Your comment on this blog post will count as 1 (one) entry.

    2.  IF you are already a fan of Happy Little Tomato, simply share my facebook page on your wall. Then leave me a comment in the comment section of this blog post telling me you did so. Your comment will count as 1 (one) entry.  {you must also like"I've Been Framed!" , to be eligible} . 

    3. IF you are already a fan of Happy Little Tomato, you may follow my blog by clicking "Join this Site" under the Heading "Followers". Then leave me a comment in the comment section of this blog post telling me you did so. Your comment will count as 1 (one) entry.  {you must also like"I've Been Framed!" , to be eligible} .

    4. IF you would like you may also share  "I've Been Framed!"  on Facebook. Then leave me a comment in the comment section of this blog post telling me  you did so. Your comment will count as 1 (one) entry.

    5. IF you would like you may also share the link for this giveaway on your facebook wall. Then leave me a comment in the comment section of this blog post tell me you did so. Your comment will count as 1 (one) entry.
     ALL ENTRIES ARE CLOSED. GOOD LUCK NEXT TIME THOUGH! THANKS FOR STOPPING BY AT THE HAPPY LITTLE TOMATO!
     This giveaway will close on January 12, 2012 at Midnight E.S.T. A winner will be announced by January 13, 2012 no later than noon. A winner will be randomly selected using http://www.random.org/

    *I have not received any monetary compensation for this gift card mention nor is it sponsored or endorsed by Target or Facebook.  I have purchased this product on my own.

    Sunday, January 1, 2012

    Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake {Insipiration: The Cheesecake Factory}



    I found this recipe at Baking Bad. She is a great foodie peep. fyi...she also does a friday foodie link up party, it's cool. It's a great way to interact with other great foodies and find new recipes. Anyway, she made this cake for her birthday and when I saw this post, I thought to myself: "self, i shall make that there cake." So it is. And so it happened for New Years Eve. 

    I'm not going to lie here, I shamelessly bragged about this cake for about two hours after I had myself a small sliver. {since i had already blasted through a sinful portion of fat laden Chinese food. omg.} I don't regret a second. It was NYE, this had to happen, it's just tradition. I mean really, right? 

    This cake takes a little time to make as the center is a thinner cousin to your standard thick cheesecake. Yes, that's right. In the middle of this cake you throw a huge whoppin' chunk of cheesecake. waaawaaawhat! yes. indeed.

    The red velvet cake is made from scratch, but it is so worth it and so to die for. So don't cheat and use a boxed mix. behave and do it!!! It is sooo red, moist  and pretty. You have to use two whole bottles of red dye (1 ounce each). be careful not to drip too much on your counter, otherwise you will be cussing so loud your neighbors will hear. Coincidentally, I still have some red die under my fingernails this morning. But who cares? I made this glorious cake for which I received uproarious applause followed with roses thrown at my feet. :: ok, maybe that didn't happen::

    Ingredients:

    First you make the cheesecake which will go in the center of your cake:

    Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
    2/3 cup granulated white sugar
    pinch of salt
    2 large eggs
    1/3 cup sour cream
    1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Then you make your red velvet cakes:

    2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
    3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 large eggs, at room temperature
    1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
    1 cup buttermilk
    1/4 cup (two 1-ounce bottles) red food coloring
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    2 teaspoons white vinegar

    Cream Cheese Frosting: 

    2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted lightly to remove any lumps
    Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
    1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    One bar of white chocolate (optional for garnish)

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

    2. Place a large roasting pan on the lower third rack of the oven. Place a kettle of water on the stove to boil. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Wrap a double layer of foil around the bottom and up the sides of the pan (you want to seal it so the water from the water bath doesn’t seep into the pan).

    3. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to mix the cream cheese (I used the whisking attachment with my Kitchenaid mixer, which I am madly in love with btw)- blend until it is nice and smooth and creamy. Mix in sugar and salt and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.

    4. Add eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. Finally, mix in sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Set the pan into the roasting
    pan in the pre-heated oven. Carefully pour hot water into the roasting pan (i just used really hot tap water, it's all good) I filled a disposable roasting pan and filled it up to about half way up the cheesecake pan.

    5. Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes. It should be set to the touch and not jiggly. Remove the cheesecake from the roasting pan and let it cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. When it has cooled, place the pan into the freezer and let the cheesecake freeze completely. This can be done in several hours- or overnight. (i just froze for about an 1.5 hours, i had guests choppin' at the bit) it was fine.

    Prepare red velvet cake layers:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round metal baking pans (or spray
    with nonstick baking spray with flour).

    2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar to the flour mixture. Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat for 1 minute, until blended. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes.

    3. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until
    a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.

    4. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans, then invert cakes onto a rack to cool completely.

    Prepare the Frosting: 

    1. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat powdered sugar, cream
    cheese, butter and vanilla until it is smooth and creamy (do not overbeat).

    Assemble the cake: 

    1. Place one cake layer into the center of a cake plate or platter.

    2. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, take off the sides of the pan, and slide a knife under the
    parchment to remove the cheesecake from the pan. Peel off the parchment. Measure your cheesecake layer against the cake layers. {If the cheesecake layer turns out to be a slightly larger round than your cake, move it to a cutting board and gently shave off some of the exterior of the cheesecake to get it to
    the same size as your cake layers.}

    3.Place the cheesecake layer on top of the first cake layer. Place the 2nd cake layer on top of the cheesecake.

    Frosting the cake:

    1. You may apply one layer of frosting in case of apparent red crumbs and then place it in the fridge to allow it to set for about 20 minutes or so. Making sure to wipe your wide spatula every time you spread the frosting so as not to transfer red crumbs back into the frosting.

    2. Use a potato peeler and run it along the sides of a white chocolate bar to make white chocolate curls and add it to the top of your cake to garnish.

    Details: Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 1hour and 15 minutes Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes Yield: One Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake serves about 12 adults.

    Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Raisins


    Ok, so I'm a little late posting this recipe. I've been busy, soo soo busy. Anywhooo, I love me some stuffing with a big fat bird on any holiday. I've always loved Bells, I mean who doesn't love a whole stick of butter served up with a bunch o' stale bread! Count me in!


    I don't know about all of you but I typically stock up like a lunatic with tons of butter for holiday cooking. I usually buy about four boxes with four sticks per box. Damnnn! One year I even asked a family member to run out and get me yet another box from the quicky mart up the street. literally, amazing.

    While most of us aren't whipping out scales to weigh our food on Christmas, Thanksgiving or other varied holiday gatherings, but we do try to exercise some moderation. -ok, maybe I'm going overboard with this here notion...or not- ::hmm::

    I found this recipe in Cooking Light Magazine. The trick with duplicating the "Bells" awesomeness factor, is this: reduced fat/lower sodium chicken stock rather than copious amounts of butt widening butter. I heart butter, oh I do. Though butter tends to send me whimpering to my mirror in shame, that is if I demolish too much. I found this stuffing to be a nice substitute and eliminated a small fraction of those dreaded calories for our Christmas feast. The chestnuts and raisins give it a nice flavor. I didn't stuff my bird with this stuffing. What I did do...I stuffed my turkey with a granny smith apple, sliced up, an entire onion sliced, stuff all that right in the bird. Then I added fresh rosemary and sage. Oh and I injected a greek dressing into the breast and legs of the bird. bammm....awesomeness occurred in my kitchen, on a fork.

    Oh, and PS. chestnuts look like brains. and that is just cool.


    happy new years tomato peeps! may it bring you unexpected surprises and blessings! ciao ~b

    Ingredients:
    • 10 Cups (1-inch) cubed ciabatta bread. (about 14 ounces)
    • 2 tblspoons olive oil
    • 1 1/2 cup chopped celery (I personally think that too much celery ruins the stuffing, so I only added a couple stalks but you may add the called for amount if you wish...of course)
    • 1 chopped onion
    • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    • 1 tblspoon chopped fresh rosemary
    • 1 tblspoon chopped fresh sage
    • 1/2 tspn ground pepper
    • 1/4 tsp of salt
    • 2 cups peeled bottled chestnuts finely chopped (I just bought about two pounds of whole chestnuts and roasted them. It's cheaper and they just taste better when freshly roasted. Click here for a how to roast chestnuts.)
    • 1/2 cup golden raisins
    • 3 cups fat free lower sodium chicken broth
    • 1 large egg lightly beaten
    • cooking spray
    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    2. Arrange bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Place bread in a large bowl.

    3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add celery and the next six ingredients on your list (through salt) to pan; cook 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add celery mixture, chestnuts, and raisins to the bread; toss well. Combine chicken broth and egg, stirring with a whisk.

    4. Add broth mixture to bread mixture, tossing gently to combine. Spoon bread mixture to a 13x9 inch glass or cermamic dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.

    {note on the cooking and a lil' confession: i made this stuffing in advance, meaning the day before so I wasn't losing my mind on Christmas morning. Admittedly, I still lost my mind. ::ahemm::, here's what I did. To warm up my stuffing I popped it in the oven next to my turkey to get it crispy and warm. I may have added about a 1/2 cup of the turkey drippings to the stuffing to make it a little more moist. I may have done that. It gives it a little more flavor. Why let all that crazy juice go to waste?}

    Details: Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 1.5 hours Total time: 2 hours Yield: Serves up to 12 adults.
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