PW Recipe 5 – Macaroni and Cheese

Sometimes you just have a strong desire to just eat “bad” food. “Bad” as in not-that-great-for-you food. Well, that hankering happened for me over the weekend. I was in the mood for macaroni and cheese. It had been months since the last time I had a good, baked mac & cheese. Luckily for me this desire also came with the ability to make another Pioneer Woman recipe. This recipe also came from my favorite cookbook of hers: Recipes From an Accidental Country Girl, her first one.

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Magnolia Bakery Handbook Recipe #10 – Chocolate Banana Pudding

Over the Labor Day holiday, we had some people over the house. It was mainly just family, but, as you could have guessed, I had to make the dessert. I was really in the mood for banana pudding but I also wanted to make something beyond the traditional vanilla –especially since most of the people who came to the little get-together are chocolate-lovers.

It took me almost no time at all to realize that the Magnolia Bakery Handbook had a recipe for chocolate banana pudding and I was sold! Simple and delicious, but also something a little different than the regular banana pudding.

In the recipe, it asks you to use the chocolate Nilla wafers, but I wasn’t able to find them, so I used the regular vanilla and it worked just fine. Plus I find that store-bought, chocolate cookies are not really chocolate-tasting. So, for me, personally, the vanilla Nilla wafers probably were for the best. Since the chocolate Nilla wafers would have added a bit more chocolate flavor, I did use extra mini chocolate chips.

Also to bring out the flavor of the chocolate, I took a page out of Ina Garten’s cookbook and added about a half teaspoon of espresso powder to the whipped cream. This provided a subtle hint of coffee-flavor, but not too much to overwhelm the flavor of the chocolate. And better still, the caffeine didn’t keep anyone awake past their bedtime!

Since I’ve made banana puddings a couple of times before, Ina’s recipe and one from the Magnolia Bakery Handbook, I didn’t take too many pictures. But, I do highly recommend this dessert. It’s the perfect twist on the classic, but without changing too much or making you go crazy. As usual though, banana pudding won’t keep in the fridge for more than 2 days. After that the wafer cookies become too soggy — but, to be honest, I’ve never had my puddings last longer than a day after being served!

Ryan Cooks PW Recipe 4

  • Name of Recipe: Zucchini Bread
  • Cookbook: Come and Get It
  • TV Episode: N/A
  • Rating: 5.0 out of 5

Every year my family plants a garden in the spring and in the late summer and into the early fall we reap the harvest. Tomatoes of various sizes, eggplants, peppers, zucchini, string beans, cucumbers, the list could go on. While many of our plants are very prolific (this year, especially, the cherry tomatoes), our zucchini plants this year did not do as well as usual. While we still were able to eat some home-grown summer squash, the numbers were far fewer than in years past.

One day, our fridge was overloaded with some large zucchinis, so I figured it’d be a good idea to whip up some zucchini bread. You know, kind of like April 2020 when everyone had those bananas that were beginning to turn brown and the whole world started baking banana bread.

I was a little hesitant to try Ree’s zucchini recipe. After all, I love the one that we use in our family from my grandmother. So, PW had big shoes to fill! And guess what? It did!

This recipe came together quickly and the bread baked beautifully. I also like that it makes two loaves. It was smart on Ree’s part. The first loaf didn’t last very long so it was good that we had a second one to eat through. The bread was super moist and flavorful — the addition of cinnamon really makes the flavors pop.

This is definitely a recipe I will be making again!

I have some progress pics below…

Kitchen Updates

My family has decided to take a little trip out of town. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to join them, due to work commitments. But, while I won’t be able to get away, I will be able to cook a lot while I’m home by myself.

Now that I’ll be responsible for my own meals over the next seven days or so, I am going to use my day off today to figure out what types of meals I wish to make. Of course, I will need to include some baking in there, too! In fact, I have been recipe testing a chocolate chip cookie recipe and I’m getting closer to the finished product! Hopefully by the end of the month if will be up on the blog.

I recently purchased some lighting instruments for my food photography. After I made the cookie recipe last night, I decided to play around with some things. This was one of the shots my friend and I took.
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Ryan Cooks PW Recipe 3

  • Name of Recipe: Buttered Parsley Noodles
  • Cookbook: Dinnertime
  • TV Episode: N/A
  • Rating: 3.0 out of 5

Late last week I shared with you my second recipe from Pioneer Woman: Beef Stroganoff.

Traditionally, stroganoff is served over a bed of egg noodles or other pasta which helps to make it a “complete meal.” (I say “complete meal” because I doubt the amount of vegetables in a single serving of stroganoff counts as a full serving, but I digress…) So I was a little surprised to find that PW’s recipe for stroganoff didn’t include any pasta. In fact, she recommends serving it with her Buttered Parsley Noodles.

At first, I was a little hesitant. Regular pasta is thicker than egg noodles and with beef as the main ingredient, I didn’t want the bite to be too hearty. But, I figured I’d give it a go anyway. Plus, when you are cooking-through someone’s recipe backlog, anytime you can sneak in an extra recipe or two is extremely beneficial.

This is a simple side dish that is very low fuss. It’s basically buttered noddles, but with a heightened flavor profile. This recipe calls for pappardelle noodles, which is a pasta shape I have not used before in my cooking. Much thicker than linguine, pappardelle is great when you want to substitute out something like egg noddles. Unlike egg noodles, though, pappardelle is a long pasta, similar to spaghetti or fettuccine so just be prepared for that.

Combining garlic, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, and of course, butter and parsley, these noodles a quick side dish that comes together before you know it. I only gave it a 3 out of 5 because it didn’t really add to the beef stroganoff recipe I made. I think I would have preferred traditional egg noddles in that instances. But, on it’s own, this side dish is great!

See the picture above for how it turned out!

Magnolia Bakery #9 – Billionaire Brownies

It’s been a minute since I baked something out of the Magnolia Bakery Handbook, no?

The last recipe I made was the fabulous Blueberry Jamboree which I still have dreams about!

This time, I was in the mood for brownies but I wanted something a little bit fancier than your usual brownies. So, I decided to make the brownies fit for the rich: Billionaire Brownies. A shortbread crust drizzled with some caramel then topped with a lush fudge brownie sounds like heaven, right?

Well, it didn’t turn out exactly the way I thought it would. Here’s what happened.

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Remembering 9/11 Twenty Years Later

About a year before I started Ryan’s Kitchen Journal, I had another blog that was neglected within three short months of it being started. Eventually, I hid the blog and didn’t log into my WordPress account for some time. However, during that short-lived blog, I wrote a post commemorating 9/11. I have reproduced it below, as written a few years ago.

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Ryan Cooks PW Recipe 2

For my second Pioneer Woman recipe, I decided to make one of my favorite dishes: Beef Stroganoff.

  • Name of Recipe: Beef Stroganoff
  • Cookbook: Dinnertime
  • TV Episode: Kitchen Confessional: Dinner Through the Decades (Season 10, Episode 4)
  • Rating: 1.75 out of 5

As someone who did not grow up eating a lot of red meat, beef stroganoff was not something I can really remember having as a child or even a teenager. I fell in love with beef stroganoff a number of years ago when my best friend made it for dinner for us. He claims that the recipe is from his grandmother, but he leaves out certain ingredients such as mushrooms since he doesn’t like them. Needless to say, this has been the version I’ve been making for a few years.

Until I stumbled upon Ree’s recipe. Featured in her cookbook, Dinnertime! this recipe looks amazing and it is super simple.

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Ryan Cooks PW Recipe 1

  • Name of Recipe: Teriyaki Salmon and Kale Sheet Pan Supper
  • Cookbook: Come and Get It
  • TV Episode: N/A
  • Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The first recipe on this journey was an easy one. I also loved that it was a sheet pan recipe, so clean up was extremely minimal.

This recipe was so easy and almost hands-off, so there were no pitfalls except for the fact that I think I need to add more kale to the sheet pan. That stuff really cooks down, like spinach, and I forgot about that.

There were basically three main steps to this dish: kale on the pan and season, add salmon and cover with teriyaki, bake! Super, super simple. It’s a wonderful week-night meal since it can be ready in under 25 minutes. It is also an easily scalable recipe. As a first recipe, this one was the perfect choice. It was not very involved and it tasted amazing so it gave me the renewed confidence that I needed for this project.

Here are some pictures below, since I’m trying to take more of them during the cooking process.

The seasoned kale on the sheet pan
The sheet pan with the teriyaki-covered salmon, ready for the oven!

See? An easy recipe with only a few ingredients and only one dirty dish. This is a true winner!

The finished meal with a side of white rice.

We served this meal with a side of white rice, but it would be even better with brown rice or quinoa!

I can see why people flock to Ree’s website and TV show. Her recipes are simple and are designed for modern parents — quick recipes, easy clean up makes for a real winner in my book. I have a feeling I’ll be coasting through these Sheet Pan suppers in no time! Who wouldn’t want a beautiful and tasty meal with little cleanup?