Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bisquick Chicken Pot Pie

Mmmm, good. I like this recipe because it's so stinkin' easy and so fast!! Just mix and bake and voila! You have yummy, warm goodness.

1 c. cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
1 2/3 c. frozen veggies, thawed
1 (10 oz) can cream of chicken soup
1 c. Bisquick baking mix
1/2 c. milk
1 egg

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Mix chicken, veggies and cream of chicken soup together and spread into bottom of non greased 9-inch round glass pie pan.

3. Mix remaining ingredients (Bisquick, milk and egg) and pour on top of chicken mixture.

4. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until top turns golden brown.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Never Fail Sugar Cookies

I know Sara just posted a sugar cookie recipe, but I just had to post this one too. We went caroling this past week (with Relief Society and Young Women). One of the people we sang to had made these cookies for us. She gave me the recipe on Sunday and I promptly made two batches on Monday. Today our good friends came over and helped us frost and sprinkle them. So fun! And so incredibly delicious and easy.

2 cups sugar
2 cups butter, softened

6 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla
6 teaspoons baking powder
2 Tablespoons dry vanilla pudding mix (optional--will help cookies stay soft)
7 cups flour


Cream butter and sugar. Add other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Roll 1/4" to 1/2" thick (your preference). Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lion House Wassail

I made this for our RS Christmas dinner last night and it was easily the best Wassail recipe I've ever tried. I found it on allrecipes.com. Once I finished the first step, I put it aside and then put everything in the crockpot. I also used cheesecloth for the spices so I didn't have to strain them out later. This was so good! It tasted just like the Stephen's Citrus Spice drink... my very favorite Stephen's drink.

2 cups white sugar
4 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 slice fresh ginger root (I didn't use this because I couldn't find any... and it was just as good!)
4 cups orange juice
2 cups lemon juice
8 cups apple juice
8 whole allspice berries
1 tablespoon whole cloves

1. In a large saucepan, combine sugar and water. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and add cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, cloves, and ginger. Cover and let stand in warm place for 1 hour.

2. Strain liquid into a large pot. Just before serving, add juices and cider and quickly bring to boil. Remove from heat and serve.

Aunt Linda's Frog Eye Salad (or Acini de Pepe Salad)


I can't believe we don't have this recipe up here! This is definitely a family classic. I made it last night for a RS Dinner and because it makes so much, I had a ton leftover. And I will probably eat it all by myself. The entire bowl. I like it that much. I think it's best with lots of fresh fruit, especially nectarines, strawberries, peaches, and grapes.

½ cup sugar
1 Tbs flour
1¼ tsp salt
7/8 cup pineapple juice (I can usually drain enough from the pineapple chunks I add later)
1 beaten egg
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
8 oz. acini de pepe (found with the pasta; little tiny pasta balls; you'll only need 1/2 the package!)
1 1/2 tsp. oil
1-2 cans drained mandarin oranges
1 cup pineapple chunks
½ cup crushed pineapple
1 regular size carton frozen topping, thawed
½ cup miniature marshmallows (colored ones are good for adding a bit more color)
Any other fruits desired –grapes, bananas, peaches, nectarines strawberries, etc.

1. Cook Acini de pepe according to package directions, adding 1 1/2 tsp. oil. Drain and rinse with cold water.

2. Mix sugar, flour, and salt together. Add the pineapple juice, and egg and cook over stove until thick. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and allow to cool. Once it's cooled, add acini de pepe and refrigerate mixture 8 hours or overnight.

3. Just before serving add drained mandarin oranges, pineapple chunks, crushed pineapple, frozen topping, marshmallows and any other desired fruits.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Soft Sugar Cookies

Cream together:
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar

Add and Cream:
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Add:
½ cup sour cream

Sift separately and then combine with the mixture:
3 ¼ cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Roll them out thick and bake in 400 degree oven for 8-11 minutes

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

6 cups flour
3 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 tsp baking powder
3 tsp vanilla
1 ½ tsp soda, salt, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon
1 ½ cup shortening
29 oz can of pumpkin
2 bags milk chocolate chips

Cream shortening and sugar, add eggs, then pumpkin and vanilla. Sift flour and seasonings. Gradually add to pumpkin mixture. Mix in Chocolate chips. Bake about 10-15 minutes at 375, depending on the size. They're best if you cover and let them sit for several hours...they get softer.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Truffles and Cake Balls

I've been on a roll doing truffles the last month. I was asked by a friend to teach a truffles class for her Relief Society and luckily my mom was in town for the week to show me how to do it! We tried about 4 different truffle recipes and had a blast dipping and coating them. These are all super easy, super yummy, and make for a beautiful presentation. Everyone will be impressed and think you worked far harder than you did. The only key to truffles is to remember to chill often, keep your truffle balls small (no bigger than 1 inch) and it's really messy.



Chocolate Truffles (from Kraftfoods.com)

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (substitute half with flavored baking chips such as cinnamon chips, peanut butter chips, or mint chips)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tub whipped topping, thawed
Suggested Coatings: Chopped Nuts, Sprinkles, Powdered Sugar, Coconut, Cocoa Powder, finely grated chocolate, melted chocolate

Add more variation by adding flavors such as orange, raspberry, or peppermint extract

Microwave chocolate in microwave for 1-2 minutes until melted or almost melted. Add softened cream cheese and stir until smooth and well blended. Cool to room temperature and fold in whipped topping. Refrigerate or freeze until mixture is firm, at least 2 hours.

Scoop mixture into 1 inch balls; place balls on wax covered baking sheet and refrigerate again, about an hour.

Roll in suggested coatings, working in small batches. Stir tightly covered in refrigerator or freezer.



Easy Oreo Truffles (from Kraftfoods.com)
This was the easiest and least messy of the truffles and also my favorite! They were so pretty with the dark centers. I think my mom tried these a week later with grasshopper cookies for a fun variation!

1 pkg. (1 lb., 2 oz.) OREO cookies, finely crushed, divided (feel free to switch up flavors by using mint or peanutbutter oreos!)
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
16 oz. chocolate, melted (semi-sweet, white, etc.)
toothpicks

Mix 3 cups of the cookie crumbs and cream cheese until well blended. Shape into 1 inch balls. Should make at least 42. Place a toothpick in each ball, place on a waxed covered baking sheet and refrigerate or freeze until well chilled. They work best for dipping in the melted chocolate in they're frozen or very, very cold.

Dip balls in melted chocolate using toothpick to swirl and tap off excess chocolate; place on waxed paper covered baking sheet and remove toothpick. (Leftover melted chocolate can be stored and saved for a later use). Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs, covering toothpick hole. Or, if you inserted your toothpicks in the sides of the balls, the chocolate should cover your hole as it runs down the sides as it cools.

Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Store tightly covered in fridge or freezer.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles (from Kraftfoods.com)
These are by far the messiest of all the truffles, but so creamy! I find the powdered sugar not to be a great coating because it tends to melt and disappear. Also, these are far trickier to dip in melted chocolate. In order for it to work, your truffle balls need to very hard or frozen.

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tub (8 oz.) whipped topping, thawed
1/4 cup powdered sugar (or any desired coatings, such as chopped nuts, colored sprinkles, candy sugar, etc.)

Microwave chocolate until chocolate is almost melted (about 2 minutes) and stir until completely melted.

Stir in peanut butter until well blended. Cool to room temperature. Gently stir in whipped topping. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. I prefer to freeze mine.

Scoop peanut butter mixture with melon baller or teaspoon, then shape into 1 inch balls. If balls have become really soft, chill again before rolling in coatings. Store tightly covered in fridge or freezer.



Cake Balls
For easy how-to instructions, visit the supreme and probably supernatural Pioneer Woman. Also bakerella.com has the most adorable cake pops and cake balls on her site. She's got some really cute ideas for decorating them. These were probably the most popular of all the truffles I made. They are super easy and the flavor combinations are endless. I used a dark chocolate cake mix and a cream cheese frosting, but I plan to use a red velvet cake mix for Christmas.

1 box cake mix (cook as directed on box for 9x13 cake)
1 can frosting (16 oz.)
1 pkg. chocolate bark or other dipping chocolate
waxed paper
lollipop sticks, if desired
toothpicks (for easier dipping in melted chocolate)

After cake has been baked and cooled completely, crumble into a large bowl. I did this by cutting it into fourths, and crumbling one fourth at a time, by tearing it up with 2 forks.

Mix thoroughly with frosting. Start by only adding about 3/4 of the can... I never need more than that and find that the entire can of frosting makes them too soggy and squishy for my tastes.

Roll mixture into 1 inch balls or bigger (quarter sized) if making cake pops. Your mixture should make about 45-50 quarter sized balls, more if you roll them smaller. Place on waxed paper covered baking sheet and chill for several hours in the fridge or freezer. If you plan to make cake pops, now is the best time to insert the lollipop sticks. Let your cake balls chill with the sticks already in. If you don't plan to make cake pops, consider freezing them with toothpicks to make the dipping easier.

Melt chocolate in microwave per package instructions. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Lemon Cheesecake with Lemon Curd

I found this recipe on another one of my favorite sites, Taste and Tell and was just itching for a chance to try it out. I decided to make it for Thanksgiving and LOVED it! Oh wow. It would rival any Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. The lemon curd on top was divine and good enough to eat alone. This was best the next day so make sure you give it plenty of time to chill before you plan to serve it. My only complaint was that the crust was a bit soggy, but not bad enough that it was gross and not any soggier than a crust at Cheesecake Factory. Oh, and I have to mention that my cheesecake didn't crack! It came out perfect (which never happens for me). I simply loved this cheesecake. It definitely filled my Cheesecake Factory void (I haven't been since August...) Oh, and Caden loved this cake as much as me! He probably ate half of my slice!

CRUST
5 ounces Animal Crackers
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and kept warm

FILLING
1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 oz.) sugar
1 tablespoon grated zest and 1/4 cup juice from 1-2 lemons
1 1/2 pounds (3 8-oz. packages) cream cheese, cut into 1 inch chunks, at room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream


LEMON CURD
1/3 cup juice (from about 2 lemons)
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz.) sugar
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

FOR THE CRUST
1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 325F.
2. In a food processor, process the animal crackers until you have fine crumbs. You should have about 1 cup.
3. Add in the sugar and pulse.
4. In a steady stream, add the butter while pulsing, about 10 1-second pulses.
5. Transfer the crumb mixture to a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly into the bottom.
6. Bake until fragrant and golden brown. The instructions say 15 to 18 minutes, but mine was done at about 12 minutes, so keep an eye on it. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature.
7. When cool, wrap the pan with 2 18-inch square pieces of foil. Set the pan in a roasting pan.

FOR THE FILLING
1. Process 1/4 cup of the sugar and the lemon zest in a food processor until the zest is broken down and the sugar turns yellow. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in the rest of the sugar.
2. In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese to break it up and soften it slightly, about 5 seconds.
3. With the machine running, add the sugar mixture in a slow stream; increase the speed to medium and beat until combined, creamy and smooth - about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
4. Reduce the speed to medium low and add the eggs, 2 at a time. Beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl before each addition.
5. Add the lemon juice, vanilla and salt and mix to combine.
6. Add the cream and mix until incorporated, about another 5 seconds.
7. Give the bowl a final scrape and pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan.
8. Fill the roasting pan with enough water to make it about halfway up the sides of the pan.
9. Bake until the center jiggles slightly, the sides start to puff, and the surface is no longer shiny, about 55 to 60 minutes. The center should read about 150 degrees F.
10. Turn off the oven and prop the door of the oven open with a potholder or wooden spoon. Allow the cake to cool in the water bath in the oven for about an hour.
11. Transfer the springform pan to a wire rack and run a small paring knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Let it sit to room temperature for 2 hours.

FOR THE CURD
1. While the cheesecake is baking, heat the lemon juice in a small non-reactive pan on medium heat until hot, but not boiling.
2. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl, then gradually whisk in the sugar.
3. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the hot lemon juice into the egg/sugar mixture, then return the mixture to the saucepan and continue to heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 170 F and is thick enough to cling to the spoon, about 3 minutes.
4. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and add in the cold butter and mix until incorporated.
5. Stir in the cream, vanilla and salt, then pour through a strainer(I didn't do this) into a small nonreactive bowl.
6. Cover the surface of the curd directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

TO ASSEMBLE
When the cheesecake is cool, top it with the lemon curd while still in the springform pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours, but 24 hours is better. To serve, remove the sides of the springform pan and cut into wedges.

Cajun Chicken Pasta


I found this recipe on allrecipes.com and needed something easy for dinner group this week and this fit the bill. I had everything on hand or could easily substitute stuff and how can you possibly go wrong with pasta? And I'm so glad I tried it because I loved this! The sauce tasted like something straight out of a fancy Italian restaurant.... it was amazing. The flavor was fantastic and the dish didn't end up being spicy at all. I've changed the recipe just a bit as I did find the sauce to be a bit runny and decided to add some sour cream to thicken it up a bit. How much sour cream you use is definitely up to you. I used about 2 cups cream and 1 cup sour cream. I also added some more cajun sesoning at the end. This is definitely going to be a regular dish in our house.

3/4 pound bowtie pasta (or whatever pasta you have on hand)
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning, plus more to taste
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
3 red bell pepper, sliced
3 green bell pepper, sliced
12 fresh mushrooms, sliced
3 green onion, chopped
1 1/2 - 2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 -2 cups sour cream (you want to plan on 3 cups, between the sour cream and cream)
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

2. Slice the chicken into strips or large chunks and place in large skillet. Sprinkle liberally with Cajun seasonings as you cook and saute the chicken in butter or margarine until almost tender (5 to 7 minutes). Another alternative is to place the chicken and the Cajun seasoning in a plastic bag and shake to coat and then saute it.

3. Add the red bell pepper, green bell pepper, mushrooms and green onion. Saute and stir for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat. (I varied the recipe here by cooking my chicken until done and removing it to a separate plate and then adding my veggies. I find that I always cook my peppers too long and wanted to cook them as needed without worrying about whether my chicken was done or overdone.)

4. Add the cream, basil, lemon pepper, salt, garlic powder and ground black pepper and Parmesan cheese, and more cajun seasoning to taste. Heat through. Add the cooked linguine, (and your set aside chicken if you cooked it like me) toss and heat through. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cabinet Mountain Inn Rolls

2 pkg (4 1/2 tsp) fast rising active yeast
2 c warm water
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c shortening
1 tsp salt
4 plus c flour

Dissolve yeast in water; set aside 10 minutes. Blend in sugar, shortening, salt, and flour; knead well. Dough will be sticky; add more flour if needed until workable (I add quite a bit). Place dough into a buttered pottery bowl; cover with cloth and let rise in warm place for 1 hour. Remove cloth; punch down and roll into 2 inch balls. Place in buttered muffin tins or baking pan and let rise 1 hour or until doubled. Bake at 375 or until lightly golden. Makes 24 rolls. These are our favorites!

Note: If I do them in a large baking pan, I will sometimes drop the temperature to 350 and cook a little longer to make sure the middles are cooked.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

S'more Brownies

Yummy Yummy! I can't even tell you how amazingly delicious these are. I got them on Kraft's website and I am in LOVE! It is now a family staple.

10 graham crackers, broken in half (20 squares), divided
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
4 squares Unsweetened Chocolate
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
2-1/2 cups Miniature Marshmallows (I used about 5 cups)
1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Make It
HEAT oven to 350°F. Line 13x9-inch baking pan with foil; grease foil. Place 15 grahams in pan, overlapping slightly. Break remaining grahams into pieces; set aside.
MICROWAVE butter and chocolate in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min.; stir until melted. Add sugar, eggs and vanilla; mix well. Stir in flour. Pour over grahams in pan.
BAKE 30 to 32 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Sprinkle with marshmallows and chocolate chunks. Bake 3 to 5 min. or until marshmallows begin to puff. Press reserved graham pieces gently into marshmallows. Cool. Use foil to remove brownies from pan before cutting to serve.

Home made Bread


I admit...I am a bit of a "molly mormon" I LOVE to make my own bread. I can't stand store bought bread anymore. This is my absolutely favorite recipe, too.
7 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Yeast
1/3 cup oil
2-3 cups of warm water

The way I do it is:

Mix all dry ingredients in a large mixer's bowl. Make a well in the center and add the oil. Attach to your mixer and let the mixer mix in the oil. With the mixer still on, start slowly pouring the water in. You don't want it too sticky or too dry....I usually end up using 2.5 cups of water. Let the mixer do it's thing for about 3-5 minutes (until the dough has cleaned the sides of the bowl).


Next...turn on your oven for 1 minute to a high degree. Place the mixing bowl with the dough in it and a cloth covering it, into the oven. Let rise for 1.5-2 hours.

Then...Punch it down. Separate the dough into 2 equal portions. Roll out each portion in a long rectangle. Roll it up jelly roll style and tuck in the ends. Place in a greased bread pan. Turn on the oven again for 1 minute and place the loaves in the oven with a cloth covering them again. Let rise for about 30 minutes (if you let them rise too much you get humongous loaves that aren't very easy to work with) Take them out of the oven and turn the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 18-25 minutes. Until they look nice and golden brown. Take them out of the pans IMMEDIATELY and put on a wire rack to cool. Cut with an electric knife for the best results when the bread is completely cooled (about 3-4 hours) Enjoy!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes

I found the recipe for the cupcakes on the Nestle site and then decided to frost them with an Orange cream cheese frosting I found on allrecipes. The combination was amazing! These are easily the prettiest cupcakes I've ever made but they also tasted amazing. Be sure and try this frosting. It's sooo good!
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
3 large eggs
1/2 cup Halloween candy corn (about 40 to 50 pieces)

PREHEAT oven to 350ยบ F. Paper-line 20 muffin cups.

MICROWAVE 1 cup morsels in small, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 1 minute; STIR. The morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat sugar, pumpkin, oil, milk and eggs in large mixer bowl until smooth. Beat in melted chocolate. Stir in flour mixture. Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling 2/3 full.

BAKE for 22 to 27 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes; remove to racks to cool completely.

Frost cupcakes with this and top with pieces of Candy Corn Bark.


FOR CANDY CORN BARK:

LINE baking sheet with wax paper.
MICROWAVE remaining morsels in small, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 1 minute;
STIR. The morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted.
POUR onto prepared baking sheet. Spread into 8-inch square. Sprinkle with candy corn. Tap sheet several times to settle candy corn into chocolate. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until firm. Break into 20 pieces.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese with Ham



Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound elbow pasta, cooked and drained
4 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup (spooned and leveled) all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, (optional)
Nutmeg
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded yellow cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded white cheddar cheese
8 ounces ham, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 white sandwich bread

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta, and drain; reserve. Meanwhile, in a 5-quart heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in flour to coat onion. In a slow steady stream, whisk in milk until there are no lumps.

Cook, whisking often, until mixture is thick and bubbly and coats the back of a wooden spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in cayenne & nutmeg, if using, and 1 cup each yellow and white cheddar cheese. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Toss pasta with cheese mixture; fold in ham.Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or individual dishes (see note, below left). Set aside.

(This topping is the best and would be great on anything where you need a breaded topping....cheesy, crunchy, yum!) In a food processor, pulse bread until large crumbs form. Toss together with remaining 1/4 cup each white and yellow cheddar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Top pasta with breadcrumb mixture. Bake until top is golden, about 30 minutes

I always add nutmeg. Just add a dash or two. It adds a kick without making you think. Hmmm...there's nutmeg in this. Also, the cyanne pepper is a really great addition. I just add all one kind of cheese.

Enjoy....Em

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Glazed Carrots



Carrots
Butter
Brown Sugar
Pepper
Nutmeg

Steam carrots until al dente (not too soft as they will continue to cook a little while you glaze). Over Med-low head glaze carrots to taste with a bit of butter, the brown sugar, pepper and nutmeg for a few minutes until sugar melts and caramelizes a little. Easy and super yum! One of my most frequently asked for recipes!

Butternut Squash Soup

Meet the oh so delicious and healthy Butternut Squash. Mix it with a few things (it can't be too healthy, right?!) and you've got a perfect soup for fall that's elegant enough for a fancy dinner and yet soothing enough for a night by the fire....that is if I had a fireplace. Guess I'll have to huddle up next to the heater vent! Butternut Squash soup:

1-3 Butternut Squash (I used 3 and it filled my big pot. Freezes great and also yummy to pair with Easy Breadsticks and share with neighbors)
Chicken Broth (for 3 I used the big box type. May only need 1-2 cans)
Butter
Milk/Cream
Brown Sugar
Pepper
Nutmeg

Bake the de-seeded butternut squash upside-down in a pan (may add a little water if you prefer) at about 350 for about 45-60 minutes, or until fork tender. Scoop out all of the yummy pulp and combine it with some of the chicken broth in the blender until smooth and to just about the desired consistency (will add milk later). If you have a super-duper "scary" blender like mine with a stick thing to help mix it around, you can put quite a bit in at a time. Otherwise, you may want to blend it a portion at a time. Pour it into a pot on the stove and add to taste about 4-12 TBS butter, a bunch of Brown Sugar, and the pepper and nutmeg. Pour in milk or cream until desired consistency and taste. Heat through. Soothing, flavorful, beautiful, YUM!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Spinach Tortellini Soup

We had this at a ward dinner the other day, and we cooked it in three roaster ovens... it was amazing. thank goodness this recipe has been cut down to size... it feeds 6-8 not 60-80.

2cloves garlic, crushed
10 oz package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
1T butter
16 oz can stewed, chopped tomatoes, undrained
8 oz pkg. tortellini
1/4 t pepper
1/8 t cayenne pepper
crispy chopped bacon
2 13 oz cans chicken broth
1 T chicken soup base
Parmesan cheese for garnish

In large saucepan, over medium heat, saute garlic in butter for 3-5 min. Add chicken broth, soup base, and tortellini, heat to boiling. Reduce heat, add peppers and simmer for 10 min. Stir in spinach and tomatoes; continue to simmer an additional 5 min. A few minutes before serving, stir in bacon. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese to taste. Serves 6-8. Is good with french bread.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Chicken Crescent Pouches

I think everyone has some version and different name for these things but they sure are good. My boys love these. When I'm not feeling too lazy, I make a gravy or use some cream of chicken soup as gravy. Don't let my pictures scare you! I left them in the oven to keep "warm" while I delivered some to a friend and they continued to cook and got a little "dark." They were still good though! I also read of some variations that sounded tasty: adding apples and onions to the chicken filling, adding green chiles and sharp cheddar, or chopped broccoli and tomatoes. Also, for a little added flavor, marinate or season your chicken well before cooking. A little extra seasoning never hurt...


1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2 cups cubed, cooked chicken meat (canned chunk chicken makes this recipe super easy and fast)
1 tablespoon minced onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon chopped pimento peppers (optional)
1 (8 ounce) package refrigerated crescent rolls
1 tablespoon butter, melted
3/4 cup crushed croutons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and 1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine until smooth. Add the chicken, onion, salt, pepper, milk and pimento. Mix well.

Separate crescent dough into four rectangles. Firmly press perforations to seal. Spoon 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture onto the center of each rectangle. Pull 4 corners of dough to center of chicken mixture and twist firmly. Pinch edges to seal.

Place sandwiches on an ungreased cookie sheet. Brush tops of sandwiches with 1 tablespoon of melted butter or margarine; sprinkle with crushed croutons. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Dinner Group 10/23: Rotisserie Chicken, Carrots in Dill Butter, and Zuccini Bread

I've had a recipe for rotisserie chicken for some time now that I've been wanting to try and finally found the opportunity. I absolutely love the rotisserie style chicken you can get at the grocery store but it's getting more and more expensive. I made it with mashed potatoes, Lemon-Dill Carrots and Zucchini bread Thursday night and it was one of my favorite dinners so far! You definitely have to try the chicken. It was super easy, super fast, and super tasty. It's definitely going to be a regular occurrence in this house as my boys recently love to eat "chicken on the bone." This had the perfect blend of seasonings and the slow roasing on low in the oven left it tender and moist. Also, I'm not a big fan of steamed carrots... I really don't like soft carrots, but I had a whole bag of them I needed to use and these turned out pretty tasty as far as steamed carrots go. Even Caden and Gavin ate them. As for the zucchini bread, I've had problems with my staple recipe lately and wanted to try something new. It was pretty standard but I found it really easy to substitute in some whole wheat flour and applesauce for the oil. The boys loved this one, too. All the recipes except for the mashed potatoes came from Allrecipes, which is quickly becoming my new favorite recipe site. You can find the recipe for anything and everything with tons of reviews and ratings which always makes me feel better about trying a new recipe. I would definitely recommend checking it out.

Best Ever Mashed Potatoes (here on blog)

Rotisserie Style Chicken (Love, love this one!)
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon white pepper (I omitted this because I don't have any)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I had to use red pepper flakes instead since I was out)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 onions, quartered
2 (4 pound) whole chickens

In a small bowl, mix together salt, paprika, onion powder, thyme, white pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Remove and discard giblets from chicken. Rinse chicken cavity, and pat dry with paper towel. Rub each chicken inside and out with spice mixture. Place 1 onion into the cavity of each chicken. Place chickens in a resealable bag or double wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 to 6 hours. (A side note here: I was only able to refrigerate mine for about 3.5 hours and it still turned out very flavorful. But I'm anxious to try it overnight and see if it's even more flavorful; also, I used one rotisserie chicken but the same amount of seasonings... what can I say... I like things seasoned!)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).

Place chickens in a roasting pan. Bake uncovered for 5 hours, to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees F (85 degrees C). Let the chickens stand for 10 minutes before carving. (Another sidenote: My 3 pound chicken only needed about 4 hours; make sure you use a meat thermometer... you won't be able to tell by color because the paprika stains the chicken breast a pinkish color. Also, the drippings in the bottom of your pan make the best gravy. Plus, if you pour it over the chicken, it will give it the nice glazed look.)


Carrots in Dill Butter
1 (16 ounce) package baby carrots (I used regular big carrots that were sliced on the diagonal)
2 tablespoons margarine (I used butter)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (about 3/4 to 1 tsp. dried)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (I only used about 3/4 Tbsp.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Place carrots in a saucepan with enough water to cover. (Steam them to keep more nutrients!)Bring to a boil, and cook 10 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat, and drain. Gently toss with margarine, dill, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.



Another Zucchini Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour (feel free to use 1 cup whole wheat)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil (another way to make it healthier is to use 1/2 applesauce)
2 cups white sugar (I used 1 cup brown, 1 cup white)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts (Of course I had to substitute chocolate chips here to get the boys to eat it!)


Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

Easy Breadsticks

Truly easy, fast, not too messy, and got the "you made these?" yummy response. Why was it that I thought breadsticks were too much work for dinner? Yum! Thanks, Angie.




1 T yeast
1 1/2 c warm water
2 T sugar
3 1/2 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 stick butter (can use less or more)
parmesan cheese
garlic salt
dried herbs (basil, rosemary, parsley, oregano)

Mix yeast, warm water, and sugar together. Let sit until yeast activates (gets bubbly). Add flour and salt. Knead for 3 minutes (I do this all in my kitchenaid). Let rise for 10 minutes. Pres into a 12 x 7 pan. Melt butter and pour over dough. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, garlic salt, and herbs (to your liking). Let rise 15 minutes. Cut into strips with a pizza cutter. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies



I had Jalapenos in my garden this year for salsa and ended up with quite a crop. The Pioneer Woman posted this recipe not to long ago and I've been dying to try them. My DH has a real thing for not liking anything hot or spicy and so I finally made a few of these just for me. They were delish!!! I must admit I did use turkey bacon as I have a thing against real bacon, but they were still super yummy and probably saved on a few calories. Try 'em! Yum!

Fresh jalapenos 2-3 inches in size
Cream cheese (softened)
Thin, regular bacon, sliced into thirds.

Cut jalapenos in half, length-wise. With a spoon, remove the seeds and white membrane. Smear softened cream cheese into each half. Wrap with bacon and secure with toothpick (At this point you can freeze them, uncooked, in a ziploc bag for later use).

Bake on a pan with a rack in 375-degree oven for 20-25 minutes. You don't want the bacon to shrink so much it starts to squeeze the jalapeno. If, after 20 minutes, the bacon doesn't look brown enough, just turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes to finish it off. These are best when the jalapeno still has a bit of a bite to it. Yum!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Peach Nectarine Muffins

I made this for dinner group a couple weeks ago and they were awesome. I loved them and ate over half of them. The other half I split between two families. And I question my ever expanding rear end... I found this on Allrecipes and just made a few alterations and they were perfect muffins!


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I think you could easily substitute more brown sugar for the white sugar)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1-2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or some cinnamon and nutmeg)
2 large ripe peaches - peeled, pitted and diced
2 very ripe nectarines, pitted and diced (I found I could get by with 3 large fruits and still have plenty of fruit for these)
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease 24 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add vegetable oil, egg and milk; mix well. (This will yield a pretty stiff batter at this point. Don't despair. The juices from the peaches and nectarines make it easier to handle. Just don't overmix!) Fold in diced peach and nectarine. Fill each muffin tin to the top with muffin mix. Sprinkle a little brown sugar onto the top of each uncooked muffin. (This adds the perfect little crunch!)
Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes. Check muffins regularly after 15 minutes of baking. Serve warm or cool.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Crescent "Mummy" Dogs

Aren't they cute! Make them a bit fancier, by using some nice cheese and brats instead of hot dogs. Fun and tasty!

1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls or 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations™ refrigerated flaky dough sheet
2 1/2 slices American cheese, quartered (2.5 oz) (I omitted this... it was just getting too messy and hard to hold them in place)
10 large hot dogs
Cooking spray
Mustard or ketchup, if desired

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oven to 375°F.

2. If using crescent rolls: Unroll dough; separate at perforations, creating 4 rectangles. Press perforations to seal. If using dough sheet: Unroll dough; cut into 4 rectangles.

3. With knife or kitchen scissors, cut each rectangle lengthwise into 10 pieces, making a total of 40 pieces of dough. Slice cheese slices into quarters (1/2 slice cheese, cut in half).

4. Wrap 4 pieces of dough around each hot dog and 1/4 slice of cheese to look like "bandages," stretching dough slightly to completely cover hot dog. About 1/2 inch from one end of each hot dog, separate "bandages" so hot dog shows through for "face." On ungreased large cookie sheet, place wrapped hot dogs (cheese side down); spray dough lightly with cooking spray.

5. Bake 13 to 17 minutes or until dough is light golden brown and hot dogs are hot. With mustard, draw features on "face."

Egg Rolls

We LOVE these egg rolls. They're surprisingly easy to make, make a lot, and one of Jared's favorites. But, then I suppose you could argue that anything with bacon is good and one of Jared's favorites...

Egg Rolls (adapted from Allrecipes):
1/4 cup cooked crumbled bacon (In a pinch, I used bacon bits once!)
1 cup finely chopped cooked chicken
1 (4 ounce) can small shrimp, drained, finely chopped (I usually use fresh shrimp here instead of the canned stuff... it's a texture thing)
3 cups shredded cabbage
1-2 shredded carrots
3 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 t ground ginger (optional)
1 (14 ounce) package egg roll wrappers
1 quart oil for deep frying
In a large bowl, stir together the bacon, chicken, shrimp, cabbage, and carrots. Season with soy sauce, garlic, and ginger and mix until well blended. Place a few generous Tablespoons onto the center of one egg roll wrapper at a time, and roll up according to the package directions. Heat enough oil to cover the rolls completely in a large heavy skillet to 365 degrees F (180 degrees C). Fry rolls a few at a time, turning once, until golden brown. I usually do about 2 minutes per side. Remove with tongs to drain on paper towels. They are delicious plain, or with plum sauce or spicy honey mustard sauce for dipping. I whip up a quick honey mustard with Dijon mustard and honey.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Blueberry Pie


Courtesy of Pioneer Woman's mom.....

2 Pie Crusts
2-3 Pints Blueberries
Sugar
A dash or two of nutmeg
2-3 Tbsps Flour

In a large bowl place 2-3 pints of fresh blueberries. Coat them with regular white sugar, not too much, just enough to bring out the natural sweetness. Throw in a dash or two of nutmeg and a few Tablespoons of all purpose flour. If you would prefer a pie that is more juicy you can leave out the flour.

Pour the blueberries into a pie crust and top with 8-10 small pats of butter. Cover with a second pie crust. Press both edges together, tucking the dough under as needed, working all the way around the edge of the pie. While pinching the top and bottom crusts together, form the edge into a sort of lip, Then pinch the dough between your thumb and index finger all the way around the edge of the pie for a fluted look. Cut three or four slits in the top of the pie for ventilation.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for approximately 35-40 minutes.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Grilled citrus Salmon, recipe courtesy of the Moose

Some salmon filets.. this recipe is enough for about 3-4 servings.
1 1/2 t lemon juice
2T olive oil
1T dijon mustard
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 dash salt
1t basil (Emily, you could do your fancy basil ribbon cut on this, but I used dried and was fine with it)
1tcrushed ginger... powdered works too.
1t dill
2t small capers (you find those with the condiments, like mustard and the like, they come in small jars and are green. People in their normal mind wouldn't eat them, I'd always decorate the edge of my plate with them, when my mom cooked with them, but who in their right mind would cook meatballs with raisins and capers in a sweet and sour sauce... I tell you, German cooking is quite something else. You are lucky I never subjected you to Koenigsberger Klops. And you wonder why I turned out the way I did...)

In small pan sautee over med. heat, combined sauce ingredients...ups, I forgot that part, it still tasted quit good. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Line a baking dish with tinfoil, put grill thing in pan, fish on top, then top with topping and bake for about 25 minutes at 350. If you use frozen Salmon and don't defrost it first, it will need longer. Test it before taking it out. It doesan't taste good raw, but if you cook it too long it gets tough. If you want to grill it, it only needs to be done for 10-12 minutes.

So what about those amazing salmon sandwiches you ask.... well if you have any left-over salmon, shredd it and mix in some mayo, like you would do with tuna for tuna salad sandwiches. Thats it. mix it up well and spread on a sandwich. I think those are my favorite sandwiches ever, and even Sam liked it. So I can be found at 4:30 am grilling salmon for sandwiches for a picnic later that day. But you don't have to get up that early to do it, it will taste just fine if done later in the day.

No bake lemon peach pie

1 graham cracker crust (or make your own, by mixing grated graham crackers with sugar and melted butter and press into a desired cake pan. I wanted to press it into one of my glass pie plates, but they were both missing... I wonder who made off with them... Dacia??? Alysia??? So I used my 9inch square pan, worked too, and the pieces ended up much smaller.
1 8oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk (works fine with soymilk)
lemon aroma
2-3 T lemon juice
some peach or apricot juice, no more than 1/4 cup (that's my addition)
3-4 peeled sliced peaches
1/4 cup apricot jam (I used raspberry-peach... yum)
1/4 cup raspberries.
1/2 pint whipping cream, whipped with the sugar

Beat cream cheese with the lemon juice and aroma, the milk and the apricot juice. You can actually whip it and it will get quite stiff. Gently fold in the whipping cream. Chop 2 cups of the peaches and fold in. Pour into the crust, decorate with remaining peach slices and raspberries, melt the jam and spoon over the peaches. Refrigirate for as long as you can stand it, then dig in.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dinner Group 9/25: Tacos Beef and Homemade Churros

Dinner for the Week: Tacos and Homemade Churros (of course as I was grabbing my bag of taco shells, I dropped them on the floor, breaking them all into bits and pieces leaving us with more of a 7 layer Dip than tacos...


Taco Beef (from Allrecipes):

2 pounds ground chuck
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
Taco Seasoning to Taste

1. Place the ground chuck in a large skillet, and season with chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, garlic powder, and garlic. Pour in enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 1 hour. Add more water as necessary during cook time, and break the meat into small pieces.
2. Mix the bell pepper and onion into the skillet, and continue to simmer 30 minutes. Drain and reserve juices. Skim the fat off the juices(or, if not preparing the tacos right away, place juices in the freezer until fat may be easily removed from the top). Mix 5 tablespoons of the remaining juices back into the skillet with the beef, and cook until heated through.

I browned the meat a bit and drained off the fat before I added the water to save some time and work. I also added another healthy Tbsp. of Taco seasoning for more flavor. But I really liked the addition of the green pepper and onion and this made for good taco meat!



Churros (from Allrecipes)

2 quarts vegetable oil for frying
1 cup water
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. In a heavy deep skillet or deep-fryer, heat oil to 360 degrees F (180 degrees C). Oil should be about 1 1/2 inches deep.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat water and margarine to a rolling boil. Combine the flour and salt; stir into the boiling mixture. Reduce heat to low and stir vigorously until the mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and beat in the eggs one at a time. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.

3. Carefully squeeze out 4 inch long strips of dough directly into the hot oil. Fry 3 or 4 strips at once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from hot oil to drain on paper towels. Stir together the sugar and cinnamon; roll churros in the mixture while still hot.

I got a cookie press for my birthday two years ago that I finally got to use to make little star churros! This was fun and fairly simple and the boys really liked shaking the churros around in a bag with the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat them.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Quesadillas


Sadly, I think I may have experienced my 1st "real" Quesadilla this year and I am hooked! I crave them, well, a lot, and have loved experimenting with them. Especially using things from the garden. So although this is a no-brainer to most (except me who always thought a Quesadilla was a tortilla with sliced cheese, rolled up and popped in the microwave....hmmm), here is just a reminder of something yummy, easy, and different to try for a meal.

For this Quesadilla, I used the fresh tortillas that you brown yourself, topped with pre-shredded mexican cheese (gotta love those Smith's cheese specials), and then with pre-sauted zucchini and onion in a little bit of butter, and then a little more cheese to stick them together. Grill until a little crisp. Yum, yum, YUM.

I also just had one with some leftover grilled and seasoned chicken. Also supper yummy. Be creative. I actually like them plain, but most recommend serving them with salsa and sour cream and the like.

Check out some other fun ideas from the beloved Pioneer Woman.

Enjoy!

Zucchini Casserole


Vegetable garden season and I love it! This is actually super yummy. I'm surprised every time I make it how much I like it.

2 lbs zucchini, sliced/quartered (6-8 cups...I usually do 8ish)
1/4 cup chopped or sliced onions
1 can (10 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup Sour Cream
1 cup shredded carrots
1 pkg (8 oz) herb-seasoned stuffing mix
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, melted

Cook zucchini and onion in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Drain. Set aside. Combine soup and sour cream. Stir in carrots. Fold in the drained squash and onion. Combine stuffing mix and melted butter. Spread half of stuffing on bottom of a baking dish. Spoon vegetable mixture on top, and sprinkle remaining stuffing over vegetables.

(Note: Can also add cooked and seasoned chicken or whatever meat to your liking)

Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes, uncovered. Makes 6 servings.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Moist Oatmeal Pancakes

So I've never been one for "fluffy" food....ie: regular cakes, pancakes, etc.  Pl-eease!  Give me some substance, I say, like a nice succulent pineapple carrot cake (yum yum yum!), or like these, oatmeal pancakes. Now, don't judge them before you try them.  Granted, they haven't had complete success with tasters, but everyone besides my husband have loved them and I've made them for big family reunions.  So, try them.  They're actually pretty yummy!  And great for getting your family to eat oatmeal and rotate that food storage.

Moist Oatmeal Pancakes

2 C quick-cooking oatmeal
1 1/2 C milk
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, well beaten
dash of salt
1/4 t cinnamon

Mix all ingredients; beat into thin batter.  Cook on greased griddle until done.  If batter is not thin enough to pour, add a little more milk.  I like them topped with apple sauce and powdered sugar, but whatever works.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Peanut Butter Bars to the Mmmmmm good.


This is a pretty darn yummy recipe. I love the peanut buttery goodness of scrumptiousness. I even took a picture of them for your viewing pleasure! Enjoy this super easy and pretty fast recipe!

Cream:
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c brown sugar (packed)

Add:
1/3 c. peanut butter
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla

Then add:
1 c. flour
1 c. oats

Mix well and spread in 9x13 pan (or if you want it thicker, in a smaller pan)

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
Once you get it out of the oven, sprinkle 1 c. semi sweet choco chips on top. Let sit for a minute and then they will have melted enough that you can spread them across the baked part. Let sit until the chocolate isn't sticky anymore.

Then mix:
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. peanut butter
2-4 T. milk

Spread this mixture on top of the choco chip stuff and then let it sit until it's firm as well.

Then cut and eat! YUM!

I was out of chocolate chips, so I used hershey kisses- and they were actually really good. I also added nutella to the topping part and that was also really yummy and helped tone down the peanut buttery-ness.

Coconut Shrimp

Featured in Kraft Foods Calendar 2007--November

Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes

1 cup flake coconut, toasted
1 packet shake n' bake, extra crispy seasoned coating mix
1/4 tsp each curry powder and cayenne
1 lb fresh or thawed extra large shrimp (16-20 count), cleaned
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400. Combine coconut, coating mix, curry, cayenne in shallow bowl. Dip shrimp in egg then roll in coconut mixture until eanly coated on all sides.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through. Serve with chutney or sweet-and-sour sauce if desired.

Free Form Harvest Apple Tart

Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 55 minutes (including refrigeration)

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, divided
1 pkg (4 serving size) lemon jello, divided
2 medium McIntosh apples, unpeeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup sliced almonds

Place flour, butter, and half of the cream cheese in food processor; cover. PRocess, using pulsing action, until mixture is well blended and almost forms a ball. Shape dough into ball; wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour or until chilled.

Preheat oven to 400. Place pastry on lightly floured surface; roll out to 14x8 inch rectangle. Place on parchment paper-covered baking sheet; set aside. Mix remaining cream cheese and half of the dry jello mix until well blended. Spread onto pastry to within 2 inches of edge.

Toss apples with remaining dry jello, cornstarch and cinnamon. Spoon evenly over cream cheese filling. Fold edge of pastry over apples toward center of tart. (Apples in center will remain exposed) Sprinkle top with almonds. Bake, in lower third of oven, 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown and apples are tender. Cool. Store leftover tart in refrigerator.

NOTE: You can lightly beat 1 egg yolk with 1 tsp water. Brush over top of crust and sprinkle with 2 tsp of granulated sugar. Bake as directed.

Lime Philly Freeze

From the Kraft Foods Calendar 2007--August

Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 3 hours 15 minutes (including freezing)

12 Oreo cookies, crushed
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 8-oz pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 12-oz can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
1 8-oz tub cool whip, thawed, divided
2 tsp grated lime peel

Line 9 inch square pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Mix crushed cookies and butter; press firmly onto bottom of prepared pan.

Beat cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer on meium speed until creamy. Gradually add limeade concentrate, beating until well blended after each additon. Add 2 1/2 cups of cool whip and stire with wire whisk until well blended. Spoon evenly over crust.

Freeze 3 hours or until firm. Remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving. Life dessert from pan, using foil handles, before cutting into squares to serve. Top each serving with about 1 1/2 tsp of remaining cool whip. Sprinkle evenly with lime peel. Store leftover dessert in freezer.

Substitutions: prepare as directed but use frozen raspberry, lemonade, fruit punch or grape concentrates.

Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche

Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 55 minutes

1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup each chopped onions and broccoli
5 eggs
1/3 cup Miracle Whip
1/3 cup milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 frozen deep dish pie shell (9 inches)

Preheat oven to 375. Place vegetables in skilled sprayed with cooking spray. Cook on medium heat 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Beat eggs, dressing and milk in medium bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Stir in vegetable mixture and cheese; pour into pie shell. Place pie shell on baking sheet.

Bake on baking sheet 40-45 minutes or until center is set and quiche is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Strawberry Heart Pillows

Featured in Kraft Foods Calendar 2007--February

Prep: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes

1 frozen puff pasty sheet (1/2 of 17.3 oz package) thawed
1/3 cup strawberry jam or preserves
1 cup thawed cool whip, divided
4 large strawberries, each cut into four slices
1 square baker's semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 350. Unfold pastry. Cut into 16 hearts with 2 inch heart shaped cookie cutter. Place on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks and cool completely.
Cut each heart horizontally in half. Spread 1 tsp jam on bottom of heart. Top with 1 tbsp of cool whip and a strawberry slice. cover with tops of hearts. Drizzle with chocolate. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

(NOTE: the photo shown had several slices of strawberry on each puffed dessert!)

Perfect Winter Beef Stew

From the Kraft Foods Calendar 2007--January

Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes (including marinating)

3/4 cup Italian dressing
2 lbs. beef for stew (such as chuck roast)--cut into 1 inch chunks
6 slices of bacon, chopped
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 large)
3 cups sliced mushrooms
3 cups sliced carrots
3 medium potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)--peeled and cut into chunks
1 can (14 1/2 oz) stewed tomatoes, undreained
1 can (14 1/2 oz) beef broth

Place dressing and meat in Ziploc bag. REgrigerate 30 minutes to marinate. Meanwhile cook bacon is large saucepan on medium heat 5 minutes or until crisp. Remove from pan and drain.

Add onions and mushooms to pan; cook on medium high heat 10 minutes or until softened. Remove meat from marinade. Add meat, carrots, potatoes, tomoates iwth liquid, broth and bacon to saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. REduce heat to low; cover and simmer 1 hour 15 minutes. Simmer uncovered an addtional 15 minutes or until meat is tender and sauce is thickened; stirring occasionally.

Makes 8 servings; 1 1/4 cup each.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Graham Cracker "Eclair" Cake

This is a super easy, and super yummy dessert in a pinch. By refrigerating the cake for several hours before serving, the graham crackers soften and actually have that "eclair" texture. Plus, you can easily double the recipe for a 9x13 pan.

15 Graham Crackers, broken in half (30 squares), divided
1 1/2 cups milk
1 Pkg. (4 serving size) Vanilla Instant Pudding and Pie Filling
1 tub (8 oz.) Cool Whip, thawed
1 cup chocolate frosting

Arrange 10 of the crackers, overlapping slightly in bottom of 8 inch square pan.

Pour milk into large bowl. Add dry pudding mix. Beat until well blended and let stand 5 minutes. Gently fold in shipped topping until well combined.

Spread half of the pudding mixture over crackers in pan. Top with 10 more crackers and remaining pudding mixture. Cover with remaining graham squares.

Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Spread with chocolate frosting just before serving.

For another variation, add 1/4 cup of peanutbutter to your pudding mixture for a chocolate/peanutbutter treat.

Makes 9 servings.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lemon Cake

Alan's coworker gave him this recipe then requested it for one of his cakes!

Box of white cake mix and ingredients to make it.
Lemon Pie Filling
Lemon Frosting
Cool Whip--12 oz.


Mix a white cake mix per box instructions. Use half to one can of lemon pie filling to "blot" over top of batter in pan. Bake as directed. After cool, mix 1/2 to 1 container of frosting with cool whip. Serve cooled.


NOTE: I made this as cupcakes. I put about one spoonful of pie filling in each cupcake. I also used an 8 oz container of cool whip mixed with one container of frosting and I liked that a lot better.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pioneer Woman's Best Ever Lasagna

I made 3, count 'em, 3 pans of this Lasagna for my dinner group this week! I have to admit it was a perfectly flavored Lasagna. I'm not a huge fan of meaty lasagnas, but as far as a meaty lasagna goes, this was definitely the best one I've ever had. It was also the prettiest... it didn't fall apart in the pan or on the plates... it was the most beautiful presentation! (Probably because the sauce was so thick!) And best of all, it was easy... no special tricky ingredients. Just basic stuff that is probably already in your pantry! For full, step by step directions with mouthwatering pictures, go to Pioneer Woman's site. But for your basic ingredient list, here it is. The only thing that may be different is the addition of the tomato juice/V8... we liked it better with the extra liquid.

Sauce:
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 lb. hot breakfast sausage (definitely use the hot... your lasagna will NOT be spicy and it adds the perfect kick to the flavor)
2 cloves minced garlic
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
2 6 oz. cans tomato paste
3/4- 1 cup V8 juice or tomato juice
2 Tbsp dried Parsley
2 Tbsp dried Basil
1 tsp salt

Noodles:
10 oz. box lasagna noodles (you'll need at least 8 noodles... cook a couple extra just in case)
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp oil

Cheese Filling:
3 cups cottage cheese
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp parsley flakes
1 tsp salt
1 lb. sliced mozzarella cheese

1. Brown beef, sausage and minced garlic in heavy duty sauce pan. Drain excess fat. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, basil, and salt and stir to combine. Then simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes.

2. While your sauce is simmering, boil some water in a large saucepan and add your lasagna noodles. Add 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 Tbsp. oil to your water to keep the noodles from sticking. Cook until "al dente"... you want them to still have some bite as they'll be baked still.

3. While your sauce is simmering and your noodles are cooking, mix up your cheese mixture by combining the cottage cheese, beaten eggs, Parmesan cheese, parsley and salt. Mix to combine well.

Now, to assemble:
Layer 4 noodles along the bottom of your pan, slightly overlapping them. Next top with 1/2 of your cottage cheese mixture. Now lay 1/2 of your mozzarella slices on top of that. Finally top with 1/2 of your meat mixture. And repeat. Top off your final meat mixture with a very generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Now, pop it in a 350 degree oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Trust me, this is good stuff. But how could you possibly go wrong with Pioneer Woman?

Hamburgers

I'd never made my own Hamburgers before, but I tried these last week for my dinner group and they were fantastic. We made them really big, a la Red Robin... good stuff. I got this recipe from Our Best Bites (who got it from Family Fun). It's a good one to make with the kiddos... Gavin loved rolling and making his own patties.

1 1/4 lb. ground beef (the extra 1/4 lb. helps the meat stay together... don't forgo it!)
3 Tbsp. A1 Steak Sauce
1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
3/4 tsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. dehydrated onion

Combine all the ingredients well and shape into patties. You should be able to get 4-6 patties.

Grill about 5-7 minutes per side, depending on how pink you want them.

I sprayed my grill rack first and made sure to cook them a full 7 minutes so they didn't fall apart when I turned over. These were mighty tasty and it's so satisfying to mix those ingredients by hand and make your hamburgers!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Shrimp with Tomato Cream Sauce and Penne

Actually, on Pioneer Woman's site, it's called Penne a'la Betsy, but I thought mine was more descriptive and would help me remember what it was! This stuff is quite simply fabulous. I've made it at least 3 times and if I could, I would have it every week. Unfortunately, my hips may not agree, but since when have I cared what they thought! For beautiful mouth watering, step by step instructions and pictures, visit Pioneer Woman's site here. Otherwise, here's your ingredient list and basic directions:


3/4 lb. Penne (or Fusilli or whatever the heck you like best... I just happen to like the penne!)
1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp (Large or Extra Large is preferable)
3 Tbsp Olive Oil (divided)
3 Tbsp Butter (divided)
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth (or white wine for all you wino's--yes, you, Dacia!)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped finely
Lots of fresh basil, chiffonaded (about 2-3 Tbsp at least) (I've only ever used the fresh basil... in fact, I liked the fresh basil so much, I went out and bought my very own basil plant! It was so worth it... I'm sure dried would work here, but if you can... definitely try the fresh. You'll feel so gourmet and it's sooooo good!) (Oh, and for directions for chiffonading, go to Pioneer Woman's site... she demonstrates... but basically you stack a bunch of leaves on top of eachother, roll them tightly and slice finely. I bet you could just chop them, too...)
Salt and Pepper to taste


First things first... bring a large pot of water to boil and add your pasta to the boiling water. Cook until al dente, drain and set aside. Oh, and work on your sauce while the noodles are cooking.

Saute shrimp in 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter in saucepan until your shrimp is pink, and just opaque. Don't cook them until they're rubbery! Remove to a plate and let them cool off a bit. Once they've cooled a bit, chop into large, but bite size chunks. You could do your chopping while your sauce is cooking... just a thought.

In that same pan, add remaining olive oil and butter, garlic and onion and saute, stirring occasionally. Once your onions and garlic have cooked down a bit, add 1/2 cup chicken broth and let that reduce a bit. Next add your tomato sauce and stir together well. Then slowly add your whipping cream, stirring well to combine. Now dump your shrimp in and add some salt and pepper to taste. And finally, add your fresh herbs and there's your sauce. It looks so good!

Drain your cooked pasta well and add to your sauce, stirring well to combine and voila'... it's done. And heavenly. And amazing. And one of my most favorite dishes ever!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Perfect Potato Salad

I must admit I don't love potato salad. I especially don't like the stuff you get pre-made at the store. But I tried this recipe the other night and really liked it, as did Jared and Caden. It was the perfect mix of ingredients. It's a pretty basic potato salad recipe. I found it at allrecipes.com.
4 Potatoes
4 Eggs
1/2 stalk celery, chopped
1/4 cup sweet relish (I used dill relish and Jared wanted even more relish...)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
Paprika

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes; I like to cook mine in vegetable or chicken broth for a bit more flavor... I would recommend it so your potatoes aren't too bland.
2. Drain Potatoes and after they've cooled, chop into bite size pieces. (They're much easier to chop once they've cooled...)

3. Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil; cover, remove from heat, and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water; peel and chop.

4. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, eggs, celery, sweet relish, garlic, mustard, mayonnaise and salt and pepper. Gently mix together and serve warm. (I served mine cold and it was still good!) Give it a nice dusting of paprika to top it all off!

Strawberry Whipped Sensation

I made this the other night and it was delish! I got it off the Kraftfoods website and they even have a video to walk you through it. It was a bit like fresh strawberry ice cream. Oh, and I accidentally added extra lemon juice and it was great! So I'm including my lemon juice measurements... I can't imagine doing it with less. Enjoy!

4 cups fresh strawberries, divided
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c lemon juice (the original recipe only calls for 1/4 cup but I thought 1/2 cup was perfect!)
1 8 oz. tub whipped topping, thawed and divided
16 Oreo cookies, chopped finely chopped (original recipe only calls for 8... but I thought it needed more)
1 Tbsp. melted butter

LINE 9x5-inch loaf pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Make sure there's enough hanging over the sides, that you can cover the pan with it. Mash 2 cups of the strawberries in large bowl. Add condensed milk, juice and 2 cups of the whipped topping; mix well. Pour into prepared pan. (I actually used 3 mini bread pans and gave 2 away... made for a very pretty gift...)

MIX chopped cookies and butter. Spoon over whipped topping mixture. Cover with ends of foil and gently (make sure it's really gently... I pressed too hard even when I thought I was being gentle) press cookie mixture into whipped topping mixture. Freeze 6 hours or until firm.

INVERT dessert onto serving plate when ready to serve; remove pan and foil. Spread remaining whipped topping onto top and sides of dessert. Slice remaining 2 cups strawberries; arrange over dessert. Store leftovers in freezer.

Alfredo Sauce

I needed an alfredo sauce the other night and found this one (I think it was at cooks.com). It is fabulous!! Very fattening but so good!!

1/4 cup butter
1 cup cream
1 clove garlic, minced finely
1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Melt butter over medium low heat. Add the cream. Simmer 5 minutes. Add garlic and parmesan. Whisk quickly. Stir in parsley and serve.


Now parmesan does not tend to melt very well. So I used a 5 cheese Italian blend which worked perfectly.

Lemon Milkshake

3 cups chilled buttermilk
1/2 cup lemon juice
pinch salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 t grated lemon rind
2 small scoops of ice cream

Combine in blender.


That was the recipe Alan used, but it wasn't very lemony and it was more of an ice milk consistency than a shake. So we're still experimenting. We add lemon yogurt and about an 1/8 slice of lemon, rind and all (thanks to a Vitamix we can do this!). We also add more ice cream.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Montreal Steak Marinade

OK... so the easiest way to do this is to buy the silly little packet and follow the instructions on the back. But... if you're like us and buy the Montreal Steak Seasoning in bulk (and not in a cute little packet), then this is what you could do with it... this is the only way we cook our steaks. We've tried other things and this is always perfect. Of course, Jared's grilling it which might account for why it always turns out so perfectly...:)

This is enough for about 1-2 lbs. of meat.

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. red wine or white vinegar
2 tsp. + a pinch Montreal Steak Seasoning

Marinate at least 30 minutes and then grill it. Always good!

Smoked Chicken Chimichangas

I've been on a recipe bender the last couple weeks and came upon this one last week at Tasty Sensations (linked at the bottom) and liked it so much I made it twice in one week! Also, I had a bag of slaw and can of chipotles that I needed to use and had no other use for... We really liked this. Even Caden devoured them. I realize the recipe is called "Smoked Turkey" chimichangas, but I'll admit that we did NOT love the turkey in them. I loved the flavor, but the turkey was kind of slimy and spongey and didn't' seem to fit. So when I made them two nights later, we used shredded chicken instead, which we liked much, much better. I would recommend the chicken over the turkey, but will admit the turkey made it much much faster... it was very easy and quick to whip up. So if you don't have issues with deli meat, use the turkey and you'll have a fabulously fast meal. But we have lots of issues with deli meats... Regardless, the flavor in this dish is great! And I loved the crispy tortillas.

Recipe Source: Tasy Sensations
Feeds: 6-8

1.25 lbs. Shredded, cooked chicken (or 1 lb. deli turkey, sliced into thin strips)
1/2 T. chili powder
2 C. shredded slaw cabbage
1/2 chipolte in adobo sauce (I used 1 whole chipotle plus several extra Tablespoons of the marvelous adobo sauce)
1 C. tomato sauce
3 scallions chopped
salt and pepper
6-10 tortillas
1 1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese or pepper jack
2 T. vegetable oil
sour cream (optional)
cilantro (optional)
1 tomato finely chopped (optional)

1. Place chicken/turkey in a bowl and season with chili powder.

2. Add cabbage, chipotle, tomato sauce, scallions. Mix filling ingredients well and season with salt and pepper.

3. Place cheese near top of tortilla and add some filling. (I just mixed my cheese in with my chicken mixture for ease.)  Roll up tightly. Brush with vegetable oil and bake at 400°F for 10-15 minutes.

4. Top with sour cream, parsley/cilantro and tomato. Fast, easy and delicious!!