Thursday, October 8, 2009

Samoas Bars

These bars taste just like the Samoas Girl Scout Cookies. I love anything with chocolate, caramel or coconut - so to have all three in one dessert was awesome! I got this recipe from My Kitchen Cafe

Samoas Bars

Cookie Base:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350.. Grease a 9x13 pan.
In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter until fluffy.
Beat in egg and vanilla extract.
At a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly.
Pour crumbly dough (it won't stick together.) into prepared pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a rack before topping.


3 cups shredded coconut
14 oz. bag caramels
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Spread coconut on a baking sheet and toast for 20 minutes, stirring very 5 minutes until it is golden. (Or microwave it in batches, stirring every so often.) Cool and set aside.
Unwrap caramels and microwave with milk and salt at 50% power for 1-2 minutes, stirring a few times to help the caramel melt.
When smooth, stir in toasted coconut. Drop by spoonfuls onto the cookie base. Spread the topping into an even layer.
Let cool and then cut into bars.
Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave and then drizzle over the cut bars.

Enjoy your sugar rush!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pumpkin Fudge

This treat is really yummy - tastes just like pumpkin pie! There is about 30 minutes of standing by the stove stirring - but if you have the ingredients measured and ready and follow the recipe exactly, it will turn out great for you! The fudge is creamy - but not gooey - and very sweet. A small piece definitely satisfies a sugar craving! (Recipe is from Allrecipes)

Here's to my favorite season of the year: Autumn!
Pumpkin Fudge

2 Tbs. Butter
2 1/2 cups white sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 cup white chocolate chips
7 oz. marshmallow cream
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Line a 9x9 pan with aluminum foil and set aside.
In a 3 qt. saucepan, heat milk and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
Mix in pumpkin and cinnamon; bring back to a boil.
Stir in marshmallow and butter. Bring to a rolling boil.
Cook, stirring occasionally, for 18 minutes.
Remove from heat and add white chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir quickly until chips are melted and mixture is creamy.
Pour into prepared pan.
Cool (about 2 hours) and cut into squares.
Store in a cool dry place.

Too Much Chocolate Cake

This is my absolute FAVORITE chocolate cake. It is very rich - it definitely lives up to it's name! I got the recipe from

Too Much Chocolate Cake

1 (18.25 oz.) box Devil's Food Cake mix
1 (5.9 oz.) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs, and water. stir in chocolate chips and pour batter into a well greased 12 cup bunt pan. (For other pans, follow the time on the cake mix box. You may need to cook a bit longer, start checking it at the time specified on the box. A clean toothpick means it's ready - just don't hit a melted chocolate chip!)

Bake for 50-55 minutes until top is springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake thoroughly in the pan for at least an hour and a half before inverting onto a plate.

Rainbow Cake & Dump Truck Cake

I love decorating cakes. I've got very limited artistic talent - I'm the first to admit it - but when you get to eat your an eraser any day!

Under the frosting of both cakes is "Too Much Chocolate Cake" - which will be my next post!

Gracie had a rainbow cake. The colors are Skittles and the clouds are marshmallows.

Shaylor had a 'Struction' Cake (Construction) - I found the dump truck, bulldozer, digger and cement truck candles at Zurchers for $3. I used Duncan Hines chocolate frosting(surprisingly yummy!), crushed oreos, and chocolate rocks (found at Gardner Village Sweet Shop).

Friday, May 8, 2009

Grilled Hawaiians

This recipe comes from Allrecipes. It is one of those that I come across and think, "Duh! Why didn't I think of that?!" It is so quick and easy. This ends up tasting like Ham and Pineapple Pizza when you dip it in the pizza sauce. You could fill the grilled sandwich with any combination of pizza toppings and then dip it in the sauce with the same effect. (Think pepperoni and olives, sausage and peppers, etc.) We LOVE Hawaiian pizza in this house, so we'll keep the recipe the way it is! Feel free to experiment though and let me know how it turns out!

Grilled Hawaiians

12 slices of bread

6 slices of Swiss cheese

6 slices of ham, cut thick

large can of crushed pineapple, drained


Pizza Sauce (found next to the pasta sauces in the grocery store)

Do you really need instructions for making grilled cheese? OK, but I feel a little silly writing it out! ;)

Butter one side of each piece of bread. Place a piece of bread, butter side down, onto a griddle (or fewer onto a frying pan). Layer the cheese, ham and then spread on some crushed pineapple. Top with another piece of bread, butter side up. Do this for all 6 sandwiches. Turn on the heat to medium and let it cook for about 5 minutes per side (Watch it carefully and turn it over when the first side is golden brown.)

Serve with a side of Pizza Sauce to dip it in and Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Birthday Cakes

Here are a few of the birthday cakes I have decorated this past year. I thought I'd post photos just for fun! Let me know if you want to know how I made any of them.

Shaylor's Jungle Cake

Noelle's Candyland Cake

Ashlyn's Flip Flop Cake

Hard Boiled Eggs

When we were first married, I was making deviled eggs. I had helped my Mom make them, so I wasn't completely inexperienced in boiling eggs!

I had the eggs cooking in the pot and all of a sudden, I heard a small chirping sound. I looked at the pot in surprise. Surely that sweet baby chick sound couldn't be coming from inside there!
I heard it again...and then again.

I followed the sound and sure enough, one of my little boiling eggs had a baby chick in it (I was just sure of it). I quickly turned off the stove and contemplated my options: I could crack open the eggs - but what would I find? A partially boiled baby chick? And what would I do with whatever it was that I found? And how many eggs would I have to ruin before I found the 'chirping' one?- or I could throw them out; or I could keep cooking them - surely there wasn't an actual chick in one of my eggs. Oh, what to do...what to do?!

I figured it was just my imagination and turned on the stove again. As the water started to boil, there came that sweet little chick's chirps again crying out to me for mercy. I called my husband at work - surely he would know what to do.

Big mistake. He laughed, his co-workers laughed, and I laughed too (so they would be laughing with me, not at me ;)

"That's not even possible," he told me, "one of the eggs must have a crack in it and that is just the sound of air escaping."

Well, that sounded logical! Why didn't I think of that?

To erase the smallest doubt still in my mind, I raised each egg with a spoon to my ear. When I found the culprit, I examined it all over. Sure enough, there was the small crack with with itty bitty water bubbles coming out of it.

Phew! No little baby chicken half boiled to death crying out to me for help. What a relief!

To this day, every time I boil eggs, I remember this incident and I have to smile to myself and shake my head! Silly, Silly girl! :)

(Honest, it really did sound like a little chirping chick!)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Green Bean Cassarole

I took a lot of different recipes and made my own version and we all LOVED it! Of course, bacon makes everything yummy!
Green Bean Casserole
4 can green beans, drained (about 60oz.)
10.75oz. can cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup bacon bits, plus 1/4 cup for topping
6 oz. fried onions
1 cup cheese shredded
Combine soup, sour cream and bacon bits.
Add green beans and stir carefully.
Place into a greased casserole dish and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
Top with onions, cheese and bacon bits and bake 10 minutes more.
(In the picture above, I didn't add the toppings and it was still delicious.)

Garlic Knots

Now that I magically can make bread all of a sudden without it being a complete disaster, I have been trying lots of recipes! This one is a definate keeper. It is from My Kitchen Cafe.

Garlic Knots

4-6 garlic cloves finely minced or pressed through a garlic press

4 tablespoons butter, melted

Mix butter and garlic together in a small bowl and let sit while making the rolls (I put the garlic-butter mixture on top of the stove while the oven is on to bake the rolls so the butter stays warm and melted). Follow the recipe for the French Bread Rolls, the only change being that instead of shaping them into balls, roll each piece into a four to six-inch rope and form into a knot, tucking the loose ends under into the center of the knot. Immediately after the rolls come out of the oven brush the butter/garlic mixture over the rolls. These are best eaten warm!

Easter Breakfast Rolls

These were so fun to serve on Easter morning! The marshmallow on the inside melts while cooking making the inside hollow - just like the Empty tomb on Easter morning. They were easy and quick and very sweet! I found the recipe at The Sisters Cafe
Easter Breakfast Rolls
1 package frozen bread or roll dough, thawed (or homemade roll dough)
6 TB sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 bag large marshmallows
1/4 cup butter, melted
Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set
aside. Divide the dough into individual roll sized portions. Press each portion into a flat circle. Place 1 large marshmallow in the center of each roll. Pinch roll dough very firmly around the marshmallow. Roll each into a seamless, or nearly seamless, ball with your hands. Brush rolls with melted butter. Sprinkle sugar mixture over rolls. Cover rolls with plastic wrap and put in the fridge overnight. On Sunday morning, preheat oven to 350°. Take rolls out of fridge and bake for 15 minutes until rolls are golden brown. Be careful not to over bake. (These may also be baked without sitting overnight. After wrapping the marshmallow in them, let them rise for about an hour or so and then bake them as usual.)

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup

This soup is To Die For. I got it from my sister in law, Carrie. It has become our favorite soup. It is really easy to prepare, and makes a lot! If you aren't serving a crowd, only cook the noodles you need, save the 'soup' and when you serve leftovers, cook the remaining noodles and add them. You can put them all in, but sometimes the noodles are mushy upon re-heating. It really doesn't alter the taste, though, so you decide! We served these last week with the Cheesy Garlic Biscuits. Yummy!
Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup
10 cups chicken broth
28 oz. diced tomatoes with juice
8 oz. can tomato paste
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
1 1/2 tsp. basil
1 1/2 tsp. oregano
1 pt. whipping cream (unwhipped)
1 1/2 lbs. cooked tortellini
Pour chicken broth into a large pot and heat.
Add basil and oregano.
Place diced tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, and 1/2 cup water into a blender and puree until smooth; add to broth.
In a separate pan, melt butter. Add flour and stir for 1-2 minutes. Whip this into the soup and simmer until thickened; stirring often.
Add cooked tortellini and heat through.
Last of all, add the whipping cream and serve.

Cheesy Garlic Biscuits

The were so yummy and quick to make. The Bisquick makes it come together really quickly. There is a version of this on the back of the Bisquick box, but I actually got it from The Sisters Cafe.

Cheesy Garlic Biscuits
2 c Bisquick mix
2/3 c milk1/2 c sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 c butter, melted
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp dried parsley

Mix together Bisquick and milk just until moistened. Fold in cheese. Drop by spoonfuls on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Combine melted butter with garlic salt and parsley and brush over each biscuit. Serve immediately.

Carrot Cake

This is a fantastic recipe from My Kitchen Cafe. I made it as part of our Easter feast and everyone gobbled it up! Don't let the lengthy instructions scare you away! This is well worth every step, and it really wasn't hard.

Carrot Cake

2 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp table salt

1 lb. medium carrots (6 to 7 carrots), peeled

1 1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. packed light brown sugar

4 large eggs

1 1/2 c. vegetable oil, safflower oil, or canola oil


8 oz cream cheese, softened but still cool

5 Tbsp unsalted butter softened, but still cool

1 Tbsp sour cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 c. confectioners' sugar

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13 by 9-inch baking pan (I used a bundt pan).

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside.

Shred carrots (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside.In a large bowl beat granulated and brown sugars and eggs on medium-high until thoroughly combined, about 45 seconds.

Reduce speed to medium; with mixer running, add oil in slow, steady stream, being careful to pour oil against inside of bowl (if oil begins to splatter, reduce speed to low until oil is incorporated, then resume adding oil). Increase speed to high and mix until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 45 seconds to 1 minute longer.

Turn off mixer and stir in carrots and dry ingredients by hand until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.

Pour into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours .

When cake is cool, mix cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla at medium high speed until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until very fluffy, about 1 minute.

Frost and eat!

Bourbon Chicken

This is an easy, yummy dinner which (relax!) requires no actual Bourbon!
Bourbon Chicken
2lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons oil (for pan-frying)
cornstarch (for dusting, optional)
Sauce:1 garlic clove (minced)
¼ teaspoon ginger (I used ground ginger)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I didn't have any of these)
¼ cup apple juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
½ cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce
Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces, and if you choose lightly dust with cornstarch. Heat oil in your wok and fry chicken bits in batches until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
In a bowl combine all sauce ingredients. Pour into wok and bring to a boil. Add chicken bits back to the pan, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Spanish Rice Turkey Casserole

I found this Recipe in 'Taste of Home' magazine. It has a really good flavor, is simple to prepare, and makes a lot, so I always freeze some for a future meal. I use low fat sour cream and you can even omit the cheese to make it healthier. (My family won't let me get away with that!)

You'll need about 1 hour total to make this.

Spanish Rice Turkey Casserole

2 packages (6.8 oz. each) Spanish Rice and vermicelli mix
1/4 cup butter
4 cups water
2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) diced tomatoes, undrained
3 cups cooked and cubed turkey or chicken
1 can (11 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided (I use cheddar too and it tastes great)

In a large skillet, saute rice and vermicelli in butter until golden brown. Gradually stir in the water, tomatoes and the contents of the rice seasonings packets. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until rice is tender.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the turkey, corn, sour cream and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Stir in the cooked rice mixture. Transfer to a greased 3 qt. baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.

Makes 8 servings.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Honey Butter

This recipe also comes from my "Christmas Recipes from the Lion House" cookbook. It was paired with the Lion House Crescent Rolls. I made it tonight to go with our cornbread and it was very yummy. Not so much "light and fluffy" as gooey, but very delicious. It made about 2 cups worth, so we have lots of left-overs.

Honey Butter

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1/4 tsp. vanilla

1 egg yolk

1 cup honey

Whip Butter. Add vanilla and egg yolk. Gradually whip in honey until light and fluffy.

Lion House Crescent Rolls

I have a cookbook with Christmas Recipes from the Lion House and that is where these rolls come from. They were so yummy! They were soft and fluffy and buttery. Deseret Book sells these and I always thought they were divine! I was excited to see that I actually had the recipe in my cupboard!

The only adjustment I made was with the cooking time. It says to bake for 15 minutes, but mine were done after 12.

So, I think I'm getting the hang of this bread thing. I've been having success lately. I've been wondering what could be the difference and I think it is the yeast I'm using. It is a brand called SAF and I keep it in the freezer. Before, I always used the individual packets and kept them in the fridge. So, if anyone is having trouble with their different breads rising, try that kind. All I know is that I sure am happy with the way my loaves and rolls are turning out lately!

Lion House Crescent Rolls

2 Tbs. yeast

2 cups warm water

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup shortening, margarine or butter

2 tsp. salt

2/3 cup nonfat dry milk

1 egg

5-6 cups flour

Melted butter or margarine

Mix yeast and water and let stand 5 minutes. Add sugar, shortening, salt, dry milk, egg, and 2 cups of the flour. Beat together until smooth. Gradually add remaining flour until soft dough forms. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. (Or, mix in a mixer and let that do the kneading for you for about 5 or 6 minutes.) Place in a greased bowl; cover and let rise until double in bulk. Punch down; divide into thirds. Roll each third into a circle and cut into 8 or 12 pie-shaped pieces. (the more pieces, the smaller the rolls.) Starting at the wide end, roll each piece into crescent. Place on a greased baking sheet with the point on the bottom. Repeat with the remainder of dough. Brush tops with melted butter. Let rise until double. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Enjoy with Honey Butter!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Soft Sugar Cookies with Butter Frosting

Noelle brought these cookies home about a year ago from a friend's house and I had to call and get the recipe right away. I really like how soft these are. They aren't too sweet, and the frosting is so's butter, how could it not be good! We make these for just about every holiday as a fun activity for the kids. This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Soft Sugar Cookies
Cream Together:
1 cup margarine or butter
1 cup sugar
2 beaten eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Sift and Add:
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder

Add: 1/2 cup sour cream

Dough will be very sticky. Knead on floured counter, adding 1-2 cups more flour until not sticky.
Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 375. Roll out, cut into shapes, bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 8 minutes.

Butter Frosting
(frosts about 3 dozen cookies)

1/3 cup butter
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

In a mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups of powdered sugar. Beat in milk and vanilla. Slowly beat in the remaining powdered sugar. Add more milk if needed to reach spreading consistency. Add food coloring if desired.

Irish Soda Bread

I'd never had Soda Bread before I tried this recipe for St. Patrick's Day. The texture is like cornbread, and was a little sweet and very yummy! We'll be having it again for sure. It was great paired with soup. It was easy to whip together - but I went a little short on the baking time so the middle was a bit gooey. Make sure you bake it until it is nice and golden (more than mine!) - 50 - 60 minutes! I got this recipe from Allrecipes.
Amazingly Easy Irish Soda Bread
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round (flatten it out just a touch) and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an 'X' into the top of the loaf.
Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes Continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes. (I did it every 10 minutes)
We paired this bread with Irish Stew for St. Patrick's Day. Here's a picture and a link. It was good and we'll probably have it again next year, but it wasn't amazing enough for me to feature it here. I did use lamb, leeks and parsnips for the first time though! It needed a lot more salt than the recipe called for. If you're a whiz at knowing what spices would make something taste perfect, then maybe you can tell me what else the soup could use. I just follow the recipes!
Here's a link to the recipe on Allrecipes if you want it. Irish Stew

Buttermilk Waffles

The thing that is different about these waffles is that they use brown sugar and cinnamon. They were really good and simple. If you want fluffier waffles, separate the egg whites from the yolks. Make the recipe using just the yolks and beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form. Add the whites to the completed batter by folding them in gently, leaving a few puffs of white. (Don't mix too much). Of course, we had ours on St. Patrick's Day, so the batter had to be green!

Buttermilk Waffles

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted

2 cups flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

3 large eggs

2 cups buttermilk

1 tsp. vanilla

Beat the eggs until fluffy. Beat in everything else just until smooth.

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

This recipe comes from My Kitchen Cafe and we really like it. I love that it is a crock pot meal, so it is very easy. It is also pretty healthy if you use fat free sour cream, "No Yolk" noodles (tons of protein and no fat or cholesterol), and serve a salad with it! We have used stew meat and it works great, but I think I might try a more tender cut of beef next time and shred it after it cooks.

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

Place these ingredients in the crock pot:

2-3 lbs. stew meat

1 tsp salt

dash pepper

1 onion, sliced

Mix these ingredients and pour over the beef in the crock pot:

1/4 tsp. garlic salt

1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 cup beef broth

1 Tbs ketchup

Cook on low for 7 hours or on high for 4 hours.

When cooked, whisk 1/3 cup flour and 1/3 cup apple juice together. Stir into crock pot. Cook on high for 30 minutes.

Stir in 1/2 cup sour cream and serve over noodles, rice or potatoes.

Total time: about 8 hours (on low)

Servings: about 8

Easiest Brownies in the World

I finally got the day right to bring treats to Activity Days! I made this quick pan of brownies for it and I have to admit, I tried one. I wanted to eat the entire pan. SO YUMMY! I adapted it from a recipe off My Kitchen Cafe - the chocolate chips are my addition! The picture makes it look like they aren't done in the middle. They are cooked through, they were just that moist. Of course, it wouldn't be me if there weren't some little mishap involved in the making of any treat! Someone turned off the oven before they were done and when I came down to check on them, I found that I had to put them back in for another 20 minutes. So, they went late to Ashlyn's Activity and they didn't cool all the way. Whatever...they were awesome!

Easiest Brownies in the World
1 12oz bag of chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet, but use whatever suits your tastes)
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs @ room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips
Heat the oven to 350.
Melt butter and 12 oz. chocolate chips in a saucepan. Stir constantly and remove from heat when melted.
Pour into a large bowl.
Blend in sugar.
Add eggs, blending fully one at a time.
Add flour and beat well for 3 or 4 minutes.
Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips.
Pour into a greased 9x13 pan.
Bake for 20 minutes at 350.
Reduce heat to 325 and cook 10 minutes more.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

We have a hard time finding spaghetti sauce that we like, but we found a winner here. It isn't too spicy, too chunky, or too complicated. It is very easy and I've used it on Chicken Parmesan and Eggplant Parmesan. Everyone is different, but our family likes it!
Homemade Spaghetti Sauce ( from The Sisters Cafe)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cans Italian diced tomatoes (I puree these)
1 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until tender.
Add all other ingredients.
Simmer 10 minutes.

Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce

OK, so the butter in this makes it not quite "healthy", but it is so very yummy, and so very easy, that I say I'm allowed to eat it! It is asparagus, after all! Try it, you won't be disappointed. The Balsamic vinegar isn't overpowering - I thought it might be!

Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce

1 bunch fresh asparagus

2 Tbs butter

1 Tbs soy sauce

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400.

Snap ends off asparagus and place on a cookie sheet. Spray asparagus with cooking spray and season with a little salt and pepper.

Bake for 12 minutes or until tender.

Melt butter in the microwave. Stir in soy sauce and vinegar. Pour over baked asparagus and serve.

Anniversary Chicken

I'm not sure where I got this recipe, but it is so good that I feel I should credit someone for it! I use Hidden Valley Ranch, made from the package of seasonings. (It is the only Ranch that I like) Although I'm sure freshly cooked and crumbled bacon would take this dish to a whole other level, I have used the pre-cooked, pre-crumbled, packaged bacon with great results. It is quick and easy and very tasty!

Anniversary Chicken

2 Tbls. vegetable oil

6 chicken breasts

1/2 cup Teriyaki basting sauce

1/2 cup Ranch dressing

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

3 green onions, chopped

crumbled bacon

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat oil and brown chicken for a minute on each side.

Put chicken in a greased 9x13 dish. Brush with Teriyaki sauce, spoon on ranch, sprinkle with cheese, onions and bacon.

Bake for 35 minutes or until cooked through.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Easy Red Beans and Rice

We love this meal. We have it a couple of times a month. It is cheap, easy, healthy and delicious! It isn't spicy, so add your own hot sauce! I'm sure this isn't 'real' southern Red Beans and Rice, but everyone we have served it to has loved it. I usually use light kidney beans or red beans. They taste the best. The picture is when I made it with dark kidney beans - those weren't as good. I have used all kinds of different sausage. The recipe originally called for turkey sausage, but our favorite has been beef bratwurst. We've made it using crumbled sausage (ground up) and that was good too. We puree the tomatoes because Ian doesn't like the chunks. The recipe originally came from Allrecipes. Hope you like it as much as we do! We generally have it with Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread (also from Allrecipes.) Can't get any better comfort food than that!

Easy Red Beans and Rice

1 pound sausage (if using links, cut into 1/4 inch slices)
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 15oz. cans kidney or red beans, drained
1 28oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes, or diced tomatoes pureed in blender with 1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
3/4 tsp. salt
2 shakes pepper

In a large skillet over low heat, cook sausage for 5 minutes. Add onion and garlic. Saute until tender.
Pour in beans and pureed tomatoes. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Serve over rice.

Glazed Lemon Scones

These are delicious! The instructions say to use mostly your hands, and while other tools would work (say, a spoon, for instance) it was so much fun to roll up my sleeves and get my hands working with this dough! I have made the glaze with lemon juice from a bottle before, but this time, I actually squeezed the lemon myself, and the taste was amazing! Great with the bottled juice, but a whole new level with fresh juice! This is a really girly food, so it is a big hit at brunches! They take about 40 minutes to make and make 8-12 scones.
(Disclaimer: Scones, to me, are big, fluffy fried pastries covered in butter and cinnamon sugar from county fairs, but every magazine calls these scones, so what do I know?! They are more like a glorified biscuit. - I had to add that for Ian, we debated the name while he ate them!)

Glazed Lemon Scones from Family Fun Magazine

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
3 Tbs. cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 cup heavy or whipping cream, plus a little for brushing
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Lemon Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1Tbs. melted butter
2 Tbs heavy or whipping cream

Heat oven to 400.
Grease a large baking sheet (preferably not a dark one)
Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add lemon zest and toss with your hands, zestfully :)
Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Mix together the cream, egg yolk, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and mix just until the dough holds together.
Scrape the dough onto a floured surface and, with floured hands, knead the dough 3 or 4 times to form a ball.
Flatten it to about 3/4 inch thick.
Cut it into 8-12 pieces as you would a pie.
Transfer the pieces to the baking sheet leaving at least 1/4 inch between them.
Brush the tops with a little cream.
Bake for 16-18 minutes until slightly brown.
Let cool for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.
While the scones cool, mix the ingredients together for the glaze with a whisk until smooth. If necessary, thin the glaze with water 1/2 tsp. at a time.
When the scones have cooled for 10 minutes on the rack, drizzle them with the glaze and serve!

Breakfast Casserole

I have always made a standard egg casserole for Christmas morning or Saturday morning Conference and have thought it was super yummy...until I found this one! It comes from The Food Network and has a lot more flavor (The recipe only calls for 6 eggs, but I put in 12). We're not fans of a lot of spicy food in this house, so I was nervous about the spicy pork sausage, but it actually isn't very spicy at all! It is made the night before which makes it easy. The bread layer soaks up the egg and makes for a great light texture (It doesn't look or taste like bread after it is cooked).
Breakfast Casserole
12 eggs
1 cup half and half
2 Tbs. chopped green onions
1 1/2 tsp. salt
6 slices Texas Toast (Thick cut white bread)
1 pound spicy pork sausage, cooked
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Beat the eggs, half and half, green onions and salt together.
Grease a 9x13 pan.
Place the bread in the pan, breaking into pieces if necessary to fill the bottom.
Sprinkle the bread with the cooked sausage and cheese.
Pour the egg mixture over the entire pan.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 and cook for 35 minutes or until the egg mixture is set.

Grandmothers Buttermilk Cornbread

This is the best cornbread I have ever had. I LOVE it. I could eat an entire pan. Just the picture makes my mouth water. It is so very moist and yummy. Mmmmmmm...cornbread...

Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread (from Allrecipes)

1/4 pound of butter (1 stick)
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375. Grease an 8 inch square pan.
Melt butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended.
Combine buttermilk and baking soda. Stir into sugar mixture. Add cornmeal, flour and salt and mix until blended, but a few lumps remain. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
If you double the recipe, use a 9x13 pan and bake for 40 minutes.

Friday, March 6, 2009

In The Beginning...

I am sure that I am like most college kids. When I arrived at college, I knew how to make a mean batch of mac 'n cheese, a decent bowl of ramen noodles and I could open a can of soup or a box of cereal like a pro. Beyond that, however, I did not have a clue how to make anything that wasn't processed. I loved to eat though and thought that the situation wasn't acceptable.

I couldn't actually admit that at 18 I didn't really know how to cook anything. So, I took careful notes about how my roommates prepared their food. Mostly, they were eating the same things I was. One day, I got lucky. A roommate of mine got out a package of raw chicken. That got my attention. I saw her bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove. Easy; I did that every day for mac 'n cheese. She then took a piece of chicken and dropped it into the boiling water. She let it cook for 13 minutes (I timed her) and then took it out. Voila...cooked chicken. I didn't take any interest in what she did next with it. I had gotten my answer. I could totally cook chicken!

So, the next time I was home alone, I got out my chicken and boiled it. I was very proud of myself and excited to feast on something I had created that wasn't from a box or can. I sat down, mouth watering and took a bite. It tasted like...boiled chicken. It wasn't horrible, but it was bland and a little stringy. I got out my salt and went to town on that sucker.

I always thought my roommate was an idiot after that and went back to my cold cereal and canned soup. (I wonder what she actually made with her boiled chicken...)

Symphony Cookies

I really am going crazy! For the second week in a row, I have made treats for Ashlyn's Activity Days and for the second week in a row...they aren't having Activity Days.
Oh well! As Noelle put it, "I'm glad you're going crazy, Mommy!"
Maybe I'll luck out and the treats I make next week will actually be for something real!

These cookies were yummy and easy. If you like Symphony candy bars, you'll like them! (Symphony bars are chocolate bars with little bits of toffee and almonds in them.)

Symphony Cookies from The Sisters' Cafe
1 c butter
3/4 c brown sugar
1 small box of instant vanilla pudding (or chocolate)
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 giant Symphony bar (with toffee bits), chopped

Cream butter, sugar, pudding mix, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
Add eggs and beat until creamy.
Combine flour and baking soda.
Add to butter mixture, stirring until combined.
Stir in chopped chocolate.
Drop by spoonful on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees for 9-10 minutes

Spinach, Orange and Cranberry Salad

OK, so this recipe isn't "impressive," but if you're looking for ideas for something to eat...and you don't want to eat fat, and you're trying to cut might be interested in this. (Story of my life this year!) My brother Russell - my competitor in our "Biggest Loser" contest - gave me this idea. I eat this almost every day for lunch - or some variation of it!
All it is: spinach leaves, orange slices and dried cranberries. What? No Dressing? Yep, you actually don't need dressing if you get some fruit in each bite. Plus, the vitamin c from the oranges helps in the absorption of the iron from the spinach. (HA! I sound like I know what I'm talking about.)
If we had some kind of meat the night before for dinner, I'll sometimes slice it up and put a little on top...then I feel indulgent!
It actually is really yummy and I look forward to eating it!

Chicken and Corn Chowder with Sweet Potatoes

I love that this recipe has sweet potatoes in it! (Noelle hates that it does!) This was a great soup and was relatively easy to prepare; lots of chopping and dicing! It took me about 1 hour to make. It comes from one of my new favorite sites: My Kitchen Cafe. Just about everything on there that I have tried has been delicious! I made a couple of little changes to fit what I had on hand. I didn't have the corn muffin mix, so I used the dry ingredients from my favorite cornbread recipe and it worked great.
This recipe makes A LOT! I actually had to transfer it from my huge pan to my ginormous pan about halfway through. I would say it could feed 10 people easily.
Chicken and Corn Chowder with Sweet Potatoes
3 cups whole milk (I didn't have whole milk so I used 2 cups 1% and 1 cup cream)
2 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
(Or you can use 1 cup of a yellow corn muffin mix in place of the previous 5 dry ingredients)
2 T. butter
1/2 onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 1/2 tsp.)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin (I actually didn't have any of this, so I didn't add it)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 quarts chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 " cubes and cooked
2 sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
3 cups frozen corn (not thawed) (I used 3 14oz. cans of corn and it worked great)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (I -of course- used dried parsley)
1/2 tsp. salt (add more or less to your liking)
3 shakes pepper

Mix milk and muffin mix in bowl until well combined.
Meanwhile, heat butter in large pot over medium heat until foaming.
Add onion and cook until softened, about 8 minutes.
Stir in garlic, cumin and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add broth, chicken and sweet potatoes.
Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer until sweet potatoes are just tender, about 8 minutes.
Stir in milk and muffin mixture and simmer until soup thickens, about 10 minutes.
Add cheese and corn and cook until cheese begins to melt, about 2 minutes.
Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper.

French Bread Rolls

I made these rolls last night to go with our Chicken and Corn Chowder and they were yummy. More importantly, however, THEY WORKED!! I have no luck with bread, as I've mentioned before, but these rose beautifully. I loved kneading them. I'm sure it would've worked to knead them in my Bosch Mixer, but I did everything by hand. (It was very stress-relieving with the rhythmic motion!) They can be made when you have few ingredients on hand and for people who can't have milk or eggs.

These were easy to make and took about 2 hours from start to finish. They had the crunchy exterior and the soft interior like a loaf of french bread. I love that it made only one dozen - just right for our family dinner with a couple left over.
French Bread Rolls (yet another wonderful recipe from My Kitchen Cafe)

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, stir together warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
To the yeast mixture, add the oil, salt, and 2 cups flour. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Deflate the dough, and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces, and form into round balls. Place on lightly greased baking sheets at least 2 inches apart.
Cover the rolls with a damp cloth (or greased saran wrap), and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Bake for 12-13 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown. (Mine were ready after 10 minutes)

Have a taste with some homemade strawberry jam and you will be in heaven!