Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Baking Round two - How To Save Time

I bucked up and did it again. I mean what are homemade teacher gifts without the homemade cookies? And what is a school Christmas party without cupcakes?

You want to know my secret?

Betty Crocker - man, I love that lady!

Betty Crocker cupcake icing

This in amazing product. Sure, it tastes like canned frosting, but I frosted 36 cupcakes without getting dirty and it comes with four great decorator tips so you can make them cute!



Of course this was the cupcakes, I mean really...I was making three dozen cupcakes for kids younger than 10 - so not making them from scratch!



See that package in the middle? The gingerbread one? That's how I saved time making these this year...


plus I found that handy little package before I could find the molasses. Remember this post was all about saving time...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

After reading the book In Defense of Food I have been trying to eat healthier by not using canned and commercialized food as often. Sadly, that means making more things from scratch and no longer using condensed soups. One of my favorite recipes is King Ranch Chicken Casserole so I went on a google search to find a version Campbells free. Luckily, I stumbled upon Homesick Texan and found this gem. Enjoy!
King Ranch Chicken Casserole
Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds of chicken, without skin and bones
4 teaspoons of lime juice
1/4 cup of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons of butter
1/2 an onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 10oz. can of Ro-Tel tomatoes (or you can use a can of regular diced tomatoes and a 4 oz. can of diced green chiles, or if tomatoes are in season, can use two cups of diced fresh tomatoes with 1/4 cup of diced green chiles, such as a jalapeno)
4 teaspoons ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 cup of chicken broth
2 tablespoons of flour
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup of half and half
1/3 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped
3 cups of grated pepper jack and cheddar
10 corn tortillas
Salt and pepper to taste.


Method:
1. Cook the chicken in the olive oil on medium, adding 2 teaspoons of lime juice, 2 teaspoons of ancho chile powder and salt to taste.
2. When chicken is done (after about 20 minutes), shred it with two forks and set aside. Should yield about 3 cups.
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium, and add the onions, red bell pepper and poblano pepper. Cook for 10 minutes.
4. Add the garlic, flour, cumin, cayenne pepper and 2 teaspoons of ancho chile powder, and cook for 1 minute.
5. Add the chicken broth and cook on low until mixture is thickened, a few minutes. Stir in the half-and-half and Ro-Tel cover the pot, and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Uncover the pot, and add the sour cream, 2 teaspoons of lime juice and 1/4 cup of cilantro, and add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat.
7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
8. Heat up the tortillas (you can do this by adding a bit of oil on an iron skillet and then cooking the tortillas for about 30 seconds on each side).
9. Ladle 1/2 cup of the sauce onto the bottom of an 11 x 7 inch baking pan.
10. Layer half the tortillas along the bottom of the pan (on top of the sauce). To make sure entire pan is evenly covered, you can rip some of the tortillas into strips to fill any gaps.
11. Add half the chicken, half the remaining sauce, half the remaining cilantro and 1 1/2 cups of grated cheese.
12. Repeat the layering, leaving the cheese layer on top.
13. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbling. Serves 6-12, depending on how big a portion you distribute. Goes great with sour cream and cilantro on top.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Cookies


I may not have my Christmas shopping done, I may have given up on decorating 1/3 of the way through, I may be praying that we see no more snow this year than we already have, but I have delivered the first round of Christmas cookies to our neighbors - 90% of whom we've never met...sad, I know!

I say first round because I really wanted to make a variety of cookies, place them tenderly on a plate and nicely deliver them to our neighbors in daylight with a smile on my face...

Instead I made a double batch of sugar cookies during a week that was more chaotic than Christmas, it was also the coldest week in my history of living in Texas, add that to the fact that we had obligations every night and no patience to run to the store for the fun little ingredients for the other cookies...our neighbors got sugar cookies on the coldest, darkest night...we may never see them again, but at least the cookies we delivered were yummy and if I might brag a little, they looked good too.

Those other Christmas cookies might still make it onto plates for family and friends, but since I've still not completed my Christmas shopping...maybe we'll just stick with round one.

Scrumptious Sugar Cookies with Glace Frosting

1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup butter

Mix together until soft. Add 4 eggs to mixture and beat in.

Add 2 tsp. vanilla, 4 cup flour, 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt.

Mix together and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Roll out and bake for 8-10 minutes at 375°. Don't overbake!

Glace Frosting

1 lb. powdered sugar (about 3 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup and 2 tbsp. whole milk
1/4 cup and 2 tbsp. corn syrup
1 tsp. almond or vanilla extract

With a whisk, combine sugar and milk until smooth. Then stir in corn syrup and extract.

You will use this same recipe for both glazing and piping. It's written for glaze, add more powdered sugar for piping.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Marbled Bread

After making tons of junkie snacks (and eating them yourselves) to make plates for other people, don't you get sick of sweet stuff? Then everyone has to bring you a plate of goodies as well. Wouldn't you rather have a warm loaf of pretty bread? When you cut into it, it's such a nice surprise. Doesn't it look delicious? It is. MARBLED LOAF
3-3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (divided)
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups milk
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs dark molasses
1 1/4 cups rye or whole wheat flour

In large bowl combine 2 cups of the plain flour and the yeast. In a saucepan heat milk, sugar, oil and salt just until warm (120 - 130 degrees). Add milk mixture to flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixer for 30 seconds than high speed for 3 minutes.
Divide batter in half.
To the first portion combine as much of the first flour as needed. Knead 6-8 minutes. Shape into a ball and put in a greased bowl, turning once to coat dough with oil. Cover.
To the other portion of the dough stir in molasses, rye flour and as much plain flour as needed.
Knead dough and place in bowl as you did with the first batch.
Let both rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/4 hours.
Punch both down and let rest for 10 minutes.
On a floured surface roll each dough portion out seperately into a 12x8 inch rectangle. Place dark dough on top of light. Roll up starting from short side and place in greased bread pan, seam side down. Let rise until nearly double, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. (I had to cover mine with foil the last 10 minutes to keep from getting too brown). Immediately remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

It is worth it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Not To Take Away From The Turkey, Or Anything...

But we ventured over to pork yesterday. It was a nice change from the poultry we've been eating the last week. I got a great deal on pork chops last week - the nice, thick, boneless kind...

Then I realized I had a crazy week. CRAZY. I don't think I was cut out for full schedules and daily obligations. I'm so over that time of life...except that I'm just starting into it.

Back to the pork...

So I was looking for a nice, easy recipe - something that involved my best friend, Ms. Crockpot and ingredients already found in my house since it's freezing outside.

I found it...

Easy Peasy Pork Chops

6 boneless pork chops
1 cup cola flavored soda (I used Dr. Pepper, left over from my last sweet pork batch)
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. onion salt
1 tbsp. garlic salt
1/2 cup flour

Mix garlic salt and flour together in a medium bowl. Dip chops into flour mixture, coating all sides. Lay coated chops in bottom of crock pot. Mix together remaining ingredients and pour over top of pork chops. Cook on high in crock pot 4-5 hours, or bake in oven at 350° for one hour.

I served over brown rice, even the kids had seconds...See, the holiday blessings have already started!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Turkey Day Leftovers

I thought we had a pretty big house. Not so much when you stuff 24 people into it. It was worth it though!
This is a recipe that you can always add a little of this or that. I think it's different everytime I make it. We topped ours with leftover cranberry sauce.
Chicken (or Turkey) Bundles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together:
1 cup cooked chicken or turkey
8 oz soft cream cheese
2 TBS green onion
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 cup chopped mushrooms

Flatten crescent or biscuit dough and add mixture to each one. Roll and seal inside dough and roll in melted butter and then bread crumbs. Place seam side down on baking sheet.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes.
I have frozen these raw before and it worked out well.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

FYI

When making this really, yummy recipe...don't get distracted, start layering the eggplant without baking it first, and then decide to go with it because it won't make that much difference...

It will make a lot of difference and you will barely be able to gag it down...

Seriously. Take my word for it.

We almost had take out last night.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanks Givin'


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It's all about family, gratitude and good food! It's interesting to talk to people about what HAS to be on their Thanksgiving table when the meal starts. I know people who insist on brussel sprouts, or ham, or rice pilaf. I was raised a Thanksgiving traditionalist: turkey, mashed potatoes, candied yams, stuffing, and cranberry sauce - with a table for pies of every kind.

Nowadays it's less about the variety of food and more about the company at the table for me. People gathering over a communal table to discuss what they're grateful for. There should be more Thanksgiving dinners in politics...just sayin'.

My contributions to the Thanksgiving feast this year include:

Mashed potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Pumpkin pie
Cherry pie
Chocolate pie
Apple crisp pie
Green bean casserole
and a store bought pecan pie that my mom couldn't pass up.

Mashed potatoes are starting to appear more at our dinner table. I haven't mastered gravy making, so most of the time I make them yummy by adding butter, milk, cheddar cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. That way no one complains about the lack of gravy. I never peel my potatoes before boiling and I mash by hand, the old-school way. We like them a little chunky.

Sweet potatoes are my family's favorite. We always have a stock of sweet potatoes in the pantry. For Thanksgiving I'll be making three types of sweet potatoes. I love this recipe - for Thanksgiving I'll be making the potatoes with that topping and with plain marshmallows. I'm also going to try a new recipe:

SUNRISE SWEET POTATOES

Green bean casserole will be a new adventure for me. It gets eaten one time a year - Thanksgiving - and I've never made it. It might make it on the menu more often if I ever remembered to actually purchase the French Fried Onions. It's a simple recipe, right on the package of French's French Fried Onions or found here.

That brings us to the pies. Pie fits into the category of yummy but kind of a pain because you have to roll it out...right there with sugar cookies, pizza dough and biscuits. If you like homemade pie crust try this recipe:

BROOKE'S BEST PIE CRUST
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shortening
1/2 cup water

In a bowl combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water until mixture forms a ball. Divide dough in half and shape into balls. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Roll out dough on a floured counter. Don't over work it. Makes two pie crusts or one double crust pie.

If you want a new recipe for apple pie, try this one:

APPLE CRISP PIE
pie crust
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
6 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced (about 7 cups)
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. cinnamon

3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
3 tbsp. sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 450°. Prepare pie crust in 9-in. pie plate. Set aside.
Prepare topping: in a medium bowl combine flour and brown sugar. Using a pastry blender cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in almonds. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine brown sugar, apples, lemon juice and cinnamon. Toss until well coated. Spoon apples into pie crust. Sprinkle with topping.
Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 350°. Bake until bubbly, about 40 minutes longer. Remove onto wire rack and serve warm with whipped topping or vanilla ice cream.

My husband's only request other than a good football game for Thanksgiving is Chocolate Pie. He makes his own, seriously, because he's that into chocolate. I still have this recipe written on an envelope scribbled on the drive to Vernal for our first Thanksgiving a month after we started dating. Thankfully the recipe and the chocoholic are still mine!

SHANE'S CHOCOLATE PIE

9 tbsp. cocoa
2 1/3 cup sugar
4 tbsp. and 2 tsp. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs, beaten
3 1/8 cup milk
4 tbsp. and 1 tsp. butter
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
pie crust

Mix cocoa, sugar, salt, and cornstarch together. Add milk slowly and mix well. Cook over medium heat until it begins to thicken. Add beaten eggs and cook until thick enough for pie. Cook slowly over low heat stirring constantly. Add butter and vanilla. Pour into baked pie shell and top with whipped topping.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Powdered Milk Biscuits

Growing up in the south, I love biscuits. The kind you buy in a can do not compare! I have several biscuits recipes I like, this one is a good tender version. I will post my favorite flakey and buttermilk ones another day.
POWDERED MILK BISCUITS

1 3/4 cups Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
3 tsp Baking Powder
3-5 Tbsp Softened Butter
1/4 cup Powdered Milk
3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp Sugar

Preheat Oven 450 degrees .
Combine all dry ingredients and cut in butter (I just use my Kitchen-aid).
Add wet ingredients to mix. Do not overmix!! The less you handle the dough from now on, the better and more tender your biscuits will be.
Roll out dough onto a floured surface about 3/4 inches thick.
Cut out biscuits with cookie cutter or mason jar ring.
Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Turkey Day

I am not going to post about "the most amazing Thanksgiving dinner ideas ever". If you want those I'll refer you to either Karen or here. I'll admit I've never hosted an entire Thanksgiving dinner by myself. I can do rolls, salads, potatoes, yams, etc. but I've never cooked a turkey or made green bean casserole...whew, that's kind of a big weight off my shoulders.

I'm going to talk today about what we'll be facing a week from tomorrow...

No, not incredibly huge sales and crowds...(thankfully, I do the majority of my shopping on-line)

I'm talking about LEFTOVERS. *cue angelic singing*

We all know next week's menu skips Friday, Saturday and Sunday because those days are going to include eating what's left of Tom Turkey, right?

How about a recipe to help out?

Turkey Tetrazzini

2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz mushrooms, sliced as small as you need to to hide them from your kids...
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3 oz cream cheese
12 oz uncooked spaghetti, or other long, thin pasta
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp crushed saltine crackers

Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.
Add onion, carrot, pepper, salt and mushrooms. Saute until vegetables are tender. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
Add 1/4 cup chicken brother, cook for a minute.
Gradually add flour to pan. Cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add remaining broth, stirring constantly.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and cream cheese, stirring until cream cheese melts. Add the pasta and chicken and stir until mixed.
Transfer to a greased 9 x 13 baking pan.
Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the pasta.
Combine breadcrumbs and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over pasta.
Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until lightly brown.
Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pumpkin + Breakfast

Ignore the spider, I made these Halloween morning. They would be great on Thanksgiving as well. Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups mashed pumpkin (I just used canned)
3 eggs
1 cup milk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla

Makes 2 dozen 3 inch pancakes.

After making these, I remember how much I like them and wondered why I don't make them year round. I think I will now.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I'm Feelin' Saucy

Last night we did chicken nuggets. Seriously. Tyson, all white meat, super yummy chicken nuggets. You'd have thought the children were in heaven. Apparently they have no idea how their enthusiasm for all things store bought and premade makes it really hard to slave over a hot stove on all of the other nights!

We paired the chicken yumminess with some fresh, steamed asparagus and garlic-cheese mashers. The chicken nuggets were still the hit of the night, even the babies each had seconds!

If you've read this blog much you know I have some weird taste issues. Chocolate and fruit together? Nasty. Milk chocolate? Not so much. Tomato soup? Ick. Barbeque sauce? Blech. (No need to remind me I married into the wrong family and live in the wrong state for a couple of those, I know...trust me, I know)

I don't know what you put on your nuggets, but my family loves barbeque sauce. We have plenty of options in the fridge....

I made my favorite nugget dip - Cranberry Mustard. Yeah, I was feeling a little Thanksgiving-ish yesterday. The cranberry mustard is a throw-back to my mom and Hickory Farms. For me it's the only way to go with nuggets...and turkey sandwiches which we all know will be on the menu two weeks from today. (trust me on the sauce for turkey sandwiches...amazing!)

CRANBERRY MUSTARD

Mix 1/2 cup jellied cranberry sauce with 3 tbsp. honey mustard. You can add more of one or the other to get just the right mixture for you.

Next week I'm thinking of surprising the kids with fish sticks...maybe I'll make some homemade cocktail sauce. You know, just to feel saucy again.

COCKTAIL SAUCE

1/4 cup horseradish (I'll use wasabi - you get the same effect)
1 tbsp. dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp. lemon juice
1 cup ketchup

Mix it all together - chill, then serve.

Or, if you prefer tartar sauce with your fish...

TARTAR SAUCE

1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. dill pickle relish
1 tbsp. minced onion
2 tbsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's a Pumpkin Time of Year

I'm all about pumpkins...they are a symbol of my favorite time of year. They represent fun, food, family.

I love carving pumpkins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and my mom even made pumpkin juice one year as a nod to Harry Potter (it was really good).

I found a new recipe in one of my 'new' hand-me-down recipe books and decided to try it a few weeks ago.

UPSIDE-DOWN PUMPKIN CAKE

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
pinch salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs, well beaten

Combine above ingredients in a large mixing bowl and blend well. Pour batter into a greased 9 x 13 in. baking pan.

1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup melted butter

Spread dry cake mix over top of pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle with pecans and drizzle with butter. Moistening as much of the dry cake mix as you can with the butter. Bake 1 hour at 350°. Cool slightly and serve with whipped topping, if desired.


This was the lone piece left after we served this for company...
sorry for the poor picture quality, it was taken by my phone before someone snatched the last piece and I had nothing to document this amazing dessert

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I love fall, Ya'll

Sorry that I haven't been around in the blogging community lately. I promise, I'll try to do better. Try.
One thing I love about fall is soups. Yum. Soups when you live close to the ocean and can get fresh seafood is even better. This is really easy to make and it is really good. You need to try it, even if you have to buy that frozen stuff.

CRAWFISH CREAM CORN CHOWDER
1 lb crawfish tails
1 8-oz pkg cream cheese
2 cans corn (don't drain)
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of potato soup
1 16-oz carton half-and-half
Tony Chachere's Cajun Seonsoning, to taste

Saute onion in butter.
Lower heat and add cream cheese to soften.
Add corn and soups. Stir.
Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Comfort Food

Everyone has that one food (or several foods) that make you feel better. I'll pretty much eat anything warm on a cold day; my husband will eat anything chocolate.

Today it's cool (I'm freezing, but really it's like 60° outside) and I'm feeding people tonight...perfect combination for warm, comforting Oatmeal Cake with Coconut frosting.


OATMEAL CAKE w/ Coconut Frosting

1 cube butter, cut up
1 1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup quick oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs, unbeaten
1 1/2 cup flour
2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

Combine butter, boiling water and quick oats and let sit. Mix together sugars and eggs in separate bowl, then add to first mixture. Stir in flour, nutmeg, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and vanilla. Place in greased cake pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350°.

Topping:
1 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp canned milk
1 egg
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cup coconut

Mix well. While cake is still hot, spread on top. Broil in oven to brown coconut. Watch closely so it doesn't burn.

Doesn't that look amazing?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Taco Fridays

Let's be honest...I don't do Taco Fridays. I have a cousin that does, it's his tradition with his kids. I do pizza or breakfast-for-dinner on Fridays. Though tonight I think we're having left-overs because I'm craving last night's clam chowder!

But...

Taco Fridays would be a great tradition for you to start, k?

Here's a great recipe for you to use in your upcoming Taco Friday meals...it's a slow cooker recipe...see, even better.

Friday Tacos

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 anaheim peppers, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 lbs. lean ground beef
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 cup salsa, whatever type you prefer
Garnish with cilantro, chopped lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese.

Place oil in skillet over medium heat. Saute onion, peppers, and garlic for 5 minutes. Add in beef, salt and pepper. Cook until browned. Stir in salsa and transfer to slow cooker on low heat. Cook on low for 2-3 hours or until everyone is home and ready to start Taco Fridays. Serve with toppings on either a hard taco shell or wrapped in a soft flour tortilla.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another Birthday Cake

I've discovered that if you are going to do a fondant, marshmellow is the way to go. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, even better!

CHERRY CHOCOLATE CAKE
1 Box devils food cake
1 can cherry pie filling
1 small tub sour cream
2 eggs

Mix cake mix, eggs and sour cream together as best you can (it will be dry). Fold in cherries. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

BUTTER CREAM FROSTING
go here for the best one Spread on cake and let cool in the fridge until its slightly stiff.

MM FONDANT
16 oz. White mini marshmallows (use a good quality brand)
2-4 Tbs. Water
2 lbs. Powdered sugar
1/2 cup Good Brand Shortening (this is very unlike me, but the brand with trans fat (not crisco or smart balance) works better

Melt marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave: put the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds, open microwave and stir again, and continue doing this until melted. It usually takes about 2 1/2 minutes total.
Now grease your hands (or mixer) GENEROUSLY - palms, backs and in between fingers, then heavily grease the counter you will be using and dump the bowl of marshmallow/sugar mixture in the middle.
Adding about a cup of sugar at a time, start kneading like you would bread dough. You will immediately see why you have greased your hands. Keep kneading, this stuff is sticky at this stage! Add the rest of the powdered sugar and knead some more. Regrease your hands and counter when the fondant is sticking. If the mix is tearing easily, it is too dry, so add water (about 1/2 tablespoon at a time then knead it in). It usually takes about 8 minutes (if doing by hand) to get a firm smooth elastic ball so that it will stretch without tearing when you apply it to the cake.

Add food coloring to the fondant and knead in. technically you should use the special icing coloring gel that comes in jars. You can get it at most craft stores or online. I just used regular cheap liquid stuff (I didn't need any vibrant colors) and added more sugar. If you are doing it all one color you may add the coloring in the very beginning when you are melting your marshmellows.
Roll out onto greased surface to the size you need and add on top of already iced cake that has been sprayed with a water bottle. Otherwise your fondant will not stick.

This recipe makes a lot! I had about 1/4-1/3 of the fondant leftover.

If this is confusing there are a lot of videos you can watch on YouTube. That's where I went to cake decorating school one night last week.

TIP:
To make the flowers on top, I rolled out the fondant and used a cookie cutter. I then let them dry out on the counter overnight in an egg shell carton so that they wouldn't be flat.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Menu Muse

Dear blog,

I'm in a funk. I've gotten bored of my recipes. My menu contains at least two dinners this week that involve nothing more than appeasing myself and the children with mundane repetitions of their favorites, you know - spaghetti, pasta salad, pizza...

I want to be more creative, I really do, but for some reason (perhaps the fact that I'm tired or chasing babies) I can't seem to find my muse.

Oh, wait...nevermind.

Add a little seasoned chicken, water, cilantro, sugar, honey mustard...over some steamed jasmine rice...

Heaven! Thanks!

Sincerely,
Brooke

Cilantro-Mustard Chicken
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 handful cilantro, chopped
1/2 water
4 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup honey mustard

Saute chicken until browned, add all other ingredients and simmer until chicken is done. Serve over jasmine rice (brown rice would be good too). The kids loved this dish, even with the green flecks in it!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Halloween Recipes

There is not too many things I make for Halloween. When I do make them however I will post them.
Until then, please refer to HERE or HERE for Halloween treat ideas that I do not have the time to make right now!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

T is for Tilapia

Several years ago I decided to integrate more seafood into our menus. That was when I was living closer to a shipping hub and we could purchase great seafood for a really decent price. Here in the middle of nowhere we're lucky to get a good deal on frozen seafood. It's sad, really sad.

We've managed to get tilapia more frequently than salmon or halibut and the kids have really fallen in love with it. It's easy to cook and has a very slight fishy flavor/smell. Though it's not my favorite fish, it's usually easy to find and it's cheap.

Cilantro-lime Tilapia

4 Tilapia fillets
4 tsp olive oil
juice from 2 limes
2 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
4 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese

Brush fillets with olive oil. Squeeze lime juice over fillets. Sprinkle garlic and cilantro over fillets. Broil in oven for 5-7 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily.

While fish is broiling, place spinach in a microwavable bowl with minced garlic and cook until leaves are tender. Spoon spinach onto plate, add fish fillet, top with chopped tomatoes and parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Creamed Chicken and Biscuits

You know those recipes you make over and over again for years? This is one of my family favorites.

Creamed Chicken and Biscuits

1/4 lg onion, diced
4 cups chicken, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped pimento (1 jar)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 frozen biscuits, thawed

Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 11x7 casserole dish.

Saute onion and chicken in pan until cooked. Combine onion, chicken, soup, sour cream, milk, and pimento in a medium bowl and mix well.

Spoon into prepared dish and bake for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle baked layer with 3/4 of the cheese, place biscuits on top, sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake until biscuits are golden brown and sauce is bubbly, about 20 minutes longer.

Serve immediately.



Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Best Breakfast Cake

This is seriously our favorite breakfast cake. It is very moist and delicious! This picture doesn't really show the yumminess, just try it.


Raspberry Cream Cheese Breakfast Cake
A Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook from the 80's.
1 8-oz pkg cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup seedless raspberry preserves
Sifted powdered sugar
In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese, granulated sugar, and butter with an eletric mixer on medium speed until combined. Add half the flour, the eggs, milk, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat about 2 minutes or until well mixed.
Beat in remaining flour on low speed until well mixed. Spread batter evenly into an oil-sprayed 13x9 in pan. Spoon preserves in 8 to 10 portions on top of batter. With a knife, marble preserves into the batter lightly.
Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Cool slightly in pan on a wire rack. Sift powdered sugar on top. Serve warm.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Apple Dumpling Gang

It's funny how recipes spread. Occasionally I'll be browsing some of the finer cooking blogs out there...you know the ones, they have more readers than we do...and within a day or two there are copycat recipes all over.

This one is one of those, but it's worth it, I swear. Even my husband thinks so and it has ZERO chocolate in it. That's the mark of a great dessert recipe.

I originally saw the recipe here on Ourbestbites.com. I thought it looked really interesting and kind of packed it into the file in my head marked "Try this one day when you're bored and you think Shane will try something not chocolate".

Then about one week after I read that post Shane came home blathering on and on about some apple dumpling recipe that this wife of a co-worker brought into the office. I told him I knew "all about that recipe". He said, "You should make it, it's incredible". The recipe then moved from to the file in my head marked "Make this sooner than later, Shane will eat it and it's not chocolate".

Then about a week after Shane salivated his way through a couple of servings of the dumplings at work I decided to try them. Note the date on the post, people...September 4th. It's not like I've kept the poor guy waiting for months for this recipe. I made them exactly 3 weeks after the original recipe was posted here and I can only imagine that's where the co-worker's wife got it...

I would advise you right now, do NOT wait 3 weeks from this post to make them. They are worth eating much sooner than that.

And if you want pictures...look at the original post. Mine looked exactly like that...professional pictures and all. (I swear)

APPLE DUMPLINGS
2 medium apples (I used Fuji)
2 cans refrigerator crescent rolls
1 cup (2 sticks) butter (I always use butter in cooking, not margarine)
1 1/2 cup sugar (I said they were good, not fat free)
1 tsp. vanilla
cinnamon (for sprinkling)
12 oz. (1 can) Sprite or Mtn. Dew (I used Sprite)

Peel and cut apples into 8 slices each. Wrap each apple slice in a crescent roll. Place wrapped apples in a greased 9x13" baking dish. In a medium saucepan melt butter and add sugar and vanilla (I added the cinnamon here). Pour butter mixture over dumplings. Then pour the Sprite/Mtn. Dew over everything. If you don't add the cinnamon with the butter you can sprinkle it over the top of everything. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes. Serve with a little sauce (in the baking dish) drizzled over the top.

It's like miniature apple pies, but without having to make crust!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hot Buns Coming Through!

I had family coming for dinner last Sunday and I served Pulled Pork Sandwiches. I put a pork roast in the crock pot all day. That afternoon I shredded it, added a bottle of barbeque sauce and served it with these. They were soo good. Will make again, for sure!

Beautiful Burger Buns
Recipe and picture courtesy of King Arthur Flour

3/4 to 1 cup flour (Start with just 3/4 and add more later if needed. I didn't need to)
2 Tbs soft butter
1 lg egg
3 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs instant yeast

Directions:
1) Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients—by hand, mixer, or bread machine—to make a soft, smooth dough. (I used my Kitchen Aid for about 5 minutes)
2) Cover the dough, and let it rise for 1 hour, or until it's doubled in bulk. (I always warm my oven and turn it off and place my dough in there)
3) Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a round 1" thick (more or less); flatten to about 3" across. Place the buns on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover, and let rise for about an hour, until very puffy.
4) If desired, brush buns with melted butter. Or brush lightly with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water), and sprinkle with sesame seeds. (I did butter)
5) Bake the buns in a preheated 375°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes, till golden. Cool on a rack.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Upside-Down Pumpkin Cake

I was assigned dessert for last Sunday's dinner-with-the-family. About 8:00 p.m. on Saturday I set about deciding what to make. At that point there's no convincing me to go to the store for extra ingredients, my energy expired about 4 hours earlier. Though this would typically mean preparing one of the stand-by recipes that you always have the ingredients for, none of them sounded perfect. Instead I pulled out a recipe book I received from my Mom this past Summer. It's one of the classic compilation cookbooks, put together by a Relief Society, and handed out to friends and family for a great/cheap gift. I love them. I love them mostly because they are tried and true recipes that someone has made and enjoyed enough to put into a cookbook. This one is HUGE, very well organized and tabbed and it's from Alpine, Utah so it's high class, y'all. :)

I opened up the dessert section and started looking for recipes that sounded good that also included ingredients found in the Snow family pantry (which by the way is still a shelf, in my dining room...big, nice pantry is coming soon). Recipe #4....Upside-Down Pumpkin Cake...sounded perfect. It's Autumn, almost my beloved pumpkin season...AND I had all of the ingredients...

It was perfect. If by perfect you mean moist, easy, delicious and ok to cook 16 hours before it needs to be eaten - Perfect!

So, thank you Mr. and Mrs. Pranger from Alpine, Utah. I've never met you, probably never will, but the recipe you provided our Texas Snow family will be used again, and again, and probably again...

UPSIDE-DOWN PUMPKIN CAKE
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
pinch salt
1 1/2 c. sugar (I would decrease this to 1 c., it was pretty sweet)
3 eggs, well beaten
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup melted butter

Combine pumpkin, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, sugar, and eggs in a large mixing bowl and blend well. Pour batter (it is pretty runny) into a greased 9 x 13 in. baking pan.

Spread dry cake mix over top of pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle with pecans and drizzle with butter. Moistening as much of the dry cake mix as possible with the butter. Bake 1 hour in 350° F oven. Cool slightly and serve with whipped topping.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Open-Faced Enchilladas

This is a different take on a regular taco salad.



OPEN FACED ENCHILLADAS

1 lb. ground beef or turkey

1 pkt. enchillada seasoning

1 big can tomato juice*

1 can black beans (do not rinse or drain)*

cornstarch and water

Brown meat. Add seasoning and beans. Cook until warmed through. Pour in tomato juice and bring to a boil for about five minutes. Mix cornstarch with water and add to sauce until desired thickness. Serve on top of totilla chips with desired toppings. Serves a lot!


*I only use 1/2 - 3/4 of the canned juice. If I use the whole can then I make it with 2 cans of beans.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Easy Tomato Soup

I am not a fan of tomato soup. I think I've hit on that point before. I love to use it in my cooking, I love that my kids love it, I just do not like to eat it...at all. However, I tell my kids it takes trying something about 14 times to learn to like it...this will be number 15...we'll see! This looks like a decent take on the old condensed soup - wish me luck!

EASY TOMATO BASIL SOUP

1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 c butter
4 cans tomato soup
2 cans water
1 8 oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese (I will use fat free)
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1/2 to 3/4 c fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Half and Half, if desired

Saute chopped onion in butter until transparent. In separate sauce pan combine tomato soup and water and heat. Add cream cheese and stir with a wire whip until dissolved. Add sautéed onion, chopped tomatoes, cheese, basil and oregano. Add half and half if desired. Heat but do not boil.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Shrimp Kabobs

Clint wanted to grill something for my birthday a couple of weeks ago. While he was at work the kids and I skewered some kabobs and I realized I haven't had any in a long time. It hit the spot.
All I did was chop up:
Zucchini
Summer Squash
Pineapple
Onion
Green Pepper
and used,
Shrimp, peeled and deveined
and Cherry Tomatoes

If you soak the wooden skewers in water for 20 minutes before grilling they will not burn so easily. Then I let the kids add on all of their veggies and meat. I placed in a tupperware container and poured:
4 Tbs melted butter mixed with 1 Tbs lime juice over them
and sprinkled with Caribbean Jerk Seasoning.

I let them marinate for a couple of hours. They were so moist and delicious after they were grilled!
This is not really a recipe and most people have done it before. However, if your like me and have forgotten about them then it's time to do it again!

Another favorite way I like to make them instead of butter, lime, and Caribbean Jerk seasoning is to just sprinkle with cajun seasoning and then wrap each one in a stip of bacon. Yum!

Friday, August 28, 2009

September = Apples

In my mind September equals apples. Something about putting an apple on the teachers desk and the feeling of crisp autumn air. Course, it's still 100+° here, there is a nasty feeling of moderate humidity in the air and school started this week, which of course is still August...

I stand by my feelings though, *ahem*, September = Apples...following me?

Here are a couple of apple recipes. They are great for fall menus. I typically buy Gala, Fuji for cooking and Golden Delicious because my family likes them to eat.

APPLE COBBLER

3 large apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 large egg
1/2 cup butter, melted

Put apples in the bottom of a lightly greased 8x8 in. baking dish. Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon and egg until it looks like coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over the apples. Pour melted butter over the entire dish.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

HOMEMADE APPLESAUCE

12 gala apples, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar

In a large pan, boil apples with about 1 cup of water. Cook about 10 minutes or until soft. Sprinkle sugar over cooked apples. Mix with hand mixer until blended to desired consistency. This will make about 1 quart of well blended applesauce. I keep old applesauce bottles to put it in, or I put in tupperware containers and freeze.

You can sprinkle some cinnamon in with the sugar if you prefer. This is not cheaper than buying it at the store, but my kids love the homemade stuff and it's got all natural ingredients, no preservatives.

PORK CHOPS w/ Sweet potatoes and apples

4 pork chops
1/2 cup chicken bouillon
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 apples, sliced

Place pork chops and bouillon in crock pot and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours. Add apples and sweet potatoes for the last hour.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Homemade Grape Jelly


This is cheaper than buying it and is REALLY simple!

Grape Jelly3 cups grape juice (I just make mine from the frozen concentrate)
1 package powdered pectin
4 cups sugar

In a large saucepan combine the grape juice and the powdered pectin. Stir until dissolved.
Bring mixture to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Add sugar and return the mixture to a boil. Boil for a full minute and remove from heat.
Makes about 5 cups.

I just pour mine into a tupperware containers and place in the fridge without the lid. When it is cool I put the lid on.

To bottle:
Ladle the jelly into clean sterilized jars and seal with bands and lids. Process in a boiling water bath for about 10 minutes to seal. Remove the jars and allow to cool before storing on the pantry shelf. Makes about 5 cups.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Honey Lime Enchilladas

I also rotate through several recipes for enchilladas, depending on what mood I am in. This recipe is my husbands favorite and I stole it from My Kitchen Cafe. It sounds kinda strange, but it is really yummy! My pictures do not do it justice.


Honey Lime Enchilladas

6 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons lime juice (1 large or 2 small limes)
1 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound chicken, cooked and shredded (3 small chicken breasts)
8-10 flour tortillas
1 pound monterey jack cheese, shredded (I used cheddar too)
16 ounces green enchilada sauce
1 cup heavy cream

Mix the first four ingredients and toss with shredded chicken. Let it marinate for at least 1/2 hour. Pour about 1/2 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9X13 baking pan. Fill flour tortillas with chicken and shredded cheese, saving about 1 cup of cheese to sprinkle on top of enchiladas. Mix the remaining enchilada sauce with the cream and leftover marinade. Pour sauce on top of the enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes until brown and crispy on top.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Night is Pizza Night

Family traditions start small. Duplicate a fun event several times and it becomes tradition. We love to celebrate Friday nights with pizza and a movie.

In Utah we ordered the pizza for two reasons - one, I was working full time and by the time Friday night came around I was beat, and two, we had a really great pizza place that I loved.

Here in Texas it's a different story. Friday night comes around and I'm even more beat than I was when I was working "full time", but we haven't managed to find a remarkable pizza place. Thus I've been trying out different pizza recipes. After several attempts I found a winner tonight. This crust was perfect! A few modifications and I made it stuffed crust, topped with ham, turkey, pineapple and monterey jack cheese - it was heaven!

To finish off the "fast food" experience, we completed the meal with sweet potato fries. They were a great compliment to the pizza and the kids ate them up!

Quick Pizza Dough

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp. quick-rise yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup warm water
1 tbsp. oil (I used EVOO)
t tbsp. honey

Preheat oven to 425°. Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Separately combine water, oil and honey. Combine with flour mixture. Knead for 2 minutes - it will be stiff and crumbly at first. Roll out. I rolled a little extra big for my pizza pan so that I had extra to roll over the 'stuffed crust'. There is no need to let the dough rise, or to bake it first.

Place on pizza pan/stone. For stuffed crust I added cut cheese the size of small carrot stick around the perimeter of the pan, then rolled the extra dough around the cheese. Add pizza sauce - I used left over spaghetti sauce from yesterday's Eggplant Parmesan. Add any additional toppings prefered by your family and bake in preheated oven for 9 - 12 minutes.

Sweet Potato Fries

2 medium sweet potatoes
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. parsley

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray baking pan with cooking spray. Skin sweet potatoes with potato peeler, and cut into sticks that look like carrot sticks, approximately 1/4" wide.

In a large mixing bowl add olive oil and cut sweet potatoes. Using hands, mix potatoes and oil until all potato sticks are coated. In a separate bowl add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Sprinkle over potato sticks while mixing with your hands to ensure good coverage. Spread on baking pan, taking care to separate each stick. Bake for 20 minutes and turn with a spatula, then bake and additional 20 minutes.

These are great! They are perfectly crisp on the outside and sweet and soft on the inside!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sometimes...

Sometimes I really love Albertson's buy one get one free meat specials...

Yesterday's menu?
Pre-seasoned pork ribs cooked all day in a crock pot
Karen's rolls listed here
These jalapeno poppers
and yellow squash from our garden, steamed with chopped onion, garlic and butter

Oh, and because I'm Utahn at heart...and I love jello...


10 Layer Rainbow Jello

5 (3 oz.) packages of jello - I usually use strawberry, peach, lemon, lime and grape. You can alter this around holidays - just look at the colors.
6 1/2 cup boiling water
1 pint sour cream

Place 9 x 13-inch glass pan in freezer on a level surface. Line counter with 2 rows of 5 bowls. In the front 5 bowls pour a dry jello package in each. In each of the back 5 bowls place 3 tbsp. sour cream. Pour 1 1/4 cups boiling water into each jello filled bowl and mix until dissolved. Remove 1/2 cup of each jello mixture and pour into each of the bowls filled with sour cream. Whisk until all mixed.

Take first bowl (you pick the order you want them in the pan) and pour into pan in the freezer. Set a timer for 5 minutes. When first layer is solid (usually 5 minutes) add creamy layer of the same flavor and again set timer for 5 minutes or until solid. Repeat with each flavor, first clear layer, then creamy layer. When placing last layer move pan to refrigerator and let set for 15 minutes. If you let the layers freeze they will separate instead of staying together.

This whole 10 layer jello only takes an hour to make and the kids love it!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rolls

I have about 4 roll recipes that I rotate through. This is one I actually got from "18 Kids and Counting" on TLC. Thanks Duggars! (I know that I'm lame).

Homemade Butterhorn Rolls

Ingredients:
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 packages yeast
5 cups flour, plus flour for kneading
2 eggs
2 cups hot water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Instructions:
Combine the shortening, sugar, salt, yeast, and 2 cups of the flour in a large bowl and cut with a pastry cutter. Beat 2 eggs in a 2-cup measuring cup, then fill cup to the 2-cup mark with hot water; pour over the dry mixture. Slowly add the remaining 3 cups flour.
Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 20 minutes in a warm oven. Then pour the dough onto a floured surface. Knead. Flatten with hands into a large pizza shape. Cut with pizza cutter into 16 triangle-shaped slices. Roll up from the wide end to the point. Place the rolls in two greased 9x13-inch pans, bending into crescent shapes and leaving space for the rolls to double in size. Let rise in a warm (but not hot!) oven at least 20 minutes. Remove from oven.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake the rolls for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how brown you prefer. When done, immediately brush with the melted butter.
Makes 16 rolls.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Soup 'n Salad

We usually have company for dinner at least once a week. It's typical. However, we've had the same people for the past few weeks, and it'll continue for months to come, I'm sure. While the company is great, it's becoming a little wearing coming up with a special menu that is exciting yet different so that you ensure you're not repeating anything for the company. Add to that the fact that all the food has to be easy to prepare, because it's always being prepared with at least one child underfoot.

Last week I took it easy...Soup and Salad.


Menu:

Romaine Salad
Chili
Broccoli Cheese soup
Homemade bread bowls and bread sticks
Cupcakes

It was great! So easy and the bread bowls actually worked out way better than I thought they were going to. Now, to come up for the menu for tomorrow...I'm thinking Mexican.

Here's the recipes:

Romaine Salad
Duh, romaine lettuce (with the nasty centers removed), topped with chopped tomatoes, green onions, green peppers, croutons and a little shredded cheese.

Chili
Want the easiest way to make a great sweet chili?
2 cans of chili con carne
2 cans of black beans
2 cans of pork and beans
1 can of sweet corn (drained)
1 can crushed (or stewed) tomatoes

Broccoli Cheese Soup
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1 large package frozen broccoli
1 qt. half & half
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
4 oz. velveeta (I always use about twice this much...)

Combine broth, onion, salt, and broccoli in large pan. Cook until broccoli and onion are tender. Add half & half to broccoli mixture. In a small saucepan, combine butter and flour and cook until mixed well and bubby. Add to broccoli mixture. Add velveeta to soup. Heat and stir until soup thickens.

Variation - instead of broccoli add chopped potato.

Bread bowls/bread sticks
I used this recipe...remember, the one that is so very versatile? Here's two more ways to use it!

Cupcakes
I totally cheated on this one...boxed Strawberry cake mix and pre-prepared strawberry frosting...I know, I know....I should have at least added fresh cut strawberries or something.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Tostada Pizza

This is something I make quite often in our home. It's cheap and easy. We eat a lot of beans around our house so I usually have all these ingredients on hand. As you can tell in the picture though, I am lacking the green onion. Still good! I will post my favorite pizza dough recipe later.
Tostada Pizza
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook
3/4 lb ground beef or turkey
1 4-oz can diced green chili peppers, drained
2 Tbs taco seasoning
1 tsp chili powder
1 Tbs cornmeal
1 15-ounce can pinto beans with jalapeno peppers, rinsed and drained (Don't worry, it does not make it spicy to use the one with peppers)
1 cup (4 oz) shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 cup (4) thinly sliced green onions
Bottled taco sauce or salsa (optional)
Pizza dough (10 oz refrigerated can or homemade)
Brown meat in skillet and drain off any fat. Stir in 3/4 cup water, chili peppers, taco seasoning, and chili powder. Bring to a boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 15-20 minutes or until most of the liquid is gone.
Meanwhile, grease a baking sheet and sprinkle with the cornmeal. Pat pizza dough into rectangle on sheet and bake in 400 degree oven for 5 minutes.
In a bowl mash beans with a fork or potato masher; spread over partially cooked pizza dough within 1/2 inch of edges. Spoon meat mixture over beans. Bake, uncovered, 10 more minutes or until crust is just golden. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 1 to 2 minutes more or until cheese melts. Top with lettuce, tomato, and onions. Serve with sauce or salsa if desired.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Well, I'm packed...

Menu for the weekend?

Tonight:
Hot dogs, roasted over a nice, hot fire with ketchup (catsup?) and mustard
Pork 'n beans
S'mores

Tomorrow morning:
Oatmeal packets
Hot cocoa
Pop tarts (for everyone else...I got chocolate)

Tomorrow for lunch:
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Applesauce
Grapes
Koolaid

There are crackers, granola bars and fruit snacks for in-between meal snacks.

I'm looking forward to being home tomorrow night. I like my gas cooktop and modern conveniences....

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Y'know what's good?

Zucchini bread french toast. Just sayin'. The kids suggested it and I being the amazingly patient, understanding mother that I am...well, we tried it. Delicious with a little sour cherry jelly dabbed on top. Mmmm!

Also, I made the best, BEST brownies the other night. Well, actually it's more like cake than brownies. We'll call them cake brownies...k?


Simply wonderful.

However, I can cook pretty much anything presented to me in a recipe, but I can not, let's repeat, CAN NOT, seem to master frosting. It always tastes good, but the consistency always bugs me. Maybe it's because I just don't particularly care for frosting, that makes me dislike it all...hmmm.

However, this is all that's left of Shane's lunch helping of the cake brownies...he said he liked it all, even the frosting. Which did, by the way, turn out much better than some recipes, I'd say keep this one, it tastes good, but wait until it cools to frost anything...trust me on that one. It's a much better frosting today than it was yesterday.


TEXAS CAKE BROWNIES

3 cup flour
3 cup sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup butter
9 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla

Frosting
1/2 cup butter
3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
6 tsp. buttermilk
4 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 12 x 18 inch jelly roll pan. ***Please note the size, it's a huge batch of brownies!!***

2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. In a small saucepan, bring butter, cocoa and water to a rapid boil. Pour over the flour mixture and stir until combined. Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla extract, in that order, and mix well.

3. Spread evenly into prepared baking pan. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Cool before frosting.

4. Frosting: In a small saucepan melt 1/2 c. butter, stir in powdered sugar, 3 tbsp. cocoa, buttermilk and vanilla, in that order. Beat by hand until creamy. Spread on cooled brownies.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bread, Bread, Bread

I just logged on to post a bread recipe my sis-in-law requested and noticed that Brooke just did Zucchini Bread yesterday! I guess it's bread week.Chocolate Banana Bread

1/2 c. softened butter
2 eggs
2 Tbs cocoa
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 c. mashed ripe banana (2-3)
1/2 c. sour cream
1 c. sugar
1 c. white flour
1/2 c. wheat flour
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Beat eggs and butter together. Beat in cocoa, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and vanilla. Add and beat banana and sour cream. Mix in sugar. Mix in flour. Stir in chocolate chips.
Bake in loaf pan for 55 minutes at 350.

White Chip & Coconut Chocolate Swirl Cake

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
2-3/4 cup plain flour
1-1/4 tsp baking soda, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1 cup chocolate syrup
1 cup white chips
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Beat butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl until fluffy. Add eggs; beat well. Stir together flour, 1 tsp baking soda and salt; add alternately with buttermilk to butter mixture, beating until well blended.
Measure out 2 cups of batter and place in seperate bowl. Stir in syrup and remaining 1/4 tsp of baking soda. Add white chips and coconut to remining original batter. Pour into a greased and floured 12-cup fluted pan or 10-inch tube pan.
Spoon chocolate batter over vanilla batter in pan, do not mix.
Bake 65 - 70 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. Check with toothpick (cake will sink in center). Cool 15 minutes in pan, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.
Glaze or frost if desired.
20 servings.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Zucchini Bread

Have I mentioned our garden? We planted spontaneously on Memorial Day with a hope and a prayer that we'd get anything. It was kind of late to plant, even here in West Texas, and we didn't know what our soil was like.

Results? Tomato plants that are healthy but won't produce fruit until the fall when it cools down a bit. Pepper plants that are healthy but won't produce fruit. Carrots that didn't come up at all. Corn that is midget and still trying to produce corn cobs that will probably be midget too. However, the cantaloupes, watermelons, pumpkin, eggplants, yellow crookneck squash and zucchini are doing great!

Now that we're finally getting some zucchini I decided to get a handle on it early. I made a double batch of Great Zucchini Bread. I gave some away, froze some and kept a couple of loaves out for the family to snack on!

The recipe was so easy I can't wait to get more baked soon!

GREAT ZUCCHINI BREAD

4 cup shredded zucchini
3 cup white flour
2 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup olive oil (I used 1/2 veg. oil and 1/2 olive oil)
4 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup chopped nuts (optional, and sadly, I didn't use them)

Mix all ingredients together and bake in greased loaf pans at 325° for 50 - 60 minutes on until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Header, New Look, New Recipe!

I am back from my vacation to the land of good friends, cheap groceries, good food and fun. Back to real-life. Good news is I came back with 6 new cookbooks to my name! Yay! My son, who will one day be as proficient in the kitchen as I am, found me a recipe I couldn't wait to try...Lemonade Pie! It was on the menu for last night.

Creamy, lemony, and cool - perfect for a Summer evening!


Lemonade Pie

1/3 cup Country Time Lemonade Flavor Drink Mix
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
1 tub (8 oz) whipped topping, thawed
1 prepared graham cracker crust (6 oz)

Place drink mix in large bowl, add water and stir until mix is dissolved. Add ice cream and beat with mixer until well blended. Gently stir in whipped topping. Spoon into crust. Freeze at least 4 hours until firm. Let stand at room temperature until pie can easily be cut.

***I doubled the recipe so I could make it in a 9x13 in. pan since we were having a larger group. Instead of a graham cracker crust I used cinnamon teddy graham crackers ground up. It was delicious! This was one that was so super easy and so refreshing on a hot Summer evening!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Grill Time

I love cooking out in the summer and I love burgers. This is my recipe I always use for my basic burger.
Basic Juicy Burgers

1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 Tbs. milk
1 Tbs. dehydrated milk powder
2 Tbs. worcestershire sauce
Seasoning salt or Cajun all-purpose spice (to taste, I do about 1 Tbs)
Italian bread crumbs (premade from package, use until desired consistency)
1 egg

Put meat in large bowl and make a well in center. Add all other ingredients except for breadcrumbs into the well. Beat with fork. Mix together with hands gradually adding breadcrumbs until it will hold up well. Grill!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cleaning Recipes

I tried to make Brooke some of my Laundry Soap Recipe but somehow screwed up. (sorry Brooke, hope you got it figured out).
I thought I would post some of my favorite other cleaning recipes that I like. Brooke has posted some on here previously, I just thought I would add to it. I see recipes online a lot and have tried several. These are my favorite of the ones I've tried.

The first one is not really a recipe. Instead of Rinse Aid I just put vinegar in my rinse aid compartmant in my dishwasher. It really works, I promise you'll never go back. Jet Dry is $3.30 for small bottle. Vinegar $1.42 for one gallon. I've tried two different kinds of Homemade Dishwashing Powder and niether of them worked very well. If you know a good one let me know!

My favorite All-Purpose Cleaner is:

All Purpose Cleaner
1/8 cup Mild Dishwashing soap (Ivory or Palmolive)
2 Tbs. White Vinegar
1 tsp. of Borax
Distilled Water

Mix vinegar and borax. Add 1 cup hot water and stir until disolved. Let cool before pouring into 16 oz. spray bottle. Fill with water, leaving just enough room for the soap. Add soap. You can add 15-20 drops of any essential oil if you like. You can get one that smells good, like lavender. If I add any though I use Tea Tree or Melaluca Oil because it has great cleaning properties.

To clean my microwave I make a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar. I place in a microwave safe bowl with 1 tsp. lemon juice. Place in microwave until it boils for about two or three minutes. You want the steam to go everywhere but don't let your bowl dry out. Turn it off and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then you can just wipe it clean.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summertime Treats

Yogurt Popsicles
1 package (4-serving size) fruit flavored gelatin
1 cup tap water
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
3 cups plain yogurt (homemade is fine)
Molds, Sticks, Freezer
Heat the water until it is boiling. You can do this on the stove or in the microwave. Stir it the flavored gelatin. Stir and Stir and Stir. Add the sugar. Keep stirring until the fluid is clear and everything is dissolved. This may take a full 5 minutes of stirring. Add the yogurt and beat until the mixture is smooth. Pour into molds and freeze.



Fudgesicles
3 eggs
2 1/4 c. sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. cocoa
2 c. water
4 1/2 c. milk, heated
1 tbsp. vanilla

Beat eggs, add rest of ingredients. Mix well. Pour into plastic popsicle cups and freeze.


Here's my tip: If you do not have molds you can pour into an ice cube tray. Cover with aluminum foil and poke toothpicks down each center. The foil will help hold the toothpick straight in the center.

Birthday Cake

For my sons birthday this year we did a cowboy theme. I got the pattern to cut out the boot from Parents Magazine. I just used my sons boot as inspiration for decoration because I didn't like how theirs was decorated. If I can do this anybody can!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Crispy Green Beans with Horseradish-Wasabi Dip

Have you ever been to TGI Friday's and ordered their crispy green bean fries? Yum. Add their incredible cucumber-wasabi ranch dip...to DIE for! Seriously. Amazing. This is about as close to the real thing as I can find, so now I just need to try it and make sure it's as good as I remember. Trust me, if you're in the mood for a great appetizer and you want to make yourself think you're eating healthy, try this. It's green beans...how bad could it be?

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup buttermilk ranch dressing
1/4 cup peeled, seeded, and finely chopped cucumber
1 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 1/2 teaspoon wasabi paste
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper

4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry bread crumbs
3/4 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
vegetable oil for frying

DIRECTIONS
Make the dip by combining the buttermilk ranch dressing, cucumber, milk, horseradish, wasabi, salt, and cayenne pepper into a blender. Blend on low until well mixed. Pour into a small bowl and refrigerate. The dip will thicken as it chills.
Place the broth in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the beans, cover, and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until beans are bright green and tender, about 8 minutes. Immediately drain beans into a colander and rinse under cold water. Set aside to cool.
Combine the beaten egg with milk in a shallow bowl. Place the flour in another shallow bowl. In a third shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Working with a handful of beans at a time, dip each bean first into flour, then into the egg mixture, and then into the bread crumb mixture. Place beans on a plate until all are coated.
Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a deep skillet (or use a deep fat fryer) over medium-high heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Fry the beans several at a time, without crowding, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and cool. Serve with horseradish-wasabi dip.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Delicious Summertime Fruit Slush

1 can (46 oz) pineapple juice
8 cups water
1 can (12 oz) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 can (12 oz) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
4 cups sugar
2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened raspberries
2 envelopes unsweetened cherry soft drink mix or other red flavor of your choice
Grapefruit or other citrus soda

In a 6-qt container, combine the first seven ingredients. Cover and freeze for 12 hours, stirring every 2 hours. May be frozen for up to 3 months. Yield: about 5 quarts.
For each serving: Place 1/2 cup fruit slush in a glass. Add 1/2 cup soda.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Lemon Pasta with Chicken

EASY LEMON PASTA WITH CHICKEN

Ingredients

1 pound dried penne
2 chicken cutlets, cut into fingers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Directions

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, until al dente. Drain well.
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large grill pan over medium high and add chicken. Grill until golden and completely cooked. Remove to a plate and slice.
Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to a saute pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and saute until fragrant. Add the cooked pasta and turn heat off. Mix all together.
Remove pasta to a large bowl. Add chicken to the warm pasta and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle in chopped parsley. Add the juice of 2 lemons and mix. Before serving top with Parmesan.
Cook Time: 25 minutes Serves: 3-5