Friday, May 29, 2009


It's Summer vacation...starting in exactly 4 hours and 5 minutes.  There will soon be a picture of happy jumping people (namely me and possibly Lincoln) on my other blog.  It's that exciting around here.  The excitement will last all Summer for me, for Lincoln it'll last maybe a month.  He likes school, I like having him home.  

I think of Summer food and I think of barbeque, salads, lemonade and JELL-O.  Everything comes back to Jell-o for me, I'm from Utah remember?  I LOVE Jell-o, I thinking cooking science is all about combining different flavors of Jell-o together to see how they work out.  K, not really, since I want this blog to represent my maturity in cooking....hmmm.

Did I mention I have a whole cookbook about Jell-o?

I also have one all about eggs, but that's just because I used to have chickens.

Anyway, I love Jell-o...and Summer.

Here are three recipes from my beloved, treasured and priceless Jell-o can ask to borrow the book anytime.  Wow, I think I just saw my maturity fly out the window.  Dang.

Cool 'N Easy Pie

2/3 cup boiling water
1 package (4-serving size) JELL-O Brand Gelatin, any flavor
1/2 cup cold juice, any flavor
Ice Cubes
1 tub (8 ounces) Cool Whip Whipped topping, thawed
1 prepared graham cracker crumb crust (6 ounces)
Assorted fruit (optional)

Stir boiling water into gelatin in large bowl 2 minutes or until completely dissolved.  Mix cold juice and ice to make 1 cup.  Add to gelatin, stirring until slightly thickened.  Remove any remaining ice.
Stir in whipped topping with wire whisk until smooth.  Refrigerate 10 -15 minutes or until mixture is very thick and willmound.  Spoon into crust. 
Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm.  Just before serving, garnish with fruit and additional whipped topping. 

Tropical Cake Squares

1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 package (8-serving size) JELL-O Brand orange flavor gelatin
2 cups cold pineapple orange juice or orange juice
1 package (12 ounces) pound cake, cut into 10 to 12 slices
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tub (8 ounces) whipped topping, thawed
2 cans (15 1/4 ounces each) fruit cocktail, drained

Stir boiling water into gelatin in large bowl at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved.  Stir in cold juice.  Refrigerate about 1 1/2 hours or until thickened (spoon drawn through leaves definite impression).  Meanwhile, line 13x9-inch pan with pound cakes slices, filling any holes with cake pieces.
Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until smooth.  Gently stir in whipped topping.  Spread evenly over crust.  Top with fruit.  Spoon thickened gelatin over cream cheese layer and fruit.
Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm.

Layered Cranberry Cheesecake

1 package (11.1 ounces) JELL-O No Bake Real Cheesecake
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 cups cold milk
1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Mix crumbs, sugar and butter with fork in small bowl until crumbs are well moistened.  Press firmly onto bottom of foil-lined 9-inch square pan.
Beat milk and filling mix with electric mixer on low speed until well blended.  Beat on medium speed 3 minutes.  (filling will be thick).  Spoon 1/2 of the filling over crust.  Cover with Cranberry sauce and walnuts.  Top with remaining filling.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Garnish as desired.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Homemade Yogurt

Homemade Yogurt is a great source of calcium, magnesium, protein, and other essential vitamins, whose active bacterial cultures aid in digestion. You can make yogurt at home for a fraction of the price, it tastes better and is better for you. Do I have your attention yet? It's easy! All you need are three ingredients.
First, a yogurt starter. You can buy acidophilus yogurt starter at a store or you can just use regular yogurt, like I do. Just read the back to make sure it really does have live cultures.
Second, milk. I just used powdered milk and water, although it is thicker if you use whole milk. If you use store bought milk omit the water and change the powdered milk to 1/2 cup and add 1 quart of purchased milk.

Homemade Yogurt

3 3/4 cup warm water
1 3/4 cup instant dry milk powder
2-4 Tbs yogurt

In a pot combine warm water and powdered milk. Stir until combined. Turn heat on low-medium and stir occasionally until it reaches 180 degrees.
Remove from heat and let cool until it reaches 115 degrees. (This is important or else it will kill the good active cultures.) After it has cooled to 115, add the yogurt. Stir until disolved.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to "warm".
Place yogurt mixture into a sterile container (a heavy non-metal material like glass works best) and place in oven. Turn oven off. Check the temperature periodically to keep it at about 100-115 degrees. (An oven thermometer is cheap if you don't have one).
Now all you do is let it sit in the warm dark oven for 5-8 hours (depending on how sour you like it). When it is thick, stir and place in the fridge until chilled. It will last for about two weeks.

That's it! Remember to keep a few tablespoons to use for your next batch. You can even freeze some in a ziplock bag or ice cube trays for when you're ready.

There's just something satisfactory about making your own yogurt. The first time I made it I was so excited... then I wondered what I was going to do with all this plain yogurt. The possibilities are endless! I even added 1/3 cup plain yogurt in place of milk and butter to my kids boxed macaroni and cheese. My kids love it mixed with applesauce. I like it on top of fruit with granola and honey. You can use it in place of buttermilk, sourmilk and sour cream in most recipes. Mix it with equal parts mayonaisse for a lighter and tangier flavor. Think of smoothies, jellos, dressings and popsicles.... don't worry, recipes will follow! Don't forget Brooke's Yogurt Yeast Rolls. Another idea is Yogurt Cheese.

Yogurt Cheese Recipe

Line a cheesecloth or coffee filter in a colander and place inside a bowl. The bottom of the colander should not touch the bowl. Pour yogurt into the cloth and place in fridge overnight. The whey will seperate from the yogurt and drain into the bowl leaving the yogurt very, very thick. You can now use this like cream cheese! 1 qt of yogurt makes about 1 1/2 cups of cheese.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What's in a name? That which we call a blog by any other name would read as sweet

I need help.  I need to rename this blog.  It was a fitting name, because I was just musing in my kitchen.  But now the blog has more purpose, more depth and more people.  Therefore, the name no longer suits the blog and it needs to be remodeled.  Much like my pantry, it's being overhauled.

That's where you, our three intelligent, lovely readers, come in.  We're taking name suggestions of all varieties.  Any and all blog name suggestions will be considered.  Because we live in a democracy a special few will be placed in a poll and they will be voted on.  The winning blog name will be announced for our 100th post.  Yay!   

Now, remember we're both named Snow, we both live in Texas, we both like to cook, we both have families and are pretty frugal...Is this giving you ideas?  It should, but I'm kind of counting on you to be more creative than I am anyway.

By the way, since this is the 90th post I really need you all to hurry...seriously, think new names and post them as comments immediately!  

Remember the comment button?  Directly beneath this post?  Push it!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese

I have a confession. I have never out grown my macaroni and cheese addiction from a child. I am not a fan of the blue box special, but I LOVE the homemade kind. This recipe combines homemade flavor and a crockpot. What more could I ask for? I made a few changes from the original recipe to suite my taste more.. I think that it is scrumptious. Sorry, no picture.

Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese
adapted from a Paula Deen recipe

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (an 8-ounce box isn't quite 2 cups. I also think the "Ronzoni Smart Taste" pasta work the best. It takes longer to cook so it seems to hold up better.)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, cut into pieces
2 1/2 cups (about 10 ounces) grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup sour cream
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Boil the macaroni in a 2 quart saucepan in plenty of water until barely tender (al dente), about 7 minutes. Drain. In a medium saucepan, mix butter and cheese. Stir until the cheese melts. In a slow cooker, combine cheese/butter mixture and add the eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard and pepper and stir well. Then add drained macaroni and stir again. Set the slow cooker on low setting and cook for 3 hours, stirring about every 45 minutes. I like to serve it with parmesan cheese and more pepper sprinkled on top.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


3/4 cup rolled oats
2 1/4 tsp. oil
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter - softened
1 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar - packed
1/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
8 cups rhubarb - sliced
2 cups strawberries - sliced

Preheat oven to 325°.   Spray 9x13 in. baking dish with cooking spray.

In a small bowl combine oats, oil and salt.  Stir to coat thoroughly.  Spread oats onto a baking sheet and crisp in the oven for 10 - 15 min. or until golden.  Remove and let cool. 

In a small bowl cream butter and brown sugar together.  Stir in cooled oats and flour and mix with your fingers until crumbly.  Set aside.

In another small bowl combine granulated sugar and cornstarch.  Reserve 3 tbsp. of this mixture and toss the rest with the rhubard to completely coat.  Spread sugared rhubarb into baking dish.  Bake until rhubarb softens and gets juicy, 15 - 20 min.  Raise heat to 375°.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine strawberries with reserved sugar/cornstarch mixture, toss to coat well.  Arrange strawberries over partially cooked rhubarb, sprinkle evenly with toasted oat mixture.  Return to oven and bake 10 - 15 min. more until topping is golden and fruit juices bubble.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Charred Chili Relleno

This was a good vegetarian meal that my Mom sent me. We just got a new computer and haven't finished switching things over yet so sorry there are no personal pictures. I did find the one from Rachael Ray on Food Network. Mine looked a little different but you get an idea.
Charred Chili Relleno with Green Rice
adapted from Rachael Ray Recipe by Karen

2 cups uncooked white rice
4 C stock, divided (I used Imagine No Chicken Broth)
1 bay leaf
4 large poblano peppers
6 ears corn on cob or 3 C frozen corn kernels
3 T oil, divided
1 red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded & chopped
1 15 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained well (I didn't see this and put the whole thing in)
1 1/2 t gr. cumin
1/2 t dried oregano
salt & fresh ground pepper
1/2 C cilantro leaves
1/4 lb spinach leaves, deveined & coarsely chopped
4 gr. onions, coarsely chopped
2 limes, juiced
1 C shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat broiler on high or turn on BBQ grill. Heat about 3 1/2 C stock in saucepan with a bay leaf to boiling. Add rice, cover pot, reduce heat to low & simer 18 mins.

Place poblanos under broiler or on hot grill and char evenly all over - about 15 mins. When done, place in plastic bag on counter and allow to cool. Twist top. Grill the corn if using corn on cob or lay frozen corn out on clean towel to defrost and dry.

Heat 2 T oil in skillet over med. high. When oil is hot, add corn, onion, jalapenos and toss until vegetables char at the edges and onions are tender - 4-5 mins. Reduce heat to med. high & add garlic, tomatoes and season with cumin, oregano, salt & pepper. Cook another 2 mins and turn off. Place cilantro, spinach, gr. onions and 1/2 C stock and T of oil in food processor and process into coarse green paste. (Missed this instruction too. I didn't add the stock or oil. I pulsed in blender in about 3 batches.) Stir into rice pot in last 3-4 mins of cooking time. Sprinkle lime juice over corn mixture. Slip skins off peppers.

Split peppers open but not in half with small knife and clean out seeds and membrane. Place in shallow baking dish & stuff each with corn mix. Top with 1/4 C cheese and place under broiler to melt and char the cheese. Serve on bed of green rice. Yum!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mmmmm, Mint

Yesterday was 'sundae day' for the 3rd graders at Lincoln's school. Try explaining that to the 3 year old who was concerned that we were not dressing properly for Sunday and really, how could it be Sunday if Lincoln was at school and Daddy was at work? Trust me, it was an all morning discussion. Thankfully, by bribing her with a sundae to come seemed to do the trick.

When the sign-up came home last week asking for volunteers to take toppings Lincoln begged me to sign up to take a pan of brownies...his FAVORITE mint brownies. "Oh, and by the way", he says, "I've already told all of my friends about them." That's how I got tricked into making two (yes, TWO) pans of mint brownies yesterday.

You see, I'm married to a chocoholic, seriously a complete addict. He's not a social chocolate eater. If there is anything in the house chocolate he'll stake claim, whether it's his or not.

So....when Thursday came around I hesitated making brownies that would lay around for approximately 24 hours before being needed at Lincoln's school. They could easily be claimed by Mr. Chocolate himself and I'd be up a creek. (actually, the kids at Lincoln's school who were anticipating the minty goodness would be...) I decided I'd say nothing about my impending brownie deadline and make them fresh Friday morning. That's when the 3 year old decided to bring up the sundae/Sunday confusion at the dinner table. Nice, huh?

So, Friday morning rolls around. I start retrieving ingredients for the brownies x2. Realizing I don't have enough butter...(they're calorie free, I promise) I make a 'quick' run to the store with 3 children 3 and under. (see why quick was in '-'? Yeah) I arrive home and bake the brownies, meanwhile realizing that I didn't pick up another bag of powdered sugar for the frosting...(seriously fat free brownies, what a concept!)

Amazingly I have three kids down for early naps, in accordance with the self-imposed and majorly adjusted schedule for this day. So I make an executive decision that the frosting can wait until said children wake up from the naps that I don't think they ever fell asleep for (see further down).

Children decide that lying in bed for an hour but not sleeping qualifies for a nap on this infamous day, therefore I pack up the same 3 children 3 and under and head back to the same store hoping desperately to find a checker who did not see us earlier in the day. Thankfully it's only about 95° at this point in the day and the children are feeling only mildly irritated/sleepy/hungry, etc.

Glance at the clock in the car and realize I have 30 minutes to frost 2 pans of brownies, pack up 3 children and get to school, while still trying to look presentable myself (so as not to embarass the 9 year old, myself or the other mothers...) and these calorie free/fat free brownies have two layers of frosting. Crap!

Manage to get home, get brownies frosted, refrigerated, re-frosted, three children dressed and groomed, car packed, food/snacks packed for children and arrive at the school on time and with makeup applied. Amazing, I know, I take all sorts of congratulations on that one.

About the time that the first class of students started filing in the door my 3 children 3 and under decide that it would be the perfect time for a complete meltdown. Not just a hissy fit here and there...nope. A. Complete. Meltdown. It was almost comical. Actually it was completely hilarious. Imagine with me if you will, two children strapped into a stroller, wildly flailing arms because they want ice cream/food/attention/all of the above, a 3 year old begging for ice cream and climbing on the benches, and a mother looking apologetically at the other mothers who don't have litters of children. Two of these other mothers know me well, we see each other about 3 times a week at soccer functions. They know the situation well because this really isn't the first time. In fact they know the situation well enough to know not to attempt to help the tear covered infants freaking out in the stroller, because it will only make it worse. Yep, WORSE! However, the other mothers don't know this and therefore the situation ended with Lincoln feeding Savannah a bowl of ice cream and I was hiding in a far corner of the cafeteria just waiting for the moment I could leave. Thankfully Lincoln's teacher is a saint and released him a few minutes early so we could take our caravan and leave.  As I was leaving I reminded the teacher and the other mothers that this was exactly the reason I didn't volunteer for anything.  The help may be needed, but seriously - How desperate were they really?

By the way, the brownies were a big hit, and all kids who were pre-warned of their greatness agreed, whole-heartedly. So did my husband when he got home and saw a pan in the fridge, completely untouched.

So, when making these brownies, which I swear are the world's best, please keep a picture of me in your mind. If it helps, remember the 3 chaotic children around me too...

Yes, I've posted this recipe before, but it's so good and so good for you, you must try it again!


10 Tbsp. butter
6 Tbsp. cocoa
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Mint Filling
1/2 c. butter (very soft)
2 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. peppermint extract
1-2 drops green food coloring
(Beat together and spread on cooled brownies)

Chocolate Topping
1/2 c. butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
(Heat for 1 minute in microwave. Stir and pour over mint filling, coating evenly)

1. Melt butter and cocoa in microwave. Beat in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time. Add flour and salt; mix. Bake in 9x13" pan (grease bottom) at 350° for 25 minutes. When cool frost with mint filling. Then put in freezer for 10 to 20 minutes to harden frosting. Frost with chocolate topping.