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04 June 2010

Taco Soup

We have come to love this "soup".  I use that term loosely as its much more of a stew consistency, though you can make it soupier if you prefer it that way.  We make sure we have at least one bag of scoopable tortilla chips & lots of good chilled drinks on hand too!

2lbs ground beef
2 cans corn
4 cans diced tomatoes (with jalapenos if you like some heat)
1 can dark kidney beans
1 can light kidney beans
1 can northern beans
1 sm. jar favorite salsa (though it will lose some heat, so take that into consideration)
pkgs taco seasoning

Brown ground beef, add taco seasoning, stir to coat well.  Add remaining ingredients, stir well...bring to a boil, reduce heat to low & allow to simmer for no less then 30 min, better if closer to an hour, but that is up to you & how much time you have to let it go.

serve w/grated cheese, chips, sour cream, whatever you like on your tacos!

***You can use any kinds of beans that you like.  You can use all one kind or cut back on them...that is up to you.  You can also put the cayenne pepper on the "goodies" tray for people to add some kick to their personal bowl if you want to make it milder for the kids.

20 April 2010

Springtime Supper Plans

It's another beautiful sunny day in the northeast...flowers are all blooming, breeze is gentle, pefect kind of day to enjoy a dinner out on the deck!  What to have...well, we pulled out all the stops on this dinner & came up with a great combination of flavors.
Bonnie Blair Chicken; Strawberry-Spinach Salad; Vegetable Pasta Salad; Crusty French Bread & Apple Crumb Pie for dessert.  The colors are fabulous & the flavors are as delicious as they sound! 
Enjoy something off the grill for your dinner tonight & make the most of these delightful Spring evenings!

27 March 2010

Beef Stroganoff

Easy way to toss together dinner on those rushed nights...quickly became a family favorite!

Serves 4

1lb beef, cooked, cubed
2 c sliced mushrooms
1 med onion, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 c sour cream
1 bag wide egg noodles

Cook noodles as directed on pkg...while water is heating & noodles are cooking make up the rest of the meal
In a skillet, melt 1 Tbs butter & saute mushrooms & onion untl tender
Add soup & sour cream, heat to boiling.
Add meat to skillet & heat through.
Put the noodles on the plate first, then top with the beef mixture

Coconut Easter Eggs

A fun way to get the kids into the kitchen is to pursuade them to help you out making Easter candy...seriously, who can say no to that??  Homemade candy always has such great flavor & its fun for the kids to see they can make what they see in the store without all the preservatives & with the chocolate they like best!  Even better, these do not have to be shapped like eggs, so make them into squares, balls, whatever floats your boat & works for your family.

8oz cream cheese
1 stick butter
2lbs 10x sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c coconut

Mix all ingredients together
shape into eggs (or whatever you have decided to do)
place eggs on cookie sheet lined with wax paper & place in refrigerator to chill
once eggs are cold, coat them with melted chocolate of your choice (you can use traditional chocolate chips, the microwave kind of chocolate in the baking aisle for dipping, dark chocolate, white, or get colored for the season or the party colors if they are for a bridal or baby shower)
return to the fridge to set the chocolate & enjoy

Frito Dip

Another fabulous dip from Len's amazing mom!  Great for after school snack, as an appetizer at a party, or one of those "but mom, we're starving to death!!!" after you already made dinner & they are watching a movie...

2 8oz pkg cream cheese
1 Hormel chili with beans
1 Hormel chili without beans
1 pkg shredded cheese

Mix cream cheese & chilis together, spread in a small baking dish
Sprinkle cheese on top
Bake at 325 until cheese has melted & its bubbling

Serve with frito corn chips or scoopable tortilla chips

Taco Dip

Len's mom gave me several fantastic dips...which I confess, we don't make up nearly as much as I should for how much the kids love to snack!

8oz cream cheese
8oz sour cream
1pkg taco seasoning

Mix together & spread onto pizza pan

Top with shredded lettuce, diced tomato, diced cucumber, diced onion (all are optional based on your family's preference)
Finish the creation by topping it all off with shredded cheese
Serve with corn chips or tortilla chips

Cheese Ball

Tired of spending 5.00 on a cheese ball for parties?  I can't seem to get the dumb thing into the cart...which prompted a search to figure out how to make one!

1 wedge soft fancy cheese
3 1/2 oz blue cheese
1/2 sm grated onion
1 clove crushed garlic
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
8oz cream cheese
3-4 drops hot pepper sauce
1 Tbs sour cream

Mix all ingredients thoroughly with a mixer.
Pat into a ball shape with a spatula
Spread chopped parsley on waxed paper & roll ball until covered
Set on dish, cover & refrigerate till solid
Enjoy with a cracker assortment, even pretzels

Hot Chocolate Mix

Fun way for the kids to help make a jar mix to give at Christmas or any time.  Its also a great way to save money on a staple for your own house over the cooler months if you go through as much as we do!

1 box powdered carnation milk (8qt size)
1 lb can Nestles Quick Mix
6 oz Coffee Mate Powdered Creamer
3/4 c powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients together, then put into jars or desired containers.
Attach the following instructions:
Use 1/2 c mixture with 1/2 c boiling water.  Top with marshmellows & stir with a candy cane!

***You can add mini marshmellows to the mix if you like  Some stores carry the super tiny ones found in most store bought pkgs of hot chocolate mix.

French Crepes

My older daughter made this recipe at church's summertime wed nights...she loved it so much she begged me to keep the recipe so we could make it again sometime.  She was 8 when she helped make it...

CREPES:                                                                CHOCOLATE SAUCE:
7oz flour                                                                     1 c semisweet chocolate chips
1 egg                                                                          3/4 c whipping cream
1/2 qt (15oz) milk                                                       1 tsp vanilla
1 oz melted butter                                                   Whipped Cream
pinch of salt
3 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs vanilla

In a lg mixing bowl, combine flour, salt & sugar.  Make a well in the flour & put a whole egg in the middle.  Melt the butter & slowly mix in milk.
Fold gently until you incorporate all the flour (You may not need all the milk!)
Now that the batter is soft but not liquid, mix well to eliminate all the lumps & making it a thin mixture.
Finish pouring milk slowly while mixing.  Add vanilla
Leave batter in the fridge for 1 hour before cooking.

Mix batter before using. 
Heat a non stick pan, but some butter in the pan & swirl to coat it well.  Pan must be hot enough to hear the butter fry, but not so hot that it turns the butter brown.
Pour a small ladle of the batter into the pan, swirling it to distribute evenly.  Don't forget, crepes must be VERY thin!
Cook until golden brown, turn the crepe to cook other side the same way.
Put it on a lg plate, stuff it and fold it 4 times, or roll it.
Do that again for each crepe

in sm saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate chips & whipping cream, stirring constantly. 
Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted & sauce is smooth.
Add in vanilla.

The kids had a blast making up their own creations of crepes, whipped cream, then topped with chocolate sauce.  I have had crepes that are filled with sliced fruits (strawberries, grapes, kiwi, etc) the creppe folded over on itself once, then drizzled with melted chocolate & a side of whipped cream...

Belgian Waffles

When pancakes get to be too boring, or you are looking for a fun way to surprise everyone for breakfast, this is a great way to do it. 

Makes 6 waffles

4 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 c 10x sugar
2 c water
3 eggs, seperated
1 stick butter, soft
2 c milk

In a bowl, mix flour, salt, sugar, water & egg yolks with a whisk. 
Add butter & beat until smooth
In another bowl, beat egg whites to stiff peaks.
Carefully fold into batter just until mixed
Preheat waffle iron & cook according to manufacturer's directions
Top waffles with syrup, fresh whipped cream and/or fresh berries & banana slices

Pumpkin Pecan Biscuits

Fantastic fall (or anytime) biscuit to have with supper, or on its own for a great snack.

12-16 biscuits

2 c flour                                                1/2 c butter, cut into pieces
1/4 c sugar                                            1/3 c pecans, chopped & toasted
4 tsp baking powder                             2/3 c pumpkin, mashed if fresh cooked, puree if canned
1/2 tsp salt                                            1/3 c half & half
1/2 tsp each cinnamon & nutmeg

Sift together flour, sugar, powder, salt, cinnamon & nutmeg
Cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles small peas.
Stir in pecans
In a glass measuring cup, combine pumpkin & half n half.
Stir into flour mixture, dough should be stiff
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead several times.
If too wet, add some flour.
Pat dough into 1/2" thickness, cut out with a 2" cutter.
Place biscuits on lightly greased baking sheets, about 1" apart
Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve hot with butter & honey!!

Cheese Danish

This is a different version of the cheese danish...my favorite kind...the one that requires little work out of me!

Serves 8 (1 danish each)

1 (8oz) can refrigerated crescent rolls
1 (3oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
3/4 c sugar, divided
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp butter, melted

Unroll crescent rolls into 4 rectangles; press perforations to seal.
Cut each rectangle in half cross-wise, and place on a baking sheet.
Beat cream cheese, 1/2 c sugar & vanilla at med speed until smooth.
Spread over half of each rectangle, leaving a 1/4" border.
Fold dough over filling, and press edges to seal.
Combine remaining sugar & cinnamon.
Brush dough with melted butter & sprinkle evenly with sugar mixture
Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm & enjoy!!

Glazed Cranberry Orange Loaves

I love to make this recipe in my 4 mini loaf pan from Pampered Chef, but you could make it in two reg. glass bread dishes too.  These are fabulous any time of year, but make fantastic gifts to give to a hostess, neighbor, mailman, etc over the Thanksgiving-Christmas holidays.

3 c flour                                                            1 orange
1 1/4 c sugar                                                    2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt                                                        1 1/4 c milk
1 Tbs baking powder                                        1 c dried cranberries
1/2 c pecans, chopped                                     GLAZE:
3/4 c butter, melted                                           1/2 c 10x sugar
                                                                        1 Tbs milk

Preheat oven to 350
Spray loaf pans of choice, set aside
Combine flour, sugar, salt, powder, & chopped pecans
In seperate bowl, combine melted butter, 1 Tbs orange zest, 1/4 c fresh juice, eggs, & milk with whisk
Add butter mix to flour, just until moist, do NOT overmix.
Gently stir cranberries into batter.
Fill each loaf pan with batter, topping with additional pecan halves
Bake 40-45 minutes or until done.  Cool 5 minutes
Loosen sides of loaves & turn out onto wire racks.
For glaze, mix 10x & milk until smooth, drizzle evenly over cooled loaves.

Cream Cheese Braids

Fantastic breakfast danish!  I love to make up things like this the day before a busy Saturday...be it football games, heading out for a trip, or when I know we have to be up early for church.

Yield: 2- 12" loaves
16oz pkg hot roll mix                                                          1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
8oz pkg cream cheese, softened                                         1 c sifted 10x sugar
1/3 c sugar                                                                         1 Tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla                                                                        1 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk

Prepare dough according to pkg directions using yeast packet.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 4-5 times
Divide dough in half
Roll each portion into a 12x8" rectangle
Position knife blade in food processor bowl, add cream cheese & next 4 ingred.
Process until blended. 
Spread 1/2 mixture down center of each one.
Working with 1 rectangle at a time, cut nine 3" deep slits into each long side of dough.
Fold strips over cream cheese filling, alternating sides & making a braid
Pinch ends to seal, tuck under
Carefully place loaves on greased cookie sheets
Cover & let rise in a warm place, free from draft, 30 minutes
Brush tops with beaten egg yolk.
Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Combine 10x sugar, milk & 1 tsp vanilla stirring well.
Drizzle over warm loaves

Sour Cream Dinner Rolls

Everyone needs a few fantastic dinner roll recipes to pull from.  This is a great soft one that works with just about everything!  This recipe does call for the dough to be refrigerated 8 hours, so plan accordingly!!

Yields about 4 dozen rolls

8oz sour cream
1/2 c butter
1/2 c sugar
1 t salt
2 (1/4oz) envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 c warm water
2 lg eggs, lightly beaten
4 c flour
2 Tbs butter, melted

Cook first 4 ingred. in a saucepan, over med heat, stirring occassionally until butter melts.  Cool.
Combine yeast & warm water in a 1 c glass measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes
Stir together yeast mixture, sour cream mixture, eggs, & flour in a lg bowl until well blended.  Cover & chill 8 hours.
Divide dough into fourths, shape each portion into a ball.  Roll each ball to a 1/4" thickness on a floured surface; cut dough into rounds with a 2 1/2" - 3" cutter.
Brush rounds evenly with 2 Tbs melted butter
Make a crease across each round with a knife, fold in half.
Gently press edges to seal.
Place rolls in a 15x10" jelly roll pan with sides touching.
Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes

Chicken Caesar Pasta

Fun, warm pasta salad for lunch, or a great dish for a light dinner.

Serves 2-3

8oz bow tie pasta
2 boneless, skinless checken breast halves, thinly sliced
8oz bottle Caesar dressing, divided
2 green onions, thinly sliced
10oz frozen sugar snap peas
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 c torn fresh spinach

Cook pasta according to pkg directions.  Keep warm!
Saute chicken in 3Tbs dressing in a lg non-stick skillet 4-5 minutes, or until almost done
Add sliced onions, frozen peas & carrot, stirring occassionally.
Add spinach, cook 1-2 minutes, or until wilted, stirring.
Toss mixture with pasta, serve immediately with remaining dressing.

Broccoli - Cauliflower Salad

This recipe comes from my husbands grandma.  He adores broccoli salad so this is one of his all time favorites any time of year.

1lb broccoli-bite size
1lb cauliflower-bite size
1lb bacon-cooked & cut up
1 sm red onion-diced
1 rib celery-diced
8oz shredded cheddar cheese

1 c mayo
2 Tbs vinegar
1/2 c sugar
sunflower seeds

Mix salad ingredients in large salad bowl.
in a sm bowl mix together all the dressing ingred except the sunflower seeds
Combine the dressing with the salad & mix well.
Chill until ready to serve
Sprinkle top with sunflower seeds if desired

German Style Potatoes & Beans

My grandma used to make up this, very yummy, side dish.  Great way to combine two favorites into one dish...

serves 6

2 slices bacon
3 c red potatoes, thinly sliced
16oz frozen green beans
1 med onion, thinly sliced
1 c chicken broth
1 tsp thyme
2 Tbs sugar
3 Tbs vinegar (cider)

In lg skillet, cook bacon till crisp; remove.
Drain, reserving 1 Tbs drippings in skillet
Crumble bacon & set aside
Add potatoes, beans, onion, broth, thyme to skillet
Bring to boil, reduce to med. heat.
Cover, simmer 15-20 minutes.
Stir in sugar, vinegar & bacon.
Cook an additional 2 min stirring.

Serve warm OR cold!

Cranberry Sunset Salad

Jello & fruit...fantastic combo!  We can get the kids to eat just about anything if its submerged in the jello!  Fabulous dish to take along to carry ins, get togethers, picnics, cook outs, or just for the fun of it!

Serves 10

2 c boiling water
1 pkg (4 serving) Jello-any red flavor if you don't like cranberry
1 c cold water
1 can (8oz) sliced peaches, drained & chopped
1 pkg (4 serving) Jello-orange
1 can (8oz) crushed pineapple, drained

Stir 1 c boiling water into cranberry jello in med bowl 2 min or until completely dissolved.
Stir in 1/2 c cold water.  Refrigerate 45 min.
Stir in peaches...spoon into ring mold.  Refrigerate 20 minutes or until set but not firm
Meanwhile, stir remaining 1 c boiling water into the orange jello.  Once dissolved 1/2 c cold water.
Refrigerate till thickened (45 min) add pineapple.  Spoon over cranberry jello
Refrigerate 4 hours  Unmold, garnish as desired.

Sunny Fruit Fiesta

Fresh fruit...summer time...that combo says breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any time in between to our crew!

Serves 6

1 cantelope, halved & seeded
1/2 honeydew, seeded
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c fresh lime juice
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp grated lime peel
1 c sliced strawberries
1 c black or red seedless grapes

Using a melon baller, scoop flesh from cantelope & honeydew into balls; set aside.
In a lg glass or ceramic bowl, combine the sugar, lime juice, lemon juice, & lime peel.
Stir well to disolve sugar.
Add the cantelope & honeydew balls, strawberries & grapes.  Toss gently to combine.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least 1 hour stirring once or twice.
Spoon the fruit into serving bowls or hollowed out melon halves, dividing evenly.
**can also use kiwi, pineapple, papaya, or mango.
**Add a touch of ginger & maybe coconut too

Be creative & have the kids help pick out fun combos of fruit!

Zucchini Santa Fe

We happen to really like zucchini & grow truckloads in the garden, even when we try not to...so we are always looking for fun new ways to enjoy them.  This is a great side to any grilled meal...

serves 6

3 c sliced zucchini
1/2 c chopped onion
1 Tbs oil
1 (4oz) chopped green chilies, drained
1 med tomato,  chopped
salt & pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 c shredded cheese

Saute zucchini & onion in oil for 3-4 minutes.  Add chilies, tomatoe, salt, pepper, & garlic.
Cook & stir 3-4 min.
Spoon into serving bowl & sprinkle with cheese

That's it!  Great way to enjoy several items from your garden while eating out on the patio...

Tex-Mex Deviled Eggs

Everyone loves deviled eggs...they are like a right of passage to the warmer weather, picnics, family parties, cook outs, 4th of July...this is a delicious twist on the "normal" deviled eggs for when you want a fun & spicy pick me up!

Yield One Dozen

6 hard cooked eggs, peeled
1 Tbs diced green onions
1 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
1 sm jalapeno pepper, seeded & finely chopped
1/4 c mayo
1 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
Chili powder

Cut eggs in half crosswise;  carefully remove yolk
In a sm bowl, mash yolks, stir in green onions, & next 5 ingredients
Spoon into egg whites; sprinkle with cheese & chili powder
Cover & chill

Sweet Potatoes with Maple Ginger Cream

I happen to love sweet potatoes, and the family as a whole loves maple...thus its a match made in heaven...everyone gets a little of what they love!

serves 4

3 med sweet potatoes
1/2 c sour cream
2 Tbs maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 c chopped pecans, toasted

Pierce sweet potatoes several times with a fork, place on baking sheet.
Bake at 375 for 1 hr or until soft
While potatoes are baking, stir together sour cream & next three ingredients.
Spoon over split open baked potatoes, sprinkle with pecans!

Simple, yummy, something everyone can enjoy!

Tofu Cheese Souffle

I know, "TOFU" but seriously, this is so good it is requested by my meat loving, tofu shrinking children.  I started making it when we took our twins off the formula & I needed something soft that would help give them the nutrients they needed...it became a weekly lunch menu for the 3 "babies" and myself...

6oz tofu
2 Tbs butter
2 eggs
3 slices bread
6oz shredded cheese
1 1/4c milk

Coat a smaller casserole dish (with higher sides then a typical 13x9 type baking dish) with butter
Butter bread, then tear into pieces. 
Layer bread, then tofu slices, shredded cheese...repeat until all ingredients are used.
Combine milk & eggs...pour over the layers & allow to stand for 1-2 hours.
Bake casseroled in a pan of water at 350 for 45 minutes
(meaning, place small casserole dish in a larger, like a 13x9, that has about an inch of water in it)

Spoon out while hot & enjoy!!

Mom's Chili

My mom, as most people's mom, makes the worlds greatest chili hands down.  This one is fantastic, especially when you need your sinus' cleared out from a bad cold & your soon to be sister in law (me) accidentally makes it with 3 Tbsp cayanne pepper instead of 3 Tbsp chili powder...oops!  The guys loved it, and my poor sister in law had such a bad cold that she couldn't tell except that it gave her temporary relief from the pressure!  I, on the other hand, TOTALLY knew as my mouth was on fire!  Len will never let me forget this when I mention making a batch up...sweet man!

3 onions, diced                                             3 Tbs chili powder
1/2 stick butter                                             1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 c olive oil                                               3/4 tsp oregano
2lbs ground beef                                          2 c tomato puree (big can)
2 tsp salt                                                      1 c tomato juice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped                     2 lg cans kidney beans, drained (one light, one dark)

Saute onions in butter & oil till soft & translucent.
Add beef & brown quickly with onions.  Drain.
Add all remaining ingredients with the ground beef/onion mixture.
Set simmer very slowly for 2 hours
Add more tomato juice if it becomes too thick.
Serve with rice or crackers (rice will make it go a LOT further, it also helps to make it easier for the kids or those who don't like spicy so they can easily eat it)
We love to top ours with some freshly shredded cheddar sharp cheese!

This is known to get better with age, if you have any left overs...or if you need to take it to work, or a gathering, make up a day or two before & warm up in crockpot!

Marinara Sauce

If you are a gardener, you know that homemade tomato sauce out of your own tomatoes is somehow, better then any other around.  If you don't have a garden or you used all your tomatoes up already...that is ok too!  Grab the kids & enjoy a rainy afternoon in the kitchen making up a fabulous sauce for supper!

Serves 4 (multiply as your family needs)

1/3 c olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled & sliced
3 Tbs finely chopped parsley
3 Tbs finely chopped onion
1 can (28oz) whole tomatoes
1 bay leaf
salt, pepper, fresh basil

In lg saucepan, heat oil over med heat.
Add garlic & saute 2-3 minutes
Add parsley & onion.  Slowly add tomatoes
Stir to break up tomatoes
Add bay leaf, salt & pepper.
Bring to a boil, cover & simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
Add some fresh, finely chopped basil.

Serve sauce with spaghetti, dip garlic breadsticks in it, or any other way you love to utilize your favorite sauce!

Bonnie Blair Chicken

Leave it to my fantastic mom to find another awesome grilling dinner!  This is such a huge family favorite that my sister wanted it for her rehearsal dinner...now that is saying something! :)

Serves 4

1/2 c mayo
2 Tbs dijon mustard
1 Tbs honey
1/4 tsp tarragon
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

Mix dressing & coat chicken.  Grill chicken flipping once, brushing dressing on periodically.
Serve with your favorite fruit salad, rolls & veggies.

Hobo Dinner

Going Camping???  Having dinner out at the fire & tired of the same old same old??
This is a fabulous, self creation, dinner that is perfect for the night you set up camp!  Once you get there, un-pile out of the truck & stretch your legs, get the kids to help get wood around to make up your fire.  Get it going good, then start unpacking the truck, getting your table ready & sorting out the food you brought.  Before you start working on the tent & bedding, have everyone break to "make your own" hobo dinner!  Once made up, seal well in the tin foil & place in the coals of the fire.  Once that is done, finish setting up the tent, bedding & pull out the chairs around the campfire...before you know it, camp is completely set up & dinner is done too!

Serves 1 (so that each individual can make up their own)

1/4lb ground beef                                      1 tomato diced
1 potato, sliced                                          canned corn
1 carrot, sliced                                           sliced mushrooms
2 Tbs chopped onion

How much you need totally depends on how many are camping with you.  If you slice up the carrots, potato & onion before you leave for the trip, make sure you cover them in water, draining once you get to camp.
Give each person a large piece of tin foil & have them place all the goodies they want to eat in the center of the tin foil, placing the buger patty in first.
Sprinkle with salt & pepper (cayanne if you like!)
Fold foil over & seal well.
Place in medium coals 45-60 minutes or until potato is tender (time will be determined by how thick you slice the potatoes)
Remember to warn the kids that it will be EXTREMELY hot & for everyone to WATCH OUT for the STEAM when you first open the packets!  Steam burns are really unpleasant!!!

That also brings up the topic of first aid kits...ALWAYS double check your first aid kit BEFORE you start packing for you trip, making sure to go out & get whatever has been used up!  Always take along snake bite kits, benedryl, burn cream & ponchos!!!  Yup...all but one have been learned by experience here...thankfully, the snakes have stayed away & I pray they always do!!

Grilled Bacon, Cheese, & Tomato Sandwiches

When the kids get tired of the reg. grilled cheese...we pull out all the stops & make up these fantastic sandwiches.  Eat alone or serve with a bowl of your favorite soup...these sandwiches are sure to please!

Serves 4

8 slices bread
1/4 c butter, softened
8 slices Swiss cheese (or your favorite cheese)
3 plum tomatoes, sliced thinly
1/2 tsp dried basil
12 bacon slices, cooked

Spread butter on one side of bread; turn over & top with a cheese slice, layer of tomato, basil, bacon & another slice of cheese.  Top with second piece of bread (outside spread with butter).
Place a lg skillet over med heat until hot.
Cook sandwiches, two at a time, until golden brown on both sides (turning once)

Grilled Chicken Sandwiches

My mom found this recipe & it quickly became a huge hit with everyone who has tried it!  Fantastic way to enjoy the warmer weather & an easy dinner to have with friends where you can just chill & catch up without stressing over pans on the stove!  ***One catch~ you do need to let it sit in the marinade at least 6 hours but better if its overnight!

Serves 4

MARINADE:                                             SANDWICHES:
1/4 c lemon juice                                             1lb (4 pieces) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 c olive oil                                                  4 kaiser rolls
2 tsp parsley                                                   1/4 c butter
1 tsp horseradish                                             4 slices Cheddar Cheese
1/2 tsp basil                                                    4 slices tomato
                                                                      4 slices bacon, crisply cooked, halved

In a 13x9 baking dish, combine all marinade ingredients.  Place chicken, 1 piece at a time, smooth side up, between plastic wrap & pound till chicken is 1/4" thick.
Place pounded chicken in marinade, coating both sides.  Cover & refrigerate at least 6 hrs if not overnight.
Turn the chicken occassionally.  *****You can also do this marinade step in a lg ziploc bag in place of the dish...makes it easy to have both sides coated easiley*****

Heat grill & oil it before placing chicken on to cook.
Grill 8-10 minutes or until juices run clear.  Brush with marinade, turning once.
Spread butter on rolls & grill for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
Before you take the chicken off the grill, place a slice of cheese on each & let melt (about 2 min)
To put together the sandwiches, place on piece of chicken/cheese on a roll, top with bacon slices & tomato.
We serve these with mayo for those who want it.

Fettuccini con pollo (Chicken Fettuccini)

This is a huge favorite in our house!  Kids love it because its fantastic, I love it because it calls for so little & is quick for me to throw together.  Win Win for everyone!

Serves 2
(yes, 2 people, so multiply accordingly!!)

10oz fettuccini
1 c chicken, cubed (if you already have cooked chicken, use that & skip down the directions to the adding mushrooms & garlic)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs basil
1/2 c quartered mushrooms
1 clove minced garlic
2 c heavy cream
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

Heat saute pan.  Add olive oil & saute chicken until almost done.  Add mushrooms & garlic, saute 2 min.
Add basil & cream, reduce sauce by 1/3 (this is another way of saying cook till it thickens).
Add parmesan & pasta, mixing well.

Martha Stewart's Meat Loaf

I very seldom make meatloaf because it costs us so much just to purchase all the meat it takes with pre-teen boys in the house consuming everything in sight like vacuum cleaners.  I have learned that when you do make it, make up at LEAST 5lbs of mashed potatoes, bread, salad, & offer a fantastic dessert that they know about ahead of time...this helps to make a regular meatloaf recipe stretch out to be barely just enough...at least for now...  This is called Martha Stewart's Meat Loaf because it comes from a very old Martha Stewart magazine but I have no clue what year anymore..the recipe is worn & almost unreadible anymore, which means it has to have been at least 10 years ago by now...

I will also say that this is a longer recipe then I would normally make, but I can tell you that when you follow it & get it into the oven, the smell is unreal delicious & the taste at the end is beyond what you think it will be.  My dad almost fell off his chair the one time I made it for him :)  That made it all worth the length & work!

3 slices bread, crusts removed
1/2 c milk
2 Tbs olive oil
1 lg yellow onion, chopped finely
1 rib celery, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, shredded finely
1lb ground beef
1/2lb ground pork
2 lg eggs
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbs dijon mustard
1 Tbs salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2lb thinly sliced smoked bacon
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1 Tbs yellow mustard
1 tsp ketchup

Heat oven to 375
Cut bread into cubes & mix with milk in a lg bowl, set aside.
Heat olive oil in skillet, saute onion, celery & garlic till tender (3-5 min)  Let cool 5 min.
Add carrots, onion mixture, ground beef, ground pork, eggs, parsley, salt & pepper to bread mixture.  Combine well.
Place mixture into a baking dish, forming a loaf (5"x12")
Overlap bacon across meat
In sm bowl, mix brown sugar, ketchup, and mustard along with 2 Tbs water to make glaze.
Bake at 375 for 1-1 1/2hrs, basting with glaze every 15 minutes.
Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Pasta Primavera

I found this recipe shortly after Len & I got married.  At first I thought "hmm, this looks interesting" and tossed it into the box.  It wasn't long before I was digging for that recipe because we were running out of money & I had to come up with some wild concoction for supper that would fill him up, but that I should have on hand!  It instantly became a favortite that has continued to bail me out over all these years. 

Serves 4 (which in our house means triple since everyone loves spaghetti any way they can get it!)

1 can (10 3/4oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 c water
3 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp basil leaves, crushed (dried is best)
1/8 tsp EACH garlic powder & pepper
1 bag (16oz) frozen california blend (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots)
4 c hot cooked spaghetti

In a lg pan, bring water to boil & cook spaghetti according to pkg.
While the water is coming to a boil & you are cooking the spaghetti, in a lg skillet, mix soup, water, cheese, lemon juice, basil, garlic powder, pepper & veggies.  Over med heat, bring to a boil.  Cover & cook over low heat for 5 min or until veggies are tender, stirring occasionally.
Toss with spaghetti
We like to top each serving with a little more freshly grated Parmesan cheese but that is up to you.


My grandma would make this periodically for family meals on Sunday evenings...all we knew was that we loved it...once I got married & started cooking for my crew, I got the recipe from her to find out it was Greek!  Yet again, the Mediterranean countries have found a grand place at our table!!  She has on the card that this recipe came from The WASHINGTON POST (iowa) SEPT 20, 1973!!

2 med eggplants                                                                 2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs salt                                                                           1 tsp pepper
1 c olive oil                                                                        1 tsp oregano
2 Tbs butter                                                                       2 Tbs soy sauce (or worcestershire sauce)
1 c onion, chopped                                                            TOPPING:
2 cloves garlic, minced                                                       1 1/2 c grated sharp cheese
2 1/2lbs ground beef                                                          1 c light cream
2lbs tomatoes                                                                    3 eggs

Cut eggplants into 1/2" slices.  Sprinkle with salt, let stand 30 minutes.  Blot, then brown in olive oil.  Remove from skillet, lining bottom of an 11x16" pan with eggplant.  Set aside.
Melt butter, saute onion & garlic till tender.
Add ground beef & brown (approx 10 minutes), drain.
In saucepan, combine tomatoes & sugar; cook over med-high heat for 10 min.  Mash.
Combine all the above into the skillet.  Add in the remaining ingred until "TOPPING"  Mixing well.
Cover the eggplant in the dish with a layer of meat mixture; top with more eggplant, then the remaining meat.
Cover & bake at 400 for 45 min - 1 hour
While the Moussaka is baking, you can make up the topping.
In a mixing bowl, combine all topping ingred. with a whisk.
Once the time is done for the baking, you will uncover the dish, pour in the topping SLOWLY.
Leave uncovered & bake until topping is brown and firm (20-30 minutes)

Serve over rice! 
Definitely a fabulous way to get kids to eat eggplant, as it really is un-noticable in the mixture...at least our kids haven't bothered to ask yet!!

26 March 2010

Hearty Chicken Casserole

This is a different twist on a chicken casserole.  Nice change of pace from the "normal" combinations!  Great way to incorporate food from the garden into your dinner so its fresh & delicious.

2 cans (6.5oz each) chunky chicken (you can also use salmon, or tuna)
6oz (3c) uncooked wide egg noodles
1/2 c chopped celery
1/3 c sliced green onion
1/2-2/3 c sour cream
2 tsp mustard
1/2 c mayo
1/2 tsp thyme leaves (or parsley, dill, basil, chives)
1 sm zucchini, sliced
1 c shredded monterey jack (or cheese of choice)
1 med tomato, chopped

Drain & flake chicken, set aside
Cook noodles, drain & rinse in cold water to stop cooking
Combine noodles, chicken, celery & onion
Blend sour cream, mustard, mayo, herb of choice & salt (optional)
Spoon half mixture into a buttered 2qt casserole
Tope with half of the zucchini mixture. 
Repeat layers
Top with cheese
Bake at 350 for 30 min or until hot & bubbly
Sprinkle with chopped tomato before serving.


this is from my mom, who has had many years, and many children, to come up with fantastic meals that would fill us up without breaking the bank.

serves 8

1 1/2lbs ground beef (browned & drained)
16oz whole kernal corn (cooked & drained)
1/4lb noodles (cooked & drained
2 c cheddar cheese, cubed
1 can (16oz) tomatoes, drained
1/2 clove of garlic, minced
1 sm green pepper, diced
1 sm onion, diced

Heat oven to 350
Grease a 2qt casserole dish
Mix beef, corn, noodles & cheese
Combine remaining ingred. in a blender on "chop"
Add to meat mixture & pour into the casserole dish
Cover & bake 45 minutes
Uncover & continue baking 10 more minutes.

Chicken Tetrazini

Another fantastic "comfort food" and highly appreciated on those blustery days...This is also one that is super easy to multiply for large crowds, or when the boys have over all their friends & you are sure there is no amount of food that will stop them from raiding your cupboards bare!

2 Tbs chopped onion
1 Tbs butter
1 can cream of mushroom
1/2 c water
1/2 c shredded sharp cheese
1 Tbs sherry
2 c cooked spaghetti
1 1/2 c chopped chicken

Saute onion in butter, add soup, water & cheese till cheese melts.
Add remaining ingredients & heat through.
Serve with veggies of choice & some biscuits for a fantastic, quick, filling meal!

Cheesy Beef & Rice Casserole

This is one of my wild inventions that came out of desperation & amazingly, it is one of our family favorites.  An exchage student that lived with us for a bit said it was wonderful comfort food...that sealed it up in the vaults of "prized meals" for us :)

4 c cooked rice
1 lg can cream of mushroom
1 sm bag of broccoli, frozen or cooked
1lb browned ground beef
2 c shredded cheese (we like Mexican but you can use any you like)
1 Tbs tarragon

Mix all ingred. together excpet 1 c cheese. 
Pour into greased 13x9 dish
Top with remaining cup of cheese
Cover & bake at 350 for 35-45 min or until heated through.

Our kids love this kind of dish served with the ice cold cranberry sauce...

Chicken Stuffing Bake

My grandma would make this up from time to time when I was little.  Always a fantastic meal on a cold & blustery day anytime of the year!  Since it includes veggies, meat & stuffing, dinner can easily be a one dish meal...if you feel you want to add something to it, our kids go nuts over cranberry sauce ice cold from the fridge!

says it serves 6

1 (12oz) can Evaporated Milk
3 Tbs butter
1 (7oz) box herb seasoned stuffing mix
1 can cream of mushroom
2 c diced, cooked chicken
2 c shredded swiss cheese
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 c broccoli (cooked)
1/2 tsp thyme

In saucepan, blend 3/4 c milk and butter to scalding. 
In a bowl, pour milk over stuffing, toss to mix well.  Pat 1/2 stuffing into buttered 13x9 dish.
In another bowl, stir soup, remaining milk, chicken, 1 c cheese, celery, broccoli & thyme until well mixed.
Spoon evenly over stuffing, topping with the remaining stuffing from the bowl.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until hot through.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese & cook till melted.

Fantastic dish to use up leftover chicken & broccoli from a previous nights grilled dinner!  We have used cornbread stuffing in place of the herb too & both are just as delicious!

Sweet & Sour Meatball Sauce

I posted another sweet & sour meatballs recipe that is for a crockpot...this is similar but meant to be made on the stove.  I have no reason to believe that you could not also mix this & pour into a crockpot with a bag of frozen meatballs & let it cook on low all day too.  Both can be served over rice for a dinner, or stand alone for an appetizer.

1/2 c packed brown sugar
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 can pineapple chunks w/syrup
1/3 c vinegar
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 sm green pepper, diced

Combine the ingredients in a sauce pan over med-low heat until well blended, pour over frozen meatballs in a 13x9 & bake 40-45 minutes.
Remember to heat water for rice when you have 30 min. left on the meatballs, as it will take the rice 20-25 minutes to cook the rice.

serve as a dinner option with a tossed salad, greenbeans, peas or your favorite veggies.

Meatballs & Rice

This is a tomato based meatballs & rice dinner.  Very simple, especially if you use frozen meatballs.

1 can tomato soup
1 c brown sugar (packed)
2 Tbs vinegar
1 tsp mustard

Mix this all together, then pour over meatballs in a 13x9.
Cook at 375 for 45 minutes.
Remember to start heating water for rice when there is 30 minutes left to your meatballs...it will take 20-25 minutes for the rice to cook once the water has boiled!

Add a side of greenbeans & you are set for a fantastic filling meal!

Sweet & Sour Crockpot Meatballs

This particular recipe came from the world's most awesome neighbor!!!  Kris was infamous for making some really fantastic food that Len & I were priviledged to enjoy...this is a fantastic way to have dinner ready when you get home after a long day, by serving it over rice...otherwise, its a great dish to take to get togethers or family dinners where there is sure to be a hungry crowd.  We love to pair this up with Len's mom's crock pot Mac & Cheese...mmmmm

2 12oz jars chilli sauce
3/4s of a 12oz jar of cheap grape jelly
lg bag of frozen Italian meatballs

Combine in a crockpot & cook on low all day!
If you feel really daring, you can add a can of diced pineapple chunks!!

Pesto-Potato Frittata

We are always looking for ways to have the kids, and us sometimes, try new things, and this is one of our favorite dishes that is from the Mediterranean countries.  They say its better on the second day, that you can even take it on a picnic, sliced in wedges & served with french bread.  Sounds fantastic to me!!  I love finding treasures like this from the VEGETARIAN TIMES magazine (july/august 2009)

3 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 1/2lb red potatoes, cubed (3c)
1 sm onion, diced (1c)
1 sm red bell pepper, diced (1c)
2 c fresh basil leaves, parsley leaves, arugula, or watercress
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tbs dijon mustard
2 Tbs flour
6 lg eggs
3 lg egg whites
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese, optional

heat 1 Tbs oil in a 9" nonstick skillet over med heat.  Add potatoes, onion, and bell pepper, cook 15 min stirring often.  Transfer potato mixture to lg bowl, and season with salt & pepper; cool 10 min.
Meanwhile, place basil (or other greens) in a food processor along with garlic, pulsing until finely chopped.
Add mustard & flour, pulse to combine. 
Add eggs, egg whites, and cheese; blend 1 min. or until frothy.  Stir egg mixture with potato mixture.
Wipe out skillet, then heat remaining 2 Tbs oil over med-low heat, making sure to coat the entire bottom of the skillet and up the sides.
Spread egg potato mixture into hot skillet, making sure the potatoes are evenly distributed.
Cover & cook 10 minutes.
Gently lift the bottom and sides of the frittata with a spatula to allow uncooked egg mixture to reach the pan. 
Cover & cook 10 minutes more, or until frittata is brown & crispy on bottom & sides & mostly set in center.
Remove skillet from heat, loosen edges of frittata, an dplace lg plate over skillet.
Carefully invert frittata onto plate, then slide it back into the pan, so that the uncooked top is now on the bottom of the skillet.
Cover & cook 5 more minutes so that all sides are browned & crispy.
Transfer to plate to cool.
Serve at room temperature.

Best of Summer Fruit Salad

Our kids love having fruit with our meals, to them, a big bowl of fruit with some granola is the greatest breakfast...works for me!  This recipe helps to combine 4-6 different fruits in one fantastic dish.
If you use bananas, make sure you don't slice & mix in till you are pretty much ready to eat or they will turn brown on you!

1/3 c sugar (or 3/4 c agave nectar)
1/4 c fresh mint or lemon verbena leaves (optional, but def. adds fantastic flavor, very easy to grow in a pot!)
2 Tbs lemon or lime juice
2 c seedless grapes, halved
2 peaches, or nectarines, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
1 c sliced strawberries and/or whole raspberries
1 c blueberries
bananas, apples, kiwi, etc...

Bring sugar and 1/2 c water to a boil in a saucepan.  Simmer 2 min.  Remove from heat, stir in mint & lemon juice (or lime).  Steep 15 min.  Strain out mint.
Combine fruit in a lg bowl.  Stir in sugar syrup.
Cover & chill 2 hours or overnight.

be creative, let the kids help pick out fruit & if old enough, chop up & mix it all together.  Helping out in the kitchen generally helps get more of it on their plates & into them!

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Seriously, combining gingersnaps & pumpkin cheesecake is like combing caramel & chocolate!  I could eat this anytime of the year, though it is more traditionally made through the fall holidays. 

32 gingersnap cookies, crushed (about 1 1/2 c)
1/4 c butter, melted
5 pkgs (8oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 c sugar
1 can (15oz) solid pack pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
5 eggs, lightly beaten
dash of nutmeg
maple syrup

In sm bowl, combine the gingersnap crumbs & butter.  Press into a greased 13x9 baking dish; set aside.
In lg mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
Beat in pumpkin, cinnamon, and vanilla.
Add eggs, put on low speed just until combined.
Pour over crust; sprinkle with nutmeg.
Bake at 350 for 40-45 min. or until center is almost set.
Cool on wire rack for 10 min.
Carefully run knife around edge of baking dish to loosen; cool 1 hour longer.
Refrigerate overnight.

Cut into squares, serve with maple syrup!!  YUM!!!
remember to refrigerate leftovers!

Biscuit Topped Lemon Chicken

This too is from an older edition of TASTE OF HOME magazine.  I like the biscuit topping, Len's not such a fan, so this is a rare make in our house...but still a favorite.

MEAL:                                                                              CHEDDAR BISCUITS:
2 lg onions, finely chopped                                                    5 c self rising flour
4 celery ribs, finely chopped                                                  2 c milk
2 garlic cloves, minced                                                          2 c (8oz each) shredded cheddar cheese
1 c butter, cubed                                                                  1/4 c butter, melted
8 green onions, thinly sliced
2/3 c flour
1/2 gallon milk
12 c cubed cooked chicken
2 cans (10 3/4oz each) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1/2 c lemon juice
2 Tbs grated lemon peel
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt

In a dutch oven, or heavy pan, saute the onions, celery, and garlic in butter.  Add green onions, Stir in flour until well blended; gradually add milk.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Add the chicken, soup, lemon juice, and peel, pepper & salt; heat through.
Pour into two greased 13x9 baking dishes; set aside.

In lg bowl, combine biscuit ingred. just until moistened.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead 8-10 times.  Pat or roll out to 3/4" thickness.  With a floured 2 1/2" biscuit cutter, cut out 30 biscuits.

Place over chicken mixture. 
Bake uncovered, at 350 for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown.

***In place of SELF RISING FLOUR~ for each cup needed, use 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt in a measuring cup, adding in enough reg. flour to measure a full 1 cup.

***This recipe yields 14 servings....cut in half for a family of 4!!

Spiral Pepperoni Pizza Bake

This recipe came from an older edition of Taste of Home, 2007 I believe.  Our family adores pizza, and even more pepperoni, so this is a fabulous dinner dish for us.  Hopefully it winds up being a great alternative to ordering pizza for your family too!

1 pkg (16oz) spiral pasta
2lb ground beef
1 lg onion, chopped
2 cans (15oz each) pizza sauce
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp Italian seasonings
2 eggs
2 c milk
1/2 c shredded Parmesan cheese
4 c (16oz) shredded part-skim mozzerella cheese
1 pkg (3 1/2oz) sliced pepperoni

Cook past according to pkg.
Meanwhile, in dutch oven or heavy pan, cook beef and onion until no longer pink; drain.
Stir in pizza sauce, garlic salt, and Italian seasoning; remove from heat & set aside
In a sm bowl, combine eggs, milk & parmesan cheese.
Drain pasta; toss with egg mixture.  Transfer to a greased 3qt baking dish. 
Top with beef mixture, mozarella cheese, and pepperoni.
Cover and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Uncover, bake 20-25 minutes longer or until golden brown.

Says it yields 12 servings, but if I add some breadsticks to it, its just enough for our crew of 6 hungry eaters.

Molasses Cookies (Lumberjacks)

This recipe comes from my husbands grandmother, who passed shortly after we were married.  I happen to LOVE molasses, so I was thrilled to get this recipe from her.

1 c sugar
1 c butter
cream together, then add:
1 c mild molasses
2 eggs

mix dry ingred. together before adding to creamed mixture
4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger

Chill dough until you can make balls easily.  Roll each ball in sugar before placing on cooking sheet (i tend to spray my cookie sheets before putting cookies on them to make it easier to get them off).
Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack, if you can wait long enough for them to cool off all the way :)

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

This is a big time favorite for get together family meals.  Gma is always asked to bring this one & its gone before you can blink!  The only way you have any left overs to enjoy when no one is looking is if you sneak them before the crowd hits the kitchen!!  Definitely a kids favorite too.  I know there are those who have issues with the strawberries, and sometimes you just don't have fresh ones around, in which case, make it w/o them & enjoy!!

2 c finely crushed pretzels
1/2 c sugar, divided
2/3 c butter, melted
12oz (1 1/2 8oz pkgs) Cream Cheese, softened
2 Tbs milk
1 c thawed Cool Whip
2 c boiling water
1 pkg (8 serving size) Strawberry flavored gelatin (like Jello)
1 1/2 c cold water
1 qt (4c) strawberries, sliced

Preheat oven 350
Mix pretzels, 1/4 c sugar & butter.  Press onto bottom of 13x9 pan.  Bake 10 min.  Cool.
Beat cream cheese, remaining 1/4 c sugar, and milk until well blended.  Gently add cool whip.  Spread over cooled crust.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
Stir boiling water into gelatin in lg bowl at least 2 min. until completely dissolved.  Stir in cold water.  Refrigerate 1 1/2 hrs or until thickened (spoon drug through leaves a definite impression)
Stir in strawberries (IF USING THEM).  Spoon over cream cheese.
Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm.
Cut into 20 squares to serve.  (gma just brings it as is & we spoon out our servings, trying to be fair so everyone gets some of course)

Cinnamon Apple Coffee Cake

Another favorite around here, especially because I use a cake mix in place of making it from scratch...fantastic to make up the day before & enjoy on a rushed morning or to take in to work, sunday school, or church to share.

One vanilla cake mix, prepared as directed before putting into baking pan
1 c firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 c flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c butter
1 c Granny Smith apples, chopped (I peel them too)

Grease and flour a fluted tube pan (or plain if that is what you have).
Pour half of the cake batter into the pan.
Top with half of the crumb mixture (to make the crumb mixture, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon...cut in butter till crumbly, then stir in chopped up apple)
Top crumb mixture with remaining batter followed by the remainder of the crumb mixture.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour
Remove from oven, cool 5 min in pan before inverting on a plate to serve.
Let cool completely before slicing.

Rich Biscuit Shortcake

SO...sometimes you just want a great desert that doesn't require you to bake & toil in the kitchen...if that is you, here is a quick way to enjoy a shortcake...if its not you, feel free to bake up your very own biscuits!!

Buy (or make) as many biscuits that you need
If they are cold, warm them up in the oven, split then spread one half with a little butter.
Use about 1/2-3/4 c sliced, crushed, or sweetened berries for each serving.
Put fruit between halves, top with other half of biscuit, then more fruit on top
Top with a dollop of whipped cream

***If you had made up the pound cake also on this blog & frozen it, you would use the same amount of fruit over one slice topped with whippped cream***

Chewy Picnic Brownies

This recipe comes from VEGETARIAN TIMES magazine, July/August 2009...a fantastic brownie recipe for those who like to stay on the vegetarian side of things...though it does contain dairy by way of butter & eggs

1 c flour
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
6oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
6oz (1 1/2 sticks) nonhydrogenated butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 c light brown sugar
3 lg eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 325
Coat 9" square baking pan with cooking spray
Whisk together flour, cocoa, and powder together in lg bowl.
Melt chocolate and butter in double broiler (or two saucepans, bottom one with an inch of water, top one cocked so it doesn't touch the water where you melt the chocolate & butter)
Remove from heat, and whisk until smooth
Stir brown sugar into chocolate mixture.  Fold in beaten eggs. 
Spread in prepared baking pan.
Bake 25-30 minutes, or until brownies look set, still soft in center.
Cool, then slice into squares.

Sweet Potato Casserole

This is a lightened version of the traditional marshmellow topped dish we are all used to seeing around Thanksgiving & Christmas for holiday meals.  Thanks to COOKING LIGHT magazine, we have found a fantastic way to prepare a delicious dish that is healthier, though disappears even faster then the original!!
They say you can serve this hot or room temp, we've done hot, but I also tend to enjoy it cold out of the fridge too...I know, but we all have those odd things we love to eat cold the next day...right??

2 1/4 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled & chopped
1 c half & half
3/4 c packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 lg eggs

1 1/2 c mini marshmellows
1/2 c flour
1/4 c packed brown sugar
2 Tbs chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 c chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 375
To prepare potatoes, place in a dutch oven (or heavy pan), and cover with water. 
Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until very tender, drain & cool slightly.
Place potatoes in lg bowl.  Add half & half, 3/4 c brown sugar, and vanilla.
Beat with mixer on med speed until smooth.  Add egg & beat well to combine (mixture will be thin)
Scrape mixture into a greased (cooking spray) 13x9 baking dish.

To prepare topping, sprinkle mini marshmellows over top of casserole.
Lightly spoon flour onto a dry measuring cup, level with knife.  Combine flour and 1/4 c sugar in med bowl.
Cut in butter with a pastry blended or 2 knives until it resembles coarse meal.  Stir in pecans & sprinkle over potatoes & marshmellows.

Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Chipotle Chicken & Rice

This comes from Martha Stewart's website...very yummy!!!  The only thing we did to change it was to use b/s chicken breasts in place of the b/s chicken thighs.  Check out the bottom of the recipe for directions on how to make it into quesadillas or burrito filling!  Very versatile recipe for chicken!

Makes 4 servings (as you know, 4 servings in our house is a joke, so this is doubled if not tripled for our crew)

2 Tbs oil (we only use olive but you can use veg. if you prefer)
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 2 lbs)
salt & pepper
1 med red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced
2 lg tomatoes, diced large
1 c long-grain white rice
Lime wedges, for serving

In a lg Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over med-high heat. 
Season chicken with salt & pepper...
Working in batches so as to not over-crowd your pan, brown chicken on both sides, about 6 min total (more if you are using the chicken breasts) & transfer to a plate while you finish the remaining chicken.
Reduce heat to med. & add onion sauteing until soft, about 5 min. scrapping up any browned bits from the chicken (if you need to, you can add a little water to help loosen them up)
Add garlic, cumin, and chiles to the onion mixture.  Cook until garlic is soft, about 2 min. 
Add in the tomatoes and 1 tsp salt, cooking the tomatoes until they begin to break down & release the juices, about 3 min.
Stir in 1 c water & return all the chicken to the pot.  Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook 25 minutes.
Remove some of the chicken and add in the rice, stirring to make sure its completely covered in liquid.  Replace the chicken you just took out, cover again & cook until the rice is done & liquid has been absorbed, about 25-30 minutes.
Serve with lime wedges & chopped up cilantro if desired.

***They offer up a Quesadilla Version***
the only difference is that you cut up the chicken into bite sizes before cooking & you omit the 1 c water & rice.  Simmer, uncovered till chicken begins to fall apart.

***We use this recipe as it is called to cook in its entirety, to make up burritos.  We love eating rice in our burritos, so this filling topped with some shredded cheese, is a fabulous change of pace from the beans & meat burritos.

Pound Cake

It is inevitable that just when I need a pound cake to go with the fresh berries & cool whip, I have none in the freezer...this cake is a fantastic cake to make up then pop into the freezer, wrapped well, for those surprise guests, or even more for those times when you are dying for a great dessert but don't have time to make it, or energy...as is often the case around here!

1 1/2 c butter, room temp
5 eggs, room temp
3 c sugar
3 1/2 c sifted cake flour OR 3 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 c milk
1 tsp vanilla

Grease & lightly flour 10" tube pan, set aside.
Beat butter and sugar in mixer on med speed 10 minutes or until fluffy. 
Add 1/2 the flour and 1/2 the milk.  Beat well.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add remaining flour, vanilla, and milk.  Beat batter until smooth.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 350 for 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hours or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool completely on a wire rack.

**If freezing, it helps to slice then wrap, so that you can eat the cake with less time needed to thaw.**

Fudgy Mocha Toffee Brownies

One should always have several fantastic brownie recipes within reach for those moments when you just need some chocolate!

2 Tbs instant coffee granules                                    1/2 c unsweetened cocoa
1/4 c hot water                                                        1 tsp baking powder
1/4 c butter                                                             1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c semi sweet chocolate chips                             1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c flour                                                            2 lg eggs
1 1/3 c sugar                                                          1/4 c toffee chips

Preheat oven to 350
Spray bottom of 9" square pan
Combine coffee & hot water, stir till granules dissolve
Combine butter & choco. chips, melt till smooth
Combine flour through salt with a whisk
Combine, butter mixture, coffee mixture, vanilla & eggs in med. bowl with a whisk
Add in flour mixture just until moist
Spread evenly into the 9" square pan
Sprinkle with toffee chips
Bake at 350 for 20-22 minutes
Cool on wire rack...but not too cool because everyone knows a warm brownie is the BEST brownie!

Daffodil Cake

This cake is longer then I typically would make or even look twice at it...but the name caught my eye & has stuck in my recipe box for WAY too many years without actually making it!  How sad...we will be correcting this issue for Easter this year...will post pictures once its made!

Serves 16

CAKE:                                                                              JEWELED LEMON SAUCE:
1/4 tsp salt                                                                                   1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 c soft wheat flour; sifted before measuring                            2 Tbs cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp vanilla                                                                            1 c water
1 3/4 c sugar, divided                                                                   2 Tbs grated lemon peel
1 3/4 c (12-14) egg whites                                                           2 Tbs lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar                                                               1 Tbs butter
2 Tbs soft wheat flour
5 egg yolks
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs grated lemon peel

Preheat oven to 375
Sift flour and 3/4 c sugar together 3x's  Set aside.
Beat egg whites, cream of tartar & salt together in lg mixing bowl until soft peaks form.
Gradually beat in 1 c sugar and continue beating till stiff peaks form.
Sift about 1/4 of flour mixture over the egg whites & gently fold into the mixture.
Repeat until all flour in incorporated. 
Fold in vanilla.  Remove 1/3 of batter.
Beat egg yolks, 2 Tbs flour & 2 Tbs sugar until thick & pale yellow. 
Stir in lemon peel.  Pour egg yolk mixture over reserved 1/3 of batter and fold until blended.
Spoon yellow & white batters alternating into an ungreased tube pan.
Run knife gently through batter to eliminate air bubbles & to swirl batters.
Bake in lower third of oven at 350 for 35-40 min.
Invert pan to cool.
Serve with warm Lemon Jewel Sauce

To Make Lemon Jewel Sauce:
Combine sugar, cornstarch & water in saucepan.  Cook over med-high heat until smooth & thickened.
Add grated lemon peel, lemon juice & butter.  Stir till incorporated & warmed through.

Angel Food Cake with Mocha Icing

Another recipe from my grandma that brings back memories of being little and hanging out at her house.  I adore angel food cake, and even more with her mocha icing smothering it!  I mean, seriously, how can't you love that combo?!

CAKE:                                                                           MOCHA BUTTERCREAM:
1 1/2 c powdered sugar (10x)                                           1 1/2 c butter
1 c cake flour                                                                    4 Tbs instant coffee
10 lg egg whites                                                                 2 Tbs sifted cocoa
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar                                                    2 c powdered sugar
3/4 c sugar                                                                         chocolate sprinkles

Sift all dry ingred. for cake.
In large bowl, whisk egg whites till soft peaks form.  Add cream of tartar.  Gradually add in sugar whisking all the time.  Sift 1/3 of flour mix over whites, lightly folding in.  Repeat till all flour is mixed in.
Turn batter into a large ungreased tube pan.  Smooth top.
Bake at 350 for 40 min. or until done.
Cool cake by inverting on a bottle neck so it hangs upside down.
Once completely cooled, loosen edges & remove from pan.

To make icing, beat butter till very soft & smooth.  Add rest of ingred. & beat until well combined & light.
If you want to slice the cake into two layers, use a large bread knife that is serrated. 
Spread icing between layers & all over the tops & sides.
Garnish with sprinkles!

25 March 2010

What kinds of recipes do you like?

I have SO many things we love to make around here, so thought I would post to ask what kinds of recipes you could use or would love to see posted...are there staples your family loves but you have worn out your recipe box & could use some fresh ideas on how to use them?  Having a party, family dinner, get together & looking for a good recipe for a crowd or to go with a theme?

I LOVE cooking for crowds, course, my idea of a crowd is 30-40 people...double & triple tiered bday cakes, even ones that look like monkeys have come out of the kitchen for the kids birthday parties...are you looking at hosting one in the future & could use some tips or ideas on a menu?  

I am happy to share what I have learned over the years so that you can enjoy cooking, enjoy the get togethers & find ways to incorporate new foods into your family's diet as well as finding great recipes to share time with the kids in the kitchen!  Around here, its all about learning, trying new stuff & most of all, spending time together!!

Strawberry Spinach Salad

One of my little sisters found this recipe & it quickly became a family favorite!!  Perfect for spring meals, take it to get togethers, partys or family dinners....fabulous way to change up the typical tossed salad!

1 bag of spinach (de-stem)
2 qt strawberries (washed & sliced)
Toss together in a large salad bowl

(make up but do not add to salad until ready to serve)
1/4 c dijon mustard
2 Tbs olive oil
1/3 c honey
Mix up well so that the mustard & honey dissolve completely.

That is it!  super easy, and a great way to enjoy springtime strawberries!

San Francisco Chops

I found this recipe on a sample card from Great American Recipes a long long long long time ago...made it for Len & he LOVED it...I only make pork chops once in a VERY blue moon, but when I do, this is the recipe he wants hands down.  I would imagine you could easily utilize the sauce & use with b/s chicken breasts too, though I have not tried it yet...hmmm...might have to do that soon!

4 pork chops (1/2-3/4" thick, about 1 1/2lbs of meat)
1 Tbs oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp oil
4 Tbs dry sherry or broth
4 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs brown sugar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbs water

Heat oil in skillet, brown chops on both sides.  Remove and add a little more oil if needed.  Saute garlic for a minute, being careful not to burn it.
Combine oil, sherry, soy sauce, brown sugar, and red pepper. 
Place chops in skillet, pour sauce over them.  Tightly cover.
Simmer over low heat until chops are tender & cooked through, 30-35 min.  Add a little water, 1-2 Tbs if needed to keep sauce from cooking down too much.  Turn ONCE.
Remove chops to platter, stir in cornstarch dissolved in water.  Cook until thickened.
Pour over chops and serve.

***This is a fabulous dish to serve over buttered noodles (such as egg noodles, or fettuccini)...they also recommend sreving green salad with sliced cucumbers & dinner rolls...we're fans of peas, greenbeans, even Strawberry Spinach Salad (recipe in the blog somewhere but labeled under strawberries, spinach, salad).

***This is for 4 servings...but one serving is just one chop...most hubbies I know love more the one, so double or triple depending on what your own family eats in the amount of chops (or chicken!)

Walnut Toffee

This recipe also came from my gma.  She made this every Christmas (along with at least a dozen other fun treats stored in tins in the garage for easy snitching!)...but shhhhhh...we don't want to tell her that is how the tins emptied so fast!!

1 c butter                                         3 Tbs water
1 c sugar                                          1 1/2 c chopped walnuts (or pecans if you like them better)
1 Tbs cornsyrup                               1 (6oz) pgk chocolate chips (melted)

Butter a 9" square pan. 
Melt butter in 2 qt saucepan.  Stir in sugar gradually.
Add syrup & water; cook over med heat, stirring occassionally to 290 degrees on a candy thermometer
Add 1 c nuts, cook 3 minutes more, stirring constantly.
Pour into prepared pan.
When cool & hardened, pour 1/2 melted chocolate on top, toss in the fridge to harden, then flip out of pan, coating the opposite side with the remaining chocolate, sprinkling the remaining nuts on the wet chocolate.
Cool till all is hardened, then ENJOY!!

3 Layer No Bake Cookies

Looking for a fun treat that doesn't involve the oven?  Look no further...these cookies came from my gma who loved to bake & have tons of treats around for get togethers & holidays.

Place in top pan of a double boiler (or if you don't have one, use one saucepan with about an inch of water & a second pan that sits in but doesn't touch the water)...cook until blended:
1/2 c butter
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c cocoa
1 tsp vanilla

Add 1 egg, slightly beaten & cook for 5 min. longer.
Add 2 c finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
        1 c coconut
        1/2 c nuts

Press into a greased 13x9 pan & allow to cool
Cream together until light & fluffy:
1/2 c butter
3 Tbs milk
2 tsp instant vanilla pudding mix
2 c 10x sugar (gradually)
Beat this until smooth & pour over 1st layer.

Mix in a double boiler (but don't let water boil!)
6oz chocolate chips
1 1/2 Tbs butter
Spread over the cream layer
Cut BEFORE the chocolate hardens!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Store in fridge.

These are REALLY yummy & worth the time to make! 

Brownies n Cream Sandwiches

Like whoopie pies...like brownies???  this fabulous recipe combine both into one easy to make dessert!  Great for traveling, these will go quick so come prepared!!

1 box Fudge Brownies
1 lg egg
2 Tbs water
1/3 c veg. oil
1 can creamy home-style classic vanilla frosting

Preheat oven to 375
Grease cookie sheets
Mix brownies, oil, egg, water
Drop by even Tbs 2" apart on greased sheets
Bake 7-8 minutes or until set
Cool, then frost & top with a second brownie to make a sandwich

Fantastic way to bring brownies to work, school or any get together.  Each is wrapped in plastic wrap, making them easy to toss into picnic baskets, lunches or into the snack basket for trips!

Easter Eggs

Yummy Yummy...fantastic way to have the kids participate in making Easter goodies to give away  & maybe slip a few into their own baskets!  Having the kids help in the kitchen is a great way to encourage them in math, science, and instill creativity.  This time will go a long way when they are grown & out of your house...might even mean some fantastic food coming back into your house too...

1 stick butter
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 can sweetened condensed milk
6 c confectioners sugar (10x)
8 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted

In a lg bowl, cream butter until light & fluffy.  Add vanilla & milk.  Beat until blended.
Add 1/3 of sugar, mix well.  Add more sugar, mix & add remaining sugar.
Remove mixture from bowl, form into egg shape.
Dip into melted chocolate (can sub out for white chocolate if you prefer white, or dark!)
Place on waxed paper lined cookie sheets & chill in refrigerator.

Be creative...if you love milk & dark, dip in the milk & once cooled, drizzle the dark over it in thin lines!  Or do the same with white chocolates, now you can even get colored chocolates & do colors to match your own color scheme for a party, or in pastels for Easter...use your imagination & have FUN!

Pastel Marble Cake

What a fun way for the kids to help make a colorful Easter (or anytime Spring) cake!  Be creative & customize the colors to your family!

1 white cake mix
1 pkg (4-serving) Jello, any flavor
1 (8oz) tub whipped topping (like cool whip)

Prepare 2-layer size white cake mix as directed on pkg.  Divide batter in half. 
Stir 1 pkg jello mix into one half of the batter.
Alternate spoonfuls of the white & colored batter into a 13x9 pan.
Swirl with knife to marbelize.
Bake as directed on cake pkg. 
Cool completely
Frost with whipped topping (or whippped vanilla icing) & decorate!

Personally, I think it would be more fun to split that colored half into 2 colors, pouring just enough of the two different jellos to color the batter, then alternate the three colors (such as white, pink, yellow or white, blue & green!)  Again, fantastic cake for the kids to have a big helping hand in making!  Let them pick the two oclors, help mix the jello in & take turns putting in spoonfuls of the batters...
Hot Fudge Sauce...homemade!  How fun is that?  No extra preservatives, and you can even give it as a gift to a hostess if you bring along the Mint Brownie Pie!!

3 (1oz) unsweetened chocolate squares
1/2 c butter
1 (12oz) can evaporated milk
1 (16oz) pkg powdered sugar, sifted

Melt chocolate & butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat.  Stir occassionally.  Add milk alternating with sugar; stirring well after each addition.
Bring to a boil over med heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes or until thickened.
Serve over ice cream...YUM!!!
Store in refrigerator.

If you choose to take it along with you, or just want to make up some for your fridge, pour into a glass canning jar & use the lids that come with it.  Be sure to label when you made it & what it is before you give it away! :)