Thursday, December 30, 2010

MAKEOVER "DIRT" DESSERT


I whipped up this quick dessert last night after much begging and pleading for dessert from my kids 
(as they do EVERY night!) If you're not familiar with "dirt" dessert, it's kind of like Cookies n Cream ice cream but just not cold. It's considered "makeover" because it's been made with lower fat ingredients and uses sugar free pudding. The whole family gobbled it right up! 

MAKEOVER DIRT DESSERT
Recipe from Light &Tasty

6 ounces low-fat or fat free cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 3/4 cup skim milk
1 package (1 ounce) sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 carton (6 ounces) frozen reduced-fat or fat free whipped topping, thawed
10 (or so) reduced-fat Oreo cookies (I used mint filled), crushed

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for two minutes; let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Gradually stir into cream cheese mixture. Fold in whipped topping. Stir in Oreo cookies. Serve scooped into a dish and garnish with a full Oreo cookie. Can serve chilled if desired.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

SKINNY VEGGIE SOUP AND SWEET POTATO ROSEMARY BISCUITS


After eating a lot of rich, rich food for the past week or so, this soup was just what we needed. And, with the New Year's goal of eating better, I'm sure this won't be the last time I make it. Loaded with veggies, it was healthy and filling. You can pretty much use any veggies you like in it, and adjust the spices to change the overall flavor each time you make it. I opted for the Italian spices this go-round. 

The sweet potato rosemary biscuits were a perfect compliment to the soup. Another great recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod; the nuggets of sweet potato were a detectable yet mild addition. I opted to use mostly wheat flour (to try to convince myself that they were much healthier this way!)

SKINNY VEGGIE SOUP
Makes approx. 12-14 cups
(Printable Recipe)

4 garlic cloves, minced (4 tsp)
1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
3 celery stalks, diced (1 1/2 cups) -- I only used 2
1 pkg (8 oz) sliced mushrooms
8 cups (2 qt) low-sodium chicken stock or broth
1 cup sliced carrots, fresh or frozen
1 zucchini, diced (2 cups) -- I used yellow squash
1 cup chopped green beans, fresh or frozen -- didn't use cause I didn't have any
2 cups chopped cauliflower florets, fresh or frozen (1/2 medium head)
3 cups cabbage, roughly chopped (1/2 head)
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes with juice
3 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
seasoning blend options:
spicy creole (very spicy): 2 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. oregano, 1 Tbsp. paprika, 1 tsp. black pepper, 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp. thyme
Italian: 2 tsp. dried parsley, 2 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. oregano, 1/2 tsp. thyme, 1/2 tsp. sage, 1/2 tsp. black pepper
garden herb: 2 Tbsp. chopped thyme, 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley, 1/4 cup freshly chopped basil.

1. In a large nonstick stock pot coated with cooking spray (I also added a tiny bit of olive oil), saute garlic, onion, celery and mushrooms over medium heat until tender, approximately 10 minutes.
2. Add the stock, carrots, zucchini, green beans, cauliflower florets, cabbage, canned tomatoes and bay leaves. If you've chosen spicy creole or Italian blend, add it now. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
3. Add the vinegar and cook for an additional 2 minutes. If you've chosen the garden herb blend, add it now. Remove bay leaves before serving.

SWEET POTATO ROSEMARY BISCUITS
makes approximately 12
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 1/4 c. white wheat flour, 1 c. a/p flour)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup diced roasted sweet potatoes
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the minced garlic and fresh rosemary. Mix in cold butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add roasted sweet potatoes and gently stir. Pour buttermilk over all of the ingredients and stir with a spatula until just combined.
3. Drop round spoonfuls of dough, about four tablespoons, onto prepared baking sheet. (I used an ice cream scoop.) Brush biscuits with melted butter. Bake 15-17 minutes ( I only baked mine for 13 minutes), or until tops are golden brown. Remove from oven and serve war
m.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

BAKED TRIPLE VEGGIE DIP




I haven't done a post in a little over a week for two reasons: 1. Too busy with the hectic holiday season, and 2. I have been in a major "blogging" slump lately. I contemplated giving up because I just can't keep up with the "Jonses" of the food blogging world. 
Well, this post is proof that I haven't completely given up. I have been worried about letting my few, but very cherished followers down by not having a lot of posts, or having boring content, or pictures that aren't pretty enough, etc. But I have to remember the real reason for this blog; I do it because I love to cook and share recipes, and hope to inspire others to cook more and have confidence in their ability! 
So, pressing forward.....


I decided a few weeks ago to start trying more recipes for appetizers and dips to use as a "filler" between coming home from church and meal time. For some reason, everyone is starving after church, no matter what time it is. This is also my husband's favorite time, to just nibble here and there, relax, and watch football.
I thought I was prepared with all the necessary ingredients to make this, but soon realized I was short on the cream cheese! I scratched my head for a minute and came up with a substitution that ended up being great! Nonfat cottage cheese that I pureed in my food processor. I'm always pleased with myself when I'm able to adapt a recipe to utilize what's already in my fridge or pantry! The best part of all, my kids devoured it, meaning they might have actually got a good amount of veggies in them for once!

BAKED TRIPLE VEGGIE DIP
makes 4 1/2 Cups
(Printable Recipe)

1 1/2 C. 100% GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE
1 CAN (1 LB. 3 OZ) ASPARAGUS SPEARS, DRAINED & CHOPPED
1 PKG (10 OZ) FROZEN CHOPPED SPINACH, THAWED & LIQUID SQUEEZED OUT
1 CAN (8 1/2 OZ) ARTICHOKE HEARTS, DRAINED & CHOPPED
1/2 BLOCK (4 OZ) REDUCED FAT CREAM CHEESE, SOFTENED
1/2 C. NONFAT OR LOWFAT COTTAGE CHEESE
1 GREEN ONION, CHOPPED
1/4 -1/2 TSP. ONION POWDER
PINCH OF SALT
1/2 C. MAYO MADE WITH OLIVE OIL (KRAFT)

PREHEAT OVEN TO 375 F. RESERVE 1/4 C. OF THE PARMESAN CHEESE; SET ASIDE.  IN MEDIUM BOWL, COMBINE REMAINING PARMESAN CHEESE, ASPARAGUS, SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE HEARTS.

IN A FOOD PROCESSOR, PULSE CREAM CHEESE, COTTAGE CHEESE, GREEN ONION, ONION POWDER AND SALT, UNTIL SMOOTH. DUMP INTO BOWL WITH SPINACH MIXTURE AND ADD MAYO. STIR UNTIL WELL COMBINED.

SPOON INTO GREASE 2 QT BAKING DISH.  SPRINKLE WITH 1/4 C. RESERVED PARMESAN CHEESE.
BAKE 35 MINUTES OR UNTIL LIGHTLY BROWNED.  SERVE HOT WITH CRACKERS OR ASSORTED CUT UP VEGGIES.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

BROWNIE COVERED COOKIES

Brownie covered cookies?? Who has ever heard such a thing? Well, leave it to Picky Palate to come up with such a fun idea. If you are not familiar with her blog, you should check it out. She's always putting a creative spin on baked goods!
She did brownie covered Oreos, but I also had gingersnaps and some Keebler cookies in my pantry, so I tried all three. I couldn't decide if I liked the Oreos better or the Keebler cookies better. My husband preferred the Oreos, then the gingersnaps, so to each his own I guess.

BROWNIE COVERED COOKIES
makes enough for a full package of Oreos
(Printable Recipe)


1 package brownie mix, prepared as directed on box
Cookies of choice such as Oreos, Keebler Chips Deluxe, Gingersnaps, etc. (as long as the diameter fits in a muffin tin, it will work)
White chocolate, melted
Sprinkles or other decor, optional

1.  Preheat oven to 350.
2.  Generously spray a few muffin tins with cooking spray.
3.  Prepare brownie batter as directed on package.
4.  Dip cookies in brownie batter, flipping with fork to coat evenly.
5.  Drop cookies into muffin tin.
6.  Bake 12 minutes.
7.  Remove from oven and IMMEDIATELY run a plastic knife around each muffin tin cup to loosen sides of brownie covered cookie so it won't stick.
8.  Let cool in pan a few minutes, then remove to wire rack that has been set over aluminum foil.
9.  Let cool a few more minutes, then drizzle with melted white chocolate* & sprinkle with colored sugar or other decor.

* To melt white chocolate chips, place in a microwave safe bowl and microwave 25-30 seconds, stir, then microwave another 20-25 seconds, stir until smooth. Do not warm too much or it will scorch and be ruined.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

THE WINNER IS....


**Grrrr.. I have a lot to learn about blogging still! I couldn't get the widget to work properly on here, but the random number was 1, so the first comment was from Cheri.
Congatulations to Cheri! I will contact you to arrange delivery / shipping! Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

LAST CHANCE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!


I don't mean to sound desperate, but I am!
 come on...
show me some love and give yourself a chance
to win these cute little lambies. Don't be afraid. I double dog dare ya! Look how good your
chances are!

Winner will be announced Thursday evening. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

MY 100TH POST & MY FIRST GIVEAWAY!

Wow! My 100th post. Already? To celebrate, I am hosting my first giveaway!
Enter today through Thursday morning. Winner will be announced
Thursday evening!


These little lambs are SO darling! They are hand made with real wool
by a girl my sister works with. They would be fun decor for the holidays
or as a permanent fixture in a nursery.

To enter, simply leave a comment at the end of this post telling me
what kind of recipes you'd like to see more of on my blog.
The winner will be selected by a random number generator and
announced the evening of Thursday, Dec. 9th.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

SOFT GINGER COOKIES AND UPCOMING...MY FIRST GIVEAWAY!



First up... My first giveaway! I will be celebrating my 100th post by doing a giveaway. Be sure to check my blog Tuesday for your chance to enter! The winner will receive some way cute little lambs made by Liz from LizzyLou's Lambs. These would make a great holiday decoration, or something to leave out all year!

Ginger cookies are not typically a type of cookie I crave or even consider making when I'm in the mood for a good cookie, but my sister has been raving about this recipe for a while so I thought I'd better try them. Yep, they are good..and soft. I think the softness is what I like about these, and makes me view ginger cookies in a new light. I wondered if my kids would like the bold, unique flavor, but they had no hesitation eating several!

SOFT GINGER COOKIES
recipe from Kim Thompson
(Printable Recipe)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons white sugar



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Friday, December 3, 2010

MACARONI GRILL BREAD


Those of you who have eaten at Romano's Macaroni Grill, know how delicious this bread is! And with the dipping oil-- yum! This bread is super easy to make at home and turns out so soft and light. The key is to use FRESH rosemary, not dried from a bottle.  Another key component is to use KOSHER salt on top, not table salt. I served this with dinner the other night and set out a dish of good quality olive oil sprinkled with fresh cracked pepper and italian dried herb seasoning with good quality balsamic. Macaroni Grill doesn't use balsamic with their oil, so do what you like.

MACARONI GRILL BREAD
makes two small loaves or one large loaf
recipe from food.com
(Printable Recipe)

1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons rosemary
2 tablespoons butter

Kosher Salt
 
1. Place yeast, sugar and water in large bowl or food processor and allow mixture to become bubbly.
2. Mix in 1 T butter, salt, and 2 cups of flour.
3. Add one tablespoon of the fresh chopped rosemary.
4. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or in food processor about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
5. Add more flour if necessary.
6. Oil a bowl, put dough in it and cover with a towel.

7. Let dough rise in a warm place for one hour until doubled.
8. Punch down dough and divide in half.
9. Let dough rest about 5 minutes.
10. Spray baking pan or cookie sheet with cooking spray.
11. Shape the dough into 2 small rounded oval loaves.
12. Sprinkle remaining 1 Tablespoon of rosemary over the loaves and press lightly into the surface (I found that they didn't stay put very well, so I just use the full amount inside the loaf and just salt the exterior)
13. Let loaves rise again until doubled, about 45 minutes.
14. Preheat oven to 375°F.
15. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
16. Carefully remove from oven, brush with remaining butter and sprinkle generously with salt.

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    KATHY'S BEEF ENCHILADAS

    This is my mother in law's recipe, hence the name, "Kathy's". These enchiladas are easy and use ingredients that are usually on hand.They are kind of an "americanized" mexican food, as they don't have any real "authentic" mexican ingredients, but that's part of what makes them so appealing to kids! I use low carb wheat wraps for my husband and I, and regular flour tortillas for the kids, and both ways turn out great.

    KATHY'S BEEF ENCHILADAS
    makes approx. 9 medium enchiladas
    (Printable Recipe)

    1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
    1 (32 oz) can diced tomatoes in juice (drain slightly)
    1/2 C. chopped onion
    1/2 a green pepper, chopped
    1 small can sliced olives
    mexican seasonings such as cumin, chili powder, onion powder, etc.
    shredded cheese
    flour tortillas
    green onion
    sour cream, optional

    1. Saute green pepper and onion, add to tomatoes & tomato sauce. Sprinkle with mexican seasonings. Simmer for 15-30 minutes.
    2. In seperate pan, brown 1 pound ground beef, add green onion part way through, then olives when beef is completely browned.
    3. Spoon meat mixture down center of each tortilla, sprinkle w/ cheese and roll up. Cover bottom of 9x13 baking dish with 1/3 of the tomato sauce mixture. Place enchiladas in dish and cover with remaining tomato sauce mixture. Sprinkle with more cheese & bake @ 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

    Sunday, November 28, 2010

    CROCK POT PORRIDGE

    Our typical Sunday morning breakfast is to grab a banana and run out the door to be to church by 9am. Last night, I decided to think ahead and make a crock pot breakfast so we could actually have a warm Sunday breakfast for once. I've made overnight oatmeal in the crockpot in the past and it has always ended up extremely dried out and half burned. This time, I decided to put the setting to "warm" instead of "low" and see what would happen. Perfect! I think my crock pot tends to be a little hotter than others, so "warm" may not be best with yours, but it was just right for mine. This was a very hearty, filling, comforting, and tasty breakfast. You can make it as healthy or unhealthy as you want, depending on the amount of sweetener and liquid you use. I opted to use a little half and half along with skim milk to thin it out a bit once it was in my bowl, and I used a packet of PureVia sweetener. I threw a few Craisins and Almonds and called it...GOOD!

    CROCK POT PORRIDGE
    Recipe from The Eat Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno
    (Printable Recipe)

    1/2 C. cracked wheat (I used Quinoa)
    1 1/2 C. steel-cut oats
    1/2 C. rye flakes (I used barley flakes)
    1/2 C. brown rice
    1/4 C. wheat germ
    1/4 C. ground flax (could wait and add this right before serving)
    6 1/2 C. water or any combo of liquids including rice milk, soy milk, etc. (I used 2 1/2 C. skim milk & the rest water)
    1/2 C. raisins (I used dried blueberries)
    1/2 C. chopped dates (didn't use)
    1 Tbsp. best-quality bourbon vanilla (didn't use)
    1 1/2 tsp. vanilla (I used 1 Tbsp.)
    pinch of nutmeg

    1. Place all ingredients in a 3 quart or greater crock pot. Stir well to combine all ingredients. Cover.
    2. Set on lowest cooking temperature (or warm setting) and cook overnight.
    3. Spoon into bowls in the morning and serve with desired garnishings such as half & half, milk, berries, nuts, sweetener, etc.

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY MUFFINS (WITH CARROT PUREE)

    In case you don't know by now, my kids adore peanut butter! They would eat it on just about anything. To meet their peanut butter demands this morning, I decided to switch things up a little and put the peanut butter IN something instead of ON something. I found this recipe in my Deceptively Delicious cookbook. The end result was ok, but a few things I think I would change next time would be to make them regular size instead of mini size. The mini size did't allow for enough jam filling for my liking. Another thing I would change is to make them without the peanut butter mixed into the batter, but instead put the peanut butter AND jam on the inside of the muffins. The "secret" carrot ingredient added moistness and my kids didn't seem to mind it being in there, but my kids are very used to me putting all kinds of healthy stuff in their baked goods :)

    PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY MUFFINS (WITH CARROT PUREE)
    recipe from Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld
    (Printable Recipe)

    1/2 C. creamy peanut butter (preferably natural)
    1/2 C. carrot puree (or baby food carrots)
    1/2 C. packed brown sugar
    2 Tbsp. trans-fat free soft tub margarine spread
    1/2 C. nonfat plain yogurt (I used nonfat sour cream)
    1 large egg white
    1 C. all purpose flour (I used 1/2 C. wheat 1/2 C. all purpose)
    1 tsp. baking powder
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/2 C. low-sugar strawberry preserves

    1.  Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper cups.
    2.  In large bowl, beat the peanut butter, carrot puree, sugar, and margarine with wooden spoon until well blended. Stir in yogurt and egg white.
    3.  Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir until just combined, but don't overmix - there should be some lumps remaining.
    4.  Divide batter among the muffin cups and drop a spoonful of preserves on top of each. (or spoon a little of the mixture on bottom, top with preserves, and top with more mixture)
    5.  Bake until the tops of the muffins are lighly browned and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes (or 10-12 minutes for mini's). Turn the muffins onto a wire rack to cool.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    GERMAN SCONES


    We celebrated my husband's birthday the other day. I have to laugh because several months ago, out of nowhere he said, "I know what I want instead of cake for my birthday party. Scones." You have to understand that we don't really allow ourselves to eat fried desserts very often; like, once a year maybe. So, I decided to take his request a few steps further and go full-boar. I fried up a storm that day making churros, pumpkin cake donuts, chocolate cake donuts, and finally these soft, pillowy scones. (I have to say they were soft and pillowy because my husband says they look hard and crusty in the picture!) In the past (when I used to not be so reserved about frying things) when I would make scones, I would just defrost the Rhodes Roll dough, stretch it out and plop it in the fryer. Those are good, but these are way better!

    GERMAN SCONES
    recipe from Taste and Tell

    2 packages dry yeast
    1/2 cup water
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 cup boiling water
    1/2 cup butter
    2 teaspoons salt
    3 eggs, beaten
    4 1/2 cups flour (may need slightly more)



    Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the 1 tablespoon of sugar; set aside.

    Pour the boiling water over the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, the butter, and the salt. Add the eggs, mix well. Add in the yeast mixture and 2 cups of the flour. Beat with a mixer until smooth. Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups flour and mix in. Let this rise for 1 hour (I just kept it in the mixing bowl) and then refrigerate until cold.

    Roll out very thin (about 1/4 inch) on a heavily floured surface, and cut into 3 inch squares. Fry in hot oil until brown, then flip and fry until both sides are browned and puffy.

    Serve with butter and honey, cinnamon honey butter, jam, or coat them with granulated sugar.

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    WHOLESOME PECAN BANANA BREAD WAFFLES

    These...are...good! I love, love breakfast foods. I especially love waffles and pancakes. Everyone in the family came back for more of these. They are no ordinary waffle.  I left the nuts out of the batter and just sprinkled them on top for those of us that wanted them. I also topped them with some homemade elderberry jam, oh and some not-so-wholesome whipped cream!

    WHOLESOME PECAN BANANA BREAD WAFFLES
    recipe from Everybody Likes Sandwiches
    (Printable Recipe)

    1 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
    1 c oat bran
    1/4 c packed brown sugar
    1 t baking powder
    1/2 t baking soda
    1/4 t salt
    1/4 c toasted chopped pecans
    1 t cinnamon
    pinch of nutmeg & cardamom
    1 c plain yogurt (or sour cream)
    1/2 c skim milk
    2 eggs, beaten
    2 ripe bananas, mashed
    3 T butter, melted
    2 t vanilla



    In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients from the flour to the spices. In another bowl, blend together the wet ingredients from the yogurt to vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and lightly mix until combined. Batter should be thick. Use a ladle to pour batter onto waffle maker and proceed as per your usual waffle-making style. Serve with butter, syrup and fresh fruit.






    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    INA GARTEN'S ROASTED CHICKEN BREAST

    This is the perfect way to cook chicken. It has never failed me. It's amazing how easy it is to get super moist, tender and flavorful chicken with this method. Since I am fairly health-conscious, I used to wonder why in the world anyone would ever buy bone-in, skin-on chicken breast?? Well, this is why. You don't have to eat the skin to get the flavor. Sure, this isn't going to be quite as low fat as if you were to poach a skinless chicken breast, but the few extra fat grams are well worth it. I roast 3 or 4 breasts at a time, so that I can freeze some for later use. Next time your recipe calls for pre-cooked chicken; do yourself a favor and roast it this way!

    INA GARTEN'S ROASTED CHICKEN BREAST
    (Printable Recipe)
    Preheat oven to 350.

    Place desired number of chicken breasts (MUST be bone-in, skin-on) on rimmed baking sheet. Rub all over with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt (I used kosher) and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes or until cooked through. Set baking sheet aside on rack to cool. Once chicken is cool enough to handle, pull meat from bones and skin, keeping just the meat. Use in any dish calling for pre-cooked chicken or eat by itself!

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE CARAMEL CORN

    This is a very addicting treat! I was in a hurry to make a "thank you" treat for someone who had done me a big favor, and I thought about my go-to caramel corn recipe. This recipe is one that holds memories for me as it came from a friend who was killed in a car wreck about 7 years ago, while pregnant with a much-longed-for child, so each time I make it, I think of her as I look at her handwriting on the recipe card.

    Usually this is a gooey, sticky caramel corn, but I wanted it to be a little easier to package up and look nice, so I baked it in the oven to let it crisp up a bit.

    CARAMEL CORN
    recipe from Emily Barrus
    (Printable Recipe)

    1/2 C. butter, melted (no substitutes)
    1/2 C. brown sugar
    1/2 C. white corn syrup
    1/2 C. sweet and condensed milk

    Mix together in large microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 3-5 minutes, check after 3 minutes to be sure it doesn't scorch.

    Pour over 2 packages of microwave popcorn that have been dumped into a very large bowl, with unpopped kernels removed.

    Enjoy as is for a gooey, sticky, messy treat, or spread slightly cooled caramel corn onto two rimmed sheet pans that have been sprayed with nonstick spray and bake at 250 degrees for about 45-60 minutes, stirring ocassionally.

    Cool slightly and drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired. I used chocolate almond bark that I melted in microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring after each until just melted.

    You can also add nuts, candies, etc. to this for a customized treat.

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    ROLO TURTLES

    I mentioned a while ago that I made a ton of goodies for a company open house. These were SOOO easy to make and were SOOO good. The most time consuming part is unwrapping the Rolos (which still isn't too bad). This is a recipe the kids will love helping with too. I saw the idea at The Nerd's Wife where she made these with pecans on top as I did, but also with M&M's. These are a good "filler" for any ocassion!

    ROLO TURTLES
    (Printable Recipe)

    salted pretzel twists
    Rolo chocolate candies
    pecans or walnuts (or M&M's)

    Place pretzels in single layer on rimmed baking sheet, with a little space between each one. Top each pretzel with a Rolo. Place in 350 degree oven for 3-5 minutes, until rolo has melted slightly. Remove baking sheet from oven and immediately top each Rolo with a pecan or M&M's, enjoy!

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    HOMEMADE CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP

    Now, I'm not a huge fan of mushrooms, nor am I a huge fan of Cream of Mushroom Soup, as far as sitting down to eat a bowl of it. But... I do like using it in recipes. Since I prefer to not use the condensed soups too often, this recipe is a great one to have on hand. Not only is it healthier for you, it tastes a lot better too. I actually might consider eating this straight out of the bowl, ok, I actually did! I'm sure you can swap out the mushrooms for broccoli, chicken, etc. to come up with whatever cream of _______ soup you need.


    CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP
    recipe from food.com
    (Printable Recipe)

    8 ounces fresh mushrooms (I used rehydrated freeze dried mushrooms)
    2 tablespoons onions, chopped (I used rehydrated minced dried onion)

    1 -2 garlic clove, minced

    2 tablespoons butter

    2 -3 tablespoons flour (seperated)

    2 cups chicken broth

    1 cup light cream or 1 cup evaporated milk

    1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt

    1/4 teaspoon pepper

    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I used closer to 1/8 tsp. of fresh ground)


    * I did end up adding a little cornstarch mixture at the end in order to thicken it up a bit for the recipe I was using it in.
    Directions:


    1 Cut the mushrooms into slices.
    2 Melt butter in large frying pan. Add in onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Cook until onions are soft.
    3 Blend in 2 T. flour and stir.
    4 Add in the chicken broth and heat until slightly thickened while stirring frequently.
    5 Stir cream with additional 1 T. flour and seasonings. Add in cream to soup. Heat to thicken while stirring frequently.
    6 Serve and enjoy!

    Saturday, October 30, 2010

    SUGAR COOKIES WITH ROYAL ICING

    So I might be a little late on a useful Halloween post, but at least the recipe and technique itself can be used for all sorts of holidays and occassions. I have never used royal icing to frost cookies, but was inspired by Annie's Eats post with her super cute cookies. I have always wondered how bakeries get such a smooth frosting that extends out to the edges of the cookies. I'm not sure if this is how they do it, but it certainly gives the same look. I will say that these take some planning, time, and patience, but worth it in the end. I thought these turned out fairly good for a novice and I learned a few things along the way. The sugar cookie recipe was pretty good and not too super sweet. I am not going to repost the recipe here because you really just need to click on the Annie's Eats link above and see her incredible cookies and step by step instructions for using this type of icing. She does a great job!

     




    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    ARTISAN CRACKERS

    I have made crackers in the past, but it's not something I think of making often because as far as my husband is concerned, nothing can compare to a good old Wheat Thin. Well, since it was Sunday and we were out of crackers of any kind to go with our favorite after church snack of crackers with Laughing Cow Cheese; this was my chance to try a new recipe. These turned out good enough that they were gone within half an hour of making them!

    ARTISAN CRACKERS
    recipe adapted from here
    (Printable Recipe)

    1 C. whole wheat flour
    1/2 C. oats
    1/2 C. Fiber One Original Bran Cereal
    2 Tbsp. whole flax seeds
    1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
    1/4 - 1/2 tsp. salt
    2 Tbsp. honey powder (or 4 - 5 Tbsp. sugar)
    3 heaping Tbsp. trans fat free tub margarine or butter
    1/2 C. milk
    Coarse Kosher salt



    Preheat oven to 325F.

    Process oats & Fiber One in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
    In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats mixture, flax & poppy seeds, sugar and salt.
    Cut in the butter.
    Then stir in the milk, adding just enough milk to form a workable dough.
    On a flour dusted surface, divide the dough into two pieces and roll it out ultra-thin, one piece at a time.
    Sprinkle liberally with coarse salt, if desired, and use the rolling pin to press the salt into the dough.
    Cut the dough into desired shapes. For a rustic look, make irregular pieces.
    Pierce each one with a fork a few times.

    Transfer the crackers to baking sheets and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until they begin to brown.
    Cool on a rack


    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    COMPANY POT ROAST

    Seems like I am always apologizing for my poor photos, but again I ask you to forgive the blurr. I don't do pot roast a whole lot, but my husband an I both think this is probably the best pot roast recipe we've tried! The recipe is one of Ina Garten's, so of course it's good! I got the idea after seeing it posted on Lovin From The Oven. I had already been to the grocery store when I got home and realized I didn't get a key ingredient, the burgandy cooking wine. I thought about just substituting beef broth instead, but I figured the cooking wine was probably what was going to make this dish unique, so I went back to the store to get it. I'm SO glad I did! The flavor was amazing!

    COMPANY POT ROAST
    (Printable Recipe)

    3-4 lb. boneless chuck roast, tied (I don't care for chuck roast so I used a cross rib roast)
    sea salt and pepper
    all purpose flour
    olive or canola oil
    1 C. chopped carrots (approx. 4)
    1 C. chopped yellow onion (approx. 1 medium)
    1 C. chopped celery (approx 2-3 stalks)
    3 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
    1 C. Burgandy cooking wine
    14.5 oz. can whole tomatoes, cut up in can (I just used canned diced tomatoes)
    1/2 C. chicken stock (I used chicken broth and added a few Tbsp. beef base for extra flavor)
    1 branch of fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
    1 branch of fresh rosemary or 1 tsp. dried rosemary
    1 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine
    1 Tbsp. all purpose flour

    DIRECTIONS



    Pat beef dry with a paper towel. Season roast on all sides with 1/2 Tablespoon of sea salt and 1/4 t. black pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and put into the fridge overnight. (I skipped this step and still turned out great)

    The next day, dredge roast in all purpose flour, including the ends. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 T. oil over medium heat. Add the roast and sear for 4-5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn and sear each side and ends. Remove roast onto a plate.

    Add 2 T. oil to the Dutch oven. Add carrots, onions, celery and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, scraping the browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Add the red cooking wine, tomatoes, and chicken stock, stirring to combine.

    Put the thyme and rosemary on top of sauce. Place browned roast back into the pot, bring to a boil, and cover.

    Place in slow cooker, and cook with lid on for approx. 6 hours on LOW

    OR use your oven following these directions:

    Place in a preheated 325ºF oven for 1 hour.

    Reduce oven temperature to 250ºF and continue cooking for another 90 minutes or until meat is fork tender or about 160ºF internally.

    Proceed with the following, regardless of method of cooking:

    Remove roast to a cutting board. Remove strings from roast, cover with foil and let sit to redistribute the juices.

    Remove the fresh rosemary and thyme from the pot and discard. Skim off as much fat from the top of the sauce as possible. Transfer half the sauce to a bowl (or food processor or blender) and use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. Pour the puree back into the pot or slow cooker place on the stovetop over low heat, and return the sauce to a simmer. If using slow cooker, just warm through.

    Mash 1 T. of flour and 1 T. butter in a small bowl. Stir into the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring until thickened. Taste for seasonings.

    Slice meat against the grain for slices or with the grain for shredded beef.

    Serve warm with sauce spooned over the meat.
















































    Saturday, October 16, 2010

    COOKIE DOUGH RICE KRISPIE TREATS

    Driving home from Salt Lake City last night, I was conjuring up ideas to ceate a recipe all my own. Sure, I tweak recipes a lot to suit my family's taste, to make them more nutritous, or to use up ingredients in my fridge, but rarely do I actually do something all my own. Ok, I won't toot my own horn too much, it's not like I came up with something brilliant. All I did was combine two things my family loves; cookie dough and rice krispie treats. I was a little sceptical as to how they would turn out, but had to make them and get the thought out of my head. I was more than happy with the outcome; as the half-empty pan will tell. (The cookie dough middle is safe to eat raw because it doesn't contain any eggs.)

    COOKIE DOUGH RICE KRISPIE TREATS
    (Printable Recipe)

    EGGLESS COOKIE DOUGH:

    In medium bowl, combine
    5 Tbsp. brown sugar
    6 Tbsp. sugar
    4 Tbsp. softened butter
    1 tsp. vanilla
    3 Tbsp. whole milk (I used 2 Tbsp. 1% and 1 Tbsp. half and half).
    Mix until creamy

    In seperate bowl, combine
    1 C. flour
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/2 C. mini chocolate chips
    Add this dry mixture to creamy mixture. Mix until well combined. Set aside




    RICE KRISPIES:

    2 Tbsp. butter*
    10 oz. mini marshmellows
    6 C. Rice Krispies cereal

    In large pan, melt butter over medium low heat. Lower temperature to low and add marshmellows. Stir occassionally until melted and smooth. Turn off heat and add rice kripies cereal and stir until coated evenly with marshmellow mixture.
    *This is reduced from the recipe you will find on the Rice Krispies box

    Spray an 8x11 pan with non stick spray

    Press half of the rice krispie treat mixture in bottom of pan by wetting hands with water and pressing the rice krispies evenly. Press all of the cookie dough evenly on top of rice krispie treat base. Top with remaining rice krisipie treat mixture, by pressing evenly with wet hands. Set aside until completely set; approx. 45 minutes. Cut into bars.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    PUMPKIN SPICE BITES WITH MAPLE FROSTING


    This past weekend we held the grand opening of our new facility for our granite counter top business. We have actually been at our new location for about 10 months, but it has taken us a while to get things finished up. I took it upon myself to "cater" the refreshments. My husband suggested I make it easy on myself by purchasing everything from Sam's Club and calling it good. Well, of course I couldn't do such a thing. I didn't want it to appear that that's what we did. So, I baked my little heart out and crossed my fingers that we would have enough. I do have to admit that I purchased a few boxes of Upper Crust's mini cinnamon rolls at Sam's Club, just to stretch things out a little more. Thankfully, all went very well and my estimation of refreshments left us with a little to spare. These mini cupcakes or bites, whatever they may be, were a hit. The recipe is meant to be made into a sheet cake, but I wanted things that were easy to eat without utensils, so I baked them in mini muffin tins. Which ever way you make them; just make them!

    PUMPKIN SPICE BITES WITH MAPLE FROSTING
    (Printable Recipe)

    1 box Spice cake mix
    1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
    1 C. Miracle Whip (this is the secret to keeping it super moist)
    3 eggs
    (*update* NO butter in the cake mixture as previously posted)

    Mix cake mix, pumpkin, miracle whip & eggs with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Pour into greased sheet pan. Bake @ 350 for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack.  If making into "bites", divide batter evenly among mini muffin tins and bake @ 350 for 10-12 minutes. Frost with maple frosting

    MAPLE FROSTING

    2 Tbsp. butter, softened
    1 C. powdered sugar
    2 Tbsp. milk or half and half
    1/2 tsp. maple flavoring

    Blend ingredients together until smooth and creamy. May need to add more milk to get correct consistency.

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    STICKY PECAN PIE BARS


    As far as I recall, I've NEVER had pecan pie. I have recently decided that I love pecans, but I'm not much of a pie-maker, so I figured I would try these bars instead. They are really pretty simple to make. The base is made from a yellow cake mix, so just a few ingredients and you've got a yummy dessert! I"ve mentioned on previous posts how much my husband loves "Pizzookies"; I can pretty much bank on him asking me to make a pizzookie whenever the option of dessert comes up. I had already made these last night before he had a chance to ask for a pizzookie. Reluctantly he plopped one of these in a bowl, warmed it up, and topped it with vanilla ice cream in hopes it would be "good enough". He was more than happy to go back for a second round of these!

    STICKY PECAN PIE BARS                  Makes 24 bars
    recipe from The Cake Mix Doctor
    (Printable Recipe)

    Crust:
    1 package plain yellow cake mix
    8 Tbsp. butter, melted
    1 large egg

    Filling:
    3/4 C. dark corn syrup
    1/4 C. packed light brown sugar
    2 large eggs
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1 1/2 C. pecans, chopped or halves

    1.  Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 F. Set aside an ungreased 13 x 9 inch baking pan.
    2.  Place cake mix, melted butter, and egg in large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 2 minues.  Stop the machine and scrape down sides of bowl with spatula. The batter should come together in a thick dough. Using fingertips, press the crust mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan, smoothing it out. Place the pan in the oven.
    3.  Bake the crust until it just begins to brown, 20 min. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside. Leave the oven on.
    4.  Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Place the corn syrup, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla in the same mixing bowl used to prepare the crust, and with the same beaters (no need to clean them) blend with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined, 1 minute. Stop the machine, scrape down sides of bowl and fold in pecans until well distributed.
    5.  Pour the filling over he baked crust and spread with spatula so that the filling covers entire surface. Place pan in the oven.
    6.  Bake the cake until the crust is golden brown and the filling just starts to set, 22 to 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool, 30 minutes.
    7.  Cut the cake into 24 bars. Remove the bars from pan using metal spatula and serve.

    Store these bars, covered in plastic wrap, at room temp. for up to 4 days or in the fridge for up to 1 week. Or freeze them, wrapped in foil, for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in fridge before serving.

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    ANGIE'S BONELESS BBQ RIBS

    My friend, Angie introduced me to these ribs a year or so ago, so I named them after her. I had never considered myself a rib-lover, until I tried these. They are SO good! There has not been one person who has tried them, that didn't love them! Best of all, they are easy and can be done in the crock pot or stove top. The meat is so super tender, it just falls apart when you pick it up.

    ANGIE'S BONELESS BBQ RIBS
    (Printable Recipe)

    Country Style Boneless Pork Ribs (Whatever quantity you want. They cook down a ton, so be sure you  make enough!)

    Mesquite Grill Mates Seasoning
    Montreal Steak Seasoning
    Season All
    Salt
    Pepper
    Liquid Smoke
    Favorite BBQ Sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray's Brand)
    Brown Sugar

    Sprinkle ribs liberally with first 5 seasonings, and rub into ribs. Place ribs in crock pot or large pot and cover with water. Add liquid smoke to water until water turns a light brown. Cook in crock pot until tender, approx. 4-5 hrs. on low, or in pot on stove at a low rolling boil for 2.5 hrs.

    When ribs are tender, remove from cooking liquid and place on a foil-lined grill (or use a griddle indoors). Brush with BBQ Sauce and sprinkle with brown sugar. Warm through, until brown sugar melts and slightly caramelizes.

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    PUMPKIN BUTTERSCOTCH COOKIES

    Yikes! Do I dare post this photo? I was half way out the door with these cookies when I realized I hadn't snapped a pic of them for this post, so this is a real quick and dirty pic of a not so pretty cookie. This past week I have been making a different goodie each day for the grand opening week of our new showroom for our granite counter top business. It has been fun to try new recipes, eat a little, then cart them away for others to finish off (instead of me polishing them off myself and pretending like I only ate half as much as I really did!)  I got this recipe from Annie's Eats, where she has a much prettier picture of them, by the way.  In her post, she commented on the less than pretty look of the cookies, but promised they were real good. Let me tell you, the taste definitely makes up for looks! My 5 year old daughter said, "These are the bestest cookies you have EVER made." Wow, I didn't see that coming! Please don't let their sorry looks prevent you from trying them!

    PUMPKIN BUTTERSCOTCH COOKIES
    (Printable Recipe)


    makes approx. 24 cookies

    Ingredients:



    2 cups all-purpose flour


    1½ tsp. baking powder


    1 tsp. baking soda


    ½ tsp. salt


    1 tsp. ground cinnamon


    2 large eggs


    1 cup sugar


    ½ cup vegetable or canola oil


    1 cup pumpkin puree


    1 tsp. vanilla extract


    1 cup butterscotch chips






    Directions:


    Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray. In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs and sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and light in color, about 1 minute. Blend in the oil, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract until well combined. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Gently fold in the butterscotch chips with a spatula.

    Drop mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them a few inches apart. Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through baking, until the tops feel set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 13-15 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheets 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    PERFECT CINNAMON ROLLS

    I have to apologize for the picture. I had to take it indoors at 9:30 PM, so there is an awful orange cast to it, but I had to snap the pic before they were gone! On a whim yesterday, I decided to make cinnamon rolls. I have probably only made cinnamon rolls 4 or 5 times in my life! The idea to make these got in my head after seeing the post at The Sister's Cafe for Mom's Cinnamon Rolls. These are NOT Mom's Cinnamon Rolls, but they are from The Sister's Cafe. These are Perfectly Wonderful Cinnamon Rolls. Oh my, they sure live up to their name! My husband said it best when he called them "bakery quality". They were melt-in-your mouth good! I was sceptical of the dough consistency when making them ecause it was so wet and sticky, so I did end up adding one full extra cup of flour while mixing, and then used a good amount of flour when rolling the dough out. The bake time was perfect; not doughy, just super tender!

    PERFECTLY WONDERFUL CINNAMON ROLLS:
    makes approx. 24 large rolls
    (Printable Recipe)


    2 c. milk
    2 cubes butter (1 cup)

    2 pkg yeast (4 ½ tsp)
    1/3 c. warm water
    1 1/3 c. sugar
    1 tsp salt
    4 beaten eggs
    8 c. flour (I had to use 9 c.)


    Filling: 1/2 C. softened butter
               Lots of cinnamon
               white sugar

    Heat milk and 2 cubes of butter together until butter is melted. Cool and set aside. Mix yeast and warm water; let stand 5 minutes. Add cooled milk, 1 1/3 c. sugar, 1 tsp salt, 4 beaten eggs. Add 4 c. flour and mix and gradually add 4-5 additional cups flour. Dough should be firm but sticky. Cover with cloth and put in a warm place, and raise 1 ½ to 2 hours. Dough should nearly be doubled in size. Divide dough in half and empty onto floured surface and knead a little. Roll dough into rectangle, about ½ inch thick. To this half of dough, spread on ½ square of softened butter, completely covering dough. Then sprinkle a coating of sugar over entire piece of dough. Then a layer of cinnamon. Be generous with the cinnamon; this is what makes it tasty. Roll into long roll, pinch edges together and slice with plain dental floss. Place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or greased with cooking spray. Do same thing to second half of dough. Cover with a clean dishtowel (or saran wrap sprayed with cooking spray) and put in warm place, free of drafts, for 2 to 5 hours to raise--just depends-but the should be double in size. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until barely browned. Remove from oven and let set for 5 minutes. Drizzle with glaze while still warm.

    Butter Cream Glaze:


    1 cube softened butter (1/2 cup)
    1 tsp vanilla
    dash of salt
    dash of cream of tarter
    1 1/2 lbs powdered sugar
    scalded milk or cream


    Add all together...adding milk a little at a time, alternately with the powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. For cinnamon rolls, it needs to be a little thinner than regular icing.



    Sunday, September 26, 2010

    SOUTH BEACH DIET "MASHED POTATOES"

    Nobody in my family follows the South Beach Diet, but my husband does try to limit his "starchy" carb intake most of the time. These "potatoes" are actually cauliflower that has been pureed to mimic mashed potatoes. I can't say that if I was served these, I would be fooled into thinking they are really potatoes, but they worked for me as a substitute. Would I make them again? Yes. Often? No.

    SOUTH BEACH DIET "MASHED POTATOES"
    (Printable Recipe)
    4 servings

    1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
    3 cloves garlic
    2 cans reduced sodium chicken broth
    2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives

    1. Combine cauliflower, garlic and broth in large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 12 minutes.
    2. Reserve 2 Tbsp. of the cooking liquid, then drain cauliflower and garlic. Transfer to a food processor and process until smooth, adding liquid, if necessary, to moisten mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, stir in chives. Serve warm.