Monday, November 2, 2009

Pesto Chicken

This is so fast and easy. Just make sure to plan ahead enough to leave time for marinating.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 5 oz. each)
1/2 cup Pesto ( I either use homemade or the kind you find in the refrigerated section)
2 roma tomatoes, sliced (optional)
3/4 cup feta cheese
Put chicken and pesto in a bag and marinate for several hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place chicken on prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Remove from oven; top with tomatoes and cheese. Bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cook of the Week

All of you that are on facebook already know this, but I have to take every opportunity to spread the news of my fame. After all, it's temporary fame and will be over at the end of the week.
I logged on to this morning to look for a recipe and happened to notice my picture on the homepage. I was chosen as Cook of the Week. Wow, I'm famous, I thought, I must spread the word. So I facebooked it and now I'm blogging it because I would hate for any of you to miss out on my week of fame. But now the pressure is on. You're all expecting me to post more tasty and visually appealing recipes. But not to fear, I just need a day or two to accept the fact that I am now a famous person, and then I'll be back in the kitchen.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot my speech, so....I couldn't have done it without you, my loyal fans, so thank you. I love you all. I also wanted to thank my mom who wouldn't let me give up after I added too much salt to something-I can't remember what- when I was a kid. And my Dad, who made me eat my peas out of the garbage can after throwing them away. Without him I may have never learned to like peas, and probably would have never learned to cook them. I must also thank my husband because on days that I don't want to cook-I know, hard to believe, but it happens occasionally-he doesn't mind eating Hamburger Helper that's 2 years out of date. I hope I didn't miss anyone. Just know that I love you all and it's YOU, my fans, who made this all possible. Now, I've got to get back to allrecipes to make sure my picture is still there. XXOOxOXo!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Witch Finger Cookies

The kids had a lot of fun making these. Spencer got real creative making warts and rings for the fingers. A bit labor intensive if you make these yourself, so be sure to let the kids do most the work! Also, these will puff up quite a bit while baking, so make sure to shape them smaller than you want for the finished product.
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole almonds* (I blanched mine, see below)
1 (.75 ounce) tube red decorating gel
Combine the butter, sugar, egg, almond extract, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat together with an electric mixer; gradually add the flour, baking powder, and salt, continually beating; refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Remove dough from refrigerator in small amounts. Scoop 1 heaping teaspoon at a time and roll the dough into a thin finger-shaped cookie. Press one almond into one end of each cookie to give the appearance of a long fingernail. Squeeze cookie near the tip and again near the center of each to give the impression of knuckles. You can also cut into the dough with a sharp knife at the same points to help give a more finger-like appearance. Arrange the shaped cookies on an ungreased baking sheets.
Bake in the preheated oven until the cookies are slightly golden in color, 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the almond from the end of each cookie; squeeze a small amount of red decorating gel into the cavity; replace the almond to cause the gel to ooze out around the tip of the cookie.
Let cool completely.
*To blanch almonds, pour boiling water over the almonds, enough to cover them. Let stand for one minute (don't over do it), then rinse with cold water. Skins should peel right off.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips

I love this stuff and could pretty much eat a whole batch all by myself. Which I don't feel too bad about because it's half healthy. You can use any fruit that is in season and sounds good to you. I always use the apples and strawberries, but sometimes the other fruits vary.
4 kiwis, peeled and diced
4 Gala apples - peeled, cored and diced
1 small cantaloupe, diced
1 pound strawberries, diced
3 tablespoons fruit preserves, any flavor (optional, I never use it)
20 (6 inch) flour tortillas, or the smallest ones you can get
butter flavored cooking spray
2 cups cinnamon sugar
In a large bowl, thoroughly mix kiwis, Golden Delicious apples, raspberries, strawberries, and fruit preserves. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes.
(I like to use this chopper (below) to dice all the fruit. It makes it much faster and easier. I found mine on eBay. I also use it for regular salsa.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Coat both sides of each flour tortilla with butter flavored cooking spray. Cut into wedges with a pizza cutter. Put the wedges in a bag with the cinnamon sugar. Shake until evenly coated. Arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes. Repeat with any remaining tortilla wedges. Allow to cool approximately 15 minutes. Serve with chilled fruit mixture.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fresh Peach Dessert

This is one of my all time favorite desserts. We would look forward to this dessert every year when the peaches on our tree were ripe. It's important, though, to use sweet, ripe peaches.Peaches from the grocery store are usually not very good.
16 whole graham crackers, crushed
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 c butter, melted
8 ounces mini marshmallows
1/4 cup milk
1 pint whipping cream, whipped and sweetened with 1/3 cup of sugar
5 or 6 fresh large peaches, peeled and sliced
Put milk and marshmallows in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave until marshmallows melt, stirring often. Set aside to cool.
Mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter. Set aside 1/4 cup for topping and press remaining mixture into a 9x13 pan. Refrigerate.
After marshmallows have cooled, fold together with whipped cream. Spread half this mixture on top of the crust. Top with peaches, then the rest of the cream mixture. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cheesy Zucchini Patties

Depending on how much moisture is in your zucchini, you may need to add a little extra flour.
2 cups grated zucchini
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup flour (I like whole wheat)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper (or to taste)
red pepper flakes (optional, if you like a little spice)
2 tablespoons oil
Marinara sauce (optional)
In a medium bowl, combine the zucchini, eggs, onion, flour, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, and salt. Stir well enough to distribute ingredients evenly.
Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Drop zucchini mixture by quarter cup fulls, and cook for a few minutes on each side until golden. Serve with marinara sauce.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

I drizzled cream cheese frosting over it and sprinkled it with toasted pecans.
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant butterscotch pudding mix
4 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
In a large mixing bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds; beat on medium for 4 minutes. Pour into a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Oriental Chicken Salad

This recipe is supposed to be a clone of Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad. I think it's pretty close. This is for 4 servings, I usually double it for my family.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
6 Tbls honey
4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbls rice vinegar
1/4 tsp sesame oil
4 cooked, breaded chicken breast, cut into strips (I use a bag of Tyson chicken)
6 cups of lettuce(s) (I usually use a combination of romaine, red or green leaf lettuce, and sometimes I'll throw in some spinach as well)
2 cups shredded red cabbage
3 green onions, chopped
shredded carrots (I use the matchstick carrots, pre-cut)
toasted almonds
rice noodles (these come in a can by the chow mein noodles. Similar to chow mein, only thinner)
To serve this, I mix just the lettuce and cabbage together, divide onto plates, then top each salad with the rest of the ingredients and top with the dressing.
4 servings

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Frog Eye Salad

This is always a favorite. You can use any type of fruit you prefer.
8 oz acini de pepe pasta
1 cup sugar
2 cups pineapple juice (reserved from canned pineapple)
3 Tbls flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, well beaten
1 Tbls lemon juice
1 tsp butter
1 8 oz container of cool whip
1 cup coconut
1 cup mini marshmallows (optional)
1 20oz can pineapple tidbits, drain and reserve juice
2 11 oz cans mandarin oranges, drained
Cook pasta according to directions, drain and put into a large bowl. Add enough water to reserved pineapple juice to make 2 cups of liquid. In a medium size pan, combine pineapple juice, sugar, flour, salt, eggs, lemon juice and butter. Cook over medium heat until thick. Pour over pasta. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Fold in cool whip and then stir in the rest of the ingredients.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

This dinner is a hit with my kids. It calls for green bell pepper, but I sometimes use other colors, as you can see from the photo.
1 egg
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Dash pepper
1 pound ground beef
1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup sliced carrots
1 medium green pepper, julienned
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
Hot cooked rice
Directions: In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into 1-in. balls. In a large skillet, cook meatballs over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Drain pineapple, reserving juice; set pineapple aside. Add water to juice to measure 1 cup. Stir in vinegar, brown sugar and soy sauce; pour over meatballs. Add carrots. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5-8 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender. Stir in green pepper and pineapple; cover and simmer 5 minutes longer or until pepper is crisp-tender. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into meatball mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve over rice. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chicken Enchilada Soup

I like to garnish this soup with tortilla strips. An easy way to make these is to cut corn tortillas into thin strips, spray with cooking oil, sprinkle with salt, and microwave until crisp.
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
10 (6 inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 (10 oz) can green enchilada sauce
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies
2 (10 oz) can red enchilada sauce, or one red enchilada seasoning packet, prepared
2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 cooked, boneless and skinless chicken breast halves, chopped or shredded
2 cups half-and-half
Garnish with:
Shredded Cheddar cheese
Sour cream (optional)
Tortilla chips or strips (optional)
Green onions or cilantro (optional)
Combine chicken stock and tortilla strips in a large pot. Cook over medium heat until strips soften and broth thickens somewhat.
Stir in enchilada sauces and cumin. Stir in chicken and half-and-half; heat through.
Garnish with and cheese and other desired toppings.

Molten Chocolate Cakes

This cake is so rich, but so good if you love chocolate. I used mini bundt pans and it made 6. You can also use ramekins or muffin tins. Just make sure to spray the pan well and remove them while still warm. Depending on the size of cups you use, you may have to experiment with the cooking time a bit to get it just right. I think these taste best when the batter is made ahead.
1 cup butter
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into bite-size chunks
5 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons flour
Place butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate melts completely. Beat eggs, sugar and salt with a hand mixer in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Beat egg mixture into chocolate until smooth. Beat in flour until just combined. (Batter can be made a day ahead; return to room temperature an hour or so before baking.)
Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 450 degrees. Spray ramekins or muffin tins with cooking spray. Divide batter among cups.
Bake until batter puffs but center is not set, 12 to 14 minutes. Turn warm cakes onto dessert plates.
Top each with whipped cream or ice cream.

Buttercream Frosting

I prefer cream cheese frosting for eating, but this is a great frosting for cake decorating. This recipe makes A LOT, but is easy to half if you don't need as much.
1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
1 cup shortening
3 pounds confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk or cream
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and shortening. Beat in sugar, vanilla, salt and enough milk to achieve spreading consistency.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Fruit Pizza

There are 2 different topping that I have used for this dessert. I think they're both delicious. I usually make it according to what I have on hand. Sometimes I make a combination of the two. You can use any type of sugar cookie dough that you prefer. To make this easy, I use the Betty Crocker packaged mix. You could make it even easier by buying the ready made dough.
I made this on a 12 inch pizza stone, but be warned-one package of cookie dough is TOO MUCH for a 12 inch pan. I smoked us all out of the house when it overflowed in the oven. I usually use a bigger pizza pan, but wanted to try my stone. A 14 inch should be safe.
Sugar cookie dough of your choice
Topping choice #1:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
7 oz marshmallow cream
Topping choice #2:
8 oz Cream cheese, softened
8 oz whipped topping, thawed
Assorted fruit of your choice
Press cookie dough onto a 14 inch cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes until light golden brown. Cool completely.
Beat cream cheese until fluffy, then fold in the next ingredient (depending on which topping you've chosen to use). Spread over crust and top with assorted fruit.
Note: If you choose to use bananas or something else that will turn dark, put them first in lemon juice or you can make a glaze by melting a light colored fruit preserves, then brush it over the top.

Broccoli Chicken Braid

I like to bottle chicken breasts so that I have it on hand for quick meals like this one. Make sure to cook it long enough. It can look done on the outside but still be doughy inside. It will probably be darker than the one in this picture (I found out it needed to be cooked longer after cutting into it). For any questions on the shaping technique check out THIS recipe that is shaped in the same way.
2 cups diced, cooked chicken meat
1 cup fresh broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 clove crushed garlic
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons slivered almonds or pecans
1/4 cup diced onion
2 (8 ounce) packages refrigerated crescent rolls
1 egg white, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl, toss together chicken, broccoli, red bell pepper, garlic, Cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, dill weed, salt, almonds and onion.
Unroll crescent roll dough, and arrange flat on a medium baking sheet. Pinch together perforations to form a single sheet of dough. Using a knife or scissors, cut 1 inch wide strips in towards the center, starting on the long sides. There should be a solid strip about 3 inches wide down the center, with the cut strips forming a fringe down each side. Spread the chicken mixture along the center strip. Fold the side strips over chicken mixture, alternating strips from each side. Pinch or twist to seal.
Brush braided dough with the egg white. Bake in the preheated oven 25 to 28 minutes, or until golden brown.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cake Balls

I've been looking at this recipe on a few different websites for a while now, and decided to make them for Valentines Day. It really wasn't too difficult. We had fun making (and eating) them
I used red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, but you can use any combination that sounds good. I used Wilton dipping chocolate that I found in the craft section of Wal-mart.
Make sure to cool the cake completely before adding the frosting. Also, you don't need to use the whole container of frosting if you think it's getting too gooey. I used just short of a whole container.
1 (18.25 ounce) package cake mix, flavor of your choice
1 (16 ounce) container prepared chocolate frosting, flavor of your choice
Dipping chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate, or both
1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.
2. Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting.
3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50.)
4. Freeze for a few hours.
5. Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package.
6. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Coconut Poke Cake

Quick, easy and yummy. You can find cream of coconut in the drink mixer section of your supermarket.
1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
1 (14 ounce) can cream of coconut
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (8 ounce) package frozen whipped topping, thawed or whipped cream
Additional coconut, toasted or plain
Prepare and bake white cake mix according to package directions, using a 9x13 pan. Remove cake from oven. While still hot, using a utility fork, poke holes all over the top of the cake.
Mix cream of coconut and sweetened condensed milk together. Pour over the top of the still hot cake. Let cake cool completely then frost with the whipped topping and top with the flaked coconut. Keep cake refrigerated.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

If you're looking for a meatless main dish, this is a good one. The recipe comes from Moosewood vegetarian Restaurant in New York.
Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is a grain with a lot of health benefits. I found mine in the bulk section at our health foods store.
1 cup raw quinoa
6 medium bell peppers
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 cup peeled and diced carrots
3/4 cup diced celery
1 cup diced zucchini (Optional)
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 (14 oz) can stewed tomatoes, blended
1 1/2 to 2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a baking pan. Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse well under running water. In a covered pot, bring the quinoa and 2 cups of water to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the quinoa is soft and the water absorbed.While the quinoa cooks, cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise and, leaving the stems on, seed them. Brush the bell pepper shells with about 2 tablespoons of the oil, inside and out. Place them cut side down on the prepared baking pan and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until softened and slightly browned, but not collapsed.
When the bell peppers are roasted, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, warm the remaining tablespoon of oil and saute the onions and garlic on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the onions have softened. Stir in the cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, salt, carrots, celery, zucchini, and corn. Cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are very tender.Combine the sauteed vegetables and the cooked quinoa, stewed tomatoes and add salt to taste.
Turn over the roasted pepper shells and spoon filling into each half. Sprinkle each bell pepper half with some of the grated cheese and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

Mandarin Orange Cake

I've made this in a large jelly roll pan, 9x13, or layers. In the picture, I used 3 8 inch rounds. If you're going to make a layer cake, 20 oz of pineapple is too much. If you use about 15oz the topping should be thick enough to frost the sides of the cake. Sometimes I add toasted coconut to the top, as in the picture.
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
4 eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 (11 ounce) can mandarin orange segments
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
1 (3.5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.
In a large bowl, combine cake mix, eggs, oil and mandarin oranges with juice. Beat until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.
To make the topping: In a large bowl, beat together whipped topping, pineapple with juice and dry pudding mix until blended. Spread on cake.

Vegetable Meatball Stew

I like the variety of vegetables in this one.
4 cups water
2 medium peeled potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 medium carrots, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 large onion, cut into eighths
2 tablespoons beef bouillon granules
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pound ground beef
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch slices
1 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold water
Directions: In a large Dutch oven or soup kettle, bring water to boil. Add potatoes, carrots, onion and seasonings; return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, egg and Worcestershire sauce. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into 1-in. balls; add to Dutch oven along with sweet potatoes and parsnips. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaf. Stir in peas. Combine flour, cold water and browning sauce if desired until smooth; gradually stir into stew. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Yield: 6 servings.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Chunky Apple Cake with Butterscotch Sauce

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 cups chopped peeled tart apples
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Directions: In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well (batter will be stiff). Stir in apples until well combined (it looks like more apples than batter at this point). Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until top is lightly browned and springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 30 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine brown sugar and butter. Cook over medium heat until butter is melted. Gradually add cream. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Serve with cake.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

French Toast Sandwiches

cream cheese, softened
cinnamon-raisin bread, sliced
strawberry or raspberry jam
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
Maple syrup, optional
Directions: Spread cream cheese on one slice of bread. Spread jam on the other slice; place jam side down over the cream cheese. In a shallow bowl, beat egg and milk. Dip both sides of bread into mixture. In a skillet, melt butter; cook bread for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve with syrup if desired.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lemony Zucchini Bread

4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 package (3.4 ounces) instant lemon pudding mix
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1-1/4 cups milk
1 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/4 cup poppy seeds
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
Directions: In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, pudding mix, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, oil, lemon juice and extract. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the zucchini, poppy seeds and lemon peel. Pour into two greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lemon Snowball Cookies

Just a light, lemon cookie. The dough needs to be refrigerated at least an hour, so plan ahead if you're going to make these. When baking, make sure they're browned enough on the bottom, or they won't be as crisp.
1/2 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
confectioners' sugar
In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar and egg until well blended. Add lemon juice and peel. Combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; stir into creamed mixture. Add almonds. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Roll into 1-in. balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned (cookies will not brown on top). Remove immediately to wire racks; cool for 5 minutes, then roll in confectioners' sugar.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Spanish Rice Dinner

This recipe is great for ease of preparation, plus I always have the ingredients on hand.
The first time I made it, I thought the recipe was wrong, as there's hardly any liquid for the rice to cook in, but if you make sure to keep the heat low and keep it tightly covered, it will cook with no added water.
1 pound ground beef
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1 (14.5 ounce) can cut green beans, drained
1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
In a large skillet, cook beef with onions and garlic over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until rice is tender.

Split Pea Sausage Soup

This has a really good flavor. The kids enjoy it as much as we do.
1 pound smoked kielbasa or polish sausage (I use the reduced fat)
1 pound dried split peas
7 cups water
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
2 bay leaves
Directions: Cut sausage in half lengthwise; cut into 1/4-in. pieces. Saute onion, celery and garlic in butter. Place in a Dutch oven or soup kettle; add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours or until peas are tender. Remove bay leaves. Yield: 8 servings.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

This may well be the most unhealthy thing I've posted so far. But it's good. It's a quick to fix crowd pleaser. And you'd be wise to only make them for a crowd, lest you eat them all yourself.
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter
In a medium bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, confectioners' sugar, peanut butter and melted butter. Press firmly into the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan. Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter over a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring occasionally. Spread melted chocolate over the crumb crust. Chill for about 20 minutes, then cut into bars, then chill until ready to serve.

Friday, January 16, 2009

White Chocolate Blondie

This is a clone recipe of Applebee's White Chocolate and Walnut Blondie, although I think they may have changed the name. It calls for walnuts, but I prefer pecans. The sauce is amazing! I always double it so that there's plenty to go around.
4 egg whites
½ cup butter softened
½ cup light brown sugar - (packed)
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
8 ounces white chocolate cut into chunks
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
½ cup butter softened
½ cup powdered sugar
2 oz cream cheese softened
2 tablespoons maple syrup
¼ teaspoon salt
vanilla ice cream
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
To make the blondie cake, whip the egg whites until they are stiff and form peaks. Add softened butter, ½ cup packed brown sugar, ¼ cup granulated sugar, and vanilla and mix with an electric mixer until smooth.
In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well until smooth. Mix in milk, white chocolate chunks, and walnuts.
Pour ingredients into a greased 9— by 13-inch baking pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes (mine seems to get done after about 30 minutes, so watch closely!) or until cake is golden brown on top.
While cake bakes, combine all ingredients for the sauce in a medium bowl with an electric mixer. The sauce will be fluffy at this point.
Arrange the cake on the skillet or plate. Heat up the sauce for 30 to 60 seconds in the microwave until hot and pourable. Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the cake, then drizzle some of the sauce over the top, followed by a tablespoon of chopped walnuts. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lemon Cheese Braid

This is a fairly easy recipe. Even easier if you use a bread machine. This recipe wasn't written for a bread machine, so I'll post the original instructions. If you want to use your bread machine, just add ingredients in the order specified by the bread machine manufacturer (make sure ingredients are at room temperature), and set the dough cycle. Take it out after the first rise, then follow the rest of the recipe instructions.
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
3 tablespoons warm water (110° to 115°)
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 packages (one 8 ounces, one 3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla or lemon extract
2 to 3 teaspoons milk
Directions: In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, sugar, butter, eggs, salt and 2 cups flour; beat on low speed for 3 minutes. Stir in enough of remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, beat all the filling ingredients until fluffy; set aside. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; roll into a 14-in. x 12-in. rectangle. Place on a greased baking sheet. Spread filling down center third of rectangle.
On each long side, cut 1-in.-wide strips, 3-in. into center.
Starting at one end, fold alternating strips at an angle across filling.
Mine looked like this when I was done. Kind of ugly, actually. I had some "help" from Ben. But I'm sure you could make it look pretty if you want to take the time. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Combine confectioners' sugar, vanilla and enough milk to achieve drizzling consistency; drizzle over bread. Yield: 12-14 servings.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Orange Pecan Chicken

1/3 cup orange juice concentrate
5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted
1 tablespoon butter
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Hot cooked rice
In a small bowl, combine orange juice concentrate, 4 tablespoons oil, soy sauce and garlic. Pour half of the marinade into a large resealable plastic bag; add chicken. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade.
Set aside 1/4 cup green onions for garnish. Add remaining onions to saucepan; saute in butter until tender. Add the marmalade, juices, honey, orange and lemon peel, salt, pepper and reserved marinade. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes or until sauce reaches desired consistency. Cook chicken in skillet with remaining oil, or grill (I like mine grilled). Serve chicken over rice; top with sauce, toasted pecans or walnuts and reserved onions.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Jelly Rolls

This is another recipe that brings back memories. My mom often made these when I was growing up. It's a sponge cake, filled with the filling of your choice and rolled up. It can be filled with jam, jelly, pudding, or anything else that sounds good.
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
6 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
Whip egg whites until stiff, set aside. Whip egg yolks with sugar until thick and lemon colored. Beat in water. Add flour baking powder, vanilla and salt, mix well. Carefully fold in egg whites until combined. It should look light yellow with an almost foamy texture.
Spray a 17 or 18 inch jelly roll pan with cooking spray (I always use the Pam with Flour Spray for anything I'm baking. I've never had a problem with things sticking to the pan when I've used that). Pour batter into pan. Be careful to make it even because it doesn't really spread out while cooking. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 or until light brown. It should spring back when touched when it's done. Turn out onto a dish towel that's been sprinkled with powdered sugar. Let sit for just a minute, then roll it up with the towel. Let it sit on a wire rack while cooling. It's a good idea to unroll and re-roll a few times while it's cooling. This helps prevent cracking.
When it's cool, you can fill it with the filling of your choice. In the picture above, I used chocolate pudding, one small box with 1 1/2 cups milk.

Raisin Bran Blueberry Muffins

I found this recipe when I had an abundance of Raisin Bran to use up (sometimes I go overboard when I find a good sale). The original doesn't call for blueberries, but I like it that way.
1 1/4 cups flour (I use whole wheat flour from white wheat that I grind at home)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
3 cups of Raisin Bran or 1 1/2 cups All Bran
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
1/3 cup oil
1 cup blueberries (optional)
Stir together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Set aside. Measure Raisin Bran cereal and milk into large bowl. Stir to combine. Let stand 2 minutes. Add egg and oil. Beat well. Add flour mixture , stirring only until combined. Gently fold in blueberries. Divide into 12 muffin cups. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Meatball Subs

This one comes from my mom. They're a big hit with the whole family.
6 sub rolls
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
salt and pepper
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 lb ground beef
2 8oz cans tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups green bell pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh basil or 1 tsp dried basil
cheese (optional)
Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce, 1-2 cloves of the garlic, 1/4 cup of the onion, and salt and pepper. Mix well. Shape into small meatballs and place on a greased broiler pan.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, saute remaining onion, 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, and bell pepper in a small amount of oil. Add remaining tomato sauce and basil. Add cooked meatballs. Simmer for a few minutes. Spoon onto split rolls. Top with cheese if desired (I use provolone).
Serve as is, or place under the broiler until cheese melts.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Waffle Cookies


My mom frequently made these while I was growing up. They were my favorite cookie. They're more like a brownie, actually. Each batch makes about 20.
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
I'm not really sure the exact amounts for this, but here's a general idea of what I do-
Melt about 2 tablespoons of butter, add a few heaping tablespoons of cocoa and a tablespoon of water. Stir in powdered sugar until you reach the desired consistency, probably 1-1 1/2 cups. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of mint extract if you want, more if that's not strong enough. If you get it too thick, you can add milk or water until you get it right.
In a medium bowl, mix the sugar and butter together. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Then mix in the flour, cocoa, and walnuts. Preheat the waffle iron. I prefer to use a shallow iron, which are almost impossible to find anymore. I've never tried it on the Belgian type.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoons around the waffle iron. Close the lid and cook for 1 1/2 minutes. It may take more or less time depending on the individual waffle iron. Carefully remove to rack to cool.
When cookies are cool, dip them into a chocolate glaze, then let sit until glaze is set.

Macaroni Grill Rosemary Bread

This is a copycat recipe . I've never eaten at the Macaroni Grill myself, but I've heard the bread is great so I attempted to make it. I think it turned out really good.
This is the recipe you can find online. I did a couple of things different. I used my bread maker to mix the dough and took it out after the first rise to shape. I cooked them on my baking stones. I cooked it at 400 instead of 350. I put a shallow pan of boiling water in the bottom of the oven (this helps to make a crisp crust). Also I DID NOT put the butter on when it came from the oven. Doing that will give you a soft crust.
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons rosemary
2 tablespoons butter
1Place yeast, sugar and water in large bowl or food processor and allow mixture to become bubbly.
2Mix in 1 T butter, salt, and 2 1/2 cups of flour.
3Add one tablespoon of the fresh chopped rosemary.
4Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or in food processor about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
5Add more flour if necessary.
6Oil a bowl, put dough in it and cover with a towel.
7Let dough rise in a warm place for one hour until doubled.
8Punch down dough and divide in half.
9Let dough rest about 5 minutes.
10Spray baking pan or cookie sheet with cooking spray.
11Shape the dough into 2 small rounded oval loaves.
12Sprinkle remaining 1 Tablespoon of rosemary over the loaves and press lightly into the surface.
13Let loaves rise again until doubled, about 45 minutes.
14Preheat oven to 375°F.
15Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
16Carefully remove from oven, brush with remaining butter (and salt if desired.).

Monday, January 5, 2009

Flaky Pie Crust

My mom is an expert pie maker. I believe she learned this recipe from a roommate while in college. Pie crust can be tricky, but really isn't hard once you get it down.
2 cups flour
3/4 c shortening
1/4 c cold butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1/3 c cold water
Sift dry ingredients and cut shortening and butter into flour until dough resembles corn meal. One of the tricks to pie crust is having your ingredients cold. I often use frozen butter.

I love to use my food processor. It makes the process so much easier. Just pulse several times until it looks similar to the picture above. But, if you don't have a food processor, don't despair, my mom has never used one for crust, a fork or pastry cutter also works.

Add water a little at a time, pulsing just until dough starts to stick together. You want to mix as little as possible after adding the water, or you'll end up with a tough crust.
Divide dough in half. Roll the dough out onto a floured piece of waxed paper. Use your pie plate to make sure you've rolled it big enough, leaving extra for it to fit down inside the pie plate. Turn the dough over into the pie plate and gently remove the wax paper. Trim the dough just over the edges of the pie plate, then shape the edges with your fingers. If you're going to bake the crust without filling, poke holes all over the crust with a fork. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 2 crusts (unless you ruin one or both).
This takes a little practice. Don't give up if it doesn't always work. If your crust doesn't look presentable, DON"T try to roll it out again. The less you work with the dough, the better it will taste. Even though I've been making pies for years, I still ruin crusts occasionally, like the one pictured below. When that happens, I just dump the whole thing onto a baking sheet, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, and bake it. The kids (and I) think it's a great treat.

Failure isn't all bad.