Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Candy Cane Swirl Chocolate Cookies

Aren't these cookies just adorable? I was thinking about those Peanut Butter Blossom cookies and about all the different flavors of Hershey's Kisses that are available during the holiday season. And I thought that a Candy Cane Kiss on top of a chocolate cookie would be delectable. I was quite happy with the results of my experiment. One thing I didn't anticipate is that these Kisses melt and don't quite hold their shape like the chocolate ones do. So out came the toothpick to finish them off with a flourish. I actually think they look fancier with the swirl. Enjoy!
Candy Cane Swirl Chocolate Cookies
(adapted from Betty Crocker's Chocolate Crinkles)
2 cups granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
4 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bag Candy Cane Kisses, unwrapped
Mix 2 cups granulated sugar, oil, vanilla, cocoa and butter in a large bowl. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
Heat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in granulated sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
Bake 8-10 minutes, the tops should just be beginning to crack. Remove from oven and immediately press one Candy Cane kiss into the center. Remove to wire rack to cool. Once the Kiss has melted, gently swirl the very top with a toothpick. Let the Kiss set before serving.
I unwrapped my Kisses as the cookies baked, that way I only unwrapped as many as were needed. The rest my kids unwrapped and ate while my back was turned. My batch made 55 cookies.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Timely Opportunity

I made some cute, delicious cookies today and I will post the recipe for them tomorrow. I promise. Right now though I'd like to direct you to my other blog where you can enter a giveaway for a beaded watch. It's my first giveaway, so I'm really excited about it! Good luck!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Microwave Caramel Corn

I found this recipe in an issue of Family Circle a couple of months ago while I sat waiting for 2 HOURS at my OB/GYN's office. Although the receptionist has always said I was welcome to take any magazines that I'd like from the office, I never have because it always felt weird, akin to stealing. However, after waiting that long I felt a new justification for removing the issue from the office.

I wasn't sure about using the microwave for caramel corn, but it is just as crisp and tasty as caramel corn toasted in the oven. And even though it calls for pretzels and cashews, I'm sure you could come up with several other "stir-in" combinations/substitutes and the results would still be delicious.

12 cups popped popcorn (about 1/2 cup popcorn kernels)
1 cup mini pretzels
1 cup salted cashews
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 cube unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp baking soda

You'll also need a large paper grocery bag.

In a large (read: huge) bowl combine popcorn, pretzels and cashews. Set aside.

Melt butter in a large, microwavable container, 1 minute. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Microwave for 2 minutes. Remove and stir well. Microwave 2 minutes longer. Remove and stir in baking soda. It will foam up and rise. Carefully pour over popcorn mixture and stir until evenly coated.

Pour popcorn into a large paper bag and fold over the top of the bag. Place in the microwave and cook for 1-1/2 minutes. Remove bag and shake vigorously. Return to microwave for 1 minute longer. Remove from microwave and pour onto a large cookie sheet or parchment paper to cool. Break into pieces when cool.

Then begin Caramel Corn Anonymous meetings because you will be addicted.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Bun is Out of the Oven

I don't think that I ever mentioned that I was expecting on this blog. But I wanted to explain why I hadn't been posting. I was busy growing this little guy. Isn't he beautiful?
I probably still won't post much for a while. He came by c-section and I'm still healing. But soon, I will be back in the kitchen (minus the barefoot and pregnant reality). Until then...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Another great way to use those prolific squash.
Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
2 cups grated zucchini
4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
chopped nuts (optional)
Prepare two loaf pans by greasing them with shortening. Place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of each pan and grease the paper also. Place flour in each pan, coating all sides and the bottom. Tap out excess flour.
Grate zucchini, set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In another bowl combine zucchini, oil, milk and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips (and nuts, if desired).
Pour batter into prepared loaf pans. Bake at 350 until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 75 minutes. Cool on rack 10 minutes, remove from pan and let cool completely.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Stuffed* Zucchini

Maybe where you live zucchini is sparse, but here you'll have a carload of it if you leave your doors unlocked at church. Anyway, here's a great way to put this yummy squash to use.

Here's what you'll need:
1 cup rice (cook according to package directions)
1 onion, chopped
1 lb ground beef
2-8 oz cans tomato sauce (or 1-15 oz can)
1 clove garlic, minced
coarse salt and fresh ground pepper (to taste)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 large zucchini squash
grated cheddar cheese (or cheese slices)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Start with 2 large zucchini squash and halve them lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds to make a "boat." Place on a large rimmed baking sheet.
Next, take one pound of ground beef, 1 chopped onion and 1 clove minced garlic. Brown them and drain off excess fat.
Stir in tomato sauce, salt and pepper and oregano. Mix well.

Stir in the cooked rice. Then scoop the meat mixture into the squash boats. Add hot water to the bottom of the baking sheet and cover squash with foil. Bake at 350 degrees until zucchini is tender, about 45-60 minutes. (I usually check it after about 30 minutes and go from there.) Remove from oven and sprinkle with grated cheddar. Return to oven just until cheese is melted.

I apologize that I have to picture of the final product...um, we were really, really hungry here that night. Just imagine the above picture with a more translucent squash and covered in melted cheese. Enjoy!
*As an alternative to stuffing the larger, more mature zucchini, I've also done this stovetop style. Use 2-3 young zucchini and slice them into 1/2" half moons. Cook beef in a large, deep skillet and add zucchini during that stage. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer until heated through. Top with cheese and cover with lid until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dump Cake

Over the weekend we had some company...lots of company. I made a huge pot of spaghetti and several loaves of garlic bread to "feed the masses." After dinner though I was seriously craving something sweet. My husband's cousins suggested they could make a "dump cake." (I'll not expound on my first impression, given the name.) Anyway, they said it would satisfy my sweet tooth.

They used crushed pineapple, applie pie filling, a yellow cake mix, butter and English walnuts. It was great! Last night I had a houseful again and a few different ingredients. Here's what I did.

I took one large can of mandarin oranges and partially drained them. I dumped them into a 9x13 baking dish. Then I dumped in 1 quart of homemade cherry pie filling, a large can of store-bought pie fillng would work just as well. I cut 1/2 cup of butter in to a yellow cake mix and dumped it on top of the cherries and oranges. I dumped a few slivered almonds on the top. (Now I see where is gets its name.) I placed it in a 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes and it was delicious! I would post a picture but we were on vacation last week and the camera still has not been unpacked...that or I lost it. Anyway, trust me, it was yummy!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Summer Veggie Pizza

Who doesn't love a good pizza? This one is perfect for summer. It's loaded with fresh vegetables and tastes super light because there's no sauce. But don't worry, there's plenty of flavor! This recipe has enough toppings to make two 14-inch pizzas.

You'll need 2 packages pizza dough (or make your own favorite recipe), 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced, 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced, 1 small onion, thinly sliced, 1 cup sliced mushrooms, 2 pressed garlic cloves, 1 cup grated mozzarella, 1 cup grated cheddar
1 tsp Italian seasoning and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough onto two 14" pans. Bake 5-6 minutes or until golden. Spread garlic over crusts.
Sprinkle with mozzarella and cheddar.
Top with tomato and grate Parmesan over top.
Layer onions, mushrooms, and zucchini over tomato. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and more Parmesan. Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Baked Potato Soup

I don't usually think to make a hearty soup in the middle of June, but the weather here has been wet and frigid. Today just screamed for this yummy soup!

4 large potatoes, cooled, peeled and cubed
2/3 c butter
2/3 c flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
6 cups whole milk
8 oz sour cream
1/4 cup green onions
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbed
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

In a large saucepan heat butter, flour, salt and pepper over medium heat. Whisk until smooth and bubbly. Cook one minute. Gradually whisk in milk and add potato cubes. Bring to a low boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in sour cream. Garnish individual servings with onions, bacon and cheese.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookies

Mmm...there is something magical about peanut butter and chocolate, don't you think? It's like the perfect marriage. The only thing that would make it more poetic is if peanuts were the roots of the cacao tree. I had to adapt this recipe for high altitude and I think I have it perfected.

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c creamy peanut butter, room temperature
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 c light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 Tbs milk
1 cup chocolate chips
In a large mixing bowl beat butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add in sugars and mix well. Beat in egg and milk. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into wet ingredients. Stir well. Fold in chocolate chips. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and press lightly with the back of a fork. Bake for 10 minutes (cookies will be slightly undercooked.) Leave on cookie sheets for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Apricot-and-Cheddar Chicken Melts

I found this recipe on an insert in my Everyday Food magazine, by far one of my favorite publications...thanks, Martha! These were easy, quick and delicious! (Although my children had a hard time eating them. Their chicken kept sliding off the bread. If I make them again I might cut the chicken into slices before placing them on the baguette.)

Here's what you'll need:
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, chopped
coarse salt and ground pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6-8 ounces each), split horizontally
1 baguette (about 20 inches), split horizontally, then cut in half
1/4 cup apricot preserves
4 oz thinly sliced deli ham
4 oz white cheddar cheese, grated (1 cup)

So first, heat up your broiler and set the rack 4 inches from heat. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a shallow dish or resealable plastic bag, combine vinegar, mustard, garlic, 1 tsp coarse salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper; add chicken and turn to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes (or cover and refrigerate in marinade up to 24 hours).

Lift chicken from marinade and place on prepared sheet; broil (without turning) until opaque throughout, 4-6 minutes. Transfer chicken to a work surface; discard pan juices from baking sheet.

Looks good so far! Now, spread each piece of your baguette with some of those apricot preserves and then top 'em off with some chicken.
Layer on the ham and cheese! (I forgot to tell the guy at the deli counter to slice it ultra-thin, I think that would have made a more appealing presentation.)
Pop those babies in the oven under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly. (I would move the rack down one position more to keep the cheese from melting too fast. This will also help your baguette crisp up a little more since it will have more time under the broiler.)

Looks like a winner, huh?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Salad

I made this for myself for lunch yesterday. It was quite delicious and you can increase all amounts for a larger salad.

1 1/2 - 2 cups mixed salad greens
1 crispy chicken strip (I got mine from a deli)
1 Tbs hot wing sauce (more or less to taste)
grape tomatoes
cucumber slices
grated cheddar
Bleu cheese dressing

Slice chicken strip into small, bite-size pieces. Place in a small resealable container, pour in hot sauce. Cover and shake until chicken is evenly coated. Place chicken over a bed of salad greens. Garnish with tomatoes, cucumber and cheddar. Serve with bleu cheese dressing.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sweet Potato Fries

While I was at my sister-in-law's a couple of weeks ago she made some sweet potato fries on the grill. They were so delicious that I have been craving them since. I didn't get her recipe so I just made up my own and baked them in the oven. They were so good that I made them two nights in a row!

2 large sweet potatoes
olive oil
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

I put a baking sheet in the oven and preheated the oven to 425 degrees. I peeled the potatoes and rinsed them, then patted them dry with paper towels. Then I sliced them into 1/4-inch sticks. I put all the sticks in a bowl and drizzled them with olive oil and tossed to coat. Once the oven was preheated, I pulled out the baking sheet and dumped the potato sticks onto the sheet and seasoned them with salt and pepper. (I wanted to put a little cayenne on them but I was out.) I baked them for 20-25 minutes, until they were starting to blister and crisp, turning once or twice during the cooking time.

Mmmmm. I think I like these better than french fries and I'm going to guess they're healthier, too. I think my SIL added some fresh basil to hers and that was really delicious also.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Taco Dip

Tonight we had tacos. I always cook a full pound of hamburger for the tacos, though my family barely eats 1/2 of it. Rather than putting it back in the refrigerator (letting it sit there at the back until it molds and I have to throw it away) I've begun to use it in this yummy taco dip.

1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 can refried beans
1/2 lb leftover seasoned taco meat
1/2 - 1 cup salsa
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread cream cheese into the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish. Spread refried beans over the top of the cream cheese. Mix taco meat and salsa to taste, then spread over the beans. Top with grated cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until heated through and sides are bubbly. Serve with your favorite corn chips.

It's perfect for a game night!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Oatmeal S'More Cookies

This recipe came from a Taste of Home magazine from a few years ago. This is a great oatmeal cookie alternative for those weirdos who don't enjoy raisins.

1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c shortening
1 c pack brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c oats
1 c semisweet chocolate chips
1 c mini marshmallows*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, shortening and sugars in a large mixing bowl. Ad eggs one at a time, mixing well after each egg. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in oats, chocolate chips and marshmallows. Drop by heaping teaspoon onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 11-13 minutes. Let cool 1-2minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool. (If cookies come out flat, chill dough for 30 minutes before baking.)

*I don't know if it's my altitude, but I've found that the marshmallows bake better if they've been allowed to dry out a few hours before adding them to the cookie dough.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Don't Worry, I'm Still In The Kitchen!

It isn't that I'm not cooking. It's that my computer is down with a nasty virus. I keep hoping that it will magically resolve itself, but apparently it's going to take some effort on my part to get it going again. That explains why it's still not working.

(Thanks, Mom, for letting me use your computer to relay this very important message!)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Southwest Chicken Eggrolls with Avocado Ranch Dipping Sauce

I love Chili's Southwest Chicken Eggrolls so I decided to try to make them myself. I didn't quite like the marinade I used for this recipe, it's more like fajita flavor. So if you have any suggestions on how to better flavor the meat, please let me know! (Sorry I don't have any pictures, I was experimenting cooking at my mother's house.)

Southwest Chicken Eggrolls
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, marinated (below)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, drained
1/2 cup fire roasted bell peppers, drained and chopped
5 oz frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain
8 oz grated pepperjack cheese
20 soft flour tortillas (thin tortilllas work best)
oil for frying

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Slice chicken into thin, 1-inch strips and add to hot pan with 1-2 Tbs of marinade. Cook until chicken is opaque. Off heat, stir in black beans, corn, peppers, spinach and cheese. Mix well, set aside.

In another large skillet heat 1/4 inch oil over medium high heat. Working in batches, heat 4-5 tortillas in the microwave for 15 seconds, this will make them easy to bend and wrap. Place 2 Tbs chicken filling in each tortilla, fold like a burrito (click here for egg roll wrapping pictures.) Using tongs, place seam side down in hot oil. (If the tortilla begins to bubble use tongs to hold it in place until the tortilla has shaped itself.) Cook until tortilla is golden on bottom, turn over the egg roll and cook on the other side until golden. Remove with tongs onto paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Serve warm.

For the avocado ranch dipping sauce combine 1 medium, mashed avocado and 1 cup prepared ranch dip.

1/2 c soy sauce
1/2 c Worchestershire sauce
2 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 tsp black pepper
pinch of onion powder, red pepper, and cumin

Combine all ingredients and add meat. Place in a gallon size resealable bag and refrigerate for 4-6 hours or overnight.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Turkey Broccoli Alfredo Bake

Last night was one of those nights that I didn't really feel like cooking, but I was really hungry and didn't want to settle for something packaged. I had a ton of leftover turkey in the fridge from Sunday and figured I'd better put it to good use. I found a recipe for Chicken Alfredo and Rice Casserole, but I had only a few of the ingredients. So I used what I had and the result was delicious! Here's what I used.
1 cup rice, cooked (2 1/2 - 3 cups cooked rice)
10 oz Alfredo pasta sauce (I used Bertolli)
1/2 cup milk
2 cups cooked, cubed turkey
1 cup frozen broccoli
1 carrot, grated
1-2 slices of bread, crumbled
1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 Tbs butter, melted
Preheat oven the 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine rice, Alfredo sauce, milk, turkey, broccoli, and carrot. Transfer to 2 qt baking dish. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and stir. Combine bread crumbs and butter; sprinkle on top. Bake, uncovered, 20 to 25 minutes longer until heated through and crumbs are golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serve with crispy Grissini breadsticks.
Maybe the two kind of bread crumbs sounds dumb, but I really liked it. It was like the larger bread crumbs got breaded in the smaller bread crumbs. (Like I said, I used what I had.)
The great thing about this recipe is that, really, you could probably substitute just about anything you did want for anything that you didn't want.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Q and A

Anonymous said...
Do you ever cook with Pesto? If so do you make your own or buy it? Where in the grocery store do you typically find it?

Well, Anonymous, I have to admit I don't cook often with pesto. I've had it on pizza (Thai Chicken) but that's about it. I have only made it once, using the following recipe from the March 2009 issue of Everyday Food. It was pretty good, but my kids didn't like it - it was a little hot - so I don't know how often it will be reappearing on our dinner table. The second recipe is one a friend sent me in a recipe exchange, although I've not yet tried it. I know you can purchase pesto, I'm guessing in the pasta aisle or possibly refrigerated near the cheeses. My readers will correct me if I'm wrong, so be sure to check back in the comments. Hope this helps!

Fettucine with parsely pesto and walnuts
coarse salt and ground pepper
3/4 pound fettucine
2 cups packed fresh Parsley
1/4 cups walnuts, plus more chopped for serving
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
1 garlic clove
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
5 ounces baby spinach

1. In a lrge pot of boiling salted water, cook past unil al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain pasta, and return to pot.
2. In a food processor, puree parsley, walnuts, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons water until a paste forms. With machine running, add oil in a thin stream; process until very smooth, about 1 minutes. Season pesto with salt and pepper.
3. To pasta in pot, add pesto, 1/4 cup pasta water, and spinach; toss to combine. This with pasta water as needed. Serves sprinkled with Parmesan and walnuts.

Homemade Pesto - from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts and/or pinenuts
2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered (or about 1 tbs of canned garlic)
1/4 teaspoon salt
black pepper (to taste)

In a food processor or blender combine oil, nuts, basil, cheese, garlic, and salt. Cover and process or blend until nearly smooth, stopping and scraping sides as necessary. Add pepper to taste. If you're not serving the pesto immediately, divide it into 3 portions. Place each potion in a small airtight container and chill for 1 to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months.

Note. For 6 side-dish servings, cook 6 ounces dried pasta, such as farfalle, linguine, etc, according to package instructions. Toss with one portion (1/4 cup) of the pesto.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Have you Tried...

Pork riblets?
My brother introduced me to this not-so-fancy cut of meat a couple of years ago and I have to admit, it has become a favorite at our house. Because it's basically an end-cut, or by-product, of "real" ribs it's very inexpensive (I can usually get it for $.98-$1.49/ lb) yet I find that it generally has more meat per pound than its counterpart. I love to grill and then dredge the riblets in Cattlemen's Classic Barbecue Sauce. Adding grilled pinapple is a great side. No real recipe required either!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bacon Fried Rice

Whoa back! This recipe makes a ton so be ready to feed a crowd. (Or cut it in half and just feed your family.) I like to serve it along with eggs rolls for a complete meal.
Start with 4 cups cooked rice. (That's 2 cups uncooked rice.) I usually cook the rice at lunch time because the rice needs time to cool or else it will be all gummy and won't fry up very well.
Then fry up about 1 lb of bacon, be sure to reserve the drippings! Once your bacon is cooked crumble it up and put it in a large serving bowl. If you don't have bacon, chopped ham works well too, just use vegetable oil for frying.
Heat up a wok or a large, rimmed griddle to medium high heat. Using a little of the reserved bacon fat fry up 1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms and 6-8 sliced green onions. You can also use a can of mushrooms if you don't have fresh. Cook until mushrooms are tender. Set aside with bacon. Add 10 oz. pkg frozen peas and cook until tender and heated through. Add to mushrooms and onions. Next scramble 6 eggs until eggs are set. Remove to serving bowl.
Now comes the fun part. Using more of the reserved bacon drippings fry the rice. Stir it around until rice starts to separate and is heated through. Add soy sauce to taste. Add all the vegetables. Cook and stir until heated through. Serve hot.
For some reason I didn't get a picture of the finished product, but I think you know what fried rice looks like. Delicious!
Here's the recap:
Bacon Fried Rice
2 cups rice, uncooked
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled, reserve fat
6-8 green onions, sliced
1 C sliced mushrooms (or 1 can)
1-10 oz. package frozen peas
6 eggs, beaten
soy sauce
Cook rice according to package directions; Cool and set aside.
Using reserved bacon drippings fry onions, mushrooms and peas over medium-high heat. Set aside in a large serving bowl. Scramble eggs in reserved drippings. Add to veggies. Fry the rice in reserved drippings adding soy sauce to taste. Add cooked vegetables and heat through. Serve hot.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sausage Egg Rolls

Mmm...egg rolls. I have to admit I'm not really a fan of Chinese food. Egg rolls are an exception and they're fairly easy to make at home. Here I have 6 green onions, sliced, 3 ribs celery, coarsely chopped, 1 carrot, grated, and 1 can water chestnuts, coarsely chopped. I cut everything pretty small because it cooks quickly, fits in better and is less likely to break through the fragile wrap.
Then brown 1 lb pork sausage and drain.

Season with a little bit of salt and 1 tsp *Accent. Mix pork and veggies. Add one egg, lightly beaten, and stir it all together. It will look like this.

You will need 1 package of egg roll wraps. (If you don't know where to look for them I usually find them in the refrigerated section near the vegetables.)
Now preheat your deep fryer full of oil to 375 degrees. Since the egg rolls cook in batches I also like to line a rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels and heat my oven to it's lowest temperature - 170 degrees - just so that I have a warm place to keep the cooked egg rolls while the others are frying.
Rolling the egg rolls is simple, although it can take a couple of tries to perfect the technique. My husband was nice enough to man the camera so I could use both hands to demonstrate. He first felt it necessary to take a candid of my derriere, which I have thoughtfully not posted...you're welcome.
Place the wrap on your work surface at an angle. Spoon about 2 Tbs of sausage filling corner to corner.
Fold the bottom corner up over the filling. Tuck wrap firmly around filling.Fold the side corners firmly against the end of the filling. It looks like an envelope.
Roll the egg roll once up onto the remaining corner.
Dip your finger in water and moisten the exposed flap.
Roll the egg roll over the flap to seal.
Place egg rolls, 3 or 4 at a time, seam-side down in the fryer basket. Cook until golden, turning if necessary. Remove egg rolls from fryer basket with tongs. Place on prepared baking sheet and keep warm in oven. Or if you have a warming drawer with your oven you can use that. Also, should you have a warming drawer...I hate you. Okay, maybe I'm just jealous.

Here's the recap:

Sausage Egg Rolls
1 lb pork sausage
6-8 green onions, sliced
3 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
1 can water chestnuts, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp Accent
1 pkg egg roll wraps (about 20)
hot oil for frying

Brown sausage and drain. Combine sausage, onions, celery, water chestnuts, carrot and egg. Stir in Accent and salt. Heat oil to 375 degrees. Spoon 2 Tbs filling into egg roll wrap and roll, burrito style. Place 3-4 egg rolls, seam side down in oil. Cook until golden. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

*Accent is monosodium glutemate (MSG.) This ingredient is optional.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Apricot Stuffed Pork with Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

This recipe came from Everyday Food. I had never tried Brussels sprouts but fell in love with them roasted in the oven. I love the flavor and the simplicity of this single-pan dinner.

1 pounds red new potatoes, thinly sliced
2 pints Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
2 Tbs olive oil
coarse salt and pepper
1/4 c dried apricots, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 Tbs apricot jam
1 pork tenderloin (1 to 1 1/2 lbs)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.. On a large rimmed baking sheet toss together potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, tossing once.

Meanwhile, combine apricots, shallot and jam in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Place pork on a work surface. Holding a chef's knife parallel to work surface, make a pocket by cutting lengthwise down center of tenderloin, stopping about 1/2 inch from other side (avoid cutting all the way through). Open, and stuff with apricot mixture. Spacing evenly, tie 3 to 4 pieces of kitchen twine around the pork to close the pocket. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove baking sheet from the oven when sprouts and potatoes have roasted 15 minutes. Toss and push to sides of baking sheet, then place pork in center. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of pork (avoiding stuffing) register 145 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving and slicing.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Snickers Popcorn

This is super easy and fills a lot of cravings at the same time - sweet, salty, chocolate, nutty and so on. All you have to do is cut a Snickers bar into bite-size pieces. Then pop a bag of microwave popcorn - my personal favorite is Pop Secret Homestyle. When the popcorn is done pour it into a large bowl and stir in the Snickers pieces. (Repeat so that the rest of your family can have some.)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Spicy Potato Wedgies and Smoky Fry Sauce

The other day I stopped at a gas station to pick up a Coke for my mom. The gas station had one of those delis (read: fried food smorgasbords) and I suddenly had a hankering for potato wedges. I approached the counter and found corn dogs, burritos, tater tots, and several other varieties of deep-fried, artery-clogging tastiness, but alas, they were out of potato wedges. I was disappointed but figured it was probably better not to have them anyway. Still, the craving clung to me and this morning I decided to try my hand and make my own. The result was delicious, and probably a little healthier than the gas station alternative. (If nothing else, at least they're fresh!) And be sure to try the Smoky Fry Sauce. They went together so well!

(Also, I called them "Wedgies" because new foods are more likely to be eaten at my house if I give them an irreverent name...don't judge me...)

Spicy Potato Wedgies
4 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut in 8 wedges lengthwise
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp red pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
nonstick cooking spray

Place a rimmed cookie sheet in the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat. In a small dish combine seasoned salt, paprika, thyme, red and black peppers. Sprinkle half the mixture over potatoes, toss to coat. When oven has preheated, remove cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on cookie sheet, cut side down. Sprinkle with remaining seasonings. Put pan in oven and bake 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Turn over each wedgie and increase heat to 450 degrees. Bake 15 more minutes or until desired crispness is achieved.

Smoky Fry Sauce
1/4 c mayonnaise
2 Tbs ketchup
2 drops liquid smoke (I used hickory - and I do mean drops people, a little liquid smoke goes a long way!)

Combine all ingredients in a dipping bowl. Serve with spicy wedgies.

Even with the uh...enticing(?) name, my kids still didn't eat them, which was okay, they probably would have been too hot for them. If you don't want that much spice on your taters reduce or omit the red pepper. Also, heating the pan with the oven starts the potatoes crisping from the moment they touch the pan. I like that instant joy thing.

(Still no camera...I think my husband hid it.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Slow Cooked Beef Stew

1 onion, chopped
4-5 large potatoes, peeled and diced
4 carrots, sliced (I almost always use about 1/2 lb whole baby carrots)
3 ribs celery, sliced
2 lbs stew meat (I used 2 top sirloin steaks and cut them into bite-size pieces)
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp salt
2 Tbs instant tapioca (you can grind it in a coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle for a smoother texture)
1/2 tsp pepper
3 cups vegetable juice (I use low-sodium V-8)

Place onion in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the remaining vegetables and stew meat. Combine sugar, salt, tapioca and pepper. Sprinkle over meat and veggies. Pour in vegetable juice. Stir gently taking care to leave onion layer on the bottom so they'll cook better. Cook on LOW 8-10 hours.

(I have pictures of this recipe but I'm unable to locate my camera...dang kids!)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Popeye Quiche

Really it's Crustless Spinach Quiche, but every time we eat it here my son ultimately relates it to Popeye and big muscles. I made this for dinner last night and all the kids ate it without complaint, which is either a miracle, or just really delicious quiche!

In a large mixing bowl beat 6 large eggs and 2 cups whipping cream. (I actually almost always use 1/2 and 1/2. It serves the same purpose and costs about half as much. I'm thrifty like that.) I happened to have farm fresh eggs last night that my husband brought home from a coworker. Personally, I didn't notice much difference other than the photogeneticity - it's a word, really. Stir in 1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 Tbs orange juice concentrate (mix up the rest of the concentrate and serve with quiche,) and 1 cup finely torn spinach. If you don't have Italian style bread crumbs use regular bread crumbs and about 1 tsp Italian seasoning. Also, I am notorious for letting fresh veggies go bad in the fridge, so I always use 10 oz frozen spinach. Thaw it and squeeze it really well before adding to egg mixture.

Mix it up really well. Pour into a buttered quiche dish or a 10-in pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until custard is set.
Top individual servings with slices of cheese.
I got this recipe from my friend Katie, who does not give herself enough credit in the kitchen. She's super saucy!
I have to tell you that I actually have a strong distaste for eggs. This is one of the few ways that I enjoy them, the other being scrambled eggs with so many stir-ins that they don't taste like eggs anymore.
The recipe:
Crustless Spinach Quiche
2 cups whipping cream (or 1/2 & 1/2)
6 eggs
1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs orange juice concentrate
1 cup finely torn spinach
sliced cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat eggs and cream. Stir in bread crumbs, salt, concentrate and spinach. Mix well. Pour into a buttered quiche dish or 10-in pie plate. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until custard is set. Top individual servings with cheese.


I love this recipe. It comes together easily and has great flavor. I know a lot of people use steak strips for stroganoff but I grew up with ground beef. Another twist on this recipe is the addition of tomato paste.

In a large skillet, saute 2 Tbs butter, 1 chopped onion and 1 small can of mushrooms, drained. Once onions are clear, remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, brown 1 lb ground beef. Drain. Stir in 2 Tbs flour.To the meat, add 2 cups water, 2 cubes beef bouillon (or 2 cups beef broth), and 2 Tbs tomato paste. Return onions and mushrooms to pan.

Let your daughter lick the tomato paste can. Make sure she really digs in. :)

Stir it all together, it will look like this. Bring it to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
While your sauce is simmering set some water on to boil for some egg noodles.
(Yes, I took a picture of a boiling pot of water. What's worse, I took several and chose the best one. Apparently I can be more boring!)
After it is done simmering, remove from heat and add 1/2 cup sour cream.
Stir and serve immediately!
So, just to recap:
1 sm can sliced mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbs butter
1 lb ground beef
2 Tbs flour
2 c water
2 cubes beef bouillon
2 Tbs tomato paste
1/2 c sour cream
cooked egg noodles for serving
Saute onions and mushrooms in butter, set aside. Brown beef in same pan, drain. Add flour and stir with meat. Add water, bouillon and tomato paste. Stir well. Return onions and mushrooms to pan. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in sour cream. Serve immediately.