Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sample Menu 4

I just posted about how I am loving not having to cook for the fam since we are on vaca and taking serious advantage of others skills - but... that will come to an end tomorrow. We are now staying with my in laws - my Mother in law and I went grocery shopping today and I now have a game plan for this weeks menu. So - here we go...

Sample Menu 4
Sunday - Hot ham and cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
Monday- Grilled chicken, steamed squash, garden salad
Tuesday - Homemade pizza
Wednesday - Penne with Vodka sauce (if you haven't tried it before you have to! You can find it at any grocery store and it is amazing - don't let the 'vodka' throw you off - it's non-alcoholic) green salad and garlic bread
Thursday - New Years Eve! Just doing appetizers: stuffed mushrooms, hot artichoke dip, deviled eggs, blue cheese & tomato dip and buffalo wings.
Friday - Leftovers! It's New Years Day for cryin' out loud!
Saturday - Burgers and onion rings. Avocado, bacon, cheese, tomato, onion and mayo on an Angus patty. Yum. We will be eating at Eddie McStiff's! We stop half way on our way home from SLC - my mouth is watering just thinking about it...

Gourmet Mac n' Cheese

I am so lame! I have been neglecting my food blog - but for a good reason. I have enjoyed taking advantage of others hospitality while on vacation in SLC - and I haven't had to make a meal for over a week now!

We had dinner at my sister in laws house the other night. She and her Mother made this awesome Mac n' Cheese - adult style - that was to die for! Yes, this is the very same sister in law and adopted Mother in law that I speak of often on this blog - they have given me so many amazing recipes! They got this one from Ina Garten...

Ina's Mac n' Cheese
Kosher salt
Vegetable oil
1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.
Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
Not exactly fast - but delicious - definitely worth the time!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cheater Sample Menu

With Christmas right around the corner, things will be crazy busy so I am going to be using the best of my cheats this week.

Cheater Sample Menu
Monday: Aunt Leah’s Chicken Salad sandwiches (easy b/c I can make it whenever I have time)
Tuesday: Super Delicious Yum Yum and corn on the cob
Wednesday: Simple Salmon and steamed vegetables (a frozen mix)
Thursday: Kids Fav Cheese Quesadillas and black beans (from a can)
Friday: Hot Dogs and Baked beans (from a can)
Saturday: Tuna melts and Sweet creamed corn (from a can)
Sunday: Orange Chicken, egg rolls (both frozen from Costco and MAN are they good!) and jasmine rice

Hope this gives you a little inspiration and that this may make your busy week a little easier!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Homemade Apple Pie

I have never made a pie - never, ever. I have always been intimidated - like there is some secret that only mothers and grandmothers pass down from generation to generation that I am not privvy to. Don't ask me why I thought that - I am crazy person - that's my usual answer.

This recipe is so easy, quick and fool proof - considering that this is the first time I have ever baked pie and that it turned out looking like this and tasting so delicious that I had 2 servings...

Just look at that flakey crust and mounds of hot spiced apples underneath...
Homemade Apple Pie
8 Fuji apples, peeled and cored and cut into slices (to your liking)
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon, or to taste
2 T all-purpose flour
1/2 t ground nutmeg
a pinch or two of salt
2 Marie Callendars frozen unbaked pie shells
1 T butter (dotted on top)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, flour, nutmeg and salt; mix thoroughly. Pour the spice mix over the apples and stir until the apples are coated.
Line one crust in a 9 inch deep dish pie pan. Place the apples in the pie crust. Dot the apple filling evenly with butter. Fit the top crust over the apples. Press the crust down gently and cut 3 or 4 slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape while the pie bakes
Bake in the preheated oven 50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Check the pie after the first 30 minutes of cooking: if the crust is already browned reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cover with foil to allow the apples to cook without the crust burning.

*Of course you can make your pie crust from scratch - but I was in somewhat of a hurry. The Marie Calledar's deep dish frozen pie shells are great. They are nice and deep so your filling can be sky high! Just a tip with the pie shells - set them out 15 to 20 minutes before you need to use them, they will thaw enough for the dough to be easily manipulated so you can crimp the two together (to avoid all that yumminess leaking out!)
**Stick to the 1T butter - tiny little dots will do ya - if you over do it, your filling will be soupy. You could even eliminate the butter dots altogether.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sample Menu

Monday: Kraft's Turkey Noodle Soup and Breadsticks

Tuesday: Shake N Bake extra crispy chicken, Baked Potatoes, Salad

Wednesday: Cafe Rio Pork Frozen Leftover Burritos

Thursday: Manicotti, Salad, Garlic bread (I follow the directions on the back of the American Beauty brand manicotti noodles for this recipe. Super easy and super yummy!)

Friday: Christmas Party

Saturday: Pancakes, Eggs, Bacon

Sunday: Roasted Turkey, Vegetables, Rolls

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Easy Stir Fry

Imagine this dinner on the table in 10 minutes!

My hubs is out of town - we are all busy with the Christmas season - so I have done a TON of 'cheater' dinners lately - it's always a bonus when I can make a great dinner in less than 10 minutes!
All you need are these ingredients...
Easy Stir Fry
Frozen Veggies
Lo Mein noodles
Teriyaki sauce
Peanuts
If you also make this with meat - you can shake the protein (chicken, steak) pieces in flour and add them to 1 T of EVOO on a hot frying pan and fry/flip them until no longer pink. With the veggies and noodles, just follow the directions on their packages. Toss them all together - getting the sauce incorporated well - and enjoy!
You can pick up any frozen veggie mix - the particular mix I prefer (and that is pictured) comes with it's own Thai sauce - but my kids are partial to Mr. Yoshida (Costco). You can use rice, spaghetti, angel hair or vermacelli pasta - whatever you have on hand.
*I obviously added pre-cooked frozen shrimp and fresh diced green onions - yummy. Just thinking about a great dinner on the table in less than 10 minutes with virtually no effort is enough to make me giddy!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Creamy Italian Pasta Salad

This is another of my wonderous cheats. Suddenly Salads 'Creamy Italian Pasta Salad' is awesome all on its own, but they give you add in suggestions on the side that make it incredible!

Today I added grape tomatoes and mozzarella cheese (if you have kids - you have string cheese. String cheese = mozzarella people!) Mmmmmm...
This is what it looks like - Once a month or so Albertsons or Smiths will put these on deal 10 for $10 - stock up! They are all great!!


Sunday, November 29, 2009

What's For Dinner? Sample Menu 2

I sit down every Sunday and plan the meals out for the upcoming week. I check to see what I have and then write on my grocery list things that need to be bought to make the meals complete. Makes my Monday morning shopping trip a breeze. Krystal came up with a great idea - why don't we switch off every Sunday and post our menu's for the week? Awesome. Great inspiration and organization!

I even bought myself this little baby here at Color Me Sassy on Etsy to help me keep things straight - and to keep the kids from asking me "WHAT'S FOR DINNER?" So... what's for dinner in the Vietti house this week?
Sunday: Turkey Minon, mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts (roasted not fried)
Tuesday: Burritos using my Crock Pot Chicken & Salsa recipe
Wednesday: Pizza Pasta and green salad
Friday: Enchiladas using the leftovers from my Crock Pot Chicken & Salsa recipe
Saturday: Homemade Pizza and green salad

Happy first week of December everyone:)

Tortilla Soup

This is one of my cheats - and it's a good un'
Tortilla Soup
Bear Creek Tortilla Dry Soup Mix
1 can black beans
1 can corn
sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese
Bring 8 cups of water to a rolling boil. Whisk in soup mix. Add black beans and corn. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Put the soup in individual serving bowls and add sour cream and shredded cheese. Serve with tortilla chips!
You could also add shredded chicken
*Make this 'diet' by using non-fat sour cream and reduced fat cheese

Crock Pot Chicken & Salsa Delite!

I am planning my weekly menu and just perused the site to see whether or not I've posted my "go to" mexican chicken. I did post it - but under a weird Title here so I am reposting it where it can easily be found...

This recipe is my go to for mexican. I am sure you all have this recipe - but it's so good - it's worth mentioning. I got this recipe from my friend Jen - who made it every single Sunday. She'd put everything in the crock - go to church and when they got home they were ready to eat!

Crock Pot Chicken & Salsa Delite!
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (as many as you need)
Salsa (not fresh - I use Pace)
Sour cream

Add all ingredients in your crock pot. I don't use measurements because I just eyeball it - and I really like sour cream. *Just make sure the chicken is mostly covered in the 'sauce' and you'll be fine.
Cook on low for 5 hours. When it's done, shred the chicken and serve. We use this in everything! Burritos, tacos, on nachos, on taco salad - the possibilities are endless!!

*Make this 'diet' by using non-fat sour cream and reduced fat cheese

Friday, November 27, 2009

Stuffed Mushrooms

Another leftover idea:

Stuffed Mushrooms
Leftover stuffing (Fennel - Sausage Stuffing)
28 large (2 1/2-inch-diameter) white mushrooms, stemmed

Stuff the mushrooms with your leftover stuffing.
Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes or until heated through.

Bacon Cheddar Potato Pancakes

If you are anything like me - you have a TON of Thanksgiving leftovers. Let's brainstorm together about what to do with them!!
This morning I made:

Bacon Cheddar Potato Pancakes
Leftover Mashed Potatoes (Delish Potatoes)
Crumbled Bacon or Cubed Ham
Onions
Shredded cheddar

Saute bacon, ham and onions. Combine them with your leftover mashed potatoes and shredded cheese. Pat them into a pancake shape. Cook them just like pancakes until they are golden on both sides. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Menu


As I have mentioned previously, my friend Jenny and I are cooking Thanksgiving dinner for our families together. She is doing the turkey, cranberry sauce, gravy and apple pie.

I am doing sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, stuffing and rolls. I have posted all the recipes I will be making this holiday (below) and I would love to hear what you are making too!!

Megan's Favorite Rolls


Megan’s Favorite Rolls
4 t yeast
½ c melted shortening (cooled)
1 ½ c warm water
1 ½ t salt
3 eggs
4 ½ c flour

Dissolve yeast in water. Add all other ingredients. Stir and let rise 2 hours. Split in half. Roll out on floured surface in a circle. Brush with butter. Cut into 12 slices. Roll up from the end. Let rise 1 more hour.

Bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes – until just golden on top.*shortening – room temp – I’ll microwave it for about 30 seconds right when I start – it’ll be cooled by the time you are ready for it.

Michael Symon's Brussels Sprouts


Michael Symon’s Fried Brussels Sprouts with walnuts and capers
Canola Oil, for deep-frying
1 garlic clove, minced
4 salt-packed anchovy fillets, rinsed, filleted and minced
1 serrano chili, seeded and minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the bias
1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted, and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
2 cups loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed, and patted dry
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pour enough oil into a medium pot so that the oil comes 3 inches up the sides. Heat the oil to 300°F. *Or skip to roast them.
While the oil is heating, whisk together the garlic, anchovies, serrano, red wine vinegar, honey, scallions, walnuts, and extra-virgin olive oil in a bowl large enough to toss all the Brussels sprouts. Keep the bowl near the stovetop.
Working in batches, deep-fry the Brussels sprouts until the edges begin to curl and brown, about 3 minutes. To the last batch, add the parsley and capers (stand back, the capers will pop and sputter!). Give the contents of the pot a stir. When the color of the parsley, more saturated shade of green, about 1/2 - 1 minute, remove the contents of the pot with a skimmer and place directly into the bowl of dressing. Toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
I made this and although we really liked the dressing – the Brussels sprouts were just too greasy. I am going to make this for Thanksgiving dinner – but I am going to opt for roasting them instead of deep frying them.
*Ina Garten Roasted Brussels Sprouts says to drizzle with EVOO, salt & pepper and roast them at 400 for 35 – 40 minutes.
** Be careful not to over roast these – Michael Symon said if you roast them too long they become bitter.

Decadent Mashed Potatoes



*Can make ahead of time – 1 or 2 days ahead!

Decadent Mashed Potatoes
5 pounds Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes
¾ cups Butter
1 package (8 Oz.) Cream Cheese, Softened*
½ cups (to 3/4 Cups) Half-and-Half
½ teaspoons (to 1 Teaspoon) Lawry's Seasoned Salt
½ teaspoons (to 1 Teaspoon) Black Pepper
Preparation Instructions
Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.
Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients.
Turn off the stove and add 1 ½ sticks of butter, an 8-ounce package of cream cheese and about ½ cup of half-and-half. Mash, mash, mash! Next, add about ½ teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and ½ a teaspoon of black pepper.
Stir well and place in a medium-sized baking dish. Throw a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes and place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through.
Note: When making this dish a day or two in advance, take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.

Ruth's Chris Sweet Potato Casserole


Ruth's Chris Special Sweet Potato Casserole – Chef Pat Gallagher of Ruth's Chris in Metairie
*The dish can be prepared days in advanced and then served with as little as 10 minutes of oven time before tabling.

Boil in skins 30 minutes then shock them with ice to stop the cooking. Let them cool for about an hour then peel and mash themMakes 12 servings
Crust
1 cup brown sugar 1/3 cup flour 1 cup chopped nuts (pecans preferred) 1/3 stick butter, melted Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and butter in mixing bowl. Set aside.

Sweet Potato Mixture
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes 1 cup sugar ½ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 eggs, well beaten 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
8x8 pan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a medium-size casserole dish with butter.
Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and butter in a large mixing bowl in the order listed. Beat thoroughly with a hand mixer 4 minutes to increase the fluffiness of the sweet potato mixture.
Pour mixture into the baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. (At this point, dish can be covered and refrigerated.)
After baked off. Sprinkle the surface of the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture and return to oven for 10 minutes. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before serving.
The brown sugar and pecan crust should be slightly browned and crunchy.

Fennel - Sausage Stuffing

Fennel-Sausage Stuffing – Food Network Magazine
In a large deep skillet, saute 1/2 pound crumbled sweet Italian sausage in 6 tablespoons butter for 5 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and add 1 diced fennel bulb, 1 diced onion, and 1 tablespoon each chopped sage and thyme; cook 5 minutes, then add 1 diced peeled apple and cook 2 minutes.
Pour in 2 1/2 to 3 cups chicken broth. Simmer until step 5.
In a large bowl, mix 2 eggs and 1/4 cup chopped parsley.
Add to the bowl 16 cups toasted white bread cubes and the hot broth mixture.
6. Gently toss the stuffing, then spread in a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Dot the top with butter or turkey pan drippings, cover and bake 30 minutes at 350. Uncover and bake until golden, 20 more minutes

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ingredient Substitutions

I was in the middle of making a recipe today and realized I was out of something. CRAP! So, I ran upstairs to look for a substitution online. I found THIS. It is an entire comprehensive list of ingredient substitutions from Allrecipes.com. I copied and pasted it into word and printed it for use in my kitchen for everyday. Most of it is stuff we all have in our pantries. Hope it helps you too!

Thanksgiving Help

As we are both far away from home, my girlfriend and I are making Thanksgiving Dinner - the whole kit and kaboodle for our 2 families this year. We came up with the menu, did the shopping and are now feeling the excitement/anxiety of this huge Holiday Traditional Meal right around the corner - but feeling like we can't do anything about it because it is still a few days away!!

So - since I am the proactive gal I am - I got online this morning to find guidance from others who are far wiser than I am. Here is what I've come up with -

1. The Pioneer Woman rocks. I don't get over to her site very often, but I knew she'd have great advice on this holiday feast. I was not disappointed. I found her "Thanksgiving Cooking Schedule" very helpful.

2. I also cruised over to My Kitchen Cafe and found the coolest thing!! She did an entire week worth of posts called Thanksgiving 101 lots of great recipes and tips there too!

3. There is an amazingly comprehensive article here on What's Cooking America about How to Plan a Stress Free Thanksgiving Dinner keep scrolling down on this one - tons and tons of tips!
If you've come across another book/article/site that has helped you - please comment:)
Happy Cooking!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What's for Dinner? Sample Menu

Monday: Black Bean and Salsa Chicken, Salad and homemade Tortilla chips

Tuesday: Beef Stew (365 Days of Crockpot version), Rolls, and Salad

Wednesday: Grilled Chicken Sandwiches, homemade fries

Thursday: HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Turkey and ALL the fixings!

Friday: Eat out

Saturday: Pizza

Sunday: Round 2 of Turkey day!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Recipe Review

I watched Oprah several months ago - he had Cat Cora, Curtis Stone and Tyler Florence as guests - they all shared 5(?) of their easy, delicious go to dinners.

This was one of Tyler Florences. Crispy Chicken Drumsticks with Ranch Dressing. Sounds good enough right? AND coming from one of the greatest chef's around - a chef that loves doing things the 'Ultimate' way and is always cooking comfort food - I thought this was a home run!

I wanted to make something special for my hubs tonight and Chicken Drumsticks sounded like a 'manly meal' to me. Uh. Not so much. Super disappointed.

If you watched the same Oprah episode that I did, I highly recommend you DO NOT TRY this recipe UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE. Ewwwww...

Luckily the cheesy garlic bread and the 3 cheese rice I made were outstanding and saved the day!!
Crispy Chicken Drumsticks with Ranch Dressing – Tyler Florence
8 chicken legs
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder

Preheat the oven to 350° and place a roasting tray in the oven to heat up.Wash chicken legs under cold running water. Drain and pat dry with paper towels, then toss in olive oil. In a large ziplock bag, combine seasonings and panko bread crumbs. Drop the drumsticks into the bag, and shake around to coat evenly.

Remove hot tray from oven and drizzle with a little olive oil—it will shimmer and smoke a little, as the tray should be nice and hot. Using tongs, place each drumstick on the tray, and place back in the oven.

Bake for 30 minutes until golden and chicken is cooked through.
*First of all - 350 degrees is noooooot hot enough. 30 minutes is noooooot long enough. This is the second time I have gone out on a culinary limb and tried something besides boneless, skinless chicken breasts and neither time I have I been even remotely tempted to make either recipe again.
Word to the wise (and to the not so wise such as myself) if you are used to boneless, skinless, chicken breasts - don't ruin your taste for them by eating the 'parts' yuck!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Baked Camembert Pasta

I bought Novembers issue of Food Network magazine - I am making Thanksgiving dinner for the first time this year and I need ideas!! But I came across this recipe from Jamie Olivers latest cookbook featured in the issue.
People meet Camembert. Cam, meet the people.

This is what he looks like straight out of the oven - mmmmmmmm...
Baked Camembert Pasta
8 oz. Camembert cheese
2 cloves garlic
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Freshly ground black pepper
EVOO
4 oz parmesan cheese
salt
1 lb rigatoni (or whatev)
6 cups/6 oz. fresh spinach leaves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Open the box of cheese and unwrap it. Place it back in the wooden container. Score a circle into the top of the skin, then lift it off and discard. Peel and finely slice the garlic (I used minced from the jar). Pick the rosemary leaves off the woody stalk. Lay the garlic slices on top of the cheese, sprinkle with pepper and drizzel with EVOO. Scatter the rosemary leaves on top and gently pat with your fingers to coat them in oil.
Cook your pasta per directions on package. Add spinach in the last 10 seconds. Drain pasta and spinach - reserve some of the cooking water just in case. Add pasta and spinach back to pot. Drizzle with a couple of good lugs of EVOO and add the grated parm. If the sauce is too thick for you, add a splash of the reserved cooking water to thin it out a bit. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove cheese from the oven. Divide the pasta among your serving bowl. Either drizzle the melted camembert on top or pop the box of cheese on the table and let everyone help themselves to a lovely, gooey spoonful.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Feeding America

Please take some time and send a free e-greeting card to your family and friends. For EACH e-greeting card you send, 10 meals are donated to Feeding America. Feeding America is an amazing cause dedicated to domestic hunger relief. They network with food banks and other charities local and national to help fight hunger in our neighborhoods. All YOU have to do is click HERE. Kraft foods is donating the monetary amount equal to 10 meals to Feeding America for EVERY single person you send one of their e-greeting cards to. Please drop your loved ones a few lines and help those that need help. It is the time to be thankful for what we have, lets help those less fortunate. God Bless you all! Meals for hungry kids, adults, seniors, maybe even our family or friends are just a click away! CLICK HERE TO HELP!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ode To Fontina

I have posted about Pizza Night before - if you haven't checked that post - do it - one of the best and definitely the fastest dough recipe you will ever find! Thanks again Jacqui!

Also - thanks to the comment from Tonya on my Baked Pasta with Sausage post thanks to you, our pizza night turned out extra delish!
She told me to try Fontina cheese on my pizza next time - and I did. It was so freakin' delicious! You know the pizza commercials where the cheese stretches from the pizza to the freshly cut slice 12" above it? That's gotta be Fontina. It's a really mild cheese, that absorbs the flavors around it and the melt factor is truly amazing!

Go ahead try it - you will thank me:) or actually - you'll thank Tonya!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Baked Apples

I love apple pie - it is my favorite dessert - hands down. But - to make an apple pie properly takes a lot of time. So, I opted for baked apples tonight. I went with simple flavors and just winged it - they sure hit the spot!

Baked Apples
Brown Sugar
Butter
Cinnamon
Apples

Cut a well into your apples (just like you are carving the top of a pumpkin off) then use your knife to dig a bit to get the seeds out - sounds more time consuming than it acutally is. Set your apples in a shallow baking dish. Put a scoopful of brown sugar down the well and then a pat of butter on top of the brown sugar. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes - until the apples are nice and tender. Serve with French Vanilla ice cream!

Egg Salad Sammies

I have no idea why I am craving eggs so much lately - but I am. Maybe my body needs more protein? Anyway...

I made these sandwiches for lunch today - yumma.

Egg Salad Sammies
6 eggs
1/3 c mayo
1/4 c red onion, diced
2 t mustard (I like dijon)
1 T minced dill
Kosher salt & fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Put eggs in sauce pan and cover with cool tap water. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer for 15 minutes. Drain then fill the stock pot with cold water and ice to stop the cooking process. Allow them to cool for about 10 minutes. Peel - I have found that the easiest way to peel a hard boiled egg is to tap the small pointed end to break the shell then break the shell off under running water. Use an egg slicer or a food processor but make sure you don't break up the eggs too much. Combine all other ingredients and serve on good bread.

*Make this a 'diet' food by using reduced fat or low fat mayo - and remember that eggs are an eggcellent source of protien!

Turkey Minon

This isn't a recipe - but it is one of my favorite fast proteins. Turkey Minon. I get them at Costco - every once in a while they will put them on special - 6 Minons for $4 - you can't beat that!!


Just put them on your grill (still frozen) for 8 minutes per side. Then roll them on their sides to crisp up the bacon. Super delish...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spicy Spinach Dip

This dip is super easy to make and is very yummy. You can make this in the crockpot or right on the stove and it takes only 3 easy steps.

1 16oz block Velveeta
1 8oz block cream cheese
1 can Rotel HOT tomatoes
1 10oz bag frozen spinach

Step 1: Melt the cheeses together. I've found cutting them in to one inch squares makes them melt faster.
Step 2: Add Rotel to the melted cheese.
Step 3: Add frozen spinach to the mixture and heat until the spinach is warmed through. (You want to make sure the spinach is still frozen when you add it but also make sure that there is not a ton of ice on the spinach. Too much ice will make your dip too runny. )

That's it!! You can serve with tortilla chips or my hubby and I like to eat it with a cut up loaf of french bread. Mmmmm......

Hot Artichoke Dip

I made my mother in laws Hot Artichoke Dip again - mmmmm delicious... see all that ooey gooeyness?
I only made 1/2 a batch today - but if you are making it for a crowd - def make the full recipe - I promise this will be the first thing gone!
If there are ever leftovers - we put them in our omeletts (sp?) Super delish...

You can check out the original posting with the recipe here

Monday, November 9, 2009

Baked Pasta with Sausage

I made this super delish recipe tonight for dinner. After eating his first helping - my husband announced "alright...this is my new favorite dinner" - that is saying a lot since at first glance, I thought it was just another take on lasagna - b/c let's face it - most Italian food is made up of the same basic ingredients (same with Mexican food now that I think of it...)
Anyway - I found this recipe on Martha Stewart's site and it tastes just like eating at Romano's Macaroni Grill - or your fav Italian place...
AND you can give yourself a big ol' pat on the back for sneaking in all that spinach! I just read about how spinach is a "documented Super Food" it goes on to say that "with most Super Foods, there are one or two nutrients in particular that push an individual food to best in category. With spinach, the list is so long and impressive that the wide range of individual nutrients coupled with the unmatched synergy of those nutrients make it a top Super Food."
The fact that all 3 of my kiddos macked this down, spinach and all, was most excellent (am I chanelling Bill & Ted? TOTALLY!)
You can make this in a 9"x13" casserole or you can split it into 2 8"x8" pans (one of my favorite tricks) serve one tonight, and keep the other in the freezer for up to three months. To freeze, prepare the dish up until you stick it in the oven; let cool completely before covering tightly with plastic wrap and put in the freezer. If you freeze this dish, do not thaw before baking (awesome!) Remove plastic wrap, and cover with foil. Cook until heated through, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. Remove foil, then top with cheeses and bake 20 - 30 minutes at 400.

Baked Pasta with Sausage
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced (if you are lazy like me - I use the prepared minced garlic in a jar - which would be 2 t)
1/4 cup vodka (I eliminated this)
28 oz diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 lb rigatoni (or whatever you have on hand - I like rigatoni or penne because the sauce fills up the inside of the pasta and sticks to the ribbing on the outside of the pasta)
10 oz fresh baby spinach
12 oz ground sausage (Martha uses pre cooked thickly sliced chicken sausage - you know me - I just use what's around!)
6 ounces fontina cheese, 4 ounces cut into 1/2-inch cubes and 2 ounces coarsely grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (I rarely salt my pasta - it seems that most of the time salt is naturally added with other components - and as a last resort - you can always add more salt per your preference - but I am giving you the Martha recipe... mostly). Put it in your biggest, deepest skillet without any oil over medium heat. If your sausage isn't precooked, take it out of the casings, break it up and cook it until no longer pink. Add onion; cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic. Remove from heat; add vodka (if desired). Return to heat; cook until almost evaporated, 1 minute (this step is only necessary if you use vodka - like I said - I didn't and it turned out great!)
Stir in tomatoes and oregano; cook until tomatoes are falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes. Add cream; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Before you drain the pasta - Add spinach, and cook just until wilted. Then drain and return contents to pot.
Add tomato & sausage mixture, and cubed fontina to pot; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Put into your choice of casserole(s) dishes. Top with grated Fontina and Parmesan. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.

*You can substitute Mozzerella for Fontina. I have never used Fontina cheese before and can I just say that I am an instant fan. It costs about $5 for 6 oz. but so does fresh mozz. Fontina is very mild - but it melts like that is it's purpose in life. It gets all melty and gooey and lovely. Big fan.

**Also - you can substitute milk for heavy cream. I used heavy cream in this recipe - but it's not something I usually have on hand. I've got it stuck in my head that I can't keep anything dairy in my fridge unless it will serve a specific purpose in the next couple of days. I have realized that just isn't true! I bought heavy cream 2 weeks ago - and the expiration date on the bottle is the end of December. I have also realized that this is true with a few other items - like shredded parmesan cheese - which I will go into more detail in my next post... stay tuned!

Sun Dried Tomato Alfredo & Shrimp Pasta

This isn't exactly a recipe - more of an idea for dinner. Last night dinner kinda snuck up on me (this whole day light savings thing has got me all crazy). I hadn't defrosted anything - or had the slightest idea what I was going to make and everyone was starving...

So - I got in the freezer, fridge and pantry and came up with this... dinner was on the table in less than 15 minutes!

Sun Dried Tomato Alfredo & Shrimp Pasta
Shrimp - I use the pre-cooked, frozen for convenience
1 jar of your favorite alfredo sauce
sun dried tomatoes (pureed) *
artichoke hearts*
1/2 c toasted pine nuts*
Pasta (whatever you have on hand)
EVOO
Salt & Pepper to taste


Cook the pasta per directions on the package. Use a very small amount of EVOO to cook the shrimp. If you are using frozen (like I do) once they thaw out - you'll need to drain them (b/c of all the water that cooks off) then stick 'em back in the pan and season (if desired). Add in the alfredo and pureed tomatoes (I just eyeballed it - one big heaping scoop of tomatoes). Cook on med-low until the sauce is warm.
Drain pasta. Put pasta back in your stock pot and add shrimp mixture. I cut up the artichoke hearts pretty small and sprinkled the plate with toasted pine nuts. (Artichoke hearts not in the picture - this was my sons plate and he doesn't like them).

If you haven't toasted pine nuts before - don't be intimiated (b/c I was - how crazy is that?) get your smallest skillet - throw in a handful or pinenuts and cook on low until they are toasted (brown). The only real thing to keep in mind is that you want a dry skillet - no butter or oil please!

It was really good! Not bad for a last minute dinner!

Lots of tips/tricks on this one:)
*I have talked about my love affair with Costco before - but I am going to gush again. I buy a big ol' jar of Sun Dried Tomatos (in oil) - when I get home, I seperate the jar into dinner sized portions. I have a couple of containers of whole SDT and I puree the rest. Then, I always have that little 'gourmet' addition right on hand.
I also buy Kirkland Pesto sauce - and divide it into dinner sized portions to freeze as well - another 'gourmet' go to.
I buy a HUGE jar of artichoke hearts (marinated in oil) from Costco as well - you don't need to freeze these - they keep in the fridge for 2 years! I know crazy hu? I have also bought a big jar and split it with another family or 2.
Last one (for this post!) Pine Nuts. They are delicious. I buy a bag at Costco - and keep them in the freezer. You don't even have to defrost them - love that trick.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Beer Battered Halibut

I have tried several times over the years to deep fry various foods. ALL of those attempts have resulted in horrendous failure. I am not one to give up though - and I really wanted to make fish and chips at home - so I invested $2 in a candy thermometer to help me get the precise temperature. That was the ticket!

Then, I went online and found this awesome recipe on Allrecipes - and made a few adjustments...

Beer Battered Halibut
*6 - 8 Halibut steaks (you want to cut them down so they are about 2" wide)
2 quarts vegetable oil for frying
3 eggs
3/4 cup beer (can substitute beef or chicken stock)
1 1/2 cups milk
4 cups flour + more for dredging
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cornstarch.
In a large bowl, beat together eggs and milk. Mix in beer. Use your hand mixer to blend well - you don't want any lumps. Season with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
In an deep fryer or a heavy saucepan, heat oil to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Dredge fillets in egg mix (to help the batter stick). Coat fish in batter, and fry in hot oil. I had about an inch of oil in my dutch oven (waaay safer) and I just flippped them over after about 3 minutes a side - you'll be able to see that they've browned.

When you pull them out of the oil - set them on a brown paper bag (or paper towels) to de-grease them a bit)

This batter was so amazing. Your natural tendency may be to put on a really thick layer of batter - but resist! Just give it a nice thin coat and they'll turn out perfect!
*about 1 1/2 lbs - you can substitute any white fleshed fish

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mary's Salsa

This is also for you cuz! My sister in law (I just mentioned her Mother, Eleanor) is also a fantastic cook - this is her salsa recipe...

Mary's Salsa
4 c diced tomatoes (off the vine or in a can)
11 oz corn
15 oz black beans
12 oz diced green chilies
4 oz black olives
1/2 c EVOO
1/8 c balsamic vinegar
4 limes juiced
1/2 bunch cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together and voila! I add diced cucumber and green onions too!

Eleanor's Black Beans

My cousin is looking for good mexican sides - I haven't posted this recipe yet - but I am telling you that these are the best beans you will have in your life. I got the recipe from my super gourmet faux Mother In Law (faux b/c she is my sister in laws Mother - but we claim each other as blood!)

Eleanor’s Black Beans
2 cans black beans
2 slices thick cut bacon, hopped
1 small red onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1 ½ T ground cumin
2 t sherry wine vinegar
1/2 - 1 can of chicken stock
Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

Heat oil in saucepan. Add bacon and cook over med heat until starting to brown. Add onion, celery and pepper. Reduce heat and continue cooking about 10 minutes. Add beans, cumin, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and simmer 20 minutes. Add chicken stock if too thick. The chicken stock cooks down and gets absorbed by the beans - so I start with 1/2 a can and go from there.
*I eliminated the jalapeno b/c my kids were eating with us - and I didn't have sherry wine vinegar, so I used rice wine vinegar. I have also used red wine vinegar too.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Avocado and Pistachio Crusted Halibut

My hubs called me last night and said that he'd be home late. I made mac n' cheese for the kids, got them bathed and in bed before hubs walked in the door. I put candles on the table, got out our nice dinnerware and glasses and we had a little romantic evening - at home - with this wonderful, light, devine meal. So much fun to do that every once in a while:)

I was so in love with this dinner at a restraunt called the "Ore Housee" that I decided to recreate something to pay homage to this luxurious dinner - and it turned out delish.

Avocado and Pistachio crusted Halibut with Balsamic butter sauce (Ore House wanna be)
4 Halibut steaks
1 ½ c crushed pistachios
1/2 c avocado (mashed)
2 T Flour
1/2 t Ground Pepper
1 T EVOO

Combine the avocado, flour and pepper together. Coat the top of the halibut steak evenly - in a nice light layer. I love things to be ‘over the top’ BUT you need to remember how delicate fish is – don’t put it on too thickly. Crush your pistachios pretty fine (I used my hubs coffee grinder) and add a thin layer of the pistachios on top of the avocado layer.

Put the EVOO in your baking dish and bake at 375°F oven for 15-20 minutes (until the fish is bright white and flakes easily).

Balsamic Butter Sauce
In a small sauce pan, add 3T butter at medium temp. Brown butter, 2 to 3 minutes, stir in ¼ c balsamic and simmer 1 to 2 minutes to reduce by half. Pour the brown butter on individual serving dishes and top with the Halibut.

*I served this with steamed asparagus - oh man.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Devilishly Delightful Deviled Eggs

Everyone has a recipe for Deviled Eggs - this is mine:

Devilishly Delightful Deviled Eggs

6 hard boiled eggs
1/4 c mayonnaise
1 t prepared mustard
1 t vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
green onions, diced very small
paprika

Peel your eggs and cut them in half lengthwise - remove the yolks. Put the yolks into a bowl and mash them with a fork - then add all other ingredients except paprika and combine. Use a small spoon to spoon a dollup of the mixture into each egg half.

Sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper and paprika. Chill before serving.
*If you like your filling a bit thicker - use less mayo

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cream Cheese Frosting

My foodie daughter will turn 5 next month and is absolutely obsessed with the "Big Top Cupcake" mold (as seen on TV) she has been begging me to get one for her birthday party - walking around the house quoting the infomercial "it's not just a boring old cupcake - it's 25 times bigger - for more fun!"

So, we went to Hobby Lobby today (with our 40% off coupon - b/c have you ever noticed that their baking stuff NEVER goes on sale?) Anyway... I wanted to try it out before Halloween and her birthday a few times (as you can plainly see - I have no decoration skills either - I'll need to work on that too!)

Today we made Pumpkin Spice sweet bread and decorated it with Cream Cheese Frosting - so delicious - I especially love that today just happens to be the coldest day yet - perfect!


Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

In a small bowl beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form; set aside.
In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth, then fold in whipped cream.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Go To Appetizer

No question. My go to appetizer is this delicious Texas Caviar I posted the recipe previously here - but didn't include a picture.

If you haven't made this yet - do it - your friends and family will love you!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Outback Steakhouse Ranch Dressing

My copycat of Outback Steakhouse Ranch Dressing:
1 pkg Hidden Valley Ranch dry mix (buttermilk recipe)
2 c mayonnaise
1 c buttermilk (*or sour milk)
1/2 t fresh cracked pepper
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, mix well. refrigerate for at least an hour before serving - it needs time for all the flavors to marry.

*Sour milk. If you don't have buttermilk on hand (for any recipe) you can substitute the same measurement of buttermilk called for (in this recipe 1 c) regular milk and add 1T lemon or lime juice to it. In some recipes, using this substitute can make it a little tart - just balance that with a bit of sugar.

Food Allergies

I just thought I would share an awesome website I just ran in to. It is called Spewd Free http://www.spewdfree.com/. It stands for Soy,peanut,eggs,wheat and dairy free. The website has some great alternative recipes for every day normal meals for those with food allergies. I hope it helps. I am for sure trying some of them this weekend. My little 3 month old was just diagnosed with a milk-protein allergy. I am a newby to the whole food allergy concept so if you all have any dairy free recipes, suggestions and substitutions PLEASE SHARE!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash

I posted this a while ago - but I grouped it in with a bunch of roasted veggies - this one is so good, I thought I'd give it a post all by itself.
Roasted Butternut Squash
2 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into bit sized pieces
4 t butter
4 t brown sugar
Kosher Salt
Fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°. Place butternut squash on a large baking sheet. Melt butter and mix with brown sugar. Drizzle that mixture over each squash. Season with salt and pepper – roast for 40 minutes, until fork tender.

*You want to make sure that even the biggest pieces are fork tender - the more tender - the better the taste.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Broccoli Salad Again

My Mother-In-Law is coming to visit today. We have an unspoken understanding that every time she comes to visit I must make 2 things. One of them is my Broccoli Salad (which I previously posted - but without a picture)
This salad is so good - even your kids will love it. Click here for the original post and enjoy:)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Char's Roasted Potatoes

I found this recipe through fellow blogger Char she said that this is the 'most requested recipe' in her arsenal - for good reason...
Char's Roasted Potatoes
Potatoes
Johnny’s Garlic Spread
Lawry’s seasoned salt
Dill weed
1 stick of butter

Quarter potatoes and boil them for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Melt butter add more seasoning than you think you’ll need. Roast for 2 hours – stirring every 30 minutes.

That's the recipe!
To those of you that need more specific measurements - I'll tell you what I did.

I used a 5 lb bag of potatoes (I split this recipe with another family of 4) I used Gold potatoes- they are a fav. I cut them down into big bite size pieces. Some of my potatoes could easily be quartered - others needed to be cut down a bit more. Just try to get a uniform size.
Since she didn't give measurements on the seasonings - I just sprinkled the seasonings over the potatoes until they looked 1/2 to 3/4 of the way covered (on top) then I mixed them with my hands to get all that delicious seasoning all over those potatoes.
I don't have a roasting pan so I just used a cookie sheet - worked great. The other family I shared these with RAVED about them and asked for the recipe!
*Johnny's Garlic Spread is available at Costco in Northern Utah or online here. It has a really unusual combination of flavors - garlicy, mediterranian, cheesy - hard to describe - worth ordering it online:)
** I have also used small red potatoes - super awes. If there are any left - I mash them and serve them with dinner the next night - always a hit!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Potato Ham Chowder

This one's a goody. I make a HUGE batch - have it for dinner the day I make it - then freeze a 'family sized' container of it for a future meal and I also freeze little 'single servings' for quick lunches or snacks. I just use a Texas sized muffin pan to freeze them into individual servings - you freeze 'em and then do a very quick dip into hot water to pop them out.
This recipe is so SUPER easy - anyone can make it and everyone will love it:)


Potato Ham Chowder
One package of 'Creamy Potato - Bear Creek Soup Mix'
8 - 12 cups water - depending on how chunky you want your soup - I do 12 cups
Diced Ham or Bacon (amount is based on preference)
15 oz corn (you can use either fresh, frozen or canned)
1 medium onion, diced
1 28 oz bag Ore Ida potatoes O'Brian
Cheddar cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste


I have made this two ways (because I'm crazy like that)
1. Make soup according to package directions - then add all other ingredients and let simmer for an hour or so (you need to make sure that the potatoes are soft and that everything is heated through).

2. While the water is coming up to boil, I put the potatoes, ham, corn and onions in a skillet and cook them until the potatoes are done. I can usually do this pretty close to the time it takes the water to boil. Then make the soup according to package directions and add in all other ingred and serve right away.

Just depends on your schedule - I usually make it the #1 way when I know I'll need time away from the stove but still need to have dinner ready at a decent hour (I'll make it and then head out to Scouts - when we come home dinners ready - don't worry - I don't leave the soup/stove unattended) but it can just sit there and get nice and yummy without anyone having to worry about it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Southwestern Lasagna

This is SO good. I found the recipe for Southwestern Lasagna on Yummy Fun - and let me tell you - it was Yummy and Fun to see all the smiles at my table. Southwestern Lasagna – Yummy Fun
8 small flour tortillas
3-4 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1/2 sweet onion
1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes and green chilies)
1 sm can diced green chilies (I puree these for the kids)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 C frozen corn
1 Can black beans
juice from 1/2 lime
1/4 C water (as needed)
1/4 or less chopped cilantro (to taste for garnish)
3 C monterey jack cheese - grated

Combine cooked chicken, onions, Rotel, green chilies and spices into a pan and saute. Let simmer until slightly bubbly. Then add corn, black beans and water if necessary to obtain an ever so slightly soupy consistency.

Lightly grease baking dish. In a 9x13" casserole dish (or 2 8x8's) Put a single layer of tortillas on the bottom. Scoop 1/2 chicken mixture on top of tortillas then with 1/2 monterey jack cheese. REPEAT. Then cut a couple of tortillas into small triangles, place on top of casserole and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Preheat oven 350, bake 20 minutes covered and approx 20-30 more minutes uncovered.

I was really curious how the 'triangle tortillas' would affect the dish. Would they be dry? Would they burn? Is that really a good idea? Turns out - the tortillas on top get nice and crispy and add a totally AWESOME layer of texture to the dish!

I served this with Avocado Dressing - as an homage to "Chili's Southwestern Eggrolls and Avocado Dipping Sauce" and it really hit the spot! I told my hubs where I got the recipe and the idea for the sauce and he had a great idea. Buy the smallest tortillas, fill them with the chicken mixture and cheese, wrap them up like little burritos - bake and serve as appetizers with the dipping sauce! BRILLIANT - I am definitely doing that for our next get together.

*I did a very few things differently. I totally spaced the lime juice - and it was still amazing - next time I make it I'll be sure to include it. I also didn't have frozen corn, so I just used 1 can of corn and I didn't add cilantro (my husband thinks it tastes like soap).

Avocado Dressing/Dip


I wanted to serve something on the side of the Southwestern Lasagna to as an ode to "Chili's Southwestern Eggrolls with Avocado Dipping Sauce" and this was the ticket baby! I sorta 'winged it' and didn't measure my spices - so tweak it to your preference. I was really pleased with how it turned out - the perfect compliment to the Southwestern Lasagna:)

Avocado Dressing/Dip
1/2 Avocado
1/4 c mayonnaise
1/4 c sour cream
1/8 t salt
1/8 t dried parsley
1/8 t onion powder
Dash dill weed
Dash garlic powder
Dash pepper

Blend all ingredients together (I use my immersion blender!) Refrigerate before serving to get it chilled and to allow the flavors to marry.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Artisan Bread

I can't believe I haven't posted about this recipe yet - I just double and triple checked - I have to apologize from keeping you all from this recipe - it's AMAZING.

If you really want to impress - make this - people will think you spent years working in a bakery - and it'll be our little secret that this recipe is probably the least labor intensive bread I've ever made (and that is saying something!)

The first time I made it - it turned out just like it did today - you can't go wrong with this one - whether it's your first time or your 100th!

I found this recipe 3 or 4 years ago and I make it all the time. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that it needs to rise overnight - so PLAN AHEAD:)
Artisan Bread
3 c all-purpose flour
1/4 t instant yeast
1 1/4 t salt
1 + 1/2 + 2T warm water
Cornmeal

In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast and salt. Then add the water and stir until blended. Dough will be sticky and shaggy looking. (See? That will only take you 4 minutes) Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 18 hours at room temperature. *You'll know when the dough is ready - the surface will be dotted with bubbles.

Lightly flour your work surface and place dough on it (I just flip the bowl over and it all slides out). Sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a COTTON TOWEL (not terry cloth) with cornmeal. place the dough 'ball' seam side down on the cornmeal then cover with another cotton towel and let rise an additional 2 hours.

Half an hour before the dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6 - 8 qt. heavy covered pot (I use my cast iron pot) in the oven as it heats up.

When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven and remove the lid. Take the top towel off of the dough - slide your hand under the other towel and turn the dough over into the pot. It might look like a mess - don't worry.

Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes. Then remove lid and bake another 5 - 10 minutes until the loaf is beautifully browned.

When it's ready - plop that baby on a rack to cool and be careful not to go to far away - or it'll disappear!

*I usually make these loaves 2 at a time. The first one out of the oven is gone lickity split! I use the second one to give to a neighbor or use for sandwiches or baked fondue - mmmmm...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Broccoli Bake

Remember a few posts back when I blanched and then froze ALL that broccoli?

I thawed it out (in the fridge overnight) and made this little number with it. I didn't have any diced ham, so we just ate it 'veggie style' - it's great as a main dish or as a side.
Broccoli Bake
3 lbs fresh broccoli – blanched (or you can use 20 oz. chopped frozen broccoli, thawed)
2 cups cubed ham
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 medium onion, diced and sautéed (you can add them raw, but if you sauté them, that’ll take the ‘bite’ out of them)
8 oz sour cream
1 can cream of (whatever you have on hand) soup
3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 c crushed Ritz crackers (about 2/3 of a package)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients except broccoli. Add the broccoli and incorporate. Spread out in a 9x13 casserole dish (or 2 8x8’s like I usually do). Bake for 30 minutes – YUMMO.

*If you want it really creamy, add another can of soup.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pumpkin Cookies

This is my all time favorite time of year and the FIRST thing I do EVERY year when I feel that fall nip in the air is make pumpkin cookies! This is a family recipe handed down for generations. I hope you all enjoy it!
3 Cups sugar
3 Eggs Beaten
1 cup shortening
6 cups of flour
1 Large can of pumpkin
3 tsp vanilla
3 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
12 (yes 12!) tsp baking powder

Cream shortening and sugar together. Add eggs. Add pumpkin. Mix dry ingredients together. Add to pumpkn mixture. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. They will be very moist. DO NOT overcook.
*Tip* Add all the spices to the pumpkin in seperate bowl, mix together and THEN add it to the shortening, sugar and eggs mixture. Continue on with rest of recipe.
This recipe yields at least 4 dozen. I usually get closer to 6-7 dozen when I make it. It is easiest to make in a Kitchenaid or other big mixer.

Playdoh- Home made

I remembered today making this as a kid. We are home sick at our house and I was trying to think of something easy but fun to do. Hence homemade playdoh! Try it!
1 Cup flour
1 TBSP oil
1 Cup water (add food coloring if desired to the water)
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
Mix together all ingredients. Cook over medium heat. Stir constantly until dough comes away from the pan. Remove from heat and knead for one minute. Store in a covered container.

Garden Veggie Chowder

This recipe is my all time favorite soup for fall. I originally got it from a friend and have adapted a little bit. SO delicious. I'm not sure if it is because it is beautiful weather or if it's because I'm sick (or a combination of the two) but I have a hankering for some veggie chowder.

1/2 cup chopped green peppers
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter
1 Cup chopped of EACH of the following: Potato, celery, cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli
3 cups water
3 chicken bouillan cubes
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup flour
2 cups of milk
1 TBSP parsley flakes (or fresh)
12 oz. of cheddar cheese (I use medium sharp)

Saute green pepper and onion in the butter until tender. Add all veggies, water, bouillan, salt, pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 min. or until veggies are all tender.
In a seperate bowl, combine flour and milk until smooth, stir into pan. Bring to a boil once more, stir continuously while at a boil for 2 minutes. Reduce heat and add parsley. Add cheese just before serving, stir in until melted.

*A couple of suggestions on this recipe that I have. 1. I ALWAYS double this. Reason being: It is so easy to double. Plus, all of your veggies that you buy, you will get at least two cups and lots extra out of. While you are at it you may as well freeze some for later. 2. When I do freeze some for later, I do NOT add the cheese. I add the cheese after I reheat it and it is already warmed up. THEN add the cheese. 3. Before I add cheese when serving I transfer to my crockpot and set on low to keep warm while I'm serving my family or my guests. I hope these tips help. Enjoy! Please try it and let me know what you think! Oh... and I usually add more cheese than it says too. We like it uber cheesy!

*Make this a 'diet' food by using skim milk, a butter substitute and reduced fat cheese

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lazy Momma Dayz

My husband travels a lot - I know I've mentioned this too many times - but it's relevant. When my hubs gets home from being 'on the road' I love to have the house spik and span and the house smelling delicious. I'm just that kinda gal (and I love to eat delicious home cooked meals as much as he does!)

BUT - this post is about the Lazy Momma Days I have inbetween when my hubby is home and when I am only catering to my kiddos tastes and needs. Keep in mind that my kids are 6, 4 and 21 months old. Here are a few quick lazy meals that'll satisfy the kiddos and won't make you feel guilty.

Top Ramen - alone you're the bomb - if you want to kick it up a notch - here's an idea: make it the usual way - only you drain the water off like you would pasta. Add steamed veggies (usually broccoli and carrots - they take 10 minutes in the micro), a few cashews (protein) and your favorite Teriyaki sauce (Mr. Yoshida's at Costco rocks!) It's a (under 6 crowd pleaser - me not so much)

Mac N' Cheese with Hot Dogs: a classic. Self explanitory - dairy, protein, gooeyness - nuff said.

Pasta: There are 100 million things you can do with pasta. I pre-cook a bunch (look here) and the possibilities are endless. You can throw the pre-cooked pasta in the microwave with Alfredo Sauce (from a jar), spaghetti sauce (from a jar or homemade), pesto (from a jar or homemade) or as my son prefers - just with butter and a pinch of salt. Plus you can add any protein you have in your fridge to kick it up - HOLLA!

Believe me - make one of these ridiculously easy kid friendly meals and you'll be a hero - just like me.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Home Made Soft Pretzels

When I posted my Home Made Bagel recipe someone commented or whether or not I thought that recipe could be used to make soft pretzels - what a genius!! So, today I decided to test that theory.

I was alone in the kitchen and when I pulled them out of the oven - everyone came running. Jack had his plain (salted), Maisie had hers with ranch dressing, my hubs had his with mustard, I had mine with cream cheese and my baby had hers with butta. YUM.

As I mentioned before - I made 2 batches so I had 8 BIG dough balls - if you adhere to the recipe, you will have 8 small dough balls...
Roll it out nice and thin - Remember how big mine turned out - next time I'll roll them even thinner...
This is what they looked like right before they took their bath...
And the finished product - I've been saying they are huge - but I should at least mention that this isn't a dinner plate, it's a salad plate - they aren't THAT big:)
Homemade Soft Pretzels
4 cups bread flour *remember how I told you that using 'bread flour' is really important in certain recipes - this is one of them*
1 Tbls sugar
1 1/2 tsps salt
1 Tbls vegetable oil
2 tsps instant yeast
1-1/4- 1-1/2 cups of warm water

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. You don't have to worry about soaking the yeast when you use instant yeast (most yeast sold these days is instant yeast). The dough should feel stiff, but add the extra water if it's really stiff, or you can't get all the dry flour incorporated. Plop the dough down onto the counter, and knead for about ten minutes, or until the dough is uniform and smooth. Cut the dough into 8 equal sized balls, and let rest for 10-20 minutes. *Since this is the first time trying this, I decided to use double the amount of dough per pretzel - so I only had 4 equal sized balls - and my pretzels turned out GINORMOUS. They were awesome, but next time I'll stick with the original recipe.

Now, take each of the dough balls and using two hands, roll it into a long thin snake on the counter - remember they will be just about double the size you make them - so go thin. Then shape them into pretzels. Let your dough rest on the counter for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil, and grease a large baking tray lightly. You can just rub a splash of vegetable or olive oil and rub it around.
After the 20 minute wait, your pretzels will start to look puffy, and it's time to get them boiling! Add them as many at a time as you can to your boiling water without crowding them. Boil for about a minute, turn them over, and boil for another minute. *If you decide to 'go big' like I did - you'll need to boil them for about 90 seconds on each side* Take them out and set them on a cooling rack for a minute or two and then place them on your oiled baking tray. Repeat until all the pretzels are boiled. If you want to make traditional salted pretzels, sprinkle them with Kosher Salt right when you get them out of the water.

Bake them at 425 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes flipping them over half way through. Then feast on these delicious babies.

**One last tip. I made 2 batches because with they way I did them (the hugeinic way) I would've only ended up with 4 pretzels - and that just wouldn't fly around here. So - here's the tip - NEVER, EVER, EVER DOUBLE YOUR BATCH. The dough is so stiff you can't work with it. I made 2 batches - but I made them in seperate bowls - so if you are making them for a crowd - get out a bowl for each batch and get 'er done!

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