Friday, December 28, 2012

Cinnamon Belgian Waffles

I got a new Belgian Waffle maker for Christmas this year. It's a nice one like you see in motels for the continental breakfasts that you can flip the waffle maker over while they're cooking! I had ran across this recipe at Allrecipes.com a while ago and had wanted to give it a try, but my waffle maker was old and hiding in the back of my cupboard so I hadn't gotten around to it. The day after Christmas we decided to have 'Breakfast" for dinner with Ham and leftover Sour cream potatoes.. . so it was a perfect opportunity to try out this recipe! These were delicious! Light and fluffy! Awesome with butter and maple syrup! Enjoy!


Cinnamon Belgian Waffles
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tablespoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1 pinch ground cinnamon (or two dashes like I did)

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat your waffle iron.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, buttermilk and butter until well blended. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt and cinnamon; stir into the buttermilk mixture. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff. Fold into the batter.
Spoon batter onto the hot waffle iron, close, and cook until golden brown. Waffles are usually done when the steam subsides.
Top with butter and maple syrup and enjoy!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Gingerbread Oreo Truffles

I made up this recipe after running across Gingerbread Oreos at the grocery store! YUM! I LOVE Oreo Truffles  and the Key Lime Truffles I have posted, so I thought why not try Gingerbread truffles! They turned out great. If you are unable to find these since they are a special holiday edition of Oreos, you could use the Golden Oreos and I would probably double the spices that I have in the recipe below, or adjust to your taste. YUMMO!
Gingerbread Oreo Truffles
1 package Gingerbread Oreo Cookies
1-8 oz. package Cream Cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
White dipping Chocolate

Crush the Oreos in a food processor, set aside. Mix cream cheese, extract and seasonings together until there are no lumps in the cream cheese, add crushed Oreos to cream cheese and mix until combined.
Roll by teaspoonfuls into balls and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, chill in the refrigerator for ½ an hour and dip in melted white chocolate. Decorate as desired.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Home made "Cracker Jack" Popcorn

I LOVE caramel corn, buttered popcorn, my recipe for pumpkin spice popcorn, I just love popcorn. I found this recipe here and thought I would give it a shot. Wow!! It's way easy! I have another recipe for Fiddle Faddle popcorn but that one you have to use a candy thermometer and if you don't watch it close, the toffee coating can be too sticky or too hard, But this recipe doesn't have you do that! It's super easy and after you coat the popcorn and nuts you bake it in the oven. I tweaked it a bit and lowered the oven temp because I thought mine tasted a bit too done, but it's great. You know what I thought of doing for my neighbors this year for Christmas? Remember getting Cracker Jack caramel corn in the box? That's what this recipe reminds me of, but remember they had prizes in the box? I was thinking of getting cute little gift boxes for treats, putting in my Home Made Cracker Jack popcorn, and then going to those gumball / candy machines that are usually in the lobbies of stores, and getting silly little prizes and sticking in the box along with the popcorn, wouldn't that be fun for families with little kids???

Home made "Cracker Jack" Popcorn

*Note: you want about 18 cups of popped corn. I've found that about 1/4 cup of unpopped kernels yields about 5 1/2 to 6 cups popped corn. While the recipe calls for 3/4 cup unpopped kernels, be sure to only add it a bit at a time in shifts according to your popcorn popper so the kernels don't burn.
*Makes about 18 cups of toffee popcorn (that seems like a lot, but trust me, it goes fast!)

Ingredients:
3/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels, white or yellow
2 sticks butter
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup (I didn't have dark Corn Syrup, so I used 1/4 cup molasses and 1/2 cup light corn syrup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups dry roasted, salted peanuts
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Grease two large rimmed baking sheets and set aside.
Pop the popcorn kernels, in shifts if needed to ensure your popcorn popper doesn't burn the popcorn, and place the popcorn in a large bowl, sifting through to remove the unpopped kernels.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When melted add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil while stirring. Once the mixture starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, for 3 minutes. The mixture will be slightly thickened. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. The mixture will bubble so be careful-it foams and rises a bit so use a deep saucepan!!!

Pour the caramel over the popcorn and mix slightly. Add the peanuts and mix well but gently (so you don't break apart the popcorn) until the popcorn is evenly coated and the peanuts are distributed through the mixture.

Turn the popcorn out onto the baking sheets, spreading into an even layer. Bake the popcorn for one hour, stirring and tossing every 20 minutes. Move the bottom tray to the upper rack and vice versa each time you stir. The popcorn will deepen in color and harden a bit as the caramel bakes and sets. Cool the popcorn to room temperature. Store in an airtight container. I've found the popcorn will keep, stored tightly, for 1-2 weeks.

I am going to warn you... this is highly addicting, you can't eat just a little bit!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Green Bean Casserole with Homemade Mushroom Gravy

I made this Green Bean Casserole for Thanksgiving dinner, after all you can't have Thanksgiving without green bean casserole. I hadn't made the regular Green bean casserole very often just because it was lacking something, so when I saw this on Guy Fieri's Food Network show, I had to give it a try. I did tweak it a bit, I added bacon.... bacon is good in anything isn't it? Andrew had had green beans with bacon at one place that he worked, he still talks about those, so that's what gave me the inspiration to try it here. I also just used regular button mushrooms, YUM! Even my Mother-in-law said that the Green Bean casserole was excellent. (I love my Mother-in-law, she isn't like the typical mother-in-law that you hear bad things about, she's easy to get along with and talk to, I just threw that in there because it seems most people aren't as lucky as me! ) I'm posting this recipe  because I thought some of you might want to give it a try for Christmas. Enjoy!

Green Bean Casserole with Homemade Mushroom Gravy
Ingredients:
6 slices thick, smoked peppered bacon
1- 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed (I used fresh from the produce department, they have them bagged and trimmed already to go by the bagged salads!)
Salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced,
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1 small container french fried onions
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Slice the bacon into bite size pieces. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, when hot, add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally until cooked and crispy. While your bacon is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook until they just turn bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. (You don't want to cook the green beans through as they will cook in the oven also.) Strain and plunge the green beans immediately in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. When cool, drain and set out to dry on paper towels.
When your bacon is done, remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate, set aside. If there is a lot of bacon grease in the skillet drain, leaving about a 1 Tablespoon in the skillet and add the butter; once the butter is melted add the mushrooms. Cook undisturbed so the mushrooms sear nicely, about 1 minute. Add the thyme and garlic and continue cooking the mushrooms to achieve some nice color. Season with the salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg. Cook 2 to 3 more minutes longer, dusting the mushrooms with some of the flour as they release moisture. Stir with a whisk to incorporate the flour (just like making a roux) and gradually add in the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and add the sour cream and cream. Stir gently and cook over low heat until gravy thickens, 5 to 6 minutes. (Be careful not to boil to hard or the cream mixture will separate and curdle)  Add the blanched green beans and bacon to the pan and fold together so everything is mixed well.
Pour into a 13x9 baking dish, spread out evenly in the dish. Sprinkle the green beans with the grated Parmesan bake until the casserole is bubbly and the top is melted and golden, 15 minutes. Top with french fried onions and continue to cook for about 5 to 10 more minutes. Enjoy!

Italian Sausage Soup

I am reposting this recipe in case you missed it. It was one of my very first posts when I started my recipe blog. I LOVE this soup and it just seems like a good Christmas soup for Christmas Eve or something. Enjoy!
This is the recipe I got from Courtney. It's delicious!!!

Italian Sausage Soup
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 pound Italian Sausage, casings removed (I used hot)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
2 stalks celery with leaves, chopped (I took the leaves off)
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic (I use the minced in a jar! Easier!)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
5 cups chicken broth
1 (16 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (9 ounce pkge) Three Cheese Tortellini
Salt and Pepper to taste (I started with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper) add more to your taste
Parmesan cheese for Garnishing if desired

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage until evenly browned, and break into pieces. Stir in the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, basil, rosemary, red pepper, and sage. Continue cooking 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Mix in tomatoes, and cook until heated through. Stir in the broth and beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes.
Stir in tortellini's and continue cooking 10 more minutes, or until tortellini's are tender.
Garnish with Parmesan on the top if desired.

This can be made as spicy as you like, using hot italian sausage and increasing the crushed red pepper.
I served with garlic cheese bread bread, and salad. Mmmmmmm... Thanks Courtney!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Krispie Treats


I am re-posting this recipe because I made it for a Young Men activity last week and put Christmas Sprinkles in it instead of the Candy corn since it was a Christmas Activity. Turned out cute! AND way yummy, if you haven't tried this recipe make some today to share with your kids! It's awesome!
There are a lot of different recipes for Rice Krispie treats out there. I thought a pumpkin spice Rice Krispie treat sounded awesome since I LOVE my Pumpkin Spice Popcorn. I found one recipe that had canned pumpkin in the recipe and gave it a try, but ended up throwing it out. It had a different flavor and the rice krispies got soggy even though I drained my pumpkin to get the moisture out of it. There were also a lot of variations of this recipe but this is what I came up with. Here's a warning though, you just might eat the whole pan! They are amazing and the perfect treat for this time of year! Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Krispie Treats

4 Tablespoons butter
1-16 oz. package Marshmallows (large or small it doesn't matter)
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups Crispy Rice cereal
1 cup candy corn  (I used the Caramel flavored candy corn) OR for Christmas, use 1/4  cup Christmas Sprinkles

Spray a 13x9 inch baking dish with a non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, measure your rice crispy cereal and the candy corns (OR Christmas sprinkles). Set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat and add the marshmallows. Continue to stir over medium low heat until the marshmallows are completely melted.
Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and pumpkin pie spice.
Next, pour in the Rice Crispie ceral and candy corns (OR Christmas sprinkles) . Stir until completely coated. Don't worry if the sprinkles tend to melt a bit, makes them look festive I think!
Pour mixture into your prepared dish, using a buttered spatula evenly press the cereal down so it fills the pan and is smooth on top. The picture below is what mine looked like with the candy corns for Autumn time. The above picture had the Christmas sprinkles for my Christmas activity.
 Let cool and cut into squares! Enjoy! (As you can see I didn't let mine cool before I had to taste them! :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cinnamon-spice Nut Mix

Don't you love the Holidays and going to the mall? I especially love it when the malls have vendors set up in the middle of the mall that make Cinnamon spice nuts.... LOVE the way they make the mall smell! I ran across this recipe on the internet and it was sooo easy and yummy, and made my house smelll SO good as they were baking,  I thought I would share. I took these to my "Treat the office" Day and they were a hit. I think I'm going to make some tonight, it seems I"m all out of snacks.... Enjoy!
Cinnamon-spice Nut Mix
 4 cups assorted whole nuts (Use a mixture of your favorite like walnuts, pecans, almonds, and macadamias)
2 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Heat oven to 225. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil that has been sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl combine sugar, cinnamon, salt , ginger, allspice, cloves and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Set aside.
In another large bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy and frothy. Add nuts, tossing to coat well.
Pour the sugar mixture over the nuts, tossing until all the nuts are evenly coated with the sugar mixture.

Spread nuts in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet, separating with a fork as necessary. Bake until coating is dry and crunchy, about 2 hours. Let cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Enjoy!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cheddar Straws

I saw a similar recipe of Cheese straws on Trisha Yearwood's Food Network show a while back and had wanted to give it a try for a long time. The night I was making my treats for my 'Treat the Office' day I happened to run across this recipe on the internet. It looked easy enough to me so I thought I'd give it a try. I LOVE it! These cheese straws remind me of Goldfish crackers (which my daughter LOVES) only they have a little kick to them with the Cayenne pepper. They were a good savory snack to go with my fruit dips and cinnamon nuts. These would also be good with a soup or a dinner salad for some crunch. Enjoy!

Cheddar Straws
3 cups flour
1/4  heaping teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 heaping teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 cups cheddar cheese, grated, let sit till room temperature
2 sticks butter, softened

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Whisk to combine the flour, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Combine the cheese and butter in a food processor/ or mixer until smooth.
Add flour mixture and mix until well combined.
Make straws by using a cookie press or you can roll a heaping teaspoon between your hands into about a 1/4 inch thick by 4 or 5 inch 'straw'. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Continue until your baking sheet is full. Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes until lightly browned. (I turned mine over after about 8 or nine minutes) they might take a little longer baking, you want them golden brown on the bottom and oven temperatures vary.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Coconut Cream Fruit Dip

This is another fruit dip I took for my "Treat the office" day. I LOVE coconut and toasted coconut! This recipe was delicious if I do say so myself. I had apples, grapes and vanilla wafers for dipping.. would be great with strawberries and cut up pineapple too! Enjoy!

Coconut Cream Fruit Dip
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-oz) can Cream of Coconut (NOT Coconut Milk!!! you find cream of Coconut in the aisle with the margarita mix and other mixes)
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract (or a little more for stronger flavor)
1 (8-oz) tub Cool Whip
1/2 cup toasted coconut (I got mine at the Prepared Pantry, it's the toasted coconut that Bakers use to top donuts with, if you can't find it, you can toast your own coconut by following the directions on the back of regular coconut.)

In a large mixing bowl, whip the cream cheese with the cream of coconut and the coconut extract until all the lumps are gone.
Add the whipped cream and toasted coconut, gently fold until everything is incorporated. Spoon into a serving dish and serve with sliced fruit, vanilla wafers, graham crackers or whatever you choose for dipping. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Key Lime Fruit Dip

I LOVE Key lime anything..... it was my day to "treat the office" today. I was planning on making home made Twinkies to take in since "Hostess" went out of business, but the recipe I had didn't turn out. So I had to come up with something quick to take instead. In the middle of the night, I woke up with this idea... don't all good ideas seem to hit you at 4 am?? Anyway, I had this basic dip recipe but added the lime juice, flavorings and whipped cream and it turned out great! I had sliced apples, grapes and vanilla wafers for dipping, but it would also be good with graham crackers and any other kind of fruit. Enjoy!

Key Lime Fruit Dip
1 (8-oz.) package Cream Cheese, softened
1 (7-oz.) jar Marshmallow Creme
2 teaspoons lime extract (I found mine at the prepared pantry, if you can't find it, should be okay with just juice)
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 drops green food coloring
1/4 teaspoon citric acid (you can get this at the pharmacy, it's great for lemonade)
1 (8-oz) tub Cool Whip
Lime Zest for garnishing

 Add the citric acid to the lime juice and stir to dissolve. In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened cream cheese, marshmallow cream, lime extract, lime juice/citric acid mixture and food coloring together until smooth and there are no lumps. Add the cool whip to the bowl and gently fold into the cream cheese mixture.
Spoon into a serving bowl, and add some lime zest to the top for garnish. Serve with cut up fruit, vanilla wafer, graham crackers or whatever else you like for dipping. Enjoy!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Chicken (or Turkey) Gnocchi Soup

I had been wanting to make home made Gnocchi for the longest time! Especially after I found this recipe, I LOVE the Chicken Gnocchi soup that you get at Olive Garden and this tastes quite a bit like that.  I had a recipe that I got off the food network for homemade Gnocchi that had you rice the potatoes, but I found they disintegrated when I cooked them. This one was awesome! I made mine with left over mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving. Or you could use potato buds and make mashed potatoes first (that's what this recipe originally called for) but I'm posting the recipe for how I made it. For those of you that don't know what Gnocchi is, it's a small potato dumpling used in a lot of Italian recipes. I also used my leftover turkey in the soup, but you could easily buy a roasted chicken from your local deli and chop it up or use left over grilled chicken. This is a creamy soup that was a good way to use up my Thanksgiving leftovers. Enjoy!

Chicken (or Turkey) Gnocchi Soup
For the Gnocchi:
2 cups (approx) leftover mashed potatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
1/4  scant teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg yolk
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

For the Soup:
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium carrot, sliced thin
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 of a large onion, diced
1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-1/2 cups half-and half
3 cups cooked chicken (or turkey) chopped
2 cups fresh spinach

Grated Parmesan cheese for Garnishing

Make the gnocchi by mixing your mashed potatoes with the egg yolk, salt and nutmeg. Stir until the egg yolk is well incorporated into the mashed potatoes.
Next, stir in the 2/3 cups flour and knead with your hands for about a minute. (This shouldn't be real sticky, it should feel almost like a play dough).
Next, take about a teaspoon of the dough and roll into a ball....
then on a floured piece of wax paper, roll with your finger tip into a slight oblong shape. When all of your gnocchi is made you can start your soup. Heat the 2 Tablespoons oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, celery and garlic; saute for 3 to 5 minutes. While your veggies are cooking, whisk the cornstarch into the chicken broth. Add the broth mixture to the vegetables along with the water. Bring this to a boil, then add your gnocchi. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the half -n half and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the soup begins to thicken. Add the chicken (or turkey) and spinach, simmer for another 10 minutes or until the soup has thickened and the spinach is tender. Serve in individual bowls and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese. YUM!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

Before Thanksgiving I was craving comfort food...it was cold, rainy, and just felt like comfort food weather. I decided to make a chicken pot pie, my version anyway. You could do this with leftover Thanksgiving turkey too, and leftover veggies, or I like to use frozen peas, carrots and corn because you can measure out what you need and keep the rest in the freezer. You also can use as much or less vegetables than I did, depending on how big you want your chicken pot pie. I like to top mine with biscuit dough rather than pie crust, it's heartier that way. (see this recipe so you get an idea of how I make it) I always make extra biscuits that I bake in the oven while my pot pie is 'resting' (have you ever been sooo hungry and put a bite of hot pot pie in only to have it scald your mouth to death??) I let mine rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve with a green salad and enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie
1-2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon flour
1 large potato, washed and diced
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup peas
1 cup corn
Chicken broth
2 to 3 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 cans cream of chicken soup
Pinch of Thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot heat the Olive oil over medium heat, then add the onions and celery, cook and stir for about 3 to 4 minutes so they start to cook, add the garlic and sprinkle the flour over the Veggies. Cook and stir for another minute. Next, add the potatoes, carrots, peas, corn , chicken and enough Chicken broth to barely come to the top of the veggies mixture and add a pinch of thyme, salt and pepper. Bring this to a boil, then turn down, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until your vegetables are tender. Add your cream of chicken soup and stir until it's all combined. Taste and add more Salt and Pepper if needed.

 Turn off heat and make the biscuits:

Biscuits
2 1/4 cups Bisquick mix
2/3 cups milk

Preheat the oven to about 425 degrees.
Add the Bisquick and milk together in a large bowl, stir with a fork until just combined. Dump onto lightly floured surface (I use more Bisquick)
and knead by hand just about 10 to 12 times (don't over mix or you will have tough biscuits) Roll out into a large circle about 1/2 inch or a little thicker and cut into random shapes and sizes.
Place pieces of biscuit dough, randomly around the top of your Chicken stew to cover (if your pan is large you may want to double the biscuit dough, and I make another batch, so you have extra biscuits for those that want them... always seems there are never enough biscuits on top)
Bake in oven for about 8 to 10 minutes or until Biscuits turn a nice golden brown color. Remove from oven, and brush the biscuits with butter.

Let sit for a minute or two so you don't burn your mouth when eating! Serve in a bowl or on a plate and enjoy!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!




I can't believe it's Thanksgiving already! Where has the year gone? I took the day off from work so I could begin my Thanksgiving cooking, this holiday was made for me I think. My Turkey Brine is cooling, click here for the recipe. I am going to try to make a pumpkin pecan cheesecake like the Cheesecake Factories if possible, they have pecan pie on the bottom (this is a good recipe for pecan pie) and it had a pumpkin cheesecake on top.... I love experimenting. I will post my recipe later if it turns out. Also making a Lemon Meringue pie from one of my older cookbooks that's all pies. Also my daughter LOVES the jello Brand cheesecake mix ... I always have to make that for her. It is good and I'm glad she likes it.
Tonight for dinner to start of the Thanksgiving feast (i tried to do an all day dinner one year with appetisers, soup, and then the feast and pie later all spread out about 2 hours apart, but my parents say they can't eat that much) So tonight I thought I would make a light dinner with stuffed mushrooms (recipe) and a Butternut squash soup (recipe) and maybe this pumpkin dinner roll (found this recipe) with cinnamon butter (recipe)  ...or I might make those for tomorrow along with my regular roll recipe.
Tomorrow I think I will roast my turkey in the oven instead of smoking it. I like to use those oven bags for roasting... my turkey is never dry that way....especially when I stuff butter under the skin. When you brine the turkey you can't really stuff it because of the salt in the brine, so I like to make y stuffing in the crock pot. I use Mrs. Cubbison's and follow the directions, then I put it in the crock pot for a couple of hours... I'm never disappointed with it. I'm going to try this recipe from Guy Fieri for Green Bean Casserole. I'm making my Mashed Potatoes (recipe) and gravy. (For gravy I always cook the turkey neck in broth  with a little onion and celery; then thicken and season it after I take the neck and celery and onion out) My mother always makes our candy yams, I also cheat and buy the canned jellied cranberry sauce because that is what my hubby likes best. I think that's about it for my turkey dinner.
Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving... enjoy your dinner... whatever you make, and enjoy being with family and friends. I'm so thankful for mine and all of the things I have been blessed with. Life is good.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lion House Pie Crust

Mmmmmmmm Pies!! Thanksgiving is coming up and I can't decide what kind of pie to make! Well, of course I will make the traditional pumpkin, but I always like to make a couple of other kinds too! Does anyone have a good recipe for German Chocolate Pie? Someone asked me the other day if I had ever tried it and no I haven't but I LOVE German Chocolate cake... might have to experiment with that. But anyway, back to this post, last month while canning my apple pie filling, I had enough pie filling leftover to make some apple pie empanada's, but I've had a struggle with pie crusts, I've had favorite recipes that turned out once or twice and then I go to make them again they don't, I've heard that the water HAS to be cold, to use butter, and another said to use shortening, oh who do you believe and which recipe do you use? THEN... I accidentally ran across this video on You tube, can't even remember how I did, but the lady made pie crust look soooo easy I had to give it a try. It was delicious AND easy... watch how she rolls the dough out! It seriously works just like that!  AND yes, I used the specific flours and all 4 different varieties of fat... after all, to make the recipe like they do, you need to FOLLOW the recipe. This is the recipe I'm going to use for my Thanksgiving pies this year.... I think I'll do Pumpkin, Pecan (or German Chocolate.... maybe add chocolate and coconut to my usual pecan recipe? hmmmm) and maybe a lemon meringue! YUM!

Lion House Pie Crust
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon non-fat dry milk
**1-1/2 cups pastry flour --See note at the bottom of the recipe 1-1/2 cup bread flour
1-1/2 cup bread flour
Mix the all the ingredients above together in a large bowl.

1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup Lard

Cut in the fat with a pastry blender; or your hands until it's incorporated and looks grainy.
Add  1/2 cup ROOM temperature water and gently mix with hands.

If dough is too wet or soft, chill in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour.
Divide the dough in half. Roll out on counter top that is covered with flour. Form a disc with your dough and flour each side. Roll up once and then back. Make sure the dough is floured again on both sides to prevent sticking; then turn so the length is going in the opposite direction than it was. Then roll again making a criss-cross  with the rolling pin. (Watch the video) Place in pie pan.

Fill with desired fruit and roll out the other piece and place on the top. Crimp the edges however you like.
Bake your pie as directed on the recipe you are using.

**I had a hard time finding pastry flour so I looked up substitutions on the Internet. The different kinds of flour have different amounts of proteins in them. Cake flour has about 5 to 8 %, Pastry flour is a little above that , Bread flour has a lot, like 12%. So they recommended using 1 to 1 ratio of Cake flour and all purpose flour (which has around 9%) , so for the recipe I used 3/4 cup of each.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Batterway Rolls

This is a quick roll recipe that I got at one of my kitchen meetings from one of the cute little elderly ladies. I was surprised at how good they were and easy. I thought I would share this recipe since it's the holiday season and rolls seem to be on a lot of menus this time of year. Try them out first before you serve them for something like a Thanksgiving Dinner, just so you know what you're doing. These are good with stews, soups, you name it or just by themselves with butter and jam. YUM!

Batterway Rolls
1-1/2 cups warm water
1/4 cup sugar
2 packages active dry yeast or rapid-rise yeast, or 3-1/3 teaspoons instant yeast
4 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup soft shortening (not oil)
1 egg
Put water in large bowl. Add sugar and yeast. Let stand for about 5 minutes or until the yeast starts to bubble and becomes foamy. Add 2 cups flour, the salt, shortening and egg. Mix well. Add the remaining 2 cups flour(this dough is supposed to be slightly sticky). Cover with wax paper and let raise until doubled, (about 30 minutes if you use the rapid-rise yeast.) Grease muffin tins. ( I just used 1 pan and got large rolls, use more for smaller rolls). Stir the batter for 30 strokes. NO more than that. Spoon into muffin tins. Let raise for another 30 minutes. Bake at 425-450 degrees for about 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Enjoy!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Iced Sugar Cookies

'Tis the season for sugar cookies isn't it? This is my new favorite recipe for sugar cookies. I went to a kitchen meeting at the end of summer and they demonstrated how to ice cookies... you know the kind that look hard to do and too pretty to eat? That's what they did, and they handed out this recipe, I LOVE it and the glaze frosting. To learn how to outline and flood the cookies go here. They are fun to do and this recipe is yummo! They are lots of fun to make with kids too!

Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter (no substitutions), softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream together butter and sugar in large mixing bowl until light and fluffy--about 2 minutes. Add egg and flavorings and mix to incorporate.
In a separate bowl whisk together  the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add slowly to the butter mixture and mix to combine.
When your dough is made, instead of putting it in the fridge, immediately roll between 2 sheets of waxed or parchment paper until it's about 1/4 thick. Place on a cookie sheet and then put in the fridge. Chill for about 20-30 minutes. This way it chills faster and the bonus is that you don't need to add extra flour to roll it out. Just remove the top layer of wax paper and cut with your desired cookie cutter. Move from the wax paper to another cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for baking with a spatula. Continue until your cookie sheet is full (you can roll out the scraps again between the two pieces of wax paper.)
Bake at 350 for 8 to 12 minutes. The baking time really depends on how you like them and how thick your dough is. If you like  them slightly chewy, about 8 to 9 minutes does it --this is what I do. If you like them slightly crisp and buttery, then go for 10 to 12.
Cool completely before icing.

Glace Icing
1 pound powdered sugar (about 3 and 3/4 cups)
6 Tablespoons whole milk
6 Tablespoons Corn Syrup
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
A Dash of salt

With a whisk or electric mixer, combine sugar and milk until smooth (no lumps!) Then stir in corn syrup and extract and dash of salt.
You will use this same recipe for both glazing and piping. The way it is right now is the consistency you want for glazing (or flooding). It's smooth and thin. It easily runs off the whisk in a pretty thin drizzle.

To prepare the icing for piping (or outlining) you just add more powdered sugar. Just eyeball it. You can't really mess it up because if it's too thick you just add more milk and if it's too thin, you add more powdered sugar. I add it in small amounts until it's a good consistency. For me it's when it gets to a point where it's relatively hard to whisk by hand. When I pick up the whisk, it still runs off, but in a very slow, thick stream.... also you should almost be able to count to ten when you run a spoon through the middle of it by the time it runs back together.
Take your glazing icing and color to whatever colors you like. I use colored piping icing in decorator bags for adding details after the cookie has been flooded and allowed to dry for about half an hour. For Jack in the above picture I outlined and piped white, then let dry for about 1/2  an hour and then I outlined and flooded the eyes and used a decorator bag with a really small round tip to pipe his mouth. For the leaves below, I piped and outlined them in all orange and some in all yellow. Then I added a little brown and piped on the leaf veins after they had set for a 1/2 hour. Then I got Wiltons food-coloring-in-a-can in green and red and sprayed different colors on them so they looked like autumn leaves. I did the same for the pumpkins in the above picture.
 These Daisy and Sunflower cookies were the first cookies I tried... simple because I didn't try too many colors.
Enjoy! and have fun!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Toffee Apple Dip

One of my favorite things in the fall is caramel apples, apple pie, caramel apple bars.... any thing with caramel or cinnamon or apples. YUM! A friend that I work with brought this apple dip to an office party, (yes, any reason we get to have an office party we do!) and it was yummy! I needed to make something for a treat the other night and I remembered this recipe. I looked it up on the Internet and there are LOTS of different ones out there, but I don't like using too much sugar, it's kind of grainy, so this is what I did. Slice up some of your favorite kind of apples and dip away!
Toffee Apple Dip
2- 8-oz packages Cream Cheese, softened (or brought to room temperature)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla (yes, that's 1 Tablespoon vanilla, love it!)
3/4 cup Toffee bits (found by the chocolate chips in most grocery stores)

In a large mixing bowl, whip the cream cheese, brown sugar and vanilla together until it's combined smooth with no lumps. Stir in the toffee bits.
Serve with sliced apples. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Knorr Spinach Dip

I LOVE Spinach Dip! I think I could eat a whole batch if I let myself. I love to make this for parties or special occasions. This is the recipe that is usually found on the back of the Knorr Vegetable soup mix and it's my favorite.  I took it to my office one halloween and served it in a glass bowl which I put on top of ice in a witches caldron... you could think of lots of fun ideas on how to serve this dip I think. I enjoy it with crackers best but it's also good with veggies and slices of bread. You might want to make some for a Halloween party or a football after game party and enjoy!
Knorr Spinach Dip
Ingredients:
1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach , thawed and squeezed dry
1 container (16 oz.) sour cream
1 cup Hellmann's® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise
1 package Knorr® Vegetable recipe mix
1 can (8 oz.) water chestnuts (optional)Sliced
3 green onions (optional)

Directions:
1.Combine all ingredients and chill about 2 hours. Serve with your favorite dippers to your favorite people.

A new serving idea: Hollow out cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes. Fill vegetables with Knorr Spinach Dip and garnish with a sprig of dill.

Here's another way you could serve it for a Halloween Party!! how fun is this!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Panini Croutons

Autumn time just makes me feel like soup. It's been colder out and freezing at night, so when I got my new Food Network magazine and saw this recipe I had to give it a shot. Who doesn't like soup and grilled cheese sandwiches on a chilly evening?? This gave it a little twist other than your usual soup and sandwiches which was fun I thought. I tweaked the recipe a bit to make it my own by substituting a few things for what I had on hand, and I added a few more spices to the soup. We LOVED this recipe. Enjoy!
Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Panini Croutons
Prep Time:10 min
Cook Time:40 min
Serves: 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup yellow onions, chopped (1 large onion)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 cups chicken stock
2(28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon granulated sugar (helps with the acidity of the tomatoes)
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and black pepper
1/2 cup orzo
1/2 pint heavy cream

Grilled Cheese Croutons (see below)

Directions

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, sugar, Italian seasoning, turmeric, cumin, curry powder, crushed red pepper , 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper (may add more to suit your taste). Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a medium pot with water, add 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for 7 minutes. (It will finish cooking in the soup.) Drain the orzo and add it to the soup after that first 15 minute simmer is done. Stir in the cream, return the soup to a simmer and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
                         Serve hot in individual bowls with Grilled Cheese Croutons scattered on top.

Grilled Cheese Panini Croutons
4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices country white bread (I like to use California Sourdough bread)
2 tablespoons butter
Your favorite Cheese, sliced (I used half Pepper Jack and half Medium cheddar)

Heat a panini grill. Or if you don't have one, this is what I do. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. While the skillet is heating; place 2 slices of bread on a cutting board and place the cheese slices over the bread (I like to alternate between the 2 kinds). Place the remaining two slices of bread on top of the cheese. Butter the top sides of your bread. Then place butter side down in your hot skillet.
Butter the top sides after the bottom is golden brown. Flip your sandwiches and place another heavy skillet over the top, (this presses them like a panini grill)
Grill until the bottom is golden brown and the cheese is melty.
Or if you have a panini grill, grill the sandwiches on the panini grill for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Place on a cutting board, allow to rest for 1 minute and cut into 1-inch cubes.
Sprinkle on your soup and enjoy! YUMMO!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Stuffed Zucchini

I walked out to my garden the other day (before it froze) and no matter how good you keep checking your zucchini, there are always some that hide and get away from you. I like to pick mine when they are still on the smaller side, like you find in the grocery store, but I had about 3 that were twice the size that I usually like them to get. I thought I would try making some Stuffed Zucchini. I had made some last year and Jim didn't like the recipe I used, so I looked up other recipes and then ended up doing my own thing. This is what I came up with... It was yummy and yes my hubby liked this recipe. It takes a little time, I cooked my zucchini a few minutes before stuffing to get some of the water out. Enjoy!
Stuffed Zucchini
3 large Zucchini, cut in half with the middle and seeds scooped out (save this)
1 pound hot sausage
1/2 pound ground beef
1 green Bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
2 tomatoes, diced 1 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 Tablespoon chopped, fresh basil) 1 egg 1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 to 2 cups grated Mozzarella Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice your zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the middle (making a canoe) You can also cut them in half or thirds for better serving sizes. Place on a cookie sheet that you line with parchment paper, scooped side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes.
After it's cooked, remove from oven and blot the moisture with a paper towel. Set aside.
While the zucchini is cooking, chop up the middle of the zucchini; then saute in a medium frying pan that has been drizzled with olive oil over medium heat for about 5 to 8 minutes, this will remove the extra moisture out of the filling. Set this aside to cool.
In a larger skillet, cook the sausage, hamburger, onion, bell pepper, and garlic over medium heat until the meat is browned and the onion is translucent. Then add the tomatoes and basil;  cook about 5 more minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg, then pour into your slightly cooled zucchini filling and stir briskly so the egg doesn't cook. Next, add the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese to this mixture; stir to combine. Then add this mixture to the meat mixture and stir to combine. (The breadcrumbs help soak up the juice from the tomato and help bind everything together.) This is what my filling looked like...
Add Salt and Pepper to taste to the meat at this point. Then scoop the filling into your zucchini boats, heaping it as full as possible so all your meat mixture is used. Sprinkle each with grated Mozzarella cheese and bake in the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes, until hot and bubbly and the cheese is melted and starting to brown.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes... something about zucchini, it holds the heat and it's really hot when coming out of the oven and you don't want to burn your mouth!!! Serve with a steamed veggies and crusty french bread! yum!!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Maple Bars

I am re-posting this recipe as I have tweaked it just a bit. I decided adding the cinnamon to the milk isn't the best thing to do, it clumps. Instead, whisk into the flour and then add to the yeast mixture. Also I'm increasing the flour to 5 cups... seems I always have to add more. And I'm adding 1/8 teaspoon salt to the frosting.... Salt enhances flavors and takes that "too sweet" out of the frosting just a bit. I made these for work yesterday and added diced cooked bacon to the top! Delicious!
I was snowed in yesterday morning and couldn't go to work!! So I thought 'why not bake?' And one of my favorite things when I worked at the Bakery was Maple Bars! MMMMMM... I ran across this recipe on http://www.recipezaar.com/. So I thought I would give it a try!! It was yummo !  I think next time I make them I will cut the dough into 3 strips and then in six pieces for a little smaller bar but they were good, and not too heavy. I also like the fact that these are baked, not fried! I suggest eating with hot chocolate or a tall glass of milk. mmmmmmmmmmmm!!

Maple Bars
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup shortening (I used butter flavored Crisco)
4 Tablespoons  granulated Sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2  (1/4 ounce) envelopes yeast
2 large eggs, beaten
5 cups flour (might need a bit more)
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Maple Icing
1/3 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons mapleine (found by the flavor extracts and seasonings) or maple extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the dough:
In a medium saucepan scald milk; add shortening, 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar, and salt. Stir to combine and set aside to cool to lukewarm.
In a large mixer bowl, add the lukewarm water and the yeast (remember the water should be just lukewarm, too hot and it will kill the yeast) Add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of sugar to the yeast and water and whisk to combine. Let sit for about 5 minutes until it starts to bubble and become foamy.
After the yeast is foamy and the milk mixture is luke warm. Add the eggs to the yeast and stir to combine, then add the milk mixture to the yeast mixture. Whisk the cinnamon into the flour and gradually add to the yeast mixture. You may need to add more, you want the dough slightly sticky but not too sticky.  Knead for 3 to 5 minutes. I let my kitchen aid do the kneading for about 5 minutes.
Spray another large bowl with non-stick spray, place dough in the bowl and let raise for an hour or until double in size.
Punch down and roll out into a large rectangle about 1 inch thick.

Cut into rectangles, I cut the rectangle in half, and then each half into 6 pieces to make 12 bars, then place on a greased baking sheet. Let raise for about 30 minutes.
While bars are raising,  preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Bake the bars for 7 to 8 minutes or until light golden brown, Watch carefully. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before icing.
Make the icing while the bars are raising:
In a small saucepan mix butter, brown sugar and milk. Bring to boil for medium heat and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes. Add the mapleine, salt and powdered sugar and blend well with a hand mixer. Add a little more powdered sugar if needed (I added about 1/4 cup more)
Spread on maple bars and enjoy!  Sarah and I did!!! Yummo!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookies


To me, nothing screams 'IT'S AUTUMN TIME' louder than a Reese's Peanut Butter cup... must be because that's when all the stores stock their shelves with Halloween candy and Peanut Butter cups are my favorite. I ran across this recipe Here and had to give them a try. The cookie recipe itself is very similar to mine that I remembered from my childhood, but these are bigger and have milk chocolate chips and Reese's PB cups on top! I guess you could use those mini-Peanut Butter cups that they have now for baking, but I think the bigger ones cut up just give you more of that delicious Peanut Butter filling that everyone loves...Enjoy! Happy Autumn!

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookies

•3/4 cup butter, softened
•1 cup sugar
•1 cup brown sugar
•1 cup peanut butter
•2 large eggs
•2 tsp vanilla
•1 tsp baking soda
•1/2 tsp salt
•2 1/2 cups flour
•1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
•32 mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, each cut into 4 pieces

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugars, and peanut butter until light and fluffy.  Next add the eggs and vanilla, and mix to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the baking soda, salt, and flour, then add to the butter mixture and combine. Fold in chocolate chips.
Using an ice cream scoop, scoop dough (these are big cookies). Place 6 scoops of dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Use your hand and slightly flatten each scoop of dough. Cook for 10 to12 minutes at 350.
Remove cookies from oven and lightly press 8 cut up pieces of the Reese’s peanut butter cups over the top of each cookie. Return to oven for 2 more minutes. Cool on baking sheet 2 minutes before placing on cooling rack. I think these cookies are best eaten warm. However, the still taste great the next day.   Makes 18 cookies.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Perfect French Fries and Sauces

I love home cooked French fries! They are one of my favorite comfort foods, I have memories of coming home from school to hamburger patties and home made french fries dipped in ketchup. (back then we didn't know about Fry sauce I guess!) But once we discovered French fry sauce there was no turning back! I was surprised that Fry sauce is mostly an Idaho thing... I asked for it at Dairy Queen when we lived in Bremerton, WA and got the weirdest look. I have a regular french fry sauce recipe with this post, as well as the 'Almost Famous Campfire Sauce' (like Red Robin has for their Fries) and then I came up with the Cheesey sauce below. I LOVE the chili flavor Green chili's give the sauce without it being too spicy. I lived in Albuquerque, NM for a while too, and LOVED the smell of green chili's roasting on about every street corner in the fall! They even had a Road Runner pizza at Pizza Hut covered in green chili's that you can't get anywhere else! But anyway, back to french fries! It's Potato harvest time here in Idaho so it's the best time to cook up a batch of French Fries and enjoy! YUM!

Perfect French Fries
Ingredients:
• 5 pounds russet potatoes
• Vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
• Sea salt (or any seasoned salt you like!, I used Lawry's)

Directions:
Peel and rinse the potatoes. Then cut them into sticks by cutting the potato in 4 or 5 vertical pieces, and then cutting each piece into sticks.
Place them in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Allow them to soak, 2 to 3 hours. 
When you're ready to make the fries, drain off the water and lay the potatoes on 2 baking sheets lined with paper towels. Blot with paper towels to dry them.
Heat a few inches of oil in a heavy pot to 300 degrees F. In 3 or 4 batches, cook the potatoes until soft, 4 to 5 minutes per batch. They should not be brown at this point! You just want to start the cooking process. Remove each batch and drain on new/dry paper towels.

Once all the potatoes have been fried at 300 degrees F, turn up the heat until the oil reaches 400 degrees F. When the oil's hot, start frying the potatoes in batches again, cooking until the fries are golden and crisp. Remove the potatoes from the oil and drain on paper towels.
Sprinkle with sea salt or your favorite seasoned salt while still warm and dive in!

Notes
IMPORTANT: Please be careful when frying with hot oil. Keep the pot on the backburner so little kiddos won't get hurt.

Regular French Fry Sauce
Ingredients
• 1/2 cup ketchup
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• ½ teaspoon white vinegar
• Hot sauce, for spice, optional

Directions:
Measure out the ketchup, mayonnaise, and vinegar into a bowl and mix together with a whisk. If you want it spicy, add dashes of hot sauce to taste. Serve with fries!


Almost Famous 'Campfire' French fry Sauce
Ingredients:
• ½ cup mayonnaise
• 3 Tablespoons Bull’s-Eye Brown Sugar & Hickory Barbecue Sauce (or your favorite BBQ sauce, I like Kraft Chipotle BBQ sauce)
• 1 Tablespoon Ketchup
• 1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill for about an hour before serving.

Green Chili Cheese Sauce for French Fries
Ingredients:
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1- 4oz. can diced green chili’s
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 2 cups whole milk (add a little more if your sauce is too thick)
• 2 cups shredded yellow Cheddar Cheese
• 1-15oz. can Ricco’s Nacho Cheddar Sauce (found by the Velveeta cheese at Walmart)
• Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Place a sauce pot on the stove and heat it over medium heat. Add butter and green chilis, heat until butter is melted and bubbly. Add the flour and stir. Cook butter mixture and flour together for 1 minute or so. (This is called a "roux" and it helps to thicken up sauces). Use a whisk to stir as you pour the milk into the pot. Keep stirring until the milk mixture gets thicker. Use a wooden spoon or heat-safe spatula to stir in the cheese and canned cheese sauce. When all of the cheese melts, take the sauce off the heat and add a dash or two of salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the fries or serve the sauce on the side if you like to dipping better.

Note:
This Cheese sauce would be great on nachos, or in chowders! I made a potato, chicken chowder with my left over sauce the next day and it was YUMMO!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Caramel-Corn


I am re-posting this  recipe in case you missed it when I posted it before! I LOVE this stuff... and it's the perfect time of the year to make it!
This is the best carmel corn and it's really easy to make!! We devoured half of it while still warm!!! I have re-vamped this recipe to how I like it, twice as much sauce to about 12 cups  popcorn. I love the stuff and it's a perfect snack for this time of year! Thanks for the recipe Jill!!

Pumpkin Pie Spice Caramel-Corn
12 cups popped popcorn (approximately, or 1 big bowl full)
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons  pumpkin pie spice (see recipe below for pumpkin pie spice or you can use store bought)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of salt


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Pop popcorn in an air popper or you can use microwave popcorn also. In a sauce pan melt butter and add sugar. Bring to a boil and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and vanilla. Pour over popcorn and stir to coat well. Dump popcorn into a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Then eat. Yummo!!

TIP: Do not make popcorn and then leave to do an errand. When you get back, kids will have eaten the entire bowl and you will have to make another batch if you want some :)


PUMPKIN PIE SPICE:
2  teaspoons cinnamon
1  teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix all together in a small bowl.This is equivalent to 4 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thin Crust Pizza

As I have said before I love experimenting with pizza and pizza dough. I love watching America's Test Kitchen and Cook's County on PBS, and the week I happened to miss it, Jim watched it and said they made an awesome looking pizza that I needed to try. I love that my husband loves trying different recipes too. And he's a good sport in trying some of the things I cook. It's fun being the cook of the house and cooking whatever I happen to be hungry for... my family is at the mercy of my cravings. This pizza dough was awesome!! But it does take time... the dough needs to sit in the refrigerator over night, and then you have to take it out at least an hour before you want to make your pizza, but it's well worth it so plan ahead. To make the pizza in the picture above, I used oven roasted zucchini, and onions (my garden is abundant in those items) and cherry tomatoes. I also used a jarred spaghetti sauce (love Paul Newman's Sockarooni sauce) and a fresh Belgioioso mozzarella cheese. This pizza dough recipe makes two 12-inch thin crust pizzas. YUM!!

Thin-Crust Pizza
adapted from America's Test Kitchen
Dough Ingredients:
3cups (16 1/2 ounces) bread flour, plus more for work surface (Semolina flour is good to coat the pizza peel)
2teaspoons sugar
1/2teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1- 1/3cups ice water (about 10 1/2 ounces)
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2teaspoons table salt

Pizza Toppings:
Pizza Sauce (use your favorite jarred or homemade recipe)
1/2 (about) cup grated Parmesan Cheese
2 small zucchini, sliced thinly
1 medium onion,  sliced thinly
(roast your zucchini and onion on a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray for about 8-10 minutes in oven while preheating your pizza stone)
1 lb package sliced Belgioioso Mozzarella Cheese (use how much you like)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Instructions:
FOR THE DOUGH:
Step 1--In food processor fitted with metal blade, process flour, sugar, and yeast until combined, about 2 seconds. With machine running, slowly add water through feed tube; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand 10 minutes.

Add oil and salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of work bowl, 30 to 60 seconds. Remove dough from bowl and knead briefly on lightly oiled counter top until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.

Step 2--TO BAKE THE PIZZA: One hour before baking pizza, adjust oven rack to second highest position (rack should be about 4 to 5 inches below broiler), set pizza stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and divide in half. Shape each half into smooth, tight ball. Place on lightly oiled baking sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart; cover loosely with plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray; let stand for 1 hour.

Step 3--Coat 1 ball of dough generously with flour and place on well-floured counter top. Using fingertips, gently flatten into 8-inch disk, leaving 1 inch of outer edge slightly thicker than center. Using hands, gently stretch disk into 12-inch round, working along edges and giving disk quarter turns as you stretch. Transfer dough to well-floured pizza peel and stretch into 13-inch round. (If you don't have a pizza peel, use the back of a cookie sheet and coat well with Semolina flour and a little bit of Corn meal) Using back of spoon or ladle, spread 1/2 cup Pizza sauce in thin layer over surface of dough, leaving 1/4-inch border around edge. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan evenly over sauce, followed by the 1/2 of the rest of the pizza toppings (use what I use or your favorite). Slide pizza carefully onto stone and bake until crust is well browned and cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating pizza halfway through. Remove pizza and place on wire rack for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Repeat the above steps to shape, top, and bake second pizza. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cinnamon Chip Banana Cookies


Lately it seems, I buy a bunch of bananas, we eat a couple and then they get too brown for any of us to eat. I like mine still slightly green on the edges. So, that means I've made banana bread, frosted banana bars, and banana muffins alot this summer. I thought it would be nice for a change to make banana cookies so I googled them. I found a lot of different recipes and finally decided to try this one. I also found a frosting recipe from a different recipe blog and combined them together. Sadly, I can't remember the place I found either of them to give credit where credit is due, but I wanted to post them anyway. I took these cookies to work, and by the end of the day the pan was empty so they must of been good. .... and yes I did eat one in the morning before leaving for work. You have to do a quality check on food you share I think. Enjoy with a glass of milk! Yum!!
Cinnamon Chip Banana Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2¼ cups mashed very, very ripe bananas (about 3 or 4) I didn't measure mine, I just mashed up the 4 very overripe bananas I had.
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cinnamon chips (I used the Cinnamon Chips from 'The Prepared Pantry' but Hershey's cinnamon chips are good too.)

**Optional additions: instead of cinnamon chips you can use 2 cups raisins or 2 cups chocolate chips and if you like nuts also add 2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans (per whole batch)

Brown Sugar Frosting:
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
powdered sugar (start with 1-1/2 cups)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350F.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until well combined. Beat in the vanilla.

Combine the baking soda and mashed bananas in a small bowl and let sit for 2 minutes to froth a bit. (the baking soda reacts with the acid in the bananas to give the cookies their lift and rise.)
Mix the bananas into the butter mixture until combined.
Whisk together in another medium bowl, the flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt, then add to the banana mixture and mix on low speed just until combined. The batter will be more like a thick cake batter than traditional cookie dough.

Stir in the cinnamon chips (or raisins, or chocolate chips, and/or nuts.)  Use a 1/4-cup scoop or 1/4-cup measure to drop cookies onto a heavy duty baking sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper. I can fit 6 cookies on my largest cookie-sheet pan.

If the batter gets too gooey to handle, put it in the freezer for a few minutes to stiffen up. Bake cookies until lightly browned around the edges, about 12-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

For frosting, combine brown sugar, milk and butter in saucepan; stir over medium heat until it just reaches a rolling boil. Remove pan from heat; beat in enough powdered sugar to make frosting spreadable (start with about 1-1/2 cups adding more if necessary, but remember, this frosting stiffens a bit when it cools); beat in vanilla. I like to put my frosting in a decorator bag and drizzle over the cookies, or you can just spread it over the cookies as well. As this frosting cools, it will become stiffer, if this happens, reheat it in the microwave for a few seconds, or add a bit more milk to thin it. I like to frost the cookies while the frosting  and the cookies - are still just a bit warm, so that it drizzles over the cookie and coats it nicely.

Store in an airtight container or freeze. I think they taste even better the next day, after the flavors have had a chance to mellow and mingle.
Enjoy!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

I've had this recipe for years!! Back when I worked at the Bakery, a friend I worked with made and brought this into share with all of us! It was delicious! Can you believe I haven't made it at home till now??? The recipe my friend gave was HUGE!!! Enough for 2 big casserole pans full, so when I saw The Pioneer Woman make a similar recipe on the Food Network I had to dig out my recipe and compare. They were similar, some things I liked more about my friends recipe and some I used from The Pioneer Woman's. This was a delicious casserole and since the weather is getting chillier, this would make a great dinner paired with steamed garden veggies and crusty french bread. Enjoy!!

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
Servings: 6 to 8
Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 of a 1- pound package spaghetti noddles, broken into 3rd's (maybe slightly more than a half a box)
1 can cream of chicken or mushroom soup (which ever you have on hand)
1 can of Rico's Condensed Aged Cheddar Cheese Sauce (see photo below)
1 can Ro-tel Tomatoes with green chilies with juice
1/4 cup finely diced green pepper
1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 or 2 stalks celery, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon Lawry's seasoned salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or a little more if you like it spicy)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 to 2  cups chicken broth (use the broth you cook your chicken and spaghetti in)
1 to 2 cups grated Cheddar cheese (depending on how cheesy you want it)

Directions
Cook your chicken by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. I like to add a piece of onion, 1/2 of a celery stalk, and a teaspoon of minced garlic to mine (makes yummy broth) Add the chicken pieces to the boiling water and boil for a few minutes, then return the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Remove the chicken from the pot, strain the broth and put back in the pot (be careful, it's hot!) When the chicken is cool, chop into bite size pieces and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large, deep skillet, drizzle a tablespoon or two of Olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Add the celery, bell peppers, and onion and saute until crunchy tender (about 7 to10 minutes)
While the veggies are cooking, cook the spaghetti in the same chicken cooking broth until al dente. Do not overcook (about 7 to 9 minutes depending on how thick your spaghetti is). Save the broth, you will use a little later in your casserole,.
When the veggies are crunchy tender, add the minced garlic and stir for another minute. Then add the chicken or mushroom soup, the Cheese sauce (found in the Mexican food section of most grocery stores)
and  the Rotel tomatoes with juice, seasoned salt, cayenne, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 cup of the chicken cooking broth, adding  a little more  if needed. (you can freeze the leftover broth to make soup with later) Add your cooked and drained spaghetti noodles and about 1 cup grated cheese into this mixtureif desired, stir to combine.
Place the mixture into a a 13x9 casserole dish that has been sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray. Top with the remaining grated cheese. Bake until hot and bubbly, and 30 to 40 minutes. *if the cheese on top starts to get too brown, cover with a sheet of aluminum foil.
Serve with crusty french bread and steamed veggies! Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Triple Chocolate Scones


"Triple chocolate" — you can't argue with that! These scones have chocolate chips studded throughout a tender, just-sweet-enough chocolate scone; the rich chocolate glaze makes this a triple treat. Just what I need for a Saturday morning breakfast! YUM! I served mine with Strawberries topped with Keylime Greek yogurt... nothing like getting your chocolate fix in the morning to help you get through your Saturday house cleaning! Enjoy!

Triple Chocolate Scones
For the Scones:
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2/3 cup White Whole Wheat Flour or Premium Whole Wheat Flour
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, (optional for flavor and color)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter, cut into pats
1 1/2 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk

For the Glaze:
2/3 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup half & half or liquid coffee creamer

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.
To make the scones:
In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly whisk the flours, cocoa, espresso powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.
With a pastry blender, pastry fork, a mixer or, most easily, your fingertips, work in the butter until the mixture is unevenly crumbly.
Next, gently stir in the chocolate chips.
In another medium-size bowl, whisk together the vanilla, egg, and milk.
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until the mixture is evenly moist. You may need to add an additional 2 to 3 tablespoons of milk to make the dough come together. (Depends on where you live and the humidity of the day)
Next, mix 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar with 1 teaspoon cocoa powder, and sprinkle it on your parchment-lined (or lightly greased) baking sheet. You're using this sugar mixture in place of the usual flour, to keep the scones from sticking to the pan as you shape them.
Divide the dough in half, and place the two pieces onto the baking sheet. Pat them gently into two 6" circles, each about 3/4" thick.
Cut each circle into 6 wedge-shaped pieces with a bench knife or bowl scraper (or sharp knife), pressing down firmly without sawing. You'll find it easier if you dip your cutter in flour after each cut. Make sure you press it into the dough quickly, without twisting or sawing. This shears the dough cleanly rather than pressing it together, which allows the scones to rise higher. (gently separate just a little with a spatula for more even baking)
Bake the scones for 15 to 20minutes, until they lose their moist look, and a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean; or with just a smear of chocolate from a melting chip.
Remove the scones from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.
To make the glaze:
Place the chocolate chips and half & half in a microwave-safe bowl or small saucepan. Heat in the microwave (or over low heat) until the cream is very hot. Remove from the heat, and stir until the chips melt, and the mixture is smooth.
Drizzle/spread the glaze over the cooled scones.
Yield: 12 scones.