Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cake Balls

Thanks to my friend Holli for teaching me to make these delightful little balls! Truly, they are SIMPLE! Some recipes will tell you to bake the cake the day before, but Holli must know what a slacker I am, 'cuz her recipe is even easier! For this batch-o-balls I used Strawberry cake mix and store-bought strawberry frosting.

Step 1. - Bake 9"x13" cake according to cake mix directions. Let cool just enough to touch, but not completely cooled.

Step 2. - While cake is still warm, empty into large mixing bowl. Add 1 tub frosting and mix well until frosting has "melted" into cake mix. (At this point I usually place in refrigerator to let "set" a little while I clean up and prepare my baking sheets for the next step.)

Step 3. - Using a spoon or ice cream scoop, form cake into approximately 24 - 2" balls. Place on cookie sheets lined with waxed or parchment paper. Place in freezer and freeze at least 1 hour. *I have actually left a batch in the freezer for 2 weeks and they were just fine.

Step 4. - Melt 1 lb. bakers/dipping chocolate. Using fork or candy sticks, dip balls into melted chocolate, using a spoon to help as needed. Remember the "flat" side of the balls as they chilled on the paper? Return the dipped balls to the paper, again on that flat side. Let chocolate set up.

Step 5. - (optional) Decorate dipped cake balls as desired.

Helpful hints:

* If you desire to bake the cake a day or two beforehand, that is fine. However, when mixing in the frosting, it will take a bit more work. I recommend using 2 forks to really get everything combined well.

* Using the chocolate baking "discs" from Orson Gygi's, Michael's, or Robert's is probably much cheaper than buying the baker's chocolate from the grocery store and you will have a lot more colors to choose from.

* For my "double broiler" I simply place a glass bowl over my pot of boiling water. It fits right in the top half of my pot perfectly!

* You can use any cake mix and frosting flavors you desire. I have even used German Chocolate Cake and German Chocolate Frosting and those were some of my children's favorite cake balls!

* Look at some other cool ideas for holidays or parties -- (I googled "Cake Balls" under the Image tab). Get inspired and get your balls on! :)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mexican Casserole

A few weeks back I was in a pinch, needing something easy and "quick" (meaning, didn't need thawing) for dinner. I had almost all of the fixings for tacos, but no shells. Then I noticed about a half bag of tortilla chips in the pantry, and THIS recipe is what came to life. My kids absolutely loved this. I loved it so much I secretly hoped for leftovers so I could take it to work for lunch the next day. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did! I will definitely make this again!

1 lb ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 C Sour Cream (or can substitute 2 Tbsp milk if preferred)
3-4 C Tortilla Chips (can use Frito's Corn Chips)
1 Jar Salsa
2-3 C shredded cheese

In skillet brown ground beef, draining fat. Add taco seasonings according to packet directions. Mix in cream of mushroom soup and sour cream. Combine well and set aside. In 9x13 pan or casserole dish start with layer of slightly crushed chips. Spoon salsa over chips. Spread layer of creamy mixture over salsa and top with half the cheese. Repeat layers ending with cheese. Cover tightly with foil and bake @ 350 F about 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake about 10-15 until cheese is melted. Serve warm with additional sour cream, salsa, guacamole, etc., if desired.

Since we still had plenty of chips left, we served this over crushed tortilla chips for some added crunch!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cream Puff Croissants

I was craving cream puffs, but did not feel like baking. However, I had a plethora of croissants from Costco and got this idea. They were sooooo good. We used the "big" croissants and could hardly finish one. I think most of the kids ended up eating half and saving the other half for later. But they were De-Lish!!!

12 mini croissants (or 6 regular)
Glazed Icing {click here}
Vanilla Pudding (6 servings) or Vanilla Cream {click here}
Hershey's Syrup, or Chocolate frosting, melted
fresh berries, optional.

Cut opening in croissants, as if you would for a sandwich. Line baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. One at a time, coat each croissant in glaze. Let set (refrigerate to expedite if desired). Fill each croissant with vanilla cream. Drizzle chocolate syrup or melted chocolate frosting. Garnish with fresh berries if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Homemade Root Beer (for a crowd)

Ok, there are all sorts of root beer extracts out there. I've tried a few. And while one was sort of bitter tasting (wal-mart store brand), the others were all pretty good. My favorite bottle of extract is Big H. There is a local drive-in chain here in the SLC metro area called "Hires". Hires is known for their "Big H" just like McDonald's is known for their "Golden Arches", if that makes sense. Anywho... At Hire's they serve their own draft-style "Big H" Root Beer. Sooooo good! I realize they might not have this extract in other states, so I guess what I am saying is you get what you pay for :)

4 - 4 1/2 gal water
5 lbs sugar
1 bottle root beer extract
5 lbs dry ice

In a 5 gal cooler mix together the water and sugar till the sugar is somewhat dissolved. Add the bottle of extract and mix well. Using tongs, carefully place dry ice in cooler. Mix and let the dry ice do it's magic. Stir every once in a while to keep ice from sinking to the bottom and blocking the spigot.
*since it's hard to get exactly 5 lbs of dry ice, I usually tell them it's better to be a little over 5 lbs than under. No one like flat root beer... =D

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Shrimp & Spinach Salad

There is a little shop around the corner from my work that has this salad on the menu. It is to-die-for. My mouth waters just thinking about it! They also happen to serve it with a crusty roll and real butter, which just makes it heaven... Anyway, I love this salad so much, I wanted to recreate it at home. After a few tries with the vinaigrette, I finally have it to my liking! It's refreshing and light and I never feel guilty eating it :)

1 bag fresh Spinach (9-10 oz)
1 small yam
1 C {Candied Pistachios}
1 1/2 C cooked shrimp, chilled and tails removed
{Lemon Vinaigrette}

Rinse and dry spinach leaves; place in salad bowl. Peel and slice yam into thin slices. Toss in pistachios and shrimp. Just before serving, pour vinaigrette over top, and toss well to coat. Store leftovers in refrigerator, covered.

Candied Pistachios

2/3 C cinnamon & sugar mixture*
3 Tbsp warm water
2 C pistachios, shelled
1 or 2 sprinkles of cold water
Line baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. In saucepan over medium heat mix together cinnamon-sugar mixture and 3 tbsp warm water. Stir until combined. Add nuts and stir to coat. Bring to boil, stirring frequently, until there is no excess mixture left on sides of bottom of pan. Add splash of cold water with fingertips, give it another good stir and quickly spread on prepared baking sheet. Allow mixture to set and cool on nuts. Break into pieces.
Try this with other nuts too! Makes great holiday gifts!
*The first batch I made of this, I used just under 2/3 C sugar and made up the difference with cinnamon. I think next time I will use maybe only 1-2 tsp cinnamon and the rest sugar. It was still good and very easy!

Lemon Vinaigrette

I was searching the store shelves for lemon vinaigrette, but couldn't find any. I found a few recipes online, but none tasted like I "envisioned" them tasting like. So, finally I experimented and came up with my own.

Fresh lemon juice from 2 lemons (about 4 Tbsp or so)*
2 Tbsp sugar, more or less to taste.
1 tsp honey mustard, or Dijon style works too
1/4 C olive oil
2 - 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar**
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp thyme, optional
1 tsp coarse salt

Squeeze the juice from 2 lemons; strain for seeds. Add sugar to lemon juice and stir well. Add mustard and oil and continue stirring. Add remaining ingredients, stirring until well blended. Chill covered until ready to use.

*Using the juice from fresh lemons really makes this dressing flavorful. I highly recommend this over using the bottled lemon juice.

**I love balsamic vinegar, so I have only ever tried it with this. I imagine you could use white vinegar, although I would probably only add a tbsp at a time and taste as I go.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rhubarb Pie

1 - 9" pie shell*
1 tbsp flour
3 1/2 C chopped rhubarb
1 1/2 C sugar**
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup half & half
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
Ice Cream or Whipped Topping, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Sprinkle flour evenly over the bottom of the unbaked pie crust.
In a large bowl, combine rhubarb, sugar, eggs, half & half, nutmeg, & salt. Pour into pie shell.
Bake 45-60 min until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting. Top with Whipped Cream or Ice Cream, if desired.

*When I made this the last time, I used a Graham Cracker Crust (as seen above) because I had one on hand and was in a hurry. Although it tasted okay, it was not nearly as good as the regular pastry crust. There is just something about the tartness of the Rhubarb with the sugar-cookie like crust that compliments each other nicely.
**I have made this before with a cup-for-cup sugar substitute (like Splenda or Stevia), and it tastes just fine. You can also use the Fat Free Half & Half for a reduced calorie pie =D

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Grilled Bacon Wrapped Scallops

I had a Cookout a few weekends ago and my BIL brought bacon wrapped scallops. They were delish. Ever since, I've wanted them again, as has my middle child. Well, Target just happen to have JUMBO scallops on sale in time for Memorial Day, so I picked up some for myself. I added my own basting "sauce" (?) and voila! Yumm-o on Memorial Day!

24-30 Jumbo Scallops
1/2 lb sliced bacon (I like the thin sliced for grilling)
1 stick butter
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp parsley flakes
1/4 tsp salt

If using bamboo skewers , soak in warm water for at least 30 minutes. Cut bacon strips in half, wrap around scallop and secure onto skewer. Continue until all scallops are secure. Melt butter and spices; brush onto both sides of skewers. Grill over Med-Low heat, turning occasionally, until desired doneness.

**Note: I used the same butter mixture for shrimp skewers too.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dad's Microwave Caramel Corn

I remember when my parents brought home our first microwave. We had a family lesson from my dad on how to operate the microwave too! It wasn't an el cheapo flimsy piece of kitchen gadgetry either. It was a nice microwave. I also remember that one of the first things my dad learned to "make" in the microwave was Microwave Caramel Corn. I was probably about 10 years old at the time and my dad still makes this same recipe today. Although my father has always popped his own popcorn for the recipe, I use the microwave popcorn (the fat free, as it is the most plain) and it turns out just fine.

4 qts popped corn (about 1 C unpopped, or 3 microwave bags popped)

1 C brown sugar

1 stick butter (1/2 C)

1/4 C light corn syrup

dash salt

Place popped corn in brown paper grocery sack. (You can also use a big Tupperware with lid if it will fit in your microwave.) In microwave-safe dish cook brown sugar, butter, syrup and salt 3-5 minutes on HIGH, stirring every minute. Once brown sugar has dissolved, pour over popcorn, roll bag shut and toss well to coat. Place closed bag in microwave and microwave on HIGH another 1 1/2 minutes. Remove and shake well. Return to microwave another minute, and remove and shake well again. Place bag outside or in other cool, dry place until caramel is set. Break into pieces and store in airtight container. The nice thing about this is it's easy clean-up! Simply throw the bag away and only 1 dish to clean!

Texas Sheet Cake

I think almost everyone I know has a version of this recipe somewhere. This one came from my mom, and I am thinking she got it from her mom, although I am not 100% sure. Note that for my family I omit the nuts. However, my father says he can only eat sheet cake if it has nuts. So, there ya go! I will leave it for you to decide :)

Oh, and incidentally my friend from Texas wanted to know WHY it's called "Texas Cake" or "Texas Sheet Cake". Personally, I think it is because it is a BIG cake and since all things Texas are BIG, hence the name. Then again... who knows!

2 Sticks Butter
2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 C water
2 eggs
1 tsp vinegar
1 C milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 C sugar
2 C flour

Preheat oven to 350. In saucepan, heat butter, cocoa powder and water to boiling, stirring occasionally. Remove from burner and set aside. In separate mixing bowl lightly beat 2 eggs. Add 1 tsp vinegar to 1 C milk and stir to make "sour milk"; add to eggs. Next add vanilla, baking soda and cinnamon and mix well. Gradually add sugar and continue mixing. Finally, add flour a little at a time and beat until no visible lumps, scraping sides of bowl clean. Gradually add hot mixture to batter a little at a time and mix till smooth. Pour into greased 10x15 jelly roll pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
(Make frosting while cake is baking.)

Texas Cake Frosting:

1 stick butter
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
6 Tbsp milk
1 lb powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 C chopped nuts (optional)

Combine butter, cocoa and milk in saucepan; bring to boiling. Add pwd sugar and vanilla. Stir well and pour over warm cake. Top with nuts if desired. Let cool completely before cutting.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Simple Salsa Fresca (mild)

So, back when I was visiting my old college roomie, Ardis, during Spring Break we ate and ate and ate and ate! Did I mention that we ate? Tee hee...

Anyway, she is one FABULOUS cook! And one night we had these DIVINE Creamy Chicken Tacos and she whipped up some of this HOMEMADE Salsa Fresca as well. I could not eat enough! That visit was about a month ago, and I've made this recipe at least 4 times since. It tastes great, and I think it tastes even better the next day, after the flavors have had a chance to "share" a little bit with each other. Here is Ardis's recipe for fresh salsa, or what I am calling Simple Salsa Fresca! Enjoy!

6-8 roma tomatoes (or garden tomatoes)
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 bunch green onions
3-4 garlic cloves, more or less
1 jalepeno pepper, seeded
juice from 1/2 lime (optional)
salt, to taste

Coursely chop veggies and place in blender. Pulsate until well blended. Add salt to taste. Chill until ready to serve. Best if eaten within 5 days of making. Keep refrigerated in airtight container.

For medium or hot salsa you can experiment by adding a few of the jalepeno seeds or by using other peppers, such as a habenero.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Key Lime Berry Salad

This recipe yields about 8-10 servings or more, depending on the size of the fruit in season. The measurements below are approximate, as I usually tend to "eye-ball" it. Add as much or as little as the fresh fruit you like, according to your own taste.

1 Fresh pineapple, cored and chunked
2 C sliced strawberries
1 C blackberries
1 C raspberries
1 C blueberries
1 C seedless grapes

2 containers Yoplait Key Lime Yogurt
2 Tbsp Orange Juice (fresh or from concentrate okay)

Combine yogurt and juice in small bowl and gently whisk until combined well. Pour over salad. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

**Best if served the same day. May toss well to coat if desired, or serve dressing on the side.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cheesecake for a Crowd

Ever since I was a small girl I loved my Aunt Fern's cheesecake. In fact, I never even knew it was cheesecake she had been bringing to our monthly Amish family gatherings until I was an adult! I was probably distracted by the whipped topping! hahaha!

The best part about Aunt Fern's cheesecake is that she makes it "Family Size", in a 9x13 pan, which is perfect for church dinners, family parties, or anywhere else you need something to serve to a crowd. It's simple and easy to make and tastes de-lish!

2 C Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 1/4 C sugar, divided
1/2 Stick butter (1/4 C), melted
2 - 8 oz pkgs cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 can fruit pie filling**
whipped topping

Mix together graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 C of sugar and melted butter. Press into 9x13 pan to form crust. In mixing bowl combine remaining sugar, cream cheese, eggs and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour over prepared crust. Bake @ 350 degrees about 30 minutes or until set. Let cool completely. Top with pie filling and whipped topping. Chill until ready to serve.

**Aunt Fern typically uses Blueberry or Cherry pie filling, but I also love it with homemade Blackberry or mulberry (as shown) pie filling as well.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Candy Bar Cookie Squares

1 pkg yellow cake mix
1/2 C packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 C butter, melted
3 candy bars, chopped (snickers, milky way, mars, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350. In large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients except for the candy bars. Beat on LOW 2 minutes, scraping bowl frequently. Fold in chopped candy. Spread into ungreased 9x13 pan. Bake 25-30 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool before cutting into squares.

Depression Cake

This is a family favorite that has been passed down for generations. "Depression" cake, because it does not require fresh eggs or milk. My great-great grandmother, great-grandmother, grandmother and mother all made this recipe a lot growing up. I like it because it is so extremely moist, you don't need frosting if you so desire. (Of course, since I was taking this to a church dinner, not only did I use frosting, but I sprinkled powdered sugar over my Pampered Chef stencils.)

2 C sugar
2 3/4 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp cocoa powder
2 C hot water
10 tbsp cooking oil
2 tsp vinegar
2 tsp vanilla

Mix all dry ingredients in mixing bowl; set aside. In separate mixing bowl, add remaining ingredients and stir gently to mix. Pour into dry ingredients. Beat on MED until well mixed. Pour into greased and floured 9x13 pan. Bake @ 350, 30-35 min or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Banana Cake

Whaddya do with those brown-spotted bananas, beside make banana bread? Make banana cake, of course.

1 box white or yellow cake mix
1 tsp baking soda
3 eggs
1 c. mashed VERY RIPE bananas (about 3 med bananas)
1 c. sour cream

Add baking soda to mix and stir with fork. Add remaining ingredients. Mix on LOW until combined and then on HIGH until most of the banana lumps are smooth. Pour into greased and floured 9 x 12 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

*For cupcakes or mini-bundts, reduce baking time to about 15-20 min, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

If desired, frost cooled cake with {Cream Cheese Frosting}

Hint: To drizzle cream cheese frosting over cakes as pictured above, heating frosting in microwave for 20 seconds, stir well with knife and heat another 20 seconds if needed. Should make a glaze and then you can use the knife to drizzle over tops of cakes.

Can also dust with powdered sugar.
Drizzle with warmed chocolate frosting for a "banana-chocolate pop" flavor.
Try adding 1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Could also add 1/2 C chopped nuts if desired.

Best Ever Cream Cheese Frosting

3 oz cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 stick (1/2 C) butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all together and beat on HIGH until smooth and creamy.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Premium Stuffed French Toast

butter, optional.

Take first slice of warm French Toast and spread generous layer of cream over it. Butter top side only of second slice of French Toast and place on top of first slice. Dust with powdered sugar. Top with Fresh Berry Sauce. Enjoy!

*for my french toast mixture, I use about 6 eggs, 2 tbsp milk, 1 tbsp ground cinnamon and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Whisk together and now you are ready to dip your bread and cook over heated griddle. about 4-6 servings.

Fresh Berry Sauce

I use this "sauce" over pancakes, waffles, french toast, crepes, shortcake, ice cream, etc.

1 C fresh berries
1/4 C sugar, more or less to taste

(If using strawberries, it helps to quarter them first.)

Add berries and sugar to bowl. Using a potato masher (or "heel" of plastic cup) lightly mash berries and sugar together until you reach desired consistency. The sauce should still have plenty of berry chunks in it.

Vanilla Cream Filling

I use this filling on fruit pizza, for Premium Stuffed French Toast, as a cream layer in a trifle, in crepes, on strawberry shortcake, and sometimes in place of frosting on a cooled cake.

1 1/2 C cold milk
1 box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 - 8 oz cream cheese, softened

Pour milk into small mixing bowl. Whisk pudding mix into milk until well blended. Refrigerate five minutes. Next, beat in cream cheese, a little at a time. Beat until well blended and creamy. Chill until ready to use.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fruit Pizza

I prefer this pudding base as opposed to the more common "frosting" base. It's more of a fruit tart this way too! I like that I can reduce the sugar & fat by using SF pudding mix, low fat milk, & fat free cream cheese.

1 package refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/2 C cold milk
1 - 8 oz cream cheese, softened
Fruit- fresh strawberries, blueberries, black berries, kiwi, mandarin oranges (drained), etc.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray pan with cooking spray. Divide the cookie dough into equal sized "blobs" and space even on cookie tray. Using rolling pin or palm of hands, start to work the dough together, forming one large cookie crust. The more you work with it the easier it will spread. Once the crust is spread to the edges, place pan in oven and bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely. In small mixing bowl combine pudding mix and milk. Let set up about 5 minutes. Add chunks of cream cheese and then beat until smooth and creamy. On cooled crust spread cream topping. Arrange fruit into any desired pattern. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Cold Veggie Pizza

*Not to be confused with a "Vegetarian Pizza". This is merely a light crescent roll based, vegetable topped snack, appetizer or even lunch! We love this at our house for a nice light meal. We might pair it with something like soup or little smokies. Of course we always finish up with "Fruit Pizza!"

2 packages refrigerated Crescent roll dough
1/2 C sour cream
1 - 8 oz cream cheese
1/2 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp garlic powder
chopped veggies (broccoli, onion, peppers, carrots, etc.)
3-4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)
1 C Shredded Cheddar or Colby Jack Cheese

Let cream cheese set at room temperature. Preheat oven according to package directions (usually 375). Line baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly spray with cooking spray. Unroll crescent roll dough and place on pan. Using fingertips, gently work dough triangles together to form one big crust. Using fork, lightly punch holes about an inch apart all over crust (to prevent air pockets). Bake crust 10-12 minutes or until a light golden brown. Be careful not to overbake. Let cool completely before building your "pizza". In small mixing bowl combine sour cream, cream cheese and seasonings. Spread over cooled crust. Top with chopped veggies and then bacon and cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to eat. Serve cold.

Mac & Cheese Toast

Found this lovely little shaker jar of "Macaroni & Cheese, Cheese Topping" on sale for a dollar like forever ago. I bought one. Didn't know if I'd ever used but, for $1...

I discovered, that it has a good long shelf life! I finally opened that bad boy up the other day for a very cheap version of Texas Toast! My kids LOVED it!!!

Sliced Bread
Butter or margarine
Garlic Powder
Mac & Cheese, Cheese Topping

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil. Place single layer of bread slices on pan. Butter top sides of bread generously. Dust lightly with garlic powder, followed by a sprinkling of the cheese topping. Place in warm oven. Check after about 10 minutes. Should be lightly toasted. Serve warm.

Supper Skillet

1 medium onion chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef
1 bell pepper or other veggies as desired
4 medium red potatoes, chopped and steamed
salt and pepper to taste
other seasonings as desired (basil, chili powder, smoked paprika, etc.)
1 C shredded Cheddar (or cubed Velveeta)
3-4 eggs, prepared to liking

Lightly spray skillet with cooking spray. Saute onion and garlic. Add meat and brown, stirring often. Add in other chopped peppers or vegetables, and continue to stir fry over low-med heat. Steam potatoes in covered microwave-safe dish or in microwave steamers bags. Add to skillet, along with additional seasonings, stirring occasionally. Add cheese and stir frequently to melt. In separate frying pan, prepare eggs as desired (scrambled, sunny-side up, etc.) You can either serve eggs over the skillet or fold in.

*shown here with Mac& Cheese Toast

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Seasoned Potatoes (EASY)

First of all, let me just say that I LOVE LOVE LOVE these handy steamer bags for the microwave. Both GLAD and ZIPLOC have them, and for me, with my busy schedule, I think they are worth every penny. My kids can also use them to "cook" their veggies.

4 or 5 medium red potatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 packet Onion Soup Mix (Lipton works, but I get these generics for $.29 a piece)

Wash and cut potatoes into bit-sized pieces. Place in steamer bag. Add about 2 Tbsp olive oil. Seal bag and turn several times to coat well. Open bag and sprinkle soup mix over potatoes. Reseal bag, and toss again to coat. Place in microwave and heat following times on bag.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Magic Bars

Ok - so I was over visiting A Duck in Her Pond recently as she was posting her version of these...what she calls "Hello Duckies". She knew that I have been sort of feeling down in the dumps lately, so she said I should make myself some of these little bars of ooey-gooey-goodness. That is one smart duckie, I tell ya!

I think almost everyone has their own variation of these bars. Some are called 7-layer bars (7 ingredients), other call them "Hello Dollies"/"Hello Dollys", and some - like me - call them "Magic Bars." Some people use walnuts, some peanuts, others pecans, whereas I prefer slivered almonds or chopped macadamias. You could substitute peanut butter chips instead of butterscotch, etc. And finally, the other main difference I notice is that some recipes call for the milk to be spread over the crust while others are poured on last.

No matter how you make these luscious little goobers, they are ALL good. Really - you can't go wrong - as long as you don't burn them! lol!

Okay, Okay... enough torture. Without further adieu... Magic Bars!

1 pkg Graham Cracker Squares, crushed (about 20 squares), a little more if desired
1/2 C butter, melted (1 stick)
1 C chopped nuts
1 C flaked Coconut
1 C Chocolate Chips
1 C Butterscotch Chips
1 - 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9x13 lightly with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. In bottom of pan mix together graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Work and spread to form crust. Then add a single layer of all remaining dry ingredients, spreading them evenly throughout. Finally, top with sweetened condensed milk; spread evenly and press down with fork. Bake at 350 degrees 20-25 minutes or until top is slightly golden. Let cool before cutting into squares. Store in airtight container.

*For thin bars (as seen here) use 9x13 pan. For medium bars use 8x10 and for thick bars, 8x8.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Dress-Up Brownies

Don't get me wrong... fudge brownies are awesome -- especially when I can buy the mixes of the Family Size on sale for $.99! But sometimes, even brownies can use a little "dressing up". Try these for a special occasion or party. So simple and yet they look "fancy" (if a brownie can ever look as such).

1 brownie mix
eggs, oil, water - according to package directions
creamy white frosting or Glazed Icing

Mix and bake brownie mix according to package directions. Let cool. If using store-bought frosting, heat in microwave about 15 seconds and stir well. Otherwise, follow Glazed Icing recipe above. Using a knife, drizzle the glaze in a criss-cross pattern over brownies. Let set. I like to cut these into big squares, and then again diagonally. Enjoy!

p.s. = my middle son says these remind him of "brownie oreos" - lol!