Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lazy Lasagna

I remember the first time I had lasagna.  It was down in Southern Indiana, visiting my Aunt Glenda. It was the most scrumptious comfort food I could ever imagine.  When I first became and adult and discovered a "Lazy" version, it was PERFECT!  I've tweaked it over the years to suit my kids' taste, and while it's certainly not gourmet, we rarely have leftovers.

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, chopped (optional)
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp oregano
1 large (32 oz) jar spaghetti sauce
16 oz cottage cheese, or ricotta cheese
8 oz sour cream
1/2 C grated Parmesan
1 box lasagna noodles, uncooked
2 C shredded cheese
3/4 C water

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly spray pan and saute garlic and onion until tender.  Add ground beef and oregano and cook until browned.  (Can also use garlic and onion powder if preferred.)  Drain fat and add spaghetti sauce, stirring to heat through.  In small mixing bowl combine cottage cheese, sour cream and Parmesan; set aside.  Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray.  Spoon 1 1/2 C meat sauce into bottom of pan, spreading evenly.  Layer with uncooked lasagna noodles, adding broken pieces to ends if needed.  Spread half the cottage cheese mixture over noodles, followed by half the remaining meat sauce and 1 C shredded cheese.  Repeat with 2nd layer.  Using spatula, create space between lasagna noodles and edges of pan.  Pour the water around the edges of pan.  Cover tightly with foil and bake 50-60 minutes.  Remove foil and bake another 15=20 minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

For Sunday dinner, I assemble this the night before, cover with foil and refrigerate.  Then I stick it in the oven as soon as I am home from church.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Cinnamon Spiced Nuts

I love these fresh out of the oven... It's almost worth burning my tongue over!  They are sooo good and make your kitchen smell sooo sweet and they are sooo easy to make!  I found this same basic recipe on a couple of different Internet sites each with a variation here or there.

These make pretty simple gifts with a big bang when added to small mason jars and tied off with holiday ribbon.  I love giving these as hostess gifts.  The only problem I have is one batch is never enough.  :)

1/3 C brown sugar
2/3 C granulated sugar
1 tsp kosher salt (I used my sea salt grinders and it worked great)
pinch cayenne pepper (some used 1/4 tsp smoked paprika instead)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 lb nuts (whole almonds, walnut or pecan halves, etc)
1 large egg white, room temperature
1 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In mixing bowl combine sugars. salt, cayenne, and cinnamon, working out any lumps with a fork if needed; set aside.  In small mixing bowl, beat egg white with water until frothy (not stiff).  With rubber spatula, fold in nuts and turn to coat evenly.  Add coated nuts to bowl of dry mixture and continue turning with rubber spatula until candy-coating is evenly disbursed.  Spread evenly onto prepared pan.  Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool, breaking apart pieces as necessary.  Store in airtight container.

Monkey Bread

This gooey delicious version of cinnamon sticky buns are sooooo sinfully sweet I don't even care about the calories!  (Good thing I only make this once a year!)   It's called Monkey Bread because you pull it apart with your fingers - like a monkey would!  :)

Tip:  I put my bag of frozen dinner rolls in the refrigerator the night before to thaw.  Around here, Rhodes Rolls are the best, but there are a number of good store brands that work just as well.  To find Rhodes Rolls in your area click {{HERE}}.

1 C chopped pecans
24 frozen dinner rolls, thawed
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 stick (1/2 C) butter
1 C brown sugar

Spray inside of bundt pan with cooking spray and cover the bottom with nuts.  In bowl mix together cinnamon and sugar.  Cut rolls in half, and re-shape into balls if necessary.  Roll each dough ball into cinnamon-sugar mixture coating well and then layering in bundt pan.  Cover with sprayed plastic wrap and let rise until about double in size or at least until even with the top of the bundt pan.  In saucepan over medium heat, mix together butter and brown sugar and cook until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Pour over rolls in pan.  Bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown.  Invert onto serving plate.  Let cool sightly.

Quick-Method Variation:  No time to let dough rise?  You can substitute the dinner rolls with 3 cans of refrigerated biscuits.  Cut each biscuit in half and form into ball and proceed with recipe above, omitting the "let rise".

Butterscotch Bubbleloaf Variation:  Omit the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Instead, roll each dough ball into Butterscotch or Vanilla Cook&Serve (not Instant!) dry pudding mix (small box).  Sprinkle remaining mix over rolls, cover and let rise and continue as above.

No-Bake Cookies

These are my favorite cookies and they always seem to disappear pretty fast around my house.  The hardest part is exerting patience while waiting for the cookies to set up.

1/2 C milk
1 stick (1/2 C) butter
1/2 C cocoa powder
2 C sugar

1 tsp vanilla
1/2 C peanut butter
pinch salt
3 C uncooked oatmeal

PREP:  Line empty counter space or table with parchment paper - enough for 4 dozen cookies.  Measure out vanilla, peanut butter, and oatmeal and set aside. Have salt shaker on hand.

In heavy saucepan add milk, butter, cocoa and sugar over MED-HIGH heat.  Stir occasionally. Bring to boil and then continue to cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, peanut butter, salt and oats.  Drop by tablespoon onto waxed or parchment paper. Let cool completely (20-30 minutes).  Store in airtight container.  Makes 3-4 dozen.

Note: The larger the cookies, the longer they take to set-up.  Patience in the key!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Grandma Goldie's Coconut-Oatmeal Pie

Truth be told, I only remember my grandmother making this particular pie a handful of times.  But when she did, boy did I love it.  As an adult, when I went back to visit with her once I asked her how to make it and she was all too happy to fetch her recipe which was scrawled on a piece of paper and tucked into a drawer.  My kids say that when you add a bit of whipped topping to it, it tastes like the Little Debbie's Oatmeal Cream Pie snacks, only better.  I don't know about that, but this is one of my all-time favorite pies.  I also love this pie because it is soooo simple to make.  Not.Even.Kidding.

1 C water
3 eggs, slightly beaten
2/3 C granulated sugar
1 C brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 C flaked coconut
2/3 C oats
1 unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 375.  In mixer, combine all ingredients until mixed well and pour into pie shell. Bake 50-60 minutes or until set.

Crust Tip:  Because this pie takes a while to bake, you can use strips of foil over your pie crust edges to prevent them from getting too dark.  If you make pie a lot, however, you may want to invest in {{Pampered Chef Pie Crust Shields}}.  I have two of these and I love them.

Old Fashioned Sugar Cream Pie

This recipe came from my Amish Grandmother, Goldie Miller.  Incidentally, Old Fashioned Sugar Cream Pie is the official pie of Indiana.  Not.Even.Kidding.  It's my oldest son's favorite, so while it takes a bit of time (the dreaded eternal stirring), the outcome is worth every bit (and bite) of it!

1 pre-baked pie shell
2 C (1 pint) half & half, divided
1/3 C corn starch

1 stick (1/2 C) butter
1 C sugar
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla

In small bowl add 1 tablespoon at a time of the half & half to the corn starch - just enough to make a loose paste; set aside.  In saucepan over LOW heat melt the butter with the sugar and remaining half & half, stirring frequently.  Once the sugar is dissolved, add the corn starch paste and the nutmeg.  Turn heat up just a little to MED and begin stirring constantly to avoid scalding.  Continue stirring until mixture begins to bubble and thicken.  This may take several minutes.  As soon as it thickens, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Pour into baked pie shell.  It will set up as it cools, or you can refrigerate overnight.  (Although, I think it tastes great while still warm.)

Note:  The key to this pie is PATIENCE.  The time it takes for this pie to thicken while stirring seems to vary for me and I am not sure why.  It may have something to do with the brand of Half & Half or the room temperature at the time, but just know that this may take several minutes.  The last batch I made took 11 minutes of constantly stirring before it began to thicken.  You could try turning the heat up just a little, but be very cautious as nothing tastes worse than a burned cream pie.

Aunt Lorene's Chocolate Pecan Pie

This recipe comes from my Amish aunt, Lorene Miller.  I love Pecan Pie but when I went to dinner at her house once and she served CHOCOLATE Pecan Pie, I had to ask for the recipe.

1 unbaked pie shell
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 C packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 C light corn syrup
1/4 C melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C chopped or halved pecans
1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.  In mixing bowl combine eggs, brown sugar, salt, corn syrup, melted butter and vanilla; mix well.  Fold in pecans and chocolate chips.  Pour into unbaked pie shell.  Bake 50-60 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Crust Tip:  Because this pie takes a while to bake, you can use strips of foil over your pie crust edges to prevent them from getting too dark.  If you make pie a lot, however, you may want to invest in {{Pampered Chef Pie Crust Shields}}.  I have two of these and I love them.

Sour Cream Apple Streusel Pie

Streusel is the name for the crumb-topping typically made with butter, flour and sugar, originating from Germany.   I like to make this pie when I am in the mood for Apple Pie, but want something a little different.  Don't worry, the sour cream doesn't make the pie taste sour at all.  It adds a nice "light" flavor to it, and in my opinion really helps bring out the flavor of the apples. 

1 unbaked 9" pie shell
3-4 C peeled and thinly sliced apples
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 8oz sour cream
1 C sugar
1 tsp salt

3 Tbsp melted butter
1/4 C packed brown sugar
4 Tbsp flour

Preheat oven to 375. Layer apple slices evenly in pie crust and set aside.  Combine eggs, sour cream, sugar and salt until  mixed well.  Pour over apples in pie plate and using rubber spatula, carefully turn apples to mix well.  Bake 25 minutes.  In the meantime, to make streusel topping use a fork to work the melted butter, sugar and flour together. It should resemble a fine crumb mixture.  After taking pie out of the oven, sprinkle streusel over the top and return to the oven to bake another 20-25 minutes or until set.

Apple Tip:  I like to use half Gala apples and half Granny Smith apples.  I think the combination of the sweet and the tart is perfect for a savory Apple Pie!

Crust Tip:  Because this pie takes a while to bake, you can use strips of foil over your pie crust edges to prevent them from getting too dark.  If you make pie a lot, however, you may want to invest in {{Pampered Chef Pie Crust Shields}}.  I have two of these and I love them.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Canadian Mountie Casserole

This is a variation of something 2 of my sisters and their college roommate used to make.  They never really knew what to call it, so they made up the name, "Canadian Mountie Casserole" and it just sort of stuck.  This is the version that my kids like the best.  This is definitely not low in carbs, but is an awesome dish for a cold day or when you want to splurge.  Enjoy!

2 Boxes Velveeta Shells & Cheese
1 box Stove Top stuffing mix
margarine or butter - according to Stove Top directions
1 small package frozen peas
1/2 C Sour Cream*
1 kielbasa, brat, or hot dogs cut into bite-sized pieces (optional)
salt & pepper, to taste

Prepare shells & cheese according to package directions.  While the pasta is cooking on the stove, I like to make my stuffing in the microwave (according to package directions), followed by my peas.  Lightly spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray.  Drain cooked pasta and place in bottom of pan.  Mix the Velveeta cheese packages well with pasta.  Stir in both the cooked stuffing and steamed peas. Then mix in the sour cream.  If adding sausage, mix in and spread evenly in pan.  Bake @ 350 for approximately 12-15 minutes, just enough to give it a little crunch on the top.  Serve warm.

*If you don't like sour cream, you can also use 1 can cream of chicken soup mixed with 1/4 C milk or water instead.

**When reheating leftovers I sometimes add a little butter or milk.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Spaghetti Boats

If I am short on time (not even enough time to boil the pasta), I opt for Spaghetti Boats instead of regular spaghetti.  The kids love them and it seems no matter how big the "boats" are, there are rarely leftovers!  (Note down below for variations we often eat as well.)

1 large loaf French or Italian Bread
1 lb ground beef
chopped garlic, onions, peppers, oregano as desired
1 jar favorite spaghetti sauce
2 C shredded cheese (I usually use Colby-Jack or Mozzarella)

Cut the loaf of bread in half, lengthwise and then cut each half into quarters, ending up with 8 "boats".  Set aside on baking sheet.  In skillet or sauce pan brown ground beef and add desired veggies.  Drain fat and add favorite spaghetti sauce.  (Homemade or store bought.)  Mix well, and stir until heated through.  Spoon meat sauce evenly over each bread boat.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake in 350 degree oven 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted. 

Tip:  I like to line my baking sheet with foil or parchment paper for easier clean-up.

For Sloppy Joe Boats, prepare ground beef as you would for Sloppy Joes and top with shredded cheddar before baking.
For Pizza Boats, use marinara sauce, sausage, pepperoni, etc, and top with a shredded Italian cheese blend.
For Cheeseburger Boats, saute chopped onion with the ground beef and season with a little salt, pepper and some Worcestershire sauce.  Top each with slice of favorite "cheeseburger" cheese (American, Pepper-Jack, Cheddar, Swiss, etc.)  After baking, add ketchup and mustard if desired.

Hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Easy Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

Martha Stewart showcased some pumpkin brownies once and I've wanted to try them ever since.  However, I do not have all the time in the world like she does, so I came up with my own "quick" method.  Martha says to add a little cayenne pepper as it compliments the pumpkin flavor and really enhances the chocolate.  Well -- I went and forgot all about that, so I did not end up putting cayenne in this batch, but maybe next time.  I am for sure willing to try it.

1 family-size brownie mix (for 9x13 pan)
eggs, oil and water according to package directions

6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 C pumpkin
6 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, optional

Topping: Chocolate chips, nuts, etc. (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray.  In mixing bowl prepare brownie mix according to package directions.  Pour 2/3 batter into bottom of baking pan; set aside.  In separate mixing bowl cream together cream cheese and pumpkin.  Add remaining ingredients; mix well.  Drop by spoonfuls over chocolate layer.  Take remaining chocolate batter and drop over top of pumpkin layer.  Using a butter knife, pull knife through batter, first length-wise and then cross-wise until achieving desired swirl look.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips or chopped nuts if desired.  Bake 40-45 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool completely before cutting.  Store leftovers in airtight container.

I know, I know - don't say it.  It looks like a cat crapped all over my brownies.  But seriously, once you smell this pumpkin batter, you will agree these are delish!
My purdy swirl design... 
I added semi-sweet chocolate chips to mine just to add a little more to the presentation, since I was taking it to a party.  
The finished product!  Yummm!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Teriyaki Stir Fry

    3-4 medium red potatoes, chopped
    4 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
    1/2 Teriyaki Sauce
    1/2 C chopped green onions
    1 C chopped peanuts

Wash, dry and cut potatoes into bit-sized chunks. Place in microwave safe dish, cover and steam in microwave about 3-4 minutes or until slightly tender. Spray large skillet or wok lightly with cooking spray. Place chicken pieces in hot skillet and add potatoes once chicken is browned. Add in teriyaki sauce and stir to coat well. Chop peanuts in blender (pulsate a few times). Add onions and peanuts and stir well. Turn heat to low, cover with lid and let simmer a few minutes more. Stir to mix well before serving. Serve over rice if desired.

*also good with pork or tofu instead of chicken

Serving Size: Makes 8 1-Cup servings

Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 8
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 159.8
  • Total Fat: 4.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 27.5 mg
  • Sodium: 729.0 mg
  • Total Carbs: 13.0 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.8 g
  • Protein: 15.8 g

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chevy's Sweet Corn Tomalito

If you have a Chevy's Mexican Restaurant near you, then you will know what I am talking about. We used to have them here in Utah, but the last one finally closed a few years ago. They serve a scoop of Sweet Corn Tomalito on the side of every main dish.

In my opinion, if you like cornbread, you will like this. I hope you like it as much as we do. I've scoured the internet and here is the simplest recipe I could find.

Note: You can find Masa in the Mexican food aisle at your grocery store. You'll only need a little bit, so if they have small bags, I'd go for one of those.

Chevy's Sweet Corn Tomalito

5 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 C Masa
1/3 C sugar
1 Can Corn, drained & divided (or 2 C thawed & drained)
1/2 Water
1/2 C Cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp milk

  1. In mixing bowl cream together butter, masa and sugar until light and fluffy. 1-2 minutes. 
  2. In food processor or blender add 1/2 the corn and all of the water. Puree until smooth. 
  3. Add the corn puree and remaining corn kernels to the creamed mixture and mix well. 
  4. Add the corn meal, baking powder, salt and milk and mix well again.
  5. Pour mixture into lightly greased 8" square pan; cover tightly with foil. 
  6. Fill a saucepan or double broiler with water (I used the pot from my rice cooker and a round pan, because the fit was perfect). 
  7. Place pot of water over med-high heat on stove stop. 
  8. When water begins to boil, place foil-covered pan on top and steam approximately 50 minutes. It should have a moist texture, but not runny. Over baking will dry it out.

*Tip: One recipe contributor stated she bakes hers by placing the covered dish in a larger roasting pan filled with water. The water reaches about 3/4 inch up each side of pan. Although it takes longer to bake, she feels this produces a better result. For this method, bake @ 250 degrees F for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Simple Sunday Chicken

This is such a simple recipe. The chicken creates its own juices and the final product is super moist!

1 small onion, optional
1 whole chicken (giblets removed)

Seasoning Mix:
2 tsp Salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper **
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper

Chop onion and place in bottom of crock pot, if desired. Place chicken in crock pot, breast-side up. In small bowl mix together dry ingredients. Rub over top of chicken. Cook on HIGH 4-6 hours or LOW 6-8, until chicken tests done. (If using whole cut-up fryer chicken, layer smaller pieces on bottom and breasts on top, adding seasonings to both layers.)

For a Rotisserie effect, I like to then place the chicken under the broiler for 5 minutes. It's gives it just that perfect little crisp. My kids love it!

**Instead of Cayenne Pepper, I opt for Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning and omit the black pepper as well. If you have some, give it a try! You could also experiment with Lemon Pepper for a zesty flavor!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Amish Shoe String Apple Pie

This is by far one of the easiest and yet tastiest pies I have ever had. This has been a family favorite for generations. This recipe is from my Amish Grandmother, Goldie Miller of Indiana. It is unlike any other apple pie recipe because first, the apples are shredded ("shoe strings") and second, it does not use the traditional apple pie "filling". While many of my family members love this pie served warm and topped with ice cream, I prefer to eat it cold the next morning for breakfast! I hope you give it a try! My kids will eat this pie before any other.

2 1/2 C sugar
2 Tbsp flour
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 C water
pinch of salt
4 C Shredded Apples (about 4-5 medium apples)
cinnamon for garnish
2 unbaked pie shells

Mix all ingredients well and pour evenly into pie crusts. Sprinkle tops with cinnamon. Bake @ 325 for 50-60 minutes or until set.

* Because this pie bakes for so long, I like to use my Pampered Chef Pie Shields until the last 10 minutes of baking.

Amish Raspberry Cream Pie

This is one of my all-time favorite pies. You can simplify this recipe by using 2 cans of store-bought raspberry pie filling, although I have provided the recipe (click below on "raspberry pie filling"). I got this recipe from my Amish Aunt "Leo" Lorene although, she makes her own whipping cream while as you can see I opt for Cool Whip. Yeah -- I'm lazy like that - haha. Enjoy!

2 pre-baked pie shells
Vanilla Cream (see below)
1 large container Cool Whip, optional

Vanilla Cream:
3 C milk, scalded
1/2 C cornstarch
1 1/3 C sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 egg yolks
1 C milk

Pour 3 C milk into heavy saucepan or kettle; heat to scalding. In small bowl combine cornstarch, sugar, salt, vanilla, egg yolks and 1 C milk. Slowly blend into hot milk, stirring constantly until thick. Remove from heat and let cool.

Pour 2 C cream into each pie shell. Spread raspberry filling over cream layer. Top with Cool Whip if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Raspberry Pie Filling

This recipe is from my Amish Aunt "Leo" Lorene. If I am planning to make homemade raspberry cream pie, I will try to make this pie filling the day before just to help lighten the load a bit. This is better than any canned, store-bought pie filling and this makes enough for TWO pies. Also, tastes great over ice cream when the filling is still warm.

1 C warm water
1/2 C granulated sugar
1 Tbsp corn starch
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 C cold water
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1 small box raspberry Jell-O mix
3 C fresh raspberries

In saucepan over MED heat, mix together warm water and sugar. Stir until sugar is mostly dissolved. In small separate bowl combine cornstarch, salt, cold water and lemon juice. Add to sugar-water and boil until clear. Add Jell-O mix and stir to dissolve. Add raspberries, mix well and then remove from heat to cool.

Pie Crust

This is the pie crust recipe my Amish Grandmother shared with my mother years ago, and now I use it too. People always comment on how much they love it. I will admit, that while I am one of the few who actually doesn't care for pie crust, I will eat this one more than any other.

(For 2 - 9" pies)

2 1/2 C Flour
1 C Shortening
1 tsp salt
7 Tbsp Ice Water

Mix first three ingredients together well. It will form a "meal". 1 tablespoon at a time add the ice water, stirring until dough forms a ball. Divide the dough in half and roll each out onto lightly floured board. Lay crust in lightly greased pie plates and press to form if needed. Using thumb and forefingers, pinch the edges all the way around for a nice look.

For a pre-baked pie shell, lay the crust in pie plate and prick all over with fork (to prevent air pockets). Bake 9-11 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.

TIPS: It helps to roll the pastry in a clockwise direction, and in between sheets of waxed paper is possible. Basically, the less handling the better. Also, if recipe calls for the pie to be baked for a lengthy period of time or at a high temperature you can cover the crust edges with strips of foil to prevent browning too dark. I use my Pampered Chef Pie Crust Shields.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Chimichanga Chowder

I had some stewing chunks I needed to use, but just wasn't really in the mood for beef stew. I searched through my cupboards and fridge, and whaddya know -- I got a hairbrain idea for a Tex-Mex chowder. This is sort of a cross between taco soup and taco chili, except it has refried beans and the fact that it's cream based makes it a chowder. Since both chimichangas and burritos have refried beans, we thought we could call it either Beef Burrito Chowder or Chimichanga Chowder. In the end, Chimichanga Chowder won out. I hope you give it a try! We loved it!

1 lb beef chunks for stewing
1 jar salsa
1 can corn, drained
1 can refried beans
1/4 C sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 - 1 soup-can water

Brown beef chunks with desired amount of seasonings. Drain fat and place beef in bottom of crock pot. Add remaining ingredients to crock pot and stir well. Cook low 6-8 hours or high on 4. Serve with shredded cheese and crushed corn chips if desired.

**Seasonings may include 1 packet of taco or fajita seasoning, a few dashes of chili powder, etc. I used about a teaspoon of Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dessert Taquitos

After making a batch of Creamy Chicken Tacos for dinner I had a few corn tortillas left and decided to make dessert too. Traditionally, a Taquito is a small, meat-filled corn tortilla, rolled up and then deep fried.

Small Corn Tortillas
cooking oil
Filling (I had some strawberry-rhubarb pie filling left over)
Cinnamon & Sugar
Additional toppings, Hershey's syrup, Powdered Sugar, etc.

Warm tortillas in microwave enough to handle without tearing. (I do about 90 seconds). Spread desired filling onto tortilla. Roll up and then press into cinnamon-sugar mixture. Heat cooking oil in skillet. Ready when drop of water sizzles. Place each Taquito in skillet and brown on all sides. Drain for a few seconds onto paper towel. (Don't leave too long on paper towel and the sugar mixture becomes sticky and will adhere to the paper.) Top with additional toppings if desired and enjoy!

Creamy Chicken Tacos

Have I ever told you about my roommate from my early college years when I lived in Hawaii? Ardis was, and still is, like a sister to me, and boy, that is one sister who can cook! We swap recipes from time to time and some of my family faves have come from Ardis. You may remember her Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken or her Simple Salsa Fresca. Well, today I am gonna share with you another family fave. I love this one because it is simple and tasty and my kids always ask for more! Hope you like it as much as we do! Thanks, Ardis!

1 pkg corn tortillas
1 12 oz canned chicken, drained (can also use turkey chunks)
1 8oz Cream Cheese
Shredded Cheese, optional
cooking oil

Warm tortillas on paper towel in microwave until they can be rolled or folded without tearing. (I usually do about 90 seconds.) Spray bottom of saucepan lightly with cooking spray. Add chicken and cream cheese. Melt cream cheese over MED heat and stir well to combine. Turn heat to simmer. Heat cooking oil in large skillet on MED heat. Ready when droplet of water sizzles. On each tortilla spoon a little bit of the cream cheese mixture. My family is a bunch of cheese-heads, so I also sprinkle a little shredded Colby Jack on top too. Fold taco in half and place in warm skillet. Brown on both sides and drain on paper towel. Makes about 12-14 tacos. Serve with Fresh Salsa if desired.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rice Krispy Pops

Yield: 24-30 treats

6 C Rice Krispies cereal
1/4 C butter
1 bag (10 or 10.5 oz) marshmallows
additional butter
melting chocolate

Measure out cereal and set aside. In heavy stockpot melt butter over med-high heat, and then let turn golden brown. Add in marshmallows and melt, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in cereal. With buttered 1/4 measuring cup, scoop out mixture onto cookie sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper. (I usually scoop out about 4 or 5 at a time.) Let sit on paper for about a minute or two. Then with buttered hands, pack each scoop together to form balls. Let sit another minute or two and then pack again. If needed, repeat a third time.

Melt chocolate in double broiler --or if you're lazy like me, buy some of those microwavable melting chocolate cups like these:

Dip each ball into the chocolate and return to paper. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 15-20 minutes. For variety, dip into other toppings after the chocolate. I used candy sprinkles, toasted coconut, crushed Oreos, mini chocolate chips, and a crushed Butterfinger. If desired, use candy sticks and turn into pops. Store by individually wrapping in plastic or in an airtight container.

For a party I like to place each treat in a mini muffin liner and place on serving tray or cupcake stand. Very cute.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Toasted Coconut

I love the way my kitchen smells when I am toasting coconut... mmmm!

Coconut Flakes, (I prefer sweetened)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper, or lightly spray with cooking spray. Spread desired amount of coconut flakes on baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Stir and return to oven another 5 minutes or until desired doneness. It should look golden brown. :) Let cool completely; store in airtight container until ready to use.

Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispy Treats

These are a fun variation to a classic treat. These treats are just as easy as the original and yet seem to add just a touch of class, fit for any occasion! Enjoy!

6 C Rice Krispies cereal
1/4 C butter
1 bag (10 or 10.5 oz) Marshmallows
1 to 1 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 - 12 oz bag white chocolate chips, optional

Prepare 9x13 pan with cooking spray or waxed paper. Measure out 6 C of cereal and set aside. In heavy pot melt butter over LOW heat. Without burning let butter brown just slightly (this really helps to bring out the flavor). Add marshmallows and spice and stir until melted. Add cereal to pot and stir to coat well. Turn cereal into prepared pan. With buttered spatula or hands press mixture into pan evenly. Let set about 15 minutes. Turn over onto large cutting board. In microwave-safe dish, melt chocolate at 50% power for 30 second. Stir well and repeat in 30 second intervals until melted. Pour or drizzle over treats. Sprinkle with additional pumpkin pie spice if desired. Let chocolate set completely before cutting.

I like to use a pizza cutter to cut my treats. Try cutting into big squares and then cut each square twice in opposite diagonals to make these cute little treats.

You could also try drizzling with milk chocolate or caramel, or even microwave a tub of cream cheese frosting for about 30 seconds and drizzle that on. Yumm-o!

Marshmallow Creme Swirl Brownies

Ok folks, this one is an EASY PEASY one! I promise! If I can do it so can you! This is so simple, I almost feel guilty calling it a "recipe". But truly, you will feel like a rock star when you show up to your next picnic potluck with these nummy treats!

1 - brownie mix (for 9x13 pan)
eggs, oil & water according to mix directions
1 small jar Marshmallow Creme
Chocolate Glaze*

Mix and bake basic brownies according to the package directions. While still warm, drop spoonfuls of Marshmallow creme over the top. Let sit a few minutes and then slowly work to spread the creme until the entire top is frosted. Then take the chocolate glaze and drizzle across the top in one direction (lengthwise). Using a knife, lightly pull through the drizzles (width-wise) to create the marbled look. Let set before cutting. For "cleanest" cutting I like to use my big pizza cutter, wiped clean with a damp cloth after each cut.

I usually look to see what I have on hand. You could use Hershey Chocolate Syrup, although for brownies it's a bit too messy to handle. I prefer to heat a tub of chocolate frosting (which I almost always have sitting in my fridges) for about 30 seconds. Stir and then drizzle. I have also used melted chocolate chips before. But my new fave find is this ~ Check it out! ~
Duncan Heinz "Amazing Glazes". It's basically the same as the frosting. Except you heat it, shake and pour straight from the bottle. So there you have it, an easy recipe and a product review all in one! :) Happy baking!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bacon-Cheese Coleslaw

My kids don't really care for "regular" coleslaw. But when I make this, there are never leftovers. I've become quite the coleslaw snob after my family got used to eating it this way. Enjoy!

1 pkg shredded cabbage/coleslaw mix
1 1/2 C Mayo
1 C Sugar
1 Tbsp vinegar
onion salt, to taste
a few dashes celery seed, optional
6 pieces bacon, fried & crumbled
1 C finely shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese

Empty coleslaw mix into salad bowl. In small bowl, mix remaining ingredients, except bacon & cheese. Pour over coleslaw mix and toss well to coat evenly. Add bacon pieces and cheese and toss again. Store covered in fridge until ready to serve.

My shortcut tips:
I always buy the coleslaw mix because it already has the bits of carrots and I'm lazy like that. Also, I buy the package of precooked bacon and just "crisp" it in the microwave 45-60 seconds. Again, because I'm lazy like that. Haha.

I also "toss" my salad in a storage container with a lid or a gallon size Ziploc bag. Much more evenly disbursed on the dressing.

Also, I have used light Mayo and Splenda with this in the past and it was very good. I will also often substitute Apple Cider Vinegar for regular, just depending on what I have on hand. Something about the combination of the apple and bacon...Mmmm.

BBQ Pork Skewers

3-5 lbs Country Style Spare Ribs, boneless
1/2 C Italian Salad Dressing, more or less
1/2 C Soy Sauce, more or less
BBQ Sauce

If using bamboo skewers, soak skewers in warm water for about an hour. Using sharp knife, carefully cut meat into 1" thick strips. Place sliced meat in gallon size Ziploc bag or container. Mix together equal parts Italian Dressing and Soy Sauce. I usually start with 1/2 C of each and add more of each if needed. You want enough of the marinade to cover meat. Let meat soak about 20-30 minutes or longer in fridge if desired. Thread meat onto skewers, doubling up on the smaller pieces. Place meat on grill over med-high heat and brush with remaining marinade, turning a few times. During the last few minutes of grilling, I like to brush on the BBQ sauce and grill a little more on each side.

tip: Even though the meat is on skewers, I still turn the meat with tongs, as bamboo skewers may break when handled while warm.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Applesauce Pork Loin Roast

This is a verrrrry moist and tender pork loin roast. Pan searing the roast before baking it seems to be the key to locking the juices in, so do not forget this important step. Enjoy!

1- 3lb boneless pork loin roast
cooking spray
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 C applesauce
3 Tbsp honey mustard
3 sprigs fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub pork with salt and pepper. Brown pork on all sides in skillet sprayed with cooking spray. Transfer to rack in shallow roasting pan. In small bowl mix together applesauce and mustard; stir well. Spread applesauce mixture over roast. Lay rosemary sprigs across top. Bake @ 350 uncovered 2 - 2 1/2 hrs or until meat thermometer tests done (inside temp about 160). Let rest 10-15 minutes before slicing. Yields approximately 12-15 servings.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pistachio Puffs

About a year ago I had some delightful Pistachio creme-filled cannolis. I haven't been able to get them out of my mind since. So, for Easter, I thought I'd make a pistachio creme-filled dessert of some sort and thus began the research. I thought puff pastry would be easy since I could "cheat" and buy the sheets from the local grocer's. Next I thought about doing Creme Horns, but I didn't really want to buy "horn molds" for something I'd only make once in a blue moon. Then -- I saw the idea of making homemade forms out of foil and Voila! Here is my creation and just in time for the Easter dinner table!

2 sheets puff pastry
Cooking Spray
2 boxes instant pistachio pudding mix
3 1/2 C cold milk
1 egg, beaten + 1 tbsp water
Powdered sugar, optional
*Chocolate Sauce, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Yield: 20 servings

Set both sheets of puff pastry on the counter to thaw, about 40 minutes. In mixing bowl, whisk together both pudding mixes with the milk. Refrigerate until ready to use. Using foil form 10 "molds" and spray with cooking spray. One sheet at a time, unroll puff pastry and cut into TEN 1" strips. Starting at the base of each mold, wrap the pastry strip in a cone-like fashion, securing the end with a toothpick. Place on parchment paper or lightly greased pan. Brush each pastry lightly with the egg and water mixture. Bake @ 400 for approximately 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Let sit on pan for about a minute. Lightly slide each foil mold out of horn and let pastry continue to cool on wire rack. Repeat process with the second sheet of puff pastry.

Fill each pastry with pistachio pudding and set on serving tray. Lightly dust with powdered sugar and drizzle with chocolate sauce. Chill until ready to serve.

*I used the new Duncan Hines "Amazing Glazes" Chocolate Dessert Topping