Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette

I'm just being honest . . . I really don't care for store bought salad dressings.  Oh, there is one brand from the store that I enjoy, but over-all, my preference is homemade.  Making salad dressings are one of the easiest and quickest things to make -- and extremely forgiving! 

This is a new recipe I tried tonight for dinner.

Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette

1/2 cup olive oil
4 TBSP red wine vinegar
2 TBSP dijon mustard
2 TBSP honey
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Whisk all ingredients together and chill.  Yields 1 cup.

The darling bottle is done by a friend of mine, Cora.  She sells all kinds of painted glass ware!  Her contact information is:  ron.cora@verizon.net  -- you, too, can enjoy some Glitzy Glass by Cora!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Grape Salad

My mom made this salad for some shindig that we did at her house some time ago and recently I shared this recipe with a friend of mine who was needing a salad to take to a luncheon.  This is an easy, taste good salad that everyone raves about!  If you make and take . . .you better have the recipe with you too!

Grape Salad

8 oz sour cream
8 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

Mix the above ingredients together until well blended.

4 lbs. seedless grapes (red and green)
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Place a layer of grapes in your bowl.  Dollop some of the cream cheese mixture around (don't worry about spreading it out), sprinkle a bit of the brown sugar on top and some of the pecans.  Repeat layers, ending with the cream cheese mixture with the brown sugar and nuts on top.

Refrigerate well (over night works great!)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cake Balls!

I'm sure by now you've had the delicious sweet treat called "Cake Balls."  In Oklahoma they've been referred to as "Angel Bites" or "Cake Bites."  Whatever you call them, they're just good!

As always, this is a recipe that you can alter to your taste.  If you have time, play around and get the concoction that tastes best to you! 

Cake Balls
1 cake mix, baked according to directions
1 container ready-made frosting
1 package almond bark (white or chocolate)

After baking the cake, crumble the warm cake into a large bowl.  Add the container of frosting and stir thorougly.  This will make a "goup" of sort!  Use a small cookie scoop and start making the cake balls.  Allow to cool completely in the refrigerator then freeze for 2 or more hours. 

Melt bark according to package directions.

Dip frozen cake balls into melted coating.  Roll in nuts, sprinkles, candies or decorate with additional melted almond bark in contrasting color if desired.  Allow to set up on wax paper. 

Flavor Options:

Birthday cake:  french vanilla cake, cream cheese frosting and chocolate coating.
Red Velvet cake:  chocolate cake, cream cheese frosting and white coating.
Triple Chcolate:  chocolate cake, chocolate frosting and chocolate coating.
W.W.W:  french vanilla cake, vanilla frosting white coating.
German Chocolate cake:  chocolate cake, coconut  and pecan frosting and chocolate coating.
Chocolate Covered Strawberry cake:  strawberry cake, cream cheese frosting and chocolate coating.
Carrot Cake:  Carrot cake, cream cheese frosting and white coating.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mi Cocina

Love, love, L.O.V.E flour tortillas!  The warm flour pillow -- melts the butter or holds the salsa or cradles the cheese -- it's amazing!  I can absolutely eat my weight in yummy flour tortillas.  Needless to say, the store-bought ones just really don't have that "fiesta!" when I think tortilla! 

Many years ago, when Jackson was a little guy, he and I went to a cooking class in Santa Fe and learned to make flour tortillas.  They are SO yummy and SO easy.  It's crazy!  BUT!  Who has time to whip out homemade flour tortillas every time?  Me either!  So, I've discovered the next best thing!

This is a refrigerated raw flour tortilla.  I found this particular brand at Wal-Mart.  You simply cook what you need when you are in need of your Mexican fix!  Let the tortilla come to room temperature and cook in a hot pan or griddle for about a minute.  In no time, you'll be saying "Ole!"

As a side note; if I'm going to be using these for a soft taco or something of the like, I cook them until they are done.  If I'm going to be using them for something that will be filled and re-heated, like a quesadilla, I under-cook them a bit so that I can complete the cooking once filled.  Otherwise they can become tough.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Biscuits, Eggs and Sausage on a school morning?

Now that school is back in full swing, having a nutritious  . . .and did I say "quick!" breakfast is necessary!  I always start off so good but it doesn't take long for the new to wear off!  But, at last, I think I've found something that was a hit with everybody, including dad!  I made this the night before, cooled it and then sliced it and put it in a container so that all we have to do is warm it up.  The microwave is OK, but I prefer to warm it in the toaster.  Throw a container of yogurt with it and you've got it made!  Barbara calls this cheese bread, but my new name is:

Sausage and Cheese Bread

1 lb. sausage, cooked and drained
8 eggs
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can Grand biscuits

Beat the eggs and mix the cooked sausage and cheese together.  Cut biscuits into eights.  Mix into the sausage mixture.  Pour into greased bundt pan and bake for 35 minutes* at 350.

*Mine wasn't done at 35 minutes, but it was after an additional 15 minutes.  Karen's total bake time:  50 min.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Creamy Pesto Chicken with Bow Tie Pasta

The other night, I was headed out to dinner with the girls and a little Liz Curtis Higgs but I didn't want to leave my family hi-n-dry for dinner!  This pasta dish is a winner with my kids and throws together faster than you can put on a prom dress . . .and when is the last time we've done that?  This recipe is from my mom.  It easily doubles, lightens, and re-heats perfect in the microwave!

Creamy Pesto Chicken with Bow Ties

3 cups uncooked bow tie pasta (I recently found the "baby" ones and I really do like the size!)
2 TBSP butter
1 lb boneless chicken breasts, cubed*
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup pesto sauce (Classic Creations brand, or other pre-made sauce)
1/2 cup milk

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain.  Meanwhile, heat butter in a skillet.  Add chicken and cook until browned, stirring often.  Add the soup, pesto sauce and milk.  Bring to a low boil and reduce heat to low for 5 minutes.  Stir in drained pasta and heat thoroughly.  Serves 4 (generous portions).

*I really prefer to add cubed grilled chicken.  It's easier AND faster!  When you grill, always through on an extra piece of chicken or two to have on hand for quick meals like this.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions and Tiramisu Pie for Dessert

It's our last day of Summer break and today we're working on making sure we have everything together, then celebrating with a "Back to School" dinner!  The kids picked Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions.  This is a quick, throw together meal, that's colorful and tasty!

Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions

1 package fresh Italian Sausage
1 Green Pepper
1 Red Pepper
1 Yellow Pepper
1 Onion

Cut each sausage link into 6 bite sized pieces.  Clean each of the veggies and chunk them into pieces.  I call this "rustic" chop.  You definately don't want them too small -- you don't want to sautee them, you'll cook them until their tender-crisp.

Heat a bit of olive oil (maybe 2 TBSP) in a large
pan over medium-high heat.  Put the Italian Sausage in and stir until coated and cook for 7-8 minutes.  Add the veggies, stirring to coat with the olive oil and cook thoroughly until
 meat is done, stirring often.

Serve with hot pasta (either buttered or my kiddos like it with a bit of pesto sauce) and a salad.  This is so easy AND tasty!

This recipe adapts to large crowds or your personal preference very easily.  You can stretch it by adding additional peppers/onions, or if you're a true carnivore just add more meat!

Finally, for dessert, you'll want to try:

Tiramisu Toffee Trifle Pie

3/4 cup strong coffee, cooled*
1 (10.75 oz) frozen pound cake
1  8oz package mascarpone or cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
1  12oz container cool whip, thawed and divided
2 english toffee candy bars, chopped*

Cut cake into 14 slices.  Cut each slice in half diagonally.  Place triangles in bottom and up sides of a 9" deep-dish pie plate.  Drizzle coffee evenly over cake.

Beat mascarpone cheese, sugar and chocolate syrup until smooth.  Add 2 1/2 cups cool whip.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Spread cheese mixture evenly over cake.  Dollop remaining whipped topping around edges of pie.  Sprinkle with candy.  Chill 8 hours.

*If you don't make coffee at home, run by 7-11 or your favorite quick stop and grab a small cup of coffee and let it cool. 

*I buy a bag of toffee chips from the baking aisle and use what I think is a good amount and save the rest for another use.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Not too long ago a friend sent me the BEST flavoring ever!  I had never heard of the brand or the flavoring and I was so excited to try it.  The smell alone was incredible; I couln't imagine what it would do for the baked goods!  Needless to say, I've put it in a baked breakfast blintz, also in cookies and cakes and have not been disappointed!

It's called Fiori di Sicilia and it is from King Arthur Flour Company.  This is all-natural flavoring with a combination of citrus and vanilla.  It is intense and really packs a punch!  It only takes about 1/8 to 1/4 of a teaspoon to add extra flavor to your recipe.

I've included the website if you want to order some for yourself, to find it in your area, or to look at some of their delicious recipes!   Treat yourself to something new;  you're going to love it!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Best Ever Butter Cookies

Don't you just love sugar cookies?  Especially the decorated kind?  For a back-to-school treat for our 3rd grade teacher, I decided to make pencil sugar cookies!  Of course, I don't have a cookie cutter for such -- so a ruler, pizza cutter, and an "eyeball" -- we got the look!  Little hands in the kitchen always make for the most interesting times and my little princess chef in training helped to roll out the dough!  When she decided to make a puppy . . . WITHOUT a cookie cutter, I thought to myself, "she may have some natural ability!"    Enjoy a fresh cookie today!

Best Ever Butter Cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature
1cup sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour
2 TBSP orange juice
1 TBSP vanilla
1 tsp baking powder.

Combine butter, sugar and egg in large mixing bowl.  Beat at medium speed until creamy.  Reduce speed to low and add flour, juice, vanilla and baking powder.  Beat until well mixed.  Divide dough into thirds; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 or more hours.

Preheat oven to 400.  On lightly floured surface roll out 1/3 of the dough to 1/4"-1/2" thickness.  Cut with cookie cutter.  Place 1" apart on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 6 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Cool completely before frosting.

I roll the dough to 1/2 inch thick.  I bake the cookies until the greasy look is gone from the middle but still a bit under-done.  I usually bake on 1 day and freeze them until the week I need them.  Depending how many layers, colors, or difficulty of project, it may take me a day or two for the frosting.  By under-baking, the cookie doesn't dry out.

While frosting cookies is fun, it does take a little planning!  I started with the "metal" eraser holder first and worked from there.  I'm not sure it was the best place to start, but I got the job done.  The trick to frosting cookies with multiple colors is to let it dry (at least to the touch) in between colors!  But you know, even if you mess up -- they'll still be eaten!

I have frosted these with Royal Icing.  It's 3 TBSP meringue powder, 6 TBSP warm water and 4 cups powdered sugar.  Mix until peaks form.  I color desired amount and frost.
Here is part of the project!  We made a dozen pencils . . .after all, isn't that what comes in the box!

And finally -- here is our free-handed puppy!  Her brother was totally impressed!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Cornbread Salad

We're having company tonight and it's way too hot to be doing a lot of indoor cooking!  So, I'm making Greg stand outside, where it's about 103 and cook over a 400 degree grill!  Oh well, it won't take long to cook those chicken breasts!  Along with the grilled foods I decided to make Cornbread Salad.  Now, before you say, "yuck!"  Trust me, it's just plain yummy! 

Cornbread Salad

1 box jiffy cornbread
1/2 cup of sugar**
9 pieces of bacon, cooked & crumbled**
1/2 of an onion, chopped
green pepper, chopped
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup mayo

Make cornbread as directed on box, adding the 1/2 cup of sugar to the mix.  Let cornbread cool and crumble into a bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well mixed.  Chill before serving.

**As if jiffy cornbread mix NEEDS sugar!  This time I made it, I forgot to add the sugar and I think I prefer it without the sugar.  Do whatever makes you happy!

I cook my bacon in the oven.  I line a large baking pan with foil and put a cookie cooling grid on the foil and lay the bacon across it and bake at 400 degrees until it's done (maybe 20 minutes or so, I've never timed it!).  It cooks flat and with less mess than on the stove.  Also, I don't have to hoover over it to make sure I'm not burning it.  I don't even turn it when I cook it in the oven!

So there you have it!  Do you think I can grab a quick bite before our friends get here?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Grilled PB& J's!

Honestly, can you make PB&J's any better?  YES!  Just add BUTTER!  That's right -- you're going to add a little butter to one side of the bread and grill that sandwich!  You end up with crunchy outside and warm and gooey and melty inside!  This takes PB&J to the next level!  I think the only thing that might make this better would be Nutella Chocolate Spread instead of jelly!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Note to Self . . . or Teacher, or Friend . . . or . . .

This little note pad can be made super quick and is a perfect way to jazz up your to-do list or give as a back to school teacher gift or any other reason!  I have made several of these and on the first page I write a little thank-you note, get well, or have a great day!  The cost is minimal, time is even less, and the cute factor is high!  I made this one this morning in less than 10 minutes!  The great thing is you can adjust it for whatever size notebook you're using!


memo pad


Cut your ribbon to about 6 inches.  Once you've finished the project, if you want to trim the ribbon down a bit, you can.  I used 3 coordinating ribbons.  My notebook had 12 spirals; I used 4 lengths of each ribbon.  You can do whatever pattern (or lack thereof) that fits you!

You will flip the front cover so that paper is showing and then begin the hard part!  Tie the knots!  Since I had 12 spirals and 3 ribbons, I started on the first spiral and counted over 3 and tied the next knot and so on until . . .

Once I've tied on all the ribbons, I adjust it how I want and call it good!  On these little spirals, I like to have the knots on the very top of the spiral so that the paper tears easily!

Remember!  This only took me less than 10 minutes this morning!
You can use rick-rack, fuzzy yarn, ribbon -- whatever you have!  I have found that on these smaller notepads that the smaller ribbon works easiest!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Not on Facebook -- but I'm trying a Blog!

This doesn't make sense!  I'm boycotting Facebook but I'm thinking about keeping up with a blog?  Where is the rationale with this, one might ask!  Honestly, I'm not sure I like this either!  However, I get several requests for recipes or "how did ya do that?" questions so I thought maybe this is the venue for me!  I'll give it a try for a little while and if it's not fitting into my schedule, I'll go back to the "old fashioned" e-mail!  Until then, thanks for laughing with me!

Back in the Spring I started a "casserole club" with 3 other women.  The purpose was to enlarge my circle (not my waist!), enjoy cooking with other women, and to end our time together by 4 new casseroles to pop into my freezer!

Here is a recipe from one of my trials!  You know, you have to make it before you'll do it with for others!

Santa Fe Chicken

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
9 oz chopped chicken (just eyeball the amount!)
2 -- 15oz cans black beans, drained
24 oz jar thick salsa

1 cup taco sauce (this is different than salsa, but use what you like)
8 corn tortillas
1 cup sour cream
2 cups colby jack cheese, shredded

Layer 1/2 of the taco sauce in the bottom of a 9X9 pan.  Place 4 corn tortillas, 1/2 chicken mixture, dollop about 1/2 of the sour cream on top of chicken and sprinkle 1/2 of the shredded cheese.  Repeat the layers; ending with the shredded cheese on top.

Either freeze your casserole or bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until heated.

Serve with a simple salad and your meal is complete!

3 Easy and Child Friendly Meals

So, I'm not even sure about what I'm doing -- except spending a lot of time on a project that I think only I can access!  If this is the case, this is not a worthwhile project!  Assuming that you'll be able to find this blog, I'm going to put the recipes for 3 easy (and freezer ready!) meals!  These have been a hit with my family as well as those I've shared them with!

Chicken Potato Casserole

1 can cream of chicken
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup of milk
2 cups chopped chicken
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
3 1/2 cups thawed hashbrowns
1 1/2 cups chopped onions and green peppers (can find these in the freezer section)
1 1/2 cups crushed potato chips

Mix everything together in a big bowl, remembering to reserve 1 1/4 cups cheese and leave out the potato chips!  Dump this into a 9X13 pan and top with remaining cheese and chips.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until hot. 

If you're freezing this:  leave the chips off until you defrost it!

Chili Tots

1 lb. ground beef, cooked
2 cans chili (no beans)
1 - 8oz can tomato sauce
1 can green chiles
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 - 32oz bag of tater tots

To the ground beef, add the chili and next 3 ingredients.  Pour into a 9X13 pan.  Top with cheese then tater tots.  Bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours.

Yep!  It's that easy!

Chicken Cordon Blue Bake

2-6oz packages of stuffing (like stove top brand)
1 can cream of chicken
1 cup of milk
8 cups of cooked chicken, chopped
1/2 tsp peppe
3/4 lb ham, chopped (I go to the deli and get of 3/4 lb of the thickest ham slice they can give me!)
4 oz swiss cheese, shredded
12 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

Make stuffing according to directions.
Mix everything else together and dump into a 9X13 pan.  Top with the stuffing.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until hot.

If you're freezing this, defrost prior to baking.

And finally!  Most of these, I divided into 2, 8X8 pans.  That lets me cook one for now and save one for later (or run to a friend, etc!).

While I've given you the full-fat version, I always reduce the fat by the "traditional" ways that we all know to do!  Do what makes you happy!  If you don't have something on hand, just substitute!  Best of all -- don't stress out about it!