Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Apple Nachos . . .Thanks, Trudy!

The other day, while reading my friends blog, I saw her recipe for "apple nachos."  It sounded so yummy and so easy.  Since it's Fall, officially, I knew that I would "need" to make them . . .and it is ultra convenient that I already had all the ingredients at home! 

Tonight, since the kids were home and Greg was gone, I whipped this up.  Now, it wasn't in lieu of dinner, but it should have been!  I only made 1/4 of the recipe and I cheated on some of the ingredients only for convenience sake!  I'll share that at the end, but for now, here's the real deal, ala, Trudy!

Apple Nachos
36 caramels
1 TBSP water
30 large marshmallows
1/3 cup butter, cubed
4 medium tart apples, peeled and cut into 1/4″ slices
1/3 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts
1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
3 TBSP Halloween sprinkles

In a microwave safe bowl, melt caramels with the water; stir until smooth.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt marshmallows and butter. Arrange apple slices on a large platter. Drizzle with caramel; top with marshmallow mixture . Sprinkle with peanuts, chocolate chips and sprinkles. Serve immediately.  Serves ?  (Maybe only 1!)

Now, here's my alterations:

1 large apple (honeycrisp, of course! and I left the peel on)
pre-packaged caramel (the one in the little container).  Just heated up a small bit until I could pour it
about 10 marshmallows
1 TBSP or less of butter (melted the m'mallows & butter in a microwave safe bowl, stopping often to stir)
about 1 TBSP of chocolate chips
and a sprinkle of dry roasted peanuts.  Peanuts aren't a favorite of the kids .  . . and I would have rather had chopped pecans, but was too lazy to get them out of the freezer!

This amount was PLENTY for the 3 of us.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Banana Cake . . .Just for Jackson

This is how a 12 year old puts candles on his cake!

Jackson turned 12 just a couple of weeks ago and it's a big deal at our house to have your favorite "birthday dinner."  Whatever you want you get!  This year, Jackson asked for my very favorite meal!  He requested chicken 'n dumplin's, green beans, fruit salad, and banana cake!  I was happy to make him happy!

This recipe is from Falls Creek -- when Jackson was a little bitty boy, he and I would go to Falls Creek during the Summer to work in Children's Park.  Mr. Don, who is responsible for food service at the camp, would send Jackson an extra piece of cake to take with him for later. 
 Before we left camp one year, we asked for the recipe.

Falls Creek Banana Cake

2 cups sugar
1 cup crisco
4 eggs
4 ripe bananas
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream sugar and crisco -- add remaining ingredients.  Pour into a greased 9 X 13 pan or 3 round pans.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until done.  Cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8oz cream cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 TBSP vanilla

Cream cream cheese and butter, gradually add powdered sugar, alternating with the vanilla.  Mix well.  Spread on cooled cake.  This particular recipe doesn't make enough to frost the sides of a 3 tier cake (which is ok with us).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Monster Reuben!

On our recent Disney trip, Jackson experienced a Reuben sandwich . . .and he was hooked!  The next day, when he ordered his own and his sister took a bite . . .she was hooked!  The third day, they shared a sandwich.  This only could mean one thing; I would make Reuben sandwiches for dinner when we got home!

I want to share with you our recipe, complete with homemade 1,000 Island dressing.  I don't really care for 1,000 Island dressing so if I'm going to eat it, I at least want it to be worth eating and the store bought stuff isn't really "it" for me.

1,000 Island Dressing

1 cup mayo
1/4 - 1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup dill relish
2 TBSP finely chopped onion
1 hard boiled egg, chopped (I prefer it small chop)
Couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Mix well and refrigerate.

Reuben Sandwiches

Gooey, yummy Swiss cheese!
Dark Rye bread
1,000 Island Dressing
Pastrami (I used turkey pastrami)
Swiss Cheese, grated
Sauerkraut, WELL drained

Butter 1 side of bread with butter.  Lay in pan.  Spread a bit of the dressing on the "clean" side of the bread, top with pastrami, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese.  Spread a bit more dressing on another piece of bread and place it face down on the cheese.  Smear a bit more butter on the top of the bread and grill 'til toasty and the cheese is melted.

Begin draining the sauerkraut as early in the day as your stomach can handle!  I opened it and let it drain for about 6 hours.  You want it to be "dry" when you put it on your sandwich.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Chick, Chick, Chicken!

For most of us, the thought of a WHOLE chicken is a little overwhelming!  We've become spoiled to boneless/skinless chicken breasts!  I want to encourage you to try a whole chicken!  You may be wondering what you're going to do with the WHOLE thing!  Well, you're going to use it!  Personally, I prefer roasting over boiling.  There are several reasons why:
  1. It's more moist
  2. It's more flavorful
  3. It's easier
When I roast chicken I always do at least 2 at a time and if I'm really ambitious, I'll do 4.  The recipe is simple.

Oven Roasted Chicken

2 whole chicken, thawed
olive oil

This is at the most basic.  Thaw the chickens in the refrigerator.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Before removing chickens from the refrigerator line a large cookie sheet with foil; make sure the pan has a lip on it, otherwise you're going to have a mess!  Place a cookie cooling rack on top of the foil.  Now, remove the chicken from the package, drain them, pull out any parts that are tucked into the cavity, and rinse well with water.  Pat dry.  Pour a bit of olive oil on the chickens and rub around.  Sprinkle salt and pepper to your liking.  Place chickens on cookie sheet and place in oven on middle rack.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until done.  Cool completely.

Once the chicken is cooled, remove skin and de-bone.  Place meat in desired proportions in zip-lock bags and freeze until ready to use.   This is GREAT for casseroles, soups/stews, mixed salads, etc.

Perfectly roasted chicken

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Good Things Come in 3's!

I have been cleaning out my spiral scratch pad -- all those little things that are necessary but not meant to be kept forever!  I found 3 recipes that my family likes and I want to pass them along so that I can throw these papers away!

You'll be sad to see there are no pictures of these delicious dishes.  But trust me!  They're yummy!

Santa Fe Chicken

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
1 TBSP olive oil
1 lb. chopped cooked chicken
2, 15-oz cans black beans, drained
24 oz jar thick salsa
1 cup taco sauce
8 corn tortillas
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cojack cheese

Cook onions and garlic in oil.  Add the cooked chicken, salsa and stir well.  (I call this the "chicken mix")  In a 9 X 9 pan, layer taco sauce, 4 corn tortillas, and 1/2 of the chicken mix.  Dollop with some sour cream and 1/2 the cheese.   Repeat the layers, ending with cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees until hot. 

If freezing, defrost first before baking.

Chicken Bundles

8 oz cream cheese, room temp.
4 TBSP butter, divided
2 TBSP minced onion
2 TBSP milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 cups cubed chicken, cooked
2 cans crescent rolls

Blend cream cheese, 2 TBSP butter, onion, milk, S&P and chicken together.  Unroll crescent rolls, seperating into triangles.  Fill each triangle with about 1/3 a cup of chicken mixture and bundle up.  Brush tops of rolls with remaining butter. 

Bake at 350 degrees 20-25 minutes or freeze.  Once ready to use pop into the 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Italian Chicken Rolls

8 chicken breasts
8 pieces of ham
8 slices provolone cheese
2/3 cups seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup milk

Flatten chicken.  Place 1 ham and 1 cheese slice on chicken and roll up.  tuck ends and secure with a tooth pick. 

In a shallow small bowl add crumbs, cheese and parsley.  Place the milk in a seperate shallow, small bowl.  Dip the chicken in the milk then roll in the crumbs.

Wrap in plastic wrap.  Freeze.  Thaw in refrigerator, remove plastic wrap, spritz with cooking spray and bake uncovered at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.

If you want to use immediately, skip the plastic wrap step.  Simply spritz with cooking spray and bake.

Serve with pasta and a red sauce.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fruit Tea and Amarta Tea

I absolutely love tea . . . just about any type of tea, except for herbal teas.  I know, I know -- I don't know why -- that's just the way I am!  I have several teas that I just love but this one, called Fruit Tea, is my all-time absolute favorite!  Matter of fact, I have devoured the entire gallon of tea, by myself, in one day!  Honest!  Does it count that I was pregnant?  Maybe, but regardless --it's delicious!

Fruit Tea

7 regular sized tea bags or 4 of the "giant" ones
1 qt. water
1 cup sugar
12 oz frozen lemonade, thawed
6 oz frozen orange juice, thawed
9 cups water

Boil 1 qt. water and steep tea bags.  Add the sugar to the hot water too so that the sugar dissolves well.  Add the juice and lemonade and the remaining water.  Stir well before serving over ice.

Another yummy tea is one that Brenda E. makes, called Amareta Tea.  She made it for my brother and sister-in-law's wedding. 

Amareta Tea

3 TBSP instant tea
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups boiling water
1 - 12oz frozen lemonade, thawed
1 TBSP almond extract
1 TBSP vanilla extract
2 1/2 quarts water

Dissolve the tea in the 2 1/2 quarts water.  Dissolve the sugar in the 2 cups boiling water.  Combine the two in a large container and add the lemonade and extracts.  Stir well and refrigerate.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My Mexican Vanilla Quest

I can't remember which happened first; if Jack and Marsha brought back this incredible vanilla or if I asked them to bring me back a bottle of vanilla.  Either way, I ended up with this giant bottle of clear vanilla and it didn't take long that when I knew they were headed to Mexico I always asked them to stock me up!  Now that my supplier and I don't live close to one another, I've had to try to find it myself!  The quest has been long and disappointing!  I've looked in more Mexican markets than I care to realize, I've looked in up-scale kitchen stores, and I've asked friends!  WHOA!  I finally found Amy; she knew exactly what I was talking about -- it was her favorite too!  The Danncy Clear Mexican Vanilla is perfect -- not only is the vanilla great, but it also has just a smidge of  a cinnamon undertone and it is wonderful in everything you can think of!  Even during the heat of summer I like to put a teensy, teensy drop of the vanilla in my ice cold water for a little change of taste!

Finding it in stores is impossible.  So, if you are making a trip to Mexico you need to be sure to drop a bottle or two of this in your bag to bring home.  The only thing you'll be sorry about is that you didn't bring more!  But, if a Mexican get-a-way isn't in your future, gather up some friends and order some Danncy Clear Vanilla.  (Last time I ordered, I could do single bottles.  When I did a quick glance it appears as thought you can only order a case of 12.) 

Nothing fancy about Danncy!  It looks like a water bottle!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Peanut Butter and Brownie Bar

Go!  Go right now and make sure you've got all the ingredients to make this.  I'm serious -- get up, go check, because after you read this, you're going to want to make this, and you're going to say, "Ummm!  This is GOOD!" (just like my Madison Grace did!).

Peanut Butter Brownies with Reese's Frosting

3/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup flour


1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used 1 cup)
1/3 cup peanut butter

Cream the peanut butter, butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla together.  Mix in baking powder and soda, salt and flour until well blended but do not over mix.

Pour into a 9 X 9 greased pan.  Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes or until done.

Let cool a bit.  While cooling, make the frosting.  Melt the chocolate chips, stir in the peanut butter until smooth and pour over brownies.  You can wait until they're cool to cut them -- but why!!  These are delicious warm!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ice Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for Ice Cream!

A few years ago, my friend Sheri Babb asked me to work at Falls Creek in Children's Park.  For dinner, different churches would "adopt" us and feed us our evening meal.  The "city" churches would feed us things like hot dogs, chicken fingers and Sam's brownies.  The "country" churches would feed us homegrown cantelopes, grandma's chicken spaghetti and homemade ice cream!

This ice cream was from one of those "country" church dinners!  It was so very hot this particular week and First Baptist Church, Hammon, OK treated us like family!  There were several flavors of ice cream AND cobbler to choose that night, but I went with the "Frozen Passion!"  Maybe I was really missing Greg or maybe it was just the flavor that hit the spot.  Either way, this ice cream has always been so tasty to me!  It's easy and low-fat!

Frozen Passion

2 cans Eagle Brand Milk
1 medium sized can crushed pineapple
1 2-liter orange soda pop

Chill all ingredients.  Stir the condensed milk and pineapple together and place in ice cream freezer.  SLOWLY (to keep the fizz down) add the orange pop to fill the freezer.  Freeze as normal.

I have a 2 qt. fast freeze so I froze mine in 2 small batches and it worked beautifully!