Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pita's Please





I love pita chips -- they're so crunchy and yummy and there's really nothing to them -- but they're so stinkin' good!  They are especially good with hummus that's been drizzled with a bit of olive oil and sprinkled with the fresh ground citrus pepper blend stuff that we have stuffed in the pantry!  Also, I get to be alone when I eat pita chips!  My kids can't STAND the sound of the constant crunch of them and they always say, "Mom, we'll be back around when you're done with those things!"  It's been days since I've seen them . . .and I have more bags of these things than they can imagine!  HA!

But, as much as I love pita chips, I saw a recipe for "homemade" pitas and thought I'd give it a try and share it with you!  How bad can it be . . .and if we don't like them, then we won't make them again, will we?

Seasoned and Baked Pita Chips

3 pita rounds (I use whole wheat)
1/3 cup olive oil
4 TBSP Italian seasoning
1 tsp. garlic salt

Split pita rounds in half, horizontally (doesn't that make sense?!).  Cut each 1/2 into 8 wedges.  Mix oil and remaining ingredients together and brush over each wedge, on the rough side.  (I don't know why -- it's what the directions said to do!).  Place on lightly greased cookie sheet or silpat (my favorite) and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly browned and crisped.

Move to cooling rack and let cool completely.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Buttermilk Syrup



OH MY WORD!  This stuff is pure sin!  I'm not wasting time to write about it . . . all I'm saying is, "You have GOT to try this!"  I'm sure it's good on waffles, pancakes, ice cream, and french toast.  Maybe on cooked apples or sauteed pears.  But let me just tell you, it's FABULOUS right off of the spoon! 



Buttermilk Syrup

1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter (or margarine)
2 Tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla

In a medium saucepan, bring all ingredients to a boil - except for the vanilla extract. Allow to boil gently for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the vanilla.

Serve warm over pancakes and waffles.

If it lasts overnight in your house -- you should store it in the refrigerator. I just popped it in the microwave for 20 seconds, stirred it and microwaved for another 20 seconds.





Friday, December 17, 2010

Graham Cracker Toffee


At the holiday time, I always like baking.  Sometimes I make the "old stand-bys" and other times I try a new recipe that is sure to become a family favorite.  Today I was searching for a recipe when I ran across this old childhood treat that I remember my mom making.  This is a great recipe if you are wanting a candy but you're too afraid to give a "real recipe" a try! 

Graham Cracker Toffee
chocolate graham toffee bark
1/2 pound (two sticks) butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 box (about) graham crackers (not crumbs)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans, almonds, walnuts, or  macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 10 x 15-inch jelly-roll pan with non-stick foil. Arrange whole graham crackers (12 crackers or so) to fit the bottom of the pan in a single layer, breaking up the last few to fit the space.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and white sugar. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and let the mixture gently bubble for 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Carefully pour sugar/butter mixture evenly over the graham cracker layer. Spread to cover. Bake for 10 minutes.

When done, remove from oven and let rest until bubbling subsides. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top. Wait about 2 minutes for chocolate to melt, then use a spatula to gently spread chocolate chips into an even layer on top of the toffee graham crackers. Sprinkle with the chopped nuts, pressing down gently into the chocolate.

Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 2 hours. Peel foil from chilled bark. Break into irregular pieces.



Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snowflakes

I've been baking up a storm . . . make that a snow storm!  Unfortunately, none of it is for my family!  Well, maybe that is a fortunate thing; but none-the-less!  My kids are happy when a sugar cookie breaks, that means they get a sample!

I have several sugar cookie recipes that I like, but 2 are my favorite!  I will share one with you now.  It stirs together in a food processor!  How easy is that!  From there you can roll out and cut or if you prefer to do a "drop and bake" that's good too!

Don't be afraid of sugar cookies -- especially the decorated kind!  Go simple and smear some canned frosting on the top and sprinkle some colored sugar or shake some non-pariels over the frosting.  If time allows and you're a little adventurous -- whip up some royal icing or glaze and let your cookie become your art canvas.  I have found that it doesn't really matter what it looks like; people just love a decorated sugar cookie!

Vanilla Sugar Cookie

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firm butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup powdered sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla

Put the flour and butter in the food processor and whiz until the mixture is like fine bread crumbs.

Add the sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla.  Whiz until a smooth dough forms.  You may think this won't happen -- just keep going and before you know it, you'll be done!

Wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes before using.

**Chocolate sugar cookie:  reduce flour to 2 1/4 cups flour and add 1/4 cup cocoa powder.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Baked Oreo Brownies

Oh yeah -- I know what came to your mind right away!  Oreos!  Oh sure!  I wouldn't have thought that either, but I'm telling you, it's a possibility!

The other day I had to make a treat to send with Jackson to school for a special lunch.  While on the phone in the middle of Wal-mart (oh yes, I'm now one of "those" people), Kilie gives me this super simple recipe that she had been told about!  So as any good mother does, I put the package of cookies back on the shelf and tell her to repeat the ingredients again and I fly down the aisle, telling people under my breath to get out of the way -- I've got a new recipe to make and it's not even written down on paper! 

These little gems are worth having around for a quick treat of unexpected guests . . .or even expected ones!

Baked Oreos
Go to fullsize image
1 package (9X13 size) brownie mix
Ingredients to make those sweet little things
1 package oreos -- plain, colored center, double stuff -- whatever you like

Mix the brownies according to package directions.  Spray your muffin pans with pam.  Dip your little round oreos in the batter and plop into a pan.

Bake about 10-12 minutes -- but don't over do it!  Nobody likes an over-baked brownie, whether it has an oreo in it or not! 

Let it cool just a bit and run a sharp knife around the edge.  Let cool 10-15 minutes and plop out on a cooling rack.  Dust with powdered sugar, drizzle with warmed vanilla frosting, or leave it plain.



Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cake

It's debatable . . .either we are easily pleased or this is a great chocolate chip cake!  I took dinner to some friends this evening and this was the dessert I made.  It makes a 9 X 13, or a 2-layer cake.  I baked for a 2-layer cake . . .giving them one and we kept the other.  I was also short on time so instead of the frosting I'm listing, I ran to the store for a can of vanilla frosting and added a bit of real vanilla to it for "help" and called it good!

View ImageChocolate Chip Cake

1 chocolate cake mix (I used triple chocolate)
1 package (3.9 oz) chocolate instant pudding
1 1/4 cup milk (can substitute water)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

Mix cake mix and next 5 ingredients together; mixing well.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour into whatever pan you're using and use the back of the cake mix as your baking time.

Frost when cooled with the vanilla frosting (which we liked the white/chocolate combo) or this frosting that's poured on while the cake is still warm!

Chocolate Frosting

1 stick butter
3 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
4 TBSP milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Place butter, cocoa, milk in a pan.  Cook over medium heat until butter has melted and mixture comes to a boil, 2 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in vanilla and the powdered sugar (a bit at a time) until the frosting is smooth.  Pour the frosting over the top of the cooling cake.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chillin' While We're Grillin'


I don't mean "chillin'" in the cool way -- I mean, it's a bit cool outside.  I have to say I always love the grill!  I think bone-in grilled chicken is my most favorite!  We had friends over this weekend and Greg was the grill master!  Try this -- you won't be disappointed!  There are four things you need . . .no, five!
  1. a grill
  2. bone-in, skin on chicken breast
  3. Dale's marinade
  4. chicken meat thermometer
  5. somebody to do the grillin'
Now before you panic about the chicken skin . . . it's only there to help keep the chicken moist!  You don't have to eat it -- unless you're from Arkansas!  (Isn't that right, Ed!)  The thermometer can be a meat thermometer, just make sure you see 170 (165 degrees is minimum and 180 is maximum for chicken).

Here's the deal:

  • Marinate your chicken in enough Dale's to cover the chicken.  Go for at least 24 hours . . .or more!  If you're a little skeptical, do your normal 2-3 hours, but longer is better!  Remember my mom's saying, "More is More!" 
  • Stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the largest breast, not touching a bone
  • Preheat your grill
  • Find somebody to do the cooking, since it's a bit chilly outside
  • Cook it to perfection (170-175).
  • Let it rest before you skin the thing and dig in!

Remember to cook more than you'll need . . .these are perfect for leftovers; stuffed in a quesadilla, over some pasta, along side rice, or tossed on some salad!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Easy Cobbler

During this time of the year . . . or really anytime, a quick and easy dessert is always nice to have "in your back pocket" so that with unexpected gatherings or a night in with just your family,a homemade dessert is always a treat!  You probably have these ingredients at home already! 

Easy Cobbler

Melt 1/4 cup of butter in an 8X8 pan

Mix in a bowl

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup milk

and pour over the melted butter, but don't stir!

Add

3 cups frozen berries or frozen fruit of any kind
*1/2-1 cup sugar sprinkled on top

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes until it is bubbly and it "looks done!"

Cool a bit and serve warm.

** I only add an additional 1/4 cup of sugar.  But you do what your family prefers.  I think anything more than 1/2 a cup is too sweet; but it probably depends on how sweet you already are!  HA!

Ben's mom sent me a note:  she made this with fresh apples, added a bit of sugar and cinnamon and said it was "yummy!"  There you go . . . a satisfied cook!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Tablescape


The "Peace" is a wall plaque, and "Hope"
is an ornament
My mom says, "More is More!"  That's why I like her to help me decorate!  She takes my little stuff and makes it look good!

It might surprise you  -- but my decorating taste is bigger than my budget!  I love the "magazine look" but have more of a "wal-mart ability!"  That's where my mom comes in . . . she has a good eye to put things together in groups and make it look all homey and fluffy!

This year she helped me decorate my dining room.  I love what she did with all of my "little" things!  She kept saying, "do you have a little winter bird?"  So, I'd get a bird for her to tuck here and there . . .but she must of thought I had "winter bird preserve" in my closet because she was a little surprised when I ran out of birds! 

I show you these few pictures to encourage you to try something new with your decorating -- and to group a bunch of stuff together to make a dramatic impact!  Mixing styles and textures and thinking "out of the box" creates interest!

Thanks mom for helping me decorate with the the look I love!

Add a bit of greenery to the lamp post and "throw" in some beads

Part of my nativity . . .just displayed a little differently