Saturday, April 30, 2011

Streusel Coffee Cake


This is too funny! 

I made this for some friends a long time ago.  She sent me a text asking where on my blog could she find the recipe because she wanted to make it for Sunday. 

I didn't have it! 

But I remember after I sent it to her that she asked me for the recipe and I minded if she put it on HER blog!

So, I searched her blog -- found the recipe for her!

Funny!

Streusel Coffee Cake

1 pkg (26.5 oz) cinnamon streusel coffee cake mix
3 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup softened butter
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
Streusel packet from cake mix box
1/2 package toffee bits
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup uncooked regular oats

Mix cake mix (not the struesel mix) and next 5 ingredients together about 2 mins. Pour 1/2 of mixture into a 9×13 pan or a bundt greased pan. (I used a bundt pan because I like a bundt pan)

Combine struesel packet, toffee, pecans and oats. Sprinkle 1/2 of this mixture over batter. Dollop then spread remaining batter over struesel layer.
 
Sprinkle with remaining struesel. Bake at 350 for about 40 min or until done. Cool completely. Drizzle glaze packet over cake.

This is a picture from the internet -- but it's what your cake will look like, unless
you bake it in a bundt pan, which is how you know this isn't my picture
because I like to bake mine in the bundt pan. 





Friday, April 29, 2011

Chopped at Home

  No recipe today.

Just a story of how we spent our Friday night having fun and making a memory!

The other day, a friend told us at their house they do "Chopped" at home. 

Each family member puts an ingredient in a basket and then they have to make a meal.

We adapted the concept a bit and came up with our own entertainment .  . .and meal!

Each person had to put an item in the "entree" basket and an item in the "dessert" basket.

The boy cherub and I had the responsibility of cooking the entree.

The Mr. and the girl cherub were creative with the dessert.

The rules were simple:
  • use the ingredients in your basket 
  • items from the pantry and refrigerator were available
 Let's start with dessert first! 

Get ready -- this is . . .interesting!  Not only the ingredients but the finished product!


Are your wheels turning yet?  What would you have
created with such unique ingredients?







Their finished creation!  To the chocolate cake mix they
added chopped reese's and baked as directed.
In the refrigerator was left-over cream cheese frosting,
which they colored electric green (because why?).  They crushed
the whale crackers and put them on top of the cake
and then frosted as normal (?) and stuck the peeps around
the edge! 

I must say, my sweet cherub was rather proud of her creation! 

Now for the entree!  Our ingredients were:
  






  • grape jelly
  • strawberry preserves
  • yellow bell pepper
  • peppridge farms stuffing mix
The meat was chicken!

The boy cherub and I went to work and created a fairly descent conncoction that we were proud of!

We pounded the chicken thin and dredged it in the dry stuffing mix, creating a coating.  We cooked it in a bit of olive oil until done.

While the chicken was cooking, we made a sauce of equal parts grape jelly and strawberry preserves.  We added 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar and made a reduction.

While keeping the chicken warm, we used the pan to sautee the yellow bell pepper, chopped onion, and fresh spinach. We tossed the veggies with cooked pasta. 

It's hard to tell from the picture exactly what it is we ate for dinner -- but it was actually pretty good!

The kids chowed!  It's always more fun to eat something you've created!

I quote my boy cherub, "Mom, I could eat this spinach and pasta all day long!"  (Umm, does he realize it's cooked spinach?


















Go ahead, live on the edge and try "Chopped" at your house sometime soon!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday

Because he loves baseball . . .so do we.


A dugout is only home to a few.


Love is shown in subtle ways.


100% -- if you're going to strike out;
strike out swingin'!

Cousins 

Winning -- it's about your game both on and off the field.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ham Casserole

By now you're wondering what you're going to do with the left-over ham from Easter.

You're tired of looking at it.

Truthfully, you're tired of eating it too!

Here's a recipe I made last night.  We gave it a thumbs up!

Ham, Broccoli, and Rice Casserole

1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups chopped ham (cooked)
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 small package frozen broccoli
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup cooked rice

Cook rice according to directions on package.
Steam broccoli, drain and chop.
In a large bowl, add soup, sour cream, cheese, pepper, chopped broccoli, chopped ham, and chopped onion.  Stir until well combined.
Pour into a greased 2 qt. casserole dish.  Top with a bit more shredded cheddar cheese, if desired (we desired it), and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes* or until heated thoroughly.

Serve with a side salad.

*I baked our casserole for about 45 minutes and then broiled it for about 3 minutes -- I like the tops of my casseroles to be a bit "crusty" and have a nice color on top.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mint Syrup and other Delicious Things!

This past weekend my mom said she'd do a fruit salad with mint dressing. 

"Does that sound good to you?" she asked.

"Sure."

"It's a recipe I recently found -- it's easy.  Mint, sugar, and mayonnaise."

"Gross!"  I said.  "Maybe with sour cream, or something, but mayo? That's disgusting!  MAYO?"

"I can make something else.  Do you want me too?"

"No, we'll try it.  It sounds gross -- but whatever."



This is simple syrup in the making.




This is mint -- this is what makes the simple
syrup taste minty!



This is what makes the
dressing taste yummy!




And these delicious berries were the proud
recipients of a delicious mint dressing!


Mint Syrup (and Dressing)

1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of mint, cleaned and rough chopped
1 cup of mayonnaise

Bring water and sugar to boil in a sauce pan.  Stir until dissolved.  Boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and drop in mint leaves.  Cover and steep for 20 minutes.  Strain leaves from syrup mixture and pour syrup into a container.  Refrigerate.

Now, this is where you can get creative!

Use this mint syrup to flavor your tea or lemonade . . .or any other use you can think of!  I can't think right now -- I'm typing!

To make the dressing

whisk in 1 cup of mayonnaise into the mint syrup.  Drizzle over your delicious fruit. 

I know I said "whisk" -- which is fine.  But we (my mom and I) determined that using an immersion blender was preferred.  We wanted a smooth dressing.

We (my mom and I again) decided that this makes a LOT of dressing -- and using a 1/2 cup of mint syrup and 1/2 cup of mayonnaise would be sufficient.

We (yep, the 2 of us again) also decided that once the fruit was dressed, it would be nice to have a small (and cute, I might add) bottle of dressing so that people can pour more yummy, minty deliciousness onto their fruit, if they wanted.


















Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Cracked Egg

Not because I think I did a good job these-- but because I want the memory so that next year I can improve!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easy Easter Candy

If you're looking for something easy to whip up to haul into the office with you tomorrow  . . .

to make other's think that you're totally with it . . .

to make them think that you are the most creative person there ever was . . .

to make them think, "Are you kidding me, you've got the stuff at home to make this?" . . .

to make them think, "I wish I could be like that!" . . .

Then you need to run to the store to grab these easy ingredients . . . and a cute and decorative Chinese take out box to package it in (or maybe you just want to rinse out the one from the other night!).

Easter Candy

1 lb. white chocolate almond bark, melted
1 package of Easter M&M's (I used the M&M Speckled Eggs because I wanted to)
15 vanilla oreos (so are they really oreos?)
1 1/2 pretzel rods, broken
Easter colored sprinkles

Roughly crush the vanilla oreos and sprinkle evenly on a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle some of the pretzel rods on top of the cookies.  Pour the melted white chocolate evenly over the pile of crushed stuff as best you can, covering as much of the good stuff as possible. 
Scatter the remaining pretzel pieces and M&M's;
gently press into the warm chocolate. 
Sprinkle with colored sprinkles. 

Allow chocolate bark to harden.

Break into bite sized pieces and eat!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter Egg Sugar Cookies

I'm still playing with the "cookie icing" from the other day.

Here are some Easter Egg cookies that a friend ordered. 


My girl cherub said, "oh, that's creative!"
My boy cherub said, "that's so retro!"
My Mr. said, "how'd you do that?"

These are Easter treats I'm sharing with my friends from
my Bible Study group.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bunnies, Carrots and a Butterfly Sugar Cookie

Easter is still a week away and I've finished the first of the decorated Easter sugar cookies!
Yeah, me!

Today's post has the remaining goodies.

Here's the deal -- I changed my type of icing for these! 

That's a big deal!

I normally use royal icing -- but this is a royal-ish type-ish of icing-ish!  I'm sure there's a real name for it, but I don't know it right now.  If I find out, I'll tell you.  For now I'm calling it cooking icing.

That's because it's past my bed-time and I'm not very creative when I'm tired!

This icing is quicker to mix up, takes color very well, and tastes much better!

For my first time, I'd go with an "ok" for experience.  I'm definitely willing to try again and to work on improving my ability with it!  I didn't do enough with it to "layer" the details which is so easy to do with royal icing -- by the point I got to these cookies, I was ready to slap some icing on these and call it good!




I realize there's no butterfly in the picture!  Oh well, it tasted good!

Cookie Icing Recipe

1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 TBSP corn syrup
1 TBSP milk (or part milk and part flavoring)

Put in a bowl and using a whisk to mix well.  It will be thick.  This is an icing that you can outline AND flood!  That's perfect!

If it's too thick for your preference, add a bit more milk.  Go easy though - a little goes a long way!

Divided into bowls and add desired coloring.

If you would prefer a more detailed example, go to http://www.universityofcookie.com/ and search for "cookie icing tutorial"  and choose the entry that is for "An alternative to Royal Icing."

Happy cookie making!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Easter Lamb and Cross Sugar Cookies

I love making decorated sugar cookies. 

They're cute.  Not mine, I mean other people's sugar cookies are cute-- so I think I can do it too!

They taste good.  I do like my sugar cookies.  They're yummy!

It takes a lot of time to make decorated sugar cookies --  and it helps to be art-sy; which I'm not, which is where the problem lies!

In the end, who cares what they look like -- you're just going to gobble them up!  So taste is really what matters, right?

Here's 2 of my "Easter Cookies!"  By the time Easter celebration gets here, I might have them all done!

Some of these I kinda like . . .other's I really like! 

But you don't know what you really like until you try all of your options-- that's why I'm showing you the good, the bad, and the ugly!


Our favorite little lamb. 


I used white sparkling sugar crystals instead of the nonpareils as above.


See the crack?  That means I had to eat it!




My two cherub have this one as their favorite cross cookie.

Found these little boxes on clearance . . .bought them all!  That'd be one whole
package of cute boxes I bought!  Bummer!  Wish there had been more!

I'm working on cracked eggs, carrots, and one lonely butterfly!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Roasted Brussel Sprouts


Never liked them . . .

 . . . Never tried them.

How good can they really be?  They're 'brussel sprouts.' 
Just say they word -- doesn't even sound like you'd want to eat one!



Cut stem from sprout and remove large, outer leafy green parts.




I decided, though, that it was time to face my fear and try them. If I was going to try them, I was going to have to cook them in a way that would give ALL the help they needed to taste tolerable. That meant I couldn't boil or steam these beauties. I'd have to roast them to bring out their 'naturally sweet' flavor!



Drizzle the sprouts with a bit of olive oil and season with coarse sea
salt and coarse ground pepper.  Toss to coat well.




















When the kids walked in -- they both said, "what smells good?" Guess what I said! "Brussel Sprouts!"

YEAH! We were off on the right foot!

Guess what the Mr. said when he walked in and saw them. "Are we really having those?"

I think it's a bad childhood memory!




Actually, we were kind of excited to try to new veggie. 
 
Guess what!
 
We ALL (even the Mr.) like the Brussel Sprouts!  They were really yummy!

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-40 minutes, depending on the amount
of sprouts you're cooking.  You want the veggie to be roasted on the
outside and fork tender.  Stir the sprouts several times during the
cooking process.



Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Frozen Lemonade at Home



With the beautiful weather outside, doesn't it make you excited for planting new pots of flowers for your porch, grilling delicious hamburgers, and drinking cool and refreshing drinks?  I love this time of the year; everything is so "new" and right now even watering the flowers is fun!

When the weather starts being perfect, I start thinking about those recipes that I love and wanting to try new conncoctions and this recipe is one of those treats!
I love frozen lemonade.  It's zippy and tangy and a party for the taste buds.  But why is it that we tend to only have these treats at theme parks?  Let's have them at home too!

Here's my version of frozen lemonade.  It's not sugar free, but it is fat free and it's filled with whole fruit and it's much cheaper!

Frozen Fruit Lemonade

3 TBSP frozen yellow lemonade
1 cup of frozen fruit*

Using a blender or an immersions blender, place 3 TBSP of the frozen lemonade and 1 cup (or more if you want!) of frozen fruit in the appropriate container.  Blend until well mixed.

Pour into a cup and enjoy! 

Yep!  It's that easy! 

Obviously, 1 can of lemonade will make several treats.  You can make one treat at a time or the whole thing -- just add the fruit accordingly.  I store remaining frozen lemonade in the refrigerator, covered.  Which, means it's no longer "frozen lemonade" -- but your frozen fruit will make it thick and yummy!

*So far, I've used frozen mangos (my favorite so far) and dark cherries.  I'll be trying a strawberry/banana/mango blend and blackberries next!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Easy Egg Casserole



I can't believe I have not posted this recipe!

The only reason I know I haven't is because I was on here looking for it because I wanted to make it for the cherubs to have in the morning for breakfast.

They're testing at school and the teachers have said, "Make sure you feed your brain with a good breakfast!" 

This momma takes it to heart and is both challenged and called to make sure my sweet cherubs have plenty of rest and a great breakfast so they can do their best on their tests!

This breakfast casserole is so easy and re-heats very well.

I wish I could say it's my recipe, but it's from my friend, Guy.  I had it first at her house when she hosted a cookie exchange years ago!

Guy's Breakfast Casserole

6 eggs
2 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 lb. sausage, cooked (or other breakfast meat of your choice)
1 bag croutons (I use the New York Style Texas Toast croutons)
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Mix eggs, milk, salt, dry mustard together.  In a greased casserole dish, layer croutons, sausage, and then the cheese.  Pour the egg mixture the layers.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until it's done.

I have actually made this where I don't refrigerate it overnight -- we're so hungry, we can't tell the difference!  Seriously, the croutons are more crouton-y, but that's ok with us -- we like it!

Do what you like!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Future Problem Solvers go to State!

My oldest cherub's  "Future Problem Solvers" team from school qualified for state competition in Austin, Texas this weekend! 

Future Problem Solvers was not around when I was in school.

If it had been, I most certainly would not have been in it.

I'm not "future" or "solver" enough to handle such responsibility or the competition!

Maybe it was around and I just didn't know about it!

I'm certain it wasn't!

Wanna see pictures?


This is my cherub's team:
Andrew, Jackson, Dalton, and Carolyn



Fun in the pool after morning competition.



Riding the elevator at the hotel . . .
all the way to the 9th floor! 
There's a story!



The both 6th grade teams and two alternates
AND their families at dinner Friday night
before competition!  All 30 of us having
dinner together!  That was fun!



Sunday at the award's ceremony . . .
waiting to see if their names are called to
go to internationl competiton!
Our fingers are crossed!


Didn't see them?  Maybe you need to scroll down a little more.

What?  Still can't see them?

Yeah -- I can't see them either! 

THAT'S BECAUSE I WENT TO AN IMPORTANT COMPETION WITH MY SON AND FORGOT THE DANG CAMERA!!!! 

MOTHER OF THE YEAR AWARD, RIGHT HERE!!! 

PROBABLY THE ONLY TIME HE'LL EVER GO TO STATE AND I DON'T HAVE ONE PICTURE TO PROVE WE WERE THERE!!!! 

WAY TO GO!!!!!

Pictures or not, we had a great time together!  While my cherub's team didn't place for international competition, they did their best!  Just making it to state was a great experience and we are so proud of the work he and his team did to qualify! 

If you're interested in learning more about this international educational program, Future Problem Solving Program International, go to http://www.fpspi.org/

Next time, I'll have my camera! 

PROMISE!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Chicken and Artichoke Casserole

Chicken and Artichoke Casserole
Picture from Cooking with Paula Deen
( . . .and aren't those cute dishes!)
We first had this delicious casserole on Mother's Day while feasting at "Dining on Persimmon Hill," which is a restaurant at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK. 

Side note --- if you have the chance to visit the Museum, please take advantage of the opportunity.  It is a wonderful experience!  And don't forget to eat at the museum restaurant.  It's delish!

So back to the casserole.  After eating it we knew we had to find out the recipe!  The owner of the restaurant graciously shared her secret!  It's a Paula Deen; which means it's full of fat AND yummy flavor!

This casserole is a hit with my cherubs and the Mr.  Also, whenever I make it for friends, they always want the recipe . . . maybe they're just being nice, I'm not sure!  When you look at the recipe, you might think it's a pain, but really, it is so easy!  Especially if you have some cooked, chopped chicken in the freezer just waiting to bathe itself in the pool of cream!
Chicken and Artichoke Casserole
1/2 cup butter*
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (5-ounce) package grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 (14-ounce) can quartered artichokes, drained and chopped
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
**2 cups (1/2-inch-cubes) French bread
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350˚.   Lightly grease a 21/2-quart casserole dish or 6 individual baking dishes.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and shallot; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in wine; cook 3 minutes. Lower heat a bit so you don't scorch the next ingredients!  Stir in cream; simmer 5 minutes. Add cream cheese and Parmesan cheese, stirring until combined. Stir in chicken, artichokes, spinach, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat. Spoon into prepared baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine French bread cubes and melted butter, tossing to coat. Sprinkle evenly over casserole. 

*I cut the 1/2 cup of butter down to 1/4 of a cup.  Really, you just need enough to saute the onions/garlic in. 

**If you'd rather use croutons, it's easier and quicker!  I use the "New York Brand Texas Toast" croutons . .. obviously don't add the extra 3 TBSP of butter or the french bread!

***For a side note -- I usually use the Weight Watchers brand cream cheese, just because I like the way it melts and tastes.  I have never substituted anything for the heavy whipping cream.  I hate to give up a good thing!

Bake 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Makes 6 servings  (and if you look at the picture -- you'll see a salad, which is exactly what I put with this!)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Homemade Biscuits!

I wish I didn't love it -- but I do!  Bread!  It's amazing! 

I especially love the homemade kind.  But let's face it.  Homemade bread, regardless of the kind, always seems to be so time consuming.  That's why I love these biscuits. 

They're easy.

They're quick.

They're fail-proof.  (Maybe I should say, "fool-proof!)

They only need 2 ingredients.

You can have these for dinner tonight!

Yum!

Biscuits


2 cups self-rising flour*
1 cup heavy cream*

In a large bowl, combine the flour and cream.  I mixed mine in my stand mixer with the dough hook.  Turn out onto a floured surface; knead for 5 minutes or until no longer sticky.

On a floured surface, roll dough into desired thickness, at least 1/2-in. thick. Cut into 3-in. biscuits.

Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

*Self-rising flour is really a short-cut!  If you don't have it, then add 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt to 2 cups all-purpose flour.  Viola!  You have self-rising flour!

*I discovered that it took a bit more cream than 1 cup -- I added an extra 1/4 cup at a time until I had a nice and sticky looking dough before I started kneading it.


My biscuits!  I cut mine a little larger and ended up with 8 delicious, flaky biscuits.



Monday, April 4, 2011

Cheap Lunchables



Don't be fooled!  "They" know how to market to our kids!

They make our kids hungry!
They entice our kids to want this stuff!

And really, can we blame them?   . . .the kids, that is!

Have you ever tasted one of those?  The Lunchable . . .not the kid!
They're really not good.

But my cherubs wanted Lunchables, just like all the other kids.
So, here's what I did.

I waited.

That's right . . . waited.

I waited until they went on sale.

I bought 2.  I have 2 cherubs.

I let the cherubs have the content -- but I kept the containers.

I washed the containers.

Then, whenever my cherubs wanted a Lunchable, I filled the old Lunchable containers with good stuff!

That did mean that I had to
  1. Purchase round crackers.  But that's not a problem.
  2. Cut the cheese into shapes.  But that's not a problem.
  3. Cut the chicken into squares.  But that's not a problem.
I would go to the deli and ask for the thickest cut of meat that they could produce.  Then I'd use my cookie cutter to cut the shape.  I would also ask for sandwich-slice thick pieces of cheese.  Again, I'd use my cookie cutter to cut the shapes out of the cheese.

In the little dessert hole, I'd drop in some applesauce, a mini muffin, some cut-up fruit, or a sweet candy treat. 

I'd wrap it tightly with Glad Press 'N Seal and send them with their lunch.

They were thrilled to have a homemade lunchable. 

No, it didn't cost $1.00 --but that's ok!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Grilled Asparagus


I realize this probably isn't the best picture to post first!  In your mind you're going, "Gross!  What is that?"  If you need to spoil the ending -- then scroll down and see what we're going to end up with!  But if you do that, just know you're going to have to come back to this picture so that you can read the rest . . . it's kind of like a good book!

Line a baking pan with foil and place your bacon on the pan.  Place
pan in a pre-heated 400 degree oven.  You only want to partially cook
the bacon -- so probably about 7 to 10 minutes.  Each oven is different,
but you're basically wanting a floppy, half-done piece of bacon.  If you're a bacon
connoisseur, then you know there is a difference in bacon!  For this recipe,
I prefer to use a thicker slice of bacon.  If you prefer the same, you'll
need to purchase a "thick cut" brand, such as Wright's.  However, if you
prefer thin bacon, than most any brand at the store will be sufficient.

Taking your cleaned asparagus, trim off the ends.  The easiest way to remove
the tough ends is to bend the asparagus stalk and where it naturally snaps,
 discard the end.  Divide the asparagus into bundles; 4-6 spears per person
seems to be adequate.  Rub each bundle with a bit of olive oil.  Wrap a piece
of bacon around each bundle, tightly.  Secure the beginning and end of each
piece of bacon with a toothpick.


Place your wrapped asparagus on the hot grill and let cook, turning occasionally.
If you'll cook the bundles until the bacon is done the asparagus should be
just perfect!  You should have bacon that is crisp and asparagus that is tender
and roasted!  This is a perfect combination!