Tuesday, February 28, 2012

No Bake Cookies


This recipe has been around forever.
I remember making this cookie when I was a little girl.

You probably do too!
You know, sometimes the best recipes are the tried and true ones!

This requires so little effort and comes together in a cinch.

During the Summer, it's great because it doesn't require any baking!

I'm not a fan of these after they've been made a few days.  I prefer them "fresh."  (Whatever that means!) 

Because of my "no-bake cookie idiosyncrasies," I only make half of a recipe at a time.  The recipe I've listed is the whole-shabang.

When I make half a recipe, depending on how big I drop the cookies, I can easily get a dozen (a descent size cookie) to a dozen and a 1/2 (this size makes you want one for each hand!).

No-Bake Cookies

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cocoa
pinch salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups quick-cooking oatmeal*

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, milk, cocoa, salt, and butter.  Bring to a boil, stirring well.   Allow mixture to boil for 1 minute at a "hard boil."  This creates your creamy cookie rather than "sugary" cookie. 

Remove from heat and quickly add in the peanut butter and vanilla, stirring well.  Mix in the oatmeal and stir until well incorporated.

Using a cookie scoop, drop onto wax paper or a silpat to allow the cookie to set. 

Store in an air tight container at room temperature.

*The recipes for this always call for "quick-cooking."  I don't use quick cooking, I use "old fashioned" because that's what I buy.  I'm guessing most anything works EXCEPT for instant.

 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Charleston's Style Potato Soup


Love Charleston's!

Love everything I ever eat at Charleston's.

Love the blackened fish sandwich, which isn't listed on the menu but you can still order it, with glazed carrots.

Love the carrots!

Love the chicken fingers;  the best there are!  I rarely order them -- because it's not a healthy choice, but oh boy!  They're delish!

Love the honey glazed croissant.

L.O.V.E!

Love the pork chops with smashed potatoes and glazed carrots.

Love the potato soup!

Seriously adore it!

It's thick.

It's simple.

It's delicious!

We don't have a Charleston's where we live.

Boo hoo!

Here's a close replica of Charleston's baked potato soup.  I found it at www.tastebook.com  I made some adjustments to the recipe.  Not because I think I "know," but because I didn't have everything on hand nor can my sweet girl cherub have some of the ingredients. 
I made it and didn't tell my family what it was supposed to taste like.
The reply was, "this tastes like Charleston's!"
There ya go!
If you love Charleston's soup try this out and see what you think!

If you've never even been to Charleston's, that's OK -- make the soup anyway!  You'll know why we all love it!

Charleston's Baked Potato Soup

2 Cans Chicken Broth*
5 Tablespoons Butter
5 Tablespoons Flour*
1 Tablespoon Minced Onion

1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Cups Half and Half (I used Fat Free)*
1/8 Teaspoon Oregano
4 Cups Cubed Potatoes with/without skins*
1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
1/8 Teaspoon Parsley (dried)*

Garnishments:
Sliced Green Onions (or chives)
Cheddar Cheese
Crisp Cooked Bacon Bits

In large pan, mix chicken broth, water, minced onions, oregano, and parsley. Bring to a boil, then simmer 5 minutes.  Add the melted butter and allow it to melt. Stir in flour slowly. Add salt and pepper. Add half and half. (Flour will still be lumpy despite lots of stirring. It evens out once it boils again). Cook until bubbly.


Add potatoes. Cook until done over low heat, stirring occasionally. If cooked too fast, the soup will burn before potatoes cook thoroughly. (I simmered on Low for about and hour.  Stir often to keep potatoes from sticking to bottom of pan.)

*** Here are my adaptations:
  • *The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cans of chicken broth and 1/2 cup of water.  But water doesn't have any taste, so I omitted the 1/2 cup of water and used the additional chicken broth.
  • *I used cornstarch, diluted in equal amount of water (5 TBSP) because of our gluten free diet.
  • *I didn't have enough 1/2 and 1/2 -- I used evaporated fat free milk in addition to my fat free 1/2 and 1/2.
  • *I used small new red potatoes, skin on, diced bite sized.
  • *I didn't have parsley -- didn't use it!


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Live for ball

Baseball season is here!

For my boy cherub -- that's the best time of year!

Did you know there are 30 MLB teams?

Me either.

Why would we know this information?

My cherub knows it.

He's a smart cherub, but can't remember how to spell words, but has committed to memory the number of MLB teams and stats to go along with them!
Today he asked me how to spell "blonde."  The next sentence he tells me how many 1st basemen are right handed and batting averages of playes I've never heard of!
Did you know there are more than 160 Minor League teams that feed those Major League teams?

Me either!

Why would we know this information? 

I heard my cherub say today, "I live to play baseball and I play baseball to live." 

Really?

Is this "profound 13 year old thinking?"

It is -- and truthfully, it's kind of fun! 

I know the name of my favorite player, his number, and what position he plays.  I have no idea what his stats are . . .but I do know he looks cute in his uniform!
 


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cornbread Croutons


We love croutons.

They are perfect for a snack, on a salad, or atop a cup of soup.

They are often underestimated.

Finding a great crouton can be difficult.

But making your own can solve the problem!

Homemade croutons are the easiest thing ever.

Since we're are still gluten free around our house, I decided to make cornbread croutons.

I had left-over gluten free cornbread in the refrigerator.

I did what I thought I should do and ended up with a great crouton.

I'll share with you my plan!

Cornbread Croutons

Leftover cornbread
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 275.

You can make a "fresh" pan of cornbread, but actually using "day old" cornbread is the best.
Cut your cornbread into cubes.  You want the cubes big enough where they don't fall apart, but small enough where they'll fit in your mouth easily!  Day old (or older) cornbread is best.
Place cubes in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil.  You want enough oil to coat but not soak the bread.  Again, the fresh-factor of your cornbread will dictate how much oil.  Fresher cornbread will absorb more oil.
Pour cubes onto a foil lined baking pan.

Place in oven.  Your cook time will depend on how "old" your cornbread is.  The fresher the cornbread, the longer your cook time.  You will bake the croutons-to-be on a low temperature, drying them out rather than simply toasting them. 
Stir the croutons every 10 minutes or so until desired dryness AND desired brownness. 
Allow to cool on the pan and keep in a ziplock bag. 


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Orange-Honey Butter

oranges pictures images

Saturday afternoon we were glued to the T.V.

We were laughing.

We were amazed!

We were watching a new episode of "Worst Cooks in America."

We kept saying things like,
  • "Are you serious?"
  • "You've got to be kidding me . . .my cherubs can cook better than that!"
  • "Are you serious?"
  • "Did he say steam the fish in the dishwasher?"
  • "These people can't be for real!"
If you've seen the show, you know that the famous chef has a team of terrible cooks.  The premise -- teach them to cook!

One chef taught his team to make orange-honey butter.

It sounded great!

So we made it!

It's great!

I think it will be delicious on:
  • an English muffin
  • a baked sweet potato
  • cranberry scones
  • roasted carrots
  • steamed brussel sprouts
  • pumpkin pancakes
  • a dollop of it on grilled salmon
  • gingerbread waffles
  • a smear of it on grilled chicken
  • blueberry muffins
It does take a bit of effort, like in a real small way.

But it's not hard.

I think you'll be delighted!

Orange-Honey Butter

1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
1 TBSP honey
1/2 cup butter, room temperature

Squeeze the oranges, using a strainer to make sure there are no seeds.

Place juice in a sauce pan over medium heat.

Allow to boil until it reduces by half.

Add in 1 TBSP honey, stirring to incorporate.

Continue reducing until you have approximately 3 TBSP of "sauce."

Place butter in a bowl.  Pour the sauce over the butter.

Allow the sauce to cool just a bit.

Using a mixer, whip the sauce and butter together until well mixed.

Pour into a ramekin or small mason jar and refrigerated.

Enjoy!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sloppy Joe's

Not gonna lie.

I don't like Sloppy Joe's.

It's like mush on a bun.

Gross.

The Mr. and my cherub's "Love" Sloppy Joe's.

Thanks to Mimi, they get Sloppy Joe's.

Yeah, Mimi!

Mimi has a friend that makes homemade Sloppy Joe's.

Now, Sloppy Joe's don't seem so bad.

Really!

I don't crave them or anything, but when push comes to shove and I need an easy dinner and I want the family to be happy -- I'll make Sloppy Joe's!

That's right!  Personal preference pushed to the side all for the sake of the family.

That's just the kind of woman I am.

Enough.

You know what I like about this recipe?

Two things:
  1. It doesn't come in a can (i.e., "Manwich" -- not knockin' it -- just sayin'!)
  2. Her directions say "heat and eat!"  Great for a busy night!

Marcia's Sloppy Joe's

1 lb. ground beef
6 oz. can tomato paste*
Barbecue sauce*
Water
Buns*
Brown and drain ground beef .

Stir in tomato paste. Fill empty tomato paste can with barbecue sauce; dump it in. Half fill empty can with water, or a little more if you like it thinner, (and we don't -- we prefer "thick sloppy Joe's) and pour it in.

Heat. Eat.  (That's exactly how she had it typed.  "Heat.  Eat."  I like it -- to the point!)

*This is very easily made gluten free by using the ingredients that you know are safe for your diet.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Creamy Tomato Soup



The photo editing program I was using
is no longer available so I'm searching for
one that will work.  I thought this was it
but as you can see, the enlarged image is fuzzy!
I'll keep trying!

It's cold outside!

It's the first bit of winter we've had all winter and it's FEBRUARY!!

It's a great day for soup.

But, of course, I wasn't planning on soup, because it's not been cold enough for soup.

Life can be a vicious cycle!

I looked in my cabinet to see what I could throw together -- thinking in my mind that my boy cherub loves tomato basil soup.

I found the above ingredients . . .
 . . .so I created!

Creamy Tomato Soup

1 can Progresso Hearty Tomato Soup
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1-2 squeezes basil
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/3 cup half and half
1 TBSP butter

Place all of the ingredients in a pan and use an immersion blender to make smooth.  If you don't have an immersion blender, place the tomatoes and soup in your blender, pulse until smooth and then pour into a pan, adding other ingredients.

Heat over medium low heat until thoroughly warmed.

Enjoy with croutons or a grilled cheese sandwich and a salad.






Friday, February 10, 2012

Chicken Tetrazzini


Classic Chicken Tetrazzini Recipe
Image used from the Internet, "My Recipes"
First, what IS "tetrazzini?"

I made lunch the other day for some ladies and this new-to-me recipe got lots of "oohs and ahhs." 

I love trying new recipes out on unsuspecting people. 

Here's my theory to that method of madness:
  • What I'm cooking for them is already "new" to them, therefore, I ought to try out something new to me too!  It's a great way to see if something is really worth doing again!  Because if you're family is like mine, they'll eat practically anything and so when they say it's "good" that might just be debatable! 
This is a Southern Living recipe, but it's an easy one!  You're going to love it!

But before you see the ingredients, I'll answer the question of, "What is tetrazzini?"  Looking at the always available, never wrong, Wikipedia, here's what I found: 

Tetrazzini is an American dish usually involving a non-red meat (often diced fowl or seafood), mushrooms, and almonds in a butter/cream and Parmesan sauce flavored with wine or sherry and stock vegetables such as onions, celery, and carrots. It is often served hot over spaghetti or some similarly thin pasta, garnished with lemon or parsley, and topped with additional almonds and/or Parmesan cheese.

You can sleep tonight!  Now you know!

Chicken Tetrazzini

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 (7-oz.) package vermicelli
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Parmesan cheese
1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (10-oz.) container refrigerated Alfredo sauce
1 (4-oz.) can sliced mushrooms, drained
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup dry dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper  
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together chicken, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and next 6 ingredients; stir in pasta.

Spoon mixture into 6 lightly greased 8-oz. ramekins or a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with almonds and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until bubbly.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cilantro

Gourmet Garden Cilantro
I've told you about the basil in a tube.

OK, that's not the real name of it.

It's "Gourmet Garden" and it's refrigerated herbs that are easy to use.

I love having them in my refrigerator.

My Mr. and cherubs love it too!

"Gourmet Garden" has several herbs to choose from.  The other day I saw:  basil, cilantro, garlic, ginger, and parsley.

The other night we whipped up some really quick quesadillas for dinner and everybody put a squeeze of the cilantro and it just made a great addition to our simple dinner!

You can find this easy herb in your refrigerated section at the grocery store!

You'll be surprised!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Snickers is Amazing!

The other day my boy cherub wasn't feeling too well before church.

My reply, as it almost always is, "let's try and if you don't feel better, or if you get worse, we'll come home."

He started feeling a bit better.

During the service, my girl cherub leaned on me and said, "Momma, my tummy isn't feeling great."

To their defense, neither looked like they felt very well.  But you know, we can't go entirely on looks!

After the service, she went to rest behind the Welcome desk . . .

that makes a good impression!

In an attempt to help her tummy settle, I said, "Hey!  Go back to the preschool area and ask them for a cracker or a peanut butter cracker."

Her reply, "Mom!  I'm gluten free!'

All I can say is this: "thank goodness we're gluten free by choice at this point!  If it were a life-and-death situation, I probably would have already killed her by giving her gluten!"

So, the Mr.'s right hand lady said, "There's some peanut butter over in the office area."

She gave us the key and off we went.

Found the peanut butter.

Looked, and looked, and looked for a utensil.

Couldn't find one.

But I did find a fun-sized snickers candy bar!

That's right!

I unwrapped that candy bar and dug deep into the peanut butter.

Gave it to my cherub.

Guess what!

Amazingly, within no time at all, she was feeling better!

That's what I call being a great mom!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Things that Drive me Crazy


Quirky

We all have quirks.

Some have more than others.

Some bother me more than others--

Quirks, that is, not people.

OK, maybe people too.

But I've been thinking of things that drive me crazy.

Things that really shouldn't matter.

But they do.

Things like:
  • people who go in the "out" door; that's why they're marked.
  • people who go out the "in" door; reading is fundamental -- let's try it.
  • people who are using the wrong door, but expect me to hold the door open for them; I'm opening the door, so I can get out of your way!
  • people who are texting while they're driving; there's not even a comment for this, except STOP!
  • people who choose to smoke right outside the doors of a  place of business; if I wanted to inhale smoke, I'd get some cigerretes.
  • people who don't use the bar-seperator-thingy at the grocery store checkout -- keeping our items a safe distance from each other; it's just courtesy for the clerk -- come on!  Let's help out!
  • people who walk into a store and stop in the middle of the enterance while they take off their sunglasses, put their keys away, or try to remember why they came to the store; get organized someplace else!
  • people at the grocery store who walk in the smack middle of the aisle -- I just want to scream, "IT'S LIKE A STREET, EVERYBODY STAY ON THE CORRECT SIDE AND THINGS WILL MOVE SMOOTHLY!"
  • parents who try to negotiate with a 3 year old, who's pitching a fit because they're not getting their way; are you going to do this when they're 16?
  • parents who keep repeatedly say to their kids, "If you don't stop, I'm gonna . . . "  Really?  Because you're not my mom and I've already got you figured out too!
  • used tissue left in the pockets of clothing that gets washed; I don't even want to touch your clean snot rag.
  • wal-mart; like the whole store.
An even dozen . . .that's a good place to stop!

What's your "thing?"

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Easy.

Delish.

Chances are that you have all the ingredients at your house to make these.

You don't even need to get out the mixer for this recipe!

A friend passed this along to me and my cherubs were very happy.

You'll notice -- no flour.

Don't panic.

There's no flour in the recipe.

I didn't over-look it.  It's really not in there!

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter, your choice:  smooth or chunky
1 large egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

Stir together the brown sugar, peanut butter, egg, soda and vanilla until well mixed.

Add in the chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cookies will be very soft.  Allow to cool on pan for 3-5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

*Note to self:  I thought I over-baked our cookies, so next time I'll adjust the cooking time.  However, the cherubs didn't say one thing about it!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Julie's Easy Coffee Cake

Bible studies are so good!

Especially the Bible studies where ladies bring snacks;
because they bring their "best" snacks!

This little gem showed up at our Bible study one morning and it was gone in a flash!

Like -- a real quick flash!

I didn't have any, that morning anyway, but everyone was talking about how yummy it was!

The little hostess with the mostest jotted the recipe off in a flash and lucky you, I'm passing it along!

On a personal note, I know my friend Julie, who doesn't cook, is going to see this and think I'm talking about her . . .because she's trying to become all domesticated in the kitchen this year . . . but it's not "your" coffee cake Julie -- it's the other Julie from Bible study!  You can't steal her thunder!  I won't allow it!

Julie's Easy Coffee Cake

1 box of yellow cake mix
3 eggs, beaten
1 can of apple pie filling, (or any pie filling; I've done it with apple and peach)**
2T softened butter
1+ cup of chopped pecans (I use 1 -1 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
Mix the cake mix, eggs and pie filling together in a bowl, being careful not to break up the fruit too much, but making sure you've got it all mixed up!  Pour into a 9X13 pan that's been sprayed with Pam.
For the topping**:
Mix  the butter, pecans, brown sugar and white sugar together and sprinkle on top of cake batter.
(I made this again recently and I didn't have pecans to put in the topping so I mixed the butter, sugars and then added a heaping 1/3 cup of old fashioned oats to the mix.  It was fantastic!)

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until done.  (The recipe says 30 minutes, but mine have never been done in that amount of time . . . so you be the judge!)

Enjoy!

**I've made it with blackberry pie filling.  The boy cherub and the Mr. really like it . . .but it looks kind of gross, but it does taste good!  So, if you're taking it someplace and you really want to impress, stay away from the blackberry choice!  The Mr.'s secretary said, "I'll just eat with my eyes closed!"