Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Orange Lemonade

Orange Lemonade Recipe

Sounds  . . . interesting, doesn't it?

Can there be such a thing as "orange" lemonade?

Isn't what makes lemonade, lemonade, the lemons?

We were at my mom's and she made this tasty drink to go along with our grilled burgers.

Both were delicious!

I think when I make this I'll double the recipe . .  .

 . . .it's that good!

What makes this so tasty is that it so citrus-y tasting -- not really able to identify either the lemonade or the orange juice.  It's just thirst-quenching!

This was originally posted in "Country Woman" in September 2011.

The original recipe says it serves 12 . . .I'm thinking they were either small children or  little drinkers! 

Orange Lemonade

2 quarts water
1 cup sugar
1 can (12 ounces) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 can (12 ounces) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed

In a large saucepan, heat water and sugar until sugar is dissolved, making a simple syrup.  Stirring the mixture occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Cool the mixture.

Transfer to a large pitcher or container; stir in both of the concentrates. Chill. Serve in chilled glasses.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Toasted Coconut

Coconut . . .

an under-rated condiment.

But coconut is fantastic . . . .

it's even more fantastic when it's toasted!

I remember my great grandmother making toasted coconut.

There's really no recipe for toasted coconut, that I'm aware of.

I remember my grandmother just adding butter and coconut.

She toasted hers on top of the stove in a heavy pan.

I toast mine in the oven.

Either way, you can't go wrong!

All you want is to get the coconut nice and "toasty."  Like in the picture above.


Toasted Coconut

Sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place desired amount of coconut in a bowl.

Put in some butter.  Maybe a TBSP or so -- depends on how much coconut you have.

Place bowl in the microwave and melt the butter.

Then stir the coconut all around, keep stirring, . . .keep stirring, until all of the coconut is coated with the melted butter.  The trick -- you don't want a ton of melted butter -- you don't want a puddle of butter, just enough to lightly coat.  That's why you keep stirring!

Once it's well mixed, pour the coconut on a foil lined pan and place in the oven.


Every so often, open the oven door and stir the coconut around -- the outside edge will start browning first.

Keep stirring and cooking.

Bake until desired color is achieved.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

**This will burn quickly -- so stay with it!

Use your toasted coconut on top of cakes, pies, ice cream, in yogurt, or grab a bite as you walk through the kitchen!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Creamy Coconut Cake

Memorial Day is here
and company is coming!
This cake is so simple and so yummy, it's sure to please!

I know I'm not so creative that I "invented" this recipe.

I'm sure out there in "recipe world" this cake exist.

I'm not claiming this as "mine" -- but what I am saying is I had an open can of sweetened condensed milk that I needed to use on something . . .

so I used it on this.

Now!  What I think would make this cake even gooder (yes, gooder . . . it's a word in my world!) is a layer of strawberries.

Right there in between the cake and the cool whip.

Just fresh, thinly sliced strawberries.

I'm doing that next time.

Heck, I might even try it with a piece tonight!

Not adding it between the cake and cool whip, that'd be hard.  Just adding some sliced strawberries on top of the cool whip.

I think I'll like it!

Coconut Cake

1 box white cake mix and listed ingredients
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can cream of coconut (NOT coconut milk)
1 small container cool whip

Make cake, according to directions, and bake in a 9X13 pan.

When the cake comes out of the oven, use a wooden spoon to poke holes all over the top.  If you're like me, you'll make those whole symmetrical -- such as 5 across and 8 down; or or 6 across and 7 down.  You get the picture.  You want plenty of holes so that the goodness soaks all through the cake, but not so many holes that it creates one big hole!

While the cake is hot, pour the can of condensed milk AND the can of cream of coconut all over the cake!  Again, I pour this in such a way that a small stream of the milks fill each hole, as well as equally cover the top of the cake that doesn't have any holes . . .I don't want any part of the cake feeling left out or miss treated.

That would be sad.

Allow the cake to cool completely.

Frost the cake with the thawed cool whip.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.  This cake is fabulous served chilled and gets better with time!  So, if you can spare it, make it a day before serving!

Top with well-toasted coconut, if you like it.  I serve the coconut on the side for those who aren't mature enough to enjoy the tempting taste of coconut . . .as in the Mr. and the 2 cherubs!

I'll post a toasted coconut recipe next! 


Friday, May 25, 2012

8 to 5

My boy cherub.

3 hours and 9 minutes and 24 seconds.

That's how much time he has left until school is out for the Summer.

He has had this clock counting down since Wednesday.

This is my soon to be 8th grader.

And my soon to be 5th grader.

My boy cherub is so excited about today.

My girl cherub has already cried this week  . . .and knows she'll cry today!

This is how we kick off the last day of school . . .
breakfast at Einstein's!

This has been a fantastic year!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Corn on the Cob

We love corn on the cob.

Corn on the cob is one way you know Summer is here!

There's nothing better than sweet, crisp, golden yellow (with a little white) corn!

It's fantastic and it's yummy and it's quick!

Growing up, I remember my dad saying, "Corn doesn't have to be cooked, it just has to be heated."

He's right.

He'd know, he was raised in the country.

Country boys know things like that.

When my dad would cook our corn, he would get out the green stew pan, heat the water and drop the shucked corn in for about 3 minutes.

Just enough to heat the corn  . . .

so that the butter would melt!

I don't have the green stew pan and heating water takes a long time . . . when you consider the microwave!

I still do my corn the way my dad taught me, I just do it a bit quicker!

Corn on the Cob

Fresh corn, shucked and cleaned of silks
1 paper towel for each ear of corn, wet and wrung out

Take the wet paper towel and wrap each ear of corn. 

Place in the microwave and heat until desired temperature.  (You'll have to touch the corn, not the paper towel to tell if it's hot enough for you -- the wet paper towel gets hot faster than the corn.)

Remember, you're not cooking the corn -- just heating it!

To butter your corn, take a piece of bread and put some softened butter right down the center of the bread.  Hold the bread in one hand, in a semi-taco shell shape.  With the other hand, twirl the corn on the cob on the buttered bread -- it's an easy way to butter your corn without the butter floppin' off the top of the corn!  Plus, the kids have a GREAT time doing this . . .and eating the bread too!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Grilled Pineapple Salad

Disclaimer:  We have not eaten this . . .yet!

We live near a Central Market grocery store.

We adore this grocery store.

Seriously adore it!

This grocery store makes grocery shopping fun.

I'm not kidding!

I can't even explain the admiration I have for the store!

It's like a maze when you go in . . . you start in the produce area and
weave around to the meat market, then the canned goods -- which I skip this area.

Then . . ..da, da, da, da . . .
the bulk food items!

Everything from candies to dried fruits, to flours and grains, to fresh nut butters to one of our favorites, coffee!

Leave there and meander through the dairy to the bakery . . .

oh, the bakery!

Through the cheese section
to the open olive, pickles, a dips bar, and other glorious items.

Finally, you end up in the cafe . . .which is so amazing too!

Then, you whisk your basket through the floral department to the checkout line . . .

and there you pay for your indulgences!

One thing we love about Central Market is you get to try stuff before you buy it . . .like if you want to try some new funky apple, just find a worker person and they'll slice it up for you right there . . .

Isn't that cool?

And in the bakery too . . .and the cheese department. . . . and the tortillas . . .

Wow!  I'm in love with Central Market!

The other day, while spending time there, I saw this recipe card and grabbed it!

My boy cherub has a weakness for pineapple; and can devour a ton of grilled pineapple.

I want to make this for him . . .
and me too!

Grilled Pineapple Salad

1 pineapple, peeled and cored; either 1/2 thick slice it or quarter the pineapple (I'm going to quarter it then chunk it up after grilling)
1 onion, peeled, quartered, brushed with a smidge of canola oil
2 limes, cut in half, brushed with a smidge of canola oil
2 poblano peppers, seeds removed and julienned
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, toasted and chopped (or your favorite nut)

Grill the pineapple, onions, and limes until pineapple is caramelized and onions are soft.  Remove from the grill and cool.

Rough chop the pineapple and onions. 

Toss pineapple, onions, and poblano peppers.  Squeeze juice of limes over the salad and sprinkle with the nuts.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Creamy Taco Pasta

When the Mr. and I got married, my mom made me a cookbook of family favorites.

Not just my family favorites, but the Mr.'s too.

One of the recipes is for creamed tacos.

I know.

Doesn't have great sound appeal.

But they're really good.


Last week, being short on time and even shorter on creativity, I thought,

"creamed tacos sound good."

But I didn't want to fool with it.

I did have the stuff to make it though.

But I still didn't want to fool with it.

So, I thought to myself,

"Self, why not make the creamed part and pour it over pasta?"

After all, I had left-over cooked pasta in the frig.!

"Self, you are amazing!"

That's what I thought to myself!

So, I did just what I thought.

The Mr. loved it because he loves anything pasta.

The girl cherub chowed down on it before we ran out the door to dance.

The boy cherub wasn't so hip on it -- he was in a "I'm picky tonight and you didn't describe it very good" mood.

Plus, he saw too many tomatoes in the dish to please him.

That's fine.

I thought to myself,

"Self, you can make that again!"

Creamy Taco Pasta

1 lb ground beef
salt and pepper
chili powder
onion powder
1 can rotel or diced tomatoes
1 cup evaporated milk
1 can chopped green chilies (if you want a extra green chilies!)
1 onion, chopped
4-8 oz. Velveeta cheese
8 oz gluten free pasta, cooked and drained (use regular pasta if you want)

Cook beef, adding salt, pepper, chili powder, onion powder, and cumin to taste.  (If you don't have the chili and onion powder or cumin -- no biggie; just leave it out!). Brown the beef and drain of any grease.  Set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl, cube the cheese, add the tomatoes, evaporated milk, the can of green chilies if you're adding them, and the chopped onion.  Microwave until melted.  Stirring often.  (If you want more cheese, add it.  If you want less -- just add less).

To the melted cheese mix, pour in the cooked ground beef.

Pour the meat/cheese mixture over the pasta and stir to mix well. 

Place in a oven safe dish and heat thoroughly at 350 until heated to your preference.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

4 Layer Delight

Notice my 4 layer dessert is only 3 layers . . .
I didn't have enough cool whip to do a top layer!
Oh well!

When the word "Delight" is in the recipe title . . . .
 . . . it's gotta be good.

This is the Mr.'s favorite dessert.

That is, his favorite dessert with 4 layers.

Don't be confused by his favorite brownies.

Or his favorite chocolate pie.

Or his favorite hummingbird cake.

Or his favorite blackberry cobbler.

Or his favorite chocolate chip cookies.

You see; we must distinguish between our favorite desserts -- putting them in their proper category!

The other night, the Mr.'s brother was in town.

It was a last-minute invite for dinner that worked out perfectly.

Because time was short, I looked through the pantry to see what I could throw together for dessert.

I had all the ingredients for this delish dish!

My mom makes this dessert alot.

It's an old recipe.

Not because she makes it -- because she's not old.

Not really old . . .

 . . .Just old enough to be my mom.

But this is one of her favorite desserts to make.

And it makes the Mr. happy.

I made this in an 8X8 pan.

I think the recipe says 9X13 -- but that's just a suggestion.

That's what I say.

Recipes are suggestions!

I also only used one box of pudding.

Because that's what I had.

One box.

And it was getting close to dinner and I needed to finish the dessert.

I'm going to give you the recipe I made based on an 8X8 pan.

If you want the "real" (AKA, Old) recipe, you've probably got it stuck in a recipe book someplace!

Four Layer Delight

Read more about it at www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1813,155191-255197,00.html
Content Copyright © 2012 Cooks.com - All rights reserved.
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1 c. flour
1/2 c. chopped pecans
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1 c. powdered sugar
1  container Cool Whip
1 box chocolate instant pudding
2 cups milk

Place the butter and flour in a bowl.  Using a pastry blender, "mix" the ingredients together.  Add the pecans.  Using a spoon, incorporate well until you have a very soft dough like mix. 
Press first 3 ingredients into an 8X8 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely.
Mix together the cream cheese, powdered sugar until well combined.  Fold in about a cup or a little more (ummm, I used a little more!) of Cool Whip. Put on top of the cooled crust.

Mix pudding with milk and pour over top. Top the pudding with Cool Whip.

Chill until set.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Six Days 'til Different

6 days and counting . . .

until we get out of school.

Yes, that's a collective "we."

As in "me and the kids."

Sure, the Mr. too, but it's more "me."

I'm the one who keeps it organized into controlled chaos.

These last couple of weeks have been a beating.

A real beating!

 . . .and talk about beating, let me just mention the financial beating!

It's a fund raiser here and a fund raiser there

and money for this activity and money for that

and nothing is cheap anymore.


Our Summer is already filling up and I already have a "Summer Slump" guide for my cherubs -- a little reading, a smidge of math, and a bit of keyboarding practice;

but what I'm looking forward to is slowing down!

No more lunches to pack,
no more backpacks sitting by the back door.

No more uniforms to wash and press,
no more projects to complete.

Just a few weeks of different!

And different is good!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash

A while ago we tried another new veggie at our house.

Butternut squash.

Oh, I may have had butternut squash a long time ago.

I don't remember.

But this! 

This, I remember!

We all loved it!

The Mr., the two cherubs and me!

You know what I cant' stand?

When I make a veggie that we all like and there isn't enough!
That's what I hate!

The most difficult thing about this vegetable is cutting the stinkin' squash.

It's tough.

If things like this frustrate you -- buy it already cut up.

You can do that, you know.

I don't.

I can't bring myself to splurge that way.

One of these days -- I'm going to!

Just for the heck of it!

I'll liberate myself that way!

But until then, I'll deal with the tough peel.

Is that what you call the outside of a squash?


Roasted Butternut Squash

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a bowl, place the cubed squash.  Drizzle -- just a drizzle; enough to slightly coat, the squash with the olive oil.

Sprinkle on some salt and pepper.  Under-do your seasonings; you can always add additional seasoning at the table.  Nothing is worse than too salty roasted veggies!

With your hands, toss the squash with all of this goodness.

Dump onto a foil lined pan and place in the oven and roast until fork tender and a bit caramelized in color; about 15-25 minutes.   (It really depends on how large the cubed pieces are!)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Eggless Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

We had company the other night for dinner.

Not just any company -- interns.

That means:
  • single
  • boys  . . .ok, they're 20-something year-old men
  • graduate students
  • they miss their mamma's cooking
  • they're hungry
Trying to figure out what we were going to have -- I was giving the Mr. several options.

His reply, "It doesn't matter, just make sure you have alot!"

I made fajita grilled chicken topped with Monterrey jack cheese and green chilies, my friend's green chili rice (on the blog), quick charro beans (on the blog), homemade guacamole (on the blog), and chocolate chip cookie dough brownies (now going to be on the blog!)

I had worked all day and had to run to the store to grab a few things!  Dinner had to be thrown together in a flash!  I thought of an easy dessert:  a box of brownies, cooked to perfection, topped with cookie dough.


I've made this basic dessert before -- but this is just a smidge different.  If you're a fan of the "original" post -- here's the link:

If you are just interested in seeing the difference; there's the link!

This time, I used Betty Crocker fudge brownie mix, made according to directions, and baked for 25 minutes.  They were done just right!  Done enough to hold their shape when cut, but not dried out.

After they cooled, I topped it with this mess of delish!

I served the dessert at room temperature, but I did refrigerate the leftovers . . .and I took a bit of the chilled dessert; I have to say, I think I prefer this dessert served cold.

You make it and see for yourself!

Eggless Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
(Slightly adapted from Family Fun Recipes)

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 TBSP vanilla extract
1 1/2cup semisweet chocolate chips
4  TBSP milk

Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in the flour, salt, vanilla and chips. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, until you have reached a cookie dough consistency. Makes 2 cups.
This is a great amount to smear over a 9X13 pan of brownies.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Grilled Chicken Marinade

It's kind of gone from beautiful Spring to hot Summer in just a matter of days.

Regardless if you love the heat of the Summer or the perfect-ness of the Spring, you usually think G.R.I.L.L!

We love to grill at our house.

The Mr. is the master of the grill!

I love that the whole meal can be cooked outside.

When we grill, we cook a lot of chicken.

That's because grilled chicken is one of my favorites.

I try a lot of different marinades and this one is simple and good.

It comes from a cookbook from my mom's work. 

These kinds of cookbooks are some of my favorites -- they're tried and true recipes!

With so many marinades on the market -- you may wonder why make your own?

Because it's cheaper.  


Marinades are a simple concoction of ingredients -- usually things you've already got in your kitchen pantry.

Your investment of cost when you make it at home is so much cheaper than buying a bottle of it from the store.

The next time you grill, try this recipe and see what you think!

Chicken Marinade

1/2 cup soy sauce
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. chopped ginger (or ground ginger)
1/4 tsp. chopped garlic (or garlic powder)

Place all of the ingredients in a gallon sized zip lock bag.  Seal the top and smoosh together to mix. 
Add in chicken (I use about 3 pounds of chicken for this amount), smoosh some more to cover the chicken.
Allow to marinate for as long as you can stand it -- over night, if desired.
Grill as usual.
Speaking of marinating over-night.  Here's one of my tricks.  When I purchase chicken, I come home and divide it into gallon sized bags, according to desired portions.  I then pour whatever marinades or seasonings I want into each bag. 
Seal them up and mark on the front what it is.  For example, "1 1/2 lbs. b/s chicken breasts w/easy marinade." 
Place them in the freezer until needed.  This way; the meat marinades as it's freezing and again while thawing out.  It's perfectly easy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Cilantro Mayonnaise

This is what has started the cilantro/lime craze this week. 

Our lunch from Sunday.

Because we get home late from church on Sunday's, I try to have lunch in the crock pot or in the oven before we leave early Sunday mornings.

But sometimes I fail.

This was one of those days.

Coming home with the cherubs in the car, I said, "I have grilled chicken already cooked at home.  Do y'all want chicken with rice or a grilled chicken sandwich?"

Knowing their mutual disinterest with rice, I knew they'd vote for the sandwich.

The rest of the way home, my creative juiced were flowing.

The chicken had been marinated in a store-bought cilantro-lime marinade.

The Mr. had grilled it the night before.

With that flavor as the starting point, I went from there.

Here's what we created:

$10.00 Chicken Sandwich

Grilled chicken breasts, sliced extremely thin, across the grain
fabulous bread; I used a jalapeno cheddar from a local bakery
mayonnaise mixed with the squeeze cilantro stirred in (do this to taste)
leafy greens (I used spinach leaves)
thinly sliced queso fresco (white Mexican cheese)
thinly sliced tomato
thinly sliced purple onion
pickled jalapeno, chopped

Using a small amount of butter, toast one side of the bread of your choice.

To assemble the sandwich:

Smear the mayo/cilantro concoction on each side of the untoasted bread.

Layer the greens, pickled jalapeno (if desired), tomato, onion, and chicken.  Top the chicken with thin slices of the cheese and place the top piece of bread over the cheese.

Admire your masterpiece!

Cut the sandwich in half, on the diagonal.

That's what they do in restaurants and then charge you $10.00 for the sandwich.

Enjoy your sandwich!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lime Dressing

The other day I posted a cilantro lime dressing.

Today, I'm posting just a plain 'ol lime dressing.

Perhaps you think I'm stuck on lime things.

I actually think it's just a fluke.

The difference between this one and the other dressing:

I have made this one.

As in just the other day made it.

I really liked it.

My smallest cherub thought that it was "pungent."

She used the word in the sentence correctly and everything.

Then asked what "pungent" meant.

I'm thinking she didn't really mean what she said about the dressing!

I liked this on a salad with grilled chicken, chopped purple onion, and sliced mango.

Then, last night, I made a "Mexican Chicken Pasta Salad" and I used this as the dressing.

I liked that too.

Lime Dressing

1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup canola oil

Whisk together vinegar, sugar, lime juice, garlic, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Gradually whisk in canola oil until smooth.  I used the immersion blender, but you can do it with a whisk or shake it in a jar with a tight fitting lid.