Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Toffee Bars

Toffee Bars
Image and recipe from Betty Crocker

We were going to have lunch with our friends the other day after church.

This is my friend who is a good cook.

This is my friend who always makes an appetizer.

And sets it on the corner of her island.

And we all just stand around munching, while she finishes cooking.

I love this friend!

I told her I would bring a dessert.

I looked for a new and easy recipe for this holiday season and I found this.

It sounded good.

When I gave some choices to the Mr. on what I should take, he picked this one too!
I messed with the direction part of the recipe.

I may have messed it up -- but I won't know until tomorrow when we serve it!

Toffee Bars

1 cup butter or margarine, softened                                     
1 cup packed brown sugar                                     
1 tsp vanilla                                           
1 egg yolk                                   
2 cups all-purpose flour                                           
1/4 teaspoon salt                                           
2/3 cup milk chocolate chips                                           
1/2 cup chopped nuts, if desired

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, vanilla and egg yolk. Stir in flour and salt. Press in ungreased rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches.

Bake bars 25 to 30 minutes or until very light brown (crust will be soft). Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips on hot crust. Let stand about 5 minutes or until chocolate is soft; spread evenly. Sprinkle with nuts.

Cool bars 30 minutes in pan on wire rack. For bars, cut into 8 rows by 4 rows.

**Here's where I may have made a mistake.  When I dumped the dough into the 9 X 13 pan, it appeared as though this would be making a thin bar cookie.  I didn't want that.

So I put the dough into an 8 X 8 pan, which made it thicker -- but I'm not sure that I cooked it long enough!  You know, it's a new recipe -- sometimes it's trial by error!  I did add additional baking time, but perhaps not enough!

Also!  I didn't think that 2/3 cups of chocolate chips were enough, so I added about a cup, or two, or maybe a cup and a half . . .but more than 2/3's!  My boy cherub thought it was too much chocolate, but he was the only one who thought that!

Happy baking!

I've made these since last Sunday, and I made them in the smaller pan again too.  I did bake it longer and when I pulled it from the oven, it didn't fall, which told me I had baked it long enough!  I sent them on to some friends who had just arrived home from having a baby . . . and they didn't complain; but heck, they're too tired to complain!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Image used from the internet

The convenience of buying a packet of seasoning is just that . . .convenient.
However, the taste isn't anything to write home about.
Not only that .  . . how hard can it be to make your own seasoning packet?
All the packaged stuff has done is put all of the ingredients in one location, right?
Why not make your own seasoning, whether it's for tacos or chili, or anything else you want!
When you make your own, you are not only saving money, but you're getting better tasting stuff that suites your taste!
Isn't that why we cook, anyway?
Here's a quick taco seasoning mix to stir up and that you can store in a ziplock bag, a plastic container, or a cleaned out seasoning container!
Homemade Taco Seasoning
2 TBSP chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. paprika
3 TBSP ground cumin
1-2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground pepper
In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, Cayenne pepper, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container. Yields about 2 3/4 tablespoons.
Use about 2 TBSP of the taco seasoning for every 1 pound of meat.  You might want to experiment with the intensity of flavor in your recipe.  Brown meat and drain the fat;  add the seasoning and stir.  You can add up to 1/2 cup of water if you desire.  Simmer and stir until water is absorbed. If you want more of a sauce throw in about 2 tablespoons of flour with the water and don't simmer as long!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Neiman Marcus' Chicken Tortilla Soup

Six Can Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

I've been to eat at Neiman Marcus one time.
It was really good!
"Everyone" talks about the Neiman Marcus cafe and the things they love from there.
Because I've only been once, my variety of selection is limited!
However, I have had lunch with friends that serve this Neiman Marcus soup recipe.
It is so delicious that I wanted to pass it along to you!
If your weather is like our weather, one day you're making soup and the next your grilling out!
But because these are simple ingredients, you'll be able to throw it together in a moments notice!
Neiman Marcus' Chicken Tortilla Soup
3-4 chicken breasts; cooked and shredded (or whole chicken;  cooked & shredded)
olive oil
1 c onion, chopped
1 c bell pepper, chopped
1 c celery, chopped
1 c carrots, chopped
1/2 T minced garlic
2 t cumin
2 t coriander
1 t paprika
1 t red chili powder
1 T oregano
1/2 t cayenne (adjust to your taste)
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
2 quarts chicken broth
10 corn tortillas, optional
1 c heavy cream
1 can nacho cheese (campbells)
1 can black beans
8 oz frozen corn

Saute the onion, pepper, celery and carrots in the olive oil until tender. Add spices, tomatoes, broth, 2 c. water and bring to boil. Add corn, black beans, nacho cheese, chicken and cream. Simmer for one hour.
If you desire, tear up the corn tortillas and to the soup.  Cook for an additional 30 minutes.

Serve with corn bread or tortilla chips.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Fresh Cranberry Cake

I know Christmas is over . . .
but that's no reason to not have this delicious cake!

If you see cranberries on sale,
or have a bag (or two four) in your freezer, then this is a recipe you'll want to try!

If it's cold where you live, then the smell of this cake baking
and the anticipation of having a warm piece on a cold evening will send your senses soaring!

I found this cake in a church cookbook several years ago.

You know how good some of those recipes can be! 
What caught my eye was how easy it is to make.

It will whip up quickly in one bowl!

But what makes this cake even more appetizing is the butter sauce you pour, serve, or drink (ummm, just kidding -- who would ever do that?!) with it!

Fresh Cranberry Cake

3 cups flour
1 TBSP baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 1/2 TBSP butter, melted
1 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups cranberries
1 cup pecans, chopped

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a bowl.  Add the melted butter and milk and stir until well incorporated.  Dump in the cranberries and pecans.  Mix well.

Pour into a well greased bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until done.

Allow to cool before removing from pan.

Place on a plate with a raise edge . . .otherwise your butter sauce will run off the plate.

And you'll be yelling at yourself while you try to use your finger to push it back onto the plate, understanding in your mind, that this is a loosing battle, but your heart tells you, "don't stop now!  You've almost got it done!"

Butter Sauce

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Place all of the ingredients in a sauce pan and cook, over medium heat, until melted.  Stir well.  Allow to come t a gentle boil.  Boil for 3 minutes.  Pour warm sauce over warm cake.

(I keep a bit of sauce for reserve because some, umm   . . . like the Mr., enjoy pouring a bit of the sauce over their slice of cake.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My Girl Cherub is 11

My girl cherub turns 11 years old today!

I remember when these feet would fit in the palm of my hand!

Would I love for her to still be a baby; so that I could hold and cuddle and keep her wrapped in my arms?

But if I did that, then I'd be missing out on the fine young lady she's becoming!

If I wished her back to those baby years, I'd be missing out on all of this:
  • her funny sense of humor!
  • her showing me her latest dance routine.
  • her sweet smile!
  • her asking me to tuck her in and to sing "her song."
  • her sense of style and love for Vera Bradly and sassy Toms!
  • her creative-side.
  • playing games with her.
  • her excitement and love for school!
  • her joy of learning something new.
  • helping her with her homework and school projects.
  • being able to disciple her in God's word and teaching her how to listen and follow His plan.
There's so much more . . .but what I love is that I get to watch her mature into a beautiful young lady who is rooted in faith and anchored in family.

She is both amazing and amazingly different!

She is just as God has created her and I'm learning, still, to appreciate all that she is!

Happy Birthday to my Sweet Girl!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Half-a-Cup dip

Blue Cheese, Sweet Pecan, and Cranberry Spread Recipe

OU is playing in a bowl game tonight.

We are headed to our friend's house to whoop watch the game.

It should be fun  . . .

we will have some Sooner fans and some Aggie fans all in one room!

We are all bringing finger foods/appetizers for dinner.

I hate meals like that . . .

I always eat too much because everything tastes so good!

I'm taking some cold dips and sliders and other fun things,

but one of the dips I am taking is a new one.

I wanted something a little different, so I went to google and listed the ingredients I wanted in my dip and viola! 

Here's the recipe I choose!

I made one little change to it.

Oh!  I renamed it too.

For credit sake, I don't remember where I found it -- maybe the Kraft website.

Half-a-Cup Dip

4 oz cream cheese, softened
4 oz blue cheese crumbles (gluten free blue cheese for those needing it!)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 TBSP finely chopped purple onion, optional (that's my addition)

In a medium sized bowl, place the cream cheese, blue cheese, cranberries, pecans, and onion.  Mix well. 

Refrigerate for the flavors to blend.

Serve with crackers or sliced Granny Smith apples or pears (especially if you didn't put the onion in it!)
**I added the finely chopped onion AND served it with the apples . . . .it was a hit!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bacon Onion Dip

At the grocery store the other day, I picked up a recipe book while the Mr. pushed the cart and shopped.

It was a grand time!

I read through the book, making notes on what sounded good and the Mr. took our grocery list and checked it twice!

I had the stuff at home to make this and take to our friend's house.

I'm not sure that I love this dip; but it's not bad.

It's not a typical tasting sour cream dip, which I was happy for; yet it wasn't a "stand and gobble it down" kind of dip either.

It's somewhere in the middle.

That's why I'm posting it -- one man's taste is another man's distaste.

I think I might coin that phrase.

It's kind of catchy, don't you think?

Bacon Onion Dip

8 oz sour cream
1 TBSP horseradish
2 tsp. lemon juice
3 TBSP buttermilk
2 TBSP minced onions
1/2 cup bacon, crumbled
salt and pepper taste

Mix all of the ingredients, except for the bacon, in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Overnight is best so that flavors can blend.  Before serving, add the crumbled bacon.

Serve with crackers and veggies.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Green Chili Chicken Stew

Recently we've spent some time in the New Mexico mountains.

It's one of our favorite things to do!

We have no access to t.v., Internet, news, or phone.

It's fantastic!

The cherubs play in the snow and sled.

The Mr. unwinds.

And I usually finish a good book.

We can't wait to get there . . . .

 . . . and we hate it when we have to leave!

One night, while there, I made this new recipe.

We love New Mexican food:  the green chilies, the green chilies, and the green chilies!

You can probably find the green chili sauce at a grocery store in your area.

"Can you substitute another green chili sauce in the recipe?"

Honestly, I don't know -- I'm sure you could.  I just don't know how it will change the taste!

This recipe is fast, easy, and delicious!  Also, any leftovers freeze well!

El Pinto's Green Chili Chicken Stew
(From the El Pinto Website)

1 pound chicken, cooked.  (I roasted leg quarters; de-boned and cut into bite sized pieces.  Chicken breasts would be great too.)
1 quart chicken broth; canned is great
3 cups red potatoes, cut into cubes (I used red and golden potatoes)
1 16oz jar El Pinto green chili sauce
1 TBSP oil
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Heat the vegetable oil.  Add the chopped onion and saute.  Add the chopped potatoes and saute a bit to achieve a bit of color on the potatoes.  Add the flour and stir well.  Add the chicken broth and stir well. Bring to a boil. Add garlic, chicken and green chili sauce.  Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are completely cooked.  Add the frozen corn and heat well.  Salt and pepper to taste. Makes 8 servings.