Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Deli Style Pasta Salad

Summer Tortellini Salad


I had a great afternoon of having ladies over for lunch.

I called it "Lunch and Laughter!"

My goal was to relax just a smidge before the cherubs got out of school for the Summer!

Goal accomplished!

I made it super easy by serving
I really liked this pasta salad.  It was a new recipe that I tried.

I am all the time trying pasta salad recipes.

I want to make good pasta salad.

But I honestly don't have the knack!

Seriously!

It can't be hard,

but for me . . .

it is!

But, I finally think I've succeeded!

You try it and see what you think!

Deli Pasta Salad

1 (19-oz.) package frozen cheese tortellini                       
                      
1/4 cup sliced green olives                
1/4 cup sliced black olives                               
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped sweet onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence*
1/4 cup canola oil                      

Salt to taste
Cook tortellini according to package directions; drain. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain and place in large bowl. Stir in chicken and next 5 ingredients.

Whisk together mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, and herbs de Provence. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth. Pour over tortellini mixture, tossing to coat. Stir in salt to taste. Cover and chill at least 25 minutes. Garnish, if desired.

1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning may be substituted for the herbs de Provence.

To make this a complete meal, add  1 (12-oz.) can albacore tuna, rinsed and drained well,  or  grilled chicken. Prepare recipe as directed.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Easy Pound Cake



Next week, my oldest cherub finishes his last day of Middle school and

my girl cherub finishes her first year of Middle school.

I think back; when we moved to Texas, my oldest cherub was the age my girl cherub is now.

I adore the time of life we are in.

I can't imagine anything different!

Those who have already launched your children; your wisdom tells me to enjoy it because time will fly!

Those who have just started out; you can't imagine how quickly the day will come when you'll be counting down the end of the school days and talking about colleges and SAT preparation with your little one.

I think back to the elementary days of the end of school and the hub-bub of teacher gifts!

What do we get?

When do we give it?

Do we get each teacher something different or their own "personalized" gift?

Oh, the quandary!

In Middle school -- those teachers kind of get the shaft!

They, too, work long hours.

They, too, teach creatively.

They, too, invest in my cherubs.

They, too, are our partner with our cherubs.

They, too, deserve a little treat!

So, I left school today and ran home to bake for them!

(Remember the above question of "what do we get?" . . . .it's still a question!)

Cakes it is!

I've never made this recipe before, but I think it's going to be amazing.

It's amazingly easy!

It smells amazing baking!

 . . .so, amazing it is!

I like that this cake is easily altered for whatever your mind can create!

Easy Pound Cake

1 box cake mix, any flavor
4 eggs
1 tsp. flavoring (vanilla, coffee, almond, vanilla nut . . . it depends on your flavor combination)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated)
1 cup buttermilk (or milk, if you don't have buttermilk)*** see note below
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 box instant vanilla OR chocolate pudding (depending on the flavor you are making)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and beat for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides.  Beat another 1-2 minutes, until everything is well mixed and batter is thick.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until cake is done and toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 15 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack.

You can make a simple glaze to drizzle over the cooled cake, using powdered sugar and either lemon juice (if it's citrus flavored) or milk, mixed with a little flavoring that you added to the cake.  If time doesn't allow, dust with a little powdered sugar on top and serve!

***One of the cakes I made was lemon.  I omitted the buttermilk and substituted 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1/2 cup of water.  I used vanilla pudding and "princess cake and cookie" flavoring from King Arthur.

*The other cake I made was chocolate and I used "triple chocolate" from Betty Crocker, chocolate pudding, and coffee flavoring, along with the buttermilk.

*This cake would be wonderful made with all vanilla ingredients and used to serve under mixed berries for the holiday weekend!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Vanilla Sugar Cookies



These are baseball cookies and bats that were ordered for a baby shower.

I know I've said it before; I just L.O.V.E. decorated sugar cookies.

I'm not sure that there's anything better!

This is one of my favorite sugar cookie recipes because it's so stinking easy!

I was going to post a link to the blog where you could find the recipe . . .

then discovered that I had never posted the recipe!

That's unbelievable!

Whether you make a plain cookie and frost it with store bought frosting, or you whip up some royal icing and make a masterpiece, you won't be disappointed with this cookie!

Vanilla Sugar Cookies

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

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the flour in a food processor and add the butter.  Pulse the mixture until it resembles fine bread crumbs.

Add the sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla and process until you have a smooth dough.

That's it!  You're done!

Wrap the dough in cling wrap and chill until ready to use.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and, using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes.  Place dough on ungreased cookie sheet, or a cookie sheet lined with a silpat.  Bake until pale golden brown.  Do not over-bake!  This is critical!  Your baking time will depend on how thick you roll the cookie dough.

Allow to cool completely before decorating.

**I roll the dough out and cut the shapes right after I make the dough.  I then place the shapes on the cookie sheet and freeze.  When I'm ready to bake the cookies, I remove the pan from the freezer while the oven heats up.  I roll my dough about 1/2 thick (or more . . .depending on the shape and size).  I bake the cookies about 9 minutes.  Again, this depends on size and thickness.



Friday, May 17, 2013

Chocolate Eclair Cake

Image from Kraft

This is so easy.

This is an old recipe.

Those two statements have nothing in common.

It's beginning to turn "Sprummer" around here.

It's during "Sprummer" that I start thinking about new and different recipes.

Maybe even a recipe that I haven't made in awhile.

Last night, I opened some cool whip and used about 2 TBSP.

Now, I have an entire container of cool whip.

That bugs me.

What am I going to do with all that cool whip?

I have no plan.

Well, I didn't have a plan.

Now I do.

Actually, I've executed my plan.

That's why I'm posting this recipe.

This is low fat, easy, cool, and no-bake.

What can better than that?

I'll tell you!

If someone else makes it for you!

And cleans up after you!

And tells you you're pretty.

But in case that isn't happening today around your house, you're not alone! 

It's not happening here either!

Chocolate Éclair Cake

1  box graham crackers
2 (3 1/4-ounce) boxes instant French vanilla pudding
3 cups milk
1 (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
vanilla flavoring
1 container chocolate frosting OR 1 jar hot fudge sauce, warmed
Line a 9 X 13 pan with whole graham crackers.  I used a 9 X 9 pan because I wanted it thicker.
In bowl mix pudding with milk and about 2 tsp. of vanilla.  Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. You can also use a whisk and your muscles.  Instant pudding sets up quick.  Fold in the whipped topping.
Pour half the pudding mixture over graham crackers. Place another layer of whole graham crackers on top of pudding layer. Pour over remaining half of pudding mixture and cover with another layer of graham crackers.  Because I used a smaller pan, I was able to do 3 layers of crackers/pudding, ending with the crackers, giving actually 4 total layers of crackers.
Spread either the warmed chocolate frosting OR the hot fudge sauce over the top layer of crackers, spreading out smooth.  I used hot fudge sauce because I didn't have chocolate frosting.  Needless to say, we were not disappointed!
Refrigerate 6-12 hours.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Favorite Cologne



Last summer, while on vacation, the Mr. insisted I buy a perfume.

My only request is that it be something that I love and that I could get when we got "back home."

As small as the world is these days, the second to that demand wasn't hard to accomplish.

While we meandered our way through our trip, we stopped and sniffed and sprayed and tested until I couldn't remember what I had sprayed last!

But finally, on a shopping day, we stopped by the counter of "Jo Malone."

I had only heard of Jo Malone, but didn't have any idea about the fragrances.

The sweet young girl sprayed and suggested and mixed until she was blue in the face.

Finally, the very last sample was "it!"

Nectarine Blossom and Honey!

I love it!

I deluged myself in it one final time before I left the store with the iconic "Jo Malone Bag."

I was happy!

Since then, I have the Mr. has purchased for me:  English Pear and Freesia, Red Currant and Cream, and now, I am wearing Osmanthus Blossom.

Like, right now. 

This very moment.

I adore it too!

I've liked everything from this maker.

What I particularly like is that the fragrances can be layered together, creating your own personal mixology!

Next, I think I'm going to treat myself to the Blackberry and Bay.

Spend some time looking at www.jomalone.com to see what you might enjoy!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Coffee Crusted Steak



This was my Mother's Day lunch.

I say "my" because we each had different stuff.

It was like being at a restaurant but it was at home.

It was so fun!

On Saturday, we went to one of our favorite grocery stores . . .

yes, we have a "favorite" grocery store!

We decided to have corn on the cob, a salad, and gluten-free cornbread.

Then, we headed to the meat market and we all picked out whatever kind of meat/fish/chicken we wanted to grill.

I picked a filet.

I never pick a filet.

Ever.

But it just looked good!

It's amazing that fresh, red, uncooked meat can look good!

I asked for the smallest cut, because I'm not a steak eater.

At lunch, I was so sad I hadn't asked for a bigger steak.

It was perfection!

Pure perfection!

Matter of fact, it was the hit of the lunch table.

The Mr. and the cherubs were so envious of my creation!
I love being a mother!

Coffee-Crusted Steak

1 favorite cut of steak
Sea Salt
Fresh ground pepper
Coffee grounds (I used decaf, Texas pecan . . .my favorite)


Preheat grill.

In a shallow dish, I put about equal amounts of salt, pepper, and coffee.  Stir to mix.

Using your hands, firmly press every inch of the steak into the seasoning mixture:  top, bottom, and sides.

Place steak on the grill and cook to desired doneness.  Turning as few times as possible.

Allow steak to rest before cutting.

Enjoy!


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Flourless Chocolate Cookies



Allergy season is hitting hard at our house these days.

With that, comes the need for my girl cherub to have a gluten free diet.

Again.

We've done gluten free before, but she's been able to tolerate gluten back in her diet.

Since she's suffering so bad with seasonal allergies, her immune system is sensitive and gluten is being bad . . .very bad to her right now!

Shame on gluten!

It took us about two meals to figure out that we needed to remove the culprit.

It may be for a short time,  or it may be more long-term . . .we'll just listen to her body and go with what's best for her.

With that said, it's Mother's Day tomorrow and our lunch dessert got changed to accommodate my cherub.

Wow!  What a mom I am!

Isn't that just the life of a mom!

I made these tonight (ummm, yes, you read that right!  I made my own dessert for Mother's Day!) 

The Mr. and I shared a cookie and he said, "This tastes just like a brownie cookie!" 

I'm thinking we hit a jackpot!

Also, I'm thinking they're a lower fat cookie choice!

It's a win-win cookie!

Flourless Chocolate Cookie

3 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (or other type of nut)
4 large egg whites, room temperature
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa, and salt. Stir in chocolate and pecans. Add egg whites and stir just until incorporated (do not overmix).
Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls, 3 inches apart, onto two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets. (I used my silpat baking sheets and it worked beautifully).  Bake until cookie tops are dry and crackled, about 25 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer sheets to wire racks and let cookies cool completely. (To store, keep in an airtight container, up to 3 days.)
You can dust with powdered sugar when cookies are cool, if desired.  We didn't desire!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Lemon Cookies

Easy Lemon Cookies Recipe
Image from All Recipes
See these cookies?
They're delish!
Our neighbor was being neighborly and brought them to us as a "thank you!"
All we did was ask if everything was ok . . .
  . . .when their alarm went off at 3:00 in the morning.
We checked on them right away!
I thought that was neighborly.
But she repaid us with these treats.
I think I'll be more neighborly, more often!
Do you think she'll notice?
After one little bite, we all agreed:
"GET THE RECIPE!"


I sent her a quick request and she sent me the quick recipe!
We have a great relationship, don't you think?
The only problem with the cookies:  I had to share!
Lemon Cookies
1 (18.25 ounce) package lemon cake mix                                                                     
                
                
                
Preheat oven to 375degrees.
Pour the cake mix into a large bowl. Stir in eggs, oil, and lemon extract until well blended.
Drop a teaspoonful of dough into a bowl of confectioners' sugar. Roll them around until they're lightly covered. Once sugared, put them on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 6 to 9 minutes in the preheated oven. The bottoms will be light brown, and the inside will be chewy.




Monday, May 6, 2013

Pepper and Chicken Nachos

Pepper and Chicken Nachos
Image from Southern Living



Remember my girl cherub wanted a cookbook from her school's book fair?

It was all about using rotisserie chicken.

Yep, makes a momma proud!

Let's cut to the chase!

This weekend, I roasted 2 whole chickens and a turkey breast so that meals this week would throw together in a snap.

Today, I ran home, used some of the already-cooked-chicken to throw together this recipe from my her new cookbook.

We all really liked it and it was great to have something out of the ordinary for dinner!

Now!  I did make a wee little change!

I didn't have time to mess with making "nachos." 

I didn't want to roast the peppers, nor did I want to mess with serving the "nachos," although the idea is very cute!

Instead, I just made stuffed peppers with the chicken concoction and we were happy!

Pepper and Chicken Nachos

4 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 cup cider vinegar (I 2 TBSP)                              
1/3 cup olive oil   (I used 2 TBSP) 
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 medium-size bell peppers, cut into 2-inch pieces (I left whole to stuff)         
2 cups chopped deli-roasted chicken
1 (15 1/2-oz.) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 (7.5-oz.) package sliced sharp Cheddar cheese (I used pepper jack & only 1/2 this amount)              
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves (I totally forgot to put this in!  Oops!)                              
 
If you are making the original recipe, start here!  If you want my modification, go to the bold:
 
 Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat. Combine garlic and next 5 ingredients. Reserve 3 Tbsp. garlic mixture. Pour remaining garlic mixture into a large shallow dish; add peppers, turning to coat. Cover and chill 15 minutes, turning once. Remove peppers from marinade, reserving marinade for basting.   Grill peppers, covered with grill lid, 8 to 10 minutes or until peppers blister and are tender, turning occasionally and basting with marinade. 

 Preheat broiler with oven rack 4 inches from heat. Combine chicken and peas with reserved 3 Tbsp. garlic mixture. Place peppers in a single layer on a lightly greased rack in an aluminum foil-lined broiler pan. Quarter cheese slices. Top each pepper with chicken mixture and one cheese quarter.

Broil 4 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve immediately.


MODIFICATION:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine everything together, except for the bell peppers and the cilantro (which I left out on accident). 

Clean the peppers, remove the stems and seeds.

Using a spoon, fill and pack each pepper with the meat mixture, stuffing well.  Place peppers in a large muffin tin to stand up, or fit snugly in a small pan together.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the peppers are soft.  All of the ingredients are cooked, so you are really heating the mixture and cooking the peppers to your preference.

Serve with a salad.

From:   ; JULY 2011

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Homemade Pizza Rolls



It's another night at the ball field.

Thank goodness I only have one boy cherub to lug around!

I'm not sure that I could do this if I had 2 or 8 more boys!

At least I have a balance of ballet and baseball!

Because on game nights, it can be a little hectic,

and because it would be so much easier to grab dinner and run to the field,

I really try to make quick, easy, and tasty food!

I call it "homemade fast food!"

Isn't that ultra-creative?

Truly, what you spend at the fast food stop, you can have dinner that is so much tastier, more healthy, and usually have left overs for lunch the next day.

I called this "pizza roll ups,"

because that what it is

and I'm not really creative when I name food!

Homemade Pizza Rolls

1 Rhodes bread loaf, thawed
Deli sliced pepperoni or Canadian Bacon, chopped
Chopped onion, optional
Parmesan cheese, grated
Black Olives, optional
Pizza sauce


Thaw the frozen bread loaf.  This comes in a package of 3, I used only one loaf of the package for my family of 4.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Once the dough is thawed, on a lightly floured surface, use your hands to stretch the dough to a rectangle (maybe 10X12), or whatever you can easily get it to.  There's no right or wrong here.

Sprinkle the chopped pepperoni, onion, and black olives over the dough.  Evenly sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese.

Starting with the long side of the dough, roll up as though you are rolling cinnamon rolls.  Tightly seal the edge.

Using a serrated knife, cut the dough into 8 equal pieces.  Place them, cut side down, in an 8 X 8 pan that's been sprayed with Pam.

Bake for 25-40 minutes, depending on doneness and your desired browning on top.  I baked our closer to the 40 minute mark.

Remove from the oven and top with a little more grated Parmesan cheese.

Serve with a salad and pizza sauce to dip.