Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Baking 2009



This weekend included my annual baking day (it actually took 2 days). The recepients this year were mostly Seth's coworkers & it was fun creating some yummy treats for them to enjoy. Each container included:

Sugar Cookies with a Hershey's Kiss
(I used Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix)
White Peppermint Snowballs
Magic Mint Chocolate Bark
Carmel Filled Chocolate Cookies
Cranberry Bars
Old-Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies
Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies (made with M&M's instead of chips)

Everything was delicious and hopefully everyone will enjoy their little sampling :)

Old-Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Glaze (recipe follows)

PREHEAT
oven to 350° F. Grease baking sheets.

COMBINE flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl. Beat sugar and butter in large mixer bowl until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets.

BAKE for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Drizzle Glaze over cookies.

FOR GLAZE:
COMBINE
2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in small bowl until smooth.

Cranberry Bars


1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips or white vanilla chips
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup pecan halves

Combine cracker crumbs and butter; press into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan. In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; mix well. Gently spread over crust. Bake at 350 degrees F for 22 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

The graham cracker layer will be very thin and that's good :) Also, we're not huge coconut fans, so I just left it out.

Carmel Filled Chocolate Cookies


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans, divided (optional)
1 (13 ounce) package Rolo candies
4 (1 ounce) squares white chocolate, melted

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, 1 cup sugar and brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa and baking soda; gradually add to the creamed mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in 1/2 cup pecans. Shape a tablespoonful of dough around each candy, forming a ball.

Optional: In a small bowl, combine the 1 tablespoon of sugar and pecans; dip each cookie halfway. Place nut side up 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets.


Bake at 375 degrees F for 7-10 minutes or until tops are slightly cracked. Cool for 3 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Drizzle with melted white chocolate.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Magic Mint Chocolate Bark


1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels
1/3 cup coarsely chopped oven roasted or toasted almonds

PREHEAT
oven to 325° F. Line small baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

POUR morsels onto prepared baking sheet. Arrange morsels so they are touching each other in a single layer (roughly an 11 x 9-inch rectangle).

BAKE for 1 to 3 minutes or until morsels are shiny. Remove from oven to wire rack. With tip of butter knife or wooden pick, immediately swirl morsels to create a swirled pattern.

SPRINKLE with nuts. Hold baking sheet 3 inches above counter and drop to settle nuts into melted morsels. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Break into pieces. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

VARIATION: Substitute broken pretzel pieces or another nut of choice for the almonds.

White Peppermint Snowballs

from Sandra Lee via foodnetwork.com

1 package (18-ounce) refrigerated sugar cookie dough, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/3 cup crushed peppermint candies, plus more for garnishing
1 cup powdered sugar, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the cookie dough into 8 pieces. In bowl of electric mixer, on medium speed thoroughly combine the dough pieces, peppermint extract, 1/3 cup crushed peppermint candies, and 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar.

Roll the dough into 1-inch diameter balls. Arrange, 2 inches apart, on parchment lined cookie sheets and bake until set, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on cooling racks.

Add 1/2 cup of the remaining powdered sugar to a small bowl. While the cookies are still warm, roll them in the sugar. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies and serve.

As the cookies cool, they will flatten slightly.

I actually used the Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Cookie Mix (prepared as directed) instead of refrigerated dough and they were awesome!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Our meal for 4 was greatly lacking presentation, but was highly effective in quick clean/pack up which was needed to get 2 little guys in the bath on schedule :)

I would have loved to have made everything from scratch, but the 4 little feet and hands that are oh so curious and must accompany me in the kitchen, caused me to make the decision to go for convenience in many ways.

Turkey
I cooked a 21 pound turkey!! I stuffed the cavity of the bird with sliced oranges, lemons & onion. I did a butter wash on the bird then added salt & ground pepper. I massaged the big guy and cooked him in a turkey bag. It took about 3 1/2 hours and the result was not necessarily pretty, but so very yummy!!

Sides
Frozen Cranberries
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potato Casserole
Mashed Potatoes (instant & never again :)
Stuffing (Stove Top with diced celery, onions & water chestnuts)
Biscuits (Pillsbury Grands, Flaky Layers)
Cranberry Sauce (canned)

Dessert
Pumpkin Roll

Sweet Potato Casserole


5 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup low fat margarine
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 pinches ground cinnamon
1 (10.5 ounce) package miniature marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Steam sweet potatoes until tender. In a large bowl, blend the potatoes until creamy. Stir in the butter, brown sugar, orange juice to taste and a dash of ground cinnamon. Spread the sweet potato mixture into a 9x13 inch pan. Sprinkle the miniature marshmallows over the top and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) until golden brown.

Green Bean Casserole


1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 cans cut green beans
1 1/3 cups fried onions

Mix soup, milk and pepper in a 1 1/2 -qt. baking dish. Stir in beans and 2/3 cup fried onions. Bake at 350°F for 30 min. or until hot. Stir. Top with remaining 2/3 cup onions. Bake 5 min. until onions are golden.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Frozen Cranberries


8 oz Cream Cheese (softened)
8 oz Cool Whip
1 Can Whole Cranberries
1 Can Crushed Pineapple with juice
2 cups mini-marshmallows

Mix cream cheese and cool whip thoroughly. Stir in cranberries, pineapple and marshmallows and freeze. Take out of the freezer about 1 hour before serving.

Pumpkin Roll

Adapted from allrecipes.com

Cake:
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
confectioners' sugar for dusting

Filling:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese

Optional:
1/2 cup chopped walnuts* (see below)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 15x10x1 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper. Grease and flour the paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat eggs on high for five minutes. Gradually add white sugar and pumpkin. Add flour, cinnamon, and baking soda. Spread batter evenly in pan.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 15 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Immediately turn out onto a linen towel dusted with confectioners sugar. Peel off paper and roll cake up in the towel, starting with the short end. Cool.
  4. To Make Filling: Mix confectioners sugar, vanilla, butter or margarine, and cream cheese together till smooth.
  5. Carefully unroll the cake. Spread filling over cake to within 1 inch of edges. Roll up again. Cover and chill until serving. Dust with additional confectioners' sugar, if desired.
* Walnuts can be added 3 different ways. 1) by sprinkling them evenly on top of the cake batter before baking 2) by mixing them by hand as the final step in creating the filling or 3) by sprinkling them over the individual slice of dessert as a garnish/topping

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hot Fudge Sauce

Adapted from allrecipes.com

1 cup butter
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups white sugar
pinch of salt
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine butter, cocoa, sugar, salt and evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and boil for 7 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Carefully pour hot mixture into a blender and blend for 2 to 4 minutes. Serve immediately. Store in refrigerator.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Quiche


From: Alicia Lovell

1 unbaked pie crust
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard (optional)
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese
1 - 1 1/2 cups meat and/or veggies

Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper & mustard. Add cheese and meat/veggies. Place pie crust in pie pan, fill with mixture, bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes. Cover edges only of the crust for first 30-45 mins with foil. Remove foil in time to get to a golden brown crust.

This recipe can be changed any way you like. All meat, all veggie, use several kinds of each, however fits your fancy or what you happen to have on hand.

Monkey Bread

From: Mom's Who Think

Ingredients:

4 cans refrigerated biscuits
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins (these are optional, it's great with or without them)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9-10 inch tube pan.

2. Mix white sugar and cinnamon in a medium sized plastic bag. Cut the biscuits into halves or quarters and place six to eight biscuit pieces in the sugar cinnamon mix. Shake well.

3. Arrange pieces in the bottom of the greased pan. Continue layering until all the biscuit pieces are coated and in the pan. If you are using raisins, place them among the biscuit pieces as you are layering.

4. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute. Pour over the layered biscuits.

5. Bake for 35 minutes. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a plate. Pull apart and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pesticides in Fruits & Veggies

Here is an interesting link to the fruits & veggies that are more likely than others to retain pesticides -- apples, lettuce, and bell peppers, to name a few. So if you want to choose a few items to go organic with, those are best.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Frosted Pumpkin Cake


Cake:

Cooking spray
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup egg substitute
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup applesauce
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
2 teaspoons pumpkin-pie spice
1 (18.25-ounce) package yellow cake mix

Frosting:
2/3 cup (6 ounces) tub-style light cream cheese
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.

Coat a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray; dust with flour.

To prepare cake, place the egg substitute, granulated sugar, applesauce, and pumpkin in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed for 1 minute. Add pie spice and cake mix, beating at high speed 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake completely on a wire rack.

To prepare frosting, place the cream cheese and vanilla in a large bowl; beat at medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating just until blended. (Do not overbeat.) Spread frosting evenly over top of cake.

Pumpkin White Chocolate Cookies

Adapted from allrecipes.com

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups quick-cooking oats
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups white chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Beat in the pumpkin, egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

We made these with semisweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and with no chips. The white chocolate were the best! The plain ones were really good with a morning cup of coffee, but the chocolate were just kind of odd.

Frozen Strawberry Margaritas


6 fluid ounces tequila
2 fluid ounces triple sec
8 ounces frozen sliced strawberries in syrup (or 1 can strawberry daiquiri concentrate)
4 fluid ounces frozen limeade concentrate

Fill a blender with ice and crush. Pour in the tequila and triple sec. Add the strawberries and limeade. Blend for 30 seconds or until smooth. Serve in glasses with the rims dipped in the margarita mixture then in sugar.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Best Bean Burritos

1 can refried beans
1 can diced green chilis
Flour tortillas
Shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 375 and set aside a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. Mix beans and chilis in a sauce pan and heat over medium until warmed through. Assemble burritos with beans and cheese and place side by side (seams down) on cookie sheet. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Serve burritos with toppings as desired (guacamole, sour cream, salsa, olives, etc) and eat with a fork.

These are great for a burrito bar at a party. You can just make a bunch of burritos (even mini burritos using smaller tortillas) and let guests top as desired :)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cheesy Chicken Soup

from Christel Snelson

2-3 chicken breasts, diced
Red potatoes
Carrots
Onion
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans rotel
1 box (or 3 cans) chicken broth
Velveeta cheese

Place chicken into a large stockpot to brown. Meanwhile, dice up red potatoes, carrots and onion (enough to fill your stock pot about 1/4 full). Once the chicken is cooked, add the veggies, soup, Rotel, chicken broth and bring to a boil. Then, simmer until veggies are cooked. Cube up some Velveeta, put in soup bowls, pour hot soup over cheese cubes and enjoy.

In the photo above, I didn't have Velveeta so I just used shredded cheese. It was yummy! It was a bit spicy, but most of the spice is in the broth. If feeding little kids, the chicken and veggies would be fine, but separate it from the broth.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Frozen Grape Mold

From Dorothy Richards

1/4 cup mayo
4 oz cream cheese
1 small can chunk pineapples, strained & juice reserved
2 cups mini marshmallows
2 cups red & green seedless grapes
1/2 pint whipping cream

Whip together mayo, cream cheese and 3 tablespoons pineapple juice. Slowly fold pineapples, marshmallows and grapes into cream cheese mixture with a spoon. In a separate bowl, whip cream until stiff and fold into the grape mixture. Use mayo as a grease in a round pan and freeze. Remove from freezer and allow to thaw part way before serving. Serve cold.

Chicken Tetrazzini

from Nancie Habben

8 oz package spaghetti, cooked and drained
3 tablespoons butter
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans pimento, chopped
2 cups chicken
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup milk
1/2 cup almond slivers

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium saucepan, saute pepper, onions and mushrooms in butter. Add soup, milk and pimentos and cook until heated through. Remove from heat and add spagetti, chicken, cheese, and almonds. Transfer to a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish and bake uncovered for 35 minutes or until bubbling.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sour Cream Enchiladas

2 cups cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz sour cream
2 cups cheese, divided
1 can diced green chilis
4 flour tortillas, soft taco size torn into strips

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine chicken, soup, sour cream, green chilis and 1 cup of cheese. Spray a 8x8 pan with non-stick spray and place a small layer of the chicken mixture on the bottom. Add a layer of tortilla strips and repeat layering (be sure to end with mixture on top, not tortillas). Top with a layer of cheese and bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes.

This can also be made in the crockpot following the same layering technique and cooking on low for 4 hours.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fried Rice

Adapted from allrecipes.com

1 tablespoons butter
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon oil
2 cups cold, cooked white rice
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
2 green onions, sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce

Heat butter in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in the egg; cook and stir until scrambled and firm. Remove from wok, and set aside.


Put oil in the wok and turn heat up to high. Stir in rice until each grain is coated with oil. Stir in carrots, peas and green onions. Reduce heat to medium, cover and allow to steam for 5 minutes. Stir in scrambled eggs and soy sauce, and cook until eggs are heated through.

This would also be really good with a variety of veggies and chicken or shrimp

Creamy Chicken Spaghetti

Adapted from allrecipes.com

1/2 package spaghetti or angel hair pasta
1 can Rotel tomatoes & green chilis
1 can condensed cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup cream cheese
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup shredded cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente; drain and return to pot.


To the pasta add the diced tomatoes with green chili peppers, soup, cream cheese, chopped chicken, salt and pepper. Cook and stir over low heat until cheese is melted and mixture is heated through.


I have made this with leftover pasta noodles and cooked chicken. Mixed all the ingredients together and baked covered for 30-45 mins (until warmed through) on 350.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Adapted from: allrecipes.com

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons brown sugar

4 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons white sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons chopped pecans or oatmeal

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups canned pumpkin
1/3 cup oil or unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease and flour 18 muffin cups, or use paper liners.
  2. To make the filling: In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until soft. Add egg, vanilla and brown sugar. Beat until smooth, then set aside.
  3. For the streusel topping: In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Add butter and cut it in with a fork until crumbly. Set aside.*I used oatmeal in place of pecans and just sprinkled a pinch on top of each muffin just before putting them in the oven.*
  4. For the muffin batter: In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pies spice, cinnamon and salt. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and add eggs, pumpkin, oil/applesauce and vanilla. Beat together until smooth.
  5. Place pumpkin mixture in muffin cups about 1/2 full. Then add one tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture right in the middle of the batter. Try to keep cream cheese from touching the paper cup. Sprinkle on the streusel topping.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees F (195 degrees C) for 20 to 25 minutes.
I could not get #5 to work for me, so I just put a small amount of batter and then layered the cream cheese mixture followed by batter and then the streusel.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Family Style Nachos

Tortilla Chips
Shredded Cheese

Topping ideas:
Chicken (cooked & cubed)
Black or refried beans
Onions and/or peppers
Olives

Preheat oven to 350. On a foil lined cookie sheet spread a layer of tortilla chips. Lightly top with a layer of cheese followed by desired nacho toppings. Add a 2nd thin layer of cheese to the top and place in the oven until cheese melts (about 5 mins). Serve with desired dips (salsa, guacamole, sour cream, etc).

We simply place the cookie sheet on a trivet in the middle of the table. Each person gets their own plate and grabs their own serving of nachos from the middle. This is a fun, easy crowd pleaser :)

Black Bean & Avocado Salsa

From: Leigh Ann Torres

1 can black beans, drained
8oz container of pico de gallo (in the grocery store produce section)
1 large avocado, chopped

In a large bowl combine all ingredients & enjoy.

This is awesome with chips, nachos and on tacos...so yummy!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

inspired by the Red Robin Whiskey River BBQ Chicken Burger

Chicken Breasts (boneless, skinless)
BBQ Sauce
Buns
Lettuce, shredded (optional)
Tomato (optional)
Cheddar Cheese, sliced (optional)
Mayo or Ranch Dressing
Crispy Onions/Onion Straws

Place frozen chicken breasts in crockpot and top with a bottle of BBQ sauce. Cook 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low. Using 2 forks, shred chicken about 20 minutes before serving.

Assemble sandwiches with desired ingredients.

The chicken can be cooked on a BBQ grill or cooked in the oven and then topped with BBQ sauce, but we have found that our favorite, most flavorful (and easy) way is in the crockpot. You can make this for as many as needed...we even made a HUGE batch in a roasting pan for the boys 1st birthday party.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Shelf Life?

What a great resource!

StillTasty.com

This site has comprehensive information about how long you can keep thousands of foods and beverages. Now, that's good info to have if you ask me :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Baked Flautas

Adapted from: Hungry Girl

Mexican Crock Pot Chicken (or any chicken & salsa mixture)
Shredded cheese
Flour tortillas (soft taco size)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying with nonstick spray, and set it aside.

Take one tortilla, spray both sides lightly with nonstick spray, and lay it flat on a clean dry surface. Spoon about 2 heaping tbsp. of filling onto the tortilla. Spread it evenly across the entire surface, sprinkle with cheese and roll tortilla up tightly, so that you have a cigar-shaped tube. Secure with toothpicks and place seam-side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.

Bake for 14 - 16 minutes, until crispy. Allow flautas to cool for 5 minutes. If you like, dunk in enchilada sauce, salsa, sour cream or our favorite...guacamole!

Dessert Tacos


Flour tortilla
Mini marshmallows
Chocolate and/or white chocolate chips

Lay tortilla flat on a microwavable plate. Place chocolate chips/and or white chocolate chips in the center of the tortilla. Add marshmallows and microwave for 30 seconds. Fold into taco shape and enjoy!

You can even add some graham crackers to help cure a s'mores craving :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chicken Parmesan

Breaded chicken breast
Spaghetti
Marinara sauce
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Parmesan cheese (if desired)

Cook chicken breast and spaghetti based on package instructions. Once the chicken is cooked, top it with marinara and mozzerella and place back in the oven until the cheese melts. Place spaghetti in a bowl and top with warm marinara. Place chicken on top of the spaghetti and top with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Chicken, Bacon, Avocado Sandwich

1 hamburger bun
Mayonnaise or ranch dressing
1 chicken breast, cooked
1 slice of swiss cheese
3 slices of bacon (we use turkey bacon)
1/4 avocado, sliced

Spread both side of the bun with mayo or ranch. On the bottom of the bun place cooked chicken, cheese, bacon and avocado followed by the top of the bun. Enjoy!

We use whole wheat buns and have used both grilled and breaded chicken. We usually use non-fat swiss and light ranch. These are delicious and easy!

Non-Fat Raspberry Frozen Yogurt

6oz fresh raspberries
2 cups non-fat yogurt
1 TBS vanilla extract
1/3 cup of Splenda

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour mixture through a strainer to remove seeds and place in an ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions (ours was 20 minutes in the mixer and 2+ hours in the freezer).

This a tart yogurt, not a sweet yogurt, but it is very yummy!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Vanilla Cookies

Adapted from: Allrecipes.com
Diabetes is very prevalent in both of our families, so I am always cautious of the amount of sugar my boys have. I have been looking for a low sugar treat for them, and while browsing the cookie aisle at the grocery store, I had the idea to try and make my own vanilla wafers. I found a recipe and then adapted it to contain much less sugar and whole wheat flour. The result is a good little cookie that the boys seem to enjoy. And, if I'm being honest, I have had a few too many of these little yummies myself!

1/2 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
1/2 cup sugar (I used slightly less than 1/2 cup)
1 egg
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

These cookies don't really spread much so you can place them pretty close together and if you want them flat, you will need to press them down before you put them in the oven.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Southwestern Egg Rolls

From: Hungry Girl
This is an awesome, healthy swap of the Southwestern Egg Rolls from Chili's.


3 La Tortilla Factory Smart & Delicious Low-Carb/Low-Fat Tortillas, Original (not Large - I find these near the deli in my grocery store)
1 oz. cooked skinless chicken breast; shredded
2 tbsp. canned black beans
2 tbsp. canned corn; drained
1 oz. Fat Free Jalapeno Jack cheese; shredded
1 tbsp. diced red chili pepper
3/4 cup frozen chopped spinach; thawed & thoroughly drained
Avocado Ranch Sauce

Preheat oven to 400. Combine chicken, beans, corn, cheese, chili pepper and spinach in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 30 seconds in the microwave. Warm tortillas in the microwave for 15 seconds. On a clean, flat surface, lay out tortillas side by side. Put 1/3 of the chicken-spinach mixture in the center of each of tortilla. To assemble each of the rolls, fold the left and right sides in (so none of the filling escapes during the cooking process), and then roll up from the bottom of the tortilla until you reach the top (so they resemble eggrolls). Place all 3 rolls (seams down) on a baking pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 12 minutes, flipping rolls over about halfway through cooking.

While the eggrolls are in the oven, prepare the avocado ranch sauce. Once the eggrolls are done baking, allow them to cool for a few minutes. Then cut each in half diagonally, arrange them beautifully on a plate, and serve with the dipping sauce.

MAKES 2 SERVINGS
WW points per serving (includes sauce) = 3

I have used a jalapeno in place of the red chili pepper with great success.

Avocado Ranch Sauce


1 tbsp. avocado
2 tbsp. fat-free sour cream
1/2 tsp. dry ranch dip mix
1 tbsp. diced tomato
dash pepper (or more, to taste)

Combine the sour cream, avocado, and Hidden Valley Dips Mix in a small bowl -- stir until smooth and blended. Season to taste with pepper. Top your dipping sauce with the tomatoes just before you serve!

Shown pictured with the Southwestern Egg Rolls...yummy!!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chipotle Restaurant Rice

Tastes just like the rice at Chipotle...so yummy!

1 teaspoon vegetable oil or butter

2/3 cup white basmati rice

1 lime (juice)

1-2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons fresh cilantro


1. In a 2-quart heavy saucepan, heat oil or butter over low heat, stirring occasionally until melted.

2. Add rice and lime juice, stir for 1 minute.

3. Add water and salt, bring to a full rolling boil. **The original recipe calls for 1 cup of water, but I have read reviews that people use 2 and it works well. I used 1 1/2 and I kind of think it could have gone either way. If you like your rice dryer, go with less water; more sticky, go with more.**

4. At boiling, cover, turn down to simmer over low heat until rice is tender and the water is absorbed, about 25 minutes.

5. Add in the cilantro and fluff rice with a fork.

SERVES 4

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Almond Bars


3 c. Bisquick mix
2 c. white sugar
3/4 c. butter, softened
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 T. almond extract
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. almond slivers

Combine Bisquick mix and sugar and then cut in margarine until mixture is crumbly. Add in beaten eggs and extracts; mix until combined. Press mixture into a jell roll pan or 9 x 13 inch pan. Sprinkle almond slivers on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 to 30 minutes, until lightly golden and a toothpick or knife come out clear in the center. Cut into squares before they cool completely.

The boys LOVE these...so, I tried to health-ify the recipe by cutting more than 1/2 of the sugar, adding 1 cup of applesauce, 2 cups of oatmeal, doubling the extracts and leaving off the almonds. The result was good, more like a crumbly cake than a bar, but tasty :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Swiss Mocha Cheesecake

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbs General Foods International Coffee Swiss Mocha powder
1 Tbs milk
1 graham cracker or chocolate crust

Beat cream cheese and sugar, add sour cream, coffee, and milk. Pour into pie crust and chill well.

This is the easiest cheesecake ever! I made it a lot in college and even non-coffee fans liked it. I always use the chocolate crust and even add some mini chocolate chips every now and then :)

Pizza Roll Ups

From: Lauren Villa

Crescent rolls
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Favorite pizza toppings
Marinara or pizza sauce

Roll up into crescent rolls—pepperoni, cheese, vegetables...whatever you like on pizza. Bake at 350 in oven until brown. Serve with a side of marinara sauce.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Easy Chicken Dinner

This is a very simple recipe that we have made many times. The basic ingredients are the same, but you can add a lot of variety by changing the marinade, spices or veggies you add to the mix. There are 2 ways to cook it, on the grill or in the oven. Clean up is easy and this delicious, filling dish is always a winner.

Chicken breasts, thawed (marinated if desired)
Potatoes, any variety, cubed
1/2 a large onion per chicken breast, cut into large chunks
Assorted veggies (carrots, bell pepper and celery all work well)
Marinade, salt and pepper or any other spices you desire

Non-stick aluminum foil (for gill only)
Oven bag (large size) & 2 tbs flour (for oven only)


Grill Directions:
To make individual serving packets on the grill, use non-stick aluminum foil. Cut off a descent piece of foil (make a square or larger) for each piece of chicken. In the center of the foil place potatoes, onion and veggies. Add the thawed chicken breast to the top and season as desired. If using marinade, pour a little of the marinade juice on the potatoes and veggies. Fold up foil to create a taco shaped packet folding the foil over where it meets to create a seam.

Cook on a barbecue for 25 minutes or until chicken in no longer pink inside. Remove from grill and place on a cookie sheet. Open each packet to vent and cool for a few minutes. Dump contents onto a plate and enjoy.

Make sure you allow for enough cooling. More than once we had plates pop and shatter due to the heat.

Oven Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In an oven bag (large size) shake 2 tbs of flour. Place the bag in 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Create a layer of potatoes, onion and veggies inside the bag on the bottom of the pan. If using a marinade, pour a little of the juice over the potatoes and veggies. On top of the potato and veggies layer, add chicken and spices as desired. Close the bad with a nylon tie and cut six 1/2-inch slits in the top of the bag for ventilation. Bake 55-60 minutes.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies


1 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
24+ coin sized peanut butter cup candies

Preheat oven to Bake at 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. Cream butter and peanut butter with both sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and blend well. Add in flour mixture to creamed mixture slowly. Place dough in rounded teaspoons (I use a small scoop) in lightly greased miniature muffin pans.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until puffed and light brown (do not over bake!). Remove from oven and press a candy cup into each cookie and press in firmly. Allow to cool and chocolate to set (usually in refrigerator).

These are sinfully delicious...SERIOUSLY!!

Red Velvet Cupcakes


24 gold or silver foil liners for cupcake pans (2 1/2 inch size)

1 package (18.25 oz) German chocolate cake mix with pudding
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 bottle (1 oz) red food coloring
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Cream cheese frosting
Red sugar sprinkles
Meringue Ribbons, Bows & More (if desired)

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake cups with foil liners and set aside.

Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix until well combined (making sure to stop and scrape the sides as you go). Spoon or scoop 1/3 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling them three quarters of the way full.

Place pan in oven and bake until cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed with your finger (about 16 to 20 minutes). Set pans on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan and place cupcakes on a wire rack to cool at least 15 minutes before frosting.

Prepare frosting. Place a heaping tablespoon of frosting on each cupcake and swirl to spread it out. Place sprinkles on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Roll each cupcake in sprinkles until fully covered.

If you are making these for a special occasion, add some meringue shapes to the top for a stunning presentation.

I made these for a friend's bridal shower and they were to die for! I added some meringue hearts and some bows and they were as adorable as they were tasty.

Cream Cheese Frosting


1 package (8 oz) reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tbs (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl and blend with an electric mixer until combined. Add sugar, a little at a time, on low speed until well incorporated. Add the vanilla and blend at medium speed until the frosting is fluffy, about 1 minute.

Meringue Ribbons, Bows & More


2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons powdered egg whites
3 tbs water, plus more for thinning
Gold, silver or white edible glitter

At least 3 hours before baking, prepare the meringue. Line 2 baking sheets with waxed paper and set them aside. Place sugar, powdered egg whites and 3 tablespoons of water in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is very stiff, about 5 minutes.

Spoon 1 cup of the mixture into a pastry bag with a #2 plain tip (I used a Ziploc bag with the corner carefully cut) and draw 24 outlines of your desired shape. For cupcakes, each shape should measure about 2 1/2 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches long.

Prepare the filling for the outlines by thinning the remaining meringue mixture with remaining water until it becomes the consistency of white school glue. Use either a toothpick or a small plastic knife to fill in the outlines, taking care to fill the corners.

While the icing is still wet, sprinkle edible glitter on each shape. Allow the meringue to dry for at least 3 hours before using.

I have made both bows and hearts. They were easier than I expected and really added a lot to my little cupcakes. They are delicate, so you do have to be pretty careful.

Eggs & Bread

This was a favorite of Seth's Grandpa Turner!

2 slices of white bread (or soft wheat)
4 eggs
Pepper

In a bowl, break bread into bite sized pieces and set aside. Cook all eggs over easy (see below) and add to the top of the bread. Use a fork to break up the egg and mix with the bread. Pepper to taste.

**To cook eggs over easy, get frying pan hot (non-stick works best). Use oil or butter/margarine and add to pan. When hot, crack egg into pan. Let egg set up, whites should be firm. Loosen egg, flip over and take off heat. Over easy means flip over, and cook shortly.**

Friday, July 10, 2009

Soda Float Swap

From: Hungry Girl

Cool Whip Free; frozen

1 can diet soda

1 flexy straw :)


Pour soda into a glass. Top off glass with a scoop of frozen fat-free Cool Whip. Insert straw and enjoy! TIP...about an hour before serving, put a glass mug in the freezer for a frosty float!


This is another base recipe you can make however you like. I have used diet orange soda and diet root beer. It's yummy and totally guilt free!!

Sack Lunch Ideas

This list is geared toward kid lunches, but many of these work well for a hubby's lunch as well :)
  • Use pita bread or tortilla wraps in place of traditional sandwich bread. In addition to typical lunch meats and cheese, you can also include extra “goodies” like lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, etc.
  • Make kabobs with ham or turkey, cheese, mushrooms, olives, pickles, tomatoes, and other assorted veggies.
  • Salsa and chips will definitely be more interesting than a bag of regular chips. Or try cut-up veggies with ranch dressing or pretzels and cheese sauce.
  • Jell-O is almost always a hit, especially when it has been molded into fun shapes with a cookie cutter. Don’t forget to include a plastic spoon in the lunchbox!
  • Crunchy granola sweetened with raisins and/or chocolate chips are a great alternative to high-fat snacks. I personally prefer to buy mine already made at Chamberlains or Whole Foods, but there is an easy recipe below if you want to make yours from scratch.
  • Pack extra snacks if your child is in an after-school program so they will be properly fueled for school and play. Drinks and food generally do not retain a chilled state past 3-5 hours, so make sure they are non-perishable.
  • Make boring sandwiches suddenly appear interesting by cutting them out with cookie cutters. Bake small pizzas in a square shape. Add sauce, cheese, green pepper strips for X's, and Pepperoni for O's. This can be put in a square, plastic sandwich container and served cold. Pasta salad is another option. Use fun-shaped and colored pasta, such as small shells, wagon wheels, or ABCs.
  • Healthy snacks are just as important as nutritious lunches, so avoid prepackaged treats like cookies and candy. Instead opt for pretzels, graham or whole-wheat crackers, yogurt, cheese, sesame breadsticks, trail mix, rice cakes, applesauce, or pudding.
  • Remember to always include a cold pack in your child’s lunch for their cold food/drinks to avoid contamination. Or freeze water bottles or juice boxes the night before (they will thaw out by lunch time). You can always send milk in your child’s lunch if they drink it, but never include soda!
  • Tuck fun treasures in their lunch box like a funky pencil or eraser; throw in some fun stickers; or write a special note or little card to just say “I’m thinking about you today!” You could even jot down a silly joke to brighten their day and they can share with their friends. Slip in a colorful napkin to celebrate a special day such as a birthday or holiday.
  • Lunch doesn’t always have to come in the form of sandwiches. Pack healthy appetizers and finger foods or a cold pasta dish.

Natural Cleaning Solutions

Vinegar is a great all-purpose cleaner, disinfectant and deodorizer. Mix one part vinegar with one part water in a spray bottle and use to clean countertops, appliances, glass, fixtures, mirrors and tile. You can also use 1/2 cup of vinegar as fabric softener (great for sensitive skin). For more vinegar uses go to: http://www.vinegartips.com/

Baking soda makes an excellent deodorizer. Sprinkle it on the carpet and let it sit for at least 20 minutes before vacuuming. Place an opened box in the refrigerator and freezer to absorb odors. Baking soda can also be used as a scouring powder and laundry booster. Keep a box near the stove to help put out a grease or electrical fire. For more ideas, check out Jill’s Secret Solutions at the Arm & Hammer site: http://www.armhammer.com/

Lemon juice is another good deodorizer and disinfectant. Add 3-4 teaspoons to the humidifier to get rid of unwelcome odors. Add a whole lemon peel to the garbage disposal to freshen up the drain and make the kitchen smell nice. Lemon juice can also be used to dissolve hard water deposits and soap scum. Combine lemon juice with vinegar or baking soda to form a cleaning paste for fixtures.

To polish furniture, mix two parts olive oil with one part lemon juice. Apply with a soft cloth and wipe dry. To remove water spots from wood furniture dab white toothpaste on the stain. Wipe and buff with a soft cloth after paste has dried.

To clean porcelain surfaces, sprinkle Cream of Tartar on a damp cloth and gently rub clean.

Use coarse salt to clean copper pots and pans. For tough stains rub in the salt with the cut half of a lemon.

Home Remedies


• Drinking two glasses of Gatorade can relieve headache pain almost immediately -- without the unpleasant side effects caused by traditional "pain relievers."

• Did you know that Colgate toothpaste makes an excellent salve for burns?

• Before you head to the drugstore for a high-priced inhaler filled with mysterious chemicals, try chewing on a couple of curiously strong Altoids peppermints. They'll clear up your stuffed nose.

• Achy muscles from a bout of the flu? Mix 1 tablespoon of horseradish in a cup of olive oil. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, then apply it as a massage oil for instant relief for aching muscles.

• Sore throat? Just mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with 1/4 cup of honey. Take 1 tablespoon of this concoction six times a day. The vinegar kills the bacteria.

• Cure urinary tract infections with Alka-Seltzer. Just dissolve two tablets in a glass of water and drink it at the onset of the symptoms. Alka-Seltzer begins eliminating urinary tract infections almost instantly -- even though the product was never been advertised for this use.

• Eliminate puffiness under your eyes..... All you need is a dab of preparation H, carefully rubbed into the skin, avoiding the eyes. The hemorrhoid ointment acts as a vasoconstrictor, relieving the swelling instantly.

• Honey remedy for skin blemishes: Cover the blemish with a dab of honey and place a band-aid over it. Honey kills the bacteria, keeps the skin, sterile, and speeds healing. Works overnight.

• Listerine therapy for toenail fungus: Get rid of unsightly toenail fungus by soaking your toes in Listerine mouthwash. The powerful antiseptic leaves your toenails looking healthy again.

• Easy eyeglass protection: To prevent the screws in eyeglasses from loosening, apply a small drop of Maybelline Crystal Clear nail polish to the threads of the screws before tightening them.

• Coca-Cola cure for rust: Forget those expensive rust removers. Just saturate an abrasive sponge with Coca Cola and scrub the rust stain. The phosphoric acid in the coke is what gets the job done.

• Cleaning liquid that doubles as bug killer: If menacing bees, wasps, hornets, or yellow jackets get in your home and you can't find the insecticide, try a spray of Formula 409. Insects drop to the ground instantly.

• Smart splinter remover: Pour a drop of Elmers Glue all over the splinter, let dry, and peel the dried glue off the skin. The splinter sticks to the dried glue.

• Hunt's tomato paste boil cure: Cover the boil with Hunt's tomato paste as a compress. The acids from the tomatoes soothes the pain and brings the boil to a head.

• Balm for broken blisters: To disinfect a broken blister, dab on a few drops of Listerine... a powerful antiseptic.

• Heinz vinegar to heal bruises: Soak a cotton ball in white vinegar and apply it to the bruise for 1 hour. The vinegar reduces the blueness and speeds up the healing process.

• Kills fleas instantly. Dawn dish washing liquid does the trick. Add a few drops to your dog's bath and shampoo the animal thoroughly. Rinse well to avoid skin irritations. Good-bye fleas.

• Rainy day cure for dog odor: Next time your dog comes in from the rain, simply wipe down the animal with Bounce or any dryer sheet, instantly making your dog smell springtime fresh.

• Eliminate ear mites: All it takes is a few drops of Wesson corn oil in your cat's ear. Massage it in, then clean with a cotton ball. Repeat daily for 3 days. The oil soothes the cat's skin, smothers the mites, and accelerates healing.

• Vaseline cure for hair balls: To prevent troublesome hair balls, apply a dollop of Vaseline petroleum jelly to your cat's nose. The cat will lick off the jelly, lubricating any hair in its stomach so it can pass easily through the digestive system.

• Quaker Oats for fast pain relief: It's not just for breakfast anymore! Mix 2 cups of Quaker Oats and 1 cup of water in a bowl and warm in the microwave for 1 minute, cool slightly, and apply the mixture to your hands for soothing relief from arthritis pain.

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