Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gingerbread & Caramel Almond Squares

I can't say enough about these gingerbread cookies. In the past I've always had hard, over spiced gingerbread cookies, but one day I found this recipe on kraftfoods.com and I've been making it every Christmas for the past five years! They are so soft and the flavor is delicious. I altered the recipe to make it into a drop cookie so I didn't have to spend the time to roll and cut, but I'll include both versions- the roll out and the drop. In the pic the gingerbread cookies are on top, I drizzles icing over them and sprinkled with red and green sugars.

Gingerbread Cookies

3.4 oz. box Instant Butterscotch pudding
14 Tbs. butter, softened (3/4 c. plus 2 Tbs. is what it ends up being)
3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbs. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl beat together the pudding, butter, and sugar until smooth. Stir in the egg. Add the baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and flour.
Bake for approximately 12 minutes.

*For roll out version change the butter to 3/4 c. and the flour to 2 c. After combining all ingredients, cover and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour until firm. On floured board, roll out dough to about a 1/4 inch thickness, cut and bake for approximately 10 minutes. Bake just until the middles of the cookies puff up. They should not be browned on the edges if you want chewy cookies.

Caramel Almond Squares

My mom found this recipe and I love it because it is so quick and they are SOOOO good!

1 bag pretzel squares (at our store they are Snyder's brand)
1 bag Rollo candies, unwrapped

Preheat oven to 350.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or aluminum foil. Place pretzels all over pan and add a Rollo on top of each one. Place in oven and cook for 3 minutes. Remove and press one almond down in the center of each candy. Let cool and harden. Delicious and highly addictive!

Fantasy Fudge

I love this recipe because it turns out great every time and it's pretty easy to make. I like adding pecans or walnuts to it.

3 c. sugar
3/4 c. margarine (not butter!)
5 oz. evaporated milk
1 pkg. semi sweet chocolate chips
1 7 oz. jar marshmallow cream
3/4 c. chopped nuts
1 tsp vanilla

Line an 8X8 pan with aluminum foil and grease, set aside.
Place chocolate and marshmallow cream in a large bowl, set aside.
In large sauce pan combine sugar, margarine, and milk. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat (not medium high, or high, just medium). Immediately turn your timer on for four minutes. Place your candy thermometer in the pan and cook until 234 degrees or for 4 minutes, whichever comes first. Immediately remove from heat and pour over marshmallow and chocolate. Stir until thoroughly combined. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Pour into pan and place in refrigerator until hardened, cut into 1" squares and serve!

Homemade Caramels

Yum, this is my favorite Christmas treat to make! It's soft and chewy and exactly what a caramel should be, I love them. They are fairly easy to make, you must have a candy thermometer though! :) Trust me, if you try to make them without one you will cry, pull your hair out, and have a Christmas baking mental breakdown (I know, it happened two years ago, and then I bought a candy thermometer and I've been good since!) Every Christmas these are the most requested, and the first to go.


2 c. heavy whipping cream
3/4 c. Karo light corn syrup (must be Karo, generic brands don't turn out as well)
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, sliced

Line an 8X8 inch pan with aluminum foil. Grease with butter, set aside.
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan (I use the largest one in my pan set)
Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat (not medium high or high, just medium, be patient this can take a little while)
Plop the candy thermometer in and cook until the mixture reaches 245 stirring frequently, remove IMMEDIATELY and pour into prepared pan. Let sit until hardened, I always just let it sit on the counter overnight.
When cooled and solid, remove from pan and cut into 1/2"-1" squares depending on how big you want them. Wrap in wax paper and they are ready to eat!
Now, if for some reason they did not turn out here are some helpful hints for the next time you make them:
If they are light in color and too soft, or if they stick to the wax paper, you did not cook them long enough.
If they are darker and hard you cooked them too long. You still may be able to use them if you put the pan in the oven for a few minutes to soften it up, and then you can cut them.
As long as you stir frequently and watch the temp they should turn out perfect!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Chicken Bell Pepper Chowder

This recipe came from Paula Deen and it is soooooo good! It's silky smooth and packed with chunky vegetables and chicken. I served this with sourdough bread slices brushed with olive oil and put under the broiler until they were lightly browned, so yummy! (Sourdough bread makes anything good though!) I know there are lots of ingredients, but is really worth the effort, from start to finish it took me about an hour to make this and it made lots of soup, a whole large stock pot full. I would say it would serve 6-7 adults. (My husband loves pepper, that's why the soup in the pic has pepper all over it!)

Chicken and Bell Pepper Chowder

1/4 c. olive oil
3 large carrots, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 sweet onions, cut into 1/2 inch dice
5 stalks celery, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 green bell peppers, sliced into strips
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp dried Thyme
1 Tbs. chicken bouillon granules
4 cans chicken broth
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
3 cups diced grilled chicken
1/2 c. butter
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp hot sauce, or more to taste
1 c. heavy cream

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the carrots onions, celery, garlic, peppers, salt, white pepper, cumin, and thyme. Saute for 7-8 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Stir in the the chicken bouillon. Add the chicken broth and cilantro, and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Stir in the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is heated through. In a skillet melt the butter and add the flour, stir for about 3 minutes, do not let brown! Ladle one cup of the soup mixture into the flour mixture, whisk to combine. Gradually add two more ladles full of soup. Pour back into soup pot and stir to combine, let cook for approximately 3-4 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and add hot sauce and heavy cream, serve hot with some good bread!

Cookie Exchange Party '08!

Happy Holidays Everyone! I am sorry it has been a couple of weeks since I posted anything, I have been so busy! Every year I have a cookie exchange party, and I look forward to it all year! I love cookies and I love to party! :) This year I made appetizers, and then we played some fun games, had an ornament exchange, and then got to take home 6 dozen cookies, Yum! Here are some of the recipes from the party:

Brie Bread Ring
I love this! It is so yummy and easy, it's a great holiday appetizer.

1 round of Brie cheese
2 tubes Pillsbury refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (not the flaky kind)
1/2 c. butter
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. fresh Thyme, finely chopped
2 Tbs. fresh Parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp dried Oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 350.
Scrape/cut the rind off of the top of the Brie (only the top, the side and bottom rind hold the melted cheese in!), set aside.
Cut buttermilk biscuits into quarters and place in large bowl.
In saute pan melt butter and olive oil, add herbs and garlic and saute one minute (do not brown garlic). Pour over rolls and toss to coat rolls thoroughly. This time I used a large square pan to bake this in, but in the past I've used a round pizza pan and formed a ring around the Brie with aluminum foil to keep the rolls together.
Place the Brie in the middle and layer the rolls around the Brie, try to only go two rolls high or it will take a long time for the bread to cook.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until rolls are browned and Brie is melted.
To serve you can either let your guests break off rolls and dip in cheese, or you can put a spoon in the cheese for them to put on their plates.

Holiday Cheese Ball
This is absolutely the best cheese ball I have ever had! My sister Becky gave this recipe to me last year, I love the combination of flavors. I'm sure you've all tasted some nasty cheese balls in your time, but I promise you will love this one! :)

12 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 Tbs. finely chopped onions
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c. coarsely chopped craisins
2 c. finely grated cheddar cheese
1 c. chopped pecans (I toast mine on the stovetop with a couple of teaspoons of sugar)

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add onions and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in craisins and cheddar cheese. Shape into a ball, roll in chopped pecans. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours. Serve with crackers or pretzel sticks.

Phyllo Wrapped Asparagus
I have to admit I've never worked with Phyllo dough before, so you won't be surprised that I accidentally bought Puff Pastry instead of Phyllo, Ugh! Thanks Emma for all of your help with this recipe!

8 asparagus spears
1/2 pkg. (16 oz) Phyllo dough sheets, thawed
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/4 c. finely grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375. Break off tough end of asparagus spears.
Cut Phyllo dough sheets in half lengthwise, (you'll only be using half the package). Place dampened cloth over Phyllo dough. Remove one piece at a time and brush with butter, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and place two asparagus spears at end. Roll up jelly roll style. Place on baking sheet seam side down. Brush with more butter and sprinkle with more parmesan cheese. Repeat with remaining asparagus. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden and crispy.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
This is a just a quick and easy Betty Crocker recipe that I love!

1 pouch Betty Crocker Peanut Butter cookie mix
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 Tbs. water
1 egg
1/2 c. Reeses Peanut Butter Chips

1 container vanilla frosting (not whipped)
1 Tbs. milk
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1/4 c. seedless raspberry or strawberry jam

Spray bottom of a 13X9 pan with cookie spray.
Combine cookie mix, vegetable oil, water, and egg, stir in peanut butter chips.
Press dough into bottom of pan using floured fingers. Bake 15-18 minutes until lightly browned. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

In small bowl stir frosting, milk, and peanut butter until smooth. Spread over base. Stir jam and drop by teaspoonfulls onto frosting. Swirl jam for a marbled design with tip of knife. Refrigerate for at least one hour, store in refrigerator.

Brownie "Trees"
I was really proud of myself for coming up with this idea! I used a large star tip to make the "tree" and a small star tip to make the "star".

1 Betty Crocker Fudge brownie mix
1 container vanilla frosting
green and yellow food coloring

Line 13X9 pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Prepare and bake brownie mix according to box directions. Let completely cool.
Remove from pan and using a small round biscuit cutter, cut the brownies into little circles. Pipe frosting on top to look like trees.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sweet Honey Pork Tenderloin

Here is another pork tenderloin recipe! If you buy them at Costco, you get two in a pack so I made this recipe tonight to use the other one. This is my favorite tenderloin recipe, it's sweet and a little spicy, so good!

Sweet Honey Pork Tenderloin

1 pork tenderloin
1/2 c. Catalina Dressing, divided
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
4 Tbs. honey

Brush 4 Tbs. dressing over the pork. Combine next five ingredients, pat over pork, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours (can go as long as overnight). Preheat grill to low heat. Place pork on grill, grill 12 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, combine remaining dressing and honey.
After cooking 12 minutes on each side, brush each side with honey mixture and grill an additional 5 minutes on each side.
Remove from grill and cover with aluminum foil, let sit for 5-10 minutes. Slice and serve!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pumpkin Pancakes w/Toasted Walnuts & Maple Syrup

Happy Fall Everyone! This is my favorite time of the year, if I didn't live in Arizona, it would be beautiful outside now, but I do, and it isn't. :)
I had some leftover pumpkin puree that I wanted to use up so I decided to experiment and alter my buttermilk pancake recipe into pumpkin pancakes. I thought they turned out really good and my family loved them. There are all sorts of fun ways to serve these, I wanted to do a cinnamon cream on top, but my cream got pushed to the back of the refrigerator and froze! So I toasted some walnuts (pecans would be good too) and stirred in some pure Maple syrup (I like grade B). If I were my mom, I would have made these into little pumpkin shaped pancakes (I have one of the cutest moms ever!). Anyway, I'm sure you can think of a topping that you will love too.

Pumpkin Pancakes

1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
4 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice (found in the spice aisle)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 c. buttermilk
1 Tbs. canola or vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 c. pumkin puree (from can)

Combine flour through cinnamon. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Make a well in the center and set aside.
Combine buttermilk through pumpkin in separate bowl, whisk to combine. Pour into well of dry ingredients. Stir gently until smooth.
Place large frying pan/skillet on stove top over medium low heat. Let warm up and then grease pan with butter (I like cooking my pancakes in butter instead of cooking spray). Drop batter by 1/4 cups onto skillet. Cook until edges look done and then flip. Makes nine 4 inch pancakes.

In a medium skillet over medium heat I poured in 1/2 c. walnuts. Toast for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add in maple syrup, stir immediately and keep stirring until no longer bubbly, pour over pancakes and serve!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Desserts!

If you're looking for a pumpkin dessert for Thanksgiving, but are tired of the traditional pumpkin pie, try one of these recipes! I normally don't post recipes without pictures, but I wanted to get these recipes out there before Thanksgiving. I'll come back after the holiday and add the picture in. The cheesecake is absolutely to die for! It is so good. The Pumpkin Marble Cake is also really good and a lot less time consuming than the cheesecake!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Walnut Crust
(needs to be made the night before)

6 Tbs. butter, softened
3 Tbs. brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
3/4 c. flour
1/4 c. finely ground walnuts
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

16 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 c. canned pumpkin puree
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 c. sour cream
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.
Lightly butter bottom of a 10 inch springform pan.
Beat butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and blend. Add flour, walnuts, and cinnamon and mix until just combined. Do not over mix!
Lightly flour fingertips and press the mixture onto the bottom of a cheesecake pan. Place in the oven and bake 15-20 minutes; set aside to cool. Lower oven temp to 275.
For filling, beat the cream cheese, brown sugar, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and egg yolk and beat well. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, and cloves and beat until smooth. Pour into the cooled crust and bake for 1 1/2 hours (90 mins).
Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes at room temp while you make the topping.
Increase the oven temp to 350.
For topping combine the sour cream, brown sugar, and vanilla in a bowl and spread evenly over the top of the warm cheesecake. Return to oven and bake 10 minutes more until topping seems set. Cool completely. Cover and chill overnight!

Pumpkin Marble Cake
Thank you Becky for this Recipe! You're awesome!

1 c. canned pumpkin puree
1 boxed yellow cake mix
4 eggs
3/4 c. sour cream
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. vegetable oil

Optional Glaze:
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs. milk
2 Tbs. cream cheese, softened

Preheat oven to 375. Grease and flour a bundt pan; set aside.
Combine cake mix, eggs, sour cream, sugar, water, and vegetable oil, beat for two minutes. Spoon 2 1/4 c. of batter into separate bowl and add pumpkin filling to this bowl, stir until combined. Alternately spoon two different batters into the bundt pan, beginning and ending with pumpkin batter. Bake for 40-45 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Do not overbake! (I would check it at 35 minutes just to be safe!) Let cool for 20 minutes and then invert onto serving plate. Let cool completely. Combine all glaze ingredients, it should be thick, but still runny enough to "fall" over cake, correct consistency with more powdered sugar or milk if needed.

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball

This is a fun variation from the traditional cheese ball and crackers! Every time I make this, I always get requests for the recipe. I love bringing it to parties. It tastes like cookie dough, and then you use Nilla wafer crackers and chocolate or honey graham cracker sticks to dip with, Yum!

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball

8 oz. cream cheese, must be softened!
1/2 c. butter, must be softened!
1/2 tsp vanilla (if using real vanilla I would only use 1/4 tsp)
1 1/4 c. powdered sugar
3 Tbs. brown sugar
1 bag mini chocolate chips (must be the mini size, regular do not work for this)
1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts or pecans
Cookies or sweet crackers to dip with

In medium bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add sugars; beat just until combined. Stir in 3/4 c. chocolate chips and 1/2 c. chopped nuts. Place on large piece of plastic wrap and form into a ball, wrap up and refrigerate for at least two hours so it can harden up a little bit. Just before serving, roll cheese ball in the remaining mini chocolate chips.

Baby Shower Goodies!

This is my good friend Ann, she is pregnant with Triplets! Doesn't she look great? She is only 24 weeks along! I made these treats for her baby shower and everyone loved them! It would be so fun to be a baby shower caterer! The chocolate cupcake recipe I posted in August, and the sugar cookie recipe was last month. I'll post the Chocolate Chip Cheeseball next....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chicken Parmesan

I love Chicken Parmesan! This is a pretty easy dish to make, the only bad thing about it is the clean-up time! For this dish you can either pound out 4 chicken breasts to make them thin, or for an easier solution (and cheaper!) you can just slice 2 chicken breasts in half. If you use a really sharp knife it is super easy.

Chicken Parmesan

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
or 2 chicken breasts, sliced in half
3/4 c. breadcrumbs
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 c. flour
3 egg whites
1/2 c. vegetable oil
4 slices mozzarella cheese

Combine breadcrumbs, parmesan, Italian seasoning, and black pepper in shallow pan, set aside. Place flour in another shallow pan, and egg white in another shallow pan.
I placed my oil in my largest saucepan over medium heat, that temp seemed to work well. Let oil heat up.
Preheat oven to 400.
Dredge chicken breasts through egg white, and then flour, egg white again, and finally Parmesan coating. Place in oil and cook for approximately three minutes on each side.
Place chicken on baking sheet and cover with mozzarella slices. Bake for approximately five minutes until cheese is melted. I like to serve over spaghetti.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Minestrone Soup

Can you tell I love soups? :) This minestrone soup has tons of veggies in it! You put in a lot, and then you let them cook and remove half of them with a slotted spoon, puree, and then add back into the soup. This is great because it makes the consistency more "chunky" like chili, and you can sneak in lots of veggies for the kids without them knowing it! (and me too, since I don't like a lot of veggies, sad, but true) I fed it to my 4 year old tonight and told him it was vegetable Macaroni and Cheese and he gobbled it up and even said, "This is good Mom!"

Minestrone Soup

4 Tbs. butter
3/4 c. chopped onion
32 oz. chicken broth (about 3 1/2 c.)
30 oz. frozen or canned mixed veggies
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 14.5oz. can stewed tomatoes, with liquid
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley (or 2 tsp dried) + 2 Tbs. for garnish
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp dried)
1 c. uncooked small shell pasta
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Place butter in large stock pot over medium heat, let melt, and then add onion. Saute for approximately 5 minutes, until onion is soft, stirring occasionally.
Add next five ingredients. Let come to a boil, and then turn heat down and cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove half (or more) of veggies with slotted spoon to a blender, puree, and then return to stock pot.
Add garlic powder, parsley, salt, pepper, and basil, let come to boil and then turn heat down again and simmer for 15 minutes. Add pasta and let cook 8-10 minutes or until pasta is done. Garnish with fresh parsley and parmesan cheese.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkin Struesel Bars

If you like pumpkin pie, you'll love these bars! It's kind of like pumpkin cheesecake sandwiched in between a yummy struesel mixture. It's a fun alternative to traditional pumpkin pie. I like it served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. My family loved it!

Pumpkin Struesel Bars

1 1/3 c. flour
1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 c. sugar, divided
3/4 c. cold butter
1 c. oatmeal
1/2 c. chopped pecans
8 oz. (1 pkg) cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 13X9 pan with non stick cooking spray, set aside.
Mix together flour, brown sugar, and 1/4 c. of the white sugar. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in oatmeal and pecans. Set aside one cup of struesel mixture, pour remaining into the 13X9 pan, press down firmly. Bake for 15 minutes.
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add remaining 1/2 c. sugar, eggs, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice. Pour onto crust.
Sprinkle with remaining struesel mixture.
Bake for 25 minutes, let cool and then place in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.
Cut into 24 bars.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sesame Pork Tenderloin

Pork tenderloin is my favorite thing to barbeque. It's almost fool proof, it always comes out super moist and flavorful. This is a new recipe I tried tonight for dinner and it was so good!

Sesame Pork Tenderloin

1 pork tenderloin (apprx. 1 lb)
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. sesame seeds, toasted (to toast place in shallow pan over medium heat and stir until light brown in color, this releases the oil in the seeds and makes them more flavorful.)

Remove pork tenderloin from bag, you will have two pieces. There is a thin, almost clear skin/membrane on part of the tenderloin. Pull it off.
Place pork in resealable gallon plastc bag. Add soy sauce, olive oil, ground ginger, and garlic cloves. Seal and marinate at least four hours or overnight (I did mine overnight)
Preheat grill, on my lowest heat my grill is about 375 and that temp works great.
Spray grill with non stick cooking spray. Place pork on grill. Cook for 12 minutes on each side.
While cooking combine honey and brown sugar.
After pork has cooked 12 min. on each side, brush honey mixture over top half of pork, sprinkle with sesame seeds. Turn over and brush remaining half with honey mixture and sprinkle with remaining sesame seeds. Grill 5 minutes on each side.
Remove pork and place on tin foil, bring foil up kind of like a tent so that the pork is covered. Let sit for 10 minutes. Slice and serve! This is great served with rice and garnished with green onions.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween Treat Ideas/Chocolate Frosting Recipe

Happy Halloween everyone! I thought I would put on a couple of the cute Halloween treats I made this year. I love these cupcakes, I think the little skeletons are so cute! I used a small round frosting tip to pipe on the body and black decorating gel for the face.
The little ghosts are super easy to make, I'm sure everyone has seen these before. These are just Nutter Butter cookies dipped in white chocolate (or white candy making bark, or homemade icing is what I used here) with little chocolate chips for the eyes. I'm going to give you my chocolate frosting recipe that I used on the cupcakes. This is so yummy on my Fabulous Fudge Chocolate Cake recipe I posted in August, it is to die for! :)

Chocolate Frosting

4 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. baking cocoa
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/3 c. boiling water
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk together sugar and cocoa. Slowly beat in butter, water, and vanilla. Frost immediately!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Slow Cooker Southwest Chili

I have been making this chili recipe for years, it's the best! It is so easy to put together, the taste is very mild so kids (and adults that don't like hot food) will love it too.

Southwest Chili

1 1/2 lb. ground beef, cooked and drained
2 cans tomato soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 can stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 pkg. Chili Seasoning (McCormick)
1 regular size can pinto beans
1/2 c. sliced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can corn, drained

Combine hamburger meat, soups, tomatoes, chili seasoning, and pinto beans. Turn slow cooker on low and let cook for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally if possible. 1 hour before serving add the onion, garlic, and corn. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, and corn chips. Makes enough for about 6-7 people. If you want it a little spicier, you can add 1/2 a bell pepper, sliced, when you add the onion, garlic, and corn.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

I altered my pumpkin bread recipe by adding in some buttermilk to make it lighter, it turned out great. This is a wonderful fall dessert, the flavors of pumpkin and maple together are delicious!

Pumpkin Cupcakes

3 c. sugar
1 15oz. can pumpkin puree
1 c. vegetable oil
2/3 c. water
4 eggs
3 1/2 c. flour
1 Tbs. cinnamon
1 Tbs. ground nutmeg
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350.
In medium bowl combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together and then set aside.
In large mixing bowl beat together sugar, pumpkin, oil, water, and eggs. Add half of flour mixture, beat until smooth. Add buttermilk, mix again, and then add remaining flour. Fill muffin tins 3/4 of the way full. Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean, do not overbake, it will ruin the cupcakes.

Makes approximately 36 cupcakes.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
6 Tbs. butter, softened
1/2 c. 100% pure Maple Syrup
5 c. powdered sugar

Beat together cream cheese and butter, add maple syrup. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time. I honestly can't remember how much powdered sugar I put it. Just add the 5 cups and then go from there if you need more.

Let cupcakes cool. I piped the frosting on and then sprinkled with cinnamon.

Festive Pumpkin Dip

This is a great dip for veggies, crackers, or chips. I make it as often as I can every fall, everyone loves it! It has a surprisingly good flavor to it, the first time I tried it I was thinking "Pumpkin dip? This might be weird" but it didn't taste how I expected it to. Try it and I know you'll love it. It looks pretty too.

Festive Pumpkin Dip

12 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. canned pumpkin
1 Tbs. taco seasoning mix
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/3 c. green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/3 c. red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 c. sliced olives

Beat cream cheese, pumpkin, taco seasoning, and garlic powder together for 1 minute until smooth. Stir in veggies. Refrigerate until ready to serve, a couple of hours at least.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

This is a great combination of a classic Caesar and a pasta salad. It tastes so fresh with the basil, green onions, and parsley, I love it! I used light dressing and whole wheat pasta to make it even healthier. I always get lots of compliments whenever I make this.

3 c. cooked al dente Penne Pasta
2 grilled boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced
2 c. shredded Romaine lettuce
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
1/4 c. chopped green onions
1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
Caesar (or Ranch works fine too) dressing to taste (my favorite is Girard's light Caesar dressing)
Parmesan cheese to sprinkle over when ready to serve

Combine all ingredients and chill for 1 hour. Enjoy!

Sugar Cookies

This is a basic roll out sugar cookie recipe. It's great because I always have these ingredients on hand and it takes hardly any time to put together! I grew up decorating sugar cookies every holiday, and now I enjoy doing it with my son, thanks mom for such a great tradition!

Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 c. butter, softened
2 c. white sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Beat butter and sugar together until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add in eggs and vanilla and beat until well incorporated. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Form a 2-3" circle with the dough and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour until firm (this makes it easy to roll out). Take about 1/3 of the dough and roll out to 1/4" thickness. Return the rest of the dough to refrigerator until ready to use. Cut out rolled dough with cookie cutters and bake at 400 for 6-8 minutes. Cookies should not be brown on the edges at all, take them out while they are still light in color. If you overbake they will be dry and crunchy!:)
Makes about 40 medium size cookies.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

So I'm convinced that any baked good with sour cream or buttermilk in it is going to be delicious! I made this coffee cake for brunch today and everyone loved it. It was super moist (yet still chewy, which I love). It was pretty easy too, and when you're done, it's going to look beautiful! Almost too good to eat (wait a minute, nothing ever looks too good to eat! :) My four year old chowed down on it.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Brown Sugar Filling:
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. finely chopped pecans
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Coffee Cake:
3 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs
2 1/2 c. sour cream

1 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs. milk

Heat oven to 350. Grease bottom and sides of a fluted tube (Bundt) cake pan.
In small bowl combine all filling ingredients, stir until combined and set aside.
In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
In large bowl beat sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs together for 2 minutes on medium speed. (Don't try to save time by only beating a little bit, there was a big difference in the batter after beating for two minutes) On low speed, beat 1/3 of flour mixture into batter. Beat in 1/3 of sour cream. Repeat adding flour and sour cream alternately until well blended.
Spread 1/3 of batter into bottom of pan. Sprinkle half of filling mixture over batter. Cover with another third of the batter, then the last half of the filling, and last third of the batter.
Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto plate. Let cool completely.
Beat together glaze ingredients, I added 1/2 tsp of cinnamon to glaze and it turned out great. The glaze should be thick, but still thin enough to "fall" over cake. Pour glaze over cake by spoonfulls, let set for at least 1/2 hour and serve!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Smothered Pork Chops

I've been making this recipe for a few years, it is so good. It's a great family meal because kids love it too. I usually have all of these ingredients on hand already, so it's a very inexpensive dinner.

Smothered Pork Chops

1 c. all purpose flour
2 Tbs. onion powder
2 Tbs garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4-6 pork chops (3/4 inch, bone in, boneless is okay too)
1/4 c. olive oil
1 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. buttermilk
Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley for garnish

Put the flour in a shallow platter and add the onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels to remove any moisture and then dredge them in the seasoned flour; shaking off the excess.

Heat a large saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat and coat with the oil. When the oil is nice and hot, lay the pork chops in the pan in a single layer and fry for 3 minutes on each side until golden brown (only one minute on each side if using thin cut chops). Remove the pork chops from the pan and add a little sprinkle of seasoned flour to the pan drippings. Mix the flour into the fat to dissolve and then pour in the chicken broth in. Let the liquid cook down for 5 minutes to reduce and thicken slightly. Stir in the buttermilk to make a creamy gravy and return the pork chops to the pan, covering them with the sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes (3 minutes for thin cut chops) until the pork is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Corn Chowder

I love, love, love, this soup! It tastes just like Mimi's Cafe Corn Chowder, it is so good, especially on a cold day. You can use potato flakes or pearls in place of the cubed potato, tonight I added potato pearls from my food storage and it worked out great. This recipe is pretty quick and easy, there are only a few ingredients to prep. I would highly recommend making my breadstick recipe (posted earlier this year) to go along with this, they are so good dipped in the soup!

Corn Chowder

4 Tbs. butter
3/4 c. onion, chopped
1 c. celery, diced
2 1/2 c. hot water
2 c. potatoes, peeled and cubed OR 2 c. potato flakes/pearls and an additional 2 c. water
4 c. frozen corn
2 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste (I like lots of pepper!)
3 Tbs. flour
1 quart 1/2 and 1/2

In large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and celery, saute for 5 minutes.
Add hot water, potatoes, corn, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer for approximately 30 minutes, only 15 minutes if using potato flakes.

Whisk the flour into 1 c. of the half and half. Add to soup. Add remaining half and half. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes. I like mine pretty thick, you can correct the consistency with more potato flakes, or more water if it is too thick.

This soup freezes well, just add more water when reheating it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

No Bake Cookies

Hey everyone! I know these look like little piles of poo, but they're actually cookies! And yummy ones too. So for those of you who have known me since middle school (Mara!) you know that I used to make these all of the time. Every Sunday in fact, and my mom would get so mad when I would use all of the oatmeal! My four year old loves helping me with these.

No Bake Cookies

1/2 c. butter, sliced
1/2 c. milk
2 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking cocoa
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 c. Quick oatmeal

Place butter in medium saucepan on medium heat, when melted add in milk and stir. Add sugar and baking cocoa, whisk together and turn heat up to high. Let come to a rolling boil and turn the timer on for 1 minute (very important it only boils one minute!) Continue stirring. When minute is up remove from heat and add peanut butter and vanilla, stir until smooth. Stir in oatmeal. Let sit 2 minutes to let the oatmeal soak up some liquid, then drop by spoonfulls onto wax, or tin foil lined plates. Place in freezer or refrigerator until hard and cool, about 1/2 hour. Makes about 24 cookies.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Banana Nut Muffins

I had my heart set on making my Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread today, but my husband requested Banana Nut Muffins instead, so, because I love him so much, I acquiesced and made the muffins. I got this recipe from Tyler Florence (Food Network). I made half of the batch plain banana nut, and the other half I added chocolate chips. It is now 10:45 at night and I am eating both of them, yes, I am sacrificing my waistline for the sake of this blog :) Yum, these are really good, really moist, just like mini banana breads. Next time I will definitely sprinkle extra chopped pecans on top. I think I like it without chocolate better, but if you want to add chocolate, try mini chocolate chips instead of the regular size. Thank you Tyler Florence!

Banana Nut Muffins

2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 overripe bananas
1 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c. pecans, chopped
3/4 c. mini chocolate chips, Optional

Preheat oven to 375 and lightly butter, or place muffin papers, in 2 muffins tins.
In large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together like you mean it, for about 3 minutes. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Mix in the dry ingredients just until combined. Stir in the pecans and chocolate chips. Spoon about 1/4 c. batter into each muffin cup, filling it up about 2/3 of the way. Give them a tap on the counter to get any air bubbles out. Bake until a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean, 15-18 minutes. Serve warm with butter or at room temp. Makes 24 muffins.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Easy Chimichangas

Thanks Carolyn for this great recipe! These chimichangas are so easy to make, and I usually have everything on hand already so it's a great meal to make when I'm in a hurry to get dinner on the table! If you wrap them individually in aluminum foil, they also freeze well. Just reheat in the microwave. I usually don't like canned chicken, but it works out great with this recipe and you can't even tell the difference.

Easy Oven Bake Chimichangas

3/4 c. salsa
3/4 c. sour cream
2 cans chicken (I buy it from Costco), or 1 1/2 c. shredded, cooked chicken breasts
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
3 c. shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese.
2 Tbs. butter, melted
10-12 flour tortillas

Combine salsa, sour cream, chicken, cumin, chili powder, and 1 cup of cheese in a large bowl, stir until thoroughly combined. Place filling into the middle of each tortilla, sprinkle 1 c. of cheese over filling and roll up tortillas. Brush with butter, and sprinkle remaining cheese over tortillas (if you can't tell, I like them really cheesy). Bake at 400 for approximately 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Fabulous Fudge Chocolate Cupcakes

So I'm finally putting cupcakes on my blog! Yay! This is what I named my blog after. This recipe is awesome! I found it on allrecipes.com. It is a dense, chewy, chocolatey cake recipe. I try to get away with making this at every family birthday party (except for my husband's, he likes yellow cake, whatever Ben!) My mom loves German chocolate cake, so I used this recipe and just made a homemade german chocolate cake frosting with coconut to go on top. This time I made my son these cupcakes for his "Pirate" Birthday party. Once you make this, you won't want to make another boxed chocolate cake mix!
This recipe will make 36 cupcakes, or 1 13X9 cake.

Fabulous Fudge Chocolate Cupcakes

2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz. semi sweet baking chocolate
3/4 c. chocolate chips
1 c. sour cream
1 c. boiling water

Preheat oven to 350.
Place baking chocolate in a plastic bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, return to microwave for additional 30 seconds, stir. Add chocolate chips and stir. Microwave for additional 20 seconds and stir until chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in bowl. Set aside.
In large bowl beat butter and sugar for 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beat in vanilla and melted chocolate. Add 1/2 the sour cream, beat, and then add 1/2 flour mixture. Repeat with remaining sour cream and flour mixture. Stir in boiling water.
Pour in greased or lined muffin tins, or greased cake pan.
For cupcakes bake approximately 15 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE, that is the worst thing you can do to a cake recipe! Makes about 36 cupcakes.
For 13X9 cake, bake approximately 25-30 minutes.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. You can add anything you want to it, I've done Reese's Peanut Butter chips and chocolate chips, white chocolate and milk chocolate chips, coconut and chocolate chunks. Try anything you want! The cookies turn out even better if you refrigerate the dough so it's firm and cold. That way the cookies turn out crispy on the edges and soft and chewy in the middle.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2 c. butter, softened
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
1 1/4 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbs. vanilla
3 3/4 c. flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 pkg chocolate chips, or anything else you want to put in!
1/3 c. finely chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350. Beat butter until smooth. Add sugars and beat for 3 minutes until light in color. Add eggs and vanilla, beat until combined. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir until dough forms. Add in chocolate chips and walnuts, stir until well incorporated. You can now bake for 10-13 minutes, or you can put the dough in the refrigerator overnight and bake the next day. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Inside Out Chicken Pot Pie

This is one of my favorite dinners. It's quick and really good. There's not a lot of chopping vegetables because I use frozen peas and carrots. You can use any type of roll for the base, but I prefer the Pillsbury Grand Flaky Layers biscuits.

Inside Out Chicken Pot Pie

1/3 c. butter
3/4 c. celery, chopped
1/3 c. flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 3/4 c. chicken broth
2/3 c. milk
2 c. cooked and cubed chicken
1 c. frozen peas and carrots
1 pkg. Grands flaky layers biscuits

Cook biscuits according to package directions. Meanwhile in saucepan melt butter. Add celery and saute for 2 minutes. Add flour and whisk until it's incorporated. Continue to stir for another minute, until golden and bubbly. Whisk in broth, milk, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders. Bring to a boil, stirring gently. Add chicken and frozen peas and carrots. Turn heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes until heated through. Correct consistency with more chicken broth or flour if needed. Split biscuits in half and spoon filling mixture over top to serve.

Pizza Rolls

So this is my husband and 14 year old brother's favorite thing that I make. It's like a cinnamon roll with pizza filling and you serve it with warmed pizza sauce, Yum! I usually make homemade bread dough, but you can also use the frozen Rhode's bread dough or Pillsbury refrigerated Pizza crust to save time. These also freeze well, just microwave to reheat!

Pizza Rolls

16 oz. sausage
4 oz. pepperoni
3 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 loaves frozen Rhode's bread dough, thawed
or 2 Pillsbury pizza crusts, or 1 recipe white sandwich bread (on this blog)
Pizza sauce for dipping

Cook sausage in skillet, drain and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, chop pepperoni by hand or with food processor. Combine sausage, pepperoni, cheese, Italian seasoning, and pepper. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll out into large rectangle, about 1/4" thick. Spread half of sausage mixture over dough. Press down on filling, and then starting at the bottom, roll up like you would cinnamon rolls. Pinch end tightly. Cut into 2" slices and place on baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. Makes about 20 rolls.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cinnamon Rolls

I love cinnamon rolls, I hope you enjoy this recipe! Today I tried a little something different and I zested and juiced one medium orange. I added most of the zest and the juice to the dough, and I put the remaining zest in the cream cheese frosting. It turned out really good, I think I'll do it every time. When you add the juice (about 1/4 cup), subtract 1/4 c. water from the recipe so you don't have to add more flour.

Cinnamon Rolls (actually this is my breadstick recipe I posted in May, just made into cinnamon rolls)

2 pkgs. (or 4 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
1/2 c. sugar, divided
2 c. warm water (between 105 and 110 degrees, or lukewarm)
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp salt
4 1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. butter, softened
Cinnamon and sugar
Brown sugar

Cream Cheese Frosting:
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbs. butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 c. powdered sugar

In large mixing bowl, or KitchenAid, dissolve yeast and 1 Tbs. of sugar in 1 c. of the warm water(105-110 degrees). Let sit for 5 minutes.
Add the oil, egg, remaining sugar, 2 c. of flour, and salt, beat until smooth. Slowly add the remaining flour until a soft dough forms, knead for 6 minutes.
Place in greased bowl, turning once to coat. Cover and let rise 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350.
Punch down dough and lay out on floured surface. Fold dough over on itself like an envelope. Roll out to a rectangle, dough should be about 1/4 inch thick.
Brush butter over dough. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar and brown sugar over top, be generous! Starting at one end, roll up dough. Cut into 2 inch slices. Place in a greased 13 X9 pan.
Cover and let rise 45 minutes.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until light golden brown.

For frosting, beat together cream cheese and butter. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Add enough milk to make it the consistency you want.