Thursday, December 31, 2009

Caramel Cereal Snack Mix

This is super yummy and addictive! A new family favorite!

-Taste of Home

8 cups Corn Pops cereal
1 cup salted peanuts
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

In a large bowl, combine cereal and peanuts; set aside. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Mine came to about 165 degrees)

Remove from the heat. Stir in vanilla and baking soda (mixture will foam). Immediately pour over cereal mixture and toss to coat.

Spread into two greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pans (I used my roasting pan). Bake at 250° for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks. Store in airtight containers. Yield: 14 cups.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fruit Turkeys

It's a little late to use this idea for Thanksgiving, but these turkeys still provide a fun way to get some healthy fruit into little bodies!

-Family Fun?

Mini Marshmallows
Chocolate Chips

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Perky Olive Penguins

How cute are these?! I come from an olive-loving family, and family functions wouldn't be the same without kids and their olive-topped fingers. We don't often have olives at our house, since Paige and I are the only ones that like them, but I recently came across this cute appetizer recipe, and she and I had a fun time today making them together!

I swapped out the horseradish and seasonings for some ranch dip mix, and recommend drying the pimentos with a paper towel before trying to assemble the penguins.

-Adapted from Taste of Home

Jumbo pitted olives, drained
1 package (3 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp. powdered ranch dressing mix
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/4 inch slices
Small pitted olives, drained
12 toothpicks with cellophane frilled tops
1 jar (2 oz) sliced pimentos

Cut a slit from the top to bottom of 12 jumbo olives; set aside. In a bowl, combine the next six ingredients; mix well. Fill a small heavy-duty plastic bag with cream cheese mixture. Cut a small hole in the corner of the bag; carefully pipe mixture into jumbo olives. Set aside.

Cut a small triangle out of each carrot slice; press triangles into small olives for a beak. On a each notched carrot slice, position a jumbo olive so the white chest is lined up with the notch. Place the small olive, hole side down, over the jumbo olive so the beak, chest and feet are aligned. Carefully insert a toothpick through the top of head into body and carrot base. Wrap a pimiento around neck for a scarf. Yield: 1 dozen.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Layered Holiday Jigglers

Have you ever made Jello pinwheels? They were my culinary masterpieces in middle school! :) These festive jigglers are my own spin off of the pinwheel recipe and reminiscent of my mom's layered jello. My kids love these!

1 (6 oz.) pkg lime Jello (or flavor/color of choice)
1 cup warm water
3 cups mini marshmallows
1 (6 oz.) pkg cherry Jello (or flavor/color of choice)
1 cup boiling water

Lightly spray 11x17 or 9x13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Mix lime Jello and 1 cup warm water in 2 quart micro-waveable bowl. Microwave on high 1 1/2 minutes. Stir to dissolve completely. Add marshmallows to Jello. Microwave 1 more minute or until marshmallows are almost melted. Stir until completely melted and mixture is smooth (creamy layer will float to top).Pour into prepared pan. Refrigerate 45 minute or until set.

After lime layer has set, mix cherry Jello and 1 cup boiling water, and stir to dissolve completely. Gently pour of over lime/marshmallow layers. Chill until set and cut out shapes with cookie cutters.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cherry & Orange Filled Cookies

I wanted to do something different for the recipe/cookie exchange last week, so I decided to do some experimenting and came up with this variation on my Grandma's raisin-filled cookies.

1 cup dried cherries, ground (I use my food processor)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. orange zest

In a saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch together, then add cherries, orange juice, water and zest. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer and stir until thickened and is the consistency of a soft jam. Remove from heat and cool.

SUGAR COOKIES (Mom Pulsipher):
1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 Tbsp. cream
2 tsp. vanilla
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4 1/2 cups flour

Cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs, cream, and vanilla. Mix well. Add dry ingredients. Roll dough out to about 1/8" and cut into circles the size cookie you want, using a slightly larger-sized circle for the top (2 1/8" for bottom and 2 3/8" for top). Place approximately 1 Tablespoon of filling in the center of each cookie and top with the larger circle. Seal around the edges with the tines of a fork. Cut a slit in the top to let the steam escape. Bake at 350 until light brown, 11-12 minutes depending on the size of your cookies. Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Fluffy Fruit Dip

Fruit has all it's own yummy sweetness, but special functions often necessitate some additional goodness!

1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 (8 oz) container Cool Whip, thawed
1 small jar Marshmallow Fluff
1/8 tsp lemon extract (or flavor of choice)

Beat cream cheese and Marshmallow Fluff until smooth, fold in Cool Whip and lemon extract.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Caramel Brownies

I love brownies - thick and chewy ones. Add in caramel and chocolate chips and you've got major delicious. This recipe uses a cake mix, so they are quick and easy too! Ours took a long time to cool and even longer for the caramel to set. Make these several hours in advance to allow for cooling time.

14 oz package Kraft caramels (about 50) or 1 bag of Caramel Bits (found them at Walmart)
2/3 C evaporated milk, divided
1 box of German Chocolate cake mix (I used Triple Chocolate Fudge - yum)
3/4 C butter, melted
1 C semi sweet chocolate chips ( I used 3/4 cup)
1 C chopped nuts, optional

Over medium low heat, melt 1/3 C evaporated milk and caramels in a saucepan (or melt in microwave). Grease a 9 x 13 pan. Mix cake mix, butter, 1/3 C evaporated milk and nuts (optional). Mix together well. Press 1/2 of the dough into bottom of pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 6 minutes.

Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top and spread caramel on top of that. Sprinkle remaining dough on top (will not completely cover) Bake 15-18 minutes. Can refrigerate to set caramel.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Three-chip Cookies

The real name for these cookies is 'Five-chip Cookies', but I usually only have three on hand and my family thought they were delicious with that combination! This recipe is a tasty blend of chocolate chip, peanut butter and oatmeal cookies.

-Adapted from Taste of Home, Sharon Hedstrom

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup each semisweet chocolate chips, vanilla chips and butterscotch chips

In a large bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, oats, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 1 minute before removing to wire racks. Yield: 4-1/2 dozen.

(3 1/2 dozen, 13 min at 325 on a dark pan+silpat)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Garlic Roast Chicken

I was really pleased with my first attempt at a roast chicken. I've roasted many turkeys, but for some silly reason I've always been intimidated by roast chicken. The garlic really gave a nice flavor to the chicken, but I can't say that I really noticed the lemon. Next time I'd add more potatoes and carrots.

-Ina Garten

1 (5 to 6-pound) roasting chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 heads garlic, cut in 1/2 crosswise
1 lemon, halved
1/2 large Spanish onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut diagonally into 2-inch chunks (+)
2 large Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 6 pieces (+)
4 tablespoons butter, melted

As soon as you get the chicken home, salt it inside and out, wrap it and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. (I didn't do this.)

When you are ready to cook the chicken, first preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken and stuff the cavity with the all the garlic and lemon. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place it in a roasting pan just large enough to hold it and the vegetables. Scatter the onion slices, carrots and potatoes around the chicken. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours (I covered the chicken with foil after 45 minutes), or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil. Place the vegetables back in the oven and continue cooking for an additional 15 minutes. (Only if needed)

When the vegetables are cooked, carve the chicken and place the slices on the platter surrounded by the vegetables. Drizzle some pan juices over the chicken and vegetables.

Pineapple Upside-down Cupcakes

The kids and I enjoyed making these cupcakes for our Family Home Evening treat. Larger tins would be best so you don't get a large peak on the cake. A yummy take on a classic dessert, with kid-friendly instructions.

-Family Fun, August 2009

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar, tightly packed
6 maraschino cherries
1 (20-ounce) can pineapple rings

1. Heat the oven to 350º. Place the butter and milk for the batter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Warm the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts, then transfer the mixture to a small bowl to cool.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the pineapple topping. Into each cup of a 12-cup muffin pan, add 1/2 tablespoon of unmelted butter, then evenly sprinkle 1 tablespoon of brown sugar over the bottom. Place the pan in the oven until the butter melts, about 3 minutes.

3. Halve each maraschino cherry, then cut the pineapple rings into quarters. Place a cherry half, sliced side up, in the center of each cup and lay a pineapple quarter on each side. Press the fruit gently down into the butter-sugar mixture, then set the prepared pan aside.

4. Finish making the batter. In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir the ingredients with a fork until they're evenly blended. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir until the flour is fully incorporated. Add the milk-butter mixture and stir well to combine the ingredients into a smooth batter.

5. Pour the batter into the muffin pan, dividing it evenly among all the cups. Bake the cupcakes until they're lightly browned, dry around the edges, and pulling away from the pan a little, about 25 minutes.

6. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 5 minutes. Use a butter knife to carefully loosen each cupcake from the edges and bottom of the pan, then place a cookie sheet over the top. Invert the pan, turning the cupcakes out onto the cookie sheet, then transfer them back to the rack to cool completely. Serve the cupcakes at room temperature. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chewy Granola Bars

My aunt Beth was here last week and shared this recipe with us - thanks Beth! We made ours with blanched, slivered almonds and dried cherries - delicious and healthy! They remind me of the Nature Valley chewy granola bars.

-From Joyful Abode

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Gather your ingredients:
2 cups oats (we used old fashioned)
3/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup peanuts, crushed (blanched, slivered almonds)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 Tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Kosher salt (1/4 tsp. table salt)
Approximately 8 oz. dried fruit (we used about 2 cups dried cherries)

Mix the peanuts, oats, wheat germ, and sunflower seeds in a baking dish with sides (9x13 cake pan). Toast them in the oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes so that they don’t get burned.

Meanwhile, prepare a glass baking dish, about 11 x 13 inches, for your granola by lining it with waxed paper lightly sprayed with a nonstick spray. (We used a 9x13 pan lined with parchment)

Put the brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt into a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.

By now, your grains and nuts should be toasted, so mix everything together in a large bowl. The grains, the liquid “glue,” and the dried fruit.

Mix everything really well because you want to make sure the “glue” gets all over everything. Now, dump your granola mixture into your prepared baking dish.

Spread out the mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula. Now fold over the sides of the waxed paper or add a sheet on top, and PRESS HARD all over the granola. You want to compact it together so that your bars won’t fall apart when you cut them.

Wait 2-3 hours or until the granola has totally cooled. Then, open the waxed paper and carefully turn the granola onto a large cutting board, peeling away the rest of the paper. Now, firmly pressing down with a big knife (not sawing), cut your granola into whatever size bars you’d like.

I wrapped ours individually in plastic wrap, so that we could just throw one into our bag or lunch box in the morning. If you’d like to save on packaging though, you can store yours in an airtight container, between sheets of waxed paper so they don’t stick together.

(We put ours in snack-sized baggies.)

Butterfinger Cookies

A chewy peanut butter cookie studded with chunks of Butterfinger - yummy!

-Taste of Home, Carol Kitchens

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 egg whites
1-1/4 cups chunky peanut butter (we used creamy)
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 Butterfinger candy bars (2.1 oz each), chopped (we used 4)

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg whites. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in candy bars.

Shape into 1-1/2 in. balls and place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. removed to wire racks to cool.

(I made larger cookies and got 2 1/2 dozen, baked on silpat on dark pan (325) for 14 minutes.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Neapolitan Krispie Treats

These are yummy and fun twist on the original Krispie Treats. I made a few changes to the recipe I found in the Taste of Home magazine -they were a big hit!

Vanilla Layer
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 package (10 oz.) mini marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
Chocolate Layer
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 package (10 oz.) mini marshmallows
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
6 cups Cocoa Krispies cereal

For the Strawberry Layer  
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 package (10 oz.) strawberry flavored marshmallows*
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
*if you can't find strawberry marshmallows, use a package of regular marshmallows, ½ tsp. imitation strawberry flavoring and 2-3 drops of red food coloring

Spray a straight-sided 9x13 pan with non-stick spray and line with parchment  (or use Demarle Flexiflat with steel frame).
Vanilla Layer: microwave the butter in a large bowl (or Demarle large round mold) for 30 seconds. Add the marshmallows and stir. Return to microwave for 1 minute. Stir to combine marshmallows and butter and then stir in Rice Krispies. Pour into prepared pan and press firmly with rubber spatula. Wash out your bowl (or mold) and proceed to the Chocolate Layer.
Chocolate Layer: microwave the butter in a large bowl (or Demarle large round mold) for 30 seconds. Add the marshmallows and chocolate chips and stir. Return to microwave for 1 minute. Stir to combine marshmallows, chocolate chips and butter and then stir in Cocoa Krispies. Pour on top of vanilla layer and press firmly with rubber spatula. Wash out your bowl (or mold) and proceed to the Strawberry Layer.
Strawberry Layer: microwave the butter in a large bowl (or Demarle large round mold) for 30 seconds. Add the marshmallows and stir. Return to microwave for 1 minute. (If using extract and food coloring, add this now). Stir to combine marshmallows and butter and then stir in Rice Krispies. Pour on top of chocolate layer and press firmly with rubber spatula. Place in refrigerator to firm up.

When the treats have cooled completely, remove them from the pan. Place them on a cutting board. Discard the parchment and cut the large rectangle into slices. Then cut each large slice into smaller squares. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rice Krispie Treats

Here's the classic Rice Krispie treat - more for my reference than anything. I think there might be two different versions, the one from the Rice Krispie box that uses more cereal, and the one from the marshmallow bag that uses more marshmallows (the one I prefer) :).

1/4 cup butter
1 pkg large marshmallows - Kraft
6 cups Rice Krispies

Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.

Mix in Rice Krispies. Stir until well coated.

Spread the mixture using a buttered spatula or waxed paper evenly into a 9x13 pan coated with cooking spray.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Three Meat Stromboli

This was a huge hit! I used my own white bread recipe (used 1/2 dough for one large stromboli and made a loaf of bread with the rest) and just approximated the other ingredients for 1.5 lbs bread dough. I forgot I had used all of our pepperoni for a pizza last week, so I just had salami and ham - it was still delicious. Kids say this is on the top three favorite dinners list.
-Taste of Home, Jude Mulvey

4 loaves (1 pound each) frozen bread dough, thawed (or homemade white bread dough)
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli salami
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli ham
1/2 pound thinly sliced pepperoni
1/2 pound thinly sliced provolone cheese
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon pepper
1 egg yolk, beaten + 1 tsp. water

Let dough rise until doubled, according to package directions.

Punch down. Roll each loaf into a 15-in. x 12-in. rectangle (or larger if using more dough). Arrange a fourth of the salami, ham, pepperoni and provolone cheese over each rectangle. Sprinkle each with a fourth of the mozzarella cheese, Romano cheese, garlic powder, oregano, parsley and pepper.

Roll up each rectangle jelly-roll style, beginning with a long side. Seal seams and ends. Place seam side down on two greased baking sheets (or line with parchment). Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese. Bake at 375° for 25-30 (35) minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve warm. (Serve with marinara sauce) Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 4 loaves (8 slices each).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stacked Burrito Pie

Another reason I love Family Fun Magazine - yummy family-friendly recipes! This is a Mexican take on lasagna and was easy to serve in pie-like wedges after being baked in a springform pan.

-Family Fun, August 2009

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 pound lean ground beef
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
4 (10-inch) flour tortillas
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup salsa
8 ounces Cheddar or Monterey Jack, grated

1. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and sauté another minute.

2. Increase the heat to medium, then add the ground beef, chili powder, and cumin. Cook the mixture until the beef is browned and no longer pink, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Add the salt, water, black beans, and corn, and bring the mixture to a boil. Allow it to continue boiling, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes.

3. Heat the oven to 350°. Using the rim of a 9-inch springform pan as a template, trim 3 of the tortillas to the size of the pan. Leave the fourth tortilla untrimmed. Note: You can also bake this dish in a 9-inch round cake pan and serve it like a lasagna.

4. Butter the bottom and the sides of the pan. Press the untrimmed tortilla evenly into the pan's bottom. Spread 2 tablespoons of the sour cream over the tortilla, followed by 1/4 cup of the salsa. Spoon and spread a quarter of the beef mixture over the salsa, then sprinkle a quarter of the grated cheese evenly over the top.

5. Place one of the trimmed tortillas on top of the cheese, then repeat the layering of the sour cream, salsa, beef, and cheese. Continue this way until the ingredients and tortillas are used up. You should end up with four layers, topped with the final sprinkling of cheese.

6. Bake the pie until heated through, about 30 minutes. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes, then remove the rim from the springform pan, if you used one. Slice the pie into wedges using a sharp knife.

Baked Chicken Taquitos

I've been meaning to try this recipe for quite awhile and wasn't disappointed! They were a tad spicy for the kids, but that could be easily remedied by using a more mild salsa.

-My Kitchen Cafe

Makes 14-16 taquitos

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup green salsa
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 green onion, sliced finely (white and green parts to equal about 2 tablespoons)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I cook large batches of chicken in my crockpot with a little chicken broth and salt, shred it and freeze it for meals like this)
1 cup grated monterey jack cheese (use pepperjack if you like a little heat)
small yellow or white corn tortillas
kosher salt
cooking spray

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.In a medium-sized bowl, mix softened cream cheese, green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder. Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions. Add chicken and cheese and combine well.You can prepare this step ahead of time (which I did - I made it the morning of). Just keep the mixture in the fridge.

Working with a few tortillas at a time, place 3-4 between two damp paper towels and microwave for 30-45 seconds, until tortillas are soft and pliable and don't crack while rolling. Place 2-3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture on the lower third of a soft tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges. Then roll it up as tight as you can. (A few of mine wanted to rebel and come unrolled so I stuck a toothpick through them to keep them right and tight.)

Place filled taquitos seam side down on the baking sheet, making sure they don't touch each other. When ready to bake, spray the tops lightly with cooking spray or an oil mister and lightly sprinkle some kosher (coarse) salt on top.

Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown. Serve immediately. Taquitos can be dipped in in salsa, sour cream, guacamole, or any other combination you can dream up (my kids liked ranch dressing - go figure).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunny Morning Doughnuts

These are easy and delicious cake-style doughnuts. I made the dough Saturday night and then we fried them this morning for a yummy Sunday breakfast. The recipe calls for a dusting of powdered sugar, but I made a glaze of powdered sugar, milk and orange extract. The doughnut holes were everyone's favorites. I halved the recipe and it made more than enough to fill our family. The extras actually improved during the day and made yummy snacking treats!

-Taste of Home, Sherry Flaquel

Full recipe:
4-1/2 - 5 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 Tbsp. orange juice
4 tsp. grated orange peel
Oil for deep-fat frying
Confectioner's sugar (or glaze using powdered sugar, milk, orange extract)

In a large bowl, combine 4-1/2 cups flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. combine the eggs, milk, oil, orange juice and peel; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Overnight)

Turn onto a floured surface, roll to 1/2-in. thickness. Cut with a floured 2-1/2-in. doughnut cutter. In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 375. Fry doughnuts, a few at a time, until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Dust with confectioners' sugar (or dip in glaze).

Crisp Crust Pizza

I have made my fair share of homemade pizzas - as you can see by the well-used pizza stone pictured above. However; I was always missing the perfect crisp crust. Either the crust was soft all the way through, or it was crisp all the way through and tasted more like a cracker - not really what I like in a pizza. I have been studying several bread books, mostly trying to learn how to make a great baguette. This recipe comes from the Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. For the sauce we used 6-and-1 tomatoes - they make all the difference! Saying that this got rave reviews would be an understatement - we all loved it!

Personal notes: Best flavor if the dough is refrigerated for 24 hours. Remove it from the fridge, and start process 1 1/2 hours before you want to eat.

1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp. King Arthur Italian-style or All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp. instant yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup water, room temp (70-90 degrees)
olive oil

1 - One hour before shaping (or for best flavor development, 8-24 hrs ahead), mix the dough. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, instant yeast, and sugar. Whisk in the salt (this keeps the yeast from coming into direct contact with the yeast, which would kill it). Make a well in the center and pour in the water. Using a rubber spatula or woden spoon, gradually stir in the four into the water until all the flour is moistened and a dough just begins to form, about 20 seconds. It should come away from the bowl but still stick to it a little, and be a little rough looking, not silky smooth. Do not overmix, as this wil cause the dough to become stickier.

2-Let the dough rise. Oil bottom and sides of a 4-cup bowl (to give the dough room to double in size). Place dough in bowl and turn to coat all sides with oil. Cover it tightly. If you want to use it soon, allow it to sit at room temperature for 1 hour or until doubled. For best flavor development, make the dough at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours ahead, and allow it to sit at room temperature for only 30 minutes or until slightly puffy. Then set the dough, still in the bowl, in the refrigerator. Remove it 1 hour before you want to put it in the oven.

3-Prepare the sauce. (We used 6-in-1 tomatoes, 2 tsp. finely shredded fresh basil, 1 tsp. dried oregano, salt to taste. This makes enough for 3-4 pizzas.)

4-Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 475 1 hour before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking sone on it before preheating.

5-Shape the pizza and let it rise. With oiled fingers, lift the dough out of the bowl. (I shaped our pizza on a piece of parchment). Press down with your fingers to deflate it gently. Shape it into a smooth round by tucking under the edges. if there are any holes, knead it very lighty until smooth. Allow the dough to sit for 15 minutes, covered, to relax it.

Using your fingertips, press the dough from the center to the outer edge to stretch it into a 15-inch circle, leaving the outer 1/2" thicker than the rest to form a lip. If the dough resists stretching, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for a few minues longer before proceeding. Brush the surface of the dough with any remaining olive oil. Cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to sit for 30-45 minutes, until it becomes light and slightly puffy with air.

6- Bake the pizza. Set the pizza pan directly on the hot stone and bake for 5 minutes. (I transfered the dough + parchment to the stone with a flat baking sheet)

7-Add the toppings. Remove the pizza & parchment from the oven and spread the tomato sauce on the dough, leaving a narrow border. Add shredded mozzarella. Top with additional toppings - we used ham and pepperoni. (I removed the parchment and put the pizza directly on the pizza stone using the flat baking sheet.) Bake for 5-10 minutes more or until cheese is melted and the crust golden.

8-Serve the pizza. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board and cut with a pizza wheel, sharp knife, or scissors.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Piggie Cookies

I saw these on a magazine cover while trying to usher my children out of Home Depot. I believe it was a Taste of Home booklet, but I'm not sure. Super cute!

Tint your sugar cookie dough and frosting pink.
Use 2 1/2" biscuit or cookie cutter.
Mini chocolate chips for eyes.
Halve a large marshmallow for snout and cut small holes for nostrils.
Butterscotch chips for nostrils
Cut corners off strawberry wafer cookies for ears.

Sugar Cookie Tip

I think I originally saw this on Martha Stewart and it has revolutionized my sugar cookie making. Roll your dough directly on a Silpat. Cut your shapes, keeping in mind space for spreading. Remove excess and transfer Silpat to baking pan and bake as normal. No more smashed and distorted shapes!

Quick Cobbler

I can't believe I haven't posted this recipe. It's one of my favorites and comes from my mom, via my aunt from a Pinetop Ward cookbook. I recently tried a new recipe from a Relief Society pamphlet I got from our Stake at BYU and it was also delicious. The batter is essentially the same, but I'll include both here.

Quick Peach Cobbler
- Pinetop Ward

While preheating oven to 375.
Melt 1 stick of margarine in 8-inch square baking dish. (If you prefer a thin crust, use a 9x13 pan).

Meanwhile mix together:
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Mix until batter is smooth. Remove pan from oven after margarine has melted. Evenly pour batter mixture into the pan.

Add: 1 large can sliced peaches (28 oz - juice and all) * 1 qt. home-canned peaches are best
Sprinkle with: 1/4 cup sugar and some cinnamon over the top.

Bake until crust is golden brown and cooked thoroughly - about 45 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Fruit Cobbler
-BYU 6th Stake

Heat together:
2 cups fruit (I used a whole package of frozen mixed berries 3 cups)
3 tsp. margarine or butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder

Pour the batter into a buttered 3-quart casserole dish, or a 9x13 baking pan. Top with the heated fruit mixture. Bake 350 degrees, 35-45 minutes. (Fruit will be very runny, but will thicken upon cooling).

Picasso Pops

These pops are super fun and easy! The kids and I did a test run before Paige's birthday party and they were a big hit. Make sure you leave room for spreading and the sticks.

-Better Homes and Gardens

Hard candies - we used lifesavers
Lollipop sticks

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil; set aside. Leave some candies whole. To coarsely crush some hard candies, place some in a large heavy resealable plastic bag. Place bag on a cutting board. Use a meat mallet or rolling pin to crush candies into small chunks.

2. Arrange the crushed candies and whole candies 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick on the prepared baking sheet in varying shapes and sizes. Or, fill the inside of a metal cookie cutter with crushed candies for a more defined shape; carefully lift cutter from baking sheet before baking. Or arrange whole pieces of candy in varying designs and shapes. Make only three or four lollipops at a time; space them at least 2 inches apart on the baking sheet to allow room to insert the sticks after they bake.

3. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until candies completely melt. Remove from oven and immediately attach a stick to the base of each shape, twisting the stick to cover the end with melted candy. If desired, press additional small decorative candies into the hot lollipops. Cool completely on the foil. When the lollipops are cool, peel off the foil. Makes 8 to 10 lollipops.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Petite Sticky Buns

I love my Taste of Home magazine! This recipe comes from the May 2009 issue. I've had lots of sticky buns before, but loved the ease of making these in muffin tins. Right out of the oven, these are light and airy and I liked the addition of maple flavoring to the sugar mixture. This makes 24 and I only had muffin tins for 18, so mine had a little more 'bun' than they are supposed to, but they were a big hit and perfect for our Sunday breakfast.

-Taste of Home, Lisa Naugle

3 to 3-¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 pkg. active dry yeast (2 ½ tsp)
1 tsp. salt
1 ¼ cups milk
¼ cup butter, cubed
1 egg

1 cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup butter, cubed
¾ cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. maple flavoring

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter to 120°-130°. Add to dry ingredients; beat just until moistened. Add egg; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough (dough will be sticky). Do not knead. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.

In a small saucepan over low heat, cook topping ingredients until butter is melted. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into 24 well-greased muffin cups.

Stir dough down. Fill greased muffin cups half-full. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Place muffin cups on foil-lined baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. (Remember if you have dark pans to reduce temperature 25°.) Cool for 2 minutes before inverting onto baking sheets. Transfer to serving platters. Serve warm.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Flower Cup Quiche

How cute are these?! These particular flowers have a quiche filling, but I think it would also be great to make a sweet version using lemon pie filling.

I didn't have any sugar snap peas or celery, so I just cut leaves out of some romaine lettuce with my kitchen shears.

-Fairies Cookbook, via Gourmet Mom on-the-go

Filling Ingredients:
1/4 c. grated parmesean cheese
1/4 c. grated cheese, any flavor (we used a cheddar blend)
3 eggs
2 T. light sour cream
2 T. fat free half & half (or milk)
dash salt & pepper, to taste
any other finely chopped ingredients you want (ham, peppers, sausage, onion, mushrooms, whatever)

Other Ingredients:
1 package refrigerated piecrusts (2 in a pack)
4 Cherry tomatoes, sliced
Sugar Snap Peas or celery, for stems
Flower Cookie Cutter (My Wilton flower cookie cutter worked great)

Preheat oven to 375. In a medium bowl, mix all filling ingredients. Set aside. Spray nonstick cooking spray on a mini-muffin pan. Unroll piecrusts and use cookie cutter to cut flowers.

Gently press flowers into mini-muffin pan, leaving some space between each one. Fill with about 1 T. filling mixture. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes, until crust is lightly browned and filling is set.

Let cool slightly, remove from pan and garnish with a slice of cherry tomato and sugar snap peas for the stem/leaves.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cheese Sauce over Cauliflower

For some people, comfort food is mac & cheese or fried chicken. For me, nothing makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside like a good meatloaf served with cheese sauce over cauliflower and a fresh garden salad. Brandon was not too crazy about this one making the food blog, but I looove this - maybe you will too.

-Mom Pulsipher

1 large head cauliflower
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1-1/2 to 2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp. white pepper

Cut cauliflower florets and steam until tender. Salt lightly.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add flour and stir until blended. Slowly whisk in milk and continue whisking until thickened. Add cheese and stir until melted. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

Place cauliflower in serving dish and top with cheese sauce.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ritz Mints

I saw these demonstrated on The Martha Stewart show a long time ago and finally got around to making them. My kids helped me make these for our Family Home Evening treat - super easy and delicious!

1-1/2 sleeves Ritz Crackers
1 package mint chocolate candy wafers (You can get these at Michaels, Hobby Lobby, etc)

Melt chocolate using instructions on package. Dip cracker in chocolate to coat thoroughly. Let cool on waxed paper.

Watermelon Sugar Cookies

I have to thank my sister-in-law Kapri who showed me these super cute sugar cookies. We loved them! I didn't add enough green food coloring, so the 'rinds' were a little light, but still cute.

-Homemaking Fun

Sugar cookie dough, tinted green
Red frosting
Mini chocolate chips for seeds

Thursday, July 16, 2009

General Tso's Chicken

This one's a keeper. The chicken has a light breading and the sauce is very flavorful; a great mix of sweet and spicy. It was perfect for me, a little too spicy for the kids and Brandon added Sriracha - adjust the pepper flakes to fit the tastes of your family.

- Everyday Food, October 2008

1 1/4 cups long-grain brown rice (I prefer Basmati)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise
4 garlic cloves, sliced (minced)
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated and peeled
3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 large egg whites
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower

Cook rice according to package instructions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water until smooth. Add snow peas, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, and red-pepper flakes; toss to combine, and set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together egg whites, remaining 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken, and toss to coat.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Lift half the chicken from egg-white mixture (shaking off excess), and add to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining oil and chicken, and set aside (reserve skillet).

Add snow-pea mixture to skillet. Cover; cook until snow peas are tender and sauce has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet (with any juices); toss to coat. Serve with rice.

Spaghetti Carbonara

I tried this recipe the other night and it was a big hit. I recommend preparing and measuring all of your ingredients beforehand since this comes together quickly. Be careful with the egg/cream mixture - you don't want scrambled eggs! Best served immediately.

-Taste of Home Cookbook

8 oz. uncooked spaghetti
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup half-and-half cream
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup frozen peas
8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled (I just cut the bacon in small pieces before frying)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
Additional Parmesan cheese, optional

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the cornstarch, eggs and cream until smooth; set aside.

In a large skillet, saute onion and garlic in oil until tender. Gradually stir onion mixture into egg mixture. Add peas to hot skillet; cook and stir for 1 minute or until heated through. Pour egg mixture into skillet all at once, stirring constantly. (I use a rubber-coated whisk)

Cook and stir over medium-low heat until mixture is just thick enough to coat a metal spoon with a thin film and a thermometer reads 160 degrees, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Drain pasta; transfer to a large bowl. Pour sauce over pasta; toss to coat. Sprinkle with the bacon, cheese, salt and white pepper; toss. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.

Serves 5

Monday, June 29, 2009

Apple Frogs

Another winner from the Family Fun magazine!

Green apples
Green grapes
Cream cheese or frosting for 'glue'
Mini marshmallows

Sunday, June 28, 2009

S'more Brownies

I can't think about s'mores without remembering the line from The Sandlot "You wanna s'more? Some more of what?" I haven't got anything yet" Classic...

I've seen several different variations of this concept, but this particular recipe comes from Real Mom Kichen. They are certainly delicious, but make sure you have a glass of milk close!

Note: My mom made these for us while we were in AZ and put the graham crackers on the top after the brownies baked. I preferred them this way since the graham crackers stayed crisp, but then again, we were in AZ and there was no humidity. :)

8-10 graham crackers
1 box fudge brownie mix (Betty Crocker; 1/4 c. water, 2/3 c. oil, 2 eggs)
3 cups miniature marshmallows
2/3 cup chopped peanuts (optional, I used almonds)
1 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips (semi-sweet)

Place graham crackers in a single layer on the bottom of a foil-lined and greased 9x13 pan. A couple of the graham crackers will need to be cut to fit and cover the bottom of the pan. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions, then pour the batter over the graham crackers. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and top with the marshmallows and chocolate chips. Return the pan to the oven for 3 more minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with nuts inf desired. Cool before cutting into squares.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook

If you like cheesecake, you really should purchase this book. Brandon bought it about 6 months ago and has been trying a different cheesecake each month - poor me! :)
My mom was here over Father's day and helped me tackle the Carrot Cake Cheesecake. It takes a lot of time to make, but it's worth it!

Slamma Jamma Parmigiana

Chicken Parmigiana is always Brandon's first choice when we go out to eat at an Italian restaurant. We saw Guy Fieri make his version on Food Network a couple months ago and Brandon made it his choice for Father's Day dinner. I must say it was pretty tasty! I didn't make the tomato sauce that goes with this recipe, but I'm including it so I remember to try it next time.

4 (5-ounce) boneless, skinless, trimmed chicken breasts
1/2 cup kosher salt (if you use table salt, reduce to 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano ( 1/2 tsp.)
1/4 teaspoon dried basil (1/2 tsp.)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced (note, freshly grated mozz melts and looks better)
1/4 pound Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for garnish, grated
Olive oil, for frying (about 2 cups) (I don't think I used this much)
1 pound penne rigate, cooked al dente
Tomato Sauce, recipe follows
1/4 cup minced Italian parsley, for garnish

Lightly pound the chicken breasts to 1/2-inch thickness. Combine the kosher salt, sugar, and 1 quart of water in a 1-gallon size resealable plastic bag; shake until dissolved. Add the chicken breasts and soak at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Place the flour in a medium bowl. Remove the chicken from the brine. Shake off excess moisture and, with tongs, lightly dredge the chicken in the flour. Shake off the excess flour and transfer to a large plate.

Mix the eggs and milk in medium bowl and whisk thoroughly. In a separate bowl combine the bread crumbs, oregano, basil, parsley, sea salt, and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the egg and milk mixture with tongs and let excess mixture drain off. Now dredge the chicken into the bread crumb mixture, and lightly pat down in the bread crumbs to adhere.

Preheat the broiler.

Let the breaded chicken sit for 5 minutes before frying. In a medium saucepan on medium-high heat, add enough olive oil to come 1/3 up the side of the chicken. Cook the chicken in batches until golden brown on both sides. Remove from the pan when cooked and place on a sheet tray. Repeat with remaining chicken.

When all the chicken is cooked, sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan evenly over the top. Place under the broiler until the cheese melts and is golden brown.

Serve chicken over pasta and ladle tomato sauce on top. Garnish with additional Parmesan and parsley.

Tomato Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
6 cups peeled and diced Roma tomatoes
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until almost brown, then add tomatoes. Saute for 30 minutes over low to medium heat. Add the basil and oregano and continue to cook for 30 minutes longer. Puree in a food mill or let cool and puree in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Chicken Tikka Masala

While I was in college I was privileged to work with a group of very ethnically diverse IBM contractors. During those years I got to try and grew to love foods from all over the world, including Indian. Although the spices in this dish are very strong, the cream sauce adds a nice balance. This recipe comes from Pioneer Woman/Pastor Ryan. YUM!

The full recipe could easily serve 6 adults

3-4 Chicken Breasts
Ground Coriander
1/2 cup plain yogurt
6 Tbsp. Butter
1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 large onion (1/2 large)
4 cloves garlic (2-3)
2 in. chunk fresh ginger
(1 tsp. minced from jar)
3 Tbsp. Garam Masala (I used McCormick)
Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp. Sugar
2 Cups Basmati Rice

Fresh Cilantro
Serrano Pepper
1 Tbsp. Turmeric (1 1/2 tsp)
Frozen Peas (1/2 cup or so)

Start by seasoning the chicken breasts with some Kosher salt. Next sprinkle them on both sides with some coriander and cumin. Then coat the chicken breasts completely with the plain yogurt. Set the chicken on a metal cooling rack over a foil-lined baking sheet and place it about 10-12 inches below a broiler for 5-7 minutes per side. Watch carefully so as not to totally char the chicken. It should have slightly blackened edges. Remove from oven.

Next dice one large onion. In a large skillet melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat. Toss in the onions and sautee until they are slightly browned. As the onions cook, mince your garlic.

Next cut off the outer skin and mince or grate a 1 by 2 inch chunk of fresh ginger. Add the garlic and ginger to the onions. Also throw in about 1 Tbsp. of salt (this was quite salty, even using kosher salt 1 1/2 tsp would be enough).
Next you are going to add about 3 Tbsp. Garam Masala spice. And if you like it hot this is also where you will add your hot chili peppers. Serranos work well. Now you are going to add your can of diced tomatoes. Continue cooking and stirring, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze it.

To a rice cooker, add 2 cups Basmati rice, 4 Tbsp. butter, 1 tsp. salt, 1 Tbsp. (1 1/2 - 2 tsp) Ground Turmeric and 4 cups water. Cover, turn on your rice cooker and walk away. If you do not have a rice cooker, cook your rice as usual but make sure that you use Basmati rice.

After the Tikki Masala sauce has had a chance to simmer for a little bit, add in the 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream. Now, chop up your chicken breasts into chunks and stir them into the Tikki Masala sauce. A handful of chopped fresh cilantro is a nice addition if you like cilantro. You can also throw some frozen peas into the cooked rice, give them a stir, and allow the heat of the rice to cook the peas. It tastes great and gives another nice dash of color.

Serve the rice with the Chicken Tikka Masala over the top. Make sure to have some Naan bread handy too.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Chocolate Cake and Frosting

I usually don't like cake; there are only a few exceptions and this cake is one of them. This recipe comes from a fabulous cook and is the best recipe for chocolate cake you'll ever find - promise! We especially love this cake with a layer of Junior's cheesecake in the middle (dubbed The Diet Killer)- definitely rich, but oh so delicious - perfect for a special occasion!

-Thomalee Abraham

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans (line with waxed paper for extra insurance!). Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large mixer bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed of electric mixer 2 minutes. Stir in water (batter will be thin). Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Frost when completely cool.

Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk if needed. Stir in vanilla. Makes about 2 cups frosting.

Penne with Pesto & Summer Squash

There's nothing like using homegrown herbs and vegetables to make summery meals. The kids were a little skeptical of the new 'green sauce', but it ended up being a hit with the whole family.

8 oz penne pasta
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 zucchini squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 yellow squash, halved lengthiwise and sliced
Pesto sauce

Boil pasta. Saute chicken in olive oil, add squash and cook until tender. Add drained pasta and pesto sauce. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Top with additional Parmesan.

Pesto sauce- Taste of Home:
4 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 tsp. salt
2 garlic gloves, peeled

Combine all ingredients in food processor except olive oil. Start processor and slowly stream in oil. Process until smooth.

Zucchini Bread

Our first garden is doing well and I'm pleased to report we have an abundant supply of yellow squash and zucchini. Austin has become somewhat of a picky eater lately and won't touch sauteed or steamed squash, but he likes this bread - as long as I remember to call it "Z" bread instead of zucchini bread!

-Mom Pulsipher (Grandma Carling)

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup oil
2 cups grated zucchini
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Beat sugars, eggs, oil, and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, sift flour, salt, soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Add to sugar mixture, stirring just until combined. Stir in zucchini and nuts. Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 325 for 50-60 minutes.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Italian Cream Sodas

I've always enjoyed Italian Cream Sodas - so I requested them for my Mother's Day Dinner. Mmmm...

For each soda:
2-4 Tbsp. Torani flavored syrup (buy this at World Market - we used strawberry)
2 Tbsp. cream, or ice cream :)
8 oz. sparkling water

Pour syrup in the bottom of your glass, add cream/ice cream, top with sparkling water and stir.

Banana Colada Sundaes

Easy and delicious! Think cinnamon roll meets banana split. The original recipe had too much cinnamon and it was overpowering, so I decreased it - adjustment is included in the recipe below.

-Taste of Home, Kristin Kossak
Serves 8

6 Tbsp. butter, cubed
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 medium bananas
1/2 tsp. rum extract (imitation)
3 pints vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup flaked coconut, toasted

In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, organge juice and cinnamon. Cook and stir over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until sauce is smooth. Stir in bananas; heat through. Remove from the heat; stir in extract.

Serve warm over ice cream. Sprinkle with coconut.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Creamed Corn

I love creamed corn - especially with mashed potatoes. It's one of those comfort foods from my childhood. I've been wanting to try this recipe for awhile now, but wanted to use fresh corn instead of frozen, and have been patiently waiting for fresh corn to make an appearance at the grocery store. It's still a little early in the season, but keep this one handy for your summer BBQs!

4 ears corn, shucked
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. white pepper (regular will work too)
2 Tbsp. melted butter
2 Tbsp. flour

Cook corn in boiling water for approximately 5 minutes. Cool slightly and cut corn off ears. Combine corn, cream, milk, salt, sugar and pepper on stove top. Simmer 5 minutes. Blend butter and flour together in a small bowl; add to corn to thicken. Mix well. Remove from heat.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Skillet Lasagna

This is a quick and easy alternative to a traditional lasagna. It's also great when you don't want to turn on your oven and heat up your house! I didn't have any lasagna noodles, so I substituted some rotini and it worked just as well.

-The Best 30-Minute Recipe by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated.

1 pound meatloaf mix (OR use 1/2 pound EACH lean ground beef and pork)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 ounces curly-edged regular (do not use no-boil) lasagna noodles (8 noodles), broken into 2-inch pieces (or 2 cups rotini pasta)
1 (26-ounce) jar tomato sauce, such as marinara (about 3 cups) (Prego)
2 cups water
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Ground black pepper
3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese (cottage cheese)
1/4 cup minced fresh basil

Cook meat in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat, breaking it into pieces with a wooden spoon until fat renders, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain meat and return it to skillet. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Sprinkle broken noodles into skillet, then pour in tomato sauce and water over top (you may need to add extra water if noodles are especially dry). Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to maintain vigorous simmer, until noodles are tender, about 20 minutes.

Off heat, stir in half of mozzarella and half of Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Dot heaping tablespoons of ricotta over noodles, then sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and let stand off heat until cheeses melt, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil before serving.

Makes 4 servings

SKILLET LASAGNA WITH SAUSAGE AND RED BELL PEPPER: Substitute 1 pound hot OR sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, for meatloaf mix. Add 1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped fine, to skillet with sausage.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Here's another great way to use your over-ripe bananas. The cinnamon adds an interesting touch to these moist and chocolaty muffins!

-Thomalee Abraham

2 extra ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup butter or margarine
1 tsp. vanilla
2 ¼ cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ cup chocolate chips (I used mini)

Mash bananas well with fork or potato masher. In a bowl, beat mashed bananas, eggs, sugar, butter, and vanilla until well blended. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips after adding flour mixture to banana mixture. Mix until all blended. Spoon into well greased muffin cups. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Baked Berry French Toast

This is a delicious make-ahead breakfast great for the weekend. It will easily feed 8 people.

-Mary Lou Roberts

1 loaf French bread cubed
1 cup frozen mixed berries

Grease bottom and sides of 9 x 13 pan or use Demarle Grande mold.
Layer 1/2 of bread cubes, and sprinkle with berries. Top with remaining bread.

In blender, blend:
8 extra large or 10 large eggs
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
2 cups milk
1/3 cups maple syrup (no need to use real maple syrup here)
Touch of Cinnamon and Nutmeg

Pour liquid mixture over bread. Cover with greased foil and refrigerate over night.
Cook covered 30 min at 350. Remove foil and cook another 30 minutes.

Syrup (prepare while it's baking)
Mix 1 cup sugar and 2 TBSP corn starch in cold sauce pan. Put on stove, add 1 cup water and 2 cups berries. Mix until thickened.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sloppy Joes for 8 dozen

I wouldn't hurt to have this recipe in your back pocket if you ever need to make a meal for 96 people! I made these last night, estimating the ingredients for 4 servings, and they were delicious!

-Taste of Home, Wanieta Palmer

For a crowd:
15 lbs ground beef
6 medium onions, chopped
1 gallon ketchup
3/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup prepared yellow mustard
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 Tbsp. chili powder
96 hamburger buns, split

My approximations for a small family:
1 lb ground beef
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. yellow mustard
1 tsp. white vinegar
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. chili powder

In two soup kettles over medium heat (this is for the large batch), cook and stir beef and onions until meat is no longer pink; drain.

Stir in ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, mustard, vinegar and chili powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 1 hour to allow flavors to blend. Spoon 1/3 cup onto each bun.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tomatillo Dressing

There are so many recipes for 'Cafe-Rio' tomatillo dressings floating around out there, but this is the combination we enjoy.

1/2 pkg. buttermillk ranch dressing mix (approx. 2 tsp)
2 tomatillos, husks removed roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and deveined
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced

Blend until smooth. Refrigerate at least a couple of hours - best if overnight. Serve over a salad of romaine lettuce, sweet pork, black beans, corn, guacamole and smashed corn chips.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lemon Supreme Pie

Brandon's favorite pie is the Lemon Supreme from Village Inn - a perfect combination of smooth cream cheese and tangy lemon. I was on the food committee for a church function last night and needed to bring a pie, so I was browsing the internet and was so excited to find this recipe. The ultimate compliment from Brandon: "This tastes just like the one from Village Inn- this one's a keeper!"

This really does need a deep-dish crust. If you're using regular pie pans, use two, and double the cream cheese filling and 1 1/2 times the lemon filling. Make sure your lemon filling is thick enough - I had to return mine to the heat after cooling to get the right consistency. I used whipped cream for my garnish and piped around the edge with a star tip with one large star in the middle. YUM!!

-Taste of Home

1 unbaked deep-dish pastry shell (9 inches)

1-1/4 cups sugar, divided
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
4-5 drops yellow food coloring, optional (I used 3)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 3 oz package cream cheese, softened (If using whipped cream for garnish, omit this)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1-1/2 cups whipped topping
2 tablespoon lemon juice (Reduce to 1 Tbsp. if omitting the 3 oz cream cheese)

Line unpricked pastry shell with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil. Bake at 450° for 8 minutes. Remove foil; bake 5 minutes longer. Cool on a wire rack.

For lemon filling, combine 3/4 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir in water until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; add the remaining sugar. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Remove from the heat; stir in butter, lemon peel and food coloring if desired. Gently stir in lemon juice. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

For cream cheese filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Fold in whipped topping and lemon juice. Refrigerate 1/2 cup for garnish. Spread remaining cream cheese mixture into pastry shell; top with lemon filling. Refrigerate overnight.

Place reserved cream cheese mixture in a pastry bag with a #21 star tip; pipe stars onto pie. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Growing up in Arizona has made Brandon and I appreciate great citrus. I picked up some extra-large lemons at the store the other day - reminiscent of the great AZ citrus - and had to make some fresh lemonade. This tart lemon-lime drink is perfectly refreshing on a warm day or with a spicy meal.

2 to 2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
Zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice (approximately 6 large lemons)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (approximately 6 large limes)
5 cups water

In a saucepan, combine sugar, 1 cup water and lemon zest. Heat and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved.

Remove from heat and add lemon and lime juices. Strain to remove zest, and pour into a large pitcher. Add 5-6 cups water - depending on how tart you like it. Serve chilled.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Grasshopper Cake

I've been wanting to try this recipe for a long time, but couldn't ever find the non-alcoholic creme de menthe I needed. I was in super Target yesterday, looking for some ideas for a St. Patrick's day dessert, and spotted the creme de menthe among the ice cream toppings. It must be my month for finding my minty treasures! This cake was very yummy and the mint is not overpowering., modified

1 chocolate fudge cake mix (Betty Crocker Super Moist)
Water, oil & eggs needed for cake mix
3 Tablespoons creme de menthe (non-alcoholic)
1 jar hot fudge sauce (I used Smuckers)
1 8oz tub Cool Whip, thawed
2-3 Tablespoons creme de menthe
green food coloring

Prepare cake mix as directed, except substitute 3 tablespoons Creme de Menthe flavoring for 3 tablespoons water.

Pour into 13x9 inch pan and bake according to package directions.

Remove from oven and while HOT, poke holes in cake every 1/2" using the end of a wooden spoon. Spread chocolate sauce over the top and let cool. Refrigerate. When ready to serve, mix whipped topping with 2 tablespoons of creme de menthe and 5-6 drops of food coloring. Spread on cake. Keep refrigerated.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mint Chip Cookies

My mom is a wonderful cook, and is especially great at baking cookies. Out of all the many delicious cookies she makes, these are one of my all-time favorites. I believe this recipe originally came off a package of Nestle Mint Chocolate Chips. Sadly, these chocolate chips were discontinued several years ago, and the Hershey's version is only available in select locations. I was overjoyed when I found some mint chips when searching for something else on this website. I ordered several bags, and although the chocolate is not as dark as I remember, I was very pleased with the results. Yea for the internet!

-Mom Pulsipher

1 10-oz. package mint chocolate chips, divided (I used a 12-oz. pkg.)
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2/3 cup butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans)

Put half (1 cup) mint chips into microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 1 minute. Add butter. Microwave until melted (about 30 seconds). Stir until smooth. Stir in sugars, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in remaining mint chips and nuts. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Makes approximately 3 dozen.

*The cookies should be slightly underbaked for a chewy texture – I baked mine for 10 minutes on a Silpat.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana

Thanks for this recipe Anna! I've never had kale before and I thought the flavor might be a little overpowering, but it is so yummy!

-Anna Hampton

1 lb ground Italian sausage
1 to 1½ tsp crushed red peppers
1 large diced white onion
4 Tbsp bacon pieces
2 tsp garlic puree
10 cups water
5 cubes of chicken bouillon
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb sliced Russet potatoes, or about 3 large potatoes
¼ of a bunch of kale, ribs removed and chopped

Saute Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in pot. Drain excess fat, refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients.

In the same pan, saute bacon, onions and garlic for approximately 15 mins. or until the onions are soft. Mix together the chicken bouillon and water, then add it to the onions, bacon and garlic. Cook until boiling.

Add potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour. Add heavy cream and cook until thoroughly heated. Stir in the sausage. Add kale just before serving (I cooked it until it softened). Delicious!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Salmon Fillets over Couscous

Brandon is not much of a fish or seafood fan, so I usually make this for myself for lunch when I'm tired of pb&j or leftovers. It's light, healthy, and delicious!

-Bobby Deen

Olive oil
Salmon (4 oz per person)
House Seasoning (Salt, Pepper, Garic Powder)

Water or chicken stock
Couscous (I like the Far East brand, roasted garlic & olive oil flavor)
Diced tomatoes
Crumbled feta cheese
Green onions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Add a drizzle of olive oil to glass pan and place the salmon. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime (or lemon) over the top of the salmon and sprinkle with the House Seasoning. Top with pads of butter (approx 1 teaspoon per fillet). Wrap in the foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve over a bed of couscous.

For couscous: Combine water or chicken stock, salt and butter in a saucepan, over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir in couscous. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork. Add diced tomatoes, crumbled feta, and green onions. Serve hot or cold.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pecan Sandies

Pecans remind me of my grandparents in southern Arizona; they have pecan trees and always made sure we had some for baking. For me, shelling pecans for my mom's tarts is synonomous with the holidays, and a fresh-shelled pecan always brings back lots of memories.
I love these cookies, but unfortunately they're not my children's favorite. Every once in awhile I'll make them just for me and put lots in the freezer for later!

-Mom Pulsipher

1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. almond extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt
2 cups chopped pecans
1 6-oz. package English toffee bits (I use a whole 8 oz. pkg)
Additional sugar

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add oil, eggs and extract; mix well. Combine flours, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in pecans and toffee bits. Shape into 1-inch balls; roll in sugar. Place on ungreased baking sheet and flatten with a fork. Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned.

*The dough is slightly dry; after you flatten with a fork, just smooth the broken edges with your fingers. I use the medium-sized Pampered Chef cookie scoop, and mine take 14 minutes on a Silpat. Makes about 5 1/2 - 6 dozen.