Friday, December 31, 2010

Lemon Cake


This lemon cake is all lemony, sugary goodness. It is the perfect combo of sweet and tart. My friend made it one day and brought me a couple of pieces and it was amazing! After I ate it, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Within a day or two I called my friend and got the recipe. I bought lemons, just waiting for the perfect time to be able to make it for someone else. I finally had the chance for Christmas dinner and made it for my family, who were not disappointed in its lemony yumminess.
Lemon Cake
1 lemon cake mix
1 small package instant lemon pudding
1 c. oil
4 eggs
2 Tbsp. grated lemon rind (2 medium lemons)
1 1/2 c. water
Glaze
2 c. powdered sugar
juice squeezed from two lemons
3-4 drops yellow food coloring
1 Tbsp. lemon rind
Grease and flour a 9X13 pan. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, oil, eggs, 2 Tbsp. lemon rind and water and mix well for 3 minutes. Bake it according to the cake mix package directions (I think mine was at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, but just look at the box). When the cake is done, let it cool down, then take a fork and poke that thing like crazy (in a gentle way, you don't want to destroy the top, just make holes in it). Not just a few little pokes, but cover the whole thing in fork pokes. In a separate bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, food coloring and 1 Tbsp. lemon rind until it is smooth. It needs to be pour-able, so if you need a little more juice, squeeze another half of a lemon into it (or more if necessary). Then pour the glaze all over the top of the cake and spread it around to make sure it covers it all and gets into all of those little holes you made. You can either serve it immediately or let it chill for a few hours in the fridge.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Peppermint Bark Chocolate Cookies





We found this recipe and loved it! We adapted it a little bit by dipping it in the peppermint bark rather than mixing it into the batter which was a fun twist. It made for a great Christmas treat to take to some friends and neighbors.



Peppermint Bark Chocolate Cookies

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup of butter

3/4 cup of brown sugar

3/4 cup of white granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour

3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

Pinch of salt

1-2 c. white chocolate chips (to your liking)

white dipping chocolate

candy canes or other peppermints


Directions:

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2 Cream the butter and sugars together for about two minutes at medium speed or until well incorporated and light in color.

3 Add the egg and the vanilla extract until well incorporated, about a minute. Be sure to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl halfway through.

4 Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Add to the butter mixture slowly, and beating at medium speed, stopping once all of it is incorporated (do not overmix).

5 Fold in the white chocolate chips.

6 Take small spoonfuls of the dough and roll into one inch sized balls and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for -12 minutes. Let cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

7 Melt white dipping chocolate with a double boiler or by melting in a microwave safe bowl, 30 seconds at a time stirring in between, until melted. Crush candy canes to very small pieces and mix in the melted chocolate.

8 Dip half of each cookie in the chocolate and lay on parchment paper to cool and harden. (Put in refrigerator for a few minutes to harden quickly.)

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.



Brownie Covered Oreos




As I was searching through one of my favorite blogs, picky-palate.com, I found a wonderful recipe that combines common, deliciously simple treats we eat into one mouthwatering dessert. These were a fun Christmas treat to make for some neighbors and friends.




Ingredients:

1 Brownie mix (or use your own brownie recipe)

1 package Oreos, (the Holiday ones would be fun, but I couldn’t find them anywhere!)

White chocolate, melted for drizzle, or Wilton White frosting pen works great

White nonpariels Sprinkles

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare brownie batter according to package directions. Leave in mixing bowl. Dip Oreos in brownie batter then place in bottom of cupcake tins that have been generously sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until brownies are cooked through (doesn’t take long).

As soon as you remove, take a plastic knife and run along edges, (this is VERY important so the brownies don’t stick to the pan).

Let cool for 5 minutes, remove and let cool completely. Drizzle with melted white chocolate or icing pens, sprinkle with nonpareils. Makes entire package of Oreos.


I couldn’t believe how many people wanted to try this recipe out after tasting them. They’re a lot of fun!



Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tomato Basil and Pesto Pasta

I found this recipe on the Sisters Cafe. It was great, fast, and easy. I added a delicious grilled chicken to it to make a great, rather healthy, meal.


Tomato Basil Pesto Pasta

1/4 cup basil pesto (I purchased a yummy basil pesto, but the Sisters Café has a recipe here)

1/4 lb penne pasta

1.5-2 cups tomatoes

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Basil leaves

Shredded parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente. Just before draining the pasta into a colander, remove 1/4 cup of pasta water; set aside. Drain the pasta, put back in the pot, and then stir in the Basil Pesto and the reserved pasta water, a little at a time, to create a sauce. Add diced tomatoes and toss to coat thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste. Transfer onto individual serving plates and garnish with sliced fresh basil leaves and shavings of Parmesan cheese.

Makes 2 servings.


Grilled Chicken Breasts
2 breasts (6 ounces each)

2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small clove of garlic finely chopped
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 12 ounces)

Mix lemon juice, oil and garlic in shallow glass or plastic dish. Place chicken in marinade, turn chicken to coat with marinade. Refrigerate 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the portable grill about 5 minutes.
When the grill is hot, remove chicken from marinade, discard marinade and place the chicken on grill and cook about 5 minutes. Turn chicken over and grill another 3 minutes or until the juice is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut.

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey & Rice Soup

To preface this recipe- I am not a fan of leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Past eating it with the rest of the leftovers, I do not enjoy it. Because we had plenty of it leftover this year, I searched for a recipe I would enjoy it in. I found this gem and will be using it every year. I loved this recipe. It's very similar to the Chicken Wild Rice Soup I posted earlier which is my favorite soup ever, but this had some fun differences. The main one for me was the addition of slivered almonds! I loved the added slight crunch. The best part about this recipe was that the turkey tasted delicious.


Turkey Wild Rice Soup: adapted from allrecipes.com

2/3 c. uncooked wild rice
2 c. water

6 tbsp. butter
1/4 c. finely chopped onion
1/4 c. finely chopped celery
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
4 c. turkey broth (I used chicken broth which tasted fantastic)
1/3 c. thinly sliced carrot
2 c. chopped cooked turkey
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, or to taste
1/4 c. chopped sliced almonds
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
3/4 c. half-and-half cream

Directions:

1. Bring the wild rice and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender but not mushy, 40 to 45 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid, fluff the rice with a fork, and cook uncovered 5 minutes more. Set the cooked rice aside.

2. Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the onion and celery until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, and cook until it turns a pale yellowish-brown color, 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in the turkey stock until no lumps of flour remain. Stir in the carrot. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook, whisking constantly, until the stock is thick and smooth and the carrot is tender, about 2 more minutes.

3. Stir in the wild rice, turkey, salt, pepper, and almonds. Return to a simmer, and cook 2 more minutes to heat the ingredients. Stir in the lemon juice and half-and-half; bring the soup almost to a boil, and serve hot.

Eyeball Cake Balls


This recipe is a little late, but I thought I would add it for next year. These were a lot of fun for our Halloween party this year. Simpler than I realized. Although, I may need to increase my skill at getting the chocolate to come out smoother while dipping.


Cake Ball Eyeballs:

Ingredients:
1 box of red velvet cake mix
1 container of cream cheese frosting
1 lb. white chocolate or almond bark (for dipping)
tube of red decorating gel
m&ms or other colored candies

Directions:

Cook the cake following the directions on the box. Let the cake cool, then gently crumble with a fork. Crumble until the entire cake is in fine crumbs.

Next, mix the cake with the tub of frosting, stirring until it is thoroughly combined and creates a smooth, doughy consistency. Mold the soft cake mixture into small balls with your hands and place on parchment paper. It helps to freeze for about an hour before dipping.

Melt the chocolate or almond bark in a double boiler or in a saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly. Once it's completely melted, remove from heat and begin dipping cake balls in chocolate.

*Remember that the whole process of dipping should go very quickly before the ball starts to melt and you get a crumbly mess.

If you use a fork, gently dip and roll the ball in the chocolate, lift out and place on parchment paper to dry. Gently push an m&m in the center of the ball before the chocolate dries completely. You can also use lollipop sticks to roll in the chocolate and stick in Styrofoam balls to dry to make cake ball suckers.

Once the chocolate is dry, decorate with red icing to make veins.

Enjoy the spookiness.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Monsters


This recipe could also be called German Pancakes (at least I think it is the same thing). Dustin grew up calling it Monsters, and we now all call it Monsters in our household. I think it is because it puffs up in the oven as you cook it. The kids love it though, and it is about the only way I can get some of my children to eat something eggy (I'm pretty sure that is a word, even though my spell check tells me it is not :).
Monsters
by: Lana
6 eggs
1 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
6 Tbsp. butter (I only use about 3-4 Tbsp and I use the margarine spread stuff. It is easier to spread than a stick of butter)
In a large bowl beat the eggs. Add the flour, salt and milk and stir until combined. FYI, there is always chunks after I stir this up, and it comes out fine in the end. The chunks actually rise up to the top while it is baking and make a nice little crust-like top. In a 9X13 pan, spread the butter around and cover the bottom as best as you can. Pour the egg mixture in and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until it has puffed up. I didn't get a good picture of the puffs, because it deflates pretty quickly after you take it out. But know that it will really puff up high before it is done. Serve it with powdered sugar, syrup or jam.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Flaky Sugar Cookies



This recipe was given to us by a lady who worked with Dustin, who's parents owned a bakery. It has become a favorite among many of my sisters and so I thought I'd post it so everyone can have it. The key to this recipe is to only cook them for 5 minutes (unless your oven cooks really slow, like mine does, and then you might want to do 6 minutes). Another key is to roll them thick. Also, it never seems like there is enough flour, but by the time I add flour to the table and the rolling pin while I'm rolling them, they come out fine. They stay soft and have a great flavor.
Flaky Sugar Cookies
1 c. sugar
2/3 c. shortening
1/2 c. milk
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 1/4 c. flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Cream together the sugar and shortening. Add the milk, egg and vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and add it to the other mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut it into your favorite shape and bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Great Zucchini Bread Experiment


I recently had the opportunity to eat everything out of my big freezer (not all by myself) in a very short amount of time. Isn't that fun? I had a lot of frozen zucchini from my neighbors sharing their wealth this summer, and in the name of science, I have decided to conduct an experiment on which zucchini bread is the best. At least of the four recipes I tried. Anyone who came near got a chance to chow down and give me their biased opinion and from all those opinions, I have formulated a winner. Sort of.

So here are the different recipes I used. I'll try to keep them as concise as possible. And just FYI, they all call for chopped nuts, which I'm not even taking the time to type in because I didn't add them to any of the recipes. But if you like that sort of thing, go ahead and add those back in. (If you want to skip ahead to the winner and avoid all the recipes, go straight to the bottom)

Paula Dean's Zucchini Bread

3 1/4 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg (I used 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 tsp cloves)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 c. sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 c. water
2 c. grated zucchini
1 tsp. lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and sugar. In a separate bowl combine the oil, eggs, water, zucchini and lemon juice. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Spray your loaf pans with cooking spray, pour the batter in, and bake for 1 hour or until a tester comes out clean.


Allrecipes Popular Recipe-Mom's Recipe
3 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon
3 eggs
1 c. vegetable oil
2 1/4 c. sugar
3 tsp. vanilla
2 c. grated zucchini



Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon together in a bowl. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla and beat well. Add the sifted ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix it well. Stir in the zucchini until it is well combined. Grease and flour two loaf pans and pour the batter into the pans. Bake for 40-60 minutes (it's going to be 60), or until a tester comes out clean.

The Real Mom's Zucchini Recipeby: Lynne'

2 c. zucchini
1 c. oil
3 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
2 c. sugar
3 c. flour
1 Tbsp. cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder

Blend together the zucchini, oil, eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine the salt, sugar, flour, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (I used cinnamon but I actually think the pumpkin pie spice would have been awesome in this), soda and baking powder. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until well blended. Pour into two loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until tester comes out clean.


Healthy Zucchini Breadby: http://www.food.com/
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs
2 1/4 c. zucchini
1/4 c. oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl combine the eggs, zucchini, oil and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir well. Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the tester comes out clean.


The Results:Now folks, you may think that these are all so similar (minus the healthy one, of course) and yes, they are. And they all tasted great (minus the healthy one of course) (just kidding, kind of). They were all moist. In retrospect, I should have found recipes that were completely different from each other, but come on, it is zucchini bread! There just isn't a lot of variation (minus the healthy one, of course). However, even though there were only slight differences, I believe those differences did make a difference :) And this is what we decided. More cinnamon and spice=better flavor. More eggs means=denser bread. More sticky, crusty crust=more yumminess. Healthy ingredients=not as tasty bread. In the end, according to my professional opinion, the winner was a combination of Paula Dean's recipe and the Allrecipe version. The Allrecipe one had the best fluffiness, overall flavor and a great sticky crust (although my Mom's had the very best crust). There was a lot of cinamon in the Allrecipe version and the one thing that could have made it better was the nutmeg and cloves that were in the Paula Dean bread. Those two spices gave it a little kick of flavor that was delicious and different from all the other recipes. So here is my winning version of Zucchini Bread:

The Zucchini Bread Winner
adapted by: Carolyn


3 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves
3 eggs
1 c. vegetable oil
2 c. sugar
3 tsp. vanilla
2 c. zucchini

Mix the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients. Combine the two. Bake in two greased loaf pans at 325 for 60 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Monica's delicious wonderful perfect chicken noodle soup of the soul and the belly


I am pleased to announce the first recipe that I have ever created on my own (which is why I also was able to create the name. Do you like it?).

4 carrots - sliced
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 small onion - diced
10 cups of water
10 bullion in whatever form you prefer (I personally like the powder because it lasts longer, dissolves faster and tastes better, but you can do whatever you like)
1 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
1 tsp basil
1 package egg noodles
1 chicken breast - shredded
cornstarch or flour

In a large pot combine the water, bullion and carrots and bring to a boil. While the water is heating up, put the olive oil and garlic into a small pan and stir it on medium heat for about two minutes. Add the onion and celery and cook until the onion is tender and beginning to be translucent. Add that mixture to the boiling water and then add the pepper, salt, basil and chicken. You may want to add more salt and pepper depending on your preference and the saltiness of the bullion, but I have found that this amount works for me. Add the noodles and continue to boil until the noodles are tender (usually about 1/2 hour).

I like a thicker soup so I add some cornstarch or flour to thicken it up. To use cornstarch combine about 1/8 cup cornstarch and about 1/2 cup cold warm water in a container that can be sealed. Shake the mixture until it is blended and then slowly add to the soup until it is the desired thickness. Use flour the same way. I like cornstarch better because it keeps the soup a little clearer. Neither affect the taste. Another option is to use potato flakes.

Another thing that really changes the soup is the type of noodles you use. The best kind are those made from scratch, but because I don't usually plan ahead I like to use a kind that you find in the frozen section of Aldi or just some that are dry but still resemble the homemade kind.

And viola! That is my chicken noodle soup. I realize that there are probably a bunch of recipes that look very similar to mine, but I have literally made soup a dozen times trying different spices and combinations and in the end this was the one that tasted the best by far. The bullion really changes things too because some brands are a lot stronger than others or have a lot more flavor. you really have to find one that you like. The one I have now has MSG in it (I didn't notice until the last time I made soup...) and so now I understand why my soup has so much flavor. I also know now why my children seem to be lacking a few brain cells...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cheese Soup


The title of this soup really doesn't do it justice. It should be called "Cheesy Veggie Chicken-y Bacon-y Yumminess". This is, by far, my most favorite soup. Can you see all those veggies packed in there? Can you see the bacon and the chicken? Can you see the yumminess? It is slightly high maintenance, but worth every pan that you dirty.
Cheese Soup
Adapted by Carolyn
original recipe from Megan
6 c. water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 c. celery, diced (Ick. I hate crunching celery in cooked foods so I omit this)
1/2 c. onion, diced
3 c. potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 (20 oz.) package frozen broccoli, cauliflower, carrot blend
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 jar of Ragu Cheese Sauce (this is found with the spaghetti and Alfredo sauce)
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
4 slices well cooked bacon, chopped
In a large pot combine the water, bouillon cubes, celery, onion and potatoes. Boil ingredients for 20-25 minutes or until cooked. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cook your frozen vegetables according to the package directions (maybe even slightly less). Drain the liquid from that pan and when your large pot of vegetables is cooked, add the broccoli, cauliflower and carrot blend to it.
In another saucepan, over low heat, combine your cream of chicken soup and cheese sauce until smooth (the original recipe calls for 1 to 1 1/2 lbs. of Velveeta Cheese in place of the Ragu. This is also delicious, but more pricey than the Ragu sauce and I think the flavor is just as good with the Ragu.)
While all of my vegetables are cooking, I usually cook my chicken, then my bacon, both in the microwave. Shred the chicken and chop the bacon and stir them into the large pot. Then add your cheese mixture to the large pot and stir gently until combined. This will take a few minutes of stirring, but don't get to hasty and start mashing up your soft vegetables.
One of the great things about this recipe is that it is so easy to adapt to what you have. I usually add more potatoes and more fresh carrots. You could use all fresh vegetables if you would like. You can omit what you don't like. It also makes a lot of soup so I usually take a bowl to someone else, feed my family, eat it for leftovers and still have enough to freeze for later. It is just a big ol' pot of cheesy yumminess!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Slow Cooker Mushroom Pork Chops


My mother-in-law introduced me to this recipe a few years ago and it has become my favorite way to eat pork chops. It is so easy and smells wonderful as it cooks all day long. I serve it over rice or a potato and I'm pretty sure all of my children ate this the last time I made it :)

Mushroom Pork Chops
by: Carolyn
4 pork chops
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. garlic
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
salt and pepper to taste
1 can sliced mushrooms
Mix together the mushroom soup, water, milk, garlic, onion powder, seasoned salt, salt and pepper in a bowl (I mix mine directly in my crock pot). Add the mushrooms and stir gently. Add your pork chops. Cook in a slow cooker on low heat for seven hours or high heat for five.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chili


Now that it is finally feeling like Autumn around here, I am in the mood for things like soup and chili for dinner. I have been making this chili recipe for years and have never actually documented it. It was kind of tricky trying to figure out how much of different spices that I add, but in the end, I think I got it right. This is only a semi-homemade recipe because I add this little helper:

But, I figure I add enough extras to still call it my own.
Carolyn's Easy Chili
by: Carolyn
3 cans of beans (any variety you like-I usually mix it up a bit, with a couple of kidneys (he he) and a small red or chili, or whatever)
2 cans tomato sauce
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 packages chili seasoning
2 tsp. minced garlic
3-4 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 can corn
a dash or two of chili powder (if you want to heat it up a little)

Throw all the ingredients into a large pot (you should probably open the canned items and dump them in, instead:). Stir it all up really well. Bring it to a boil, cover it and let it simmer on a low heat for as long as you want. It seems like the flavors come out better if I have let it simmer for 20-30 minutes. I always serve mine with corn bread, butter and honey.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Torte



I love the fall! I love the colors, the smells, the chilly nights by a warm fire, and especially the fall foods. Pumpkin is so versatile. Tell it what to do and where to go and it always turn out yummy. If you want a delicious fall dessert, try this one- our friend made it for us last week and it was so good I knew it was the dessert I wanted to do for the craft group I hosted this month. I fed it to 15 ladies and they loved it too, so that's pretty good odds. How can you not though? It's pumpkin immersed in sugary heaven.



Ingredients:
  • 1 package (18-1/4 ounces) yellow cake mix
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin, divided
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, divided
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 carton (16 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping (I omitted these and the nuts and sprinkled nutmeg on top)
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, 1 cup pumpkin, milk, eggs, oil and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Pour into two greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans.

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners' sugar, and remaining pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice; beat until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.

Cut each cake horizontally into two layers. Place bottom layer on a serving plate; spread with a fourth of the filling. Repeat layers three times. Drizzle with caramel topping; sprinkle with pecans. Store in the refrigerator.



Don't judge me by my lack of layering skills. It tastes good, that's all that matters.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Grandma's Applesauce Cookies


These cookies are in memory of my Grandma, who recently passed away. She made these for years and they are one of the many things that will always remind me of her. I loved them growing up (it was always exciting to try and guess how old they might be in those zip lock bags in the freezer) and my kids love them now. They are like a little taste of home for me.
Applesauce Cookies
by: Dorothy Montgomery
3/4 c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. applesauce
2 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cloves
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
chocolate chips
Cream together the shortening, brown sugar and egg. I mixed mine for about 2 minutes to get it nice and creamy. Add the applesauce and stir it well. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves and cinnamon and then add it to the creamed mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoon full onto your baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes. The good (or bad) thing about making them smaller this way, is that you can eat about a dozen and it really doesn't feel like you just ate 12 cookies yourself. Isn't that exciting?!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jacque's Pudding Dessert



This recipe comes from my old roommate, Jacque. It is loaded with all things good and lovely to eat, such as: pudding, whipped cream, cream cheese and butter. Mmmm. This is a great recipe for feeding many people. (Or maybe just a really hungry mommy and daddy after the kids are in bed. Not that I would know.)

Jacque's Pudding Dessert
For the crust:
1 c. flour
1 c. margarine (yes, you heard me correctly)
Cut the flour and margarine together with a pastry blender and then press into the bottom of a 9X13 pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes and then cool it completely.
Layer 1:
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. powdered sugar
Biggest container of Cool Whip-thawed
Soften the cream cheese. In a large bowl stir together until smooth the cream cheese and powdered sugar. Then add 1/2 of the Cool Whip and mix it gently. Spread on the cooled crust.
Layer 2:
1 small package instant vanilla pudding
1 small package instant chocolate pudding
3 c. milk
Beat both puddings and milk until blended. Spread over the cream cheese layer. You could also use 2 packages of chocolate pudding (rather than one chocolate, one vanilla) and this is also yummy.
Layer 3:
Other 1/2 of Cool Whip
1 chocolate bar
Take the other half of the Cool Whip and spread over the top of the pudding layer. Grate 1/2 of the chocolate bar on top of the Cool Whip. Then quickly eat the other half before your children notice.
Chill it in the Fridge for an hour or so.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu

Bonjour, et comment vous tous aujourd'hui? You may not know, but I don't really know French. Except I can count to ten. And I went to Paris one day (literally). I also don't really know if Chicken Cordon Bleu is a French food, but it sure sounds Francois-ish. This recipe is for a really easy chicken cordon bleu (hence the name). I got it from Kraft and have made it dozens of times. It is my go-to meal when I have to take a dinner to someone. It's easy, fast and yummy. J'espere que vous aimerez aussi. (That means "I hope you like it too." Thank you Google Translate).

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu
adapted from Kraft by Carolyn

1 package instant stuffing mix
4 chicken breasts
8 slices of ham
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 Tbsp. honey mustard
1 1/2 c. shredded swiss cheese

Make the stuffing mix according to package directions and set aside. Cut your chicken breasts in half and place them in a 9X13 pan. Cover each piece of chicken with a slice of ham, like so: Mix together the soup and mustard and spoon it over the top of the chicken/ham pieces. Top it all with the prepared stuffing. Bake at 400 degrees fo 30 minutes. Sprinkle it with the swiss cheese and bake for 5 minutes more, or until chicken is cooked through. Sorry about the picture. I forgot to take one until I had already eaten half of it

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Perfectly Smoothie



Monica got me hooked on making smoothies when she told me how she makes them so easily, and they come out so yummy! She makes hers a little different than I do now, but I basically make them the same way each time. I like these much better than other homemade smoothies that use ice because they don't taste watered down at all- they're rich and thick and smooth, and so fast.

The Perfect Smoothie:
Frozen fruit of your choice
milk
6 oz. container of yogurt of your choice
orange juice (optional, sometimes I splash some in for a different flavor)

Directions:
Dump the desired amount of ingredients into a blender and blend until fruit is smooth. Add additional milk until it is the desired consistency.

That's it! Mmmm. I could eat these every night.

Margherita Burger

One of my favorite foods ever is a nice Margherita pizza! Thanks to Bobby Flay and his Burgers, Fries, and Shakes cookbook. I found this Margherita Burger recipe that I figured would be a nice happy medium for Matt and I. How can he resist a burger of any shape or size?

I tweaked it a little bit and here is what I came up with.

Margherita Burger:
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 tbsp. basil (optional)
whole-milk mozzarella cheese
tomato
fresh basil leaves
buns
hamburger condiments

Directions:
Mix ground beef or turkey with basil if desired. Divide meat into four equal parts and smash into a flat patty. To avoid getting a bulbous patty, put a thumb print in the middle of each to ensure the patty comes out even. Grill patties on a grill or broil in the oven until done. Put a slice of mozzarella cheese (and tomato and basil leaf if desired) on each during the last couple of minutes cooking until cheese is melted. Layer hamburger and enjoy!



Japanese French Toast

If you don't know about Panko, it's time to try it. I bought it a while ago for a recipe and have been working it into other meals to use it up. One of my favorite foods of all time is french toast. My husband can attest that I have probably ordered french toast off of a menu more than any other dish. As I was watching a commercial the other day on Hulu (this is what we live on with no satellite), an advertisement for Panko came on and it flashed a picture of french toast dipped in the yummy Japanese bread crumbs, and I knew I had to try it. It gives the french toast such a fun texture.

So, if the Japanese ever have french toast, I'm sure this is what it looks like.


my style Japanese French Toast:
(your regular french toast ingredients:)
eggs
milk
vanilla
cinnamon
bread (a thick Texas toast would be perfect for this)
panko

Directions:
Mix eggs, milk, vanilla and/or cinnamon in a shallow dish. Dip bread in egg mixture then dip in Panko to coat. Cook on griddle on medium heat, flipping to cook both sides. Serve with fresh fruit and syrup.

If you have fun ideas to make this even better let me know!



Coconut Pecan Chicken

I tried this recipe last night along with Carolyn's Thai Coconut Rice (that I added below) and it was so good. The chicken was so close to being wonderful, even after my tweaks, but we both thought it needed a little something to make it worth eating again- and we found it! Make this recipe along with this peanut sauce and it will be an amazing and easy dinner!


1 1/2 c. plain fat-free yogurt or sour cream
1/4 tsp. curry powder
2/3 c. sweetened coconut flakes
2/3 c. panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
2/3 c. finely chopped pecans
garlic or garlic powder to your liking (I used about 1-2 tsp. garlic powder)
1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast, cut in 1-inch wide strips

Directions:
1- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2- Put yogurt or sour cream in a small bowl and mix with curry powder, set aside. In a shallow pie plate, combine coconut, panko, pecans, and garlic.
3- Dip chicken strips in yogurt or sour cream mixture to cover, then roll in panko mixture. Place strips on an oil-sprayed baking sheet. Spray top of chicken.
4- Bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350, and bake 15 more minutes. Check that coating browns but does not burn. If desired, broil 2 minutes for an even crunchier top.


1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. smooth peanut butter
1 tbsp. crunchy peanut butter (optional) (I used all crunchy)
3 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice vinegar (I used a little less so it wasn't as vinegary. If you use all of it, let it sit in refrigerator for a little while to mellow out the flavor.)
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. sesame oil (I used 1 tbsp. sesame seeds fried in some of the olive oil)
2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger root
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (I omitted this for a sweeter sauce)

Directions:
Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl. (Easy enough)


Thai Coconut Rice
2 c. rice
2 c. coconut milk
1 3/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. dry shredded coconut
1 bunch cilantro
1/4 c. coconut


Directions:
Cook in rice cooker until liquid is mostly absorbed. Stir occasionally if necessary because the milk settles at the top and the bottom may burn. While your rice is cooking, put a small amount of oil in a frying pan and lightly toast your 1/4 c. coconut over medium heat. Chop up your cilantro. When you serve the rice, serve the toasted coconut and cilantro on top.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cheater Enchiladas

Isn't it kind of fun to cheat when you know you don't have to feel guilty? Some of you may know that spaghetti is keeping my children alive. They may eat a few other things, but if it weren't for this, they would all starve. We eat spaghetti about once a week (plus leftovers). Dustin requests it nearly as much as the children. I, on the other hand, have started to dread the stuff. I'm SO sick of spaghetti. But wait. Isn't the title of this post "Cheater Enchiladas"? Let's get on with it then! In order to not want to vomit every time someone says they want spaghetti for dinner (every day), I have started buying and making different brands and kinds of sauces, in the hopes that it will make this meal a little more exciting for my poor, worn out, pasta taste buds. I bought this the other day:


And when I opened it up and smelled it, all I could think of was a happy little waiter in Mexico, wearing a very large sombrero. I couldn't even imagine drenching my noodles in it. So, I saved it and instead, used it as the secret (and main) ingredient in my next batch of enchiladas. And because of it, these were the easiest enchiladas I have ever made! And they tasted great! And now you can all be cheaters (guilt free), too!

Cheater Enchiladas
by: Carolyn

3/4-1 c. milk
1/2 c. sour cream
1 jar of Classico Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo sauce
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
2 c. chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
8-10 tortillas
1/3 c. shredded cheddar cheese

In a large bowl, stir together the milk, sour cream and Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo sauce. Take out 1 1/4 c. of this mixture, put it in a little bowl and set it aside for later. To the rest of the sauce (in your big bowl) add your cheese and shredded chicken and stir it well. In the bottom of a 9X13 pan, spread 2 spoonfuls of the sauce that you withheld (in your little bowl). Is this getting confusing? Hopefully not. Heat your tortillas in the microwave for 1 minute so that they don't stick together (is this because I buy cheap tortillas that this happens?). Now take the big bowl of sauce/chicken/cheese and fill your tortillas with this sauce, roll them up and place them close together in the pan. Repeat this until all the tortillas are filled and your pan is full. Pour the little bowl of sauce (that you kept out) over the top of the tortillas and then sprinkle it all with the 1/3 c. cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Serve with sour cream, spanish rice and a sombrero.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Soft Pumpkin Cookies


Ah, Fall is in the air (at least it was 2 weeks ago when I made these cookies. Today it is summer again and 81 degrees in my house!). The smell of pumpkin anything makes me so ready for crisp evenings and leaves changing colors. I love this time of year! This is a great recipe for those big pumpkin cookies you can buy in the store (for way too much). I know that you can also make a pumpkin cookie using a spice cake mix and the canned pumpkin, but I don't often have a spice cake mix in my cupboard. Plus, I found this recipe a few years ago, and I love it. It smells so good while they are baking. And you can also roll extra dough in wax paper and freeze it for later. Then you can enjoy that yummy fall smell a few weeks later without the work.
Soft Pumpkin Cookies
by:
www.dianaskitchen.com
1 16 oz. can pumpkin
4 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar (do I need to say it again? I always add less sugar than it calls for. I probably did about 3/4 c. brown and 1+ white)
1 c. butter, softened
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. maple extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 eggs
chocolate chips
In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients except the chocolate chips.
Beat on low speed until blended, scraping the bowl occasionally. Beat it on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Spoon a big spoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet, two inches apart (into nice little mounds). Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.