Monday, December 3, 2012

Hand Print Ornament

Hand Print Ornament

I made this last Christmas with a dear friend of mine (thanks, Lacey!), using the little girl's handprint.  At that time she was only 4 months old.  Wow, time flies.  I'm so glad I did, though, because it's a wonderful keepsake that we will treasure more and more with each year that passes.  They also make great gifts -- the grandparents will so happy to recieve one too!

Things you'll need:
-- Plain glass ornament
-- Acrylic paint
-- Glitter
-- Ribbon
-- Paint pen
-- A helping hand (especially if you have a real little one who can't follow simple directions)

Since acrylic paint stains, first strip down your child to his/her diaper or underwear.  Or you can put them in an art shirt.  :)

Set up shop in your kitchen or a room with a sink, so you have the option to quickly rinse off any "mistake" attempts.

Dip child's hand in paint, or "paint" it on their palm with a paint brush.  Spread their fingers and place it onto the ornament.  Remove. 

Sprinkle hand print with glitter and let dry.  Using the paint pen, inscribe on the other side to remember what year it was made and which child, if applicable, the hand print belongs to.  Tie a ribbon to the top and hang it on your tree. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Moist Pumpkin Bread

Moist Pumpkin Bread

Makes 1 loaf.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!  I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating all you have to be thankful for.
Just like the title implies, this is a moist pumpkin bread.... and it has a sugary sweet cinnamon topping.  Yum!
Source: Food

1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
1 (15 ounce) pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

In a medium size bowl beat eggs and mix with sugar, oil, water and pumpkin.

In another bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients only until just blended. Do NOT overmix.

Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan. This bread fits perfectly in an 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pan. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes.

For topping: In a small saucepan mix butter, brown sugar and milk. Boil only 2 1/2 minutes while stirring constantly. Immediately drizzle on top of loaf. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and press pecans lightly into topping.

Wrap and store until next day for serving. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wine Dinner

Wine Dinner

Serves 6.

Last year, The Mister and I invited our parents over for a wine dinner.  We had received a magnum bottle of wine as a gift from a friend of the family who loves and knows his wine.  Needless to say, this bottle was old.  And special.  Nice.  Really nice.  And it required a fancy night on which to open it.

So we planned a special meal, and enjoy it we did, with who better than our dear parents.  The little one went to bed shortly after appetizers, and we dined on beef tenderloin by candlelight, sipping the delicious cab.

Dinner menu:
Beef tenderloin with mushroom sauce
Roasted asparagus
Garlic mashed potatoes
Warm crusty bread and butter

And for dessert, a personal favorite of mine:
White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cowboy Casserole

Cowboy Casserole

Serves 6.

Don't be grossed out.  This is a family classic in some parts of our nation.  It's comfort food, and it's good, and it is truly a family pleaser when it comes to what your kids love.  So whip it up -- even the night before if you want -- and bake for dinner this week.  
Source: The Cutting Edge of Ordinary

1 1/2 pounds ground beef 
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can (15.25oz) whole kernel corn, drained (I used 1-1/2 cups thawed frozen corn instead)
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons sour cream
1 bag (30 oz) frozen tater tots (such as Ore-Ida Crispy Crowns)

If you can, let the tater tots sit on the counter to defrost for an hour or so. The original recipe uses frozen tater tots, but allowing them to thaw for a bit seems to help the cooking process.

In a large skillet cook the onion until tender and translucent. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the beef and cook over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain the mixture and place into a large bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the soup, milk and sour cream. Whisk until smooth. Add to hamburger mixture and stir to combine. Add corn and 1 cup of cheddar cheese. Gently mix to combine.

Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer half of the tater tots on the bottom, pour the hamburger mixture over the top and then layer with the other half of the tater tots.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bake at 350 for 25 - 30 minutes, or until golden brown and crunchy.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Spicy Chicken Soup with Wild Rice

Spicy Chicken Soup with Wild Rice

Serves 4-6.

The original name of this recipe is Chicken and Wild Rice soup, but the soup it made was a far cry from what I was envisioning.  The amount of rice was far too small to be considered a main part of the title.  I need to keep seeking for the soup I'm looking for, but this was still a good soup for a cool day.  And since it's a crock pot recipe, it simmers all day while I'm out and about doing other things.  It packs some heat, so hopefully you like spicy soups!
Adapted from: The Other Side of Fifty

1 TBSP olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 onion, diced
1-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced 
kosher salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 1/2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken
1 (8 oz) can green enchilada sauce
1 (4 oz) can of diced green chiles
1/3 cup wild rice 
4 cups chicken stock 
1 TBSP cornstarch
2 TBSP milk or water

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the bell pepper, onion, jalapeno peppers and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 6-7 minutes then add the garlic, cumin and oregano. Saute for another minute or two.

Pour skillet contents into crockpot and add the remaining ingredients, except for the cornstarch and milk/water. Cook on low for 5-7 hours. Shred chicken with two forks. Mix cornstarch into cold milk/water and add to crockpot. Return setting to high and cook for another 30 minutes or until thick and bubbly.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes

Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes

Makes about 24.

Thanksgiving is in one week!  And I think you should consider adding this recipe to your line-up.  For breakfast on Thanksgiving morning... or before you head out shopping on Friday... or just for general snacking throughout Thanksgiving day.  If you put them out, people will eat them.  This is a fantastic recipe... delicious!!!  I made them as donut holes in a mini muffin pan, but see the original recipe, linked below, for instructions on using a mini donut pan.
I also made a pretty big goof-up, but, in my opinion, it didn't hurt the overall taste.  :)  Instead of dipping the donut holes in the melted butter, I actually dumped the melted butter all over the donut holes and then covered them in the cinnamon sugar mixture before shaking to coat.  I ended up with a bunch of very buttery, gooey, cinnamony-sugary delicious little balls.  I wouldn't say it was a bad mistake, but I may try making them "correctly" next time for a neater bite.  :)
Source: Blue-Eyed Bakers

For Donuts:
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoons ground cloves
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup milk
For Coating:
1/2 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
1-2 tablespoons cinnamon (more if you're a cinnamon lover)
Preheat oven 350 F.  Grease a mini muffin pan and set aside.
In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and spices together and set aside.
In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) whisk together oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the mixture and stir until just combined, careful not to over mix.
Fill each mini muffin cup, 2/3 full, with the batter.  The donut cups should be fairly full, but not overflowing. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until donuts spring back when gently pressed.  Turn donuts out onto a wire rack and allow to cool for a few minutes.
While the donuts are cooling, melt butter in one bowl and combine the sugar and cinnamon in another.  When donuts are still hot (but not too hot to touch), quickly dip each donut in melted butter, then coat in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Serve immediately.
*Note: If you're not going to serve the donuts immediately, you can bake them up to a day in advance and store them in an airtight container.  Do not coat them in the butter/cinnamon-sugar mixture until just before serving or they may get soggy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Great book.  I really enjoyed this.  It had my attention from only a few pages in, and held it all the way through.  Just a good, simple novel that makes you think enough, without being overly challenging on the mind.

Book description from Amazon:

In the 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were boyhood pals in a small town in rural Mississippi. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry was the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, black single mother. But then Larry took a girl to a drive-in movie and she was never seen or heard from again. He never confessed . . . and was never charged.

More than twenty years have passed. Larry lives a solitary, shunned existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has become the town constable. And now another girl has disappeared, forcing two men who once called each other "friend" to confront a past they've buried for decades.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Teriyaki Meatballs

Teriyaki Meatballs

Makes about 15 meatballs.

A fun twist on traditional meatballs for the Asain food-lover in your household!
Source: Budget Bytes

Meatball ingredients:
1 lb. ground pork
1 large egg
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
2 inches fresh ginger
1/2 tsp soy sauce
2 whole green onions
10-15 cranks freshly cracked black pepper

Teriyaki glaze ingredients:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 T. toasted sesame oil
1 T. rice vinegar
2 inches fresh ginger
2 T. corn starch
1 T. sesame seeds

Rice bowl ingredients:
2.5 cups dry jasmine rice
3.75 cups water
2 whole green onions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the ground pork in a large bowl. Peel the ginger and then grate it using a small holed cheese grater into the bowl. Mince the garlic, slice the green onions, and add them to the bowl. Also add the egg, breadcrumbs, soy sauce, and black pepper. Mix these ingredients really well until it is all evenly combined (clean hands work best).

Cover a baking sheet with foil. Roll the meatball mixture into small balls, about one tablespoon each. You should yield about 30 meatballs. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet as you roll them. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown (about 35-40 minutes).

While the meatballs are in the oven, begin cooking the rice according to the package directions: Place the rice and water in a medium pot, cover, and bring to a rapid boil over high heat. As soon as it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Allow to simmer on low for 20 minutes, then turn the heat off and let the rice rest, undisturbed, until the rest of the meal is complete. The rice will continue to steam even after the heat is turned off, so don't remove the lid.

While the meatballs are in the oven, also prepare the teriyaki glaze. In a medium pot combine the soy sauce, water, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Peel and grate the ginger into the pot. Heat over a low flame until the brown sugar is dissolved (just a few minutes).

Dissolve the cornstarch in just enough water to make it pourable. Pour it into the pot with the glaze ingredients. Turn the heat up to medium high, stir and cook until thickened. It should thicken as soon as it begins to simmer. Once thickened, add the sesame seeds.

When the meatballs come out of the oven, transfer them from the baking sheet into the pot with the glaze. Stir to coat. Fluff the rice with a fork. Build the bowls by placing one cup of rice in a bowl, add five meatballs and a couple of spoons of extra teriyaki glaze, then sprinkle a few sliced green onions over top.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ultimate Pretzel-Crusted Peanut Butter Cookie Candy Brownie Bars

Ultimate Pretzel-Crusted Peanut Butter Cookie Candy Brownie Bars

Makes 24-30 squares, depending how you cut them.

Repeat the title over and over again.  You won't ever get frustrated at how long the name of this dessert is, because, well, let's be honest... everything in the name is pretty much awesome.  And when you put them together, things get even better.  I made the horrid mistake of purchasing too few Reese's peanut butter cups.  The package I bought had, what looked like, quite a few, but I was short, which is why I ended up chopping them into pieces and scattering them on top of the dough instead of placing them down whole as instructed in the recipe.  My way didn't take too much away from the ultimate goal, but I think I'll try the "right" way when making these again in the future.  
Source: Baby Gizmo

2 ½ cups crushed butter pretzels
1 cup melted butter
5 tbsp sugar
Betty Crocker Peanut Butter Cookie Mix and all the ingredients the mix calls for
Family size Brownie Mix and all the ingredients the mix calls for
Snack Size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (2 – 10.5oz bags) ***Buy exactly this to have enough.  If you skimp on peanut butter cups, you'll be forced to face the tragedy I did: cutting them to make ends meet.  Avoid this, is possible.

Crush the pretzels in a food processor or however you like to crush pretzels. Any kind of pretzels will do but I recommend using crushed butter pretzels (you find them next to the regular pretzels and they are literally called “Synder Butter Pretzels”) for the recipe. I also recommend not crushing the pretzels to dust but keep some small pieces to keep the crust crunchy. Mix the melted butter (melt in microwave), sugar and pretzel crumbs. Press into lightly greased 13×9 pan. Set aside pretzel crust and make the cookie dough.

Make the cookie dough according to the package. Lightly press the cookie dough evenly on top of the pretzel crust.

Unwrap 24 snack-size Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and cover the cookie dough with the candy.

Whip up your brownie mix and pour evenly over the Peanut Butter Cups.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes and then enjoy!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pumpkin-White Chocolate Blondies

Pumpkin-White Chocolate Blondies

Makes 9"x13" pan.

Wait a minute... Thanksgiving is two weeks away??  Already?!?  Hope you are planning your menus, and including these blondies in the line-up!
I will make these again... probably every year... if not multiple times a year.  They were easy to make, easy to serve, and deliciously moist and flavorful.  The addition of white chocolate chips makes it even more desirable.  
Slightly adapted from: Pink Parsley

2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 package (12 ounces) white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 28-32 minutes. Cool completely in pan.
Cut into squares and serve.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cubano Sandwiches

Cubano Sandwiches

Serves 1.

Here's a classic sandwich recipe to use up your leftover pork!

2 slices white bread
Leftover pork loin, thinly sliced
2 slices deli ham
2 slices Swiss cheese
Butter, for buttering bread

Assemble sandwiches while heating a skillet over medium heat.  Butter outsides of sandwich then grill on skillet, until bread is golden brown and sandwich is heated through.

Cut in half and enjoy!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Oven Hot Dogs

Oven Hot Dogs

Makes 8 loaded hot dogs.

Here's a way to bring summer back, inside your oven.  It's also a great way to feed a crowd of hungry teenagers.  So tell your kids to invite a few friends over for Friday night dinner, and cook these.  You might even love them too.  :)  Just remember -- use a fork!  Picking up to eat may prove dangerous...
Source: Alyssa B. Young

8 hot dogs
8 hot dog buns
1 can of chili
1/2 an onion, diced
cheddar cheese
sweet relish
Line inside of hot dog buns with mayonnaise and sweet relish. Evenly add mustard. Fill with hot dogs and squish into a 13×9″ baking pan.
Top hot dogs with chili, cheese, and diced onion. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350F for 45 minutes.
Carefully remove from the pan with a spatula.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Chicken Chili Enchiladas

Chicken Chili Enchiladas

Serves 3-4.

The original recipe linked below gives Weight Watchers points for her recipe.  Please note that I made changes after I found that the chicken filling would only fill 6 tortillas instead of 8.  I also wasn't able to find turkey chili without beans, but the addition of beans didn't bother us.  A good enchilada recipe that isn't too bad for you!
Slightly adapted from: Pointless Meals

1-1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can ( 4 oz) diced green chilies
8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
8 La Tortilla Factory Whole Wheat Tortillas
1 c. salsa
1 ( 15 oz) can Hormel Turkey Chili Without Beans
3/4 c. reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a large baking dish with nonstick spray.
Coat a large skillet with nonstick spray. Cook chicken until no longer pink. Let stand 5 minutes, then shred.
Beat cream cheese with green chilies; add chicken and mix.
Fill each tortilla evenly, fold and place seam-side down in the baking dish.

In a saucepan, combine chili and salsa. Heat through. Spoon chili mix over tortillas. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and bake 20 minutes or until heated through. Top with chopped cilantro.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

This book is addicting!  I wanted to keep reading and keep reading.  I will say, though, the ending was a bit disappointing.  I did not like it much.  However, it doesn't stop me for recommending this book.  It's a great, thrilling read!  Perfect to start on Halloween!

Book description from Amazon:

Marriage can be a real killer. 
   One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn. 
   On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 
   As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
   With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cake Batter Fudge

Cake Batter Fudge

Makes about 25 pieces.

Use Halloween sprinkles and make this for your gathering tomorrow night.  It is deliciously good, and surprisingly simple.  Anyone can make this... in like less than 5 minutes.  Go, now, dear reader, and make. this. fudge!
As you'll see noted, I had to add quite a bit more cake mix and sugar than originally written, but consistency aside, I'm glad I did because my fudge would have come out too thin without it.  As you'll see in the photos, the fudge I ended up with is, in my opinion, a great thickness.
Slightly adapted from: Baked From a Box

1 cup yellow cake mix (I had to add almost an additional 1 cup in the mixing stage after the microwave)
1 cup confectioners' sugar (I had to add almost an additional 1 cup in the mixing stage after the microwave)
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sprinkles

Mix cake mix and confectioners' sugar together in a microwave-safe bowl.

Add butter and milk.  Do not mix.  Place bowl in microwave and heat on high for 2 minutes.

Mix well; add in sprinkles and continue to mix.

Dump into an 8"x8" pan (no larger) that has been coated with non-stick spray.  Spread even and let set in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Cut into pieces and enjoy!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Asian Ground Beef Lettuce Wraps

Asian Ground Beef Lettuce Wraps

Serves 4.

Lettuce wraps are messy.  I can't figure out to eat them while simultaneously looking like a lady.  Oh well, stuff your face and feast on these.
Source: Dine and Dish

16 Boston Bibb or butter lettuce leaves
1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons minced pickled ginger
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Asian chili pepper sauce (optional)
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil

Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not tear them. Set aside.

In a medium skillet over high heat, brown the ground beef in 1 tablespoon of oil, stirring often and reducing the heat to medium, if necessary. Drain, and set aside to cool. Cook the onion in the same pan, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar, and chili pepper sauce to the onions, and stir. Stir in chopped water chestnuts, green onions, and sesame oil, and continue cooking until the onions just begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.

Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter, and pile meat mixture in the center. To serve, allow each person to spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf. Wrap the lettuce around the meat like a burrito, and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fifty Shades Freed

Fifty Shades Freed by E L James

This book -- the third of the trilogy -- took me the longest to get through.  In fact, I almost abandoned it.  :::GASP:::  I must have issues with trilogies.  I never read the third book of the Hunger Games trilogy.  :::DOUBLE GASP:::  But, in the end, I'm glad I was able to finish this one; tie it up with a nice neat bow.  But, I will say, as much as this third book is similar to the others, it has a slow, slow start.  It definitely picks up after a while.  If you liked books one and two, finish the series and read this one too!

Book description from Amazon:

When unworldly student Anastasia Steele first encountered the driven and dazzling young entrepreneur Christian Grey it sparked a sensual affair that changed both of their lives irrevocably. Shocked, intrigued, and, ultimately, repelled by Christian’s singular erotic tastes, Ana demands a deeper commitment. Determined to keep her, Christian agrees.

Now, Ana and Christian have it all—love, passion, intimacy, wealth, and a world of possibilities for their future. But Ana knows that loving her Fifty Shades will not be easy, and that being together will pose challenges that neither of them would anticipate. Ana must somehow learn to share Christian’s opulent lifestyle without sacrificing her own identity. And Christian must overcome his compulsion to control as he wrestles with the demons of a tormented past.

Just when it seems that their strength together will eclipse any obstacle, misfortune, malice, and fate conspire to make Ana’s deepest fears turn to reality.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Pancake Topping

Apple Cinnamon Pancake Topping

Serves 4-6.

I was a victim of the sample.  While browsing in Williams Sonoma with the wee one, we were offered samples of their oatmeal pancakes with apple cinnamon topping.  It was amazing.  Even the wee one started signing "more" after her paper cup was empty too.  Sorry, wee one, it's against etiquette to ask for a second sample.  
I couldn't leave the store without knowing I could make these myself at home.  So I purchased the oatmeal pancake mix -- at the price of $14.95, nonetheless -- and made them the following week.  They were, once again, fab.  But I will go broke if I continue to buy the mix, so please help me out.  I need a great oatmeal pancake recipe.  These pancakes were dense, moist, and flavorful.  The oats had been ground, because there were no whole oats in the mix.  If you have anything to share, please do!  Thanks!
Source: Williams Sonoma

1 oatmeal pancake mix from Williams Sonoma, prepared to package instructions

3 apples, peeled and chopped
3 T. butter
3 T. brown sugar
1/2-1 t. ground cinnamon

Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet.  Add chopped apples and cook until soft.  Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon.  Mix well.  Serve over oatmeal pancakes.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Stromboli

Buffalo Chicken Stromboli

Serves 4, or 2 very hungry eaters.  I sliced into 8 strips to serve at a party.

I used shredded chicken instead of turkey, and a premade pizza dough.  This is a fantastic stromboli.  LOVED it!
Slightly adapted from: Naturally Ella

I used a canister of premade pizza dough, but the blog linked above has a recipe for homemade, if you prefer

1 lb. boneless chicken breast
1/4 cup Frank's red hot sauce
2 T. butter, melted
1 cup diced onions
3/4 cup bleu cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella
Oil, parmesan, and fresh parsley for topping

Cook chicken on a grill, in a skillet, or by poaching.  Once chicken is cooked through, shred or dice into 1-2″-1″ cubes and combine with Frank’s red hot and butter.  Increase the amount of Frank's if you prefer a spicier dish.

Pre-heat oven to 425˚ with a baking stone (if you have one).

Role out pizza dough into a 16″x10″ rectangle with the 16″ edge parallel to your body. Leaving a 1″ border, spread chicken over dough (drizzle a little of the extra Frank’s over the chicken-about 2-3 T). Sprinkle Onions, Bleu cheese and mozzarella on top of that (the amount of cheese is really up to you).  Beginning with the side closest to you, begin to roll the stromboli away from you. When finished, seal each end edge and the long edge by pinching the dough. Cut three-four slits in the top and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh parsley and parmesan. Slide onto baking stone (or sheet tray) and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the filling begins to bubble out and the crust is golden. Let cool slightly before cutting.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fall Bark

Fall Bark

Serves 6-8.

A dear friend made this and brought it over as dessert for our shared family dinner.  It was delicious and loved by all.  A beautiful and tasty autumn treat!
Source: Real Simple

  • 1/2 pound white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup miniature pretzels
  • 1/2 cup candy corn
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries

  • Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment, leaving an overhang on 2 sides.

  • Heat the chocolate in a double boiler or medium heatproof bowl set over (but not in) a saucepan of simmering water, stirring often, until melted and smooth.

  • Spread the chocolate in the prepared pan and sprinkle with the pretzels, candy corn, and dried cranberries. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.

  • Remove the bark from the pan and break into pieces.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Buttermilk Roast Chicken

Buttermilk Roast Chicken

Serves 4.

The recipe was good, and easy!  But I keep trying and trying, and I just can't get myself to love bone-in chicken.  It's just a pain to eat, in my book.  So I'll use this recipe again and try it out on boneless, skinless breasts.  If drumsticks tickle your fancy, though, by all means roast away!  If you try boneless, skinless, just remember that your cooking time will decrease.
Source: Smitten Kitchen

2 cups buttermilk
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 tablespoon table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, plus extra for sprinkling (I used Hungarian, a smoked one would also be delicious)
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken parts (we used all legs)
Drizzle of olive oil
Flaked or coarse sea salt, to finish

Whisk buttermilk with garlic, table salt, sugar, paprika and lots of freshly ground black pepper in a bowl. Place chicken parts in a gallon-sized freezer bag (or lidded container) and pour buttermilk brine over them, then swish it around so that all parts are covered. Refrigerate for at least 2 but preferably 24 and up to 48 hours.

When ready to roast, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking dish with foil (not absolutely necessary, but Nigella suggested it and I never minded having dish that cleaned up easily). Remove chicken from buttermilk brine and arrange in dish. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle with additional paprika and sea salt to taste. Roast for 30 minutes (for legs; approximately 35 to 40 for breasts), until brown and a bit scorched in spots. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glaze Pork Tenderloin

Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glaze Pork Tenderloin

Serves 6.

Follow the link below for more appetizing photos of this dish, because it is fab.  My photo doesn't do it justice (wait, have I said that before?) because I am bad about staging dishes.  When dinner's ready, dinner's ready, and there are hungry mouths to feed!  So I snap one like this.  B-a-d, I know.  But trust me when I say that this recipe is worth your time... and it won't require much of it!  It's tender and juicy and the glaze is just delicious.  Leftovers make great sandwiches, so make the entire recipe!
Slightly adapted from: C&C Marriage Factory

3 lbs. boneless pork tenderloin (mine was divided into two 1-1/2 lb. tenderloins)
1 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup water

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Combine sage, salt, pepper and garlic. Rub over roast. Place in slow cooker with 1/2 cup water. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. 

About 1 hour before roast is done, combine ingredients for glaze in small sauce pan. Heat and stir until mixture thickens. Brush roast with glaze 2 or 3 times during the last hour or two of cooking. 

Serve with remaining glaze on the side.

Monday, October 15, 2012

BBQ Meatballs

BBQ Meatballs

Makes 20.

Yum!  A great "man meal."
Source: Whatever...

2 lbs. ground beef
1-1/2 cups cracker crumbs
1 T. mustard
2 medium onions, chopped (I recommend one large)
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk

BBQ Sauce:
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 t. mustard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all meatball ingredients; form into 20 large balls.  Bake for 45 minutes.

Mix together sauce ingredients; spread over meatballs and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, or until bubbly.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Green Bean "Fries"

Green Bean "Fries"

Serves 4.

Delicious!  My new go-to for green beans.
Slightly adapted from: Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom

1-lb. Green Beans (blogger suggested Trader Joe's Haricot Verts which are thin, crispy and already prepped for you)
1 Tbs. olive oil, melted (or enough to lightly coat the green beans)
1 tsp. Kosher Sea Salt (or to taste)
2 cloves fresh Garlic, minced
Preheat oven to 400 deg. F.
Rinse, trim and pat dry the green beans (if it hasn't been done already).
Place green beans on a baking sheet and toss with oil, salt and garlic. Spread green beans in an even layer.
Bake for about 10 minutes if you like your green beans al dente, longer if you prefer your green beans soft. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Beef & Cheese "Foldover"

Beef & Cheese "Foldover"

Serves 4.

Super easy, great-tasting meal for those busy nights.  Kid-friendly, too!  I replaced half the corn with black beans, added some taco seasoning, and baked it on crescent roll dough instead of Bisquick baking mix.
Adapted from: Kraft

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup ketchup
2 T. A.1. Original Steak Sauce
1 T. taco seasoning
1 container refrigerated crescent roll dough (the non-perforated "sheet" is easiest to use)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Brown meat with onions in a large skillet; drain.  Return to skillet.  Stir in corn, black beans, ketchup, and steak sauce; set aside.

Unroll crescent roll dough on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Turn up edges to create a crust.  Spoon meat mixture onto the dough; spread to within 1" of edge.  Top with shredded cheddar.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Caramel Apple Surprise Cookies

Caramel Apple Surprise Cookies

Makes about 20-22.

Okay, so I must confess... My cookies turned out okay.  I mean, my photo looks decent, right?  And they tasted great!  But I kinda struggled through the process.  For one, I needed a lot of dough to cover the caramel, so I got far less cookies than the original blogger.  For two, even with all that dough, I still had issues with the caramel oozing out onto the cookie sheet, and then through the wire rack while cooling.  So I lost a lot of caramel... to my counter top.  But, they were still great, and very fall-like.  I just need to figure out how to clean up the process.
Source: Hot Polka Dot

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup apple, skinned and chopped
3 dozen caramels, flattened slightly

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper (I used Silpat liners) and set them aside.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars. Add the eggs and vanilla then blend it in. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt then stir it into the butter mixture. Gently mix in the chopped apples. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to stiffen it up.
Scoop a heaping tbsp of dough for each cookie then roll it into a ball and flatten it into a disc between your palms. Place the slightly smushed caramel into the center and fold the edges of dough to cover it well, making sure to pinch any edges that meet. Form it back into a ball and place it onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake them for 10 – 11 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Transfer them to a cooling rack and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup

Serves 6.

I increased the amount of veggies and broth in this fantastic soup.  It's such a simple recipe, and such a classic dish, I'm disappointed in myself that I haven't been making this for years already.  This winter, though?  We will eat it.  A lot.
Adapted from: Iowa Girl Eats

1 Tablespoon butter2 teaspoons olive oil1/2 onion, finely chopped2 large carrots (or about 20 mini carrots), thinly sliced2 ribs celery, choppedsalt & pepper2 garlic cloves, minced2 chicken breasts, shredded or cubed64 oz chicken broth* (buy an extra can if you plan to make-ahead; see note)8 oz frozen egg noodles

Melt butter and olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrot, celery, salt & pepper, and saute for 8-10 minutes or until soft. If you feel like you need to add more oil, add a splash of chicken broth instead and cover the pot with a lid so veggies can steam.

Add in minced garlic and saute for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Add chicken and chicken broth, turn the heat up to high and bring the soup to a boil. Add egg noodles and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until noodles are tender. Serve with a good hunk of bread and enjoy!
*If pre-making, let cool then refrigerate. You will need to add in an additional can of chicken broth when re-heating as the egg noodles will have soaked up some broth.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate Chips

Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate Chips

Makes 12-14

It's October.  Bring some pumpkin into your life... especially when it's as easy as this recipe!
Source: Cupcakes! from The Cake Mix Doctor

1 package (17.8 oz.) chocolate chip muffin mix
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare muffin tin with liners.

Place the muffin mix in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.  Place the pumpkin, milk, egg, and pumpkin pie spice in the well and stir the wet ingredients with a fork to combine and break up the egg yolk.  Stir the wet and dry ingredients together with a wooden spoon just until combined.  The batter will still be lumpy.  Spoon or scoop 1/3 cup batter into each prepared muffin cup, filling it three quarters of the way full. 

Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until the muffins spring back when lightly pressed with your finger.  Let the pan cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins and allow them to continue to cool on wire rack.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

Serves 6.

I added some Ranch to make this dish a little milder, and reduced the amount of blue cheese after realizing it was a bit overwhelming.  It's rich  with the recommended 1-1/2 cups, but if that's your groove, then go for it! 
Slightly adapted from: The Girl Who Ate Everything

8 ounces small uncooked pasta (such as penne)
1/2 cup Frank’s hot sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1/8 cup Ranch dressing
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
2 cups precooked chicken or rotisserie chicken, chopped
3/4 cups crumbled blue cheese
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
(optional) 1/2 cup red onion, chopped

Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente in adequately salted water. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water (If serving hot don't use cold water).

While pasta is cooking, whisk together hot sauce, oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, and celery salt in small bowl until well combined.

Place the pasta in large mixing bowl. Stir in chicken, blue cheese, carrots, celery, and onion (optional). Slowly mix in desired amount of dressing. You may not want to use all of the dressing.
Can be served cold or hot. If serving cold, refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chicken Cobb Salad

Chicken Cobb Salad

Serves 4.

Probably my favorite go-to salad... but it definitely takes some thought since I rarely have all of these ingredients on hand.  I took my photo before adding the red onions -- oops!  Don't forget those (or DO forget if you aren't wild about onions).

Romaine lettuce, cleaned and chopped
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
7-8 strips bacon, chopped and cooked
4 hard-boiled eggs, thinly sliced
1 avocado, thinly sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1/2 red onion, diced
Dressing of your choice -- Ranch or Bleu Cheese?

Top romaine lettuce with listed ingredients, and serve with Ranch or Bleu cheese dressing.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Grilled Chicken with Sweet and Sour Glaze

Grilled Chicken with Sweet and Sour Glaze

Serves 4.

The original recipe uses pork chops instead of chicken, so feel free to try both.  It is a fantastic recipe.  Great for a weeknight dinner, yet still fancy enough for entertaining a dinner party.  And even though we grilled the chicken breasts, you could easily cook them inside to make this recipe work for all seasons.
Adapted from: Weeknights with Giada

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 scallions, pale green and white parts only, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, at room temperature
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chicken: Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, to taste, and sprinkle with the red pepper flakes. Grill chicken into cooked through.  Set aside and keep warm under foil, if necessary.

Glaze: Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, honey, garlic, scallions, and rosemary to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the honey has dissolved. Simmer for 9 minutes, or until slightly reduced. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve chicken with glaze on top.