Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Ribbon Jello Salad

This jello salad appeared on our Christmas dinner table every year growing up- and for good reason. Its delicious, festive, and easy to put together. I've probably made it for the last 9 Christmases in my own home since I've been married. Its definitely a great tradition.
courtesy google images
Christmas Ribbon Jello Salad
Becky Jewkes

1 3-oz. pkg. Lemon Jello
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained
1 3-oz. pkg. Lime Jello
1 3-oz. pkg. red Jello (I use raspberry)
1 3-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 cup fresh whipped cream + some for topping

Bottom Layer: Dissolve lime jello according to package directions. Pour into a 9X13 dish and set until firm.
Middle Layer: Dissolve lemon jello according to package directions. Let set until partially firm. Mix whipped cream, cream cheese, and pineapple and fold into the lemon jello. Carefully pour over first layer and set until firm.
Top layer: Dissolve red jello according to package directions. Carefully pour on top of the middle layer. Set until firm.
Top jello salad with thin layer of fresh whipped cream.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sweet Fruit Muffin

Photo from Tasty Sensations blog

Super yummy!  I made these with a mixed frozen fruit from Costco...super good and nutritious feeling!

Sweet Fruit Muffins

Recipe from tastysensations.blogspot.com

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp. pure almond extract
2 c. fresh blueberries - rinsed, drained and patted dry
1 c. chopped strawberries
2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray the top of a muffin pan with non-stick coating, and line with paper liners.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, 1 1/4 cups sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix together 1 3/4 cup of the flour and baking powder. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk and almond extract, mixing just until incorporated. Crush 1/4 of the blueberries and stawberries, and stir into the batter. Mix the rest of the whole blueberries and chopped strawberries with the remaining 1/4 cup of the flour, and fold into the batter. Scoop into muffin cups. Sprinkle tops lightly with sugar. Makes a dozen very large muffins, or 24 mini muffins + 6 large muffins.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until golden brown, and tops spring back when lightly tapped (about 18-20 minutes for mini muffins)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nantucket Cranberry and Blackberry Pie

                                       
                                                            picture courtesy of pioneerwomancooks.com


I wonder what the precentage of recipes on here are desserts? What does that say about us Jewkes women? We LOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVEEEEEE sweets. However, ladies...the sweets are not lovin me back. So....come New Years lets get some low-cal, low fat stuff on here, alrighty? :) Anyway...this recipe is adapted from Pioneer Woman. Nuff said. Her's was just a cranberry pie but my sister-in-law Jen -who turned me on to the recipe- added blackberries and I LURV it. Its called a pie but its a lot like a cobbler. Its perfect for the holidays because it acutally uses cranberries which I never know what to do with but always feel like I should. Y'know?


NANTUCKET CRANBERRY AND BLACKBERRY PIE

■Butter, For Greasing
■1 bag of cranberries and one large container of blackberries
■1.5 cups Pecans, Chopped (measure, Then Chop)
■1 1/3 cups Sugar
■2 cup Flour
■2 cup Sugar
■2 stick Unsalted Butter, melted
■4 whole Eggs, Lightly Beaten
■2 teaspoon Pure Almond Extract
■1/2 teaspoon Salt
■Florida Crystals Demarara Sugar For Sprinkling (brand is important here: use florida crystals brand!)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Generously butter two cake pans or pie pans. Wash berries and add cranberries and blackberries to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle on chopped pecans, then sprinkle on 2/3 cup sugar on each pie.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, 2 cups sugar, melted butter, eggs, almond extract, and salt. Stir gently to combine.

Pour batter slowly over the top in large "ribbons" in order to evenly cover the surface. Spread gently if necessary.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. 10 minutes before removing from oven, sprinkle surface with demarara sugar for a little extra crunch.

Cut into wedges and serve with ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

Monday, December 12, 2011

no-boil macaroni and cheese

Photo from plainchicken.com

I loved this recipe because I could cook it without boiling the noodles.  Super easy!

No-Boil Macaroni and Cheese
  

Recipe from plainchicken.com
serves 8

1 (16 oz) pkg elbow macaroni
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
2 cups chicken broth
4 cups shredded cheese - I used a cheddar jack blend
8 oz softened cream cheese, cubed (I used light)
2 tsp onion salt
1 tsp dry mustard
fresh ground pepper
1/2 c flour

In a large bowl, stir together the macaroni, milk and chicken broth. Add the remaining ingredients and mix together using a large wooden spoon. Pour into a very large, deep casserole dish. *Make sure all the pasta is covered.  It won't cook if it isn't in the liquid mixture.  I just pressed the noodles down in the pan until they were all covered.*  

Bake uncovered in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until pasta is fully cooked. Turn oven broiler on for the last two minutes of cooking time to brown up the top part of the mac and cheese. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cinnamon and White Chocolate Caramel Apple

You guys...seriously. I just need to emphasize that this is one of the BEST desserts I have EVER had. Its amazing. I don't like green apples, don't love white chocolate and don't love cinnamon. Let me just say that the marriage of these flavors is intoxicating. Am I making myself clear? You may think you don't want these apples- YOU DO! I also wanna add that I did not take a pic of my apples b/c whenever I take pics of my food it never looks that good. So...I found this one which is....decent. Mine are prettier because I use demarara sugar (see pic above) and its very coarse and gorgeous!
             I keep on saying mine. I need to give credit where credit is due. I got this recipe from my amazing and talented cousin- Katie. And I have probably eaten 12 of these apples in the past couple weeks. I LOVE finding excuses to make them so I can eat them. I shouldn't admit that. Before I go any further though there is one thing that is absolutely imperative with making these: YOU HAVE TO FOLLOW ALL OF THESE TIPS/INSTRUCTIONS for them to turn out. Trust me. Me being impatient, I tried to cut out a few and they were ugly and the caramel was crispy not soft, etc. etc. If you have had problems with caramel apples before (as I have) if you follow these tips you won't! They will be gorgeous. And you MUST MUST MUST buy the coarse sugar. The texture and flavor MAKES these. Ok, do I sound crazy yet? Good. Because I am crazy over these apples. Moving on....

CINNAMON AND WHITE CHOCOLATE CARAMEL APPLES
INGREDIENTS
-One bag of Kraft caramels (Wal-mart sells the "chips" instead of the squares specifically for baking. They are awesome.
-5 medium granny smith green apples
-Popsicle sticks
-One package of white chocolate for candy making ("almond bark", "quick candy", whatever the store has)
-1 cup of demarara sugar (FLORIDA Crystals brand-- very important!...others brands taste different)
-1 t cinnamon
-1/4 t vegetable shortening

DIRECTIONS (listen up folks...do NOT stray from these directions!)
1. Wash and DRY your COLD refrigerated green apples. Insert sticks and make sure they are firmly in, tugging slightly. Make sure apples are fully dried before moving on to step 2.
2. Prepare your "space". Get out cookie sheet or some flat surfaced item (tray for example) that will fit in your freezer. That's right, your freezer. Spray surface with pam.
2. Melt caramels as directed on package. (I used microwave method and its great. Just be sure to NOT to overcook and stir every thirty seconds after the initial 1 minute. The stirring will often times melt remaining small chunks of caramel and you might not even need to put it back in.)
3. You need to work somewhat fast here. That's why we already prepared the tray/cookie sheet. Dip apples into caramel making swirling motion with your wrists. Lift up and let excess caramel drip for a few seconds and then take rubber spatula and scrape caramel off the bottom of the apple. Put on tray and immediately place in freezer. Do not wait until all the apples are dipped to place in freezer. I did this and that ruined it. Those first initial seconds are crucial to the caramel setting evenly around apple. Con't with the other apples  and carry each one to freezer and place on tray one at a time after dipping. Katie's little tip here was to have a sliced green apple spread out on a plate in slivers and she drizzled remaining caramel over those. Don't waste ya'll!
4. Prepare your cinnamon sugar in a bowl. Mix 1 c demarara sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon sugar. Leave the spoon accessible b/c you will use this to sprinkle sugar on top. Set a paper plate beside the bowl with sugar in it.
5. Melt the package of white chocolate in microwave. Add 1/4 t of veggie shortening for workability (its too thick without it. you can also use veggie oil but I prefer shortening). Cook in microwave at 30 second intervals. Chocolate gets hot spots in the microwave so this is super important. Stir white chocolate every 30 seconds. A lot of times stirring will melt the remaining small chunks of chocolate making it unnecessary to put back into the microwave.  Again, work fast here. Get the first apple you dipped off the tray (do NOT take tray out of freezer). Dip in DO NOT OVERCOOK. It just needs to be smooth.
           Go to the freezer and remove the first apple that you dipped with caramel. Dip in white chocolate let it excess drip for a few second and then scrape bottom with rubber spatula then hold apple over paper plate and using a spoon, sprinkle cinnamon sugar over apple generously. Do not dip in sugar. It doesn't work. This a very messy step and some white chocolate will drip off. That's why we are holding the apple over the plate and NOT the bowl with the sugar in it. Then run the apple back to the freezer and return it to the tray. Get the next apple and con't these steps until apples are covered in chocolate and cinnamon sugar.
6. Take remaining white chocolate and drizzle over the slivered apples then top with cinnamon sugar. Again, this is just to use all the ingredients and not to waste.
7. Let apples set-up in freezer for about ten minutes. Then transfer to fridge. These apples need to be stored in a fridge. If they are left out at room temp for a long period (we're talking hours here, not minutes) of time the caramel will slip off. But before you cut them, let them drop in temp a little. I usually let them sit out for about 10-20 minutes before I cut them. If you cut them too cold, the chocolate chips off in big pieces.

Now....Enjoy the most delicious apples you have ever eaten. And just so ya know, I had to make these three times before I got all the steps right and actually followed the directions and made the apples correctly. The tips work but don't be discouraged there is a HUGE learning curve to this process.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pumpkin Cream Trifle

Mom sent me this recipe- they made it for Thanksgiving dinner. It sounds delicious and looks amazing. You can't go wrong with pumpkin and cream cheese.
Pumpkin Cream Trifle

1st Layer:
1 pkg. spice cake
1 small pkg. instant vanilla pudding
1 c. canned pumpkin
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. water
3 large eggs
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and blend with electric mixer on low for one minute. Scrape down bowl and blend at medium for two minutes. Spray 9X13 pan and pour batter into it. Bake for 32-39 minutes, or until cake tests done. Cool completely. When ready to assemble trifle, cut into 1-inch cubes.

Second Layer:
1 large pkg. instant cheesecake flavored instant pudding
2 cups cold milk
2 cups freshly whipped cream (unsweetened)
1 bag Heath Toffee bits (by chocolate chips in grocery store)

Combine pudding with milk and blend with whisk until it starts to thicken. Fold in whipped cream.

To assemble the trifle: Place 1/3 of cake into large bowl, followed by 1/3 cream mixture and then 1/3 toffee bits. Repeat two more times. Refrigerate.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Five Star Berry Cobbler

I am frequently in the mood for cobbler. Over the years I have tried many recipes. All have been a little disappointing. On a funny note I remember I made one about two years and my dad teased me that it should have been called "essence of blackberry cobbler" b/c it hardly had any fruit in it. :) This one is called five star for a reason folks. Its from allrecipes.com and its rated five stars- literally. YUM! Everyone loved it. Oh, and one other thing is that cobbler looks gorgeous and looks like you spent a lot of time making it but we all know that cobbler is a cinch! I made a few changes. I doubled the crust on top, added coarse sugar, used frozen blackberries instead of fresh and the original recipe throws in a cast iron skillet with some complicated steps. Go ahead if you have one.

Five Star Berry Cobbler from allrecipes.com adapted by Claire
• 2 cup all-purpose flour

• 2 cups white sugar, divided and coarse sugar to taste
• 2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 12 tablespoons cold butter
• 1/2 cup boiling water
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1/4 cup cold water
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 4 cups fresh or frozen blackberries (any berries will work...or fruit for that matter. THAW a little if using frozen berries)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
2. In a large bowl mix the flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in 1/2 cup boiling water just until mixture is evenly moist.
3. In a separate bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in cold water. Mix in remaining 1 cup sugar, lemon juice, and blackberries. Transfer to frying pan and bring to a boil on stove top, stirring frequently. Transfer to 8x13 ungreased pan. Drop dough on the top of fruit mixture by spoonfuls. Sprinkle coarse sugar (demerara sugar is YUM) Place on the foil lined baking sheet.
4. Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until dough is golden brown. (mine took slightly longer..maybe 30")

Serve with ice cream- DUH!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Brake

                                                                     picture courtesy

I am not a huge fan of pumpkin bread (but its growing on me- no pun intended haha!). However, I LOVE LOVE LOVE spice cake. And the simplicity of this recipe caught my eye as well. This is a combination of a bread and a cake, thus the name "brake". Adapted from bloggingitswhatsfordinner.blogspot.com.

PUMPKIN SPICE BRAKE

1 box of spice cake (I used Duncan Hines)

1/2 cup oil
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
3 eggs
1/2 cup water
Demerara cinnamon sugar (see below!)

Combine demerara sugar  (see pic)and cinnamon to taste (about 1/4 c. sugar to 1/4 t. cinnamon). You can use regular sugar but this sugar is worth the investment- its amazing! I will be posting more recipes featuring this sugar later! You can find it next to the other sugars in the baking isle. The brand is florida crystals.
Preheat oven to 350. Spray two to three bread pans. I used three pans and the bread was about 2-3 inches thick. Combine all ingredients in a bowl using a hand mixer except for water and cinnamon sugar mixture. Then add water.
Pour 1/6 batter into one pan, sprinkle some cinnamon sugar, then add 1/6 more batter. Then cover with cinnamon sugar. Repeat two more times to make three loaves. Cook for 40 minutes. Eat hot and spread each piece with butter.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Chili Potato Burritos

Photo from tasteandtell blog

Before you mark these off--listen!  These are really good and practically vegan, if you leave the cheese off.  These were a HUGE surprise.  They sound weird, but they are really, really good.

Chili Potato Burritos
Recipe from tasteandtell blog

makes 8 burritos
4 baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
milk and butter
1 cup shredded colby-jack cheese
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
8 (6-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup red enchilada sauce

Put the potatoes in a large pot of water and bring it to a boil.  Cook until tender but still firm.  Drain and mash, adding a bit of milk and butter.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, 3/4 cup of the cheese, chili powder, cumin, and garlic.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Mix in about 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce.

Spoon evenly into tortillas and roll up.  If you are going to freeze them, this is the point where you would wrap them for freezing.  If you are eating them right away, place them in a baking dish and spread the remaining enchilada sauce on top.  Top with the remaining cheese.

Bake in a 350F oven until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 15 minutes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Granola

Granola
Recipe from my MIL, Debbie Hutchings


8 c. oats (old-fashioned)
1 c. wheat germ
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. of any or all of the following:
       slivered or sliced almonds
       cashews
       sunflower seeds
       flaked coconut
       pumpkin seeds
       any other raw nut you desire
Mix well in large bowl.

In a saucepan heat:
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. oil
1 c peanut butter
1/2 c. maple syrup
3/4 c. honey

Heat until bubbly then turn off heat and add 2 tsp.vanilla.  Pour over granola mixture.

Spread onto 2 extra large baking sheets.  Bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours.  Do not overcook.  It may seem moist, that's how it's supposed to be!  Let cool.  Put back into bowl and stir in:
2 c. craisins and/or your choice of any other dried fruit.

Store in airtight containers.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Artichoke Dip

One of my all-time favorite appetizers...



Artichoke Dip
Adapted from a friend

1 large can artichoke hearts, not marinated
1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1- 8 oz. package cream cheese
small can of diced green chilies, drained (I used 3/4 of the can)
pinch of garlic salt

Dice artichoke hearts fine. Mix together with everything else. Bake, uncovered, in flat casserole dish for 20-30 minutes at 350, or until bubbly. Serve with chilled vegetables or crackers.

Thanksgiving Dressing




I'm not a big fan of stuffing a turkey. I like mine a little on the drier side rather than a big ball of mush. So I tried this recipe last week for our feast, and I loved it! I couldn't find Mrs. Cubbison's herb dressing in the store, so I used the entire box of seasoned dressing and added my own herbs--sage, thyme, and celery salt.

Thanksgiving Dressing
Jessica Sedgwick

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups chopped celery, include leaves
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 box Mrs. Cubbison Herb Dressing
1/2 box Mrs. Cubbison Seasoned Dressing
3/4 cup cooked wild rice
3/4 cup dehydrated cranberries
3/4 cup chopped peeled apples
1 1/2 cups chicken stock

Melt butter in 8-12 quart pot. Saute the celery and onions until limp. Add the herbed and seasoned dressings, rice, cranberries, and apples. Toss to mix well. Pour the chicken stock over the dressing evenly and toss to stir. Spray a 9x13 dish with non-stick vegetable spray. Lightly fill pan level. Do not pack. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Serves 8-10.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

IHOP Corn Cake Pancakes

Photo from tasteandtell blog

Weird, right?  I know these sound crazy but they are really good and tastes a lot like the IHOP pancakes.  I would add more flour next time to the batter--I thought it was a bit runny.  I served it with the delicious buttermilk syrup.  Hmm...yummy!


IHOP Corn Cake Pancakes
Recipe from tasteandtellblog
Makes 16 pancakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup butter, melted


Preheat a griddle to medium.


Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
In another medium bowl, mix eggs and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add the milk, buttermilk and melted butter; mix well.


Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with the mixer until smooth. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes.


Spray the hot griddle with nonstick spray. Spoon 1/4 cup portions of the batter onto the hot griddle and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side until brown. Serve hot with butter and maple syrup.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pork Roast with Apples and Onions

Pic courtesy of Pioneer Woman

I saw this recipe a couple weeks ago on Pioneer Woman and it just spoke to me. It looked so yummy and different and Fall-ish. I'm not a huge fan of pork and I really don't do roasts all that often any more, but I knew I just had to try this. I'll quote Pioneer Woman on this, "Oh, how I love life. For life includes dinners like this. " True, true, true. This was so different from any roast I have ever had. I loved the sweetness of the apples and the saltiness of the roast and onions. It's convinced me to start making roasts again (every once in a while isn't so bad, right?!).

Pork Roast with Apples and Onions
adapted from Pioneer Woman

  • Pork Roast (shoulder, butt, or any roast you prefer)
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups Apple Juice
  • 1 cup Beef Stock
  • 3 whole Apples, Cored And Cut Into Wedges
  • 3 whole Medium Onions, Sliced
  • 1 whole Bay Leaf

OPTIONAL: Saute onions until brown. (Or you may just add them raw to the roast.)

To make the pork roast, heat olive oil in a large pot over high heat. Salt and pepper pork roast, then sear on all sides to give it some color. Reduce heat to low. Add apple juice, beef stock, apple slices, onions, and bay leaf. Cover and simmer for 3 hours. (Or you may place in a 300 degree oven if you prefer.)

When the roast is done, remove the roast, apples, and onions to a platter. Raise heat to medium-high (to high) and boil liquid, reducing it until thick and rich. For a little extra thickness, whisk 1/4 to 1/2 cup warm water with 2 Tbl flour and then whisk into gravy sauce.

Spoon thick sauce over the roast, then cut the roast into slices. Serve with apples, onions, and mashed potatoes.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Snickerdoodle Muffins

Photo from tastykitchen.com

These seemed a little high maintenance, but they were easier than I thought they would be and they were really delicious.  The dough seemed to runny to roll in cinnamon but it actually worked well.  

Snickerdoodle Muffins

From tasty kitchen blog

Ingredients
  • 1 cup Butter, Softened
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 2-¼ cups Flour
  • ¾ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ¾ teaspoons Baking Soda
  • ¾ teaspoons Cream Of Tartar
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 cup Sour Cream
  • ¼ cups Buttermilk
  • _____
  • FOR THE TOPPING:
  • ⅔ cups Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Cinnamon

Preparation Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Prepare a muffin tin with liners. (I learned the hard way that they are too fragile for just cooking spray.)
In a mixer, combine the butter and sugar and cream until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and combine.
In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add half of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the sour cream and buttermilk and mix to combine. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until you have a smooth batter.
In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon for the topping.
Use scooper and plop a scoop of batter into the bowl with the sugar and cinnamon. Gently roll the batter in the sugar and cinnamon. Place the ball into the muffin liner.
When you have completed all of the muffins, sprinkle the leftover cinnamon sugar onto the tops of all of the muffins.
Bake the muffins at 350ºF for about 15-18 minutes or until they are golden on top and just baked through.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Baked Pull-Apart Pumpkin French Toast

I had my doubts about this recipe, but I made it this morning and loved it! It is really rich, so I didn't eat too much. My kids weren't big fans, but if you love pumpkin, this would be a fabulous Thanksgiving morning breakfast--tastes almost like pumpkin pie!








Baked Pull-Apart Pumpkin French Toast
adapted from SimpleBites.net

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 loaf hearty whole wheat bread, sliced
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons molasses
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice blend
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
Instructions
The night before…
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, pumpkin puree, 2 Tablespoons melted butter, molasses and 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice blend.
  2. Dip each slice of bread into the mixture to coat well, then place, one layer thick, on a 13×17 baking sheet. Drizzle any remaining pumpkin mixture on top of the bread.
  3. Place plastic wrap over the soaking bread slices and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
In the morning…
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter an 8 x 11 baking dish. Mix together brown sugar with remaining teaspoon of spice blend.
  2. Remove plastic wrap from the soaked bread and brush tops lightly with remaining 2 Tablespoons of melted butter. Sprinkle French toast tops all over with cinnamon sugar mixture.
  3. Starting with the smaller pieces, arrange the slices of bread in the buttered baking dish, propping them up on top of each other until the pan is full. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until the tops are crispy.
  4. Serve at once with pure maple syrup and whipped cream.

Monday, November 14, 2011

EASY Chicken Lettuce Wraps

picture courtesy

EASY Chicken Lettuce Wraps
adapted from Katie Worthington

Cook two chicken breasts in 1 T sesame oil. in frying pan (you can use veg.oil- the sesame just adds a lot of flavor). Chop (I use my food chopper). Return to pan.

Add
1 c. fresh mushrooms - chopped small
1 can water chestnuts drained - chopped small (I use a food chopper for these things as well)
5 green onion stalks sliced 3/4 of the way up
1 T. minced garlic
salt and pepper

Sauce for Stir Fry
8 tbsp. soy sauce
8 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. rice wine vinegar (I substituted white wine vinegar and it was great!)
Pour on top of stir fry and saute for another couple of minutes.
Spoon mixture into washed and dried iceburg lettuce cups and top with rice noodles prepared as directed on package (optional).



24 Hour Italian Beef ( a.k.a.French dip)

picture courtesy

We are such a chicken family. I don't really like red meat for various reasons. But on occasion I like to throw a little variety into my kitchen. I went for this Italian beef recipe that Katie gave to me and I was SO glad I did. Definitely will become a family favorite and will be on our rotation. Don't let the 24 hour thing scare you- it was a beautiful thing! I put the roast in on Saturday night and then we ate on Sunday. It was great, easy and a big crowd pleaser (not to mention impressive!). Recipe adapted from Katie Worthington.

24 Hour Italian Beef
3-5 lb roast (bottom or butt)
2 c water
1pkg Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix
1 pgk. Au Jux Gravy mix (McCormick makes it)
1 t. Italian seasoning
Buttered and toasted french bread or buns
Provolone cheese (optional)

Mix water, dressing, au jus mix, Italian seasoning in bowl. Put roast in crock pot and pour mix over roast. Cook on low overnight. In morning shred and discard any fat. Return shredded roast to crock pot and cook on low until served. Serve on toasted and buttered buns (optional) with a bowl of au jux (the juices from the crock pot) on the side. I also served this with provolone cheese. YUM!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Poppyseed Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

Photo from indiansimmer.com

So, don't let the fanciness of this recipe scare you.  I never sift anything and it all turned out great.  I only used lemon juice from the little plastic yellow lemon and it turned out great.  The frosting on these is spectacular!  These were super good, please make them--but only when you're having friends over because you want to share these, I promise.
Poppyseed Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe from Indiansimmer.com
Yield: 12 cupcakes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
zest and juice of one meyer lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup poppy seed

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 cupcake tins with paper or silicone liners.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a small bowl.
3. In bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about five minutes.
4. Beat in eggs one at a time, ensuring they are completely incorporated before continuing to the next one.
5. Mix in the zest, lemon juice and vanilla.
6. Add flour and buttermilk to batter in two separate additions, beating completely between additions.
7. Fold in poppyseeds.
8. Fill cupcake liners 7/8 of the way to the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating half way through baking time.
9. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.


Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2  cup butter, room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract (or one vanilla bean + 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1  1/2-3 cups icing sugar

1. Beat butter and cream cheese together until fluffy.
2. Slowly add in vanilla.
3. Slowly stir in icing sugar on low speed one cup at a time.
4. Pipe onto cupcakes and serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cinnamon Bun Popcorn

picture courtesy

My cousin Katie and I get together-if we are lucky- about once a year. Something that we have done over the past couple years is exchange recipes and cook and of course eat together! She is visiting me now in Augusta and I will be posting several recipes from her over the next couple days. This recipe I would definitely rate five stars. Does cinnamon bun popcorn sound weird? Yeah, kinda. Try it. I promise you will LOVE it. Its not something that would catch my eye and so I am so glad she made it for me. To die for. AND how perfect for a Christmas gift!

Cinnamon Bun Popcorn
Ingredients:
2 regular size bags of popcorn, de-kerneled ( you can used air-popped or something NON buttery. I have used Orville Redenbacher's "Tender White")
1 c. chopped pecans
1 c. brown sugar
3/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. baking soda
3 squares of white almond bark
1/4 c. Karo syrup
1 stick of butter
1 t. vanilla

Combine the following in a large glass bowl:
1 c. brown sugar
3/4 t. cinnamon
Add:
1/4 c. light Karo syrup
1 stick butter
Melt in the microwave  for 30 seconds, then take out and stir. Microwave for 2 minutes then stir. Two minutes again. Bowl will be very hot! Stir well.

Now combine in a small bowl:
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. baking soda
Add this to the caramel mixture. It will foam and fizz. When fizz goes down, quickly pour over popcorn mixed with chopped pecans in a very large bowl (maybe even two bowls to have room to mix). Work quickly here. Mix well. Microwave for another 30 seconds and stir again.

Melt three squares of almond bark in a mocriowave safe bowl stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Spread popcorn out over a sprayed cookie sheet and then drizzle on melted almond bark.
*I like to toss it ALL in almond bark although the recipe calls for a drizzle. I use the same amt.- 3 squares.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pumpkin Streusel Bars

Pic courtesy Google images

My SIL, Macy made these for dessert a few weeks ago and I fell in love with them. So much so, that I made them a week later for a dinner party we went to. I'm not usually a huge fan of pumpkin, but these were amazing. Seriously. I think I'm going to forgo the pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving this year and go for these instead.

Pumpkin Streusel Bars
Macy Bell


1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg

Stir together cake mix, melted butter, and egg until well combined. Reserve one cup for topping. Press remaining mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 pan.

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 egg
2/3 cup sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg

Whisk together pumpkin, egg, sugar, vanilla, salt and spices. Spread filling over pressed crust.

1 cup reserved cake mix
1/2 cup sugar
1 T. cinnamon
3/4 cup old fashioned oats (I used quick oats with great results)
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces

whipped cream , for serving

Stir together reserved cake mix, sugar, cinnamon, and old fashioned oats. Cut in cold butter with a fork or pastry cutter until mixture resembles course crumbs. Sprinkle over filling and bake in a 325 oven for 35-40 min.* , or until topping is lightly browned (do not over bake). Serve with whipped cream.


*Mine took more closer 50 minutes to bake.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cheddar and Herb Biscuits

Photo from melskitchencafe.com


Party in your mouth!  These things melt in your mouth and then you have to eat like 5 more.  Seriously, like 5 more.  These are amazing!  FYI, I also froze some of these and they tasted great the next time we ate them.


Cheddar and Herb Biscuits
Recipe from melskitchencafe.com


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons shortening
3 tablespoons butter, cold
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, garlic powder and salt. Cut in shortening and butter until coarse crumbs are formed. Lightly mix in grated cheese. Mix in buttermilk just until moist (dry spots here and there are ok – the biscuits will be tough if they are overmixed). Drop the biscuits onto a greased or lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until browned and golden. While the biscuits are baking, in a small bowl combine three tablespoons melted butter, 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley flakes, 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder and a pinch of salt. Right when the biscuits come out of the oven, brush the butter/herb mixture over the biscuits evenly (alternately, you can dip the top of the biscuit into the butter mixture). Serve immediately.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tillamook Baked Macaroni and Cheese

                                                            Recipe from macey's.com pic from allrecipes.com

Kinda bummed that we don't have Tillamook out here in Georgia. Would it have been tastier? Probably. Everything is with that stuff, right? I just made sure to use sharp cheddar and you HAVE to have freshly shredded. None of that waxy pre-shredded junk, mmkay?  Anywho...this was still pretty dang good. I served it with the BBQ pulled pork sandwiches (I used chicken though)and that recipe you can find on this blog.

Tillamook Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients
o 1 (12 ounce) packages macaroni
o 4 tablespoons Tillamook butter
o 4 tablespoons flour
o 1 cup milk
o 1 cup cream
o 1/2 teaspoon salt
o fresh ground black pepper, to taste
o 2 cups Tillamook cheddar cheese, shredded
o 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, buttered (I added 2 T butter to crumbs)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Cook and drain macaroni according to package directions; set aside.
3. In a large saucepan melt butter.
4. Add flour mixed with salt and pepper, using a whisk to stir until well blended.
5. Pour milk and cream in gradually; stirring constantly.
6. Bring to boiling point and boil 2 minutes (stirring constantly).
7. Reduce heat and cook (stirring constantly) 10 minutes.
8. Add shredded cheddar little by little and simmer an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese melts.
9. Turn off flame.
10. Add macaroni to the saucepan and toss to coat with the cheese sauce.
11. Transfer macaroni to a buttered baking dish.
12. Sprinkle with buttered breadcrumbs.
13. Bake 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.
14. (You can also freeze this recipe in zip-lock bags for later use - once you have mixed the macaroni along with the cheese sauce allow to cool to room temperature before adding to your freezer - I generally pull it out the night before and allow macaroni and cheese to reach room temperature; I then add the macaroni and cheese to a buttered baking dish, sprinkle with bread crumbs and then bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling. (I am sooooo doing this with the leftovers!)

Gooey Chocolate Chip Sandwich bars

                                                           Picture courtesy of recipegirl.com

Hello love. When I looked at this picture (from recipegirl.com) and saw this gooey layer in the middle and read the title I knew these bars had to be made. Um...yeah. I made them for a ward trunk-or-treat. Boy do I regret that! I got the equivalent of a bite. Serious. But I heard all about them. I should've saved and ate the whole pan. :) This is also the time that I should mention that I won the chili contest (with a total of about thirty entries) and served the White Chicken Chili found on this blog. Enjoy!

GOOEY CHOCOLATE FILLING:


2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract



COOKIES:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned rolled oats (I used quick- they worked great)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt (I used regular salt)

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I only used two here...I thought 5 cups of chocolate chips between the filling and dough was a bit much...so I opted for a more reasonable number of four! AH!!)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9x13-inch pan with parchment paper, allowing enough overhang on the long side to lift the bars from the pan.
2. Prepare the gooey chocolate filling: Place the chocolate chips and condensed milk in a small saucepan over the lowest possible heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, add vanilla, and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. Prepare the cookie dough: Place the butter and sugars in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Beat well. Whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add to the butter mixture. Beat until everything is well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Prepare the bars: Using half of the batch of cookie dough, place dollops into the prepared pan and press down lightly to even it out. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the dough and then add small dollops of the remaining dough on top. Don't worry if the dollops don't completely cover the chocolate mixture. Just spread it together as much as you can, and let some chocolate peek through.
5. Bake until lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside to cool completely, then cut into 32 bars.

**TIP: Refrigerate bars to firm up and then cut while chilled. Serve room temperature.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Pic courtesy of Mels Kitchen Cafe


The first time I made these, I pulled them out of the oven and dropped the pan on the floor. After an hour + in prep time, I cried. I just cried. Disclaimer: I'm pregnant. I knew it was good and I was dying to really try it, so I made it again about a week later. And, this time it made it safely from the oven to the cooling rack. And, it was delicious. Truly delicious. Also, you should know that I halved the recipe both times I made it and it was still a ton of dessert.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Topping
from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

INGREDIENTS:
Base:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

Cream Cheese Layer:
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Apples:
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Streusel Topping:
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

Caramel Sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cups half-and-half or cream
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, two tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine all the streusel topping ingredients and mix until crumbly. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two forks until mixture is crumbly but combined. Press evenly into a 9X13-inch baking pan lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

While the crust is baking, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Then add eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla. Mix well. Pour over the warm crust.

Spoon the apple mixture evenly over the cheesecake layer. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the apples. Bake for 30 minutes until the filling is set.

Cool the bars to room temperature. Drizzle with the caramel topping (or plate individual slices and drizzle with topping one by one).

For the caramel sauce, mix butter, brown sugar, half-and-half or cream, and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes, until thickened slightly. Add the vanilla and cook another minute to thicken further. Turn off the heat and pour the sauce into a jar. Refrigerate until cold. If the caramel sauce has cooled in the fridge long enough to harden, warm slightly before drizzling on bars.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Megan's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Seriously, make these and you will not go back!  I don't think I will every make a different chocolate chip cookie.  I don't know if it's the vanilla pudding or the almond flavoring but these are to die for!


Megan’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe from Crescent Marchant

2 cubes butter                        1 small package vanilla pudding(the powder)
2 eggs                                      3-4 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar                ¾ cup chocolate chips (I'm pretty sure I do more than this...just add til you like)
¾ cup white sugar               2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda               1/2 tsp. almond flavoring
1 tsp. salt                               Heath toffee bits (optional--these are super yummy in them)
½ tsp. baking powder


Roll into balls.  Bake at 350 degrees for 13-17 minutes.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Three-Cheese Pasta Bake


Photo from myrecipes.com

A fancy variation on mac and cheese!  This was obviously super cheesy and yummy...just look at it!


Three-Cheese Pasta Bake

Recipe from myrecipes.com


Ingredients

·                                 1 (16-ounce) package ziti
·                                 2 (10-ounce) containers refrigerated Alfredo sauce
·                                 1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
·                                 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
·                                 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
·                                 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
·                                 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
·                                 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese

Preparation

·                                 Prepare ziti according to package directions; drain and return to pot.
·                                 Stir together Alfredo sauce and sour cream; toss with ziti until evenly coated. Spoon half of mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
·                                 Stir together ricotta cheese and next 3 ingredients; spread evenly over pasta mixture in baking dish. Spoon remaining pasta mixture evenly over ricotta cheese layer; sprinkle evenly with mozzarella cheese.
·                                 Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly.