Friday, December 31, 2010

Eggnog Bundt Cake with Caramel Sauce

Yum, Yum, and Yum! I made this for one of our desserts on Christmas day, and let me just say it is divine. You have to, of course though, be an eggnog fan. If you are, make this and you will be amazed! The cake is moist, light, and just so so good and the caramel sauce is out of this world! You add ice cream to the caramel sauce, which I know is unorthodox, but I believe it made all the difference. Anyways, it is also not too heavy of a dessert so you don't get that nauseous sick feeling. Another bonus to this recipe. We all enjoyed it and so did our Christmas guests so it is a keeper for sure.

Source: Sisters Cafe Blog

1 yellow cake mix (preferably with pudding in the mix)
3 T. flour
2 c. eggnog
¼ c. butter, softened
2 eggs, slightly beaten
¼ tsp. rum extract
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Beat until smooth and creamy. Pour into greased bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes. Dust lightly with powdered sugar for presentation.

Caramel sauce:
½ lb brown sugar (~1 1/8 c.)
½ lb butter
½ lb powdered sugar (~2 cups)
½ T. cinnamon
½ qt. rich vanilla ice cream

Melt together over medium heat. Once melted, it is done, no need to bring to a boil or simmer, just melt it, it takes about 5-8 minutes. Pour warm over individual servings immediately before serving.

Cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes

For Christmas, we normally always have funeral potatoes, or yummy cheesy potatoes as one of the sides. But, this year, we invited some families over and I was not in charge of potatoes. However, the family that was going to bring the potatoes had to cancel due to illness and so I was then in charge of potatoes. I found this out about 3 hours before dinner. So, luckily, I had potatoes in the house, and luckily this awesome blog saved me! I made these in no time at all and I had all ingredients on hand, which is rare for me, and they are delicious! Everyone loved them, even the kids. SO so good! My husband is not normally an au gratin potato fan, but even he ate these all up! This complements any meal, but was especially delicious with our ham.

from My Kitchen Cafe (

*Note: the key to this dish is the evenly and very thinly sliced potatoes. It will be nearly impossible to accomplish this feat by hand, since the potatoes need to be sliced 1/8-inch thick. I don't have a mandoline, which would work perfectly, however, a slicing disk on a food processor/shredder works great and in a pinch, I've used the slicing side of my box grater. I used the slicing disk on food processor like mentioned, and it worked like a charm.

*Serves 6

1 1/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and adjust an oven rack to the middle position. In a large bowl, toss the cheeses and cornstarch together until evenly coated.

In a large gratin dish (about a 2- to 3-quart dish), shingle half of the potatoes. Sprinkle the potatoes evenly with 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mixture, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Top with the remaining potatoes, shingling them neatly and evenly. Sprinkle another 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper evenly over the top.

Combine the cream and the broth in a large measuring cup and pour the mixture over the potatoes. Top with the remaining cheese mixture and bake until golden brown and a fork inserted into the center slides in easily with little resistance, 75 to 85 minutes. Let the potatoes cool for 10 minutes. Serve.

Heidi's Note: I put this dish in a 9 by 13 inch pan, and because of this, my potatoes cooked in about 60 minutes rather than 75-85 minutes.

Maple Brown Sugar Ham in the Slow Cooker

I am not very good at making ham. Granted, I have only made ham like three times in my life, but each time it turned out dry and just, okay. But, then, I made this ham for Christmas this year, and now I will never cook ham another way again. It was NOT dry at ALL, and it was the tastiest ham I have had EVER! It was so so easy too! I never would have thought to cook ham in a slow cooker, but now I am convinced, it is the only way to go.

I got this from My Kitchen Cafe, who adapted slightly from Year of Crockpotting

7-8 pound bone-in spiral-cut ham
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup all natural maple syrup (yes, please use pure maple syrup and not pancake syrup)
2 cups pineapple juice

Use a 6-7 quart slow cooker. Unwrap the ham and discard flavor packet. Place the ham into the slow cooker stoneware, flat-side down. Rub brown sugar on all sides. Pour on maple syrup and pineapple juice. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours. An hour before serving, baste ham with the collected juices from the bottom of the slow cooker. When cooking is done, remove carefully and let it rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before carving.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Italian Bread Bowls

I have made these bread bowls twice now and each time turned out equally delicious! It makes soup even better and it fills you up more quickly! i love that you can eat this bowl when done with the yummy soup inside. I love to put the broccoli cheese chowder in here and also chilies. So good! These are pretty fool proof as well. Source is again, from the Kitchen Cafe.

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
7 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water

In a large bowl (or bowl of an electric mixer), dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
Add salt, oil and 4 cups flour to the yeast mixture; beat well. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well with an electric mixer at medium speed after each addition until a soft but not sticky dough is formed (you may not need to use all 7 cups).
When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes (or let knead in an electric mixer). Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Punch dough down, and divide into 6-8 equal portions. Shape each portion into a round ball. Place loaves on lightly greased baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal (or use silpat liners or parchment paper). Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, beat together egg white and 1 tablespoon water; lightly brush the loaves with half of this egg wash. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Brush with remaining egg mixture, and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.

Homemade Make Ahead Yellow Cake Mix

This is easy and so much better than a boxed cake mix. I am definately using this for lexi's birthday cake next year instead of duncan hines, no offense guys. I used this for the coconut tres leches cake, already posted, and it is so so good! You can trust me, I am not even a cake person, and I like this cake. That speaks volumes! Anyways, make this, you will not regret it.

Update (6/28/10): When I originally made this cake, it baked up just fine in a 9X13-inch pan. However, when I went to use the same recipe for one of the Wilton cake pans (Spiderman, to be exact), there was way, way too much cake batter. The instructions on the Wilton pan said to use one recipe boxed cake mix. This homemade version is supposed to be the equivalent of one boxed mix; however, I'm realizing that the homemade version gives you more cake than what a boxed version does. So what I ended up doing for the Spiderman cake is taking out batter from the pan before I baked it (since I knew it was going to overflow in the oven). I had enough leftover batter for 8 cupcakes (filling them about 2/3 full). If you plan on making this cake in a 9X13-inch, bundt or 9-inch rounds, I would recommend taking out some of the batter, especially since some commenters have indicated the cake has baked up unevenly (burnt edges, gooey middle). It seems like the batter needs to be downsized in order for the cake to bake evenly. I will continue to test the recipe and scale it back as needed (including weighing the dry ingredients next time to compare with the weight of a boxed mix), but until "then" take this note into consideration. Cupcakes will still work great - you'll probably get more like 30+ cupcakes out of the batch. Incidentally, I love the flavor and taste of this cake enough to keep baking it, despite the annoyances of batter.

*Note: the recipe calls for cake flour, which I never have on hand so I substituted 2 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour and 3 tablespoons cornstarch for the three cups of flour called for in the recipe. It worked beautifully.

*Makes enough for two 9-inch layer cakes (bake according to recipe), or one 9X13-inch cake (bake for 35 to 40 minutes), or one 12-cup bundt pan (bake for 40 to 45 minutes), or 24 cupcakes (bake for 18 to 20 minutes)

2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons butter (2 sticks), cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Process sugar, flours (or flour and cornstarch if making the substitution for the cake flour), milk powder, baking powder, and salt in a food processor for 15 seconds to combine. Add butter and vanilla and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal (you want this much finer than, say, a pie crust). Freeze the dry mixture in a zipper-lock bag for up to 2 months or use immediately.

To make the cake, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour your pan of choice (see the note above the recipe).

With an electric mixer, beat the prepared cake mix, 1 1/4 cups warm water and 2 large room-temperature eggs until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan(s) and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-27 minutes for two 9-inch layer cakes. See the note above the recipe for alternate cooking times with other baking pans. Cool the cake(s) in pan(s) for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Cool completely.

Source: Kitchen Cafe, of course!

Coconut Tres Leches Cake

This dessert is heavenly! Plan ahead, though, because it takes a while cooling. Seriously, there are no words for this delicious cake! It is seriously one of my favorite desserts now, and I am not even a cake person. It is just too darn good!
*Serves 12-16

Make-ahead Yellow Cake Mix or other preferred cake mix or homemade yellow cake recipe (I used the make-ahead yellow cake mix and I definitely recommend it, way better than store bought mix)

Milk Syrup:
1 can (15 ounces) cream of coconut
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 medium-size ripe bananas
Sweetened cream (see instructions below)
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted (spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake it at 350 degrees until golden brown, 7 minutes, or toast it in a skillet over medium-low heat on the stovetop)

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly spray a 9X13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set the baking dish aside. Place the make-ahead cake mix, 1 1/4 cups warm water and 2 large room-temperature eggs in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes (if using another cake mix or recipe, bake according to box or recipe instructions). Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until it is lightly golden and is slightly pulling away from the edges, 30-34 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool completely, 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the milk syrup: in a blender, combine the cream of coconut, evaporated milk, cream, and vanilla and process until smooth.

Pierce the cooled cake all over the top with the tines of a fork or a thin wooden skewer. We are talking all over! The more pokes, the more the syrup will soak into the cake. Using a large spoon or ladle, spoon some of the milk syrup over the cake. Let the syrup soak into the cake, then continue spooning the syrup on top until all of it has been used up. When you have finished, not all of the syrup will be completely absorbed and might be pooling on the top but that’s ok because it will absorb as it refrigerates. Cover the cake loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until all of the syrup is absorbed, 2 hours. Cut the bananas, if using crosswise into ¼-inch slices. Slice the cake and serve it with sliced bananas, sweetened cream and toasted coconut, if desired.

Sweetened Cream:
Pour 1 cup heavy whipping cream into a large (preferably chilled) glass bowl and beat it on high speed until thickened 1 ½ minutes. Stop the machine and add ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar and ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Makes 2 cups.
Source: Kitchen Cafe

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches: Another Version

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches
from My Kitchen Cafe (
Chris and I love pulled pork sandwiches. I have already posted a delicious pulled pork recipe on this here blog, but this one I made last week, is even better. This one was so so easy and tasted so so good. My brother and his wife came for a visit, and they, too, thought these were delicious! Give it a try, you will love it too once you do.

3 to 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder (I've also used boneless pork loin - not tenderloin - but pork loin with good results)
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
1 tablespoon hickory flavored liquid smoke
2 cups barbecue sauce

Rinse the pork shoulder and pat dry. Rub salt and pepper over the pork and place in a slow cooker. Add water and liquid smoke. Cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours, until the pork is very tender.

Remove the pork from the slow cooker and discard the remaining liquid. Shred the pork using a couple of forks. Place the meat back in the slow cooker along with the barbecue sauce and continue to cook for another 20-30 minutes until the pork is hot again. Serve on buns with extra barbecue sauce.

Liquid smoke is most commonly found near the bbq sauces/Worcestershire sauce aisle. Walmart carries it along with other grocery stores, not hard to find, you just have to be in the right section.
I slather some butter on the top and bottom of the buns and stick them under the broiler for a few minutes. So good this way.
I also serve it with coleslaw either on the side or right on top of this pork goodness!
I also reccommend using either homemade BBQ sauce or our family's favorite: Sweet baby Rays brand. Yum!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Black and White Bean Dip

I was going to bring this to our ward RS's progressive dinner tonight, but the dinner was cancelled due to poor weather conditions. So, I still made it tonight, and we had it for dinner. I loved this so much! I could not stop eating it, really addicting this stuff is. Chris liked it, but could not get over the fact there was no refried beans in this bean dip. He has apparently never had bean dip without the stuff. But once he got over it, he loved it too!
I will say, we had a hard time finding the shoepeg corn. I have now learned that Green Giant is pretty much the only brand it comes in and in MI where we live, I was only able to find this type of corn at Kroger, also known as Fry's for my western friends :)And, I think you could sub a sweet white corn for the shoepeg if you cannot find it. Anyways, this is great for an appetizer, which is originally what I intended it to be, but it also works for lunch or dinner as I have now learned tonight. So enjoy, and I got this recipe from Sisters Cafe and Kitchen Cafe. I love when I find the same recipe on two different blogs, because I know it must be good if two people find it yummy.

1 can of black beans-drained
1 can of white beans-drained (I used navy beans, but Great Northern Beans work too)
1 can of shoepeg corn-drained (Green Giant is the only brand I found it in)
1 7oz can of Herdez salsa verde
2 cups of shredded Colby Jack cheese
4-6 chopped roma tomatoes (I used 4 and squeezed out some of the juice before cutting)
garlic salt to taste (I used 1/2 tsp)
Avocado-optional (if you ask me, it is NOT optional, so good with it)

Preheat oven to 400. Put everything (except for the avocado) in a bowl and gently mix together. Spray a shallow baking dish with nonstick spray before spooning in the bean mixture. Sprinkle a little cheese on top and pop into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and it is all warm and bubbly. Remove from oven and sprinkle with diced avocado and serve with tortilla chips---YUM!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

These cookies are delicious and very festive for this holiday season. It is like a thin mint girl scout cookie, dipped in white chocolate and covered in peppermint candies. It is to die for, in my opinion. I love mint and chocolate together so it was perfect for my taste buds. I made these for a church event, so I will have to find out if others liked it as well. They look absolutely adorable! They are a bit of work, though, just a lot of steps, nothing too complicated. So, I made my cookies a day in advance and then the day of, today, I dipped them in the melted chocolate and sprinkled the crushed candy canes on top. That way, it wasn't too bad. Also, do NOT use chocolate chips, they do not give a smooth finished look to the cookie. I used bakers dipping chocolate, but I have heard that white chocolate almond bark will work as well.

Source: Kitchen Cafe who got it from Martha Stewart magazine

Makes 6 dozen (um, not so much – I got 3 1/2 dozen out of the recipe)

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 ounces (5 tablespoons) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
8 large candy canes or 30 peppermint candies, crushed
2 pounds white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, and add egg, then yolk, beating well after each addition. Beat in peppermint extract. Slowly add flour mixture, and beat until just incorporated. Shape dough into 2 disks, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days).

Roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut out circles, and place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Roll and cut scraps once. Freeze cookies until firm, about 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining disk.

Bake until cookies are dry to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer parchment, with cookies, to wire racks, and let cool. (Undecorated cookies will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.)

Sift crushed candy, and separate larger pieces from dust, reserving both. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave (don’t overheat or the chocolate/almond bark will sieze!). Dunk cookies into melted chocolate. Using a fork, press lightly on the cookie until completely submerged in the chocolate. Pick up the cookie with the fork, let excess chocolate drip off, and gently scrape bottom against edge of bowl. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, and sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of either candy pieces or dust on top. Repeat, sprinkling half the cookies with pieces and the rest with dust. Refrigerate until set, up to 3 hours.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Perfect Dinner Roll

I made these for Thanksgiving this year, and let me just say they are amazing. I have never been really good at making rolls, but I am getting better and this recipe made me look like a bread artist. Chris said they are now one of his favorites. Honestly, give these rolls a try they are fantastic. This recipe came from the kitchen cafe.

*Makes 12 rolls*

1 1/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (quick rise yeast)
3 cups all-purpose flour (I've had great results using half white, half wheat flour, also)
1/2 cup instant potato flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg, lightly beaten

Whisk water, oil, sugar, and yeast together in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup until the yeast dissolves. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or by hand, mix flour, potato flakes, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt until well combined. Add water mixture in a steady stream with the mixer on low (or stir in by hand) until the dough comes together, about one minute. Knead the dough until it is smooth and comes away from the sides of the bowl, about 6 minutes. Knead the dough briefly until it forms a smooth ball.

Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about an hour and a half. (For a quicker rising method, before you start making the dough, preheat the oven to 200 degrees. When the oven has reached 200 degrees, turn the oven off. Place the covered bowl in the oven and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.)

Punch down the dough and divide it into 12 equal pieces (divide into quarters and cut each quarter into thirds). Form each piece of dough into a ball by lightly cupping the dough in the palm of your hand and rolling it on an unfloured or ungreased surface in a circular motion until it forms a smooth ball.

Transfer to a parchment-lined or lightly greased rimmed baking sheet. Cover lightly with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled (about an hour). (Again, you can return to the warm oven and let rise for 20 minutes for a quicker method.) If you are making them the night before, do not let them go through this rise, instead transfer to the refrigerator. Take the rolls out 2 hours before baking to allow them to come to room temperature and rise.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Brush rolls with lightly beaten egg and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve.

Homemade Granola

I love granola. I have never made it homemade though, and let me just say, I know love LOVE granola. This is the best granola recipe ever! It is way better than anything I have ever had before. Chris loves this too! I think I might add raisins to it next time, because I love raisins, but other than that, it is perfect just the way it is. It doesn't get soggy in milk, which is the way I like it, and it smells divine while cooking. Seriously, the whole house smelled amazing! It makes a lot and stores well so I made the whole batch so we can have this for upcoming breakfasts. Thank you sister Cafe for yet another wonderful recipe.

3 ¼ cups Oats (Old Fashioned or Quick—any combination)
1 ¼ cup white wheat flour-freshly ground if possible
1 1/3 cup shredded coconut
¼ cup flax seed (optional)
1 cup or more coarsely chopped almonds and/or pecans
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter
1/3 cup water
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cardamom
Preheat oven to 300. In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, flax seed, coconut and nuts. Set aside. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, butter, and water and heat until the butter has melted and the mixture is bubbly. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture together until smooth, and then stir in the salt, vanilla and spices. Pour mixture over the oats mixture and stir will to coat. Let stand for about 10 minutes.
Spread mixture on a large baking sheet, separating it into irregular clumps with your fingers, and allowing space between clumps for the hot air to circulate. Slide it into the middle of the oven and bake until the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir to break up the mixture into medium sized clumps. Return to the oven and bake again for 15 minutes before stirring again. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the granola is uniform golden brown and completely dry—this usually takes me about 45 minutes . Cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an air tight container.

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

I had leftover pumpkin and leftover cranberries from Thanksgiving, and so when I ran across this recipe, I knew I just had to try it. Oh my Goodness! It is so good. Chris and I are not cranberry people, but in this bread, we ate our fair share. This bread is delicious and smells incredible! It freezes well and makes great gifts to neighbors if made in the small loaf pans. So, give it a try, if you aren't too sick of pumpkin things yet.

4 eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil
4 cups sugar
4 ½ cups flour
2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 cups cranberries, fresh ( I chop in food processor)

Preheat oven to 350
In a bowl combine eggs, pumpkin puree and oil. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Add cranberries and mix well. Divide dough into 2 big loaf pans, and 1 small one . Bake for 50 minutes.

Heidi's Note: I halved the recipe and just made it in one large loaf pan. As a result, I had to increase the time spent cooking by 10 minutes, so mine cooked for 1 hour rather than 50 minutes.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

I cannot remember what blog I found this recipe from, but it is delicious! There are a lot of versions of this soup in blog land, but this particular one was the simpliest and easiest, in my opinion, so for those reasons I chose this version. Oh boy, this is good soup! Chris said it is now one of his favorite soups! Even Miss Lex ate this. Trust me, everytime Lex eats something I make these days, I take note because it does not happen a lot right now. I loved it as well. It is good comforting soup just right for a chilly fall night. The garnishes really make this soup out of this world, so don't skimp on those.

6 medium russet potatoes
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
4 cups milk, divided (I used 2%, the recipe calls for whole milk, but personally, I don't think it matters)
2 (14 oz) cans chicken broth (I used stock, just because I think it adds more flavor)
1/2 bunch green onions, sliced plus a little more for garnish
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese plus more for garnish (I used sharp cheddar)
1 (8 oz) carton sour cream, 1 cup is equivalent to 8 oz
pepper to taste (I used 1/2 tsp.)
6 slices cooked bacon, chopped, garnish

Peel, wash, and chop four potatoes. Place in a pot, cover with water, and boil until soft, about 15 minutes. When soft, drain water and mash with one cup milk.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, and stir continuously for at least one minute. Slowly whisk in three cups milk and the chicken broth. Stir until thick. Reduce heat to med-low and add cheese, sour cream, mashed potatoes, pepper, and green onions. Do NOT bring to a boil after sour cream has been added.

Bake remaining two potatoes in the microwave until soft, (make sure to poke them with a fork before cooking). Chop the cooked potatoes and add to soup. Simmer for an additonal 5-10 minutes. Serve with chopped bacon, extra shredded cheese, and green onions. serve immediately.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Crock Pot Beef Tacos in Homemade Tortillas

Chris and I love Mexican food! But, sometimes I get bored with the same old, same old thing. Well, I saw this recipe over at Picky Palate and thought I would give it a try. I love that it simmers in the crock pot so that all the flavors have a chance to mingle and get good! We really enjoyed this! The meat has such a nice flavor to it. I halved the recipe for our little family and I still have some leftovers. I also made my mom's homemade tortillas to wrap up all the beef goodness and it was a perfect dinner for us! I garnished these tacos with shredded iceberg lettuce, sharp cheddar cheese (cabot brand is best), salsa, avocadoes, and sour cream. It was delish!

source:Picky Palate Blog

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 anaheim chili peppers, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 lbs lean ground beef
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Lawry’s garlic salt with Parsley (I just used regular garlic salt)
1 Cup Herdez Mild Salsa, or your favorite brand
1. Place oil into a large rimmed skillet over medium heat. Saute onion, peppers and garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add in beef, salt, pepper and Lawry’s. Cook until browned. Stir in Salsa then transfer to crockpot on low heat. Let cook on low for 2-3 hours* or until ready to serve. Right before serving, stir in fresh chopped cilantro if desired*.

*: I did not add the cilantro and it still was great! I also cooked my beef for 3 hours, I believe two hours would not have been long enough.

8 servings

Momma Farrelly's Homemade Flour Tortillas
5 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup shortening
2 cups water

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut shortening into flour either with a pastry blender, two knives, or I use a potato masher, tip from my mom that works for this really well, until crumbly.
Add 2 cups water, knead dough on floured surface. My mom does this by hand, but I knead mine in my kitchen aide for about 3-5 minutes, it works great! Divide dough in half. (I only used one half for my family and it made about 8 tortillas, rolled pretty thin. I took the other half of dough, made 8 more dough balls, rolled each ball in wax paper and placed them in a freezer ziplock bag. My mom has never froze the dough, but I did tonight, so I will let you know if it works well being frozen).
Roll each dough ball out as thin as you would like and then lightly brown in a dry skillet over med-high heat, just a couple minutes per side. Be very careful, they can burn easily if not watching. then, all done. Place favorite toppings inside and enjoy!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chicken Enchilada Pasta

This is Y-U-M-M-Y! When I was cooking it, Chris kept walking in saying, "It smells yummy, but it doesn't look yummy!" I kept saying, "Alright, alright, it will be great!" Well, Chris and I both agree that it not only smells yummy, it tastes yummy as well. And, once the sauce is mixed with the penne it looks yummy too! This is really good. Lexi ate it and her little friend, David, loved it as well, they are 2 and 3 years old people, so that is great that they would eat it. It is a unique twist on pasta. We love mexican food, especially chicken enchiladas, and we love pasta so for us the combination was a match made in heaven. Give it a try if you are sick of the same old pasta dishes. It is worth it. Oh, I need to add, that it is really easy to make as well. It was not a lot of prep and did not call for fancy smancy ingredients, so it is a great weeknight meal.

Serves 6 to 8
*Plan Ahead: the recipe calls for cooked chicken so use leftovers or plan enough time to cook the chicken beforehand.

2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed or shredded ( I used two and next time I will use 3, we felt it needed a little more chicken, I also cubed mine)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
4-ounce can diced green chilies
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 (10-oz) can green chili enchilada sauce (I used mild)
2/3 cup red enchilada sauce (I used mild)
1 can large black olives, cut in half
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
16-20 oz. penne pasta (Depending on how "saucy" you want the pasta)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta until tender. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet and add the onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes until onion is translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook for another 2 minutes, until pepper is barely tender. Add the cooked chicken, green chilies, spices, enchilada sauces and olives. Let the sauce simmer for about 8-10 minutes. Add the sour cream and cheese and heat through, until the cheese is melted (but don't boil!). Pour the sauce over the hot pasta. Garnish with extra sour cream, cheese, diced tomatoes, green onions or crushed tortilla chips ( we garnished with sour cream and cheese and it was just fine).

Note: I used a 14.5 oz box of penne, so we had leftover sauce. I am freezing the sauce so that I can use it later. So, it freezes well, just so you know.
souce:Kitchen Cafe

Monday, November 15, 2010

IHOP French Toast

I love french toast! I think it is my all time favorite breakfast food, and it has been, ever since I was little. Well, I love thick french toast. Normally, I make french toast on Texas Toast, but lately it has been hard to find at my grocery store. So, when I came across this recipe, which calls for French Bread, I thought I would give it a try. Oh boy! It was so so so so good! Pure bliss for me! The coconut syrup only added to my joy. So, try this for breakfast sometime, it is worth every bite!

2 eggs
½ c. milk
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 T. flour
6 slices of thick sliced French bread

First beat eggs, then add remaining ingredients with electric mixer. Dip both sides of bread and place in hot buttered pan. Flip over when browned. Serve with Coconut Syrup.

Coconut Syrup
As you must know by now (since I include this syrup recipe with every breakfast post I make!) this is my all time favorite syrup, and we ALWAYS serve it with hot breakfasts, whether it be waffles, pancakes, crepes or french toast. It’s unbeatable!

7-8 T. butter
¾ c. buttermilk
1 c. sugar
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp coconut extract

Place butter, buttermilk and sugar in a pot. Then turn stove on medium and stir until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and boil one minute. Remove from heat and add soda and flavoring. It will bubble up; just continue to stir and give it a few minutes for the 'fizz' to reduce before serving.
source:Sister Cafe

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

These muffins are great! You have to eat them cold, though. Chris could not wait and ate it warm and he said it was gross. Well, let them sit for a while until they get cold, and they are amazing! Chris agrees. Really, these are a must eat! I have decided though I need to work on my streusel making skills, because that part wasn't as great as I would have liked, but if you do it right you will be in Heaven! My friend, Erin, sent me her pumpkin cream cheese muffin recipe and it is quite different than this one, so I cannot wait to try hers and see which one comes out on top. So, for now, make these and soon I will let you know if there is a better one to make.

Source: My Kitchen Cafe
*Makes 24 muffins

For the muffins:
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice*
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree

For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar

For the streusel topping:
½ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
4 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar and whip until smooth. Form into a log on plastic wrap or greased foil, making sure that the diameter is small enough to fit into the well of a muffin pan. Wrap the log up tightly and freeze until slightly hardened, 1-2 hours. (I froze mine for 45 minutes because I was in a rush, and it worked out fine)

To make the muffins, combine the flour, spices, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside. In another large bowl combine the eggs, vegetable oil, sugar and pumpkin puree. Mix until well combined. Add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

To make the streusel topping, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Mix together with a pastry blender or two forks until crumbly.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two muffin pans with paper liners. To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well 1/3 of the way with batter. Remove the cream cheese log from the freezer and slice into 24 equal slices. Place a slice on top of the batter in each muffin well and gently press (don't press all the way to the bottom but just slightly into the batter). Divide the remaining muffin batter evenly among the muffin cups on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the batter. Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the top of the muffin (about 1/3 of the way down) comes out with moist crumbs. Let cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

*My tip: if you don't have pumpkin pie spice, use the following combination: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon cloves. Mix together and you have the equivalent of 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Best Sloppy Joes Ever!

Sloppy joes are not the prettiest of food, but they are sure good when done right. I have had a lot of good sloppy joes in my day, but this one I made tonight for dinner is my all time new favorite. It took less than 30 minutes to make and it is absolutely delicious. The best part is all of the ingredients were things I always have on hand, so it was very inexpensive as well! So, for a fast, yummy weekday meal you have to give these a try!

Source: Sister Cafe

1 lb ground turkey or lean ground beef (I used extra lean ground beef)
1 onion, chopped
3/4 c. ketchup
2 T. brown sugar
1.5 T. mustard
1 T. apple cider vinegar
1 T. worcestershire sauce

Chop onion and assemble ingredients. Brown ground turkey/beef and onion in a large frying pan. Add the remainder of the ingredients and mix well. Let simmer for about 15 minutes, just so sauce can thicken and flavors can mingle a bit. Serve on hamburger bun or whatever you would like. Voila!

*I almost always toast the buns with cheddar cheese slices under the broiler and then slop the joe on top. It is very yummy this way!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chewy White Chocolate, Chocolate Cookies

I made these Monday for our FHE night treat and I am so glad I did! These were to die for! They are very rich though, so I was satisified after two cookies, which is saying something of the richness because normally I can throw back more than that :) I tried freezing some too so we didn't over do it and by today, Wednesday night, they are all gone, even the freezer ones. So, they are addicting as well. Anyways, enjoy these yummo cookies!

Chewy White Chocolate, Chocolate Cookies
1 c butter, softened
1 c white sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 c flour
1 1/4 c dutch cocoa (I used good European dutch cocoa, kind of expensive, but worth it)
2 tsp baking soda
2 c white chocolate chips
Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and salt. Combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda then gently mix into creamed ingredients. Fold in white chocolate chips. Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
* It can be hard to tell when these cookies are done but make sure you don't overbake them. I took mine out at 8 minutes and they were soft and chewy (but not doughy) even after cooling. YUM!

Pumpkin Pancakes

I made these yummo pancakes for dinner tonight. They were a big hit! Even, Lexi, yes Lexi ate two whole pancakes! We put apple cider syrup all over them and they sure were good! They like melt in your mouth kind of, anyways, you need to try these for Breakfast or Dinner or even lunch. They will please you. They are just perfect for the fall! And, I am posting the syrup recipe with it because the flavor combinations were insanely good. I think I posted the apple cider syrup recipe before, but I cannot remember and am too lazy to check so you will get a repeat if I have already posted. Enjoy!

Apple Cider Syrup {Perfect over Pumpkin Pancakes}
source: sister cafe blog
3/4 Cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 TBs cornstarch

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

2 cups fresh apple cider (or juice would work)

1 Tbs fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup butter

Mix sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg well. Add apple cider and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Store leftovers in the refrigerator, use within a week or two.

My Favorite Pumpkin Pancake Recipe

2 cups flour

3 Tb brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground all spice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cup buttermilk (I do an overflowing 1/2 cup)

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 eggs

2 Tb canola oil

2 Tb vinegar

In one bowl mix together the buttermilk, pumpkin, eggs, oil and vinegar. Combine dry ingredients separately and them stir into pumpkin mixture just until combined. Heat your pan or griddle (lightly butter or oil if it is not seasoned), using about 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot with apple cider syrup.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Shredded Sweet Pork Salad: Cafe Rio Style

Okay, I have a confession to make. I have never eaten at a Cafe Rio restaurant. Even living in AZ and visiting Utah, I have never been inside one. I know, shame. However, I have had their sweet pork salad, it was at a RS meeting I went to once. And, I have had it in people's homes that have made the knock off recipes. So, even though I haven't been to the actual location, I know what it is suppose to taste like. Well, this knock off recipe is the BEST in my opinion. This pork is delicious and so easy since it is cooked in a crockpot all day. We had friends from the ward over for dinner to try it with us and they loved it too! Making all the elements was a little time consuming, but it was good. I have always wanted to try making it myself and now I can say I have. So, even if you have had versions of this before, try this one and I am sure it will be your new favorite too! I think I might even make just the meat and rice and just have that for dinner on its own. Those two things were my favorite part. Enjoy!

Assembling your salad:
Toast a large tortilla sprinkled with cheese (I used extra sharp cheddar) under the broiler until slightly crisp. Then layer chopped romaine, rice and beans, shredded pork, pico de gallo, guacamole (I made homemade), and crispy tortilla strips (I didn't worry about this and it still was great). Drizzle on dressing, sprinkle with cotija cheese (again, I used extra sharp cheddar) and garnish with a lime wedge...and voila! Dinner is served! Yummy!

Shredded Sweet Pork
3 lb pork roast (I used pork tenderloin)
1 c brown sugar
1 c Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tb dried minced onions

Cook all ingredients in a crock pot on low all day (abt 8 hours). One hour before serving, remove roast and shred it. Dump out all cooking juices and place shredded pork back into crockpot and add...

1 c brown sugar
1 c red enchilada sauce

Cilantro Lime Rice
3 c water*
3 c Minute rice*
4 cubes chicken bouillon
4 tsp garlic, minced
1 Tb canola oil
2 Tb fresh lime juice
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1/2 onion
1 can green chilies

Blend cilantro, onion, and chilies in food processor. Bring water to boil and add all ingredients, simmer covered for 30 minutes or until rice is cooked. *I hate Minute Rice and never buy it - you can substitute regular rice, just adjust the water to rice ratio accordingly.For mine, I used 2 cups water to 1 cup rice.

Garlic Black Beans
1 can black beans
1/3 c tomato juice
2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tsp)
1 tsp cumin
2 Tb canola oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tb chopped cilantro

Heat oil then add cumin and garlic until garlic begins to pop. Add rest of ingredients and serve warm.

Creamy Tomatillo Dressing
3 tomatillos, peeled and quartered
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 c buttermilk
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/2 c sour cream
1 pkg dry buttermilk ranch dressing
1 c fresh chopped cilantro
6 green onions with ends, chopped (I might add less next time, like 4, 6 was a little much, I think)
2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tsp)
3 tsp sugar
1 jalapeno, sliced thin - add to taste (I used less than half of a big jalapeno) It gets spicy fast and the longer it sits, the spicier it gets, so don't be liberal with this :)

Place all ingredients in food processor or blender and mix well. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

I made homemade guacomole that was amazing! For the recipe, go to my post on Crispy Southwest Wraps (vegetarian) under the Mexican tab. Delicious!

Source: The Sisters Cafe Blog, of course!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Yummy Breadsticks

These breadsticks were posted on My kitchen cafe AND my sisters cafe, so I knew they had to be good. Oh, are they good, well, that is an understatement, they are delicious! Seriously, all three of us had no problem eating these. They are great! So, go make 'em for yourselves!

1 ½ cup warm water
1 Tablespoon yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
3 ½ cup flour
½ tsp salt
Butter for pan

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar and let it sit and bubble for a few minutes. Add the salt and flour. Knead for 3 minutes. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. (I do all of this in my Bosch--any mixer would work great) Melt 3-4 Tbsp of butter and pour most of it onto a cookie sheet. Roll dough to cover cookie sheet. Cut to desired width, then twist or lay flat on cookie sheet. Brush remainder of butter on breadsticks and sprinkle with garlic salt, parmesan cheese, and parsley (or whatever seasonings you like). Raise for 10-20 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375 and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. You can roll them out to fit a cookie sheet and they will be pufffy and soft. If you prefer a thinner, crunchy breadstick roll them out to fit a cookie sheet and a jelly roll pan. Either way they are great!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Perfect Cupcake Frosting and Filling

Okay, so I love frosting and I am not a picky frosting person. I will take it all, cheap can stuff, gourmet stuff, it doesn't matter, I love the stuff. Now, on the other hand, Chris does NOT like frosting. He really is not a fan. But, let me just say, whether you are a huge frosting fan, or think you are not a fan like Chris you HAVE to make this.And, if you don't like frosting this will convert you. Chris thought it was great! I said great, not good, so you know it was yum. This is the BEST frosting ever! I have never made homemade frosting thinking it was a lot of work, but I made this last night and it was so simple! It is so tasty. In fact, I don't know if I can ever go back to store bought now, it is just that good! I followed all the tips given and am glad I did, it helped a lot! This recipe is also from the blog, Our Best Bites.

recipe by

3 T Flour
1/2 C milk (whole milk is best, but I used 2 percent because it was all I had and it's actually fine)
1/2 C real butter
1/2 C sugar (that's granulated sugar, not powdered sugar)
1 t vanilla extract, or other flavor if you wish.

Whisk together the flour and the milk. Heat in a small sauce pan on medium heat. Whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. I think this is the critical point for any of you who have had problems with this recipe. I have a feeling people are under-cooking this part. Let it cook, while stirring, until it looks like pudding (you should be able to see the bottom of the pan when you stir it). Even though it's thick, you can still it through a mesh strainer (just whisk the mixture in the strainer to push the thick stuff through) and then let it cool completely to room temp. or chill it in the fridge. It needs to be cooled completely. If you don't let it cool completely, it will melt the butter and you'll have runny frosting.

It an electric stand mixer, beat the butter and the sugar for a minute or two until well combined and fluffy. You'll want to use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, not the flat paddle. Then while beating, add in the thickened milk mixture and the vanilla. Beat on the highest speed you can get to without it spraying all over the place for 7 minutes. Yes, 7 whole minutes, maybe even 8 or 9. I know that seems like a long time, but that's when the magic happens!

You will be scared because it will look like a weird goopy mess at first and you'll wonder what on earth you did wrong. Keep beating and something amazing happens. It goes from that goopy mess to something thick, velvety smooth, and perfectly fluffy.
Use it to fill cupcakes or other pastries, or as a frosting on top. You can't go wrong putting this on just about anything :)

One batch makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes with BIG tops (like the one below, or larger). If you're just spreading a little on top, it will do 24.

After trouble-shooting with a lot of people, here are some helpful Notes:

1. Use real butter, and a good name-brand. Cheap butter does weird things.

2. If you beat for the 6-8 minutes and the mixture still looks strange, beat longer and at a higher speed if you can. It should come together, but it takes a little patience!

3. Store at room temperature in a sealed container. Frosting may separate in the fridge, but you can store it overnight if left at room temp and in a well sealed container.

Candy Corn Cupcakes

I did a short presentation today as part of our super saturday and among the things I showed, I made/demonstrated these cupcakes. It is just a box cake mix makeover, but I loved them and I am NOT a cupcake fan. They are so cute looking and taste so darn good. The almond extract is really key so you have to add it. Vanilla would work, but in my opinion, would not be as good! And, please use the real almond extract, no imitation, trust me, it makes a difference. So, make these. I got this recipe off of a new blog I now love called Our Best Bites. Can you tell I am addicted to blogs lately? But, these are great to look at and eat.

1 18.25-oz. white cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines)
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp. almond extract
Yellow and orange Wilton food gel (about a heaping 1/2 tsp. of each)
A double batch of Perfect Cupcake Frosting and Filling (recipe is next post)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 24-cup muffin tins with white paper liners (although you may not make it to 24 cupcakes). Combine all ingredients except for food coloring in a large bowl and beat on low speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat on medium for 2 additional minutes.
Divide batter equally into two bowls; you should have about 2 1/4-2 1/2 c. of batter in each bowl. Mix about 1/2 heaping tsp. of yellow coloring into one bowl of batter and 1/2 heaping tsp. of orange coloring into the other bowl.
Divide the yellow batter evenly among the muffin tins. I used a standard cookie scoop, which measures about 1 Tbsp. I only had enough to make 20 cupcakes with the cups filled about halfway. Holding the edges of each pan firmly, bang the pan a few times on the counter to level out the batter. Repeat the process with the orange batter. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes in the pan and then allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.
When ready, frost the cupcakes and garnish with a candy corn

Peanut Butter Cup Trifle

I cannot believe I did not post this recipe yet! I made this trifle for Christine's baby blessing gathering about a month ago and it got such awesome reviews and reactions that I knew I had to make it again for something. Well, super saturday was my chance. I made it and it was very well liked. A couple of ladies told me they went off their diets just so they could try it, that is how pretty it looked, and they all told me it was well worth it! One lady even told me it was "sinful" So, don't just take it from me, take it from the now 60 plus people I have made this for over this last month and make this. It is so rich so peanut buttery and chocolately and so so so good! Trust me, it is so worth making!

9x13 pan of brownies, cut into 1 inch pieces
5.1 oz instant vanilla pudding
3 cups milk
½ cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla
8 oz container thawed whipped topping (Cool Whip), divided
20 peanut butter cups, crumbled (buy in a 10-pack. Not the bite-sized)
6-8 peanut butter cups to garnish.

Combine pudding and milk. Beat for 2 minutes. Add peanut butter and vanilla, beat until smooth. Gently fold in 2 cups cool whip.
Layer in trifle dish ½ the brownies, ½ the crumbled peanut butter cups, ½ the pudding mixture. Repeat. Top with cool whip and peanut butter cups. (Or shaved chocolate curls, as I did.) Chill until serving.

Poppy Seed Salad with or without the Chicken

We served this salad as a side dish to Chicken A La King, so we did not add the grilled chicken, but the original recipe that I am posting calls for the chicken, so you can decide to make it with or without. It is so good and you will definately fall in love at first bite, so because you will be making this A LOT for now on, you can try both ways, with chicken or without. This definately got the most compliments at super sat out of all the food. This dressing is to die for! I love it and I am glad the ladies loved it too! Make this salad, it is great!

Spinach leaves
Romaine leaves
Grilled chicken, sliced (Best if marinated in Lemon Grilled Chicken Marinade*, but if you don't have time then grill with lots of lemon pepper seasoning)
Red onion, sliced thinly
Crispy bacon, crumbled
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Toasted almonds (or you can sugar the almonds. Put sliced almonds in a pan with lots of granulated sugar (about equal amounts). Cook on medium heat until sugar melts, coating the almonds as they brown.)

*Lemon Grilled Chicken:
Juice of one lemon (~3 Tb lemon juice)
3 Tb oil
1 tsp minced garlic (~2 large cloves)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1 lb chicken breasts

Marinate the chicken overnight. For salad, dice the raw chicken and marinate it that way so there is more surface area to marinate. You can get away with marinating for a shorter amount of time this way. Grilling is best, but cooking in a skillet is great, too.

The best part... The Dressing**:
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp dry mustard
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
3 Tb Maui or Vidalia onion, chopped
2 cups canola oil
3 Tb poppy seeds

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a blender, then slowly add the oil, blending until thick. Stir in poppy seeds. Toss all ingredients together with generous amount of dressing before serving.

**This makes a lot of dressing! If you need a really big salad for a party then start with a large bunch of spinach, large head of romaine, 4 chicken breasts, 1 lb bacon, etc. I rarely make a salad that big so that is why there are no "amounts". So have fun with it - you're going to love it!

Chicken A La King

This was the main course. It was DELICIOUS!!! The ladies that signed up to make it, brought it in their crockpots and it was a perfect way to keep it warm throughout the day. The gravy is downright tasty and the crown bread bowls are darling! So So yummy. Make sure to eat it with a fork and knife, especially if they are plastic utensils, for the forks might break if not using a knife, not like I learned that today or anything :)

I have heard through blog land that a lot of people eat this as a Christmas Eve dinner tradition. The meal is literally called, Chicken for the King. And the crown bread bowls give it a royal touch. I am going to steal this tradition idea and do it in my family for now on, because it is so good and cute and special!

½ c. butter
½ c. red bell pepper, chopped (original recipe calls for pimiento peppers instead but I've never used them)
½ c. green pepper
---------------------Sauté just until soft. Then add flour.

½ c. flour
------------------Add to butter mixture and mix well to make a roux. Let it bubble.

2 small cans mushrooms and juice
3 c. chicken broth
----------------------Add and bring to boil to thicken.

1 c. cream
5 c. cooked chicken, shredded ( Rotisserie chicken works beautifully!)
salt and pepper
----------------------Add. Don’t boil after adding cream.

(Add ¼ c. milk to thin if needed.)

To make the ‘crowns’:

Buy wheat bread at the store – not whole wheat, just the cheapo wheat kind. (Or you can use white if you prefer.) Get out your muffin tin. Place a slice of bread over a muffin hole. Push in on the four sides and push down into the muffin hole. Don’t squash the bread, but use enough force so that it stays down in the muffin hole. The four corners should be sticking up. Bake at about 250 until toasted and dry. I can't remember how long it takes (and neither can my Mom :) so keep checking them every 5 minutes. When done, the bread will be like toast, and you will be able to lift the crowns out of the muffin tin and they will hold their crown shape.

To serve:
Place one or two bread ‘crowns’ on your plate and ladle the chicken gravy over the crowns. Using a fork or a knife, cut the crown into pieces and eat with the chicken gravy.

Fruit Soup

Today was our ward's super saturday and I was in charge of lunch/brunch. I have to say, thanks to the Sister's Cafe, we had my favorite menu! The food was awesome! Lots of compliments were given and there was lots of happy ladies afterwards. I did way over plan the guest list, so there were leftovers, but trust me, everyone got filled and were quite satisified. So, the next posts are from our super sat. brunch. enjoy them all. This specific one is the fruit soup and it is so yummy! It is a nice change from a normal, boring fruit salad. The sauce is subtle and compliments the cut up fruit so nicely. Try it out. It makes a lot so have guests over or use it for a baby shower, get together of some kind. It is totally "Chic Food" so eat up ladies and gentlemen, I suppose :)

¾ c. sugar
1 c. water
1 c. peach juice (or another cup of water, which is what I always do instead)
3 Tb tapioca (be sure to use the “minute brand” quick cooking tapioca!)

6 oz orange juice concentrate
1 ½ c. water

2 cans mandarin oranges (with or without juice)
1 quart sliced peaches - (you can use 1 large can of peach slices, but I would not add the heavy syrup – I always try to use Lite peaches that have been bottled with pear juice and water, in which case I add the juice. Also, cut up the slices so they are bite-size.)
2 c. fresh strawberries, sliced, just before serving
2 bananas, just before serving
1 bag frozen raspberries, thawed but still cool and firm (or an equivalent amount of fresh) or other berry mix (raspberries give the juice a red tint, without raspberries it is an orange color. I almost always use a tri-berry mix which includes raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.)

Bring sugar, water, peach juice and tapioca to a boil. Continue boiling on medium high for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Some tapioca will be clear and other granules will have a white center. Take off heat. Let sit for 30 minutes. (This is when the tapioca will become more clear.)
Add 6 oz orange juice concentrate and 1 ½ c. water. Chill overnight.

Add mandarin oranges and peaches. Before serving add strawberries, bananas, and raspberries.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Buttermilk Banana Bread

This is, hands down, the BEST banana bread! I LOVE it! Lexi helped me make this tonight while Chris was at school late, and we had a blast not only making it, but eating it warm and fresh out of the oven! Seriously, I am loving cooking with buttermilk lately, it makes a huge difference in baking, I am learning. But, you HAVE to make this banana bread recipe. You HAVE to! Go, right now, make it! It is super yummy! Did I say it was yummy? Really, that is how excited I am about this banana bread. Just pure awesomeness! Make it and tell me if you agree with me! I have already posted a banana bread recipe that is absolutely delicious as well, but I have to say, this one might be even better!

Source: My Kitchen Cafe, of course!
*Note: Often times, I'll decrease the sugar to 1 cup, increase the bananas to 1 1/2 cups and the bread still turns out extremely moist and delicious!

*Makes 1 large loaf

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas (I use about 3 average sized bananas)
4 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda

Grease and flour 1 large loaf pan (9 1/4 X 5 1/4-inch) or whatever combination of pans you'd like (several commenters have said this recipe works great made into muffins or smaller loaf pans).

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, bananas, buttermilk and vanilla until the batter is well mixed. Add in the flour, baking powder, salt and soda. Mix until well combined. Divide batter into greased and floured bread pans and bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sweet Heat Louisiana Chili

Source:My Kitchen Cafe Blog

This chili is scrumptious! Perfect for a cold fall night here in MI. This chili is a little bit of work, but it is well worth it. Chris LOVED this chili. It was way too spicy for Lex though, so take caution if making it for kids. We put a dollop of sour cream and shredded sharp cheddar cheese on top to garnish and it was just perfect! I also served corn bread along side of it. YUM!

1 medium onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
3 cloves of garlic, smashed or diced (I grated mine using a hand help microplane grater)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound of ground meat (I used ground beef)
1 quart of beef stock
2 large cans (28 oz. each) of whole stewed tomatoes
1 can of kidney red beans
1 can of black beans
2 cups sun-dried tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tsp creole or cajun seasoning blend
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt to taste

Over medium heat, saute first four ingredients (onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic) in 1 tbsp
of oil. Once the onions begin to sweat, add your choice of ground meat. Brown to perfection.
When the meat is cooked, add the stock, bay leaves, dry mustard and cayenne. Simmer over
medium heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half (This took me about 10). Rehydrate the sun-dried tomatoes and
dice. Puree the stewed tomatoes in a food processor or blender. Add to pot. Rinse the canned
beans in plenty of water, add to the pot along with brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt and the
cajun or creole seasoning. Mix well and simmer over low heat for two hours, stirring
occasionally. Take off heat and allow to stand covered for five minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ham and Sweet Potato Hash

This was our dinner tonight, and it was Y-U-M-M-Y! It was very filling, very satisfying and had a great flavor to it! We all ate it! Even Miss Alexis, which, if you know how picky she has become, you would understand that because she ate it, you know it MUST be good! this is perfect for a weekend breakfast, a special brunch, or even for dinner, like we did. I served it with a smoothie and toast triangles. Perfect for a BLD as Rachel Ray would say, breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

*You can usually find the canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce in the Mexican foods aisle. In a pinch, you could substitute 1 teaspoon chili powder, although you'll miss the smoky heat from the chiles. (I used the chili powder because I forgot about the chipotle chilies when I was at the store).

*Serves 4-6

3 small russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
3 tablespoons heavy cream
10 ounces thinly sliced deli ham, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 large eggs

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon oil, salt and pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a tight-fitting microwave-safe lid and microwave for about 6 minutes, until the potatoes are tender but not overcooked - they'll cook a bit more in the skillet later. Stir the potatoes halfway through cooking. Drain the potatoes of any excess liquid and set aside.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until the oil is hot and rippling. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the chipotle and cook for about 30 seconds.

Stir in the drained potatoes and the cream. Using the back of a spatula, pack the potatoes into the pan, pressing them into a somewhat even layer. Let the potatoes cook without stirring them for about 2 minutes so they can start to get nicely browned. Flip the potato hash mixture, one portion at a time, and lightly repack into the skillet to let the potatoes brown on the other side. Continue this flipping process every few minutes until the potatoes are nicely browned, about 8-10 minutes total.
Stir in the ham and lightly repack the hash into the skillet. Using a large spoon, make 6 shallow divots about 2 inches wide in the surface of the potato mixture. Crack one egg into each indentation. Season with salt and pepper and then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the skillet. Let the mixture cook until the eggs are set to your liking, about 5-7 minutes. Serve.

Note: I used a 12 inch skillet and I didn't have room to add the eggs, so I just cooked the eggs in a seperate pan and placed them on top of the hash. Still good.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Apple Cider Syrup

Yesterday, we went to the apple orchards and picked up some cider. So, I had to try this apple cider syrup I saw on Sisters Cafe. I am so glad I did! This syrup was so yummy on our pancakes this morning. The flavors were so full of fall! All of us really enjoyed it! I cannot wait to try these on our pumpkin pancakes next month! Yum!

Note: This makes a lot of syrup, I halved it for our family, and still had quite a bit left.
3/4 Cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 TBs cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups fresh apple cider (or juice would work)
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup butter

Mix sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg well. Add apple cider and lemon juice*. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Store leftovers in the refrigerator, use within a week or two.

*I didn't have a lemon, so I left out the lemon juice and honestly it still tasted great! I'll try it again with the lemon juice one day and see if it makes a huge difference.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

My mom gave me the tip on this blog called, The Girl Who Ate Everything, because she told me a lot of this lady's fav. blogs were my favorite blogs so she figured we liked the same stuff. So, I checked it out, and she had a lot of recipes I have been wanting to try but have not got around to making yet. Among the list were these cheesecake bars. It is a Paula Deen recipe, oh how I love Paula Deen, and let me just say these were perfect for a festive fall treat! I will admit I am not a huge caramel apple fan, but having the flavors of a caramel apple combined with cheesecake, now I am a fan of that! We invited our neighbors over to try it with us and everyone was in agreement that these were wonderful! It made a huge pan so I am going to have to share some with my friends before I end up eating the whole thing myself! Make these now!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

Cheesecake Filling:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

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

Streusel topping, recipe follows
1/2 cup caramel topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or 2 forks) until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 9x13 baking pan lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over warm crust.

In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle evenly with Streusel topping. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel topping and let cool. Serve cold and enjoy!

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

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. I like to really combine it by using my clean hands to thoroughly combine the butter into the mixture.

Source: adapted from Paula Deen

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Oatmeal Pancake Mix

Source: Sister Cafe and Kitchen Cafe

This mix is great and the pancakes made our amazingly good. I love the fact that they are healthier than regular pancakes and they don't even taste healthy! I made the big ole batch tonight and stuck it in my fridge, so now I can make yummy pancakes rather quickly in the mornings. We had these tonight for dinner and used the coconut syrup, just previously posted, to accompany them and they were really really good! I think this will be my new go to for pancakes!

*Makes 10 cups of dry mix

3 1/2 cups rolled (quick) oats
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 cup vegetable oil

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a mixer with a paddle (or by hand). With mixer on slow speed (or gently by hand), drizzle the vegetable oil into the bowl slowly while the mixer is running. When all the oil has been added, stop the mixer and squeeze a clump of mix in your hand. If it stays together, it is just right. If it is still crumbly, add another tablespoon of oil at a time until the consistency is correct (I've never had to add additional oil). Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks at room temperature or indefinitely in the refrigerator or freezer.

To make the pancakes: whisk together 1 cup of mix, 1 cup buttermilk (a combination of half plain yogurt and half milk will also work), and 1 egg. The mixture may seem thin at first but the oats will soak up the milk as it stands while the griddle preheats. Heat a griddle and drop the batter onto it. When the edges look dry and bubbles come to the surface and don't break, turn the pancake over to finish cooking on the second side. As a sidenote, buttermilk can be frozen indefinitely for future batches of pancakes, so it's worth keeping it around!

*1 cup of mix will make about 6-7 4-inch pancakes.

Coconut Syrup

This is my new favorite syrup recipe for pancakes, waffles, etc. It is delish! I am telling you, this recipe as most of my recent posts, comes from the Sisters Cafe. I definately found a winner blog right there! Anyways, it is pretty much the most amazing stuff on Earth. Try it and you will fall in love just as I have.

7-8 Tbsp. butter
3/4 c. buttermilk
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. coconut extract

Place butter, buttermilk, and sugar in a pot. Then turn stove on medium and stir until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and boil one minute. Remove from heat and add soda and flavoring. It will bubble up; just continue to stir and give it a few minutes for the "fizz" to reduce before serving.

Note: for my little family, I halved this recipe and we still had some left over.

Broiled Parmesan Tilapia

This is melt in your mouth good fish! I am not kidding, even if you THINK you do not like fish, you HAVE to try THIS recipe! It is so so so good! We even got Alexis to eat this and trust me, that is saying something. Chris practically made himself sick because he could not stop eating it! This comes from the Sisters Cafe, surprise, surprise, (I think I am now officially addicted to their blog). Anyways, it is not only the best tilapia EVER it is so easy to make! Try it and tell me what you think.

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 T mayonnaise
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp celery salt
2 lbs tilapia fillets ( I bought 1 1/2 lbs, and it was plenty for our little family)

Preheat broiler. Grease broiling pan or line with foil. (If using foil, either use non-stick foil or spray with nonstick cooking spray.)

In a small bowl, mix together Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise, and lemon juice. Season the cheese mixture with basil, pepper, onion powder, and celery salt. Mix well and set aside.

Arrange fillets in a single layer on prepared pan. Broil a few inches form the heat for 2-3 minutes. Flip fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes. Remove from oven and cover with Parmesan cheese mixture. Broil for 2 more minutes or until topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Do not overcook the fish. I repeat: Do NOT OVERCOOK THE FISH! Serve immediately.

Note: My fish only took 2 min on each side, not 3 like the recipe said. So, just watch it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cheesecake bars

Again, this comes from the sister cafe blog, and it is soooooooooooooo good! I took it to a stake RS potluck tonight and the plate was empty in the first 10 minutes. Chris was so disappointed when I came home with no leftovers because he wanted to try it, since this was the first time I have made this treat. So, I guess I will just have to make it again sometime. Bummer :) Try it and tell me what you think!

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

1/4 cup sugar
8 oz. cream cheese, softened (Low-fat cream cheese is fine in my opinion. But if you don't usually like it, stick with the regular)
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 egg

Heat oven to 350. In a small bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. Combine flour and walnuts or pecans with creamed mixture. Reserve 1 cup for topping. Press remainder into bottom of ungreased 8" square pan. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until lightly browned.

In a small bowl, blend sugar and cream cheese until smooth (if using fat-free cream cheese, mixture will be kind of lumpy, but it will cook up just fine). Add milk, lemon juice, vanilla, and egg. Beat well. Spread over baked crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake at 350 for 23-27 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator. Makes 24 small bars.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I have had a lot of chicken tortilla soup made by a lot of different people. And, because it is one of my favorite soups, I have liked them all. However, I have just made this recipe tonight for dinner, which I got off of the Sisters Cafe blog, and let me tell you, it is now my favorite! It was so easy to make as well and it was utterly delicious! Chris LOVED it and he is a tough critic when it comes to soup. And, bonus, it is quite healthy! Nevermind the huge dollop of sour cream I added, but besides that, it is really good for you. Okay, so now that it is fall, go ahead and make this.

1 Tb olive oil
1 large onion chopped
1 can diced green chilies
1 lb chicken-cooked and shredded
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (opt. but I added it)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
1 can small white beans ( I used Great Northern Beans)
1 can chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 lime squeezed over soup (I added juice from a whole lime and it was great)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat oil and sauté onion and chilies. Saute until tender. Add the chicken (*I have been using the frozen chicken tenders from Costco--I just put them on a plate in the microwave frozen at 50 % power for 15 minutes--they are super tender and moist and shred up beautifully!)and spices. Add tomatoes, beans and fresh cilantro. Add the broth.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes or longer (I simmered mine for 20 minutes) to bring out flavors. Ladle into bowls & garnish.

10 yellow corn tortillas-sliced and baked*
1 large avocado
Sour cream

*Cut tortillas into thin strips using a pizza cutter. Spray with cooking oil ( like Pam), sprinkle with kosher salt and bake in 350 oven until lightly brown and crisp.

Add garnish of a handful of tortilla strips, avocado chunks and a dollop of sour cream to each bowl. SOOOO GOOD!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Kelley's Toffee Bar Cookies

Oh, man! I was craving a dessert tonight, but didn't have a lot of baking stuff on hand, so I was thumbing through one of my new favorite cookbooks that I got for my birthday from my mother in law entitled, Paula Deens: The Deen Family Cookbook AND I came across these sinfully delicious beauties. My own mother used to make these when I was growing up and she had a different name for them, but no matter what you call them, they are sooooo yummy! They are sweet, they are salty, they are carmel-ly, chocolatey, and just down right addicting! If you have not made these, make them, but just be prepared to watch them disappear quickly! The best part is how easy they are to make and only use a handful of ingredients that I always have on hand.

One (4 oz) sleeve saltine crackers (mine were whole wheat saltines and still tasted great)
8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
One 12 oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips (I only had half a bag of semi and half a bag of milk chocolate so I combined the two and it was really good)

Makes 30 (2 inches each) squares

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 15 by 10 inch jelly roll pan with foil. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray and line it with the crackers, using broken pieces to fill in the edges of pan.

In a small saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar over medium high heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer, not full boil, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Pour the mixture evenly over the crackers and bake until bubbling, about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from oven, and immediately sprinkle the top with chocolate chips. Allow the chocolate to melt slightly, then spread it evenly with a spatula all the way to the edges of the pan. Let stand for 10-15 minutes to cool slightly, then cut or break into squares. Store in an airtight container at room temp if they don't all get eaten.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Chicken and Spinach Stuffed Shells

This is absolutely delicious! I loved this dish and so did my whole family. I made this in AZ for Christine's baby blessing dinner and it was a huge hit. Again, a bit time consuming, but so worth it. We had 10 adults eating this and there were still left overs, so it makes a lot! It can also be frozen though and reheated later.

Source: The sisters cafe blog

44 uncooked jumbo pasta shells (That’s about one and one-half 12-oz boxes)
2 c chopped cooked chicken
2 c fresh chopped spinach
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15oz) container ricotta cheese
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (5oz) package shredded Parmesan cheese (about 1 2/3 c.)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 Tb dried parsley flakes
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 c shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 (26oz) jar prepared spaghetti sauce (any variety)

Cook shells according to package directions (be sure to stir every once in awhile so they don't stick to the bottom of the pan and tear apart); drain and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease 2 13x9x2inch baking dishes.
In a large bowl, combine chicken and all the rest of the ingredients except mozzarella and spaghetti sauce. Stir in 1 cup mozzarella. Spoon into shells. Spread half of spaghetti sauce into prepared baking dishes. Arrange shells over sauce; top with remaining sauce. Cover tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella. Bake for 5 to 10 more minutes.
Makes 8-10 servings.

Double Chocolate Torte

I have had this bookmarked for months now and I thought General Conference Weekend was the perfect time to try it! So, today, I made this torte. I have to say that I loved it! Chris LOVED it! We had the Wagner's over to eat it with us and Zac gave it a 9 out of 10! This is really good. It is a bit time consuming though and it is very temperamental, but in the end, it was worth it.

Source: adapted from: My Kitchen Cafe

*Serves 8-10

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used half bittersweet, half semisweet ghiradelli chips)it comes out to about 1 1/3 cups
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
4 large eggs, separated at room temperature
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped finely (it is important the chocolate for this mousse layer is chopped finely or it won’t melt completely when added to the warm egg yolks)
1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 cups fresh raspberries (I used strawberries)

For cake:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter 10-inch-diameter springform pan; dust with sugar. Melt chocolate and butter in heavy large saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Cool to lukewarm. Whisk in sugar. Whisk in eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Mix in vanilla and salt, then flour. Pour batter into the springform pan. Bake until cake just rises in center (tester inserted into center will not come out clean), 30-35 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack (the center of the cake may fall slightly). Cover and chill while making mousse.

For mousse:
Melt butter in medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Whisk yolks, 1/4 cup cream and vanilla in small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk yolk mixture into bowl with melted butter. Whisk constantly over simmering water until thermometer registers 150°F, about 6 minutes (mixture may appear broken – mine did not but it was very thick like custard or pudding). Remove from over water; add chocolate and stir to melt. Set aside. Beat egg whites and 1/2 cup sugar and a pinch of cornstarch in large bowl to medium-stiff peaks. Whisk 1/4 of beaten egg white mixture into warm chocolate mixture to lighten. Fold in remaining egg white mixture. Pour mousse over the cooled cake in pan; smooth top. Chill torte until mousse is set, at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.

Run sharp knife around edge of pan to loosen torte. Release pan sides. Transfer torte to platter. Using electric mixer, beat 3/4 cup cream and powdered sugar in medium bowl until peaks form. Spread whipped cream over torte. Top whipped cream with raspberries or strawberries.

Note: I used a 9-inch springform pan, and it worked just as well :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Pasta

Since I made the decision three weeks ago to eat healthier and exercise on a regular day basis, I have been trying out a bunch of different recipes, with the large majority being vegetarian dishes. No, I am not converting, I just wanted to eat less meat. Well, telling Chris this, made him a little nervous, for he does not exactly share my new found love of vegetarian meals. So, tonight when I told him I was making this pasta dish, he said, "Oh great, another meatless dish." Well, after eating this pasta dish, he looked at me and said, "Okay, this is blog worthy." Seriously? I said. This means he LOVED it! And, he sure did. Now, he ate like 5 platefuls of this stuff so I know he really liked it! Anyways, this dish is really good. Really, I loved it! It has such nice flavors running all the way through it. The toasted walnuts and fresh grated parmesan really make this dish shine. So try it sometime when you are in the mood for a meatless dish.

My Kitchen Cafe blog

2 heads garlic, papery skins removed, top quarter of heads cut off (on the pointy side of garlic) and discarded
6 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 head cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. sugar
1 pound short pasta ( I used Ronzoni smart taste brand: Rotini)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. juice from 1 lemon
1 heaping Tbsp. fresh parsley leaves, chopped
2 ounces parmesan cheese, freshly grated (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, place a large rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees.

Cut one 12-inch sheet of foil and spread it flat on the counter. Place the garlic heads, cut side up, in the center of the foil. Drizzle 1/2 tsp. olive oil over each head and fold up the sides of the foil to seal well. Place the foil packet directly on the oven rack (not on the preheating baking sheet) and roast until the garlic is very tender, about 40 minutes. Remove the foil packet from the oven, open the foil and set it aside to cool.

While the garlic is roasting, trim the outer leaves off of the cauliflower and cut the stem flush with the bottom. Cut the head from pole to pole into 8 equal wedges and then cut the cauliflower into large bite-sized pieces. Place the cauliflower in a large bowl; toss with 2 Tbsp. oil, salt, pepper, and sugar.

Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven. Carefully transfer the cauliflower to the baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast until the cauliflower is well browned and tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

While the cauliflower roasts, bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 Tbsp. salt and pasta; cook until al dente. Squeeze the cooled, roasted garlic cloves from their skins into a small bowl. Using a fork, mash the garlic to a smooth paste, then stir in red pepper flakes and 2 Tbsp. lemon juice. Slowly whisk in remaining 1/4 cup oil.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking water, and return the pasta to the pot. Add the chopped cauliflower to the pasta; stir in the garlic sauce, 1/4 cup cooking water, parsley, and 1/2 cup cheese. Adjust the consistency of the pasta with additional cooking water and season with salt and pepper. serve immediately, sprinkling with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and toasted nuts.

Note: I added a total of 1/2 cup cooking water in ours.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Grilled Pesto Shrimp and Summer Veggie Salad

Source: Sisters Cafe (I love this blog, amazing)

Okay, so I made this tonight for dinner and all I can say is, "Oh my, goodness it was good!" It made me realize that eating healthy isn't so hard after all. we made it tonight, because I want to continue eating a little healthier and because it gave us an excuse to fire up the grill one more time before summer is officially over. Seriously, try this. It is such a great way to use up all those summer veggies from your garden!

For the grilled veggies:
1 yellow and 1 orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into large pieces
1 red onion, chopped into large segments
1 yellow summer squash, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
Olive oil (I used Extra Virgin and it was great!)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Either use previously prepared pesto or make a small batch of fresh pesto:
2 tbsp. pine nuts
2 tbsp. walnuts
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled (My garlic cloves were huge and so 2 was a little too much for me, so next time, I would use one if they are big)
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
3½ tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 lb. uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined

For serving:
Spinach ( I don't like straight up spinach, too chewy for me, so I mixed spinach with romaine lettuce)
Tomato wedges
Crumbled feta cheese

Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Oil the grates to prevent food from sticking.

To prepare the veggies for grilling, combine the bell peppers, red onion, squash and zucchini in a large bowl and toss. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat evenly. Set aside.

To make the pesto, combine the pine nuts, walnuts, garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process 30 seconds. Add basil leaves, olive oil, salt, and pepper and process until smooth. Add parmesan cheese and process 1 minute. Set aside.

Thread the shrimp onto skewers for the grill. Once the skewers are assembled, use the back of a spoon or a pastry brush to smother the pesto onto both sides of the shrimp. Set aside.

Transfer the veggies to a grill basket and cook on the grill until they are crisp-tender, about 10-15 minutes (depending on the heat of your grill). Remove the grill basket from the heat and place the shrimp skewers on the grill in a single layer. Assemble the salads while the shrimp cook by tossing the grilled veggies atop a bed of spinach.
Allow the shrimp to cook just until cooked through, about 3-5 minutes (depending on the heat of your grill), turning once during cooking. Remove the shrimp from the skewers and place them on top of the salads. Top with fresh tomato wedges and crumbled feta cheese. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Crispy Southwest Wraps (Vegetarian) with Homemade Guacomole

Source: Sisters Cafe Blog

In an attempt to eat healthier, I made these for dinner tonight. They are so good and good for you. I knew I would like it, and knew Lexi would only have a cheese crisp, but Chris was the wild card. Well, the verdict is in, and even he liked it and if filled him up. I was worried about the latter because there is no meat in it. But, it was a hit for us! The guacomole really made this meal fantastic! It was my first time making homemade guac and let me tell you, this is now my recipe. so easy, and so so good and fresh tasting. I want to try it again using the cilantro, though, and see if it makes a huge difference. Anyways, try it you will like it!

1 cup cooked brown rice, warm or at room temperature ( I used Minute brown rice and it was such a timesaver)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green onion, finely sliced (white and green parts)
1/2 red or green pepper, diced ( I used red, and am glad I did)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (I left this out, forgot to buy it, and I think it is worth buying, it would add just more flavor, so next time I will add it)
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1-2 cups shredded cheese (I used colby monterey jack and did not measure, just guessed)
6 medium tortillas ( I used whole wheat, and it was good)

Mix rice together with chili powder, cumin and garlic salt. Add remaining ingredients except for cheese. Sprinkle cheese over tortillas, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges, then arrange rice mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll stuffed tortillas, leaving edges open. Spray the tortillas with cooking spray or brush lightly with olive oil. Heat a large non-stick skillet (or panini maker) over medium heat for 1 minute. Arrange 2 wraps, seam-side down, in pan and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining wraps. Serve with salsa or my favorite, homemade Guacamole--yum!

My Favorite Guacamole
2 avocados, mashed
1 jalapeno minced (I took the seeds out)
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped (I left this out, and I thought it was just as good without it)
1 small tomato diced (I used a roma)
kosher salt to taste
squeeze of a lemon

Mix together and enjoy!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sopapilla Cheesecake

I got this recipe, again, from Barefoot and Baking blog, and it is yummy! She made hers for cinco de mayo which is a cute idea, but I just made it because I was in the mood. :) So make it anytime of year, it is great!

2 blocks of cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cans of refrigerated crescent rolls
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9 by 13 inch pan. Beat cream cheeses with 1 cup sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla until smooth. Open one can of crescents and unroll into the big rectangle. Lay the entire rectangle on the bottom of 9 by 13 pan. Spread cream cheese mixture on top. Unroll second crescent can and place whole rectangle on top of cream cheese layer.

Mix together 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/2 cup butter. Dot mixture on top of cheesecake, (I spread my all over top instead of dot). Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Serve warm with ice cream and drizzled honey over top of each piece.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Raspberry Cream Pie

I got this recipe from Barefoot and Baking blog, and she got it from the pioneer woman. I made this dessert tonight, after going raspberry picking, and I have to say it is so good. It reminds me of summer, is light, and so unbelievably easy and fast to make, it is definately a keeper! I really enjoyed this, it is fantastic!

25 oreos, crushed
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 cup fresh raspberries (be generous)
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 ( 6 oz each) containers of raspberry yogurt ( I used yoplait brand)
1 (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding box (I like Jello brand)
1 cup whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crush oreos in food processor. Add melted butter to oreo crumbs. Press in pie pan. Bake for 3 minutes, just to set. Cool completely.

Smash rasperries. Sprinkle with 3 Tbsp. sugar. Stir, and let sit for at least 20 minutes.

With electric mixer, I used my kitchen aide, combine yogurts and pudding mix. Pour in whipping cream and beat on low for 30 seconds. Scrape sides of bowl and then mix on med/high for 2 minutes, until mixture is thick. Fold in raspberries. Pour into crust. Freeze for at least two hours. Garnish with crumbled oreo cookies and fresh raspberries and whipped cream.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Crockpot Southwestern Chicken

This is so yummy! I cannot believe how easy and yummy it is. Did I mention it is yummy!? Seriously, make this, it is great!

1 small bag frozen corn
1 can black beans
2 large frozen chicken breasts
16 oz. jar MEDIUM salsa (do not use mild, I used pace picante brand)
cheddar cheese, topping
tortilla chips
sour cream, topping
cilantro, topping
avocado, diced, topping

Pour bag of frozen corn in bottom of crockpot. Place chicken on top and cover with black beans and jar of salsa. Cook on high for 1 hour and then on low for 4 hours. Shred chicken with forks. Serve with chips and toppings.