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 :)