1/31/08

7 Minute Frosting


This is the frosting I almost exclusively make to go with the eggless chocolate cake I posted yesterday morning. It's almost like marshmallow creme, and is just amazing with chocolate cake! I know it would be good on any kind of cake or cupcake, but coupled with chocolate, even I (who doesn't like chocolate...) have had 2 slices!

7 Minute Frosting

2 egg whites
1 1/2 c sugar
1 T light colored corn syrup
1/3 c cold water
1 1/2 t vanilla (clear if you have it otherwise, regular is fine)

Put everything in a glass or metal bowl that just fits inside a saucepan but is wider on top so the bowl hovers and doesn't sit on the bottom of the pan. Bring a saucepan of water to a slow boil, place the bowl into the saucepan and let the water simmer under the bowl as you mix with an electric hand mixer. As the egg cooks it will thicken. It will take about 7 minutes of mixing. Sometimes as the mixture gets hot and starts to thicken I remove the bowl from the saucepan and finish mixing it on the counter which seems to work fine too. It's ready when the mixture forms stiff peaks when you lift the beaters. Use immediately as it will form a very light crust as it air drys. Does not need to be refrigerated.

This makes enough for a thick filling between the 2 layers and a generous amount to frost the outside with.
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1/29/08

Eggless Chocolate Cake

This is a cake we've been making for about 10 years now. It's so quick and simple and uses things we always have on hand. If you crave chocolate cake but don't have eggs or oil, don't worry, make this one.

I thought I added this one to the website a long time ago (I could have sworn it!) but I didn't see it listed in a quick scan of cakes so I'm going to post it again as I just made it this afternoon and snapped a quick picture of it. This cake is special to me for a reason other than it being my favorite chocolate cake... back when my husband and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary a neighbor was watching our three kids for us while we went to dinner and our 8 year old daughter went back to our home, dug out this recipe card and managed to make the entire thing, from scratch all by herself! We were so proud of her! She even decorated it. Every time I make this cake I smile with the memory.

Eggless Chocolate Cake

2 c flour
1 c sugar
1/4 t salt
1/3 c cocoa
1 t baking soda
1 c cold water
1 1/2 t vanilla
2/3 c mayonnaise

Mix the flour, sugar, salt, cocoa and baking soda in a bowl. Add the water, vanilla and mayonnaise. Mix with a wooden spoon, 100 strokes. Pour into 2 - 8" round pans that you have sprayed, lined with parchment paper and sprayed again. Bake 25 minutes at 350. Cool 5-10 minutes in the pan, remove and cool completely.

Spread with your favorite frosting. Our favorite for this particular cake is 7 Minute Frosting - I almost exclusively make it for this one!
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Saute'ed Greens with Feta Cheese

While I grew up in the heartland of America with a mother that cooked roast and potatoes, things with ground beef or steak and finally, pork chops; I left the Midwest at age 18 and moved to Los Angeles where I discovered fresh foods, chicken breasts and a thousand new flavors and foods. After my husband and I had our first child we moved to the South, living and loving Tennessee until 5 years later we moved to the frigid North, to Minnesota. Over the next 8 years we lived from the Southern tip of the state to the very Northern tip of the state, just a hop, skip and jump from the Canadian border and then, somewhere inbetween the two. Finally, we were transferred a little South, to the heartland of the Midwest where we currently reside.

And what is the number one thing I love about having lived all over the United States? The different foods and food styles I've grown to love! One of those are 'greens' which, in the South usually mean Collard greens, but expanding on that, you can use kale, Swiss chard or beet greens. And while in the South I made them with onions and bacon, I now make them with one of my all time favorite cheeses; feta. Feta, my feta; Oh how I love thee... let me count the ways!

Greens with Feta Cheese

10 oz. feta cheese in block form or large crumbles but not fine
1/4 c olive oil
2 t dried oregano or Italian seasoning blend
1/2 t crushed red pepper (dried)
1/8 t finely grated lemon zest (dried)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds cooking greens, just the leaves, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper


Slice the feta and layer in a baking dish or place the large chunks if you could only find crumbled. In a small bowl, combine 2 T of the olive oil with the oregano, crushed red pepper, lemon zest and half the garlic. Spread the marinade all over the feta cheese and let stand for 25-30 minutes.

Bake the feta cheese at 350 for about 5 minutes while you quickly cook the greens. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 T of olive oil. Add the remaining garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the greens, a handful at a time, and cook, stirring, until tender, it only takes about 3-4 minutes. Pour off any liquid, season with salt and pepper. Spoon the greens onto plates and add the feta on top. Add some slices of French bread or baguette slices and drizzle the marinade from the baking dish over the top of the breads. This will only serve 2 people in our house (me and my oldest daughter who loves feta as much as I do!) but will serve 4 if you have company.

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1/28/08

Bloomin' Onion Style and Sauce



This recipe is allll over the internet but I still think that not many people make it more than once. Why? Because it's a little labor intensive, the cutting has to be done precisely or it falls apart, and not very many people cook with such a large amount of oil or deep fry things anymore.

I have said many times how I hate to 'bread' things. I think most recently on one of my jalapeno popper recipes. I hate it. Hate. It. I get bored, my fingers get heavily breaded and I really, really hate to fry things because it makes the house smell like grease for days. For that fact I have made these "Blooming Onion" style onions only about once or twice a year for the past 5 years or so. But honestly, I'd almost rather go to a restaurant and pay the $9 for one prepared there. Let them make it and deal with the grease smell. LOL.

Still... having complained that much, I was c r a v i n g these something fierce for the last 3 weeks and finally gave it and made 4 of them last night. Pictured above is 1/2 of a large bloomin' onion and the sauce. Yum! I had it for breakfast this morning as well.


The sauce: Prepare ahead of time so it has time to chill and get the flavor you want
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons ketchup
2 tablespoons cream-style horseradish sauce (I use Kraft)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
Dash ground black pepper

Prepare the dipping sauce by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Keep the sauce covered in your refrigerator until needed.



The Onion

1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/4 t dried oregano
1/8 t dried thyme
1/8 t cumin
1 giant 'sweet' onion like a Vidalia

Vegetable oil for frying
Beat the egg and combine it with the milk in a medium bowl big enough to hold the onion. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, peppers, oregano, thyme, and cumin.

To slice the onion - First slice 3/4 inch to 1 inch off the top and bottom of the onion. Remove the papery skin. Use a thin knife to cut a 1-inch diameter core out of the middle of the onion. Using a large knife you will now slice all the way across the onion but not down to the cutting board. You need to only cut 3/4 of the way through the onion so the bottom holds it together. You need to make 16 slices, or as many close to that number as you can to make the petals. Spread the "petals" of the onion apart gently, you'll want to separate them to make coating easier and to get the flour and seasoning mixture down into the onion base.


Dip the onion in the milk mixture, and then coat it liberally with the dry ingredients. Double dip your onions - wet, dry, wet and dry again. Then let the onion rest for at least 15 minutes to 'set' the breading.

Heat oil in a deep fryer or deep pot to 350 degrees. Make sure you use enough oil to completely cover the onion when it fries. Fry the onion right side up in the oil for 10 minutes or until it turns brown. When the onion is done, remove it from the oil and let it drain on a rack or paper towels.

*Note*

The slicing of the onion is the most difficult part of this recipe and many times I've cut a little too deep and the onion has broken in half. That is when you make "Onion Petals" instead of a whole onion... LOL. But another option is one that I myself own and can vouch for. A Onion Blossom Maker that I ordered from Amazon. It guides your cuts. I still manage to cut too deep once in awhile but it's made cutting these oh so easy and you can get them for as little as a couple bucks used and about a dollar more brand new.
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Shell Macaroni Tuna Pasta Salad



1 package dry shell macaroni pasta (I used about 12 oz.)
1 7 oz. can tuna
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 c frozen peas
1/4 c sliced green olives and red pimentos
1/2 - 3/4 c mayonnaise


Cook the macaroni in boiling water until almost done. Add the frozen pea's for the last 5 minutes of cook time. Drain and run cold water over to cool and stop the cooking process. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir to mix and chill.
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1/26/08

Maple Pecan Cookies

Remember when I told you how awesome my Molasses Cookies were and how you shouldn't pass them up just because the name 'molasses cookie' sounded so boring and something only the elderly could like? Well... I was right then and I'm right now. Another cookie I hope you don't pass up because it's a 'boring' Maple Pecan Cookie. I know I know! I think of a 87 year old man enjoying these cookies too... and honestly, in all my life I would have passed them up myself thinking "I don't really care for maple flavored things.... cookies, fudge, etc." but these really are good!

Maple Pecan Cookies

2 sticks real butter, soft
1/2 c sugar
1 egg yolk
3 T pancake syrup (real or imitation flavor)
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t mapeline (maple) flavoring
2 c flour
1 c chopped pecans

In a bowl beat the butter until pale. Gradually add the sugar until creamy. Add the pancake syrup, egg yolk, vanilla and maple flavoring. Add the flour and pecans. Spoon or scoop into walnut sized balls and flatten with your palms to about 1/2 inch thick cookies. Place on parchment lined baking sheets or lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 approximately 12-15 minutes. Every oven is different and the time will vary based on the thickness you've made the cookie so judge accordingly. You will want the edges to be just turning golden brown and the center of the cookie to be barely 'set'. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 3-4 minutes to set up and then transfer to a rack to cool.
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Another Version of Cream Cheese Chicken

There are so many versions of this meal and although this isn't one of my favorites, I decided to add it here because although I'm partial to the flavor of a mushroom sauce, some people hate the flavor of mushroom and might prefer this version, which uses cream of chicken soup instead.

Another way to make it is to leave off the sauce completely. (My husband doesn't care for rich sauces and prefers his stuffed chicken breasts plain). I'll put an option on the bottom about making these without any sauce at all, which are wonderful that way!


6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 dry package Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix
6-12 slices bacon
1 can cream of chicken soup (or you can make your own basic white sauce and add 2 bouillon cubes or 2 t chicken bouillon granules)
1 c sour cream
8 oz. cream cheese


Cut a pocket in the thick portion of each chicken breast. Line a baking pan with foil or grease your baking pan. In a bowl microwave the cream cheese to soften it and add 1/2 of the dry dressing mix. Mix well. Use approximately 1-2 T cream cheese mixture stuffed into each chicken breast pocket. Secure with toothpicks. You may still have leftover cream cheese mixture, which you'll use in the sauce.

Wrap a bacon strip around each (use 1-2 strips depending on the size of your chicken breast and how much coverage you want) and lay on the foil in the pan. Sprinkle some of the dry dressing mixture over the bacon wrapped breasts. Mix the chicken soup (or your white sauce) with 1 cup sour cream with whatever cream cheese mixture is still in the bowl and add the rest of the dry dressing mix if there is any left in the package. Mix well. Spoon around the chicken breasts in the pan.

Bake at 400 approximately 45-65 minutes until the chicken is done.


Showing the cream cheese mixture
in the pocket you cut into the thickest portion
of the chicken breast


*For Those Not Wanting a Sauce With It*

My husband prefers them this way. Stuff the chicken breasts with the cream cheese mixture.

Mix the remaining 1/2 of the dry dressing packet with

  • 1 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs or panko.

Dampen each breast if they have air dried too much. Press each filled chicken breast into the seasoned bread crumbs, pressing to help adhere the crumbs well. Do not wrap with bacon. Add about 2-3 Tablespoons canola oil to your baking pan and place the lightly breaded chicken breasts in the pan.

Bake 35-45 minutes until chicken is done and golden brown. Goes well with wild rice, green beans or garlic mashed potatoes.
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1/25/08

Asiago Hash Brown Casserole

At the last minute I decided to make a simple hash brown casserole to go with dinner last night. We usually have a variation of the ever popular Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole (otherwise known by many names - Cracker Barrel Hash Browns, Cowboy Potatoes, etc.) but are basically the same; frozen potatoes, soup, cheddar cheese, butter, sour cream...) But as I stood in front of the refrigerator I saw the heavy cream and I remembered seeing a few recipes that called for potatoes and heavy cream... little else. When I looked through my files however, I realized that cream, salt and pepper would just be too bland for 'my' crew and I wanted something else. More flavor. Then I saw this one - which used Asiago cheese. I knew I had a package of a mixture of Asiago, Romano, Parmesan and Fontina cheeses in the cheese drawer so this one won out. The original recipe in my files was a tiny bit different (when do I ever follow a recipe to the tee? Never.) But here is the version I made last night.


Asiago Hash Brown Casserole


2 lbs. frozen diced hash brown potatoes
1 c sour cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) real butter, melted
10 oz. heavy whipping cream
1 medium onion, diced
5 oz (1 2/3 cup) mixture Asiago, Parmesan, Romano and Fontina Cheese (packaged, pre shredded)
salt and pepper to taste


In a very large bowl mix the hash browns with the sour cream, butter, heavy cream, onion and cheese. Place in a greased baking dish and salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 375 degrees approximately 60 minutes until potatoes are done and the top is golden brown.


My review is that it was good, but still a little bland for my families tastes. I think this dish would go great with a main entree that was on the spicy side. Whether it is a bold BBQ Shredded Beef, or something with hot spice like jalapeño, this would make a great side dish. Next time I make it however I'm going to add some onion powder to the salt and pepper seasoning.
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1/24/08

Summer Sausage Appetizer

Once in a while I'll whip something up here at home on the spur of the moment that I briefly think about putting on the website, but it's too simple, too dorky, too quirky or just so dumb that I decide not to.

Today I needed a quick lunch. I was busy with housework, some freelance writing and a few other things going on and didn't want to take any time to stop and eat but needed something in my stomach that was quick and easy.

I opened the refrigerator and spied a simple package of all beef summer sausage I had picked up at Target (Market Pantry brand) for a quick meat and cheese tray I was going to make a couple weeks ago. I knew I still had an unopened package of multi-grain crackers (also from Target - Archer Farms brand) and on a whim grabbed the Kraft Horseradish sauce but decided to forgo any cheese that would have naturally or usually accompanied it.

The first thing that struck me was how perfectly the round summer sausage fit to the round cracker. Picture perfect in size. I added a dollup of horseradish sauce and then for garnish sprinkled a bit of dill weed on top. It was so simple, yet looked attractive and mmmm, so good! I ate about 8 of them and then grabbed a bottle of water and got back to work.

I wasn't going to post the 'recipe' on the blog because really, if it's only 3 or 4 ingredients does it really make it a 'recipe'? LOL. But it was just so yummy I decided to anyway. Of COURSE you can use other name brand products... I'm only putting the name brands because I know for a fact they fit perfectly together.


Simple Summer Sausage Appetizers


1 package round multigrain Archer Farms crackers from Target
1 lb. package Market Pantry (from Target) all beef Summer Sausage
1 bottle kraft horseradish sauce (it's a mixture, not pure horseradish!)
dried dill weed


Place the crackers on a serving platter. Top with a single slice of summer sausage, cut thin. Using the condiment bottle or transferring the horseradish sauce to a bag with a decorators tip for a more elegant presentation, dollop about a teaspoon of horseradish sauce on top. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of dried dill for garnish.

Serve!

*Note*
To serve to a large group that I'm not sure love horseradish I would use a mixture of softened cream cheese (about 4 oz.) seasoned with a tablespoon of the Kraft horseradish sauce and use that on top so it's more group friendly for a wide range of palates.
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Lemon Truffle Pie

One of my all time favorite desserts is a double layer lemon pie that is made with a delicious cream cheese layer as well as a tangy lemon curd filling. Topped with freshly whipped cream it's amazing. It's similar to the Lemon Deluxe pies that restaurants like Perkins used to sell (although I admit I've not been to a Perkins in about 7 years so I don't know if they still carry them?). I've been making my own version for 11 years so I have no need to buy theirs! *grin*

My family however, loves chocolate. So when I saw this recipe last year I copied it down and added it to my collection. I wanted to make a double layer lemon pie today for tonights dessert but when I saw this version in my files I realized I still had some white chocolate chips left over from Christmas baking, so I have everything on hand to make this version instead!





Lemon Truffle Pie


9" pie crust, baked and cooled
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup water
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup lemon juice
1-1/2 cups white chocolate chips
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened


Beat egg yolks in a small bowl. Combine sugar, cornstarch and flour in a heavy saucepan. Using a wire whisk, stir in water until smooth. Cook this mixture over medium heat until boiling, stirring constantly.

Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Stir about 1/4 cup of cooked mixture into egg yolks and blend. Return egg yolk mixture to saucepan and cook 2 more minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in butter and lemon juice.

Transfer 1/2 cup of the cooked lemon filling to a small bowl with the white chocolate chips. Set rest of lemon filling aside. Microwave the chip mixture on low 1-2 minutes or until chips are melted, stirring until smooth. Beat cream cheese and add vanilla chip-lemon filling mixture and beat well. Spread over cooled crust. Spoon lemon mixture over the cream cheese layer. Refrigerate 4 hours to set.
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1/23/08

Bacon Cheeseburger Roll Ups

Even though I'm not a football fan myself, I happen to be a married to one and have given birth to at least one more. That one, my 17 year old daughter has a t-shirt that says; "Real women love football! The rest of you stay in the kitchen!" Well, that would be me. Happily! On big game days and Superbowl I'm more than happy to supply food while they watch football. This is a recipe that has made it's round for years and years in probably 75% of the church and school cookbooks as well as the internet boards. I haven't made it as I don't use ground beef much, and never have store bought pizza dough on hand, but this year I am adding it to the list of Super Bowl foods and will no doubt please my meat-loving husband and oldest daughter. With ground beef, onions and Velveeta you can't go wrong!



Bacon Cheeseburger Roll-Up

1 lb. lean ground beef
4 slices bacon, diced
1 small onion, chopped
½ lb.(8 oz.) Velveeta Cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 pkg. (13.8 oz.) refrigerated pizza crust

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown the ground beef, bacon and onion until cooked through. Drain. Add Velveeta and stir over low heat until the cheese is melted. Let the mixture cool while you unroll the pizza dough onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Pat into 15x8 rectangle. Top with the meat mixture and roll up starting with the long sides. Place seam side down and bake 25 minutes until golden brown. Let cool at least 10 minutes to set. Slice diagonally into 10-12 slices.



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1/22/08

Wonton Poppers

One of my top five (5) foods are jalapeño poppers. I regularly buy the Jalapeño Poppers in the frozen food aisle because although I've made them from scratch many, many times over the past 12 years, I absolutely hate to do so. I hate doing egg washes, dipping, or breading any foods. I hate using forks or tongs and I really hate getting my fingers 'breaded' with the egg and crumbs.
A couple months ago I saw this recipe and thought; "Ahhh, that might work better!" I regularly have wonton wrappers on hand as we have cream cheese wontons about once every two weeks, and I also use them to make a crisp chip and have used them in chicken broth as a light 'noodle' - so I have them on hand and am excited to try these tonight.


Wonton Poppers


1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1-2 jalapeño peppers, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 green onions, diced
1 package wonton wrappers
Canola oil for frying

In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, jalapeños, garlic and green onions. Fill wonton wrappers with approximately 1 teaspoon of the mixture each. Fold wrappers into triangles and press the edges with water or egg white to seal.

In a large, deep pan or fryer, heat the oil over medium high heat. Drop wontons 4-6 at a time into the oil and quickly fry, turning once. Remove when golden brown and drain on paper towels.
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1/21/08

Breakfast Casserole in a Crock Pot with Diced Green Pepper

This one goes along with the other recipe I just posted this morning. Both are similar breakfast casseroles but this one uses bacon and green pepper. Again, what a great idea! Fix it before bed and wake to a hot breakfast out of your crockpot. I haven't used it yet and the only fear I have is that todays versions of crockpots cook so darn hot, even on 'low' that I think the eggs would burn. If you have an older or vintage crock pot I think this would work better than anything made in the last 8 years or so as they run so hot they burn everything within 4-5 hours even on low. (The companies are all worried about cooking at long times on low temperatures so that is why they made the change... don't even get me started on that soap box!)



Breakfast Casserole in a Crock Pot

32 oz. bag frozen hash browns
1 lb. bacon, cooked, crumbled
1/2 c. diced onions
1 green pepper, diced
salt and pepper
3/4 lb. cheddar cheese
1 dozen eggs
1 c. milk
1/2 tsp. dry mustard

Layer frozen potatoes, bacon, onions, green pepper and cheese in crock pot, ending with the cheese. Beat the eggs, milk, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour over the mixture. Cook on low 10 -12 hours. Serves 10.
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Breakfast Casserole in a Crock Pot

Although I've made (and had) many versions of breakfast casseroles, when I came across this version on the internet I was struck by one of those moments of "duh!". I guess I never think about using my crock pot for breakfast... although what a great idea. Start it at night before you head to bed and have a hot breakfast ready in the morning. I've not tried this one yet but couldn't wait to add it to my online collection of collected recipes.


Breakfast Casserole in a Crock Pot

1 32 oz bag of frozen southern style hash brown potatoes
1 lb of bacon cut into pieces, fried and drained
1/2 c diced onions
3/4 lb cheddar cheese diced
1 dozen eggs
1 c milk
1/2 t dry mustard
salt and pepper

Layer the frozen potatoes, bacon, onions, and cheese in the crock pot with the cheese on the top. Beat the eggs, milk and mustard, salt and pepper together. Pour over the whole mixture. Cook on low for ten to twelve hours.
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1/19/08

Taco Salad

There are quite a few things we make for meals that I don't use a recipe for, and honestly, don't think anyone would, could or should use a recipe for. It's just one of those things that you throw together based on the amount your family will eat and what their tastes consist of. Taco Salad is one of those.

So why would I mention it here and put a 'recipe' for it? Because it's also one of those things that you forget about making! LOL. Sooo many times I'll flip through a recipe book or find a list of menu idea's for the month that I've wrote in the past and tucked away in the front of one of my recipe folders and I'll say to myself "Oh yeah! I forgot all about that! I have to make that!"

So todays post is for Taco Salad. Obviously you will leave out what your family hates (black olives not a favorite? Don't put them in!).

Taco Salad


A mixture of chopped Romaine, green leaf and/or iceberg lettuce
ground beef or turkey made as directed on the package of seasoning
chopped onion
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained well
chopped tomato
sliced black olives
Crushed Doritos
shredded cheddar cheese
1 can enchilada sauce
3/4 c Catalina salad dressing
Salsa
Sour Cream


Chop all the lettuce, add the onion, beans, tomatoes, black olives, cheese and nacho chips. Mix the enchilada sauce and dressing and toss the salad with it. Serve with a side of salsa and sour cream for people to use as they wish.
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1/18/08

Grilled Chicken Dry Rub

I was looking through my recipes trying to decide what to make for dinner tonight when I saw this dry rub recipe for grilled chicken. Tonight is going to be -40 below zero wind chill so I don't think I want to be standing outside on the deck grilling, but just the thought of this delicious chicken was enough to bring me to my 'happy place' which, in my imagination was standing next to a pool side grill in Florida with the sun shining on my back and this chicken in front of me over the flames.

As I come back to the present... (brrr) I'll pass on this one for tonight but I wanted to type into my online collected recipes to save for that sunny day 6 months from now when I won't mind standing on the deck in front of the grill.



Grilled Chicken

2 T salt
1 T fresh ground black pepper
1 T brown sugar
2 t garlic powder
1 t lemon pepper seasoning mix
1 t chili powder
1 t cayenne pepper
1 1/2 t cornstarch
1 1/2 t onion powder

1/2 cup real butter, room temperature
3-4 lb. chicken - whole or breasts

Combine the dry ingredients in small bowl. Mix 1 tablespoon of the dry rub with the stick of real butter. Set aside. Use the rest of the dry rub to rub into and cover your chicken pieces. Cover and chill for at least 2-3 hours.

Grill the chicken for 25 minutes on the underside, flip and an additional 20 minutes skin side down. Continue flipping and cooking until completely done and not pink. Place on a serving platter and place pats of seasoned butter on the chicken to melt and impart more flavor to the poultry.
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1/17/08

Mini Buffet Burgers... Sliders or White Castle Burgers


In our household these are simple called "Mini Cheeseburgers" and the cheers ring out from the family when they hear I'm making them. What I find most interesting about this particular dish is that I eat them. You see, I won't eat regular cheeseburgers. I've always had 'issues' with ground beef ever since I was a child and sat picking huge chunks of meat out of my mothers taco salad and chili. Had she browned the pieces smaller or finer I might not have had such an aversion, but alas, she did, and I've not had a love affair with ground beef since.

As a matter of fact in the first few years of marriage I think I only bought ground beef twice until we moved to the heartland of America where ground beef, macaroni pasta and ketchup are 'king' - in part, I believe, due to the high cost of groceries here!

Having said that however, I do like McDonalds Big Macs and cheeseburgers and I do serve cheeseburgers to my carnivorous family while I buy Boca Burgers for me. So that, my friends, is what I find interesting about this recipe. I absolute love these and will eat 5 of them in one sitting!

This time I made them ground turkey instead of ground beef and yum! They were delicious! So if you prefer ground turkey to beef - go for it. Or if you want to mix both turkey and beef that would great too! You'll get the lighter turkey texture with the flavor of the ground beef.




I make my mini buns homemade for this recipe. I realize that some of you don't or won't make homemade bread or buns and that is perfectly ok! But in that case you will either have to track down the mini 2 inch sized buns at your local grocery or baking, or buy frozen bread dough, thaw, divide into golf ball sized pieces and let raise and then bake. The mini size is part of what gives these little guys their flavor and style!


Mini Cheeseburgers

2 lb. ground beef or ground turkey
1 c soft bread crumbs
1/4 c mayonnaise
1 egg
1/3 c finely diced onion
1 t garlic salt
1 t Italian seasoning
fresh ground black pepper
salt to taste
1 c shredded cheese (I've used mozzarella and cheddar blends)

Combine everything but the cheese. Mash and mix together well either either with a wooden spoon or your hands. Press into a large jelly roll pan (about 15X10 inches). Do not press all the way to the edges, leave one (1) inch between the meat and the edge of the pan for drippings to bake away from the meat. Bake 25 minutes, top the meat with the cheese and continue baking 8-10 minutes more until the meat is done and the cheese is melted. Remove and let set 3-4 minutes and then using a pizza cutter, slice the meat into squares. Place a square on each mini bun. Serve with condiments.



The meat pressed into the pan before baking
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1/16/08

Provencal Tapenade

When I traveled to Italy in March of 2006 I returned home with a love of olive pate'. Black and green... they were both alright in my book! Since then I've tried to match the amazing flavor I had one evening in a restaurant in Rome but I haven't quite gotten it 'right'. Here is a recipe I found from Food & Wine Magazine. Not quite it either (my version didn't have anchovies, tuna, capers or cognac in it) but sounded so good and that it must be added to my collection.

Provençal Tapenade

The best olives to use for a proper tapenade are naturally the ones Provençal cooks use: black Niçoise. In a pinch, however, any top-quality black olives can be combined with capers and anchovies to make this rustic spread.

  • 1 1/2 cups Niçoise olives (10 ounces), pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup drained capers
  • 1/4 cup drained tuna
  • 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon Cognac (optional)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Grilled or toasted bread, for serving

    The Tapenade can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving. In a food processor, combine the olives with the capers, tuna and anchovies. Pulse until a coarse purée forms. With the machine on, gradually add the oil until incorporated. Transfer the Tapenade to a bowl and stir in the Cognac. Season with pepper and serve with grilled bread. Makes about 1 1/3 cup
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Spicy Hot Wings and Drumettes


If you were to ask my son what his top three favorite foods are, my Hot Wings would probably rank right up there with pepperoni pizza. Possibly even bypass pizza. He loves them that much. I have to admit... I do too! I have two recipes that I regularly make, but if I had to choose just one of them, this would be it.

There are a few options in the cooking-of-the-chicken part of this recipe.
  1. Grill the chicken and baste with the sauce
  2. Bake the chicken in the oven, finish with the sauce
  3. Cook the chicken in an electric dutch oven
  4. Cook the chicken in the crock pot
I've done all four. I have listed them in order of preference from grilling being my top choice to the crock pot, my last.

Precook 2 lbs. chicken drumettes or wings. In the meantime while the chicken is cooking or before you start to make the chicken, make the sauce.

Hot Wing Sauce

1 c hot sauce like Tabasco or Franks
1/3 c canola oil or partial canola with a bit of hot chili pepper oil (Asian food aisle)
1 1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 1/2 t minced garlic or 1/2 t garlic powder
1 t sugar
1/2 t worcestershire sauce
1/4 t fresh ground black pepper
1 egg yolk
2 t water
2 t cornstarch

In a saucepan on the stove combine the hot sauce, oil, cayenne, garlic, sugar and worcestershire. Heat just until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Whisk the egg yolk and water until smooth and then add the corn starch. Whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved and the egg is pale. Slowly drip and drizzle the egg mixture into the hot sauce mix while whisking quickly. Do not pour it in, do not pour quickly. This much be done very slowly to incorporate the egg into the sauce and not curdle it.

Lay the chicken on a foil lined pan and brush liberally with the sauce. If you are grilling the pieces, this can be done while they are on the grill but for the other 3 methods of cooking, brush the chicken pieces with the sauce and then set under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, turning once.

These are great served with a mixture of half bleu cheese dressing and half ranch dressing along with a side of celery sticks to cool the palate as these are very spicy!





Pre-cooking the chicken

Starting the sauce before the egg is added to thicken it


Brushing the sauce on the wings

Mmmm!

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1/15/08

Creamy Garlic Chicken Pizza

They say necessity is the mother of invention and I'd have to agree. Many (many!) of my recipes are born out of substitutions, spur-of-the-moment things thrown together and mishing and mashing of 2, 3, or even 5 different recipes for inspiration all contributing to a new idea.

Last night I was in the middle of a hectic, crazy night with far too many things going on all at once. In the midst of this I was trying to make 2 pizza's for dinner. One, I knew would be a Greek Spinach Pizza (already posted here - check the pizza links to the right side of the page) and the second? Well, I figured it would have something to do with chicken but I wasn't sure. Maybe BBQ Chicken Pizza. However, running late and juggling too many things meant my Greek pizza was in the oven and the second crust was on the counter.

Having posted the recipe for a Creamy Garlic Sauce earlier that day I ran to my computer, printed it off and made some substitutions as I didn't have half and half, mozzarella cheese or Parmesan cheese. The result? A pizza my 15 year old son said I should make every weekend for "Pizza Night". Coming from Mr. Plain Pepperoni that is quite the compliment.




Creamy Garlic Chicken Pizza
*January 2008*


4 T butter
1 1/2 T minced garlic
1 1/2 T flour
3/4 c heavy cream
1/4 c parsley

1 pizza crust already made and risen

1/2 c shredded smoked gouda
1/2 c shredded provolone
1 c diced cooked chicken (I used 4 boneless, skinless chicken tenders quickly cooked in the microwave and chopped)


Melt the butter in a pan on the stove. Add the garlic and quickly saute' over medium heat for 1 minute until tender but not brown. Whisk in flour until smooth and add cream and parsley. Stir quickly until thick. Spread over prepared pizza crust. Top with cheeses and chicken. Bake at 425 until golden brown, approximately 18 minutes.
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1/14/08

Cream Cheese Zucchini Bread

I really like my original zucchini bread recipe, but I'm always on the look out for new recipes (of course!). Recently I tried a new banana bread recipe that had cream cheese in it. When I saw this zucchini recipe that also had cream cheese in it, I figured it might be worth while.

Cream Cheese Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
2 c sugar
1 c oil
1 t vanilla
8 oz. cream cheese
2 c flour
1 t soda
1 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1 t salt
1/2 t nutmeg
2 c chopped walnuts
2 c shredded zucchini

Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour two loaf pans. In large bowl beat eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla until smooth, then beat in softened cream cheese. Blend the dry ingredients together by whisking in a large bowl and gradually beat the dry into the wet. Lastly, fold in the nuts and zucchini. Pour into the two prepared pans.

Bake at 350 for approximately 1 hour - 1 1/4 hour until the center is done (I test my breads using a butterknife inserted into the center as a toothpick doesn't go deep enough). Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Turn out of pans and allow to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and then foil and refrigerate overnight for best flavor the next day.
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Creamy Garlic Sauce (for dipping bread sticks)

Every Saturday night in our household is pizza night. I always make at least one pepperoni pizza (my recipes are in the links to the right) and the other one or two pizzas vary with interest, cravings and requests. Often it's a Taco Pizza or a Greek Spinach and Feta Pizza... sometimes Chicken Ranch or even more often they want one made into cheesy bread sticks with a garlic dipping sauce.

Sometimes the cheesy garlic bread sticks are served plain, other times a simple garlic butter is served. Here is yet a third choice; A Creamy Garlic Sauce for dipping OR if you want to use this as a base on the pizza instead of a red sauce it's wonderful too if you top it with diced or shredded chicken and a mixture of mozzarella and provolone cheese.

Creamy Garlic Sauce for dipping Breadsticks

2 T butter
1 T minced garlic
1 T all-purpose flour
3/4 c half & half
1/3 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c parsley

Saute garlic in butter over medium heat for 1 minute, until tender. Quickly stir in flour, whisk until smooth. Gradually add half and half. Stir in parmesan and parsley. Heat until thickened and smooth.
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Easy Blueberry Streusel Cake (starting with a mix)

1 Duncan Hines yellow cake mix, eggs and oil per directions
1 small package of instant Vanilla Pudding
1-1/2 cup of blueberries

3/4 c of brown sugar
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 c of butter melted


Add the dry pudding mix to the dry cake mix and then make the cake as directed on the box. (They change the directions often from the amount of water, eggs and oil so use the amounts they currently require). Stir in the blueberries and put into a greased 9x13 pan.

Mix the topping; nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over cake. Drizzle the melted butter over all. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes until done in the center. Serve warm or cooled.
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1/11/08

Crab Stuffed Salmon





One of my favorite general foods is seafood. Love it. Oysters, crab, lobster, clams, shrimp, scallops, doesn't matter... love it all. One of my favorites is crab cakes or crab stuffed salmon. I was craving it this week but decided to make it more 'quick and easy' by not actually stuffing the salmon. I've seen many restaurants and stores selling it as stuffed when in fact they only put a big scoop of the crab stuffing on the top. Works for me!

I made my favorite crab cake recipe and put a large ice cream scoop on each salmon piece. Then I used the remaining crab stuffing to make crab cakes, which I admit were gobbled up by me and the kids before dinner was even served.


Crab Stuffed Salmon
*this is my own recipe for crab cakes but it can be used as a stuffing for salmon

4 pieces soft bread grated or ground in a food processor
1/3 c mayonnaise
1 egg
2 green onions, diced with greens
2 T parsley, dried
2 T lemon juice
1 T Old Bay Seasoning
1 t mustard
1 lb. crab meat
4 oz. cream cheese
saltine crackers - approximately 2 handfuls crushed in your fingers until fine

Fresh salmon
Lemon Pepper Seasoning


Mix the stuffing ingredients. Add enough crackers so the stuffing is not too dry, but moist enough to hold its shape when scooped up with an ice cream scoop or large serving spoon.

Place the salmon pieces on a greased piece of parchment on a baking sheet or an oiled baking sheet. You can make as many or few as you like but this stuffing recipe will make approximately 10. I made 6 stuffed salmon servings and made the rest into crab cakes by flattening the scoop and frying in a bit of oil on the stove top until golden.

Sprinkle lemon pepper seasoning on each of the salmon pieces and top with a large ice cream scoop of stuffing on each. Bake at 400 degree's until the fish is done (I baked mine about 15 minutes) and then placed under the broiler for 2 minutes to crisp and brown the top of the stuffing.

Wonderful served with long grain wild rice and broccoli.





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1/10/08

Creamy Potatoes Onions and Peas

Because I believe cooking is something that should not be a science, and instead be fun and creative, that is why I often implore my readers to change the recipe. I almost never, ever follow a recipe word for word and I hope you don't either. If something is garnished with black olives and you hate black olives, just leave them out! (Some readers are sitting there saying 'duh' right now but believe it or not I've seen this 50 times on various message boards. Someone will post a recipe and someone else slams it and says 'I thought this Mexican casserole sounded great until I read that you put diced tomatoes and black olives on top of it! I hate black olives and now I can't make it!' Hello? Did it really not occur to you to simply leave off the sliced black olives?).

Another thing I do is sometimes post recipes without amounts. That is what this one will be. The amount will vary based on how many people you are feeding, how much they eat and what you have on hand. It's a 'Grandma' recipe that is perfect for cold winter nights or as a comfort food when you need it. Love onions more than anything? Add more. Hate onions? Just put potatoes and pea's in there then (although it's not going to taste as good. How about if you compromise and add just about 1 or 2 tablespoon of tiny diced onions?). Some households serve this at Christmas or Thanksgiving as well.


Creamy Potatoes, Onions and Peas

Potatoes, scrubbed and cut to 1 inch chucks
Onions - 1 large onion to every 5 or 6 large potatoes
Frozen or fresh peas (not canned) - about a cup or two
2-3 chicken boullion cubes (optional)
Butter
Sour Cream
Salt and Pepper


Boil the potatoes and onions in a pot of water with the boullion. During the last 5 minutes of cooking add the peas. Drain and add a stick of real butter for a large pot, more or less to taste but don't crimp on it. Now add the sour cream, about 1/2 c - 1 c depending on how large of a pot you've made. This is where the flavor, the creaminess and the 'comfort' comes from. As you stir, break up the potatoes a bit and mash a few others. As the butter and sour cream blends with the broken potatoes it starts to get thick. If you prefer you can add a touch of milk or cream at this point as well.

Serve hot with salt and pepper to taste.
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1/9/08

Chicken with Cream Cheese Sauce




This recipe is one of those that your Grandmother might make, or that you may crave on a cold snowy day. It's hot and delicious with a rich creamy sauce. The sauce is so good that you'll want to scoop up every last bit of it with a piece of bread just to make sure you get it all from your plate. This recipe has so many ways of adaption as well!

You can make it lower fat by using low fat versions of the soup and the cream cheese (I use the low fat soup, not because I care about the fat content, but I like the taste of the low fat versions best). You can use different cuts of chicken, you can make it in the crock pot or the oven or stove top. Check it out, decide which way fits your family best and then? Make it!



Cream Cheese Chicken


2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders
1 package dry Italian Dressing mix
1 can low fat condensed cream of chicken soup
8 oz. cream cheese, cubed
1/2 c chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
2 t minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil


If you are going to make this in the crock pot it's best to quickly brown the chicken in a bit of olive oil to give it a golden color, as it makes it more appetizing. Then place it in a crock pot, sprinkle with the dry dressing mix, to cook on low 4-6 hours until done (6 for older crock pots but only 4 for crock pots and slow cookers made in the last 8 years because they are hotter and overcook and burn everything).

If you are using the stovetop or skillet method, brown the chicken and remove to a platter while you continue to make the sauce. If you are oven roasting, brown the chicken in the oil on the stovetop and then place it into the greased baking dish.

About 45 minutes before the chicken is done in the crock pot, or immediately with the other two versions, make the sauce.

Saute' the onion in oil in a skillet. As soon as it's starting to turn golden add the chicken broth and then the cream cheese. Stir and mix until smooth. Add soup, garlic and seasonings. Pour over the chicken and cook on the stovetop over low, covered for at least 20 minutes until the chicken is done or bake at 350 for approximately 40 minutes or until the chicken is done.
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1/8/08

Since I have Coffee Makers on the Brain....

While searching for my new coffee maker this week I fell in love with a few that I couldn't get this time, but I still loved.

This one is the Keurig B60 Special Edition Gourmet Single-Cup Home-Brewing System - that's a mouth full isn't!?

This one sounded great except I wondered about the K-cups.... whether it was vacuum bags, kitchen mops or electric razors, it's my luck to choose one that they will immediately stop making replacement heads for. LOL.

Product Description
Simple and easy - No Grinding, no cleaning, no hassle. It uses pre-measured portions called a K-Cup and K-Cups are available with many different kinds of coffee, tea, or cocoa. The Keurig Special Edition B60 also includes a generous 48 oz. removable water reservoir and gives you a choice of 3 different cup sizes, including a 9.25 ounce serving for a travel cup.

The temperature control feature allows you to choose the standard 192-degree Farenheit brew temperature, or a cooler 187 degrees giving you full control over temperature and brewing time. (I like my coffee HOT HOT HOT but I realize some don't, so this is a plus.) A descale indicator, removable 48-oz. water reservoir, removable stainless steel drip tray and a chrome handle and faceplate.

For home, small office or light commercial use requires use of K-Cups - which come in packages of 25.


*** UPDATE ***

I did indeed get my Keurig Coffee Maker!!! Here is a post where I show you (in photos) how to use a personal My K-Cup to save money by using your own coffee grounds.
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Individual Breakfast Pizzas

I've never been much of a cold cereal eater and although two of my children were when they were small, one had given up breakfast altogether by the time she was 6 and my other daughter tends to feel ill if she eats something 'cold' or 'too sweet' in the morning, which includes cereal and those sugar-and-corn-syrup laden so called granola bars, and my son? He either doesn't want anything or opts for something hot as well like a bagel or a breakfast scramble that you quickly pop in the toaster.

When I saw this recipe from the King Arthur company it sounded so hot and delicious I knew it was one I wanted to add to my collection. I don't use their dough recipe, as I really love my own dough recipe, but I'll keep it here as it's part of their complete recipe.


Dough

1 3/4 cups (7 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
1 1/4 cups (7 1/4 ounces) semolina*
2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) King Arthur Easy-Roll Dough Improver (optional, but helpful)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (1/4 ounce) Pizza Dough Flavor (optional, but delicious)
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) olive oil
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) cool water

*If you don't want to use semolina, use a total of 3 cups all-purpose flour, and reduce the water to 1 cup + 2 tablespoons.

Topping

4 large eggs
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar, Swiss, or Monterey Jack cheese
8 slices (8 ounces) bacon, or 8 ounces breakfast meat of your choice

To make the dough: Mix and knead together all of the dough ingredients—by hand, mixer or bread machine–till you've created a smooth, soft dough. Don't over-knead the dough; it should hold together, but can still look fairly rough on the surface. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes; then refrigerate it for 4 hours (or up to 36 hours); this step will develop the crust's flavor. Make sure you have the dough in a large covered bowl, or put it into a large, lightly greased plastic bag; leave plenty of room for expansion.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and allow it to rest and warm up a bit while you prepare the topping.

To prepare the topping: Whisk together the eggs and cheese. Cut the bacon into 1” squares; a pair of scissors works well here. If you’re using some other breakfast meat, cut it into bite-sized pieces. Stir the meat into the egg and cheese mixture. Refrigerate the topping while you prepare the crust.

To assemble and bake the pizzas: Divide the dough into four, six, or eight pieces, depending on how large you’d like your pizza to be.

Stretch and shape each piece of dough into a circle, patting it flat as best you can. The flatter the circle, the thinner the crust. Place the circles on two lightly greased (or parchment-lined) baking sheets, and allow them to rest, uncovered, while you preheat the oven to 450°F.

Bake the pizzas for 8 minutes. Remove them from the oven. Divide the topping evenly among them. Return to the oven, and bake for an additional 16 minutes on the oven’s upper rack, until the topping is nicely browned. Remove from the oven, and serve immediately. These are also good warm, or at room temperature. And yes, feel free to grab one and enjoy it in the car on the way to work!

Yield: 4 to 8 breakfast pizzas


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1/7/08

My Latest Purchase... Hamilton Beach Brew Station

This past week my Mr. Coffee started leaking (again) all over the counter. He leaked previously but I made sure all hoses were tight and helped him limp along for a bit longer. This week the puddles are large and I had to admit it may be time to invest in a new coffee maker.

After literally hours on the internet searching, looking, reading and checking ratings and reviews I finally had a list of my top 3 choices - all under $80 as that was my tippy top budget (even with shipping and handling added in).

In the end I chose the Hamilton Beach 47454 Deluxe 4 Brew Modes Auto Shut-Off Station Programmable coffee maker.


Product Description
Hamilton Beach 12-cup Deluxe Brewstation Dispensing Coffeemaker - brews coffee into a thermal tank , and dispenses a cup at a time . 4 Brew cycles- normal , flavor plus, 1-4 cups, decaf. Large digital clock with Back light. Stainless accent. Gentle no scorch heater.

I chose it for the large 12 cup capacity, the internal heating element (to avoid the burnt and bitter taste heating elements give glass carafes after an hour) and that the opening to fill the cup will accommodate a travel mug as my husband frequently only has time to come downstairs in the morning to fill his travel mug and head to work. I have grown so accustomed to the programmable brewing that it was a 'must have' to have hot fresh coffee waiting for me in the morning and the automatic shut off is a must as well so I don't have burnt coffee when I get too busy to make it back to the kitchen in the late mornings.

It is currently on order and should be delivered this week. A full review will be in store in the near future!







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1/6/08

White Chili

I have a couple recipes for White Chili that I use interchangeably but I have something to admit. It's a little quirky but chili to me is red and has a very definite 'chili' taste. 'White' Chile doesn't seem like chili to me.  The ingredients and recipes for red chili may differ and there are many different flavors of 'chili' but it's still chili. White Chili to me seems like it should be called some kind of Mexican Soup - although that doesn't sound appetizing. Sigh.

I love the taste, flavor and look of 'white chili' - I just wish I could up with a better name because in my mind it will never actually be 'chili'.


White Chili

1 pound cooked boneless chicken, diced
1 med. onion chopped
2 t minced garlic
1 T canola oil
2 cans Great Northern Beans (about 15 oz. each) rinse and drain
1 1/2 c chicken broth
2 cans (4oz) chopped green chili
1 t salt
1 t ground cumin
1 t oregano
1/2 t pepper
1/4 tcayenne pepper
1 c sour cream
1/2 c whipping cream

In saucepan, quickly saute the onion in the oil, add chicken and garlic, cook about 2 minutes more (don't burn the garlic) and add the beans, broth, chilies, seasonings. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in cream and sour cream. Serve.
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1/2/08

'Gift' Cake in Red and Blue

If you read the post below you'll already know that it's 'Birthday' week in our household. Two daughters with birthdays this week, but my oldest was on a cheerleading trip to London, England this week and is returning tonight (on her sisters birthday) so we will be celebrating TWO birthdays tonight!

I understand how painful (LOL) it is to have to share your birthday so I obviously would never make the two girls share a cake! And their personalities are so very different that one cake really wouldn't have been right.

In the past two days I've whipped up two cakes - and tried my hand at decorating with fondant and not just icing. Here is the second cake; a 'gift' in primarly colors of blue and red to tie in with my daughters interest in London, England (their Union Jack flag is in red and blue and white). I was going to do a British Flag on her cake but she had a Union Jack cake last year for her 16th birthday and I wanted something different this year.

I used a box of store bought fondant in primary colors. I used a blue icing base on the bottom layer and a white base of frosting for the top layer. The top layer is 2 - 8 inch square cakes with a thin layer of coconut lime dessert sauce between them. The bottom layer is 1 - 10 inch square cake.

Getting the frosting completely smooth is a task... but then again, I'm an American Housewife, not a pastry chef, it doesn't have to be perfect! Ha ha. Give it a go. I'm sure you'll do fine.

For the 'gift' I cut strips of red and blue from the fontdant and attached them to the cake with a bit of water brushed on the back. I used tiny rolls of red to line the base of the layers and used more strips of blue shaped into ribbon loop shapes like this;

The curly Q's are made by wrapping thin strips around a pencil or chop stick and letting dry overnight if you have the time, although I didn't so mine only dried about 2 hours but I used them anyway. Attach the loops to make a 'bow' using frosting as glue.

Working with fondant is a lot like working with a dry playdoh. Have fun with it and get creative!





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Polka Dot and Harlequin Birthday Cake

It's a busy day today in our household! TWO birthdays will be celebrated tonight. Today is officially the birthday of my youngest child, who is turning 12 today and ever since last year as requested a 'polka dot' cake this year.

Always one to plunge ahead and try new things I finally decided to work with fondant and see what I could do with it. The photo shows the end product. It's not perfect, but then again I'm just an average American housewife... not a pastry chef.

I used icing as the base for both cakes, but if you don't have financial constraints in place you can buy large amounts of fondant and get a smooth base by using a large sheet of fondant, smoothed completely around the cake. *Note* the flavor of store bought fondant is less than appetizing, so for that reason many people don't like the flavor of cakes covered with it. You absolutely can make your own fondant... and perhaps I will someday, but I really just wanted to buy it this time and see how it was to work with before forging ahead with homemade versions.

I used a delicious frosting for my base and although not completely smooth, the flavor is delicious!

I need to give a huge thumbs up to the white cake recipe I posted below. My review is that it is amazing! It will probably be one of the most used white cake recipes in my house for at least the next few years.

For the cake above I used one box of neon colored fondant which looks like this;



I used a base of frosting colored blue and used the purple colored fondant in diamond shapes to decorate the bottom layer. I finished them off with tiny dots made of the yellow fondant. For the upper layer I used 2 - 8 inch square cakes with a layer of raspberry filling and icing between them. I colored the frosting turquoise and finished it with pink and yellow polka dots. Using the fondant I cut strips and made them into ribbon shapes and small curled ribbon strips by wrapping them around pencils and letting dry overnight.

Place the decorations on the cake by wetting the back with water and on top using a bit of frosting as the 'glue'.

Give it a go! What do you have to lose?




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1/1/08

Garlic Bread Sticks

Every Saturday night is our traditional "pizza night" which typically includes pepperoni for sure but the second and sometimes third choice varies. Once in a while the second or third choice is cheesy bread sticks of some style.

This is one of our favorites - the other favorite uses one of Penzey's spices - but since I'm currently out, I like this version that tastes similar to Pizza Hut because it uses oregano in the spice.






Garlic Bread Sticks

Pizza Dough or Crust
olive oil
real butter
mixture of spices;

3 T grated parmesan cheese
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1 T oregano
1 1/2 t garlic powder

If you are using homemade pizza dough, spread in an oiled pan and let rise for about 25 minutes. Spread about 1/4 c (1/2 stick) real butter over the dough and drizzle with approximately 1/4 cup olive oil. Make sure to get the edges. Now sprinkle liberally with the dry spice mix. Depending on how heavy you like your spices this mix can make 1 or 2 large pizzas.

Whether or not you choose to cut before baking is up to you. I like to either cut after (for softer bread sticks) or I cut about 3/4 of the way through before baking so there are cut lines of individual sticks when it is finished. Your call! Bake at 375 for approximately 15 minutes or until your bread sticks are golden brown and the crust done. This can be 12 minutes or could be 20 depending on your oven and the pan used.

Dip in pizza sauce for a yummy treat!
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