4/29/09

Chicken Breasts with Lemon Mustard Sauce

About 14 years ago I came across two lemony sauce recipes to use on chicken and have made them both numerous times over the years. One is extremely easy because it starts with a can of broccoli soup from Campbells, and the other is simple because it only has a couple ingredients but a nice strong lemon flavor that pairs so well with poultry.

Because I liked my two basic lemon sauces I don't typically look for other lemon based recipes but this one caught my eye and I decided to add it to my files. It's so simple with just a couple ingredients and the tang of the mustard blends with the citrus and chicken for a perfect Spring or summer meal.

Lemon Mustard Sauce for Chicken Breasts

4 boneless chicken breasts
2 T oil for cooking
4 T butter (half a stick)
1 T Dijon-style mustard
3 T lemon juice + thin lemon slices to garnish
2 T half and half

In a pan over medium high, heat the oil and add the chicken breasts. Cook, turn and continue cooking over medium heat, about 10-15 minutes until completely done. Remove the chicken breasts and keep warm. Turn the heat down to low. Add the butter to the pan and melt over low heat and add mustard, lemon juice and half and half while stirring with a whisk for about 2 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Place a chicken breast on each plate, drizzle chicken with lemon-butter sauce and garnish with thin slices of lemon. Goes great with asparagus, green beans or baby potatoes with rosemary.
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4/28/09

Recycle that Fruit Basket into a May Basket

In just a couple days you might return home from work or errands to find a basket left on your door step. Perhaps you will be home and hear the doorbell ring only to find there is no at on your front step. Looking down you might spy a little cone of flowers or a basket of popcorn and M&M's at your feet.

You know what that means... May Day! Halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice, the Northern hemisphere celebrates the first day of May as a day of spring, of flowers and of ribbons and surprises left on doorsteps.

As simple as a rolled piece of paper, construction paper or even beautiful scrapbook paper, or maybe it's a little bag, a basket or another container... how about surprising your neighbors or co-workers with a little Spring basket?

A simple idea that we've used many times over the years (with three children) is a simple fruit basket. Raspberries or strawberries that come in these little baskets can be threaded with paper strips, ribbons or pipe cleaners in bright colors and filled with cookies, popcorn, snack mixes or flowers... real or paper!


A quick glance into my files showed me that I apparently don't have any of our May Basket photos on this laptop. Instead I had to turn to g**gle to find a photo of a fruit basket May Basket... but this one from a general search shows you a simple version of a decorated fruit basket.

A couple of ribbons, a little flower and you are ready to surprise your neighbor or coworker with a tiny little basket to celebrate the first day of May.
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4/27/09

Cheddar Ranch Bacon Mashed Potatoes

It's a Monday and... it's a Monday. Yep, a Monday through and through. When it comes to days like this I crave comfort food. Mashed potatoes are one of those! Doctored up with sour cream, bacon and cheese... fattening and comforting. Just what the doctored ordered.


1 small dry package Ranch dressing mix
1 cup sour cream
1 3/4 cups milk
6-7 large potatoes, cleaned, chopped, cooked until soft
6 cooked and crumbled bacon slices
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
sliced green onions


Mash the cooked potatoes (or use about 1 1/2 lbs. of frozen mashed potatoes or make from a box and reduce milk below). To the potatoes add 1 dry package Ranch dressing mix, 1 cup sour cream, and 1 - 1 3/4 cups milk to the consistency you want adding 1/3 cup as needed. Stir in 6 cooked and crumbled bacon slices and 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese. Garnish with sliced green onions or chopped chives. Serve!
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4/24/09

Glitter Fondant Stars for Cakes - Shimmering and Fun!

This morning as I clicked on my laptop computer and prepared to post I remembered my dream from last night. Why would this be worth mentioning here, on my recipe and cooking website? Because the dream was of my boss making cookies at work for the staff. Granted, he's new and has only been there a month and I don't even know if he can cook or bake, and in the dream he was making them in the break room, which has a coffee pot and microwave but that's about it. The most important part of the dream however, is that he was making the shimmering gold fondant stars that I actually made last summer for my FIL's Birthday.

Which is why as I sat here in my kitchen sipping coffee this morning I decided to see if I still had the photos in a cooking file on this computer and if so, I would use that as the topic-of-the-day. And? I do!

These fondant stars are perfect for birthdays and weddings as well as graduations and even mother's day so get a package of fondant (unless you want to make your own... which you totally can do if you want) and let's get to producing some beautiful, fully edible shimmering glitter fondant stars and shapes to decorate cupcakes, cakes and cookies with!!



Shimmering Fondant Cake Decorations


Fondant - any color but white works best
edible glitter dust - only from the cake and cookie decoration aisle. Do not use regular craft glitter.
Vodka
small bowl
paint brush
cookie cutters or a knife to cut your shapes


Fondant is much like PlayDoh. Work it with your hands and roll out as if you were a child rolling dough again. I like to sprinkle powdered sugar on the working surface so it doesn't stick.


Cut out your shapes and lay them on parchment or foil to dry. High humidity is not your friend so it may take a day or two to dry stiff if you live in a wet environment.

Mix the glitter dust powder with a small amount of vodka in a bowl. paint this on to each of the fondant decorations and let them dry again. The vodka works well because it evaporates so quickly, doesn't make the fondant gummy like water, and doesn't leave any flavor or taste.

When dry, use to decorate your cakes, cupcakes or cookies!


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4/22/09

Cream Filberts or Cream Nuts or even Mothballs or Snowballs

About two weeks ago my husband asked me about a candy he remembered from his childhood and wondered if it sounded familiar to me. He said when he was just 4 or 5 years old a family friend (an elderly man) would always have them and offer him one when he visited. I'm sure the man passed away 20 or 30 years ago but this candy he was known to love and hand out to small children lives on.

It was described to me by my husband as a pure white ball of sugar surrounding a nut... a whole nut, not pieces. He said it was basically a sugar ball surrounding an almond. That's all he remembered. It did not sound the least bit familiar to me but I tucked it away in my brain and spent about an hour online the other night trying to track it down. The nut inside wasn't an almond, but a filbert... but I'll forgive his memory lapse as a child he wouldn't know the difference!

The first thing I came across was a recipe to make my own... which I copied down in my files to surprise him with. But then I grinned as I found a company that still makes them!!! Difficult to find, but not impossible I ordered a pound of them and will surprise my husband with them when they are delivered later this week. Since they are a bit costly with delivery charges I'll be making them from scratch from now on.


Cream Filberts or Cream Nuts or even Mothballs or Snowballs

1 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole shelled filberts or hazelnuts
GLAZE:
2 cups confectioner's sugar
3 Tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Granulated sugar or about 60 crushed sugar cubes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar, add egg and vanilla; mix well.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and add to creamed mixture. Roll heaping teaspoonfuls of the dough into balls; press a filbert into each and reshape so dough covers the nut. Place on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. Combine first three glaze ingredients; dip entire top of the cooled cookies into the glaze. Roll in sugar.
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4/21/09

Spinach Roll Ups or Pinwheels


Attending a formal reception this week really got me in the mood to start entertaining again. Life has been so busy in the past few months that appetizers and entertaining has been in the farthest recesses of my mind. Now I'm jazzed again and ready to start planning my daughters high school graduation reception next month and looking ahead to our 21st Anniversary coming up as well.

I'm tucking this one away into my 'save' files - it's a spinach appetizer and oh-so-simple when you roll it up in a puff pastry!

Let the entertaining begin!


Spinach Roll Ups

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t pepper
1 (17.3-ounce) package frozen puff pastry

Drain spinach well, pressing between layers of paper towels. Stir together spinach, artichoke hearts, mayo, grated parmesan, onion powder and garlic powder and pepper.

Thaw puff pastry at room temperature 30 minutes. Unfold pastry, and place on a lightly floured surface or heavy-duty plastic wrap. Spread one-fourth spinach mixture evenly over pastry sheet, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Roll up pastry, jellyroll fashion, pressing to seal seam; wrap in heavy-duty plastic wrap. Repeat procedure with remaining pastry and spinach mixture. Freeze 30 minutes; cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
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4/20/09

A two ingredient trifle? Why, yes!

It's another one of 'those' recipes... a recipe that isn't really even a recipe and is so easy and brainless than I wonder if I should even post it. But I often have to remind myself that it isn't always about the 'recipe' but just something to jar the imagination or the memory and say "Oh yeah! I forgot about that! I should make one of those!"

And this would be one of those.

Needing a quick and easy dessert that would travel well to my parents house for Easter I baked a confetti cake. What could be more easy or transportable than a trifle?


1 cake (chocolate or white) baked according to directions and cooled
1 quart heavy cream (a little powdered sugar and vanilla or almond to flavor)

Bake the cake and while it cools whip the cream with about 1/4 c powdered sugar and vanilla to taste (about a teaspoon). Don't overbeat or you will have really sweet butter... just beat till stiff peaks form.

Cut the cake into small squares. Layer 1 layer on the bottom of a serving dish. Spoon whipped cream over and later with another layer of cake. You can sprinkle candy sprinkles between the layer if you would like! Repeat layers until all the cake and whipped cream is gone, ending with whipped cream. Sprinkle the top, chill and serve!



Cool the cake and cut to squares

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Shopping Sales at the Grocery - and Bob's All Purpose Sauce Tops it Off

One of the best ways to save money on the food budget is planning your weekly meals around sales at the grocery store. By watching the ads and finding the best sales for that week you can many times make your meals for almost half what you would have otherwise spent. Even though you thought you might make grilled salmon, when salmon is $9.99 a lb. and the store has tilapia for $4.99 a lb. or catfish for $3.99 a lb. it makes sense to switch gears and go for pecan crusted tilapia or grilled catfish in its place and save the salmon for next week when your store might offer it on sale for $5.99 a lb.

This is how I came to be a fan of marinated pork loin roasts over the last two weeks. Not normally something I'd buy, I spied marinated pork loin roasts in the store regularly $9.99 each, on sale for $7.99. Although I make pork roasts every few months, I have always bought the cut and marinated it myself. Because pre-marinated meats are almost double the cost of a 'naked' cut, I would/could never justify the cost. Why pay more when I could do it myself? But at $7.99 each it was only about $1 - $2 more than the un-marinated version and with a mesquite bbq, lemon garlic herb, tomato and basil, citrus and more to choose from I decided to try them.

I chose a mesquite bbq pork loin and baked it in a shallow pan on foil for about 50-55 minutes (the directions called for 45-50). The flavor was not strong, more like a faint hint, but I knew I had something in the refrigerator that would bring it out a bit; Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce (You can try it for free by clicking on the link in the sidebar under the Featured Product!).

A drizzle of sauce, a minute under the broiler to heat it up and served along side garlic mashed potatoes and green beans which I whipped up while the pork loin was cooking - and I had a full meal on the table in under an hour.
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4/16/09

Spaghetti Sauce either homemade or use this mix to 'doctor up' a store bought jar

A trip to the grocery store on a tight budget is never easy but there are certain foods that are always affordable. Pasta is one of them. For about a dollar you can get a pound of pasta that can easily feed a hungry family of 5 or 6 for two meals if it's doctored up a bit. One of the simplest and more delicious ways to serve it it is with a spaghetti sauce. I know for some Spaghetti Night is a 'once a week' meal.

I have a most delicious recipe for a spaghetti mix that I got from a dear co-worker at one of my old jobs. I keep it hanging on the inside of my cupboard even though it's only used a few times a year - I always know exactly where it's at.


Spaghetti Sauce Mix

1/4 c cornstarch
3 T sugar
1/4 c dried parsley flakes
1/4 c dried minced onion
1 t garlic powder
1/4 t red pepper flakes
2 T Italian seasoning

Mix 1 heaping tablespoon of spice mixture to each 8 ounces of tomato sauce. Heat and simmer 20 minutes. Now... you know I'm going to play with your food. Change it, make it yours. The original recipe called for 1/4 c sugar but I thought it was too sweet so I cut it down to 3 T. If you want it sweeter, use a little more. Also, I like to mix it with tomato sauce and petite diced tomatoes, or even fresh and/or frozen tomatoes from my garden. I'm also going to tell you a secret to making a store bought sauce your own; buy the jar of sauce but as it's simmering, add 2-3 T of this mix to it and then some browned ground beef or turkey or tiny meatballs. You'll love the homemade flavor it gives to a store bought sauce!
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4/14/09

Shredded Hot Wing Style Chicken Sandwiches

Our family are hot wing fans. The hotter the better for 3 of us, and the other 2 aren't far behind. I've posted our favorite hot wing sauce recipe on the website previously but I know some people just don't want to make the sauce. Either they just aren't inclined to or perhaps they have a favorite sauce they'd rather purchase. I know a lot of people are fans of Hooters wing sauce, others for Buffalo Wild Wings Style sauce.

Now let's take it a step further. You like the taste of hot wings but frankly you don't have time to do the wings tonight or you are tired and want something 'new'. So... let's talk shredded chicken sandwiches but take it up a notch!

For the busy man or woman who wants a spicy Hooters chicken sandwich tonight throw some boneless, skinless chicken breasts into the crock pot before you leave for work today, make sure the crock is on low, add the Hooters sauce you bought and enjoy on a nice thick cottage style bun tonight with some blue cheese dressing on the side!


Shredded Hot Wing Style Chicken Sandwiches

5 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 jar of Hooters medium chicken wing sauce
1 jar of Hooters hot chicken wing sauce

Place in the crockpot on low and cook for 6-8 hours until the chicken is very tender. Use two large forks to shred the chicken, soaking up the sauce and serve on buns with blue cheese or ranch dressing.

*Hooters works because the sauce has an emulsifier in it. Other brands may not work as well under long cooking times.
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4/13/09

Spring Salad with a Bloom of Chives

Warm Spring days bring with it an urge for 'lighter' fare around our home. As the bitter cold blustery days give way to warmer days in the 50's and sunshine our bodies tend to crave salads, fruit and grilled foods more-so than the heavy soups, breads and pastas of the cold dreary days of winter.

I picked up a free copy of a delicious living magazine in my local grocery this week (always free - in the organic section) and the cover showed a light and crisp looking salad that was made all the more beautiful by the addition of the bloom head from fresh chives. This purple flower looks like an exploding firework in the sky and adds a bit of color to the salad. If you grow your own chives this is best as you will know for certain no pesticides or herbicides were used. If you don't grow them yourself be sure your trip to the local market includes careful questioning to be sure your veggies are grown safe and then wash well at home before serving.



Salad:

handfuls - about 3 of arugula
handful - about 1 of a mixture of salad leaves; baby radish, baby spinach, red lettuce
a few snipped blooms from fresh chive - also known as rocket flowers
2 T slivered almonds
sliced radishes

Citrus Dressing to Top:

1/4 c orange juice
1/4 c lemon juice
1/4 c grapefruit juice
1 T dijon mustard
1 small shallot, minced (2-3 t)
1/4 c champagne vinegar
1/2 c olive oil

Combine juices in a pan and heat and simmer until it's reduced to about 1/4 c. Pour into a bowl and add mustard, vinegar and shallot. Whisk. Let set about 5 minutes to meld the flavors. Whisk in the olive oil and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Chill until needed (can keep up to a week in the refrigerator.) Before using, shake vigorously and toss with the salad.
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4/9/09

9" Apple Tart in a Springform Pan (like an Apple Cheesecake)


Last week my 13 year old daughter asked for an apple pie. I usually make a nice deep dish pie with a delicious homemade pie crust but my all time favorite crust recipe uses a food processor and I hated mine so much I threw it out a few months and haven't gotten a new one since. I've purchase a couple premade crusts from the frozen food department at the local grocery but was fairly sure I didn't have any on hand.

A search of the freezer turned up 1 package of a frozen 'roll out' style crust. I had used the other has a top crust to a blueberry pie. With just one crust I decided perhaps an open faced apple pie would be better. However, going through my files I spied a recipe from Joy of Baking that called for 1 crust, the apple filling and to give it a twist, a layer of cream cheese filling. Interesting!

In the end it was ok. The cream cheese filling hinged on being a cheesecake but didn't quite make it. Instead, next time I make this I'm going to use my favorite cheesecake filling to use and call it an Apple Cheesecake.

Apple Tart with Cream Cheese Filling in a Spring-form Pan

Crust:
1 c flour
1/3 c powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar or icing sugar)
1/2 c (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces


Filling:
1- 8 oz. package cream cheese (not low fat)
1/4 c sugar
1 egg
1/2 t vanilla


Topping:
1/4 c sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
4 c apple slices - granny smith is best for this
1/3 c almonds, sliced - optional


In a food processor place the flour and sugar. Pulse to blend. Add butter. Pulse. When it begins to come together, pat down in the bottom and 1 inch up the side of a spring form pan. Set aside.

Prepare the filling by processing the cream cheese in the food processor or with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar. Blend in the egg and vanilla. When smooth, pour the filling into the crust.

Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Toss the apples in the sugar mixture. Spoon them evenly over the cream cheese layer. Sprinkle with almonds if you desire (adds to it). I used a cinnamon sugar mixture to sprinkle over all when done as well although you don't need to do so.

Place the springform pan on a baking sheet and place into a 450 degree preheated oven. Bake for 10 minutes and reduce heat to 400. Bake 30 minutes until the apples are soft and golden brown. Remove from oven and place on rack to cool completely. As it cools the filling sets up. When completely cool you can sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and serve. Refrigerate leftovers.









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Heading to Grandmas: A Raspberry Vinaigrette Three Pepper Salad to Take With You

Whether you are celebrating Easter with extended family at Grandma's house, enjoying an Easter sunrise from your vacation home on the beach or even preparing your Easter meal in an rv as you travel the roads; Easter is this Sunday and if you still need a nice light, crunchy, healthy and brightly colored side sald, this Raspberry Vinaigrette Three Pepper Salad is a winner.

I like Easter to be my personal guide on serving light fruity vinaigrette's instead of a heavier dressing. The raspberry is what makes this recipe 'pop' and calls out "It's Spring!" to all who have it.

Raspberry Vinaigrette Three Pepper Salad

1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
2 c baby spinach leaves
1/2 orange bell pepper, julienned
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
1/2 yellow bell pepper, julienned
3-4 T Parmesan cheese, fresh grated
2/3 cup raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing
pecans are optional

Toss together the lettuce, spinach, peppers, and cheese. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat. Top with pecans if you desire.
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4/7/09

Homemade Angel Food Cake with edible rose petals


This morning I was reading my Southern Living newsletter (I am a subscriber) and I think my breath caught in my throat when I saw this recipe for a homemade angel food cake. Now, cakes are cakes and it it's really hard for a white cake and frosting to be 'bad' in my book (white cake is my all time favorite!) but the presentation of this one is what makes it a hands down winner in my book. I saw it and knew I HAD to make it. It calls for gumdrop Edible Mixed Colour Rose Petals but if you have real roses or access to real roses that you know for a fact are all natural, never been sprayed with pesticides or chemicals, you can dip them in a beaten egg white with a little water and dip them in fine grained sugar to make a sugared petal, or place them directly - cleaned and dry - on the cake before serving. My email attributes the recipe to Linda Nesloney and was published in their April 2008 issue. Really though, you could use whatever white cake mix you want. In this cake, it's all in the presentation.

Angel Food Cake with Rose Petals

* 2 1/2 c sugar
* 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
* 1/4 t salt
* 2 1/2 c egg whites
* 1 t cream of tartar
* 1 t vanilla extract
* 1 t fresh lemon juice
* Lemon-Cream Cheese Frosting or favorite frosting
* Garnishes: Edible Mixed Colour Rose Petals
, fresh mint leaves


Preheat oven to 375°. Line bottom and sides of a 13- x 9-inch pan with aluminum foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over sides of pan. (Do not grease pan or foil.) Sift together first 3 ingredients.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold in sugar mixture, 1/3 cup at a time, folding just until blended after each addition. Fold in vanilla and lemon juice. Spoon batter into prepared pan almost to the very top.

Bake at 375° on an oven rack one-third up from bottom of oven 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Invert cake onto a lightly greased wire rack; let cool, with pan over cake, 1 hour or until completely cool. Remove pan; peel foil off cake. Transfer cake to a serving platter. Spread Frosting evenly over top of cake. Garnish with rose petals.
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4/5/09

Scallops and Penne in a Garlic Cream Sauce

Last week we had a delicious dish that I whipped up with only the thought of scallops dancing through my head. Grabbing some half and half and garlic I knew anything with those ingredients would be good and I was right! For those of you looking for pasta and seafood dishes on Fridays in Lent add this one to your list.


Scallops and Penne in Garlic Cream Sauce

1 package or box of penne pasta (you judge the size by how much you need to make)
(I used 1/2 box of whole grain and 1/2 package of regular penne and mixed them)
1 small yellow zucchini
1 small green zucchini
fresh cracked black pepper
salt
lemon pepper
2-3 t fresh minced garlic
parsley
1 cup - 1 1/2 c half and half
1/2 c flour
1 1/2 lb. bay scallops
2 T butter
2 T oil
parmesan or romano cheese

Cook pasta according to the directions on the package. During the last 5-7 minutes add sliced or diced zucchini to the pasta. Meanwhile, place the flour, about 1/2 t black pepper and about 1/4 t salt into a ziploc baggy and shake in the scallops to coat. Heat the butter and oil in a pan and saute' the scallops until golden.

Remove the scallops to a plate and add the half and half to the pan. Add the garlic and lemon pepper. Mix and blend till smooth. The flour bits from the scallops will start to thicken the sauce a little bit. Add the scallops and stir gently to reheat. The flour on the scallops will thicken the sauce even more. Add more half and half if it gets too thick. Remove from heat.

Drain the pasta and vegetable mixture and place into a serving dish. Pour the sauce over all and gently mix. Sprinkle parmesan or romano cheese over all. Goes well with garlic bread and a salad!




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4/3/09

Southwestern Dipping Sauce

There must be something in the air.... I've had a couple email requests directly to my mailbox for Southwestern Dressing. Now, I tried to rack (wrack?) my brain to figure out when and where I've mentioned this sauce and I have no idea! But the only "Southwestern" sauce we use is a dip for Blooming Onions, Onion Rings, Hot Wings, etc. and yes it's mmmmm good!


Southwestern Dipping Sauce


1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 tablespoons cream-style horseradish sauce
1/3 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pinch ground black pepper
1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Mix and chill at least 2 hours before serving for the best flavor.
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4/1/09

Meringue Cups with Lemon, Chocolate or Fruit and Whipped Cream Filling

Spring is in the air and with it come the wedding invitations... and Baptisms, graduation receptions, tea's and garden parties. A lot of online friends are busy searching for pretty little desserts to serve. A light dessert that I have often made (with many different fillings) is a meringue cup that I've made with fresh fruit, whipped cream, chocolate filling and my favorite for Spring; lemon.

Make these far enough ahead that they have time to dry out. They should stay in the oven for 12 hours after you turn if off so making them in the afternoon, turning the oven off at night and leaving them there all night and the next day while you are at work works well.


Meringue Cups with lemon or fresh fruit filling

3 egg whites
dash of salt
1 t lemon juice
1/2 c sugar
filling
garnishes to make them pretty

Beat egg whites, salt and lemon juice on high with an electric mixer until foamy. Gradually add the sugar one tablespoon at a time until incorporated and stiff peaks form (about 3 minutes).

Spoon the meringue into a pastry bag with a large round opened tip and pipe perfect circles about 3 inches in diameter. Use the back of a spoon to spread it around to fill in the circle, forming the base. Continue piping 2 or 3 more circles on top to form sides about 2 inches tall. Bake at 200 degree's for 1 1/2 hours. Turn the oven off but leave the meringues in the oven until the oven is completely cool - try to leave them for 12 hours to completely dry out.

When you are ready to use them, carefully peel them off the parchment and fill with fresh fruit, a lemon curd filling or whipped cream. Garnish.
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Homemade Pretzels - My 13 year olds favorite!


Where do you put copies of recipes you want to make 'sometime soon'? For me I tend to usually tape them up in the inside of my kitchen cupboard. This is also where I keep 2 or 3 recipes that I often want on the spur of the moment like my taco seasoning recipe or my instant onion soup mix recipe. Both of which are usually needed at the last second when I realize I don't have a taco seasoning mix on hand or similar situation.

This week I've been staring at a recipe I tape up about three months ago and still haven't found time to make. It's for homemade pretzels, which I want to make with my pretzel-loving-13-year-old-daughter. Looking at it this morning as I opened the cupboard I decided to share it on my website - perhaps you'll get around to making it before we do!

Pretzels

1 1/2 c warm water
1 pkg. dry yeast (about 2 1/4 t)
2 T brown sugar
1+ t salt
1 c bread flour
3 c all purpose flour
2 c warm water with 2 T baking soda

Sprinkle yeast on the 1 1/2 c warm water and stir. Add the sugar and salt and then add the flour. Knead until completely smooth (I'd use a KitchenAid mixer for this but you can do it by hand too). Let this rise 30 minutes.

Prepare the soda bath with 2 cups water and baking soda mix. Stir often to keep the soda incorporated. Pinch off a piece of dough and roll into a rope. Shape into the pretzel shape or whatever shape you prefer. Dip the pretzel into the soda water bath and place on a greased baking sheet or parchment paper lined sheet. Let rise again until double in size. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Brush the top with butter and sprinkle with coarse salt.


The pretzel rope


Folding it into a pretzel shape



Option: Wet the top with water and sprinkle the
coarse salt on before baking instead of after.
Both work. Your choice!

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