12/27/14

Feta Cheese and Black Olive Salad




Once in a while I get on a kick where I crave this salad and have it for lunch, days in a row...  it's a summery kind of salad, but with fresh veggies available year round, I thought I would post it again as a reminder to myself to make this again soon.


As with most of my recipes - play with it. I can't call it a Greek Salad just because it has feta and black olives in it. I can't call it an Italian Salad just because I like to use an Italian Vinaigrette in it. So... it's just a green salad with feta and black olives!

This is to make the whole bag of lettuce - which will serve between 2 to 6 people depending on if it's the main dish and only thing for dinner or if it's a side salad with other foods.

Feta Cheese and Black Olive Salad

1 bag pre-washed romaine and green leafy lettuce mixture
2 small cans sliced black olives, or if they are in the budget, use kalamata but they do cost more
1 small red onion, sliced into rings
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced or diced
1 tomato, sliced into wedges or if you prefer, cut each wedge into 4 chunks
8 oz. block Feta Cheese, crumbled
1 package Italian (Good Seasons) dry dressing, made according to package with olive oil

Mix the salad ingredients, add about 1 cup of the dressing and toss. Enjoy.
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Cheddar Bacon Ranch Bread

I don't have a photo of this one in my own files so I had to rely on searching for an image on the net labeled for 'free reuse' - this is one of those recipes that was a huge internet 'fad' about 1 1/2 years ago although it's been made for years and years in various versions.  I make my bread rounds homemade but it's fairly easy to find them made at your local grocery store in the bakery department.  Just be sure you don't cut through completely to the bottom, and sprinkle the yummies all way into each 'pull'.










Cheddar Bacon Ranch Bread

1 unsliced loaf of round bread
1 1/2 c cheddar cheese, shredded or thin sliced
1/2 c crumbled, cooked bacon
1/2 c butter, melted
1 T Ranch dressing mix

Cut the bread downward in both directions but don't cut through the bottom crust as it holds the bread together. Sprinkle cheese and bacon bits into bread, making sure to get in between cuts. Mix together butter and ranch dressing mix. Pour over bread. Wrap the bread in foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Unwrap. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.





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12/21/14

Homemade Butterfinger Candies (from leftover Candy Corn!)




Remember when I posted the recipe for homemade Butterfinger style candybars right after Hallowen, but I said I was trying to do something different with them and said I would post it for Christmas?  Well, this is it!  Because I decided to roll it out and cut the candies out instead of slicing.  After covering them in chocolate I froze them in the deep freeze and... here they are!  Just in time to jump on our Christmas Goody trays.


Homemade Butterfinger Candies

3 c candy corn candies
1 1/2 c peanut butter (I used creamy)
1 c crushed flake cereal (I had grape nut flakes on hand)
12-16 oz. chocolate for melting and dipping

Basically just melt the candies in a microwave safe bowl.  About a minute, stir, and another 30 seconds if they aren't warm enough to melt yet.  Then add your peanut butter and cereal.  Press into a lined or greased 8X8 pan and press.  Chill about 40 minutes and slice with a knife or pizza cutter into the shapes you want.  I refrigerated mine overnight because I was busy.  I then had a heck of a time cutting them (rock hard!) until I warmed them up in the microwave just a bit.  You can slice them however you wish (cubes, patties, etc.)   Melt your chocolate and dip each candy.  Let set up to harden and serve.






I happened to have these particular brands on hand
Getting ready to melt them down

Melty melty

Peanut butter and cereal added
Rolled out and cut


Waiting their turn to be dipped in chocolate







Products related to this recipe (in case you don't have extra Halloween candy sitting around);
Brach's Classic Candy Corn, 4 Pound
Brach's Candy Corn 72 Oz. Resealable Value Bag
6 Plastic Fluted Cookie Cutters Square Round Assorted Biscuit

    









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Today: A simple glaze recipe for icing sugar cookies



Dough one day. Bake another. Decorate another.
That's how I do usually do it and today is the day for glazing and decorating our stars and trees!  (And the snowflakes if I'm not all decorated out by that point).
 

Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1 1/2 c butter, soft
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 c flour
1 t baking soda
1 t cream of tartar
1 t salt

Combine sugar and butter, beat until creamy with your electric mixer. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Add dry ingredients and mix until blended. Chill dough until it's easy to work with; 30-60 minutes.

On lightly floured surface roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out cookies. Bake on lined baking sheets at 350 until the edges just start to turn golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Icing Glaze 
Makes about 1 & 1/3 cups

2 1/2 c powdered sugar
2 T water
1 T butter, softened
1 T light corn syrup
1/2 t almond extract or vanilla
Food color, if desired

Combine powdered sugar, water, butter, corn syrup and vanilla in small mixer bowl; mix until powdered sugar is moistened. Beat at medium speed until smooth, adding additional water if necessary to reach desired spreading consistency. Tint with food color, if desired.  Glaze cooled cookies and let stand until hardened (6 hrs. or overnight).
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12/19/14

Homemade Twix Candy Bars




Ahhh how I hate (hate hate hate hate) dipping candies.  I try to avoid candies and cookies that involve dipping in chocolate coatings just as much as I try to avoid hand-breading foods at dinner time.  I am bored out of my mind, I hate the mess, hate everything about it.

And yet... I do it.

This is a recipe that is so easy and quick and good... but it involves dipping in chocolate so I try to sneak it off the trays... and I am usually caught and interrogated questioned as to why and how I left them off!?  This year when my 18 year old daughter kept adding these to my "to make" list I told her I could just as easily go to the store, buy some Twix candy bars and put them on the goody trays!  "But... that's not the same!!!"    And she is right of course.  Ha ha. 

Yes, homemade Twix were made this year.


Twix Candy Bars

35 caramels - unwrapped
2 12-oz. bags milk chocolate chips
1/4 c water
1 box (about 40) Nabisco Lorna Doon Shortbread cookies (square) or Walkers shortbread (long stick)

Combine the caramels with the water in a small pan and melt over low heat.  Place the shortbread cookies side by side on an ungreased or lined cookie sheet.  Spoon a dab of the melted caramel on the cookie.  Place all cookies in the refrigerator until firm.  Melt the chocolate chips in a double broiler or in the microwave.  Remove cookies from the refrigerator and dip each one into the melted chocolate.  Tap off excess and place on wax paper.  Let them set up at room temperature - can take up to several hours depending on the heat and humidity of your home.










Products related to this recipe are available on Amazon if you can't find them locally;
Walkers Shortbread Assorted, 8.8 oz. Boxes, 6 Count
Kraft Caramel Baking Bits ~ 1 Lb Bulk
Kraft Caramel Bits
Nabisco Lorna Doone Shortbread Cookies

    



 



caramelly goodness over a crunchy cookie



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Scandinavian Rosettes - a crisp, light, Swedish pastry







Continuing with a 'cookie a day until Christmas' here is one of our family tradition's that goes back to my own childhood of visiting my Grandmother's house on Christmas Eve.  Even as a child I didn't like things that were 'too sweet' and this one is not, save for the sugar sprinkled on top.  The Scandinavian pastry is crisp and light and not sweet.  They are a Swedish tradition in our home and I hope one day to share the tradition with my own grandchildren as well.  You do need a Rosette/Timbale Set to make these.

Rosettes

2 eggs
1 t sugar
1/4 t salt
1/2 t vanilla
1 c milk
1 c flour

Break eggs into a bowl, add sugar, salt, vanilla, milk and flour. Beat briefly just until smooth. Do not overbeat! Too much beating makes your rosettes blistered and tough.

Have hot oil, lard or shortening in a pan on the stove heating. Leave the rosette iron in the hot oil for several minutes while you make the batter. Dip the hot iron into the batter being careful not to let the batter come up over the edge of the iron. Dip just about 4/5th of the way up the iron. Immediately place the iron/batter into the hot oil. Hold the iron in place and cook the rosette until it's golden brown and crisp. The temperature of the oil is perfect when it takes about 25-30 seconds for the rosette to cook. Too fast and it burns, too cool and it will be soggy and greasy. Use a fork to shake the rosette off the iron and onto a paper towel lined rack. When they are cool sprinkle with powdered sugar. These can be frozen. This recipe will make about 40.

If they do not come off the iron they were not fried long enough or you let the batter come up over the edge of the iron.
If they are blistered and thick, you have beaten the eggs too much.
If the rosettes drop off in the hot oil the iron is not deep enough in the oil.
If they are not crisp they have been fried too fast or the oil was not hot enough.




Heat the iron in the oil while you mix the batter
You must have a rosette set to make these.
Don't dip the batter up over the edge of the iron so they will slide off after frying.


Drain on paper towels
Sprinkle with powdered sugar for a delicious treat!













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12/17/14

Crawfish and Mussels in Spicy Garlic Butter Sauce (with a recipe for the Spice Sachet for the Crab Boil)





I've been busy baking and candy-making but man cannot live on cookies alone so of course all the regular meals are being made!  This is a yummy one I tossed together last week after I found crawfish on sale at the grocery store.  I want to hurry and type this one out on my site so I can easily share it with my older daughter in case she wants to use this buttery garlic sauce for their seafood meal this Christmas Eve! 

A normal "crab boil' or 'crawfish' boil is typically going to have a bunch of other 'stuff' added to it, like broken corn on the cob and sausage...  neither of which we want.  We just want the seafood, so that's what I make.  Without extra ingredients, this comes together super fast too! 

I serve this with wild long grain rice and garlic toast (to sop up the garlicky goodness) but serve it with whatever you like. 

ALSO:  this meal was just my husband and I so we only used the crawfish and mussels (in the photo above).  I am making this next week when we have family here for the holidays and birthdays.  I will be cooking for about 8 adults so I'm going to double the recipe for the sauce below AND we are using a mixture of;  Crab legs, mussels, crawfish, large shrimp and possibly little baby potatoes.  I'm serving crab cakes on the side as well as garlic toast and long grain wild rice and oyster bisque.

The seasoning is fine for about 5 lbs. of seafood - double if you need more.  The sauce was for 2-3 people - double if you need more.

1 sachet of herbs for the boil
Seafood:  crab legs, mussels, crawfish, shrimp
sauce:
2 sticks butter
3 T minced garlic
1 T Garlic & Herb Old Bay seasoning
1 T lemon pepper
1 T cayenne pepper
1 T paprika
1 T chicken bouillon

Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the garlic and cook about 3 minutes until soft - do not burn or brown.  Add the seasonings and simmer for about 5-10 minutes while the seafood cooks.  Drain the seafood, pour into your bowl or serving container and pour the sauce over all and toss.

Spice Sachet for the Crab Boil

2 T dill seed
4 bay leaves
1 T crushed, dried red pepper
4 T mustard seeds
3 T coriander seeds
1 t Cloves, ground
1 T ground Allspice

Combine in cheesecloth, tie up with string and add to your big pot of water for boiling seafood, along with 1/2 a lemon.  Discard after seafood is done (seafood cooks fast so about 7-10 minutes depending what kind of seafood you are using).


The seasonings

Gather up in a cheesecloth

I don't have kitchen twine so I just used thick thread










You might be interested in some related products;

 



Farberware Classic Stainless Steel 8-Quart Covered Straining Stockpot
Stainless Steel Stock Pot, 20 qt. with Lid
Uncle Ben's Original Recipe Long Grain & Wild Rice 6 oz
ZATARAIN'S Crawfish, Crab and Shrimp Boil, Dry, 3-Ounce (Pack of 12)













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