Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kitchen Tools Tuesday: Pie Servers

So I hosted this recipe exchange and the theme was pies. We all got together with our yummy pies and when we went to dish them up to sample them, I shamefully had to admit I did not own a single pie server. So a few months later my wonderful hubby gave me THREE for Christmas!
My favorite is the pampered chef one...Nice sharp edges that require a cover to store in the drawer.

Then he got me two cheap ones from Walmart...just in case I need to serve up a variety of pies :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cooking Beans

My aunt posted this info on how to cook dry beans for more budget friendly and healthy meals. It had never occured to me to freeze the beans after cooking them, but I have been doing it for a while and really like it! I can pull out a tiny amount from the freezer to toss in a meal without wasting or wondering what to do with the remainder of the can and it is lots cheaper to buy the dry beans and cook them myself instead of buying the cans. It does take some time, but is super easy to do :)Directions:

Rinse beans. Soak beans overnight in a large bowl with 3 inches of water over the beans.

Cook beans in boiling water for about 1 1/2 hours, until tender. Drain beans and cool. Then put the cooled beans into freezer bags and put in the freezer for future use.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Brownie cups with Pretzel Crumble, Caramel and Chocolate

I tried this recipe because John loves sweet and salty...he loved them and so did my boys. They were not my favorite dessert, not great, but good.
John's Rating: 9

Brownie cups

1 German Chocolate Cake Mix
1 egg
1/2 cup butter

In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, egg and butter until smooth. Scoop batter 2/3rds full into a muffin tin sprayed with non stick spray. Scoop 1 tablespoon pretzel crumble on top of brownie batter. Pat down lightly. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the edges are set.

Pretzel crumble

1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup crushed pretzels

1/3 bag of caramels- melt in a saucepan until creamy
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Immediately after taking the brownie cups out of the oven, pour caramel over the cups, and then sprinkle with chocolate chip.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Kitchen Tools Tuesday

Ice Cream Scoop

John bought this scoop for me and I love it. I can pull ice cream right out of the freezer and this scoop will dig right in. It's made by cuisinart.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chocolate Mousse Crunch Cake

My friend made this cake for a recipe exchange group and it was so good...so I made it for a recent birthday party at our house. The recipe looked a little complicated, but it really was easy. Now I need another occasion to make it again...

Recipe by Our Best Bites
1 package Duncan Hines Devil’s food cake
1 recipe (give or take a little) chocolate ganache (below)
Crushed Heath bars or a bag of Heath bits
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 Tbsp. cold water
2 Tbsp. boiling water (just heat it in a small bowl in your microwave)
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 c. whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
Bake cake according to cake mix instructions in 2 8″ round pans. Allow to cool and set aside. This can be done several days in advance; just freeze the cakes when you’re done.
In a small bowl, combine gelatin and cold water and allow to stand for about 1 minute. While gelatin is softening, bring 2 Tbsp. water to a boil in the microwave. Whisk into the softened gelatin and allow to cool slightly.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine sugar, cocoa powder, whipping cream, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer until medium-stiff peaks form. Mix in gelatin mixture and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Prepare ganache.
With a serrated knife, carefully slice the dome part of each cake layer off so the layers are level. Place one layer on the serving plate and spread about 1/2 of the chocolate mousse over the cake. Sprinkle with Heath bits.

Place second layer on top of Heath bits.

Spoon ganache over the top layer, allowing it to drip down the sides. Sprinkle with additional Heath bits and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kitchen Tools Tuesday

Pineapple Slicer: This is a super sharp, high quality metal one. It was a fantastic gift my mom gave me...she knows I love fresh pineapple. I've used it lots....and love it. (Thanks, Mom!)Cut the ends off of the pineapple:

Line up the center around the core:
Spin the blade down the pineapple being sure to keep the core in the center. When the blade reaches the bottom, carefully run a knife down the skin to remove it:

Throw the core away:
Use a knife to cut the stack of rings so you can separate them:Now you can cut any remaining pineapple off the outer skin. (This was a larger pineapple, so I got quite a bit)Enjoy your fresh pineapple! I freeze some, too!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Super yummy cookies that are soft, too. Kyla LOVED these cookies! My kids have really been into peanut butter and chocolate lately, so these cookies excited my kiddos. I loved that the cookie dough had a perfect amount of peanut butter flavor.
John's Rating:
Recipe from: The Sisters Cafe

1 cup butter (2 sticks) room temperature

2/3 cup peanut butter (creamy)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 2/3 cup flour
2 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1 bag milk chocolate chips and PB chips (they come mixed in one bag)

Cream butter, peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla together until smooth. Combine flour, soda and salt and add to butter mixture. Mix in chocolate chips.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Just cook until they start to brown and then take them out and let them cool a few minutes on pan before transferring.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Kitchen Tools Tuesday

Bread and Pastry KnifeI got this as a wedding gift from my grandma. It has an easy-grip plastic handle with a 6-Inch x 3-Inch stainless steel blade for cutting, scraping and lifting.

I use it for cutting and dividing my dough, scraping my flour around on my bread board and cleaning my bread board off when I am done.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hoagie Buns

Perfect for a sandwich:

1 Tbsp. yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water

2 tablespoons sugar, divided

2 Tbsp. oil

1 tsp.
4 cups flour

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Add 1 tablespoon sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Add the remaining warm water and sugar. Beat in the oil, salt and 4 cups flour until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into 8 pieces. Shape each into an oval. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.

Bake at 400° for 13-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Oatmeal Pancakes

One of the few ways I can get my kids to eat oatmeal for breakfast. These pancakes are not the "favorite," but they are good and will be repeated at our house.

1 cup milk
2/3 cup quick rolled oats
2/3 cup flour
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. oil
1/4 tsp. vanilla

I a small saucepan heat milk until hot; remove from heat. Stir in oats. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix dry ingredients. Mix in wet ingredients together in another bowl, then add to dry ingredients.

Cook on hot grill.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells

I was wanting a nice Italian dish and came up with this one using ingredients I had on hand. It wasn't super, but it hit the spot. I am excited that I have 2 more pans in the freezer for some easy dinners in the upcoming weeks!

John's Rating: 7
1 (12-ounce) box uncooked jumbo pasta shells
1 1/2 cups cooked sausage, finely crumbled
2 c. fresh chopped spinach
2 Tbsp. dried minced onion
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 (15oz) container ricotta cheese
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
2 c. shredded monterey jack cheese (mozzarella would be great too)
3 cups spaghetti sauce (If you like it saucier use more)

1. Cook shells according to package directions. Be careful not to overcook them or they will tear easily when trying to fill them. Mine were perfect at 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease two 8x8 baking dishes and one slightly smaller pan. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except shells. Stir together and pour into a gallon sized ziplock bag. Snip the corner of the bag and squeeze into cooked shells.

4. Spread a thin layer of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the baking dishes. Arrange shells over sauce; top with remaining sauce. Cover tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil. If you are freezing 2 of the prepared pans, freeze it after this step.

5. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with some grated parmesan cheese. Bake for 5 to 10 more minutes.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

I made these for teacher appreciation week at our school. They were super moist and had a great flavor! John's not a huge muffin fan, but liked these. My kids also liked them. I'll be making these again...
Recipe from: allrecipes

1/2 cup raspberry yogurt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 12 cup muffin tin, or line with paper liners.

In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, oil, lemon juice, egg and, lemon extract. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until just blended. Gently stir in the frozen raspberries. Spoon batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Cool muffins in the tin on a wire rack.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Kitchen Tools Tuesday

Hamburger Patty Press

This was something I asked John for last Christmas and he said "Really?" Yep. And he got it for me. It is great for pressing that tender, lean meat into a patty that won't crumble on the grill.

Put your meat in a ball in the center:
Press the lid on:
Uniform patties: Now grill that easy dinner!!!