Thursday, March 31, 2011

Swiss and Ham Appetizers

I had some leftover ham, so I made these for a lunch with side salad. They are meant to be an appetizer, and would be great for that! Recipe from: Taste of Home

4 ounces
cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon
Dijon mustard
1 cup
(4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
3/4 cup
diced fully cooked ham
1/2 cup minced chives, divided

18
slices French bread (1/2 inch thick)

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and mustard until smooth. Stir in the Swiss cheese, ham and 1/4 cup chives. Spread 1 tablespoon mixture over each bread slice; place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Sprinkle with remaining chives. Yield: 1-1/2 dozen.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chocolate Caramel Brownies

I got this recipe out of our ward's cookbook. They were good and fairly easy and super chocolately and gooey. Mmmm...The most time consuming part was unwrapping all of those caramels.
1 lb. caramels
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 pkg. chocolate cake mix
1/3 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cup melted butter (one and a half cubes)
1 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)
(1 cup of nuts are optional...I did not use)

Melt the caramels and 1/3 cup evaporated milk on low on the stove. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine 1/3 cup evaporated milk, melted butter and cake mix. Spread half the of cake mixture in the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 6 minutes. Sprinkle with chocolate chips (and nuts). Drizzle caramel over that. Spread remainder of cake over the top (this is more like dropping small amounts of the batter all over the top) Bake for 15 minutes at 350. Cool and then refrigerate to set caramel.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kitchen Tools Tuesday

My can opener.
This one just breaks the seal of the can and leaves a smooth edge. My friend bought this for me for my birthday a few years ago...for a craft project actually. I use it often and I love it!
Truth be told, I'd still be using my old can opener that leaves the rigid, sharp edge if she hadn't been so kind to give this one to me, it sure is nice to have good friends!! (Thanks, by the way...you know who you are!!)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Creamy Ranch Potato Bake

Just look at the ingredient list and you'll know the taste will be good, right? I still prefer these ranch potatoes, but John liked these equally and loved that they had the addition of bacon!
Recipe from: Kraft Foods

1/2 cup
Light Ranch Dressing (I used Light Hidden Valley)
1/2 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup Cooked Bacon, in small pieces
2 lb. small red potatoes, quartered
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (I only had dried, so I used that)

Heat oven to 350°F. Mix first 3 ingredients in large bowl. Add potatoes; toss to coat. Spoon into 13x9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; cover.

Bake
55 min. or until potatoes are tender, uncovering after 40 min. Sprinkle with parsley.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Vinaigrette Dressing

My sister makes this salad...John and I both love it. It is SO Good! She was kind enough to share the recipe with me. You can change the fruit or the nuts, the dressing is just fantastic! It makes a lot, but you only want to pour enough for the meal, then save the rest to pour together later.
Vinaigrette dressing:

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Blend together.

Drizzle dressing on mix of 1/2 Romaine and 1/2 Fresh Spinach. (I used straight spinach) Toss in some craisins and fresh fruit of your choice (I used strawberries, I've also had it with raspberries) Top with some honey roasted slivered almonds. (or I used cashews here)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chicken and Pasta with Creamy Basil Sauce

I found this recipe my mom gave me some time ago and finally gave it a try. (Thanks, Mom) It was a light alfredo type sauce with a great basil flavor and we enjoyed it. I cut this recipe in half and it was plenty for us.
1 pkg. (12 oz) bow tie noodles
1 Tbsp. butter
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut up
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 cup milk
3 oz. cream cheese
1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta. In large skillet over medium heat, melt butter, sprinkle chicken with garlic salt. Cook chicken until done.

Add milk and heat to a boiling. Stir in cream cheese and basil. Reduce heat, stirring constantly until cream cheese is melted. Remove from heat, stir in parmesan cheese.

Toss hot pasta and sauce. Serve.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Crispy Garlic Bread

This will be my go-to recipe for garlic bread!! It was fantastic!! I love that there are directions for freezing this, too! Kyla was my biggest fan. She loves this kind of garlic bread.

Recipe From: My Sister's Kitchen

Makes 12 slices

*For the smoothest texture, grate the garlic cloves on a Microplane grater. *
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , softened
4 cloves garlic , grated
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
12 slices (1-inch-thick) slice Italian bread (I used my French Bread recipe and skipped doing the egg wash)

1. MAKE PASTE Adjust oven rack to middle position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix butter, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper in small bowl until combined. Spread butter mixture evenly over both sides of bread.
2. TOAST BREAD Arrange buttered bread on heated baking sheet and bake until golden brown on first side, 8 to 10 minutes. Flip and bake until golden brown on second side, about 5 minutes. Serve.

*Freezer-Ready Garlic Bread After spreading the bread with the butter mixture in step 1, freeze the slices on a large plate until firm, about 15 minutes. Transfer bread to zipper-lock freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 month. To serve, bake as directed, adding 2 to 5 minutes to cooking time. *

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Layered Enchilada Bake

An easy meal that tasted great!
John's Rating: 8

1/3 lb. lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup Thick 'N Chunky Salsa
3/4 cup corn
3/4 cup black beans, rinsed
2 Tbsp. Zesty Italian Dressing
1 Tbsp. Taco Seasoning Mix
4 flour tortillas (8 inch)
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 cup shredded Cheese (I may have used more)

HEAT oven to 400ºF.

BROWN meat with onions in large skillet on medium-high heat; drain. Stir in next 4 ingredients.

ARRANGE 1 tortillas in on bottom of pie pan. Top with 1/4 of meat mixture, sour cream and cheese. Repeat layers; cover.

BAKE 40 min. or until casserole is heated through and cheese is melted, uncovering after 30 min. Let stand 5 min.

** You can also freeze this meal for later! Freeze uncooked casserole for up to 3 months. Preheat oven to 400. Bake, covered 1 hour. Remove foil. Bake an additional 15 to 20 min. or until casserole is heated through and cheese is melted.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kitchen Tools Tuesday

Do you know what this is?
It's awesome. Since cleaning is a big part of cooking, at least it is at my house...this little tool is so handy! After using it, I ordered some more so I have 3 in my drawer next to my sink. This little thing scrapes off all hardened and burnt food in a breeze. I have trained my 6 year old to use it when she wipes down the dining room chairs. It seems the kids are always dropping bits of food that need scrubbed off, and she can do it quickly with this. Have you ever had Life cereal dry on your table?? It is awful stuff when dried, but this takes it right off. I clean pans faster, too. It's made for my stoneware, but I use it all over when I clean. It has saved me a lot of time scrubbing, so I have more time for other things...like blogging :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Creamy Ranch Chicken

This actually wasn't as good as I was hoping for, but John liked it. He liked the bacon in it. The biggest bonus is how easy and fast this dish is. I served it up with some fresh spinach on the side. So if you give it a try, let me know what you think...

Recipe from: Stephanie's Kitchen

start to finish: 20 minutes
serves about 4
6 slices bacon
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite size pieces
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons ranch dry salad dressing mix
1 1/4 cups milk
3 cups dried medium noodles(I used egg noodles)
1 tablespoon finely shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Start your water for your pasta. Cook noodles according to package directions.
2. Cut bacon into narrow strips. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels; discard all but 2 tablespoons drippings.
3. In the same skillet, cook chicken in reserved drippings until no longer pink, turning to brown evenly. Sprinkle flour and salad dressing mix over chicken; stir well to coat the chicken. Stir in milk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Stir in bacon.
4. Serve the chicken over the noodles. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

This Week's Menu

Monday: stir fry
Tuesday: Swiss Lasagna and breadsticks
Wednesday: Leftover lasagna
Thursday: Teriyaki Burgers
Friday: Spicy Onion Burgers
Saturday:Night out...
Sunday: crock pot chicken

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tacoritos

This is a nice change of pace for enchiladas.
John's Rating: 8
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
3 cups water
2 Tbsp. chili powder
3/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground sausage
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup refried beans
4 flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Recipe adapted from: Taste of Home

Optional toppings: shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sliced ripe olives and sour cream

Directions

  • In a large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually add water. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Stir in chili powder and garlic salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the beef, sausage and onion until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in refried beans; heat through.
  • Spread 1/4 cup sauce in a greased 11x7-in. baking dish. Spread 1 tablespoon sauce over each tortilla; place 2/3 cup meat mixture down the center of each. Top each with 1/4 cup cheese. Roll up and place seam side down in prepared dish. Pour remaining sauce over the top; sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 18-22 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Serve with optional toppings if desired. Yield: 4 servings.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Leprechaun Lime Drink

A fun drink we made in honor of St. Patrick's day. I thought it was really good.
Recipe from: Taste of Home

4 cups lime sherbet, softened
1 cup thawed limeade concentrate
4 cans (12 ounces each) lemon-lime soda, chilled (I used Sprite Zero)
1 to 2 cups crushed iced

In a large bowl, beat the sherbet and limeade until blended. Stir in soda and ice. Pour into chilled glasses.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ranch Potatoes

John really liked these potatoes...he requested them again the next night! I like how simple these are to make. I'm sure they'd work on the grill in the summer time, too. 2 Tbsp. dry Original Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix
3 Tbsp. oil
2 lbs. baby red potatoes, quartered

Toss these together and bake in oven at 350 until done. Stir them once or twice while cooking.

*I think it took about 45 minutes for mine. I'll have to time it next time...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kitchen Tools Tuesday

Scoops...
I have 3 sizes and use them all...often. They are great for making cookies, cupcakes, muffins, meatballs, truffles, dishing up food (like ice cream)....lots! I like my my mini one for making truffles. :) My medium one is my cookie one...unless I want a smaller size cookie, then I use the small one. My purple one is usually my batter one for cupcakes and muffins. You can find many different sizes...I got 2 of mine as wedding gifts and one I bought from Gygi, but I've seen them at our local restaurant supply store.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Jacketed Tacos

I saw this idea a long time ago and we've made them often since then. It's our favorite way to eat tacos. You get the goodness of a crunchy taco in a soft shell, so the mess is contained and tastes great! Plus it makes for a super easy dinner!
What you need:
Soft taco shells
Crunchy Taco shells
Refried beans (optional)
Browned Hamburger
Cheese
Lettuce
Sour cream
Salsa

Place a flour tortilla on a plate and top with a layer of refried beans and sprinkle that with cheese. Microwave that for 45 seconds (or until warm and cheese is melted). Break a crunchy taco shell in half and place it flat on the beans and cheese. Top with your meat, lettuce, sour cream and salsa. Fold the tortilla in half and enjoy.

Here's a picture of the layers before folding:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Neapolitan Krispie Bars

3 fun layers of goodness...
3 Tbsp. butter, divided
4 cups mini white marshmallows
2 cups strawberry marshmallows
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
4 cups regular rice Krispies
2 cups cocoa Krispies cereal

Grease an 11x7 pan.
Layer 1:
Melt 1 Tbsp of butter and add 2 cups marshmallows. Heat until marshmallows are melted and stir in chocolate chips, stir until they are melted in. Then add the chocolate Krispies. Press in pan.
Layer 2:
Melt 1 Tbsp of butter and add 2 cups marshmallows. Heat until marshmallows are melted. Add 2 cups Regular Rice Krispies. Layer on the chocolate layer.
Layer 3:
Melt 1 Tbsp of butter and add 2 cups of strawberry marshmallows. Heat until marshmallows are melted. Add 2 cups Regular Rice Krispies. Layer on the Vanilla layer.

Cool completely and slice.

**The original recipe says to use 1/2 cup strawberry preserves to mix in with vanilla marshmallows instead of using strawberry marshmallows. I knew my kids would not eat them that way, so I swapped it out for the strawberry flavored marshmallows.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Grilled Cube Steak Rollups

I'm not a huge fan of cubed steak, but this was good.
Recipe from: Amanda's Cookin

2 cube steaks
marinade
2 oz cream cheese, softened
3-4 pieces bacon (raw)
Chives (around 1 Tbsp) I didn't measure

Marinate steaks in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours, up to 24.

Preheat your grill on high with the lid closed. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and take them out of the marinade.

Warm the softened cream cheese in the microwave for a few seconds. You want the cream cheese to be very soft, similar to a runny cake frosting. Combine the cream cheese with the minced chives. Spread thin layer of cream cheese over one side of steak.

Beginning with short end roll up the steak.

Spirally wrap a piece of bacon around steak and secure with one or two toothpicks.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Steak Marinade

I tried out a new steak marinade. I liked it a lot, John still prefers this one, but did like this one, too.

Recipe from: Amandas Cooking

This made enough to marinate 4 large steaks.

1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
4 cloves of garlic
1/4 medium onion, chopped
1/2 Tablespoon pepper
1/2 Tablespoon crushed dried rosemary
1 1/2 Tablespoons your favorite steak seasoning (I used Montreal Steak Seasoning)
1 1/2 Tablespoons A1 steak sauce

Put all ingredients into a blender and puree. Pour over meat in a glass dish or gallon zipper bag and place in the refrigerator 2-24 hours. Can be marinated up to three days for tough cuts of meat.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies

I was not a fan of these cookies, but John loves shortbread cookies and REALLY liked these. So I'm posting this one for him:Recipe from: Better Homes and Gardens

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup maraschino cherries, drained and finely chopped
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cold butter
  • 12 ounces white chocolate baking squares with cocoa butter, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 drops red food coloring (optional) I did not use
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. In mixer, cut in the butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in drained cherries and 4 ounces (2/3 cup) of the chopped chocolate. Stir in almond extract and, if desired, food coloring. Mix mixture until it forms a smooth ball.

3. Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a drinking glass dipped in sugar, flatten balls to 1-1/2-inch rounds.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until centers are set. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

5. In a small saucepan, combine remaining 8 ounces white chocolate and the shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted. Dip half of each cookie into chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. If desired, roll dipped edge in nonpareils and/or edible glitter. Place cookies on waxed paper until chocolate is set.

6. To Store: Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kitchen Tools Tuesday

Pampered Chef Mix and Chop

I LOVE this tool for cooking ground hamburger (it doesn't work so great with ground sausage and I've never tried other ground meats). It breaks up the meat and stirs it at the same time and would recommend it to you if you ever cook ground beef.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Buzz Lightyear Cake


My son wanted Buzz Lightyear for his Birthday cake. I learned a lot making this cake...several things went wrong and I really debated throwing it in the garbage and starting over, but I knew I didn't have time to do that...so I just went with it. He was seriously thrilled and didn't notice all of the flaws, so I just really enjoyed the smiles and excitement from him and will know how to make this better next time...

This Week's Menu

Monday: Enchilada Bake
Tuesday: Ham bakes
Wednesday: Spag. and garlic bread
Thursday: Crock Pot chicken
Friday: Date Night!
Saturday:
Sunday: Steak and potatoes

Friday, March 4, 2011

Creamy Italian Soda

I fell in love with Italian Sodas when I was in High School. My best friend and I would get them for a treat after school sometimes. So I was super thrilled when my sister gave me some syrups for making Italian Sodas and some stirring sticks a few years ago (that is the fish sticking out of the cup). I have bought many more jars of syrup since then, I get mine from Orson Gygi. Rasberry and Blackberry are my favorite flavors, but there are lots to choose from.

Approx:
1 part flavored syrup
1 part half and half
3 parts club soda

Fill a tall glass full of ice (crushed if you have it) Then pour ingredients in and give it a stir.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cream-Filled Cupcakes

We whipped up this treat to share with a family in a ward that just welcomed a baby to their house. My kids thought these cupcakes were great. Frosting on the inside!! I liked that they tasted like a ding dong without the waxy, processed, store bought flavor.
1 pkg. devil's food cake mix
Ingredients to make

Filling
2 tsp. hot water
1/4 tsp. salt
1 jar (7 ounce) marshmallow creme
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Ganache Frosting:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Make cupcakes using directions on the box (simple huh?) Allow to cool completely.

Make Filling:
Mix salt with water and stir until dissolved. In mixer beat marshmallow creme, shortening, powdered sugar and vanilla on high until it is nice and fluffy. Add salt mixture and blend. Put your filling in a ziploc bag and snip one corner.

Fill Cupcakes:
Using the end of a wooden spoon, make a hole in the tops of the cupcakes down to the lower middle of the cupcake. Using the cut corner of the bag, place the corner of the bag in the cupcake's hole and squeese the filling it until the it is full. (It doesn't take too much).

Make Ganache Frosting:
In a heavy saucepan melt the choc. chips with the cream. Stir until smooth. Cool and dip the cupcakes into the frosting. Chill for 20 minutes and serve.

Store in the fridge.

Makes 24 cupcakes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Kitchen Tools Tuesday

My Pizza Stone:
My mom gave me my first pizza stone when I was in college. I LOVE it. (Well, this is not the same one...they break if they hit the floor from the counter, so I bought a new one about 5 years ago.) I cook homemade and frozen pizzas on it. I love the crispy crust and that it cooks the pizza faster. It also keeps the pizza warm outside of the oven. I love that about stoneware.

When I use it, I always preheat my oven with the stone inside. Then when the oven is preheated, I sprinkle a little cornmeal on and toss on my pizza. This also works great for making homemade frozen pizzas...cooking the dough on the stone for 5 minutes to cook, then cooling it completely, topping the dough and freezing it. The pizza in the picture was a frozen, homemade pizza. We really like them.