Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cream of Soup

So, I was making a casserole - seems like it was a burrito casserole, that required cream of mushroom soup. It was one of those days where I'd been running around all darn day and had spent 2 hours of my day at the grocery. I got home and began cooking to realize that I didn't have two of the ingredients needed for the casserole. Refried beans and cream of mushroom soup. Really? I'd spent all the time at the grocery store and had completely overlooked 2 of the (extremely common) ingredients for supper.
I decided not to give up. I searched to see just exactly how cream of mushroom was made. Could I substitute it? Could I possibly make something that would suffice? I don't cook as much with cream of soups these days, so I thought, just this once I could try and make it.
I had NO idea how delicious and ridiculously EASY Cream of Mushroom Soup is to make. Or cream of anything soup. There are very few ingredients needed, very little cooking time required and it was fantastic. I could've eaten it by itself. And actually, after I'd made it and the homemade refried beans, I decided that they were both WAYYY to good to put in a burrito casserole.
So, enough with the rambling, and on with the recipe. I promise to NEVER use canned cream soup again. It doesn't even come near the taste of homemade, and who knows what they put in there to preserve it and what not.


CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP:

3 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt (I used Kosher)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup of milk *(you can use one cup of either if you don't have both)
1/4 cup chopped mushrooms
(optional - 1 tbsp finely chopped onion- which I didn't use)


Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Once the butter is good and blended and bubbly stir in the flour and salt. Use a whisk to stir and prevent lumps. Once it's good and stirred pour in your chicken stock and milk. Cook and stir until it's smooth and thickened. Add your can of chopped mushrooms

**If you'd like to use fresh mushrooms for yours, just saute them with butter before adding flour (and the onions as well if you so chose to use them) and then add them either to your butter to mix with flour, or add them afterward like I did with the canned ones.

Ummm. Then eat it. It is so way better then canned. I wanted to just eat it alone! If you want cream of celery, saute your celery and add. Potato? boil some diced potatoes and mix them in your cream mixture. It's really that easy. And it makes your meal taste SO much better to use homemade instead of canned. Seriously. I made chicken artichoke (another recipe on here) with homemade cream soups and it took that casserole to a totally different level of good!

I hope you enjoy! ;-)





Saturday, August 28, 2010

Garlic and Parmesan Polenta....DELISH!!!!

I never realized just how easy polenta was to make. It's always on sophisticated menus at really nice restaurants. Ya don't ever see Polenta on the menu at Chili's. But it is actually super easy to make, and so scrumptious, I had to share!!!


Garlic and Parmesan Polenta

2 to 4 tbsp butter
2 to 4 cloves of garlic minced (just depends on how much you love garlic)
2 1/4 cups of water
15 oz's of chicken broth (I like to make it from granules but you can used canned too)
1 cup yellow corn meal
3 ounces of cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat)
about 1/4 cup of parmesan
salt and pepper to taste.


This you will cook all in one pan, so make sure it's big enough to hold all your ingredients. Saute the minced garlic in the butter. Don't brown it, just saute for about a minute or two. Then add your water and chicken broth. When it starts to boil, gradually add the cornmeal and whisk. I would add just about 1/4 or an 1/8 cup and whisk, then add a little more. You don't want it to get lumpy. Keep whisking about every five minutes or so until it gets to be thick...like really creamy potatoes. Once you like the consistency (you don't want it to be runny on your plate, you want it to hold it's shape off of a spoon a little and it will do that better once it's removed from the heat). Then add your cream cheese, parmesan, whisking until blended well. Add salt and pepper if desired although mine didn't need it at all. You could also experiment adding parsley or whatever other seasonings you like. This dish would be fantastic with sauteed, chopped shrimp as well.

I hope you like it!!! I don't see how you couldn't!!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ratatouille

I never would have thought in a gazillion years that I could've put together ratatouille as good as I did. It seemed like such an exquisite dish, and I just didn't think I had it in me. BUT I decided to try it anyway. And it turned out so fabulous! I was happy that I tried it, and if you have the time, I think you should too!

Ratatouille

Tomatoes - this is the main ingredient...the base. How many you need depends on what kind you use and how much sauce you like. Personally, I think it's made best with the vine ripened kind, you know the kind that you buy still attached to the vine? I am not a fan of those big pumpkin looking tomatoes for Ratatouille. If you use a tomato the size of the vine ripened ones, you'll need about six.

Eggplant (about 1 or even half of 1)
Zucchini (about two)
Squash (2 or 3)
Olive oil
garlic (about 3 cloves minced)
onions
and whatever herbs you like - parsley, oregano, basil, thyme

First, use your knife to make a shallow "X" on the bottom of each tomato. Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil and once it's boiling, drop the tomato in there for about one minute. You don't want to boil them, you just need some help getting the skins off of them. Pull them out after about a minute (you should see your X start to sort of peel back) and either put them in an ice bath or just lay them aside. Once they are cool, peal the skin off and set them in an empty pot. You'll want to slice them or pull them apart. You can then put in a little olive oil and put them on medium heat. Many people say to pull out the seeds before you cook them - because it makes the texture more smooth - you do what you like.

Then, cut your egg plant in slices, and salt them, lay them out flat or leave them in a colander for about 30 minutes to draw out the moisture. You want them to be more leathery when cooked, not mushy.

Next, get out your biggest saute pan and add olive oil, minced garlic, however much onion you want to use and saute until the onions are soft and translucent. Dump that mixture in with your tomatoes. Let that all sort of stew together.

Use the same saute pan and a little more olive oil to lightly saute your squash and zucchini and egg plant. And whatever vegetable you wanna throw in there to saute...don't saute it fully though, just make it a little tender.

Some people throw all of those veggies in with the tomato sauce and make a stew. I added a little bit of sugar and canned tomato sauce to my fresh cooked tomato - and sometimes I add diced tomatoes from a can if it's not soupy enough. After it's cooked a good bit and looks like real sauce, I put it in a casserole dish (I grease it first) and then I layer the veggies on top and then I bake it all for about 30 minutes or until the veggies on top all look tender. Then I put a little shredded parmesan on top and dig in. It's really good and actually easy to make, just a little time consuming. ;-)



Shrimp and Grits

Wow! With a 7 and 3 year old home all day long this summer, I had almost no time to even log on to my blog or anyone else's! We have been swimming and playing, doing crafts and having play dates. I'm sad for school to start but it IS nice to have just a little bit of time to do something besides laundry!

My husband and I went with some friends to Destin this past weekend. It was a 30th birthday celebration and for dinner Saturday night, we went to a place called "Vintage Wine Boutique" I believe. It's a wine store that also has the most exquisite food ever! I decided to get a pecan crusted chicken that was served over polenta - but essentially it tasted like shrimp and grits. Because polenta is basically boiled cornmeal, and cornmeal is ground corn - well, that's what grits are. Sooo, I thought I'd attempt shrimp and grits in a desperate attempt to replicate that delicious meal I had at dinner Saturday night. I won't say that it was just as good - and there are things I'll do different with this when I make it again, I'll tell YOU what they are now though, so you won't have to learn from experience. ;-) It was still pretty darned good even though I'd do some things different. And my husband tore it up, and brought it out this morning for breakfast.
So, without further ado -

Shrimp and Grits

2 cups 2% milk
3/4 cup chicken broth (I made my own from granules b/c it tastes better)
1 cup uncooked grits (I used quick cooking - next time I will use stone ground)
1/4 tsp salt
1 (3 oz pckg) of cream cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 tbspns butter
3 tbs chopped, fresh, flat leaf parsley (I subbed with dry parsley)
1 tbsp chives
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 large egg whites (I used the whole eggs - and I'd do it again)
1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp, coarsely chopped
Cooking Spray
Tabasco (optional)

Preparation:

1. preheat oven to 375

2. Combine milk and broth in saucepan (use a big one). Once it's at a boil, gradually add your grits and salt. IF you use quick cooking, obviously this step will last about 5 minutes - I'm not sure about it if you use stone ground, I imagine it will take quite a bit longer but will be worth it for sure. And milk/chicken broth could be added if needed if cooked with stone ground

3. Remove the grits from the heat once they are nice and thick. The texture should be similar to mashed potatoes but thinner. Not as thin as gravy. Stir in parmesan, butter and cream cheese. Stir in parsley and next 4 ingredients.

4. Saute shrimp until cooked. Chop them up in a food processor by pulsing. Don't puree them because, well, ewww.

5. Mix them in with the grits, grease your 11x7 pan, and pop them in the oven for about 25 minutes or until they look "set" you'll know because the edges will start to stand a bit on their own rather then look soupy. Serve with hot sauce if desired.

****I did put cheddar cheese on top of mine, because I figured it couldn't hurt. And I also added garlic powder - because I think just about everything tastes better with garlic! If you want, you can saute minced garlic with the shrimp. You can use frozen shrimp - but you really want to make sure it won't be soggy when it's cooked. You want it to be firm, not mushy.


There ya go!! I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

More then Guacamole!!

It's been so long since I've posted, that I feel like a traitor to my blog! Since school has been out and my little angels have been at home with me 24/7, I don't have as much time to blog as I did. And honestly, I've been enjoying the downtime with my girls. But, I did turn out this new recipe tonight and I thought it a shame not to share!
I don't have a picture yet, but I'll try and get one up. This one is a good one for people who like guacamole but their spouses, partners, kids or friends won't eat it. It's more then guacamole!

MORE THEN GUACAMOLE =0)

2 tsps minced garlic
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp chopped onion
3 Plum Tomatoes or 6 or so grape tomatoes (or throw some of each in there if ya like)
2 tbspns or so of crumbled feta


3 to 4 Avocados
1/4 cup sour cream OR Greek Yogurt
1 tbsp mayo
1/2 packet of Knorr's Vegetable Seasoning
juice from half a lemon


Saute the first 4 ingredients in a skillet. I saute'ed them until they were nice and tender -you do what you like.

Spoon avocado butter from your avocados and mash it - then add the next 4 ingredients. Stir well, and then add spoonfuls of the tomato mixture you sauteed earlier. I added half, and then used the other half in a delicious Caesar Salad. Mix it all up and voila, you have a fantastic guacamole different from any other!
Add more vegetable seasoning if you like, or more mayo/sour cream/ this is an easy recipe to doctor to your liking!

*My 7 year old was just horrified at the avocado as I was preparing this dip. She couldn't believe anyone would eat that! As I continued to mix and stir, she started to get interested and after her first taste - she asked if it could be for lunch. haha!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Warm Spinach, Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Dip









Warm Spinach, Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

1 tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion finely chopped (a/b 1 1/2 cups)
3 cloves of garlic chopped
1 (9 oz) pckg artichoke hearts, rinsed, and dried
1 (10 oz) pckg frozen chopped spinach defrosted and squeezed of all liquid
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 tbsp mayo
4 oz reduced fat cream cheese
2 oz (about 1/2 cup) mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 or 2 Roasted red peppers

Preheat oven to 375.

Saute the onions in the canola oil. When they are tender and translucent, add the garlic. Saute and then remove from heat.

If using fresh red peppers, go ahead and cut, deseed and place them meat side down on a cookie sheet. Brush tops with olive oil. Broil them until the skin is blistered and then put them immediately in a tupperware or bowl that you can seal completely. Let them cool and then peel the skins off. If using jarred, then just add them and all the remaining ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add cooled onion and garlic next.

Transfer mixture into an 8 inch dish or 9 inch pie plate that has been lightly greased. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through. Serve with pita wedges or crudites.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

SPINACH AND CHEESE STUFFED MUSHROOMS





Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

2 packs of fresh whole mushrooms (I used baby portabella and just regular ole mushrooms, the baby portabella ones were better)

10 oz chopped frozen spinach thawed and drained well

3 tbsp butter

1/4 cup chopped onions

Crumbled Feta

Grated swiss cheese or a pack of shredded Italian Cheese (that’s what I used for these)

Grated Parmesan

Pull the stems out of the mushrooms so that the cap makes a bowl. I did it with a tiny melon scoop but they aren’t hard to remove at all. Put them stems in a food processor and chop them really small.
In a pan, saute the onions in butter until they are soft and then add the spinach and chopped mushroom stems. When it’s good and heated, add the grated swiss or Italian cheese blend. You may need to salt this mixture to taste.

Lay the mushroom caps out upside down on a well greased cookie sheet and stuff them with the spinach mixture.

Top them with a little crumbled feta and then sprinkle parmesan over that. Bake it at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes and you have a delicious appetizer that looks gourmet!

Enjoy!

MOZZARELLA CHICKEN










MOZZARELLA CHICKEN

This is a really good way to do something different with those 4 chicken breasts you have in the fridge!

4 Boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 slices mozzarella cheese
1 package fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup flour
2 or 3 tablespoons of butter (divided)


Take your chicken breasts and pound them into flatso's with a meat tenderizing tool. You're going to want to put Saran Wrap over the chicken before you do that so that chunks of salmonella don't go flying across the room.

After you flatso the meat, dredge it in the flour lightly and put it in the skillet with a little butter. Cook each side about 7 minutes or so depending on how thin the meat is, but definitely cook it until it's done.

Saute the mushrooms in butter (I like to also add worcestirshire)

Put the chicken in a casserole dish and put the saute'd mushrooms on top of the chicken, then top each breast with a slice of mozzarella cheese.

Stick that in the broiler long enough for the cheese to melt and serve!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mushroom Chicken Deluxe

I was flipping through my "Taste of Home's Casserole Cookbook" because I love a casserole in case you haven't already noticed. And I found this recipe which I thought would be a little different from the ones I usually cook, and so I tried it out. My fam loved it and I have to say, it was different, sort of like a chicken lasagna. It was really good and creamy, packed with mushrooms and chicken and noodles.

Mushroom Chicken Deluxe

1 to 1 and 1/2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion chopped (I had to use dried minced)
1/2 cup chopped green pepper (which I didn't have and didn't use but I know it would have been good)
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1 can cream of chicken soup undiluted
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup chopped pimentos (didn't use, because we don't like them)
1/4 tsp dried basil
8 oz spiral pasta cooked and drained
2 cups small curd cottage cheese
6 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese divided
3 cups cubed chicken


First, I cooked my chicken (I always buy the chicken tenders for casseroles, they are more tender and easier to shred) in a sort of sauce pan with a little bit of olive oil. I seasoned them with Cavendar's greek seasoning, but you can use whatever you like. When they were done, I pulled them out and set them aside. (I cubed them in the sauce pan and then took them out)

Next, I started boiling the spiral noodles. I cooked them according to package directions.

While noodles were boiling, I took the mushrooms and onion and sauted them in the butter (you'd put peppers in here too if you used them). Once tender, I added the cream of chicken soup , milk and basil to the mushroom mix - you'd also add pimentos here if you used them.

Then in a separate boil mix cottage cheese, cheddar cheese and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.

In a 9x13 greased pan, layer first the spiral noodles, on top of that put the cheese mixture. On top of the cheese mixture, layer the cubed chicken and then pour the mushroom sauce over chicken. Sprinkle remaining parmesan over it all and bake it at 350 until it's bubbly.


It really was good and it was good for left overs too. It used more pans then I'm use to using (I hate doing dishes) but none of it was hard to do. If you took the time and boiled the noodles before cooking the chicken, you could get away with using one pot and one bowl to mix the cheese in - and then of course the casserole dish.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Shredded Pork Barbecue Sandwiches

I love a good BBQ sandwich, there's just something about it that I can hardly pass up! But, I've never made one before Saturday because I just assumed it was one of those things that I wouldn't be able to duplicate at home. On Saturday my Grandfather drove 4 and a half hours with his girlfriend to come and visit me and my family. The night before he came, Jamie (my husband) and I stayed up until 4 a.m. pricing clothes for a giant yard sale at the multi purpose center here. We woke up at 5:40 and loaded up all of our stuff so we could have it unloaded and out to sell by 8. There were thousands of people there! We were swamped, and so tired. It was one of the most exhausting experiences of my life. Then, I rushed home to put Madelyn down for a nap and to prepare a meal for my sweet grandfather. I cooked 3 pork tenderloins to have the recipe I posted before this, pork sandwiches with spicy spread. I had so much pork tenderloin left over that I had to figure out what to do with it! It shredded so easily because of the way that I cooked it so it was clear what I had to do!! I'll pass it on in case anyone is like me and didn't realize how easy it was!!!!


Shredded Pork Barbecue Sandwiches

Pork tenderloin
marinade (I used soy sauce, lemon juice and garlic - you use whatever you like)

Wrap in tinfoil after marinating and bake at 375 for about an hour and 15 minutes (35 minutes per pound of meat) and then when it's through, turn the oven off but let it sit in there for as long as you can - but 2 or 3 hours really makes it tender. It should shred easily with a fork after that. Then you can mix it with the barbecue sauce.

for the sauce

1 cup of vinegar (I used white - some recipes said apple cider and a few said to use both)
2 tbspns brown sugar
1 to 1/2 cup of ketchup
Worcestershire sauce (I think about a tbsp)
1 tbsp ground mustard
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Add a little water if this is too tart

Mix it all together and mop it up with the shredded pork. It was so good and it made plenty! The sauce will be a little thin, but that's good because the shredded meat soaks it up really well and it doesn't get "gunky".


I served it with a yellow potato salad that I love but I just throw it together and I never measure anything, I just mix until it tastes good, so I couldn't give a proper recipe for it. But, I did just boil potatoes (I used yukon gold but I usually do red potatoes) about 6 of them and I mix in light mayonnaise, mustard, cubed dill pickles, (crumbled bacon and/or boiled eggs are good too but I didn't have any) garlic salt and if it isn't tart enough, I add a little of that juice from those spicy pickles from Vlasic, I think?

Anyway, I know this is a silly and easy recipe but if it inspires someone to use left over pork this way, then I guess it was worth posting!

Pork Sandwiches with Spicy Spread

This recipe is super easy, and so good. It's more of an appetizer then anything, it's a fantastic finger food. But you could make a meal of it if you wanted. I got it from a very dear friend of mine, whom I have known since I was in high school. She made it at one of our Annual Christmas get togethers and it has been a staple at every one since then.

Pork Sandwiches

1 or 2 pork tenderloins (this depends on how thick you slice the meat. Usually one will do just fine. And make sure you buy the tenderloin and not just the pork loin. I always get the ones that are packaged with the marinade in them. Teriyaki is the best for this recipe)

1 package of Hawaiian sweet rolls

1 or 2 spoonfuls of mayonnaise (I use light mayo)

1 or 2 squirts of sriracha hot chili sauce (this an asian chili sauce in a clear bottle with a green squirt top if you have trouble finding it)

I set my oven at 375 and wrap the tenderloin in tin foil (if you prefer, it is also good cooked on the grill). I set it on a cookie sheet and pop it in the oven for about an hour and 15 minutes. (35 minutes per pound of meat). Use a meat thermometer if you are uncomfortable telling when it's done.

After it's done, I turn the oven off but let the tenderloin sit in the oven for as long as I can - this really makes it very tender.

I slice the Hawaiian rolls in half and in a separate bowl, I mix the mayonnaise with the sriracha sauce. You want it to be sort of a light orange - taste it to make sure the spice is to your liking. If it's too spicy add more mayo, if it's not enough, add more sriracha.

Spread the sriracha and mayo mixture on the Hawaiian rolls and put in a slice of the tenderloin.



There you go, it's done. There is something about the mixture of salty from the pork, sweet from the rolls and spicy from the sauce that just makes this really unique and delicious. I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper, Feta and Spinach stuffed Chicken!

First, I want to apologize for the pictures here. My camera was in my car (still is actually) and the carpenter bees that are hovering around outside my garage seem like they are trying to deliberately keep me away from my vehicle. I'm terrified of those things and I tried several times to bravely run out there (with a broom so as to swat the bees) only to run back in screaming and launching the broom behind me hitting nothing but my car. Anyway, I had to take the pictures with my camera phone.....

EDIT: And now I can't get the pictures to do right at all on my site so, I can either post them randomly all on top, or I can not post them at all...we'll see!

I had all afternoon to prepare for this meal, so I just kind of took my time. I roasted my own red peppers and garlic but it is time consuming so if you don't have time, just use the jarred stuff.

Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper, Feta and Spinach Stuffed Chicken


3 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 (at least) red bell peppers
1 head of garlic
6 oz or so of chopped frozen spinach drained
1 tub of feta
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
pinch or sprinkle of cavendars greek seasoning - or whatever chicken seasoning you like
pinch or so of paprika (totally optional)


1. Okay, like I said, I had time on my hands and this part CAN take time, however it is still easy. And if you wanna skip it, then just by jarred roasted red peppers. But, I cut up my peppers and just laid them in fairly large junks "meat" side down and skin side up in a casserole dish (you can use a cookie pan) and I drizzled a little olive oil and broiled those suckers until the skin on them was totally black and blistered (this takes about 15 to 20 minutes with the oven on 525 depending on your oven of course).



Once roasted they looked like this, and even these could've been broiled a bit longer...


Okay, and once you roast the peppers (if you already know how to do this, please skip to the step where it's already done...)you have to throw them immediately into a ziplock bag OR tupperware with the lid on so as to let them"stew" until they are all cooled off. This blistering and sealing makes the skins sooo much easier to peal off .

So, then you peel the blistered skin off of the red peppers once they are cooled and voila, you have roasted red peppers. Set those thangs aside for tha moment.

2. I roasted my own garlic as well which is also totally optional. I just took a head of garlic and put it in some tin foil with a smidge of butter and stuck it in the oven for 25 minutes at 350 degrees and when I took them out they were perfect!


3. So, I had my roasted peppers and my roasted garlic and I mixed them in a bowl. I decided to chop mine just a smidge in my little mini chopper just to sort of make the garlic cloves smash around and chop the peppers up finer. You do what you like. After I got the consistancy I desired, I added the spinach that I thawed and drained, and the tub of feta which I love. Then I added the parmesan and stirred it all up. It wouldn't be a bad idea to salt this mixture a bit, but it's not necessary.



4. Flatten out your chicken breasts until they are total flatsos. (anybody read Junie B Jones?, well I have a 7 year old and so the term "Flatso" means almost as flat as it would be if you ran your car over it). Of course, you'll wanna put some saran wrap or wax paper when you're doing the meat pounding or else gross stuff will fly around the room each time you lift your meat tenderizing tool.....

6. Okay, so now you flatsoed your meat, so now you put a spoon full or two of the aforementioned red pepper, spinach, feta and garlic mixture in the middle of the flat chicken and either roll it or fold it in half best you can and stick a toothpick through that sucker.

7. Now, season your meat with cavendars and paprika or whatever poultry seasoning you deem acceptable and pop it in the oven at 375 and cook it until the meat is done which took me almost an hour.

Voila! You have a really complicated looking meal that may or may not have taken a lot of time but certainly wasn't that complicated. I had some of the red pepper mixture left over at the end and I spooned it on top of mine, but again, you do whatever you like there.

Hope you enjoy!!! This is actually my own recipe, believe it or not. So, I really, really, hope anyone who tries this enjoys it!
Ha!!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball

This is another recipe that I got from Mommy's Kitchen. I was trying to use some left over cream cheese I had in the fridge and make something sweet for my little candy-loving kids!

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball


1 pkg 8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup butter not margarine (I think I used margarine...oops)
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 tbs brown sugar
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (I used the normal sized semi sweet chips)
Graham crackers, chocolate graham crackers, vanilla wafers or animal crackers.

Beat softened cream cheese, btter and vanilla until creamy. Slowly add sugars until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Place mixture in tupperware and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. Form into a ball and roll ball into chopped pecans (optional). You can also roll the ball in crumbled graham crackers or more chocolate chips (I did not do either of those things). Serve with graham crackers, vanilla wafers or animal crackers.



I was surprised, because although this was sweet, it definitely had a cream cheese taste to it - and I was worried my 7 year old wouldn't like the mixture of cream cheese and chocolate. But, she did and it was a hit.

Easy Reuben Sandwich and Comfort Food - Poppy Seed Chicken

I don't know about you, but I LOVE a Reuben sandwich. Except, I only love it homemade, I never really seem to like it when I get one from a restaurant. (I imagine they don't put near enough cheese or dressing on it ;-) ) And they can be so messy to make. So when I was flipping through a cookbook that my Aunt Nancy got for me called "A Cookbook of Favorite Recipes compiled by staff and residents of the Greenville Convalescent Home, and ran across the recipe "Open Faced Reuben Sandwiches" I knew I had to try it. I was so glad that I did!

Open Faced Reuben Sandwiches

1 12 oz can corned beef
1 16 oz jar sauerkraut well drained
Thousand Island Dressing (it says 1/2 c., but I use however much I want to!)
1/4 tbsp pepper
1 tbsp bacon bits (I don't use)
8 slices of Swiss cheese
8 slices of Rye or whatever bread you like your Reuben on, I like just wheat bread buttered really well.

Break up the corned beef with a fork until crumbly, add sauerkraut and next 3 ingredients stirring well. Spread mixture on 8 slices of toast and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. (I don't toast my bread before I put it in the oven and it holds up great, but you do what you like).
Cut slices of swiss cheese in half and place 2 strips on each sandwich. Bake 5 minutes more or until cheese melts.

Sometimes I don't mix the ingredients, I just layer them how I want to and I save the thousand island for last - I pour it on top of the cheese once it's melted. But, again, it's easy to do what you think you'd like to do. I hope you enjoy!




Now, for poppy seed chicken. My kids love this stuff, and so does my company when they've driven a long way or had a long day. It's super easy to make, and you just about can't go wrong with it.

Poppy Seed Chicken

3 to 4 boiled and shredded chicken breasts
16 oz sour cream
1 can of cream of mushroom or chicken
1 roll of ritz crackers
butter
poppy seeds
rice or noodles (I always put this mixture over rice, but you can do either)

Add to the boiled and shredded chicken breasts the sour cream and cream of mushroom or chicken and stir it up well.
Crumble the ritz crackers and melt butter to pour on top of them. Spread the chicken mixture into a greased casserole dish and put the buttered and crumbled ritz crackers on top, then sprinkle about a tbsp or so of poppy seeds on top of that. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve on top of rice or noodles. Enjoy!!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A couple more keepers! ;-)

Spring Break came and went, the week after spring break my sister Tori came to visit us! She was delightful to have around here and she also got to learn a few tricks of the kitchen trade! I was happy to be able to help someone learn a skill! The week before that was spring break and I really enjoyed sleeping in and taking it easy with the girls. I have made a few new recipes and a few old ones since the last time I posted so, I don't want to overwhelm my page - but I'm anxious to get these few recipes on here!
The first, and probably one of the best ones I've cooked was a Fettuccini Alfredo with Grilled Chicken that I got off one of my favorite recipe website blogs called Mommy's Kitchen. I think I have her link posted somewhere on my website. My sister Tori was anxious to learn how to make an alfredo sauce and it was the only thing she asked that I cook. So, I knew my favorite website blogger wouldn't steer us wrong! Here is the recipe.

Fettuccini Alfredo with Grilled Chicken

8 oz of fettuccini pasta
3 tablespoons real butter, divided (I used margarine and it was fine)
4 to 5 boneless skinless chicken breasts grilled (kind of more like just cooked in a skillet)
salt and pepper OR
Coronado Seasoning, or any poultry seasoning you like.
1 Tablespoon minced onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 cups light cream or heavy cream
1/4 cup italian blend cheese
1 tsp parsley
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Cook the pasta according to package and drain. I have found that little bit of oil or even Pam sprayed on the noodles helps keep them from getting all stuck together when left in a colander. If you have a stove top grill or want to grill the chicken outside, that is definitely a great option. I wasn't able to do that so I just put the chicken in slices in a skillet with the olive oil. Put whatever seasoning you like or chose to use on the chicken. Cook and brown on both sides until done and juices run clear. Remove from skillet when it's done and place on a plate lined with a paper towel.
For the sauce add 2 tbs butter, onions and garlic to a medium to large saucepan. Cook one minute and add cream (I used a combination of half and half and heavy cream) and cook for three minutes until reduced a bit. Add cheese and parsley and stir well with a whisk or a fork until the cheese is blended. Add remaining tbs of butter and stir until all is combined. Then add the cooked noodles to the cream. I served this dish by adding the chicken on top because it looked pretty but you could stir the chicken in there and stir with noodles and sauce if you wanted.

This recipe really was good! It's also easy to fix if you cook it to thick or thin because you can either add a bit more cream or a bit more of the Italian cheese (which I had never used before but was pretty awesome).






Next, I cooked lasagna because it feeds a lot and everybody loves lasagna! My sister came with my sweet nephew on Wednesday and he loves lasagna. It's just a standard recipe and I'm sure everyone has one but I thought I'd post it just because I know it's good and I like not having to cook the noodles before I make it!

Lasagna

1 lb of ground beef or turkey (I always use turkey)
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I use super chunky mushroom by Ragu and it's great)also I use most of the big jar.
4 cups mozzarella shredded and divided.
16 ozs of cottage cheese (I always use more b/c I love that stuff)
1/2 cup of parmesan grated
3 eggs
1/4 tsp parsley and/or italian seasoning
9 lasagna noodles
1/4 cup of water


Brown your ground meat and drain - add spaghetti sauce and about 1/4 cup of water. This is so that you don't have to cook the lasagna noodles in a pot before you make it and it saves a big step. Sometimes, you can add diced tomatoes to the spaghetti sauce and the liquid from that is enough to help boil the noodles, if you don't like the idea of adding water to your spaghetti sauce mixture.

Next, put 3 cups mozzarella, all of cottage cheese, all of parmesan, 3 eggs and parsley or whatever italian seasoning you like. and mix it well in a bowl.

Put about 1/2 cup or 1 cup of your meat sauce in the bottom of a greased lasagna pan. Layer 3 noodles on top of that sauce, another cup of spaghetti sauce on top of those 3 noodles. Spoon half of the cheese mixture on top of that and spread evenly.

Layer again with noodles, meat sauce, cheese and on top layer 3 more noodles, the last bit of the meat sauce and top with the left over cup of mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil (so the noodles will cook) and cook at 350 for 45 minutes. Take the foil off and pop back in for 15 more minutes to melt that mozzarella on top really well. If it doesn't seem like the noodles are soft enough when you stick a fork in the noodles, pop them back in covered and they should soften.

Sounds hard but it really isn't and it's super good! So, I'm gonna go ahead and post these recipes and later I'm going to post poppy seed chicken, chocolate chip cheese ball and a dip. ;-) Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Almost Spring Break!!


I cannot even believe it is almost spring break! Where has the time gone?? I need to be thinking about some good, fun activities for the girls and I next week so that they don't get plum bored with me!
The zo
o is an optio
n, and I know the exploreum in Biloxi is suppose to be fun. I guess I better start planning.
My youngest sister is coming to stay with me for her spring break, which is the week after next and I am looking forward to that. I'm trying to get her to go to one of those painting classes with me, where they pretty much hold your hand while you paint som
ething (ok, and they let you drink wine at the same time). We'll see. But, I do plan on cooking with her while she's here.

My sister and her husband and son came for a visit last weekend, and that was a lot of fun! We went to the zoo, I'm going to post some pictures of that and then I'm going to put the recipe for the Chicken Artichoke we're having for dinner tonight. That's a recipe that my friend JJ gave to me when we all did kind of a recipe swap a while back. It's a good one. And later this week, I'm going to make easy manicotti and chicken soup!









Chicken Artichoke

3 chicken breasts shredded
2 cans cream of mushroom
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cups shredded cheddar
2 cans artichoke hearts pulled apart and drained


1. Mix all ingredients together and put into greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until Bubbly.
Serve over rice or noodles. It's also pretty good with Cavendars Greek Seasoning sprinkled over the top!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Making Monday More Bearable ;-)



This Monday I slept in a little too late (because Madelyn slept until almost 10:00 a.m.!) and I thought my day would be so lazy and great! And after I made my poor sweet angel who has a terrible ear infection - so bad that there is horrible drainage pouring out of her left ear- some lunch, I realized that I actually had things to do that I had forgotten. Oops. So, I raced around and got my mother-in-law to pick up Abby and meet me at the Dr where she had an appointment at 3:30, got Madelyn ready and got
through the appointment just fine. I came home at a little after 4 and had Abby do her homework, change her clothes and get ready to meet grandmother so they could go see Callie (Abby's cousin) dance at practice. In the midst of the chaos, I managed to throw together a fantastic dinner, which was SUPER easy, required very few ingredients and was excellent and easy to double if you wanna freeze one or give one to a neighbor! So, I gotta share it with you guys in case I could help make your Monday more bearable.


Easy, Cheesy
Goodness!

1 lb ground beef or ground turkey
about 30 oz of spaghetti sauce - give or take
1 tablespoon of sugar
8 oz of egg
noodles
1/4 cup butter
1/4 tsp garlic salt or powder
1/4 tsp onion salt or powder
1/4 cup of grated parmesan
at least 6 oz of mozzarella (I used a lil more then that)

1. Preheat oven to 350, brown meat, drain fat and add spaghetti sauce and sugar to meat

2. Cook noodles while meat simmers and when they're ready and drained, toss in parmesan, butter, garlic salt and onion salt.

3. Spray 9x13 pan with non stick spray - then layer half the sauce, all the noodles, rest of sauce and top with mozzarella. COVER with foil and bake about 45 minutes or until bubbly.


I promise, no one will dislike this one - and you could add things like green peppers if you like to the spaghetti sauce for an extra kick.



Friday, February 19, 2010

It's Lent!

It's been a crazy two weeks and so I haven't been keeping up as well with this. The day after Abby's birthday, we all came down with the swine flu. NO FUN! It was so horrible. I laid in bed for almost two straight days after that and thankfully my sister in law and mother in law were able to pick up my slack with the children, because once Jamie got it, both of us were just pitiful and helpless! So glad that is behind me! After we recovered from that, we had to attend the funeral of my niece. :( My sister, Hilary, went into preterm labor and delivered Konan at 25 weeks. She fought hard for two days and then God took her back home with him, to be an angel - I know. I won't go into detail of her two days on this earth, because that wound is still fresh and raw, and it is a sad story.
My dad came to live with us this past Sunday, he has been planning to for a while - he's going to stay a while and work at the Liquor store because we've had sooo many problems up there since the late firing of our last manager who we realized too late was doing an AWFUL job, and being dishonest. Sooo, now my dad is there and it's nice to have someone there we know we can trust.

Now, here it is Lent already! It seems the year is already just flying by! Abby asked me on Wednesday what I planned to give up, as she struggled herself to figure out what she should sacrifice until Easter....which to a 7 year old might as well be a lifetime! Abby decided to give up all potato chips for Lent, and I thought that was a good choice. I have a hard time with things to give up, because I'm super forgetful and absentminded a lot of the time. So, I decided that I will make up every bed in the house every single day until Lent. Many of you may already do that, and I think that's great - I'm ashamed that I do not, but I've never been in the practice of doing it! It just gets messed right back up again, and no one ever sees it. But, as I make the beds up in the rooms, I consciously think about the sacrifice that was made and the reason that we observe Lent. It seems to work better for me then giving something up, because I tend to view it with resentment (chocolate! caffeine! fast food! - think about it!).

And since this is the first Friday of Lent - I am making Crawfish Bisque! I got this recipe from my friend Leslie Rigby and it is a favorite amongst my family. Everyone always loves it and it's a dish that I usually cook for company so they feel super welcomed! It is ridiculously easy to make, but ssshhhhh, don't tell anyone! Especially my brother-in-law Wesley. As he thinks it's super gourmet...




Crawfish Bisque

1 tbsp butter
green onions
1 pt half and half
2 to 3 cans of cream of potato
1 can cream of mushroom
1 8 oz package of cream cheese
1 to 2 cans whole kernel sweet corn
1/2 to 1 pound of frozen crawfish tails (cooked, deveined)
(I use Beaudreaux's and I do not thaw it before I throw it in the pot)
capful (1/2 tbsp or so) of crab boil seasoning

1. Saute 2 to 3 "stalks" of green onions. You can use more or less if you like, but you gotta use them.

2. Turn pot on low and put in cream cheese, half and half, and potato and mushroom soups (undiluted). Stir this all up and let the cream cheese melt but don't let it boil.

3. Last, throw in the crawfish tails and the corn. After the
crawfish tails have warmed and mixed in with the soup, add about a capful of crab boil seasoning (less if you don't want it spicy, more if you like spice - and you can use cayenne pepper to taste if you don't have crab boil).


Bon Appetite!!!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Happy Birthday Abby!!!




For Abby's 7th Birthday we rented out the skating rink and had a blast!! She had plenty of friends there to help her celebrate and they were all busting their behinds trying to skate! I even laced up some skates and gave skating a shot myself!! I did slightly regret that decision the next day though, when my thighs were more sore then they've been in a long while!

I made Abby a special Ooey Gooey Ice Cream Cake for her birthday - it was made with crushed heath bars and I made another one with snickers. They turned out to be a hit and I was so proud!

This was actually a Paula Deen Recipe that I got from a friend of mine. It really wasn't hard but it looked like it was!

Ooey Gooey Chocolate Ice Cream Cake

1 cup butter
8 (1 oz) squares semi sweet chocolate
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream softened
6 bars of Snickers or Heath
3/4 cup chocolate sauce
Garnish : Chocolate sauce and caramel sauce (ice cream toppings)


  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In large bowl, combine butter and chocolate and melt it in microwave at 30 second intervals stirring until it's all melted and smooth.
  3. Whisk in sugar, add eggs one at at ime whisking well after each addition.
  4. Whisk in flour until smooth and then pour batter into a 10 inch springform pan.
  5. Place pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Let cool completely.
  6. In a large bowl combine half of chopped candy bar with ice cream. Cover and spread the 3/4 cup chocolate sauce on top of the cooked and cooled cake in springform pan. Then add the ice cream you mixed on top of that.
  7. Put that in the freezer and let it freeze for at least four hours - then when you're ready to serve it, squeeze some of the ice cream toppings (caramel and chocolate) all over the top (looks really pretty and tastes so good!) and then adorn the top with chopped candy bars if desired. Voila.



Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Madelyn was sick and we needed cake...

Yesterday Madelyn woke up with a 102 fever, a horrible cough and a snotty nose. Motrin perked her up a little, but she still was kind of pitiful. So, I thought a little cake might cheer her up! In the end she didn't really eat much, which was probably best since cake is not really top on the list of things kids should eat while sick....but the thought of it made her happy and she enjoyed helping me put the ingredients together.

I made a chocolate butterscotch cake that was really good, and really not hard although I didn't think I could make a cake from scratch without really messing it up, I managed just fine and was really proud of the outcome!

Here is the recipe:

Chocolate Butterscotch Cake

3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I didn't have any so I substituted for 4 oz of unsweetened baker's chocolate bars melted and it turned out great)

1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 12.5 oz jar butterscotch ice cream topping
1 12 oz container non dairy whipped topping (Cool Whip) thawed
1 t.5 oz box cook and serve butterscotch pudding mix (uncooked, you just need that powder to
mix w the cool whip for the icing!)



1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease and lightly flour a 9x13 inch baking pa
n.

2. Beat melted butter and sugar together in a bowl. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Then add your vanilla.

3. In a medium bowl combine all the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt) IF you substitute cocoa for the bakers chocolate then don't add it in there, rather melt it and add it alternately while beating in the dry ingredients and the milk.

4. Beginning and endin
g with the flour mixture, alternate beating in the flour, milk (and melted chocolate if you go that route). Bake for 25 minutes or until you can stick a wooden toothpick in and it come out clean.

5. for the icing you will mix the cool whip and the butterscotch pudding mix. After the cake is ready, take a wooden spoon and poke some holes into the top of the cake. Take the butterscotch Ice Cream Topping and cover the top of the cake (I filled it in some of the holes too).




6. Let cake cool completely and then cover it with the icing. Refrigerate at while and then cut into squares and serve! Delicious!

Easy Cheesy Enchiladas!!!



These were great! My family ate them up and they were fairly easy to make. It was a little time consuming to prepare the corn tortillas for folding, but some of you may have a better way to do it then the way that I did!


Easy Cheesy Enchiladas

1 dozen yellow or white corn tortillas
1 8 oz package shredded cheddar cheese
1 can mild red enchilada sauce
1 can 14 oz wolf brand chili with no beans
1 cup chicken broth
1 heaping tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon oil

1. make the sau
ce for the enchiladas buy combining oil and flour and mixing over medium heat. It'll make a roux and it sounds hard but it isn't. You don't want it to be dark, just let it cook on medium about a minute.

2. Add the chicken broth and mix using a wire whisk. Make sure there are no lumps then add the enchilada sauce and then the chili sauce.

3. Turn off the heat and set sauce aside.

4. get your ingredients for the filling of the enchiladas. I used ground turkey (and I ground it further in a food processor after it was cooked) added some taco seasoning and 2/3 cup of water. I used a big spoon full of that and a handful of cheese for the center of the enchilada.

5. so that the corn tortillas don't crack when you roll them, you can either heat them in the microwave for a couple of minutes (that's not what I did) or you can take a little oil in a skillet and lightly coat each side and warm it enough to make it pliable.
6. Grease the inside of a 9x13 pan and put a little of your sauce on the bottom. Roll up your enchiladas and set on top of the sauce. When you're done pour the rest of the sauce onto the enchiladas along with a little cheese. Cook on 375 for about 30 minutes or until it's bubbly.

7. Voila! Enjoy!!