Sunday, February 24, 2008

summer squash

i fixed this the other night in cold winter spirits and somehow with every bite i could smell fresh grass clippings, feel sun on my pale skin and so on. it's warm...

you need 2 of these,

yellow squash, sliced
1/4 c chopped onion {i use about 2 TB of dried onion}
1 egg
1/4 c mayonnaise (no substitutions)
2 t sugar
pepper to taste
1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
2 TB crushed cornflakes w/ 1-1/2 t butter melted
or i use 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
in a small saucepan, combine squash, onion, and 1/4 t salt. cover with water. bring to a boil. reduce heat;simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes or until squash is crisp tender. drain
in a bowl, beat the egg, mayonnaise, sugar, pepper and remaining salt until blended. stir in cheese and squash mixture. transfer to a greased 2 cup baking dish. toss the cornflakes or breadcrumbs over top. bake, uncovered, at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

softest breadsticks ever

you haven't had a bread stick until you have eaten these.

1 T yeast
1 1/2 c water
2 T sugar
1/2 t salt
3 C flour
1 cube butter
dissolve yeast in water. mix dry ingredients and then add water mixture. mix and knead for 3 minutes (you can do this in a mixer, bosch or kitchen aid)
cover and rise for 10 minutes
roll our to 1/2 inch thickness. melt 1 cube of butter and pour over cookie sheet. cut dough with pizza cutter and dip each bread stick in butter~both sides {that's right}

flavoring these bad boys - i like.....
parmesan over the top regardless but, sometimes, i add to the butter some crushed rosemary and a TB or 2 of honey to the butter. mmmmmmm. and i like to cut the bread sticks and twist them fancy if my artistic expression is screaming to get out. sure makes it purdy.
or else, i like to add some oregano, basil and fresh minced garlic to the butter.
use your favorite combos
after you get them gussied up, let rise one more time for 15 minutes and the cook for 20 minutes at 350.
i like to sprinkle the parmesan on right before they go in, they tend to absorb the butter if you mix them in with the butter.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Ranch Chicken Pizza

My friend Kari brought this pizza over the day we brought our son Ethan home from the hospital. It was so good and is the epitome of comfort food. I am craving it just looking at these pictures. It is really easy to make, too.

Kari used a pillsbury pizza crust (you know, the kind that comes in a can?) and it is really good. I haven't had a lot of luck with pizza crust, so this is the way to go for me. I know you are thinking, "pizza crust from a can?" but I promise it is good. And easy.
Ranch Chicken Pizza

1 prepared pizza crust (first cook for 7 minutes at 350 before adding toppings). I am sure you can use a homemade pizza crust too, if you want.

mix together:
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1 package/3 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 T tomato paste or sauce or marinara

saute the following ingredients:
1 cup chopped cooked chicken (last time I made this I just used some leftover rotisserie chicken)
1/2 cup roasted red pepper strips
1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 - Partially bake crust before toppings go on (7 mins. at 350)
2 - Spread cream cheese mixture over crust
3 - Sprinkle on meat and veggies
4 - Sprinkle 1 can/2 1/4 oz. sliced olives, drained
5 - Sprinkle on 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

bake another 7 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Turtle Fondue

Todd and I celebrated Valentine's Day last night with a nice candlelight dinner. I got take-out of some of our favorite Indian food, and for dessert made this YUMMY turtle fondue that I saw on Feeding My Enthusiasms. I think it was our favorite fondue yet! So delicious and super easy to make.

Adapted from Perfect Recipes For Having People Over by Pam Anderson
8 oz. caramels, unwrapped
2 oz. semisweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
¼ cup finely chopped pecans, pre-toasted at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes until fragrant
¼ cup milk
Fresh fruit, such as apples, pears, bananas, strawberries, grapes or figs; larger fruit cut into bite sized pieces
Cubes of pound cake, pieces of shortbread cookies
Dried fruits like apricots, peaches or figs

Combine caramels, chocolate, nuts and milk in a small heavy saucepan (or a fondue pot) and heat over low heat, stirring frequently, until smooth and warm. (I melted the caramels with the milk by themselves first and then added the chocolate and nuts and found it easier this way). Serve in small bowls with skewers (or fondue forks) for dipping fresh and dried fruits and pound cake. Dip cookies while holding end of the cookie.If you have a fondue pot, use it. If you use the heavy pot, the fondue sauce retains the heat fairly well. If it starts to cool off, simply return the pot to the stove and reheat.

Serves 2 to 4.

Chicken Tacos with Sour Cream Salsa

Hi friends. I am an airhead. I am embarrassed to admit that I have no clue what day I have for the month of February! However, I figure it didn't really matter since I have a really tasty recipe that will make up for my absent mind. Again, please forgive my absence from posting for so long-I am not good like the rest of you! Here you go:

1 lb. chicken tenders
1 T. fajita seasoning
3/4 tsp. salt
2 T. Olive Oil
1 green or yellow bell pepper sliced
1 red bell pepper sliced
8 6" flour tortillas warmed
1 head lettuce, washed and separated

Cut chicken tenders into thin strips; toss with seasoning and 1/2 tsp. of salt. In large skillet, cook chicken until done. Remove chicken from skillet and add peppers; cook for 3 minutes then return chicken to pan.

Sour Cream Salsa
1/2 C. sour cream
1 tsp. lime zest
1 T. lime juice
3 T. cilantro, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped

In a small bowl stir together sour cream, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, tomatoes and remaining salt.

To serve, line tortillas with lettuce, then top with chicken and pepper mixture; serve with sour cream salsa.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sugar Cookies: Happy Valentine's Day!

One of our family traditions is to make sugar cookies for Valentine's Day. This recipe has been passed down through generations and is such a good one. You really can't go wrong with this recipe. It produces a nice, soft, yummy cookie. Typically I frost them with a butter cream frosting. Today I decided to go with some royal icing. You can make royal icing with egg whites or with meringue powder. Today I opted for the slightly safer meringue powder (you buy it at craft stores) and it turned out great. The recipe I used for royal frosting came from Joy of Baking and you can click HERE to see that recipe. I added some almond extract to mine.'s the cookie recipe:

1/2 Cup Butter
1 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Tbsp. Milk
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp. Baking Powder
2 Cups Flour
1 tsp. Vanilla

Cream butter, sugar and eggs for 5 minutes. Add milk and dry ingredients. Chill overnight. Roll out on floured board and cut into shapes. Bake at 375 until edges just start to brown. Frost with butter cream frosting. Don’t overbake cookies….it is better to have them a little underdone. You just want them to be barely turning brown on the bottom. This is key to soft sugar cookies! This recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Happy Valentine's Day to you! xoxo

Caramel Brownies

With Valentine's Day here and the scent of chocolate everywhere, how can I not post one of my favorite chocolate recipes with caramel? These delicious, chewy brownies are often requested in our house and they definitely don't last very long!

1 German chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup chocolate chips
1 pkg. Kraft caramels (about 10-oz. or so)
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 cup nuts (optional, for turtle brownies)

Mix first three ingredients into a stiff batter (if you want to make turtle caramel brownies, add the nuts to the mix now). Spread half the batter in a buttered 9 x 13" pan. Bake for 6 minutes at 350 degrees. Sprinkle chocolate chips over first half after baked and while hot. Melt together the caramels and 1/3 cup evaporated milk. Spread out the melted chocolate chips. Pour melted caramel over baked portion. Place remaining batter over caramel - don't try to spread, just piece it on. Bake for 18 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool for 1 hour and then cut into squares.

They are so yummy!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

hubby's heaven

that folks is the most beautimous plate i have ever seen!

honey cooked it. i came home from church {he had stayed home with sick baby}, and this glorious plate was there before me. with questioning eyes i looked at him, and then the words "curry" came out of his mouth. mmmmmm.

have you ever gone into your local asian market? they are full of wonderful things. i had gone in earlier in the week and found our absolute favorite curry paste, a massaman curry paste. so honey used it and added coconut milk, creme of coconut, boiled potatoes and sweet potatoes, roasted peanuts and served it over calrose rice {sticky rice usually used for sushi}. it. was. heaven.

the best part was that he used the paste and followed the directions then got to add his favorites.

so, this post is to you scotty, you da man!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Seasonal Meal (kind of): Can stuffing be in season?

I have this thing about Thanksgiving food--I love it so much and have such a variety of recipes, but it's kind of an unspoken rule not to mess with the recipes. When you only get stuffing once a year, you kind of want to get what your expecting. So, I thought about bringing stuffing back to the table. It's such a comforting dish for when you need it--not at the beginning of the cold season, but right smack in the middle of those nasty winter doldrums. It's a great Sunday supper with a roasted chicken. And you never know, if you experiment enough with stuffing, you may find a recipe sooo irresistable, you may just rock everyone's world next Thanksgiving!

I like this recipe, because it leaves a lot of room for your own preferences:

Here are the basic ingredients
1 one-pound loaf bread set out overnight (or 1 1/2 pounds cornbread)
4 cups chopped vegetables (I liked my combination of celery, sweet onion, and fennel)
1 cup fresh herbs, predominantly parsley, sage, and thyme
2 cups or less liquid (I used chicken stock, but you can use a combo of stock, butter, or eggs)
1 pound meat (sausage, beef, or ham....I like sausage)
Butter and/or olive oil
4 cups or less fruit/nuts (I put in a granny apple and some pecans and called it good. No need to get weird!)
3 tablespoons seasoning (S&P)

1. Cut bread into slices or cubes the night before, and set out overnight to dry.
2. Chop a variety of veggies and fresh herbs and set out liquid.
3. Saute the meat until cooked through and remove from skillet with a slotted spoon.
4. Saute chopped vegetables in the rendered fat from the meat (or butter/olive oil) until they are softened.
5. Combine cooked meat, all vegetables, fruit, nuts, and bread. Toss just until combined--overdoing this will cause texture issues.
6. Add liquid; taste and adjust seasoning.
7. If you are stuffing the bird, do it now, otherwise bake at 375 degrees until golden, about 30-40 minutes.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Blueberry Dumplings

Last summer I picked a ton of fresh blueberries at the orchard. I froze a bunch of them and last Sunday was trying to come up with a dessert to make that would use some of them. I ended up trying these blueberry dumplings and served it with vanilla ice cream. It was an all around hit and I love having fresh berries in the middle of winter!

Blueberry Dumplings
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar, plus 1 1/2 cups
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/4 cup milk
1 quart (4 cups) fresh or frozen blueberries
2 cups water
Vanilla ice cream or fresh cream, for serving

Stir flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. Cut butter into dry ingredients, using a pastry cutter or fork. Add milk to form dough. Set dumpling dough aside.

In a large saucepan, combine berries, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and water and bring to a boil. Drop dumplings into hot boiling berries by the tablespoonful. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and cook slowly for 20 to 30 minutes. Do not remove the lid before 20 minutes has passed, and do not stir dumplings. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or fresh cream.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Quick & Easy: Chicken Fettucine w/ Tomato Alfredo

This tasty meal has become a family favorite in our house! It's got great flavor, makes enough for more than one meal (I love that!) and is simple to make.

1 lb. chicken, cubed
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 cup cream or half & half
1 pkg. McCormick pasta alfredo sauce
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. dried basil leaves
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 lb. fettuccine, cooked & hot

In a large skillet, cook chicken with onions, garlic in a little oil. Add the rest of the ingredients, except fettuccine. Cook until heated through, then toss with hot fettuccine.

Serve with hubbies fabulous bread and tada...dinner is served.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Tuna and Peppers

My favorite way to eat tuna fish is in a bell pepper. I got this idea from weight watchers and have loved it for several years. It's really simple and is so fresh and yummy. Obviously, the less mayo you use, the less fattening it is. I use low-fat mayo, some lemon juice and pepper. Clean out half of a bell pepper (you choose red, yellow or green) and stuff it with the tuna fish mixture. Serve it with some fruit and you have a delicious, fresh, healthy lunch!