{In case you're wondering, that means "Everyone to the table to eat!" in Italian}

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Crackles & Orange Ricotta Cookies

"Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver, and the other gold."

This is the Christmas cookie I remember making every year with my mom, without fail. The recipe was handed down from my grandma, Mimi. These are so good, and I can't believe I haven't posted them here before! It's just not Christmas without a plate of Crackles! They are also fun to make with the kids- they love to roll them and then coat them in the powdered sugar. Make sure to plan ahead- the dough needs to be refrigerated overnight.

Chocolate Crackles
4 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
½ c. vegetable oil
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ c. chopped walnuts (optional, I don’t like nuts in cookies, so I never use them)
powdered sugar, for rolling
Cream oil and sugar, mix in melted chocolate. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt. Add nuts if desired. Cover bowl and chill in fridge overnight (or at least 4 hours). Shape dough into small balls (about 1"), and roll in powdered sugar. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen.

I love the chocolate-orange flavor combo, so when I saw this recipe on Two Peas & Their Pod, I knew I had to try it. I was a bit skeptical of the whole ricotta cheese in cookies idea, but I went with it and I was not disappointed! I used milk chocolate instead of dark, because that's what I had and I prefer it anyway, but I'm sure either would be great!

Orange Ricotta Cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 orange, zested (1 tsp zest)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons orange juice
To drizzle:
1 cup chopped dark or milk chocolate, melted
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until ingredients are combined. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and the sugar. Beat the until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, orange juice, and orange zest. Beat to combine.
4. Stir in the dry ingredients. Spoon the dough (about 1 tablespoon for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
5. To glaze the cookies: combine the powdered sugar and orange juice in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let glaze harden for about five minutes. Drizzle cookies with dark chocolate and let the cookies set up.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Creamy Potato Leek Soup

This soup is so delicious, it might be my new favorite! And that's saying a lot, because I'm really not a huge potato-soup fan. I got the recipe from the Sister's Cafe blog. The only changes I made were to blend the soup at the end of cooking (because I don't like chunks of potatoes, plus then my kids don't know about the leeks & onions), and then afterwards I added the bacon to the soup instead of putting it on top, so we'd all get an equal amount. Oh, I also cooked it on the stove this time because I forgot it was a crock-pot dish until dinner-time. I simmered it, covered, for about 45 minutes, instead of cooking it all day in the crock-pot. Then I just stirred in the evaporated milk right before blending it. It worked great!

Creamy Potato Leek Soup
6 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 leeks, washed, sliced, including white and light green parts
1 cup chopped onion
1 carrot, sliced
1 stalk of celery, sliced
4 cups chicken broth
1 Tb dried parsley flakes
1 tsp garlic salt
2 Tb butter
12 oz. can evaporated milk
12 oz. bacon, cooked and crumbled
sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
chives, chopped - optional

Combine everything except last 4 ingredients in crockpot. Cook on low 7-9 hours or on high 3-4 hours. Stir in the can of evaporated milk the last 45 minutes. Serve hot topped with bacon, cheddar, and chives. (If you have a family that loves bacon, like mine, then you might want to stir in the bacon at the end too... otherwise you might run out fast!)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Quesadilla

Super simple and super delicious, I think this is now my favorite quesadilla. We like to eat quesadillas a lot, as they are so fast and easy, and how can you go wrong with a crispy flour tortilla stuffed with gooey cheese and yummy fillings? We like them with black beans and corn, cilantro-lime chicken, and spicy shrimp, but these are our newest faves. This recipe is slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman's blog.
Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas
2 chicken breasts
cajun seasoning
fresh or canned pineapple, cut in chunks
bbq sauce
2 c. grated cheese
10 flour tortillas
nacho jalapeno slices, optional
Sprinkle chicken liberally with seasoning, then grill or pan-fry until cooked through. Cut into strips. Layer bbq sauce, cheese, chicken, pineapple, and jalapenos on 5 of the tortillas. Top with the other 5. Cook on an electric griddle or fry pan coated with butter over medium-high heat, flipping once, until cheese is melted and tortillas are crispy. YUM!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Barley Jambalaya

I got this recipe at a healthy cooking class Dustin and I took together back at CSU. It is easy, flavorful, and healthy since it is chock full of veggies and uses whole grain barley instead of white rice. Make sure to decrease the amount of cayenne if you don't like things too spicy, as it is pretty hot as is. The kids can't handle it, and it's even a bit much for me. So half the cayenne if you think you need to.
Barley Jambalaya
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (decrease if you like things milder)
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp thyme
1 tb canola oil
1 c turkey ham or turkey sausage (I use turkey polska kielbasa), sliced
1 1/2 c onion, diced
1 c celery, sliced
1 c green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz canned tomatoes, diced, with sauce
5 c water or broth
2 c barley, uncooked
leftover cooked chicken, optional (I never use this)
Preheat oven to 350. Mix together 1st 6 ingredients (spices) and set aside. Heat oil in large oven-proof saucepot or dutch oven. Cook onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and meats for 5-10 minutes, stirring. Add tomatoes, water or broth and barley. Mix and bring to boil, stirring often. Add spices and any leftover chicken, stir, and cover. Place in oven and cook for about 30-40 minutes, or until almost all liquid is absorbed. Remove bay leaves before serving. Serves 6.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Caramel Dip

Delicious on cold, crisp apples, this dip is perfect for fall. It can also be used as a caramel sauce for ice cream and other desserts. Package in jelly jars for a cute gift. YUM!
Caramel Dip
1 c. real butter
2 c. brown sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
dash salt
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, condensed milk and salt in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Mix in vanilla. If using as a sauce, reduce boiling time to 3 minutes. Keep covered in refrigerator and reheat as needed. Makes about 4 1/2 cups.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sweet Autumn Chicken

This was really easy and yummy, and perfect for fall. Plus, the chicken cutlets make enough for 2 meals (at least for my family of 6), so you can freeze the rest and have another quick meal on another night!
Sweet Autumn Chicken (Family Fun Magazine)

20 ounces fresh or frozen cubed butternut squash
4 cubed Golden Delicious apples (I used Gala)
6 frozen chicken cutlets (see below)
1 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper

For the cutlets (makes 12, you can wrap and freeze half for another meal):
6 large boneless, skinless chicken-breast halves, rinsed, blotted dry, and sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup mustard
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
2-1/4 cups panko bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
In a shallow dish, mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, and garlic powder. Spread the bread crumbs in another shallow dish. Working with one cutlet at a time, season both sides of each one with salt and pepper, coat it with the mayo mixture, then the bread crumbs. Place the cutlets on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the cutlets for 10 minutes, rotate the sheet, and continue baking until golden brown and cooked through, another 10 to 15 minutes. (After cooled, you can tightly wrap and freeze half the cutlets for later use. To use, just heat on a cookie sheet at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.)

While the chicken is cooking, microwave the cubed butternut squash until slightly soft — 6 minutes for fresh, 10 to 12 minutes for frozen. Place squash on a greased cookie sheet and toss in cubed apples. Make a glaze by reducing the apple cider in a saucepan over high heat for 10 minutes. Remove it from the heat and whisk in the butter and salt and pepper to taste. Pour half the glaze over the squash mixture. Bake the squash mixture on the oven's upper rack for about 15 minutes.
Serve each cutlet atop the squash and apples, drizzled with the remaining glaze.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Blog Vacation

I have been so overwhelmed lately with kid duties, house duties, PTA duties, etc. It has been a busy and stressful time. So I decided to take a little break from blogging so I can relax and enjoy my summer. I may post a few times this summer, but not regularly. So to anyone who may read this, have a great summer and see you in a few months!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Week 11

Hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day! My hubby and kids got me a new cookbook that I've been wanting- Lidia's Italy- so this week I will be trying out a few recipes from it. The 3 starred recipes are the ones I'm trying from the book-I'll write a review next week! Here's this week's menu:

Monday: Southwest Shepherd's Pie
Tuesday: Chicken Fajitas
Wednesday: Spring Asparagus Pancetta Hash with fried eggs
Thursday: Pork Scaloppine with Mushrooms & Marsala*
Friday: Pizza Night
Saturday: Asparagus & Rice Soup*
Sunday: Chicken with Artichokes* and Italian Bread

Friday, May 7, 2010

Chicken Cordon Bleu

This yummy and easy recipe from Melanie at My Kitchen Cafe was my first attempt at traditional Chicken Cordon Bleu. It turned out not only delicious, but pretty, too! Thanks, Melanie!

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Note:To make sure the cheese doesn't leak out of the chicken while baking, use large (at least 8-ounce) chicken breasts and chill the stuffed chicken breasts in the refrigerator before breading.

25 Ritz crackers (I used whole wheat crackers and loved the extra nuttiness)
4 slices hearty sandwich bread, white or wheat (again, used homemade wheat bread and it was hearty and delicious)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
8 thin slices deli ham (about 8 ounces)
2 cups shredded swiss cheese
4 thick boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total), see note above
Salt and pepper
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Pulse the crackers and bread in a food processor until they are coarsely ground. Drizzle in the melted butter and pulse to incorporate together. Transfer the crumbs to a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the crumbs are lightly browned. Transfer the crumbs to a shallow baking dish (a pie plate works great!). Leave the oven on. Top each ham slice with about 1/4 cup shredded cheese. If your ham slices are too smile, shingle two ham slices on top of each other to create a larger slice and roll the cheese up in that. Roll tightly and set aside. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Cut a pocket in the thickest part of the chicken breast and stuff each pocket with 2 ham/cheese rolls. Pull the top flap of chicken over the rolls and press to seal (you can use a toothpick to gently secure the pocket edge, if you like). Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Refrigerate the stuffed chicken, covered, for at least 20 minutes.In another shallow dish or pie plate, beat the eggs and mustard. Place the flour in a third shallow dish. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Working with one stuffed chicken breast at a time, coat the chicken lightly with flour and then dip in the egg mixture, covering both sides. Dredge the chicken in the toasted bread crumbs, pressing lightly to help the crumbs stick to the chicken. (The breaded chicken can be refrigerated covered for up to 1 day.) Transfer the chicken to a lightly greased rimmed baking sheet. Bake on the lowest rack of the oven until the bottom of the chicken is browned, about 10 minutes. Move the chicken to a middle rack in the oven, reduce the temperature to 400 (you don't have to leave the chicken out of the oven while the temperature adjusts, just put it back in the oven and then reduce the temperature), and bake until golden brown and the chicken is cooked through (160 degrees on an thermometer), about 25-30 minutes. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cowboy Cookies

I got the recipe for these cookies from the Sister's Cafe blog, and man, were they good. Full of chewy oats, sweet coconut, and creamy chunks of chocolate, these cookies were a really hearty version of a chocolate chip cookie. Mmmm!

Cowboy Cookies
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips or chunks (I used milk chocolate)
1 cup chopped pecans or shredded coconut (optional- I used the coconut)

In a large bowl stir together the oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In the bowl of your mixer blend the butter and sugars until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and continue to beat until fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes. Blend in vanilla. Using a wooden spoon, stir in dry mixture, half at a time. Mix in chocolate chips and coconut. Refrigerate dough for at least 1-2 hours (I did not do this). Heat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or spray. Using a scant 1/4 cup per cookie shape dough into balls and slightly flatten (I just dropped balls on). Place about 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

**To change it up--**
Omit the chocolate chips, cinnamon and nuts and add:
2 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried sweetened cranberries

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich Ever

This is Pioneer Woman's favorite sandwich, and it is seriously awesome. I mean really, really, REALLY awesome. I'm not sure I can ever eat a plain grilled cheese again. It is THAT good! We tried it a few weeks ago and had it again for dinner last night, and I am drooling looking at the pictures as I post this. Try it, you'll love it! Unless you don't like green chiles, or tomatoes, or onions. In which case you won't love it. But if you do like them, you will love it, I promise! Have I convinced you yet?

PW's Favorite Sandwich (aka the best grilled cheese sandwich ever)
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard, to taste
1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise, to taste
1 whole Tomato
1 whole Red Onion, Small
2 slices Mild Cheddar
1 can (4 Oz.) Whole Green Chilies
2 slices Provolone
2 slices Rye Bread (I used my whole-wheat and it was great!)

First make the special sauce. Measure 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise and mix them together in a small bowl, and then spread a very thin layer onto the inside of both pieces of bread. Now slice a nice ripe tomato. Thinly slice a red onion. Place two slices of tomato on one piece of bread and two slices of mild cheddar on the other slice. On top of the tomatoes place several slices of red onion followed by two slices of provolone. Open your can of whole green chilies and lay one or two slices on top of the provolone. Now very carefully put the two halves of the sandwich together. Spread a good amount of butter on top of the bread (or just generously butter the griddle, that's what I do becuase it's quicker. If you do it this way, don't forget to butter it again when you flip the sandwiches). Flip the sandwich over and repeat on the other side. Meanwhile, heat a skillet (non-stick is preferable here) over LOW heat. Place the sandwich in the skillet and cook it for at least 5 minutes. Flip and continue cooking for another couple of minutes, until golden brown. Remove to a cutting board and slice in half and eat. YUM! Makes 1 sandwich (obviously, I make 6).

BTW, here are some awesome pictures of the awesome bread my awesome hubby made the other night. Have you tried this bread yet? If not, you really must. The link is here.

Menu Plan Monday: Week 10

Monday: Southwest Chicken Salad (Lemon Mousse for dessert)
Tuesday: Quiche Lorraine and fruit
Wednesday: Cinco de Mayo- Chili Rellenos, quesadillas, and guacamole
Thursday: Sweet & Spicy Salmon, baked sweet potatoes, and asparagus
Friday: Chicken-artichoke Pizza
Saturday: Southwest Shepherd's Pie
Sunday: California Rolls and Teriyaki Chicken

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Chef Salad

It seems silly to post a recipe for this salad, but it is so good I decided to post it anyway- it's a great dinner idea when it's too hot to cook or you don't have much time. During the summer we have some kind of main dish salad for dinner just about weekly. Those warm days are coming soon- right?!

Here's what you need:

A nice large, crispy head of lettuce- I prefer romaine or green leaf for this salad.

One cucumber, peeled and sliced.

4-6 hard-boiled eggs (about an egg per person), peeled and sliced. Yes, I know there are 7 here. Thanks for checking my counting skills, though!

About a cup each grated cheese, diced deli ham, and diced deli turkey.

Chef Salad
1 head green leafy lettuce
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
4-6 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled & sliced
1 c. shredded cheese
1 c. diced deli ham
1 c. diced deli turkey
favorite dressing (we like Ranch or Green Goddess, bleu cheese is good too)

Wash, drain, and tear lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Divide among plates. Top with cucumber, sliced eggs, cheese, ham and turkey. Drizzle with your favorite dressing. This should serve 4-6 as a main course. And it's great for families with kids, because the ones that don't love salad can have just a little lettuce on the bottom with lots of the good stuff on top.

Cherry-Lemon Scones

This recipe came from the Sister's Cafe blog, and it was delicious! Perfect for breakfast with some scrambled eggs on a lazy Saturday morning.
Cherry-Lemon Scones
2 c. all purpose flour
¼ c. granulated white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ c. unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
½ c. dried cherries
Zest of 2 lemons
2/3 c. buttermilk

Egg mixture for brushing tops of scones:
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 Tb milk
white granulated sugar, for sprinkling the tops of the scones

OR after they are baked drizzle with lemon glaze
Glaze:Juice of one lemon
Powdered sugar--just keep spooning it into the juice until desired consistency for drizzling

Preheat oven to 400° and place rack in middle of oven. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or spray with cooking spray).In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Stir in the dried cherries and the lemon zest. Add the buttermilk to the flour mixture and stir just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix the dough.Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead dough gently four or five times and then pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches round and about 1 ½ inches thick. Cut this circle in half, and then cut each half into 3-4 pie-shaped wedges. Place the scones on the baking sheet. Make an egg wash of one well-beaten egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of milk and brush the tops of the scones with this mixture. Sprinkle with raw sugar (if desired). Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Glaze if desired. Makes 6-8 scones.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Week 9

Monday: Chicken Cordon Bleu, asparagus, and strawberries
Tuesday: Salad w/ turkey, avocado, strawberries, almonds & orange viniagrette and rolls
Wednesday: Chicken enchiladas w/ guacamole and corn
Thursday: Linguine with shrimp scampi and spinach
Friday: PW's Favorite Sandwich and fresh pears
Saturday: Turkey burgers w/ sauteed mushrooms on whole-wheat buns and sweet potato fries
Sunday: Orange Chicken, rice, and brocolli

Friday, April 23, 2010

BBQ Chicken Braid

This is another fabulous recipe from Melanie over at My Kitchen Cafe. We took one braid to a family with a new baby, and enjoyed the other ourselves. It was delicious, and so pretty! Serve with a nice green salad to round out the meal.

BBQ Chicken Braid

2 c. cooked chicken, chopped
1 ½ c. bbq sauce (we love Sweet Baby Ray's or Famous Dave's)
1 red onion, sliced
1 c. mozzarella, shredded
1 c. cheddar, shredded
1 recipe French bread rolls dough (recipe follows, I actually used my whole-wheat bread dough found here)

Roll ½ of dough after 1st rising into a 15 x 11 inch rectangle. Place on greased cookie sheet. Cut 1" wide strips on two sides of dough, leaving the middle third intact. Mix chicken with BBQ sauce. Spread 1/2 of chicken, onions, and cheeses along the middle. Alternating between sides, braid strips over filling (see photo below). Fold ends up and press so filling doesn't ooze out. Repeat with other ½ of dough and filling ingredients. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes (makes 2 braids). I brushed butter on top after baking, though that wasn't in the original recipe. YUM!

French Bread Rolls
*Makes about one dozen rolls
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, stir together warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. To the yeast mixture, add the oil, salt, and 2 cups flour. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Deflate the dough, and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 12-14 equal pieces, and form into round balls. Place on lightly greased baking sheets at least 2 inches apart. Cover the rolls with a damp cloth (or greased saran wrap), and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Bake for 12-13 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Week 8

Sorry I didn't post a menu last week- we were out of town for most of the week and it has been really busy around here! Hopefully this week I'll have a little time to play catch-up and post a few recipes! For now, here is this week's menu:

Monday: Garlic shrimp, brown rice, and steamed artichokes
Tuesday: Murphy's Hot Hamburger and green beans
Wednesday: Sweet & Spicy Salmon, Rustic Mashed Potatoes, and asparagus
Thursday: Brown Sugar Ham & Bean Soup and Lion House Rolls
Friday: Nachos Supreme
Saturday: Chicken Divan and rice
Sunday: Ropa Vieja (delicious Latin beef stew) and homemade tortillas

Monday, April 5, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Week 7

Okay, we ate a ton of unhealthy food over the holiday weekend (think hot dogs, potato salad, candy, chips, greasy Mexican food, candy, frog-eye salad, lemon cake, candy, birthday cake & ice cream, orange rolls, and you guessed it- more candy). SO, I tried to make our menu for this week extra healthy to make up for it. Here it is:

Monday: Sweet & Spicy Salmon, potatoes, and asparagus
Tuesday: Greek Chicken, whole-wheat spaghetti w/ marinara sauce and spring greens salad
Wednesday: Turkey chili soup and roasted veggie Ritz crackers
Thursday: Chef salad and Lion House rolls
Friday: Hawaiian pizza on whole-wheat crust and carrot sticks
Saturday: Tuna wiggle and green beans
Sunday: Maple/brown sugar ham, potatoes and asparagus

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sun-Up Breakfast Sandwiches

I got this recipe from Lexy's Junior Better Homes Cookbook. It makes for a fast, easy and delicious breakfast on Saturday mornings. Or you could make a bunch, freeze them, and warm them up on a busy weekday morning!

Sun-Up Breakfast Sandwiches
1 package English muffins
1/4 c. apricot jam
8 slices Canadian bacon
8 eggs
s & p
8 slices cheese (recipe calls for American, but I prefer real cheese so I used Cheddar)

Toast English muffins, and spread each bottom half with apricot jam. Warm up bacon on skillet or in microwave, place over jam. Beat eggs with a little milk and s & p. Scramble in greased skillet. Top bacon with eggs and a slice of cheese. Cover with top half of muffin. Mmm!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mushroom, Sausage & Pepperoni Calzones

Mushroom, Sausage & Pepperoni Calzones
1 recipe whole-wheat bread dough (find it here), or enough dough for 2 pizza crusts
1 c. marinara sauce, plus more for dipping
3 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
6 large button or crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 lb. ground sausage, browned and drained
1 sm. package pepperoni

If using my recipe for dough, divide into thirds and freeze one third for next week's pizza or some breadsticks! Roll out each piece of dough into a 15 " circle. Place on pizza stones or greased baking sheets. Spread a thin layer of sauce on one half of each crust. Layer each with half the cheese, pepperoni, sausage and mushrooms, leaving a 1" border around edges (see figure 1). Brush a little water onto edges of crust, fold empty half over top, and press to seal. Using fingers, fold the edge up on itself and seal tightly (see figure 2). Cut a few slits in top for steam to escape. Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes, until golden brown and crispy on top. Slice, serve with dipping sauce, and enjoy! Makes 2 large calzones (enough for 4 very hungry people, or 2 adults and 4 children!).

Figure 1

Figure 2

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spicy-Honey Chicken & Salad w/ Honey-Citrus Vinaigrette

I got this recipe from the Our Best Bites blog, and it was great! We tried both the salad and the chicken by itself, and liked both. However, when I made the chicken alone I used breasts and it wasn't as good, so I'd definitely recommend following the recipe and using thighs. BTW, if you are worried about the "spicy" part, it's really not!
Spicy-Honey Chicken
2 tsp vegetable oil
Rub:2 tsp granulated garlic
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp coriander (I didn't have this, so I left it out)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs (I only used 4 large ones)
1/2 C Honey
1 Tb Cider Vinegar

Use kitchen shears (or a pair of clean scissors) to trim off any excess fat from the chicken pieces. Pat dry. Drizzle oil over chicken and rub in with your hands to lightly coat all the pieces. Then toss chicken with the spice rub to coat all sides well. Use your hands and get in there! Grill chicken a few minutes on each side, until cooked through (I cooked it in a hot covered greased skillet for about 6 minutes per side).
While chicken is cooking, warm honey in the microwave so it's not so thick. Add the vinegar and combine well. Reserve 2T honey glaze for later. Take the rest and brush on chicken (both sides) in the final moments of grilling.
Drizzle extra couple tablespoons of glaze on top of chicken.
I often just cook the chicken in the oven at 425 for 25 minutes, slice it and toss it with the glaze.

You can eat this as is with some side dishes, or you can use it in this fabulous salad:

Spicy-Honey Chicken Salad
1 large head red leaf or romaine lettuce, torn
1 recipe spicy-honey chicken, cut in strips
2 diced avocadoes
2 diced mangos
Honey-citrus vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Pile lettuce, avocado, mango and chicken on a plate. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Serves 4-6 as a main dish or lots more as a side. Oh, this salad was SO good. I think it's my new fave!

Honey-Citrus Vinaigrette
1/2 C fresh orange juice
3 T fresh lime juice
1 T honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 C olive or canola oil

Place all ingredients in a tightly sealed jar and shake your bootie (and the jar) vigorously. Store in the fridge, and shake before dressing salad.

Italian Wedding Soup

First of all, sorry for the picture. Soups are just not very photogenic. But this one was really yummy- it really hit the spot! So please ignore the bad photo and try it anyway!

Italian Wedding Soup
1 lb. ground turkey (or beef)
1/4 c. milk (or 1 egg)
1/4 c. Italian breadcrumbs
2 tb. parmesan cheese
1 tsp. basil
3 tb. minced onion (or 1 tb. dried)
1 garlic clove, minced
10 c. chicken broth
2 c. frozen chopped spinach
1 c. diced carrot
1 c. acini de pepe pasta (dry)

Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Mix ground meat, milk, breadcrumbs, parmesan, basil, onion and garlic. Using a small scoop, make 3/4 " meatballs and drop them into boiling broth (I used the small end of a melon baller). Throw in carrots and acini de pepe and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until carrots are softened and meatballs are cooked. Add spinach and bring back to boil, cook a few more minutes. Serve with crusty bread.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Week 6

Monday: Greek lamb, unleavened bread (flatbread), olives and grape juice*
Tuesday: Sour cream noodle bake and roasted asparagus
Wednesday: Southwestern Crock-pot Chicken with chips
Thursday: Green Chili Cheeseburgers and Cucumber Salad
Friday: BBQ Chicken Braid and green salad
Saturday: Picnic at Grandma & Grandpa's (bring frog-eye salad)
Sunday: Easter dinner at Grandma & Grandpa's (bring deviled eggs)

*We read about the Passover in the Bible last night, and the kids asked if we could do a Passover feast for dinner. If you know me, you know I love to do themed dinners to shake things up a bit (ie St. Patrick's, Cinco de Mayo, etc), so I agreed. Once when we were reading Little House on the Prairie as a family, we even did an Ingalls-style dinner (baked beans, cornbread, and turnips). Anyway, Monday's dinner is my version of the Passover feast!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sticky Coconut Chicken with Coconut Rice

This is another great recipe from Melanie over at My Kitchen Cafe. I served sauteed garlic sugar-snap peas on the side.
Sticky Coconut Chicken
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 can coconut milk, divided
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (I only used 1/2 tsp)

Marinade chicken in 1 c. coconut milk, ginger, pepper and red pepper flakes at least one hour. Grill on barbecue (I actually baked mine at 425 for about 25 minutes, because my grill is broken, and it was great!).

3/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (again, I used 1/2 tsp)

While the chicken is grilling, bring above ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until mixture is reduced and thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Be patient because it takes a little while. But once it starts getting really thick, immediately take it off the heat! Glaze both sides of chicken the last few minutes of grilling and serve chicken over rice.

To make the rice, use the remaining coconut milk to replace part of the water when you cook your rice. Serve rice with toasted coconut on top. Mmmm!

Rich & Hearty Lasagna

I previously posted my recipe for meatless lasagna, but I used a jarred sauce and cottage cheese. I recently tried making my first homemade cheese- Ricotta- and it turned out great, so I thought to celebrate I'd make a from-scratch, authentic lasagna. Oh, it was SO good! The sauce is similar to my mom's recipe, and it is so much better than the stuff in the jar.

Rich & Hearty Lasagna
For the sauce:
1 lb. ground Italian sausage
1 onion, diced
3-4 cloves minced garlic
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
2 cans (6 oz each) tomato paste
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper

Brown sausage and onions until meat is no longer pink, drain excess fat if necessary. Add in garlic and cook a few more minutes. Add tomato sauce, paste, and diced tomatoes. Stir in spices, season to taste with salt and pepper. Add about a tomato-can full of water. Simmer over low heat for several hours, stirring occasionally and adding water if it becomes too thick. My mom would simmer this all day, and it makes the house smell heavenly!

For the lasagna:
12 lasagna noodles, cooked al dente and drained (I use whole-wheat)
3 c. ricotta cheese
1/2 c. parmesan
2 tb. parsley
2 eggs
2 c. mozzarella cheese
1 recipe meat sauce

Mix ricotta, parmesan, parsley and eggs in a bowl. In 9 x 13 pan spread about a cup of the meat sauce. Lay 4 lasagna noodles on sauce, spread 1/2 of ricotta mixture on noodles. Pour on 1/3 of remaining sauce. Layer 4 more noodles, other 1/2 of ricotta, and another 1/3 of sauce. Layer last 4 noodles and remaining sauce in pan, then sprinkle with mozzarella and more parmesan if desired. Cover with greased foil, bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes more. Remove from oven and let sit for about 15-20 minutes before cutting. Serve with some crusty French bread and enjoy!


I found this yummy bar recipe over at Sister's Cafe. It was easy and delicious!


1 cup flour
1 cup quick oats (I used regular)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup caramel topping
1/2 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, melted
3 Tablespoons flour

Mix 1 c. flour, oats, sugar, soda, salt and butter. Press half of the mixture into a 11x7 pan and set the other half aside. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Blend 3/4 cup caramel with 3 T. flour. Pour (drizzle) over chocolate chips. Sprinkle the balance of the flour oat mixture over the dessert. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until light brown. Allow to cool and set before slicing.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tuna Wiggle

This is my slightly adapted version of a tuna casserole my mom made when I was growing up. I've changed it a little- I use whole-wheat egg noodles and added some seasonings in to jazz it up. Nothing fancy, but it is a great meal when you need something quick and easy- and most of the ingredients are probably in your pantry. My kids love it, and even the hubby has finally admitted he likes it too. I serve it with green beans.

Tuna Wiggle
12 oz. egg noodles (I use whole-wheat)
2-3 c. shredded colby-jack or cheddar cheese
2 cans tuna, drained
seasoned salt
3 tb. butter
1 c. milk

Cook egg noodles according to package directions, drain. In greased 8 x 11 casserole, layer half the noodles, half the cheese and one can tuna. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Repeat layers of noodles, cheese, tuna and salt. Cut butter into pieces and lay on top of casserole, pour milk evenly over all. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or microwave on high for 3-4 minutes, turn, and microwave for 3-4 minutes more (this is what I usually do).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Caramelized Onion & Bleu Cheese Burgers

I found the recipe for this delicious burger on The Pioneer Woman Cooks and slightly adapted it for us. It's a nice change from your ordinary cheeseburger!

Caramelized Onion & Bleu Cheese Burgers
1 lb. ground turkey (or beef)
salt & pepper
Tabasco sauce
2 tb. butter
1 onion, thinly sliced (she uses red, I used white b/c that's what I had)
2 tb. brown sugar
1/2 c. bleu cheese, crumbled
4 hearty, crusty buns (no pansy soft ones!)
Fresh salad greens

First, melt butter in a skillet. Stir onions and brown sugar in, saute on low heat for about 15 minutes, until soft and caramelized. Next, mix your meat with 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, and a few shakes of Tabasco. Form into 4 patties (Pioneer Woman makes one huge burger, but that's a bit much for me, so I made 4 normal-sized ones). Grill or fry in skillet on both sides for several minutes, until no longer pink in center. Meanwhile, brush some more butter on a skillet and brown cut sides of buns for a few minutes. Mix about 1/2 c. mayo with a few shakes Tabasco, spread thinly on both sides of buns. Top burgers with a pile of onions and a sprinkle of bleu cheese. Place on bottom bun, top with greens and top bun, and enjoy!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Week 5

Monday: Caramelized Onion & Bleu Cheese Burgers, potato chips and pickles
Tuesday: Tuna Wiggle and green beans
Wednesday: Baked Cashew Chicken, glazed carrots and rolls
Thursday: Lasagna and French bread
Friday: Omelettes, toast and fruit
Saturday: Italian Wedding Soup
Sunday: Spicy-Honey Chicken, brocolli and rolls

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Asphalt Pie

Our favorite things at Winger's are the wings (of course) and Asphalt Pie. One of these days I'll get around to posting my copycat wing recipe (it's awesome!), but for now here is the pie (it was SO good, and it costs less to make a whole pie than to buy one slice!):

Asphalt Pie

1 Oreo pie crust (I make my own with 18 crushed Oreos and 4 tb. melted butter, then freeze)
1 carton mint chocolate chip ice cream, softened (actually I used about 3/4 of the carton)
caramel ice cream topping
sweetened whipped cream, or Cool Whip if you prefer

This is really easy. Pile the softened ice cream into the pie crust (I just melt it in the microwave for about a minute and then stir it up). Place in freezer for several hours, until ice cream is firm again. Remove from freezer about 10-15 minutes before serving to make slicing easier. Slice into 8 wedges, and top each wedge with a drizzle of caramel and a scoop of whipped cream. YUM!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Colcannon {Potatoes, Cabbage, & Onions}

I ended up finding this recipe the day before St. Patrick's on the Sister's Cafe blog, and decided to give it a try. It was a hit! Creamy potatoes, sweet caramelized onions and cabbage, and lots of butter make this a winner. Try it!

6 large potatoes, peeled (I used red and didn't peel them)
4-6 Tb half-and-half (I used milk)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 onions, finely chopped
6 Tb butter, divided (I used 8 tb.)
1/2 of a small head of cabbage, sliced thinly (I used a whole one, but it was tiny)

1. Chop potatoes and place in pot. Fill with enough water to cover and boil for 20 minutes, or until soft. While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 Tb butter in large saucepan. Add minced onion and stir to coat with butter. Add cabbage over onions. Cover saucepan and cook over med-low to medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until cabbage is soft.
2. Drain potatoes and add half-and-half (or milk) and salt (I added an extra 2 tb. butter to the potatoes). Mash with electric mixer. Stir together onion and cabbage mixture with mashed potatoes. Spoon into an oven safe dish and place under broiler until top is browned. Traditionally colcannon is served with a deep well in the center filled with melted butter... so place 2 more Tb of butter on top before broiling and let it melt into colcannon.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Corned Beef, Cabbage & New Potatoes

Want to celebrate St. Patrick's Day right? Make this meal for dinner on March 17th. It is really easy, delicious, and festive. Every time I make it, I wonder why I only make it for St. Patrick's Day- we like it that much! This is a picture of our meal from a few years ago (since I haven't made it this year, yet!). Here's a shopping list, if you want it:
  • 1 corned beef brisket
  • 1 head green cabbage
  • New potatoes/ baby red potatoes
  • Butter
  • Dill (I use dry dill weed), salt & pepper
I serve it with milk (dyed green w/ food coloring- I know, gross, but my kids love it!). Here are the recipes:
Corned Beef BrisketPlace corned beef brisket in crock-pot. Sprinkle on spices in included spice packet. Pour in a few cups water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Slice and serve. Yep, that's it- did you really need a recipe for that? Now, on to the cabbage and potatoes:
Steamed Cabbage
Wash head of cabbage. Cut into 4-6 wedges (4 if you have a small head of cabbage, 6 if it is large) and cut out the core. Place wedges in a large saucepan with a few inches of water. Cover, bring to a boil, and steam for about 15 minutes, or until cabbage is crisp-tender. Drain water out and toss with a few tablespoons of butter and some salt to taste.
Dilled New PotatoesCut potatoes in half (if they are baby reds) or fourths (if larger reds). Place in pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until fork-tender. Drain water out and toss with a few tablespoons butter, a sprinkle of dill, and some salt and pepper to taste (sorry, I never measure).
I am going to serve my own version of Winger's Asphalt Pie for dessert, I'll post the recipe below and add a picture after I make it. Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Menu Plan Monday: Week 4

Monday: Creamy Tomatillo Enchiladas and corn
Tuesday: Sausage and mushroom calzones with marinara sauce
Wednesday: Happy St. Patrick's Day! Corned beef, cabbage, and new potatoes
Thursday: Salmon cakes, sweet potatoes, and Lion House rolls
Friday: Green Chili Chicken Pizza and Divine Breadsticks
Saturday: Chicken Divan and rice
Sunday: Fresh rolls with meat and cheese, fruit, and olives

Friday, March 12, 2010

Better-for-you Buttermilk Pancakes

Mmm, we love pancakes! We have a Saturday morning tradition of having a hot, cooked breakfast- it's the only day of the week we have time, with school & work on weekdays and church early on Sundays. Pancakes are one of our faves (Dustin started us out on panny-cakes), and we have experimented a lot with recipes. My favorite is actually a Buttermilk Pancake recipe from Lexy's Better Homes Junior Cookbook, but we make it healthier (and more filling) by using a combo of oat and whole-wheat flours in place of white flour. They are light, fluffy, and delicious! I will post the original recipe below, but if you have a big family like us you may want to double it (I always do and usually only have about 2-3 pancakes left over, if any!). Oh, and I never have buttermilk, so I make my own- 1 cup milk + 1 Tb lemon juice or vinegar, just let it sit a few minutes.
Better-for-you Buttermilk Pancakes serves 3-4
1 c. whole-grain flour (I use 1/2 oat, 1/2 whole-wheat)
1 tb. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 c. milk + 1 tb. lemon juice)
2 tb. canola oil
Heat non-stick skillet or electric griddle on medium heat (350 degrees). Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt. Make a well in the center. Pour in egg, buttermilk and oil. Whisk wet ingredients and then mix them into dry ones until well combined. At this point I often add any extra ingredients (see ideas below). DO NOT grease the skillet or griddle (as long as it's non-stick)- this eliminates that weird batch of first pancakes (took us a while to figure that one out!). When skillet is hot, pour about 1/4 c. batter on for each pancake. Cook until bubbles form on top and edges appear slightly dry, turn and cook until golden brown. Serve with maple or fruit syrup, fresh fruit, whipped cream, or whatever your heart desires (click here for a yummy homemade maple syrup recipe)!

* I often jazz the batter up with one of the following: 1 mashed banana, 1 c. frozen blueberries, or 1 diced apple + 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Dustin put some cocoa powder in once, and it wasn't my fave, but whatever floats your boat! If you really want chocolate I'd probably recommend shaved chocolate rather than cocoa powder.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake

Fluffy Chiffon Cake + Real Whipped Cream + Fresh Strawberries=

Strawberry Shortcake (YUM!)

1 layer chiffon cake (recipe makes two, freeze the other for another time)
1 lb. fresh strawberries
1 cup whipping cream

Slice strawberries and sprinkle with sugar (how much depends on how sweet your strawberries are). Store in fridge while you bake the cake (recipe below). Using an electric mixer, whip the cream, adding about 2-3 tablespoons of sugar. After cake has cooled, cut the cake into 8 wedges. Top with berries, any extra juice, and whipped cream. Enjoy!

Chiffon Cake
(slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
2 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large egg yolks at room temperature
8 large egg whites at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Make cake layers: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Have two 9-inch round cake pans ready, bottom lined with wax or parchment paper that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray, but otherwise ungreased.
2. Sift the flour, 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking powder and salt together twice into a large bowl.
3. In another bowl, beat the yolks, water, oil, zest and vanilla on high speed until smooth. Stir into the flour mixture until smooth. In another large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks are formed. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and beat on high speed until the peaks are stiff but not dry.
4. Use a rubber spatula to fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remaining whites. Do so gently, only until the egg whites are no longer visible. Overdoing it will deflate the egg whites, and yield a denser, shorter cake.
5. Scrape the batter into the two prepared pans and spread evenly. Bake them until the top springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean about 30 minutes.
6. Let cakes cool on a cooling rack for at least an hour. When completely cool, run a knife around the sides to release, then flip out onto a plate (or your hand, if you’re daring) and then another plate.

Divine Breadsticks

This is another great recipe from Melanie at My Kitchen Cafe. These were fairly quick and really tasty! We had them with soup, and I froze half to have with pizza later in the week.

Divine Breadsticks
*Makes about 20-25 breadsticks, depending on how thick or thin you cut them
1 ½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 ½ cups flour (I used half white, half white whole-wheat)
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted (for the baking sheet)
Mix all ingredients (except melted butter) in a large bowl or electric mixer and knead for three minutes. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread melted butter onto an 11X17-inch baking sheet. Roll out the breadstick dough into a rectangle about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick and cut into strips with a pizza cutter. Twist slightly if desired and place about 1/2-inch apart on the baking sheet (I turned each breadstick over so both sides had butter on them). Sprinkle with garlic salt, herbs of choice (I used basil) and parmesan cheese. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes. Bake 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees until golden brown.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: Week 3

Here is the menu for this week:

Monday: Spicy Zucchini Soup and Divine Breadsticks
Tuesday: Enrichment Night- Daddy makes dinner (likely eggs & toast)
Wednesday: Spicy-Honey Chicken Salad and Lion House Rolls
Thursday: Fettucine Alfredo with Garlic Shrimp, and asparagus
Friday: Roast Beef & Swiss Melts, fruit salad, and pickles
Saturday: Pizza Night (Pepperoni & sausage pizza and breadsticks)
Sunday: Sticky Coconut Chicken, coconut rice, and sauteed sugar-snap peas

Chicken Cilantro Quesadillas

I feel a little silly posting a recipe for quesadillas, but the flavors in these were so good, I just had to share. And by the way, I used a quesadilla maker (it makes the outsides nice and crisp), but if you don't have one just use a frying pan or griddle and flip to cook on both sides.

Chicken Cilantro Quesadillas
10 medium-sized flour tortillas
2 c. shredded cheese (I like colby-jack)
1 large chicken breast
1 tb. taco seasoning
2 tb. canola oil
2 tb. lime juice
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro
salsa, sour cream, and guacamole (recipe here), if desired

Heat oil in skillet. Rub chicken with taco seasoning, cook in hot skillet about 4-5 minutes per side, until just cooked through. Slice or shred chicken, toss with lime juice and cilantro. Sprinkle 5 tortillas evenly with cheese, then with chicken mixture. Top with other 5 tortillas. Cook in quesadilla maker until cheese is melted and tortillas are slightly crispy. Slice into wedges and serve with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.

Lion House Rolls

I have tried making rolls quite a few times over the last few years, and although they have sometimes turned out decent, I've never found any that I loved. Dustin's grandma makes fantastic rolls, and his dad makes good ones, too. But I've never had success duplicating their recipes. So I usually buy rolls. When I saw this recipe on My Kitchen Cafe, I had to try it. My search is over! They were buttery, soft, and delicious. And it makes 3 dozen, so you can freeze the extras and have great rolls all week!

Lion House Dinner Rolls
2 tablespoons active-dry yeast (I used instant yeast)
2 cups warm water
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 egg
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk
5-6 cups flour

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine yeast and water. Let stand 5 minutes. Add sugar, butter, salt, dry milk, 2 cups flour and egg. Beat together until very smooth. Add remaining flour gradually (about 1/2 cup at a time) until a soft but not sticky dough is formed. Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and knead until it is smooth and satiny (I did all this by hand because I killed my stand mixer kneading a double-batch of bread). Return dough to an oiled bowl and cover to let rise until doubled.Separate dough into three portions. Roll out each portion into a circle and cut into 12 pie-shaped pieces. Roll up crescent-style and place on greased baking sheet. Cover with saran wrap that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes - until nicely browned. Makes 3 dozen rolls.

*Freezable: Freeze the baked rolls in freezer-safe ziploc bags. You can microwave the frozen rolls (about 6 at a time) for 2 minutes before serving, or just thaw them at room temp ahead of time.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Favorite Brownies & Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I have been searching for a good brownie recipe for a long time. I really like my brownies fudgy and slightly gooey, but every time I try to make homemade brownies they turn out pretty cakey. I hate to admit it, but I actually like brownie mixes better. But I would rather make homemade so I can control what's in there (no HFCS for us, thanks!). I found this recipe and thought I'd give it a go. I did add some chocolate syrup in the mix, and they turned out very good! Thick, fudgy, yum! No more boxed mixes for me! They would be great alone, but I also recently found this frosting recipe I love, so I put that on top. Next time I might add a layer of mint frosting in the middle.

Favorite Brownies (adapted from the Open Pantry)
1 cup Butter
1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
2 cups Sugar
4 Eggs
1 1/2 cup Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
2 tsp Vanilla
1/4 cup chocolate syrup

Melt the butter, add the cocoa and sugar and mix together. Add in eggs, mixing well. Add the remaining ingredients, mix, and pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
(from Stephanie’s Kitchen)
½ c. butter, softened
1/3 c. cocoa
2 2/3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. cream, half & half, or milk (I use milk)
1 ½ tsp. vanilla

Blend butter and cocoa until creamy. Alternately add powdered sugar and cream/milk. Add vanilla and beat until smooth.

*You can make vanilla buttercream by replacing the cocoa with more powdered sugar, or make variations by substituting the vanilla for other flavorings in chocolate or vanilla buttercream (try almond flavoring, coconut, raspberry, orange, lemon, mint, etc.)