Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pizza Bites

1 loaf french bread (or bruschetta works great too)
1/4 c butter, softened
pepperoni or canadian bacon
mozzarella cheese, shredded
parmesan cheese, shredded
Italian seasoning

Red Sauce: (from Jamie Cooks It Up)
1 - 14.5 oz can Italian stewed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 t sugar
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lemon juice
pinch red pepper flakes

Put all sauce ingredients into blender or food processor and blend until smooth. 
Cut french bread into 1 1/2 in thick slices
Spread butter on one side of each slice and place on cookie sheet
Cover with a bit of red sauce, mozzarella, meat, parmesan
Sprinkle with Italian seasoning

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until the bottoms are golden and the tops or bubbly.

Creamy Tomato Basil Parmesan I was having this REALLY busy day (car registration, Halloween costume making, goodies for teachers, 5th grade class party, pictures for the senior girl's volley ball getting the picture so far???) and I get a text from my little sister on the way home.  Well, I just HAD to call her know!  So we're gabbing on my way home, I walk in the door and discover it's nearly 5:00.  UGH!  Dinner time!  What to do for dinner????!!!  So with little sis on the phone I start frantically (yes, really, FRANTICALLY) throwing things into a pot.  And I'm laughing in between swapping stories and joking that my dinner better turn out really great!! did!!!!!!!  Not too bad for throwing it together.  Add a few pizza bites on the side and it was a dinner fit for a family of five (that's how many we had home anyways).....FABULOUS!!!

1 can diced tomatoes - pureed in blender
1/2 c heavy cream (it was leftover in the fridge.  You can also use 1 can evaporated milk)
3 c milk (apprx....till you get the consistency you prefer)
1 T dried basil (or more if you prefer)
1 tsp garlic salt
Parmesan cheese to taste

Just heat and serve!  Easy!!!  And they loved it!!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Black Pepper Chops with Molasses Butter

On the menu tonight......chops and taters!  It's FREEZING outside, I'm missing my sis, and I'm in need of some way comforting comfort food!  This always does the trick!

4 pork loin chops, 1 1/2 inches thick
1/4 C butter, softened
1 T molasses
1/2 tsp lemon juice
4 T coarsely ground black pepper

In a small bowl, blend butter, molasses, and lemon juice with a fork.  Cover and refrigerate.  Rub chops on both sides evenly with pepper.  Grill chops over medium heat for 12 - 15 minutes, turning once.  Top each chop with a tablespoon of molasses butter.

Goes great with roasted veggies or fried potatoes.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chicken and Dumplings

Does your family really thing chicken soup only comes from a little red and white can?  The colder weather that's forecast this week makes it the perfect time for homemade soup.  Enjoy!

6 cups chicken broth (1 1/2 boxes or 3 cans) OR 6 c. water + 6 chicken bouillon cubes
1 lb. cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces (I use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)
1 c. sliced carrots
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 onion, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 bay leaf
1 handful of chopped fresh parsley (or 1 Tbsp. dried parsley)
1/2 tsp. basil
1 14-oz. can evaporated milk (fat free is fine)
1 recipe of Bisquik dumplings (recipe is on the box)

In a large pot, heat some olive oil over medium heat and add onions and garlic. Saute for a few minutes and then add chicken broth, chicken, bay leaf, and basil. Bring to a boil. Add carrots and celery and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until carrots and celery are tender. When carrots and celery are almost done, add chopped parsley. Add evaporated milk. Increase heat to boiling and add noodles or add prepared Bisquik by small spoonfuls (they'll really puff up while they're cooking). Cook until noodles are tender or until dumplings are cooked through (they should appear moist but feel firm; this is after about 4-5 minutes).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Once you go black you'll never go back Chocolate Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix

1 small chocolate pudding mix

16 oz sour cream

4 eggs

1 C canola oil

mix till smooth

add 1 bag chocolate chipsFont size

Pour into a buttered and floured bundt pan

Bake 300* for 50 min

Cool and flip onto a pretty plate. Sprinkle powder sugar on top

8 fresh tomatoes chopped in 1/4 (or 2 large cans of stewed tomatoes)
2 anaheim peppers chopped in 1/4
1/4 C chopped fresh basil (1 T dried)
1 spring of fresh thyme (1/2 t dried)
1 t salt
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
Bring 1/4 C canoal oil to a sizzle in large stock pan. Add all indredients to pan, cook 5-10 mintues.
take mixture from pan, blend in foodprocesser or blender till smooth.
Put back in pan, bring to boil. Turn off heat. Add
1/4 C br. sugar (or to taste)
1/2 C heavy cream.
top with mozzarella, serve with toasted baguettes

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Apricot Blush Jam

Okay, I admit I am just not a canner/jammer.  But I definitely caught the bug.  I've made this once or twice before and it's to die for good!  I don't know why I don't make it more often.  It's really super easy and fairly quick.  The kids love it!!!

9 C smashed apricots, peaches, or pears
2 C crushed pineapple
10 C sugar
1 - 6oz. package orange jello
1 - 6oz. package raspberry OR cherry jello

Mix fruit, pineapple and sugar in a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil.  Boil for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and add jello.  Cook 5 more minutes to completely dissolve jello.

Pour into jars leaving 1/2" head space at top of bottle.  Process for 20 minutes.
Makes nearly 9 pint jars (wide mouth)

Apple Crisp

Mmmmm.....just finished raking leaves in the front yard and now we just came in for a little lunch and an afternoon college ball game on T.V.  The perfect time to pop an Apple Crisp in the oven!!!  I can smell it already!!!!


6 - 8 medium apples
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C cold water


1 1/2 C flour
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C butter

Slice apples and place in baking dish.  Mix sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over apples.  Pour water into apples at corners.
Topping:  Mix together sugar and flour.  Cut in butter until crumbly.  Spread evenly over apples.  Bake @ 375 for 1 hour.  Serve with whip cream or vanilla bean ice cream!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas

Friday night fabulous fajitas!!!

1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced onions
3/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp oregano leaves
1/2 tsp cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 C lime juice
1/4 C orange juice
 2 T olive oil

Mix all the above ingredients in a small bowl.  Reserve 1/4 C of marinade.  Place chicken in large resealable plastic bag and pour remaining marinade over chicken.  Coat well.  Refrigerate up to 30 minutes (long for extra flavor)

1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 medium green OR red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
8 flour tortillas (8-inch)

Cook and stir chicken in large heated skillet on med-high heat 3 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from skillet.  Add bell pepper, onion, and reserved marinade.  Cook and stir 5 minutes or until tender.  Return Chicken to skillet.  Cook 2 to 3 minutes until heated through.

Spoon chicken mixture into warmed tortillas.  Great with Monterey Jack cheese and sour cream.  Squeeze a little fresh lime on top for an extra kick.  Garnish with fresh cilantro. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cha Cha Chicken Chili

It's that time of year....soup, soup, SOUP!  I could live off nothing but soup in the winter.  Okay, soup and dessert!  We made the "quick-n-lite" version after church yesterday.  Delicioso!

2 lbs Boneless skinless chicken ( can also shred it after cooking if you're doing it in a crockpot.  I've also used canned chicken in a pinch)
2 med Onions
3 tsp Garlic powder
2 Tbl Oil
4 can Great Northern beans (white beans), drained and rinsed
2 cans Chicken broth
3 cans Diced green chilies
2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Cayenne
16 oz. Sour cream (Lite version.... 8 oz sour cream and 8 oz plain yogurt)
8 oz Whipping cream or half-n-half  (Lite version.....1 can evaporated milk)

Saute chicken, onion & garlic in oil.  Combine beans, broth, chilies and seasoning in a pot.  Add chicken and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 mins.  Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and whipping cream.

*NOTE:  This is great in the crockpot.  Just put all ingredients in a crockpot EXCEPT for the sour cream and whipping cream.  Cook 6 - 8 hours on low.  Shred chicken.  And add sour cream and whipping cream before serving. And the "lite" version tastes pretty dang close to the original!!!

For a quick version I use canned chicken.  And I cook the onions in the microwave for a couple minutes with a little olive oil.  Then just dump it in the pot and simmer for a few.  Just remember NOT to add the creams until the end or it WILL curdle on you!

Serve with tortilla chips and Monterey Jack cheese.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Spaghetti and Meatballs (Eyeballs if it's Halloween!)

The kids LOVE this!

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 C seasoned bread crumbs
1 T ketchup
1 egg
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1( 7 oz.) jar pimento stuffed olives (if making eyeballs)
1 (14 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce
3 quarts water
1 tsp salt
1 (8 oz.) pkg spaghetti
2 T butter
1 can black olives, thinly sliced (again, if making eyeballs)

1.  Preheat oven to 350
2.  Mix ground beef, bread crumbs, ketchup, egg, pepper and oregano in a large bowl..
3.  Form apprx. 18 - 24 meatballs ( we like them larger and I make apprx 15).  Press green olive into each meatball - pimento side out if making eyeballs).
4.  Place the meatballs in a baking dish and pour spaghetti sauce over the top.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes.
5.  About 15 minutes before the meatballs are done, fill a large pot with 3 quarts water.  Add salt.  Folow the package directions to cook spaghetti.
6.  Drain noodles and transfer to a serving bowl.  Toss with butter.
7.  When meatballs are done, carefully spoon onto the spaghetti.  Spoon the sauce from the pan around them.
8.  (If making eyeballs, garnish with black olives for eyelashes)

Wickedly Delicious Topping

Fantastic on pumpkin cakes!!!

1 pt. whipping cream, whipped
3/4 C brown sugar

Whip cream until spreading consistency and stir in brown sugar.  Makes enough topping for a two-layer cake or 24 cupcakes.

Howling Good Licorice Frosting

1/2 C margarine, softened
3 C powdered sugar
2 T milk
1 tsp anise extract
black food coloring (optional)

In a small bowl, cream together margarine and sugar.  Add milk and extract and beat until smooth.  Add black food coloring if desired

Bewitching Pumpkin Cupcakes

1 yellow cake mix
3/4 C water
2 eggs
1 C plain canned pumpkin
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp soda
2 tsp grated orange zest

Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and blend well.  Place cupcake liners in muffin tins and fill 2/3 full with batter.  Bake at 375 for 18 - 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.  Frost with Howling Good Licorice Frosting or Wickedly Delicious Topping (see posts in Desserts)

Garlic Lovers Shrimp

Too many vampires at your Halloween party?  Keep them at bay with this little morsel.  Another family Halloween favorite.

12 to 15 cloves garlic, cracked away from skins  (well, you wanted to keep the vampires away right?)
2 T olive oil
2 T butter, cute in small pieces
1/2 to 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds, (apprx 30 pieces) shrimp, peeled and deveined.
1 tsp coarse salt
Black pepper

Process garlic in food processor to finely chop (or I just use the minced garlic from Costco).  Heat large skillet over medium high heat.  Add oil and butter.  Add garlic and crushed pepper flakes to oil and butter.  Season shrimp with salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Add shrimp to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until pink heads curl to tails.  (DO NOT cook too long or the shrimp will be rubbery and the garlic will burn!)  Add black pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Goes great with the Steak Bites with Bloody Mary Dipping Sauce (see under "Beef").

Steak Bites with Bloody Mary Dipping Sauce

Time to share some of our Halloween night menu favorites!  This is easy and will add a little class to your finger food favorites.  Don't be afraid!  Try it!!!!  A vampires delight (evil laugh)!

1 T olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 C vodka (Don't freak on me!  It all cooks out and the left over makes great paint remover!!!)
2 T worcestershire sauce
2 tsp hot pepper sauce (Like Frank's or Durkee)
1 C tomato sauce
1 rounded T prepared horseradish
Salt and pepper
1 1/3 lbs. beef sirlous, cut into large bite-sized pieces, 1x2 inches
Steak seasoning blend (I like Montreal Steak Seasoning)
Bamboo skewers

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add oil and onions and saute 5 mins.  Add vodka and reduce by 1/2.  Add Worcestershire, hot sauce, tomato sauce and horseradish.  Stir to combine the dipping sauce and return the sauce to a bubble.  Add salt and pepper and adjust seasoning if needed.  It's all a taste thing!

Heat nonstick skillet over high heat.  Coat meat bites lightly in oil.  Season with steak seasoning.  Cook the meat until caramelized all over, about 2 minutes each side.  Don't get impatient and keep turning the meat...just let it get nice and caramely! 

Transfer dipping sauce to a small dish and place at the center of serving table.  Or set each place setting with a little cup of sauce.  Serve with bamboo skewers.

Caramel Popcorn

This is one of my all time favorite recipes!  Delicious ANY time of year!!!  Makes a great movie night treat!

1 C unpopped popcorn
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C butter
3/4 C karo syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 large brown paper bag (ask for it at the grocery store)

1.  Pop corn in air popper and set aside. 

2.  Melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Add sugar and corn syrup.  Stir till boiling.  Remove from heat and add vanilla and soda.

3.  Place popcorn in paper bag and pour caramel mixture over the top.  Shake bag vigorously to coat all the popcorn.  This is a great job for the kids! Or a great way to work out a little frustration???  :)

4.  Place bag in microwave and cook for 1 minute.  YES!  I'm not kidding!!!

5.  Take bag from microwave and shake again.  (Shake Shake a Shake it!)

6.  Place bag in microwave and cook again for 1 minute.

7.  Spread caramel corn out on a cookie sheet or over wax paper to cool.  (But it's pretty good eats when it's warm!!!)

You can also add your favorite munchie to eat like M&M's, nuts, toffee bits, pieces of snickers, etc.  Go wild!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

And thanks again to "Jamie Cooks It Up" (no doubt my new favorite "friend" for the month), this is what we'll be doing this weekend!  I can't wait for Saturday!!!!

2 white cake mixes (I use Duncan Hines)
1 C melted butter
2 eggs
5 T sour cream
1/4 C flour
1/2 tsp almond extract (or vanilla)
1/2 tsp yellow food coloring gel
1/2 tsp orange food coloring gel

6 T softened butter
3 C powdered sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract (or vanilla)
4 - 5 T milk

1.  Mix all ingredients except food coloring until nicely combined
2.  Split the dough into thirds.  Add the yellow food coloring to one section and the orange food coloring to another section.  Split each color into two sections.
3.  Roll each section (you should have six) into approximately 9x4 rectangles.
4.  Take a pizza cutter and cut each rectangle into thirds (so you have 18 strips)
5.  Gently place a yellow, orange, and white strip together.  Press the seams down a bit with your finger so they begin to stick.  They don't need to be perfect!  If they split apart when you move them, just press them back together.
6.  Take a sharp knife (or pizza cutter works great) and cut the strips into triangles.
7.  Bake @ 350 for 8 minutes.  Better to have them be a little under done than over done!
8.  Let them cool completely before frosting. 

For frosting:  In a stand mixer, or with hand held mixer mix all frosting ingredients except food coloring.  Beat it well!  You want it to have a whipped texture to it!  Divide the frosting into thirds and add food coloring.  Place in ziplock bags tied at the top with a twist tie.  Cut small triangle from a bottom corner.  And have fun decorating away!!!!  Let me know how you like them!!!

Party Planning!

I love LOVE Halloween!  I'm actually going to a "party planning party" tonight and hopefully will come home with lots of new ideas to share.  Stay tuned.  It's going to be SPOOKtacular!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Orange Chicken And Vegetable Stir Fry

Thanks to one of my favorite sites....Jamie Cooks It Up! This was absolutely delicious AND easy.  I would add a little more red pepper to the sauce though.  Also try it with a little curry.  Everyone loved it!

1 onion
2 bell peppers (red, green or choose)
6 stalks celery
salt and pepper to taste (again with the "you choose")

3/4 C fresh orange juice
1/4 C soy sauce
1/2 t ginger
2 t rice vinegar
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 t sesame oil
pinch red pepper flakes
2 T corn starch
1 C chicken broth

1. Cut those chicken breasts up into 2 inch cubes. Combine the flour and the 1/4 t salt in a small bowl. Throw the chicken around in it until all of the pieces are covered.
2. Heat up a large skillet. When it's nice and hot add 1 T oil and throw your floured chicken into it. You understand that I don't mean throw it in like my friend Pam throws a softball. (Fast as a rocket, I tell ya.) Just toss the chicken in gently, now. We don't want you to rupture anything.
3. Cook your chicken until it is golden all over. (About 10 minutes)
4. While your chicken is cooking up, chop up your veggies. Make sure they are about the same size. Don't get out your tape measure....just roughly about the same size will do fine.
5. When your chicken is pretty and golden, take it out of the pan and place it on a nice plate.
6. Add another T of oil into the hot skillet. Add your veggies and cook over medium high heat until crisp tender...about another 10 minutes.
7. While your veggies cook add all sauce ingredients to a medium sized sauce pan. Whisk them together until they are all combined nicely. Bring to a boil. Once it boils it should thicken up nicely for you. (Don't you love it when things act when someone brings you some Diet Coke when you are all out! That is acting nicely!)
8. When your veggies are crisp tender add your thickened sauce and chicken into the pan. Stir it all around and there you have it. Serve over a bed of rice.

Buttery Caramel Sauce

The perfect companion to apples in autumn.  Or pretty much on top of anything anytime of year!

3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup whipping cream

In a medium saucepan, combine sugars, corn syrup and butter.  Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until mixture comes to a full boil (5 - 6 minutes).

Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.  Stir in whipping cream.  Place in a jar and refrigerate to store.  It will thicken as it cools.