Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chcicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

This casserole is a super easy way to expereince the flavor of Chicken Cordon Bleu without the all the work.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

4 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 lb deli ham
4 slices Swiss cheese
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted

Place chicken in a 13x9 baking dish and top with ham and cheese. Mix soup with water and pour over top. Combine bread crumbs with melted butter and sprinkle over cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Apple Enchiladas

If you're ever in need or want of a tasty dessert that's different than your average cookies, cakes and pies this is it!

Apple Enchiladas

2 (21 ounce) cans apple pie filling
12 (8 inch) flour tortillas
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup cream or milk

Spoon a quarter cup of pie filling evenly down the center of each tortilla. Sprinkle with cinnamon; roll up, tucking in edges; and place seam side down in a greased 13x9 baking dish.
In a medium saucepan combine butter, sugars, water and milk over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken. Pour sauce over enchiladas and let stand for 30 minutes (to let tortillas absorb some of the sauce).
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until golden.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hot Bacon and Swiss Dip

I am so in love with this dip! I usually serve this with Ritz crackers but it would certainly be delicious with bread or carrot sticks.

Hot Bacon & Swiss Dip

8 oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
1 tablespoon chives, snipped or a pinch of onion powder
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled or chopped

Combine cream cheese, mayo, Swiss cheese, and onions. Mix well blend in bacon. Bake at 350 degrees or 15 minutes. Serve warm with crackers, bread or veggies.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Catalina Chicken

My recipe for Catalina chicken tastes somewhat like a sweet and sour chicken dish. It's an easy weeknight meal that tastes like more work than it actually takes.

I've also made this with French dressing before and I would imagine that Russian dressing would work well also.

Catalina Chicken

4 large boneless chicken breasts
1 16 oz bottle Catalina salad dressing
1 package dry onion soup mix
1 8 oz can pineapple chunks or tidbits, half of juice reserved

Arrange chicken in a lightly greased casserole dish. Sprinkle chicken with dry onion soup mix. Mix together Catalina dressing, pineapple and half of pineapple juice. Pour mixture over chicken. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, remove foil and continue cooking for an additional 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Click HERE for a printable version of this recipe

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Oktoberfest-Apple Kuchen

Kuchen is the German word from cake and they are traditionally yeast risen confections with lots of spices and fruit. This is an easy variation of a German coffee cake that I found in a Bisquick cookbook about 10 years ago. I used to make this cake often when I was first married, mainly because my mother-in-law requested it constantly!

Apple Kuchen

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 egg
2 cups Bisquick
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1 egg
1 large apple, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

In a medium bowl mix 1/2 cup sugar, butter and egg together until smooth. Beat in Bisquick and spread over bottom of spring-form pan or round greased pan, bringing batter up on sides of pan (about 1 inch). Mix yogurt and egg in a small bowl until well combined. Stir in apple and spoon mixture over batter in pan. Combine remaining sugar,brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over apple mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until center is set. Cool for 10 minutes slice like a pie and serve warm.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Oktoberfest-Black Forest Bars

One of Germany's more famous desserts is Black Forest Cake, not to mention one of my favorites. I've always made a simplified and lazy version of this cake that's nothing but a middle American bastardization of the real thing. Originally I had planned to post an authentic German recipe for this cake, one that uses Kirch Cherry Brandy and requires hours in the kitchen. Then I came to my senses and remembered this is a blog for the home cook, with easy recipes that don't require trips around town to find expensive,international ingredients that are only used in small amounts for one recipe. So I decided to share my recipe for Black Forest Bars, the flavor profile is the same, it's just 10 times easier to make and still quite delicious!

In case you want a recipe for an authentic Black Forest Cake, CLICK HERE for the link.

Black Forest Bars

1 box German chocolate cake mix
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 21 oz can cherry pie filling

Beat together first three ingredients and gently stir in cherry pie filling by hand. Pour into a greased 13 x 9 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.


1/2 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 5 oz can evaporated milk
2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Melt butter. Stir in all ingredients except vanilla and almond extract. Boil 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the extracts and let cool for about 5 minutes. With a hand mixer, beat until creamy and frost the cake.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Oktoberfest-Warm German Potato Salad

In Southern Germany potato salads are traditionally served warm, a bit of a contrast from the Southern United States. These warm salads also differ from American style potato salad in their lack of mustard and mayonnaise. Instead they are made with a sweet, bacon vinegar dressing.
As the temperature begins it's slow decline into the brisk days of fall, this warm potato dish carries the memory of summer picnics onto your autumn table.

Warm German Potato Salad

4 large potatoes
6-8 pieces of bacon
1 medium onion, finely diced
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Snipped Chives as garnish

Boil the potatoes until cooked through. Peel and chop potatoes into medium sized chunks. Combine vinegar, water and sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved, set aside. In a large skillet, fry the bacon until almost crisp. Remove bacon and dice. Add onions to bacon grease, cook until onions are golden. Return chopped bacon to skillet and slowly stir in the vinegar mixture. Bring to a slow boil, stirring occasionally. Gently add in potato chunks and season with salt and pepper. Continue simmering for 25 minutes, stirring frequently. Garnish with snipped chives and serve warm.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Oktoberfest-Pretzel Bread

Pretzel Bread is a common accompaniment to all three meals in Germany. They call it Butterbrezel and the taste is very similar to the more well know soft pretzels. Served warm or room temperature this versatile bread is delicious topped with anything you would dip a pretzel into or anything you would slather a dinner roll with.

Pretzel Bread

2 1/4 teaspoons rapid rise yeast
1 cup warm water (not hot)
2 Tbsp milk, room temperature
1 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp butter
1 tsp sea salt or kosher
2 cups bread flour (plus more if needed)

Soda Bath
1 gallon water
1/2 cup baking soda

Sea/Kosher salt to taste
2 Tbsp melted butter

n a large bowl combine yeast, water, milk, brown sugar and butter. Whisk ingredients together and allow mixture to rest for 10 minutes. Stir in kosher salt. Add flour to mixture, if dough seems thin add more flour as needed. Form dough into a ball, it will be slightly sticky. Spray the bowl with non-stick spray or brush with olive oil and replace the dough ball into the bowl and cover with a damp towel for about 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes, knead the dough for at least 5 minutes or until the dough is elastic and takes on a slightly glossy sheen. Return dough to the bowl and cover with a damp towel for 1 hour.

Bring the gallon of water to a boil. Once the water comes to a full boil, add the baking soda.

Remove the dough from the bowl and punch it down. Divide the dough into two balls and round them out. Drop one of the balls into the baking soda bath for 30 seconds (maximum). Turn the ball once to cover both sides. Give the dough a good shake to remove excess moisture. Place on greased cookie sheet and repeat the process with second ball of dough. Cut a cross in top of the dough and sprinkle salt all over the balls to your taste.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Rotating baking sheet once during baking. Once the bread is removed from oven brush both loaves all over with melted butter.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Oktoberfest-Beer Brats

Nothing epitomizes the spirit of Oktoberfest better than beer and bratwurst. Oompa!

Beer Brats

1 lb bratwurst
1 bottle beer (your favorite)
3/4 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon hot sauce

Melt butter in a medium skillet and saute onions and garlic until translucent. Set aside and allow to cool. Combine beer, broth, hot sauce, cooked and cooled onions and garlic in a ziploc bag or plastic container. Add brats and marinade over night. Pour entire contents of bag/container into a large saucepan or pot. Bring mixture to a boil then turn heat down and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove brats from beer mixture and grill over medium heat for 5 minutes, turning occasionally to prevent burning. Serve on warm rolls/buns with sauerkraut or grilled onions.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Oktoberfest-Dressed Up Sauerkraut

Making sauerkraut at home is a smelly process that produces a kraut that's not any better than what most fresh, store bought Krauts offer. Store bought sauerkraut provides a perfect base for this dressed up version of the classic condiment. You can find fresh sauerkraut in most grocery stores in or near the deli section (Boar's Head makes a good one).

Dressed up Sauerkraut

4-6 slices bacon
1 onion grated or diced
1 large russet potato, grated
1 large tart apple, peeled and grated (Granny Smith's work well)
3/4 cup chicken broth
2 cups sauerkraut

Fry bacon in a large skillet until crispy. Add onions, potato to bacon drippings and saute until onions are cooked. Stir in grated apple, chicken broth and sauerkraut and simmer for 45 minutes

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Oktoberfest-German Apple Pancakes

In honor of Oktoberfest I will be posting a week's worth of German recipes! Some are traditional dishes others are my version of a classic German dish.
Naturally, I thought we'd start with breakfast so don't hoist that lager quite yet!

German Apple Pancakes

3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup flour
7 tablespoons butter, divided
1 apple peeled and sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine eggs, milk, flour and 4 tablespoons butter, melted and beat until smooth. Toss apple slices with brown sugar and cinnamon.
Heat remaining butter in a large skillet and melt completely. Add sugar coated apples and saute until tender. Pour batter over apples and place skillet in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Serve with maple syrup or powdered sugar.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Maple Muffins

You don't have to have pancakes or waffles to enjoy maple syrup for breakfast!

Maple Muffins

2 Cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 plain/vanilla yogurt
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add in milk, maple syrup, yogurt butter, egg and vanilla. Fill greased or cup lined muffin tin two thirds full. Bake at 400 degrees for 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle of muffin comes out clean.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Nacho Beef Soup

Nothing tastes better on a cool Autumn night than a warm pot of soup. This Nacho Beef Soup is a spicy Tex-Mex blend that warms you up from the inside out.

Nacho Beef Soup

1 lb ground beef
2 cups beef broth
1 can black beans
1 8 oz jar salsa
1 4 oz can green chilies, chopped (optional)
1 can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
Salt and Pepper to taste

Brown and drain ground beef. In a large saucepan or stockpot combine ground beef, broth, beans, salsa and chilies. Bring mixture to a full boil, cover and reduce heat. Allow mixture to simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in cheese soup. Continue to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Serve with crumbled tortilla or corn chips sprinkled on top.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is always a welcome addition to any dessert table. This pumpkin version is quintessentially Autumn and a natural variation on the classic recipe. Bread pudding is too rich for some on it's own and is often served with a creme Anglaise sauce, whipped cream or ice cream. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

1 loaf white bread, torn into pieces
30 oz canned pumpkin
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk

In a large bowl combine all ingredients except bread and whisk until well blended. Place bread pieces into a greased 13x9 glass baking dish. Pour pumpkin mixture over bread. Toss until all pieces of bread are moistened. Let sit for 30 minutes before baking. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve warm.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pepperoni and Sausage Pizza Dip

Fall is the perfect time of year for making and serving dips. Between football games, Halloween parties and various family gatherings there are plenty of oportunities for groups of people to congregate. Dips are always a crowd pleaser whether served warm or chilled or with chips and veggies or bread and fruit. This delicious dip is basically pizza in crockpot. Virtually any topping you like on pizza can be added in to create your own unique flavor combination. I like to serve this with bread sticks cut in half but it's also tasty with bagel or pita chips and fresh veggies. Happy dipping!

Pepperoni and Sausage Dip

8 oz package cream cheese, softened and cubed
2 cups of pasta/pizza sauce
1 cup pepperoni, chopped
1/2 lb ground Italian sausage, browned
1 small onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup mozzerella cheese, shredded

In a medium skillet brown Italian sausage and saute onion and bell pepper. In a crock-pot or dutch oven on low heat, combine pasta sauce, pepperoni, onions, bell pepper and sausage. Cover and simmer on low heat for at least 3 hours. Stir in cream cheese and mozzerella and simmer for another 20 minutes or until cheeses are melted. Serve with sliced/cubed French bread or fresh vegetables.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cran-Raspberry Jello Salad

In the Midwest every other home cook, wife or mother has three recipes that are all her own and she can call upon to bring to any family gathering or social function. A casserole recipe, a recipe for some type of bars (lemon bars, coconut bars, etc) and a Jello salad recipe. The casseroles are usually topped with corn flakes or crushed potato chips, the bars are loaded with powdered sugar and the Jello salads are full of fruit and Cool Whip and pastel in color. I may have spent most of my life in Texas but my Midwest roots have a culinary hold on me and even I have an Autumn version of a Jello salad. Put the casserole in the oven, plate some pumpkin bars and enjoy my Cran-Raspberry Jello Salad.

Tips: You can substitute any "red" gelatin in place of Raspberry. I've made it with Black Cherry before and it's very good as well. You can also replace the whole berry cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries, you will need to double up on the jellied cranberry sauce to make sure it will set though.

Cran-Raspberry Jello Salad

1 box raspberry flavored gelatin, 6oz or 2 3oz boxes
2 cups boiling water
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce (1 lb.)
1 can jellied cranberry sauce (1 lb.)
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 8oz container Cool Whip
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix, 3oz

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Add cold pineapple juice. Chill until thickened but not firm (2-3 hours). Break up jellied cranberry sauce with fork. Stir cranberry sauce into jello mixture. Gently stir in whole berry cranberry sauce, being careful to keep cranberries whole. Return to refrigerator for another 3 hours.
Blend cool whip,sweetened condensed milk and pudding mix together. Fold into Jello mixture. Let firm up in refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Buttered Parmesan Noodles

These noodles are a yummy alternative to Mac and Cheese. You can easily add some sauted garlic or onions and even toss in some chicken and you have meal!

Buttered Parmesan Noodles

2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 1/2 cups water
1 stick butter
8 ounces egg noodles
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Bring water, boullion cubes and 1/2 stick of butter to boil.
Add egg noodles and boil for 8-10 minutes.
Drain water and add remaining 1/2 stick of butter to pan. Stir to melt butter. Add parmesan and mix well.
Garnish with dried parsley if desired.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Maple Apple Turnover

These turnovers are so simple and delicious they don't need a long explantion! The flavor is pure Autumn and it's delicious served with whipped cream or ice cream.

Maple Apple Turnover

1/4 cup butter,melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 apples, thinly sliced (Golden Delicious, Cortland and Gala all work well here)
1 package refrigerated crescent rolls

Mix melted butter, maple syrup and brown sugar until well blended. Pour into pie plate. Arrange apple slices in overlapping rings over syrup. Separate crescent rolls into triangles and arrange triangles over apples. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pie plate for 5 minutes. Loosen rolls from side of pie plate with a knife. Place a serving plate over pie plate and invert.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ham and Potato Casserole

Classic, yummy home cooking!

Ham and Potato Casserole

1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 stick butter
3 cups milk
4 cups ham, chopped
5 cups potatoes, thinly sliced
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 onion, diced

Melt butter in saucepan and add flour, salt and pepper until thick paste forms. Cook over medium heat for about one minute, stirring constantly. Stir in milk. Cook until thickened. In a very large bowl, mix remaining ingredients with sauce. Bake in a greased, covered casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and remove cover. Continue baking for another 45-60 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Butterscotch Meringue Pie

This is one of my favorite homeade pies! Some puddings made from scratch can taste bitter or overly sweet. This one is in perfect balance and while it includes a few steps, is very easy. The recipe itself is based on my mother-in-law's chocolate pudding/pie recipe. I altered some of the ingredients and flavors for this butterscotch pie but the technique and ratios remain.

My husband doesn't really like butterscotch in general so I decided to tell him it's a caramel pie and he loves it! The rich filling does offer a taste of caramlized sugar but that only adds to the appeal!

Butterscotch Meringue Pie

5 Tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
4 level tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup cream or half and half
3 large egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Baked 9 inch pie crust, cooled


3 large egg whites (reserved from pie filling recipe)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar

Melt butter in a medium saucepan and stir in brown sugar until butter is absorbed and mixture resembles apple butter. Remove from burner.
In a large bowl, whisk flour and salt with milk and cream, until smooth. Add beaten egg yolks and whisk until frothy. Add flour mixture to saucepan with sugar/butter mixture and whisk well. Return to burner and cook over medium-low heat until pudding thickens, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and mix in vanilla. Pour into baked pie crust. Top pie with meringue (recipe below) and spread all the way to crust edges.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes. Cover with tented foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.


3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar.

Begin beating egg whites with mixer and add cream of tartar. Gradually add sugar and vanilla, beating until stiff peaks form and stand on their own.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chili-Cheese Mash

This dish is an odd but delicious combination of 4 of my favorite meals; Shepard's Pie, Stuffed Peppers, Swiss Steak and Chili. It may sound strange but it's the kind of yummy comfort food that warms you up from the inside out.

Chili-Cheese Mash

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1/2 of large green bell pepper, diced (optional)
1 8oz can tomato sauce
3 cups mashed potatoes, prepared
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/ cup Cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium skillet cook onion, green pepper and ground beef until onion is transparent, green pepper is soft and the ground beef is browned and cooked through. Add tomato sauce, season with salt and pepper and add chili powder and garlic powder. Mix 1 cup of mashed potatoes with the meat mixture and place in 8 or 9 inch baking dish. Top with remaining 2 cups of mashed potatoes. Sprinkle cheese over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Peanut Butter Fudge

This is an Alton Brown recipe that I have co-opted as my own! I usually only list my own or family recipes here on the blog but this fudge is so easy, quick and delicious that I had share it!

Tips: When adding the powdered sugar I sift in about a half a cup at a time. It just makes it a little easier to stir and incorporate it all.
If you want some chocolate and peanut butter you can add about half a cup of chocolate chips or M&M's to the recipe or melt some chocolate chips and marble it into the warm fudge using a knife (don't stir in the melted chocolate, just swirl it). I've even swirled/marbled in some caramel topping and then pressed some crushed pretzels into the top of the fudge while it was still warm and it was fantastic!

Alton Brown's Peanut Butter Fudge

1 cup butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound powdered sugar

Microwave butter and peanut butter for 2 minutes on high. Stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes. Add vanilla and powdered sugar to peanut butter mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Pour into a buttered 8 by 8-inch pan lined with waxed paper. Place a second piece of waxed paper on the surface of the fudge and refrigerate until cool. Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container for up to a week

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Spicy BBQ Meatloaf

This slightly spicy variation on the classic is as easy to make as it is tasty!

Tip: I usually use a food processor to mince the onion and jalapeno for a more even texture.

Spicy BBQ Meatloaf

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, finely minced
2 jalapenos, minced (make sure to remove seeds and membrane)
1 1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper
1/4 cup ketchup
1 cup BBQ sauce

Mix everything but the BBQ sauce together by hand, blending well. Form into "loaf" shape and position in the middle of a glass baking dish or in a loaf pan. Baste with half of the BBQ sauce. Bake in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Baste with the rest of the BBQ sauce, continue baking another 10-15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing the meatloaf.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Cream Cheese Butter Rolls

This recipe was given to my mom when I was about 12 by my aunt Cara. Not really knowing what to call these bars at the time I always referred to the dish as "Cara Cake", after my aunt. I loved this sweet confection so much I even had it in lieu of cake on my 13th birthday! My mom would make this sometimes as a dessert and sometimes for breakfast but anytime she made it I was one happy girl. When I make this now I still think of my aunt and still refer to it as "Cara Cake", though everyone else in the family calls it by a more descriptive alias, Cream Cheese Butter Rolls. No matter what you call it or when you have it these easy bars are sure to please.

Cream Cheese Butter Rolls

14 oz cream cheese
2 packages of crescent rolls
3/4 cup sugar

Place 1 pkg of crescent rolls into a 9x13 pan. Mix cream cheese and sugar together in bowl. Add to pan. Place other pkg of crescent rolls on top. Bake 20-30 mins or until golden flaky brown. Let cool 5 minutes. Dot with melted butter & ice with glaze (recipe below). Refrigerate.

Tip: Try spooning your favorite jam/jelly, pumpkin or apple butter on top of cream cheese mixture, before adding the top layer of dough for a fruity variation.


Combine 1 cup powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons of milk.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice

This easy dish is perfect for those nights when you have a limited amount of time or energy to cook. If you have leftover grilled, boiled, baked or rotisserie chicken this one pan meal becomes even easier. You can also omit the chicken and serve this as a side.
Depending on the variety of salsa you buy, this recipe can be as spicy, mild or sweet as you want. In fact you could make this with a mild picante sauce with cheddar one night, a spicy, green salsa verde with brown rice and Swiss cheese the next and a sweet and flavorful Pineapple Salsa with mozzarella the next night and experience three totally different dishes.

Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice

1 lb Cooked Chicken, diced
1 16 oz jar Salsa
1 cup of Chicken Broth
1 cup of Uncooked White or Brown Rice
1/2 cup Cheese (your favorite blend)

Place cooked and cubed chicken to large, preheated skillet. Add salsa and chicken broth. Bring to a soft boil. Add rice and place lid on skillet for 10 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top and replace lid for another 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

German Chcolate Bars

These bars go by different names and variations across the country. Illini Bars, Hello Dollys, German Chocolate Brownies, etc. You will find differnt recipes that include coconut,pecans or oats but they are all pretty much the basic dessert. This is my variation, simple and gooey. What else can you ask for?

German Chocolate Bars

14 oz. package caramels
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 package German chocolate cake mix
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup evaporated milk

In a medium saucepan (or microwavable bowl) combine caramels (unwrapped) and 1/3 cup evaporated milk. Cook over low heat, stirring continuously until caramels are melted (or microwave until melted, stirring every 30 seconds). Grease a 13 x 9 pan. Combine cake mix, butter, 1/3 cup evaporated milk. Press half of dough into bottom of pan. Reserve the rest of the dough for the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 6 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Drizzle the caramel mixture over the chips. Spoon remaining dough mixture on top, spreading as evenly as possible (it will be somewhat patchy though). Return to oven and bake 15-18 minutes. Cool and then refrigerate at least 30 minutes before cutting.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Smoked Gouda and Parmesan Risotto

Risotto has a reputation for being fussy and difficult to prepare. I've found that as long you have a little patience it can be a snap. The best tip I can offer is pretty basic; stir often. If you don't keep stirring the rice can get too sticky.

Arborio rice should be easy to find with other rices and grains at any supermarket. Smoked Gouda will be found with international or artisan cheeses, usually near the deli case. It will probably be round with a red or yellow wax casing, though I have seen it sold in wedges and even "chunks". As far as the white wine goes, I usually use a cheap Chardonnay but any dry white wine will do. If you don't want to use wine you can substitute it by mixing (an additional) 1/3 a cup of chicken stock, and enough white vinegar to equal 1/2 cup of total liquid. It will alter the taste somewhat but it will get you by.

Smoked Gouda and Parmesan Risotto

1/2 cup water
4 cups (2 16oz cans)chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup smoked Gouda cheese, shredded/grated
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

Combine water and broth in a small saucepan over medium low heat.
In a separate large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and add chopped onion. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until transparent.
Add rice, cook 3 minutes uncovered, stirring constantly.
Pour in wine and cook 2-4 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. Add salt and broth mixture. Stir until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup (or 1 ladle full)at a time, stirring constantly. Make sure broth is absorbed before adding the next (this should take about 20 minutes total).
Add 1 tablespoon butter and stir in Gouda, cook just until melted. Add 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper. Stir in Parmesan.

Garnish with additional Parmesan, cracked pepper and snipped chives

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Spoon Fudge

I first tasted Spoon Fudge on a trip to Minneapolis about four years ago. There was a little gift shop in hotel lobby with assorted tacky trinkets, postcards and other standard gift store fare. Tucked away in one corner was a small table, draped in a heavily brocaded tapestry and atop set a display of 30 or so tiny jars, no bigger than than the jar my moisturizer comes in. The small crocks had a spoon tucked into a ribbon tied around the lid and the overall image was just too odd for me to pass by. At closer inspection of the labels I saw that they were pots of something called Spoon Fudge and on that table were at least 10 different flavors. Chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter, caramel, Irish Cream, Vanilla and then some. Being a sugar addict and on the prowl for my next fix, I knew immediately that I had to try the concoction that resided behind those labels. I gathered up three jars, a mint chocolate, a butterscotch and an Chocolate-Irish Creme.

Once back to room I did what all junkies do, I ritualized my hit. I turned off all the lights, lined up the 3 jars, removed their lids, sunk the corresponding spoon inside each pot and readied myself. The first flavor I tasted was the Chocolate-Irish Creme. The texture was thicker than frosting but creamier than true fudge. It coated my tongue, then slowly melted away leaving the rich flavor to linger in mouth. Each flavor was better than the last, I only took 2 small spoonfuls of each and that was more than enough. If you think fudge is rich, wait until you try spoon fudge!

I brought what was left in the jars back home with me and savored each one, wishing I had bought additional bottles. For months afterwards I searched and researched, looking for a recipe to make my own spoon fudge at home but alas I found none. Eventually I found a recipe for a fudge that was quite soft and had a good flavor, so I tweaked it and came up with a pretty close approximation (though not exact and not quite as good) of what I tasted that day in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

In this recipe you will find I call for a tablespoon of refrigerated coffee creamer in any flavor. I've found that in many recipes, this one included that using (liquid not powdered) flavored creamer is not only an easy way to add interesting flavors to desserts but it also adds a touch of creaminess where an extract or flavored spirit only adds water (and at times, bitterness). You can use an extract in place of the vanilla if you choose, though I would add 1/2 a teaspoon at first and then taste it before adding the additional half a teaspoon to assure the flavor isn't too overpowering. If you don't want to use an extract, creamer or any additional flavoring other than good old fashioned chocolate then just add an additional tablespoon of evaporated milk or even a tablespoon of regular milk.
The easiest way to serve this out of a well greased or buttered 8x8 inch pan and eat by the spoonful, but for a more hygienic approach you can ladle the fudge into small ramekins, Rubbermaid containers or even small jars (like baby food jars). You can tie a pretty ribbon around the lid and add a small spoon if you want to give them away as gifs, if you can stand to part with any!

Have fun with this recipe and Happy Spooning!

Spoon Fudge

2 cups sugar
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 Tbl. refrigerated coffee creamer (not powdered),any flavor OR 1 tablespoon milk
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla (or flavor of your choosing)

Melt butter in a large saucepan, add evaporated milk, creamer, corn syrup, and sugar. Stir to incorporate. Add chopped chocolate.
Stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the chocolate is melted.
Continue cooking until it reaches 235 degrees or the soft ball stage, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
Remove from heat and let stand, until pan is no longer hot but still warm (no need to stir here). Once pan has cooled down, beat in pan with a hand mixer until the fudge loses its gloss, then quickly stir in vanilla (or other extract). Pour into well greased or buttered 8 inch pan or buttered ramekins/jars/containers.
When cool, eat by the spoonful.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Honey-Glazed Balsamic Bell Peppers

Bell peppers don't often show up as a side dish but these sweet and tangy peppers make for a fresh substitution for salad. If you don't want the bell peppers on their own, try them on top of baked pork chops or chicken or even a baked potato or spinach salad.

Honey-Glazed Balsamic Bell Peppers
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 medium sweet onion (like Vidalia)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey

Add olive oil to a large skillet and turn on medium heat. Remove seeds and cut bell peppers into long strips. Dice onion. Add peppers and onions to warm skillet. Stir frequently and saute until the veggies are tender. Add balsamic vinegar and honey. Turn off heat and continue stirring for another 2 minutes. Serve warm.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pumpkin Waffles

The only thing better than pumpkin for dessert is pumpkin for breakfast! I make these almost every weekend in November but they make a yummy addition to the breakfast table any time of year.
I like to top these waffles with butter and maple syrup. My husband likes them with sweet cinnamon cream cheese. We even enjoyed them with fried apples and whipped cream during one particularly decadent brunch!

Pumpkin Waffles

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup canned pumpkin
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Pre-heat waffle iron. Sift together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder salt, and spices. Beat eggs in a large bowl and whisk in milk, pumpkin, and butter. Add dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Spray waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray or brush with melted butter and spoon batter into waffle iron. Cook according to instructions for your specific waffle iron. Repeat using all batter. Serve with butter and maple syrup.
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