Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chocolate Gravy

Want to make your breakfast a bit sweeter? Try topping your biscuits, toast or pancakes with Chocolate Gravy. It tastes a little like a chocolate icing so don't be afraid of what the name of this recipe might conjur up! This recipe was inspired by a similar one I found in the Gooseberry Patch cookbook Comfort and Joy.


Chocolate Gravy

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt (a dash)
2 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter

Sift sugar, flour, and cocoa together in saucepan, whisk in salt and milk. Over medium heat stir mixture until gravy thickens. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla. Serve over warm biscuits or pancakes.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Quick Onion French Bread

I found this recipe on the Gooseberry Patch website when shopping for Christmas gifts a couple of weeks ago. The bread turned out so tasty that I've made twice since!

Tip:If you don't keep mayo around the house or simply don't like it, try using sour cream or whipped cream cheese for similar results.


Quick Onion French Bread

1 loaf French bread, sliced in half lengthwise
1 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
Garnish: paprika

Place bread on an ungreased baking sheet and set aside. Mix mayonnaise, onion and cheese; spread over cut side of bread. Sprinkle with paprika; broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden. Slice and serve warm. Serves 6 to 8.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Parmesan Herbed Potatoes

This recipe comes courtesy of BigOven.com but are almost exactly the same as my version. The biggest difference being that I use red potatoes and add fresh cracked pepper to mine.


Parmesan Herbed Potatoes

2 large russet potatoes diced
2 -3 TBS olive oil 
1 tsp dried dill or parsley 
1 tsp paprika 
1 tsp pepper 
2 TBS grated Parmesan cheese 
2 tsp salt   


Preheat oven to 425 deg.

Peel and wash potatoes. Dice potatoes in small cubes (about 1/2 inch thick).

Place in a medium bowl. Add olive oil and toss to coat all potatoes. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss to mix.

Place potatoes in a single layer in a 13x9 pan.

Bake for 40 -45 minutes or until nicely golden brown. 

=

Monday, December 28, 2009

Zesty Tortilla Rollups

I found a similar recipe last year on About.com and altered it just slightly. I've had other versions of Tortilla Rollups before but these surpassed them all. These tangy little appetizers are perfect for a New Year's Eve party but I'm sorry to say you probably won't have many leftover once your guests devour them all!


Zesty Tortilla Rollups

12 flour tortillas
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Rotel tomatoes and green chilies
3 tablespoons chopped green onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
10 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated


In a medium bowl combine all ingredients except tortillas and mix thoroughly. Spread onto tortillas and tightly roll up, using toothpicks if neccessary to secure. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. When ready to serve, cut each roll into 1/2 inch slices. Serve with salsa and/or guacamole if desired.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cranberry-Peach Stuffed Pork Chops

Any leftover cranberries you may have from the holidays will find a loving home in this recipe. These pork chops are a little sweet and a little tart and a lot delicious! I made these around Thanksgiving to wicked acclaim from my picky eater of a husband.
The cranberries and peach preserves blend seamlessly together, one balancing the flavor of the other. The dried cherries add a burst of brightness to the recipe and it all comes together to create a wonderfully elegant sauce.


Tips: For the pork chops you want as thick as you can find since you will be stuffing them. If you're nervous about creating the pocket, ask your butcher to prepare them for you.


Cranberry-Peach Stuffed Pork Chops

2/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup dried cherries, optional
1/3 cup peach preserves
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 thick cut pork chops
6 tablespoons honey, divided
salt and pepper to taste

Place cranberries in a food processor or blender and pulse once or twice. In a medium bowl combine cranberries, dried cherries, preserves, cloves and 2 tablespoons of honey. Cut a slit in each pork chop about 3/4 of the way across, creating a pocket. Stuff each pocket with cranberry mixture. Place the pork chops in a well greased glass baking dish. Season both sides of the pork chops with salt and pepper as desired. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of honey over each chop (you can also top with any additional cranberry mixture you may have leftover).
Bake at 325 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until chops are cooked through.




Cranberries on Foodista

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Savory Pineapple Cheeseball

Merry Christmas Eve!
This is an easy, easy, easy cheeseball recipe I adapted from an old Philadelphia Cream Cheese cookbook.


Savory Pineapple Cheeseball

16 oz. Philadelphia cream cheese, softened

1/2 c. crushed pineapple, well drained
2 tablespoons red bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons green onion, diced
2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

Stir all ingredients together until all ingredients are well incorporated. Form into a ball. Roll in chopped pecans if desired. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Serve with crackers.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chocolate Mint Crunch Candy

I saw a similar recipe to this in a Taste of Home Christmas Cookies and Candy magazine last month and had to share my version of it. It's so easy and the only "baking" involved is done in the microwave so it's a perfect recipe for kids to make for the holidays. The tastes reminds me so much of the Mint Oreo Bark from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Company and even a little bit like Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream.

For a little extra pizzaz you can divide the white chocolate chips into 2 bowls and prepare half the batch as called for in the recipe below. On the other half use red food coloring and crumble crushed candy canes instead of the Oreos on those (keeping the rest of the recipe the same).


Chocolate Mint Crunch Candy

1 12oz bag white chocolate chips
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons shortening, divided
4-5 drops green food coloring
5 mint flavored Oreos, crushed
2 packages Andes Mint candy, 4.67oz each

In a microwave safe bowl, melt white chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon of shortening and stir until smooth. Blend in food coloring. Pour into miniature muffin cup liners, about halfway up. Sprinkle Oreo crumbs over the tops of each. In a second microwave safe bowl, melt the Andes Mints and remaining 2 teaspoons of shortening and stir until smooth. Pour over the cookie crumbs. Let stand until set (about 15 mins).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

I adapted this recipe from one I found online a few years ago to better fit my tastes.  It doesn't exactly taste like chocolate chip cookie dough because of the use of cream cheese but it's close and it's pretty darn good! Preparing the dip takes about 15 minutes from start to finish, so this is great as a last minute take along to a party or meeting. 

Note: Definitely use mini chocolate chips in it, the larger ones are just too big for a dip. 


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

1 stick butter

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar (up to a 1/2 cup if mixture is too thin)
3/4 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar and salt over medium heat. Stir continuously, until the brown sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, whisk in the vanilla and set aside to cool.
Beat the cream cheese with the powdered sugar for 1 minute.
Slowly beat in the cooled butter mixture and continue beating for 1 minute. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand. Spoon or pour into a serving bowl and cover with plastic. Keep refrigerated until 10 minutes before serving. Serve with Graham cracker sticks or N'illa Wafers.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Maple Monday-Maple Fried Apples

This is such an easy recipe that makes a wonderful side dish or dessert topping!


Maple Fried Apples

3-4 apples, peeled and sliced thin or into wedges
2 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup  brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon  nutmeg

In frying pan, melt the butter and add the apples. Stir and toss until apples begin to soften and turn brown. Add syrup, sugar, and spices, and cook until thickened and bubbly.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Butterfinger Cookies

Butterfinger Cookies


1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups  peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 regular size Butterfinger candy bars, roughly chopped

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and both sugars. Add eggs and beat well. Mix in peanut butter and vanilla.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt and add to creamed mixture.  Mix well. Stir in candy bars. Shape into 1 inch balls and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Eggnog Frosting

Eggnog Frosting


1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup Eggnog

In a medium bowl cream the butter until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and spices and mix until well incorporated.. Beat in vanilla and eggnog for 2 minutes or until frosting is light and airy.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Eggnog Frosting

I adapted this cupcake recipe from a recipe for gingerbread cake on Epicurious. When I first made it I knew exactly what I wanted to serve with it...eggnog frosting! I had never made eggnog frosting before but I figured that I could use a basic buttercream recipe and replace milk with eggnog. Which is exactly what I did (though I aslo added some additional spices ) and it was delicious! I don't think it could gett any more "Christmasy" than this!

Tips: If you don't want to make cupcakes you can make this in a 9x9 baking pan. You could also use a bundt pan and turn the frosting into a glaze by thinning it out with more eggnog. For a more intense flavor use dark molasses and a heaping teaspoon of ginger. For a subtle flavor use light molasses or dark corn syrup and a level teaspoon of ginger.


Gingerbread Cupcakes

2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup molasses mixed with 1 cup hot coffee
Eggnog frosting, recipe below

Sift together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Beat together shortening, sugar, and egg in a large bowl with a mixer until creamy, about 2 minutes. In 3 batches, alternately beat in flour mixture and molasses/coffee mixture at low speed until smooth. Spoon batter into a lined cupcake pan, filling each cup 3/4 of the way up. Bake cupcakes in a 350 degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.


Eggnog Frosting

1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup Eggnog

In a medium bowl cream the butter until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and spices and mix until well incorporated.. Beat in vanilla and eggnog for 2 minutes or until frosting is light and airy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chocolate Chex Caramel Crunch

This recipe is actually from the Chex website but it is sooo good I had to re-post it here. The brown sugar and butter blend together to create a caramel glaze that is just out of this world. When I made this I cut back the Chex from 8 cups to 6 1/2 and added 1 1/2 cups of pretzel sticks. I'm a sucker for that salty/sweet combination!

Chocolate Chex Caramel Crunch

8 cups Chocolate Chex® cereal
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup white vanilla baking chips

Into large microwavable bowl, measure cereal; set aside. Line cookie sheet with waxed paper.

In 2-cup microwavable measuring cup, microwave brown sugar, butter and corn syrup uncovered on High 1 to 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute, until melted and smooth. Stir in baking soda until dissolved. Pour over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Microwave on High 3 minutes, stirring every minute. Spread on cookie sheet. Cool 10 minutes. Break into bite-size pieces.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave vanilla baking chips uncovered on High about 1 minute 30 seconds or until chips can be stirred smooth (bowl will be hot). Drizzle over snack. Refrigerate until set. Store in tightly covered container.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Basic Chocolate Glaze

Chocolate Glaze


3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon butter (real butter, no substitutes)

In a double boiler or a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter together. Pour over brownies or cake and refrigerate 30 minutes or until glaze loses it's gloss.

Mint Frosted Brownies

This recipe is really more of a way to spruce up brownies than for brownies themselves. I'm weird in that I like brownies made from a mix better than home made brownies. I've probably just never found the right recipe but in any case at this time, I like my Duncan-Hines brownies best of all!
No matter what type of brownies you use for a base, these 3 layer minty bars are delicious year round.


Mint Frosted Brownies

1 pan of prepared Brownies

Mint Layer:
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2-3 drops green food coloring

Fudge Glaze:
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon butter (real butter, no substitutes)


Mint Layer: In a medium bowl beat all ingredients until smooth. Spread over prepared and cooled brownies. Place in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes or until firm.

Fudge Glaze: In a double boiler or a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter together. Pour and spread over mint filling and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until the chocolate glaze is set and looses it's gloss.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jelly Candy

I decided this last weekend that I wanted to make home-made gumdrops. I scoured the internet searching for recipes, site after site I searched. The few I came across all had so-so or worse reviews. The candy never set up, it wasn't sweet enough, etc. Never one to just let it be, I decided to come up with my own recipe.

I started out with a Raspberry flavor since Raspberry always tastes good and the color is perfect for a Christmas candy. I added unflavored gelatin one packet at a time and after each addition I thought "well that can't be enough", so I added another. I put the dish in the refrigerator and waited. I figured it would take 6 or more hours for it to fully set and began waiting patiently. After a mere 3 hours I decided to check on their progress and lo and behold it was completely ready to go! I took it out and began cutting it into squares and rectangles, playing with the shapes and sizes of each piece. After tasting one oddly cut wedge I was in love! The interior of each piece was silky smooth and had just the right amount of give to each bite to be pleasing to the palate and the raspberry flavor was a knockout. I quickly realized though that these weren't the gummy, sticky gumdrops I was so anxious to try but they were better. I figured I could call them "not quite firm enough gumdrops" or "really good jelly candy". Guess what I picked?

I liked the confection so much I decided to try my luck again and make a second batch, this time lime flavored, just to make sure the end result wasn't a fluke. This second batch turned out even better than the first, due in part to the use of a whisk. The red raspberry and green lime candies look so festive in their little tin and taste even better! I'm going to play around with a few more flavors this week and bring a big, multi-colored mix to Christmas Eve this year and probably for years to come.

This candy will travel and store well so they would make great gifts to give to friends, neighbors or teachers when tucked in a tin with a piece of parchment or even in a pretty glass jar with a ribbon tied around it. Have fun with flavors, colors and shapes and make them your own. This isn't "stick to your teeth" kind of candy, it's much smoother so there is no need to worry about those with braces, crowns or other dental issues.

If you've never made candy before...so what?! These are soo easy to make! No candy thermometer needed. You will need a full day to let them set up properly but as far as actually cooking them, they're a breeze. The best tip I can give you is to use a whisk when adding the gelatin and don't be afraid of some clumps at first. As long as you continue to whisk at a brisk pace and bring the final mixture to a full boil for 3 minutes, the lumps should dissolve.



Jelly Candy

1 1/3 cup applesauce
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 3oz box flavored Jello/gelatin (your favorite)
4 packets unflavored gelatin
Additional sugar for dredging


In a medium saucepan bring applesauce to a boil over medium heat and stir in sugar. Return to a boil for 2 full minutes and whisk in flavored jello and unflavored gelatin, 1 packet at a time. Make sure each packet is blended in before adding the next. Bring back to a full boil for 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 8x8or a 9x9 baking dish. Let sit on counter and cool for 5 minutes then refrigerate for 4 hours.

Once set, remove candy from pan by gently peeling it back from one corner and running a clean finger or knife around edges. Place on a flat surface that has been dusted in granulated sugar. Cut into small squares (or whatever shape you want, but try to keep them bite sized), dipping your knife periodically in warm water helps make cutting smoother.
Once cut, dredge each square in granulated sugar until all sides are covered. This not only improves the taste and look of the candy but also prevents them from sticking to anything they touch. Arrange cut and sugared candy so they are not touching one another on a baking sheet or large plate and allow to sit out in open air for 24 hours to fully set. After 24 hours store in a covered container.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Peanut Butter "Krispy" Balls

More dipped candy for the holidays!


Peanut Butter "Krispy" Balls

1 pound powdered sugar
2 cups peanut butter
1 cup butter, melted
3 1/3 cups Rice Krispies
1 package chocolate chips, 6oz
4oz semi sweet dipping chocolate or almond bark
1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil (optional)


Stir together powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter and Rice Krispies. Shape into walnut size balls. In a medium, microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips and dipping chocolate until melted (stirring every 15 seconds to prevent scorching). Stir in vegetable oil (this will give chocolate a glossy shine when set) Dip balls into melted chocolate and lace on wax paper. Chill in refrigerator until set.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Caramel Frosting

Caramel Frosting


3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup butter (real butter, no substitutes)
1/4 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In a small saucepan combine brown sugar, butter, milk and salt. Cook over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring and let cook for 5 minutes or until mixture begins to bubble and turns amber in color.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a mixing bowl. Stir in vanilla and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature. Using an electric mixer, beat in powdered sugar a little at a time until frosting becomes thick enough to frost cake with.

Maple Monday-Maple Cake with Caramel Frosting

These are both adaptations of mine from several recipes I've found over the years. I love how well the flavors of maple and caramel blend together so this combination of cake and frosting was a no-brainer for me. If you serve this at Christmas or at a holiday party in the coming days, be prepared to have people request it from you again next year, then the next year and so on until it becomes a tradition of it's own!


Maple Cake with Caramel Frosting

2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla (or maple extract for a more intense maple flavor)
3/4 cup plain yogurt
Caramel Frosting, recipe below

In a large mixing bowl beat together butter, maple syrup and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla (or maple extract) and continue beating.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Slowly stir in the yogurt, a little bit a time. Add this mixture to the maple mixture, beating just enough to combine ingredients thoroughly.
Pour batter into a lightly greased 13x9 cake pan (or glass baking dish). Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Cool completely before frosting (you can remove from pan after 10 minutes and continue to cool on a cooling rack if desired).



Caramel Frosting

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup butter (real butter, no substitutes)
1/4 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In a small saucepan combine brown sugar, butter, milk and salt. Cook over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring and let cook for 5 minutes or until mixture begins to bubble and turns amber in color.
Remove from the heat and transfer to a mixing bowl. Stir in vanilla and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature. Using an electric mixer, beat in powdered sugar a little at a time until frosting becomes thick enough to frost cake with.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Truffles

This recipe was adapted from a recipe I found on Diana's Desserts. These are heavenly little bites of holiday spirit. The discrepancy between how odd pumpkin and chocolate sound together and how delicious a pair they really do make is amazing!


Pumpkin Chocolate Truffles

3 cups N'illa Wafers
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1/3 cup apple juice
Powdered sugar or Cocoa powder to roll truffles in


Place N'lla Wafers in a Ziploc bag and crush to fine crumbs. Combine cookie crumbs, graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl and stir or toss together. Stir in melted chocolate chips, pumpkin and apple juice. Shape into small, bite-size balls. Roll the truffles in powdered sugar or cocoa powder.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Butterscotch Toffee Candy

Years of trying to come up with the perfect fudge recipe have yielded a variety of results...none of them a perfect fudge recipe. I've made pumpkin flavored glop, maple infused rocks and peppermint scented glue. Somewhere along the way, this recipe came about. I was going for Butterscotch fudge and ended up with a cross between a fudge and a caramel. It wasn't too grainy, runny, or any of the other ghosts of candies past. Even the flavor was classic, creamy Butterscotch. I've made this candy a couple times now and enjoyed them so much I'm looking forward to making this "mistake" again!



Butterscotch Toffee Candy

2 lb. brown sugar (2 lb boxes)
1 stick butter
1 cup evaporated milk
1 jar marshmallow creme, 7oz
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups toffee pieces/bits
2 packages butterscotch chips

Combine brown sugar, butter and evaporated milk in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until soft ball stage. Add marshmallow creme and beat with an electric mixer (while still in saucepan) until mixture is very thick (about 7-10 minutes). Add remaining ingredients except toffee pieces and continue to beat well. Stir toffee into mixture.
Pour into greased baking dish (depending on thickness you want, 8x8 for thick, 9x13 for thinner candy) let sit until firm. Cut into bite sized pieces with a warm knife (dip knife in warm water between cuts). Store in a covered container or wrap individual pieces in saran wrap.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Southern Style Biscuits

My sister Jennifer first made these biscuits for the family a few months ago. We were all completely enchanted with Jennifer's culinary aptitude and these yummy little biscuits. They were light, fluffy and full of flavor. I immediately knew I had to have the recipe and have made them several times since receiving it.

They are delicious with apple butter, jam, gravy or even made into a sandwich with tender pieces of (boneless) fried chicken between a divided biscuit. Easy and quick to prepare and bake, there's no reason to pop open a can of biscuits again!

Tips: You can substitute buttermilk for the milk for a traditional "buttermilk biscuit". For a slightly flakier texture use 1/4 cup of butter and 1/4 cup shortening (in lieu of 1/2 cup butter)and add an additional 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Knead the dough as little as possible for fluffier biscuits, over-kneading will yield a tougher result. To prevent the bottoms of the biscuits browning quicker than the rest of it, line your baking sheet with a baking mat or parchment paper.



Southern Style Biscuits

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, plus more for brushing on top
1 egg
2/3 cup milk

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat together the egg and milk, stir into dry ingredients until just moistened.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead gently 2-3 times. Roll to 3/4 inch thickness. Cut dough with a floured 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter or cup. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, brush tops of dough with warm, melted butter. Bake at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Brush again with melted butter. Serve warm.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sugar Cream Pie

This pie is so delicious I can't believe I waited this long to post it! It's almost like an egg-less custard or Bavarian Cream pie. The pumpkin pie spice on top really adds a lovely flavor to what could be a boring pie. I've made this pie with and without spices on top and it's amazing what a difference just a sprinkling can make. If you don't have pumpkin pie spice you can dust the pie with nutmeg or cinnamon.
I really think this Sugar Cream Pie would make a lovely new holiday, baking tradition for any family.

Sugar Cream Pie

1 pie shell, pre-baked
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups cream
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 drops yellow food coloring, optional
6 tablespoons butter
pumpkin pie spice

In a large saucepan mix sugars, salt and cornstarch together, stir in cream. Once mixture is blended turn stove top to medium heat and bring to a boil. Add vanilla, food coloring and butter and continue cooking, stirring constantly until thickened, 10-15 minutes. Pour the mixture into pie crust and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice (not too much, just a dusting). Bake at 325° for 40 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Cool on counter for 30 minutes and serve warm or cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Parmesan Cube Steak

This is a basic variation of Chicken Parm using cube steaks. It's budget friendly and really good!



Parmesan Cube Steak

3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup crackers, finely crushed
1/2 teaspoon basil
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano, divided
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese,
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 cube steaks

In a large dish or plate combine flour, salt, and pepper. In another plate, combine, beaten egg and water. On another plate combine Parmesan cheese, crackers, and basil. Dip steaks in flour mixture, then egg mixture and then roll in cheese mixture.

In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Brown steaks on both sides. Remove to a lightly greased casserole dish or baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Drain any pan juices.

Combine tomato sauce, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of the oregano. Pour over steaks. Bake 20 minutes longer. Sprinkle oregano, Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese over steaks. Return to oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with your favorite pasta.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Home Made Marshmallows

Yesterday's recipe was for Maple Hot Chocolate so I thought today would be the perfect time to post my favorite recipe for home made marshmallows! I've made these several times over the last three or four years and they always turn out perfectly. The recipe itself is from the amazing, Michelin Star rated chef Thomas Keller and his The French Laundry Cookbook.

There's really no need to improve the recipe itself, as these confections are truly delicious and a true treat all on their own. Half the fun of cooking though is making each recipe your own and creating new versions of classics, so I offer up a couple of variations that scrumptiously accent the marshmallows.

Variations: Try replacing half of the vanilla extract with peppermint extract, add a couple of drops red food coloring (swirling it through out mixture) and press some crushed candy canes into the top for a wonderful holiday version.

For us chocolate lovers, an amazing version I made last year was spreading caramel sauce (or ice cream topping) over each square and then pouring melted baking chocolate over the tops and sides (you can dip them as well, the caramel just makes it slightly more difficult). For added texture you could press some toffee bits onto the tops as well.

This year I may substitute melted peanut butter for the caramel (and still pour melted chocolate over them) for a "fluffer-nutter" style candy!




Marshamallows

3 envelopes of unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar for dredging


In a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water. Soak for 10 minutes.

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute. Pour boiling syrup into gelatin and mix at high speed. Add the salt and beat for 12 minutes. Add vanilla and blend into mixture. Scrape into a 9 x 9-inch pan lined with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and spread evenly. (Note: Lightly oil hands and spatula or bowl scraper as well). After pouring marshmallow mixture into the pan, take another piece of plastic wrap and press mixture into the pan.

Let mixture sit for a few hours to set. Remove from pan, dredge the marshmallow slab with confectioners' sugar and cut into 12 equal pieces with scissors (the best tool for the job) or a chef's knife. Dredge each piece of marshmallow in confectioners' sugar, coating each side.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Maple Monday-Maple Hot Chocolate

This delicious hot chocolate warms you up from head to toe with it's almost toffee like flavor. If you've never had maple and chocolate together, now is your chance and you won't be sorry!

This time of year I like to top warm drinks with Christmas themed "Peeps" brand marshmallows. They come in cute shapes like snowmen, reindeer and Christmas trees. They add a festive touch to any drink!

Maple Hot Chocolate

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 (1 oz) square semi-sweet chocolate or 2 tablespoons chocolate chips
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups milk, whole or 2%
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons maple syrup
1/3 cup marshmallow cream

In a large saucepan bring hot water to almost a boil. Add butter and stir until melted. Add the sugar, cocoa and salt; stir and bring to a low boil. Add the semi sweet chocolate (or choc. chips) milk, cream, maple syrup, vanilla and marshmallow cream. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until the chocolate and marshmallow cream are melted and mixture is heated to desire temperature. Serve warm with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cheesy Ranch Potatoes

Whether you tote this to a potluck, a holiday party or a simple family dinner, these potatoes are sure to stand out! Even my husband who typically doesn't like "Ranch" flavored anything, devours this dish! I like to make these with anything from the grill (hamburgers, steak, etc), fried chicken and even certain types of pork chops. Though I would imagine they would pair well with many other meals.

Tips: This recipe makes enough to serve 8-10 but can easily be halved for smaller gatherings or week-night dinners.
I've added cooked and crumbled bacon to this dish before and it turned out amazing
as well (has the addition of bacon ever made anything worse? No!). If I had to estimate the amount of bacon to use, I would say about 2 to 3 strips per pound of potatoes used. (



Cheesy Ranch Potatoes

4 pounds potatoes, cut into small cubes (about 1/4 inch)
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/3 cups shredded Colby-Jack cheese
1 bottle Ranch dressing, 8 oz

In a medium skillet heat olive oil and add diced onion, cooking until translucent. In a small bowl combine the melted butter, chili powder, seasoning salt and pepper.
Lightly grease a 9x13 glass baking dish and add cubed potatoes and onions. Drizzle with butter/spice mixture, turning potatoes to coat. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour. Remove from oven and stir in ranch dressing and cheese, combining well. Return dish to oven (uncovered) and continue baking for 15 minutes.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pineapple Squares

This recipe came from the back of a Fleischmann's Active Dry Yeast packet. It turned out so delicious that I just had to re-post it here.

Note: I added a 1/4 cup packed brown sugar to the glaze and thinned it out with a little more milk as needed (about 1 additional tablespoon). Brown sugar pairs so well with pineapple.


Pineapple Squares

1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 envelope Fleischmann's Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup warm milk
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3 3/4 to 4-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 egg yolks
Pineapple Filling (recipe follows)
Powdered Sugar Frosting (recipe follows)

In large warm bowl, dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Sprinkle in yeast; stir until dissolved. Add warm milk, butter, and 1 cup flour. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add egg yolks and 1/2 cup flour. Beat 2 minutes and stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Divide dough in half. Roll each half on floured surface to fit a jelly roll pan. Transfer one layer to a lightly greased jelly roll pan. Spread with Pineapple Filling. Top with remaining layer of dough. Seal edges together. Cut/Score the surface of the dough with a knife to let steam escape (I made 6 scores, about 2 inches each). Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Bake at 375°F about 35 to 40 minutes, or until done. Let cool in pan. Drizzle with Glaze while warm. Cut into squares to serve.

Pineapple Filling:
In a saucepan, mix 1/2 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir in 1 slightly beaten egg yolk and 1 can (20oz, or 2 1/2 cups) undrained crushed pineapple in heavy syrup. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Cool.

Powdered Sugar Glaze:
In small bowl, combine 1 cup sifted powdered sugar, and 1 to 2 tablespoons milk. Stir until smooth.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cottage Casserole

It's nice to have an easy and tasty casserole to go to when things get hectic. I try to always have one in my freezer that I can just pull out and pop in the oven. It's so relaxing this time of year, when you've been out Christmas shopping all day and you know that dinner is already put together. No need to pick up burgers or walk in the door and immediately start cooking.

Cottage Casserole is one of the "regulars" in my freezer. The addition of cream cheese and cottage cheese really makes the sauce sing, as strange as it may sound. If you do freeze it, don't add the shredded cheese on top until you're ready to bake. Also add an additional 15-20 minutes to the cooking time for a frozen casserole. For families of more than 4, make a double batch and stick one in the oven and one in the freezer. Families of 4 or less, divide the batch into 2 8x8 casserole dishes, keeping the cooking times the same.

You can check out more of my casserole recipes HERE


Cottage Casserole

1 package egg noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
1lb Ground Beef
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cans tomato sauce, 10 oz (or 2 1/2 cups)
1 4oz package cream cheese, cubed
1 cup green pepper, chopped
1 cup cottage cheese
2 cups Colby-Jack Cheese, shredded

Boil noodles according to package instructions. Drain, toss with olive oil and set aside. Brown ground beef and onions in a large saute pan, drain as needed. Stir in tomato sauce, salt, pepper, garlic powder, cottage cheese, cream cheese and green peppers. Cook over low heat until cream cheese has melted and incorporated into tomato sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Spread half of cooked noodles in a lightly greased, large glass baking dish, cover with half of the beef sauce. Top with remaining noodles and sauce. Sprinkle Colby-Jack cheese over sauce.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, remove foil and continue cooking an additional 5 minutes.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

Christmas is nigh and it's time to begin baking cookies and making candy. What a perfect excuse to try out all those sweet recipes you've been stashing all year! This is a really fun candy recipe that requires very little "cooking" at all. There are no eggs in this mock cookie dough so it's safe (or very dangerous!) to eat raw.

Tip: For a tasty variation try replacing the vanilla with peppermint extract and add a couple of drops of green food coloring to the dough.



Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon water
1 package mini chocolate chips, 6oz
8oz chocolate for dipping (Almond Bark, semi-sweet Baker's chocolate, etc)


In a large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Add vanilla, salt, flour, water and chocolate chips. Stir together until well combined. Roll into balls. Place balls on a cookie sheet that's been covered with parchment or wax paper and freeze for 30 minutes or until firm. In a double boiler (or microwave) melt dipping chocolate. Using a fork, dip each ball in chocolate and replace on cookie sheet. Return pan to freezer for another 30 minutes or until chocolate is firm. Store in resealable container or bag in refrigerator.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bacon Cheddar Dill Puffs

Served with soup or salad or as an appetizer, these little puffs are flavorful additions to any table.

Tip: I've found the bottoms tend to brown a little quicker than the rest of the puff, so I use parchment paper on the baking sheet to prevent this.


Bacon Cheddar Dill Puffs

1 cup water
1/2 stick butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 cups flour
3 eggs, beaten
5 strips crisply cooked bacon, crumbled
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, salt and garlic powder over medium heat and bring to a boil. Once the butter has melted, add flour and continue to simmer. Stir constantly until the dough forms a ball, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add eggs one at a time, beating well until the mixture is glossy. Stir in bacon, shredded cheese and freshly chopped dill. Drop batter by the teaspoon on greased baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Butter-Rum Glaze

A yummy bundt cake is the perfect thing to bring with you to a holiday party or pot luck. This pumpkin cake with a butter rum glaze is so good you may not want to give it away though!

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

1 box yellow cake mix
1 package instant butterscotch pudding mix (3.4 oz)
4 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

In a large bowl combine all ingredients and beat on medium for 2 minutes. Pour into a greased and floured bundt or tube pan. Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing, invert and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Butter-Rum Glaze

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon rum extract

In a small sauce pan combine butter, brown sugar and milk. Bring to a full boil. Add powdered sugar and rum extract. Beat until smooth. Add more milk if needed. Pour or drizzle over cooled bundt cake.
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