Thursday, June 30, 2011

Blueberry Blender Pancakes

In honor of the special holiday we have coming up on Monday, I've dedicated my posts to the red,  white and blue. On Tuesday we had a flag cake.  Yesterday was a Red post.  Lasagna.  Today is all about blue! I made one of our favorite breakfast dishes.  Blueberry pancakes.  A dear friend of mine shared this awesome recipe with me yesterday. We loved it!  The original recipe was just for plain pancakes, so you can change them up anyway you want.

I usually just use the "add water" mixes for pancakes, but this is so easy! And its so much healthier.  A huge bonus.  These are great with my super delicious Buttermilk Syrup.

Blueberry Blender Pancakes

1 C. Milk
3/4 C. Whole Wheat Kernels (I used hard white wheat)
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 C. oil
2 tsp baking powder
Blueberries (optional)

In a blender, add milk and wheat.  Blend on high for 4 minutes.  Blend in eggs, salt, soda, oil and baking powder.  Pour onto a hot griddle.  Makes about 8 pancakes.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fabulous Lasagna

I think Lasagna is my favorite Italian dish. I love it!  A friend of mine had a recipe on her blog that looked absolutely divine! I started to make it, and realized I didn't have a few of the ingredients, and wanted to make it for dinner.  So I ended up creating my own recipe.  I think it turned out pretty well if I do say so myself!  My family sure loved it.

My husband loves the flavor of the Italian sausage. It does come with it's own seasoning, so if you like your lasagna a little more light in the flavor, use about 1/2 tsp less Italian seasoning. We like ours full of flavor!  You can use ground beef if you prefer.  We also like our lasagna super cheesy, so I used 4 cups of mozzarella but feel free to use less.

This would also be a super easy freezer meal. Double the recipe and save some for a rainy day.  Just wrap in foil/plastic wrap and freeze before baking.  Thaw and bake at the normal temp and time. Enjoy! 

Fabulous Lasagna

9 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 lb ground Mild Italian Sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 small cans tomato sauce
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 carton (15 ounces) ricotta cheese (I used the whole milk one)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-4  cups mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook noodles according to package directions.
In a skillet cook the sausage and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Drain.

Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a small bowl, combine the egg, ricotta cheese, Italian seasoning and salt. Drain noodles and rinse in cold water. Coat a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and spread a thin layer of meat sauce on the bottom. Top with three noodles, 1/3 of each: meat sauce,  ricotta cheese mixture, mozzarella cheese and Parmesan. Repeat layers twice.

Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes more. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

American Flag Jello Cake

The day we celebrate our Nations independance is almost here!  I have such a special place in my heart for this holiday.  For our country period.  I'm very blessed to have had an eduacation that taught me the foundation of our contry and instilled in me a deep sense of patriotism.  I am very greatful for those that fight for our freedoms. I have friends and relatives who sacrifice and have sacrificed so much for our freedom and safety.  They each hold a special place in my heart.

For todays recipe, I decided to share a fun treat with you that will be a huge hit at your 4th of July party.  Its fun, festive and super easy to make!

American Flag Jello Cake

1 box white cake mix
ingredients called for on the package
3 oz package of red jello. (I used strawberry)
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup ice cold water
8 oz cool whip
2 6 oz cartons of rasberries,
small carton of blueberries

Bake cake according to instructions on packaging. Let cool for 15 minutes.   Boil water and stir in jello mix.  Remove from heat and stir until disolved.  Stir in ice cold water.  Poke multiple holes into top of cake with a fork.    Pour a small amout of the liquid jello into holes by holding a fork in each hole pressing away from you gently, to open the holes up. Continue to allow cake to cool completely.  When cooled, top with whip cream.  Decorate by creating a flag out of blueberries and rasberries. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Easy French Dip (Ah Jus Sauce)

I've been on the lookout for a while for a simple Ah Jus Sauce to make out own french dip sandwiches with.  You can always buy the flavor packets and pour those in, but I like to make my own things from scratch as much as possible. That way, I can make it whenever I want with the ingredients I have on hand. This one is a simple and quick version for those crazy nights where you want to just throw something together or those days that you want to just throw it in the crock pot and forget about it. . 

I put it in the crock pot on low most of the day, just to let the juices simmer and soak into the meat etc.  But you could really just throw it on the stove and warm it up for a few minutes. 

Easy French Dip (Ah Jus Sauce)

1 box beef broth
1 lb roast beef sliced/shaved thin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
Hoagie/Sub Rolls

Put first 4 ingredients into a crock pot on low for 4-8 hours. With a fork, place roast beef onto a sub roll.  Put reserved juice into individual bowls.  Dip sandwich into the juice. Enjoy

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Apple Dumplings

Wednesday night for our cooking class, we made these sinfully delicious Apple Dumplings.  These things have everything delicious in them, apples, cinnamon, pastry, sugar, soda and of course, butter.  SO GOOD! 

I absolutely love these little guys. I just have to say, I am so grateful that they take a little bit of time to make, Because if not, my waistline would be twice what it is! But all you have to tell your self, is that you are burning calories to make them, so it's ok to eat them.  It takes a lot of effort, you have to roll out the dough, stir the mixture, slice and peel the apples and don't get me started on how many calories I could burn opening the can of soda.  Hey I could eat 3 and not even bat an eye for that alone!

Try these, you won't be sorry.  Don't believe me?  We took pictures of every step, until we pulled them out of the oven.  Whoops, no picture of the cooked product!  Yeah, just got one of the empty pan.  That's how good these suckers are! They didn't have a chance, once we pulled them out of the oven! I guess I'll have to make em again.  This picture is one of the last steps before baking them.

Apple Dumplings

2 whole Granny Smith Apples
2 cans (8 Oz. Cans) Crescent Rolls
2 sticks Butter
1-½ cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
Cinnamon, To Taste
1 can (12 Oz.) Lemon lime soda (sprite, 7-up)

Peel and core apples. Cut each apple into 8 slices each. Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll. Place in a 9 x 13 buttered pan. Melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir. Add vanilla, stir, and pour entire mixture over apples. Pour soda around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve with ice cream, and spoon some of the sweet sauces from the pan over the top.

Peel and core apples.  Unroll crescent roll dough and separate into triangles.  Slice apples into 8 slices each.  Lay a slice of apple onto each triangle.   (I just  realized, we didn't peel the one in the picture. I peeled the others. The skin takes away from the scrumptiousness of the treat.  Ditch it!) Roll them up and place into a 9 x 13 baking dish.  (you will need something with sides on it.)

Melt butter

Add in sugar, stir.  (you want this lumpy and grainy, so just slightly stir) add vanilla and stir

Pour over the dumplings. Make sure to get every last drop!

Sprinkle with cinnamon

Pour soda around the edges and down the middle.  (the idea is to soak the sides and bottoms with yummy goodness and then the tops will get nice and crisp. So don't pour it on top of them!

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.  Serve with a scoop of ice cream and scarf!

This recipe was taken from The Pioneer Woman

Friday, June 24, 2011

Coconut Macaroons

Here's another coconut recipe for you.  Can you tell we like the tropical flavors in my house?  I checked out an everyday food video at the library, and found some super yummy recipes on it. This one was one of them.

These are so easy to make.  And only 4 ingredients! You can't beat that!!! 

Coconut Macaroons

3 large Egg Whites
1/2 C. Sugar
1/4 tsp salt
14 oz package of sweetened coconut

Whisk the first 3 ingredients until frothy. Stir in coconut. Spoon onto a greased cookie sheet (or you can use parchment paper). They suggested scooping out out with a tbsp. It gives it the perfect shape and size. Bake at 350 for 20-30 min.  Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pina Colada Dipping Sauce

This dipping sauce, I created, to use with the Coconut Shrimp.  Although, it could be used for so many things.  It's a thin sauce at first. You can eat it that way or thicken it up by refrigerating it for about an hour before. The Cream of Coconut thickens as it gets colder. You can also thicken it up by leaving out the pineapple juice.

Pina Colada Dipping Sauce

2 tbsp pineapple juice
1/2 can cream of coconut
1 1/2 tbsp crushed pineapple
2 1/2 tbsp sweetened sshredded coconut

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until needed.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Coconut Shrimp

Hey all you seafood lovers out there! I finally found a great Coconut Shrimp recipe for ya that is super yummy.  Well at least the seafood lovers in my family loved it.  I like to just eat the breading :)  I also created my own pina colada dipping sauce to go with it, that I'll share with you tomorrow. I found this recipe in my new Taste of Home magazine.  I changed it up just a bit. 

The key that I have found over the years is that you never want to add wet, to wet when battering something.  I'll explain...  Shrimp, chicken etc, have a moist surface, so when you are dipping it straight into an egg batter, it doesn't stick as well.  But if you dip it into a dry ingredient like flour, first and then into the wet mixture (like egg) then back into a dry mix (coconut and bread crumbs) it turns out so much better.  The batter all sticks to each other so much better.  Their recipe, doesn't have you dip into the flour first.  I do want to say a little something about the Panko bread crumbs.  They are different than regular bread crumbs. I really like them.  You should be able to find them near the other bread crumbs at any grocery store. 

Coconut Shrimp

1 cup flour
1 egg
1 Tbsp water
1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Oil for frying
2 shallow bowls and 1 medium sized bowl

Add flour into a shallow bowl.  Into another, whisk egg and water together.  Combine bread crumbs and coconut into the medium size bowl. 

Dip shrimp into the flour and coat. Then dip into the egg mixture and coat.  Then roll into the coconut mixture, pressing the crumbs to the shrimp to coat well.

In a skillet, heat 1/4 inch of oil at 357 degrees. ( I had it on about medium to medium low heat so it didn't brown to quickly) Fry a few at a time for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with Pina Colada dipping sauce.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mommy's Kitchen Creations Gone Wrong!

I've decided to add a new subject to my blog.  After a kitchen accident today, I'm decided, hey why not add the disasters/mess ups to this blog. Add a little entertainment.  You know like that cake blog that shows the mess ups.  Anyway, I've burnt so many things lately, forgotten ingredients etc.  Any of you that have been pregnant, and especially pregnant with other children at home... know how it is.  Walking into walls, forgetting names, dates etc, burning dinner, not turning the oven on... It's all part of the package.  Gotta love it!

So today I decided to make some Strawberry Fruit Leather, with the strawberries I got at the farmers market yesterday.  3 lbs for a dollar baby! Anyway, so I blended the fruit just slightly and then boiled it down. I took it off the stove and put it back in the blender to break it down all the way. I couldn't find the lid to the blender so I just decided to hold a bowl over it.  Yeah, since is was partly liquid already, and it was mostly full, when I turned it on, it pretty much exploded and the bowl and I didn't have a chance.  Scalding hot strawberries flew out of the blender and ALL over my kitchen.  I managed to turn off the blender, adding more scalding hot fruit to my body.  Then it hit hard. I'm burning!  I screamed in pain and ran to the shower to wash it off as soon as possible. 

Long story short, most of my right arm has 1st and 2nd degree burns all over it.  My face as well and part of my chest and left arm.  Oh the joys!  After much coaxing, I went to the urgent care. They bandaged me all up and gave me some ointment as well as info on treating it.  

The kitchen is the best part!  Ha ha, strawberry syrup EVERYWHERE! I am teaching a class tomorrow night and at the moment have splattered strawberries ALL over the counters, cabinets, floor and wall.  That's not including the stove.  A few minutes before this all happened, the pot boiled over a ton!  It built up all around the pot and started dripping down the front of the stove. That's a whole other disaster in and of it's self :)
Here's a little bit of it

So the moral of the story is, let your fruit cool before blending it up!!!  (I tried blending it before I boiled it and it just didn't break down as much.)  The good news is... The fruit leather is beautiful and tasty!!!

If you look real close you can see the burns on my right cheek.  It's also blistering. I guess make-up is out of the question for a while! Like I wear it very often anyway.

Spinach Dip

My mom has been making this dip for as long as I can remember.  For a long time, it was the ONLY way that I would eat spinach.  It's a quick easy dip to make for a veggie platter.  It's also so much more elegant than your plain ol' ranch dip. We love to serve it in a sour dough bread bowl. Just slice off the top, hollow it out and fill with dip. Mmm then afterward, pull the bread bowl apart, with the excess dip in it. Super yummy!  Also, you can use the pieces that you carved out of the center, to dip with as well. Quick, easy, and fancy. Try it, you'll love it!

This recipe comes from Knorr. It's also on the back of the Knorr Vegetable soup mix.

Spinach Dip

1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, cooked, cooled and squeezed dry
1 container (16 oz.) sour cream
1 cup Hellmann's® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise
1 package Knorr® Vegetable recipe mix
1 can (8 oz.) water chestnuts, drained and chopped (optional)
3 green onions, chopped (optional)

Combine all ingredients and chill about 2 hours.

1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, cooked, cooled and squeezed dry
1 container (16 oz.) sour cream
1 cup Hellmann's® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise
1 package Knorr® Vegetable recipe mix
1 can (8 oz.) water chestnuts, drained and chopped (optional)
3 green onions, chopped (optional)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cinnamon Apple Upside Down Cake

Saturday night, my sweetheart and I were browsing through the "Best of Taste of Home 2011" Magazine I just picked up the other day. Yes, I have officially become a recipe junky I think.  Anyway, we were talking about what he wanted for Father's day dessert.  We came across a pineapple upside down cake recipe.  It was a toss up between that and something with cinnamon and apples in it.  Then he came up with the brilliant idea... A Cinnamon Apple Upside Down Cake!  Genius!!! 

So I grabbed their recipe and tweaked it quite a bit to make my own.  I've never even heard of something like this, so I just gave it a try and prayed it would turn out!  It was simply delicious!  I was so worried I would ruin this meal, because in this stage of my pregnancy... I'm messing all kinds of stuff up! Burning things, spilling things all over the place, and adding too much of this or that, is a frequent occurrence these days. I was so excited that it turned out perfectly!

I turned it into a spice cake of sorts, so that is why it's so dark. It has a nice strong cinnamon flavor. You can use less cinnamon if you like. But we thought it was perfect!

Cinnamon Apple Upside Down Cake

1/3 cup butter melted
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1-2 apples peeled, cored and sliced (I used granny smith)
3 eggs separated
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 1/2 - 2 tbsp cinnamon (I used 2)
1/3 cup apple juice

In a 9x9 ungreased baking pan, combine melted butter and brown sugar.  Whisk to paste and spread across the whole bottom of the pan.  Arrange 9 apple slices in a single layer over the sugar mixture.

In a large bowl, beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored.  Gradually add sugar, beating well.  Add in apple juice.  Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add to the batter.  Beat well. Fold in applesauce.

In a small bowl, beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form.  Fold eggs into the batter. Pour evenly into the pan (over the apples)

Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through.  (insert a toothpick into the center, if it comes out clean, it's done.) Let stand for 10 minutes. Slide a spatula or a knife around the edge of the pan, to loosen any pieces that may be stuck to the sides. Place a large plate over the top of the pan, holding both the pan and the plate, gently flip over. The cake should slide out easily onto the plate.  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls

When I was growing up, a friend of ours made these heavenly cinnamon rolls.  I got the recipe from her and spent the next few years working on making the recipe just perfect. I have to say, It takes a few times getting it just right, but even the mess up batches tastes wonderful! Follow my steps and you'll get it in no time! The bread portion of this recipe is the same as the Basic White Bread recipe that I posted a while back. That's part of the reason why I love this recipe.  If I don't want such a huge batch of cinnamon rolls, I'll split it and make bread or rolls too.  ]

I started a cooking class at my house this week.  Kind of more of a cooking group. A girls time out if you will. I had been wanting some adult time and loved when others would ask me to teach them different things.  So I decided to schedule a time each week to make it official.  I charge a small fee to cover ingredients, but really, I'm just in it for a good time.  I really enjoyed today's class.  I was able to walk them through the steps of the cinnamon rolls and show them some tricks that I learned.  For these classes I try to show some of my dishes that would be better understood in person.  Like cinnamon rolls. 

We will be making things like Flat bread tacos, tamales and different freezer meals in upcoming classes.

But for now, on to the cinnamon rolls. 

Cinnamon Rolls

4 tbsp, saf instant yeast.  (other yeast will do, but not the best. See tip below)
5 C Water
1 C Canola oil
4 eggs
1 C. sugar
2/3 C. Powdered dry milk
2 tsp. salt
14 C. flour approx. (bread flour is best but all-purpose works great too)

Combine 5 cups of flour, salt, sugar, yeast and powdered milk into a bread mixer. I use a Bosch.  Don't add all of the flour quite yet!

Next add the wet ingredients. Eggs, oil and water. I just realized, I didn't get a picture of the rest of the mixing part. Guess I'll have to make another batch:)  Just kidding. Just mix well. Then slowly add flour until it starts to pull away from the sides of the mixer.  You will want it as sticky as possible without totally driving you crazy when trying to mold it. The amount of flour you need to add, depends on the humidity, temperature of your house, etc.  Some days I add 15 cups and some days I only add 12 cups.  Its a new adventure each time you make it! You can add flour when you are rolling it out later, if you need to.

After it starts to pull away from the sides. If you are not using saf yeast, you are missing out! At this point you will need to knead it for at least 8-10 minutes to get your yeast really active!  That's what I love about Saf. It's instant yeast, so you don't have to do all the extra steps. If you are using Saf, just mix it until it's combined and you are done.

Now, coat  your counter top with flour (make sure to clear a big area. It's gonna get big!) Cover the blob of dough with a towel and let it rise until at least doubled. (about 30-45 minutes.) Again, use Saf!  It rises in almost half the time. It makes for a long day when you don't use Saf!  No no no, they aren't paying me to advertise for them, I've just tried the other kinds, and it's not nearly as good. The only problem is that its usually only sold at food storage places or kitchen stores like Shar's.  So stock up when you find it!

See, I told you it would get big! Ahh, don't believe me check out this picture below!

It's like 2 feet wide by 1 1/2 feet deep and about 6 inches high!  That's a lot of dough! I say hey, if you are going to take time to make cinnamon rolls, do it right baby!  Take some to the neighbors, or even freeze them for later! (you can cut the recipe in half though if you want to)

Now that it has doubled in size, pound it down. It's a great time to get that aggression out on something! 

Next you are going to roll it out into a huge rectangle. I usually split the dough pile it half at this point because half of the recipe will cover most of the counter above, length wise.

Here's a couple tips for ya. The longer (from left to right) your rectangle is, the more cinnamon rolls you will have.  The deeper it is, (front to back of counter) the bigger they will be.  The thinner you roll the dough and the deeper the rectangle, the more swirls you will have. So make them however big you want them.  If you want to make a TON of them but want to make them pretty small, stretch that dough out as long as you can and not very deep.  I like to make them nice and huge and fat!

When you have it rolled out, pour melted butter all over the top.  (I like to spread it evenly with a pastry brush. (Don't worry about the mess. That's the best part! K maybe not, but lets be honest, it's a dirty job but someones got to make em! ) I use about 2 cubes or 1 cup of butter for the whole batch. It's totally up to you how much you use. Next, soak up all of that butter with some sugar and cinnamon.  Give it a good coating of both.  Here is also when you can add chopped pecans or walnuts.  And even raisins if you like.  Me, plain ol' cinnamon and sugar is best!

Starting from the front, roll up the dough. Continue to roll towards the back of the counter until you have rolled it all the way. No need to roll it tight just gently roll it up.

When you have it nice and rolled up, grab a piece of thread, fishing line, or even dental floss.  Just please, make sure it's not used fishing line! Or better yet, mint dental floss.  We want cinnamon rolls, not fish flavored or mint flavored rolls!

Slide the thread, under the roll and criss-cross it, like this. I usually go about an inch from the end.  It's up to you, how fat you want them. Just remember, these little guys are going to rise again and double in size, at least! So measure accordingly. And try to keep them all about the same size so they cook evenly.

So, after you have criss-crossed the string. Pull both ends and it will act as a knife, making a nice clean cut.

Lay them about an inch to an inch and a half apart, in a baking pan.  Cover them with a towel and let them rise until doubled.

Bake them at 350 for about 20-30 minutes depending on the size you make them.  They will get golden brown on top.  I like to insert with a toothpick into one of the centers of the cinnamon rolls in the middle of the pan to see if it comes out clean. If it does, they are done.  Another tip, you may need to turn down the oven to 325 if you made them beyond huge, so they don't burn on top, before the middle gets done.  But even I, have never made them THAT big.

Straight out of the oven, pour a generous amount of frosting (recipe below) over the top. It's best to do this step while they are really hot, because the frosting melts and oozes all down into the crevices and makes them simply Heaven!

Meet some of my friends that came to the class today. Stephanie and Ana.  Great friends! And Good Company! Thanks for coming girls! (don't you totally love my fingerprinted microwave in the back!)

Now onto the best part! The frosting!!!
1 cube of butter
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
8 C Powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
Milk 1 tbsp at a time

Soften cream cheese and butter to room temp.  Add cream cheese first and mix well. (I've found it's creamier when you mix up the cream cheese by itself first) Then add butter, vanilla and salt. Next, you are going to add the powdered sugar and milk alternating to get the consistency you want.  (It's best not to add the whole bag at once, just so you don't white wash the entire kitchen before you get enough liquid in there to tone down the powder! Also, whip it for a good 3 minutes or so, to make it nice and fluffy and creamy.
I like my frosting pretty thick, but it's totally up to you. The best consistency for me is where it just starts to drizzle (with an even stream) off of the spoon when you dip it into the bowl and hold it up.

You can freeze these, already frosted, or just after you place them into the pan (before the 2nd rising stage).  Make sure to thaw them, let them rise and then bake them.

Cinnamon Rolls (full recipe)

4 tbsp, Saf instant yeast. 
5 C Water
1 C Canola oil
4 eggs
1 C. sugar
2/3 C. Powdered dry milk
2 tsp. salt
14 c. flour approx

Mix 5 cups flour, salt, sugar, milk and yeast.  Add Water, oil and eggs.  Mix thoroughly and add flour just until it pulls away from the sides.(of mixer)

Let rise until doubled, punch dough.

1 cup butter (approx.)
Nuts or raisins (optional)

 After rising, roll out 1/4 inch thick into a big rectangle. Spread with melted butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon then sugar. Roll up and slice 1 inch thick. Put into a 9x13 inch greased pans or cookie sheets with sides. Let rise until doubled. Bake at 350 for 20 min. (longer if needed)

1 cube of butter
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
8 C Powdered sugar (I just use a whole bag. It's about the same amount)
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
Milk 1 tbsp at a time

Soften butter and cream cheese. Whip and gradually add sugar and milk intermittently until desired consistency. Add Vanilla and salt. Whip until fluffy.

Yeast tip:  If using a non instant yeast, Add warm water and yeast into a separate bowl and whisk until dissolved.  Let it sit for about 10 minutes, until bubbly. Then add it into the mixture, when you add the wet ingredients.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Honey Butter

When we lived in UT, I used to love going to a restaurant called Chuck-a-Rama.  Especially when I was pregnant.  I constantly craved their rolls with honey butter.  Mmmmm! 

Since we don't live there anymore, I decided it was time to figure out a recipe to satisfy the craving. It's so easy to make and adds a great flavor to any bread. It goes deliciously well with the Basic White Bread recipe I posted earlier this year. 

Honey Butter

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
3 tbsp honey (more if desired)

Soften butter to room temperature in a bowl. Add honey and whip with egg beaters for 1-3 minutes. Serve with bread.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Artichoke Dip

This pregnancy brain of mine is seriously the worst it's been! I promised this recipe weeks ago!  This recipe comes from the winner of our Baby B Boutique giveaway.  Part of the contest was to enter a recipe using 6 ingredients or less. The picture is also hers.  So everyone, give it a try! Thanks Brianne for the entry.  

Artichoke Dip
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup mayo
1-8 oz. cream cheese
1-4 oz. can green chilies
1 small can artichoke hearts, chopped
1 cup grated cheddar

Mix all ingredients together, adding artichokes last. Bake in small baking dish or double recipe for a 9X13 pan. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mango Chicken

When I first came across this recipe, I thought, wow!  I've made it probably 10 times in the last little bit, and I still think WOW! We like to use Mango Peach Salsa because it's sweeter.  You can also make it from scratch using this Mango Salsa that I posted earlier to go with grilled salmon. If you like cillantro, be sure to chop some up and add on top. It adds a great flavor to the dish!

Serve this chicken over Coconut Rice. It's a must.  No really I'm not kidding!!! :)

Mango Chicken

4-5 chicken breasts (boneless and skinless)
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups mango salsa (we like Mango Peach)
Cumin to taste
Lemon Pepper to taste

Put chicken breasts in crock pot. Add spices. Cover and cook chicken until tender. Shred chicken on a plate and return to crock pot. Save juices in separate bowl.
Add corn, beans and salsa. More salsa can be added to taste. If mixture seems dry, add some of reserved juices.

Serve over coconut jasmine rice. Garnish with cilantro.

Recipe taken from The Sisters Cafe

And the WInner Is

We have a winner for the Fun Da-Middles Giveaway.  Congratulations to Carrie P from Utah!  You are our winner of a free box of Fun Da-Middles! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Simple Taco Salad

My mom used to make this taco salad for us a lot, when we were kids.  She would always add corn chips to it and bypass the taco shells. Either way it's yummy, I just prefer the shells more. Plus it looks really beautiful for the presentation of it.

Simple Taco Salad

1 head iceberg lettuce
1 head romaine lettuce ( I just used all romaine)
diced tomatoes (fresh)
diced avocado ( I left this out)
diced olives
diced cucumber
grated carrots ( I sliced them)
shredded cheese
Frito's (I left these out and used the shell instead)
1 can stag Chile (slightly warm)

1/3 C. salsa
1/3 C. 1000 island

Mix 1st 8 ingredients.  In a separate bowl combine salsa and 1000 island dressing.  Pour over salad mix. Toss with Chili and Frito's. Serve

Tip for a creamier dressing, add a scoop of sour cream.

Taco Bowls

Tortillas (any size you like)
aluminum can (like the one from the chili, remove paper)
Hot oil

Place a flour tortilla into a pot of hot oil.  Shape the shell by pressing an empty can (with tongs cause it will get HOT!) into the center of the tortilla. Allowing the sides to fold up around the can. Hold the can there until the tortilla is golden brown.  Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Strawberry Fruit Leather

For those who don't know what fruit leather is, it's basically a really yummy homemade fruit roll up! These are super easy, they just take a long time to dry out. You can bake them in the oven at the lowest temp possible for 15-18 hours or so, but who wants to have their oven going that long!  Especially in this summer heat!!! So here is a suggestion from a friend of mine.  Just use a HIGH powered fan and blow it on it.  It works... I show you how, below!

It's all about catering to your tastes. Add as much sugar as you like. I'll show you below, what I used, but the only thing that you need to have, is lemon juice. It will preserve the color.  You may not need as much as I used, But I like to eat my fruit leather when it looks like the actual fruit that is in it!  No black strawberry fruit leather for me!!! You can use other fruits with this same recipe. Some fruits don't require lemon juice but most do. So when in doubt, add it.

You could also speed things up by sticking it outside in the summer heat, and blow the fan on it (to mainly keep bugs and dust off as much as possible.

Also, don't make your layer too thick.  I did a pretty thick one not realizing it and it took about a week to dry! Granted, I put my wimpy table fan on it, so that had a lot to do with it. My other one didn't take nearly that long :)

Strawberry Fruit Leather

5 lbs of strawberries
3 cups sugar (or desired amount for sweetness)
5 tbsp lemon juice (fresh or bottled)

Pour all ingredients into a pot. Boil for about 15 minutes, until fruit is cooked through.  Pour into a blender and blend well.  Lay long strips of plastic wrap on counter top. (Or you can line cookie sheets with plastic wrap) Pour a THIN layer of fruit onto the plastic wrap covering as much as needed. Place a high powered fan at the end of the line of plastic wrap so that it blows all the way down to the other end.  Allow the fan to blow on the fruit until dried. (about 24 hours depending on thickness, humidity etc) The closer areas to the fan will obviously dry out faster than the ones further away.  When dry, cut into desired size pieces and roll up. Store in an air tight container.

Tip: if using the oven, make sure that you have plastic wrap that is oven safe.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fun-da-Middles Review and Giveaway

I decided to join this group called My Blog Spark. They hook you up with trying new products, amongst other things.  They sent me a new product to try from Betty Crocker called Fun da-middles.  It's a cup cake with a creamy filling!  It's set to hit the shelves later this year!

They come in three different flavors.  Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Filling, Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Filling, and Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Filling.  

Also, They are going to give a free box to our lucky winner of this giveaway! Here is how you can enter.  Leave a comment letting me know about an upcoming event or gathering at which you would like to debut the new Betty Crocker Fun da-middles!  That's it, super easy. I'll randomly select a winner and your package will be mailed out in about a week.  The giveaway will last until Tuesday night!

Here is my review of the product. (the truth!)

I received the Vanilla cake with the vanilla filling to try. I actually really liked it.  I liked how easy it was to make.  It took about 5 minutes to whip up and then, fill the cup cake pans and bake. Super easy.  Its a fun twist to your normal cupcakes without the hastle of making them from scratch,  I give it a 10 for convenience!

Taste and texture... the center frosting was a little more "marshmellowie" than I expected. I think I would have liked it better with a little bit more creamy filling.   I really think I would like the other flavors better.  I like the idea of the chocolate filling with the vanilla cake. Chocolate just seems like it would be creamier to me.  But as for the taste... I liked it, I'd give it about an 8.

My husband liked them. He said "it's like making your own home made Twinky. Only better!"

You really don't need to frost them.  Just think of the frosting being on the inside.  But I frosted them anyway.  Who doesn't love frosting right? I'd say that I was actually pleasantly surprised with the product. I'm definitely going to be trying the other flavors. 

If you want more info on the product here's the websites for them.
“Disclosure: The Betty Crocker Fun da-middles product, information, and giveaway have been provided by Betty Crocker through MyBlogSpark.”

Friday, June 10, 2011

Rice Krispy Treats With a Twist

Rice Krispy Treats are one of those things where you just can't stop at one, for me.  I could eat a whole pan with out batting an eye.  I wanted to make something fun with my kids today and decided to get a little creative.  I usually like my krispy treats the plain ol' fashioned way, but I really liked these.  The main thing to remember is to refrigerate them before serving.  That way the chocolate gets a chance to solidify. I bet these would even be yummy at the just about frozen stage. If you like them messy, just eat them straight from room temperature. Either way... delectable!

Rice Krispy Treats With a Twist

3 Tbsp Butter
1 Bag of big marshmallows
6 cups Rice Rrispies
about 3 cups chocolate chips
1 cup toffee pieces (like heath)

In a pot, on medium heat, melt butter, and add marshmallows. Stir constantly until marshmallows are melted.  (be careful not to let them burn)  When melted, immediately remove from heat and stir in Rice Krispies. When well combined pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan (I use butter).  Press down firmly making sure that it spreads evenly.  

In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips.  (30 seconds, then stir.  Put in for 15 more seconds and stir... and continue at 15 second intervals until melted) 

Spread over the treats and top with toffee pieces

Tip:  To keep the mixture from sticking to your hands, coat hands with butter. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ranch Chicken

Another delicious and easy meal for ya! That's about all I have to say about that.  Enjoy

Ranch Chicken

1 container (16 oz) Sour Cream
1 Packet (3 tbsp) of Ranch Dressing Powder
salt and pepper
Chicken Breasts
Ritz Crackers

Mix ranch, sour cream, salt and pepper together and set aside. Crush about 2 packets of crackers and lay on a plate. Generously spread ranch dip over each side of the chicken breast.  Roll in cracker crumbs.  

 Bake at 350 for 45 min or until chicken is cooked through. 

Make sure to discard any extra ranch dip.  You are dealing with raw chicken after all!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


A while back, we went to On the Border with the family and they ordered chips and Guacamole.  I decided to be brave and try some. I normally hate avocados.  Its a texture thing.  I loved it!!! I've never been able to find one that I liked since.  I tried to find a recipe that had in it, the same things that I remembered from the restaurant.  I found a few recipes and then created my own from it.  I like the different textures and flavors mixed in with it, rather than just avocado. Still not a huge fan of avocados. But, this recipe is helping me adapt :)  My husband absolutely loved it though! 


2 small avocados peeled and seeded
¼ cup cilantro (chopped fine)
½ tsp cumin
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1 tomato diced fine
½ tsp onion powder (more if desired)
1/2 tsp garlic powder (more if desired)
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice

Smash avocados with a fork and add all other ingredients.  Mix well. Serve immediately. 

Tip:  Avocados go brown pretty quickly.  The lime juice will help preserve it longer than normal. This is not a make ahead dish. It needs to be made as close to serving as possible. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ok I know I know, it's hot outside, quit with the soups already! But I love soups so much. It's a great way to get the kids to eat their veggies, if you have some picky ones. Soups make life so much easier!  You just throw it in the pot and let is simmer.  This one is even better because its done in the crock pot!  No heating the house!  You can cook it on the stove very easily. But if you have a crock pot... use it.  The flavors marry together so much more, its awesome!

This one is also a huge hit in my family!  Even for my littlest one.  If you do this one on the stove, I would cook the chicken ahead of time.  And simmer it on low for a while to let the flavors meld together.  If you are using a crock pot, just throw every thing in raw!

 Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 can black beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can (14.5 Oz) diced tomatoes
1 packet taco seasoning
1 1/2 C water
1 can (8 oz)tomato sauce
1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of chicken soup
2 C milk
2-3 boneless chicken breasts

In crock pot, mix Taco seasoning, water, tomato sauce, soup, and milk. Add chicken, black beans (drained) Corn (drained) and tomatoes. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Take out chicken and shred or dice,(just before serving) then put back and stir it all together. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado, and/or tortilla chips.

this recipe comes from Blogger Buffet

Monday, June 6, 2011

Italian Herb Garlic Bread

Garlic bread is a huge hit in our house.  I love making my own flavors to go on top.  One of our favorites is this, Italian Herb Garlic Bread.  It gives your usual garlic bread a little twist.  Don't be intimidated by the name... It's super easy to make. You can always use fresh ingredients, but after making the main dish, I usually just want my sides, to be quick and easy.

All you need is a loaf of your favorite bread.  French bread works well and I think sour dough is our favorite.  You can also just use plain ol white bread or even hamburger/ hotdog buns that are leftover.  I haven't tried it with wheat yet, so if you do, let me know how it turns out. 

Italian Herb Garlic Bread

1 cube butter
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning

1 loaf of french bread or other bread

Melt butter and mix in other ingredients.  Brush over each slice of bread. (both sides) Grill on a griddle or frying pan until golden brown. You can also bake them on a cookie sheet at 375 until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Fruit Basket

Here's a cute way to spruce up your BBQ. You can add any fruit you like to it. The more color the better! They are so easy to make.  Get creative and have some fun!

Fruit Basket

1 watermelon
other fruits such as berries, cantaloupe, honey do grapes etc

First- slice the top half of the watermelon like this taking off the top 1/3.  Leaving at least an inch in the center for the handle.  (you can leave the handle off)

Hollow out the melon, including the piece under the handle.  Be careful with the handle, it will be very fragile. I like to use a spoon to hollow it out.  It also looks really cute to use a melon baller so that all of the pieces are the exact same size.  It doesn't have to be perfect, because you are going to fill it with fruit. 

To add some character... cut a v shape out of the entire edge giving it a decorative look.

Fill with your favorite fruit and serve chilled.