Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Easy Slow Cooker Ham

Prep Time: 15 Min
Cook Time: 10 Hrs
Ready In: 10 Hrs 15 Min


1 (6 pound) bone-in country ham
30 whole cloves (whole cloves were almost as expensive as the ham itself, I used about 1 t of ground cloves)
3 cups apple cider, or as needed
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons ground cloves
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 orange's peel

1.  Press whole cloves into the ham so they are evenly distributed. You may score the ham for easier insertion if you wish. Place the ham in a slow cooker. Pour in apple cider until only about 2 inches of ham is above the surface. Pack the brown sugar on top of the ham, pressing into the cloves. This will get washed away in the next step but any that stays on is a bonus.

2.  Pour the maple syrup over the ham. Season the apple cider with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, ground cloves and vanilla. Add the orange peel to the pot. Fill the slow cooker as full as you can with apple cider without going over the fill line. Cover and set to Low. Cook for 8 to 10 hours.
*This is the moistest, best ham I've ever made.  Love it, great Christmas ham.  The only bad part was there wasn't enough leftovers.

Eloise's Salad

Pictured without dressing
Mixed greens
Pears, sliced
Caramelized pecans–roast in frying pan with brown sugar
Gorgonzola cheese
Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing

Toss all ingredients together and enjoy!
More detailed directions for caramelizing pecans:
1 1/2 T butter
3 T brown sugar
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1 T cinnamon

Melt butter in small skillet over medium heat and add sugar, cinnamon, and nuts.  Stir constantly until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.  Pour nuts onto sheet of aluminum foil and let cool about 15 minutes.

*I love this salad!  Everything fits so perfectly together.

Buckeye Balls

1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 cups confectioner's sugar
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 T shortening

1.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
2.  Using an electric mixer, mix peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and 3 cups sugar until smooth stiff dough forms.  Add more sugar to liking or to get desired stiffness.
3.  Roll into balls using 2 teaspoons of dough for each ball.  Place on prepared sheet and set in refridgerator.
4.  Melt shortening and chocolate together in a metal bowl over a pan of lightly simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth, and remove from heat.
5.  Remove balls from refrigerator. Insert a wooden toothpick into a ball, and dip into melted chocolate. Return to sheet, chocolate side down, and remove toothpick. Use finger to close hole from toothpick.  Repeat with remaining balls.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.

*This is a Christmas tradition at my brother's house and we were missing them so we decided to make our own batch.  May I reccommend making the peanut butter balls a little smaller than you think they need to be--this makes the chocolate/peanut better ratio more desirable and the Buckeye balls a perfect little bite.

Pretzel Hugs

Courtesy of Tina

1 bag pretzels (waffle style works best)
1 package M&Ms
1 package Hershey "Hugs" (I used "Kisses" this time)

Place pretzels on baking sheet.  Place a Hug on each pretzel and bake at 200 degrees for about 8 minutes (just watch for the Hugs to melt).  Remove from oven and promptly place a couple of M&Ms on each pretzel, presing into the melted chocolate.  Allow to cool before serving.  At room temperature, the cooling process takes SEVERAL hours.  You may want to make these the day before you plan on eating them or you can put them in the refrigerator to speed up the process.

*A fun, easy treat to make with kids because it is so simple.  We used plain, peanut butter and almond M&Ms.  The only hard part is waiting for them to cool.

Crunchy Lemonade Drumsticks

From the Noble Pig
2 Tablespoons grated lemon zest, divided
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup buttermilk
3-1/2-4-1/2 pounds skin-on chicken drumsticks
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Olive-oil cooking spray

Mix 1 Tablespoon lemon zest and all of the lemon juice in a large bowl.  Add 1 cup water and the sugar and whisk to dissolve, then whisk in the buttermilk.  Pierce the drumsticks several times with a fork and season with salt and pepper.  Toss in the marinade, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400o F.  Bring the chicken to room temperature.  Put the Panko, thyme, the remaining lemon zest, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper in a large resealable plastic bag and shake to mix.  Put the mayonnaise in a bowl.  Set a rack on a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray.

Remove the drumsticks from the marinade and with your hands, slather the mayo on the chicken and drop in the plastic bag, shaking to coat; transfer to the rack.

Mist the chicken with cooking spray.  Bake until golden, about 35 minutes; flip and bake until browned and crisp 35 to 40 minutes more.

*I also cooked a chicken breasts with the legs (the breast took about 20 minutes less).  I liked the white meat better.

Grannie's Homemade Noodles

From Janet
2 eggs
4 T milk
2 cups flour
1 t salt

1.  Mix all the ingredients together in a medium size bowl.  Dump onto counter dusted with plenty of flour.  Incorportate to a soft dough.

2.  Roll dough thin and let sit as is for 10-15 minutes.  Sprinkle flour on top and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch strips.

3.  Let dry on countertop for a couple of hours.  Drop into boiling water or soup and cook for approximately 10 minutes.

*These noodles were much easier to roll thin than the noodles I previous posted.  Both work well, but this one is my new go to recipe.

Farmhouse Loaf

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp intant yeast
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 T plus 1 t sunflower oil (I used olive oil)

1.  Measure the flour, salt, and yeast into a large bowl..  Pour in the water adn 1 T oil and mix to a soft dough.  Add 2-3 tsp more lukewarm water if necessary.

2.  Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.

3.  Rub 1 tsp oil around a large bowl.  Turn teh dough in the oil, then cover bowl with placstic wrap.  Let stand in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.

4.  Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan.  Put the dough onto the wark surface and roll it into an 8 x 7 rectangle.

5.  Roll the dough from one long side.  Drop it into the pan with the seam underneth.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until risen 1 in above the pan.

6.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Bake the loaf for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 400 degrees F for 30-40 minutes longer, or until golden brown.  Turn the loaf out of the pan and tap it on the bottom..  It should shound hollow.  If not, place it upside down in the oven for a few minutes more.  Cool on a rack.

*This is a hearty, thick bread.  We served it with stew so it was perfect.

Scrambled Eggs with Spicy Peppers

4 T olive oil
1 large Spanish onion,, peeled and chopped (I used a yellow onion)
3 medium peppers (any color), cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/2 small fresh chili, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
8 large eggs
salt and pepper
4 medium tomatoes, halved, seeded, and chopped

1.  Heat 2 T of the oil in a saucepan.  Add the onion and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add the peppers, garlic, and chili and stir to mix.  Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, or until all the vegetables are softened.

2.  Meanwhile, crack teh eggs adn place in a large bowl, add salt and pepper, and mix well with a fork.  Heat the remaining 2 T oil in an 8 in nonstick saute pan over low heat.  Pour in the eggs.

3.  Cook for 3 minutes, or until very softly scrambled.  Stir and scrape all around the bottom of the pan as the egg mixture cooks.  Do not overcook--scrambled eggs should be creamy, not set.

4.  Add the tomatoes to the spicy pepper mixture, then check the seasoning.  Spoon the mixture over the scrambled eggs.  Serve immediately.

*A lot of spice for eggs.  If you love peppers, you'll love this.  It was a little much for my houe, but it sure smelt good cooking!

Individual Chocolate Surprise Cakes

From Noble Pig
1 package brownie mix (I used Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix)
Hershey's Kisses (2 kisses for each muffin cup)
1.  Prepare your brownie mix according to package directions.  Pour batter into muffin cups that have been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and place two chocolate kisses in the center of each cup.  Use a spoon to cover the kisses with the batter.

2.  Bake until the edges of the brownies are done, you will have to watch them.  

3.  Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and run a knife around the edges before I turning them over.  Very moist.

Serve immediately.

*These are easy enough to make, but I'd take it one step simpler and just bake them in a pan instead of muffin cups--this makes it easier to clean up and you can have more control over the size of the brownie.

Chocolate-Covered Brownie Balls

Courtesy of Brittany

1 brownie mix
1 1/2 cup melting chocolates or chocolate chips

1.  Prepare brownie mix according to package directions.  Bake until toothpick poked in center comes out nearly clean, but still slightly undercooked.  Remove from oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes..  Scoop brownies with a spoon and roll into tight balls.  Place on a cookie sheet and freeze until very firm, a couple of hours or overnight.

2.  Melt chocolate in microwave until smooth.  Roll each frozen brownie ball in the chocolate and place on a cookie sheet.  Chill unitl chocolate is set or until ready to serve.  Decorate as desired.

Variation:  Mix creamy peanut butter with chocolate and prepare as above.

*We made these for a Christmas treat and sprinkled crushed peppermints on top.  A perfect combination, though the peanut butter mixed in the chocolate sounds great.  A very easy way to stretch a brownie mix.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sausage Gravy

From The Noble Pig

Sausage GravyFrom Cuisine at Home
4 strips thick-sliced bacon, diced
1 lb. breakfast pork sausage
1 Tablespoon  minced fresh sage
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3-1/2 cups whole milk
Black pepper to taste

Cook bacon in saute pan over medium heat.  When bacon is nearly crisp, stir in sausage and sage breaking up any chunks with a spoon.  Cook sausage until browned, 8-10 minutes.  Transfer bacon and sausage to a bowl; reserve drippings.

Sprinkle flour into hot drippings while whisking to remove lumps.  Whisk until mixture thickens and begins to brown.  Whisk in milk.  Cook gravy over medium-high heat, whisking until thickened and flour taste is eliminated, about 15 minutes.  Season gravy with pepper to taste.  Stir bacon and sausage into gravy; serve with buttermilk biscuits.

Beef Fajitas

Prep 15 min
Total 2 hours 35 min (incl. marinating)

1/2 lb beef sirloin steak, thinly sliced
1/2 c Zesty Italian dressing
2 lrg green peppers, cut into strips
1 lrg onion, cut into wedges
sour cream

Combine  steak and 1/4 c dressing in glass bowl, cover.  Refregerate 1 to 2 hours to marinate, stirring occasionally.  Remove steak; discard marinade.

Cook steak in remaining 1/4 c dressing in large skillet on medium-high heat 5 to 6 min or until no longer pink.  Remove steak; keep warm.

Add peppers and onion; cook until tender.  Add steak; cook until heated through. 

Makes 8 servings, 2 fajitas each.

*Easy and good.  

Spanish Rice

From Allrecipes
2 T vegetable oil
1 cup uncooked white rice
1 onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cups water
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles (may I suggest using less)
2 teaspoons chili powder (I used about 1/2 teaspoon and it was perfect)
1 teaspoon salt

1.  Heat oil in a deep skillet over medium heat.  Saute rice, onion, and bell pepper until rice is browned and onions are tender.
2.  Stir in water and tomatoes.  Season with chili powder and salt.  Cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed.

*This was very good, I used a whole can of diced tomatoes & green chiles and it turned out to be too much for our liking.  Next time I'll try 1/2 a can.  We still ate every bit.  Delicious with Chili-Lime Pork Tenderloin.

Chili-Lime Pork Tenderloin

From Noble Pig
Chili-Lime Pork Tenderloin
Adapted from All You
1-1/2 lb pork tenderloin
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Blend chili powder with lime juice, soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl.

Pat pork tenderloin dry and season on all sides with salt and pepper.  Use your hands to rub chili mixture thoroughly into tenderloin.  Warm a large ovenproof skillet (if you don't have an ovenproof skillet use a regular one, you will just have to transfer pork to a baking tray or dish) over high heat, then add oil.  Add pork and sear on all sides, turning meat with tongs, about 2 minutes total.

 Place meat thermometer in the thickest part of the tenderloin and place skillet or baking tray into the oven.  Cook until thermometer reads 160F (about 20 to 25 minutes) depending on the thickness of the tenderloin.  While in the oven baste with any juices that accumulate on the bottom.  I also added a little bit of water to the bowl I made the chili mixture in, giving me some juice to baste with.  I basted the tenderloin about four times while it cooked.

Remove tenderloin from the oven and loosely tent with foil and let sit at least 5 minutes before cutting on a diagonal into 1/2" thick pieces and serve.

*This was so delicious!  I hadn't cooked a whole pork tenderloin before and after this recipe, I am excited to experiment more.  What a cooking gem.  This meat was moist and juicy.  It went perfectly with Spanish rice and chips.

Nutty Granola

Homemade Nutty Vanilla Granola From All You
4 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Position rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 375o F.  Mist a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.  Mix oats, nuts, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.

In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, honey and oil and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Remove from heat and carefully stir in vanilla.  Pour hot liquid over oat mixture, stir and toss until thoroughly mixed.

Spread granola on baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (3 times during the baking process) to ensure even baking.  Warning: Granola can go from perfectly brown to burnt in one minute, really watch it at the end.

Transfer granola to a large bowl and let it cool, stirring occasionally.

*Jacob and I loved this--just plain or with milk.  A wholesome treat.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bacon in the Oven

 From About.com
Time Required: 20 minutes
1.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  
2.  Arrange bacon slices on the foil and place the baking sheet on the center rack of a cold oven.  Close oven door.  Turn oven on to 400 degrees F.  Walk away.
3.  Come back 17 to 20 minutes later.  As soon as the bacon is golden brown, but not excessively crisp, it's done.  The exact time will depend on the thickness of the bacon slices, and also on how quickly your oven reaches the target temperature.
4.  Remove the pan from the oven.  Transfer to plate with paper towels.

1.  Don't pre-heat the oven, it should be cold when you put the bacon in.
2.  Watch closely the last few minutes of cooking and remove from pan right after it is done.
*Great for breakfast, BLTs, and much less bacon smell in the home.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blueberry Yogurt Cake with Lemon Glaze

From Noble Pig

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup grape seed oil
2 Tablespoons Cointreau liqueur (or water)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
7 oz. plain Greek yogurt
2/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (thawed) (or more)

3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Cointreau liqueur (or water)

Sift together 1 cup plus 3 Tablespoons flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Beat brown sugar, oil, Cointreau (or water) and vanilla in a separate bowl with electric mixer until smooth.  Beat in eggs.  Alternately add flour mixture and yogurt to egg mixture until combined.

Toss blueberries with remaining 1 Tablespoon flour and fold into batter.

Grease and flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-55 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes before flipping out of pan.

To make glaze: Whisk together all ingredients in small bowl.  Poke holes all over the top of the cake with a wooden skewer.  Brush cake with glaze.  Cool completely before serving.

*I made as written, using water instead of the liqueur but did not let my blueberries thaw.  The blueberries were delicious, next time I'd increase them to a full cup.  My favorite part of the this treat was the lemon glaze.  Don't let the amount of liquid scare you, it gives this cake a perfect moistness.  We'll definitely have this treat again.

Balsamic Baked Potatoes

From Noble Pig

Balsamic Baked Potatoes
Adapted from Everyday Food
1-1/2 pounds new potatoes, halved or quartered if large
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
5 smashed garlic cloves
5 sprigs rosemary or thyme
coarse salt and ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425o F.  In an 8" square baking dish place potatoes evenly along bottom.  Add broth, vinegar, garlic and rosemary (or thyme), season with salt and pepper.

Bake until potatoes are tender and liquid is reduced to a glaze, about 50-70 minutes (mine took 50), tossing 2-3 times.

*I used about 2 teaspoons dried rosemary in place of the fresh sprigs.  Great potatoes--my 2 year old ate them up!  We served these with steak, but they would go with about any type of meat.  Full of flavor, but plan ahead.  Perhaps I cut them large because they took about 80 minutes to cook.

Monterey Ranch Bread

From Noble Pig

Monterey Ranch Bread
From Taste of Home
8 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 loaf French bread, split in half lengthwise
4 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1-1/2 cups ranch dressing
Fresh parsley for garnish

Melt butter and brush on bread with a pastry brush.  Place bread under the broiler until it's slightly brown and crispy.

Combine cheese and ranch dressing and divide evenly over bread.  Place in a 350o degree oven until cheese is melted, about 8-10 minutes.

Sprinkle with parsley once you remove from the oven.  Let sit 5 minutes before slicing.

*I halved this recipe when I made it because I wasn't sure how it would be received.  Jeff said, "This is the way bread is supposed to be....I'll never go back to regular bread again!"  It was comfort food at its cheesiest--but the ranch dressing flavor definitely stands through so if you love ranch, you'll love this.  I like ranch, but it isn't my favorite dressing--this was still good though.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Banana Honey Nut Loaf

From Noble Pig

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 Tablespoon honey
Pinch of salt

Banana Loaf

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
2/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large over-ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

First make the topping in a medium-sized bowl.  Blend together flour and butter with your fingertips.  Stir in nuts, honey and salt, then work mixture together with your hands to make crumbs (mixture will be moist).  Set aside.

In a large bowl, prepare banana loaf:  Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and nutmeg.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.  In a medium-size bowl, whisk eggs, honey, oil, mashed banana and vanilla.  Pour into well in flour with walnuts on top.  Stir until mixture is just combined.

Coat a 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan (make sure you are using the right size) with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment paper (if you do not line the pan with parchment you will lose a fair amount of your crumb topping when you have to dump the loaf out as opposed to being able to just lift it out with the parchment).  Coat the parchment with nonstick spray as well.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and sprinkle with the topping.  Place in a 350o F oven for 55 minutes (for the first 40 minutes of baking, cover the loaf with a sheet of foil as honey browns very quickly).  If you lined the pan with parchment you can remove the loaf from the pan and place on a cooling rack as soon as you have removed it from the oven.  Otherwise, cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes before removing.

*Crumbly and crumbly, not as moist and sweet as other banana breads.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Focaccia Bread

*I loved this!  So good.  I almost ate it all myself.

From Toastmaster Bread Maker Guide
Makes 1 loaf

1 cup water 80 degrees F
1/3 cup olive oil
2 t sugar
1 t salt
3 cups bread flour (or regular flour)
1 t bread machine yeast (or 1 t quick rise yeast or 1 1/2 t active dry yeast)

Program:  DOUGH

Add at the beep:
1 t dried Italian seasoning

Topping ideas:
olive oil
dried oregano
garlic, coarsely chopped
Parmesan cheese, grated
Feta cheese

1.  With oiled hands, evenly press dough into a greased 9x13 inch pan.  Using your fingertips, make indentations in the dough.
2.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes or until almost double in size.  While the dough is rising, select the topping and prepare.
3.  In a skillet, heat olive oil (1/4 cup).  Add garlic, oregano, or onions (cook until soft, but not brown).  Remove from heat
4.  Use fingertips to press dimples into dough again.  Spoon topping mixture evenly over dough.  Sprinkle with remaining ingredients.
5.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes or until done.


From Allrecipes

3 eggs
1/2  of a 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 t vanilla extract
2 cups milk
whipping cream (whipped, about 2 cups or to taste)
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch salt (optional)

1.  Beat eggs; mix in condensed milk, vanilla, milk, and salt.
2.  Beat whipping cream until soft peaks form.  Fold into egg and milk mixture and sprinkle with nutmeg.  Serve chilled.

*My dad used to make eggnog at Christmas time when I was little; the store-bought kind just never seems right to me.  My 6 year old was asking for some yesterday so I thought we'd give this recipe a try.  It was better than the store kind, but not exactly like dad's.  Very rich.

Chocolate Swirls

From This Week for Dinner

1/2 C sugar
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1 t vanilla
2 C all purpose flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 C semisweet chocolate ships, melted and slightly cooled


Heat oven to 350F. In large mixing bowl combine sugars, butter, cream cheese, egg and vanilla. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Beat at low speed until soft dough forms. Fold melted chips into dough until lightly marbled. (do not overmix)
Drop dough by heaping teaspoons 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 mins, or until edges are light golden brown. Cool completly before storing.

*This is one of the few cookies I've made that Jeff likes as much as Amber's Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Soft and tasty--melting the chocolate chips gives them a different kind of look.

Sour Cream Blueberry Muffins

Ready in 45 minutes or less
Recipe taken from a page in Quick Cooking

2 cups biscuit/baking mix
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries*
2 T sugar

In a bowl, combine the biscuit mix and 3/4 cup sugar.  In another bowl, combine the eggs and sour cream; sitr into the dry ingredients just until combined.  Fold in the blueberries.  Fill greased muffin cups three-fourths full.  Sprinkle with the remaining sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.  Yield: 1 dozen.

*If using frozen blueberries, do not thaw before adding to the batter.

*I don't know if I can adequately rate these seeing how I only got 1 or 2 bites before they were gone!  Love the big berries.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sweet Dumpling Squash and Carnival Squash

Carnival Squash (larger) and Sweet Dumpling
Baked Sweet Dumpling Squash
*I was introduced to Sweet Dumpling squash this fall and it has become on of my favorite.  To cook it fast and easy use the microwave.  Keep the squash whole, poke all over with a fork, and microwave at full power approximately 3 to 5 minutes (depending on size).  Serve plain or use a bit of butter with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

This recipe bakes the squash, but the amounts and times I list are adjusted to better reflect our taste.
1 t butter
pinch of nutmeg
sprinkle of cinnamon
few drops of maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squash in half and remove seeds with a spoon. Use a fork to poke several holes in the outside skin of each half of the squash. Place squash in baking pan with hollow side up. Add 1" of water to bottom of pan.  Place butter, nutmeg and cinnamon in the hollow of each squash half. Pour maple syrup on each.  Bake uncovered on middle rack for 30-45 minutes or until the flesh is soft.  Serve hot.  

Number of Servings: 2
Baked Carnival Squash
Carnival Squash recipe
When preparing in an oven, the squash can be cooked whole or cut in half lengthwise from the stem to the bottom. Place the squash with the skin side down in a dish containing 1/2 inch of water. Cover the dish and bake for 1/2 to 3/4 hour at 375 degrees. In a microwave, cook for approximately 20 minutes in a dish with a loose cover of plastic wrap.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Paula Dean’s Yummy Pretzels


  • 1 cup warm water (about 98 degrees F)
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Kosher salt
In a large mixing bowl, combine warm water and yeast. When the yeast dissolves, add half of the flour, the butter, salt, and sugar and mix for about 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining flour. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is no longer sticky. Let the dough rise in a greased, covered bowl until it doubles in size, about 45 to 50 minutes. Punch down the dough and divide into 12 pieces. Roll each piece of dough into 18-inch long ropes. On a greased cookie sheet, shape each rope into a pretzel shape. Let rise again until almost doubled, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
In a large non-aluminum Dutch oven over high heat, bring 4 cups of water and baking soda to a boil. Using a large spoon, gently lower pretzels into water a few at a time and boil for about 1 minute, or until they float. Return the pretzels to the cookie sheet and brush with melted butter then sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake until browned, about 12 minutes. 

Paula's recipe

Kate original gave me this recipe, but I tweaked it a little to reflect Paula Dean's original recipe.  I've only baked pretzels one other time and this one takes the prize!  We loved them!  I rolled the dough out to about 12-inch long ropes and you can see the pretzels turned out puffy--for a more spread out pretzel, roll to 18-inch long ropes.  I baked them exactly 12 minutes, may I suggest checking them at 9 or 10 minutes.  These are so good!

I made a little cheese sauce by partially melting neufchatel cheese, cheddar cheese, and a little milk for 15 second bursts in the microwave, stirring in between.  Yummy.  I'll definitely be making these again.


From Amy's site

1 cup shortening or butter
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Melt shortening and mix in unsweetened cocoa, set aside. Cream sugar and eggs. Then add melted shortening and vanilla. Add flour, salt and baking powder and mix. Place in greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Stick a toothpick in the center if it comes out clean the brownies are done. When cool, frost with chocolate frosting.  (I used this frosting).

Lemon Pepper Chicken

4-6 boneless chicken breasts
Lemon pepper seasoning

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1/4 cup mayonnaise
½ cup milk
1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley

Place chicken in baking dish. Sprinkle chicken breasts generously with lemon pepper seasoning. Bake chicken at 350 for ½ hour or until done. Mix sauce, pour over chicken and cook an additional 20 minutes.

Serve over cooked rice.

*My chicken was mostly frozen, but I cooked as directed adding about 10 minutes on the bake time.  This was a simple, easy, weekday meal.

Drumsticks with sweet potatoes and pineapple

2 medium dark-orange sweet potatoes, peeled, sliced (about 3 cups)
1 can (8 oz) pineapple tidbits in unsweetened juice, undrained
½ c chicken broth
¼ c finely chopped onion
1 t grated gingerroot (if desired) (or 1/2 t ground ginger)
¼ c barbecue sauce
¼ t pepper
2 T honey
½ t dry mustard
8 chicken drumsticks, skin removed (1.5 lbs) (I used 5 drumsticks, probably weighing close to 2 lbs)

1. In a slow cooker, combine sweet potatoes, pineapple with liquid, broth, onion and gingerroot; mix well.

2. In a small bowl, combine barbecue sauce, honey and dry mustard; mix well. Coat chicken drumsticks well with barbecue sauce mixture. Arrange chicken in single layer over potato mixture n slow cooker; overlapping slightly if necessary. Soon any remaining barbeque sauce mixture over chicken.

3. Cover an cook on Low setting for 7 to 10 hours.

*I actually cooked it for 1 1/2 hours on High, then about 4 1/2 hours on Low.  The chicken was very tender.  My 2 year old and I liked the sweet potatoes (I used 1 "yam" and 1 light sweet potato), but I can think of better ways to cook them.  Drumsticks work very well in the crock pot.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fish Tacos

From Allrecipes

  •       Marinade
  •       1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  •       2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  •       2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  •       2 teaspoons lime zest
  •       1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  •       2 cloves garlic, minced
  •       1/2 teaspoon cumin
  •       1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  •       1 teaspoon seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay™
  •       1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  •       1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste (I left this out)
  •       1 pound tilapia fillets, cut into chunks
  •       Dressing
  •       1 (8 ounce) container light sour cream
  •       1/2 cup adobo sauce from chipotle peppers (I used about 1/4 cup--and it was still hot!  Optional.)
  •       2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  •       2 teaspoons lime zest
  •       1/4 teaspoon cumin
  •       1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  •       1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay™
  •       salt and pepper to taste
  •       Toppings
  •       1 (10 ounce) package tortillas
  •       3 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
  •       1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  •       1 small head cabbage, cored and shredded
  •       2 limes, cut in wedges

1.  To make the marinade, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, lime zest, honey, garlic, cumin, chili powder, seafood seasoning, black pepper, and hot sauce in a bowl until blended.  Place the tilapia in a shallow dish, and pour the marinade over the fish. Cover, and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours.
2.  To make the dressing, combine the sour cream and adobo sauce in a bowl. Stir in the lime juice, lime zest, cumin, chili powder, seafood seasoning. Add salt, and pepper in desired amounts. Cover, and refrigerate until needed.
3.  Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil grate. Set grate 4 inches from the heat.
4.  Remove fish from marinade, drain off any excess and discard marinade. Grill fish pieces until easily flaked with a fork, turning once, about 9 minutes.  (Since I don't have a grill, I baked it at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes in the marinade, stirring once during bake time.  Perfect).
5.  Assemble tacos by placing fish pieces in the center of tortillas with desired amounts of tomatoes, cilantro, and cabbage; drizzle with dressing. To serve, roll up tortillas around fillings, and garnish with lime wedges.

Jeff and I were talking about a trip we took to Mexico earlier this year and I got the craving for fish tacos.  We enjoyed them (however, I had to really encourage my children to eat them--the more difficult a recipe combined with the difficulty of getting 4 year olds to eat equals a lower overall satisfaction for the meal); however, even saying that, I liked them.  They are spicy, next time I  won't got out of my way to add the adobe sauce.  We topped them with fresh salsa, shredded cabbage, avocados, and squeezed lime juice.  Yum!  By the way, if you don't have Old Bay Seasoning, it just seems to be a combination of celery salt, paprika, and red & black pepper.