Saturday, December 29, 2012

Roasted Roots

My stepmother made roasted vegetables similar to these for Thanksgiving a couple of years ago. It was the first time I had ever been introduced to a parsnip. It occurred to me that perhaps you had never met either, so I thought I would share this super simple, yet tasty, dish.

First, meet parsnip...
Yes, it looks like an albino carrot, so I treated it the same and peeled it before I got cubing.

I added sweet potatoes, white potatoes and some onion. I would have put some carrots in as well, but I forgot to buy them this time around. I cut my pieces fairly small, as you can see, because I was baking a ham at a low temperature and wanted to make sure these would be done. (I was going to cook them ahead of time, but got distracted by cookies or something.) Toss the diced veggies with some olive oil and a little bit of sea salt and ground pepper.
I baked these at 350 for about an hour, stirring a few times. They were very well done. These did not get crusty like my potatoes usually do when I roast them at a higher temperature, but they were yummy. The boys did not notice the parsnips, but my daughter picked hers out (because she is the only one who knew they were in there). She also missed out on some potatoes thinking she was eradicating parsnips.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Hard candy

I finally remembered to take some pictures of something I was cooking! (Or maybe this is just the first time in awhile that I made anything.) I love the way our house smells after a batch of this candy gets poured. I used to just make cinnamon, but then I got the idea of making red, clear and green for the holidays. It looks really pretty packaged in a jar (aha, that is what I forgot to get a picture of before I delivered them), but we went with clear plastic bags for safer travels to the kids' teachers and my fellow volunteers.
To give you an idea of how much this makes, I tied up over 40 little bags like this and still have some left.
These are the little bottles of oil you are looking for. They come in a wide variety of flavors, and can be found in the candy making/cake decorating section of craft stores like Michaels and AC Moore. I have seen one dram and two dram sized bottles. one dram (teaspoon) is how much you need for one batch.

Here is what else you need:
1 cup water
3 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp food coloring (if desired)
1 tsp cinnamon (or other flavor) oil
confectioner's sugar for dusting

Here is what you do:
Line a 15x10 pan with lightly buttered foil.

Bring water, sugar, corn syrup and food coloring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. 

Once it boils, cover and cook for three minutes to dissolve sugar.

Uncover and cook, without stirring, until candy thermometer reaches 300 degrees (fahrenheit).
This batch is peppermint and has no food coloring.
Remove from heat and carefully stir in the oil. Avoid the steam and try not to inhale the vapors or get them in your eyes. pour the hot mixture into the prepared pan. Hot, hot, hot!
Now we have cinnamon

Cool for at least one hour. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar. Then break apart.

Toss the sugar around to keep the candy from sticking together.

Store in containers until ready to use.
Each batch makes about two pounds.

The pan will be a bit of a sticky mess, but with really cool sugar threads. Don't worry though, as it comes clean with hot water and a little soaking.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Beignet - It's French!

Do you know what a Beignet is?  First off, let's work on pronunciation - Beignet is pronounced Ben-Yey.  Second off, it's a French donut.  In New Orleans they are served at coffee shops with extremely strong coffee.  Here in Missouri though, we eat them just plain ;).

Beignets via Justin Wilson Homegrown Louisiana Cookin'

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 medium-sized egg
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 quart oil for deep frying
Confectioners' sugar

Half fill a large, deep saucepan with oil and preheat it to 375 degrees F.  Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg well, then beat in the sugar, milk, and vanilla.  Pour the egg mixture into the flour and mix slightly until moistened.  Turn onto a floured surface and knead lightly.  Roll the dough out to a 1/4 inch thickness.  Slice into diamond shapes and about 3 inches long.  Fry in oil, turning once, until they are golden brown and puffed up.  Remove, drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.  Serve immediately with the cafe au lait.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Scalloped Chicken

•2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
•2-1/2 cups milk
•1/2 pound process cheese (Velveeta), cubed
•4 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey
•1 package (7 ounces) elbow macaroni
•3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
•1/2 cup butter, melted, divided
•1-1/2 cups soft bread crumbs

picture borrowed from taste of home

•In a large bowl, combine the soup, milk, and cheese. Add chicken, macaroni and eggs. Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter.

•Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

•Toss bread crumbs with remaining butter; sprinkle over casserole. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 60-65 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Yield: 12 servings.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Weeknight Mac & Cheese Lasagna

Interested yet? This is something we make at our house quite often.  It has Mac & Cheese & hamburger & cheese and pasta sauce, I mean how can you go wrong?

Mac & cheese & all the stuff needed to make it. (from scratch or out of a box, your choice)
Spaghetti Sauce (out of a jar or homemade, again, your choice)

Start the water to boiling for your macaroni noodles. Once boiling, add the noodles.

In the meantime brown up your hamburger in another pan.  You can add your favorite seasonings or add-ons (such as onion, black olives, mushrooms, whatever suits your fancy!).  Then dump your spaghetti sauce in with the hamburger and let them simmer while your waiting on your Mac & Cheese to finish up.

I cheated, I used boxed mac & cheese, when you're in a hurry, it was the fast way to handle it.  So stir in the powdered cheese mix and the butter.

Now dump the mac & cheese into the meat/sauce and mix.

Generally we add some cheese right into the mixture to make it cheesier.

Next top it with more cheese.  You can use whatever you'd like, we've used fiesta blend, we've used mozzarella, just whatever you prefer.  mmmm cheese. We wound up using 2 cups of shredded cheese. Use as much or as little as you desire.

Then place this in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.  And you're good to go!
Mmmmm eat & enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls

Here is my favorite cinnamon roll recipe.... very simple to make!

Gather these:
4 1/4 to 4 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. butter
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
6 tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Powdered Sugar Glaze

In a large mixer bowl combine 1 1/2 cups of the all-purpose flour and yeast. Heat the milk, granulated sugar, the 1/4 cup butter and salt just until mixture is warm (120 to 130 degrees) and the butter is almost melted, stirring constantly.

Add milk mixture to flour mixture; add eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds; scrape sides of bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can. (Dough will be soft.) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough (3 to 5 minutes total). Shape dough into a ball.

Place dough in a lightly greased bowl; turn once. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours). (The dough is ready for shaping when you can lightly and quickly press two fingers 1/2 inch into dough and indentation remains.)

 Punch dough down. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough in half; shape each half into a smooth ball. Cover; let rest for 10 minutes.

On lightly floured surface roll half the dough to 12x8 inches. Spread with 3 tablespoons softened butter. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle half over rectangle. Roll up from a short side. Seal edges. Make a second roll with remaining dough, butter and sugar mixture. I actually changed this and covered it with lots of melted butter and brown sugar.... I then sprinkled regular sugar and cinnamon over the dough.

 Slice each dough roll into 8 pieces. Arrange slices, cut side down, in a greased 13x9x2 inch baking pan. Cover; let rise until nearly double (about 30 minutes).

 Bake rolls in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until light brown. Invert at once onto a wire rack. Cool slightly. Drizzle rolls with Powdered Sugar Glaze. Serve warm.

Makes 16 rolls.

Powdered Sugar Glaze:
Combine 1 cup sifted powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and enough milk (about 3 to 4 teaspoons) for drizzling consistency.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tomato, Basil, Cheddar Soup

Oh Yum.  That's what we had Saturday night. 

So we started going through the list of ingredients to see what we had...
everything but Greek Yogurt.

No problem... we decided to substitute in Cream Cheese... So here's the recipe I used.  And holy cow was this awesome!

Tomato, Basil, and Cheddar Soup
Makes 6 servings
  • 2 28-oz. cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup basil, chopped, loosely packed
  • 2 tsp of oregano
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:  Over medium heat, add the olive oil to a large pot. Add the chopped onion and allow to cook until tender, about three to four minutes. Add in chopped garlic and cook for an additional two minutes. Pour in the two cans of tomatoes (juice and all) and the vegetable stock. Stir in the basil, oregano, sugar, and salt and pepper. Place the lid back onto the pot and allow to simmer ten minutes. At the end, stir in the Greek yogurt and cheddar cheese until well blended. Use either an immersion blender or food processor to puree the soup if you prefer a smooth texture. Garnish with chopped basil and grated cheddar cheese if desired.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Oreo Balls

Christmas time usually mean many YUMMY goodies.  Here is a recipe I make every Christmas.
Oreo Balls
Best Balls ever I tell ya! A must try!

1 (16 ounce) package OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, divided

1 (8 ounce) package PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened

2 (8 ounce) packages BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted

1.Crush 9 of the cookies to fine crumbs in food processor; reserve for later use.

(Cookies can also be finely crushed in a resealable plastic bag using a rolling pin.)

Crush remaining 36 cookies to fine crumbs; place in medium bowl. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. Roll cookie mixture into 42 balls, about 1-inch in diameter.

2.Dip balls in chocolate; place on wax paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover chocolate can be stored at room temperature for another use.) Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs OR use sprinkles

3.Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover balls, covered, in refrigerator.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hello Yummy Soup

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it's so time to think about Christmas.  I've been fighting (not really) hubby since August that we shouldn't put the tree up yet, especially since we were hosting Thanksgiving at our house.  I have always wanted to make a turkey and last year I got my chance.  So this year when mom mentioned that she'd do it so I didn't have to I gave her weird eyes.  She's like what, do you want to do it.  I said, "Well yeah."  So she said she'd do Christmas.

The one thing that comes with Christmas time and really fall in general, colder weather.  What's nice to eat during colder weather?  A warm bowl of soup!  And hey, this recipe, if you're tired of eating that Turkey as turkey, would make a great way to use up some of that left over turkey.  Now I didn't make this particular batch with turkey, I used chicken, but hey a lot of times chicken and turkey are interchanged so heck go for it, why not!

My momma came across this recipe some years back at a pot luck at work I believe.  Now I'm not a huge fan of Tortilla soup, and I really couldn't tell you why, but I have a feeling I'm so stuck on this one that nothing else compares... maybe, maybe not, but either way I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I do!  {easy complete recipe at bottom without pictures}

In dutch oven, melt butter, add onions and cut-up chicken breasts.  Brown meat until cooked through. 

Add broth,



and seasonings.  Stir and cook until bubbly. 

Hubby requested that I add corn as well.  I just guessed so I'm not sure how much I dumped in, about a cup or so.

Add cheese and stir until melted. 

Stir in cream.  (The amount can vary, depending on how thick you desire.)  I generally use Fat Free Half and Half.  Save on fat grams and calories, plus the cream makes it really thick, this gives more of a soup consistency and the tortillas at the end also help thicken it.

Add olives.  When you're holding a camera and a can, you get creative on how you scrape the can out :)

Keep warm until almost ready to serve.  Slice several flour tortillas into strips and add to soup, stirring.  (This may cause to thicken.  Add milk to thin, if desired)  I didn't actually have flour tortillas that day so we just didn't add any in.

And the whole time I was cooking lunch, Tbug, Dad and Hubby were playing Rummy.

Oddly they kept asking me to play... um... hello, I'm working on lunch =P

Ladle into bowls,, add a dollop of sour cream and top with more olives. 

Serve with chips.  Ok so we didn't have the tortillas or more olives.  I topped mine with chips but hubby went the Jalapeno route :).  Whatever suits your fancy!

Mexican Cheese Soup

2 Chicken Breasts
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup salsa
2 tbsp Chili Powder
8oz Cheddar Cheese
1 can Chicken Broth
1/4 cup Butter
2 green onions (chopped)
1 cup Heavy Cream (I always use Fat Free Half and half, works just fine & doesn't get quite as thick)
1 can Black Olives (Chopped)
1 pkg Flour Tortillas

In dutch oven, melt butter, add onions and cut-up chicken breasts.  Brown meat until cooked through.  Add broth, soup, salsa, and seasonings.  Stir and cook until bubbly.  Add cheese and stir until melted.  Stir in cream.  (The amount can vary, depending on how thick you desire.)  Add olives.  Keep warm until almost ready to serve.  Slice several flour tortillas into strips and add to soup, stirring.  (This may cause to thicken.  Add milk to thin, if desired)  Ladle into bowls,, add a dollop of sour cream and top with more olives.  Serve with chips.

Serves 6.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Butterfinger Bites

Butterfinger Bites

You need :

Better Cheddars or LARGE cheese its
Creamy Peanut Butter
Chocolate Almond Bark

I know you are saying YUCKO
But trust me!!

Make Peanut Butter/Cracker Sandwiches and then dip in the melted chocolate.

Be generous with the peanut butter.


If you like butterfingers

You will LOVE these!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Honey Mustard Chicken

This is another one of those recipes that a great friend gave me when I was standing in her kitchen lamenting over how to cook chicken that night. She sent me home with a baggie of the spices I needed. It has become a favorite in our house. I decided to post this recipe this week, so I had to make the chicken for a photo op. I forgot that part until it was in the oven, but let's face it, raw chicken is not that attractive. This is better...

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a glass 9 x 13 baking dish.
1/3 cup honey
3 T water
3 T prepared yellow mustard
2  tsp cajun seasoning
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic minced

Mix that all together, then add:
6 skinless boneless chicken breasts (Yes, I have more in that picture, it's ok.)

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. The liquid will stay thin, but you can cook it down in a saucepan, or just use it as it is. We like ours with rice (and green beans, but I didn't remember to buy them).

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving - The Stuffing

So when I was a little kid, my Grandma S (mom's side of the family) always did Thanksgiving, that is until she and grandpa "retired" and moved to the city.  {They made their living with a Stud (horse) operation.}  When that happened my aunt and mom split up Thanksgiving & Christmas hosting.

As I stated the other day, there was a falling out with my family over some very stupid issues, but none the less we weren't allowed to my aunt's house for any holiday.  End of story.  And again, that didn't stop us from celebrating plus I got the chance to make my Turkey!

Well what's Thanksgiving dinner with out stuffing?!?!

My Grandma passed away in 2007 and unfortunately, her recipes she used for Thanksgiving dinner were "misplaced," until this last Spring when I think I found them in her notebook, but that was after Thanksgiving 2011.

Hubby and I talked about it and neither of us really knew what we wanted to make stuffing wise.  I couldn't find Grandma S's recipe, I never thought to ask Grandma J for hers, Hubby didn't have one that was important to his family so we were at a loss.  Then we thought, well heck, if we're making PW's turkey, why not make her stuffing from the throw down as well!  So that's just what we did.  And we really like it... just sayin :)!

And yes, the photo is still mine... Life's a Beach is my other blog! :)

Cornbread Dressing with Pancetta, Apples & Mushrooms - Ree Drummond

4 cups Cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes, Recipe follows (but we used the Jiffy box mix...)
4 cups French Bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cups crusty Artisan Bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (we couldn't find this so we subbed something else in, I can't remember what, just find something crusty!)
32 oz White button or Crimini mushrooms (we used the button mushrooms)
4 tbsp canola oil
3/4 tsp Kosher salt, divided
1/2 lb Pancetta, diced (yeah I don't think our stores knew what that was at the time, we used bacon.  Now it's available.)
2 cups Diced Onion
5 Granny Smith Apples, cut into large dice (sounds weird but it's good!)
5 tbsp Brown Sugar
1 cup White Wine
32 Fluid ounces very low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
Minced fresh parsley leaves

Allow the diced bread to sit out on a sheet pan for sever hours or overnight, until dried out.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Wash the mushrooms thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.  Toss in a bowl with the canola oil and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt; mushrooms will be very coated.  Divide the mushrooms between 2 sheet pans and roast in the upper half of the oven for at least 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through roasting.  Remove from the oven when the mushrooms are deep brown.  Set aside.

Reduce the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large skillet, cook the pancetta over medium-high heat until the fat is rendered and pancetta is golden brown.  Remove from the skillet and set aside.  Without cleaning the skillet, add in the onions and brown for 5 minutes.  Increase the heat and add the apples, brown sugar and 1/2 tsp salt.  Cook until deep golden brown, 3-5 minutes.

Decrease the heat to medium and pour in the wine (be careful if you're using an open flame).  stir and cook to reduce the liquid by half, 2-3 minutes.  Pour the apple/onion mixture into a bowl and set aside.

Return the skillet to medium heat (again, without washing) and add the chicken broth, thyme, turmeric, rosemary, the remaining 1/2 tsp salt and pepper.  Heat for a few minutes, then set aside.

Add the bread to a large bowl, and then add the browned pancetta, mushrooms and the apple/onion mixture (and any juices that might have accumulated).  Next, add the broth mixture gradually as you toss the ingredients, being prepared not to use all the liquid, according to your taste.

Check the seasonings at the end and add in the minced parsley.  Pour into a large baking dish or iron skillet and bake until golden brown on top, 20-25 minutes.  (Or you can stuff the turkey if you're into that kind of thing).

1/4 cups shortening, melted, plus 2 tbsp
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1 whole egg
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Heat 2 tbsp shortening in an iron skillet, muffin pan or other baking pan.  Combine the cornmeal, flour, and salt in a mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, milk and egg.  Add the baking powder and baking soda.  Stir.  Add the remaining 1/4 cup melted shortening, stirring constantly.  Pour into the hot pan, smoothing the surface with a spatula.  Bake until golden brown on top, 20-25 minutes.

Friday, November 16, 2012


There are some people who are not familiar with how easy it is to make applesauce. I am here to help! I typically use over fifty pounds of apples a year making applesauce. After several years, I finally started paying attention to the amounts of the ingredients that I was using. I use a variety of apples, sometimes in the same batch, but some of my favorites are Ida Reds, Cortlands, Macs and Crispins. A lot of people have their own personal specifications for how homemade applesauce should be with regards to sweetness, chunkiness and whether or not there is cinnamon. You can use what I have here as a jumping off point, then maybe tweak and play around with your next batch.

Sometimes I freeze the applesauce in zip-loc bags, and barely thawed sauce has become sort of a Thanksgiving tradition. However, this batch is getting processed in jars for easier gift giving at the holidays. (It is a hot item!)

I used about 30 large Cortland apples...
...and filled my 8 quart pot up to here...
I added 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon, then poured 1 cup of water over the top.

Cover and cook over medium to medium low heat for about two hours. (Nothing much really happens in the first hour.) Check on it every now and then, and give a stir.
Whoah, a bit of a boil. Time to take the lid off.
We like our applesauce smooth, so after the apples have cooked down and gotten mushy, I finish it off with a hand held immersion blender.
(Just before blending. See how much it cooks down.)
I take my jars right out of the dishwasher to fill them.
Leave 1/2" headspace in the jars, put the lids and rings on, then put in gently boiling water bath for 20 minutes.
Then put the jars on a towel to cool on the kitchen counter. Enjoy the smell of the kitchen and the sound of the lids sealing!
This batch made 8 pint sized jars, plus about a cup for us to put in the refrigerator.