Monday, October 17, 2011

Pies, pies and more pies

With Thanksgiving coming up, I thought I would do a post with some of our favorite pie recipes.  These are the pies I made last year for Thanksgiving.  Yum!
My favorite pie crust recipe is posted here.  
My favorite pecan pie recipe is posted here.  
My favorite apple pie recipe is posted here.
My favorite pumpkin pie recipes is here.

Blueberry Pie
1 recipe crust for a double-crust pie.
5 c. fresh or frozen blueberries (it is less runny if you use fresh)
2/3 to 3/4 c. sugar
3 T. flour
2 tsp. finely zested lemon peel OR ½ tsp. cinnamon (I like to use lemon peel)
Line a 9-inch pie pan with pie crust.
In a large bowl combine the sugar and flour. Stir in berries and lemon peel or cinnamon. Gently toss until coated. Transfer berry mixture to the pie shell. Trim bottom pastry to edge of pie pan. Place top crust over filling and seal edges. Cut slits in top crust.
If desired, brush top of pie with milk and sprinkle with sugar. To prevent over-browning, cover edges with foil. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes (or 60 minutes if using frozen fruit). Remove foil and bake for 20 minutes more or until filling is bubbly and pastry is golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Fresh Strawberry Pie
1 baked pie crust
8 cups medium fresh strawberries
2/3 c. water
2/3 c. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
Remove stems from strawberries, wash, and cut in half lengthwise. In a blender or food processor combine 1 cup of strawberries and 2/3 cup water. Cover and blend or process until smooth. Add enough additional water to the mixture to equal 1 ½ cups. In a medium saucepan combine sugar and cornstarch; stir in blended berry mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Cool for 10 minutes without stirring.
Spread about ¼ c. of the glaze over bottom and sides of baked pie crust. Arrange half of the remaining strawberries in pastry. Carefully spoon half of the remaining glaze over berries, making sure all berries are covered. Arrange remaining berries over first layer. Spoon remaining glaze over berries, covering each. Chill for 1 to 2 hours. (After 2 hours, filling may begin to water out.) If desired, top with whipped cream.

Razzleberry Pie
5 C. water
3 1/3 C. sugar
Bring to boil
1 pkg. frozen blackberries
Bring back to a boil.  Thicken ½ C. water with cornstarch (1 Tbsp.) Put back on stove until thickened.  Remove from heat. 
1 pkg. frozen raspberries
1 pkg. frozen blackberries
Pour into prepared pie crusts and refrigerate.  Makes 5 pies.

Rhubarb Pie
Pastry for 9" two crust pie
1 1/3-1 2/3 C sugar
4 C fresh rhubarb, cut up
1/3 C flour
3 Tbsp. orange juice
1/4 tsp. grated orange peel (optional)
2 Tbsp. butter
Stir together sugar, flour and orange peel.  Turn half of the rhubarb into pastry lined pie dish; sprinkle with half of the sugar mixture.  Repeat.  Dot with orange juice and butter.  Cover with top crust; seal and flute.  Cover the edge of the crust with foil until the last 15 minutes of baking.  Bake at 425 for 45 minutes.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Menu Organization

My cousin Krystal has a great interior design blog (Sassy Sanctuary), and I got this idea to make a week's menu organizer from her blog a few months ago. I finally got around to making it this weekend. I sent her the picture and she put it on her blog. Fun! I can't wait to use it!

Zebra Stripes

My daughter needed to take snacks to preschool again and this time it had to start with the letter Z. It took me a while to remember that I had this recipe for Zebra Stripes. Hello, perfect for 5 year olds! It was a lot easier than the recipe makes it seem like.

Zebra Stripes
3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of granulated sugar
2/3 cup of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 1/4 cup of margarine or butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 egg
1/4 cup of cocoa
Mix flour, sugars, vanilla, margarine, salt and egg until dough forms. Divide dough into halves. Mix cocoa into 1 half. Pat or roll each half into 9-inch square. Cut each square into three 3-inch strips. Cut strips crosswise into halves. Lift 1 brown strip half with large metal spatula onto plastic wrap. Top with 1 white strip half; press firmly. Top with remaining 10 brown and white strip halves, alternating colors and pressing firmly to form into a bar, about 4 1/2 inches long, 3 inches wide and about 3 inches high. Wrap into plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, 1 to 2 hours. Heat the oven to 375°. Cut bar crosswise into about eighteen 1/4-inch slices; cut each slice crosswise into halves. Bake cookies until edges begin to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Makes 36 cookies.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pineapple Cheeseball

1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese

½ c. crushed pineapple

1 tsp. minced onion

2 tsp. seasoning salt

1 Tbsp. finely chopped green pepper (optional)

Mix everything together. Shape into a ball. (I use saran wrap). At serving time, roll in sunflower seeds or slivered almonds if desired.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Cheese Fondue

Fondue is so delicious. I love this recipe, because it can be served as a snack, as part of your main course, or as an appetizer!

Cheese Fondue

1 1/2 cups milk

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, cubed

1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

In a large saucepan, cook and stir the milk and cream cheese over low heat until cheese is melted. Stir in Parmesan cheese and garlic salt; cook and stir until heated through. Transfer to a fondue pot or mini slow cooker; keep warm.

My favorite things to dip in cheese fondue:

Blanched broccoli, blanched cauliflower, crusty French bread, sliced pepperoni, sliced summer sausage, raw bell peppers.

To blanch a vegetable, boil in water for 2 minutes; just long enough to soften slightly.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Raspberry Star Cookies

My oldest is in preschool. Today she got to take snack to school, and it needed to start with the letter "r." I asked her what she wanted to take. She thought for a bit and then said raspberry cookies! So I found this recipe and they turned out pretty good. I skipped the glaze this time since they were for a bunch of preschoolers. That's just too much mess for them. :) I do have to say that the dough had a hard time staying together. It seemed like there was a little too much flour, so maybe next time I will add a bit less flour.

Raspberry Star Cookies
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8 ounce) jar raspberry preserves

  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg. Combine the flour and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Dough will be stiff. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough out to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into star shapes using a cookie cutter. Set cookies 1 inch apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Place a teaspoon of jam onto each cookie and spread out towards the points of the stars. Roll out remaining half of the dough and cut into stars the same size. cut holes in the center of each star, then place them onto the jam stars.
Bake for 7 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden around the edges. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. In a small bowl, mix together the confectioners' sugar and almond extract to form a glaze. Add water a teaspoon at a time if the mixture is too thick to drizzle. Drizzle glaze over cooled cookies.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

**Note: this can be made as white chocolate or chocolate. To do white chocolate, omit cocoa from crust and change chocolate chips to white chocolate chips.

4 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 c. sugar
Mix together.
¾ tsp. almond extract
¼ tsp. raspberry extract
Mix, then add:
4 eggs, 1 at a time
Mix well. Add 2 c. chocolate chips, melted. Pour over graham cracker crust in spring-form pan. Add decorator’s lines of raspberry sauce. Bake 55-60 minutes at 350. Top with raspberry sauce when serving.
Graham Cracker Crust
1 c. graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. cocoa (optional)
1/3 c. melted butter
Bake 360 for 6 minutes
Raspberry Sauce
10 oz. frozen sweetened raspberries
2 Tbsp. sugar
Mix in blender, and then strain seeds out.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Orange Berry Granola

The first time I looked at this recipe, it really seemed daunting. It was just so LONG. I finally tried making it. It was a LOT easier than it seems.


(There are eight variations to the master recipe. You can double the recipe, just bake it in two pans. 1 ½ recipe works on a sheet pan.)

Master Granola Recipe (makes about 1 quart)

Adjust oven rack to middle position, and heat oven to 275°. Coat a 9x13 metal pan with cooking spray, then set aside. Mix oats, wheat germ, brown sugar, salt, and extra ingredients (except not dried fruit or anything that gets added after it's cool such as chocolate chips) in a bowl. Bring syrup, oil, water, and any flavoring indicated below to a simmer in a saucepan over low heat. Drizzle over oat mixture and stir to combine. Pour mixture onto prepared pan. Working a handful at a time, squeeze cereal to form small clumps. Bake for 30 minutes. Stir in dried fruit. Continue to bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool. (Granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks.)

2 cups old-fashioned oats (don't use quick oats!)

1/2 cup wheat germ (store this in the fridge or better yet the freezer so it won't go rancid)

2 T. dark brown sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup extra ingredients (see complete list below)

1/4 cup maple syrup (or honey or molasses or a combination)

3 T. flavorless oil, such as vegetable or canola oil

1 T. water

flavoring (see below)

Granola Variations:

1. Classic Granola

Extra Ingredients: 1/3 c. chopped walnuts, 1/3 c. sweetened flake coconut, 1/3 cup dark or golden raisins

Flavoring: 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

You can replace the 1/4 c. maple syrup with 2 T. each of maple syrup and molasses.

2. Crunchy Granola

Extra Ingredients: 1/4 c. slivered almonds, 1/4 c. sunflower seeds, 2 T. sesame seeds, 6 T. currants

Flavoring: none

3. Granola with Tropical Flavoring

Add the coconut along with the cashews and banana chips.

Extra Ingredients: 1/4 c. chopped roasted unsalted cashews, 1/4 c. chopped banana chips, 1/4 c. sweetened flake coconut, 1/4 c. chopped dried pineapple

Flavoring: 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

4. Granola with Cherries and Almonds

Extra Ingredients: 1/3 c. sliced almonds, 1/3 c. sweetened flake coconut, 1/3 c. dried cherries

Flavoring: 3/4 tsp. almond extract

5. Trail Mix Granola

Extra Ingredients: 1/4 c. chopped roasted unsalted peanuts, 1/4 c. sweetened flake coconut, 1/4 c. dark or golden raisins, 1/4 c. mini chocolate chips*

Flavoring: none

*Stir chips into the granola only after it has completely cooled.

6. Orange-Berry Granola with Pecans

Extra Ingredients: 1/2 c. chopped pecans, 1/4 c. dried cranberries, 1/4 c. dried blueberries

Flavoring: 1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest

7. Pear Granola with Hazelnuts and Vanilla

Extra Ingredients: 1/2 c. chopped hazelnuts, 1/4 c. chopped dried cherries, 1/4 c. chopped dried pears

Flavoring: 1 tsp. vanilla extract

8. Orange-Flavored Granola with Pistachios, Mangoes and Dates

Extra Ingredients: 1/2 c. chopped roasted pistachios, 1/4 c. chopped dates, 1/4 c. chopped dried mangoes

Flavoring: 1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest and 1/4 tsp. allspice

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut butter and chocolate. How can your go wrong with this combination? These cookies are delicious and super soft if you cook them for the right amount of time. It is really important with this recipe to not over-bake them!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cream together (Blend at high speed for 4 minutes)
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. shortening
1 c. peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
Add the following, and blend in, the go to high speed for 1 minute
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
Mix the following ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well. Then add to creamed mixture:
2 ½ cups flour
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Blend in slowly. Then mix for about 1 minute.
1 ½ to 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Mix until dough comes cleanly off the sides (should be less than 1 minute). Spoon into rounds onto a baking pan. Smash lightly with a fork. Cook at 350 degrees for 12 minutes (bottom of cookies should not brown). Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Another Chili Recipe

This one is our family favorite for Chili.


2 lbs. ground beef

1 large onion

6 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. allspice

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. cumin

2 cans tomatoes (diced)

5 bay leaves

1 tsp. ground red pepper

1 ½ tsp. garlic powder

46 oz. tomato juice

6 dashes Tabasco sauce

6 dashes Worcestershire sauce

3 cans kidney beans

Brown ground beef with onion. You can also use 1 lb ground beef and add an extra can of kidney beans. Combine all ingredients and simmer. (We normally put this in the crock-pot all day)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Soft Pretzels

Soft Pretzels

1 ¼ c. warm water

2 T. dry yeast

½ tsp. sugar

3 – 3 ½ c. flour

2 T. water

Egg yolk

Pretzel salt

Dissolve warm water, yeast and sugar. Mix in flour. Knead for 8 minutes. Let rise in a greased bowl until double in size (45 min). Punch down and shape. Brush on egg yolk with 2 T. water. Sprinkle on salt. Place on greased cookie sheet. Let rise until double (20-30 min). Bake at 475° for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Poppy Seed Green Salad

Poppy Seed Green Salad

Iceberg, Romaine, and Red Leaf lettuce, torn in pieces

½ cucumber, sliced

2 cans mandarin oranges, drained (or sliced strawberries)

2 avocados, chopped

¾ C sliced almonds

Red onion rings (optional)

Crisp Chinese noodles

Poppy Seed Dressing

¾ C sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 C salad oil

1 Tbsp. poppy seeds

1 tsp. dry mustard

Dash of onion juice

½ C white vinegar

Mix dressing ingredients until sugar is dissolved, then refrigerate until serving time. Shake well before adding to greens, right before serving.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken & Dumplings

In a large soup pot, boil a whole chicken for 1 hour. (While chicken is cooking, prepare dumplings. Combine dough and roll out VERY thin. Cut into 1 inch squares. Allow to dry slightly.) Remove chicken from pot and allow to cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, strain liquid and return to pot, skimming fat if you need to. (Remove chicken from bones and reserve to add during last 5 minutes of cooking time.) Add chicken bouillon to taste (5-6 cubes). Add one onion, chopped, and about 1 lb. of carrots, chopped (3/4 c.). Boil until vegetables are soft. 45 minutes to 1 hour before serving, add dumplings a few at a time. Cook covered for 45 minutes, adding chicken for last 5 minutes of cooking time.

3 eggs
1/3 c. milk
3 T. butter
¼ tsp. salt
3 c. flour

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cooking Hiatus

As my very few loyal followers most likely know by now, we have bought a house. We are moving within a month, so I am going to be taking a break from this blog. I will be back once we're in our new house. Continue to use the great recipes on this site, and check back in mid-June. Happy cooking everyone!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Enchiladas Verdes

I got this recipe from my sister-in-law, who is from Mexico.  These enchiladas are SO good! 

Enchiladas Verdes

1 lb tomatillo tomatoes
5 to 7 serrano peppers (Remove seeds after cooking if you don't want it too spicy)
2 cloves of garlic
1 cube of chicken boullion
1 whole chicken
3 roma tomatoes
1 ½ medium-sized white onion
15 corn tortillas
Sour cream
¼ lb of panela cheese

For the sauce
Start boiling the tomatillos, the peppers, ¼ of the onion and the clove of garlic. Once the tomatillos have taken a yellowish color, they are done.  Drain ingredients and add to blender (remove seeds from the peppers if you don't want it too spicy). Blend everything together until completely pureed.
Put a little oil in a pan, only to season the sauce(about 1 tbsp.). Add the content of the blender and bring it to a boil for approximately 2 minutes.

For the chicken
Boil the chicken in a large stock pot with 1/4 of an onion, garlic, and chicken boullion.  Cook until done, about an hour.  Shred the chicken.  Chop the rest of the tomato and the rest of the onion into little squares. Place them in a pan over medium heat until the onion turns out to be transparent and the tomato has extracted all its juice. Then, add the shredded chicken and simmer.

When the sauce and the chicken is ready to serve, submerge the tortillas in the sauce (first, fry them in oil quickly to prevent tearing). Put chicken inside the tortillas and wrap or fold the tortillas neatly on a plate and put chicken on top. Add cream and cheese as desired.
I was given this award:

Saraplicious gave me this award, because I shared a recipe collection with her.  So what are the requirements for this award?

a) I must brag about it.
b) Display the badge on my blog and link to the one who tagged me to prove that I didn't tag myself (how pathetic that would be!)
c) I share 10 things about myself.
d) pass the award to other fellow bloggers by visiting their site.

I am not going to tag anyone specifically, but I will tag all of my faithful readers (all 3 of you). Have fun with this!

Ok, 10 things I want to share about myself...(I am theming this around the kitchen and my family, since that is where (and with who) I spend a lot of my time, and it's the theme of this blog!)

1. I am a stay at home mom to three great kids.
2. Call me old fashioned, but I love being able to have a wonderful meal ready on the table when my husband walks in the door after a long day of work.
3. I am a brand snob.  I really think that the no-name brands of food actually taste different.
4. I am cooking something new all the time.  I love trying new recipes.
5. I don't like baking nearly as much as I enjoy cooking.  Baking is too precise, and you can't experiment quite as much with it.
6. I have almost every appliance known to man. 
7. I have a HUGE kitchen and lots of cupboards, but they are all over-flowing.
8. I have quite the "staples stash" in my pantry.  You will find a lot of the basic staples in there at any given time.  I don't let myself run out.
9. My kitchen is almost never 100% clean - I am using way too much!
10. I am a military wife

Pasta with Herb Cream Sauce

This recipe I adapted from  Their recipe is a lot more fattening (surprisingly enough!), but this still tastes so good!  Even my kids devoured it.

Penne Pasta
4 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp. dried rosemary or 1 Tbsp. Fresh rosemary
1 C heavy cream
1 C milk
1/2 C parmesan cheese (or italian cheese blend)
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp. Parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium low heat. Stir in flour with a whisk and let cook for 1-2 minutes to create roux. While stirring constantly, slowly add in milk and cream. Cook until thickened. Add remaining ingredients. Serve over cooked pasta.  Serves 4.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Butternut squash soup

This is such a tasty soup.  I think it has become my new favorite.  For the bread bowls recipe, see this link

Butternut squash soup
6 cups (about 2 large squash) seeded 2-inch wide chunks butternut squash
Melted butter, for brushing
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon
3 cups chicken broth
4 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon minced ginger
4 ounces heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush the flesh of the squash with a little butter and season with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper. On a sheet pan lay the squash flesh side up. Roast for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the flesh is nice and soft.

Scoop the flesh from the skin into a pot and add the stock, honey, and ginger. Bring to a simmer and puree using a stick blender. Stir in the heavy cream and return to a low simmer. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Potato Casserole


• 6 cups frozen shredded hash browns
• 1 can (10 ¾ oz.) cond. cream chicken soup
• 1/2 soup can milk
• 1 cup sour cream
• 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
• 1/4 cup grated onion (optional)
• salt and pepper to taste
• 4 tablespoons butter, melted
• 1 1/4 cup corn flake crumbs

Cook fresh potatoes or thaw frozen potatoes.  Place potatoes in a 2-3 quart casserole dish or a 9x13 casserole dish.

Combine soup, milk, sour cream, cheese, and onion and salt and pepper to taste. If a saucier dish is desired, add 2-3 tablespoons additional milk. Mix well. Spread sauce over potatoes.

Melt butter and combine with corn flake crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs over casserole. Bake uncovered at 350 F for 30-45 minutes or until hot and bubbly throughout.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pecan Pie

This is my very favorite kind of pie. 

3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 C. corn syrup
1 C. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 C. pecan halves
1 unbaked pie shell (You can use your own recipe or see mine here)
In large bowl, stir together eggs, corn syrup, sugar, butter and vanilla until well blended. Pour into pie shell. Add pecans on top and bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chicken Tacos

If I had time to go to the store before I made this, there would be lettuce, cilantro and some really yummy home made salsa.  They were still good without them.

Chicken Tacos

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup lemonade/limeade
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ teaspoons cumin
¼ tsp chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder

1 (12 ounce) package flour tortillas
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 (8 ounce) package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 (8 ounce) jar salsa
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream

In a large skillet over medium heat, combine chicken, lemonade/limeade, olive oil, lime juice. Season with garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, onion powder. Simmer until chicken is no longer pink, and juices run clear, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm the tortillas in the oven or microwave until soft. When chicken is fully cooked, transfer to serving bowl. Place lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, salsa, and sour cream in serving dishes. Each person can create their own wrap, using their preferred ingredients.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cheese Enchiladas

Cheese Enchiladas

Corn tortillas
Monterey jack cheese or cheddar cheese
Green chiles
Shredded chicken (optional)
One recipe white sauce with added Monterey jack cheese and green chiles
Heat oil in small frying pan. Dip tortillas one by one in hot oil to soften. Roll ingredients inside tortillas and place sides touching in 9x13 baking dish. Pour white sauce over top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Basic White Sauce
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 C milk
Melt butter over medium low heat until melted.  Add flour and whisk together until blended.  Stir constantly until bubbly.  Very slowly, add milk while stirring constantly with a whisk.  Heat until thick, stirring constantly.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cooking Tips

Here are a few noteworthy tips I have picked up through my years of cooking.

- When measuring corn syrup or honey, spray your measuring cup with cooking spray before hand. 
- Beware of using foil to store anything with tomato sauce (or other highly acidic foods).  It creates a chemical reaction, causing aluminum salt to form, and sometimes it will leave pin-sized holes in the foil.
- When boiling pasta, to prevent boiling over, add a tsp or two of oil to the water.
- Peel your ginger then freeze it.  It will last a LOT longer than if you refrigerate it.
- Cottage cheese will remain fresher longer if you store it upside down in the refrigerator. This slows the effects of oxidation.
- Place a piece of bread in the container with your brown sugar if it hardens.  This will pull the moisture from the bread and add it to your brown sugar.  (But don't leave the bread in there for long!)
- To fix lumpy gravy, simply pour your gravy through a sieve or small strainer. 
- A little corn starch and water go a long way to instantly thicken a sauce. Just add 1 tbsp of corn starch to 2 tbsp of water and mix well. Stir it into simmering sauces for an instant thickener. Be careful to use just enough, and add the mixture SLOWLY while stirring constantly to prevent lumps!
- When baking pies, use a pie shield.  This will prevent the crust of the pie from browning too much.  You can also use aluminum foil around the edge. 

- Brush some beaten egg white over your pie crust or pastry before baking to yield a beautiful glossy finish.
- Leftover pie dough? Roll it out and spread it with butter, then cinnamon sugar.  Cut into bite size pieces and bake for 2-4 minutes.  Delicious pie crust cookies.
- When a chocolate recipe calls for flouring the baking pan, use a bit of cocoa instead of flour so there is no white "mess" on the outside of your cake or bread.
- Be sure there are no drafts where dough is rising. Drafts cause the dough to rise slowly and unevenly.
- Is your baking powder fresh? Put one tsp in 1/3 cup of water. If it does not fizz toss the baking powder-it's too old.
- When boiling corn on the cob, add a tablespoon of sugar to help bring out the corn's natural sweetness.
- Vegetables and chicken absorb marinades more quickly than pork or red meat.  3-4 hours is generally sufficient for chicken or vegetables, while pork or red meat need 6 or more hours - overnight is best.

Emergency Substitutions


  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch - 2 Tbsp. flour OR 1 Tbsp. quick cooking tapioca

  • 1 c. cake flour - 1 c. less 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour

  • 1 c. all purpose flour - 1 c. plus 2 Tbsp. cake flour

  • 1 square baking chocolate - 3 Tbsp. cocoa and 1 Tbsp. shortening or butter

  • 1 c. melted shortening - 1 c. oil (not for solid shortening)

  • 1 c. milk - ½ c. evaporated milk and ½ c. water

  • 1 c. sour milk or buttermilk - 1 Tbsp. vinegar and enough milk to measure 1 c.

  • 1 c. heavy cream - 2/3 c. milk and 1/3 c. butter

  • 1 c. heavy cream, whipped - 2/3 c. well chilled evaporated milk, whipped

  • 1 tsp. baking powder - ¼ tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp. cream of tartar OR ¼ tsp. baking soda and ½ c. sour milk, buttermilk, or molasses; reduce other liquid to ½ c.

  • 1 c. sugar - 1 c. honey; reduce other liquid ¼ c.; reduce baking temperature 25 degrees

  • 1 c. miniature marshmallows - 10 large marshmallows, cut up

  • 1 medium onion -  2 Tbsp. dried minced onion OR 1 tsp. onion powder OR 2 tsp. onion salt; reduce salt 1 tsp.

  • 1 garlic clove - 1/8 tsp. garlic powder OR ¼ tsp. garlic salt reduce salt 1/8 tsp. OR ½ tsp. minced garlic

  • 1 Tbsp. fresh herbs - 1 tsp. dried herbs OR ¼ tsp. powdered herbs OR ½ tsp. herb salt; reduce salt ¼ tsp.

  • 1 c. corn syrup - 1 c. sugar and ¼ c. water (or other liquid used in recipe)

  • 1 c. honey - 1 ¼ c sugar and ¼ c. water (or other liquid used in recipe)

  • 1 tsp. vanilla - 1 tsp. grated lemon peel or orange rind (will have a different flavor)
Use these tips and tricks at your own risk!  There may be more in the future, so stay tuned.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookie Logs

These little cookies are so melt in your mouth delicious, that it is hard to resist them!  They are good without being dipped in chocolate as well, but let's be honest.  Where can you go wrong when you add extra chocolate to something?  The shortbread cookies are very easy to make, so it's really a win-win recipe!

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookie Logs

1 c. butter, softened
½ c. sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
2 c. miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. shortening
¾ c. finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Grease baking sheets. Cream together butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Mix in the flour and then one cup of the chocolate chips. Shape dough into 2x1/2 in. logs. Place logs 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10-13 minutes in preheated oven, or until firm. Let cookies cool completely before removing from pan (shortbread is very brittle). Melt the remaining 1 c. chocolate chips and shortening over a double boiler, stirring frequently until smooth. Dip one end of each cookie into the chocolate then into the nuts. Place onto wax paper until set. Makes approx. 4 dozen.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Italian Bread Bowls and Broccoli Cheese Soup

Italian Bread Bowls
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
7 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
In a large bowl (or bowl of an electric mixer), dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
Add salt, oil and 4 cups flour to the yeast mixture; beat well. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well with an electric mixer at medium speed after each addition until a soft but not sticky dough is formed (you may not need to use all 7 cups).
When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes (or let knead in an electric mixer). Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Punch dough down, and divide into 6-8 equal portions. Shape each portion into a round ball. Place loaves on lightly greased baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal (or use silpat liners or parchment paper). Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, beat together egg white and 1 tablespoon water; lightly brush the loaves with half of this egg wash. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Brush with remaining egg mixture, and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.

Broccoli Cheese Soup
1 can chicken broth
1 small onion, diced
1/3 c. flour
1/4 c. butter
Pepper to taste
2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. shredded Swiss cheese
Steamed chopped broccoli
Simmer chicken broth and chopped onion for 15-20 minutes in a covered small saucepan, until onions are soft. Heat milk in microwave for 1-2 minutes. In a separate medium-sized stockpot, melt butter then add flour and pepper. Cook together for a couple of minutes, then whisk in warmed milk. Stir and heat together on medium-high heat until soup starts to thicken. Next add chicken broth and continue to stir until well blended. Add cheeses and steamed broccoli. Serve immediately.
Makes approximately 4 servings

Monday, November 16, 2009

English Muffin Loaves

My sister passed this recipe along to me. 

I love English Muffins.  They are so tasty, but they can get pricey, so we don't always have them on hand.  This bread tastes like English Muffins.  Just toast a few slices and yum!

2 pkg. yeast
6 C. flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 C. milk
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ C. water

Combine 3 C. flour, yeast, sugar, salt and baking soda. Heat liquids until very warm. Add to dry mixture; beat well. Stir in remaining flour to make a stiff batter. Spoon into 2 loaf pans that have been greased and sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover; let rise in a warm place 45 minutes. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and cool. Slice and toast. Makes 16 slices per loaf.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chicken Marinade

Chicken Marinade

1 cup soy sauce
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 cup water

Marinate chicken strips all day. Broil for 10 minutes or so, depending on how thick you cut the strips. This also works great on chicken breasts on the grill.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dinner Nachos

This is my dinner in a pinch solution.  I need to go to the store.  Desperately.  I am out of nearly everything.  This is a meal that was thrown together with what I had on hand.  It turned out pretty good, and even the kids liked it.

1 pound ground beef
1 package Taco Seasoning Mix
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
Thick & Chunky Salsa
Shredded Cheddar cheese
Shredded lettuce
Tortilla chips
Cook beef and taco seasoning in skillet until browned. Pour off fat. Add beans, and tomatoes. Heat to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat 5 min. or until done. Pour into casserole dish and top with cheese.  Broil for a few minutes until  cheese is melted.  Top with salsa and lettuce. Serve with tortilla chips for dipping.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Spicy Italian Sausage and Black Bean Soup

As the cold weather hits us, soup season is here!  Here is a recipe we tried out the other day.  It was yummy!  My three year old loved it, even though the sausage I used was on the spicier side.  If you don't want it so spicy, just use a mild italian sausage.  I cook spicy things alot, so my kids are used to it.  Sometimes I won't feed them the same thing as us if what I am cooking is extra spicy. 

I am not a fan of using wine to cook with - I just don't like the flavor.  In place of the red wine in this recipe, I just used an extra cup of beef broth.  I also had run out of celery and didn't want to go to the store.  I used celery seed to give the flavor.  I don't like using spinach in soup, so it was really just a personal preference to leave that out.  I'm sure it would be just as good with it in it. 

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 pound spicy Italian sausage
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 russet potato, cubed
5 stalks celery, diced
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 (32 fluid ounce) container beef broth
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup uncooked rotini pasta
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
salt and black pepper to taste

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook the Italian sausages in the hot oil, turning occasionally, until browned on the outside and no longer pink in the center, 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool; remove all but 1 tablespoon of grease from the pot.

Stir the garlic, onion, carrot, potato, and celery into the hot fat. Cook until the vegetables are tender and the onion has turned translucent, about 7 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste until no lumps remain; pour in the red wine. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the liquid has reduced by half, stirring frequently to dissolve the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the beef broth, black beans, and diced tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 1 hour.

Cut the cooled sausage into 1/2-inch thick slices. Stir the sausage into the soup along with the rotini pasta, spinach, and dried oregano. Simmer until the pasta is tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in the chopped basil and season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Parmesan Chicken

My husband raves about this recipe. 

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 egg
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Flatten chicken to 1/4-in. thickness. I use a freezer zip lock bag, place in chicken, then use a rolling pin to beat the chicken down. In a shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and basil. In another bowl, beat the egg. Dip chicken into egg, then coat with crumb mixture. In a 13X9 baking dish place chicken breasts. Bake in preheated oven on 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cherry Crunch Cake

This cake is such a weakness of mine... I love it.

1 can cherry pie filling
1 Tbsp. almond extract
1 cake mix (white or yellow)
1 stick butter, melted
Mix cherry pie filling and almond extract in bottom of 8x8 pan. In separate bowl mix dry cake mix, butter and pecans. Layer on top of cherry mixture. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until nicely golden and filling bubbles.

I normally use a yellow cake mix.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Curried Honey Mustard Chicken

We are big fans of curry at our house (even the kids love it).  Add some to a honey mustard sauce, and you have got some seriously yummy chicken on your hands. 

1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup Dijon-style prepared mustard
4 teaspoons curry powder
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

In a medium bowl combine the melted butter/margarine, honey, mustard, curry powder and cayenne powder. Mix well. Place chicken breasts in a 9x13 inch baking dish and pour honey/mustard mixture over chicken. Cover and place in refrigerator. Marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Remove dish from refrigerator and bake, covered, in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove cover and bake about 10 minutes more, or until done and juices run clear (baking time will depend a little on how thick your chicken breasts are - I use pretty thick chicken breasts, so I cooked it for 20 minutes covered and another ten or so uncovered).

So I didn't decide to make this until it was way too late to marinate it for that long.  I only was able to get about an hour of marinating in.  So I used my newest favorite kitchen gadget - the meat injector. 

Have you ever used one of these?  I mentioned it here, also. I just got some of the sauce in here and injected it right into the chicken.  Yum.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Onion Mushroom Meatloaf

Normally, I use Lawry's meatloaf seasoning to make meatloaf.  When our youngest was born, we had a neighbor bring us some meatloaf for dinner.  It was so tasty, and I just couldn't resist asking for the recipe.  I made it again the other night, and it was a hit.

Preheat oven to 350°

1 envelope Lipton Onion-Mushroom Soup Mix
1 1/2 lbs ground beef (as lean as possible)
1 c. soft bread crumbs
1 egg
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. catsup
In medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Shape into loaf in a shallow pan. Bake uncovered approximately 1 hour
1/4 c. catsup
3 T brown sugar
2 T Dijon-style mustard.
Spread topping on top of meatloaf halfway through baking time (1/2 hr) Return to oven.
Serves 6

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fish Cakes

Fish is not one of my favorite things.  I have always liked shellfish and canned tuna.  I have also always liked fish sticks....Anyway, I made these with Halibut, and they are now on my "regular dinners" list.  So good!

1 lemon
1 ¼ lbs. fresh flaky fish (cod, halibut, mahi-mahi, or canned tuna)
¼ c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. seafood seasoning blend
2 ribs celery (hearts) and their greens, finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
2-3 T. chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 2 tsp. dried thyme)
3-4 T. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
salt & pepper to taste
1 egg
2 c. plain bread crumbs (or 4 slices toast processed to crumbs in food processor)
In a large, nonstick skillet, bring ½ inch water to a simmer. Zest a lemon and reserve. Cut lemon and season the fish with lemon juice and salt and add to simmering water. Cover pan and cook fish about 8 min. Remove and flake fish into a bowl. Discard water and wipe out pan, returning it to medium heat and add oil. To the fish, add reserved lemon zest, seafood seasoning, celery, onion, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. Add egg and 1 c. of the bread crumbs. Form 8 fish patties (I only made six, but I also only used about a pound of fish) and carefully toss in remaining bread crumbs to set the patties. Cook the patties in the oil for 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown. Serve with a lemon on the table to squeeze over the patties.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mom’s Chili

This is a mild recipe for chili, but still oh so good. Don't worry, you will get a few more chili recipes throughout the winter.

1 lb. ground beef, cooked and drained
½ onion, chopped
1 can light kidney beans
2 cans dark kidney beans
1 20 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
½ tsp. - 1 tsp. salt (to taste)
2-3 tsp. chili powder
Dash pepper
Sautee ground beef and onion together. Add all ingredients into a pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Magic Cookie Bars

1 graham cracker crust
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 bag white chocolate chips
1 bag peanut butter chips
1 bag coconut
Line bottom of 9x13 baking dish with graham cracker crust. Then add ½ can of sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and coconut. Drizzle remaining milk over top. Bake 30 minutes at 350.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chicken Cannelloni

I was flipping through the pages of a magazine this afternoon and saw an advertisement for an italian frozen meal. It was not anything I had attempted to make before, or even seen a recipe for. So I went in search. I found a recipe that looked pretty good and changed a few things. My husband had requested teriyaki chicken for dinner, but this just looked too good to pass up. After we finished eating, he said he was very glad that I did not make the teriyaki chicken. Thanks, honey!

1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. instant chicken bouillon
1/8 tsp. white pepper
2 c. light cream or half and half
1/2 c. combined grated Parmesan and Romano cheese

8 manicotti shells
2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. sliced green onion
8-10oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
2 c. finely chopped chicken
1/2 c. combined grated Parmesan and Romano cheese
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. pepper
Sauce: saute garlic in butter 3 minutes. Stir in flour and seasonings. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in cream. Bring to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Reduce heat to low. Stir in cheese until melted (set aside).
Cannelloni, boil shells according to package directions. Rinse and drain. Meanwhile, saute onion in butter until tender (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in remaining ingredients.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill shells. Place in buttered 2 quart rectangular baking dish. Spoon sauce over filled cannelloni. Bake 20 minutes. Then broil several inches from source of heat about 5 minutes or until sauce becomes golden and bubbles (serve immediately).

Spiced Cider

I got this recipe from my neighbor. It was really good. Thanks Kayla!

1/3 c. brown sugar
2 quarts apple juice
1 t. whole allspice
1 1/2 t. whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 oranges sliced with the peels on

Combine the brown sugar and apple juice in the crockpot. Tie the spices in cheese cloth and add to crockpot. Cover and simmer on low for 2-8 hours.

Pumpkin Pie Bites

If you don't visit Bakerella's website, I highly recommend it for some baking fun. I got the recipe for these here.

Pumpkin Pie Bites
2 refrigerated ready-to roll pie crusts

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter

1/2 cup chocolate morsels
vegetable oil
re-sealable plastic bags
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Use cookie cutter to cut 12 pumpkin shapes from each pie crust. You will need to roll the dough thinner than it comes out of the box.Press dough shapes into a 24 cup mini muffin tray. (Make 12 at a time, alternating cups to make sure pie crusts don’t overlap each other.)Apply egg whites from one egg to the top edges of each pie.
Mix cream cheese, sugar, canned pumpkin, remaining 2 eggs, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice together until thoroughly combined.Spoon mixture into each pumpkin-shaped pie crust.Bake for 12-15 minutes.
Remove pies to cool and repeat with second pie crust. Place the muffin tray in the freezer to cool it quickly for re-use.
Makes 24 pies. Keep refrigerated.

To decorate, melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave on medium. Heat in 30 second intervals, stirring in between until melted. Add a little vegetable oil to make the chocolate more fluid. Transfer to a re-sealable plastic bag and cut the corner off. Drizzle or draw faces on pies.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Frozen pizza...or homemade pizza?

You can buy a frozen pizza at the grocery store for anywhere between $1 and $10. Some taste like cardboard, some taste pretty good. To me, however, homemade pizza is so much better. There are times when a frozen pizza is just too easy to pass up, though. I have found a solution! I made some pizza dough, flattened it out on a pan, then stuck it in the freezer. I also made some extra pizza sauce, put it in a baggie, and stuck it in the freezer, as well. I normally keep some grated mozzarella cheese in the freezer. So there you have it. Fresher ingredients than a frozen pizza, and better tasting, too! Plus it's there and easy for the husband to take out the freezer on nights when you want a break from cooking!

Pizza Dough
1 ½ c. flour
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. oil
1 pkg. active dry yeast
½ c. warm water
Mix yeast in water. Add flour, salt and oil. Knead well. Cover with cloth and let rise approximately 15-30 minutes. (Double for one large round pizza)

Fast Pizza Sauce
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano (or Italian seasoning)

Quiche Lorraine

There are many different types of quiche. There is the crab kind, the ham kind, the vegetable kind, and the bacon kind. This is one of my favorites.

1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie (you can get the recipe here)
12 slices bacon
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/3 cup minced onion
4 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups light cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
Place bacon in a large skillet, and fry over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels, then chop coarsely. Sprinkle bacon, cheese and onion into pastry shell.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, salt, sugar and cayenne pepper. Pour mixture into pastry shell.
Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce heat to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C), and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean. Allow quiche to sit 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.