Monday, December 20, 2010

Banana Cream Dessert

Banana cream pie is one of my favorite desserts.  This is SO easy, quick, and in my opinion, every bit as delicious as banana cream pie.   I have made this many times and have been very pleases with the results each time.

Sunday Desserts 003

Banana Cream Dessert
Adapted from Cooks.com

Ingredients:
Crust:
1 and 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/3 c. melted butter or margarine
3 T. sugar
Filling:
1 c. powdered sugar
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
12 oz. Cool Whip
4 bananas
2 (3.4 oz.) boxes instant vanilla pudding
3 c. milk

Directions:
Stir together crust ingredients and press into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Cook at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes (I usually do about 8). Cool.

Mix together in a bowl (using a mixer) powdered sugar, cream cheese, and 9 oz. of the cool whip. Spread over crust. Cover with sliced bananas.

Mix 2 boxes of pudding with milk for a couple minutes and spread over bananas.  Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow to set up.  Spread the rest of the cool whip on top before serving (this can also be done in advance).

Notes:
-- I allow it to set up for at least an hour in the fridge, but the recipe didn’t say to do that.  I just like to make sure it’s set before serving.

-Paula

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Double Chocolate Dream Cookies

What's that you say?  Cookie week was last week?  Well, I just can't help but share this cookie recipe today.  It's been in my arsenal for several years now, and it's definitely a keeper.  It's nice and versatile, too.  We originally found the recipe on the back of the bag of Nestle Toll House chocolate chips years ago while we were in college.  What a wonderful find that was!
 

Double Chocolate Dream Cookies
adapted from Nestle Toll House
Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa
2 1/4 cups flour
2 cups chocolate chips*
*see Notes

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and both kinds of sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.  Sprinkle salt and baking soda into the bowl and mix briefly to combine.  Add cocoa and mix well.  Add flour and mix.  Finally, stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by the teaspoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes or until just set.  Allow to set up on the baking sheet for at least two minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

Notes:
--I make this recipe with many different types of chips.  I used white chocolate chips for the ones in the photo.  You can also use peanut butter chips or semisweet chocolate chips or milk chocolate chips or any combination, really.  My favorite is half white chocolate and half semisweet chocolate.
--I measure my cocoa as a heaping 1/2 cup.  I like my cookies nice and chocolatey, so I almost use 3/4 cup.
--Try not to overbake these cookies or they will be too crispy.  I wait until large cracks form on the tops of the cookies and they no longer have that wet doughy look.

Enjoy!
-Jennie

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chicken Enchilada Soup

This is another recipe that came from my sister's mission.  It is one of the easiest soups I’ve ever made and it’s delicious!  It makes a lot of soup so it’s good for a crowd.

IMG_4896

Chicken Enchilada Soup
From Jamie Hansen

Ingredients:
1 can (29.2 oz) enchilada sauce
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
2 cans chicken broth
2 uncooked chicken breasts

Spanish rice (Lipton works well but you can use another brand)
1 can black beans
2 cups corn (I just did one can of corn last time)

Directions:
Put the first 4 ingredients in your crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. Remove chicken, shred/cut and return to pot. Prepare spanish rice. Add beans, corn, and as much rice as you want.
Garnish with all kinds of yummy things like: tortilla chips, cheese, avocado, sour cream, olives, and green onions.

Notes:
--I halved this recipe last night with great success.  It serves 4-5 people when halved (depending one how much each person eats).
--I usually add about 3/4 of the rice.
--This soup is absolutely delicious with avocado on top.  I didn’t get a picture after adding avocado, but it is a necessary addition when I make this soup. Trust me, it’s delicious!

-Paula

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Chicken and broccoli casserole was a staple in our house growing up.  It's fast and easy and delicious.  In recent years, though, I have been trying to cut back on processed foods like condensed soup in order to try and be a little more healthy.  I took my inspiration from Mel's Kitchen Cafe where she reinvented the sauce for Hawaiian Haystacks.  I adjusted the ingredients and the amounts to get the flavor and consistency that I wanted.  Now I don't make it any other way!  My sister and husband (who are both used to the old way) both agreed they like this way even better.  It's nice when the healthier way ends up being more flavorful. 


Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
Ingredients:
1 lb. chicken
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
garlic salt, to taste
2 cups chopped broccoli

Sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup chicken broth (I use fat free, low sodium)
1 cup milk
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

grated cheddar cheese, to taste
rice, for serving

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and start cooking rice.  Cut chicken into bite sized pieces, season with salt, pepper, and garlic salt and cook in a little bit of olive oil over medium heat until the chicken is done.  Remove from heat.  Meanwhile, steam your broccoli until crisp tender.  Set aside.

Prepare sauce by melting butter over medium high heat in a medium saucepan.  Add onions and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes.  Whisk in flour all at once and cook for a minute or two.  Slowly pour in milk and chicken broth while whisking continuously.  Add salt and pepper.  Whisk constantly until sauce thickens.  Stir in cooked chicken.

Assemble casserole by spreading the steamed broccoli evenly over the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 baking pan.  Pour chicken and sauce over the broccoli.  Top with grated cheddar cheese.  Bake until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling, 15-20 minutes.  Serve over rice.

Notes:
--Even though this way is healthier, it is also more time consuming to make the sauce from scratch.  If you're in a pinch for time or just want something even more simple, just mix one can cream of chicken soup with 1/2 can (the empty soup can) of milk and mix with the chicken.  Assemble casserole in the same way.
--If your kids (or you!) don't like pieces of onions you can substitute onion powder (add it with the flour) or 1/4 onion grated (add it with the milk and chicken broth) in the sauce.  You can also use garlic powder if you don't have fresh garlic on hand.

Enjoy!
-Jennie

Monday, December 13, 2010

Creamy One Pot Pasta

This is a very flavorful and easy dish.  It comes together in one pot which is always nice, and the pasta cooks in chicken broth which makes it really flavorful. I’m always on the look out for dishes without meat that also feel complete and this is one.  Don’t get me wrong, I love meat, but meatless meals are sure cheaper and easier.  I’m grateful to my sister-in-law, Heather for introducing me to this recipe!

IMG_4862

Creamy One Pot Pasta
From Heather

Ingredients:
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
3 cans (5 and 1/4 cups) chicken broth
1 lb. uncooked pasta (I used bow tie)*
1 head broccoli (2 cups)
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
grated parmesan

Directions:
Cook garlic in 1 tbsp. oil in a large pot for a minutes or until fragrant. Add broth, cover, and bring to boil. Stir in pasta, cover and cook for 6-7 minutes. Meanwhile, chop broccoli and carrots and pepper. Cut cream cheese into cubes. Add veggies, cheese, salt and pepper to pot. and stir until cream cheese is melted (do not drain pasta). Reduce heat, cover and cook 4-5 minutes or until vegetables and noodles are tender.

Notes:
--I put a little extra carrots because I love them.
--Depending on how soft you like you veggies, alter how much time you cook your noodles before adding the veggies.  If you like you veggies kind of crisp, cook noodles for a little longer before adding veggies and the opposite if you like them really soft.
--The original recipe called for a jar of sun dried tomatoes rather than red bell pepper, but since they’re expensive and I like peppers I changed that. I think you can pretty much put in whatever veggies you like.
--This makes a lot of food.  I usually half the recipe when I’m cooking just for my family (3 of us eating) and we still have some leftovers.

-Paula

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cookie Week: Snickerdoodles

I can't believe Cookie Week has already come to a close!  Time sure does have a tendency to fly by especially fast this time of year.  To end our week of cookies, I chose a classic: snickerdoodles.  You can't really go wrong with snickerdoodles.  And the recipe I turn to without fail simply comes from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (or as my family always calls it, the Checkerboard Cookbook).  I have made this recipe countless times, and it never fails to turn out wonderful results.


Snickerdoodles
from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and egg and mix well.  Mix in baking soda and cream of tartar.  Finally, mix in flour until well combined.  

Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl.  Roll cookie dough into 1 inch balls and then roll to coat in cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes.

Notes:
--The one trick of this recipe is not to overbake them.  Take them out when they are just barely set and have large cracks in the tops.  Once they start to get golden brown on the edges, they are overdone and will be crispy.  If you take them out at the right time, they will stay nice and soft as long as they are kept in an airtight container.
--The original recipe calls to refrigerate the dough for an hour before rolling out the cookies.  I never do this because the dough is pretty manageable on its own.
--This recipe is pretty small and makes just about 2 dozen cookies.  However, from extensive experience I can tell you that it works great doubled or even tripled.

Enjoy!
-Jennie

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cookie Week: Pumpkin Cookies

This is a recipe that my sister got while on her mission.  I’m so glad that she shared this recipe with us because it is now one of my favorite recipes.  The cookies are extremely soft and have a wonderful flavor to them and the brown sugar frosting just puts them over the top!


Pumpkin Cookies
From Jamie Hansen

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour

Directions:
Mix butter and sugar until well combined.  Add egg, pumpkin, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and vanilla and mix.  Add flour and mix until well incorporated.  Batter will be somewhat wet.   Place small spoonfuls of batter on a lightly greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Caramel Frosting

Ingredients:
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
Combing first three ingredients in pan and bring to boil (stirring frequently).  Boil for one minute and then remove from heat.  Add vanilla and powdered sugar and stir to combine.  Add more milk if needed.

Notes:
--Don’t be afraid to add more milk to the caramel frosting.  It should be thin enough that you can frost the cookies by spooning the glaze on each cookie but thick enough that it doesn’t run off the sides.  You can also return the pan of frosting to the heat if you need to thin it down.  I have always ended up adding a little extra milk when I make it (I’ll have to pay attention next time so I can change the recipe accordingly).

-Paula

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cookie Week: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

What a wonderful week.  I sure love cookies.  

This recipe came to me from a friend when I was in college.  She brought these cookies in to share one day, and I was beside myself they were so delicious.  I loved everything about them.  I begged her for the recipe, which she gave me willingly (no begging was actually necessary, I just couldn't help myself).  If you like peanut butter and chocolate together, these are for you.  Really.  They may seem simple, but oh boy are they amazing!


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Kaylene


Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 1/3 cup oats (not instant)
1 bag (12 oz) chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, peanut butter, and both kinds of sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.  Sprinkle salt and baking soda into the bowl and briefly mix to combine.  Add flour and oats and mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by the spoonfuls on an ungreased baking sheet and bake until lightly golden, 9 to 11 minutes.

Notes:
--When I use peanut butter in baking I buy the cheap generic stuff because peanut butter can be so expensive.  I've used both name brand and generic in these cookies, and as far as I can tell, it doesn't make a difference.  I would stay away from the natural peanut butters that separate and need to be stirred though.
--My favorite baking sheets are actually jelly roll pans.  The light metal and the rim on the pan make for perfectly baked cookies.  It's wonderful.  I highly recommend them.

Enjoy!
-Jennie

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cookie Week: Rolo Cookies

Yay for cookie week!  As always, the recipes that we are posting this week are recipes that we have used many times and plan to make many times in the future.   This recipe is no exception.  One of my favorite cookies happens to be a deliciously rich chocolate cookie with a rolo in the middle.  The candy melts to make these cookies gooey and perfect.

IMG_4500

Rolo Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour
48 rolos (one package)
2 tablespoons sugar

Directions:
Beat sugars and butter until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla and mix.  Add flour, cocoa, and soda and blend well.  Shape cookies into small balls. Press rolo into center of ball and cover with dough (form a dough ball around a rolo). Roll cookie in sugar. Bake on un-greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, until tops of cookies are slightly cracked. Cool on racks.

Notes:
--As you can see this recipe makes about 48 cookies. So if you don't want tons of cookies you could do half of the recipe. But, the girl who gave me this recipe said that the dough balls freeze well and then you can make them whenever you want fresh cookies. I haven't tried that yet, but I bet it would be lovely.

-Paula

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cookie Week: Oatmeal White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

It's Cookie Week here at PJ's Recipe Box!  We've been planning to have cookie week sometime this month since we started our blog.  Imagine our surprise, then, when the Pioneer Woman announced last week that it was Cookie Week.  'Tis the season for cookies, it seems!  We may be a week later than the rest of the internet, but we've got some great cookie recipes coming up this week.  Stay tuned!

To start off this glorious week, I'm sharing one of my most recent favorites.  The dried cranberries make them festive, and the white chocolate chips give them a wonderful rich flavor.  I especially like that these cookies have much less sugar than most recipes, but they still taste nice and sweet.  Plus, they have oatmeal in them, which automatically makes them healthy.  Right?  Right?? ;)


Oatmeal White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
adapted from oceanspray.com


Ingredients:
2/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups oats (not instant)
3 ounces sweetened dried cranberries (half of a regular sized bag)
1 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.  Next, add the baking soda and salt and briefly incorporate.  Add flour and then add oats and mix until well combined.  Stir in cranberries and white chocolate chips.

Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet, and bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden on top. Cool for a couple minutes on the baking sheet before moving to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Notes:
--These cookies end up staying small and more rounded than other recipes.  Don't be alarmed when they don't flatten out as much as you might expect.
--I like to use dark brown sugar in all my cookies.  It gives them a richer flavor.
--Despite the cranberries and oatmeal, my two year old son loves these cookies.  They are definitely a crowd pleaser!

Enjoy!
-Jennie

Friday, December 3, 2010

Minestrone Soup

This is a warm and hearty soup that also happens to be incredibly easy to make!  It's perfect for a weeknight meal during the winter, and it's also tasty enough to serve to guests.  Thanks to Paula for finding this one from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.



Minestrone Soup
Ingredients:
3 cans (14 oz. each) beef broth, or about 5 1/4 cups
1 can (15 oz.) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups vegetable juice (like V-8)
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
2 cups cooked pasta
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, cut into strips
Parmesan cheese

Directions:
In a large pot combine broth, beans, tomatoes, vegetable juice, tomato paste, sugar and Italian seasoning.  Bring to a boil and add mixed vegetables.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add spinach and cooked pasta and heat through.  Serve topped with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Notes:
--I highly recommend making the soup up to the point where it has simmered for 10 minutes the night before you serve it.  This soup benefits greatly in flavor from being refrigerated overnight.  Then you can simply heat up the soup while you cook your pasta and chop your spinach that night.  All it takes is a little planning ahead and it's super easy and fast.
--This soup tastes delicious served with rolls.  I recommend these beauties.
--This would be a truly vegetarian meal if you substitute vegetable stock for the beef broth.

Enjoy!
-Jennie

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Scotcharoos

If you like rice krispie treats, peanut butter and chocolate, you will love these!  This is another family favorite that we grew up with.  The scotch part of the name refers to the butterscotch chips that are melted with the chocolate to make the delicious topping.  Seriously, how can you go wrong with a peanut butter rice krispie treat with chocolate on top?

IMG_4577

Scotcharoos

Ingredients:
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips

Directions:
In saucepan mix corn syrup and sugar over heat until just starting to boil. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter. Pour over rice krispes (in large bowl) and mix until evenly coated. Spread mixture in greased 9x13 pan.

In saucepan, melt chocolate and butterscotch chips over low heat until melted. Pour over bars and spread evenly. Let cool until chocolate sets up. If you want them to set up quickly put them in the fridge/freezer (though be careful how long you refrigerate them as they get really hard when cold).

Notes:
--A trick for handling the sticky mixture without having it stick to your hands is to get your hands wet with a little cold water.
--My parents used this same rice krispie mixture to make Easter eggs a couple times.  Just shape into eggs shape balls and then roll into chocolate.  Then place on wax paper until chocolate sets up.

-Paula

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie Bites

I have a new dessert obsession.  They have been dubbed Pie Bites by the members of my family.  I take ideas from my favorite pie and cheesecake flavors, and make a mini version using a mini muffin pan.  The options are truly endless.  So far I have made banana cream, German sweet chocolate, peppermint, and the one I am sharing with you today: pumpkin cheesecake.

I'm pretty sure this is my favorite variation to date.  The pumpkin flavor is not overpowering, and the ginger snap crust and caramel topping really complement it well.  


Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie Bites
filling adapted from Our Best Bites

Ingredients:
Crust:
1 cup ginger snap crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup white chocolate chips, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
pinch of cloves (about half as much as your nutmeg)

Topping:
sweetened whipped cream
caramel sauce (recipe to follow)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a mini muffin pan.  Pulse together ginger snap crumbs, brown sugar, melted butter, and salt.  Scoop a scant tablespoon into each of the 24 mini muffin cups.  Press down into the bottom using anything that fits well (the back of my tablespoon happens to fit perfectly, so that's what I use).  Bake for 8 minutes, and then remove from the oven and set aside.  Reduce heat to 325 degrees.

Meanwhile, prepare filling. Melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave at 30 second intervals, whisking in between, until smooth.  Set aside.  Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Add egg and beat until smooth.  Add pumpkin, vanilla, and spices, and continue to beat.  Pour in melted chocolate slowly while the mixer is still running to avoid lumps.  Mix until smooth.

Pour filling over crusts and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until cheesecake is just set in the middle.  Cool completely before removing from the pan.  Chill for at least two hours.  Store in the refrigerator.  Garnish with sweetened whipped cream and caramel sauce before serving.

Notes:
--I make sweetened whipped cream by adding 1/4 cup powdered sugar to 1 cup whipping cream and whipping until stiff peaks form.
--Like all cheesecakes, these taste even better after being refrigerated overnight.  I highly recommend it if you have the time.
--Wait to garnish with whipped cream and caramel sauce until just before serving.  The leftovers actually hold up pretty well in the fridge or even in the freezer, but there's always the risk of the whipped cream breaking down.
--You can use store bought caramel sauce if you want, but homemade caramel sauce is much easier than I thought, and it uses basic ingredients.  I've had success with the Pioneer Woman's recipe that follows.

Easy Caramel Sauce
from Pioneer Woman
Ingredients:
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup half and half
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla

Directions:
Combine butter, brown sugar, half and half, and salt in a medium saucepan.  Whisk constantly over medium low heat for 5-7 minutes, until it is thick and bubbling.  Add vanilla and continue to cook and whisk for another minute or two.  Pour into a jar and refrigerate until ready to use.  Before using, microwave the sauce for about 30 seconds to make it thin enough to drizzle.

Enjoy!
-Jennie

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Dinner Rolls

This is a recipe that our parents have used for years and years.  Back in their newlywed days they found that this recipe not only made delicious rolls, but required no kneading and basic ingredients.  I personally never get tired of these rolls.  
 
IMG_4603

IMG_4600

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Dinner Rolls

Directions/Ingredients:

Dissolve 1 pkg. yeast in 1/2 cup warm water.
Add:
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
Let stand for 20 minutes.

Scald 1 cup milk.
Add:
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
Cool then add 2 beaten eggs.

Combine all with 4 and 1/2 cups flour. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Roll out 2 hours before serving (so that they can rise). Using half the dough at a time, roll out to a big round circle and make diagonal cuts to form triangles.  Roll up triangles to make a crescent shape.  Place on greased sheet, and let rise for at least an hour (or until doubled in size). Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Notes:
--If you forget to make the dough the night before (which I have done more than once) it can me made in the morning.  Just stir the dough a little extra and it will rise just fine.  I find if I have less time it works better to leave the dough out on the counter to allow for a faster rise.  Once it is doubled in size it can be refrigerated until ready to use.
--The amount of flour needed will vary depending on how you measure and the altitude you live at.  I find that mine needs an extra half cup when I do it.  The recipe makes a really wet dough, but you don’t want it to be too loose or it won’t roll out. 
--When I make them I brush melted butter on them when they come out of the oven.  This adds to the flavor but is definitely not necessary.

-Paula

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Roundup

Hello Friends!

Paula and I are going to take a little break for Thanksgiving and enjoy the time together as a family.  I love Thanksgiving at home, and I hope to pick up some good tips and recipes from my dad as he prepares our glorious feast.

Since our blog is so new, we don't have an arsenal of holiday recipes to share with you.  (Also, like I mentioned, neither of us is cooking a Thanksgiving meal this year because we are going to be spoiled by my dad's cooking. :) )

Instead, I thought I'd leave you with some links to some Thanksgiving recipes and tutorials from a few of our favorite food blogs.

Picture from Our Best Bites

Annie's Eats has some great tips if you are in charge of preparing the meal yourself.  Her three-part prep series almost makes me want to take on the task someday.  Almost.

Our Best Bites has a great selection of mouth-watering recipes you may not think of on your own.  I especially recommend the pumpkin cheesecake.

The Pioneer Woman, of course, has an amazing holiday collection of recipes on her site.  Classic and timeless, I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong choosing her recipes.

And finally Mel's Kitchen Cafe also has a list of Thanksgiving recipes.  In my experience, and I've used her website a LOT, her recipes tend to be basically foolproof.

Happy Thanksgiving!
-Jennie and Paula

Monday, November 22, 2010

Soft Gingersnaps

I love gingersnaps.  I love them soft, warm, and with just the right amount of spices (not too spicy, but not bland at all).  I love the way they make our apartment smell.  They are a beautiful thing for fall and winter!


Soft Gingersnaps
adapted from allrecipes.com
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla1/2 cup molasses
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
additional sugar (to roll the cookies in)


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla, mix well.  Add baking soda, salt, and spices.  Add flour.  If dough is too sticky, refrigerate for 10 minutes before rolling.  Roll into roughly one inch balls and then roll them in sugar.  Refrigerate dough between batches.  Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes.


Notes:
--I'm too impatient to mix my dry ingredients separately from my wet, but if you are less impatient than me, feel free to do it.
--I'm always tempted to take these out before they are all the way done.  Wait until there are large cracks in the top of the cookies, and they have that golden hue (instead of the brown color of the unbaked dough).  


Enjoy!
-Jennie

Friday, November 19, 2010

Basic Chili

This is another recipe that I would give my Dad credit for because he has changed it quite a bit from the recipe found in Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.  This is a delicious and flavorful chili, is very easy, and can be made mild or spicy.  This is definitely my go to chili recipe and is found on our menu many times during the cold season.

IMG_4530

Basic Chili

Ingredients:
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 small can of tomato paste
1 small can of diced green chiles
2 to 3 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
dash of cayenne pepper

Directions:
Cook beef, onions, and garlic until beef is brown and onions are tender. Drain fat. Stir together with all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer (covered) for 20 minutes.

Notes:
--This is delicious served with grated cheese, sour cream and corn bread.
-- The amount of cayenne you add will determine how spicy it will be. Adding just a dash will add depth to the flavor without much heat.  If you want it to be spicy add more like 1/4 teaspoon.  Add to taste…tasting being the key.
-- If you like your chili with more beans in it add another can of beans (whatever kind of bean you like).  I like it with more beans sometimes.  Other times I’m more in a meat mood. 

-Paula

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hamburger Stroganoff

This is another recipe that is not much to look at visually.  Believe me though, this meal never fails to hit the spot for me.  Never.  I don't know why, but it's just tasty.  It was especially delicious to me when I was pregnant.  It is comfort food at its finest.  It's also fast and easy, so it makes a great weeknight meal.  It's great over rice or egg noodles.  I have come to prefer rice over the years. 


Hamburger Stroganoff
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1 onion, finely diced
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon flour
1 can cream of mushroom soup
garlic salt, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup sour cream

Directions:
Saute onions in olive oil or butter over medium heat for about five minutes.  Add ground beef and cook until meat is no longer pink.  Add flour and spices and stir for about a minute.  Pour in condensed soup and stir.  Mixture will be very thick.  Bring to a simmer, and reduce heat.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.  Add sour cream and heat through.  Serve over rice or egg noodles.

Notes:
--Do not bring the stroganoff to a boil after adding the sour cream.  The flavor of the sour cream is best that way.
--If your kids do not like onions, you can grate the onions into the mixture when you add the cream of mushroom soup.  Grated onion is stronger, so only grate about half an onion.

Enjoy!
-Jennie

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Basic Brownies

Jennie has had this handwritten brownie recipe in her recipe book for a few years now and it has become her go to recipe for quick but absolutely delicious brownies that use ingredients you have on hand.  But you see, she always assumed it was my recipe and that it was my handwriting.  I took a look at it and confirmed that it definitely wasn’t my writing.  Though we have no clue where the recipe came from, we both use this recipe all the time and we’re grateful to whoever gave it to Jennie.  If you’re reading this and realize that this is your recipe, please tell us so we can give you credit and also please forgive us for forgetting who you are :).  And here’s the recipe for delicious, moist, chocolaty mystery brownies…

IMG_4442

Basic Brownies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup+2 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 8x8 pan.

In medium pan melt butter, then mix in cocoa.  Remove from heat and stir in sugar.  Add eggs one at a time mixing between.   Add vanilla and stir.  Add flour and chips (if using) and mix until combined.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Notes:
--Though the chocolate chips are optional, they make them more chocolaty and delicious.  Technically the recipe calls for 1/2 cup nuts, we just prefer chocolate chips.

The end!  Isn’t that so easy?  You will love the brownies too!

-Paula

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Creamy Ham and Potato Soup

I've had a go-to potato soup recipe that I have used since I left home for college.  It's a basic recipe that can be adapted and changed depending on the ingredients you have and the flavors you want.  It can be a ham chowder, a corn chowder, a clam chowder, or just potato soup.  Recently I came across a recipe from allrecipes.com that was very similar to my family recipe.  I took a couple of ideas from it and combined it with my trusted recipe, and it was delicious!  It was a big hit with my family and friends.  I don't think I'll ever go back to the old way.

So, here is my new and improved potato soup recipe!


Creamy Ham and Potato Soup
inspired by allrecipes.com
Ingredients:
4 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
2 large ribs of celery, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 pound cooked ham, cubed
chicken broth (I use fat free, lower sodium)
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
crumbled bacon and cheddar cheese for topping

Directions:
Chop all your vegetables and your ham and place them all in a large pot.  Pour in chicken broth until it barely covers the vegetables.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour and whisk vigorously for about 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in milk.  Add salt, pepper, and sugar, and stir continuously until the mixture becomes very thick.  Set aside until vegetables finish cooking.

Once vegetables are cooked, add the white sauce to the pot (do not drain the vegetables first).  Stir to combine, and heat through if necessary.  Serve with crumbled bacon and cheddar cheese as toppings.

Notes:
--There are two keys to a thick and creamy soup. First, make sure you don't add too much chicken broth to the pot.  The vegetables should barely be covered and shouldn't all be floating.  Second, make sure you let the white sauce cook until it's very thick.  I always stir it until I think it's thick enough and then keep stirring for another minute or two longer so it gets even thicker.
--The only differences between this recipe and my old family recipe is that the vegetables are cooked in chicken broth instead of water, there are carrots added, the ham is added with the vegetables instead of at the end, and regular milk is used for the white sauce instead of half and half.  I believe these changes make the soup more flavorful and at the same time lower in fat.
--This soup is delicious without meat, and it can be adapted and changed easily to use other vegetables or meats.
--We like to serve this soup with what my family calls Toasties.  Butter both sides of bread and cut each slice into four strips.  Place on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 5-7 minutes on the first side (until nice and toasted) and then flip and cook for 2-3 minutes on the second side.

Enjoy!
-Jennie

Monday, November 15, 2010

Grandma’s Baked Chicken

I call this chicken recipe my Grandma’s because she would make it all the time and whenever I eat it, it reminds me of her.  She was all about comfort food.  She enjoyed providing delicious meal for her family.  I love this recipe because it is one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made, but at the same time it tastes like it took a lot of work.  It makes an absolutely delicious gravy that is ready to serve out of the oven.  I love that when I make this recipe, my house smells like my Grandma’s house.  I took a picture before and after I cooked it because I think the chicken looks pretty with the bacon wrapped around it.

IMG_4451 

IMG_4458

Grandma’s Baked Chicken
Adapted from Heritage Cookbook

Ingredients:
8-12 slices of bacon
4-6 chicken breasts, halved
2 cups sour cream
2 cans cream of mushroom soup

Directions:Roll bacon around each breast half.  Fasten with a toothpick if needed (I usually just fold the bacon under) and place in 9x13 pan.  In small bowl stir together sour cream and soup. Pour over chicken.  Bake at 300 degrees for 2-3 hours.  Serve gravy on the side and/or over mashed potatoes.

Notes:-- The original recipe said to cook it at 250 degrees for 3 to 4 hours. I don’t usually have that time and so I have changed the recipe to be hotter for a shorter amount of time.  Whatever you have time for.
--When I made it last night I used 2 very large chicken breast and cut each into 3 pieces.  I put it into a 8X8 pan and halved the sauce and it served 4.  It’s easy to change the amount depending on how many people you’re serving.
-- The gravy tastes awesome over mashed potatoes.  I also pour extra gravy over my meat.  Just remove chicken from baking dish and pour gravy into a gravy dish (or a glass liquid measuring cup if you’re like me and don’t have a gravy dish).

-Paula

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cream Puffs

The nice thing about cream puffs is that they aren't nearly as difficult or complicated as they seem.  They are actually quite basic and use simple ingredients.  Just be prepared to do a lot of stirring by hand!  Here is my family's tried and true recipe (in three parts).


Cream Puffs (the pastry part)
from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook
Ingredients:
1 cup water
1/2 cup (one stick) butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cups flour
4 eggs

Directions:
In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Cook and stir until the mixture forms a ball (this only takes about a minute). Remove from heat and cool for ten minutes (this is important because if you add the eggs when it is too hot, they will start cooking and make the dough lumpy). Add eggs one at a time. Each time, stir well with a wooden spoon until the egg is completely incorporated. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet. Drop dough onto the baking sheet by the heaping spoonfuls. I like to make my cream puffs pretty small so it makes about 24 cream puffs. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, checking after 20 minutes. Cream puffs are done when they are golden and the peaks are light brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Cool completely before filling.

Notes:
--As you can see, there isn't any sugar in the puffs themselves, so they can be used for appetizers or lunch items if you want to fill them with chicken or tuna salad, or anything else you can come up with.
--Even though it seems like a lot of work (and it gives your arm quite a work out), the stirring the dough by hand after each egg is the key to good cream puffs.  Don't try to get around it by using a mixer or adding the eggs all at once.--If you make the puffs the night before you need them, don't store them in an airtight container or bag.  This will make them turn soggy.  Just keep them on a tray or baking sheet with a towel or piece of plastic wrap lightly draped over them in the fridge.

Cream Puff Filling
Ingredients:
1 large box vanilla instant pudding
1 pint whipping cream
1 1/2 cups milk

Directions:
Prepare pudding according to the directions on the box, using only half the indicated amount of milk (1 1/2 cups). While pudding chills, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Fold in the pudding gently, until the cream and pudding are completely mixed together. This makes more than enough filling for one batch of cream puffs.

There are two ways to fill the cream puffs. Either you can slice them in half and scoop a generous amount into each one, or you can poke a hole in each one and fill them using a frosting bag and wide piping tube. Slicing them in half is much easier and faster, but also messier.

If you like your cream puffs without chocolate on top, you can simply sprinkle some powdered sugar on top at this point and call them done.  If you are a chocolate lover, like me, continue on to the final step.

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting:
from the side of the Hershey's Cocoa container
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
Melt butter in the microwave. In a medium, heat-safe bowl (pyrex glass works well) stir together melted butter and cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed to spreading consistency. Add more milk or more powdered sugar as needed. Stir in vanilla.

At this point, the frosting is finished. However, for topping cream puffs it's nice for the frosting to have a fudge-like consistency. In order to achieve this, hold the bowl of frosting over a stove burner (hence the heat-proof bowl) on medium-low heat, stirring continuously until it just begins to melt. At this point, pour the chocolate over the filled cream puffs in a thick layer. If the frosting starts setting up before you have finished topping the cream puffs hold it back over the heat to soften it again. Because the frosting has been melted, it sets back up and ends up having a consistency that is more like fudge than frosting.

They end up looking great and tasting amazing!  Enjoy!


-Jennie

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fudge Puddles

My husband and I love to make desserts together, especially on Sundays.  One Sunday my husband asked me what we were going to make and I said, well, I don’t think we really have the ingredients for anything.  He replied with, “sure we do!”  He went to work looking online for a recipe and came across allrecipe.com where you can type ingredients you want to be included.  He typed in peanut butter, chocolate chips and flour and this was one of the recipes that came up.  As soon as I tasted them I knew they would become a regular for us.


Fudge Puddles
Adapted slightly from allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Chocolate filling:
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter, peanut butter and white and brown sugars. Mix in egg and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Add flour, baking soda and salt and mix until combined.  Shape the dough into about 24 balls (about 1 1/2 inches). Place each ball in one compartment of a muffin tin.

Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and immediately make wells in the center of each using a melon baller or small measuring spoon (a small spoon actually works too).  Let cool for 5 minutes and then carefully remove cookies to wire racks (I use a spoon for this a well).

When cookies are almost done cooking, start on filling.  Place chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a medium saucepan over low-medium heat.  Stir until well melted.  Add vanilla and stir.  
Fill each shell with the chocolate mixture.

Notes:
--The original recipe actually uses a mini-muffin tin.  But I don’t have one and that’s why I make them in a regular muffin tin.  I think they would be great in a mini tin.  Just cook for less (probably about 12 minutes…keep an eye on them) and of course it makes 48 that way.
--You can use whatever proportion of chocolate chips you want.  The first time we made them we didn’t have milk chocolate chips so we used all semi-sweet and they were great that way.  My favorite way is with 1/2 cup milk and 1 1/2 cup semi.  But I like my chocolate a little dark :).

-Paula

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Papa's Meatloaf

I'm convinced it's impossible to take a good picture of meatloaf.  You'll just have to trust me (and anyone who has tried this recipe) that it tastes like the definition of comfort food.  It's a good one. :)

This is an honest to goodness passed down through the generations family recipe!  Papa was my dad's grandfather, and he owned a restaurant.  This is one of those recipes that I'll always make and intend to continue to pass down to my children.  Growing up, we were always excited when my dad would make meatloaf.  We didn't understand the negative stigma everyone seemed to have toward meatloaf.  I mean, I know it's a kind of gross name and concept, but it's just so tasty!  It wasn't until I was in college when I learned that all meatloaf's are not created equal and our family had something special. 


Papa's Meatloaf
Ingredients:
1 pound lean ground beef
1 can chicken with rice soup
1 egg
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
2 cups Wheaties (or other bran flakes cereal)
ketchup

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and mix together thoroughly.  This works best if you just get over the grossness and mix it with your hands.  Press meat mixture into an ungreased loaf pan.  Spread ketchup generously over the top.  Bake for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours or until cooked through.  When it's done, the meatloaf will pull away from the edges of the pan, and it won't be pink in the middle.

Notes:
--The leaner the meat you use, the less greasy the meatloaf will be.  There is quite a bit of grease involved when you use the traditional 80/20 ground beef.
--This recipe can also be used for meatballs.  Just form meat mixture into balls and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  
--If your kids don't like pieces of onions in their food, you can also grate the onion.  Grated onion is stronger, so just grate about 1/4 of an onion into the meat mixture.

Enjoy!
Jennie

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This is a recipe that I found in a recipe book of Brian’s that his sister gave to him when he was going out to college.  I figured that if it was a recipe that a freshman guy could make, then I certainly could find success with it.  Not only is it easy but it’s very flavorful and moist. 

IMG_4390

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Ingredients:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Lemon pepper or black pepper
garlic powder
salt
1/2 c. cornstarch
2 eggs
Sauce:
1/2 c. sugar
3 tbsp. ketchup
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 c. vinegar
1/4 c. chicken broth
1 tsp. salt

Directions:
Pound chicken breasts until a uniform thickness (I like to stretch my chicken so I usually pound them out a little thinner).  Cut chicken into smaller pieces (I usually cut one breast into 3 or 4 pieces depending on size).

Mix sauce and set aside.  Mix batter (pepper, garlic, salt, cornstarch, eggs). Dip chicken pieces into batter, fry in oil until golden brown.  Place chicken in baking pan and pour sauce over chicken. Bake 30 minutes at 350. Turn over once during baking.  Serve with rice (I like to make a simple fried rice).

Notes:
--This recipe fills a 8x8 pan.  I would estimate that it serves 4.
--Don’t be afraid to be somewhat generous with the spices in the batter.  It gives the breading flavor.
--The breading tends to fall off pretty easily, so I try to be gentle when flipping.

-Paula

Monday, November 8, 2010

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

I have always loved mashed potatoes.  And it's no wonder, with the mashed potatoes that my dad makes!  My mouth starts watering the second I think about them.  Because my dad's mashed potatoes are so good, though, it kept me from ever making them myself for many years.  I just knew they wouldn't add up!  Earlier this year, though, I realized that if I didn't figure out how to make good mashed potatoes someday I would be depriving myself and my family of the joy of one of my favorite foods. I wouldn't want to do that, now, would I?

I finally realized (after several failed attempts) that I wouldn't be able to replicate the mashed potatoes my dad makes.  Instead, I decided to come up with my own recipe that is delicious in its own right.  I am pleased to tell you that I have been successful!  Now I don't dread making mashed potatoes, because I know they will be delicious and creamy.


Creamy Mashed Potatoes


Ingredients:
5 pounds russet potatoes
1/2 cup butter
4 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup milk or half and half
1 teaspoon garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Wash and peel the potatoes.  Cut them into roughly uniform chunks, and place them in a big pot.  Cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil on the stove.  Once the potatoes have come to a full boil, allow them to cook, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, or until they are quite tender.  Drain potatoes and return them to the pot (off the heat).  Cut butter and cream cheese into roughly one tablespoon sized pieces, and add them to the pot.  Add milk, garlic salt, and salt and pepper.  Using an electric mixer, mix the potatoes until creamy.  Add a little milk if needed to reach desired consistency.  Taste and adjust spices as needed.  Heat through over the stove or in an oven safe bowl in the oven on low heat before serving, if needed.

Notes:
--When cooking potatoes, smaller pieces will cook faster.  But be careful how small you cut them, because if they are too small they will just dissolve into the water.
--Cutting the potatoes uniformly is the key to them cooking evenly.  If the potatoes aren't cooked evenly, then you will end up with lumps.
--I think the secret to the creaminess of these potatoes is the cream cheese.  Because of that, you can cut back on the fat a little bit by using regular milk instead of half and half or cream.

Enjoy!
-Jennie

Friday, November 5, 2010

Chicken a la King

This is a meal we have a least once a month at our house.  I have always been a huge fan of biscuits and gravy and this is similar.  Like most of my recipes it uses really basic ingredients and only take about 30 minutes to throw together. 



Chicken a la King

Ingredients:
1 tube of refrigerated biscuits
1 lb. cooked chicken, cubed
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

1/4 cup margarine or butter
1/3 cup flour
1-10.5 oz. can (1 1/3 cups) chicken broth
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:
Bake biscuits as directed on can. 

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Once melted add flour and whisk for a minute.  While whisking add broth and milk.  Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens.

Add salt, pepper, frozen veggies and chicken.  Stir to combine and keep on medium-low heat until hot through (about 5 minutes).

To serve split a warm biscuit and pour sauce over the top.

Notes:
--You can obviously make your own biscuits rather than store bought.
--If you don’t have cooked chicken on hand (like I pretty much never do), I find it’s easy to cut a couple chicken breasts in cubes and cook in a pan with a little oil.  I usually cook my chicken while I’m stirring the white sauce.  But it’s kind of hectic that way :).

-Paula

Thursday, November 4, 2010

French Breakfast Puffs

One Saturday morning, I had a craving for something sweet.  (Yeah, ok, I get these cravings almost every morning.  Moving on...)  I wanted some kind of muffin, preferably with cinnamon sugar on top, and I wanted it right away.  I had seen some similar recipes around the internet in the preceding weeks, but I was working with only the things I already had in my cupboards.  I went to trusty old allrecipes.com, found a recipe, changed a couple things, and this was the result.  They definitely filled my craving!  They were light and fluffy and just what I wanted.  Between Paul and I, we finished off all 12 muffins well before lunchtime.


French Breakfast Puffs
adapted from allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
Muffins:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk

Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners (or grease 12 muffin cups).

Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Add baking soda, salt, and nutmeg and mix to combine.  Alternately mix in flour and milk by adding half the flour, then half the milk, followed by the other half of flour, and then the other half of milk.

Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes, until cooked through.

When the muffins are almost done, melt the 6 tablespoons of butter in the microwave in a small bowl (cereal size works well).  Combine sugar and cinnamon in another small bowl.  

As soon as the muffins are done, remove them carefully from the muffin pan.  Immediately (or as soon as they are cool enough to handle without burning yourself) dip the top of each one into the melted butter and then the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Serve warm.

Notes:
--The nutmeg really gives these little muffins a nice taste.  It makes them just a little different than you may expect, but it's unexpected in a good way. :)
--Make sure you dip the butter all the way down to the top of the wrapper.  The cinnamon and sugar will only stick where the butter covers.

Enjoy!
-Jennie

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lemon Chicken

This is a very simple and delicious dinner.  It only uses a few ingredients but at the same time looks pretty impressive.  
IMG_4373

Lemon Chicken

Ingredients:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon-pepper seasoning
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 package (9 oz) hollandaise sauce mix (and ingredients to prepare)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter

Directions:
In a large resealable bag, combine flour and lemon-pepper. Flatten chicken to 1/2-inch thickness. Add chicken one piece at a time, and shake to coat.

In a skillet, saute chicken in 2 tablespoons butter for 5-6 minutes on each side or until chicken is cooked through (it will take longer depending on thickness).  Meanwhile, prepare sauce according to package directions. Stir in lemon juice.  Serve chicken with some lemon sauce drizzled on top.

Notes:
--As you can tell I cut my chicken breasts into strips. You can use any cut of chicken, but smaller pieces cook faster.
--As I typed up this recipe I thought about how some garlic powder would be a yummy addition to the flour mixture. I think I’ll try that next time.

-Paula

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

In recent years I have drastically cut back on recipes that use condensed soup in an effort to decrease the amount of processed foods we eat.  There are still a few recipes that I make, though, and this is one of them.  I found the recipe in The Pioneer Woman's cookbook.  It's the most flavorful soup-based casserole I have ever eaten.  I especially like the little kick the cayenne pepper gives it.  And it has pimientos in it!  Who knew that people make things with pimientos?  

The original recipe uses a whole cut up fryer chicken.  I tried that method once, and I didn't especially like all the effort it took.  I have since adapted the recipe to use chicken breasts and fat free chicken broth.  This way it's easier and healthier.


Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks


Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts
1 pound spaghetti noodles, broken into 2 inch pieces
2 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth
1 jar (4 ounces) diced pimientos, drained
1 small onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon seasoned salt (Lawry's)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, and cook pasta according to directions on package.  Meanwhile, cut chicken breasts into thirds and boil for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through.  Shred chicken and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked noodles, chicken, soup, pimientos, green bell peppers and onion.  Add the broth and 2 cups of the grated cheese.  Add spices and toss to combine.

Pour mixture into a 9x13 baking dish, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.  Bake, uncovered, for 35-45 minutes, or until bubbly.

Notes:
--I'm sure this would be tasty using a rotisserie chicken instead of chicken breasts.  It's already an easy recipe, but using a rotisserie chicken would make it even easier, too.
--This recipe makes a lot of food.  It completely fills a 9x13 pan.  I would say it's enough for 8 servings at least.
--If you've never bought pimientos, they come in little jars and I found them in the condiments section of the grocery store.

Enjoy!
-Jennie
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