Friday, December 18, 2015

Merry Martinis

My group of friends have been making this festive drink for years!  It makes about a gallon and perfect to to have for a holiday gathering!



Merry Martinis

2 cups vodka
1 cup triple sec
1/2 cup Roses lime juice
3/4 of a gallon of unsweetened cranberry juice
1 cup frozen cranberries

Mix the first four ingredients in a large pitcher.  Add frozen cranberries just before serving!  


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Yummy - Three Cheese Hot Bean Dip

I tried this new recipe for a Holiday Happy Hour recently.  I loved it - I got great reviews from my friends too.  My "gluten-free" friends could also enjoy it!  I found this recipe at Allrecipes


    Just before baking.....


Three Cheese Hot Bean Dip (adapted from Allrecipes)

1  8 oz  cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
2  16 oz cans of refried beans
1/2 (1 oz) pkg of taco seasoning
5 drops of Tabasco or other red pepper sauce (or more)
2 Tbsp dried parsley
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1  (8 oz) pkg shredded Cheddar cheese
1  (8 oz) pkg shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray an 8 x 12 baking dish with cooking spray.  In a good size bowl, mix all of the ingredients with half of the cheddar cheese and half of the Monterrey Jack cheese.  Spread into prepared pan.  Top with the rest of the grated cheese and sprinkle with a little extra dried parsley. Bake at 350 for 20 - 30 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.  Serve with favorite chips!






Friday, December 11, 2015

Reeses fudge

Try this new fun and easy fudge for the holiday - three ingredients :)


Reese's Fudge

22 regular sized Reese's ( or more - I used two bags)

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1  14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

Line a square pan with foil, spray foil with cooking spray.  Take the wrappers off 16 Reese's and line them on the bottom of the lined square pan.  Pour chocolate chips and condensed milk into a microwave safe bowl - microwave one minute and stir; if needed, microwave 30 more seconds, stir.  When all melted and blended, pour thick fudge mixture over the Reese's in the pan.  Spread the fudge evenly over the entire pan.  Chop the other six Reese's (or more) and sprinkle them over the fudge - pressing them into the mixture.  Refrigerate until firm.  When firm, lift the foil out of the square pan and cut into small squares with a sharp knife.  (I keep mine store in an airtight container in the fridge)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Almond Joy Cookies

I love these cookies... but I love chocolate, coconut and almonds.  These cookies were a typical yummy chocolate chip cookie with a little added flare of coconut and slivered almonds.  My girls are at college so I didn't get a review from them but my hubby and teachers loved them.  I saw this recipe on Facebook!


Almond Joy Cookies  (This makes a lot!  I halved the recipe)

1 cup butter
1  1/2 cups white sugar
1  1/2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
3 tsp vanilla
4  1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
5 cups chocolate chips
1 cups sweetened coconut
2 cups chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 375.  Lightly grease baking sheet.  Combine dry ingredients and set aside.  In large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time and stir in vanilla.  Stir in the dry ingredients until well mixed.  Stir in the chocolate chips, coconut and almonds.  Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet.  Bake for 8 - 10 minutes.  Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

Printable Version

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

We love roasted veggies.  The girls love roasted green beans - they eat them like French Fries.  I don't love cauliflower but I LOVE roasted cauliflower.  We often roast asparagus and I have even roasted broccoli.  My husband loves Brussels Sprouts.  I always thought of them as "baby cabbage heads" but I do enjoy roasted Brussels sprouts.  For my roasted veggies, I usually just toss with a little olive and sea salt and roast on 400 til tender.

Ina Garten has a recipe for roasted Brussels Sprouts.  I followed her recipe and they were fabulous.


Roasted Brussels Sprouts (from Ina Garten at Foodnetwork.com)

1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts
3 Tbsp good olive oil
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut off the ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves.  Mix them in the bowl with the olive oil and salt and pepper.  Pour them onto a cookie sheet and roast for about 30 minutes or until the outside is crisp and the inside is tender.  Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly.  Sprinkle with more kosher salt if desired.  Serve immediately.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Banana Bread

This is my "go-to" Banana Bread recipe.  My roommate from college, Jennifer, gave this recipe to me over thirty years ago.  I have tried other recipes - with chocolate chips, with zucchini, with nuts, with cinnamon, etc.  My girls like the varieties but will often ask me to just stick to the basic banana bread. This recipe freezes well and is great if you choose to add pecans.


Banana Bread

1 cup sugar
1/2 canola oil
1 egg
3 mashed bananas
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
Chopped nuts (optional)

Mix together sugar, oil and egg.  Add mashed bananas and mix well.  Add flour and baking soda, mixing well.  Pour into a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 for 50 - 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Creamed Corn

I am often looking for a side dish that isn't potatoes.  We roast a vegetable with almost every meal but sometimes, I am wanting something more exciting and different.  Jenna was home from college last weekend.  She isn't a fan of potatoes so I decided to try this cream corn recipe.  We loved it.  She especially loved it with her rolls.  Jenna had hers in a bowl so it wouldn't touch her steak!  :)  Chris enjoyed his in typical cream corn fashion.



Creamed Corn (adapted from Food.com)

1   16 oz pkg of frozen corn, cooked according to pkg directions
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk (I used skim milk - would be great with some cream or half/half)
2 - 3 Tbsp. sugar
salt and pepper

Cook corn according to directions in the microwave.  Melt butter in saucepan, stir in flour and blend well.  Add milk slowly, about a 1/2 cup at a time, blending with a whisk.  Heat over medium heat, stirring, until mixture starts to thicken.  Drain corn and add to mixture.  Continue to thicken until desired consistency. Taste and add any extra salt and pepper.


Monday, October 19, 2015

Almond Lovers Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was wanting to make a batch of cookies to send to my girls.  They would probably like for me to stick to a regular recipe of Chocolate Chip Cookies but.... they are used to me being creative.  I was thinking about different flavors that I love and I decided to try almond and chocolate.  I was going to just switch the vanilla extract for almond extract and add toasted almond.... and then I saw this recipe on Picky Palate.  You should definitely visit the Picky Palate - she just posted a recipe for Oatmeal Walnut Banana Caramel Pancakes that looks "to die for".

I love almond.  If you haven't made these Almond Bars yet, you definitely need to try them. These Almond Lovers Chocolate Chip Cookies are just as yummy.  I love how they look, I love the texture and I LOVE how they taste!  You should look for almond paste in the baking aisle of the grocery store on your next shopping trip.


Almond Lover's Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Picky Palate)


2 sticks softened butter
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
3/4 Cup brown sugar
3 oz  Pure Almond Paste (comes in a five or six oz pkg)
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 oz bag chocolate chips
3/4 Cup chopped almonds (I toasted mine)
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until well combined, light and fluffy.  Add the almond paste in pieces until well combined.  Add in eggs and vanilla until well combined.
2.  In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt.  Slowly add to wet ingredients along with the chocolate chips.  Mix until just combined.  Scoop onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet with a medium cookie scoop.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until just golden crisp on the outside.  Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
about 3 dozen cookies

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Williams-Sonoma Chocolate Pudding Pie

I love this pie! As most of you know, I am a preschool director.  We have a monthly birthday lunch where we all eat way yummy food and we eat way too much.  Susan is one of my four year old teachers. She made this yummy pie last month for Julie's birthday.  I LOVED it.  Some of the teachers thought it was really rich - not me!  I could have eaten half the pie but I did limit myself to a few bites.  I made it a few weeks ago when my girls were home from college.  They loved it too. This would be a great pie for your next family gathering or holiday!

Please visit the Williams-Sonoma website  - their pie is way prettier than mine!


Williams-Sonoma Chocolate Pudding Pie

For the Cookie Crumb Crust:

1 1/4 cups cookie crumbs, graham crackers, chocolate wafers or ginger snaps (I used Oreo crumbs)
5 Tbsp.  unsalted butter (I used salted - it is what I had)
3 Tbsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 350.  In a bowl, combine crumbs, butter and sugar.  Stir until crumbs are well moistened.  Pat the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom and all the up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan or dish.  Bake until the crust is firm - about 5 minutes.  I like a crunchy crust.  For a firmer crust, bake 5 minutes more.

For the Filling:

2 1/2 cups milk
5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into slivers
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a heavy non-aluminum saucepan over low heat, warm together the milk and the chocolate, whisking until the chocolate is melted; the mixture will be speckled.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar.  Add the cornstarch and salt, then vanilla - whisk until well blended.  Slowly pour the warm chocolate mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly until well blended.  Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until it thickens and begins to bubble slowly, at least 6 - 8 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir until smooth, about 1 minute.

Pour the filling into the crumb crust and smooth with a spatula.  Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface, and refrigerate until completely cold and firm, 2 - 3 hours.

For the Topping:

1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat together the cream, sugar and vanilla until a stiff peak forms.  Spread the whipped cream on top of the pie.  *Decorate with chocolate curls. Refrigerate until ready to serve, but let the pie stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving to take the chill off.

*To make decorative chocolate curls, wrap a medium-size chunk of semi-sweet chocolate in plastic wrap.  Rub the wrapped chocolate between your hands for 1 -2 minutes to warm it; the chocolate should not melt.  For large chunks, microwave on low 5 seconds.  Unwrap the chocolate and, using a vegetable peeler, slowly and evenly scrape the edge of the chunk until curls form.  If the chocolate is cold, the peeler will make ragged shavings rather than curls.

Printable Version



Monday, September 21, 2015

Crab Canapes

Some girlfriends and I hosted a wedding shower yesterday for another girlfriend's daughter.  It was such a lovely day!   I am blessed to have these amazing ladies in my life.  They are friends from church.   I have known them since right after we moved to Omaha.   They are such talented, loving, fun, Christian women!

They shower was such fun.  We had a simple menu but it was perfect for a Sunday afternoon.  Our friend, Sue, is amazing at presentation.  We had simple food... but her presentation was beautiful!

We had veggies, fruit, a variety of gourmet cupcakes, Fruit Tea and these Crab Canapes. The fruit tea is a tasty recipe - perfect for showers or any gathering.  I made it ahead and stored it in gallon water jugs.  

I have had this recipe for years.  Nancy is a friend of my moms....and a great cook.  She served these at a shower for me years ago.  The best part about the Crab Canapes is you can make them in advance and keep them in the freezer. They are perfect to have on hand when you need a quick appetizer.


Crab Canapes

1 can fancy or lump crab meat
1 stick butter, softened
1 small jar Kraft Old English cheese spread
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1 1/2 tsp mayonnaise
6 English Muffins, split open

Mix first five ingredients and spread evenly over the 12 muffin halves.  Freeze muffin halves on a cookie sheet for an hour or so or until frozen.  Take muffin halves out and cut each half into fourths. Put the quarters in a sealed container and store in the freezer until ready to use.  Broil five minutes or bake ten minutes at 375.  *I have even done a bake/broil combination.

Printable Version




Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Confetti Pasta Salad

YAY - another yummy pasta salad!  I planned on making this before taking my girls to college but I just got too busy.   My talented hubby grilled ribs for yesterday so I made this pasta salad.  I think it is the first thing I have made since taking the girls to college.  Chris and I just don't eat a lot.  I think I have roasted asparagus, made a few salads, microwaved some rice - to go along with grilled meat, etc. Kind of boring cooking these days!

I loved this veggie filled salad.  The dressing and the added dill made for a delightful side dish! 




Confetti Pasta Salad (adapted from Southern Living

8 oz uncooked small shell pasta
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 cups coarsely chopped spinach
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped (I did some yellow and orange)
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
3 Tbsp chopped fresh dill (or less to taste)
4 oz crumbled feta cheese

Lemon Vinaigrette

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup oil ( I used olive oil)

Mix dressing and set aside.  Cook pasta according to directions, drain and cool.  I usually toss my hot pasta with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking.  Toss cooled pasta with all chopped ingredients. Cover and chill up to 8 hours.  Add feta cheese just before serving.  




Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Caramelized Onion Dip

What a great summer!  I loved having all three of our girls home!  We just took all three to Baylor this past weekend.  Annie is a senior, Jenna is junior and Meg is a freshman.  I love that they are all at Baylor and I love that they are together.  I was telling friends today that I have a serious case of FOMO - "Fear of Missing Out".  I love they are together.  Annie cooked everyone dinner Sunday night before they walked to find their classes.  As a mom, I LOVE that!  I am just so excited for them and I know God has amazing plans for all three!


Meg in her dorm room at Baylor 


I enjoyed cooking different fun, new recipes this summer.  I didn't think we had as many family "sit-down" meals as I had hoped but it was all good.  I will try to keep posting on occasion.  I need to eat healthier so I will try to find some new, yummy, healthy recipes to share.

We were going to a friend's pool to swim the week before the girls left.  I didn't have much time and needed a quick appetizer.  I had all of these ingredients on hand.  And wow, we loved it.  This Caramelized Onion Dip from RealSimple.com was the bomb.



Caramelized Onion Dip (adapted from RealSimple.com)

2 Tbsp butter
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
1  8 oz. bar cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
Potato and vegetable chips for dipping

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the onions and 1/2 tsp kosher salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brow, 30 - 35 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.  In a medium bowl, mix together the onions, cream cheese, sour cream chives, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.  Serve with chips.

Printable Version

Friday, August 7, 2015

Corn, Tomato and Onion Summer Salad

I was in Texas with my Baylor friends this past weekend.  We had an amazing time hanging out at the lake and just enjoying everyone and their families.

We never have a shortage of food with this crowd.  My friend Lya is a great cook.  She always has a new favorite recipe!  She made this fresh, yummy summer salad and we all loved it.  She doubled it for our crowd of 22 and we had leftovers for our second night of good eating!

I don't love bleu cheese so I would probably make it with feta cheese or Cotija cheese.  She was sweet and made one bowl with bleu cheese and one without.  Everyone loved both!  The bleu cheese fans went on an on!




Corn, Tomato and Onion Salad

Salad:

6 ears of roasted corn (approx 4 1/2 cups corn- I used two 16 oz Traders Joes frozen roasted corn)
1 sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
8 oz crumbled bleu cheese, added just before serving ( or feta or Cotija cheese)

Dressing:

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tsp honey
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Mix the dressing together, and set aside.  Toss with salad items and add cheese just before serving.

Printable Version



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Easy Summer Pasta Salad

LOVE this new summer pasta salad!  I found the recipe and Two Peas & Their Pod.  Please visit their fun family blog!

Like I mentioned in an earlier summer post, we have been making a lot of different salads.  They have been great for my family to eat when they are passing through or when we gather to eat together.  This one was really easy and really good.  I typically think a salad is better if the dressing is homemade.  I used Newman's Own Lite Balsamic Dressing for this salad.... and we loved it!



Easy Summer Pasta Salad  (adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

16 oz dry pasta ( I used Farfalle/bowtie)
1 small yellow, red and orange bell pepper, seeds removed and diced
1 large cucumber, seeded and diced
1  12 oz. jar of artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 cup balsamic dressing, or more if needed ( I used Newman's Own Lite Balsamic)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
sprinkling or more of shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to "al dente" directions, Drain.  Toss with a little olive oil to keep from sticking.  In a large bowl, combine the cooled pasta and the chopped vegetables.  Add feta, basil, Parmesan and gently stir to combine.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Chill until ready to serve.

*This was very yummy the next few days.  Add a little more dressing to liven it up if needed
**You can always add grilled chicken or another favorite meat

Printable Version

Monday, July 20, 2015

Brownies "Whatever Floats Your Boat"

Love these gooey, chocolatey brownies!  They were soft and fudgey, yet they came out of the pan perfectly.  These brownies would be the perfect base to some good vanilla ice cream.

When I saw these brownies were called..."whatever floats your boat" brownies, I knew they would be fun.  I doubled the recipe, added 1 cup of milk chocolate chips and baked in a 9 x 13 metal pan.  They were great!

I have made these brownie three times now.  I love how easy they are, they yummy flavor and that I always have everything on hand.  I added a cup of milk chocolate chips the first time.  I added toffee pieces the second time and I added a variety of milk, dark and white chocolate chips the third time. All were fabulous! Feel free to add to these brownies "whatever floats your boat".  Add craisins, raisins, pecans, pretzel pieces, peanut butter chips, etc.

I found this recipe over at Food.com.  Please visit for lots of yummy recipes!




"Whatever Floats Your Boat" Brownies (adapted from Food.com)
   ** Here is the recipe for the 9 x 13 version  See Food.com for the 8 x 8 version

2 sticks of butter, melted
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
4 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 - 2 cups of any add-in

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray or line with foil.  In a medium bowl, mix melted butter and cocoa.  Add sugar and mix well.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in vanilla, flour and salt.  Stir only until you can no longer see the flour.  Don't over-mix!  Fold in "whatever floats your boat" and spread evenly into prepared pan.  Bake at 350 for about 23-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out with moist crumbs - not clean.  Do not over bake or you will have dry brownies!

Printable Version

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Honey Roasted Peanut Sandies

It is summer - I have more time to look for new recipes and get feedback from my family.  I saw this "Honey Roasted Peanut Crisps" cookie recipe in a Southern Living cookbook.  My family wasn't overly impressed..... but that is because they like soft, chewy chocolate chip type cookies.

I actually think these cookies have a great flavor.  I did add chocolate chips to the last half of the dough and I liked them better... but I like chocolate.  My hubby really liked them but he doesn't like chocolate as much as the rest of us.

If you like a "pecan sandie" type of cookie, give these a try!


Honey Roasted Peanut Sandies (adapted from Southern Living)

1 cup butter, softened or 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup shortening - I did all butter!
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups honey-roasted peanuts
sugar

Beat butter at medium speed with mixer until creamy - gradually add brown sugar, beating well.  Add egg and vanilla, beating well.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, gradually add to butter mixture, beating well.  Stir in peanuts.  Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet - or lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Dip a flat-bottomed glass in sugar and flatten each ball to 1/4 inch thickness  Bake at 375 for 7-8 minutes or until edges or golden.  Cool slightly on pan and move to wire racks to cool.  Makes about 4 dozen.

Printable Version

Friday, July 10, 2015

Mandarin Pasta Spinach Salad with Teriyaki Dressing

Here is another yummy summer salad!  Serve as is or with grilled chicken.  My middle daughter loves a salad like this with fried chicken bites.  If you are here in Omaha, stop by our local No-Frills Grocery Store and pick up some yummy fried chicken tenders, chop in bite-size pieces and toss in your salad.

We all ate dinner at different times last night.  I had a bowl of spinach, a bowl of cooked pasta and the rest of the ingredients ready to be tossed together as they walked in the door.  Yea Summer Salads!

Visit Creme De La Crumb for other great recipes!




Mandarin Pasta Spinach Salad with Teriyaki Dressing (adaped from Creme De La Crumb)

Dressing:

1/3 cup thick teriyaki glaze or sauce 
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar (may sub apple cider vinegar)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup oil (vegetable oil, canola oil or olive oil)

Mix together and chill.  

Salad:

8 oz cooked bowtie pasta
4 cups spinach leaves
1/2 cup craisins
1/2 cup cashews or pine nuts (I used cashews)
14 oz can mandarin oranges, drained
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped (I didn't use)

Cook pasta according to directions,  Drain.  I don't usually rinse pasta - I usually toss in a little olive oil to keep from sticking.  Set aside.  While pasta is cooking, prepare dressing, cover, shake and refrigerate.  In a large bowl, toss together all ingredients.  Just before serving, add dressing, toss and serve.  

*Feel free to add in your favorite meat - grilled chicken, steak, salmon, shrimp, fried chicken....


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

We often enjoy salads for dinner in the summer.  It can get pretty hot in Omaha and my husband isn't overly fond of a huge, hot meal in the summer.  It seems like we are all coming and going so if I have a good salad in the fridge... ready for whoever is passing through, everyone eats better!

I found this Mediterranean Pasta Salad over at A Family Feast.  I notice that today she has a Thai Corn Salad posted that I might have to try!

I thought this Mediterranean Pasta Salad was fabulous.  I loved the dressing - so light and refreshing. I used a 16 oz box of Ditalini pasta so you might choose to double the dressing if you use a 16 oz box of pasta.

I love olives - especially Kalamata olives.  My girls aren't so hip on olives.  So - I just put the olives in individual servings.  But if your family loves olives like I do, toss them in the salad!




Mediterranean Pasta Salad (adapted from A Family Feast)

Dressing:

1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped garlic (3-4 medium cloves)
2 Tbsp fresh oregano ( or half the amount if using dried)
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about one large lemon)

Salad:

12 oz Ditalini pasta (or other favorite pasta)
zest from one lemon
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced in half
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped (I didn't use)
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 cup green bell pepper, diced ( I did a variety)
8 oz crumbled feta cheese

In a medium saute pan,  heat the oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper over low-medium heat.  Cook slowly for about 8 minutes or until the garlic just begins to brown.  Removed from heat and add lemon juice.  Set this mixture aside.

Cook the pasta according to the box directions, al dente.  When the pasta is a little under done, removed to colander and drain but do not rinse.  Place drained hot pasta in a large bowl and add the flavored oil/lemon juice mixture.  Stir and let sit at room temperature for a few minutes.  Add all of the other prepared ingredients except feta, stir.  Refrigerate until chilled.  Stir in feta and serve.


Printable Version



Friday, July 3, 2015

Caprese Skewers

LOVE IT - what a great, yummy, healthy summer appetizer!  I love how it looks!  I especially love how easy it is to make.  All you need.... cherry tomatoes (cut in half), fresh basil leaves and fresh Mozzarella cheese.  Layer these on a toothpick - with the cherry tomato on bottom so they stand up and drizzle with a yummy balsamic glaze.  Also, think about making these during the holidays - perfect red/green appetizer!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sausage Bread

I have had this recipe for years.  Jennifer was my roommate at Baylor and this recipe is from her sweet mom, Terry!  This Sausage Bread is easy, yummy and savory - I love the flavor!  Also try my Sausage Pinwheels - a family favorite.

It calls for Bisquick and I would normally use Bisquick.  We had a large bag of Krustaez Pancake mix from Costco.  I compared the ingredients and just used it.  The bread turned out great!



Sausage Bread

1 lb breakfast sausage
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
1 egg beaten
2 Tbsp chopped parsley ( I used dried)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup milk

In a large skillet, cook sausage and onion til brown, drain.  Pour into a large mixing bowl, and mix in cheeses, beaten egg and parsley.  In another small bowl, make a biscuit dough by mixing Bisquick with milk and mayonnaise.  Add to the sausage mixture and fold and stir until all mixed together.  Pat mixture into greased square baking dish.  Bake at 400 for about 20-25 minutes or until lightly brown. About 16 squares






Monday, June 29, 2015

Bananas Foster Dip

My friend Donna shared this yummy Pampered Chef recipe with me.  I think this recipe has been around for years.   My girls loved it.  I served it with sliced apples and graham sticks.  Enjoy!!


Bananas Foster Dip (adapted from Pampered Chef)

1/2 cup pecan pieces
1 medium banana, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 jar (12 oz) hot caramel ice cream topping
extra chopped pecans for topping
apple slices, graham sticks or butter cookies

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large mixing bowl, mix banana, lemon juice, cinnamon and ice cream topping.  Spray a pie pan or small baking dish with cooking spray.  Pour in mixture and sprinkle with chopped pecans.  Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.  Serve with apple slices and/or graham sticks.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Family Favorite - Yummy Thin Pizza!

I love, love pizza!  My family loves pizza!  I found this package of three really thin crusts at our local Hy-Vee Grocery Store.  I am sure you can find something similar.  They have a regular and a wheat.


We keep the crusts and most of the ingredients... all of the time.  We make a Chicken/Pesto pizza that is probably everyone's favorite.  We make a Buffalo Chicken Pizza and a Barbecue Chicken Pizza, a Caprese Pizza, a Thai Pizza and a Greek Pizza.  We have been keeping grilled chicken tenders in the fridge so we are ready for any pizza!  We are just creative and try just about anything.

I bake them all at 425 for about 8 minutes - directly on the rack!  You can really load on the toppings.... and the flavor will be amazing but the pizza might not be as crisp in the middle as you like.  We don't like "floppy" pizza.  I recommend lots of toppings but don't go overboard.

I will give you a few ideas and details but enjoy being creative!

Chicken Pesto - Spread a generous amount of pesto over entire crust, top with grilled chicken, purple onion, feta cheese, shredded Parmesan cheese and bake

Buffalo Chicken - Melt a TBSP or two of butter and mix with a little garlic salt and onion salt - brush over crust.  Top with shredded buffalo chicken, purple onion, blue cheese (or another cheese), drizzle with ranch dressing and bake.(please see Buffalo chicken - we like to cook a whole bag of frozen chicken to have on hand - freeze what you don't eat - for later)



Barbque Chicken - spread your favorite sauce over entire crust, top with grilled chicken, mozzarella cheese and purple onion rings, bake

Caprese - love this new try!  Spread a thin layer of light chive and onion cream cheese over crust, top with cherry tomato halves, strips of fresh basil, and small chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese.  Drizzle with a balsamic glaze (sweet and yummy).  I also added grilled chicken and possibly strips of sundried tomatos...... but the pizza is yummy w/o both.


Greek Pizza - spread favorite hummus over the bottom, top with favorite ingredients such a feta cheese, grilled chicken, maybe artichoke hearts, greek olives,  bake - then drizzle with a little Tzatziki sauce or a little greek salad dressing

Thai Pizza - we make a Thai Lahvosh using these ingredients so I knew it would yummy on these thin crusts too.  Spread Thai sweet chili sauce over crust, top with grilled chicken, mozzarella cheese, pieces of chopped cashews, cherry tomatoes, green onion ( can bake with the cherry tomatoes and green onion or add them on top after you bake) Drizzle with more sweet Thai chili sauce.  Love the sweet/salty!

Have fun being creative!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Pesto Pasta Salad

I love pesto sauce.  I have a basil plant at my house every summer.....basil is just one of my favorite herbs.  I also love the store-bought pesto sauce.  We keep a jar of the Costco pesto sauce in our fridge.  We are constantly putting it on thin pizzas, different types of grilled cheese, pasta or just serve it in a bowl with a sliced baguette.

I made this yummy summer salad last night.  I decided this is one of those recipes that you can put just about whatever in it.  Consider avocado, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, toasted walnuts, pine nuts or slivered almonds (I used toasted slivered almonds because that is what I had) Craisins, cherry tomatoes, green onions, feta cheese, Parmesan cheese, etc.

I just went with what I had in my house.... Craisins, cherry tomatoes, toasted slivered almonds, feta cheese and Parmesan cheese - we loved it.

I did think the sauce soaked into the pasta as the night when on so you may have to reserve a little to add later or add a little more prepared pesto later.


Summer Pesto Pasta Salad

For the base of the salad....

1 - 16 oz box of pasta, cooked according to directions, drained, cool (I usually toss with a little olive
                                     oil while it is cooling so it doesn't stick together.  I don't rinse the pasta)
Mix together...

         1 cup prepared pesto
         1 small container of plain Greek yogurt

Toss over cooled pasta and add rest of ingredients.  Chill and serve!



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Key Lime Pie

Love this easy Key Lime Pie!  My friend Kathy shared this recipe with friends - I got it from my good friend Michelle.  Kathy eats gluten free, and I know she made the crust using gluten-free cracker crumbs and thought it was fabulous.

I recommend using a really, really deep-dish pie pan.  I had a clear glass deep-dish pyrex.  It worked! I filled it to the very top and extra key-lime mixture that I baked in a little ramekin - also yummy! We topped this with whipped cream - perfect for a gluten-free taster since no cracker crust!

This recipe isn't low-calorie but oh-so-yummy!  Please use key lime juice and don't leave out the lime zest.  I recommend topping it with fresh whipped cream or Reddi-Wip and a fresh lime slice. Enjoy!!

Enjoy this yummy summer dessert!!




Key Lime Pie

Crust - Mix together....

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter, softened
3 Tbsp sugar

Lightly spray a large deep-dish pie pan with cooking spray.  Pat your crumbs into the pan, all over the bottom of the pan and up the sides.  Bake at 375 for 8 minutes.  Let cool.

Filling - Mix together....

3 cans condensed milk
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup Key lime juice ( I found bottled Key Lime juice at our local stores)
1 Tbsp of lime zest (or more)

Mix well with a hand-mixer or whisk.  Pour into prepared pie crust.  Reduce heat to 350 and bake for 8 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.  Chill all day or over night.  The pie is best when really cold.  Serve as is or top with homemade whipped cream or Reddi-Wip and garnish with a fresh lime slice.

Enjoy!!

Printable Version

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Fudge Sauce from The Excelsior House in Jefferson, Texas

The Excelsior House Hotel in Jefferson, Texas is a historic hotel that has been welcoming visitors since the late 1850's.  I grew up about twenty minutes from Jefferson and have enjoyed many trips to Jefferson for great antique shopping, yummy restaurants, etc.  If you are traveling in East Texas, Jefferson is close to Caddo Lake and they have great Bed and Breakfasts!

This recipe came out of an old Excelsior House Hotel Cookbook.  I love this fudge sauce.  I have made it for all three of my girls grad parties - so fabulous over good vanilla ice cream.  I recommend making it and keeping it in your fridge all summer.  Keep some vanilla ice cream in your freezer and you will have a perfect summer dessert for your guests!


Fudge Sauce from The Excelsior House Hotel in Jefferson, Texas

2 sticks butter
4 oz. Baker's unsweetened chocolate
3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large can of evaporated milk

Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler over boiling water.  After melted, gradually stir in sugar, approximately 4 Tbsp at a time.  Add salt.  Mixture will be thick and dry.  Slowly stir in evaporated milk.  Continue to heat and stir until smooth and sugar is dissolved.    Store in refrigerator.  Makes 1 quart.

*We heat a little at a time as needed :) pour over ice cream and add toppings

Printable Version

Friday, June 5, 2015

Cinnamon Crumb Banana Bread

I have mentioned before that I am always looking for that perfect Banana Bread Recipe.  We love taking really dark, ripe bananas and making Crater Cake - yummy combination of bananas, chocolate chips, cinnamon crumb topping... but sometimes you just want plain banana bread.

I saw this recipe somewhere online and liked the crumb topping idea so I gave it a try. I thought it was very yummy.  I did use three banana.  Also, some sweet breads don't always get done in the middle when I cook them in a loaf pan.  I decided to try this one in a small rectangular glass Pyrex dish. It turned out beautifully.  I loved it!   I found this recipe at Little Bits of Real Food & Real Talk



Please visit Little Bits of Real Food & Real Talk for great pictures and other ideas....


Cinnamon Crumb Banana Bread (adapted from Little Bits of....)

Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup  butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk ( I used 1/2 cup skim milk and 1/2 Tbsp white vinegar mixed together)
  • 3 overripe bananas, mashed 
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Crumb Topping:
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
Directions
In a large bowl, use a mixer and  beat together the sugar, egg and vanilla until combined. Add the butter and beat until smooth and the butter is fully incorporated. Beat in the buttermilk and bananas.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet until all the flour is incorporated. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray and pour in the batter. * Note that not all loaf pans are the same size. You may have extra batter, so just pour in enough so there is still about an inch or 2 of space before the top of the pan.  Pour into a pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Make the crumb topping by combining the powdered sugar, flour, cinnamon salt and melted butter. Using your hands, crumble the mixture over the batter in the pan. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 40 - 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  *Remember this will vary depending on the size of the pan
After slightly cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar and ENJOY!!  


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Scalloped Corn

I was joining some friends for a Memorial Day celebration.  This family always has great food.  Their daughter had just returned from a semester in Uganda and requested Monster Bars and Oreo Balls.  Of course, I made both for our sweet friend Taylor.  I wanted to take something for lunch too.  I found this yummy recipe for Scalloped Corn - easy too!  I would double it for any gathering!

OOPS - Trying to multitask and do too much, I baked it without the cheese.  I just sprinkled some on top with more French Fried Onions but it would be better if you are smarter than me and you follow the directions and actually mix the cheese in the recipe.

Check out another great baked corn recipe - Mexican Corn!



Scalloped Corn ( adapted from Top Cooking Guide via Facebook)

1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can cream corn
2 green onions, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
20 RITZ crackers, crushed
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 cup or more of French fried onions (for topping)

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a square glass pan or smaller rectangle pan with cooking spray.  Mix the first nine ingredients.  Pour into prepared pan.  Top with French fried onions.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until lightly brown and bubbly. 

*I would double for a crowd
**If double and use a deeper, bigger pan - may need to bake longer. 



Friday, May 29, 2015

Pioneer Woman's Bowtie Chicken Alfredo

I love Ree - The Pioneer Woman.  I have been following her for years - way before she was on the Food Network.  If you aren't familiar with Ree, please find her show on television, go to her website The Pioneer Woman or buy one of her cookbooks.  You will love her.  She is so fun and so "relatable"! I don't think that is a word but you get it.  Anytime I am looking for a recipe, I always look to Ree for the best recipe out there.  I feel like Ree and I would be friends!

Recently, I made her Bowtie Chicken Alfredo.  I went the easy route and made it with some precooked chicken that was in my fridge.  Also, I had a goof while making this recipe.  I went to shake some pepper in and the large opening on my pepper was open so I  "poured" pepper in.  I was so sad.  I scooped out as much as I could but needless to say, we had "Peppered Bowtie Chicken Alfredo".  My husband loved it!  Our youngest daughter thought it was a little too peppery!  It was still yummy!


I am not going to repost the recipe!  Just please visit The Pioneer Woman for this easy, yummy Bowtie Chicken Alfredo.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Peanut Butter Balls

I love peanut butter and I especially love peanut butter balls.  I have had several different varieties.  I think my favorite is this one with Rice Krispies.

In past years, I have made the balls, refrigerated or frozen them and dipped them the night before the event.  I decided this year, I wanted to make, refrigerate, dip and freeze and not wait until night before the event.  YAY - they turned out beautifully.  I will never wait and dip again.  The day before the party, I moved the bars from the freezer to the refrigerator.  I served them from the refrigerator. They were fabulous.  I dipped in a nice quality almond bark and they didn't discolor at all.




Peanut Butter Balls

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
3 cups Rice Krispies
3-4 cups powdered sugar

1 pkg chocolate almond bark

White almond bark/peanut butter for drizzling

Soften peanut butter and butter in microwave.  Add cereal and powdered sugar, mixing well to form a thick mixture.  Using a small cookie scoop, scoop up mixture and roll into a ball.  Place balls on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.  When all balls are formed, refrigerate balls for at least one hour until firm.  Melt almond bark in microwave according to directions.  When balls are firm, take a ball and roll around in your hands to smooth edges.  Put toothpick in ball and dip into melted almond bark. Using a spoon in your other hand, help take the excess off the bottom of the ball.  I don't like the balls to sit in excess almond bark.  Drain as much off as you can.  Using the spoon, help to slide the ball off the toothpick, using the excess on the spoon to fill in the toothpick hole.  Balls will harden as you dip more balls.  You can decorate the top a variety of ways.  I think drizzling or sprinkling helps to hide any of your dipping flaws.  I chose to melt a couple of squares of white almond bark and about a tablespoon of creamy peanut butter together.  I spooned the mixture into a small ziploc bag.  I squeeze all of the mixture down to the corner of the bag.  I snipped a very small hole in the corner of the bag and squeezed the bag as I drizzled onto the peanut butter balls.  

After all of the balls were dipped and drizzled and hardened, I layer the balls with wax paper, topped with wax paper and froze them until the day before serving.  I moved them to the refrigerator the day before serving.  I served them directly from the refrigerator.  

FABULOUS!!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Meg's Graduation Dessert Party

Our youngest daughter just graduated from high school.  I still can't even believe it!  She is joining her sisters at Baylor University in the Fall.  We will have three girls at Baylor.  Yikes - but so exciting.  I love that they will all be together!  I may be several states away but they will have each other!

All of our graduation parties have been dessert parties - Oreo Balls, Peanut Butter Balls, Monster Bars, Lemon Bars, Almond Bars, English Toffee, White Chocolate Crunchy Clusters, Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Cheesecake, Ice Cream with homemade fudge sauce (will post soon), etc.  I love planning it and thanks to friends decorating, friends serving and family/friends helping out a ton - the party was a huge success.   I will post the recipe for Peanut Butter Balls soon..... and Oreo Balls.  I thought everyone knew how to make Oreo Balls but after a few conversations, I realized I need to post a recipe.  

We also had little bags for everyone to take treats to go.  All of the centerpieces were candy, too.        (cute black buckets with Twizzler sticks, Sour Straws, Caramel Apple Lollipops, Laffy Taffy rope, Sweet Tarts, etc.)  The CANDY BAR had cherry sours, Baylor green & gold M &Ms, French chocolate mints, Acai chocolate balls, dark chocolate sea salt caramels, ring pops, local Vic's popcorn balls, local Nebraska Baker's Chocolates, Texas Atkinsons Chick-o-sticks and Peanut Butter Logs, Sour Patch watermelon slices, and more.  It was so fun!!

A local young lady that is a sophomore in high school has a great business making cheesecakes and other desserts for parties.  She made our cheesecake and dipped over 300 strawberries for the party.  If you need a local person to make a dessert for you, Rileigh is your girl.  She is known for her cheesecakes.  She makes Original, Keylime, Turtle, Caramel Apple, Blue Ribbon, etc.  Send me an email if you want her contact information.

   Missing our oldest daughter, Annie. She is in Uganda on a mission trip.  And of course, missing my crazy fun Dad, Potter!
  The only picture we snapped of the dessert table was on Meg's snapchat.   We are missing the Oreo Balls on the top layer right and the cheesecake front and center.  The Candy Bar is in the back - most of it finsished - just haven't poured in the watermelon Sour Patch.  Busy Graduate Mom - didn't get enough pics!!  It rained a ton the day of the party and stopped just a couple of hours before the party started.  We were frantic at the end!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Overnight Caramel Pecan Rolls

First, I want to apologize for not posting new recipes more often.  Life just gets a little crazy and I just haven't tried any new recipes to share.  I have been making a few old "stand-by" recipes.  I did make an easy Thai Lahvosh last night.  We love it.  If you have precooked chicken, it takes like five minutes to put together and just a few minutes to broil.  I highly recommend it!

Over Easter, I wanted to make Caramel Pecan Rolls.  I have been searching for a recipe that I can make at night, and then we can bake it the next morning.  I found this recipe at All Recipes and... it was perfect!  I made two rectangle pans of 12 pecan rolls.  I had a few rolls leftover so I put them in a round pan and decided to top them with frosting... instead of doing the caramel/pecan topping.  The rolls were all fabulous.  I left the pecans off one end of the rolls because my girls always say they don't like nuts.  However, all of the ones with pecans were eaten first so I won't do that again.  I did freeze one pan of the rolls.  I plan to bake when family visits in May,   I will let you know how they turn out after being frozen.  AND... I doubled the caramel pecan mixture.  You can never have enough of the yummy "goo"!!




Caramel Pecan Rolls (adapted from All Recipes)

Ingredients: 

2 cups milk
2 (.25) pkgs active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
1 egg
7 cups all purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 cup pecan halves (I chopped mine)

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Let cool until lukewarm. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine yeast mixture, milk, sugar, oil, baking powder, salt, egg and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. 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 1 hour.
  3. Heat brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter until melted. Remove from heat; stir in corn syrup. Divide mixture between two 9x13 inch baking pans. Sprinkle 1/2 cup pecans in each pan. (I doubled the sauce)
  4. When dough has doubled in size, punch down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out into a large rectangle and spread with butter. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Starting with the long side, roll up the rectangle into a log, and slice into 1 inch wide rolls. Place the rolls slightly apart in pans. Wrap pans with aluminum foil and refrigerate at least 12 hours but no longer than 48. (I froze one pan at this point)
  5. Remove rolls from refrigerator and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  6. Bake uncovered in preheated oven until golden 30 to 35 minutes. Immediately invert pan on heatproof serving plate. Wait for 1 or 2 minutes before removing pan, so that caramel drizzles over rolls.


Cinnamon Roll Icing Recipe (If you have a few extra and want to bake separately)

2 oz cream cheese, softened
7 Tbsp butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 salt

Beat together the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer in a large bowl until creamy. Mix in the vanilla and milk, then gradually mix in the confectioners' sugar and salt until smooth and fluffy.