Wednesday, December 30, 2009

This Year's Going To Be Different


I know I am sure you have heard that before, maybe you have even said it, but seriously this year is going to be different. I am going to make my goals and stick with them. Check back with me on January 1, 2011 and congratulate me or not.


Goals:

1. Lose enough weight to just feel good about myself. Whether it is 5 pounds or 30 I am going to lose it til I feel good.

2. Eat more nutritiously. I can't cut out flavor and taste all together so I figure I can make one "bad" meal a week and then eat healthier for the rest. Sound good?

3. Stop judging or gossiping. I tend to justify the two by saying I am merely observing or just relaying information that happens to be "juicy." Enough is enough right?! No more excuses this time is for real.

4. Budget and save. This is the year where I think things will be the most tight. My husband works for the city of Phoenix and there is now talk of laying off firefighters. Sounds scary, but I feel a greater hand is in all things. Even if we still have employment I would really like to not spend as much.

5. Worry less, laugh more. So simple yet so hard.


Let's stop while they still seem attainable. What are your goals for 2010?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!




I had a lot of fabulous neighbors and not a lot of money for gifts. I threw this together and wish that I had been clever enough to make it more pretty. It is a bottle of Sprite with two bags of popcorn tied on, and a card. On the card I wrote:

Just "POP"ped by to wish you Happy Holidays! May your Christmas be merry and "SPRITE!"


It is very simple, but easy to top next year when I decide which neighbors I really want to splurge on. I sure hope if you are reading this you know how much you have made my year Merry and Bright! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chocolate Cake Is Always In Season


Right?
My sister made this recently and I just had to share. I will say that she spent about 40 dollars on ingredients because she used expensive cocoa. You can find higher quality at your local whole foods or specialty stores. If you are going to take the time to make such a creation, you should splurge on some good cocoa. It just melts in your mouth. Nothing like a sister to make my favorite meal. Nice sisters and good chocolate cake just go together. Yum!


Ingredients

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups good cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups light brown sugar, packed
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/4 cup brewed coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter 1 (4 by 3-inch) cake pan, 1 (6 by 3-inch) cake pan and 1 (8 by 3-inch) cake pan. Line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars on high speed until light, approximately 5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Combine the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. On low speed, add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture alternately in thirds, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix the batter only until blended.

Divide the batter between the 3 pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake on the middle rack of the oven as follows: for the 4-inch pan 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean; for the 6-inch pan 70 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean; and for the 8-inch pan 85 to 90 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes each on a cooling rack, carefully remove from the pans and allow to finish cooling.

Place the 8-inch cake on a serving plate, flat side up. Frost the top of that layer with buttercream. Place the 6-inch cake in the center of the top of the 8-inch cake, flat-side up, and frost the top and sides. Place the 4-inch cake in the center of the top of the 6-inch cake, flat side down. Frost the top and sides of that layer with buttercream. Spread any remaining buttercream over the cake evenly.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

1 pound bittersweet chocolate
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup egg whites (4 to 5 extra-large eggs), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Chop the chocolates and place them in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan simmering water. Stir until melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

Mix the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Place the bowl of egg whites over the pan of simmering water and heat the egg whites until they are warm to the touch, about 5 minutes. Return the bowl to the electric mixer and whisk on high speed for 5 minutes, or until the meringue is cool and holds a stiff peak.

Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, while beating on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl, add the melted chocolate, vanilla,and mix for 1 minute or until the chocolate is completely blended in. If the buttercream seems very soft, allow it to cool, and beat it again.

Spread on cake, serve, and enjoy!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Turkey Brine Won't You Be Mine?


I can't remember what my Turkey tasted like before we discovered turkey brine. It is no secret now, but turkey brine is the new black. Ever stressed about making the perfect turkey? All you need is a little brine and an oven bag!

Here is my Brine Recipe:

1 turkey
1 gallon ice cold water
1 cup kosher salt (or more if you like it salty)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 bay leaves, crumbled
1 tablespoon allspice berries, crushed
1 tablespoon mixed or black peppercorns, crushed
1 Tablespoon dried rosemary
1 Tablespoon dried sage
1 Tablespoon dried thyme
1/2 cup vegetable oil
salt and pepper
Creole seasoning, optional
1 gallon of iced water (approx)

Directions:

I have done this both ways. You can combine all of the ingredients minus the water and creole seasoning into a pot and simmer until salt is dissolved. Or you can skip that and just combine all of the ingredients into a turkey oven bag surrounding the turkey and add iced water until covered. You will also need to add iced water to the boiled mixture if you choose that route after simmering. Place turkey in fridge for 24 hours with brine. Before cooking, remove Turkey from bag and pat dry. Add more vegetable oil to turkey and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and creole seasoning. Cook as directed according to size. I place my turkey in yet another oven bag and tie with a twist tie. This helps the turkey to be tender and juicy. Serve and Enjoy!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Merry and Bright



I need to thank IDEAS and Razzle Dazzle Crafting for the inspiration for this wreath. At my house we are poor.


I mean that in a non "poor me" sort of way because my husband works two jobs so that I can be home with the wee one. This is the first Christmas in our four years of marriage that we have been able to decorate a little bit and have a tree. I love BRIGHT colors and started collecting ornaments and such a few years ago and have been waiting to be able to put it all together. I was able to get this tree because of the post Christmas sales last year. I wish you could see the tree in all of it's glory, but the bright pinks, greens, and blues are so fun.

I am so thrilled with how MERRY AND BRIGHT my home is. It feels like the Christmas season. This wreath was super and cheap and easy. I used bright colored scrapbook paper and actually glued it on an old straw wreath of all things to make it more modern. Bright colors are not super traditional, but I am loving the unique look.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Much Ado About a Cookie




How much do you love baking this time of year?! I sure do. The tree is up and the house is decorated. It is now time to fill the house with lovely cooking aroma. This cookie is delicious! It is a yummy creamy frosting surrounded by the perfectly delicate cookie on each side. You can pick your flavoring for the center or just go with the basic vanilla cream.

The "perfectly delicate cookie on each side is the problem". With all the tender loving care in the world I couldn't get this to be any better looking. Don't be fooled by my sad pictures. They are delicious! Santa might come back in the same night if you put these out! The directions seem pretty simple, but watch out when scraping them off the cookie sheet. If some of them crumble like some of mine did, it's ok. They melt in your mouth anyway.

Cream Wafers

Ingredients:
1 cup butter
2 cups flour
1/3 cup whipping cream
granulated sugar to roll in ( about 1/2 a cup)


Mix butter, cream and flour thoroughly. Chill 1 hr. Heat oven to 375. Roll dough on floured surface ( I add more flour to to dough when I roll it out as it is too sticky) to 1/8" thick. On a small plate place sugar and roll both sides of cookie in it and then place on greased cookie pan. Prick each cookie in 4 places with fork. Bake 7 -9 min or until slightly puffy. Put two cooled cookies together with filling in between.

Filling: Your basic butter frosting with almond, lemon, orange, mint or just vanilla flavoring. Whichever you prefer. I usually divide frosting in two dishes and use two different flavorings and food coloring to match. In this picture is almond flavoring with green food coloring. Serve and enjoy. Good luck!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Hey It's ok to eat for $3.85 sometimes!

Come on. I know you do it sometimes too. What is your quick, go to fast food meal when you are out and about or don't feel like cooking?

I like to think outside the bun and have two crunchy tacos. Sometimes I get real crazy and add a soft taco as well.
I know it is so plain and simple. How can a person that eats simple fast food tacos appreciate real food? I think it is important to appreciate the small things in life as well as tasty homemade dishes. What are your "small things"?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Say Happy Thanksgiving with this delicious corn!




I made this recipe a few years ago and it is now the favorite of all the dishes. It is no wonder it is so delicious. How can you go wrong with cream cheese, butter, and sugar!

Ingredients:

2 bags of frozen sweet corn
1 8 oz. cream cheese
1 stick of butter
4 Tbs. sugar
1 Tsp salt (or to taste)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in crock pot on medium or low depending on how long you want it to take. Serve and enjoy when all ingredients are melted into a delicious side dish.

Monday, November 23, 2009

When it is Chilly have some CHILI!


Grandma's Chili Recipe

My favorite thing about this recipe is that it was made back in the day on "wash day" by my great grandmother. Picture a cold day in the winter when you didn't have a fancy washer and dryer. Imagine not being able to just throw your clothes in and leave, but rather make it an all day event! This recipe was made on those Wyoming, winter days. I think that a bowl of this with a tall glass of milk would maybe make it a good day even on an all day "wash day!"

Ingredients:
2 lbs hamburger browned well.
3 lg. onions to be browned with burger
salt and pepper
1 large can tomato juice (those big ones over a quart)
1 tsp curry powder
2 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp powdered sage
1 or more tsp chili powder ( to taste)
2 tsp celery seed
sugar to taste ( I use about 1 tbsp or more)
7-8 cans beans of preference. (I used half kidney beans and half pinto beans)

Directions:
Brown burger and onions together until really browned, not just until the pink is gone. Add tomato juice and seasonings and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add the drained beans and simmer on low heat for about 20-30 minutes to let the flavors combine. Watch so it doesn't burn on the bottom during this process. A thick pan is best for this. Light aluminum is not too good. Serve and enjoy with bread and butter and/or crackers and ice cold milk. Grated cheese is good on top. But remember, the burger needs to be really browned. The flavor is different. This is yummy the next day too.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

please don't eat ME!?


Jane at theycallmejane had someone find her blog by searching for wrinkled...... (well I won't ruin the surprise). Head on over to there to find out what and find out why that is so funny. It seems that is the last thing you would find there, and who searches for that anyway? Well, she challenged other bloggers to see what crazy searches are leading people to our own blogs. I found a few to be disturbing.

  • kasha in crock pot
  • kashagooie
  • leftover kasha casserole

Somebody wants to put me in a crock pot, casserole, or worse..........What is kashagooie anyway? It doesn't sound very tasty even with me in it! Hopefully they are referring to the fact that KASHA means porridge commonly eaten in Eastern Europe. In English kasha refers to buckwheat groats made into cereal. Wow! Thanks mom and dad and Bon appetit ! (I guess)

















Head on over to her site to see what other crazy searches were found tomorrow! (Friday)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Is it Summer or Fall?

Silly question perhaps, but here in Arizona there is a good reason for my confusion. Some days it is 90 degrees and sometimes it is 70 degrees (freezing temps in my book). I am stuck in that awkward spot with what to wear. I just want to embrace my sweaters, but will have to layer on the deodorant for sure. I could still just wear t-shirts, but after 10 months of that I am ready to look like I am cold darn it! As you can see I love me some soup, but they taste better when it is cold and necessary.

Yesterday I made Rosemary Chicken Croissant Sandwiches with Potato, bacon and cheese soup. Sounds like they are too standard to be delicious, but I assure you that the rosemary makes all the difference. Plain old potato soup? The secret is a touch of cayenne pepper to give it that extra oomph to take it from plain to pretty darn tasty! It was Summer and Fall together. It was a pretty good combination.

Rosemary Chicken Croissant Sandwiches (Summer)

Ingredients:
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup light plain yogurt
1/4 cup light mayo
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
croissants

Directions:

Mix ingredients & spread on croissants. Serve and Enjoy


Potato and Bacon Soup (Fall)

Ingredients:
6 thick slices bacon (I used turkey bacon)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 stalk celery, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups cubed potatoes
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups cream or milk

Directions
  1. Cook bacon until crisp in 3-quart saucepan, remove from pan.
  2. While bacon is cooking, prepare vegetables. Add to saucepan and add onion, carrot, and celery as they are cut up. Saute until onion is soft but not brown, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Stir in chicken broth, potatoes, and pepper; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Stir in milk or cream. Stir in cheese, heating just until melted--do not boil. Chop bacon and add to soup. Adjust seasoning to taste by adding salt, if desired. Serve at once and of course enjoy!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thankful Thursday! Queasdillas-the sweet kind.

On this Thankful Thursday how can I not be grateful to my Dad for two things:


1. He restored my teeth. I now have my 4 crowns cemented and with a little time I think I will be as good as new.

2. He is the guy that really inspires me in the kitchen. He is always trying new things and is fearless with any dish! While visiting and getting my dental work done he made Prime Rib that was cooked better than anything Bobby Flay could of whipped up.

He also made a real tasty desert.

Picture a quesadilla with brie cheese and blue cheese crumbles melted inside with sauteed caramel apples drizzled on top. That is exactly what he made and boy was it delicious!



Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound apples,peeled, cored, quartered and small diced
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
For the quesadillas:
1/2 pound Blue Cheese, crumbled
1/2 pound Brie, thinly sliced
16 small flour tortillas
Vegetable oil for pan frying
For the walnuts:
1 cup walnut pieces
2 tablespoons cinnamon and sugar mixture
Directions
In a large saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar and cinnamon, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the apples and salt. Mix well. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Stir the cornstarch slurry into the apples and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely.



Place 1/2-ounce of the blue cheese and 1/2-ounce of the brie over half of each tortilla. Fold the tortillas over and press firmly. In a large saute pan, over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add a third of the quesadillas and pan fry for a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown and the cheese is melted. Pan-fry the rest of the quesadillas in small batches.

Fry the walnuts for 1 minute. Remove and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Drain on paper towels. Slice the quesadillas in half and serve with the apple compote and walnuts. Serve and enjoy!


Also good with pears!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

4 Crowns and A Root Canal



4 crowns and a root canal means a lot of soup and mashed potatoes. I have been on a soft foods diet for the last two weeks and cannot wait to get my permanent crowns cemented so I can eat real food again. I will never take chewing for granted again.

In the meantime please let me share one of my favorite comfort soups.

Chicken Veggie Cheese Soup

  • 1 20oz bag of frozen peas and carrots
  • 2 cups diced potatoes ( I about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 onion diced
  • 4 cooked and shredded chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 12 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 16oz bottle of cheese whiz

Put above in a pan and cover vegetables with just enough water to cover the vegetables. Boil until tender, and do not drain.

While above is cooking
Boil 2 quarts water with 12 chicken bouillon cubes ( I used Wyler's small cubes)
In yet another pot melt 1/2 cup butter and add flour until thick ( about a cup) Add chicken broth to paste and stir with whisk to break up most lumps. Pour mixture into large pot with veggies/water and stir. Add Cheese whiz to mixture and stir until melted. Add chicken and heat through. Serve and Enjoy!
Can be frozen. I did!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Turkey Ala King

What does Ala King mean?

It is an American dish of diced foods, usually chicken or turkey, in a cream sauce with pimientos, mushrooms, and green peppers. (I did not use green peppers in this recipe)

This is what I did with the last of my Turkey. I have to say 3 big meals out of one turkey has been quite a success.

Ingredients:
1 pound of cooked and shredded turkey or chicken
1 jar of pimientos
1 onion chopped
1 cup celery
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup of butter
3/4 cup flour
5 cups chicken broth
1 cup cream
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs

Directions:
In a little butter saute celery and onions until tender. Place onion, celery, turkey, pimientos, and mushrooms in a 9 x 13 casserole dish.


Melt butter and add flour until mixed and clumpy . Whisk in chicken broth slowly to avoid lumps and cream. Mixture should be somewhat thick like gravy. Add to casserole dish. Stir and cover with bread crumbs. Bake at 350 until heated through. Mine took about 45 minutes. Serve and enjoy!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (no frosting needed)

You don't understand what a big deal this is! I have always been afraid to make anything that requires yeast, raising, and that kneading business. Thanks to my mom's recipe and my dearest grandmother's guidance. I did it. They not only turned out, but were amazing. My husband proposed to me all over again. I'm sure every other "foodie" has made something like this, but if you ever wanted to know how, here are some instructions. These are a must have with your Fall and Winter soups.



Ingredients:

-2 pkgs dry yeast dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water (This is to 'proof' the yeast as well as to get it working) By proof, make sure the yeast is good yeast.
If it is the right temperature the yeast will start bubbling in about 5 min or so.
-2 cups warm buttermilk (I heat this in a pan on the stove, then add the sugar,oil,salt, and soda. The soda with buttermilk will foam up so have a pan big enough)
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 cup oil
-1 tsp soda
-1 1/2 tsp salt
-2 eggs, beaten
7 1/2 cups of flour (I did not use all of it)

For the Insides and Pan:
Brown Sugar
White Sugar
Butter
Karo syrup
Cinnamon
I did not give amounts as it is up to you and your taste. I used lots!

Directions:
-Combine in a large bowl (mixer bowl if you have one):
-2 cups warm buttermilk (I heat this in a pan on the stove, then add the sugar,oil,salt, and soda. The soda with buttermilk will foam up so have a pan big enough)
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 cup oil
-1 tsp soda
-1 1/2 tsp salt
-2 eggs, beaten
Add yeast mixture
-Add 7-71/2 cups flour and beat well. I add flour and beat in the electric mixer and when it is too stiff to mix, turn it out on the table and knead in the enough flour to make a soft dough reserving some to flour board when rolling for rolls.
-Cover dough, put in warm place like on the dryer or something until it has doubled in size.



While dough is raising-
Prepare your cookie sheets. Spread melted butter, brown sugar, and white Karo syrup into a gooey, lovely mess. This makes the sticky bun stuff.


Once dough has risen:
-Turn out on floured table or board and divide into two even-sized parts.
-Roll out long and about 4-5 inches in width. Roll pretty flat.
-Spread melted butter over and then sprinkle with brown sugar and white sugar and cinnamon to taste.(I use the white sugar to beef up the sweet along with the brown)
-Roll up and cut into rolls
-Place on prepared pans that have melted butter, brown sugar, and white Karo syrup drizzled on it. This makes the sticky bun stuff. I like to push each kind of flat since they raise so much and want them to be wider.
-Let raise again but not to twice the size since they will raise more in the oven.
-Bake 350 degrees until browned and done, about 1/2 hour.
-Turn out immediately on tinfoil or parchment paper. Serve and enjoy! They are best on the first day, but can be almost as good warmed up in the microwave after that. You can add frosting, but I never have.



See how the Karo syrup mixture just melts on and around those little lovelies? They are truly amazing. If I can do it, anyone can!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Turkey Noodle Soup




I love leftover turkey! I am not sure if this is worthy of a recipe. My turkey soup or chicken noodle soup isn't any different than your normal soup, but I have a few suggestions:

1. Notice those lovely jars full of broth? When you can, use the real stuff. I just boiled the bones and poured whatever stock was leftover from the roaster into these jars. I like flavor so I added one or two more chicken bouillon cubes.

2. Chunky, chunky, chunky. In my opinion the best classic turkey or chicken noodle soup is with chunky vegetables and in this case turkey. I cut the meat up into large chunks and throw it in the broth before the vegetables. I like the meat to be tender and to have enough time to soak up the flavors. I love to cut the carrots and celery into large pieces and have them just barely crunchy, not mushy.

3. My favorite part is the noodles. I discovered these noodles while living in Utah. Mrs Weiss Kluski Noodles are found in Smith's grocery store in some places. They are usually on the bottom shelf in the pasta section. I will never use another noodle. It makes the soup look and taste homemade. They get just tender, but not too tender and I think it makes the difference in the soup. I am yet to find this brand supplied in Arizona so I just stock up in Utah, or you could order them here. One bag is enough for a large pot.



I would love to hear tasty tips that you might have to jazz up your soup. I will update this as I get them.

Kristina P says no to bay leaves in her soup.

The Ungourmet likes her soup with al dente noodles and crispy veggies as well.

Homemade Heaven lives in South Africa and says they never have turkey there. It is always with chicken! Interesting I say!


I have one more bag of turkey left in the freezer from my turkey sandwich craving. Stay tuned for the casserole I use it in! I love me some turkey!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Turkey Sandwich that will WOW your tastebuds!

You can have this turkey sandwich:



Or



You can have my new and improved turkey sandwich. It is fairly easy, but tastes like it wasn't.






I personally will never go back.

Here's how:
First, if it is not Thanksgiving and you do not have left over turkey yet, roast a turkey. Do it the way you love it. There is nothing more inviting in a home then the smell of a delicious turkey cooking in the oven.



While that is cooking prepare the coleslaw and sauce.
For the coleslaw-

1 (l6oz) bag coleslaw mix 1/3 cup sugar
2 TBS. diced onion 1 TBS. white or red wine vinegar
2/3 cup creamy salad dressing ( mayo etc.) 1/4 teas. salt
2 TBS. vegetable or canola oil 1/2 tsp. poppy seeds
1/2 tsp celery seed
Combine all ingredients except coleslaw and onions. Stir so sugar etc. is all blended then add slaw and onions.
Chill at least 2 hrs before serving.

For the sauce you can either buy a bottle of Russian salad dressing, or make your own. Here's how:

1 cup Miracle Whip or mayo salad dressing
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons sweet relish
1/3 cup ketchup
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of cayenne

Stir the ingredients until well blended.


Now the fun part-

On your favorite Kaiser roll spread the dressing on each side. Place your sliced turkey pieces on next and follow with a generous amount of coleslaw. Serve and Enjoy! Stay tuned for leftover turkey soup.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Unique Flavors I love because of my Dad



I believe this is called huevos rancheros. I didn't have anything in the house for dinner last night, or so I thought. I remembered my dad brought green chili he had made for his visit this weekend so I put this together. I never would of wanted it or thought of it had I not seen my dad put this dish together several times growing up. He served a mission for our church for two years in Mexico. I am not sure if I would love Mexican food as much as I do had I not had his influence. I put this together by placing two fried eggs in between corn tortillas smothered in black beans, cheese, and green chili. I put it in the microwave briefly to melt the cheese. I love the first bite when the fork allows for the egg yolk to mix with the cheese and green chili allowing for a delicious, hot, gooey bite. Yummy!



This is one of my favorite appetizers. I love sliced cheese, summer sausage, and crackers together. This is also because of my father's unique palate. This particular sausage is interesting as it is made from antelope. The preferred condiments for this treat is hot mustard and butter pickles.

Do you have any dishes like this that you consider to be different from the normal flavors you love?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Simple Sunday Part Two: Crock Pot Italian Chicken


My new favorite! It is so easy, yet so tasty!

Ingredients:
2 1/2 pounds of chicken
1 Family size can of Cream of Chicken Soup
2 cups milk
1 block of cream cheese
1 packet of Italian Dressing Seasoning mix (Found in the salad dressing Aisle next to Hidden Vally Ranch Packets)
1 Box of your favorite pasta (I used Penne pasta)

Directions:
Combine all ingredients except pasta into crock pot. Cook on High for 4 hours, or longer at a lower temperature depending on your schedule. Once cooked, boil pasta, drain, and serve mixture over pasta. It is creamy and so yummy. It tastes like an enhanced Alfredo sauce. Nobody will ever know it was that easy. I promise I won't tell.

Simple Sunday Part One : Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

I unintentionally had a theme today. The theme was to use very little ingredients, but have a lot of taste!
First I made dessert. It is a good idea to make dessert first. It gives you something to nibble on while you are waiting for dinner to be done.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies


Ingredients:
Take the above ingredients and mix together that is it!
1 can of Pumpkin
1 box of Spice Cake Mix
2 cups (more if you are me!) of chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Ignore directions on the box and simply add the pumpkin to the dry ingredients and stir together until thoroughly mixed. Add chocolate chips. Place ice cream scoop size dollops on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes. It is really that easy and delicious! Serve and Enjoy!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fall Hamburger Soup


I love soup season! This is one of my favorites.

Ingredients:

2 lbs hamburger
1 can tomatoes
2 Quarts water
3 cups diced potatoes
3 medium carrots diced
2 Tbs. parsley
3/4 cups celery
1 Tbs sugar
1 large onions
2 Tbs. green pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Worcestershire
6 whole allspice
2 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper

Directions:
Brown hamburger in large pot. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until vegetables are tender. Serve and enjoy!

Why the white pepper? According to Ochef.com A black peppercorn is picked when still green and dried in the sun until it turns black. A white peppercorn ripens fully on the vine before it is picked. Black pepper has a slightly hotter flavor and aroma. As with any spice, if you grind the pepper as you use it, it will have lots more flavor than if it was ground in a factory months ago and sat on the shelves in the grocery store before it sat on your shelf. So the question of how much to use is very much a matter of personal preference.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting


I wish I could call this my own, but I owe it all to Smitten Kitchen. These are my new favorite cupcakes.

For the Cupcakes:
This recipe makes 28-32. It sounds like a lot, but once you have one you'll discover it is not nearly enough.

3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of nutmeg
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks or 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark or light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) buttermilk, sour cream or full-fat yogurt
3 large peaches, peeled, cored, and chopped smallish (I went for a 1/3-inch dice)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 28 muffin cups with paper liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg and set aside. Cream the butter and sugars together, beating until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition, and then the vanilla. Gently mix in the buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the peach chunks.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of cupcakes comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes for five minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the scrumptious frosting:

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (4 ounces or 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch and powdered sugar. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the sugar-cornstarch mixture and vanilla, beat until frosting is smooth and light. Chill the bowl in the refrigerator until it thickens back up a bit, about 30 minutes, then spread or dollop on cooled cupcakes.

Serve and enjoy, or use them to make friends.

Friday, September 11, 2009

On September 11, 2001...


I forgot to set my alarm clock for work and was running around trying to get ready. I was 15 minutes late and was running out the door of my Aunt's house. I was staying with her for that year and I remember her just standing in the kitchen staring at the T.V. Her posture was so intense that even though I was preoccupied with hurrying it stopped me in my tracks. She turned around with tears in her eyes and said "do you know what just happened?". I will never forget. Where were you?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Savory Crockpot London Broil



It was just one of those meals that was just really satisfying for a Sunday afternoon. I love the crockpot. It is perfect for cooking in Arizona.

1 1/2 to 2 pounds round steak
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
1 package (about 1.5 ounces) dry stroganoff mix
1 package (about 2.75 ounces) country gravy mix (enough to make 2 cups)
1 can (10.5 ounces) condensed beef broth, undiluted
Dash pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
Salt, to taste
2 Tbs. corn starch mixed with cold milk
Preparation:

Cut beef into 1/2-inch pieces. Sear in pan until just cooked. Combine in the slow cooker with the onions and mushrooms. Toss with the stroganoff and gravy mixes. Stir in the beef broth and wine; sprinkle with pepper and the parsley flakes. Add well mixed corn starch for thickening. Cover and cook for 7 to 9 hours; taste and add salt, as desired.
Serve with hot cooked rice, noodles, or potatoes, and a green vegetable or tossed salad.
Serves 4 to 6.







I also made orange glazed rolls with grapefruit zest instead of the standard orange zest. It was refreshing and the perfect touch for this meal.





Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fire Station Friday.... What!!!!!!?



How many annoying weekday alliterations can I come up with? Not enough apparently. I am sorry for that, but now that I have your attention thanks for stopping by!
Straight from the Fire Station kitchen I bring you my new favorite spaghetti sauce.


Ingredients:
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 whole head of garlic (minced)
1 lb of ground beef
1 package of hot sausage (Italian sausage )
1 package of mild sausage (Italian sausage)
2 large cans of whole peeled tomatoes
1 small can of tomato paste
4 Tbs. of oregano
4 Tbs. of basil
4 Tbs of sugar

First, brown ground burger. While that is cooking cook sausages separately by poking holes in each link and place in pan with just enough water to cover them. Simmer in water until sausage turns white. Slice and set aside.

For the sauce, add olive oil into deep pot with chopped garlic. Stir until the garlic turns just slightly brown on medium high. Pour in tomatoes and tomato paste. Add oregano,basil, and sugar. Add all of the meat into the pot and simmer for 4- 6 hours. Serve and enjoy with your favorite pasta! I sure did.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Summer Cucumber Salad


Summer is almost over, but this refreshing side dish is one to remember.


Ingredients:
1 pint sour cream
2 Tbs. Lemon Juice
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tbs. Sugar
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup of sliced onion
5 peeled and sliced cucumbers

Directions:
Mix sauce first and then add cucumbers. Delicious and a real crowd pleaser. Serve and Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thankfu Thursday- Two Random Things




1. I am grateful for this free country that we live in. I am thankful that even if I do not agree with the current administration, as of now I can still write a letter to express my distaste. I just sent off 16 letters to select politicians hoping perhaps one of them will read my letter just because. Even if the letters are not read, or nothing changes, at least I can feel good knowing I said something.




2. I am thankful for CHOCOLATE! I try to include a morsel in my every day. Today I put it in some Chocolate Phip pretzel Bars. Delicious! Here they are cooling. I am waiting patiently. I think I will serve them with vanilla ice cream drizzled in caramel. I am also thankful to Dana for providing this amazing recipe. Go here for the genius behind the recipe.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ruth's Diner Macaroni and Cheese

It is so good you don't need a picture! (Plus I ate it up and forgot to take one)

Ingredients:
3 cups uncooked macaroni noodles
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 cups milk
2 bay leaves
1 Tbs paprika
2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar
2 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack
1 cup cottage cheese

For the topping:
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup bread crumbs

Directions

Cook macaroni, drain do not rinse.
In a large saute pan, saute the onions in butter. Add the flour to make a roux and cook for one minute. Add the milk, bay leaves, paprika, salt and pepper. Brink to a simmer, stirring often. Mix the 2 cheeses together in a small bowl. Once the mixture is at a simmer, add 3 cups of cheese mixture and the cottage cheese. Stir well, remove from heat, and remove bay leaves from mixture. Add macaroni noodles to milk mixture, mix well.

Pour 1/2 of macaroni mixture into a 2 quart baking dish, cover with 1/2 of the remaining grated cheese, add remaining macaroni mixture and cover with the remaining grated cheese mixture.

In small bowl mix together the topping ingredients and top the macaroni. Place into the oven and bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes.

As always, serve and enjoy!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thankful Thursday - Firefighter Stir Fry





I am thankful for Firefighters. I bet you are too!:) I am not only grateful for the obvious reasons, but also because now that my husband is a firefighter he is learning to cook! He went from burning mac and cheese from the box to learning how to cook pure deliciousness. This recipe is one of my new favorites straight from the fire station kitchen to your plate!




Firefighter Stir- Fry

Marinade Sauce (Double this mixture)
5 dried Arbol Chile's (located in the Hispanic food section of your grocery store with the other bagged dried chile's)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 cloves of garlic minced

Blend the ingredients in the blender and pour 1/2 of mixture over 1 pound of chicken breasts. Marinade in the fridge for 3-5 hours. Set aside the remaining sauce for completed dish.

For the Rice
2 cups long grain enriched regular rice
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups water

Pour olive oil in deep, large frying pan. Add rice and heat on high until rice turns to just barely golden brown. Add water, cover, and simmer for approx. 25 minutes. Try to avoid removing lid. This should make the perfect white rice.

While rice is cooking, cook chicken in pan until just brown. Remove chicken from pan and place your favorite stir-fry veggies(broccoli,carrots,peas,water chestnuts) in the pan and steam with a little bit of water until just tender. Add Chicken into vegetables for 2 minutes with remaining sauce. Pour stir fry over serving of rice and add extra sauce if desired. Serve and Enjoy!




Stay tuned for more recipes from the Fire Station kitchen!


What are you thankful for today?