Wednesday, March 25, 2009

lovin' my sun-dried tomatoes; 2 salads

Bow-tie Pasta Salad

  • your choice of pasta
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper (or Italian dressing, if that's what you prefer)
  • cubed cheese
  • olives
  • sun-dried tomatoes (I love their slightly chewiness, and their longevity in salads vs. fresh)
  • sliced red pepper, or zukes, cucumber, whatever
  • parmesan cheese sprinkled on top
  1. Combine the above and chill in fridge an hour before serving.

Couscous Pea and Sun-Dried Tomato Salad

  • 1 1/2 c. plain couscous, cooked
  • peas, thawed
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • green onion (optional)
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • sprinkle of garlic powder
  • lemon pepper, sprinkled generously
  1. Combine the above. Chill in fridge an hour before serving. (Tastes really good the day after).
These are two very versatile salads. I'm kind of posting them as templates for me to reference. You pretty much can use whatever seasonings/veggies you like in these salads. I bought my sun-dried tomatoes at Walmart and they are about 3 dollars a jar in the canned vegetable aisle. They come slightly seasoned in oil, but you just throw them in (drained) as is and they are great. anyway..these are great side dishes. Also great in the summer as cold salads. Throw in chicken in either one and have dinner!

Honey Roasted Potatoes

Honey Roasted Potatoes or Veggies

  • cut up (I like bite-size) potatoes (I like red and sweet potatoes)
  • carrots, peppers, any other veggies you like
  • honey to drizzle over top
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 T. chopped onion
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Line baking dish with tinfoil to avoid cleaning baked on honey.
  2. Cut up desired veggies in amount needed.
  3. Sprinkle chopped onions on top.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle enough honey on top to lightly glaze.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes to an hour, or until fork-tender.
This is a great way to eat potatoes and other vegetables. This dish goes with mostly any main dish. It is very tasty and doesn't need any adornments, though my kids still use ranch. lame.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pretty red muffins

Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffins

  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. butter, softened
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 4 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 1/2 c. raspberry preserves or strawberry (I used strawberry freezer jam)
  • red food coloring (just to make it pretty)
  • 1 c. white chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Remove 1 cup of the mixture and set aside.
  3. To remaining crumb mixture add baking powder, soda, salt, sour cream, egg and vanilla. Beat until combined, batter will be thick.
  4. Gently cream in cream cheese and preserves and food coloring. Don't over-mix.
  5. Fold in white chocolate chips.
  6. Spoon 2/3 of the way up your cupcake liners. Sprinkle reserved crumbs on top.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.
  8. Makes about 20.
We had free samples at Macey's yesterday of a red muffin that was "raspberry cream cheese". I looked for recipes online because there was no way I was spending $3.50 for 4 muffins. Plus I knew mine would be somewhat healthier. So I kind of combined a few recipes and this is what I got. We love them! A definite treat muffin, like most of the muffins I like. Not overly sweet, surprisingly. Just right. My camera isn't available but I'll post a picture next time.

Such great dip!

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

  • 1 c. diced roasted red peppers (in the jar or homemade)
  • 2 c. grated pepper jack cheese or cheddar
  • 8 oz cream cheese (lowfat good)
  • 3/4 C mayonnaise
  • 2 T minced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or 3/4 t. garlic powder)

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Remove peppers from jar and blot excess water with paper towels, then dice them.
  2. In a bowl, soften cream cheese in microwave so it will be easier to stir. Add in mayo, onion, and garlic.
  3. Stir to combine and then add in grated cheese and the diced peppers.
  4. Place in an pie dish or similar.
  5. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
This is so good! I love fun tasty dips. Of course you'll need to like red peppers! You can roast your peppers by broiling them until skins are charred (like 10 min) (sliced first) and sticking them in a ziploc immediately after for 30 minutes, letting the heat soften them. Peel off the charred skin and voila!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Can't get enough of quick breads

Poppy Seed Bread
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3 1/3 T. oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1/2 t. almond extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 3/4 t. poppy seeds
Almond Glaze
  • 1 Tbsp water, milk, or orange juice
  • 1/4 t. vanilla
  • 1/4 t. almond extract
  • 1/4 c. powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour an 8X4-inch loaf pan extremely well and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl cream together butter, oil, eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together flour, salt, baking powder, and poppy seeds. Add this mixture to the first and mix until well blended (I used a whisk), but do not over-mix.
  4. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes. Serve plain or while bread is still hot, brush with several coats of Almond Glaze.
This was so good! Very moist and addicting. Not too sweet, which I guess is why it is called a "bread" instead of cake. Don't get me wrong, it still tastes like a dessert, it's just not overly-sweet. I have no problem either way!

Last week I made Blueberry Quick Bread from Krusteaz Blueberry Muffin mix. The recipe was on back and I figured I'd just remember it, but I didn't. However, I think it's just the instructions for the muffins listed on the box, with the addition of orange zest in the batter and on the glaze. It was so easy to make, baked up perfectly, and slid out of the pan like magic. Got to remember to find the recipe and post it! But here's a picture for me to remember it by.

Chicken Fingers a la Honey Bunches of Oats

Crunchy Chicken Dippers
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
  • 4 1/2 cups Honey Bunches of Oats, finely crushed (or let's face it; cornflakes or crackers are fine!)
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Beat eggs lightly in shallow dish or pie plate. Dip chicken in eggs, turning over to evenly coat both sides of each strip. Coat chicken with cereal. Place in two cookie sheets covered in cooking spray.
  2. Bake 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
Makes 8 servings. From, picture too.

Apricot Dipping Sauce: 3/4 c. apricot preserves 3 T. mayo 1 1/2 T. Dijon mustard 1 T. rice vinegar. Mix well.

These are really good! No, really.They aren't sweet like you'd think. Just mildly so. We tend to have a lot of Honey Bunches of Oats because well, sometimes Albertson's has really good cereal sales. We like to dip these suckers into ranch, honey mustard, honey, the above dipping sauce...tons of options!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bar Cookies: Sugar Cookies fast!

Sugar Cookie Bars
  • 1 cup butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp soda
  1. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg.
  3. Add vanilla & mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt & soda & stir with a whisk to combine. Add to wet mixture and mix just until combined.
  5. Spread on a greased baking sheet (use a 13 x 18 pan). Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 min, until light golden brown or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and frost.
What a great recipe! I don't know why I haven't thought of making sugar cookies in bar-form before, but this works! I halved the recipe and put it in my 11x8 glass baking dish and it took around 20 minutes at 350 (I cooked it lower because of the glass). They were thick and delicious, and enough for our family! We gobbled them up in a day. I'll use the whole recipe for when I need to take a dessert over for a big family/group dessert. It will feed a lot...just pile on the frosting and fun sprinkles!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Mac N Cheese Crockpot style

Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese
  • 8 oz macaroni noodles (that is two cups dry noodles)
  • 2 c. milk (I used 1 %)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt (use whatever you have)
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 2 c. cheddar cheese (I used 1 1/2 c. and threw in an ounce or so of velveeta at the end)
  1. Spray crockpot with cooking spray.
  2. In separate bowl, mix egg with milk until well blended. Add salt and pepper and cheese.
  3. Add macaroni and pour mixture into crockpot.
  4. Important: cook on low for 2 hours, making sure to watch the crockpot closely after that first hour, because when pasta is cooked, you want to stop the cooking so it's not a mushy mess. Mine took 1 hour and 45 minutes. Then I just kept the crockpot on warm until dinner.

This was actually quite delicious! I made it for my kids, but I thought it was dang good. A nice "real cheese" version to the box. And thought it's not entirely hands-off, it's still pretty easy! This made enough for our family, but just barely. It is rich so it goes farther. I added velveeta (2% kind) at the end to give it a more yellow color (for the kids) and to add some extra creaminess.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Quick, awesome Broccoli Cheese Soup

Broccoli Cheese Soup
  • half a 16 oz bag frozen, chopped broccoli (or fresh...just your own preference)
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • half of an onion chopped very fine
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • remaining water from your defrosted/steamed broccoli (about 1 cup-it doesn't much matter)
  • 1 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • 8oz Velveeta cheese cut into cubes
  • 1 cup milk, or as much needed to get desired thickness of soup
  1. In a large pot steam broccoli until desired tenderness, or microwave frozen broccoli, saving water either way you do it.
  2. While broccoli is steaming, saute onions in butter.
  3. When onions are translucent add your flour and cook until flour starts to brown.
  4. Add one can of chicken broth and stir until smooth, repeat with the second can of broth, bring to a boil. Add broccoli water.
  5. Reduce heat and add Worcestershire sauce, cheese and milk. Mix until smooth and creamy. Add your steamed broccoli and serve.
We all ate this soup and loved it! I had some leftover Rotisserie Chicken from Sam's Club so I just threw that in, but it would be great with or without chicken. A keeper! The measurements of everything are really not's just as much cheese/broccoli/liquid as you prefer.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Make your own Samoas!

Homemade Samoas Bars


Cookie Base:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
First, make the crust.
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract.
  3. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together. Pour crumbly dough into prepared pan and press into an even layer.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.


  • 3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 10 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are ok)
  1. Preheat oven to 300. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
  2. Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.
  3. Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Using the spatula, spread topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled.
  4. When cooled, cut into 30 bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter (it’s easy to get it through the topping).
  5. Once bars are cut, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each bar into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment or wax paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle bars with chocolate to finish.

Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes 30 bar cookies.

Okay, these take an hour from start to finish to make (unless you do the chocolate drizzle perfectly unlike me), but they are so fun to eat! And fun for a different treat to take somewhere. I thought they tasted super-close to real Samoas. Mainly the biggest difference was this crust is not as hard as the "real" Samoa cookie. But that's fine with me. The caramel-toasted coconut combo is yummy, and I just used Kraft caramels.