Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sugar Cookie Bars with Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

Love sugar cookies, but don't make them often because it's so much work to roll and cut them?  This is the answer- sugar cookies in a bar.  These are really yummy.  I got the cookie recipe from Pinterest, but made up my own  cream cheese lime frosting.

Sugar Cookie Bars

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray a large, sided cookie sheet or jelly roll pan.  
In the stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream together the soft butter, cream cheese and the butter.  When fluffy, add the egg and vanilla.  Stop the mixer and add the flour, soda, and baking powder.  Turn on mixer slowly and blend well.  
Turn the dough into your prepared pan and press it evenly into the pan.  The dough is very soft and sticky.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the outside edges are browning.   Cool completely and frost.

You can frost these with a vanilla buttercream frosting, but I had some limes to use, so made up this lime cream cheese frosting.  It was delicious.

Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
Lime juice- probably about 1/4-1/3 cup
Powdered Sugar
1 tiny drop green food coloring (opt.)
Beat the butter and cream cheese together.  Add juice and powdered sugar until the frosting is spreading consistency.

This makes a lot of frosting.  If you like thick frosting, make the whole recipe, but if you prefer less frosting, half this recipe would be great.  In preparing for our upcoming reunion, I doubled the cookie bar recipe and made this frosting recipe and it covered both pans of cookies just fine.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Best Ever Whole Wheat Pancakes

Today we are celebrating Nathan's 5th birthday. He wanted pancakes for breakfast so I went online searching for a Betty Crocker whole wheat pancake recipe that a friend had told me about. I couldn't find hers (it only had 4 or 5 ingredients), so I tried the recipe found here: instead. Oh man, were they good. The were crispy on the outside, sweet and delicious in the middle. In fact, they were so good on their own that I skipped the syrup all together. I dipped one bite in the delicious maple goodness and decided that the syrup definitely ruined the pancake...and that isn't like me to say! I usually love pancakes with good homemade maple syrup. I even crave them sometimes. Anyway, this recipe calls for 2 cups buttermilk, which I didn't have on hand, so I substituted 1 cup vanilla yogurt and 1 cup of milk. Delish. They were a little finicky to flip. I had to make sure they were fully cooked and then carefully coax them off the griddle from each side before flipping, but they were worth it. The best part is, with freshly ground whole wheat flour and no syrup they were quite filling (I was surprised with how quickly my kids announced they were full) and a pretty healthy way to start the day. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Patty's Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake

This is a very easy bundt cake recipe I got from my sister, Patty.  It is delicious without frosting, too.
1 Devil's Food Cake Mix
2 eggs
1 2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
1 pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix (or vanilla or white chocolate)
1 bag chocolate chips.  Heat the oven to 350.  Mix all the ingredients together, reserving some of the chocolate chips.  Pour into a greased or sprayed bundt pan.  Sprinkle the reserved chips over the top. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Kay's Potato Salad

If there's a recipe I'm known for, it's my potato salad.  I've made it the same way for years and years.   But it's really not my recipe.  I learned how to make it from Lilly Blacker.  The Blackers were our next-door neighbors while I was growing up.  I spent my summers in their swimming pool.  We always celebrated the 4th of July with the Blackers and Lilly always made the potato salad.  We barbecued, swam and then all sat out on the front curb to watch the fireworks.  Saying, "OOOOHHHH!" and "AAAAAHHHHH!" frequently during the fireworks was required.  "Oohs" and "Aaahs" were also frequently emitted while eating Lilly's potato salad.  
One year, when I was a teenager, I decided I wanted to learn how to make her salad.  So I went over to her house on the morning of the 4th and watched Lilly and helped her make it, writing down everything she did.  The only change I've made is I use dill rather than sweet pickles(it's a matter of taste. My husband prefers the dill.)  The amounts are not measured, so it's a little difficult to write it down as a recipe, but I'll explain the technique.
  • Scrub potatoes and boil them in their jackets in a large pan. (6 large potatoes makes about 2 quarts of salad)  Boil until potatoes are firm/tender (Overcooking results in mushy salad, but they can't be too firm, either.Just keep checking them with a fork.) 
  •  Remove potatoes from the water and let cool until just cool enough to handle.  Peel skins.  This is the first secret to delicious potato salad.  Peel and dice while the potatoes are still warm.
  • Put the diced potatoes in a  large bowl and salt.  This is the  2nd secret.  Salt the potatoes while they are warm.  The potatoes form kind of a starchy skin if you do this while they're warm.  This is what makes yummy salad.
  • The third secret is use as many hard-boiled eggs as potatoes.  If you're using 6 potatoes, then boil 6 eggs.  
  • Boil the eggs while you're boiling the potatoes. Peel and dice them and put them in with the potatoes.
  • Pickles. (I like to use Nally's dill pickles because there's little chunks of garlic that are good.)  Dice several pickles and throw in.
  • Onion.   Finely dice about 1/2 onion (more or less to taste).  If you prefer, you can use dried onion and put it in the sauce mixture.  I think that's what Lilly did.
  •  Mix the potatoes, eggs, pickles and onion together.
  • Sauce: Mayonaise, yellow mustard, pickle juice, salt, pepper, and a little bit of sugar.  This is the part that's hard to tell.  I do it by how it looks.  I put a lot of mayonaise in a bowl (For 6 potatoes, probably about 1 1/2 cups.) Then I add mustard and pickle juice until it's very thin and soupy. Then add salt, sugar and pepper.  Mix.  The mixture should be pale yellow and thin.  DO NOT skimp.  The secret to good salad is LOTS of moisture.  The potatoes absorb it in the fridge.  
  • Pour the sauce over the potatoes and mix well.  Again, it should be VERY moist.  If it's not, make more of the mixture.  You almost can't get too much.  
  • Blend well and put in the fridge for several hours.  Taste and adjust seasonings after it's been  in fridge for awhile. 

This is my husband's favorite thing that I make.  If I want a happy husband, all I need to do is make this salad.  Add his favorite hot dogs with sauerkraut and relish and he's over the moon.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Simple Snickerdoodles

Need cookies fast?  These snickerdoodles are soft, chewy, delicious, and oh so  very easy to make.  The recipe doesn't make very many, though, so if you want a normal sized batch of cookies, double the recipe.

Easy and Delicious Snickerdoodles
1 yellow cake mix
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup oil (I like to use coconut oil, but vegetable oil is good, too)

1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix cake mix, vanilla, eggs, and oil.  The mixture will be very sticky.  Spray your hands with Pam  and form into balls.  Mix together the cinnamon and sugar and roll the balls in the mixture.  Bake at 375 for about 8 minutes.  Don't overbake.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sauteed Vegetable Tuscan Orzo

This light, summery meal is quick, easy and delicious!  You can use whatever veggies you prefer or have on hand.  I got it from Penzey's Spices awesome free magazine.

1 12 oz package orzo (rice-shaped pasta) - about 1 1/2 cups dry
1 to 3 TB olive oil
1 TB butter
1 red onion, chopped (or 2 shallots for milder flavor)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 portabello mushrooms, cubed
1 zucchini squash, cubed
Your favorite Italian spices - basil, oregano, garlic salt,  etc.
12 to 14 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the orzo in boiling, salted water until done, but still firm (about 6 to 8 min).  Drain and set aside in a large bowl or serving dish.  

While the orzo is cooking, heat 2 TB of olive oil and the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the red onion and garlic.  Saute until fragrant (2 -3 minutes).  Add the mushrooms, zucchini and Italian spices, cooking until desired tenderness/brownness is achieved (5 - 8 minutes).  Add the cooked veggies to the orzo.   Add the tomatoes and blend in the cheese, adding another tablespoon of olive oil if needed to keep the pasta from sticking together.  

 Prep time:  5 minutes
Cooking time:  10 minutes

Thai Coconut Curry Over Rice

I love the Coconut Curry at a Thai Restaurant in town.  My husband is not a big fan, so my friend Shawna and I make regular visits to Benja Thai's and always order the same thing.  I've been looking for a recipe so I can make it at home.  I've found several online and tried this one.  I've altered it, using ingredients you can buy in a regular supermarket and to try to make it taste like Benja's.  This is what I have come up with.  These are the unusual ingredients you'll need: 

Better Than Bouillon Fish Base
I love Better Than Bouillon because, well because it IS indeed better than bouillon.  My Dad was a great cook  and introduced me to this product.  I regularly use the chicken and beef.  The recipe called for fish sauce, which I couldn't find.  I substituted this and it worked great.

This will be found in the Oriental section of your supermarket: Red Curry Paste.
Here's the recipe.  I've given it for shrimp, but you can substitute chicken or beef.  Just substitute the corresponding better than bouillon flavor.
Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp  
olive oil for frying
1 bunch green onions,  chopped (separate the greens from the whites as you chop)
1 1/2 T. red curry paste (more or less according to taste)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. shrimp (Though the recipe called for fresh, uncooked, peeled and deveined shrimp,  I just bought jumbo frozen, cooked shrimp at Costco- thawed.  It worked great.)  or substitute 1 lb. chicken or beef, chopped)
1 can coconut milk (6 oz. or more)
2 tsp. Better Than Bouillon Fish Base
1/8 -1/4 cup sugar (more or less to taste)
Red Pepper Flakes ( at Benja's they let you choose your "hot" level. Use just a pinch for level 1 and on up.  Again to taste)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt to taste (you may not need any)
In a large skillet, heat the oil on med. high heat.  Add the white part of the onions and the red curry paste.  Saute for about a minute.  Add the garlic and shrimp and cook for another 2-3 minutes (until chicken or beef is cooked if you're substituting).  When meat is cooked, add the coconut milk, sugar, and the fish base and stir well.  Simmer for 2-3 minutes.  Taste and correct the seasonings, adding more salt, sugar, and/or pepper flakes( remember the red pepper flakes get hotter as they marinate) if desired.   Remove from heat and add the green part of the onions and the cilantro.  Serve over rice.  This is low calorie and delicious!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Chcken Tinga Tostadas

I got this recipe from my sister, Joan who got it from her daughter-in-law, Sarah. (Both have food blogs you can find on the sidebar.)  We love, love, love it.  It tastes like nothing I've ever had before- I'm sure it's the chipolte peppers.  That with the lime, cilantro and feta.  Man, it's good. Seen here, it's served on Tostada shells, but you could do the same thing in a soft flour tortilla or crunchy taco shell.  Just do it; it's delicious!

Chicken Tinga Tostadas

1-2 Chipolte peppers in Adobo Sauce ( this will be found in the Mexican section of your supermarket.  In the Real Mexican section- not the American Mexican section.  This is the real stuff, folks!  It comes in a small can.  You'll open the can and take out 1-2 peppers.  These are really hot, so  start small and add more if you want it more hot.  Freeze the rest of the can in a ziplock bag.  That little can will make this recipe 2-4 times, depending on how hot you like it.)  
4-5 onions, sliced
2 cans diced or stewed tomatoes
4 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped 
bay leaf
1 clove garlic, minced
Chicken stock as needed
Saute the sliced onions in oil in a large skillet over med. heat.  It will take awhile to get them cooked through and kind of golden.  Add the pepper/adobo, chicken, bay leaf, garlic and tomatoes and blend well and simmer until thickened.  Add chicken stock if needed to make it the consistency of barbecued beef.  Serve on tostada shells.  Top with sour cream, feta cheese (or queso fresco- or you could substitute Mexican mix cheese, but it's not as good), cilantro and don't, don't, don't forget to squeeze lime over the top.  Top with tomato if desired.  Yum, yum, yum!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie is part of our family tradition.  We've been making the no-bake version for years.  This slightly baked version is all over the food sites on the Internet.  So, I finally decided to try it.  There actually are several variations of the recipe, but all are similar.  It was really delicious,  I personally liked it better than our old standby.  I didn't top it with whipped cream, but I think it would be even better with some sweetened whipped cream on top.

1 graham cracker crust (homemade or store- bought)


4 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp. grated key lime zest
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cups freshly squeezed key lime juice (it takes a lot of limes) or you can substitute Nellie and Joe's bottled key lime juice for all or part

In an electric stand mixer or a hand-held mixer, beat the yolks and zest for about five minutes until fluffy.  Add the milk and beat another 4-5 minutes.  Add the juice and blend well.  Pour into the prepared crust.  Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, until set.  Cool. Refrigerate.  About 20 minutes before serving, put it in the freezer so it's very cold when served.

Top with sweetened whipped cream (1 cup heavy cream whipped with 3 -4 T. powdered sugar) or whipped topping and garnish with lime, if desired.