Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mint Truffles

My cousin gave me this recipe years ago and I love it! Thanks Sara! It's simple and yummy. I've always made it with the mint extract.

1 1/2 lbs milk or dark chocolate, melted (4 1/2 cups chips)
1 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla OR 5 drops mint extract

Line an 8 inch baking pan with plastic wrap and set aside. Place melted chocolate in a medium sized bowl. In a 1 qt saucepan scald cream. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla or mint extract. Beat chocolate with electric mixer until smooth. Stop mixer and pour cream over chocolate all at once. Continue beating, cleaning sides and bottom of bowl with rubber scraper, until mixture is smooth and well-blended--should take no more than 1-2 minutes. Pour into prepared pan and refrigerate 6 hours until firm. Cut into 1 inch squares and serve immediately. Store in refrigerator.

Original recipe: Sara Cardon

Monday, December 30, 2013

Jalapeno Popper Spread

With New Years Eve just around the corner, I wanted to share one of my favorite snacks. 
Warning: it is NOT a low calorie food. But it is yummy! 
I got this recipe from the school nurse at my children's elementary school. I was there a fair amount last year volunteering with the PTO and she shared some of this dip that she had made for the faculty. I LOVED it and she passed along the recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!
2 packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
2 ounces canned diced jalapeno peppers, drained
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Stir together cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in green chiles and jalapeno peppers. Pour mixture into a microwave safe serving dish, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

2. Microwave on High until hot, about 3 minutes.

The original recipe came from: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/jalapeno-popper-spread/.

Party Salsa

Our favorite dip for crackers and chips is Party Salsa.  You make it with a specific brand of chili sauce called Homade Chili Sauce (that's how it's spelled.)  It looks like this:
This is a delicious chili sauce that you can use for lots of things.  There are no other brands that can compare.  It has to be this one.  If your local grocery store doesn't have it, you can get it on Amazon.com.   Try this recipe for a delicious dip for tortilla chips, corn chips or crackers (I love it on Ritz.)  It's a New Year's Eve Tradition!

Party Salsa
1 bottle (round) homade chili sauce
1 bottle chunky salsa (Ortega garden-style is good or Tostitos brand)
Cilantro, chopped (amount to taste.  I do a good handful)
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 bunch green onions, chopped
Mix together and put in fridge for a while. You can add chopped avacados but they won't keep.  The salsa will last several days in the fridge.

I remember one year I couldn't find this brand anywhere.  I went store to store and all were sold out.  So I bought another brand of chili sauce and made this dip.  It was terrible and I ended up throwing it out.  It has to be this brand.  This sauce is so good on roast beef and meatloaf.  I also love to throw a jar into anything that calls for canned tomatoes: stew, chili, etc.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Easy Flaky Pie Crust made with Vegetable Oil

I love this quick and easy pie crust made with oil rather than shortening.  No cutting in; just mix and roll.

Easy Flaky Pie Crust
2 cups plus 4 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
4 Tablespoons cold water

Preheat oven to 425
This recipe is for two pie shells.  For baked pies, heat as instructed in the recipe.
In a large bowl, mix the ingredients in the order given and mix just until it forms a soft dough.  Divide in two equal rolls.  Use immediately.
Roll out between two pieces of waxed paper.  Moisten the countertop with just enough water to make the bottom piece of waxed paper stick. Put the roll of dough on the waxed paper and cover with another piece of waxed paper.  Roll out evenly.
Peel off the top sheet of waxed paper, pick up the crust on the bottom piece and flip it over into the pie pan.  Gently mold bottom crust to the pie pan, fill with your favorite filling.  Roll out the other crust in the same way.  Put in another pie pan for a single-crust pie, or cut vents and put over the top of the filling for a two-crust pie.  Seal the edges and crimp.  Beat an egg and brush over crust.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Bake according to pie directions.

 This crust does not like to sit.  Have your filling ready and move fast.
Fluff the flour with a fork before measuring.
For a single-crust pie that your not baking (cream pies), prick the crust with a fork to precvent the crust from puffing up.
You can use the egg wash in the baked single crust pie.  It keeps it from getting soggy in cream pies.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pizza Casserole

December is all about quick and easy meals, and this one is both.  It comes together very quickly and then just bakes for a few minutes to heat through and get bubbly and gooey and yummy.  It's a great way to use leftover roast and it's very kid friendly!

Pizza Casserole
1 ½ cups (or thereabouts) cubed leftover roast beef OR ½ lb ground beef
2 cups macaroni or any kind of individual pasta, cooked (cooked al dente) and drained
 1 32 oz. jar spaghetti sauce
1 8 oz. pkg. shredded mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese, grated
 Pepperoni, diced
Black olives, chopped

 Brown the ground beef (if you’re using that) or cut up the leftover roast. Combine with cooked pasta and spaghetti sauce in a casserole dish- 9x9 or a round one.)  Top with cheeses, pepperoni, and olives. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is bubbly and brown. Add a green salad and you have dinner!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Quick and Easy Brownies (as easy as a brownie mix!)

I volunteered to take brownies to a chocolate fondue party.  I had one hour to make them.  One hour.  Then I had an appointment and wouldn't get home until almost time to leave for the party.  I had a brownie mix in my pantry, so I wasn't worried.  At least not until I opened the mix to find the mix had gone bad.  It had a terrible smell.  Aagh!!  So I ran to my computer and went to my favorite site- allrecipes.com and searched "QUICK brownies."   This recipe came up.  I honestly had it made and in the oven as fast as if it had been a mix. It took me 45 minutes start to finish.  I left them to cool and came home and cut them up and off we went to the party.  And they were yummy and moist.  I may never buy a brownie mix again!

Quick and Easy Brownies
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

Heat oven to 350.  Put all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon.  Don't overmix. Spread into a greased 13x9 pan.   Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.  Don't overbake.  Brownies are best if they're chewy.  When cool, you can sprinkle them with powdered sugar or frost them with chocolate frosting, if desired.  Cut and store in airtight container.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

What's For Dinner?- December

December is busy.  It's all about easy meals.  Easy and nutritious to balance the extra sweets.
Here are some of my favorite easy dinners, plus some traditional Christmas foods.  Merry Christmas!
We'll start with our traditional Christmas eve meal: To celebrate the birth of a king we have chicken ala King on Christmas eve.  It really is easy and is delicious
Chicken ala King

Christmas Morning Rolls- A Crown for a King

Christmas Dinner:
Ham Dinner- Ham with Ham Sauce
Green Bean Casserole, Lemon Jello Salad (I'll have to post this one as well), Funeral Potatoes, Rolls, Pecan Pie

Now for the easy meals:
Breakfast Burritos: flour tortilla, scrambled eggs with cheese and veggies of choice.  Serve with salsa. I usually serve it with Orange Julius.

Easy Bean Burritos:  flour tortilla with cheese, refried beans, and salsa.  Serve with fruit or veggie.  Kristen taught me this.  Her kids LOVE these burritos and they often get them when Mom and Dad are going out to dinner and they have a babysitter.
Easy and Delicious Shrimp Scampi

Chicken Roll-ups

 Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

Creamed Tuna on Toast, Peas
Thai Chicken Noodles (Kristen's kids LOVE this meal!  It was so fun to watch them gobble it with vigor!)
Three-Layer Mint Brownies- our 2nd most popular recipe on our blog.  

Michelle's Peppermint Chocolate Christmas Cake- this cake is so delicious and moist.  It's our third favorite recipe on the site.