Sunday, March 30, 2014

Shonna's Chili

1/2 lb ground beef
1 onion, minced
1 can chili beans with sauce
1 can kidney beans (or 1 1/2 cups of your own prepared from dried beans)
1 packet chili seasoning
2 small cans (15 oz) stewed tomatoes, chop up the slices in the can before adding
1 small can tomato sauce

Saute onion, then add ground beef and cook until beef is no longer pink and onions are translucent. Drain, rinse & add back to pot. Add other ingredients, stir and heat through on medium high heat about 20 minutes or until hot. Serve with corn bread.
(sorry, it was so good, I couldn't wait to take the picture first, hence why the bowl is half full).
Enjoy! Yum!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Easy Rigatoni Bake

This baked pasta is very easy and yummy.

Easy Rigatoni Bake
1 lb. box rigatoni
2 jars marinara sauce (you can use whatever flavor you like)
1- 2 packages Italian Dressing Mix (This adds a lot of flavor.  The recipe called for 2 packages, but 1 would still be yummy- To taste!)
1 package (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese

Fill a large pot with water.  Add a lot of salt (salty as the sea.)  When boiling add the pasta and cook until el dente- not quite done.  Drain.
In a very large bowl, mix the marinara sauce with the Italian dressing mix.  Add the cooked and drained pasta.  Mix well.  Transfer to a sprayed 13 x9 pan.  Spread evenly and top with the mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 350 until hot and bubbly and the cheese is melted.  It takes about 20-25 minutes.  Let set for 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sweet and Spicy Snack

We love this snack! It is tasty with a little bit of kick. We have served it as a party appetizer, and a late night or after school snack. Even our 6 year old asks for it.

1 tube Ritz crackers
Cream Cheese
Jalapeno Jelly (We can our own every fall with jalapenos that we grow. We use this recipe from Ball and it is delicious!)

Spread cream cheese on crackers. Add a dollop of jelly. Serve immediately.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe in the World

I love chocolate chip cookies.  They are the best kind of cookie, in my opinion.  For several years, I've been on a search for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe in the world.  There are claims of such all over the Internet, and I've tried many of them.   I don't make cookies that often, so it's taken awhile, but I think I've come up with the recipe I like best.  It's a combination of my long standing one I got from my sister, Joan and one from Alton Brown on  They are very similar recipes, but I just combined the parts I like best about each one.  They are soft and chewy in the center and a little crispy on the edges.
 There are some secrets to the perfect chocolate chip cookie:
1) Always melt the butter (and use real butter) in the recipe.  Melted butter makes the cookie so much better.
2) Always chill the dough in the refrigerator before you bake the cookies.
3) This recipe uses bread flour rather than all-purpose flour.  Bread flour has a slightly higher gluten content than all purpose (I'll probably get shot for saying that this day and age where everyone is anti-gluten.  Sigh.)  therefore the cookies puff up and get more chewy.  You can use all purpose flour in this recipe if you don't have bread flour, you just add a little more (about 1/4 cup more.)
4) Always add extra vanilla to your chocolate chip cookie recipe.  Vanilla is what makes them taste so yummy.
5) If you use salted butter, reduce the amount of salt.  Too much salt ruins chocolate chip cookies. This was my biggest complaint about many of the recipes that claimed to be the best: too much salt.  I've already adjusted this recipe to be made with salted butter.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe in the World
2 sticks butter (1 cup), melted
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 Tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

2 1/4 cups bread flour (if you use all purpose flour, add 1/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups baking chips of choice .  You can use semi-sweet chocolate, milk chocolate, vanilla, etc.  My favorite is 1/2 semi-sweet and 1/2 vanilla chips.

In your mixer, combine the melted butter and the sugars until well blended.   Add the egg and egg yolk, milk, and vanilla and mix well.   Turn off the mixer and put in the bread flour, salt and baking soda.  Slowly incorporate the dry with the wet ingredients.  Stir in the chocolate baking chips.  Transfer the dough to an airtight container and refrigerate for several hours.  When ready to bake, heat the oven to 375.  On a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet, scoop rounded scoops of dough.  Bake at 375 for only about 10 minutes.  Ovens vary, so check, taking them out just before you think they are done.  Cool on a wire rack.  Yum, yum, yum.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Pantry Pick of the Month- Sun Dried Tomatoes/Hot Spinach and Sun Dried Tomato Dip

Here is my pantry pick for March.  On impulse, I picked up a bag of Sun Dried tomatoes at Costco and they've been sitting in my pantry for a couple of months, waiting for inspiration on what to do with them.  I googled Sun Dried tomatoes and decided to try this hot dip.  It is very similar to Spinach- Artichoke dip.

Spinach and Sun Dried Tomato Dip
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese (you can use light)
1 10 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and drained (I used leaves, but I think next time I'll buy the chopped)
1/3 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
2/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 heaping Tablespoon garlic (crushed or finely minced)
A couple of splashes of Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon.  Spray a pie plate and spoon the mixture in and smooth.  Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.  Serve hot with chips, crackers, or, my favorite- french bread slices that have been broiled.  Man, that's yummy!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Blueberry Bread Pudding with White Chocolate Ganache

I know.  Just reading the title gets your mouth watering. I love bread pudding and this amped- up version is delicious.  If you need a nice dessert for guests- or just your family- this one is rich and yummy.  Make the whole recipe in a 9 x 13 pan or half it and bake in a 9 x9 pan.

Blueberry Bread Pudding with White Chocolate Sauce
3 eggs beaten
4 cups cream (or substitute part or all evaporated milk to lighten it)
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 cups blueberries (can use fresh or frozen)
1 package white baking chips
1 loaf french bread, cut into cubes

Ganache Sauce
1 package white baking chips
1 cup heavy whipping cream

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cream, sugar, and vanilla.  Stir in the blueberries and one package of white baking chips.  Mix well.  Let sit for at least 15 minutes- longer if possible to let the bread soak up the liquid.  Stir occasionally while it soaks.  Spoon the mixture into a greased  or sprayed 9 x13 pan.  Bake at 350 until browned and center is no longer jiggly.  It will take about 50 to 60 minutes.  Take from oven and let stand while you make the sauce.

Sauce:  Put a package of white baking chips in a bowl.  Heat 1 cup of cream in a small saucepan.  When just barely boiling pour the hot cream over the baking chips.  Let stand a minute, then stir until chips are melted.  Served the warm sauce over the bread pudding.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Southwestern Scallops

I love scallops.  I love their firm flesh and sweet taste.  This recipe was easy and very fast.  In fact, have the rest of your meal ready when you start cooking because they will be done in no time and you want to eat them when they're hot.  The buttery sauce was delicious over the top.

Southwestern Scallops
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound sea scallops (about 12)
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chicken broth

In a small bowl, combine the first four ingredients.  Thaw the scallops (if using frozen) and pat them dry.  Rub the spice mixture over the scallops.
In a large skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon of the butter.  When melted and bubbly, add the scallops.  Cook them two minutes on each side.  They should turn opaque and get a brown crust on each side.  Remove them from the skillet to a plate.
Pour the chicken broth into the hot skillet and whisk while you deglaze the pan.  When the broth has reduced, add 1 Tablespoon butter.  Whisk and stir until it makes a nice buttery sauce.  Serve with the scallops.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

What's For Dinner?- March

Here's what's cookin' for dinner in March:
Breakfast burritos/ fruit
Thai Chicken Noodles

German pancakes with Fiesta Fruit Topping

Creamed tuna on toast/ Peas

Chicken stir fry

Calico Beans
Cranberry Chicken and Rice
Bahn mi Sandwiches

Skillet Beef Stew over Noodles

Kristen's enchilada soup
 Veggie Tuscan orzo

Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Hawaiian Haystacks over Brown Rice
Shonna's chili
Halloween soup with kidney beans/ Whole Wheat Muffins

Blonde Brownies with Maple Sauce
Blueberry Bread Pudding
Apple Pie (Ken's Birthday pie) ala mode with Warm Caramel Sauce

Pantry Pick of the Month:  Sun Dried Tomatoes/ Spinach and Sun Dried Tomato Dip