Creating memories in the kitchen...One meal at a time.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Weekend Grilling

I was watching the Ask Aida show in Food Network this morning as I was running on the treadmill at the gym, and the recipe looked so good, I thought I'd try it for dinner. Let me tell you, I actually got an applause from my husband when he finished eating! It was that good! I love sauces and I love dipping things into sauce. This recipe called for a limed sour cream sauce that was perfect to dip the grilled veggies and the steak in. Yum!

Grilled Flank Steak with Ginger Marinade
courtesy of Aida Mollenkamp
1 (5-inch) piece ginger, sliced thinly
1/4 cup sesame oil
8 medium garlic cloves, smashed
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds flank steak, trimmed of fat and sinew

In a nonreactive dish or large resealable plastic bag, combine all ingredients except steak and mix thoroughly. Add steak and turn to thoroughly coat. Cover dish or close bag and allow to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. (If you are making ahead, cover, and place in refrigerator. Can be marinated up to 24 hours in refrigerator.)

Once steak has marinated, remove from refrigerator and bring to room temperature for at least 15 minutes. Heat a lightly oiled grill pan to medium-high heat. When pan is heated, remove steak from marinade, shake off excess, add to pan and cook for about 6 to 8 minutes per side for medium rare.

Transfer to a cutting board, season with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Slice thinly across the grain and serve.
Grilled Onions and Mushrooms with Limed Sour Cream
courtesy of Aida Mollenkamp

1 cup plain sour cream
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 medium red onion, cut into 8 wedges
3 large portobello mushrooms, cut into 1-inch slices
Vegetable oil, for brushing the vegetables

Combine sour cream, juice, zest, salt and pepper in a medium nonreactive bowl. Store, covered in refrigerator until ready to use.

Heat a lightly oiled grill pan over medium heat. Meanwhile, brush onions and mushrooms with oil and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

When grill pan is heated, add onions cut side down and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add mushrooms and grill until charred and soft, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately with sour cream sauce.
Posted By: Julia
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Pasta Primavera

My husband recently gave me some fabulous new cookbooks for Mother's Day. One of them is The Family Kitchen by Debra Ponzek. It is full of recipes that parents and kids can enjoy and make together. At the bottom of each recipe it has ideas for jobs that kids can help with to make the dish. I have so many memories of helping my Mom in the kitchen and hope that I can do the same with my children. My kids were awesome helpers, cutting the tomatoes, breaking the asparagus, grating the cheese. Even my three year old helped with the measuring. Tonight it was Pasta Primavera. Lots of fresh, healthy veggies in a light,creamy sauce. If you're worried about the cream in this recipe, don't be. It was really light tasting because there was so much pasta and veggies mixed in. The only change I made was to add a few tablespoons of cornstarch in the end because the sauce didn't seem thick enough to me. If you don't have angel hair pasta you could easily use another type of pasta.

Pasta Primavera
Debra Ponzek

1 Tbsp. Canola Oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced
3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced (I used baby carrots and sliced them)
24 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock or low sodium broth
1 lb. angel hair pasta
Olive Oil
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 cups broccoli florets
2 cups sugar snap peas
8 asparagus spears, stalks trimmed and peeled, cut into thirds
3 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Ground Pepper

IN a large saute pan, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat until almost shimmering. Add the garlic and saute for about 1 minute, or until lightly golden brown. Add the carrots and half of the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes until the carrots begin to soften.
Add the stock, bring to a boil, immeadiately reduce the heat, and simmer for 10-12 minutes to reduce slightly.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to the package directions so that the pasta is al dente. Drain, drizzle with olive oil (I used about 1 tbsp.) and set aside until needed.
Add the heavy cream to the reduced stock in teh saute pan and bring the liquid to a boil over medium high heat. Add the broccoli, sugar snap peas, and asparagus and the remaining tomatoes.
Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened and the vegetables are tender. (If the veggies are tender and the sauce still seems to thin, remove the veggies from the dish with a slotted spoon and add a tablespoon or two of cornstarch until thick then add veggies back in). Add the grated cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl and toss with the primavera sauce. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve Immeadiately. Serves 6-8

Posted by: Sallie

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Banana Bars

This is another recipe I've been making for as long as I can remember. It seems like I always have over ripe bananas I am trying to use up. I love baked goods that use sour cream. It just gives them a delicious little tang that I can't resist. I've always topped them with cream cheese frosting until I found this AMAZING Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting on Melanie's Blog. It takes them to a whole new level. A perfect dessert for summer when you might be on chocolate overload or just want something a little lighter. They're also great if you're feeding a crowd.

Banana Bars
All Recipes

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 (16 ounce) container cream cheese frosting, or homemade cream cheese frosting or Whipped Cream Cheese frosting.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 10x15 inch jellyroll pan.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting with the cream cheese frosting. Makes approx 35 bars.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
My Kitchen Cafe

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1 ½ cups powdered sugar (you can also substitute 1 cup granulated sugar if you don't have powdered sugar around)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream

In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Set aside. In another medium bowl, beat whipped cream until stiff peaks form (it helps to use a chilled bowl and chilled beaters - and make sure the peaks are stiff not soft). Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture and mix carefully (so as not to deflate cream) but well. Frost to your heart's delight! (Be careful if adding coloring - the liquid food coloring found in the baking aisle can quickly thin your icing so you may need to add a bit more powdered sugar to compensate.
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Friday, May 29, 2009

French Breakfast Puffs

I've been making variations of these yummy muffins for years. This recipe is especially good. Don't ask me why these are called French Breakfast Puffs. All I know is that they are so good. Perfect for breakfast, brunch or anytime. They are sweet muffins with hints of nutmeg and dipped in butter and rolled in cinnamon and sugar. Also great for kids (or adults) who don't like fruit in their muffins. You can sprinkle them with sugar, a cinnamon/sugar mixture, or if you want to go all out, roll the entire muffin around in the butter for 20-30 seconds and then roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. These don't even last a day in my house.
French Breakfast Puffs
Pioneer Woman

3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup shortening (Crisco)
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
2 sticks butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups. Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside. In a different bowl, cream together 1 cup sugar and shortening, then add eggs and mix. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until golden. In a bowl, melt 2 sticks butter. In a separate bowl combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Dip baked muffins in butter, coating thoroughly on all sides , then coat with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Makes 12 muffins.

*You can either dip just the tops in butter and sugar or you can roll the whole muffin in the cinnamon sugar mixture. If you do this, let them get really coatedwith butter.Leave them in there for a good 20-30 seconds before you roll in the sugar mixture.
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chocolate Chip Toffee Bars

We went to a bbq for Memorial Day and I brought these for dessert. For casual get togethers I like to do something people can just pick up and eat and not worry about plates, silverware, etc. I love the combination of chocolate and toffee. These were really dense and rich and had a similar taste to the Magic Cookie Bars. I even goofed and put the toffee chips on before I baked them and they still were great.

Chocolate Chip Toffee Bars
Sister's Cafe

2 1/3 c. flour
2/3 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 (12 oz.) pkg. chocolate chips
1 c. chopped nuts - I used pecans, but walnuts or macadamias would be great, too.
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
10 oz. Skor toffee bits

Stir together flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg and mix well. Stir in 1 1/2 c. chocolate chips and all of nuts. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of this mixture and press remaining into a greased 9x13 inch pan. Bake for 10 minutes at 350. Pour milk over hot crust and top with 1 1/2 cups toffee bits. Sprinkle remaining crumbs over top plus remaining chips. Bake 25-30 more minutes. Top with remaining toffee bits.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Salami Cream Cheese Roll-Ups

My sister-in-law, Anisa, makes these appetizers for almost every family gathering we have. They are so good, I have to force myself to stop eating them!

Salami Cream Cheese Roll-Ups

1 jar peppercini
1 pkg sliced salami
1 pkg cream cheese

Slice the peppercini length wise - cut in half and half again to make 4 long pieces. Spread a slice of salami with cream cheese. Place a slice of peppercini in the middle and roll up. Stick toothpick through the middle to close.


Posted By: Julia
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Key Lime Cheesecake Bars

We had a Memorial Day BBQ yesterday at my sister-in-law's house, so I brought these for dessert. They were very easy to make and tasted to good. Nice and light, perfect for hot weather!

Key Lime Cheesecake Bars
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

24 squares honey graham crackers, finely crushed
8 Tbsp. butter, melted
4 tsp. sugar
1 4-serving-size pkg. lime-flavored gelatin
3/4 cup boiling water
1 16-oz. container cottage cheese (1-3/4 cups)
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 8-oz. container whipped dessert topping, thawed
Key Limes or limes, cut in wedges (optional)

1. In small bowl combine graham crackers, butter, and sugar. Press crumb mixture in the bottom of a 2-quart square baking dish. Refrigerate while preparing filling.
2. In large bowl combine gelatin and water. Stir until gelatin is dissolved. Set aside.
3. In blender or food processor combine cottage cheese and cream cheese. Cover and blend or process until smooth, stopping several times to scrape down sides. Whisk 1/2 cup of the cottage cheese mixture into the gelatin mixture. Whisk in remaining cottage cheese mixture until smooth. Place mixture back into blender or food processor and process until smooth. Fold in whipped dessert topping. Spoon filling over chilled crumb mixture.
4. Cover and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours or until filling is firm. To serve, cut in squares. Top with lime wedges. Makes 9 servings.

Posted By: Julia
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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Salad- Cafe Rio Style

I know there are a million copy cat recipes out there for Cafe Rio Salads. I think I've tried them all. This is one of my favorites because it is so easy to prepare. The meat cooks in the crock pot and the rice and beans are all in one mix. The meat is sweet and spicy and it makes for a great combination with the crisp lettuce, cool dressing and crunchy tortilla strips. They also make delicious leftovers for burritos, tacos or nachos.
I know we're in the minority here but my husband and I prefer the chicken salads so sometimes I grill up some chicken instead using this recipe for Garlic Lemon Chicken . Either way, it's a delicious way to enjoy the taste of take out at home.
Cafe Rio Pork
Ruth Miller
1 boneless pork roast (I usually get a 3 lb roast)
1 pkg. Mc Cormick Grill Mates Southwest Marinade
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. vinegar
2 Tbsp. oil
1/4 -3/4 c. brown sugar (I use 1/2 c.)
Put roast in crock pot. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over roast. Cook on low for 4-6 hours (depending on your crock pot). After meat is cooked shred and put back in marinade.
To make the salad you also will need:
1 package Zatarain's New Orleans style Black Beans & Rice, prepared according to package directions.
Romaine Lettuce, chopped
Large Flour tortillas (I usually get the uncooked ones from Costco)
Fried tortilla corn strips
Cheddar Cheese
Creamy Tomatillo Cilantro Dressing
from Prudence Pennywise
1/2 cup mayonnaise or whole milk yogurt
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup tomatillo salsa, such as Herdez
1 fat clove garlic, minced2 teaspoons sugar
juice of one lime
1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves and tender stems
Process all ingredients in the blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until thickened, about 1 hour
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Friday, May 22, 2009

Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe comes from another of my favorite Food Network Chefs- Ina Garten. Normally, I'm not a huge white chocolate fan but I really like it in chocolate cookies. These were really good. I was skeptical at first because of the high amount of white chocolate it called for but they were so good. Nice and chewy and really creamy tasting. If you love white chocolate you've got to give these a try.

Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from Ina Garten


1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2/3 cup good unsweetened cocoa
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds good white chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used white chocolate chips)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well. Add the cocoa and mix again. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the chocolate with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Fold in the chopped white chocolate.
Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using a 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon. Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly. Bake for exactly 15 minutes (the cookies will seem underdone). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 40-48 cookies.

Posted by: Sallie
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2 in 1 Rolls

It's no secret that I love rolls. They just make any meal better. The great thing about this roll recipe is that it can either be made into dinner rolls, orange rolls, or both which is what I did. They can also be made into cinnamon rolls. Just replace the orange spread and glaze with your favorite filling and frosting for cinnamon rolls. The dinner rolls were soft and a little sweet and the orange rolls, yum. They were soft and sweet with great orange flavor and the glaze was perfect for me. This recipe is going in the "to keep" file.

Dinner Rolls
Our Best Bites
2 c. whole milk (if you're in a pinch, you can use 2%, but whole is best. Don't use 1% or skim.)
½ c. sugar
1/3 c. butter
2 tsp. salt
2 pkgs. Active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp.)
1/3 c. warm water
8-9 c. flour (I only needed 7 cups)
3 beaten eggs

Combine milk, sugar, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter melts.
Remove from heat. Allow to cool to lukewarm. This takes quite awhile. This step is really important because if the mixture is too hot, it will kill the yeast.

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until bubbly.
In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 c. flour and milk mixture. Beat on low for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Add yeast mixture and beat on high for 3 minutes.

Stir in as much remaining flour as needed to make a soft dough. This dough should be very soft; it will stick to your finger when you touch it, but it will firm up during the rising process. Part of what makes these rolls so good is that they're so soft and light; if you add too much flour, they will be heavy and dense. Spray a glass or metal bowl with cooking spray and scrape dough into sprayed bowl. Place in a warm place, cover with a clean towel, and allow to rise 1 hour.
Punch down dough. Lightly flour your work surface and turn dough out onto surface. Divide in half. (Only do this if you want half orange rolls. Otherwise make into 24 rolls instead of just 12).

Spray a 9x13 glass pan with cooking spray. Roll first portion of dough into a rectangle and then cut it into 12 equal-sized pieces. A pizza cutter works great for this. This dough should be very easy to work with, almost like play dough. Shape each piece into a ball and place in prepared pan. Cover with a clean cloth and allow to rise.

When dough has about 15-20 minutes to go (depending on your oven), preheat oven to 375. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Rub butter on tops of rolls.
Orange Rolls
adapted from Our Best Bites

The recipe above will make 12 dinner rolls and 12 orange rolls or 24 of one kind.
After you have divided the dough in half:

For the filling:
7 Tbsp. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. grated orange peel.

Combine butter, sugar, and orange peel. Roll dough out into a rectangle, about 8 inches by 18 inches. Try and keep it as close to a rectangle as you can. Spread butter mixture over rectangle and roll the dough up.
Before you cut them use dental floss to mark where you will cut the dough.

To cut the dough, slip the dental floss under the log, make sure the ends line up, and then criss-cross the ends to cut the dough. This makes a much cleaner cut than using a knife. Place each piece into a sprayed muffin tin (or cookie sheet).

Cover with a clean cloth and allow both doughs to rise about 45 minutes in a warm place.
When dough has about 15-20 minutes to go (depending on your oven), preheat oven to 375.

Bake in oven for 15-18 minutes. Allow to cool. Then apply glaze.

For the glaze:
Mix together 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 3 T. freshly squeezed orange juice and 1/2 tsp. Grated orange rind. This was still really thick for me so I added a couple tablespoons of milk to thin it out. You could also use more orange juice.

Posted by: Sallie
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Dom Delouise's Mom's Meatballs

This is the best recipe I've ever had for meatballs and is definitely a staple in my house when we're having spaghetti! I like to make them big (3-inches in diameter) and have them the next day with a little leftover spaghetti sauce and a side salad...yummy!

Dom Delouise's Mom's Meatballs
From "Eat This it Will Make You Feel Better" cookbook by Dom Delouise

2 pounds ground chuck
1/2 pound ground pork
1 1/2 cups flavored Italian Bread Crumbs
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup fresh parsley-chopped
1/2 cup grated cheese (I use parmesean)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2-4 cloves of garlic chopped very fine
1 minced onion
1/2 cup pine nuts (optional) (I omitted this)

Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Make your meatballs. Fry gently in olive oil until lightly browned. Place meatballs on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Posted By: Julia
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Grilled Jerk Chicken with Mango Cilantro Salsa

I wanted to have chicken, but didn't want the same old thing. Jerk Chicken has a great flavor that matches so well with the mango salsa. It is very healthy too! I decided to make mine into skewers.

Grilled Jerk Chicken with Mango Cilantro Salsa
Adapted from, Bobby Flay

1 cup vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
3 scallions, coarsely chopped
2 green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2lb. chicken breasts
Mango Cilantro Salsa, recipe follows

Puree all the ingredients, except the chicken, in a food processor until almost smooth. Pierce the chicken with a fork to make tiny holes. Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes. Place the chicken in a large shallow baking dish and rub the marinade into the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours, depending on how intense you want the flavor to be. Place 4-5 pieces of chicken on each skewer. Preheat grill. Grill chicken on each side for 5 to 6 minutes or until cooked through.

Mango-Cilantro Relish:
3 ripe mangoes, peeled and diced
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon chopped green onions
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and let sit 30 minutes at room temperature.

Posted By: Julia
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Andouille and Chicken Jambalaya

If you need to feed a crowd, and want to do it with one dish, this one's for you! Jambalaya is a hearty dish with some kick. I altered this recipe to fit my preferences.
Andouille and Chicken Jambalaya
Adapted from, Emeril Lagasse

1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped bell peppers
1 cup chopped celery
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 pound andouille, chorizo, or other smoked sausage cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices
1 1/2 pounds boneless white and dark chicken meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 bay leaves
3 cups medium-grain white rice
6 cups chicken stock
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup chopped green onions

Heat the oil in a large saucepan oven over medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, 2 teaspoons of the salt, 1 teaspoon of the cayenne and the white pepper. Stirring often, brown the vegetables for about 20 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the pan to loosen any browned particles. Add the sausage and cook, stirring often for 10 to 15 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot to loosen any browned particles. Season the chicken with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. Add the chicken and the bay leaves to the pot. Brown the chicken for 8 to 10 minutes, scrapping the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned particles. Add the rice and stir for 2 to 3 minutes to coat it evenly. Add the chicken stock, stir to combine, and cover. Cook over medium heat for 30 to 35 minutes, without stirring, or until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand, covered for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Stir in the green onions and serve.
Posted By: Julia
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chicken Fiesta Pasta Salad

I love pasta salads that can double as a main dish. This one's full of good stuff like chicken, bowtie pasta and lots of delicious vegetables. I love the freshness of the cilantro and the creamy kick from the dressing. I got the recipe from a friend and changed it a little to suit my tastes. Throw in a side of rolls and some ice cold lemonade and it's a perfect summer meal.

Chicken Fiesta Pasta Salad
adapted from Sara Layton

2 cups chicken breast cooked and cubed or sliced (season with a little salt and pepper and garlic powder)
1 lb. package bowtie pasta cooked according to package directions * Tortellini is also a delicious substitute*
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 green pepper, diced
1 handful of cilantro, chopped
1 package grape tomatoes, halved or red pepper diced
2 cans sliced olives, drained
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
Salsa ranch salad dressing or 1 package Hidden Valley Fiesta Ranch Dip mixed with 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup vinegar.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and cool. Add all ingredients in a bowl. Toss and mix in dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
Posted by: Sallie

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

I can't believe how time flies. My oldest is now ten years old. I can still remember the day he was born just like it was yesterday. Now he is quite the little athlete & is off in a million directions. Thankfully he still loves me and don't tell his friends but he won't leave in the morning without a hug and kiss. We'll see how much longer that lasts. Hopefully a long time.

Part of the birthday celebration at our house is picking what to have for dinner and dessert. The birthday boy requested one of his favorites, Cookie Dough Ice Cream. I love homemade ice cream and found this recipe on Big Oven. I changed it just a little bit. It turned out really creamy with lots of cookie dough chunks. This recipe makes a lot. I used a 1 1/2 quart ice cream maker and it only fit half of this recipe.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream
adapted from Big Oven

2 cups Milk
1 3/4 cups Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 cups Half & Half
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
4 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
2 packages Pillsbury Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Take the chocolate cookie dough out of fridge and leave out till needed. Scald milk until bubbles form around edge. Remove from heat. Add sugar and salt. Stir until dissolved. Stir in half and half, vanilla, and whipping cream.
Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. Freeze as directed by your ice cream machines instructions. Once ice cream has been through the entire ice cream machine process and is now a chilled soft ice cream, add the chocolate chip cookie dough. Just break up the dough as best you can with your hands and drop it in small clusters into the soft ice cream. Try to mix it around to ensure that the cookie dough is evenly distributed throughout the ice cream.
Put the ice cream in the freezer for several hours until hardened.
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Our First Blog Award

We're so excited. Tammy at Frugal Southern Mom just awarded us our first blog award. Thank you. I hope everybody has been enjoying the recipes. We've been having a lot of fun with the blog and making lots of new friends. If you have something you'd like to see on our blog send us a comment. We love hearing from you. Happy Cooking.

Your Kitchen Sisters,

Julia and Sallie

Part of the Blog Award is to pass it on to 15 other bloggers. At first I was thinking I would have trouble coming up with 15 but then realized I could have done more. Here are some of my favorites.

My Kitchen Cafe

Real Mom Kitchen

Prudence Pennywise

Stephanie's Kitchen

You Got Served

Big Red Kitchen

Our Best

Sisters Dish

Sister's Cafe


Favorite Family Recipes

Home Based Mom

Good Eats

This Mama Cooks

Gourmet Mom on the Go

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Rainbow Cupcakes

This is a fun little cupcake I made to take into my son's class at school. They do take a little extra time compared to a regular cupcake but the kids loved them. I already picked up some red, white and blue sprinkles and am planning on doing some red/white/blue patriotic ones for Fourth of July. I confess to using a boxed cake mix, because I knew the rest of the process would take awhile & I was in a hurry because I totally forgot until the night before, but I have included a recipe for basic white cupcakes if you'd rather do homemade. A few things I learned :
1. I would use powder or higher quality food coloring (like Wilton) because it will create brighter colors. I just had to go with what I had because I forgot until Sunday night and was stuck with what I had at home.
2. I tried coloring decorating them with colored frosting and felt like it overwhelmed the cupcakes so I liked the white better.
3. It will look like you are putting a really small amount of each color in but once you get in all they layers it fills them up and you don't want them to overflow.
Rainbow Cupcakes
from Baking Bites
For the Cake:
1 yellow or white cake mix
Basic White Cupcakes
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
red, yellow, green and blue food colorings (or whatever colors you want to use.
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 10 cups from a 12 cup muffin tin (or line with paper cups).In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Pour in dry ingredients and stir until just combined.Divide batter evenly into 5 small bowls; each should have a little more than 1/3 cup batter (approx 6 tbsp or so for each).Add about 1/2 tsp food coloring to each bowl to make red, orange, yellow, green and blue batters. Stir well, so no streaks of plain batter remain. Add additional food coloring if necessary.Starting with the blue batter, add a small spoonful to each of the 10 grease muffin cups (just over 1/2 tbsp in each). Repeat with all remaining colors, working from green to yellow to orange to red, adding each subsequent spoonful on top of the previous color. Do not attempt to spread the layers of color out (as it can cause layers to combined), but allow them to spread on their own.Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.Cool cupcakes on a wire rack before frosting. Makes 10 cupcakes.
For the Frosting
1 can purchased frosting
Quick Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
approx 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
In a large bowl, beat together butter, milk and vanilla. Gradually add in the confectioners sugar until frosting reaches a thick, spreadable consistency. You will probably use 2 1/2-3 cups.Pipe or spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes.
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Cobb Salad

I love when summer rolls around and having a nice hearty salad for dinner. You can't go wrong with a cobb salad, it has everything in it! This recipe also includes the dressing, which is very yummy. This recipe says it serves 4-6, but it could easily serve 8-10 people.

Cobb Sadad
adapted from Williams Sonoma

Salad Ingredients:
3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled
8 bacon slices, cooked
1 head romaine lettuce, leaves separated and torn into bite-size pieces
2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbs. minced fresh chives, plus several longer chive lengths for garnish
2 cups chopped watercress (tough stems removed)
4 cups diced cooked turkey or chicken*
2 avocados, pitted, peeled and diced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 lb. Blue Cheese, crumbles

Dressing Ingredients
1 oz. Blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, crushed and then minced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Cut the hard-cooked eggs into 1/2-inch dice. Set aside. Crumble bacon and set aside. Toss the lettuce with the watercress. Make a bed of lettuce mix on a platter or shallow bowl. Mix together the parsley and minced chives. Arrange the eggs, bacon, mixed minced herbs, chicken, avocados, tomatoes and the 1/4 lb. cheese in a neat pattern atop the lettuce, in rows or in a checkerboard pattern, covering the lettuce almost completely.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Using a fork, mash in the remaining 1 oz. cheese to make a paste. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to form a thick dressing. Pour a little of the dressing over the salad and garnish with chive lengths. Serve immediately. Pass the remaining dressing at the table.

Serves 4 to 6.

*I used chicken breast, seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked on my George Foreman Grill.

Posted By: Julia
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Feather Light Rolls

This is yet another of my favorite roll recipes. I came across the recipe when Duane's Grandma copied her recipe for rolls for me out of a church cookbook and they were on the same page. I had never made overnight rolls before and decided to give them a try. They were some of the softest rolls I'd ever had and so I make them regularly now. They're also great because you make the batter the night before and then they rise in the fridge overnight.

Featherlight Overnight Rolls
Joyce Walton

1 Tbsp. yeast

1 Tbsp. sugar

1/2 c. warm water

1 cup milk

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. margarine or butter

3/4 tsp. salt

3 eggs, well beaten

4 -6 cups flour

Mix yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar and warm water together. Set aside. Scald milk; cool. Combine salt, sugar and butter or margarine; add to milk. Add eggs and yeast mixture. Add 4 cups flour; mix well. At this point if it is really sticky just add more flour until it is a soft, but not too sticky dough. Put in greased bowl covered with plastic wrap overnight. Roll and cut out. Let rise until doubled. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Brush with butter when done.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Amazing Vanilla Buttermilk White Cake

I have to admit, when it comes to birthday cakes, lots of times I'll just doctor up a cake mix and call it good. Never again. After having this cake I am forever spoiled. I wanted a tall cake that would bake up thick and stand up to being moved and decorated. This cake was not only easy to decorate but was seriously one of the best, if not the best vanilla cake i've EVER had. It was so moist and the vanilla flavor was out of this world. In fact, I am already plotting ways to make it again. I just can't say enough good things about this cake. I can't wait to give Holly's other cakes a try.

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake
from Sky High Triple Layer Cakes

For the cake:
4 whole large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tsp of vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup of buttermilk
3 cups of cake flour
2 cups of sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 ounces of butter at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of three 8-inch cake pans. Line with parchment paper and grease the paper.Place the eggs and the yolks in a medium bowl. Add the vanilla and 1/4 cup of buttermilk and whisk all the ingredients well. Set Aside.Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a mixer; whisk to blend. Add the remaining buttermilk and butter to the dry ingredients and with the mixer on low speed, blend together. Raise the mixer to medium speed and beat until light fluffy; 2minutes.Add the egg mixture in three additions, scrapping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Divide the batter among all the pans.Bake the cake layers for 28-32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake layers cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out the cakes onto a wire rack and remove the paper from the bottoms. Cool completely.

*I made mine in a 9 x 13 pan. If you do this just allow extra baking time.*
Below is the frosting I used. I think it highly contributed to the reason this is now one of my new all time favorite cakes.

from My Kitchen Cafe

1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
3 sticks butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth. This frosted a 9 x 13, a 9 in. round and 24 cupcakes. It makes A LOT!

I'm not by any means a great decorator but one tip I found that really helps is to freeze the cake (to get it really cold) before you decorate it. This was the first time I've tried it and it worked really well. It was also much easier to cut and there were a lot less crumbs.
Posted by: Sallie
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Dark Balsamic, Soy and Honey Glazed Salmon

I love salmon, and I also try to fit fish into our weekly menu for the health benefits it provides. I have been on a search for a good salmon recipe for as long as I can remember, and I think I have finally found it! This was one of the best recipes for salmon I have ever had. I adapted it slightly to fit my preferences. Enjoy!

Dark Balsamic, Soy and Honey Glazed Salmon
adapted from

3 pounds Salmon
3 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup Vegetable oil
2 tablespoon Brown sugar
1 tablespoon Honey
2 1/2 tablespoon Soy sauce

Wash and prepare salmon. Whisk vegetable oil, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, honey and soy sauce until mixed well (emulsified). In a large airtight recloseable (ziploc) bag, carefully place the salmon. Add marinade. Marinate in fridge for 1-3 hours (do not overmarinate... you still want to primarily taste the salmon).

Remove fish from marinade, reserving marinade. Broil 4 inches from the flame for 5-10 minutes depending on thickness of fish, until it flakes easily.

Meanwhile, heat marinade in a small sauce pan over medium high heat until thickened. Pour marinade over fish and serve.

Posted By: Julia
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3 Envelope Roast

After working all day and then fitting in a gym session, the last thing I want to do is come home and cook a meal. That is why I love my crock pot. There's nothing better then walking in the door from a long day, starving, and smelling dinner already cooked! This recipe is so easy and it was absolutely delicious. The sauce made "gravy" that would be perfect with some mashed potatoes on the side.

3 Envelope Roast
adapted from

3 pound beef roast such as chuck roast
1 envelope of dry Italian salad dressing mix
1 envelope of dry ranch salad dressing mix
1 envelope of dry brown gravy mix
2 cups water

Instructions :
Put the water in a measuring cup that is larger then the amount of water you are using. Now add and mix all three envelopes of dry salad dressings to the water. Mix until blended completely.
Brown the roast (if desired). Add the meat to your cooker. Pour the water, salad dressing mixture over the roast. In the slow cooker cook it on high for about 4 hours on low about 8 hours.

Posted By: Julia
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Quick Tomato-Basil Pasta With Fresh Mozzarella

I don't know about you, ,but as soon as spring rolls around I start wanting more veggies, and fresher, lighter foods. This meal was just that. A light, flavorful marinara sauce with fresh basil and the ultimate---fresh mozzarella. Seriously, don't substitute it with regular mozzarella, it just won't be the same. The bonus is, this meal is also fast and comes together in about 30 minutes.

Quick Tomato-Basil Pasta with Fresh Mozzarella
Cook''s Country

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic , minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes
5 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Table salt
1 fusilli pasta
8 ounces fresh mini mozzarella balls , drained and cut in half ( I just sliced up a brick of fresh mozzarella because it was way cheaper)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. 2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, and pepper flakes in medium saucepan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in crushed and diced tomatoes, bring to simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons basil, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. 3. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to boiling water. Cook until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, drain pasta, and transfer back to pot. Stir in sauce and remaining tablespoon oil, and cook over medium heat until heated through (adding reserved water if pasta seems dry), about 1 minute. Stir in mozzarella and season with salt. Serve, sprinkling with remaining 2 tablespoons basil and Parmesan. Serves 4
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A "Home Made" Wedding Cake

Last Saturday, May 9th, my dear friends Crystal and Rob got married. Crystal, knowing that I love to bake, had asked me about 8 months ago if I would make her wedding cake and of course I agreed! She told me that I could make a small "display" cake and just have a sheet cake in the back to serve. However, I told her that if I was doing this, I was doing it ALL THE WAY!

So, after doing a little research, I puchased the book Wedding Cakes You Can Make: Designing, Baking, and Decorating the Perfect Wedding Cake by Dede Wilson. The book is amazing. Dede has a very realistic approach to do-it-yourself wedding cakes. Her two main focuses of making a wedding cake are asthetics and taste, which I found very important because more often than not, the wedding cake looks fabulous but doesn't taste very good. She has very detailed instructions from where to get your cake supplies, how to separate eggs, all the way down to transporting your cake from one location to another. She also throws in some personal stories that she has from making wedding cakes, which make the book warm hearted and entertaining.

For the past 8 months, I have been baking "practice" cakes and making tubs and tubs of "practice" buttercream. Fortunately, I have been able to use a lot of my practice cakes for birthday cakes and parties!

The biggest challenge I had to overcome to make this cake was that I live in Las Vegas, and the wedding was held in Jamestown, New York. In the end, I decided to bake all the cake layers in Las Vegas, the day we flew out. I also had make the buttercream frosting and filling over the previous month and had stored it in my freezer. My husband and I packed up a large plastic tub with all the cake layers (left in the pans for protection), the frosting, and all the cake supplies. We then checked the tub on the plane. Let's just say when we went to get our baggage and the tub came out all in one piece, we were so relieved!!

The day of the wedding, we went to the reception hall and I assembled and frosted the cake, and added the final flower decorations. The entire thing went off with out a hitch, amazingly! The bride and groom loved the cake and I was so happy to be able to contribute something to their special day.

This is what the cake was composed of:

Bottom Tier:
Cake: White cake with bittersweet chocolate shavings and kirsch soaked dried cherries
Filling: Vanilla Buttercream with chocolate covered cherries
Frosting: Vanilla Buttercream

Middle Tier:
Cake: White chocolate cake
Filling: Raspberry Buttercream
Frosting: Vanilla Buttercream

Top Tier:
Cake: Vanilla cake
Filling: Vanilla Buttercream
Frosting: Vanilla Buttercream

Because the recipes and instructions are so detailed, I'm not going to post them (I would have to post almost the whole book!). However, if you are interested in making your own wedding cake, or one for a friend, I would highly suggest picking up a copy of the book I mentioned and practice, practice, practice!
Posted By: Julia
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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chicken Fajitas

I've been meaning to try some of the Blog Chef's recipes and I'm glad I did. This was such a delicious and easy meal. I prepped my vegetables at the same time I did the chicken. When dinner time came around, all I had to do was saute the veggies and chicken and heat up some beans and dinner was served in under 20 minutes. The chicken was flavorful without being too spicy and overpowering everything else. You can also use skirt steak instead of chicken. This is a quick weeknight meal I know I will make again.

Chicken Fajitas
adapted slightly from Blog Chef


8 small flour tortillas

1.5lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts - I used 3 (or skirt steak)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 ½ teaspoons seasoning salt

1 ½ teaspoons cumin

½ teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons canola oil

1 medium onion (sliced)

1 /2 medium green pepper (sliced)

1/2 medium red pepper (sliced)

Optional condiments

Sour cream





Cooking Instructions:

Step 1: Slice chicken into small strips. In a large bowl mix garlic powder, seasoning salt, cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and lemon juice. Add chicken strips and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.Step 2: In a skillet add 2 tablespoons of oil and sauté onions and red & green peppers for 3 minutes or until the vegetables have reached your desired tenderness. Remove from pan and set aside. Step 3: Add more oil to the pan if necessary. Add chicken strips and sauté until no longer pink inside (fully cooked). Add vegetables back to the pan and toss with the chicken. Spoon mixture onto flour tortillas; add optional condiments (if you want) and serve.(Makes 4 servings)
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Monday, May 11, 2009

Chicken Salad and Havarti Cheese Wraps

I really love Havarti cheese. It's a soft, creamy tasting cheese from Denkmark. It's readily available and not too expensive. (I get mine at Costco). This is a healthy, easy lunch (or dinner). The cheese makes it super creamy tasting and it goes really well with the chicken and spinach . I didn't have the exact ingredients on hand so I changed mine up a little bit.

Chicken Salad and Havarti Cheese Wraps
adapted from Martha Stewart

Serves 2
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast half (6 to 8 ounces)
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1/2 shallot, minced (optional)
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves
2 big tortillas (12-inch)
2 slices Havarti cheese (about 2 ounces total)
1 cup baby spinach, washed and dried

In a small skillet with a lid, bring 1 inch salted water to a boil. Add chicken. Cover, and cook over medium-low heat, 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and let steam, still covered, until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes; remove chicken. When cool enough to handle, thinly slice crosswise.
While chicken is cooking, stir together mayonnaise, shallot (if using), mustard, vinegar, and basil in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add chicken, and toss to coat.
Lay tortillas on a work surface. Leaving a 1-inch border all around, layer with cheese, spinach, then chicken mixture. Fold in sides by about 1 inch, then roll up tightly from the bottom. Wrap each tightly in plastic or waxed paper. Refrigerate up to 1 day.

Posted By: Sallie
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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

This is a classic recipe that I make often. It's so easy (my husband made it for Mother's Day) and everyone likes it. You can mix and match flavors of chocolate chips to your liking. You can make a bigger batch and put it in a cookie sheet if you're feeding a crowd. I never let it cool, we like to eat it hot right out of the oven. I don't own a oven proof skillet so I just make it in a 9 inch cake pan.

Skillet Baked Chocolate Chip Cookie
from Martha Stewart

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (about 9 ounces) mixed milk- and semisweet chocolate chips (or whatever kind you like)
2 pints vanilla ice cream
Hot Fudge Sauce
Caramel Sauce
Ice Cream
Whipped Cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; mix until they are fully incorporated. Add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Transfer dough to a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, and press to flatten, covering bottom of pan. Bake until edges are brown and top is golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Don't overbake; it will continue to cook a few minutes out of the oven. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, 15 to 20 minutes. Cut into 8 wedges. Serve warm; top each wedge with a scoop of ice cream, hot fudge, caramel sauce and whipped cream.

Posted by:Sallie
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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Irresistible Lemon Cake

I have a cake recipe very similar to this one that my husband and I love, instead of frosting it has a glaze, so I wanted to see how this one compared. The cake was very similar , really moist and of course lemony, but the frosting, yummy! It was so light and lemony. And the whole thing was so easy to make. In fact, truth be told, this was supposed to be my Mother's Day Cake but I made it the day before and couldn't help but have a slice and it was all downhill from there. Once I had a slice how could I refuse any one else? Needless to say I will have to find something else for Mother's Day.

Irresistible Lemon Cake
Originally from You Got Served, found on My Kitchen Cafe

Cake Ingredients

1 package lemon cake mix
1 c sour cream (8 oz)
3/4 c water
3/4 c oil
4 eggs
1 small package lemon instant pudding

Cake Instructions

Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. Mix with electric mixer on medium/high for about two minutes. Pour into a greased 9x11 pan or two round pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

You can also make cupcakes and bake them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. The cupcakes will fall after they come out of the oven, but this is normal. Just fill up the indentation with more frosting.

Frosting Ingredients

1 c (2 sticks) butter, very soft
8 c powdered sugar
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
1 t grated lemon zest

Frosting Instructions

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of sugar, then the juice and the zest. Beat until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency (I add about 6 cups total). If desired, add a few drops of yellow food coloring and mix thoroughly. Use and store at room temperature. (Don't refrigerate and it will last in a Tupperware for about three days.)

*I greased the bottom of my pans and lined with parchment paper. This helps them come out of the pan super easy.*
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Peanut Butter Bars

These are one of my favorite peanut butter/chocolate treats. They are so easy to make and they taste just like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. They're made with ingredients that most people have around and there is no baking involved.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars
from All Recipes
1 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons peanut butter

In a medium bowl, mix together the butter or margarine, graham cracker crumbs, confectioners' sugar, and 1 cup peanut butter until well blended. Press evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 inch pan.
In a metal bowl over simmering water, or in the microwave, melt the chocolate chips with the peanut butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Spread over the prepared crust. Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting into squares.
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Thursday, May 7, 2009

(Really Good) Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Okay, so I get kind of fixated on one theme citrus, chocolate, pasta. This week it's oatmeal cookies. I just want to share one, okay maybe two more. You can decide which one you like best. I've been making this recipe for over 12 years. It was actually one of those in the mail freebies , you know those little cards they send to entice you to get the whole collection, and of course the original title is Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies. So of course, I made them. I usually go for big, thick, soft cookies but these are more on the thin, crispy side but very buttery tasting with the chewiness from the oatmeal and the cinnamon, oh, it's what makes the cookie in my opinion. And although they might not be the prettiest cookie, once people taste them they won't care.

(Really Good )Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Great American Home Baking

1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1. Mix together flour, baking soda, and cinnamon.

2. Beat together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.

3. At low speed, beat in flour mixture until blended. Fold in oats and chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap; chill for 1 hour.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

5. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place cookies, 2 inches apart, on prepared baking sheets. Flatten each cookie slightly.

6. Bake cookies until lightly browned around edges, 10-12 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks to cool slightly. Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.

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Perfect Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (Melanie's Favorite Cookie)

I've been on a real coconut kick lately. Actually I think I always am. I really love it. I had some extra left from the Somoa bars and finally got around to trying Melanie from My Kitchen Cafe's Favorite Cookie. The fact that she not only posted it twice on her blog, but also proclaimed it her favorite cookie ever made it impossible not to try. They were a hit. I love chewy cookies and the big dose of brown sugar and coconut only added to their chewy goodness. Plus, they've got to be slightly healthy because they've got oatmeal in them, right? Tomorrow, possibly I'll share with you one of my all time favorite cookies.

Perfect Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
from My Kitchen Cafe

1 cup oatmeal (not quick)

2 1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, room temperature

1 1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tablespoons vanilla

1 cup coconut

12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the top 4 ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend about 30 seconds until coarse. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter for 30 seconds until light in color. Add the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Next, add the dry ingredients then add the coconut and chocolate chips. Shape cookie dough into balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Let the cookies cool slightly before removing them from the pan to a wire rack. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

*I used my cookie scoop and got about 5 dozen. If you do this you might need to reduce the baking time slightly*
P.S. If you didn't get your fill of mexican food on Cinco De Mayo check out the sour cream burrito recipe I just posted. I typed it up awhile ago so it is not showing up as new.
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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Somoa Bars

I don't know about you but every year the Girl Sout Cookies are gone way too fast.One of my favorites are the Samoas. Luckily I found this yummy recipe. Although I don't know that anyone can exactly duplicate the real Somaos they are good and I would for sure make them again. It's a combination of a shortbread crust, toasted coconut mixed with caramel and to finish them off a dipping and drizzle of chocolate. I put mine in the fridge to keep the chocolate on the bottom from melting but then they were too hard to eat so I would suggest taking them out and letting them soften for a few minutes before serving.

Somoas Bars
The Crepes of Wrath

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

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and/or line a 9×13-inch baking pan.2. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter, until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the flour and salt until the mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together. Pour the crumbly dough into preared pan and press into an even layer, using your hands.3. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.

3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened; I used sweetened)
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
10 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (I used chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F while the cookie base cools. Spread the coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet and toast for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until the coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
2. Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with the milk and salt. Microwave 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 greased spatula.
3. Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Using the greased spatula (this is important so everything spreads smoothly), spread the topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled.
4. When cooled, cut into 30 or so bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter
5. Once the bars are cut, melt half of the 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. Melt more chocolate, little by little, if needed. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt more) into a piping bag or a Ziploc bag with a tiny corner snipped off and the drizzle bars with chocolate to finish.
6. Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container. I recommend keeping them in the fridge. Makes roughly 30 bar cookies.

Note: You can simply drizzle chocolate on top of the bars before slicing them up if you’re looking for yet an easier way to finish these off. You won’t need quite as much chocolate as noted above, and you won’t quite get the Samoas look, but the results will still be tasty.
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