Thursday, December 30, 2010

A food I already loved...simplified!

Who hasn't been to a party and enjoyed a rolled pickle? You know- a piece of lunch meat, smeared with cream cheese, wrapped around a pickle and cut into slices? I adore them! Then, I found out an even easier way to enjoy them...Rolled Pickle Dip!!!!

All you need for this recipe... 1 (8oz) Package of Cream Cheese, 1 (2oz) Package of Dried Beef or Budig Beef (generic is fine), and some dill pickle relish.

Chop the beef into very tiny pieces.

In a bowl, stir cream cheese until smooth.

Add in beef and 2-3 TBS of relish (I usually use 3!). Stir well to combine.

Chill for at least 1 hour for best flavor- serve with your favorite crackers!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I love the versatility of cake mix!

In college, I first discovered the recipe for cookies made out of cake mix on the side of the box. I've been a BIG fan ever since! I love how fast they are to make, and how easy they are to change up!

The first step is the most important...line up a good helper :)

For these cookies you will need: 1 box of your favorite cake mix, 1 stick of butter (melted), and 1 or 2 eggs...depending on the consistency you are going for. If I add in chocolate chips, I use two eggs. If I make them plain to use as sandwich cookies, I only use one egg.

In a mixing bowl, melt your butter. Add in cake mix and eggs. Stir until combined and cake mix is thoroughly moistened.

Mix in chocolate chips- this was my first time using the Hershey's Mint Chocolate Chips. They are AMAZING!

Lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and scoop out dough.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Allow to cool at least five minutes before removing from the baking sheet. My favorite things about these cookies....they stay soft for as long as they last, they take less than 15 minutes start to finish and they perfectly fill 2 cookie sheets so you only have to bake 1 batch!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sometimes I love NOT baking :)

Every Christmas, I make loads of goodies to share with family and friends. No Bake Cookies always make the list! They take minutes to make, and both sides of the family enjoy them!

In a large bowl, dump 3 cups of oatmeal and 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter. Set aside.

In a small skillet, heat 1 stick of butter with  2 cups of sugar and 1/2 cup of milk and 4 TBS of cocoa powder. Boil mixture for one minutes.

Add heated mixture to the oatmeal and peanut butter. Add 1 tsp of vanilla and stir until well incoporated.

I like to let my mixture sit for a couple of minutes to cool before scooping. The cookies hold their shape better this way.

Scoop onto waxed paper and refrigerate until set. Chocolate Peanut Butter deliciousness in minutes!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

I love shortcuts!

In 2006, I pulled a recipe from People Magazine for Christmas Bark. I made it for Christmas that year...and forgot about it! I came across that recipe in my binder recently, and decided it was time to make it again!!! It's basically just an easy way to make toffee :)

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay out saltine crackers to cover the bottom of the pan- I used 32 crackers.

In a saucepan, heat 2 sticks of butter with half a cup brown sugar. Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes- stir constantly.

Pour over the saltines- don't worry about making this perfect. It bubbles up a lot and will cover everything! Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

The butter/sugar mixture gets nice and dark as it bakes!

While hot, sprinkle on one bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

After the chips start to melt, smooth over toffee with a spatula or knife.

The recipe calls for pecans, but I topped mine with some crushed almonds and some Heath Baking Bits...toffee on toffee = deliciousness!

Chill in the refrigerator for one hour and then break into chunks. This is so easy and crazy good!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Spanglish- love the movie, love the sandwich :)

If you've ever seen the movie Spanglish, you know Adam Sandler plays a chef. After seeing this movie, my husband begged me to make the famous Spanglish Sandwich from the movie...and for the past couple of years, I've tried to work it into our regular rotation.

It's starts with bacon, which is the number one reason my husband loves it. I always cook the whole package of bacon and then freeze the cooked bacon to use later. Nice to only make the mess once! I love to cook my bacon in the oven. Line a cookie sheet with foil for easy clean up and bake at 400 degrees for 10-14 minutes, depending on the thickness of your bacon.

The other key players...Tomato, Lettuce, Bread, Mayo and Monterrey Jack Cheese. I lightly toast my bread in the oven and then coat with cheese and place back in the oven to melt the cheese.

Fry up a couple of eggs for each sandwich. This makes a gigantic sandwich!!!

Prepare for the eggs by loading up your sandwich. A few pieces of bacon, tomato, a light smear of mayo and lettuce.

Top with two fried eggs...

And slice right before eating! The yoke serves as your sauce on this incredibly messy, but incredibly delicious sandwich! Not so great for you...but worth the splurge from time to time :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Yum...I really LOVE Cream Cheese Frosting!

To go along with my need to bake with yeast this weekend, I decided to try a new Cinnamon Roll recipe as well. I've recently discovered how much I love making dough and then allowing it to rise in the refrigerator overnight. I still can't believe that actually works! This time, I used the recipe for Overnight Cinnamon Rolls.

Again, proof 2 1/4 tsp of yeast with 1/2 cup of white sugar in 1 cup of warm milk. Add 1 cup of flour, 1/3 cup melted butter, 3 eggs and 1 tsp of salt. Continue adding flour and knead dough until smooth. Place in an oiled bowl, covered, for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, roll dough into a large rectangle, about 10 x 14. In a bowl mix 3/4 cup of Brown Sugar with 1 TBS of cinnamon.

Spread evenly over the dough leaving 1 edge clean. Brush this edge with water.

Slowly roll the dough and seal the edge. Cut into 12 equal pieces.

Place into a buttered baking dish. I used 2 8x8 pans so I could freeze one batch for another time. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

 Look how big they got overnight!!! Allow to sit at room temp for 30 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

While the cinnamon rolls bake- make frosting :) I didn't use the frosting recipe recommended, instead, I used the frosting from the Clone of a Cinnabon recipe!

My rolls baked for exactly 25 minutes- they got so big!!!

Frost and serve! Very sweet and very delicious :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I love stepping outside my comfort zone....once in a while :)

While I was home visiting my parents for Christmas Tree Season, my Dad mentioned that we should try and cook Duck one night. I've eaten Duck a few times and really enjoyed it, but I thought of it as being VERY intimidating to cook. Not so! My Dad prepared the Duck for the oven, and I did the rest. Turned out fantastic!

First, the Duck. Washed, patted dry and coated well in salt and black pepper. We put ours on top of a couple stalks of celery, because we didn't have a roasting rack. Roasted breast side up at 375 degrees, turning the pan 180 degrees every 20 minutes. It took EXACTLY 2 hours to reach 180 degrees. 

The sauce...Orange Chipotle from this epicurious recipe. OJ, cinnamon sticks, cloves, maple syrup and lime with a pinch of salt. 

The side dish- which was my favorite new recipe of the night! The Plum Applesauce recipe I used called for fresh plums, but the store my Dad stopped at didn't have any, so I used canned (drained them) and cut back on the sugar. Don't peel the apples, just remove the core and roughly chop. Remove the pits from the plums as well.

The sauce, before it reduced. It's about 3 cups of liquid and is supposed to reduce down to about 1 cup. Cook on medium-low for about 40 minutes.

And we didn't want to waste any of the precious Duck fat! It costs a small fortune if you purchase it at the grocery store, but is supposed to by dynamite for potatoes, so I tossed a few potatoes with a little of the rendered  fat and threw them in the oven too :) Seasoned with salt and pepper.

The applesauce took a little longer to cook than the recipe called for- but it was well worth it. Turned such a gorgeous color. When it finished cooking, I put it through a food mill to remove the skins.

The sauce about 1/2 way- it started to thicken really nice!

The finished Duck and Potatoes...the sauce was almost a caramel consistency, but really, really great! I can't say I noticed a difference in the potatoes from the way I usually make them, but they were still good.

And the recipe I will make again, and soon....The Plum Applesauce! This was gorgeous and had a wonderful flavor...cannot wait to make it again!

P.S.- A 4 lb Duck is only enough meat to feed 2-3 people. NOT a lot of meat on a Duck!

Monday, December 6, 2010

I love a dippable dinner!

Fondue is so fun! While visiting my parents last week, we were looking to have something "different" for dinner...and I decided to make Fondue! The best part of preparing Fondue is coming up with all the fun items for dipping :)

I used this recipe for Cheese Fondue, and it was so perfect!! You will need white wine, salt, nutmeg, flour, Swiss and Gruyere.

Heat the wine and slowly add the cheese, then the flour. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot!

We used asparagus, french bread, little smokies, green apples, carrots, tomatoes and green peppers for dippers :) Delicious!!! This is such a fun meal- and very fast to prepare!