Saturday, January 29, 2011

I love these so much, I wish I hadn't made them!!!

I saw this recipe the other day when I was browsing the Kraft Foods website. I've been hooked on Yoplait Light- Boston Cream Pie Yogurt the last couple of weeks, so when I saw an easy recipe for Boston Cream Pie Minis...I had to make them!!!!

You need a standard yellow cake mix (prepare as directed on box), a box of vanilla pudding (I used Sugar Free), a container of Cool Whip (I used Fat Free) and 4 oz of Semi-Sweet Chocolate.

The mini in the recipe refers to using a standard muffin pan, but I went even more mini by using my mini muffin pan :)

I also got these adorable aluminum hearts (Reynolds) and decided to try a couple heart shaped pies. The mini muffins took about 14 minutes at 350- the hearts took closer to 20 minutes.

Robyn mixed together the pudding mix with one cup of skim milk. Then I let her fold in the Cool Whip :)

I put the pudding mixture into a piping bag to make filling the pies a little less messy.

Use a serrated knife and cut all the cupcakes in half. Fill with the pudding mixture and replace the tops.

Top with a mixture of melted Cool Whip and semi-sweet baking chocolate (about 1 minute in the microwave and cooled for 15 minutes before frosting). I had no idea what the texture would be like and I was so excited when I tasted them! The frosting gets thick and good!

And just for fun, we topped them with some adorable Valentine Sprinkles. Store in the refrigerator and enjoy cold :) I'm glad I froze half of my cupcakes before making these...I can't stop eating them!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The search for a loveable Vegetable Beef Soup recipe!

I've made several Vegetable Beef Soups...sometimes using a recipe, sometimes just winging it as I go. I've done some with Barley, some with Tomatoes and some I was just plain disappointed in. Not any more!!! I found the most delicious Steak Soup Recipe...the one I will use from now on. So perfect!

I used a lean bottom round roast for mine and cut into small cubes. I love that this uses celery leaves...such an under utilized flavor!! I love them :)

Begin by browning your meat and onions in a mixture of vegetable oil and butter. I only used 1 TBS of each instead of the 2 called for in the recipe. That was plenty for me!
I mixed together my flour, salt, pepper and paprika. Unfortunately, I only had 1 tsp of paprika left in my spice jar, so that is all that was added. It was perfect for my taste. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the browned meat and cook just a moment before adding your liquids. I did this all in the same soup pot instead of using two pots like the recipe suggests. Who needs extra dishes?! I added the water, beef broth, celery leaves and marjoram...brought to a boil then lowered the temp and simmered with the lid on for about 45 minutes.

I chopped up my carrots and celery while I waited for my liquids to boil.

When you are home alone with your two-year old and she sees you taking pictures, she wants to get in on the action :) She took this lovely photo of me cooking.

After your meat is tender, add in your carrots, celery and potatoes. I used two large russet potatoes that I peeled and cubed. Check your broth for seasoning at this point. I always need more pepper! This is also the point where you add your tomato paste. I only used half the can (3 oz) which was plenty for me. Cook another 20 minutes or so with the lid off over medium heat. Stir frequently so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.

I also hate the idea of corn in any type of soup, and this needed some color, so I used frozen peas instead. Add in the last 5-10 minutes of cook time.

Isn't that a pretty bowl of soup?!! The flavor was wonderful, even better the second day. Hearty and packed with veggies. Perfectly yum- the search is over~

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I'm from Iowa, that means I have to love Pork!

Many people grow up thinking Pork Chops are such a yummy treat, not me. I was never someone that got excited about Pork Chops, I still don't. However, I have been a pork addict when it comes in the form of shredded meat :) I'm truly hooked on the Simple Carnitas recipe I have made so many times, and more recently, Kalua Pig in a Slow Cooker recipe from I have always HATED anything made with liquid smoke, but I had access to some Red Hawaiian Sea Salt, so I decided to go for it!

The beauty of this recipe is the prep! Only 3 ingredients and no work :) The only catch, you MUST start it the day before you wish to eat it!

Trim your Pork roast to remove some of the excess fat. Put your boneless or bone in Pork Shoulder (aka Pork Butt), in the crock pot. Using 1 1/2 TBS of the salt and 1 TBS of the liquid smoke, rub both sides of a 6 lb roast. That's it!! Turn it to low, cover and let sit for 16-20 hours. I assure you, you want to let it cook the whole time!!!!

After 20 hours...this is my pork. It is literally falling apart and develops almost a bark on the exposed edges, just like it would if you smoked it. Shred the meat removing any fat.

This is the broth that I poured out of my crock pot...almost 3 cups! Remember, I didn't add any liquids other than the liquid smoke! This does make a nice sauce if you wish to serve your pork over rice. Just refrigerate to allow the fat to solidify so you can remove it, then reheat and serve.  We love this over white rice.

It is also fantastic on a soft bun. Seriously, I have trouble stopping myself when I make this! If you're like me and think you don't like liquid smoke, this recipe could change your mind. AMAZING!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Have I mentioned that, "I LOVE LEMON!!!!"

Lately I can't get enough lemon. I'm drinking lots of lemonade, I keep making the Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes, and then...I needed Lemon for dessert! I decided to make Tart Lemon Triangles

For this recipe you need: Eggs, Butter, a whole lemon, powdered sugar, granulated sugar and flour.

I used my pastry cutter to add the butter to the flour and powdered sugar. The mixture seemed really dry, but I pressed it into the bottom of my pie plate anyway, and I baked for about 15 minutes at 350.

Little hands did help make this recipe :) I zested one lemon into my mixing bowl. My lemon gave me exactly 1/4 cup of juice!!!

Stir in the eggs and sugar and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.

Pour over the hot crust and return to the oven. You are supposed to bake until firm...the took about 25 minutes for me.

Allow to cool, dust with powdered sugar and serve. I couldn't even wait until it cooled. This was so yummy that I even convinced myself it was ok to have for breakfast one day with a bowl of fruit :) I see myself making this again VERY soon!

Monday, January 24, 2011

A copycat recipe for a restaurant meal I love!

For our first date, over 8 years ago, my husband took me to Red Lobster. We have both been big Red Lobster fans and we tend to order the same thing every time! One night about a year after that first date, I got on-line to see if I could find a copycat recipe for Red Lobster's Shrimp pasta! I found one, and this weekend, I made it again.

The only things I don't keep on hand are clam juice and heavy cream. I don't use clam juice for anything else, but it's pretty inexpensive to use for this recipe- so I buy it. 

Begin by cooking your shrimp in the olive oil and garlic. Remove from the pan and set aside.

To the hot skillet, add your clam juice and white wine. Cook for about 3 minutes, until reduced.

Stir in the heavy cream and cook over low heat for a few minutes until thickened. Add in your Parmesan Cheese.

Add shrimp back to the sauce and toss with cooked linguine. At the very end, stir in your lemon juice and herbs. Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving so the pasta can soak up some of the sauce.

I also made knock-off Cheddar Bay Biscuits...and they weren't garlicky enough! I love the Cheese and Garlic Bisquick mix, but I thought they would be even better if I made them from scratch. I used my favorite biscuit recipe, J.P.'s Big Daddy Biscuits, and substituted garlic salt for the regular salt. I also added 1 tsp of garlic powder, 1/2 tsp of Italian Seasoning, and 1 cup of Sharp Cheddar Cheese. The trick to a light and flaky biscuit is to notovermix the dough and to fold it a few times before rolling out.

Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Brush with melted butter mixed with garlic salt.

Robyn played with some of the unused biscuit dough :) These are supposedly snowmen with purses and Humpty Dumpty.

And this was dinner- I was total craving this when I made it...and then my fickle pregnancy appetite decided I don't really enjoy shrimp right now! Oh well, at least my hubby enjoyed it :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A kid friendly dinner that Robyn loved!

My daughter has her own mini muffin pan, part of a mini baking set. She brought it to me last night at dinner time and wanted me to make something in it. Since it was time for dinner, I didn't want to do cupcakes or I came up with a dinner idea!!! We made mini muffin pizzas :)

I took 2 pieces of Whole Wheat bread and rolled them flat with my rolling pin.

A Tablespoon was the perfect size to fit the muffin tin- so I used my knife to cut around it.

I placed the bread rounds in the muffin tin and put them in a 400 degree oven for about 3 minutes- just to toast slightly so they wouldn't get soggy.

Robyn selected pepperoni and cheese- her favorite combo!

Add about 1/2 tsp of sauce to each muffin cup, top with 1 pepperoni and a small pinch of shredded mozzarella cheese.

Pop them in the oven for about 5 minutes- broil for a minute if you want to brown the cheese.

Adorable bite sized mini pizzas. I can't wait to find more fun ways to use my mini muffin pan! Robyn ate every single pizza!!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A soup I've always loved!

I have always loved French Onion Soup. When I was younger, I used to order it in restaurants. I've requested it for a birthday meal a time or two... as a grown up, I learned how easy it was to make!

I only made two servings of soup...because I'm the only one that will eat it at my house! I used Beef Broth, Sherry, Butter, Onions, Black Pepper, Garlic Salt and Thyme in the soup.

Add about 1 1/2 TBS of butter and two thinly sliced onions to a saucepan. Cook slow over low heat. Stir frequently.

Gather all the delicious cheese you wish to top your soup with. I used Provolone, Parmesan and Swiss. It's so much better if you use a good Swiss cheese- but this is what I had on hand.

Cook the onions about 30 minutes until they are very soft and carmelized.

Add in about 3 cups of Beef Broth and about 2 TBS of Sherry. Season with Garlic Salt, Pepper and Thyme. Bring to a simmer.

Toast a couple of slices of French Bread until crisp- about 5 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

Ladle the soup into an oven-safe bowl. Top with crusty bread and lots of cheese! (I always bake mine on top of a cookie sheet to catch any drips)

Place under the broiler for a few minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly. Serve bowl on another plate...remember, the bowl is VERY hot!!