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Archive for October, 2008

Grape Salad

Difficulty: So Easy!

This recipe comes from my dear friend Liz. She had made it to accompany a lovely dinner and I wanted to eat the whole bowl! Simple, fresh, crisp and creamy all in one bite. This salad is best served the day it is made as the strawberries start to break down but it will keep up to 3 days, refrigerated of course.

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds red seedless grapes, rinsed and stems removed (approximate weight, just a nice bag)
1 pound strawberries, rinsed and hulled
8 oz. bar cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Directions: Mix together cream cheese, sour cream and brown sugar until smooth, add vanilla. Cut strawberries roughly the same size as the grapes. Add grapes and strawberries to cream cheese mixture and gently stir to combine. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

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Meatloaf Muffins

Difficulty: Easy

Who doesn’t love meatloaf? Comfort food at it’s finest. This is a nice twist from the traditional using the smoky flavors of BBQ sauce and baked in a muffin tin for fast cooking and easy serving. Plus you get to sneak in lots of veggies and who doesn’t love that?

Note: You can make as many muffins as your family needs and freeze any remaining meatloaf mixture. Wrap in wax paper, then foil and finally place in a Ziploc baggie. Now you have another meal ready to go!

Serves 8, 2 muffins each

Ingredients
2 pounds hamburger meat
1 onion, cut into chunks
2 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch sections
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped coarse
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 sleeve saltine crackers, crushed
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 TBS grill seasoning
1 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In the bowl of a food processor pulse onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic until chopped fine. Transfer to large bowl. Combine hamburger meat, veggies, eggs, saltines, milk, grill seasoning, 1/2 cup BBQ sauce and Worcestershire sauce with hands until well combined. Combine remaining 1/2 cup BBQ sauce with ketchup in small bowl.

Spray 2 muffin tins with cooking spray. Using large spoon or ice cream scoop transfer meatloaf mixture to each tin, about 1/2 cup each. Spoon BBQ sauce mixture over each muffin. Bake for 25 minutes, let rest 5 and serve.

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Pumpkin Pancakes

Difficulty: Easy

Who doesn’t love pumpkin with yummy spices that cooks up into a moist, thick, fluffy cake. So good and festive for fall. If you don’t have buttermilk you may substitute whole milk but I would avoid the 1% and skim varieties. The buttermilk really makes for a tender pancake and should be a staple for your breakfast meals. These are easy to whip up and your family will love them! Serve with maple syrup and a dusting of powdered sugar. Adapted from Rookie Cookie.

Ingredients
2 cups flour
4 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground ginger
2 cups buttermilk (or whole milk)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions: Preheat griddle over medium heat. In medium bowl combine dry ingredients. In a large bowl combine pumpkin, eggs, milk and oil. Combine wet and dry ingredients, stirring until a few flour streaks remain, mixture may have lumps.

Scoop about 1/4-1/3 cup batter onto lightly greased pan and cook until golden brown on each side. Makes 16 pancakes.

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Cake Mix Cookies

Difficulty: Easy

I was in a pickle with a serious chocolate hankering and inspired by a fellow blogger, I used what ingredients I had on hand to make these amazingly easy and oh so wonderful cookies. All you need are 3 basic ingredients and if you want to dress them up with frosting and garnish, by all means! It satisfied my craving and is now a dangerous thing since they are so easy and accessible. You may substitute regular oil for the coconut oil. Feel free to try any cake mix, skies the limit!

Ingredients
1 dark chocolate (or any chocolate) cake mix
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup coconut oil, if solid then melt it down gently until liquid

Cream Cheese Frosting
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 TBS butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBS milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Toasted coconut

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine cake mix, eggs and oil. Drop cookie dough by tablespoonfuls onto silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes and let rest on pan for a few minutes, transfer to cooling rack.

For frosting, cream together cream cheese and butter. Add vanilla, milk and powdered sugar and continue to beat until smooth. Frost over cooled cookies and sprinkle with toasted coconut. The result is a crispy exterior and a moist and chewy interior.

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Chocolate Truffle Pie


Photo from Pioneer Woman

Difficulty: Easy

This delightfully rich and decadent chocolate pie comes from Pioneer Woman, I reduced the sugar, upped the vanilla and gave it a new name since it melts in your mouth just like a chocolate truffle. This is rich and so satisfying. Freshly whipped cream and chocolate curls are a must!

Ingredients
2 sticks regular butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 baked pie shell

Directions: In the bowl of a standing mixer beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then mix in cooled melted chocolate. Add vanilla and mix. Turn the mixer to medium speed, then add in the four eggs, one at a time, mixing for 5 minutes after the addition of each egg. Scrape sides of bowl once during mixing. Pour into the cooled pie shell and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. Top with whipped cream and serve. Garnish with chocolate curls.

To make chocolate curls: Melt 3 ounces semi-sweet, milk, or dark chocolate with 1 TBS Crisco in microwavable bowl until just melted. Stir to combine. Pour over the backside of a baking sheet and spread very thin. Put in the freezer until it is firm, about 3 minutes. Using a sharp metal spatula scrape the chocolate from the pan, if its the right temperature it should curl instead of breaking. If it is too hard, wait a minute, too soft then put it back in the freezer for a minute. Transfer curls to a cold plate and stick them in the freezer to harden. Store in a plastic bag until ready for use.

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Easy & Fool-Proof Pie Crust

Difficulty: Easy

This wonderful recipe comes from Cook’s Country. There is no rolling required! Mix, place in your pie pan and press into place. It bakes up wonderfully crisp and flaky with a rich buttery taste. This is my new go-to pie crust recipe.

The pastry can be pressed into the pie plate and refrigerated for up to 2 days or double-wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 1 month. Once baked and cooled, the shell can be wrapped tightly in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day.

Makes one 9-inch Pie Shell

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened but still cool
2 ounces cream cheese , softened but still cool

Directions: Lightly coat 9-inch Pyrex pie plate with cooking spray. Whisk flour, sugar, and salt together in bowl.

With electric mixer at medium-high speed, beat butter and cream cheese in large bowl, stopping once or twice to scrape down beater and sides of bowl, until completely homogeneous, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture and combine on medium-low until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 20 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until dough begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds. Reserve 3 tablespoons of dough. Turn remaining dough onto lightly floured surface, gather into ball, and flatten into 6-inch disk. Transfer disk to greased pie plate.

Press dough evenly over bottom of pie plate toward sides, using heel of your hand. Hold plate up to light to ensure that dough is evenly distributed (see photo 1). With your fingertips, continue to work dough over bottom of plate and up sides until evenly distributed.

On floured surface, roll reserved dough into 12-inch rope. Divide into three pieces, roll each piece into 8-inch rope, and form fluted edge (photos 2 through 4). Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly prick bottom of crust with fork. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack. (If large bubbles form, wait until crust is fully baked, then gently press on bubbles with kitchen towel. Bubbles will settle as crust cools.)

1. 2.

3. 4.

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Banana Muffins

Difficulty: Easy

Who doesn’t love banana bread? This recipe is pure banana, no yogurt, milk, or sour cream to dull the ripe flavor. For a ultra smooth batter I use my food processor to combine all of the ingredients. I don’t care for lumps of banana in my bread. For a twist try my sour cream glaze. Very yummy! It will moisten the tops of your muffins, so eat them fast and I wouldn’t recommend topping the bread with the glaze if you will store it for more than one day but a nice drizzle is just as nice. And this isn’t a healthy bread by any means!

Makes approximately 3 loaves (Or 2 loaves and 12 muffins)

Ingredients
4 large ripe bananas, pureed or mashed well
2 1/2 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups chopped walnuts, optional

Directions: Grease and flour bread pans, place cupcake liners in muffin pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in medium saucepan or large microwave safe bowl and add the sugar, mix for a few minutes. Stir in eggs, vanilla and pureed bananas. (If using food processor, combine melted butter and sugar and pulse for 1 minute. Add eggs, vanilla and bananas. Pulse another minute.)

In medium bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir into butter mixture or add to food processor bowl and pulse until combined. Stir in walnuts if using. Spoon batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes for loaf pans and 12-15 minutes for muffins. You may need to use a cookie sheet underneath pans to ensure the bottoms don’t get too dark while baking. Unmold breads as soon as possible and let cool on a cake rack.

Sour Cream Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 TBS milk
1/3 cup sour cream

Combine milk and powdered sugar, add sour cream and stir until smooth. Add more sour cream to taste if desired. (I don’t like to taste the powdered sugar, just the sweetness.) Spoon over cooled bread/muffins and serve. Refrigerate leftovers.

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