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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Asian Noodle Salad

So after yesterday being fairly cold, and soup sounding wonderful, today is very warm and anything light and easy sounds wonderful for dinner. I prepared Asian Noodle Salad and now it is sitting in the refrigerator cooling off and letting all the flavors mesh together by dinner time. This is a cold asian noodle salad and it's very light and refreshing!


Ingredients:
1 lb spaghetti noodles ( I use whole wheat)
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 cup cilantro, chopped
8 green onion stalks, thinly sliced
3 fresh jalapeno peppers, diced ( you can remove the seeds, it will make it less spicy)
1 1/2 cups dry roasted peanuts (chopped or whole)

Cook spaghetti until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Transfer to large bowl. In a small bowl, combine: sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, salt and balsamic vinegar. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add to noodles and mix well. Add chopped cilantro, green onions and jalapenos. Mix well again. Serve with peanuts on top.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Filling

Can I just say I love Red Velvet Cupcakes? They are probably one of my favorites. I filled these with a vanilla filling and frosted them with a vanilla buttercream frosting. This one cupcake is what started my passion of baking lately. I made these one weekend and from that, my passion for baking was sparked. I have always enjoyed baking, but now I truly LOVE it. I would love to open a bakery, but that's just a dream.

Garden of Brownie Pops

Awhile back I was asked to bring something to a family get together. I wanted to make brownies, but wanted to be more creative than just bringing a pan of brownies. I made these brownie pops. I made my homeade brownie batter, then poured it into brownie pop pans. Some were flower shaped and some were just regular brownie pops. I made butter cream frosting and tinted it many colors. This required a lot of bowls haha!! I then frosted some with peanut butter, some with carmael and nuts and some with frosting and sprinkles and/or coconut. I was pleased with the outcome. It took a lot of time, but family is always worth the time it takes to do anything!

Lime Vinegarette Shrimp w/ Pineapple and Avocado

As you all know, I am a seafood junkie. I love seafood and try to make it as often as possible. I made this a couple months ago and can't wait to make it again. It's so good and has such great textures. The lime shrimp sits on a bed of avocado and pineapple. The tartness of the vinegarette sauce blends great with the sweetness of the pineapple.




For the Vinegarette:1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp lime zest. minced
Salt to taste

For the Shrimp:
16 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp coarse, black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
8 slices fresh pineapple
2 avocados, pitted, peeled and cut into chunks

Whisk all ingredients for the vinegarette together in a bowl. Set aside.
Toss shrimp with pepper, paprika, salt and cayenne.
Heat oil in a large skillet on high. Add shrimp and cook until brown on one side, about 1 minute. Turn shrimp, saute another 30 seconds. Add 2 Tbsp vinegarette sauce and cook until shrimp are cooked through.
To serve: Arrange 2 pineapple slices and some of the avocado on each serving plate. Drizzle with vinegarette and top with 4  shrimp.

Chocolate Cracker Jacks

The other day I posted a chocolate popcorn recipe. It was very good, but I didn't get to eat any, as it was a gift for someone else. So today, I tried a different recipe that did not use marshmallows, but used Karo Syrup instead. This recipe also called for peanuts. I like this recipe better, because the consistency was more like "caramel corn" and the salty peanuts helped cut down on the sweetness. Fortunately I had all the ingredients handy in my pantry and didn't need to buy anything to make this.



Ingredients

  • 2 quarts popped popcorn
  • 1 cup peanuts
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees
  2. Spray Pam into a large baking pan with sides.
  3. Place popcorn and peanuts into a large bowl, and set aside.
  4. Stir together the sugar, corn syrup, cocoa powder, and butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla, then pour over the popcorn. Stir until the popcorn is well coated. Spread the popcorn into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven, and cool to room temperature. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

Chicken and Rice Soup

Today was a cool rainy day, so I made a big pot of chicken and rice soup. It has always been one of John's favorites and once again, he loved it! There is nothing like homeade hot soup on a cool evening. Served with hot buttered french bread and some vegetables, it was the perfect end to a great day.
  Chicken and Rice Soup

1 whole chicken
1 whole stalk chopped celery ( Yes, the entire bundle of celery)
Shredded Carrots ( I buy the pre shredded carrots in the bag and I use about 3/4 of the bag)
1 whole onion, chopped
1/2 cup Rice (or more) (use long grain rice, not minute rice)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Place whole chicken in a large pot. Cover with water. Boil for at least 45 min to an hour until done. Make sure you keep it covered with water while it's boiling. Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool. In the chicken stock, place celery, carrots, onion, rice, salt and pepper. Shred up the chicken and place the shredded chicken meat back into the soup pot. Cook until vegetables are tender and serve!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chocolate Popcorn

I needed to make a quick, sweet snack to pack into a gift for bosses day. The teacher I work for only eats sugary snacks on weekends. It was only Wednesday, so I knew I had to come up with something that would stay fresh longer than the typical cupcake or cookies. I found a recipe for chocolate popcorn on cooks.com and tried it out. It turned out really good, almost like a chocolate caramel popcorn.

4 qts popped corn**
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup choc chips
40 large marshmallows
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
** I used Kettle Corn that you cook in the microwave since it's all I had available in my pantry. 

Place popped corn in greased 13 X 9 inch pan. Melt the butter, choc chips and marshmallows together in a large pot. Stir till smooth. Stir in vanilla and salt. Pour over popped corn and stir. Bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. After it's done baking, give it a good stir to "pick up" the chocolate that has settled to the bottom of the pan and coat the popcorn better. Pour out onto waxed paper and let cool. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes

I'm getting ready for company this afternoon and wanted to make something yummy for dessert, so I decided on these cupcakes. These are definitely not cupcakes you could pass out to the neighborhood kids. ;)
I like the fact that they are not super sweet and have that champagne taste in the background of the sweetness. Just to make them a little more grown up, there are edible pearls on the top with the pink colored sugar!

Strawberry Champagne Cupcake Recipe:

1 box Betty Crocker Strawbery Cake Mix
1 1/4 cups Andre Pink Champagne
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 egg whites

Champagne Frosting:
1/2 cup softened butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup Andre Pink Champagne
1 tsp vanilla
5-6 drops red food coloring

Garnish:
Pink decorator sugar
Edible pearls

Directions:
Heat oven to 350. Place paper baking cups into muffin tins. In a large bowl combine cake mix and champagne. Add oil and egg whites. Beat with mixer on med speed for 2 minutes. Divide batter evenly into muffin cups. Bake 17-22 min. or until toothpick inserted in center, comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

For Frosting:In a med. bowl beat frosting ingredients with mixer on med speed until smooth. Frost Cupcakes and sprinkle with pink sugar and pearls.

Mayan Chili Chocolate Brownies

For those of you who like chocolate and spicy chili together, you would love these brownies. I was making brownies for dessert tonight, (from scratch of course) and I decided I wanted to try something a little different. So I baked half the mix plain for my husband and the other half I baked by adding some hot mexican chili powder, some cayenne pepper and some cinnamon. They really came out great!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Crispy Orange Chicken over Almond Rice Pilaf

Did you ever stop to notice how the onset of the Fall season begins to change our attitude toward food? Suddenly the grill is no longer appealing and the easy stovetop foods get pushed aside to make room for good old comfort food!! All my senses were being engaged in cooking tonight. I was smelling wonderful orange sauce cooking for my chicken and tasting it as I sampled it. My sense of sight was appealed to as the chilly and  moist air on the outside of the house, met with the steamy, warmth arising from my stove and my oven and produced a fogged up and misty kitchen window. I was so mesmerized with the the steamed up window as it reminds me of the fact that in my life the worldy influences (the cold moist air on the window) will come into contact daily with the spiritual influences (God's word, prayer etc) and when they meet, God will certainly cover me with a mist of His grace and block the worldy influences from being seen (the fogged up window) in my life if I allow Him to!! Yes....Fall is here and I love it!!!

Some people think I'm crazy because I actually wanted to cook on my birthday today! John took me out for a wonderful dinner last night to celebrate. So tonight I attempted a new recipe! It was really good. When you love to cook it's not seen as a chore but as a way to express yourself and give and show love to the people around you.
So here is my dinner. I will try to get around to posting the recipe as it's a LONG recipe to type up for you.
Crispy Orange Chicken over Almond Rice Pilaf

Monday, October 18, 2010

Spicy Polynesian Wraps

This is a recipe I have made many times for family and friends. Each time I make it, everyone loves it. I got a request to post this on my blog and I wanted to give credit to the site that originally posted the recipe. I got it from http://www.allrecipes.com/
They have amazing recipes, you should try some of them!!
So here is the recipe straight from their site.
* I add quite a bit of cayenne pepper to the flour mixture to give it a little spice*
Spicy Polynesian Wrap Recipe 

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch strips
  • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 limes
  • 10 (10 inch) flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions

Directions

  1. Place the chicken and coconut milk in a bowl, and marinate in the refrigerator 1 hour.
  2. In a pot, bring the rice and water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the flour, curry powder, and garlic salt. Drain the chicken, and discard marinade. Dredge chicken in the flour mixture to coat.
  4. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the coated chicken strips 5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and juices run clear. Squeeze lime juice over chicken, and discard limes.
  5. On each tortilla, place equal amounts of rice, chicken, coconut, and green onions. Wrap burrito style.

Strawberry Pizza

Awhile back I attempted to make a strawberry pizza. I found this wonderful recipe in my Cuisine at Home Magazine. Oh my goodness, it was mouth watering yummy! I took some to friends at work and to my daughter and son in laws house. The feedback I got was great!! This is most definitely NOT a diet pizza.....

* I used chopped, dark choc chips for the top and next time I will definitely follow the recipe and use a grater to shave curls off a dark chocolate bar for the top. It comes out much nicer

Strawberry Pizza

For the shortbread crust:
2 cups flour
3/4 cup chopped pecans
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened ( use real butter, not margarine)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

For the topping:
1/2 cup strawberry preserves
1/4 cup orange juice or orange liqueur
1 lb fresh strawberries, sliced
8 oz Marscapone cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Dark Chocolate
Whipped Cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
 Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk together flour, pecans, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Using a hand mixer on med speed, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 min)
Add half the flour mixture to the creamed mixture; beat on low until ingredients are combined.
Add remaining flour and beat ONLY until flour is incoorporated into the dough.
Turn dough onto prepared cookie sheet. Pat dough evenly into an 11 inch wide circle.
Bake shortbread crust until edges are firm and beginning to brown, 20-25 min.
Cool shortbread on a rack till thoroughly cooled.
Puree preserves and liqueur in a blender.
Bring preserve mixture to a boil in a pot over high heat and cook for 1 min.
Transfer preserve mixture to a bowl and refrigerate until cool.
Combine cooked preserves with sliced strawberries.
Using a hand mixer, on med speed, cream marscapone, powdered sugar and vanilla for the topping just until it is light and fluffy (1 min). (avoid overbeating as it can seperate)
To assemble pizza: Spread marscapone mixture evenly onto crust with a spatula. Arrange glazed strawberries (without the extra juice) onto the marscapone layer. Completely cover the top with berries.
Use a vegetable peeler to shave curls of dark chocolate over top of the pizza.
Slice and serve

Strawberry Spring Salad with Candied Pecans

A friend sent me a sweet message tonight asking me to post a few recipes that she had tried at my house recently. So here goes....
This one is Strawberry Spring Salad. Simple and oh so fresh and light!!! John and I like to have this on summer days for lunch or for dinner.

1 Pkg Spring Salad Mix (from grocery store produce section)
1 Pkg frozen strawberries, thawed
16 oz pecans
2 egg whites
2 tsp cold water
2 cups sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp salt

To candy your pecans: Heat oven to 250 degrees. Beat egg whites with water until fluffy. Fold pecans into egg whites. Stire until well coated. In a bowl, mix sugar, cinnamon and salt. Fold coated pecans into sugar mixture. Place pecans on cookie sheet (try to only have one layer of them, don't stack them on top of one another). Cook for one hour. Remove from oven and place pecans on waxed paper. Break them apart to make sure they don't stick together.
To assemble salad: Place greens on your plate. Use the thawed strawberries and the juice as the salad dressing. Place a few pecans on top of the salad and enjoy!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Super Easy and Healthy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Well...this is my favorite weather and my favorite time of year. It's a cold, overcast day and it makes me feel warm and cozy inside. The pumpkin scented candle flickers as it burns in the kitchen window and the smell of pumpkin wafts through the air. I sit snuggled on the couch under a blanket reading. The happiness that the Fall season brings me is nothing compared to the joy my Heavenly Father bestows upon me everyday!!
Just the fact that we as Americans not only have money to buy food, but we have the ability to make all these food choices is simply amazing. So as I sit and write this blog, I am simply humbled by the fact that God has instilled in me not only the desrire to cook and bake, but He alone has provided the means to do those things. So, on to the food part of my blog.....
Tonight I made a simple Chicken Tortilla Soup for dinner. It's so easy that anyone could do it and it provides a lot of protein. Let me know if any of you ever try it. I also would love any suggestions on how it could be made different or better!


Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 (16 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
1 Can Rotel Tomatoes
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilis
1 can pinto beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can corn
1 can chicken broth
2-3 cooked and diced chicken breasts
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 packet Lawrys taco seasoning powder
1/2 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dip Powder
Grated Cheese
Tortilla Chips

Combine all ingredients except chips and cheese. Heat over a medium fire till heated through, stirring occassionaly. Pour into bowls and top with cheese and toritlla chips. The cheese should melt quickly on top of the hot soup. Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Coca Cola Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

Tonight is Calvary Chapel's cooking club. I needed to make something I have never made before. Hhhmm..what to make?? I scoured the internet looking for recipes. I stumbled upon Coca Cola Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting. They also have a piece of homeade salted caramel on top. After spending hours in the kitchen, do I like them? Eh...they are ok. But believe it or not, I am NOT a cupcake lover. So why do I make cupcakes you ask...because I like to try to make them pretty ;)   The key word in that last sentence is TRY!! I am not sure I'll ever succeed, but I'll keep on trying. I also made a Caramel Peanut Crunch Apple Pie. Yum Yum! I'm not a pie eater either, but this one sounds good. At least tonight as I am eating this pie, I can close my eyes and pretend it's fall outside and time for apples, since it's still in the 90's and it's Mid October!
* My cooking tip: When you are making cupcakes, and you find it messy to spoon the batter into the paper cups....try putting all the batter into a gallon size ziplock bag. Cut a corner off and squeeze the batter into the cups. Not nearly as messy! Have fun!!!




Monday, October 11, 2010

Pie Pops

A sweet friend asked me to blog about my "Pie Pops". Five adorable young ladies came to my house a couple of months ago and I used them as my pie pop guinea pigs! I think they liked them. So here goes....

First you buy a Pillsbury All Ready Pie Crust (the kind in the deli section that you just roll out)

Next you make or buy your favorite pie filling (or you can fill it with cookie dough, homeade or store bought)

Roll out the pie dough and cut into circles using a biscuit cutter or any round object that works for you!

On half of the circles, place a small amount of your chosen filling.

 Insert a lollipop stick into the middle of each filled circle.

 Place an unfilled circle on top of each filled circle.

Use a fork or an extra lollipop stick to "flute" the edges of the pie pop. Make sure it is tightly sealed where the stick extends or else the filling will leak out.

To make the egg wash : In a bowl, whisk one egg white.

Using a pastry brush, brush the top of each pie pop with the egg wash.

Bake at 375 for approx. 10-15 min or until golden brown

Voila...here is the pie pop!!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Brazilian Lemonade Cupcakes

I would love to give credit to the person that e mailed me this recipe, but I printed the recipe right when I got it and deleted the e mail. So I have no way to say "thank you" to this person. These are Brazillian Lemonade Cupcakes. They have a lime filling and I like that they are not over the top sweet, but I'm not sure I like the consistency of the whipped cream topping, after adding the lime juice. It doesn't affect the flavor, just the piping consistency. Also...the dark sugar is plain colored sugar. The light green sugar is green apple sugar (because I couldn't find lime).