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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Snowball Cookies

I haven't baked in quite awhile and since I'm on Spring Break and John really likes these cookies, I decided to make some. This is the first time I have ever added chocolate chips to this recipe though. So I made half regular snowballs, and half snowballs with chocolate chips. I guess I'll have to sample both now ;)
I know the picture isn't great. My camera is still being repaired and in the meantime it's my phone camera. If you are a fan of super light, buttery cookies, then you will definitely like these!

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups sifted flour
2 cups finely chopped pecans
2 cups sifted powdered sugar

Mix butter and half a cup of sifted powdered sugar in mixer. Add vanilla. Add salt, flour and pecans. Blend well. Shape into small balls. Place on cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for4 15 minutes. Remove from pan and roll hot cookies into 2 cups sifted powdered sugar. Cool cookies, then roll them again in the powdered sugar.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Slow Cooked Carnitas

What do you get when you cross a crock pot with a pork shoulder roast and some other great ingredients? You get a fabulous dinner. I forgot to lay out my roast yesterday, so this morning I tossed a completely frozen solid hunk of pork into my crock pot along with all the other ingredients, said a prayer and hoped that it would turn out good. really did!
My sister was here visiting from Oregon. My mom, daughter and grand daughter were here also. We did a few taste tests along the way, and I snuck in a few extra tastes when nobody was looking haha. I'm glad to report there was still some left to make dinner out of ;)
If you really like crock pot cooking (which I only attempt once or twice a year) this recipe is a winner!

I got this wonderful recipe from my taste of home magazine. This magazine always has great recipes in it.

1 boneless pork shoulder roast (3-4 lbs)
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups cilantro, chopped
1 cup salsa
1 cup chicken broth (or the recipe says you can use 1/2 chicken broth and half tequilla)
8 oz. chopped green chilies

Place the meat in the crock pot. Place all ingredients into the crock pot and cook until tender. 6-8 hours. Shred the meat and put it back in the crock pot to heat through again. Serve with flour tortillas and any extras you might want. We use avocados, tomatoes and red onion.

Chili Lemon Cauliflower

When you think of cauliflower, do you think YUCK? I used to. I'm not a big cauliflower fan. I have always thought it's just ok, but definitely not a favorite veggie of mine. Tonight I tried adding little "zip" to it and it was really good. I would definitely make this again! The lemon added some tartness and the chili added some much needed flavor and spice.
1 bunch cauliflower
1 lemon
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Steam the cauliflower in a vegetable steamer. Meanwhile zest the entire lemon. When cauliflower is done, sprinkle the lemon zest on top of it and squeeze the juice from half of the lemon over it. Sprinkle crushed red pepper on the top. Enjoy!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dinner Rolls

Some days are just meant for the oven to be on! It's definitely one of those days. It's a cold, dreary day outside and yet I am warm and cozy with my oven on, cooking home made bread and my stove working diligently to cook a pot of home made soup. The smells of the food are beckoning me into the kitchen, but I have to wait for John to get home to enjoy the tastes. So for now I sit and type, while drooling over my keyboard at the thought of hot buttered bread and chicken with rice soup. Just like Hansel and Gretel lived in a gingerbread house, which I'm sure smelled good, I think I could live in a  hot buttered bread house ;)  I'm pretty sure there won't be enough left after dinner to start the maybe another time!

1 pkg yeast
1/2 cup VERY hot water
1/4 cup melted butter (1/2 a stick of butter)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 eggs ( see instructions below)
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/8 cups flour

*To use a half an egg, break open the egg and place half the egg white in a bowl. Use your fingers to break the yolk in half and use one half of the yolk

Heat oven to 375.
Combine water and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes. With a wooden spoon, stir in the butter, sugar, eggs and salt. Add flour one cup at a time. Mix thoroughly with your spoon after each additon. Cover and refrigerate for 1 1/2- 2 hours, or up to 3 days. Grease a round pie pan or a square baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Place in prepared pan. Cover and let rise for one hour or until the size of the rolls has doubled. Bake in 375 degree oven for 17 minutes or until golden brown.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Apricot Almond Bars

Yesterday my sweet neighbor gave me some baby things for my grand daughter. As a way to say "thank you" I decided to bake these Apricot Almond Bars for her family. She always loves when I bring my baked goods to their house and I'm sure she will love these too!
These are very sweet bars and actually need to be cut very small as the richness of them can do you in :) The mixture of the apricot, almond and coconut blends perfectly well together. I'm sure you could make these with any type of fruit preserves that you would like, but I think the citrus and tang of the apricot blends best with the other tastes involved.
1 pkg yellow cake mix
1/2 cut butter, melted
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup Apricot preserves

1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/3 cup Apricot preserves
1/2 cup coconut

Heat oven to 350. Grease a baking dish. (You can use the 13 X 9 size if you want thinner bars, mine were made in a 9 X 7 for thicker bars). In a mixing bowl, combine the cake mix and melted butter on low- med speed. Mix in the almonds. Reserve 1 cup of that mixture and set aside. Put the remaining mixture into the bottom of the well greased pan. Press it down evenly on the bottom of the pan. Carefully spread 1 cup of the apricot preserves over the mixture pressed into pan. (You might want to heat your preserves just a bit to make them easier to spread). In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla and egg until well blended. Mix in 1/3 cup preserves. Spread this mixture over the base in the prepared pan. Sprinkle 1 cup reserved base mixture over the top of the filling. Sprinkle coconut over the entire pan. Bake at 350 for 40 min. (longer if you are using a smaller pan for thicker bars. Just check with toothpick to make sure the inside is done)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

White wine and Parmesan Risotto

If you love rice, you will definitely love risotto. It's a much creamier kind of rice. Yes it's a little more difficult to make, as it requires a lot of tender care while it's cooking, but it's well worth it. Last night I tried a new version of risotto. My husband and daughter really loved it. In the picture it may just look like a pot of rice, but this is a version with white wine and parmesan! So yummy!

1/2 cup white wine
6 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup sliced onions
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups risotto rice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup grated, fresh parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp butter

Heat the wine and chicken stock over low heat until simmering. Set aside. Meanwhile in a large skillet, saute onions and garlic in the 2 Tbsp butter over med-high heat until soft, about 3 minutes. Add two cups of rice and salt and pepper. Stir constantly for 1-2 minutes without browning the rice. Using a ladle, pour hot chicken stock into the rice mixture a half a cup at a time, stirring constantly. Let just about all the liquid absorb before adding the next ladle full of stock into the rice. Continue to stir. Keep ladling the chicken stock in and continue to cook for approx. 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and 2 Tbsp butter. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Vegetarian Enchiladas (Spinach and Mushroom)

These are the kinds of meals that I think to myself, "I could become a vegetarian so easily if all the food tasted like this". My friend Natasha from work inspired me to make these. She had made these enchiladas awhile back and brought me one to taste. They were so yummy, so I just had to get the recipe from her. She is so sweet that she even brought me some of the dried chilies to make my own chili powder. I took the liberty of tweaking her recipe just a bit, although I must say her version is phenomenal, but I just love to mess with recipes ;)
***I will post her original recipe and then at the end of the recipe I will note the changes I made to it. 

Enchilada Sauce:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup New Mexico Chili Powder (Take stems off and process dry New Mexico chilies in food processor until powdered)
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion salt
salt to taste

Directions for sauce
Heat oil in skillet over med high heat. Stir in flour and chili powder. Reduce heat to medium and cook until lightly browned, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Gradually stir in tomato sauce, water, cumin, garlic powder and onion salt until smooth and continue cooking over med heat approx. 10 min or until thickened slightly. Season with salt, to taste. Set aside.

For the enchilada filling:
1 container fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 bag of fresh spinach
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp cream cheese
cumin, coriander and salt to taste
Mexican blend shredded cheese
Corn tortillas

Directions for Enchiladas:
Saute the mushrooms in olive oil until softened partially. Add in the spinach and cilantro and cook until the spinach wilts down completely. Prepare your corn tortillas by cooking for 5 seconds on each side in hot oil. Dip them into the enchilada sauce and put on a plate to fill. Fill each enchilada with a little bit of the spinach filling and some of the shredded cheese. Roll up tightly. Place in baking dish. Once the baking dish is full of enchiladas, pour all the extra enchilada sauce on top and place the extra shredded cheese over the top. Bake at 375 for approx 30 minutes.

For the Garnish:   
Diced green onions,
Black Olives, chopped

*** for my version of the recipe sauce, I used half olive oil and half chipotle flavored oil and added 2 oz cream cheese
*** for my version of the recipe filling: I also added 3 Tbsp chopped parsley (added at the same time as the cilantro), 1 Tbsp chipotle flavored oil (added when sauteing the mushrooms), 1/3 cup sliced olives (added when the filling was done)
I also put more sliced olives and sliced green onions on the top before baking them

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Banana Cream Filling and Peanut Butter Frosting

Bananas and peanut butter go together like biscuits and gravy, salt and pepper, honey and tea......well more like John and I ♥
Throw in some chocolate and what a trio! If you like all these flavors, I think they combined well in this cupcake.
The banana filling oozes out of the center when you bite into it and the peanut butter frosting helps cut some of the sweetness of the cupcake.  I have to admit that I used a dark chocolate cake mix today. It's really hard to beat the cost of a one dollar cake mix, when the prices of ingredients are soaring these days. The filling and the frosting are both home made I guess I get a little credit for this one ;)
 For the cake:
1 dark chocolate cake mix

*Bake according to package directions.

For the filling:
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1//8 tsp salt
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 large banana, mashed
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

In a pan, heat the milk until very warm, but not boiling. Set aside. In a bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir this mixture into the hot milk and stir continuously for 4 - 5 minutes while cooking over low heat. It will get very smooth and thick. Add the egg yolks and continue to cook for about 2 more minutes. Set aside to cool down. Mash the banana until it's very smooth. Add the lemon juice and mix together well. Stir into the cooled filling. After the filling is completely cooled down, fill the cupcakes. ( I use a special tool to remove a piece of the center of the cupcake for filling, but you can just use a knife to cut a small wedge out of the cupcake, but save that wedge to put back over the top of the filling.)

For the frosting:
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 Tbsp milk
2 cups Powdered sugar

Using a mixer, combine the butter and peanut butter together. Gradually mix in the powdered sugar. At this point it will be very dry and thick. Mix in the 3 Tbsp milk and continue to blend until it's all incorporated. Beat for a few minutes until it is light and fluffy. Frost the cupcakes!

Cinnamon Puffs

If you ever have a serious craving for a donut and  you can't quite make it to the donut shop, then this just might be the perfect recipe for you! It only requires 4 ingredients and it's super fast and super easy. Oh and I might add....quite YUMMY!! It's light, fluffy, sweet and buttery all at the same time.

1 can refrigerated biscuit dough
1 cube butter

Open biscuits and bake according to package directions. Meanwhile, melt one cube of butter and place onto a plate or into a bowl large enough to dip the biscuits in. Mix sugar and cinnamon together in whatever ratio suits your tastes. If you like more cinnamon, then add more....if not add less. Right when biscuits come out of the oven, roll them in the butter, covering the top, bottom and the sides. Roll the buttered biscuit into the sugar/cinnamon mixture covering the entire biscuit! These are best enjoyed while they are still hot, but they still taste great later too.

Friday, March 11, 2011


How do you even begin a food post on a day like today when Japan has suffered so much? It's amazing to me to see how Bible prophecy is all coming together.So before I post my food blog I wanted to share some of what I know to be true from the Bible and it pretty much sums up perfectly what is taking place in the world right now.

"God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah." -Psalm 46:1-3. 
And when you hear of wars and insurrections (disturbances, disorder, and confusion), do not become alarmed and panic-stricken and terrified; for all this must take place first, but the end will not [come] immediately. Then He told them,... Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be mighty and violent earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences (plagues: malignant and contagious or infectious epidemic diseases which are deadly and devastating); and there will be sights of terror and great signs from heaven,
...And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; and upon the earth [there will be] distress (trouble and anguish) of nations in bewilderment and perplexity [without resources, left wanting, embarrassed, in doubt, not knowing which way to turn] at the roaring (the echo) of the tossing of the sea, Men swooning away or expiring with fear and dread and apprehension and expectation of the things that are coming on the world; for the [very] powers of the heavens will be shaken and caused to totter. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with great (transcendent and overwhelming) power and [all His kingly] glory (majesty and splendor).Now when these things begin to occur, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption (deliverance) is drawing near." -Luke 21:7-11, 25-28, Amplified Bible.
Tonight I realized that I had not made manicotti in probably 10 years. It seemed like it would be a fairly quick and  easy meal to make and it sure was! I found the recipe from years ago, but I also knew that my cooking skills had improved since then and definitely my tastes  had changed, so I just started throwing it together with a completely different spin on the recipe and it was wonderful. 

3/4 lb ground beef  (or you can also use 1/2 lb ground beef and 1/4 lb italian sausage for some added flavor)
1 egg
1/4 lb grated mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup soft bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
1 -2 Tbsp chopped, fresh parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Manicotti noodles
16 oz tomato sauce
1 cup water
Italian seasoning
Fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350.
Brown beef and drain. Let the beef cool for 5 minutes. Mix into the beef, the next 7 ingredients. Stir well to combine. 
Meanwhile, boil the manicotti noodles for 6 minutes and drain in colander. Rinse with cold water. 
Spray an 11X13 pan with Pam. Then pour 8 oz of the tomato sauce onto the bottom of the dish. 
Stuff each noodle with meat mixture. ( I find it easiest to hold the noodle like an ice cream cone, but leave one finger across the bottom so filling cannot fall out.)
Lay the noodles into the pan with the tomato sauce. 
Pour the leftover 8 oz of tomato sauce directly over the noodles and cover as best as you can. 
Pour 1 cup of water over the top of the tomato sauce covered noodles. 

Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. 

Remove from oven and uncover the manicotti. Lightly sprinkle oregano and italian seasoning over the entire pan.

Sprinkle the parmesan over all the noodles. 

Return to the oven, uncovered, for 10 more minutes.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Grilled Salmon with Citrus Salsa Verde

I guess it's been quite awhile since I posted anything on this blog. Life had a few bumps and bruises over the last week, but through the grace of God alone, I am feeling refreshed today and up to posting. I'm sure John will love this dinner tonight because I haven't fixed him salmon in a long while. For awhile the salmon I was buying at the market, got a little too fishy. Tonight's definitely wasn't! I haven't been to the grocery store in about a week and a half, and I had no idea what to make out of this salmon, so I sat down at the computer and started researching some new salmon recipes. I stumbled onto this one on the food network site and thought it sounded interesting. Thankfully I had all the ingredients on hand except the mint, so I just had to forgo that particular item when I made it. It still tasted great. This recipe has a very light citrusy taste to it and just a hint of sweet with the savory.
* I did not have mint for this recipe so this is made without it. Also I didn't have oranges, so I used tangerines.
Here is a link to the original recipe!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chicken Chili Rolls and Cheddar Chive Biscuits

This may look hard to do, but it really isn't! In fact, you can whip this dinner up in no time at all. If you don't like spicy food, you could just leave out the green chili all together, but who doesn't like spice and who doesn't need to spice up their life a little? ;)

Chicken Chili Rolls:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 whole green chilis (these are sold in a can ready to go)
4 slices Monterey Jack Cheese
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup skim milk

Preheat oven to 400.
Place chicken breasts in a large baggie or between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound until they are thin. (You can use a hammer for this if you do not have a meat mallet).
In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, chili powder, cumin, salt, and garlic powder. Set aside.
Lay out the thin chicken breasts and on top of each breast, place a slice of cheese and a whole green chili (slice the chili down the center to sort of open it up to a flatter chili). Roll each chicken breast up and very carefully dip each rolled breast into the milk and then into the bread crumb mixture. After you take them out of the bread crumb mixture, place them in a baking pan that has been sprayed with Pam.
Bake for 30 minutes.

Cheddar Chive Biscuits
3 Tbsp butter, melted
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tube canned biscuits
Cheddar Cheese
Green onions
*You do not need to buy expensive biscuits for this recipe. I used the cheapo store brand and they came out great. I think there are enough cheese and onion flavors to make up for the cheap biscuits ;)

Mix 3 Tbsp melted butter with the pinch of salt and pinch of cayenne pepper. Lay out biscuits on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Brush the tops with the melted butter mixture. On each biscuit place a little bit of cheddar cheese and a few green onions. Fold the biscuits over to shape "half moons". Use a fork to seal the edges as best you can. Follow the directions on the biscuit label for how long to bake them and the correct temperature. ( all the biscuits have different instructions, that's why you have to use the directions on the brand you buy. After they are cooked, brush the tops with more butter.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatball Cake

Is it live or is it Memorex? Is it a plate of spaghetti or a cake?
When you read the title you were probably thinking "that's disgusting" right? Well calm down sparky, it's just a cake! ;)
This was so much fun to make and I can't wait to take it to work tomorrow! It's super easy and anyone could make this. It just takes a little time and effort. Right now just looking at it is making me very hungry for dinner, so I have to type this quickly and go make something to eat. Maybe spaghetti? haha
If anyone reading this ever decides to make this cake.....please let me know how it turns out for you!

1 box chocolate cake mix
2 tubs vanilla frosting ( I make my's much better and less sweet, if you want the recipe, let me know)
2-4 drops yellow food coloring
1/2 tsp cocoa powder
1 (16 oz) bag or tub of frozen strawberries, thawed
White chocolate, for grating ( I used white chocolate chips and just chopped them finely instead of grating)

1) Make the cake batter according to the package directions.
2) Pour the batter into two 8 inch round cake pans, that have been sprayed with Pam. ( I only had one round pan, so you can make one in a round pan and one in any other kind of pan you have available.)
3) After you bake them, let them cool completely. Put the first round cake onto a nice serving platter. Take the other cake and crumble it into a large bowl. Crumble it with your fingers until it is a very fine crumble.
4) Squeeze a handful of cake crumbs into a 2 inch ball. Roll until it looks like a meatball. Roll 3 of them. Set them aside.
5) To frost the cake. Spread about 1 1/2 cups frosting smoothly onto the cake. Use a spatula to make the sides smooth.
6) Arrange the "meatballs" on top of the cake.
7) Mix the remaining frosting with the yellow food coloring and the cocoa. Transfer to a pastry bag with a small round tip or if you don't have that you can put it into a baggie and cut a small corner off and squeeze it out of the sealed baggie.
8) Pipe the colored frosting onto the cake, around the meatballs, in figure 8 patterns to look like spaghetti.
9) Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor until smooth with only a few chunks. Spoon between 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup of the strawberry puree onto the top of the meatballs and noodles to look like tomato sauce.
10) Grate white chocolate, or chop white chocolate chips and sprinkle over the cake to look like Parmesan cheese.