Monday, December 31, 2012

Corn Casserole

  • 1 (15 1/4 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (14 3/4 oz) can cream-style corn
  • 1 (8 oz) package Jiffy corn muffin mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9- by 9-inch baking pan or a 2 quart casserole dish. Mix together the corn, Jiffy, sour cream and butter in a large bowl. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 55 minutes, or until golden brown and set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cucumber Salad

cucumber, sliced
2 T lemon juice
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper
chili powder

Combine everything except the chili powder into a Ziploc bag and marinate for at least an hour.  Before serving sprinkle with chili powder.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels

1 (16 oz) bag pretzel twists
⅔ cup butter, melted
vanilla, a dash or two
1 cup sugar
2-3 tbsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine pretzels, melted butter and vanilla into a gallon size Ziploc bag and toss to coat. In a bowl mix together the cinnamon and sugar and pour half of the mixture in the Ziploc to coat the pretzels.  When well-coated, spread the pretzels into a roasting pan. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, removing twice (after ten minutes and again after twenty minutes) to stir, adding more cinnamon sugar mixture each time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cream Cheese Brownies

I was flipping through my Pinterest recipes and kept coming across a similar picture.  I had recipes for cream cheese brownies, Chess Squares, Neiman Marcus Cake and Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cake.  Once I checked them all out I realized they were all basically the same recipe; there were slight variations such as the Neiman Marcus Cake had an additional egg and Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cake had more butter than any other recipe (big surprise), but overall it's the same dessert. 

1 box yellow cake mix
3 eggs
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
4 cups (1 lb) powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 300 and spray a 9×13 dish with cooking spray. Mix cake mix, melted butter and one egg to a soft dough. Press into the bottom of the pan. Mix powdered sugar, softened cream cheese and remaining two eggs until smooth, about 1-2 mins. Pour on top of crust. Bake at 300 for 40-50 minutes until top is golden brown.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cookies and Cream Christmas Bark

Line an 8×8 pan with enough parchment or wax paper for a 1 inch overhang on each side.

  • 10 oz. white chocolate chips
  • 15 regular size Oreos, plus 3 more for topping
  1. Place chocolate in a double boiler over low heat and stir continuously, until chocolate is completely melted.  Transfer chocolate to a heat proof bowl and cool for 5 minutes. Add chopped Oreos and stir to combine. Pour mixture into pan. Use a spatula to smooth out top.
  2. Finely chop remaining Oreos and sprinkle on top. Chill for about 10 minutes until chocolate becomes solid.
  3. Lift whole bark out of pan by holding onto parchment or wax overhang. Split bark into pieces with a fork.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Skillet Lasagna

I made this skillet lasagna and it was good.  Really good.  However, here's a modified version that will make your life a little easier:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, minced in a mini-chopper
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced in a mini-chopper
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 10 (curly-edged) lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch pieces*
  • 3 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes*
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese (part-skim is fine)
  • 3 Tbs chopped fresh basil**
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Brown the ground beef in a 12-inch nonstick, oven-proof skillet over medium heat and drain the fat.  Add the onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning and cook until fragrant.  Add the cans of tomatoes and simmer.

Cook the pasta according to the directions then add to the skillet and stir together adding a small amount of water if needed.  Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until well-heated.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler.

Remove the skillet from heat, and stir in half the mozzarella and parmesan, and 1/4 cup of the ricotta.  Dot the remaining ricotta over the noodles in tablespoons, then sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan.  Transfer to the oven and broil until the cheese melts and is starting to brown.  Remove from oven, sprinkle with basil, and serve.

*  The original recipe calls for whole tomatoes that ultimately get chopped so I said, "Why add the extra step?"  Just go with diced tomatoes.  Also, I only used two cans because I had some pasta sauce in the fridge I needed to get rid of as well.  It was a pretty even trade, except the pasta sauce had more flavor than the plain tomatoes so I'd probably do it again.

*  It also stated to put the lasagna noodles in the skillet uncooked and to stir vigorously for 20 minutes while they cooked because if you don't stir them they clump together and stick to the bottom of the skillet.  I did it this way and wished I didn't.  I turned away for two seconds to rinse out a dish and, sure enough, my noodles clumped and stuck to my skillet.  Never again.  No way.  Stirring for twenty minutes was such a time waster; trust me, just boil your noodles separately.

** I didn't have fresh basil; I had a basil paste I stirred in with the seasonings and it really increased the flavor.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

I made this recipe from here and it was SO good.  We loved it.  But maybe it's because we live in Australia and we just really miss this kind of food.  I bought a rotisserie chicken, shredded it and used a packet of chicken taco seasoning to make the chicken taco meat.

1/3 C (3 oz) cream cheese
1/4 C green salsa
1T fresh lime juice
1/2 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/4 t granulated garlic, or garlic powder
3 T chopped cilantro
2 T sliced green onions
2 C shredded cooked chicken taco meat
1 C grated pepperjack cheese
small corn tortillas
kosher salt
cooking spray

Heat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.  Heat cream cheese in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds so it’s soft and easy to stir. Add green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and granulated garlic. Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions. Add chicken and cheese and combine well.

You can prepare up to this step ahead of time. Just keep the mixture in the fridge. 

Work with a few tortillas at a time and heat in the microwave until they are soft enough to roll without cracking. It helps to place them between damp paper towels, usually 20-30 seconds will do it. If you find yours are cracking when you roll them or are coming unrolled right away, just try heating them longer and try the paper towel thing. Place 2-3 T of chicken mixture on the lower third of a tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges.
Then roll it up as tight as you can.

Place seam side down on the baking sheet. Lay all of the taquitos on the baking sheet and make sure they are not touching each other. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray or an oil mister and sprinkle some kosher salt on top. Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown.

Makes 12-16

Freezer Instructions: Prepare the taquitos through rolling them out and placing them on the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze until solid, then transfer to a large freezer bag. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425 and place the taquitos on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Saltine Toffee

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed tightly
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
40 saltine crackers

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 15x10-inch jelly roll pan or a 12x17-inch cookie sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Lay a flat layer of crackers out on the foil. Melt the sugar and butter until a boil is reached. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes or until mixture is thickened and sugar is completely dissolved. Pour this mixture over the crackers and spread to coat evenly. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the toffee becomes bubbly. After removing the pan from the oven, let it sit for 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips, let them soften and melt, and then spread them into an even layer. (You can add nuts, cracker crumbs, crushed candy cane or whatever else floats your boat at this point.) Let cool and, if desired for expediting purposes, refrigerate until hardened. Break into pieces the size of your choice.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Homemade Coffee Creamer

Can of fat-free sweetened, condensed milk
Vanilla extract

Pour the can of sweetened, condensed milk in a large, clean bottle.  Using the empty can, pour the same amount of regular milk into the sweetened milk can and add to the water bottle.  Add half of a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the milk, put the lid on your bottle and shake until combined.  Continue adding milk until desired sweetness is achieved.  Keep refrigerated.

I wouldn't use this in place of a bottle of Coffee Mate, especially when they have their delicious seasonal flavors out, but I would keep a can of the sweetened, condensed milk in my pantry for those annoying times when you've just run out of creamer and don't want to run to the store just to buy some.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

from Betty Crocker

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)


1. Heat oven to 375ºF.
2. Mix sugars, butter, vanilla and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt   (dough will be stiff). Stir in chocolate chips. 
3. Refrigerate dough for an hour.
4. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.
5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown (centers will be soft). Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack. 

*So here's my tidbit of information:  I don't make them all at once.  I put the cookie dough in one of those reusable plastic containers and just keep it in the fridge.  I'll make a handful at a time so they're always really fresh.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Soft, Thick Sugar Cookies

These cookies taste just like the soft sugar cookies found in the store; we loved them.

1 18 oz box white cake mix with pudding in the mix
2/3 cup flour
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
2 T sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together cake mix and flour.  Add eggs, oil and sour cream and mix on medium speed until incorporated.  Batter will be fairly stiff.  Use a cookie scoop or roll into approximately one inch balls and bake on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper.  This will help keep the bottoms of the cookies from browning.  Use the heel of your hand or a glass dusted with sugar to gently flatten cookies to about a half inch thick.  You don't want the bottoms to be browned or you've over-baked these.  Bake approximately ten minutes until just set.  Let cool about one minute on the pan and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Frost with your favorite frosting. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Best-Ever Banana Bread

The original recipe makes 4 7x3 inch loaves, but I have always halved it.

1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, softened
3 cups white sugar
3 eggs
6 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 (16 ounce) container sour cream, Greek yogurt or whatever yogurt is in the fridge
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease four 7x3 inch loaf pans. In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup white sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Dust pans lightly with cinnamon and sugar mixture.

In a large bowl, cream butter and 3 cups sugar. Mix in eggs, mashed bananas, sour cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix in salt, baking soda and flour. Stir in nuts. Divide into prepared pans.

Bake for 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lemon and Dill Tuna

4 oz can of tuna, drained
3T fresh dill, chopped
zest of one lemon
juice of the zested lemon
dill pickle, chopped
2 spoonfuls of pickle juice
stalk of celery, diced
mayonnaise, to desired consistency
sea salt and pepper to taste

Place all of the above ingredients in a small mixing bowl and stir to combine.  Refrigerate overnight for maximum flavor; however, it's still delicious if eaten right away.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Birthday Cake Fudge

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
3 1/2 cups white chocolate chips (about 1 3/4 bags)
3 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Almond Extract

Pour milk and white chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 2-3 minutes, or until white chocolate is almost completely melted. DO NOT OVERHEAT. Stir until completely blended, melted, and smooth.
Immediately add vanilla and almond extract and combine thoroughly. Add a handful or so of rainbow sprinkles and fold in quickly because they will melt (and if they are stirred for too long they’ll turn the fudge an ugly gray color).
Transfer to an aluminum-foil lined or well-greased 8×8 inch baking pan for very thick fudge, or a 11X7 inch pan. Let set at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Once set, remove form foil and cut into cubes. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.