Monday, December 14, 2009

Easy Cream Cheese Appetizer

Lots of sauces poured over a block of cream cheese make a great pairing with crackers for a super-easy appetizer.

Some of my favorite sauces:
Fischer Wieser Raspberry Chipotle Sauce
Fischer Wieser Blueberry Chipotle Sauce
Jalapeno Jelly

My favorite crackers to serve this appetizer with are Wheat Thins.


Grown-Up Rice Krispies Treats

PREP: 15 minutes

3 Tbsp butter or margarine
5 cups miniature marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 cup sunflower kernels, pre-roasted and salted
1 cup dried cranberries

1. In a large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
2. Add cereal, sunflower kernels, and cranberries. Stir until well coated.
3. Using a buttered spatula or fingers, evenly press mixture into a 8x12" pan coated with cooking spray. Let cool for 15 minutes. Cut into 2" squares.

Sweet & Tangy Meatballs

30-40 meatballs (homestyle, not Italian-flavored)
1 jar grape jelly
1 jar chili sauce

Place meatballs in a crock pot and pour jelly and chili sauce over the top. Heat on HIGH for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to LOW for another 30 minutes, then maintain on LOW or WARM while serving.

These are a delicious, easy appetizer for parties!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Easy Pasta with Sausage & Broccoli

*adapted from Real Simple, September 2009

PREP: 20 minutes

12 oz rigatoni (about 4 1/2 cups)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
6 oz fully cooked chicken (or turkey) sausage links, sliced
1 small head broccoli, cut into florets and stems sliced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1 oz)

1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage, stirring until browned, about 3 minutes. Add the onion and broccoli, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add 1 1/4 cups water and simmer, covered, until the broccoli is tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
3. Toss the pasta with the sausage mixture and any remaining liquid and the Parmesan.

Not Your Mama's Meatloaf

*adapted from "Brown Sugar Meatloaf", this is a slightly healthier version

PREP: 20 minutes
COOK TIME: 1 hour

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup ketchup
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound lean ground turkey
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 cup wheat bread crumbs
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 2 1/2 quart baking dish.
2. Mix the brown sugar and ketchup in a small bowl. Spread 1/3 of the brown sugar and ketchup mixture in the bottom of the baking dish.
3. In a large mixing bowl, mix thoroughly all remaining ingredients. Scoop meat mixture into the baking dish and then top with the rest of the brown sugar and ketchup mixture.
4. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour, or until juices are clear.

I recommend serving this with Denise's Mashed Potatoes.

Denise's Mashed Potatoes

potatoes (whatever type you like to make mashed potatoes from)
cream cheese
garlic powder
onion powder
Italian seasoning
salt & pepper

Remove about half of the potato skins. Boil potatoes until soft. Drain and mash potatoes, adding the other ingredients to taste.

Enjoy lots of oohs and ahhs over your delicious mashed potatoes!

Gail's Bean Soup


bean soup mix (~16-oz. pkg.; discard the seasoning pkg. in the bag)
1/2 - 3/4 lb. ham, diced
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can whole tomatoes
*optional: add garlic, onion or onion powder, or pepper for additional flavor

Soak beans overnight in a covered container.

DIRECTIONS (with a crock pot):
Combine all ingredients and add enough water to cover. Cook on high for at least 4 hours, or on low for at least 8 hours.

DIRECTIONS (without a crock pot):
Combine all ingredients and add enough water to cover. Bring to boil and then simmer for 3 hours.

I recommend serving this with cornbread!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

PREP: 30 minutes

8 oz tub of cream cheese spread
16 slices of wheat, rye, or white bread
2 cucumbers, skinned and sliced very thinly

-use chive and onion cream cheese, or
-finely chop 1/4 cup fresh mint and mix with plain cream cheese, or
-finely chop 1/4 cup fresh dill and mix with plain cream cheese (this is my personal favorite)

Spread a thin layer of the cream cheese mixture of your choice on each slice of bread. Evenly distribute cucumber slices (1-2 thick) on 8 slices of bread. Use the other 8 slices of bread to complete the sandwiches, then slice off the crusts and cut each sandwich diagonally. Keep sandwiches chilled, but dry, and serve within 4-6 hours.

Chicken and Dumplings

PREP: 1 hour, with pressure cooker

1 whole frying chicken
3 stalks celery, sliced
4 carrots, sliced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1/2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp thyme
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp Tabasco or Cholula sauce, optional
1/2 cup peas, optional
3 1/4 cups Bisquick mix
1 cup milk

Pressure cook the chicken with salt and pepper and enough water to cover 2/3 of the chicken for 30 minutes (time starts after pressure valve starts wobbling). Or, if not using pressure cooker, simmer partly covered for 2 hours. Cool and debone, reserving the broth and chicken and discarding everything else. Cut larger pieces of chicken into bite-sized pieces.

For the dumplings, mix Bisquick and milk to make a dry dough. Bring broth back to a slow boil and add in small spoonfuls of the dough. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes, then add chicken and all other ingredients and simmer, covered, for 10 more minutes. Add more water/broth, or simmer uncovered on low to allow to thicken, depending on desired consistency.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Katrina's Rhodes Sticky Buns

PREP: 10 minutes (the night before)
COOK: 30 minutes
SERVES: 8-10 main dish servings

1 bag frozen Rhodes rolls (use only 20)
1 small box vanilla (NOT INSTANT) pudding
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Place rolls in a bundt pan. Melt butter and drizzle over rolls. Combine dry ingredients and sprinkle over all. Cover loosely with plastic wrap with room for rolls to rise. Let rise at room temperature over night. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool for 5-10 minutes then turn out onto a plate. Serve warm.

Denise's Modified INGREDIENTS:
1 bag frozen Rhodes rolls (use only 20)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Denise's Modified DIRECTIONS:
Follow original directions except space rolls evenly in an 8x12" baking dish instead of a bundt pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until tops of rolls are golden brown.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Athene's Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Crackers

Spread peanut butter between pairs of Ritz crackers (or use store-bought peanut butter crackers). Dip them in melted chocolate or white chocolate and allow to cool on wax/baking paper.


These can easily be decorated with white chocolate that's been colored for holidays or special occasions.

Denise's Greek Pasta Creation

This was a last-minute attempt to use some veggies I got at the farmer's market, after our stomachs' had already begun to growl. Thankfully, it was a huge success--both in flavor and easiness.

Prep: 20 minutes
Serves: 4-6 (or a nursing mom, her husband, a pregnant woman, and a 2-year-old)

3 zucchini
2 cups cut (in half) cherry tomatoes
1 small red onion, diced
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 container crumbled feta cheese
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2-3 cups frozen cooked shrimp
8-12 oz. wheat pasta (penne rigate or spiral)
1/2 tsp. oregano
salt & pepper to taste
*this would probably also go well with some black olives, although I didn't have any on hand

1. Start water to boil for pasta. While waiting for water to boil, chop vegetables and thaw shrimp under cold water. Cook pasta al dente according to directions.
2. In a large skillet, sautee zucchini, red onion, and garlic in 1 Tbsp. olive oil for 2 minutes. Add shrimp, tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper, and the rest of the olive oil. Stir on medium heat for 3 minutes.
3. Drain pasta and toss into vegetables with feta cheese. Stir until cheese melts. Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Gail's Nilla Wafer Snacks

Nilla wafers
peanut butter

Top nilla wafers with peanut butter. Slice banana and place slices on top of wafers with peanut butter. Enjoy!

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups oat flour (if you cannot find oat flour, put oats into a blender and grind until fine powder)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup nuts, finely chopped (optional)
2 cups chocolate chips (semi-sweet)

Roll into 1-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until slightly golden.

Thanks, Eryn, for passing along this recipe!

Rock Star Salad

1. baby spinach OR spring mix lettuce
2. strawberries, cut up
3. craisins OR dried cherries
4. walnuts (crumbled by hand into smaller pieces or bought already crumbled, don't send them through your chopper b/c they'll be too small)
5. crumbled feta cheese
6. Brianna's "BlushWine vinaigrette" (pic of a strawberry on the bottle) OR "real French vinaigrette" (pic of an artichoke on the bottle) salad dressing -- you can see pics here:

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and drizzle dressing on top right before serving. Toss a few times to make sure there's enough dressing and that it's mixed in well.

Any combination of the above ingredients, and you're going to have guests raving!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Chuy's (Copy Cat) Creamy Jalapeno Dip

Prep: 5-10 minutes

1 1/3 cups mayonnaise
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup chopped jalapenos (can buy in a jar, then drain the amount you need)
1/3 cup green chilies (1 sm. can)
1/4 cup cilantro leaf
1 (1 oz.) packet dry ranch dressing mix

Mix ingredients in a blender or food processor, until smooth. If time permits, chill in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours to allow flavors to meld.
Serve with tortilla chips.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Jenn's Bacon Appetizer Crescents

*adapted from Kraft Foods

1 pkg (8oz.) low fat cream cheese, softened
8 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup onion, minced
2 tsp. dried parsley
1 Tbsp. milk
2 cans (8 oz. each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients, except crescent rolls, until well blended; set aside.
2. Separate each can of dough into four rectangles; firmly press perforations together to seal. Spread each rectangle with 2 rounded tablespoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture. Cut the dough lengthwise into 4 equal pieces. Roll up and place on baking sheet.
3. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Pumpkin Bread

*adapted from "Pumpkin Bread IV"

Serves: 36


3 cans pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 cups white sugar
6 eggs
4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 8 mini-loaf pans.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, oil, sugar, and eggs. Combine all other ingredients. Stir into the pumpkin mixture until well-blended. Divide the batter evenly between prepared pans.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes. The top of the loaf should spring back when lightly pressed.

*This recipe originally called for "3 cups of canned pumpkin puree," but I mistakenly added "3 cans of pumpkin puree". The color was much richer than the picture on, the pumpkin flavor was great, and the bread was very moist. In fact, I didn't realize I had made a mistake until I started typing this recipe on the blog.
**Know that if you make it with the "3 cups" like the recipe originally called for, that it'll only fill up 3 regular-sized loaf pans.

*adapted from "Pumpkin Bread IV"

Kendall's Chocolate Chip Bars

Yield: 20-24 small bars

2/3 cup margarine/butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Melt butter and mix with brown sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Add baking powder, soda, salt, and flour. Add chocolate chips.

Grease a 9"x12" pan, then bake at 325 degrees for 30-33 minutes.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Katrina's Cinnamon Swirl Breakfast

2 bags Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Swirl Raisin bread
8 eggs
3 cups milk
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Lay 6 pieces of cinamon swirl raisin bread in bottom of 9x13 baking dish. Layer 12 more pieces on top to create 3 layers. Mix eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour mixture over bread; cover and sit overnight in refrigerator. In the morning mix brown sugar, softened butter, pecans, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon into a paste; then spread over top of casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Any's Picadillo

1 lb. ground beef with no fat
6 Spanish olives
2 small potatoes, diced small
2 Tbsp. of olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt (add more to taste, if desired)
1/2 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
1 small can of tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cooking or regular wine, divided
1/2 cup frozen peas, optional

Peel potatoes and dice them. Brown meat. Add potatoes, peas, olives, bay leaf, 1/4 cup wine, and tomato sauce. Stir constantly for about 3 minutes adding olive oil. Add salt and oregano. Bring heat completely down, almost to low. Cover pot. Cook for about 25 minutes; add the other 1/4 cup wine, then simmer 5 more minutes. Let it cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with white rice and black beans.

Strawberry Shortcakes

Serves: 6

4 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/3 cups Bisquick mix
1/2 cup milk
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
whipped cream or cool whip

Mix strawberries and 1/2 cup sugar, set aside. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Stir Bisquick, milk, 3 Tbsp. sugar, and butter until soft dough forms. Drop by 6 spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Split warm shortcakes; fill and top with strawberries and whipped topping.

Green Beans with Almonds

Serves: 7

2 lbs. fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
2 slices bacon
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Remove both ends of beans, break in half, and wash thoroughly. Place in a large pot and add water 3-4 inches from the top. Add bacon and cook unitl tender. Remove bacon from cooking water and discard. Remove beans and place in a large bowl, add almonds, and toss. Serve hot!


Rebekah's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yields: 3.5 dozen

2/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cup flour
12 oz. pkg. chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet. (Use airbake cookie sheets for best results.) Bake 10-12 minutes or until light brown. Cool slightly before removing.

Chocolate Caramel Dessert

1 box Devil's food cake
caramel topping
cool whip
toffee chips

Bake cake as directed on box. Once cooled, punch holes with a toothpick. Pour and smooth caramel topping on top. Once it soaks into the cake, top with cool whip and sprinkle with toffee chips.

Eryn's Ginger Molasses Cookies

Serves: 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. salt

Cream butter, sour cream and sugar. Add eggs and molasses. Mix in remaining ingrediens. Wet hands and roll inot 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in granulated sugar (to coat) and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until light brown. Don't overbake.

Morgan's Oven-Fried Chicken Parmesan

Serves: 4

4 chicken breasts
1 egg beaten
1 Tbsp. milk
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup flour
dash pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dip chicken in egg/milk. Then dip in mixture of cheese and seasonings. Place in 12x8 baking dish Pour butter over chicken. Bake 1 hour.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Steal-the-Show Meatballs

1 pkg. meatballs (not Italian-flavored)
1 jar chili sauce (found near ketchup)
1 jar grape jelly

Add all ingredients to a crock pot and cook on high for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and cook another hour. Reduce to warm and serve with toothpicks.

Yankee Style Chili

1 can Ranch style beans
1 can tomato soup
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
onion to taste, chopped
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. chili powder

Brown meat, onion, and pepper in large sauce pan. Drain. Add soup, Worcestershire sauce, undrained beans, chili powder, and 1-1.5 cups of water. Simmer until thickened.

Serve with Pampered Chef Cornbread.

Pampered Chef Cornbread

2 pkgs. cornbread mix
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2/3 cup milk
1 11-oz. can Mexican-style corn, drained

Combine ingredients and mix well. Pour into 2 greased round pans or greased muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Gail's Banana Bread

1 stick margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3-4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, optional

Mix ingredients in order. Pour into greased and floured bread molds or greased muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Less baking time required for muffins.)

Jalapeno-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Serves: 6

2 12-oz. pork tenderloins
1 10.5-oz. jar jalapeno jelly
2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Sprinkle pork tenderloins with salt and pepper and brown in hot oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer to a lightly greased 9x13 baking dish. Whisk together jelly and mustard, and our over pork tenderloins. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (or until internal temperature reaches 150-165 degrees), basting occasionally. Let rest 10 minutes; slice and serve with sauce from pan.

Jim's Authentic Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves: 6

8 oz bag of spaghetti
half an onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2/3 lb. bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
white wine
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
6 eggs
1 Tbsp. dried oregano

1. Cook pasta according to package.
2. Fry bacon and saute onion in a pan. Pour out half the grease and add in 1/4 stick of butter while bacon is almost cooked. When bacon is cooked, but not hard, add a 1/4 cup of wine and let it saute 5 minutes on low.
3. While bacon is cooking, scramble eggs in a large ceramic bowl (eventually the hot spaghetti will be put in this bowl and it will cook the egg.) Mix in the Parmesan thoroughly until it has a soupy consistency. Add oregano and mix.
4. Add 3 Tbsp. of white wine and simmer 2 more minutes. (There should be at least 1/4 cup grease/butter/wine mixture left to help coat the pasta.)
5. Pour bacon mixture and spaghetti into bowl of egg mixture. Stir gently until coated evenly. Salt to taste.

Serve while hot!

*By the way, I call this recipe "authentic" because my dad learned it from the mother of an Italian exchange student when he visited them in Italy.

Eryn's Turkey Meatballs

Serves: 10-12

4 lbs. ground turkey
3 eggs
2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. pepper
1 small onion, chopped
3 Tbsp. olive oil
9 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
8 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 large green peppers
2 15-oz. cans pineapple chunks

Mix turkey and eggs in large bowl. Roll into balls and place in crock pot. Cook on high for one hour. Then mix and add remaining ingredients. Let simmer all day, or at least for 4 hours.

Serve over rice.

Faster cooking alternative:
Instead of using a crock pot, place meatballs in a large saucepan and cook on medium until browned around outsides. Then add and mix in remaining ingredients. Simmer 20-30 minutes and serve. This option works best when recipe is halved.

Note: This recipe can easily be halved.

Gail's Bean Soup

bean soup mix (~16 oz. bag), ignore provided seasoning mix
ham, diced
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can whole tomatoes

Soak beans overnight. Bring all ingredients to boil in a large pot and let simmer for 3 hours.

Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip

Prep: 40 minutes
Serves: 12

1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste
1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a small baking dish.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together everything except mozzarella cheese, artichoke hearts, and spinach. Gently stir in artichoke hearts and spinach.
3. Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in the preheated oven 25 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned.

Serve with pita chips (lightly broiled with olive oil and salt), tortilla chips, or crusty slices of French baguette.

Aunt Jan's Sugar Cookies

*Please ignore the bites taken out of some of these cookies...Contessa obviously couldn't wait for me to take a picture before sampling them. They're just THAT good!

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups powdered sugar (or 1 cup powdered and 1 cup granulated sugar)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cream of tartar, optional
4 1/2 - 5 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix margarine, oil, and all sugar. Then add vanilla and beaten eggs. Mix well. Soft dry ingredients and add to sugar mixture. Dough will be very soft.

1. Roll into small balls and roll in sugar/cinnamon mixture. Press down lightly witha glass on ungreased cookie sheet.
2. Chill dough for 30 minutes. Roll out 1/4-inch thick, cut out with cookie cutters; ice/sprinkle after baking.
3. Use cookie press.

Bake until very lightly golden. (8 minutes?)

Morgan's Wild Rice Salad

Serves: 6

1 cup wild rice
2 3/4 cups boiling water
salt & pepper
3/4 cup walnuts
2 large seedless oranges (or 1-2 cans Mandarin orange slices)
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp. grated orange zest
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. walnut oil
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley

Boil water, lower heat, cover and cook rice 40 minutes. Remove, drain, and let cool. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread walnuts on baking sheet and bake until golden, 5-8 minutes. Remove and let cool; chop coarsely. Slice oranges and set aside. In another bowl whisk together vinegar, orange juice, zest, oils and salt/pepper to taste. Add walnuts and parsley to cooled rice. Pour the dressing and toss to mix. Arrange oranges around the edges of dish.

Dempsey Jell-O Squares

Serves: 1-2 dozen (1-2 jello squares each)

3 small (3 oz) boxes of jello
4 Knox packages (one box has 4 packages)

Pour 2 cups of cool water into a bowl. Sprinkle all the Knox packages into the water. Then add the boxes of jello. Now add 2 cups of boiling water. Stir mixture for about 2 minutes to make sure jello is dissolved. Pour into a 9x13 dish and put into the refrigerator for about 2 hours to jell. Cut up and serve.

Gail's Spiced Tea

2 cups of Tang
1 cup of instant tea
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Use 3 Tablespoons of mixture per cup of hot water.

Speedy Chicken Stir Fry


Serves: 4
Prep: 25 minutes

8 oz. angel hair pasta (capellini), uncooked
2 cups small broccoli florets
1 lb. (or 3 large) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup KRAFT Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. each: ground ginger, garlic powder, crushed red pepper
1/3 cup chopped PLANTERS Dry Roasted Peanuts

COOK pasta as directed on package, adding broccoli to the boiling water for the last 3 min. of the pasta cooking time.
MEANWHILE, spray large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat on medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 6 to 8 min. or until cooked through, stirring occasionally. Stir in dressing, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and crushed red pepper; cook 1 min., stirring occasionally.
DRAIN pasta mixture; place in large bowl. Add chicken mixture; mix lightly. Spoon evenly into four serving bowls; sprinkle with the peanuts.

*Instead of broccoli, substitute whatever vegetables you have on hand, such as snow peas, sliced bell peppers, sliced carrots or chopped red onions, for the broccoli.

Erica's Italian Pasta Bake

Serves: 6

2 Tbsp. olive oil
12 oz. hot or mild Italian sausages (use turkey sausages for a healthier alternative)
3 sweet peppers (assorted colors)
1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 jar tomato-basil pasta sauce
1 can Italian-seasoned diced tomatoes
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
12-16 oz. penne or other small tube-shaped pasta
1 1/2 cups grated Fontina or mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

1. Prick skins of sausages with a fork. In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp. of the oil over medium-high heat; cook sausages for 5 minutes or until browned on all sides. (Sausages will not be cooked through.) Remove from pan, cut into slices and reserve.
2. Add remaining oil to pan. Add peppers, onion, garlic, basil, and oregano; cook, stirring often, for 7 minutes or until softened.
3. Return sausage slices to pan along with jar of pasta sauce and canned tomatoes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary.
4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but firm. Drain well. Add the pasta to the sauce in Dutch oven (or layer/mix into a large baking dish) and stir gently to combine.
5. In a bowl combine Fontina and Romano cheese; sprinkle over the top of casserole. Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly colored.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Prep: 20 minutes
Serves: 4
Ready in: 35 minutes

16 Boston Bibb or butter lettuce leaves
1 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
1 Tbsp. cooking oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tsp. minced pickled ginger
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
Asian chile pepper sauce (opt.)
1 8-oz. can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 tsp. Asian (dark) sesame oil

1. Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not to tear them. Set aside.
2. In a medium skillet over high heat, brown the ground beef in oil. Add the onion and saute 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar, and chile pepper sauce. Stir in chopped water chestnuts, green onions, and sesame oil, and continue cooking until the onions just beginning to wilt, about 5 minutes.
3. Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter, and pile meat mixture int eh center. To serve, allow each person to spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf. Wrap the lettuce around the meat like a burrito. Have napkins ready, it can be a bit messy.

Strawberry Fruit Dip

Serves: 10

1 8-oz. tub of strawberry cream cheese spread
1/2 cup chopped strawberries
1/4 tsp. grated lemon peel
2 tsp. lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour for flavors to blend. Serve with assorted cut fresh fruit.

Texas Two-Step Soup

Serves: 8
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes

1 1.61-oz. pkg. brown gravy mix
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1 tsp. ground cumin (opt.)
1 tsp. dried minced onion
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
10-12 tortilla chips, crushed
2 cups wagon wheel pasta, uncooked
1/2 lb. ground beef or turkey, browned
7 cups water
1 15-oz. can corn with red and green bell peppers
1 16-oz. can crushed tomatoes

Brown ground beef or turkey in large saucepan. Add gravy mix, chili powder, oregano, cumin, minced onion, garlic salt, tortilla chips, pasta, and water. Heat to boiling. Stir in cans of corn and tomatoes. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.

Serve with: tortilla chips, sour cream, and grated Monterey Jack cheese

Hash Brown Strata

Prep: 15 minutes
Bake: 40 minutes
Serves: 6, main-dish servings

nonstick cooking spray
2 cups frozen loose-pack diced hash brown potatoes with onion and peppers
1 cup cut broccoli florets
1/3 cup finely chopped turkey ham (about 2 oz.)
1/3 cup evaporated fat-free milk
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 8-oz cartons refrigerated egg product
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese (2 oz.)
1 Tbsp. snipped fresh basil (or 1/2 tsp. dried basil, crushed)
1/4 tsp. black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 2-qt. square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange hash brown potatoes and broccoli in bottom of baking dish; top with turkey ham. Set aside.
2. Stir milk gradually into flour in a medium bowl. Si tr in egg product, half the cheese, the snipped or dried basil, and black pepper. Pour egg mixture over vegetables.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Make-ahead tip: Assemble as above, but do not bake. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 24 ours. Before serving, remove cover and bake as directed above.

*From Better Homes & Gardens

Aunt Jan's Peppermint Pound Cake

1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp. peppermint extract
1 tsp. butter flavoring
1/2 tsp. red color
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups flour
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. soda
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1/4 cup crushed peppermint candy

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Mix well. Add peppermint extract, butter flavoring, and red food color (or add last and swirl through batter), and salt. Alternate flour and buttermilk. Mix soda and vinegar in small bowl then add to above mixture. Blend well. Fold in crushed peppermint candy. Pour into a bundt pan, greased and floured. Bake at a325 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake.

Serve with cool whip with crushed peppermints mixed in.

Rebekah's Peanut Broccoli Salad

3 med-sized bunches broccoli, chopped to bite size
1/2 chopped red onion
1 1/2 cup craisins
1/2 cup salty peanuts
1 1/2 cup light mayo
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. vinegar
salt & pepper (optional)
1/2 lb. real bacon, fried and crumbled (optional)

Mix together mayo, sugar, and vinegar until smooth. Mix with other ingredients (4 hour max before serving so peanuts do not get soggy). Serves enough to share at a barbeque.

Katrina's Nutty Cole Slaw

Serves: 12-24 depending on if it's the primary side dish or one of many at a potluck
Prep: 20 minutes

1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup sunflower kernels
1 Tbsp. butter
6 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 cup salad oil (I use vegetable)
8-cup package shredded cole slaw
1/2 cup sliced green onions (or sub. a little onion powder)
2 3-oz. packages of ramen noodles, broken

Saute almonds an sunflower kernels in butter in skillet for 2-3 minutes. Drain. Combine rice vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and oil in a bowl. Mix well. Toss almond mixture, cole slaw mix, green onions, and ramen noodles in salad bowl. Add the ramen when you are about to serve it to reduce the chance of soggy noodles.

Note: this recipe could easily be halved.

*This is my favorite side dish to make for summer BBQ's, with pulled pork sandwiches, to serve alongside burgers, or to bring to a pot luck. It's ALWAYS a hit!!!

Eryn's Chili Soup

1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 bell peppers, choopped
4 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 tsp. garlic powder)
2 cans kidney beans
2 cans black beans
1 quart stewed tomatoes
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt to taste
4 cups water
2 Tbsp. basil, chopped

Brown meat, onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to boil. Simmer on low for 2 hours, if possible, though it can be served immediately after boiling.

Gail's Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti

Note: This recipe makes double amount.

8 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
24 oz. spaghetti
10-oz. package frozen seasoning blend or seasoning vegetables (frozen chopped onion, bell pepper, celery, & parsley)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can diced Rotel tomatoes, drained
2 4.5-oz cans chopped green chilies (or only one can for milder spice)
2/3 of a 2-lb. box Velveeta cheese, melted
1 cup cheddar cheese
1/3 cup milk
salt to taste

Cook chicken in water until tender. Reserve the water and use it to cook the spaghetti and seasoning blend together. When the spaghetti is done, let it sit in the water (about 15 minutes) until most of the broth is absorbed.

Add chicken to spaghetti along with remaining ingredients. Toss gently until mixed. Spoon into 2 greased pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Note: This recipe freezes well.

1000-Angels' Cheese Danish by Rebekah

Serves: 24 (small portions)

2 pkg. Pillsbury crescent rolls
2 pkg. (80z.) cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg yolk + 1 egg white

Lay out one crescent roll's dough across the bottom of a greased 9x13 glass casserole dish. Mix cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and egg yolk using an electric mixer. Spread the cream cheese mixture on top of the dough, covering evenly. Layer the second crescent roll's dough across the top. Brush on beaten egg white.
Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees until top is golden brown. Let cool and cut into squares for serving.
Optional: sprinkle top with cinnamon sugar.

Alternate: You may also make 12 independent danishes by breaking apart the crescent rolls, placing a dollop of the cream cheese mixture on each triangle, then folding the dough over the cheese mixture as desired. Bake on cookie sheet or in a glass casserole dish (spread danishes apart so they do no t touch.)

Eryn's Strauganoff in Crock Pot

Serves: 10

3 lbs. round steak
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cans beef broth
3 1/2 cups sour cream
3 large onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced (or 2 tsp. garlic powder)
1/2 tsp. salt and pepper, to taste
2 packages of egg noodles, cooked

Mix all ingredients, except noodles, together in crock pot and cook all day, or for 8 hours. Serve on top of noodles.

Recommended: Serve with salad and garlic bread

Morgan's Tortilla Soup

Serves: 12
Prep: 1 hour

4 chicken breasts
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick butter
2 cans Rotel tomatoes
10-12 corn tortillas
garlic salt to taste
2-3 lemons
3 Tablespoons cilantro
3 yellow squash, chopped
red bell pepper, diced
additional chicken broth
sweet corn
cooked rice (optional)

Serve on the side:
grated monterey jack or cheddar cheese
extra cilantro
chopped avocado
tortilla chips
sour cream

1. In a large stock pot, boil chicken breast until done, adding salt and pepper to stock if you like. While chicken is boiling, juice lemons, chop cilantro, cut tortillas into 1-inch squares.
2. Saute onions and garlic in butter, and add squash and red bell pepper a few minutes before onions are fully translucent.
3. When chicken is done, save stock and tear chicken into bite size pieces. Add all prepared ingredients to stock (except cilantro which needs to be added just before serving.) Simmer on low for 20 minutes.