Monday, March 23, 2009

Our FAVORITE Chicken Recipe!!!

OK, so I don't know about everyone else, but I've gotten SICK of paying high prices for things! Like Chicken. I can't stand paying $4 a pound for chicken meat!!!
I thought it was worth it because I thought the white meat was SO much better for you than the dark meat...but I found that there's not really that much difference in the nutritional value after all. And, I have always preferred dark meat over white anyway.
SO, I kept seeing whole chickens at the grocery store for less than $1 a fact, this week they were $.78 a pound! Who can beat that? You can't get any meat for $.78 a pound! Except whole chicken that is!
So, I found an AMAZINGLY tasty and simple way to prepare whole chicken that gives you the best flavor!!! It's a rotisserie style chicken, but it's cooked in the crockpot! So, you can cook it while you're home or not, and you don't have to worry about it drying out, even if you can't get it out right away! :-)
This chicken is so good, and so simple, and so cheap, that I started buying a whole chicken every week or two and cooking it up in the crockpot. Then, I pull apart the meat (the WHOLE CHICKEN FALLS APART, so it's so easy!) and stick it in a gallon size ziploc bag and toss it into the freezer. Then, as I need it for a recipe, I pull out my cooked chicken and add to pasta recipes, salads, soup, anything that calls for cooked chicken! It's SOO easy! Why pay $4 or more per pound for cooked chicken, when it's so simple to do for less than $1! :-)
I pay about $3.75 for a whole chicken, and it lasts for usually 3 full meals for my family! (I usually use a little less meat than recipes call for, just to stretch our dollars) But, you can't beat that!

So, without further delay, here it is...

Our FAVORITE Chicken Recipe

1 whole chicken
2 Tbsp homemade rotisserie chicken seasoning (see below)
2 Tbsp olive oil
aluminum foil

1. Take 5 pieces of aluminum foil and scrunch up into balls, about 1" around. Place the foil balls at the bottom of the crockpot. These will be used to set the chicken on, so it stays up out of it's juices, cooking it rotisserie style.
2. Rinse chicken off. Drizzle oil over chicken and rub around to cover whole chicken. Sprinkle seasoning all over chicken. I usually add a little inside too, just to add flavor to the meat.
3. Place in crockpot and cook on high for about 5 hours.

What's the ONLY thing better than rotisserie chicken? Rotisserie chicken with Gravy!

Just pour the meat drippings into a small saucepan over medium high heat. Whisk together 2 cups cold water with about 3 Tbsp flour. Add flour mixture to meat drippings and whisk until well blended. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook until thickened.

Rotisserie Style Chicken Seasoning:
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tsp sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix together ingredients. Store in pantry.

Grands Mini Pizzas

I found this recipe on and thought it was a great idea! Super quick and easy. Great way for the kids to help in the kitchen! We made some with pepperoni, and I used some pre-cooked bacon for the kids (they LOVE bacon pizza). Tasted pretty good...certainly not home made...but very tasty!

Grands Mini Pizzas

1 can (16.3 oz) Pillsbury® Grands!® refrigerated biscuits (any variety)
1 cup pizza sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz)
1/2 package (3.5-oz size) sliced pepperoni or other pizza toppings, as desired

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Press each biscuit into 6-inch round. Place on 2 large or 3 small greased cookie sheets.
2. Top each biscuit with pizza sauce, cheese and pepperoni (and/or other pizza toppings).
3. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until bottoms are deep golden brown and cheese is bubbly.

Bone Fish Grill's Raspberry Martini

OK, so I don't drink fact, I don't like the taste of most drinks at all. BUT, I have found a few drinks here and there that I'm particularly fond of. This is one of my favorites! Enjoy!

Raspberry Martini

1.25oz stoli raz
.75oz razmatazz
.5oz sprite
.5oz Simply Lemonade (found in refrigerated section of grocery store)
a skewer of raspberries (optional)

*You can use sour mix instead of the lemonade, but I've read that the simply lemonade is a closer match to what they use at Bone Fish

Baked Onion Dip

This is a recipe from Mona Rosenberger...and it was SOOOOO good! Everyone loved it! I don't know where the original recipe is, but this is her modified version :-)

Baked Onion Dip

1 Tbsp margarine
1 large sweet onion, diced (about 1/2 cup diced)
2/3 cup light Mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
½ tsp. hot pepper sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt margarine in a large skillet on medium heat. Add onions; cook 5 to 7 min. or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.
2. Mix mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese, parsley and pepper sauce in medium bowl. Stir in onions. Spoon into baking dish.
3. Bake 25 min. or until heated through.

Serve with triscuits, crackers, tortilla chips.

Florentine Chicken Soup

This one came from the Taste of Home Casseroles, Slow Cooker and Soups book. It was very yummy and SUPER EASY!

1 cup uncooked penne pasta
6 oz cooked chicken breasts, diced
4 cups chopped fresh spinach
7 oz roasted sweet red peppers, drained and sliced
3 fresh rosemary sprigs, chopped (or 1 tsp dried rosemary)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp butter
3 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup Alfredo sauce
3 Tbsp prepared pesto
2 Tbsp pine nuts
1 Tbsp shredded Parmesan

1. Cook pasta according to directions on package.
2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, saute the chicken, spinach, red peppers, rosemary, garlic powder and pepper in butter until spinach is wilted. Stir in the broth, Alfredo sauce and pesto; cook for 4-5 minutes or until heated through.
3. Drain pasta and add to the soup. Sprinkle with pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


This is the recipe I used to make the sugarpaste planks for Derek's Ark cake.

It came from Carol Deacon's book Party Cakes for Children

1 lb 2 oz powdered sugar
1 egg white
2 Tbsp glucose (*CORN SYRUP*)

1. Place the sugar into a bowl and make a well in the center.
2. Tip the egg white and glucose into the well and stir in using a wooden spoon.
3. Finish binding the icing together with your hands, kneading until all the sugar is incorporated and the icing feels silky and smooth. (*I had to add extra glucose to get it to all bind together.)
4. Double wrap immediately in two small plastic bags. It may be used right away.

Use within 1 week.

Streusel Lemon Torte

Streusel Lemon Torte
by Carole Walter

1 Classic Genoise Cake (see other post) baked in a 10-cup savarin or fluted ring mold

Ingredients for Lemon Cream Filling:
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup orange juice
4 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp soft unsalted butter
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier
1/2 cup heavy cream

Ingredients for The Cookie Streusel:
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup unsifted flour
3 Tbsp finely chopped almonds
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 recipe Sugar Syrup made with Grand Marnier (see below)
1 pint large unhulled strawberries, rinsed and well dried

1. To make the filling: Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small heavy saucepan. Whisk in the water and orange juice, blending until the dry ingredients are completely dissolved. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Simmer for a few moments. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
2. Put the egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk lightly. Stir a small amoutn of the hot sugar/cornstarch mixture into the yolks to temper them. Then whisk the yolk mixture back into the sugar/cornstarch mixture, blending well. Cook over low heat, stirring slowly with a wooden spoon, until filling comes to a full boil and is smooth and thick.
3. Remove from the heat and blend in the grated lemon rind, lemon juice, and butter. Transfer into a medium-sized bowl. Press a piece of buttered wax paper directly onto the surface of the filling. Chill until quite cold, about 1 hour.
4. When the filling is chilled, stir in the Grand Marnier. In a medium-sized bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks and fold in 1/2 of the cream, reserving the rest in the refrigerator for the lemon sauce.
5. Chill the filling again for at least 1/2 hour while you make the cookie streusel.
6. To make the cookie streusel: Preheat the oven to 350 degreees. Add the sugar, flour, and nuts to the melted butter. Stir with a kitchen fork until small crumbs form. Take a handful of crumbs and make a fist to form a large clump. Then break each clump into coarse crumbs. Repeat, making several clusters and breaking them until a nice streusel is formed.
7. Place the streusel crumbs in a 9-inch layer pan. Bake in the preheated oven for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and hardened. Toss with a fork occasionally for even toasting. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

To Assemble the Cake:
1. Slice the cake into 3 even layers. Place the bottom layer on a serving plate. Line the edge of the plate with strips of waxed paper. Brush the layer with warm sugar syrup and spread with the lemon cream to about 1/8-inch thickness. Repeat with the middle layer, moistening it with sugar syrup and covering it with additional filling to the same thickness.
2. Brush the cut side of the top layer with sugar syrup and arrange it on top of the cake, cut side down. Align the layers. Using a small spatula, spread the sides and top with a 1/8-inch coating of lemon cream. Reserve leftover filling for the sauce. Place the cake in the refrigerator and chill 1/2 hour.
3. Break up large pieces of streusel and sprinkle the crumbs thickly over the sides and top of the cake, pressing them gently into the lemon cream. Using a sugar shaker, dust the entire cake generously with confectioners' sugar. Carefully remove the waxed paper strips and chill uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 3 to 4 hours to set.
4. To make a lemon sauce for garnish, fold remaining whipped cream into the leftover lemon cream filling. If desired, flavor with an additional tablespoon of Grand Marnier. Chill until ready to serve.

To Serve: Remove the cake from the refrigerator 30 to 60 minutes before serving. Fill teh center with bright red unhulled strawberries. Or place a spoonful of lemon cream sauce at the side of each slice of the torte and nestle 2 or 3 strawberries into the cream.

Storage: Store in the refrigerator, lightly covered with a foil tent, for up to 3 days.

Sugar Syrup:
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp dark rum or orange-flavored liqueur

Place the water and sugar in a small heavy saucepan. Bring to a slow boil and simmer 5 minutes. Off the heat, add the liqueur. Allow to cool slightly before applying to the cake. This may be made in advance. Rewarm before using.

Classic Genoise

This is a recipe from Carole Walter's book Great Cakes. I think I'm going to use this next week to make a Streusel Lemon Torte for a party...we'll see how it tastes then!

Classic Genoise

5 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp fresh grated lemon rind
3 Tbsp warm (100 to 110 degrees) clarified butter
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sifted cake flour

1. Position rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. GENEROUSLY grease the selected cake pan and lightly dust with flour.
2. Select a saucepan that will suspend the large bowl of an electric mixer at least 2 inches above the pan's bottom. Fill the pan with 2 inches of water, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and maintain at a simmer.
3. Put the eggs in the mixing bowl. Whisk in the sugar, mixing briefly just to blend. Do not beat. Place the bowl over the simmering water and slowly stir continuously for about 3 to 5 minutes until:
a. color darkens to a deep gold;
b. the mixture is runny when allowed to flow from the whisk;
c. the sugar is completely dissolved when rubbed between two fingers;
d. the temperature is quite warm, between 110 and 120 degrees.
Alternatively, set the bowl directly into a 10-inch skillet filled with 1 inch of simmering water and proceed as above, watching carefully to prevent overheating.
4. Remove the bowl from the pan and dry the bottom. Fit an electric mixer with the beaters or whip attachment and beat the egg mixture on medium-high speed until cool, about 4 to 5 minutes. The mixture should triple in volume and become thick and light in color. To test, run your finger across the egg foam; it should leave a canal that holds its shape.
5. Reduce the mixer speed to medium. Add the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Whip 2 to 3 minutes longer to stabilize the eggs. Do not overbeat or the mixture will begin to deflate.
6. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Place the warm butter in a measuring cup for liquids. Put the flour in a large fine strainer or sifter and sprinkle it over the egg mixture 2 to 3 Tablespoons at a time. Fold the flour in, using a large rubber spatula, taking 10 to 12 turns, and making sure to reach the bottom of the bowl as you fold. Do not worry about incorporating all the flour until the last addition since too much handling will deflate the batter. Add the flour quickly, in about 5 to 6 additions.
7. Before the last addition of flour, quickly pour the warm butter in a steady stream over the batter. Immediately sprinkle in the remaining flour, folding it in with about 12 to 15 turns. This entire procedure should be done in 15 to 20 seconds.
8. Using the rubber spatula, immediately push the batter into the prepared pan. If any butter has collected on the bottom of the bowl, DO NOT add it to the batter in the pan or it will retard the rising of the cake.
9. Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and quickly place in the preheated oven. Bake according to the time appropriate to the pan you have chosen (see below). Cake is done when it is golden brown on top, springy to the touch, and has completely come away from the sides of the pan.
10. Remove the cake from the oven and let stand 10 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, remove the pan, and cool cake completely. If the cake sticks, run a thin, sharp knife around the side of the pan to loosen.

Batter will fill: Baking Time:
9" x 3" round 35 to 40 minutes
10" x 2" round 30 to 35 minutes
Two 9" x 1 1/2" layers 20 to 25 minutes
10 cup ring 30 to 35 minutes
10 1/2" x 15 1/2" x 1", thick sheet cake 20 to 25 minutes
11" x 17" x 1" thin sheet cake 18 to 20 minutes

STORAGE: If you won't be using the cake immediately, wrap it in plastic wrap and place inside a plastic bag, secure well, and refrigerate up to 3 days. For longer storage, wrap in foil and place in plastic bag and freeze.
To thaw: Wrapped in foil, place in heated oven and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until thawed. Once the cake is thawed and spongy again, bake another 5 minutes to refresh it. Cake should be warm, but not hot. Cool on wire rack, then unwrap and frost/fill.

Cranberry Meatballs

This is a great appetizer recipe to bring to parties! Everyone seems to love them! The meatballs are also great as a main dish, served over rice. I got this recipe from Katie Thompson!!

Cranberry Meatballs

Ingredients for Meatballs:
2 eggs, beaten
1 c dry bread crumbs
1/3 c minced fresh parsley (or 1 tbsp dried parsley)
1/3 c ketchup
2 tbsp finely chopped onion (or 1 tbsp dried minced onion)
2 tsbp soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 lbs ground beef

Directions for Meatballs:
1. Combine first 9 ingredients in large bowl. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into 1 inch balls. Place meatballs on rack in shallow baking pan.
2. Bake uncovered 400 degrees, for 15 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to slow cooker or dish (if serving immediately).

Ingredients for Cranberry Sauce:
2 cans (16 oz each) whole berry cranberry sauce
1 bottle (12 oz) chili sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp prepared mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced

Directions for Sauce:
1. Combine sauce ingredients in saucepan, simmer for 10 minutes. Pour over meatballs and serve immediately.

OR Place (cooked) meatballs in greased pan.  Mix sauce ingredients and pour over meatballs.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until heated through. (This is what I followed for yours)

OR if using slow cooker, combine sauce ingredients and cover (cooked) meatballs in slow cooker. Cook on medium for about 4-6 hours.

Chili Mac

This is an old Pampered Chef recipe (not sure what they call it, but we call it Chili Mac)...It's an old stand by.
I make mine with extra veggies and pasta and less cheese than what is called for. That way I can make it stretch to two full sized dinner meals for only a tiny bit more money!

Chili Mac

1 1/2 lb uncooked elbow macaroni (or whatever tube shaped pasta you have on hand!)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pkg taco seasoning
8 oz cheddar cheese
60 oz diced tomatoes
½ tsp salt
1 medium green onion, chopped
1 lb ground beef
3 cans mild chili beans
3 cups frozen corn

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to directions.
2. Chop pepper and onion. Place pepper, onion, and ground beef in large skillet. Cook and stir over medium heat until beef is no longer pink; drain.
3. Add taco seasoning mix and amount of water listed on package. Continue cooking according to package directions.
4. Combine noodles, cheese, meat, chili beans, tomatoes, corn, and salt; mix well.
5. Spoon into 2 large rectangle bakers (9x13 size) and bake 30 minutes until hot and bubbly. (I do one in a stone baker and eat that night, and put the other in a freezable baking dish for a quick dinner later).

Apple Jack Pizza with Caramelized Onions

I found this recipe on Pillsbury's website. It was one of the finalists for the million dollar prize one year for their annual Bake-Off. I changed it a tiny bit and posted the recipe as I did it.
I know it sounds weird to put apples on a chicken...especially with lots of cheese and chicken, but oh my goodness it was good! We'll definitely make this again!

3 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1 medium sweet onion, dice
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 can (13.8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated classic pizza crust
1 unpeeled large Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
1/3 cup cooked real bacon bits
2 medium green onions, sliced (2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 cups shredded pepper Jack cheese (6 oz)
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (6 oz)

1. In 12-inch skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add sweet onions and thyme; cook about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden. Stir in salt and pepper. Remove onions from skillet; set aside.
2. Heat oven to 425°F. Spray large cookie sheet with Non-Stick Cooking Spray. Unroll pizza crust dough on cookie sheet; press dough into 14x10-inch rectangle. Bake 7 to 11 minutes or until light golden brown. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F.
3. Meanwhile, in same skillet, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add apple and sugar; cook 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar is melted and apple is slightly soft.
4. Spread onion mixture over partially baked crust. Top evenly with chicken, apple mixture, bacon, green onions and cheeses.
5. Bake 10 to 20 minutes longer or until cheeses are melted and crust is golden brown.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Derek's 1st Birthday Cake - Noah's Ark

Yeah, so I'm not going to even try to explain how we did this...let's just say that I worked for 15 hours and my engineer husband worked with me for 3 of them! We had a blast together! That was worth it all in itself.
But maybe I'll post pictures of the building process later when I have time and it's not past midnight.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pepper Jack Cheese Stuffed Burgers

This was my own concoction, and it was very yummy! I think we'll do these again too!

1/2 pound ground beef
1 Tbsp Pampered Chef Southwest Seasoning
1-2 Tbsp Worchestershire Sauce
1-2 Tbsp A1 Steak Sauce
3-4 oz spinach (this makes them more nutritious and you don't really even taste it!)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp fresh parsley
3 slices Pepper Jack Cheese (Monterey Jack cheese with Jalapenos)
2 large bakery rolls
lettuce, tomato, jalapeno slices (optional)
sour cream, guacamole (optional)

1. Mix together ground beef, southwest seasoning, worchestershire, A1, spinach, garlic powder, and parsley.
2. Fold over cheese into quarters and divide into 2 stacks.
3. Divide meat in half. Take one half of meat and flatten in palm of your hand. Place one stack of cheese on top and fold meat around cheese to make a stuffed burger. Do this with remaining meat and cheese.
4. Place on hot grill and grill for about 10 minutes on each side, or until desired doneness. Toast bun over low flame for a minute or until desired brownness.
5. Place burger on roll, spread top roll with sour cream and guacamole. Top with lettuce and tomato (and jalapeno slices if desired).

Noah's Ark Cake Animals

I tried making marshmallow fondant last night, but it wasn't going to be stiff enough to make the animals out of, so I bought Wilton's Rolled Fondant at the store and dyed it different colors (gray, yellow, brown, pink, black, green, and left some white).

I am so excited! I think they turned out great! I like the sitting panda and the elephants the best!!! I really hope the ark turns out as good! :) We'll have to wait and see...

Monday, March 9, 2009

My Loaded Mashed Potatoes

I just threw these together tonight. I've been thinking about doing it for a long time, but I like plain mashed potatoes so much that I never feel like changing them. But they were pretty awesome! (the measurements are estimates!)

My Loaded Mashed Potatoes

10 Russet baking potatoes
1 tsp minced garlic
1/3 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp Fleishman's Olive Oil Margarine
2 Tbsp sour cream
1/2-3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1-2 Tbsp precooked bacon pieces
1 tsp dried chives

1. Peel and dice potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Place in large pot and cover with warm water. Bring to boil over high heat and continue boiling for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
2. Drain water from pot and place potatoes into Kitchen Aid Mixer bowl (or use a hand mixer right in the pot if it's a regular metal pot...not a non-stick one!)
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with mixer until potatoes are fully mashed and ingredients are well blended.

Salisbury Steaks

Again, this one came from Taste of Home...and was awesome! I tweaked it a tiny bit, but really just to make extra sauce, more mushrooms, less salt, and no eggs. (This is my tweaked version). I had made a different recipe a long time ago and never really liked it all that much, but this one's definitely a keeper!

This recipe is for 2 servings, so it's easy to adjust amounts for more people.

Salisbury Steak

1/3 cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp uncooked instant brown rice (make sure it's dairy free if necessary!)
1/8 tsp pepper
1 egg white OR 3-4 Tbsp milk or soy milk
1/2 pound lean ground beef
3 tsp olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 cups beef broth
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp cold water

1. In a small bowl, combine the onion, rice, pepper and egg white. Crumble beef over mixture and mix gently. Shape into 2 oval patties.
2. In a large skillet, brown patties in 1 1/2 teaspoons oil for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside; drain drippings.
3. In the same skillet, cook mushrooms in remaining oil until tender. Stir in broth and Worcestershire sauce. Return patties to the pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until rice is tender and meat is no longer pink.
4. Remove patties; keep warm. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into pan juices. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve with patties.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Erin's Mushroom Spinach Burgers

I've been looking for new recipes a lot lately and Juliana and I found a bunch of hamburger recipes and have decided to have a burger week :-)

We started off the week so well today though, that all the rest of the ones we make are probably going to pale in comparison!

I got the idea of the spinach and mushrooms from a Taste of Home recipe, but the rest was my original creation :) I don't think I'll ever go back to a plain burger again! LOL!

Erin's Mushroom Spinach Burgers

3/4 lb ground beef
5 oz frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed (to remove all excess water)
1/2 cup diced fresh mushrooms
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
3-4 Tbsp A1 Steak Sauce
2 Tbsp fresh parsley
3 slices swiss cheese
3 Italian style sandwich rolls
lettuce and tomato

1. Mix together the beef, spinach, mushrooms, garlic powder, Worchestershire sauce, A1, and parsley in a large bowl. Form into 3 large patties.
2. Place on preheated grill and cook for about 10 minutes, flip, and continue cooking until it reaches your preferred doneness.
3. Put rolls on the grill to toast a bit. If desired, top the bread with burger, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise and ketchup.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Blueberry Cream Cheese Braid

I made these for the worship team today and I must say, everyone LOVED them! It was so cute...before anyone knew it was me that made them, people were going into the green room and coming out saying "Wow, did you see the spread in there?! It looks awesome!" And, for the first time ever, I think 90% of the team ate breakfast together in there during first service. It was so fun! They were such a big hit that I'll have to do them again!

It seems like a lot of work, but they weren't too bad. Of course, the first one I made I put WAY...let me say that again...WAY WAY WAY too much filling in! Oh, and I also made it on the counter and was going to transfer it to the baking sheet...very bad idea! Especially since it had too much filling it took 3 of us to get it from the counter onto the baking stone...and that was after I cut it in half! :-)
SO, always roll it out directly on your stone (or a baking pan with parchment paper so it doesn't stick) and don't put too much filling in :)
Now that I have that figured out, the next time should be way easier!

The recipe came from (check it out sometime!). It says it makes 2 braids, but I think next time I'd go ahead and make 3 or 4 smaller ones (they were too long for my stones and so I had to cut them in half anyway).

OH, and here's my other secret...I did not spend time making the fillings. Shhh!!! I just used canned pie filling! Since I couldn't decide which flavor to do (see suggestions at bottom if you want!), I chose to try 4 different kinds. I just put a different filling in each half: cherry, blueberry, peach, and apple. And, I think they were all so good that I can't decide which is my favorite!

Sponge Ingredients:
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cup warm milk
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Dough Ingredients:
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2-3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

Blueberry Filling Ingredients:
2 cups blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Egg Glaze Ingredients:
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk

Cream Cheese Filling Ingredients:
3/4 cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon egg glaze


For the sponge:
1. Mix the sugar, yeast, and flour together in bowl. Pour in the warm milk. Beat until smooth, then cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 1/2 hour.

The sponge will rise during this half hour and then look like this (I didn't move the spatula):

For the dough:

1. Add the eggs, salt, sugar, and one cup of the flour to the sponge. Beat until smooth. Then add the butter in small chunks and beat well. Add the remaining flour a handful at a time and mix in until a soft but kneadable dough is achieved and the butter thoroughly incorporated.

2. Knead the dough by hand or with a mixer until it is smooth and satiny, about 5 minutes.

3. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise and room temperature until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Deflate the dough, recover the bowl, and refrigerate overnight.

The next day (or just 8 or so hours later), make the fillings before shaping the loaves. **Remember my secret - use canned pie filling!**

Blueberry Filling:
1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool.

Egg Glaze:
1. Combine the egg and milk in a bowl and beat until combined.

Cream Cheese Filling:
1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined.

Assembling the braid:
1. Once your filling has cooled off, take the dough out of the refrigerator and gently deflate it. Divide it into two pieces. Use a rolling pin to shape each piece into a thin (1 cm.) rectangle.
2. Spread your fillings in the center of the dough.
3. At an angle, slice the sides of the dough into tabs approximately 1 inch wide.

4. Alternating from side to side, fold the pieces in over the filling. When possible, gentle press on the tabs to seal the folds.

This is how it should look! Beautiful, right?

Here are some examples of how it should NEVER look :-)

Rest assured though, that if yours do turn out like this, they still will taste amazing! Cut it up into tons of pieces and tell everyone that it's just some sort of cobbler. :-)

5. After it has been fully folded, glaze the braid with egg wash. Cover loosely with plastic (I place the entire baking pan in a clean kitchen garbage bag). Set aside to rise until doubled in size, approximately 45 minutes. While it is rising, preheat the oven to 350.
6. Just before placing the braid in the oven, glaze it again with any remaining egg wash. Bake on the center rack of the oven for approximately 35 to 40 minutes, rotating it once after 20 minutes so that it bakes evenly. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for at least half an hour before slicing.

Cinnamon Apple Variation Idea:
2 cups of freshly cubed Granny Smith apples
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup BROWN sugar
1 cup walnuts
1/3 cup corn starch
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tbsp. butter
In a small pot, combine; butter, brown sugar, and chopped walnuts. Stir until combined. Add apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and corn starch. Combine and heat until you get a gooey concoction. :) The goal is to get the nuts a touch roasted...the apples will finish baking in the oven.

Use in place of blueberries in Floyd's recipe. Sprinkle the top of the braids with a little cinnamon/sugar on top of the final egg wash. :)

Chocolate Filling Idea:
Make a fudge-icing consistency out of melted chocolate and cream to fill the center with (instead of the blueberries)...or I guess you could even do this instead of the cream cheese, and use whatever fruit topping you'd like, maybe cherries?

Raspberry Cream Cheese Filling:
Instead of using the blueberry filling, use a can of raspberry pie filling.

Cherry Cream Cheese Filling:
Again, instead of using the blueberry filling, use a can of cherry pie filling.

Peaches 'n Cream:
4 cups fresh, chopped, peeled peaches
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cornstarch

Heat all this together until just warmed and combined. Drizzle with a little vanilla icing (see below).

Vanilla Icing:
Also, any of these braids would probably be amazing with some white icing drizzled over top. Just take some powdered sugar and milk together until you get the desired consistency for drizzle-able icing!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Grilled Pizza Sandwiches

I saw this recipe (again, it's Taste of Home) and immediately thought it would be great! So, I tried it out today...and while I was cooking I was POSITIVE that I would have to say that it turned out soggy and gross, and I figured I'd have to recommend dipping the sandwich into the sauce instead of adding it into the sandwich. But, even though it looked like it was getting soggy while cooking, it turned out AWESOME and not soggy one bit!
The kids loved them! Of course it would have been a shock for them not to enjoy these, even when they're being picky!

**The recipe calls for kielbasa or sausage, but I didn't bother adding it. I just stuck with the pepperoni. I don't think it needs the extra fat (or even flavor for that matter, since it was so good!)

1/4 cup pizza sauce
2 tablespoons chopped pepperoni
*2 tablespoons chopped smoked kielbasa or Polish sausage
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
Dash salt and pepper
4 slices white bread
1/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon butter, softened

1. In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Cover and microwave on high until heated through. Spread two slices of bread with meat mixture; sprinkle with cheese. Top with remaining bread. Butter outsides of sandwiches.
2. Cook in a preheated sandwich maker according to manufacturer's directions until golden brown and cheese is melted (*I just cooked on the stove like a regular grilled cheese sandwich*). Yield: 2 servings.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Jamaican Chicken Stew

I got this one from a Cooking Light book...and it's another favorite in our house. Even the kids love it! It's super quick and easy but it's got a TON of flavor! It's VERY spicy, but not in a hot way. Just try it and you'll see!

Jamaican Chicken Stew

3 cups uncooked rice
3 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves
1 lb chicken breast, chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup burgundy wine
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
4 Tbsp capers
29 oz diced tomatoes

1.Prepare rice according to package.
2.Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.
3.Add onion and garlic and sauté 3 minutes or until tender.
4.Combine chicken, curry, thyme, allspice, red pepper, and pepper.
5.Add chicken mixture to pan, sauté 4 minutes. Stir in wine, capers, beans, and tomatoes.
6.Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender. Serve over rice.

Spinach Parmesan Linguine

OH MY GOSH! I got this recipe from Taste of Home's website and all I can say is WOW! It's absolutely delicious! It puts other pasta side dishes to shame!
We enjoyed it today for lunch...but if you added some grilled chicken on top you could serve as a main dish as well. GREAT!

1 package (16 ounces) linguine (obviously I used rigatoni)
1 cup chicken broth
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons cream cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Cook linguine according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring broth to a boil. Add onion and garlic. Reduce heat; cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir in spinach; cook for 2 minutes.
2. Add the milk, cream cheese, salt and pepper; stir until cheese is melted. drain linguine and place in a serving bowl. Add sauce and toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses; toss to coat.

Chocolate Chip Muffins (no eggs/regular milk)

I adapted this from a recipe on Recipezaar that got excellent reviews! They are pretty awesome!

This recipe makes 24 regular sized muffins.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light-brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup vanilla soy milk (or use 2/3 cup milk plus 1 tsp vanilla)
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled (1 1/2 sticks)
9 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce (or 2 eggs, lightly beaten)
1 (11 1/2 ounce) package milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Grease twelve muffin cups.
3. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt.
4. In another bowl, stir together soy milk(or regular milk and vanilla), applesauce (OR eggs), and butter until blended.
5. Make a well in center of dry ingredients.
6. Add milk mixture and stir just to combine.
7. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
8. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
9. Now bake for 15-20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in center of one muffin comes out clean.
10. Remove muffin tin to wire rack.
11. Cool for 5 minutes.
12. Remove from tins to finish cooling.
13. Serve warm or completely cool.
14. These muffins freeze well.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Easter Brownies (kids)

I used the same recipe as I did for the Mint Brownies (below), but let the kids decorate these with some store-bought whipped strawberry icing and Easter sprinkles. Juliana did decorate hers, but ate all the sprinkles off of it before she ate it :)

Chicken with Cream of Asparagus Sauce

This is such a simple to make meal with a lot of flavor and texture! When cooked perfectly, the chicken has a delightful crunchy coating that tastes as great as it looks!

I tried dipping the chicken in milk this time instead of egg (Jules' egg allergy) and it worked perfectly! You can't even tell the difference!

Chicken & Asparagus Sauce

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 egg whites (OR 1/4 cup milk)
½ cup plain dry breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 can Cream of Asparagus soup
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup water
grated Parmesan cheese
4 servings of cooked rice (as side dish)

1.Dip chicken into egg whites (or milk). Coat with breadcrumbs.
2.In medium skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add chicken and cook 15 minutes or until chicken is browned and no longer pink. Remove and keep warm. Pour off fat.
3.Add soup, milk, and water to skillet. Reduce heat to low and heat through. Serve over chicken and rice. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese!!!

Do not forget the cheese!!!! It makes the whole dish!

Curry Dip for Fondue

This dip goes AMAZINGLY well with any meat you cook using the Coq au Von fondue recipe. I won't even try the other sauces they serve at the Melting Pot on my meats because this one is the best!

Curry Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce (Tabasco is fine)
1/2 tsp ground ginger

1. Combine all ingredients together into bowl; whisk until well blended.

Enjoy this dip on any of the meats/vegetables mentioned in the Coq au Von post!

Fully Homemade Chevy's Style Beef and Chicken Fajitas

This recipe came from our Chevy's cookbook (I combined a few recipes and changed it up a tad) and I must say that I think they turned out to be the absolute best fajitas I've ever eaten! I won't be going out for these anymore!

And, I know it sounds kind of dumb to make your own tortillas for fajitas when you can go to the store and play $2 and get them already made, but they were SUPER simple and OH SO GOOD! Totally worth the extra few minutes! (I halved this recipe for our family and it worked great)

Ingredients for Tortillas:
6 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
2 1/2 cups warm water

Directions for Tortillas:
1. Place the flour in the bowl of a mixer and add the baking powder and salt, stirring to mix well. Add the shortening. Turn the mixer on low and slowly pour in the water. Mix on low for 90 seconds or until well mixed.
2. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions (if halving the recipe, no need to divide in half here). Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. Divide each half into 8 equal portions. You will now have 16 dough balls. Lightly flour your work surface. With a floured rolling pin, roll each ball into an 8-inch round. Stack the rounds on a baking sheet with plastic wrap between each tortilla. Let the tortillas rest for 10 minutes.
3. Heat a griddle or large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, and lightly coat with vegetable oil cooking spray. Cook the tortillas on the griddle or in the skillet for 1 minute on each side, or until light brown spots form on the surface. (I found I needed to spray a little for each side b/c otherwise it wouldn't get the spots...but I may just have been cooking at too high a temp, etc).

Ingredients for Fajitas:
2 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
1 lb steak (I used 3 slices of "mock beef tenderloin" from walmart)
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced green peppers (or red)
1 cup soy sauce
2 cups pineapple juice
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup lime juice
Fuego Spice Mix (see below)
olive oil
Tortillas (see recipe)
sour cream and guacamole, if desired

Directions for Fajitas:
1. Slice chicken and steak into small bite size pieces. Mix together soy sauce, pineapple juice, cumin, garlic, and lime juice. Combine this mixture with meat and let marinade for about 30 minutes.
2. In large skillet, add about 3 Tbsp olive oil. Add onions and peppers and saute until desired doneness. Add about 2 Tbsp Fuego Spice Mix. Remove peppers and onions from pan and keep warm.
3. Heat additional 3 Tbsp olive oil in same pan. Drain most of the liquid from the meat and throw away. Add meat (with small amount of marinade) to skillet and cook until done (about 5-10 minutes). Add onions and peppers back into skillet with meat to warm and combine.
4. Fill tortilla with meat mixture, sour cream, and guacamole. Enjoy!

Fuego Spice Mix Recipe:
1/4 cup paprika
2 tsp cayenne
2 Tbsp salt
2 tsp ground white pepper
2 Tbsp black pepper
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp chile powder
2 Tbsp oregano

1. Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Store in an air-tight container, out of direct light, for up to 6 months.

Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich

This recipe was taken from The Original Pat's King of Steaks website. They were featured on Food Network as the best place in Philly to get a cheese steak.

The Original Pat's King of Steaks Philadelphia Cheese Steak

24 oz thin sliced rib eye or eye roll steak
6 Tbsp olive oil
Cheese (they recommend Cheez Whiz) but American or Provolone works fine (I used American)
4 crusty Italian rolls
1 large onion

green and/or red bell peppers

1. Heat a skillet over medium heat.
2. Add 3 Tbsp oil to the pan and saute the onions (and peppers/mushrooms, if desired) and cook to desired doneness. Remove onions from pan.
3. Add remaining oil and saut the slices of meat quickly on both sides.
4. Melt the cheez whiz in a double boiler or in the microwave.
5. Place 6 oz meat into each roll.
6. Add onions (and peppers/mushrooms) and pour Cheez Whiz (or put slices of American/Provolone) over top.
7. Garnish with mayonnaise or ketchup, as desired.

Mint Chocolate Brownies

The actual brownie recipe is from Wilton...but I changed it a bit to remove the eggs. They are beautiful and super yummy!

Cake Brownies

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used cocoa instead so I didn't have to mess with instead you can use 12 Tbsp cocoa powder and 4 Tbsp canola oil)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs (or 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce)
2 tsp vanilla extract
chocolate chips
Wilton's Mint Brownie Drizzle Icing

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8x2 or 9x2 inch square pan with vegetable pan spray (I brush on something called Pan Grease which you can get at the Cake and Wedding Cottage, b/c I find it's the BEST thing to use!).
2. In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (and cocoa if using). In small microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate; let cool slightly. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs (or applesauce), vanilla, and melted chocolate (or oil); mix well. Stir in flour mixture by hand; mix until just combined. Spread batter into prepared pan.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool completely on rack before cutting.
4. In ziploc bag, melt a handful of chocolate chips. Heat first for about 30 seconds, squeeze bag around, and continue cooking for about 10 seconds at a time until it's fully melted.
5. Drizzle melted chocolate over brownies.
6. Follow directions on Mint Icing for heating in microwave. Drizzle over chocolate drizzled brownies.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Olive Garden's Alfredo Sauce

This recipe is just like Olive Garden's Alfredo Sauce...need I even say more?

Olive Garden’s Alfredo Sauce

½ cup butter
2 cups heavy cream (can also use light cream or half-and-half)
1/8 teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¾ cup parmesan cheese

1.Put all ingredients (except cheese) into a pot and simmer for as long as possible, but at least 15 minutes (usually 30-45 minutes), stirring often.
2.Add cheese and simmer for another 5 minutes.
3.Serve over pasta or with breadsticks.

S'more Fondue

This is the Melting Pot's recipe and it's AMAZING! Need a chocolate fix? This one is sure to please!

Chocolate S'mores Fondue

Recipe by Kevin O'Leary from The Melting Pot

8 oz. milk chocolate
1 heaping tsp. marshmallow fluff, flambeed with ½ oz. of 151-proof rum
5 oz. graham cracker crumbs for topping
tiny bit of water, milk, or cream
dippers (strawberries, marshmallows, cheese cake bites, bananas, brownies, oreos, pound cake, mini rice crispy treats, etc).

1. Melt the chocolate in electric fondue pot. Add a tiny amount of water, milk, or cream to thin the chocolate and help it liquify. Add marshmallow fluff.

2. Put the rum in a metal pan or rum boat and light on fire. Pour on top of the chocolate and marshmallow fluff.
3. Stir the rum around in the chocolate, and that will put the flames out.

4. Top with ½ oz. of graham cracker crumbs and you're ready to go!
5. Using fondue forks, dip desserts into chocolate fondue and enjoy!

Coq au Von Fondue

Want to enjoy the food from the Melting Pot, but don't feel like going broke? It's SO simple to do at home! I'll post our cheese fondue recipe on here soon for you, and it's JUST like The Melting Pot's Fiesta Cheese Fondue! It's amazing...
But, this is not a post about that! This is a post about the Coq au Von fondue. You use this for your main course. You can cook vegetables (like potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli) and meat (any meat really goes here: chicken, steak, duck, shrimp, pork, etc). It's amazingly good! I also have the recipes for the dips they use, so I'll be posting them here as well when I get time!

Coq au Von Fondue

3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup red wine
1 packet of Knorr's vegetable soup mix

1. In electric fondue pot (which is TOTALLY worth the extra bucks to have an electric one!!!) combine ingredients and bring to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, cut your meat selection(s) into bite size pieces.
3. Save yourself a ton of money while believing it can't really be THIS easy!.
4. Put one piece of meat on each fondue fork and drop fork into pot...and enjoy your conversation! Meat should cook for approximately 2 minutes each, veggies cook a little longer, maybe 5 minutes. Just check for doneness according to your liking.