Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Homemade granola bars

I love granola bars.. but they sure can be expensive and not so tasty..I have thrown many a package of yucky granola bars away.  Some taste like sawdust, or like are completely tasteless which who wants to eat something tasteless...I love flavor.... so I have been on a non stop search to make my own..  This recipe is one I came up with after researching many bar recipes and seeing ingredients that I either didn't like, or couldn't find.  

I used dried cranberries, but any dried fruit, think dried apples and pumpkin pie spice for fall, or dried mixed berries, or blueberries or dried strawberries for spring or summer.  Next time I am going to try and incorporate peanut butter and some peanuts for some of the nuts.  I used whole almonds, but use any kind of nuts that you like, pecans, peanuts, walnuts anything will work, use your imagination and what you have on hand. Also thinking chocolate chips in here would be yummy too, maybe a little cocoa powder and a dash of cinnamon the possibilities are endless..

**NOTE** ...I also heat up the sweetened condensed milk a little to make it easier to mix together with the oatmeal mixture, otherwise all of the ingredients don't get coated properly, and are too dry.


Whatever you use, make these for your family today...enjoy :)

Homemade granola bars

1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats (not instant)
1 1/2 cups coconuts, shredded or flaked
1 1/2 cups nuts ( I used whole almonds)
1 cup cranberries
pinch of kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 250.  Line a 13x9 pan with foil overhanging the edges for easy removal and spray with nonstick spray.

In saucepan put sweetened condensed milk, salt & vanilla.  Heat over medium low until mixture is thinned  out a little, not till bubbling but warmed through.

In a very large bowl, add oats, coconut, nuts, cranberries, and mix with a big spoon.  Pour milk mixture over the oat mixture and mix well.  Dump mixture onto 13x9 pan and spread out in an even layer with a spatula.  Bake for about an hour.  Immediately remove from pan lifting foil out and letting cool on a flat surface.  Let cool about 10-15 minutes and cut into bars... Can wrap individually and put into lunches or snack etc.  Enjoy

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Breakfast bake

Oh my gosh... I just made the most wonderful blueberry breakfast bake.  I got the recipe from my friend Amy (thanks for sharing it Amy :) she posted a pic on facebook and I knew I had to know more of what was in that yummy looking goodness....

Well and you all know me.. I had to put a little of my own spin on it...and it turned out great... I used fresh blueberries in it, she used frozen fruit, it's all good, canned, frozen, fresh equals YUMMY!!! My family was impressed, and my husband called me a "rockstar".. LOL so funny..love ya honey....

You can double the recipe & use a sprayed 13x9 dish, and just bake it a little longer.  I thought next time I am doing exactly that cause we ate the entire dish.. I served this with smoky links, ( I just put them in a pan in the oven about 1/2 way thru the baking time (line the pan with foil for easy clean up).  Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkling of powdered sugar... Make this today... enjoy

Breakfast bake

3/4 loaf cinnamon swirl bread ( I used Pepperidge Farms)
3/4-1 cup of milk
6 eggs
1 T vanilla
1 cup fresh blueberries (or frozen will work too)
1/2 cup sugar
For serving:
maple syrup
powdered sugar (optional)


Preheat oven to 375. Spray 8x8 baking dish with nonstick spray.
Tear bread into chunks and place 1/2 into baking dish, sprinkle with the blueberries, and top with the remaining bread (some blueberries will be showing and that is fine).  Whisk eggs, sugar & vanilla mixing well.  Add 3/4cup milk and whisk well.  Pour egg custard mixture over the bread/blueberries.  With hands press down the bread soaking up the custard.  If it still looks a little dry drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup of milk over the bread mixture.  Place in oven and bake around 35-40 minutes until it is puffed and light golden brown.  Remove from oven and drizzle with maple syrup and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

"Re-purposed" chicken enchiladas

What to do with leftovers...hmmm that is the age old question.. and it seems like I always have a dab of this or a dab of that, and I HATE throwing away food.  There are so many hungry people out there, and with food prices skyrocketing, I try and be careful. 

We had company over the other day, and he stated that when he was growing up, they could throw nothing away from their dinner plates.  If they took it, they had to finish it, he remembered sitting for 3 hours at the dinner table trying to finish what was on his plate. He said that his family grew up without much money, and wasting food was out of the question... certainly though provoking...

Anyway, I had leftover cooked chicken, leftover rice, a small bit of leftover tomatoes & vegetables so my thought was enchiladas... So I put everything in a pan, added some cream of chicken soup, sour cream, seasonings, white wine and voila... enchilada filling.  I rolled everything up in flour tortillas, topped with enchilada sauce, and shredded cheese.. baked them in the oven... delicious... I served these with sour cream on the side, but that is totally optional. 

For the chicken, I had leftover chicken thighs, but you can use any cooked chicken, rotisserie, baked, broiled, boiled etc.  I also use mild enchilada sauce from a can, but you can use hot, or whatever your family likes.  Make these today.. so good....Enjoy


2 cups shredded, cooked chicken
2-3 cups leftover cooked rice
1/4 cup white wine
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup, leftover cooked veggies ( I had a tomato, corn, okra mix)
Flour tortilla
1 small can enchilada sauce
1 cup shredded cheese ( I used a Mexican blend)
 1/2 cup Sour cream (PLUS more for serving)


seasonings of your choice ( I used Cumin, onion & garlic powder, pepper)

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.
In large pan over medium high heat, add chicken, veggies & rice and start heating up.  Then add wine, soup & seasonings and heat over heat until bubbly.  Turn off heat & stir in 1/2 cup sour cream.  On a plate place a tortilla, then add a couple of spoonfuls of filling mixture into the center and roll the tortillas up like a burrito, placing seam side down in a baking dish. Continue until all of the filling is used. Slowly pour the enchilada sauce over the enchilada, and if necessary with a spoon cover all completely.  Bake for around 30-35 minutes until hot and bubbly.  Sprinkle with the shredded cheese and place in the oven for a few minutes or until the cheese is melted.  Remove from oven and serve with sour cream on the side.  Enjoy


Monday, July 21, 2014

Hawaiian sweet and sour meatballs

Who doesn't love meatballs?  Especially sweet and sour meatballs.  With all their yummy sweet & pineappley (is that even a word...lol) goodness.  They are super easy to throw together & they simmer away in a crockpot until they are devoured..

I made these recently for my class reunion and they were a hit.  I used frozen meatballs (shh..don't tell anyone..:)  but I have made from scratch and cooked meatballs and added the sauce to those and they were delicious as well. But I have to tell you , the frozen ones with this sauce taste just as good, and are way easier.. so why make more work for yourself if the outcome is just as good... not me... I will save that effort for things that definitely taste better homemade..make these today.. Enjoy
**I sometimes serve these over plain cooked rice for dinner, along with a salad..so good...


Hawaiian sweet & sour meatballs

2 packages of frozen regular (not Italian style) meatballs (the packages I used were 2 lbs. in each package)
1 20 oz can crushed pineapple, I drained about 1/2 the liquid off (reserve)
1 cup teriyaki sauce (I use Lawry's marinade sauce)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 t ground ginger
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar 
1/4 tsp onion & garlic powder

Thaw the meatballs overnight in the fridge.  Put the thawed meatballs in the crockpot.  In a saucepan add the pineapple (don't add the reserved juice yet), the teriyaki sauce, ketchup , brown sugar, ginger & onion & garlic powder.  Mix well and cook over medium heat stirring often until sauce is hot, bubbly and the sugar has dissolved (watch carefully) cause this has a tendency to burn because of the high sugar content).  Remove and pour over the meatballs and stir them gently to coat.  Turn the crockpot on low and simmer a few hours until the sauce becomes bubbly.  If it gets too thick add the saved pineapple juice to thin the sauce out.  **NOTE stir these often because the sugar will burn if left unattended and not stirred.  Serve. Enjoy...

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I recently went to my 30th class reunion... when did I get so old..hmmm that post is for another time..lol anyways, it was a 2 day event with one of the days being a potluck gathering.  A fellow classmate Connie brought this really yummy dip... I asked her the recipe and she shared.. it was so good my husband had seconds... she said it was really easy to make, and had a couple of variations... so here is the recipe..
 
I only like Frank's red hot sauce.. if you have another favorite use this..Also, for the chicken you can use canned chicken (just make sure you drain it well), or any kind of cooked leftover chicken, (think baked, roasted, rotisserie,  boiled, shredded into small pieces).  Also you can use a combination of ranch and blue cheese dressing or just one of the two types.  Also, use what cheese you like, thinking maybe a sprinkle of Parmesan would be good over the top before it goes into the oven.. Like I always say use what you have,or your family likes..Serve with crackers, Fritos, tortilla chips, veggies..this stuff would be great on anything...Try this today..so good.. Enjoy

Thanks for sharing Connie...


Buffalo Chicken Dip

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Frank's red hot sauce
2 cups shredded chicken
1/2 cup shredded cheese (any kind, mozzarella, cheddar, co-jack or a combination )
2T crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup ranch dressing (or 1/4 cup each ranch and blue cheese dressing)

Crackers, fritos or veggies for serving

Heat oven to 350.  Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
Add the cream cheese, hot sauce, chicken, cheese, (blue cheese if using) and the salad dressing in a bowl mixing well. Spread in a greased baking dish and bake at 350 for around 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.. Serve with crackers or your choice of dippers.. Enjoy

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Crostini with Ricotta & thyme roasted tomatoes

Oh how I love this appetizer... this is one of the best appetizers on the planet!!! Well in my oh so humble opinion.... My sister made this appetizer several years ago... and of course I had to get the recipe & then put my own spin on it... which turned out amazing and oh so yummy.... I am thinking of sprinkling the finished product with freshly grated Parmesan cheese next time.. just to kick it up a notch or two... cause you know a little Parmesan will never hurt anybody.... LOL **note to self...  Also thinking that I can add a little Parmesan to the ricotta cheese mixture too..

I make the ricotta cheese mixture up to a day in advance.  You can also slice the bread and put it in an airtight ziploc container too, to save prep time.. It looks like alot of steps but really it is just assembling..super easy and really tasty.. Try this today...sooo good.. Enjoy



Crostini with Ricotta & thyme roasted tomatoes

For Crostini:
1 Baguette loaf of bread, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
Fresh thyme sprigs
 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup olive oil

Toast baguette slices on the grill or in the oven, being careful not to burn it.  When the bread is done, brush one side of the bread with butter mixture.

Ricotta cheese mixture:
 1 container Ricotta cheese
3 T. each chopped chives & fresh thyme
1/4 tsp each onion & garlic powder
pinch of kosher salt, seasoned salt & pepper
Mix together and let sit in the fridge for about an hour for the flavors to blend. 

To brush on the bread after toasting :
1/2 stick butter, 2 T olive oil
1 clove garlic finely minced
Melt butter & olive oil together till hot, add garlic swirling the pan till toasted.



Line a baking sheet with foil.  Place the cut in half grape tomatoes cut side up on a baking sheet.  Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes, and sprinkle tomatoes librally with garlic, salt & pepper and place about 6 sprigs of thyme over the tomatoes.  I also take some thyme leaves off and sprinkle over the tomatoes too...Bake in the oven at 350 for about 20-25 minutes, or until the tomatoes are softened and slightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool around 5 minutes.

On one side of the bread spread with a thick layer of the ricotta cheese.   Top each bread/ricotta crostini with 2-3 halves of tomatoes.  Sprinkle lightly with salt & cracked pepper. Serve right away... Enjoy

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sausage spinach & ricotta calzones


Do you ever have weeks where you have a little of this leftover & a little of that leftover?  Stuff that is perfectly good and that you don't want to throw away because groceries are so darn expensive and you don't want to be wasteful .. but you need to find a use for.  I had 1/2 a package of cooked sausage, 1/2 bag of unthawed frozen spinach (I used the rest in soup).  Then I have had a container of ricotta looking for something to do with.  So I was thinking pasta, then I was thinking pizza.  Then it hit me...calzones..  They are easy to make and easy to pick up and eat.

I used full fat ricotta, because I do not like the reduced fat kind. I used half a 15 oz container for this recipe..(which leaves me with more leftovers..lol) and after making these I had about 3/4 of a cup of the sausage/spinach filling leftover.. I am making Spinach, sausage lasagna with creamy bechemel (white) sauce tomorrow with the leftover ricotta, and sausage filling...yeah, 2 meals with leftovers..my kinda thing :)  

I used Grands biscuits that I rolled out, but you could use refrigerated pizza dough, or the pizza dough the kind in a tube (by the biscuits, just roll it out.  If you used something other than the biscuits you will probably not have any leftover sausage filling left and you will probably use an entire container of ricotta, just double the seasonings and cheese, in the ricotta filling mixture.  Speaking of cheese, I used an Italian blend, which has Mozzarella, Parmesan & provolone in it.  Use what ever cheese you like...

I also brushed these with butter mixed with a little garlic powder & dried parsley when they came out of the oven... Make these today.. Enjoy


Sausage spinach & ricotta calzones


1 package Grand biscuits
1/2 package cooked sausage, crumbled (I used Bob Evans)
1 cup of shredded Italian cheese blend
1 clove garlic,minced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 T butter & olive oil
1/2 package frozen spinach, unthawed and squeezed dry
1/2 t white wine
salt & pepper

In a skillet add butter & olive oil.  Add onion, salt & pepper,over medium heat stirring often until translucent and softened.  Add cooked sausage & the garlic clove stirring until sausage is hot.  Add the wine, and spinach stirring until all the filling is hot and the wine has evaporated. 



Ricotta filling (Mix together)

1/2 of a 15 oz package ricotta
1/4 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
1/4 tsp each garlic & onion powder
1/4 t Italian seasoning
salt & pepper

Garlic butter mixture (Mix together)
1/4 cup Butter,melted
Dried parsley and a dash of garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350.Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
On a floured surface roll out the biscuits doing one at a time using a rolling pin until flattened.  Spoon a spoonful of the ricotta, a spoonful of the sausage/spinach mixture and a small sprinkling of cheese,  remembering not to fill them too full or they wont close.

 Lay them on the baking sheet and turn them over to close using a fork to seal the edges.  Continue till all the biscuits are used, making sure that they are not touching.
 Bake for 25-30 minutes (start checking them at 20 minutes) and every 5 minutes after that.  When they are golden remove from the oven, and brush with the garlic butter mixture.  Serve... enjoy