Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pizza Dip

Well thinking about the upcoming Super Bowl...the one football game I actually watch a year.... well only watch until after 1/2 time...then I am about comatose... and stuffed to the gills with yummy party types of food and I am about ready for a nap... :) this recipe is an oldie but a goodie... I have posted this before but it deserves a repeat... I get so many requests for this year round and I always come home with an empty dish when I bring it...the recipe is a basic one and you can add whatever toppings you like... green peppers, cooked sausage, bacon bits, onions, olives...the toppings are endless...basically what you like on a pizza would work...anything goes...also, I usually use a blend of mozzarella cheese, cheddar & Parmesan, but have use the Italian blend cheese and it works fine as well.. I usually toast slices of french bread to serve with this.  It is fine to use plain untoasted bread, I have used pita both toasted and plain, or crackers and crispy breadsticks with this too... (can you tell I made this and served it with all sorts of things and they have all been delicious...Use what you like... Enjoy

Pizza Dip

8oz. cream cheese, softened (I use 1/3 less fat kind)
1 cup pizza sauce (or about 1/2 jar)
2-3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (or a blend of cheeses)
sliced pepperoni to cover the entire top
seasonings of your choice (I use garlic & onion powder, & Italian seasonings (the kind that has everything in it basil, thyme,oregano etc all mixed up)
Toasted french bread, or crackers,or pita

Preheat oven to 350.  Place cream cheese in a baking dish ( I use a round  pyrex dish).  Spread out to an even layer.  Sprinkle cream cheese lightly with garlic & onion powder, & Italian seasoning.  Spread pizza sauce evenly over cream cheese mixture.  Sprinkle cheese in an even layer completely covering sauce.  Layer pepperoni over top (make sure that they are right next to each other completely covering the entire top because they shrink when cooking).  Place pan in oven and bake for around 15 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly golden.  Serve with toasted bread, or crackers.... enjoy

Monday, January 23, 2012

Homemade Soft Pretzels with Cheesy Dip

These are so darn yummy... I got this recipe from the food blog Jamie cooks it up... check her blog out here... she makes some of the best looking stuff and has awesome pictures..check these out...they are beautiful....that is my goal in 2012 pictures and a better blog... still learning and trying :)  anyway I made some adjustments to the recipe and they turned out so so good.. Thanks Jamie for the inspiration...
Now onto the cheese dip... Gotta have cheese dip with pretzels... it goes hand in hand... thought to myself what would I like to taste in cheese dip.. A little spice, creaminess, mustard, a little sweetness so oft to put the thinking cap on and develop a cheese dip recipe..... and so glad I did...It turned out time I will be doubling the Cheesy Dip recipe.. We blew thru that and still had lots of pretzels left... Thinking of adding a splash of white wine next time with the milk.... just a thought... see that's what cooking is, trial and error... try it and if you don't like it start again....make these and thanks Jamie :)  Enjoy

Homemade Soft Pretzels

1 1/2 very warm water
2 1/2 t salt ( I use kosher plus more for sprinkling on pretzels)
 1 packet active dry yeast
 4 1/2- 5 cups of flour ( I used half whole wheat & half regular flour, can use all regular flour)
1 egg, beaten
3 T. brown sugar
6 T butter/margarine melted
10 cups water
3/4 cup baking soda

In large bowl add the water, brown sugar, melted butter and yeast, mix well for 30 seconds, ( I used a whisk).  Let sit for 5 minutes for the yeast to activate.  After the 5 minute rest, add salt, and 2 cups of the flour.  Mix well with a fork (or mixer with the dough hook attached).  Add remaining flour 1 cup at a time until mixture pulls away from bowl. (If using mixer mix for 5 minutes on medium speed.)  If doing by hand dump the dough onto a floured surface ( I used regular flour not the whole wheat to knead the dough) and knead the dough for around 4-5 minutes.  In same bowl as mixed add 1 T oil using a paper towel coat entire bottom of bowl place kneaded dough in bowl and turn over using fingers coat entire dough with oil.  Cover with a towel and set to rise about 1 hour until doubled in size.  After dough has risen take dough out of pan and place on a counter sprayed with cooking spray.  Cut dough into 8 pieces.  Let rest 5 minutes.  While dough is resting bring water to boil, add baking soda.  Take one of the 8 pieces of dough (cover the remaining dough with a towel to avoid drying out) and roll out into a log on cooking spray covered countertop.  Cut log into about 2 inch pieces and place into boiling water, no more than 15-20 pieces at a time.  Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a sprayed baking sheet.  Continue until the pan is full.  Brush lightly with beaten egg.  Sprinkle with coarse salt and bake at 400 degrees for around 14-16 minutes.  Remove from oven and eat with the cheese dip... Continue the steps until all the dough has been used....Enjoy (these are so very yummy)

Cheesy Mustard Dip
2 T butter/margarine
2 T flour
1/3-1/2 cup milk
1 slice american cheese
2 T shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 t worchester sauce
seasonings of your choice I used(1/4 t each garlic & onion powder,pinch of cayenne pepper, pinch of seasoned salt)
1/4 t Dijon/Spicy mustard
Drizzle of honey

Melt butter over medium heat in pan.  Whisk in flour and cook until bubbly for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in milk stirring constantly.  When it comes up to a bubble and it seems too thick add an additonal 1-2 tablespoonfuls of milk. Add the 2 kinds of cheeses, worchester sauce, mustard, honey and seasonings whisking until cheese  is melted.  Serve immediately with the pretzel bites...

No Bake Cookies

Who doesn't like no bake cookies?  They are so easy, quick and so so  good... Less than 5 minutes and they are done....
I have a couple of "secrets" to make your no bake cookies extra special.... I add a couple of dashes of cinnamon, and a little extra chocolate.. I keep individual Hershey bars in the freezer and add one to the mixture...(since the Hershey bars are frozen I just whack them on the countertop and they break into pieces), I have also added a handful of unwrapped Hershey kisses, leftover Easter, Halloween or Christmas solid chocolate candies (ex: Dove pieces, easter bunnies, chocolate santas etc...) to the mixture (if I don't have any Hershey bars or need to use some leftover candy) and it just gives it that little extra oomph....both the cinnamon and extra chocolate are optional but very yummy additions:)
I have used both smooth and crunchy type peanut butter and both work equally well.. use what you like.  Enjoy

No Bake Cookies
1 stick butter/margarine
2 cups sugar
3 T cocoa
1/4 cup milk
1 individual Hershey bar, broken up
couple of dashes of cinnamon
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 t vanilla
2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats

In saucepan add butter/margarine, sugar, cocoa, milk, cinnamon and Hershey bar.  Stir until butter & chocolate are melted, bring to boil and boil for 2-3 minutes.  Add vanilla & peanut butter stirring until peanut butter is dissolved and mixture is still bubbly.  Turn off heat and add oats.  Stir well to completely combine.  Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper lined countertop.  Let cookies set and harden up about 10-15 minutes.  Enjoy

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

These are super quick, easy and yummy..... You can leave out the peanut butter and just make fruit crumble bars with whatever flavor of jelly is your favorite.. I have used, grape, strawberry, blackberry and raspberry jam to name a few...I am putting 2 ways to do the jam/jelly.  The first way is to use fruitspread preserves (these are located next to the jam/jellies and are delicious don't have to add water to them because they are spreadable...hence the name fruitspread... and the second is to use a regular size jar of jam/jelly and thin it out a little with hot water....I have done it both ways and it is equally yummy..but the fruitspread is the easiest..but who wants to go to the store to just get those fruitspread preserves...use what you have on hand....also I have used both crunchy and smooth peanut butter..use what you like:)   enjoy

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

1/2 yellow/white cake mix
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
2/3 stick butter,melted
1/2 cup peanut butter (melted for 30 seconds in microwave)
1 8 oz jar fruitspread preserves (just use these straight from the jar no thinning out with water is necessary) **if using the regular jam/jelly  use the jelly plus the water
1/2 jar jelly/jam
2 T. hot water (tap is fine)

Preheat oven to 375.  Spray a 8x8 pan with nonstick spray. In large bowl mix cake mix and oats.  Add melted butter and peanut butter mix well until crumbly and combined.  In pan place 1/2 the oat mixture patting to an even layer.  In small bowl whisk together the jelly/jam & hot water until comined ***NOTE again if just using the fruitspread preserves use just them..  Spread jelly over oat mixture stopping about 1/2 inch away from the sides (you don't want the jam to burn to the sides of the pan).  Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture evenly over the top and press down lightly over the top.  Bake for 18-20 minutes and remove from oven. These don't get golden brown, but if you cook any longer the bottom will be burnt.   Let cool, but into bars and enjoy.

Burrito Bowls

I love anything Mexican/Cuban.... tacos, burritos, nachos.... cuban black beans, carne asada.... it is super cold here in Michigan and am needing some warming up from the inside :)  you can make this as hot or as mild as you like... you can add cayenne pepper, or jalapenos to the layers in the bowl.... I have little ones at home so I make things mild and put additional seasonings out (hot sauce, cayenne pepper, jalapeno's etc) on the table for spicing up :)  you can make these and put whatever toppings you like... green peppers, black olives, shredded lettuce.... different kinds of cheese....(I do a shortcut about once a week, I cut up several tomatoes, green peppers etc and place them in individual covered plastic containers in the fridge to put in salad etc for the week.  When I want a salad I don't have to cut up everything it can be quick and easy and I find that I am eating more vegetables that way...trying to eat healthier in 2012 :) and the cuban black beans are optional, you can add heated up refried beans, or pinto beans use what you have and like... I just love my shortcut cuban black beans:)  served over rice as a side dish...YUMMY... I crushed up a little cheese Doritos totally optional but I liked the crunch...these are simple and delicious :) 
These are kinda like a taco salad but different... I love the contrast of the hot meat, rice & beans and the cold toppings.... so good... this is a quick meal that you can have on the table in about 15-20 minutes... Enjoy

Burrito Bowls

Cooked Instant rice & ingredients to make(chicken stock, butter seasoned salt & pepper) *see recipe below
2 cups leftover shredded pork (I had leftover pork from BBQ pulled pork I saved some before adding the BBQ sauce
1 T oil
Cuban shortcut black beans *see below for recipe*
1/2 packet taco seasoning mix
2 T chicken stock
Toppings of your choice (I used shredded lettuce salad mix with carrots & cabbage in it, diced tomatoes,shredded co-jack cheese, olives, sliced green onions, sour cream & crushed cheese Doritos)

Shortcut Cuban Black Beans
1 can black beans
1/2 cup chicken stock
seasonings of your choice ( I used onion & garlic powder, cumin, p aprika, chili powder, pinch of lemon pepper, seasoned salt & cayenne pepper, dried onion & celery flakes, pinch of sugar)
2 T. white wine
1 t worchester sauce

Add all ingredients to a pan and heat until boiling over medium heat.  Simmer until sauce is reduced about 5 minutes, and liquid is thickened.

Instant Rice

2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 1/2 cups Instant rice (I used white)
2 T. butter
seasoned salt & pepper

In large pan put chicken stock, 1 T of butter & seasonings.  Bring to boil.  Add rice and stir well.  Turn off heat and place a lid on pan.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Add addtional T of butter to rice stir well. 

Crispy Seasoned Pork

In large skillet add 1 T. olive oil.  Add shredded pork and cook for around 3-4 minutes until meat is heated thru and becoming browned in pan stirring with tongs often so meat doesn't burn. Sprinkle dry taco seasoning over meat add 2 T. chicken stock stirring well (be careful the pan is hot and this will really bubble up).  Continue stirring until liquid is absorbed (1-2 minutes) and then let the meat crisp up in the pan.

In a bowl place a layer of rice, top with the black bean mixture, top with meat.  Then top with toppings of your choice ending with the crispy Cheese Doritos on top.  Place a dollop of sour cream if using.. and Enjoy

Friday, January 20, 2012

Orange Cranberry Muffins with Strusel topping

I love Muffins... so love them... it has been so cold here in Michigan in the last couple of days I have been looking forward to baking to make the house smell yummy and make it just a touch warmer.... I had orange juice that needed to be used up and I had dried cranberries in a salad today so I thought orange cranberry muffins were just what I was looking for :)  The strusel topping that I made has no added fat, just granola, sliced almonds and a little coconut :)    Enjoy

Orange Cranberry Muffins

1 1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup oil
1/2 t vanilla
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup dried cranberries(mix in a bowl with 1 T flour to coat cranberries)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 t salt
3 t baking soda

Strusel topping
1/3 cup granola
3 T sliced almonds
3 T flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 12 muffin cups (or use cupcake liners).  In large bowl whisk together until well combined orange juice, oil, vanilla & egg. Add sugar and mix well.  Add flour, salt, baking powder and cranberries stirring just until combined.  Scoop into muffin cups 3/4 full.  In small bowl mix together strusel ingredients.  Sprinkle evenly over the muffin batter.  Place in oven and bake for 19-20 minutes until light golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let cool slightly and enjoy....

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Homemade macaroni & cheese 2 ways....

My family loves macaroni & cheese.... I make it two different ways...both are easy one is creamy and the other has a cheese custardy kind of filling...both are equally delicious.... I use different kinds of cheeses to make things taste yummy, usually cleaning out my cheese drawers.  I usually use cheddar (both mild & sharp), a little parmesan, co-jack, swiss...but use whatever you like... and I usually save a little for the top ( I put it on in the last few minutes of baking)....  enjoy

Macaroni & cheese #1

1/2 of a 1 lb. box of macaroni, cooked and drained
1 can evaporated milk
2 eggs, beaten with a fork
1/2 cup  milk
2-3 cups shredded cheese (plus a little more for the top)
seasonings of your choice (I use garlic & onion powder, seasoned salt, pinch of salt & pepper)

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Put both kinds of milk in baking dish & whisk in eggs and seasonings.  Add cheese and macaroni stirring well.  Milk mixture should be almost to the top (if not add a little more milk you shouldn't need to add much more milk).  Stir all very well and place in oven.  Bake for around 1 1/4 hours until top is golden brown and center and sides are bubbly.  I usually take a spoon and move the center to look if the custard around the macaroni is set.  Sprinkle with extra shredded cheese and bake for a couple of minutes more until melted. Remove from oven & enjoy.

Macaroni & Cheese # 2

1/2 of a 1 lb package of macaroni, cooked and drained
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup of flour
3 cups of shredded cheese,divided (plus more for the top)
2 1/2 cups of milk

seasonings of your choice ( I use garlic & onion powder, seasoned salt, pinch of salt & pepper)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  In saucepan melt butter, sprinkle in flour and whisk together to make a roux.  Let cook for 3-4 minutes whisking to cook the raw flour taste out.  Add milk & seasonings.  Whisk together cooking until bubbly and thick.  Whisk in 2 1/2 cups of cheese until melted.  Add macaroni coating well.  Add remaining 1/2 cup cheese stir well and place in greased baking dish.  Bake for around 20-30  minutes (check after 20 minutes) mixture should be bubbly and starting to get golden brown.  Sprinkle with a little extra cheese and bake for a couple more minutes until melted. Remove from oven & enjoy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rocky Road Smore bars

Yummy is all I can say about these bars....who doesn't like chocolate, marshmellow, nuts and graham crackers....I know I's the new year trying to eat a little healthier but a girl still has to have some chocolate :)   before she kills somebody (and also a little diet coke every day as well....or hmmm maybe that's just me :)  just kidding about the killing part...LOL
Use whatever nuts you have almonds, walnuts, pecans anything they all work.. try these bars...they are wonderful :)  Enjoy

Rocky Road Smore bars

2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter/margarine, melted
1/2 package EACH of white chocolate & semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmellows
1/2 cups sliced almonds
1 can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)

Preheat oven to 350.
In bowl place graham cracker crumbs.  Pour butter/margarine over bars.  Mix well with fork combining all ingredients.  Place in a 13 x 9 pan and pat into an even layer.  Sprinkle the white chocolate & semi sweet chocolate chips evenly over crust.  Sprinkle the nuts over the chips, then the marshmellows.  Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over all.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let cool, cut into bars and enjoy :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Snacks :) 2 ways.... Sweet & Spicy Pretzels & Seasoned Oyster crackers

I love snacks... who doesn't... I love ones that are seasoned well and just plain taste yummy and are easy to make to boot :)  these 2 snacks are super easy to whip together and taste yummy....good for the upcoming Super Bowl parties or card clubs or any old time... the suggested seasonings are just that.. if your family doesn't like a particular seasoning just leave it out and put in what you like.... These also can be as hot as your family likes too.. I have a baby in the house so I don't go overboard on the heat...sometimes I do add a couple more pinches of cayenne & garlic & onion powder as well as an additional Tablespoon of brown sugar right before I throw these into the oven to really season them well.  Not necessary but I love seasonings... my friend Angie calls me the "spice queen"  LOL   Enjoy

Sweet & Spicy Pretzels

1 16 oz. package of small pretzel sticks
1 T. oil
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 pkg. dried onion soup mix
3 T. brown sugar
3 dashes hot sauce
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1 T worchester sauce
1/4 t garlic & onion powder

In large bowl place pretzels.  Microwave butter ( I use a pyrex measuring cup) add seasonings stir well.   Pour over pretzels and with 2 big spoons mix pretzels very well coating them all well.  Let pretzels soak up seasonings for about 15-20 minutes stirring well every 5 or 10 minutes.   Place on a sheet pan and spread out to an even layer.  Bake at 250 for 25 minutes stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and stir.   Let cool completely and enjoy.  Put leftovers (if there are any :)  LOL in plastic containers with a lid, or a large ziploc bag.  Enjoy

Seasoned Oyster Crackers

1 1/2 packages of oyster crackers
1/2 t dill weed
1/4 cup oil
2 T. melted butter
1 pkg dry ranch seasoning mix
1/4 t each (lemon pepper, Mrs. Dash seasoning, cayenne pepper,garlic & onion powder )

Place crackers in large bowl.  Mix oil, butter and seasonings well.  Drizzle over crackers mixing well.  Place crackers on sheet pan spreading out to an even layer.  Bake at 250 for 30 minutes stirring every 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir.  Cool and put any leftovers in a big ziploc bag or plastic container with a lid.  Enjoy

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Taco Salad

Who doesn't love Taco Salad.... Crisp crunchy lettuce, warm hot taco meat, & yummy toppings.... ohhhh the toppings... I could go on and on about the toppings,,, tomatoes, sour cream, shredded cheese, black olives, green onions...see I told ya... and last but not least crisp, crunchy cheesy Doritos....yup lots and lots of crushed ones on top....makes me want a taco salad now... but alas....had a big one the other day and someone asked me for the recipe... so here I am blogging about it and now wanting it sigh.... 
anyway back to the recipe... you can use whatever toppings you like.  I usually put out bowls with various diced toppings (ex: tomatoes, green onion, olives, avacado's,shredded cheese etc.) and I usually put out a big bag of Doritos so people can put as much or as little as they want.  I always use the cheese kind...use what you like...also a little hot sauce and sour cream won't hurt anyone either LOL..just my rationalizing the good stuff wink ;)  .....and also I usually put out creamy french dressing or ranch for people to drizzle over the top if they choose.  Sometimes I put out salsa & hot sauce as well instead of dressing to top off the salad for a little something different... you know mix it up a little... Enjoy

Taco Salad

1 lb ground beef (I usually buy lean meat) or can use ground chicken or turkey
1 onion, chopped
1 packet of Taco seasoning mix
1/2 cup water.
Additonal seasonings (optional) (I use cumin, chili powder,paprika, onion & garlic powder & a pinch of red pepper flakes)

Salad fixings of your choice ( I use lettuce, tomato, black olives, sliced green onion,  & avacado's)
Sour cream
Shredded Cheese
Dressing (creamy french or ranch)
Cheese Doritos

In large skillet add ground beef & chopped onion.  Saute until onion is soft & meat is no longer pink and fully cooked (drain fat off if necessary).  Add envelope of taco seasoning mix,water & additional seasonings & saute for 2-3 minutes until thickened.

On large plate place lettuce & salad toppings of your choice, add hot meat sprinkled over salad, drizzle salad with dressing, crush Doritos and place over the top and sprinkle top with cheese. Seve with Sour cream on the side.  Enjoy

Creamy Grits with Cheese

I love these grits... the first time I ever had grits they were plain ole no flavor things that were quite frankly awful... I thought to myself well chalk that one off...NOT having these old yukky things again... but then I thought I keep hearing about them and all the things that flavor them and being a "seasoning spice queen" :) LOL I  thought to myself...self make these and kick the flavor up sky that I did...  you can use whatever seasoning that you like...I use quick cooking grits which cook up in 5 minutes.   I usually serve these for breakfast, but they can be a snack or a side dish as well.... I also usually use co-jack & freshly grated parmesan cheese but again use what you like... Enjoy

These serve 4 people

4 cups water
1 cup quick cooking grits
1/4 cup butter(plus more for the top)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (plus more for the top)
1/4 cup grated co-jack cheese

seasonings of your choice( I use onion & garlic powder, seasoned & regular salt, & pepper)

Bring water up to a boil in a saucepan.  Add seasonings and grits.  Cook according to package directions stirring often.  When done add butter and both kinds of grated cheese stir until cheese is melted.  Taste grits add more seasonings if needed.  Serve in bowl with a big pat of butter, a sprinkle of seasoned salt & freshly cracked pepper and grated parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy

Monday, January 2, 2012

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies II

These cookies are so incredibly awesome.... I already have a super easy Peanut Butter Kiss cookie recipe posted but I had to include these as well... they are so moist and absolutely beautiful... When I was putting the Hershey kisses on top I kept thinking these are so pretty... picture perfect beautiful and very very tasty too :)  I need to work on getting pictures on my blog... maybe that will be one of my 2012 goals.... pictures:)  anyway make these cookies....and get ready to be happy:)  Enjoy

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies II

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
3 T milk
1 t vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
Hershey's kisses (unwrapped)
Extra sugar for rolling

Heat oven to 375.  In bowl place, butter, peanut butter, brown sugar and 1/2 cup of regular sugar, cream together well with electric mixer.  Add egg, milk & vanilla mix well.  In another bowl whisk together, flour, soda & salt.  Add all at once to creamed mixture mixing well until stiff dough forms.  Roll dough into balls (I used a good size scoop so all the cookies will be the same size) roll in granulated sugar ( I placed some into a small bowl for rolling).  Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  Continue until cookie sheet is full.   Bake for 13 minutes or until tops of cookies are puffed and cracked (they will not brown).  Remove from oven and immediately press a Hershey's kiss onto the top of the cookies.  Place on a wax paper lined counter to cool completely.  Continue until all cookies are made.  Enjoy