Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Caramel corn

Who doesn't love Caramel corn with all  it's sweet goodness.  It's a little sweet, a little salty, and just delicious.  You can add peanuts to this, or pecan, or almonds would be good... this is a basic recipe and certainly very easy.  This would be good for goodie bags for the holiday....
Just a note, when making the caramel syrup to pour over the popcorn when adding the baking soda it will bubbly up alot so make sure that the  pan that you are using is big enough so you don't get burned when stirring the mixture. Also I like my caramel corn sprinkled with just the tiniest bit of salt (just a slight pinch) before placing in the oven to bake.  Also, I pop my popcorn in a small amount of oil on the stove, but you can use air popped or plain microwave corn..use what you have. Make this soon you will love it...Enjoy

Caramel corn

10 cups popped popcorn
1 stick butter/margarine
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/4 t salt (plus a slight pinch more for topping)
1/3 t baking soda

Preheat oven to 300. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  In a large bowl place popcorn (making sure to remove any unpopped kernels).  In heavy saucepan add butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, & salt stirring until butter is melted and mixture is fully bubbling.  Boil for 3 minutes constantly stirring.  Add baking soda (be careful mixture will foam up) and stir well.  Pour over popcorn and with 2 large spoons mix in bowl until all popcorn is covered in caramel syrup. Pour popcorn mixture into the pan spreading into an even layer. Sprinkle with the pinch of salt. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and stir well making sure popcorn is down into an even layer place baking sheet back in oven for 10-15 minutes longer.  Remove from oven and let cool.   Place any leftovers in an airtight container.  Enjoy

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ham & pineapple fried rice and Rice pudding for dessert

Today was a day that  needed a quick and easy dinner... With our very busy schedules I only had about 30 minutes total for dinner a quick dessert.  All it took was a little bit of preplanning.... let me explain...  I have been trying to do meal planning for the week.. to help in keeping our food budget down and to be prepared and less likely to grab some take-out food.  There were bell peppers on sale this week (red, yellow & orange & green peppers) which I love cause they are a wonderful way to get the "rainbow" (you know colorful foods into our families).  When I bring them home from the store I wash them, and get out the cutting board out and then my Rubbermaid containers (you know the ones with the lids to store stuff in the fridge) and get to work slicing.  I core them and take the ribs out, then I slice half the peppers (1 each red, yellow, orange & green) and place them in a container I use these for fajitas cooked with sliced red onion.  The the half of the other peppers I dice kinda small dice and place in the other container.  Then with my hands I mix the small diced peppers up.  I use half of the small diced peppers for stir fry, and the other half for a frittata (egg, veggies and cheese)  so with 4 peppers I get 3 meals out of them... Sometimes I use the colored slices not for fajitas but dipped in hummus or veggie dip.  I also cut up several small red onions after I slice the peppers and place the slices in another container for cooking with the peppers for fajitas.  Also I dice up small a red onion to cook with the stir fry.  See one chop sessions and lots of prep work for other meals during the week.  I then place post it notes on top of the containers and place them in the fridge so they don't get eaten up...

You can use whatever you like in this fried rice it is yummy and super easy with all this prep work. Also I cook the instant rice the day before and place it in the fridge.  I use 3 cups water to 3 cups of rice. I just one cup of rice for the rice pudding.  Enjoy

Ham & Pineapple Fried Rice

2 cups cooked cold white rice
1 cup diced ham
1/4 cup crushed pineapple (with juice)
1 small diced small red onion
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 each, red, yellow, green, & orange pepper) diced small
2 eggs, beaten
1-2 T oil
2 T Teryikai & soy sauce
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 t minced ginger
1 T brown sugar

In large skillet add oil.  Add onions, and peppers cooking over medium high for a couple of minutes until beginning to soften.  Add ham and rice.  Mix the Teryikai sauce, soy sauce, pineapple, garlic, ginger & brown sugar together.  Pour over ham & rice mixture.  Cook for 4-5 minutes until mixture is hot and bubbly.  Spread mixture to outside of pan leaving a well in the middle place a little oil then add eggs to center of well.  Using spoon scramble eggs until almost done mixing eggs into the rice mixture until all is combined. Add peas & cook for 2-3 more minutes.  Remove from heat and serve.

Rice pudding
1 cup white rice
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 T half and half
1 t vanilla
1/2 t butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins

Cool whip or whipped cream to serve over the top  (optional)

In a saucepan over medium heat mix all ingredients together and bring to a boil stirring very often.  Turn off heat and let mixture sit until slightly cooled. Serve(adding whipped cream over the top) or place in fridge to get fully cold if desired.  Store any leftovers in fridge.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Beef short ribs & homemade noodles & roasted butternut squash

It's been a sad week at our house this week... My 94 year old grandma passed away.... She lived a long and wonderful life and we have sooo many wonderful memories of her... she was an amazing cook and she shared her love of food with us grandkids... she never made all this fancy stuff, just regular old everyday stuff...that's why I think that I cook like I do... I am not one for a big old fancy restaurant or exotic hard to find ingredients I am just a regular everyday cook who likes good homey food...nothing fancy but just yummy..... I had a package of Beef short ribs in the freezer and immediately though of her when I was thinking about how with this whole week of funeral preparations and everything else crazy going on that I just wanted a homecooked meal today.... so I am sharing this with love from my grandma...with just a little Joelle spin on it :)  ...my grandma never cooked with wine or spices but I do...so a little of her and a little of me... I did get named after her after all...my middle name is hers..love ya and will forever miss ya...  make this for your family they will love it...

Also just a note sometimes short ribs can be really expensive (when did that happen they used to be very inexpensive??) and my grandma who grew up in the depression taught us all about being frugal even before it became popular...so if short ribs are too expensive use a beef roast, or stew meat or what ever you have on hand...it will all be delicious.. Enjoy

Beef Short Ribs & Homemade noodles

2 lbs Beef Short Ribs
1 medium onion, peeled and small diced
2 carrots, peeled and small diced
1 stalk celery, washed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine
8 cups water
3-4 beef bouillon cubes
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
2 bay leaves
1 T. worchester sauce
1 t brown sugar

seasonings of your choice ( I used dried parsley flakes, seasoned salt (just a little cause the bouillon cubes are salty) & pepper, Mrs. Dash & a pinch each of red pepper flakes & thyme)

In large stock pot place all of the ingredients and bring to a rolling boil over medium high heat.  Reduce to low and simmer (making sure the liquid is bubbling) and cook for 3-4 hours our until the meat is tender and falling off of the bone...Remove meat to a bowl (to catch any liquid) and remove bones, and cut away the fat leaving large meat pieces.)  Pour any liquid from the bowl back into the pot. Remove garlic clove & bay leaves. Simmer while making the noodles. 


3 cups flour (plus more for rolling out)
1 T baking powder
1 egg
pinch of salt & sugar
1 T. olive oil
cold water

In large bowl whisk together the flour,salt, baking powder, & sugar.  Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture, add egg, oil and 1/4 cup water.  With a fork mix together the dough, adding a tablespoonful at a time to make a stiff dough.  On a floured surface knead dough a few minutes and with a rolling pin dusted with flour roll into to about a 1/4" thickness.   With a pizza cutter or a knife cut dough into squares. Turn broth to medium high and when fully boiling, take a spatula and remove the squares of dough and drop individually into the soup mixture.  Cook until the noodles float about 4-5 minutes  (or maybe shorter time depending on how small or large the noodles are).  Take any remaining noodle scraps and flour on the surface and sprinkle it across the pot immediately after adding the raw noodle dough to help thicken the broth.  Serve immediately and refrigerate any leftovers. Enjoy

Roasted Butternut squash with butter & brown sugar

2 whole Butternut squash
1/3 cup packed brown sugar (more or less depending on how sweet you like it)
1/2 stick butter
(seasonings of your choice I used salt & pepper, a pinch of cinnamon & nutmeg)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Wash the butternut squash and dry.  Cut each squash length wise in half.  Scoop out and discard seeds.  On aluminum foil lined baking sheet turn squash cut side down & bake for 45-60 minutes or until for tender.  Remove from oven turn over (be careful cause they are hot) and with a spoon remove all of the squash from the shell and place in a large bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well with a fork mashing up.  Serve with beef short ribs and noodles...  Enjoy

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tropical Banana Bread

I love banana bread...in any way shape or form... I make it with all kinds of add ins... with chocolate chips, nuts, strawberries or blueberries in the summer...and to lower the fat content sometimes I add yogurt or applesauce instead of oil....all kinds of ways equal delicious.......and I don't know if your like me I always have bananas that need using up... sometimes I slice them up and put them on a tray and place them in the freezer for making smoothies thick and yummy.... but mostly I make banana bread.  I also have made banana muffins and sprinkle granola over the top of them and bake them...easy, portable and yummy...however you make banana bread as always use what you have and love... Enjoy

Tropical Banana Bread

4 bananas peeled and mashed
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 T oil
1 cup shredded coconut
1 8oz can crushed pineapple
2 t baking powder
pinch of salt
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 2 loaf pans with nonstick spray. In large bowl mash 4 bananas with a fork.  Add egg, milk, both sugars, oil, pineapple, coconut, nuts & vanilla mixing well.  Add baking soda, salt & flour mixing just until combined.  Divide mixture into 2 baking pans and bake for 45-50 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Let pans cool for 5 minutes then remove loaves from pan.  Enjoy

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Toffee Saltine Squares

Toffee.... just the word sounds utterly delicious!!! I love toffee...and have tried to make it before...and it is alot of work and it doesn't always turn out the best....due to lots of varying factors...humidity..or not cooking to a high enough heat.... it's no fun to throw an entire pan of toffee away....

I have seen Toffee Saltine squares around for a long time and had a nibble of one several years ago when I was pregnant with my youngest son... and when I say nibble I mean just the slightest taste..because when I was pregnant both times I was extremely sick all the way through night and day both pregnancies..and it was awful!! The last pregnancy I was so sick that they put me on anti-nausea cancer medication cause I just couldn't eat... thank God that the baby and me got through that just fine..my heart goes out to other ladies who are sick... anyway enough of that yuck and onto this..the nibble of the toffee square that I did have I made a note to myself (if even at the time I was gaggy because of it..LOL) I thought one day when you are not pregnant and sick you should make this yummy stuff... and today was the day and I am glad I did... although after I made this today...I made a note to myself to NEVER make this unless either a) your having a party, or b) you are giving this away as gifts... because man alive you can keep nibbling and nibbling this stuff and before you know if you've eaten 1/4 of a pan.. NOT GOOD :(  anyway that's how good this stuff is...addicting and delicious..:)

Anyway I have seen various recipes for this but none of them just did it for me... some called for a pound of butter, some called for white sugar, some called for non salted butter, or non salted crackers... I was like good grief..this doesn't have to be this difficult... so I just winged it and came up with my own variation and recipe... I used 1 cup of each milk chocolate & semi sweet chocolate chips (I mixed them together and sprinkled them over the top) but use what you like..white chocolate chips would be delicious too...you can also skip adding the nuts over the top too... This recipe is so easy and good...make it for your family soon... and use what you like... Enjoy

Toffee Saltine Squares

1 1/4 sleeves of Saltine crackers
1 stick of butter
2 cups chocolate chips (I used a mixture of milk & semi sweet chips)
1 cup brown sugar packed
3/4 cups finely chopped pecans (optional)

 Preheat oven to 350.
Line a baking sheet (I used a 1/4 sheet pan) with aluminum foil making sure that the foil comes up over the sides of the pan.  Spray foil well with nonstick spray.  Lay in a single layer in pan the saltine crackers. In saucepan over medium high heat add brown sugar and butter.  Stir often until up to a rolling boil.  Boil for 2 minutes.  With large spoon (being careful cause sugar mixture is very hot) drizzle sugar mixture over saltines, trying to cover as much of the crackers as possible, (don't worry if you don't get all of the crackers cause the mixture will bubble and coat the crackers in the oven) Place pan into oven and bake for 6-8 minutes watching the crackers after 5 minutes making sure they don't burn.  Remove pan carefully from the oven & sprinkle the chocolate chips in a layer (the entire surface won't be covered) and place back into oven for 2-3 minutes or until chips start to melt.  Remove from oven and with an offset spatula or butter knife spread chips into an even layer over crackers.  Sprinkle immediately with pecans if using.  Let crackers cool completely and harden about 5 -6 hours.  Break apart and serve toffee squares... Enjoy