Saturday, December 29, 2012

Creamy Cauliflower soup

I love finding a good deal... I found heads of cauliflower for just .99 cents a head (which normal runs about $2.50 a head) so I got 2 heads of cauliflower for less than what I usually buy just one head for...a good deal in my book... I also found celery for .99cents a bunch which also is usually double that amount..and half and half for .99 cents as well... you can tell these things were on sale cause of the Christmas holiday...:)  so I was thinking what to do with all this newfound cauliflower & other onto I want to roast it in the oven with olive oil & herbs..nah... I wanted something yummy and delicious cause it is cold, snowy & blowing here in December in Michigan...Soup that's what I want... yummy creamy, delicious hot soup.... I used carrots, celery & onion, along with chicken/vegetable stock for the base... use what you have on hand...all veggie stock, or all chicken stock whatever will work... as always use what you have and what you like...that's what's wonderful about cooking....use what works for you....There is a couple of steps to make this soup but it is well worth it... I serve this with shredded co-jack cheese and croutons..but plain is also wonderful...
I made roux to thicken the soup at the end, I first used an immersion blender (cause it is much, much easier than blending this in a blender, but you can do that instead of an immersion blender)..

Creamy Cauliflower soup

10 cups veggie/chicken stock
2 heads cauliflower
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots ,chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 T olive oil
2 T butter
2 T sour cream
1 T white wine
co-jack cheese & croutons for serving (Optional)

**seasonings of your choice, I used kosher salt,pepper, seasoned salt, parsley flakes,onion powder, couple of pinches of nutmeg & cayenne pepper)

5 T EACH butter & flour
2 cups half & half
pinch of onion & garlic powder, cracked pepper and a pinch of salt

In large pot put olive oil in pan over medium heat.  When hot add onion, carrots & celery.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Stir to coat with the oil.  Cook for 4-5 minutes until veggies are halfway done.  While the veggies are cooking, wash the cauliflower & cut the outer leaves off .  Cut in half and remove tough core.  Cut into pieces and place in pot.  Stir well and sprinkle with a little more salt & pepper.  Add veggie/chicken stock (this should cover the veggies completely).  Place lid on pan and bring to a boil.  When boiling turn heat down to medium low and cook for around 10-15 minutes until vegetables are falling apart tender.  Make roux... melt butter in another pan over medium high heat, sprinkle flour over butter and whisk cooking for 2-3 minutes, add half & half and seasonings whisking together.  Continue whisking until thickened.  Back to the soup mixture, turn heat off and check veggies to make sure they are completely tender with fork.  Using your immersion blender blend soup (I blended about 90% of my mixture leaving just a few little pieces of cauliflower.  Add roux and turn heat back on...whisking mixture together until blended.  Drizzle wine over the soup, add sour cream and the last 2 T of butter whisking until sour cream is melted & butter is melted.  Taste to adjust the seasonings if necessary.  Turn off heat (you don't want the soup to boil at this point).  Serve in bowls with cheese sprinkled over the top and croutons... Enjoy

Peanut Butter and Jelly popcorn

I know, I know this sounds like a weird title for a post...but trust me.. you have got to try this stuff... It is absolutely amazing... it is gooey, sticky and downright delicious... kinda like freshly made caramel corn all sticky and amazing...but peanut buttery....and see I could go on and on and on... anyways...I used smooth peanut butter, and jelly (cause the chunks in jam would not make the sauce smooth....) I used grape jelly, but feel free to use whatever you like.....
I got this recipe from my friend Marie...thank you so much for sharing... I love it... make this for your family soon...have plenty of napkins, cause this is one messy treat... and this needs to be eaten right away cause the popcorn will get soggy if you let it sit.... Enjoy

Peanut Butter & Jelly popcorn

8 cups of popped popcorn
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup jelly
1 T butter
2 pinches of kosher salt

Place popcorn in large bowl. In saucepan add peanut butter, jelly, butter and pinch of kosher salt.  Cook over medium heat whisking till the sauce is smooth.  Drizzle mixture evenly over cooked popcorn and with big spoons mix well covering all of the popcorn evenly.  Place into serving bowls and enjoy.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Peanut Brittle

One thing of many that I love about the holidays is that I always make peanut brittle....I only like homemade peanut brittle... the store bought stuff is so not good... it just doesn't have that yummy taste... I like it with lots of peanuts, a little sweet, a dash of so good...
The equipment that you need is a heavy pan and a candy thermometer and a greased baking sheet....I put this into the holiday tins that I give out for Christmas....  Make this for your family soon... Enjoy

**NOTE** make sure that you use RAW peanuts, not roasted peanuts because they need to cook in the syrup, if they are not raw they will become too overdone and burn.  You can usually find raw peanuts next to the nuts in the produce section of your supermarket or in the baking section.

Peanut Brittle

2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
Dash salt
2 cups raw peanuts
1 1/2 T butter (NOT margarine)
1 1/2 T vanilla
2 t baking soda

Butter baking sheet pan well, making sure sides get buttered too.
In heavy saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup, water & salt in saucepan.  Cook over medium high heat stirring occasionally until mixture reaches 230 degrees or soft ball stage.  Add peanuts stirring well.  Continue cooking and stirring often till mixture reaches 300 degrees.  Turn off heat add, butter & vanilla stirring quickly till butter is melted.  Add baking soda (be careful the mixture really foams up) stirring well, quickly pour mixture onto baking sheet.  Let cool completely.  Then with a small hammer or back of a butter knife break brittle into small pieces.  Enjoy

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas crunch snack mix

I love trying to come up with new things at the holidays... along with our old favorites...
I was looking for something new to add to our holiday Christmas tins that I am giving out full of goodies.... and this was exactly what I was looking for...sweet, yummy and full of good things... you can switch out things or add what you like... for example: use milk chocolate instead of white, add crushed pretzels instead of coconut... use what you like and have... and thought this might be a favorite at other holidays just use the colored M & M's from that time, like pastel ones for Easter, Orange and black ones for Halloween... you get the idea.. whatever you do make this, it is delicious.. Enjoy

Christmas crunch snack mix

2 cups Rice chex cereal (or crispix, or use your favorite cereal)
1 package white chocolate chips
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 cup red & green plain M & M's

In a double boiler add white chocolate heating and stirring occasionally till smooth and melted.  While the chocolate is melting, in a large bowl add the Rice chex, coconut, & almonds  mixing to combine.  When chocolate is melted pour evenly over cereal mixture.  Fold in M & M's stirring to coat well.  Spread mixture out on waxed paper to cool.  When cool break apart and store in an airtight container.  Enjoy

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pork fried rice

I love fried rice... but I don't love it out at restaurants so much.  It seems like it is very few and far between that it is good.  Most of the time it is all rice, little to no flavoring, and just a few pieces of meat and maybe a green onion or two and greasy.  Not my idea of fried rice.  I like vegetables, meat, scrambled egg and lots of flavorings.  Healthful and delicious. 
I used instant rice, but by all means you can use regular rice.  Just make sure that it is cooled.  You can also make this vegetarian by skipping the meat and adding Tofu, and vegetables.  Also, you can use fresh ginger, but I forgot to buy it at the store, so I used dried ground ginger.  I serve this with extra Soy sauce and Siracha (chinese hot sauce) at the table.  I also sprinkle the servings with sesame seed , for a little nutty crunch but it is optional.  Enjoy

Pork Fried Rice

1 1/2 cups leftover small diced,cooked Pork (I used leftover pork roast)
1 onion, small diced
5 green onions, thinly sliced
3 cups cooked rice, cold
1 cup frozen peas
1 sweet pepper, seeded and diced (I used orange for color, but red or yellow work too)
1 cup fresh mushrooms, diced small
2 eggs,beaten
2 T Olive oil
1 T butter

Sauce: (Mix together)
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
3 T light soy sauce
1 t brown sugar
 (seasonings of your choice: I used;1/4 t each garlic & onion powder, 2 pinches of red pepper flakes, cracked pepper)

In large skillet add olive oil heat until hot and add in onion, mushrooms,and diced sweet pepper. Sprinkle with a little salt.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until vegetables soften up. Add pork and continue cooking 3-4 minutes until mixture is hot, and vegetables are almost softened.  Add peas, stirring well cook for a couple of minutes until peas thaw and add green onion & rice. Pour sauce mixture over all and stir well. Cook for 5-6 minutes over medium high heat until everything is bubbly and rice is getting a nice golden brown.  Move rice mixture to the sides of the pan making a well in the middle.  Melt butter in the well and add the eggs to the well.  Stir constantly with a spoon until eggs are scrambled and cooked about 2-3 minutes.  Stir egg into the rest of the rice mixture and cook for 3-4 more minutes until all is hot and cooked through.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.  Enjoy

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cheesy Potatoes

Who doesn't love Cheesy potatoes... ooey , gooey oh so yummy.  These are super easy to make and throw together.  Sometimes I add other kinds of cheesy in these along with the cheddar to total around 2 cups (co-jack, swiss, a little parmesan) all delicious... Make these soon... Enjoy

Cheesy Potatoes

1 pkg frozen cubed potatoes (I use the ones with peppers and onions added)
1 onion, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese ( save 1 cup for top)
1 stick of butter melted
 1/2 teaspoon each (seasoned salt, pepper, garlic & onion powder)
1/4 tsp pepper

1 can french fried onion(Optional)

Preheat oven to 375,
In a large bowl place all ingredients (using only 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese)and mix well.   Place in a sprayed baking dish (making sure there is at least around 1 " around the top of the dish cause the dish will be bubbly and you don't want it to bubble over the side).  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 30 minutes or until all is bubbly and center is bubbly and hot.  Add remaining 1 cup shredded cheese over the top and sprinkle with french fried onions, bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Texas sheetcake

I love this cake!  It is chocolatey and rich... and oh sooo good.... I am thinking that because this cake is made in a sheetpan and is about the size of Texas is where it got it's name.. just kidding.. I have absolutely no idea where the name came from but it sure makes alot of cake and it is so incredibly chocolatey and good..YUM.  I use a 1/4 sheetpan but you can also use a jelly roll pan... you might just have to adjust the baking time... make this cake is so good... Enjoy
** NOTE ***sometimes I make the frosting in a couple of different ways.. I sometimes add 1/4 cup sour cream to the other ingredients... or sometimes I skip the sour cream and melt 1/4 cup peanut butter in the microwave and add that to the frosting ingredients before whisking... both ways are equally delicious...also you can sprinkle the top of the icing with chopped pecans...

Texas sheetcake

1 cup butter
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 16 oz can Hershey's syrup
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup water
1 t vanilla
1/2 t cinnamon

Frosting :
1 stick butter
1/4 plus 2-3 T milk
3 T cocoa
3 3/4 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt & cinnamon
1 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a sheetpan with nonstick cooking spray.
In saucepan place butter, water & cocoa powder heat on medium low until butter is melted.   Let mixture cool a couple of minutes.  In large bowl add remaining ingredients, and pour in the melted butter mixture.  Whisk mixture with a large whisk just until smooth and combined. Pour into prepared pan and smooth into an even layer.  Bake for around 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. Let cool 15-20 minutes.

While cake is cooling, melt stick of butter in saucepan over medium heat.  Add remaining ingredients to butter & whisk until smooth.  Pour over warm cake and spread out to an even layer.  Let cool, cut into squares and eat... Enjoy

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Layered Mexican tortilla casserole

This was a creation of mine that kinda came about after wanting something mexican, looking around my cupboards and fridge and then taking what I had and creating something different and keeping my fingers crossed that it turned out decent, so I didn't have to throw the entire thing away (ask me how I know this...LOL). Anyways...  I have heard about layered mexican casseroles before but had never made them or had them.  So this is my take on it.  Easy, breezy..YUMMY... my stepson (who hates everything ate 2 helpings).  I serve this with sour cream on the side, and I crush up tortilla chips to sprinkle on each serving to give it a little extra something on top.  Also, I like black olives sprinkled over the top too..but it is optional and I served them on the side, so those that like them can take them and those that don't can just skip them all together.  Enjoy
**NOTE***I used leftover cooked pork loin shredded, in my casserole (cause that's what I had on hand) but you can add crumbled cooked ground beef, just brown it in with the onion and drain off any fat. 

Layered Mexican tortilla casserole

1 onion, small diced
2 cups cooked pork loin, shredded (Or ground beef see note if using ground beef)
1 t olive oil
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 1/4 cups water
1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup (I used Campbell's)
1 packet of dry enchilada seasoning mix
1 small package of frozen corn, thawed
1 can chili beans
splash of white wine, worchester sauce
1/4 cup salsa
2 T. brown sugar
2 cups mild cheddar cheese
1 pkg. 8 count torillas, cut into approx. 2" pieces
1/4 tsp each (cumin, paprika, onion & garlic powder)
1 clove garlic minced

Optional items:
Sour cream
sliced black olives
Crushed tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 400.  Spray a 9x9 baking dish with nonstick spray.
In large skillet add olive oil, add onion season with salt & pepper.  Cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add pork loin and cook for 2-3 minutes until onion is softened, add garlic and stir to cook garlic.  Add worhcester sauce, cheddar cheese soup, wine, tomato sauce, water, enchilada seasoning packet,corn, brown sugar,chili beans, salsa and seasonings.  Mix well and combine until bubbly and heated completely through. Spoon enough sauce to cover the bottom of the baking dish.  Layer tortilla pieces over sauce, layer more sauce mixture, sprinkle with cheese, and continue (I did 3 layers) ending with sauce and sprinkle cheese over the top.  Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes, uncover and bake another 5-10 minutes until mixture is bubbly and cheese is melted.  Remove from oven .  Serve with sour cream on the side,black olives and crushed tortilla chips on each serving. Enjoy

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Blackberry crisp

They had blackberries on sale at our local grocery store and they looked so first thought was blackberry crisp... all that buttery/sugary goodness warm and delicious out of the oven.  I used fresh berries, but you can substitute frozen fruit as well.  This recipe can also be used with other fruit, peaches, blueberries, raspberries ...I would suggest that you taste your fruit to check it's sweetness.  If the fruit really sweet then reduce the amount of sugar that you mix with it.  These blackberries were really on the tart side so I used quite a bit of sugar to sweeten them up.  Make this to warm your family up from the inside... I serve this with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream, but it is equally delicious just as it is.. Enjoy

Blackberry crisp

3 pints blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 t lemon juice

for the crisp:

3 T cornstarch
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/3 cup each regular sugar & brown sugar
1 t vanilla
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375 and spray your baking dish (I used an 8x8 dish) with nonstick spray.  Pour the blackberries in a colander and rinse well shaking off the excess water.  In a bowl place the blackberries, sugar & lemon juice.  Stir well being careful to not break up the berries.  Pour into an even layer in the baking dish.  In the bowl used for the blackberries place all of the ingredients for the crisp.  With a fork mix the ingredients well, breaking the mixture up until it is crumbly.  Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the blackberries.  Place in oven and bake for around 30-35 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly (check after 30 minutes and if not quite done cook an additional 5 minutes) until the crisp looks slightly golden.  Remove from oven and serve with whipped cream/vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy