Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Pretzel Bites with Cheese Sauce

We are planning a summer trip to Lake Powell and got together with friends to make plans on Sunday night. I've been wanting to try out a new pretzel recipe I found and this was the perfect excuse to do some baking.

We are suckers for a good pretzel.  Buttery, salty, chewy and soft, these little nuggets meet all the criteria.  The secret is the high cooking temperature, and the brush of butter after baking.  They turned out perfectly!  So delicious! 

For the Pretzels:

2 cups milk
2 tablespoons yeast
6 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter
5 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons fine salt

Will also need:  
3 cups water       
1/3 cup baking soda         
coarse sea salt
1/4 c. melted butter 

Heat milk until very warm.  In a Kitchenaid or Bosch add the warm milk, yeast, and sugar.  Allow yeast to grow for about 10 minutes.  Add the flour and salt and knead for 10 minutes until dough is smooth.  Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in a warm place until double - about 45 minutes to an hour. 
Place water and baking soda in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Punch dough down and cut in to 6 equal pieces.  Roll each piece of dough in to a long snake shape and cut in bite-sized pieces.  Plunge small pieces of dough in the boiling water and immediately remove and place on greased or non stick baking sheet.  Sprinkle with sea salt while the dough is sticky.  Bake at 450 degrees for about 6-8 minutes.  Immediately brush each pretzel bite with butter after they come out of the oven.  

For the Cheese Sauce:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
2 cups shredded cheddar
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 tsp. cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan on medium heat, melt butter, then whisk in four and cook for a minute or so.  Add the whole milk and simmer until thickened.  Stir in the hot sauce, cayenne and cheddar cheese.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with warm pretzels.  Can refrigerate and re-heat.  Also good for fondue or on nachos.  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Fiesta Pasta Salad

I've made about every version of pasta salad out there, but this southwestern version includes one of my favorite ingredients - avocados!  It was yummy, but has to be eaten the same day, otherwise the avocados turn brown.  Darn those (yummy, delicious) avocados!  Add them very last before serving.  

1 pkg. pasta (use your favorite type/shape)
1 can olives, sliced
1-2 small Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 can black beans or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can sweet corn, drained
1 ripe avocado
2-3 green onions, chopped
1 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup salsa, drain off extra juice
1 pkg. taco seasoning (won't use the whole thing)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Boil pasta in salted water according to pkg. directions.  Drain and cool.  Add olives, tomatoes, beans, corn, green onions and mix well.  Mix the ranch dressing, mayo and salsa.  Sprinkle in some taco seasoning (according to taste) and mix again.  Toss the dressing mix in with the salad ingredients. Stir in the shredded cheese, but save a little to garnish on top.  Finally, cut the avocado in half.  Cut one half in chunks, add to the salad and gently stir in so it doesn't get "mushed".  Cut the other half in slices and use to garnish the top of the salad.  If the salad seems like it needs more dressing, I usually just stir in more ranch dressing or mayo and sprinkle in a bit more taco seasoning.

Chocolate Oreo Mousse Cake

I am going to confess up front....this is a box mix recipe.  But I always like to post things on my blog that are yummy and worth making.  This definitely makes the cut.  
I use to buy these mixes when Korry and I were first married, but over the years I've gotten a little "snobby" and quit buying them.  
At the grocery store last week, Korry found them in the jello isle and announced he wanted me to make it for Sunday dinner...for old times sake.  He also wanted "Shake and Bake" chicken. 
When "Mr. Picky" asks for something, I don't argue.  
My kids LOVED it and I made my food-snobby-self feel better by adding whipped cream and a raspberry.  I'm going to stock up on these mixes for my food storage!  The cheesecake mixes are just as good and they cost about the same (or less) than a package of Oreos.  

2 boxes Jello brand No Bake Double Chocolate Dessert Mix
4 T. sugar
1 stick butter, melted
3 1/2 cups milk
sweetened whipped cream
fresh raspberries

Open boxed mixes.  Pour both crust mixes in a bowl.  Stir in sugar and then melted butter.  Press crust mixture in bottom of 13x9 pan.  Pour filling mixes in to a separate bowl.  Add milk and beat for 2-3 minutes until creamy and thickened.  Pour filling over crust and spread to smooth.  Refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours or longer.  Cut in squares.  To serve, dollop with whipped cream and garnish with raspberry.  

 These Jello mixes are ALL really good and are so inexpensive compared to buying all the ingredients and making something similar from scratch. There are tons of online ideas using these mixes as a base for other desserts. You find them on the top shelves in the Jello isle.

Veggie Pasta Alfredo

A couple of years ago, my boss (dear friend), Sara, and I began "sharing lunches".  We were both in the bad habit of letting busy mornings get the best of us and showing up without a lunch. This meant many "junk food" lunches or trips out for fast food.  We decided that whenever we had leftovers, we would bring what we had and share with each other. 

On days she forgets, I remember and when I forget, she remembers. Some days we both show up with something.  Her food always looks better to me and mine to her, so we swap and eat each others food.  Some days we both show up empty handed, so the occasional trip out to Wendy's remains part of the equation, but we are MUCH better than we use to be.  Which leads me to this recipe:

It's not common for me to make a main dish that doesn't include some type of meat, but this pasta is hearty enough to stand on it's own with just veggies.  It is so delicious! My kids request it at least once a month and it's one of mine and Sara's favorite leftover lunches.  

1 pkg. linguine noodles
1 head fresh broccoli, washed and cut in florets
2 medium size carrots, peeled and cut in slices
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 container button mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 small zucchini, cut in small slices
1 small yellow squash, cut in small slices
1 small onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese *high quality Parmesan will turn out better
4 T. butter & olive oil (for sauteing the veggies)

Prepare and chop all the veggies.  Try to keep things uniform in size so everything cooks evenly.  Boil a big pot of water, add a handful of salt, and cook the linguine according to pkg. directions until it is al dente.  Drain and set aside.
In a large frying pan, place 1-2 T. butter and a bit of olive oil and saute the harder veggies - carrots, broccoli, red pepper, and onion.  Saute for 5-6 minutes, then pour on to a plate to rest.  Add another 2 T. butter to the pan, drizzle in a little more olive oil and saute the softer veggies - zucchini, squash, mushrooms - until they are lightly browned and tender. Pour them out on to the plate with the other veggies to rest.  
The bottom of the pan will be a little browned but that is GOOD!
Add some more butter/olive oil to the pan and saute the onion and garlic until softened.  Pour in the chicken broth and simmer and stir until the broth reduces by about half and the browned bits from the pan are incorporated in the sauce. After broth reduces and thickens, add in the half & half and continue cooking until it thickens a bit. Add the grated Parmesan and stir until bubbly. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour all veggies and the pasta in to the pot and stir until everything is coated.  Remove from heat.  Sprinkle more Parmesan on top to serve.

Cinnamon Toast Grilled "Cream" Cheese Sandwiches.

Stop me now!  I don't know what I was thinking.  I am supposed to be eating healthy!  You see, I just got an idea.... that went something like, "instead of making grilled cheese sandwiches, I should make grilled "cream" cheese sandwiches".  My next thought was "on cinnamon toast....wouldn't that be good!"  So here it is: Cinnamon Toast Grilled "Cream" Cheese Sandwiches.  My young women loved them!

10 slices bread
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
3 T. powdered sugar
*butter, cinnamon, sugar

Mix cream cheese and powered sugar. Make sandwiches by spreading cream cheese between two slices of bread and then lightly butter the top and bottom.  Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on each side as well.  Grill on both sides until gold brown.  Cut in triangles to serve.

Snickerdoodle Fruit Dessert

A couple of years ago I was invited to join a bunco group that had been put together by a few of the PTA moms at Westside.  This has led me to happy associations and friendships with many of the parents of the students at my school. I have come home with fun prizes, (we all win something every month) but even better are the recipes I've gathered including this dessert served by my friend Heather at a fun bunco night last spring.

  • Make your favorite snickerdoodle recipe ***see mine below***
  • Slice some strawberries and add fresh blueberries (could also add fresh raspberries)
  • Slice a lemon and squeeze fresh juice over the top of the fruit, sprinkle with a little sugar, toss
  • Whip some cream and sweeten with powdered sugar

To assemble:  Place snickerdoodle on plate, top with fresh fruit, add a dollop of whipped cream

1 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 c. flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
* In a small bowl, mix 3 T. sugar with 1 tsp. cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs and mix well.  Combine flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt.  Mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients. Roll dough in 1 inch balls and roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Jaxie's Dip

A restaurant opened in Spanish Fork a few years ago called Jaxie's.  They made homemade grilled panini sandwiches and healthy wraps. It was a favorite lunch spot for teachers in Nebo District and I spent many happy afternoons there reconnecting with BYU associates, family, and old friends. Each day they would serve different side dishes, but this dip with veggie chips was a hands-down favorite. We were so SAD last year when we pulled in for lunch one day and found that they had gone out of business. A friend from Spanish Fork later told me the owner had given her their dip recipe.  I was so excited!!!  I've made it MANY times since.  It tastes great with any kid of chip, cracker, or veggie, but veggie chips are THE BEST!

2 1/2 c. sour cream
1 1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 pkg. Knorr Vegetable Dip Mix

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  Serve with veggie chips or veggie straws.  Is also good with fresh vegetables or any type of chip or cracker.  This makes a lot - can easily cut recipe in half.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pink & Purple Birthday Cake

I volunteered to make the cake for my niece's first birthday and it turned out really cute.  I made a larger cake to serve the guests and then a smaller cake for my niece to dig in to.  Here are the pictures:
 The majority of the cake is frosted with buttercream, but I did make the flowers out of fondant..........

Cinnamon Roll Waffles

Kaycie brought this recipe home from college.  Apparently these were a frequent menu item in room B202 at the Eccles Living Center (a.k.a. dorms) at SUU.  Which reminds me...

...did you you know that it's not politically correct to say that you live in "dorms" any more?  According to my highly educated daughter, the word DORM has a negative connotation, so they are called "living centers".  I had to break the news that every parent's worst fear is that their child will grow up and have to live in a "center".

Anywho... my younger children LOVE this recipe.  All you need is a refrigerated tube of cinnamon rolls and your waffle iron.
 Tips from a highly educated college student:

1) Don't use Grands cinnamon rolls, jut get the smaller, regular kind (the Grands turn out doughy).
2) Don't worry if you get a little scared the first time you pop open a tube of refrigerated dough.  Everyone gets scared the first time.
3) Slap the little rolls on the waffle iron and cook them until they are brown.  Frost with the frosting that came with the rolls.  Leave the maple syrup in the cupboard.  It isn't good.  They tried it.
4) Clean your waffle iron well after making this recipe.  Otherwise, sugary black stuff will burn on to your waffles the next time you use your waffle iron.  Sugary black stuff is gross.
5)  Finally, clean up after yourself.  The motto in B202: "Dishes are like boys.... don't let your friends do them."

Chocolate Croissants

Reader, let me introduce you to Chocolate Croissant.  Beautiful outside, deliciously decadent inside. Love-at-first-sight AND love-at-first-bite.  This is the easiest, most beautiful, most delicious dessert I've ever made.  When your husband says, "You MADE these!?" (because he actually thought you bought them at Kneaders)....and then eats two....it's a good day. Here are the step-by-step instructions.

Here is the finished product beautifully served on my great grandma's china plates.
You will need puff pastry and mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese).  Puff pastry is found in the refrigerator section by the frozen dough and pie crust. I get my mascarpone cheese at Trader Joes or Harmon's - I can never find it at my neighborhood grocery store.
Get out the two sheets of puff pastry and let them sit on your counter for about 35-40 minutes.
In a bowl, mix 1 cup mascarpone (or cream) cheese, 1/2 c. sugar, 1 egg, a handful (or two) of chocolate chips and a dash of vanilla.  Beat it all together.
After thawing, unfold the first sheet of puff pastry (it will be tri-folded) and cut it in to four equal squares.  Repeat with 2nd sheet of pastry.  This will give you 8 large squares.
 Put a dollop of the cream cheese mixture in the center of each square.
Quickly beat an egg and brush around the edges of each square with egg wash.  Fold the dough over to create a triangle and then press the seams together with a fork to seal. Fold the tip of the triangle up and over just a bit (as seen in next picture).
Place the unbaked croissants on a baking sheet (use parchment or spray with cooking spray).  Cut a small slit or two in the top to vent.  Use the remaining egg wash and brush on the top of each croissant (don't skip this step or they won't brown and look beautiful).
Bake at 400 degrees for about 18-20 minutes or until perfectly golden brown.
 For the finishing touch, I threw a handful of chocolate chips in a Ziploc baggie and microwaved it for about a minute. I squished around the melted chocolate chips in the baggie until it was smooth. You may need to microwave the chocolate chips a little longer if they haven't melted.  Cut a small, small slit in one corner of the baggie and then drizzle melted chocolate over the top of each croissant.  Serve warm or cooled.  Makes 8 large croissants.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bandito-like Salsa with A Creamy Surprise

The town of Springville might not have a lot, but what we DO have are TWO pretty darn good Mexican food restaurants, La Casita and Joe Banditos.  Now, nothing beats a cheese crisp and a margarita (virgin for me) at La Casita, but Banditos has everyone beat in the salsa-and-chips-department.  While this recipe isn't an exact replica, it's pretty darn good.  You can serve it plain or dollop in some creamy goodness as pictured below.   

1 (14 oz.) can S&W Mexican Stewed Tomatoes
1 (14 oz.) can stewed tomatoes with jalapenos
1 (14 oz.) can whole tomatoes (I like San Marzano)
1 clove fresh garlic
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 handful fresh cilantro
salt to taste (may take about 1/2 tsp. or more)
2-3 chopped green onions
Throw all ingredients except cilantro in to a blender and pulse until chopped and well mixed (don't puree or blend it too much).  Throw in the cilantro and chopped green onions and pulse once or twice to just slightly chop.  Serve with chips!  If you like more heat, throw in a seeded, chopped jalapeno.
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1/2 c. salsa
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Mix cream cheese until smooth.  Stir in sour cream.  Stir in salsa and cheese.  Refrigerate for about an hour.  Serve alone with chips, or add a big scoop to the center of a bowl of salsa and serve together.

Strawberry Pineapple Shortcake & Homemade Pound Cake

Today was one of those days when I just had to throw things. I had some leftover fresh pineapple in the fridge and decided to throw it in with some strawberry shortcake I was making. While I was at it, I threw some almond flavoring in the whipped cream instead of vanilla. Next I threw some coconut in the oven and toasted it. Then I threw it all together in one big giant yummy stack of goodness. I should throw things more often.

Start with your favorite base: Pound cake, homemade biscuits, plain white cake, angel food cake, or (tsk, tsk)those twinkie-like little round things you buy at the grocery store.
Chop strawberries and sprinkle with sugar (I use about 2 cups strawberries and about 1-2 T. sugar). Allow to sit for several minutes and stir the mixture every now and then.
Chop pineapple (I use 1 cup) and stir in with the strawberries.
With a mixer, beat 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar, and ¼ tsp. almond extract on high until stiff peaks form.
To assemble: Place base on a serving plate, pile the fruit mixture on top. Dollop with flavored whipped cream. Top with toasted coconut and a pretty slice of both strawberry and pineapple.
 1 1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter
1 c. sugar
3 eggs, room temp
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. sour cream
Mix the dry ingredients and set aside.  Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time.  Add the vanilla and sour cream.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Pour into a greased 8 inch loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour (do the toothpick test to check it).  Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan. 

Almond Torte

My dear friend Karen, an awesome teacher and fellow foodie, just announced that she is moving to Texas.  I have been in mourning...and denial.  This torte is one of the most delicious recipes that she shared with me.  I will think of her every time I make it.  Here's to Karen and to almond extract!

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
dash salt
1 cup melted butter
2 cups flour
2 tsp. almond extract
slivered almonds to sprinkle on top
Mix all ingredients except the slivered almonds together.  Pour in to a greased and floured 9 inch springform pan.  Sprinkle with sugar and slivered almonds.  Bake at 325-350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour (do the toothpick test). 
Serve it plain or with chocolate sauce, strawberries, and whipped cream. 

Mini Fruit Pizzas

I've been making this fruit pizza for years and it is a favorite!  You can serve them pre-assembled, or you can do a fruit pizza bar and let each dinner guest frost and assemble their own.  Either way, they are a hit!  If you are in a hurry, you can use the refrigerated Pillsbury Sugar Cookie Dough.


1 cup butter
1 1/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. milk
In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and milk.  Chill dough for at least an hour, then roll out to about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into rounds using the top of a glass.  Bake at 350 degrees for 13 minutes.  Let cool. 
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (8 oz.) cool whip
Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth.  Slowly fold in the whipped topping. Spread on cooled cookies and top with your favorite fruit!
sliced bananas
sliced pineapple
sliced strawberries
mandarin oranges
sliced kiwi fruit

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cinnamon French Toast with Warm Vanilla Syrup

You COULD use regular bread to make this delicious French toast, but buying Kneaders Chunky Cinnamon Bread makes all the difference. We also love to drizzle this with homemade vanilla caramel syrup on top. 
1 loaf Kneaders Chunky Cinnamon Bread, sliced
6 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1/8 tsp. salt
1 T. brown sugar
Optional:  sliced strawberries, sweetened whipped cream, warm vanilla syrup
Heat a griddle to medium heat.  In a shallow dish, mix eggs, milk, salt and brown sugar until well combined.  Spread butter on griddle until melted and bubbly. Dip bread slices in egg mixture, then place on buttered griddle.  Cook on both sides until nicely browned on each side.  Serve with warm syrup, sliced strawberries, and a dollop of whipped cream. 
1 cube butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 T. corn syrup
1/2 tsp. baking soda
In a  LARGE saucepan, melt butter, sugar, vanilla and corn syrup.  Bring to a boil and boil 1 minute. Stir in baking soda and boil 10 seconds more, stirring constantly, then remove from heat.  Mixture will bubble up and foam, so be sure to use a large enough saucepan so it doesn't boil over.  Serve warm.  Refrigerate leftovers.   

Sunday, April 7, 2013

1 Recipe, 2 Cakes

My daughter wanted to make her friend a "basketball" birthday cake last Saturday.  It just so happened that a good friend of mine was also having a birthday.  We made a double batch of our favorite  boxed cake batter, and a big bowl of cream cheese frosting and came up with these two cakes for our two good friends!
This is just a simple chocolate cake baked in a 9" round pan.  We frosted the top with white cream cheese frosting, drizzled red and blue dyed frosting around the edges, and finished it off with some red and blue sprinkles on top. 
This cake was baked in a 13x9 pan.  We simply trimmed a half circle to create the neckline and carved a little cake off both sides to create the jersey look.  It turned out so cute and was delicious too!

Jam Thumbprints

I pulled this recipe from the obscurity of my recipe box last week.  I love the nuts that roast on the edges as the cookie bakes. 
1 stick real butter
1/2 c. sugar
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. flour
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
1/2 cup jam (I use apricot & raspberry)

Cream butter until fluffy.  Add sugar and mix again.  Separate eggs, set aside the whites.  Beat the yolks in with the creamed mixture and add the vanilla.  Finally, mix in the flour until the dough comes together in a ball.  Place chopped nuts in a bowl and the egg whites in another bowl.  Roll the cookie dough in to small 1 inch balls.  Roll each ball in the beaten egg whites and then in the nuts.  Place on cookie sheet and make a small indentation on the top of each cookie with your thumb.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes.  Cool cookies then place a teaspoon of jam in the indentation of each cookie. 

Lemon Meltaway Cookies

These cookies have legitimate lemon flavor from the fresh zest and they melt-in-your-mouth!  The lightly sweet cookie, topped with creamy sweet frosting is the perfect combination. 
 1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. cornstarch
1/3 c. powdered sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 c. butter, softened
2 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. grated lemon zest
Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, powdered sugar, and salt.  In a different bowl cream the butter, add the lemon juice and zest and mix well.  Add the dry ingredients and mix well.  Divide the dough in half and form each in to a log.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  When ready to bake, slice the log in 1/4 inch slices and place on cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Cool and frost. 
Lemon Frosting:  Mix 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 c. butter and 2 teaspoons lemon juice until light and fluffy.  Frost each cookie with a dollop of frosting. 

BLT Turkey (or Chicken) Salad Sandwiches

My family loves BLT's and also chicken salad. I threw this recipe together using leftover roasted turkey from Sunday dinner (leftover rotisserie chicken works great too).  The results were delicious and the sandwich is a new favorite.
The buns pictured are actually hot dog/brat buns from the bakery section at WalMart. They are super soft and slightly smaller than a big hoagie bun.
Chop leftover turkey in chunks and crumble in pre-cooked bacon (desired amount).

 Stir in mayonnaise - one tablespoon at a time- until chicken is coated.  Stir in chopped tomatoes.  Season with Lawry's Seasoning Salt to taste. 

Spread chicken mixture on bun.  Top with shredded cheddar cheese and shredded lettuce.

*** You can mix the cheese and lettuce in with the turkey/mayo mixture.  However, it doesn't keep well in the fridge overnight (the lettuce gets soggy).  Mix it in only if you are planning to eat it up that day.

Tea Party Sandwiches

When I was a little girl I loved going to baby and bridal showers where sandwiches like this were served. In my peanut-butter-and-jelly-on-white-bread life, sandwiches like this seemed dainty and fancy, two things my young-self longed to be. My girls and I had fun making different combinations of these triple-deckers today.  We made extra and dropped them off to some family friends who called later to say how dainty and fancy they felt eating them for dinner.
 Use any combination of breads, meats, veggies, and spreads
 Cut the crust off of each side to expose layers and create perfect slices.
Wrap and refrigerate prior to slicing to allow flavors and textures to meld.

Cucumber & Ham Sandwich

6 slices wheat bread
6 slices white bread
1 container chive and onion (or vegetable) cream cheese
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
1 pkg. thinly sliced ham
6 slices provolone or Swiss cheese

Spread softened cream cheese on one side of a slice of wheat bread.  Layer on cucumber slices.  Top with a piece of white bread that has been spread with cream cheese on top and bottom of slice. Layer on some ham and a slice of cheese.  Top with another piece of wheat bread (spread a thin layer of cream cheese on the bottom of the slice so that everything will stick together).  Carefully cut crusts off all four sides.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to slice.  Repeat process alternating white and wheat breads.  Makes 4 sandwiches that can each be cut in 3-4 slices.

Other Layering Options
Peanut butter, Nutella & apricot preserves
Sliced Turkey, tomato, avocado, provolone cheese, savory flavored cream cheese
Rotisserie chicken, tomato, sliced olives, green leaf lettuce, pesto
Tuna salad, toasted pecans or walnuts, shredded cheddar cheese, flavored mayo


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Banana Bread

My sister gave me this banana bread recipe several years ago. I've tried others, but none stack up to the flavor and consistency of this one... It turns out perfectly every time.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
3 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs, banana, water and vanilla. Mix well. Add dry ingredients. Stir in nuts. Makes 1 large and 1 mini loaf or 2 medium loafs (fill pans 2/3 full). Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. It will get dark on top but stay super-moist. Test with toothpick in center for doneness.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Creamy Wite Chicken Chili

There is nothing more delicious to warm your tummy on a cold winter day than a bowl of creamy chicken chili.  This is the best recipe and makes enough to feed a big crowd.  It can be cooked quickly on the stove top or simmer all day in you crockpot.

6  (15oz.) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
32 oz. box chicken broth
3 c. Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
2 (4 oz.) cans diced green chilies
2 small onions, chopped
1 1/2 c. sour cream
1 T. olive oil
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. ground oregano
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot.  Simmer 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Can also place ingredients in slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours, or slow for 6 hours.  Serve with tortilla chips and sprig of fresh cilantro.  This recipe can easily be cut in half for a smaller family!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Caramel Apple Dip

My friend Sandi is the best homemaker and every recipe she gives me is a winner.  This is a caramel apple dip recipe that she gave me 6 years ago and I LOVE IT!  It tastes just like real, homemade caramel, but stays soft when you refrigerate it instead of getting rock hard.  Don't ignore the "Stir Constantly" directions or it will scorch and burn the bottom of your pan.

2 c. brown sugar
1 cube real butter
1 c. Karo syrup
1/8 tsp. salt

Place the above ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a slow boil, and boil 6-8 minutes, STIRRING CONSTANTLY.  Then add:

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla 

Turn heat down a bit, return to a soft boil, and cook 8-10 more minutes until very thick and the mixture has that golden, caramel color.  STIR CONSTANTLY so that the mixture doesn't scorch.

Let cool about 10-15 minutes, then whisk in:

1 (8oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 cup sour cream

Can serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cheese Sticks Like Fat Jacks

Anyone who grew up in Payson knows about the goodness of Fat Jack's Cheese Sticks.  They were a Friday night staple at our house growing up.  I found a recipe on Pintrest that looked similar to the famous sticks and decided to try it out.  They turned out amazing!  Serve these with marinara or homemade ranch dressing.

1 ball pre-made pizza dough *see below for options
1 16 oz. package mozzarella cheese
1 clove garlic, pressed
3-4 T. olive oil
Italian Seasonings (if desired)

Roll out pizza dough on to a large round pan or stone.  In a small prep bowl add the olive oil, pressed garlic, and a sprinkling of Italian seasonings.  Brush this mixture all over the top of the crust.  Spread mozzarella cheese all over the top.  Bake at 400 degrees until browned and bubbly - about 20-25 minutes. 

We also like to throw fresh sliced tomatoes and fresh basil on top sometimes.  It tastes like a Margarita pizza!

*I use to make all of my pizza dough homemade, but lately I've grown lazy and also LOVE some of the pre-made doughs that are available in my area better than my own homemade dough.  Here are some options:
1) Rigatti's Pizzeria inside Reams grocery store sells balls of dough
2) Papa Murphy's Pizza will sell you a ball of dough
3) Winco grocery store in Orem sells pizza dough in their refrigerated section by the cheese and lunch meats.

Easiest Cherry Pie

My friend Margy loves cherry pie so I made one for her birthday.  I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but everything was store bought and tweaked to look homemade.  Thankfully, Margy is the type of friend who probably won't mind. 

1 pkg. Marie Calendar Frozen Pie Crusts
2 cans cherry pie filling

Thaw pie crusts at room temperature for about 15 minutes.  Pour the two cans of pie filling in to the bottom of one crust.  Remove 2nd crust from pan.  When soft, lightly roll it out on a piece of saran wrap.  Lift it on top of pie and then pinch the edges together to look homemade.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 40-50 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Prior to placing top crust on the pie, I used a small, heart shaped cookie cutter to cut four hearts out and then repositioned them on top of the pie to make it look decorative.  If you don't cut out any shapes on the top crust, you need to cut slits in the top of the pie to vent it. 

Brazillian Cheese Puffs

My friend Caroline eats gluten free and this is one of her favorite recipes.  It calls for tapioca flour which can be pricey at the grocery store. I found it in the bulk food section at Winco and bought just enough to whip up a batch of these bite-sized cheesy buns for our Cinco De Mayo feast last week.

1 large egg
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. canola oil
1 c. tapioca flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
can sprinkle garlic salt or extra grated cheddar cheese on top as well

Place egg, milk, oil, flour, and salt in a blender and blend until well mixed.  Add both types of cheese and pulse the blender 2-3 more times.  Grease a mini muffin tin and preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Fill each mini muffin cup 2/3 full.  Sprinkle additional cheese and a light sprinkle of garlic salt on the top of each muffin if desired.  Bake 15-20 minutes.  Serve warm!

Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Soup

The PTA room mothers brought dinner to the school last week to feed the hungry teachers after a long night of Parent Teacher Conferences.  Several types of soup were served, but this was my hands-down favorite.  I stalked the PTA room moms for the recipe and made it tonight for dinner.

2 quarts chicken stock (I used homemade*see below*)
6 cups water
3 pieces bacon
1 small white onion, finely chopped
3-4 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. olive oil
1 bunch kale (or Swiss chard) cut in bite sized pieces
2/3 c. half and half
1 tsp. salt
1 dash red pepper flakes
pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese to grate on top

In a large pot, bring the chicken broth and water to a boil and add potatoes.  In a small skillet, cook the bacon until crisp.  Remove the bacon from the pan and crumble.  Add the onion to the bacon drippings and cook until soft and translucent.  Then add the olive oil, garlic, and sausage.  Cook until sausage is browned, breaking up as you would if browning hamburger.  Drain some, but not all of the grease and then add meat mixture to the boiling stock and potatoes.  Continue cooking until potatoes are soft.  Reduce heat and add the half and half, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Finally, add the kale.  Simmer 1-2 minutes more, then remove from heat.  When serving, grate Parmesan cheese on top.  Sprinkle bacon pieces on top as well or reserve cooked bacon for another use.

How I make homemade chicken stock:
  • Buy a rotisserie chicken at Sam's Club or Costco and use all the meat off it for your favorite recipes. 
  • Place what's left of your chicken in a large stock pot and fill 3/4 full of water. 
  • Add a celery stalk or two, a carrot or two, a large onion cut in halves or fourths and 1-2 bay leaves.  Don't peel the carrot, don't cut the leaves off the celery, and cut the bottom of the onion off, but leave the brown skin on - this will give your stock amazing flavor and that pretty yellow/golden color.  
  • Generously salt the mixture and add 2-3 whole peppercorns if desired. 
  • Bring mixture to a soft boil and boil for an hour to an hour and a half.  Taste the broth to see if it's too salty or not salty enough.  If too salty, add a few more cups of water. If too bland, add a bit more salt.  
  • Remove from heat and cool. 
  • Strain broth though a fine sieve leaving only pure broth.  Discard the solids. 
  • My favorite way to store it is to pour the broth in a freezer quality Ziploc gallon bag and freeze in the freezer.  When ready to use, simply thaw the broth and use in your favorite recipes.