Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Almond Cheesecake Bars

I lined a 13x9 pan with aluminum foil before baking these bars (didn't have any parchment paper). After baking and cooling, they lifted out perfectly and were easy to cut in to squares.
1 3/4 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
1 cup finely chopped almonds
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
6 T. butter, melted
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a 13x9 inch baking pan with aluminum foil, letting edges extend out over the pan. In a small bowl mix vanilla wafer crumbs, chopped almonds and brown sugar. Stir in butter and mix well. Press evenly in to the bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 8 minutes.
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
2 T. almond liqueur (or 1 tsp. almond extract)
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in sour cream and almond flavoring. Pour over baked crust and return to oven. Bake for an additional 40-45 minutes.
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1 cup sliced, toasted almonds
Drizzle melted chocolate over the top of the cheesecake and sprinkle with chopped almonds.

Chicken Enchilada Cups

These enchilada cups can be an appetizer or a main dish. All the flavors of a chicken enchilada but in a smaller package.
large tortillas
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. chopped onion
1 small can diced green chilies
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c. milk
2-3 cups cooked, shredded or cubed chicken
In a saucepan, melt butter. Add onions and green chilies and simmer until onions are soft. Stir in soup, sour cream and cheese. Then stir in chicken.
Cut tortillas in 4ths (if your tortillas are smaller, you may want to cut them in 3rds. Spray muffin tin with Pam. Press one tortilla triangle in to each muffin cup. Spoon the filling in to each cup. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until browned and bubbly. Can top with cheese for last few minutes if desired.

J's Raspberry Soda's

Looking at this raspberry soda makes me smile. One late afternoon as I was leaving work, J.J. (my 8 year old) called me and asked, "Mom, do we have any raspberries? Cause I'm watching Giada and I want to make something." I'm a sucker for an 8 year old who watches Giada, so even though raspberries were NOT in season, he gave me an ingredient list and I was off to the store. He made this homemade sauce all by himself, running back and forth to the T.V. pausing and rewinding (what did we ever do before DVR?) When I tried to help him, he would say, "Don't tell me mom, I'm just going to copy Giada!" And the BEST part was that these sodas were A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.! This is the best raspberry sauce I've ever tasted - it would be perfect drizzled over cheese cake or chocolate cake. Oh, and I must mention that because of the out-of-season raspberries, these sodas cost about $18....but so worth it! .
1 pint raspberry sherbet
1 pint vanilla ice cream
1 1/3 cups club soda
1 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup raspberry syrup (recipe follows)
1/2 cup orange juice
2 T. corn starch
10 oz. frozen raspberries, thawed
1/4 cup raspberry jam
1/4 cup sugar
Pour orange juice in to a sauce pan and stir in cornstarch. Mix until cornstarch is dissolved. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer, pressing on the solids with a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. This removes the seeds and creates a smooth, velvety sauce.
In a soda glass, add 1 scoop vanilla ice cream and 1 scoop raspberry sherbet. Pour club soda on top and then drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of the sauce down in to, and on top of the soda. Top with fresh raspberries. Serve immediately. Divine!

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Macaroon Butter Cookies

Warning: you could gain weight just from LOOKING at these cookies. They are super rich, but entirely delicious. Next time I will make them just a tad smaller.
1 c. butter
1 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
Beat butter still fluffy. Add powdered sugar, salt and vanilla. Mix well, then add flour a little at a time. Cover and chill dough for 8 hours. Shape in to small balls and place on cookie sheet. Press finger in to the top of each ball making an indentation. Bake at 350 for about 12-15 minutes. Spoon filling in to the top of each cookie while warm. Cool, then drizzle with chocolate frosting.
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. flour
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 c. sweetened coconut
Mix cream cheese and powdered sugar. stir in flour, add rest of ingredients and mix well.
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. water
1 c. powdered sugar
Microwave the chips, butter and water for about one minute. Stir until smooth and melted. Stir in powdered sugar. Drizzle over cooled cookies.

Reeces Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Tamra gave me what has arguably been my favorite Christmas gift EVER...a subscription to a monthly food magazine and this darling cupcake tray. The first issue I received had recipes for cupcakes that mock the flavors of your favorite candy bars. They almost looked too good to eat!
Cupcake Batter:
12 T. real butter, cut into pieces
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/4 c. water
1 1/3 c. brown sugar
1 1/3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. buttermilk
1 large egg, at room temp.
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. Line mini cupcake pan with mini liners (24). Combine the butter, cocoa powder and water in a microwave safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 1-2 minutes until butter melts. Whisk to combine and then whisk in the brown sugar. In another bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, soda, and salt). Whisk to combine and then pour in the warm cocoa mixture. In a measuring cup, whisk the buttermilk, egg and vanilla. Add to the batter and stir until just combined (don't over mix). Scoop batter in to liners and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
Peanut Butter Topping:
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 (10 oz.) bag peanut butter chips
In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Remove from heat and pour hot mixture on top of the peanut butter chips in a small bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk mixture until smooth. Refrigerate until topping is set (about 10-15 minutes) then beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Place mixture in to a piping bag (I just used a sturdy Ziploc bag and cut the corner off to create my own piping bag). Pipe peaks on to each cupcake. Place cupcakes in freezer while you make the glaze.
For glaze: Melt 1 T. butter and 6 ounces milk chocolate chips in microwave (1 minute) in a microwave safe bowl covered with plastic wrap. Stir well and then either dip cupcakes in the chocolate or drizzle the chocolate over the top. I used a Ziploc bag and snipped off a tiny corner which allowed me to evenly drizzle the mixture on top.

Cheesy Bacon Bites 2-Ways

I made these savory appetizers twice during the holidays, once rolling them up like crescents, and once jelly roll style. Both versions were TASTY!
1 can refrigerated crescent rolls
1 (8oz.) package cream cheese
1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. finely chopped onion
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch ground pepper
Mix the cream cheese with the bacon, cheese and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Can thin with a little milk if desired. Roll up and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 12-15 minutes or until nicely browned.
Crescent Style:
Separate each triangle of crescent dough and cut each in half (to make two smaller triangles). Spread mixture on top and then roll up crescent style.
Jelly Roll Style:
Roll out crescent dough and keep it in one large rectangle. Pinch seams to seal. Spread mixture all over the top and then roll up like a jelly roll. Cut circular slices and then bake.

Easy Cheesy Breadsticks - FAVORITE!

My sister Mindi introduced me to these savory and SUPER easy bread sticks. We've made them four times already. Your kids can help and the recipe can be shared by word-of-mouth, it's THAT EASY!
1 tube Grands biscuits (Flaky Layers work best)
6 pieces of string cheese
1 cup Kraft Zesty Italian dressing
1-2 cups powdery Parmesan cheese
Remove the biscuits from the tube, then split them in half to make 12. Cut each string cheese in half. Place the string cheese in the center of the biscuit. Then fold the dough up and over the string cheese, enclosing the cheese in the dough. Roll in the Italian dressing, then roll in Parmesan cheese. Place on baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately with warm marinara sauce.

Butternut Squash Soup

I usually don't make things like this for my picky family. But on this day, I made the soup because it sounded good to ME. I savored every bite and told my family, "If you don't like what we're having, make a peanut butter sandwich.
3-4 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 yellow onions, sliced in big chunks
2 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored and sliced
3 T. olive oil
Salt & Pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp. curry powder
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the squash, onions and apples on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes until very tender.
Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock to a simmer. Using a food processor, puree the roasted veggies and apples until smooth (may have to do it in 2-3 batches depending on how big your food processor or blender is). Pour the pureed mixture in a sauce pan and begin adding the heated chicken stock to create the desired consistency for your soup (if you like it thick, add less, thinner, add more). Add the curry powder along with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Heat and serve.
Topping: can top with bacon, chopped green onion, toasted cashews and toasted coconut.

Scratch Chocolate Cupcakes

Sunday Rolls

Is there anything better than the smell of hot rolls baking in the oven? This recipe came from a Lion House Cookbook I was given for my wedding almost 19 years ago.
2 T. active dry yeast
2 c. warm water
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. shortening
2 1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk
5-6 cups flour
1 egg
In the bowl of a mixer, combine yeast and water. Stir slightly and allow to stand for 5 minutes until bubbly. Add sugar, shortening, salt, dry milk, 2 cups of the flour and the egg. Beat until very smooth (I use my dough hook for this). Add 2 more cups of flour, one at a time and beat until smooth. Add about one more cup of flour and beat until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl. Beat for 1-2 more minutes. Remove dough from mixer and place in a greased bowl covered with a dish cloth. Allow to rise until about triple in size (1 hour or more). Punch down dough and shape dough into balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Allow to rise again for about 1 hour. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with butter.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

The whole family likes my chicken noodle soup, even if a few of them do pick out the carrots...grrrr. Directions:
Heat 8-10 cups of chicken stock in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Add chopped onion (1 whole onion), cubed potatoes (4-5 medium sized), sliced carrots (3-4 medium), and boil until tender (about 15 minutes). Add store bought frozen noodles (I use Grandmas Homemade Noodles found in the freezer section - I thaw them for 2-3 minutes in the microwave before adding them). Add shredded chicken (I use 1-2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken from Sam's Club). Boil 10-15 minutes more.

Beth's Cinnamon Rolls

My good friend Kristie shared her family cinnamon roll recipe with me several years ago and it is the BEST! This recipe makes a HUGE batch. You'll need a good mixer and about 3 hours :0)
2 c. boiling water
2 sq. butter
1 c. sugar
1 T. salt
2/3 c. powdered milk
1 c. warm water
1/2 tsp. sugar
3 T. yeast
6 beaten eggs
12 c. flour
Mix in a large stand electric mixer with dough hook attachment.
Pour boiling water over sugar and butter in a large stand mixer bowl. Stir until butter is melted. Cool slightly, then add the salt and powdered milk. Meanwhile, mix the 1 c. water, 1/2 tsp. sugar and yeast in a small bowl. Allow yeast to bubble. Add the yeast mixture to the firstCheck Spelling mixture along with the eggs and 5 cups of the flour. Beat until very smooth. Continue adding the rest of the flour and beating until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl and isn't sticky to touch. Remove dough, and place in a large greased bowl. Cover with a dish cloth and allow to rise for about 45 minutes.
After dough has risen, pound down and place on a floured surface. Roll dough out in to a large rectangle. This makes a HUGE rectangle - you may want to divide dough in half and do it in two batches.
Melt 1 1/2 cubes of butter and spread melted butter over the dough. Sprinkle granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon all over the top (probably about 1 1/2 cups of each kind of sugar and 2-3 T. cinnamon). Roll up and cut in to slices (I use a piece of thread to cut the slices). Place rolls on greased cookie sheets and rise another 30 minutes to an hour.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until well browned. Then frost with homemade vanilla butter cream frosting.
Make homemade frosting by combining 1 cup softened butter, 2-3 T. milk and about 3 cups powdered sugar. Thin by adding more milk, thicken by adding more powdered sugar.

German Chocolate Brownie Cake

This cake is actually a brownie mix and the frosting is store-bought, but the homemade coconut topping makes it taste like you made it all from scratch.
1 box brownie mix (I used Family Sized Duncan Hines Fudge Brownie Mix)
1 tub chocolate frosting
Coconut Topping:Align Center
3/4 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup butter
1 1/3 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
In a saucepan, bring milk, brown sugar and butter to a full boil. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut and walnuts. cool.
Bake brownies according to package directions in appropriate sized pan (check box of brownie mix to determine size). Before baking, I line the pan with tinfoil and leave the edges hanging over so that I can easily remove and cut the brownies once they have cooled. Cool completely, remove from pan. Frost the entire thing like you are frosting a cake. Pour cooled coconut mixture in the center of the cake and spread out to the edges.

Shepherds Pie

My new years resolution is to do a better job of remembering birthdays. I also decided to give my friends and family the gift of delicious home baked food this year. For my dad's birthday in January I offered to make his favorite meal and he didn't hesitate to say, "I want Mom's Shepherds Pie". Not only did we enjoy this hearty casserole, we enjoyed each other's company that night. Happy Birthday Dad!
2 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
salt & pepper
mashed potatoes (4-5 cups)
2 cans green beans, drained
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
cheddar cheese
Coat bottom of frying pan with olive oil, heat and add onion. Simmer until onion is soft then add ground beef and brown well. Salt and pepper meat to taste. Drain the meat and add the mushroom soup, stir well. Remove from heat. In a casserole dish layer the drained green beans, the mashed potatoes (I use real mashed potatoes, but you can use instant), then the meat mixture on top. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle cheddar cheese over the top and return to oven for about 5-10 more minutes. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes. Scoop and serve.
**If you have leftover roast and mashed potatoes from Sunday dinner this casserole is a cinch! Just add the mushroom soup to chopped cooked roast, then layer the ingredients as listed above and bake as directed.

Back in the Saddle

I've now officially been without a home computer since November and can stand it no longer! We had to get through Christmas, but Santa's bills have been paid, I'm ready to buy, but I'm dragging my feet. Does anyone know where I can get a GREAT computer for a GREAT price? What I REALLY want is a new Mac, but it looks like I'll have to settle for less...for now.

While you are getting me that information, I will upload the 50+ pictures and recipes I've documented these past three months.

Thanks to everyone who has asked where the new recipes are!