Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fiesta Chicken Tacos

I threw this in my crock pot this morning and let it simmer on low all day. By 5 pm, we were ready for hot chicken tacos. I will use the leftover meat for quesadillas, enchiladas or nachos later in the week.
4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 12-15 chicken tenders)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1-2 cups salsa
1 pkg. Taco Seasoning Mix
Fixings for tacos (shells, lettuce, tomato, cheese, cilantro, etc.)
Place chicken breasts in crock pot. Pour chicken soup on top, then salsa on top of that, then sprinkle taco seasoning all over the top of that. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 8-10 hours. Shred the meat and serve with taco fixings.
**I usually put my chicken in the crock pot when it is still frozen and it turns out great!

Taylor's Peanut Butter Pie

I love it when I can get my kids in the kitchen with me and this past Sunday Taylor was my cookin' buddy. She made this entire pie by herself. It is extra rich and goes a long way. Isn't it beautiful?!

1 prepared graham cracker pie crust
1 small box chocolate pudding
1 small box vanilla pudding
2 cups milk
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 medium carton Cool Whip
4 oz. cream cheese (half of an 8 oz. brick)

TIP: I never buy store-bought pie graham cracker crusts because I like homemade so much better. For this pie, I just mixed 3 cups crushed graham crackers with 1/2 cup melted butter and then pressed it in the pan.

Mix chocolate pudding and one cup milk with whisk for about a minute until it starts to thicken. Pour into bottom of pie crust and carefully spread across the bottom and up the sides. Next, mix the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Using the other cup of milk, slowly add about 1/4 cup of the milk to the cream cheese and blend until smooth, then add a little more and a little more until it is smooth and creamy (if you try to add the milk all at once to the cream cheese, you will get big lumps of cream cheese). Add the vanilla pudding mix and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Slowly blend in the peanut butter, then fold in half of the cool whip. Pour this in to pie shell and spread around. Top with remaining Cool Whip. Drizzle the top with melted chocolate and melted peanut butter. Refrigerate before serving.

***TIP: An easy way to melt the chocolate and peanut butter for drizzling on top is to place a small amount of chocolate chips (or a tablespoon or two of peanut butter) in a ziploc baggie and then microwave it 10-20 second intervals until melted. Simply snip a small corner off the baggie, squeeze and drizzle all over the top, then discard the baggie for easy clean up.

White Chocolate Snack Mix

This is a recipe that I just made up on the spot with some leftover white chocolate I had melted for another recipe. It was crunchy, sweet, and creamy. A definite keeper.

white chocolate or almond bark (1 - 2 cups melted)
marshmallows (1-2 cups)
rice krispies (1-2 cups)
dry roasted peanuts (1-2 cups)
Melt chocolate in microwave for about 1 minute, then stir until smooth. If it needs more time, microwave in 10 second increments until melted. Pour in desired amount of the rest of the ingredients and stir until everything is lightly coated with the chocolate. Place by tablespoons onto parchment paper, or in to cupcake liners. Allow to cool and harden.
***I used the dipping chocolate that looks like little white disks (you can find them at craft stores, Walmart, and at WinCo grocery store in the bulk food section). This would also be really good with milk chocolate.
*** IDEA: It is also fun to pour the mixture out on to a cookie sheet, allow it to cool, then break into pieces and place in a clear baggie tied with a ribbon to give as a gift.

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Pumpkins & Bats

This year I found pretzels that were shaped like pumpkins and bats at Sam's Club. I got an idea to dip them in white chocolate, then sprinkle them with colored sugar. I served them in a snack dish at our Halloween party, but also stuck a few in the top of my homemade brownies.

Pumpkin shaped pretzels
White Chocolate Chips OR Almond Bark
Orange and Purple sanding sugar
Green licorice pieces
Melt chocolate in microwave for one minute. Stir until smooth. Dip each pretzel in the chocolate and then lay it on waxed or parchment paper. Quickly sprinkle with sanding sugar before the chocolate sets. For the pumpkin, stick a small piece of green candy (I used green licorice) on top to resemble a stem.
**If you don't have pumpkin shaped pretzels, you can still make these with regular pretzels. Just turn them sideways and they look like a little pumpkin!

Chocolate Pudding Ghost Cups

My mom brought the cute little ghost cups to our Halloween party for the grand kids. Shhh... don't tell, but I hid two of these puppies in the back of the fridge and ate them secretly throughout the rest of the week.

Place crushed Oreos in the bottom of a cup. Fill rest of cup with pudding mixture made from 1 large pkg. Chocolate Fudge Pudding mixed (prepared according to pkg. directions) with one medium container Cool Whip (reserve some of the Cool Whip to dollop on top). Add another layer of crushed Oreos, then a dollop of whipped cream. Place two small chocolate chip "eyes" on top as a finishing touch to resemble little ghosts.

JoLynn's Mushroom Rice

You MUST put this recipe on your holiday menu for three reasons...are you ready? 1) It's easy and can cook behind the scenes while you prepare the rest of the meal. 2) It is so delicious that EVERY TIME I make it, people call for the recipe. No lie. My kids HATE mushrooms and they eat this anyway. 3) Your house will smell a-mazing while it cooks. I'm serious. You will wish you could eat the smell. You will want to lay down in your kitchen and breathe deeply.
1/2 c. butter
5-6 chopped green onions
1 tsp. oregano
1 small can mushrooms
2 c. rice (NOT instant)
3 can Campbells Beef Consumme *
2 cups water

Melt butter in small saucepan. Add onion, oregano, and mushrooms. Simmer and saute for a minute or two, then add liquids and rice. Simmer 20 minutes on medium heat. Pour ingredients into a glass 13 x 9 pyrex dish and bake in oven, uncovered for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

*Don't skimp or substitute the beef consumme for beef broth. Sometimes it can be hard to find at stores like Walmart, but I can always find it at Smiths, Harmons and sometimes Maceys. It is different from regular beef broth - it is more concentrated and flavorful. You'll find it hidden amongst all the other flavors of Campbells Soup.

Even though this dish is beef flavored, it goes great with chicken.

Sweet and Salty Cucumbers

Vinegar soaked cucumbers take me straight back to days on the farm with grandma. It's funny because I hated these as a child, but now I love them. My sister-in-law, Melissa, shared the secret of throwing in a little sugar with the salt - YUM!
**You can use any kind of cucumber for this recipe, but recently I've been LOVING those English Cucumbers that come shrink wrapped and have the little ridges on the skin. They are the BEST.

Sliced Cucumbers
White Vinegar

Slice cucumbers and place them in a bowl. Pour vinegar all over the top (maybe about a half a cup or more). Sprinkle the whole thing with salt (1-2 tsp.) and then with sugar (1-2 T.) Pour freezing cold water over the top till it just covers the cukes. Let sit for several minutes before serving.

Crispy Potato Wedges with BBQ fry sauce

These wedges are loaded with flavor and taste great dipped in our homemade fry sauce. I baked them longer than suggested because we like them extra crispy!

4-6 russet potatoes, washed and sliced in wedges
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Olive Oil

Arrange potato wedges on a cookie sheet and sprinkle them with olive oil, toss to coat. In a large baggie place the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and all seasonings - mix well. Place wedges in the baggie and shake to coat. Arrange them back on the cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees until browned and crispy (around 40-50 minutes).

Homemade Fry Sauce (BBQ)

Mix 1/3 part barbecue sauce with 2/3 part mayonnaise.

Homemade White Sauce for Fries

Mix equal parts mayo and buttermilk. Blend till creamy.

Fruit Pizza

Margie brought a fruit pizza to our Halloween party, so I snapped a pic and uploaded the recipe. This is simple and delicious - we've been making it for years. Don't limit yourself to strawberries and bananas. Pineapple, raspberries, sliced kiwi, blue or blackberries, and mandarin oranges are also great on it.
1 pkg. (tube) Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 pkg. cream cheese (softened)
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 small container cool whip
Assorted fresh fruit, beautifully sliced

On a large cookie sheet, press the sugar cookie dough and bake at 350 degrees until the top is lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool. Blend the cream cheese and powdered sugar together, then fold in the cool whip. Spread on top of cooled crust. Top with favorite fruits arranged in pretty designs. ***Note: To keep bananas from going brown I sometimes glaze them with pineapple juice or fresh lemon juice.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread (or Cake)

I think I put a few too many chocolate chips in this batch, but what's the harm in that, right? The gooey-er the better!

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
4 eggs, beaten
1 c. oil
2 c. sugar
3 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
2 t. baking soda
2 t. cinnamon
12 oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
Mix together the pumpkin, eggs, oil, and sugar. In separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, soda and cinnamon. Mix wet and dry ingredients together and stir well. Pour in half the chocolate chips and mix again. Pour batter into 2-3 small bread pans, or in to one large bundt pan that has been greased and floured. Can sprinkle the rest of the chocolate chips over the top. bake at 350 degrees (35-40 minutes for small loaves or 1 hour for bundt pan).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Iceberg Wedge Salad

I first had a wedge salad at Iggy's Bar and Grill in St. George. This is a simple salad, but one that looks fancy on the plate. Top it with whatever you like the most. You could easily turn this in to a main dish by adding chopped chicken, steak, or ham.

1 head of iceberg lettuce (washed & drained)
favorite toppings such as:
chopped apple
chopped tomato
chopped cucumber
chopped boiled eggs
crumbled bacon
cheese (blue cheese, feta, Parmesan, cheddar or jack)
chow mien noodles
sunflower seeds
favorite salad dressing (we like Ranch or Blue Cheese)

Cut lettuce into small wedges and place the entire wedge on the plate. Top with your favorite toppings, then drizzle with salad dressing.

Aunt Norma's Apple Crisp

My aunt Norma is a FABULOUS cook and whenever she shares a recipe, it's a keeper. She gave me this apple crisp recipe several years ago and it's a favorite.

4 cups granny smith apples (cored, peeled, and cut in thin slices)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. rolled oats
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cup softened butter

Place sliced apples in bottom of a greased 13X9 pan. Mix the remaining ingredients together until butter is well incorporated and the mixture is crumbly. Spread all over the top of the apples. Bake at 375 degrees for about 35-40 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Drizzle the top with caramel ice cream topping!