Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wrapping Up The Holiday's with Symphony Pie!

I have had some major bloggers block. We have been so busy this holiday season, as have all of you, but I have really struggled posting lately. My sister has bailed me out. I am pregnant, and I have no desire to look at food, and struggle making it. My family has suffered, that's for sure. It has been nice having so many parties and get togethers so that I don't have to cook as much. Now with the holiday's coming to a close, I've got to get back in the groove of making and planning meals. The thought really makes me ill. I like to eat what sounds good to me, but the rest of the family has to like it too. It's definitely a problem, and I can't wait for it to be over. I shouldn't complain. I have very easy pregnancies, compared to my sisters'. The beginning is my hardest part. On to this creamy Symphony pie dessert!

This is my GO TO dessert when I need something speedy, and delicious! I always make this pie to go along with a meal for a neighbor. You put it together in the morning, pop it in the freezer, and don't have to worry about it until you are ready to eat it, or deliver it. I got this recipe from an awesome neighbor who brought it to me after I had my first child. My husband and I fell in love with the dessert and HAD to have the recipe. We were sure that it was complicated, and had some special ingredients in it. We couldn't believe how easy it was. We have tried it several ways, but this is our favorite.

Symphony Pie

1 King Size Symphony bar (milk chocolate or toffee chip)
1/4 cup water
1 8 oz. tub Cool Whip
Graham Cracker Pie Crust

Break up Symphony bar and add water in large microwave safe bowl. Heat in microwave for 45 seconds. Remove and mix with spoon so that all of the chocolate is melted. Add Cool Whip and mix very well. I do this for about five minutes making sure that all of the chocolate is incorporated. Pour chocolate mixture into Graham Cracker Pie Crust and spread evenly. Cover and freeze for 3 hours before served. It will stay good in the freezer for weeks, but I guarantee you that it won't last that long.

***We prefer the Milk Chocolate over the toffee, but they are both fantastic. We stock up on the Symphony bars when they go for 10 for $10. Then we always have them on hand when we need them. This is a great pie to experiment with. We have done a Reese's pie with about 8-10 cups, made the exact same way. It was delicious.

Enjoy!!! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Candy Cane Ice Cream Sandwich Dessert & BIG HUNK

Well, Christmas is almost upon us. We've had my husband's family in town this weekend and it's been full of lots of good food. We're the only ones with a house, so we've been the headquarters for all of our activities and meals. We've had a lot of fun! This dessert is now one of my favorites. I made some changes in my normal recipe for this to make it more, "Christmasy". It was very good.

Peppermint Ice Cream Sandwich Dessert
10 Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches
12 ounces cool whip
1/4 -1/2 cup crushed candy canes (I crush them in a food chopper or processor)
Chocolate Syrup

Unwrap ice cream sandwiches and place in a 9x13 baking dish. I can fit 2 1/2 sandwiches on each row. Take crushed candy canes and stir into cool whip. Once mixed, spread evenly over ice cream sandwiches. Drizzle chocolate syrup over cool whip. Top with pieces of candy cane. Place in freezer until ready to serve.

Here's another favorite treat. I will never buy a Big Hunk candy bar from the store again. This is soooo soft and yummy. I got this recipe from a friend in my ward. She brought it to a cookies exchange a couple years ago and was so kind to share the recipe with me.
Homemade BIG HUNK
1 larger bottle Planters Dry Roasted Peanuts (lightly salted)
3 smaller jars Kraft Marshmallow Cream
2 1/4 cups light corn syrup
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
6 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 tsp salt
Butter a large cookie sheet. Scatter peanuts equally on cookie sheet. Place marshmallow cream in a LARGE bowl, set aside. In a large saucepan, combine corn syrup and sugar. Place over high heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until mixture comes to a boil. Clip on candy thermometer. Cook to 280 degrees F, or to soft crack stage. Remover from heat and let stand 2 minutes undisturbed. Without scraping, pour entire batch into marshmallow cream and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add butter, vanilla, and salt and stir with wooden spoon until butter in incorporated. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly across peanuts. Allow to stand at room temperature until firm, about 3 hours. Cut and wrap in wax paper.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holiday Treats

I can't believe that Christmas is in a week! We've been getting a lot of snow in Utah this week. It's fun to look out the window and see it falling. My kids love it! I've let them go out and play in it a few times. It's amazing how cold it is and they still have smiles on their faces. Here are a few holiday treats. The first is a Peppermint Oreo Ice cream and the second is Muddy Buddies with a little kick!

For my birthday a few weeks ago I got an ice cream/sorbet maker. I used the simple vanilla ice cream recipe that was included and added some peppermint oreo's that I found at Walmart. These Oreo's are so good! I don't like regular Oreo's unless they are in ice cream or shakes. I couldn't stop eating these ones! They are so yummy! I think that next time I make this, I will add some crushed candy cane on the top.

Peppermint Oreo Ice Cream

1 cup whole milk, well chilled
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1-2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup coarsely chopped Peppermint Oreo cookies

In a bowl, mix milk and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Stir in heavy cream and vanilla. Place freezer bowl on machine and turn on. Slowly pour mixture in through ingredient spout and let mix until thickened, about 25-30 minutes. Add chopped Oreo's to mixture during last 5 minutes of mixing.

Christmas Muddy Buddies(Recipe taken from Rice Chex Cereal box)
9 cups Rice Chex cereal
1 cup smisweet chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 powdered sugar

In a microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microave about 30 second more or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2 gallon resealable plastic bag. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag and shake until well coated. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Christmas kick: Add 1/2 bag M&M candies (This could be done at any holiday with M&M holiday candies).

**Special note: I made a mistake on the hot fudge recipe that I posted last week. The measurements of the evaporated milk should be 2 2/3 cups and the powdered sugar should be 4 cups. It still tastes good with the other measurements, but it's better with all of them. Sorry about that.

Coming Soon: Homemade BIG HUNK & Peppermint Ice Cream Sandwich Dessert.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Candy Cane Cookies

I absolutely love these Candy Cane Cookies! With just a hint of peppermint, these sugar cookies make a great side to a nice cup of Hot Chocolate on a cold Christmas night. All you need is your favorite Sugar Cookie recipe, red food coloring, peppermint extract, sprinkles, and you can jazz up a plain old sugar cookie! I got this idea from the amazing Sandra Lee on the Food Network a few years ago, and I haven't missed a Christmas without making them. I will include Sandra Lee's original recipe in which she uses a packaged Sugar Cookie Mix. I know you will love these yummy Candy Cane Cookies, and the kids will eat them right up!

Candy Cane Cookies
By: Sandra Lee

1 Sugar Cookie Mix (Betty Crocker)
1/2 Stick butter (melt for 20 sec. in microwave)
1 egg
1/3 cup soft cream cheese
1/2 cup flour
Red Food Coloring
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Combine first 5 ingredients in large mixing bowl until well blended. Split dough in half and place in seperate bowls. Add almost a whole container of red food coloring to one half of dough, and mix very well so that the die is spread throughout. Add the peppermint extract to the other half of the dough and mix well. For each cookie you will need about a 1-inch ball of peppermint dough and a 1-inch ball of red dough rolled into 1/4 inch wide ropes and about 4 inches long. Twist together and form a candy cane, (pictured above). Spinkle with Christmas sprinkles if desired. Bake at 325 degrees for 12 minutes.

***You can use any sugar cookie dough with these. I always use my favorite Sour Cream Sugar Cookie recipe found here: http://mysisterscucina.blogspot.com/2008/10/halloween-night-menu.html . (You will have to scroll to the bottom of the post).

Serve with some Hot Chocolate and snuggle up to a good Christmas movie! If you are looking for a great Christmas movie to snuggle up to, some of our favorites are: White Christmas, Holiday Inn, Smokey Mountain Christmas, Polar Express, and Once & Twice Upon A Christmas.
Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Holiday Fudge & Gift Ideas

The first week of December is done. I, along with many of you, am trying to get my neighbor gifts put together and delivered so that I can enjoy the rest of the month with my family. Here are a couple ideas for you. The first is a wonderful hot fudge recipe that comes from my aunt. She makes it every year for and puts them in a small ziploc or glad storage container and ties it with a bow. I decided to do it a couple years ago and it was a hit.

Hot Fudge
2 cubes butter
2 2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips (do not substitute milk chocolate chips)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Place butter, evaporated milk and chocolate chips in pot. Cook over medium high heat until butter is melted. Add powdered sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 8 minutes stirring constantly. Turn of heat and add vanilla. Let sit, stirring occasionally and enjoy on ice cream with your favorite toppins. ( It's very good on pepermint ice cream with a chocolate brownie on the side).

Holiday M & M's
This is what I am doing for my neighbors this year. I had a friend that did this a few years ago and I thought it was so cute. Whenever I eat M & M's, I always think of this little poem. I found the poem on one of my favorite webites, http://www.sugardoodle.net/ . I will put it here, but be sure to check out this website.

As you hold these candies in your hand
And turn them, you will see
The 'M' becomes a 'W',
An 'E', and then a '3'.
They tell the Christmas Story--
I'm sure it's one you know.
It took place in a stable
A long, long time ago.
The 'E' is for the East,
Where the star shone so bright.
The 'M' is for the Manger,
where the Baby Jesus slept at night.
The '3' is for the Wisemen,
Bearing gifts, with which they came.
'W' is for Worship, Hallelujah!
Praise His Name!
So as you eat these candies
Or share them with a friend,
Remember the meaning of Christmas:
It's a love that never ends.
Here are a few ideas and I will post a few more in the next day or two! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Yummy, Chewy Andes Peppermint Crunch Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

We're back! After a fun filled Thanksgiving filled with food, family, & fun, I'm ready to get back to blogging. We had a brother return home from an LDS Mission in Brazil over the weekend. It was great to see him, talk to him, and hear about the last 2 years of his life where he changed many lives. It made for a great Thanksgiving celebration! I love Christmas! I love baking during Christmas. I have my favorites that I bake every year. I will be baking a few batches of my favorite Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies, Andes Mint Cookies, Cinnamon Rolls, Peanut Butter Balls, and I'm sure I am missing something else. I love the aroma of homemade sweets during the holidays. Especially when they have the tastes of Christmas as peppermint, mint, cinnamon, and peanut butter and chocolate fit in all year round...right!?!

This little cookie I put together was awesome! I used Prudy's recipe for her Chewy Oatmeal Cookies. If you can't tell, I love Prudence Pennywise's blog! She has got amazing recipes. Click her link on our sidebar for a sight to see! Her Chewy Oatmeal Cookies were a perfect match for my Andes Peppermint Crunch Chips I snagged last year after the season. I have been waiting all year to use them. The time has come, and they are delish! With a great peppermint taste, and a little crunch to top them off. They were perfect in the Chewy Oatmeal Cookies! I also threw in some chocolate chips that really completed this cookie. My good friend introduced me to some chunky chocolate chips you can get in the grocery store. The brand is Gitard, and they are big chocolate chips. I love them, and they make such a difference in cookies. Try them out. They can be pricey, but just watch the sales. They are worth it! So if you are in the mood for some awesome Chocolate Chip cookies this season, jazz them up with Andes Peppermint Crunch Chips!

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies from Prudence Pennywise, Recipe found here: http://prudencepennywise.blogspot.com/2008/09/fall-colored-chewy-oatmeal-m-and-m.html

Add Andes Peppermint Crunch Chips and Chocolate Chips to your liking. Serve with milk. Chewy, Pepperminty, Chocolatey, Yum!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Best Ever Sweet Potato Casserole

Shortly after my husband and I were married we went on a family vacation to Florida to visit family. We were there in the beginning months of December so we celebrated Christmas with them while we were there. My sister-in-law had an awesome Christmas Party where she invited all of her family, who kindly shared this recipe with our family. We were all drooling over it at the party, and couldn't believe that sweet potatoes could taste that good. When we arrived home we had to have this recipe for our Christmas dinner and we have been making it ever since. My husband who is not a big fan of Sweet Potatoes, loves this casserole. We took it to my families Thanksgiving 2 years ago, and boy was it a hit! Everyone gobbled it right up! It is made with the canned yams, which sure cuts back on time. Don't look too closely at the amount of butter, but realize that you probably could cut back a little. The topping is amazing! It will be the perfect side for your Thanksgiving dinner just like it will me for mine!!!

Sweet Potato Casserole
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Larg can Yams, pour 1/2 juice off and mash the yams
3/4 stick of butter, melted and cooled
dash of cinnamon
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs well beaten
Combine milk and cornstarch and whisk together until cornstarch is dissolved. Pour yams in a large mixing bowl and mash well. Add remaining ingredients, including milk and cornstarch mixture, and beat well. Pour in greased 9X13 pan and bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until it sets pretty good. I test mine just like you would a pumpkin pie, with a knife in the middle to check if it is set. While that is baking, mix the following ingredients together for the topping.
1 cup crushed cornflakes
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts are best)
1/2 cup brown sugar
Add the topping to the mixture and bake for about another 10-15 minutes.

***I used Bran Flakes instead of cornflakes, and they worked well. They are healthier too!!! If you are doubling the recipe, bake in a larger pan, such as a lasagna dish or cookie sheet pan. If you double and bake in 9X13 pan it will take much longer than the normal baking time.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cranberry Casserole & Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

If you are looking for an awesome casserole to serve at your Thanksgiving dinner, this is the one!!! It is amazing! The sweet & tarty cranberries sugared with crunchy chunks of apples are delicious. The carmelized topping with pecans and oats just top this casserole off! It really is amazing! We look forward to this time of year so that we can eat this tasty casserole. This recipe comes from my husband's side. I have never been a fan of cranberries, until I was introduced to Cranberry Casserole. We made this for my family's Thanksgiving dinner 2 years ago, and boy was it a hit. We will be taking it again this year along with our Sweet Potato Casserole, which will be coming on monday...another casserole you do not want to miss out on. I halfed the recipe for my family of 4, but I will be doubling it for next week. Try a half batch now, then WOW your Thankgiving day guests! This casserole will not dissapoint you!

I combined my apple chunks, cranberries & sugar in the morning and let it sit all day. I have done this the night before too. You need to let it sit for some time so that the sugar dissolves and coats the apples and cranberries real well, stirring every once in a while. On to this wonderful recipe!

Cranberry Casserole

3 cups apples, chopped & unpeeled
2 cups cranberries, whole & washed
1 1/2 cups white sugar

Mix together and set aside. It is best to combine the night before and cover over night. You can also combine in the morning. Just make sure it sits long enough to dissolve the sugar completely to make a gooey syrup.

1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 stick butter (melted)

Combine topping ingredients and mix well. Place on top of apples and cranberries. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

***If your apples and cranberries are not juicy enough, add 1/2 cup water or apple juice before you cover with the topping. I have never had to do that. There is always plenty of juice. I realize that 1 hour of baking time takes away your oven, but you can bake it ahead of time and warm it up in the oven for 10 minutes before you serve. It is perfect!
If you have an over abundance of cranberries, use them in this delicious Cranberry Pumpkin Bread. It is awesome! I found this recipe at The Sisters' Cafe. Go to their link in our side bar. These sisters have got great recipes. We had quite the scare this week when my 3 year old decided to wander way too far from home. We were searching for him for 20 minutes. It was the worst feeling as a mother. I never want it to happen again, but I know that this was not the first time. I made this bread for a few people who came to help me search. It was a perfect treat with a thank you card for all their help. Thank you to Melanie at My Sisters' Cafe for the recipe. I will be making this for years to come. I just wish that I had some mini loaf pans. This recipe made 3 large pans. I put one in my freezer to take to my family this week. Find the recipe here: http://sisterscafe.blogspot.com/2008/11/cranberry-pumpkin-bread.html

Coming Monday... The Best Ever Sweet Potato Casserole!!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sweet & Sour Meatballs & Rolo Cookies

Here is another excellent freezer meal! My boys devoured it. I got this recipe from a good friend who does freezer meals with her sister. They've been great to share their recipes with me. Thanks Alicia & Tori.

Sweet & Sour Meatballs
1 bag frozen meatballs (you can make your own).
1/2 c brown sugar
2 Tbsp corstarch
1 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c vinegar
1/4 c ketchup
1/2 c chunked onion
1 cup chunked red & green bell pepper

Mix brown sugar & cornstarch. Add water, salt, vinegar, and ketchup and heat to boiling. Reduce heat, cook & stir until thick. Add meatballs & simmer 15 minutes. Add onion & peppers. Remove from heat and let cool. When cooled, place in freezer bag. When ready to eat, thaw, heat in crockpot and serve over rice.

On to dessert....

These cookies are a family favorite. I made them last weekend to take to a neighborhood cookie bake off. We took 2nd, but I think that was because they weren't warm. The warm caramel in the middle gives these cookies a nice surprise. A big thanks to Kristy who shared this recipe with our family.

Rolo Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
Rolo candy pieces

Cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa & baking soda. Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix well. Wrap rolo in a spoonful of dough. Roll in sugar. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fabulous Butternut Squash Soup

This really is fabulous! When I had my second child my neighbor brought me this amazing soup. She not only shared with me the recipe, but she shared her Family Cookbook with me. It is an awesome cookbook. Any recipe that I have tried has been great! I always know that I can find a perfect recipe in that cookbook. This soup warms you from the inside out! It is perfect for a cold day. I love to serve it with my favorite Lion House rolls, but because of time, I made up these quick breadsticks, that were delicious for dipping. The spices in this are perfect. Thinking about this soup always makes my mouth water. The cream cheese makes it so creamy and rich. This soup also freezes very nicely. I got a 4 pound squash so I once and a halfed my recipe. I have just enough for another meal in the freezer. I love working hard once for 2 meals. It really is a simple recipe for how good it tastes. It really is fabulous! So, if you still have butternut squash that needs to be used, or if you are just like me and can't resist this soup, go buy a butternut squash. It is well worth every pound!

Fabulous Butternut Squash Soup

1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup butter
6 cups butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and cubed
3 cups water
4 cubes chicken bouillon
1 tsp seasoned salt (Season-all, etc.)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper (less if you don't like it too spicy)
a dash nutmeg (optional)
1 (8 ounce) pkg cream cheese (2 packages for a richer soup)

In a large saucepan, sautee onions in butter until tender. Add squash, water, bouillon, and herbs. Bring to boil; cook 20 minutes, or until squash is tender. Add cream cheese. Puree squash and cream cheese in a blender or food processor in batches until smooth. Return to saucepan, and heat through. Do not allow to boil.

***I always add extra cream cheese. I like it rich! You will love every drop! We had a little boy licking up the drips off the table. To him, this soup was "good stuff"!

Coming soon, perfect side dishes for your Thankgiving Feast!
Your guests will be licking off their plates!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pumpkin Pie Squares & a Sweet Swap

I made these little pumpkin pie squares for a sweet swap that I hosted last night. They were heavenly. If you love pumpkin pie, you will love these! The coconut, graham cracker crumbs, & pecans just add so much to these bars. With a crunchy crust, a soft pumpkin center, and a chewy topping...what could be better!!! I love pumpkin and coconut. My husband doesn't care for either, so this was a perfect opportunity for me to make something that I love, and be able to swap mine for something that he would enjoy. We had some great treats. Some of the yummy sweets were Oh Henry Bars, Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies, Layered Cookies, & Fudge Jumbles. It was a lot of fun. If any of you are up for a sweet swap, this is the perfect time to do it with the holidays right around the corner. If you do a cookie swap, it is easy to freeze your cookies and pull them out when you have unexpected company. Just make sure that you freeze them in freezer ziplocs.

My mother-in-law introduced me to this recipe. It was on the Eagle Brand web site. They have got some great festive treats that will be perfect for the holidays. Check it out at www.eaglebrand.com .

Pumpkin Pie Squares
Eagle Brand

1/4 cup butter (melted)
1 1/3 cup coconut
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 can pumpkin (2 cups)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, or 350 degrees for glass dish. In medium bowl combine butter, coconut, graham cracker crumbs & nuts. Mix well. Reserving 1/3 of the crumb mixture press remainder on bottom of ungreased 13x9 pan. In large bowl, combine remaining except reserved mixture; mix well. Pour over prepared crust. Top with reserved crumb mixture. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or til knife inserted comes out clean. Cool. Serve warm or chilled. Store leftovers in the fridge.

***I made extra topping, because it was delicious. I also used 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice instead of 1/2 tsp each of ginger and nutmeg. (I didn't have the ginger). My improvising worked out well. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Best Potato Soup Ever & Apple Crisp

I can't believe that November is half way over! It seems like time is moving so fast these days. The other day I went to my first Parent Teacher Conference for my kindergartener. I can't believe that I'm old enough to be going to those. This was the first of many in the years to come. It went well. My oldest is a ball full of energy and seems to struggle a little with holding still and focusing for long periods of time. His teacher brought this up but she also said that he is a great friend. I'm thankful for that. He's a good kid. On to the food. I made this AMAZING Baked Potato Soup on Sunday night. It was absolutely fabulous. I called my friend to thank her for the recipe even before we sat down to eat it. A big thanks to Heather from Cooking Divas for this awesome recipe. We also had some homemade french bread that I posted a couple weeks ago. (Thanks again to Laura at Real Mom Kitchen for that great recipe). They were perfect together. Thanks for the wonderful recipes! I know that you'll all love this one!

Best Baked Potato Soup Ever
1-2 lbs. Bacon
2/3 cups butter
2/3 cups flour
5 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
4-8 potatoes-baked, peeled and cubed (You could cube half and mash the other half)
4 green onions--chopped
1/4 regular onion-chopped
1 garlic clove-minced (optional--but very good)
1 1/4 cup shredded chedder cheese (grate some extra for the garnish)
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Cook bacon, melt butter, add onions and garlic, saute. Add flour. Stir milk and chicken broth together and add to mixture--wisk until thick and almost to boil. Put in potatoes--wisk until boiling. Reduce heat, add sour cream, salt, and pepper. Finally, add cheese and bacon.

I was asked to help prepare a dinner for the teachers at my son's school. I was in charge of the dessert. I made a very yummy apple crisp. While putting them together I decided to make one for my family to enjoy too. I did mine a little different from the recipe because I like to have more of the topping than I do the filling. I halved the recip of the filling for mine and did the whole this for the topping. It was perfect! The ice cream topped it off.
Apple Crisp (Lion House Desserts Cookbook)
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
1/4 tsp baking powder
6 cups apples (6-8 apples peeled & sliced. I used Jonathan & Granny Smith apples)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
Mix topping ingredients using a pastry blender until crumbly. Place sliced apples in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Combine sugar, salt and cinnamon. Sprinkle over apples. Place topping mixture over apples and bake at 350 for 45 minutes (mine was done in 40 minutes). Top with vanilla ice cream or whip cream.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Spicy Honey Butter Salmon

This salmon is amazing!!! We got this recipe from Macey's one day. I think it was their grand opening, and they had a bunch of samples. The butcher was out making this recipe and passing it out. It was delicious then, and still is delicious now. We have been making it for about 2 years now. We make it once a month, usually for a sunday dinner. It is a treat. The honey butter just gets soaked into the salmon, making it so sweet. The Grill Mates Montreal Steak seasoning is perfect. It gives it a little kick. If you live in Utah, you can get Honey Butter in a nice squeezzable container. The kind I like to use is from Treasure Foods, and you can actually get it on-line. If you are interested, check out www.honeybutter4u.com . They also have flavored honey butters, and you can also buy it in bulk. You can also make your own honey butter by mixing equal parts of butter and honey. It's not quite the same, but it works! I buy my salmon at Sam's Club or Costco. They sell a 3 lb bag of Atlantic Salmon Center Cut Fillets individually packaged and frozen. They are very easy to thaw, and I just love having them on hand when I need them. This is what the McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning looks like. I have bought the spicy one, and love it too! It gives it an extra kick!

Spicy Honey Butter Salmon
Center Cut Salmon Fillets (thawed, and one per person you are serving)
Honey Butter
Montreal Steak Grill Mates Seasoning
Line baking pan with tin foil, and spray. Coat both sides of salmon with honey butter and sprinkle with Montreal Steak seasoning. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until salmon flakes when stabbed with a fork. Serve over rice.
***Salmon doesn't really keep well, so don't plan to make leftovers...it's better fresh out of the oven. I really like to go to town with the honey butter, so don't be afraid to drench it. It is delish!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Pasta Fagioli Soup

I'm taking a break from making my freezer meals for this month. Here's a quick freezer soup recipe. This also came from the cookbook, "Girlfriends on the Go". It is delicious! When I make it, I'm able to split it into 2 meals.

Pasta Fagioli Soup
1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup grated carrots (I buy the shredded ones)
1 cup diced celery
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15oz) cans beef broth
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped (I used dried parsley)
1/2 tsp hot sauce (Tabasco)
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 small bag shell pasta

Cook noodles according to package directions (I slightly undercook mine). Place all ingredients in a large pot. Mix together. If freezing, place in freezer bag. To prepare: thaw and let simmer until vegetables are tender (30-45 min). Top with sour cream and cheddar cheese. Sometimes I add a little bit of water to it, to make it not so thick. We love to eat it with bread sticks. The breadstick in the picture is a from a refrigerator package of Pillsbury breadstick. I rolled it in parmesan cheese, sprinkled parsley on the top and twisted it. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mini Cheesy Meatloaves...the better way to serve meatloaf!

For all you meatloaf lovers out there, here is a new and improved meatloaf! For all you meatloaf haters, here is a new and improved meatloaf, that will make you love meatloaf again!!! Growing up, we had our share of meatloaf...I wasn't a big fan, and never made it after I was married, until my sister shared this recipe that she got from a good family friend. I make this once a month. It is super easy, a great way to get meat into the kids, they are mini, filled with cheese, oats, and topped with a mouth watering sauce! They are delicious! I will never stray from these mini meatloaves.
Mini Cheesy Meatloaves

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup oats
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
3 Tbsp onion (chopped)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp mustard
1/3 cup ketchup
Combine all ingredients very well. Shape into 4 mini meatloaves, packing together very tight. Place in greased, shallow baking dish. Cover with sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
***I usually make extra sauce, because it is really tasty, and I like my meatloaves covered.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

More Fall Comfort Foods

Well, I hope that everyone had a fun halloween. I can't believe that it's already November! I really do enjoy this time of year. Last week the weather was amazing! We were at a park enjoying the sunshine almost everyday. This week it's going to be cold and rainy. I don't do very well when I have to be indoors all day. Anyway, we had a great halloween and my boys got enough candy to last us until next halloween. They had a great time trick-or-treating around the neigborhood. They also got to stay up late for a halloween party we had with our neighbors. It was a very busy day for all of us. I'm so glad that it's daylight savings and that we gain an extra hour. If my kids are up really early tomorrow, I'll probably change my mind.

Well, here are 3 recipes that I tried this week. They were all delicious and easy. The first, pictured above, is a white chicken chili that I got from www.thecookingdivaideas.blogspot.com/. It was thick and good.

White Chicken Chili
1 lb. chicken, cubed
1/2 tsp. pepper1 onion, chopped
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt1 TBSP. oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 cans great northern white beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp. cumin1 can chicken broth
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. whipping cream (or evaporated milk)
1 can chopped green chilies

Saute chicken, onion, and garlic powder in oil until chicken is done. Combine beans, broth, chilies and seasonings in large pot. Add chicken. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and cream (or evaporated milk). This is very yummy and works great with breadsticks as a side.

This french bread was absolutely amazing! I don't think I will ever buy french bread from the store again. This recipe I got from Laura at Real Mom Kitchen(http://realmomkitchen.blogspot.com/. She made it to go with my Lasagna Rolls. It was a perfect combination! It was very easy to make and it turned out to be very light, not heavy like most homemade breads. Thanks, Laura for a great recipe, I love it!

French Bread
2 ¼ cup warm water
2 Tbsp sugar
2 pkg. active dry yeast
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp soft shortening or vegetable oil
6 cups flour

In large mixer (I just do it in my kitchen aid with the dough hook), combine water and sugar then sprinkle with yeast. Allow to soften. Add salt, oil, and half flour; mix well. Add remaining flour. Leave mixer in dough. Allow to rest 10 min. Stir dough down and allow to rest 10 min. Repeat until dough has been stirred dough 5 times. Turn dough on floured surface. Knead 2 or 3 times. Divide dough in 2. Roll each dough into 9x13 inch rectangle. Roll from long side and pinch edges. Place on baking sheet with pam or cornmeal. Cover and allow to rise 30 min. With sharp knives cut 3 gashes at angle on top of dough. Bake 400 degrees for 30 min, check at 20 minutes (It only takes 20 minutes in my oven).

I had to put a dessert at the end of this post! This was the easiest cheesecake I've every made!(I think its the first cheesecake I've ever made). My husband said it was better than the pumpkin cheesecake we'd had a couple weeks ago at The Olive Garden. Anyway, it was good and super simple. This recipe also came from http://www.thecookingdivaideas.blogspot.com/.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
1 graham cracker crust
1 12 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 c. pure pumpkin
2 eggs
Mix the cream cheese, sugar and pumpkin pie spice on medium speed. Stir in pumpkin. Add eggs and mix until well blended. Pour into crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Breakfast

Alright, I know that we've been posting a lot this week. I just wanted to add this cute idea for a halloween breakfast. A few weeks ago when I got out my halloween decorations, my kids found two tins that you put tea lights in with pumpkin faces. They found the tea lights, brought them to the kitchen and put them on the table so we could have a candlelight breakfast. I thought it was so cute, that I decided that we're going to start a tradition of having a candlelight breakfast on Halloween. The other day I made these pancakes for my boys. They've been eating so much cereal lately that I decided I should make them a good breakfast. I used Bisquick just added food coloring. They loved it and there wasn't one pancake left. I was lucky to have gotten some for myself. I thought it would be fun to have different toppings for them to make a jack-o-lantern face, but I hadn't planned that far. You could use any kind of fruit for that! Tomorrow I will be making ghost pancakes with chocolate chips for the eyes, that should be a hit! Hope you all have a wonderfully spooky halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween Night Menu

This is my all-time favorite stew recipe. It is perfect for Halloween night. I will put everything into the slow cooker in the morning and cook it on low for 8 hours. I want it ready by 5:00 so that we can eat before the community Trunk or Treat at 6:00. This Hearty Beef Stew is amazing. McCormick has got me hooked on this one. They've got all the yummy flavors you want in your beef stew in this package pictured below. So if you are wondering what to do for dinner halloween night, give this stew a try. It will not dissapoint you. All the instructions are on the package. It calls for 2 lbs. stew beef, cut into 1-inch cubes, 5 cups cut-up fresh veggies, such as carrots, celery, onions and potatoes, 1 1/3 cups water, and 1 pkg. McCormick Seasoning for Beef Stew. It is so simple and delicious! Give it a try!

I have got to have rolls with my Beef Stew. Prudy's Honey Whole Wheat Rolls are a must. They are sweet, light, healthy, & perfect for soaking up the last of my stew. Find the recipe here: http://prudencepennywise.blogspot.com/2008/08/august-corn-chowder-and-soft-honey.html . Thanks Prudy, for sharing your recipes!

Can't forget about dessert! Pictured are my favorite Sour Cream Sugar Cookies. Unfortunately these aren't my halloween decorated ones, because I will be making them tomorrow. I love decorating sugar cookies for halloween. They are perfect for my 3 year old. After the Trunk or Treat we will come home and decorate Giant Pumpkin Sugar Cookies with yummy Cream Cheese frosting, sprinkles and candy corn, while watching Michael Jackson Music Videos. We love watching Thriller for Halloween. We don't let the little ones watch the scary monster part...it's a little too scary. This is really the only time of year that we whip these out. It's become a halloween tradition. My 3 year old loves to dance to Michael Jackson music. His favorite is Smooth Criminal and he loves to mimick the dancing. He's getting pretty good. His Uncle Matt would be very proud of him. Matt is the one who gave me my music videos years ago. He can do the moonwalk, and he even dressed up as Michael Jackson one year for Halloween. It was the year of my first Halloween party back when I was still single. My parents were kind enough to have the party at their house. It was a rockin' party! My brother was the DJ, and we had a great turnout. I was Tina Turner with a huge fro wig with crazy go-go boots. It was awesome! I probably could talk about halloween parties all day, but I won't continue to bore you. Just make sure you make these awesome cookies. They are soft and sweet!
Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
Cream together:
1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp Almond extract
Stir in:
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Frost with your favorite icing colored orange. Decorate with halloween sprinkles, candy corns, m&m's, chocolate chips, whatever! Yum!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Halloween Party Time!!!

Well, the day that we look forward to all year has now come and gone. I even had a hard time sleeping the night before because I was so excited. It felt like Christmas Eve. Call me crazy, but I just live for these Halloween Parties. My husband and I started this tradition 3 years ago. This was our 4th Annual Halloween Party. I can't take all the credit, because my amazing and creative husband is the brains behind most of this. He sure knows how to throw a party and have fun! We throw this bash for both sides of our family. It is a great family tradition for us. Sometimes this is the only time that our families see each other, so it is a great reunion. We have a rule at our Halloween Party that you must dress up, or you are not fed! We get the best costumes, and they get even better over the years. We all want to out-do each other. We also keep our costumes a secret from each other. That makes it a lot of fun. We had a Medieval theme for our party this year. My husband dressed up as Merlin, I was Guenevere, my 3 year old was Lancelot and our little 1 year old was King Arthur. This post is all about our Halloween party. Hopefully this will give you some ideas for your own halloween bash, spooky food, a medieval b-day party, entertaining ideas, etc.!

This was my awesome centerpiece! My husband had a time when he loved knights, wizards, & medieval times stuff. So this noble knight worked out perfect with some spider webbing to spook it up a bit. We will get onto the food later in the post, but here is a sneak peek!

We always start off our parties with something to do while we are waiting for everyone to show up. This is our Halloween Flag, to be used for all future Halloween parties. I am no artist, but my college calligraphy class came in handy on this one. The "A" & "B" are the initials of our last names. We had everyone sign the flag, including something about who they dressed up as. We got some creative one liners!

This is our backdrop for pictures. We started this last year, and it is a great thing to have at an outdoor halloween party. This is a great time to get pictures with everyone dressed up. This scene was perfect with plenty of spots to sit. those massive pumpkins we grew in our garden.
Merlin's Volcano Potion...

This was an awesome activity for the kids. I wish that I had small viles for each ingredient, but couldn't find them. My husband made him a spell book by brushing paper with lemon juice and putting it under the broiler until it browns up. This really gives an old, mystical look to anything.
The kids had a great time adding the ingredients. They couldn't touch what was inside the bag or else they would be thrown into the potion! Here is the ingredients:
Potion Ingredients
1 black cauldron
spaghetti noodles (brains)
the tips of 2 plastic knives (dracula's teeth)
small circular pancake drippings (witches worts)
corn hair (werewolf hair)
spider webbing
plastic spiders
chunks of pumpkin (smashed pumpkin from sleepy hollow)
2 long screws (frankenstein's screws)
baking soda (bone powder)
vinegar died a spooky color (spooky potion #11)
ghost call (have all the kids do their best ghost sounds into the cauldron)
You want to do this in a place where you don't mind your potion over flowing. In our case, my husband did it in our garden so that it wouldn't hurt his grass. You want to pour in the vinegar last and watch how it bubbles and boils over. The kids thought it was pretty cool.
Let the games begin...

We had some great games this year. The first one was our Gladiators game. If any of you out there remember the show American Gladiators, that is where the inspiration for this game came from. We got 2 large cement blocks that were big enough for both feet. The players face each other each with a swimming noodle. You have to have both hands in the middle. On go, they battle to try and get the other off their block. It was so funny. There were a lot of laughs, falls, brotherly-kindness, & great fun! Demonstrating is Grumpy and Peter Pan! The 2nd picture above is our Sword in the Pumpkin for the kids. We got a monster pumpkin and a strong play sword. We used some strong caulking because that was what we had. We coated the sword before putting it into the pumpkin, then loaded glue at the top too. You could use gorilla glue, super glue, just something strong. This was easy enough for the kids, and they all got to try it, even after it really had been pulled out. They all felt like they pulled the sword out themselves. The 3rd picture was our catapult. We did this a few years ago with pumpkins launched to a target. This time we used tennis balls and the target was a big cardboard box painted grey to resemble a tower. The goal was to hit the tower. We made the launcher with surgical tubing and sewed some denim jean material for the pouch. This activity is always a winner! The 4th activity was our amazing magician. He was awesome. He is a family friend, and very talented with his magic. Everyone loved it. It was entertaining for the adults and children. The set up was perfect in our garage. We decorated with halloween paper lanters hung throughout with some of my spooky curtains made from black garbage bags I found on Martha Stewart's website. We set up several straw bails for seating.

On to some yummy food! Everything we ate was a finger food. We had to use our hands. I didn't even put out silverware. We ate on black plates with black cups and black napkins. We lined up 4 long tables with black tablecloths to eat on. It was like a royal table. We wanted everyone to eat together. We drank ale (aka., sparkling cider). Because the bottle sparkling cider is so expensive we made our own with 3 liters of apple cider and 2 liters of sprite. We also had orange and green kool-aid. Here are some of the fun foods our guests brought!

These are yummy homemade bat tortilla chips. Spray both sides of tortillas with cooking spray and sprinkle with Salad Supreme Seasoning. Use halloween cookie cutters to make spooky chips. Bake 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Serve with favorite salsa, guacamole, seven-layer dip, etc.
This is the famous Lembas Bread from Lord of the Rings, however they put cookies inside. Lembas bread is a special bread made by the Elves, which provides nutrition and sustenance on long journeys. My sister and her family dressed up as Lord of the Rings and showed up with this as their spooky treat. Inside are her famous Jumbo Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies. They are so good. We will post them soon. She wrapped them in tinfoil and glue gunned leaves from a Hostas Plant around them. What a clever idea!

These are the famous mummy dogs! Hot dogs wrapped in crescents. You can also wrap them with breadsticks. You bake them in the oven at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes. These go over great with the kids!

These are deviled eggs with yummy olive spiders. Very creative , spooky and delicious!

We served fried Chicken & biscuits. Of course that's not homemade fried chicken... It was definitely bought from the deli at the local market & KFC! I've learned that in planning these parties it's gotta be simple. I did bake the Pillsbury biscuits, which by the way, are amazing! You buy them in the frozen section of the grocery story. You pop them in the oven frozen and have beautiful, fluffy, buttery biscuits in 20 minutes! They were perfect. The party was great! Thank you to all of our family members who dressed up, played hard, and put up with our love of Halloween! Until next year... I'm already excited!