Monday, February 28, 2011

Hospital Food

Well, both my sister and I did it! We had our babies. And both of us had our babies on our actual due dates (no inductions...we went into labor on our own)! What are the chances of that, eh?

Oh, and I have to say that labor is A LOT easier the second time around! Thank goodness!

There are a lot of things that I don't like about staying in a hospital. One of those things is the food. I didn't have anything bad, mind you, but it's definitely not great food. But I will say this, hospitals have the best ice for chewing in the whole wide world. They also have a sweet little drink that I like to call a "Hospital Cocktail."

The nurses gave me a "Hospital Cocktail" after I finished my labor to help get my blood sugar level back up. It is a yummy mix of fruit juice and lemon-lime soda. I tried to guess the ingredients on my own (and almost got it right), but I eventually just asked one of the nurses what the drink consisted of.

Now, I don't want you to have to go to the hospital to have this yummy drink, so I'll share it with you right here!

Oh, and as a bonus, I'm sharing a recipe for chocolate bran muffins. Any of you out there who have ever been pregnant know that (and I apologize if this is too much information) you get a little backed up after labor and anything to help you get regular again is a welcome thing. These bran muffins are just the ticket. Honestly, they work better than laxatives. Again, sorry if it's TMI!


Hospital Cocktail

Ingredients:

Sprite, 7-Up, or other lemon-lime flavored soda
Cran-Raspberry Juice
Orange Juice
Apple Juice

Directions:

Mix equal parts of all ingredients to make desired quantity. Serve over crushed ice.


Chocolate Bran Muffins

Ingredients:

3 cups of All Bran cereal
2 1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla (or other flavoring)
1 pkg Krusteaz fat free brownie mix

Directions:

Soak All Bran in water for 10 minutes (until most, but not all of the water is absorbed). Stir in remaining ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes.

Makes 24 muffins. 1 WW point each.

Source: I got this recipe from my mom. I think she got it at a WW meeting.

Notes: You can experiment with the flavorings/extracts. Almond, coconut, orange, etc. are all fun. Also, I used Fiber One cereal because I couldn't find All Bran. It worked pretty well, but it required a little more water. I would say to add about 1/2 cup more water (but not more than that, otherwise they will be too gooey). Also, I couldn't find the Krusteaz fat free brownie mix at my grocery store, so I used a Betty Crocker Low Fat brownie mix instead. It worked great.

 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Aloha!

Sometimes you just want to make something quick and easy. I stumbled upon this recipe from http://www.delish.com/ while surfing the web and the name intrigued me. This was an instant hit! The mix of flavors was incredibly wonderful and unusual and it couldn't be quicker or easier. The vanilla gave it a sweetness that mixed well with the salty ham and Swiss. Add some chips and canned baked beans and this would make a satisfying meal after a long work day or shopping-filled Saturday.


Hawaii Five-Oh

Ingredients:

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 peeled and cored pineapple (found in the refrigerated produce section, cut into 5 thick slices)
5 onion rolls
5 slices Swiss cheese (enough to cover the bottom half of each bun)
5 slices thick ham (or 10 thin ones)
1 c. spinach leaves (which I forgot!)
Dijon mustard (I used honey mustard for my honey lovin' husband)

Directions:

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, chili powder, and vanilla extract in the plastic container that the pineapple came in. Put the sliced pineapple back in teh container, pop on the lid, and swirl it around to coat the pineapple in the seasonings. Let the flavors soak while you preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Arrange the pineapple slices on the greased baking sheet. Roast them for 10-12 minutes on each side, using tongs to flip them, until golden brown. During the lst 5 minutes of roasting, heat up the buns in the oven. Put the ham and Swiss on the bottom halves of the buns so the meat heats up and the cheese melts. Then turn off the oven and use oven mitts to remove the pineapple and the buns.

Build the sandwiches: Top each ham-and-cheese bottom bun with a slice of pineapple, then a handful of spinach. Spread the mustard on the top half of each bun. Stack. Munch.

Notes: Okay, these directions are written directly from the recipe and they sound a little Mickey Mouse to me. Like you don't know to use mitts to take them from the oven, but whatever. And, since one daughter has had her baby last week and the other is due any day, you will have to rely on my less than great pictures taken from my cell phone because I can't work a digital camera. But trust me, the picture does not do it justice. I think this will become a new favorite for a quick and easy dinner. Oh, I said that already, didn't it? Well, trust me. :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Alright...Go Ahead and Play With Your Food


A few days ago, I posted some recipes for non-edible items that kids could play with. But if you want to have your cake and eat it too (or in other words--play with your recipes and eat them too), then these recipes will be right up your alley.

The roses shown above are made out of Tootsie Rolls, and strawberry and lemon Starburst. You can also make chocolate roses by making chocolate plastic. I made some chocolate roses years ago for a Young Women's activity when I was about 15 (using a recipe almost identical to the ones I am sharing here). It was a lot of fun. If you don't want to just make them and eat them for the fun of it, you can make them and use them to decorate cupcakes/cakes.

I recently found a recipe for edible finger paint. I still haven't been daring enough (in other words, I haven't had the energy to clean up the aftermath) to let my 2 year old son do finger painting yet...but that time is not too far off.

I'm not including any recipes for marzipan, but it is a perfect food for kids to play with. In addition to tasting yummy, marzipan can be molded into a number of fun shapes. You can buy pre-made marzipan in the baking aisle at the grocery store, or you can find a number of basic marzipan recipes online. I take the easy route and just buy the pre-made marzipan whenever I use it. You can then "paint" the marzipan with food coloring--or even the homemade finger paint recipe.

While I haven't included any marzipan recipes, I have included a few edible play dough options here.

I'm also sharing some kid-friendly ice cream recipes. Individual portions of ice cream can easily be made in either a can or a plastic bag. They are a lot of fun for kids to make and they are yummy to boot! When I was a kid, we would make ice cream in a can frequently during the summer. My primary made the ice cream in plastic bags just this past summer for an activity. The kids thought it was so cool that they could make ice cream by themselves. I was surprised at how many of the kids wanted the recipe for themselves so that they could make it any time they wanted. I guess requesting recipes didn't seem to be something to me that was common for kids to do! But I can't blame them. If I didn't have this recipe, I would want it too!

In the fall, we made homemade butter using only mason jars and cream. Again, the kids had a blast and were surprised that they could make something like that themselves.

So, go ahead! Have fun with your food before you eat it!

Chocolate Roses

Ingredients:

One-half pound of white, milk, or dark chocolate plastic (recipe below)

Directions:

Begin by kneading your chocolate plastic until it is smooth and supple. If you are using white chocolate plastic, knead it in powdered sugar, and if you are using milk or dark chocolate plastic, knead it in unsweetened cocoa powder. If the plastic is too hard to knead, microwave it in five-second intervals just until it becomes pliable. Do not microwave it too long, or it will be too soft to work with.

Dust your work surface and a rolling pin with powdered sugar or cocoa powder, and roll the chocolate plastic out into a very thin layer, less than 1/8" thick. If you are working with a large amount of chocolate plastic, you might want to divide it in half and roll it out in batches.

Use a small round cutter to cut circles from the plastic. For one full-sized rose, you will need nine circles, and for rosebuds, you will need 4-5. The size of the circle cutter determines the size of your finished rose. A 1.5" cutter will yield a full-sized rose that is approximately 3" wide.

Begin by forming the center of your rose: take one of the cut circles and roll it into a cylinder. Leave a small hole at the top of the cylinder, and a larger hole at the bottom.

Take another circle, and use your fingers to flatten one end of it until it is paper-thin. This will be the top of the petal, and it helps give the rose a more delicate look. Wrap your petal around the cylinder, making the top of the petal level with the top of the cylinder, pressing it at the bottom to adhere the chocolate plastic.

Thin out the edge of another circle to add a second petal to your blossoming rose. The trick to getting a lifelike rose is to slip the second petal underneath the edge of the first one. Add a third petal whose edge starts just under the second one to complete the first layer of petals. If you want to make a rosebud, your flower is now complete. To make a full rose, continue to the next step.

Use the remaining five petals to add a second layer to the rose, thinning the top edges as before, and sliding the edge of each new petal under the previous one as with the first layer. Curl the outer petals back slightly to make your rose bloom. Pinch off any extra plastic at the base of the flower, and re-roll it with the plastic scraps to create more roses.

Allow the roses to sit at room temperature and dry for 24 hours. Once set, they can be stored in an airtight container indefinitely.

Source: About.com, recipe by Elizabeth LaBau

Notes: Again, I love this gal's recipes. She's very in-depth in the way she writes her recipes out though. Read through the entire recipe so that you know what she's explaining and then just have fun sculpting and molding your roses. It's not as hard as the recipe makes it look at first glance.

Chocolate Plastic

This recipe can also be made with milk or dark chocolate. The procedure for milk chocolate is the same, but if you are using dark chocolate, increase the amount of corn syrup to 2/3 cup. Note that you cannot achieve the same coloring effects when using milk or dark chocolate, and that you should roll out milk or dark chocolate plastic in cocoa powder instead of powdered sugar.

Ingredients:

1 lb. white chocolate (or milk or dark chocolate can be used as noted above)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
Food coloring (optional)

Directions:

Chop the chocolate and place it in a large microwave-safe bowl.

Microwave the chocolate until melted, stirring after ever 45 seconds to avoid overheating the chocolate.

Remove the melted chocolate from the microwave, and stir until smooth. Add the corn syrup and stir until the mixture is thoroughly combined.

Spoon the chocolate onto a large sheet of plastic wrap, and wrap it securely. Allow the chocolate to cool and solidify at room temperature, for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Soften the hardened chocolate by kneading it with glove-covered hands, or microwave it in short 10-second intervals until it becomes soft enough to work with. Continue to knead until it is smooth and pliable. Do not worry if your chooclate plastic has lumps--these can be worked out through the kneading process. Dust your hands with powdered sugar if the chocolate begins to stick. At this point, you can divide it and knead different food colorings into the chocolate, if desired. Be sure to change your gloves between batches to avoid muddying the colors.

Dust your work surface with a thin layer of powdered sugar. Roll out the chocolate plastic until it is very thin (about 1/8 inch). Alternately, you can use a pasta roller to make thin ribbons or strips.

Now you're ready to decorate with your chocolate plastic! You can cut out shapes or letters with cookie cutters or a knife, or form the chocolate plastic into ribbons and bows, or use large sheets of plastic to wrap entire cakes or petit fours.

Gather remaining scraps of chocolate plastic and wrap tightly. store in a cool cupboard and use within 2-3 weeks. To re-use, repeat the softening instructions in step 5.

Source: About.com, recipe by Elizabeth LaBau

Plastic Chocolate

Ingredients:

1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup light corn syrup

Directions:

Melt chocolate in a large metal bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in the corn syrup. The mixture will become sticky, but keep stirring until very well blended.

Spoon onto a piece of plastic wrap, and wrap tightly. Let stand at room temperature until firm before using. Overnight is best. Use unsweetened cocoa powder on work surfaces to prevent sticking.

Source: Allrecipes.com, submitted by HBIC.

Notes: I included this version of the recipe so that you can see the difference between the way Elizabeth LaBau writes out her recipes and the very much simplified written version. This is basically the same recipe, but it is shortened quite a bit.

Tootsie Roll or Starburst Roses

Ingredients:

5-6 small Tootsie Rolls or Starburst candies
Shortening, optional

Directions:

Unwrap 5-6 Tootsie Rolls or Starburst candies (if using Starburst, use the same color) and put them in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave the candy for 10 seconds. Check to see if they are soft and pliable in your hands. If not, microwave in 5-10 second increments until they are soft, but not too hot, or completely melted.

Grease your hands slightly with a little shortening to prevent stickiness. Take a small clump, about an inch around in size, from your soft Tootsie Rolls/Starburst. Make a sort of cone shape, with a larger flat bottom and a slightly tapered pointed top.

Take a small piece of Tootsie Roll/Starburst and flatten it between your fingers. Make it sort of rectangular or triangle shaped, and long enough to wrap around the cone/base of your rose. Wrap it around the cone.

Take a slightly smaller piece of Tootsie Roll/Starburst and flatten it between your fingers. Make this piece petal-shaped; slightly rounded on top. Place it against the side of your base, keeping the petal fairly closed, meaning don't let the top curl out. Make two more petal shaped pieces. Take the second piece and slightly overlapping the first, put it on your base. Follow with the third piece. The three pieces should go all the way around the rose base.

Make five more petals. Apply them as you did the inner petals, slightly overlapping each one. when five petals are attached, they should go all the way around the rose. Using your fingers, gently bend the tops of the petals outward, so the rose is more open.

Tips: Fruit-flavored Tootsie Rolls can also be used for more variety in color. Keep the petals thin for a more realistic appearance, but not too thin, or they may sag downwards.

Source: ehow.com (if you would like to see some step-by-step pictures, click here.)

Edible Peanut Butter Play Dough

Ingredients:

12 oz peanut butter
6 tbsp honey
1/2 cup (to 1 1/2 cups) nonfat dry milk powder

Directions:

Combine all ingredients. Add more dry milk, if needed, to keep it from being too sticky.

Source: About.com, recipe by Barbara Whiting

Edible Play Dough

Ingredients:

3/4 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
3/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1-2 tbsp honey

Directions:

In a bowl, combine peanut butter, milk powder, and oats.

Add enough honey to form a molding consistency. Kids can use dough to form fun shapes and animals, then eat them.

Store dough in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Yield: 1 1/3 cups. 10 servings. 2 tablespoons per serving.

Source: Taste of Home Test Kitchens.

Peanut Butter Play Dough

Ingredients:

1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup honey

Directions:

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in an air-tight container.

Source: OurBestBites.com

Homemade Finger Paint

Ingredients:

3 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 cups cold water
food coloring

Directions:

Mix sugar and cornstarch together in a saucepan. Add cold water and combine with a whisk. Cook on medium heat until the mixture thickens to a thin pudding consistency. I recommend stopping the cooking process a little before it's the consistency you'd like because it thickens upon standing. Once removed from heat, cool and then separate into bowls and color as desired.

Spread out big sheets of freezer/butcher paper or newsprint and let the kiddos go to town.

Source: OurBestBites.com

Soup Can Ice Cream

Ingredients:

Clean soup can
Medium size plastic bowl
Ice cubes
1/2 cup rock salt
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla flavoring

Directions:

Place can in bowl and surround it with ice cubes. Sprinkle rock salt on ice cubes only. Pour milk into can. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Continue stirring for 15-20 minutes or until mixture thickens into ice cream. Then eat!

You may add diced fruit, crushed cookies, or candy, nuts, chocolate chips, etc. for additional flavors.

Source: This is a recipe that we've had since we were kids. I'm not sure where my Mom got it from.

Ice Cream in a Bag

Ingredients:

1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons rock salt
1 pint-size plastic baggie (1 per child)
1 gallon-size plastic baggie (1 per child)
Spoons
Ice (large bag)

Directions:

Have the kids line up as you put vanilla, milk, and sugar into their pint-size bags. Then close those bags and seal them shut with duct tape. In the gallon-size bags, put about 2 cups of ice (fill the bag half way) and add the rock salt on top of it. The pint-size bag goes on top of the ice and then you can close the big bag. Shake the bags for 5-20 minutes, or until the milk mixture reaches the consistency you would like.

This is best as an outside activity because you will almost always have leaks while you are shaking the bag.

Cut off the tops of the pint-size bags and the kids can eat right out of the bag, or cut off a bottom corner of the bag and squeeze the ice cream into a cup or bowl.

Source: I found this in a random online search and neglected to write down the source.

Notes: I doubled the recipe. I used quart-size and gallon-size bags, 1 cup of milk, 2 tbsp sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla per child. The kids loved it!

Ice Cream in a Bag

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 pounds ice cubes
2 1/2 pounds coarse salt

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk together heavy cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla until well combined. Pour mixture into a 1 quart resealable plastic bag. Squeeze out all the air and seal to close.

In another large bowl, mix together ice and salt. Fill a 1 gallon resealable plastic bag 1/3 full with ice mixture. Add bag with cream mixture and continue adding ice and salt mixture until bag is filled; you may not need to use all the ice and salt. Seal to close.

Shake the bag about 10 minutes until cream mixture is no longer liquid. Let cream mixture rest, covered with ice for another 5 minutes, or until firm. Serve immediately.

Source: Martha Stewart website. The recipe comes from Saul Griffith's "Howtoons: The Possibilities Are Endless!"



I just posted the recipe for snow ice cream last month, but I thought I would include it again here because it fits the topic of kid-friendly/fun recipes so well (much better than it fit in with the blog post it was featured in: "Summer Soups").

Snow ice cream is so easy to make...as long as you have the right supplies! You just have to have a nice, fresh, pollution-free snowfall! There's no specific recipe either, because it's all about the right consistency and flavoring the ice cream to your taste. But here's the gist of it:

Snow Ice Cream

Ingredients:

Freshly fallen snow
Milk, to taste
Sugar, to taste
Flavoring of choice, to taste (vanilla extract, almond extract, other favorite extract flavoring, Italian Soda Syrup flavor of choice, etc.)

Directions:

Mix snow, milk, sugar, and desired flavoring together until you reach your desired consistency and taste. Use less snow if you want more of a shake-like consistency. Use more snow if you want a thicker ice cream. It's as easy as that!

Source: My grandma used to make this for my Mom and her sisters when they were kids. Then, my mom made it for us when we were kids.

Notes: You know, snow ice cream is one of the best things about winter. It brings back so many childhood memories for me. It just tastes soooooo good. The basic way to make it is to use vanilla extract for a basic vanilla snow ice cream. But I've used Italian soda syrup and made hazelnut and white chocolate snow ice cream so far this winter and those were super tasty too. So, get creative and have fun. If you're craving snow ice cream during the summer, you can satisfy your craving if you own an ice shaver or ice shaving machine. You can also make a snow slushy/snow cone and skip the milk altogether. You can mix the snow with Italian soda syrup, snow cone syrup, or soda pop until you find a consistency you like. I tried this with some sugar-free raspberry Italian soda syrup and it was really yummy--and a lot lighter on the calories too!

Homemade Butter

Ingredients:

1 pint heavy cream
Airtight container (such as a mason jar)

Directions:

Fill airtight containers approximately half full with heavy cream. Securely cover containers and shake until thickened (anywhere from 10-30 minutes).

Source: Allrecipes.com, recipe submitted by DD123

Notes: Once the butter separates from the buttermilk, pour out the buttermilk and either serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When ready to re-use, allow butter to come to room temperature prior to serving to allow for easier spreading.

Homemade Butter

Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

Pour cream into a food processor or blender. Process for 10 minutes, or until the butter separates. Strain off the liquid. Season to taste with salt, if you like. Press butter into a small bowl with the back of a spoon to further remove liquid.

Source: Allrecipes.com, submitted by Brian Perspect

Notes: This is the lazier (but noisier) version to make homemade butter. It's not as much fun for kids and not as good of a workout. But if you don't mind the noise from the blender, it's a lot easier on your triceps!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Kids' Stuff: Recipes to Play With...Not to Eat!

When I was a kid, my Mom did a lot of fun things with us. She took us on "field trips" all over Utah during summer vacation and on Saturdays during the school year. She also did kids' crafts with us.

I had to make some salt dough for a Primary sharing time object lesson. Making the salt dough took me back to my childhood and my memories of some of these kids' crafts that we made. So, I thought it might be fun to share a few of them (as well as some new discoveries).

My son isn't quite old enough to appreciate (or avoid eating) these kid crafts yet...but it won't be too long before he is old enough. Kids grow so fast!

I'm sharing a few versions of salt/play dough. I'm also sharing a fun way to reuse crayon pieces by making your own crayons (I know that for me at least, the way my son uses his crayons, they don't stay in one piece for very long). I also found a fun recipe for homemade water colors. Oh, and we can't forget silly putty and bubbles! What would childhood be like without those?

Oh, and just a warning...none of these recipes are edible (I know I already mentioned that, but I'd rather mention it too many times and be better safe than sorry!).

Salt Dough

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup salt
1 cup cold water

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix table salt and flour together. Gradually add 1/2 of water and mix to desired consistency. Knead the dough on a flat surface, adding more water as needed (up to 1 cup--but be careful not to make the dough too moist).

Once the dough is made, you can divide it up into small portions and color it with a few drops of food coloring--knead the dough until the food coloring is evenly incorporated. You can add a little more flour if the food coloring makes the dough too moist.

You can keep the dough in an airtight container (such as tupperware or ziplock bags) and store it in the refrigerator to use as play dough.

You can also form the dough into shapes and dry and bake them to preserve it. Or, you can roll it out with a rolling pin and use cookie cutters to cut out a variety of shapes and place the shapes on wax paper to dry. You can make hanging ornaments this way too...just make sure to pierce a hole through the dough with a toothpick while it is still moist.

Allow the shapes to dry for a day or two, turning them over periodically to speed up the drying process. After the shapes dry, you can use sandpaper to smooth any rough edges.

You can speed up the drying process by baking them. Bake the cut-out or sculpted dough in a 200 degree F oven until hard. Baking times will vary depending on your oven and the thickness of the dough. Make sure the dough is completely baked. You can cover the dough with aluminum foil if it starts to darken before completely baked through.

Source: I found this particular recipe (I added in a few of my tips and additions above) by doing a Google search on salt dough. I found this recipe on some family website (though now I can't remember the specific site). It was submitted by Chris Dunmire.

Notes: Not edible. Do not eat!

Rainbow Dough

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1/4 cup McCormick Cream of Tartar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
McCormick Assorted Food Colors and Egg Dye or McCormick Assorted Neon Food Colors and Egg Dye
Wax Paper

Directions:

Mix flour, salt, and cream of tartar in medium saucepan. Add water and oil; mix well. Add 20 drops of desired food color.

Cook about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture holds together (have a grown-up do the cooking).

Remove from heat. Scrape dough onto wax paper to cool. Knead slightly until dough is smooth.

Store in airtight container. May be kept for 2-4 weeks.

Test Kitchen Tips: To avoid stained hands, wear latex gloves.

Add 2-3 teaspoons of McCormick flavored extract, such as vanilla, strawberry, or raspberry extract, for a yummy scent.

Do Not Eat.

Source: McCormick website.

Bisquick Bug Fun Dough

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups Original Bisquick mix
1/4 cup salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon food color

Directions:

Stir Bisquick, salt, and cream of tartar in 4 cup microwaveable measuring cup until mixed; set aside. Mix water and food color in liquid measuring cup.

Stir a small amount of colored water at a time into dry mixture until all water is added. Microwave uncovered on high for 1 minute. Scrape mixture from side of cup and stir.

Microwave uncovered 2-3 minutes longer, stirring every minute, until mixture almost forms a ball. Let dough stand uncovered about 3 minutes.

Remove dough from measuring cup, using spoon. Knead dough in your hands or on the counter about 1 minute or until smooth. (If dough is sticky, add 1-2 tablespoons Bisquick.) Cool about 15 minutes. Use dough to make shapes and designs. Store in tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

Not edible! It's play dough!

Source: Betty Crocker website.

Crazy Crayons

Heat makes a crayon a little loopy; it may melt into a swirl or pool into a whirl. With this in mind, we chopped up crayons and baked them in shaped mini cake tins, making large blocks that are easy for toddlers to hold and will surely inspire older artists. Encourage kids to come up with combinations: a blue and white blend for drawing the sky, for example, and a mix of reds and oranges for sunsets.

Ingredients:

Kitchen knife
Old crayons
Mini-cake tins

Directions:

Parents can use the knife to chop crayons into pea-size pieces, taking care to keep colors separate so kids can combine them as they like.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees while children fill the tin with crayon pieces, arranging them in interesting designs.

Bake just until the waxes have melted, 15-20 minutes.

Remove the shapes after they have cooled. If they stick, place tray in the freezer for an hour, and the crayons will pop out.

Source: Martha Stewart website.

Notes: You could also cover a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place cookie cutters on top. Fill the cookie cutters with crayon pieces and bake as directed above.

Oh, and this isn't edible. Don't eat it!

Water Colors

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon glycerin
6-8 small paper cups
McCormick Assorted Food Colors and Egg Dye or McCormick Assorted Neon Food Colors and Egg Dye

Directions:

Mix vinegar and baking soda in small bowl. Slowly add cornstarch and glycerin.

Pour one teaspoon into each paper cup. Let dry overnight.

After they've dried, add food color. The color isn't as deep when it dries, so remember to add a lot of food color.

Dip a small paint brush into some water, and then into your paint. Use good construction paper that will soak up some of the water when you paint.

Test Kitchen Tips: Glycerin may be found in arts and crafts supply stores and some grocery stores. Allow the painting a long time to dry...put it in a safe place while drying.

Source: McCormick website.

Notes: Not edible. Don't eat.

Silly Putty

Ingredients:

1 cup glue
1/2 cup liquid starch
Food coloring, if desired

Directions:

Pour glue into a bowl. Gradually add liquid starch while whipping mixture with a fork until a ball forms. Once mixture is incorporated, you can add food coloring, if desired.

Caution: Not edible. Do not get on fabric or carpet.

Source: We've had this recipe since I was a kid...so I'm not sure where it came from. But I know that if you do a Google search for silly putty recipes, you can find a ton of similar (and exact) recipes for this.

Notes: Not edible. Do not eat.

Bubbles

Ingredients:

6 pts distilled water
1 pt liquid dish soap (such as Palmolive)
1 pt glycerin

Directions:

Combine water, liquid dish soap and glycerin. Let set overnight.

Notes: Not edible. Do not eat.

Bubble Wands and Bubble Solution

Note: Blowing the perfect bubble depends on equal parts science and magic. With a few twists of wire, you can make fantastic bubble wands and spend long, lazy days practicing your technique.

Bubble Solution

Ingredients:

10 cups water
4 cups dish-washing liquid
1 cup Karo corn syrup

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together.

Bubble Wands

Ingredients:

Large wands:

Plastic-coated wire coat hangers
Floral netting or plastic-coated chicken wire
Wire cutters
Needle-nose pliers
Scissors

Small wands:

18-guage cloth-covered wire
Glue

Directions:

For large wands, you'll need plastic-coated wire coat hangers and either floral netting or plastic-coated chicken wire. Hold the hook at the top of the hanger, and pull the bottom down so that it forms a circle. Cut away the hook and twisted neck of the hanger with wire cutters; you should have about a 31-inch length of wire. With needle-nose pliers, twist a tiny hook into one end of the wire. Bend that end around, and hook it on the wire about 9 inches from the opposite end, forming a 7-inch-diameter circle. Squeeze the hook with pliers to fasten, and straighten the end to form a handle. Cut an 8-inch-diameter of floral netting. With pliers, fold the netting's edge tightly around the frame, snipping off any sharp ends.

For small wands, use 18-gauge cloth-covered wire cut to a length of 15 inches. Bend the wire into a lollipop shape, securing the end of the wire where the loop meets the handle with a dab of glue. To make a star, divide the circle into five even increments, then crimp with pliers. To make a heart, crimp only the top center of the circle.

A tin can, with its top and bottom removed, also makes great bubbles--carefully trim any sharp edges, dip one end in solution, and pull through the air to make one long bubble.

Source: Martha Stewart website.

Notes: You can also simply save old bubble wands and bubble containers once you have used the bubble solution. Just refill it with your homemade bubble solution.

Not edible. Do not eat.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!


Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Yes, I'm still pregnant, but my husband is relieved that we didn't have a baby on Valentine's Day...especially since we already have a niece with a Valentine's Day birthday!

As you might know (since I created a chocolate hazelnut ice cream recipe which I posted last September), I'm a sucker for the combination of chocolate and hazelnut. So, when I ran across this recipe for a chocolate-covered-hazelnut-flavored-truffle-like concoction, I couldn't resist trying it. It turns out that they are fantastic! They are so rich...you won't be able to eat a ton, but you'll be glad you ate the ones you did. I was especially intrigued by this recipe because it called for prepared/canned chocolate frosting. It works (and tastes) great!

Also, I've already shared my sister-in-law's recipe for sugar cookies (aka cugar shookies due to my mom's initial mix-up of the name), but she made some more for Valentine's Day, so I thought I would share the recipe again...just in case you missed it. My mom is legendary for mixing up the names of things...especially in fast food drive-throughs. For instance, once she ordered an "Argy's roaf beast sandwich with fries to drink." Luckily the Arby's employee had a good sense of humor about it. His response? He said "I can give you fries, but I'm not sure you'll be able to drink them." Argy's roaf beast doesn't really roll off the tongue, but I think cugar shookies has a nice ring to it...so the name has stuck! It's one of the many things that helps set these sugar cookies apart from the rest of the crowd. These are the most melt-in-your mouth soft sugar cookies you'll ever come across.

I'm including another sugar cookie recipe that is slightly firmer. I don't like crunchy or hard sugar cookies. However, one fun way to decorate sugar cookies is to make Stained Glass or Window Sugar Cookies. These are especially cute for the holidays. I'll include some basic instructions following the second sugar cookie recipe for how to make stained glass/window sugar cookies. These stained glass window cookies would work a little better with a slightly firmer cookie than the Cugar Shookies recipe.

So, when you're in the mood for a few Valentine's Day treats, you can't go wrong with chocolate and classic frosting-covered sugar cookies.

Chocolate Nutella Hearts

Ingredients:

1 tub (16 oz) chocolate frosting
1 cup Nutella or other chocolate-hazelnut spread
2 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 lb. chocolate-flavored candy coating
Sprinkles or other decorations, if desired

Directions:

Place the chocolate frosting and the Nutella in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until combined.

Stop the mixer and add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder, then turn the mixer to low. Mix until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated, stopping periodically to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, as needed.

After mixing, you should have a candy that is soft enough to shape, but firm enough to hold its body--similar in texture to Play-Doh. If it seems too soft, you can add additional powdered sugar, if it is too stiff, you can knead in an extra spoonful or two of Nutella.

If you don't have a small heart cookie cutter, you can form the hearts by hand, although this method is more time-consuming. If you do have a small cookie cutter, roll the candy out between two sheets of waxed paper until it is about 1/2 inch thick or a little thicker.

Use the cutter to cut out as many small hearts as you can fit. You can knead the candy scraps back together and roll it out again to cut more hearts.

Once you have your hearts cut out, melt the chocolate candy coating in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring after every 45 seconds to prevent overheating. STir until the coating is smooth and free of lumps.

Use a fork or dipping tools to dip a heart into the melted candy coating. Remove it from the coating and scrape the bottom against the lip of the bowl to remove excess coating. Place the dipped heart on a foil-covered baking sheet and repeat with remaining hearts and coating.

If desired, decorate with sprinkles while wet, or drizzle the hearts with white, pink, or red candy coating. Chocolate Nutella Hearts can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or at cool room temperature for up to two weeks.

Source: About.com recipe created by Elizabeth LaBau.

Notes: I just used a hand mixer to incorporate all of the ingredients together. Towards the end, I had to knead it with my hands a little because it was thicker than the mixture could handle, but it worked fine. I doubled this...and I did NOT need to. It makes a lot. It's a really fun and easy recipe to make, but it's pretty time-consuming if you're doing it alone. At the end, I rolled the extra chocolate/Nutella mixture into little truffle-sized balls and rolled them in powdered sugar. This didn't really work out though. The Nutella makes these somewhat moist and as a result, it absorbed the powdered sugar by the next morning. They really do need to be dipped in chocolate (they are prettier and tastier that way--even though they do take a little longer to make).

I love Elizabeth LaBau's recipes on About.com (I also got the Halloween eyeball recipe that I posted in October from her too). Her recipes are written in a very detailed manner--so much so that often they tend to look a lot more difficult than they actually are. I like having all the details. It's great to read through and get all of her tips, but after that, just follow your instincts. It's not as hard as it looks!

Basically, the shortened version of this recipe could read as follows:

Blend together the frosting, Nutella, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder. Once you reach a consistency that is similar to Play-Doh, roll it out to about 1/2 inch thickness and cut out heart shapes with a small cookie cutter. Dip the hearts in melted chocolate-flavored candy coating. Place on a foil-covered baking sheet and allow it to set up. Decorate with additional sprinkles or drizzled candy coating, if desired.

Sugar Cookies aka Cugar Shookies

Ingredients:

1/2 c. butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 c. flour (you will need more flour)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

Cream butter, eggs, and sugar. Combine rest of ingredients and mix well. Add extra flour until dough isn't too sticky, and chill for a couple of hours or overnight. Roll out and cut (they will be sticky so add more flour to roll them out). Bake 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Frosting:

Ingredients:

Powdered sugar
Butter
Milk
Vanilla, almond, or coconut flavoring

Directions:

Mix ingredients together in the proportions you desire to attain the consistency of frosting you prefer.

Source: My beautiful sister-in-law.

Karrie's Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar
2 cups butter or margarine, softened
6 eggs
2 tsp vanilla (or almond flavoring)
1 pinch salt
7 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder

Directions:

Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs and vanilla. Add flour mixed with baking powder and salt. Roll out the sugar cookie dough and cut out cookies.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Do not overbake (in fact, you don't even want these cookies to start to brown).

Sugar Cookie Glaze

Ingredients:

3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp flavoring (almond, orange, lemon, vanilla, etc.)
A couple drops of desired food coloring (if you want the frosting to be white, add a few drops of white food coloring. This makes the glaze opaque rather than transparent).

Directions:

Add corn syrup and extract to warm water in mixing bowl. Mix to dissolve syrup in warm water. Add sugar and food coloring.

Mix on low until you form a smooth glaze. Before putting it on the cookie, you want it warm. Store in a covered plastic container (no need to refrigerate).

Notes: This came from my Mom's friend, Karrie. When she gave the recipe to us, she called them "John's Sugar Cookies." I'm not sure who this John fellow is, but he makes a darn good sugar cookie!


Stained Glass/Window Sugar Cookies

Using your favorite sugar cookie recipe, roll out the sugar cookie dough. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the sugar cookies. Using a smaller cookie cutter or a knife, cut out a "window" in the center of the cookie. Crush some hard candies (Jolly Ranchers work great)--keep the colors separate--and sprinkle some crushed hard candies in the "window" before you put the cookies in to bake. Sprinkling some colored sugar over the cookies in a matching color to your "window" also looks really cute. The hard candy will melt, and once the cookies are cooled, you will have a lovely stained glass "window" in the middle of your sugar cookie! You can then frost or decorate the cookie or just leave it plain. The window is sometimes enough of a decoration! I would say, however, that a somewhat firmer sugar cookie might work better when you are making stained glass cookies.

I finally just posted some pictures of these cookies, but you can find more pictures online. If you do a Google search for "stained glass cookies," you'll find a lot of examples. But, if you don't want to do that yourself and you would like more examples of what I'm trying to explain here, check this out. Also, click here, here, or here. Or, check here. Or, check this out. Or, here's a cute picture.

We've made some particularly cute stained glass window sugar cookies with a snowflake cookie cutter that we have. Get creative! These snowflake cookies use a different cookie cutter than my favorite snowflake cookie cutter, but you get the idea!


Sugar Cookie Glaze

Ingredients:

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
Food coloring, optional

Directions:

Stir confectioners' sugar, corn syrup, and water together. Stir in food coloring, if desired. Frost on cookies. Dries quickly.

Source: Allrecipes.com, submitted by cyndi. You can find it here.

Sugar Cookie Frosting

Ingredients:

4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup shortening
5 tablespoons milk (or more, if needed, to reach desired consistency)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Food coloring, if desired

Directions:

In a large bowl, cream together the confectioners' sugar and shortening until smooth. Gradually mix in the milk and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth and stiff, about 6 minutes. Color with food coloring, if desired.

Source: Allrecipes.com, submitted by Kathy Brandt. You can find it here.

Notes: This is a great sugar cookie frosting (if you don't want to go with a sugar cookie glaze). I always find that I need more milk than called for in the recipe to make it more easily spreadable, however. Good stuff! 

Freezer Dinners take 2

I just can't keep up with my sister. I meant to post this right after she posted her frozen dinners entry, but she has since posted like five other things. Oh well! As my more blog-productive sister stated, we are both within days of having babies! And the nesting phase has hit us both full force. I am actually quite proud of my accomplishments! I have stocked up our freezer to its full capacity with meals for me and hubby. If my calculations are correct, this should provide us with about 21 days worth of meals! Many of the meals I made are already on the Foodie Family blog. I will list them anyway along with the links to the recipes for your information. And I also have a few new recipes to add. So here it is...the contents of my freezer!

Ham: I got a big spiral ham for Christmas from my work. We had it Christmas Eve then froze the rest for later. I figure this should easily feed us for two days, plus a week's worth of ham sandwiches for lunch.

Soups, Stews and Chili: I think basically most soups, stews and chili are probably very freezer friendly. And it's great because you can make up a big batch and then have them for lunch leftovers too. I made some rolls, bread bowls and a very tasty Roulade to serve along side.

I made Tomato Soup, Squash Soup and Tortilla Soup, which have all been featured on this blog.

I also made a very delicious beef stew recipe that I got from this last month's Cooking Light magazine. It was scrumptious. My husband invited a friend over for dinner that night and I was a little sad to share it! ha ha! I'm awful! But we still had plenty for us and enough to freeze too. Here is the recipe for the beef stew:

ITALIAN BEEF STEW

Ingredients:

7 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into cubes
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup dry red wine
3 3/4 cups chopped seeded peeled plum tomato (about 2 pounds)
1 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 (8-ounce) package cremini mushrooms, quartered
3/4 cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices carrot
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Directions:
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan. Add onion and chopped carrot; sauté 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté for 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from pan.
Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan. Place 1/4 cup flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle beef with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper; dredge in flour. Add half of beef to pan; sauté 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure.
Add wine to pan, and bring to a boil, scraping pan. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 5 minutes). Return meat and the onion mixture to pan. Add tomato and next 6 ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, and stir in sliced carrot. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour or until meat is very tender, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaf. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, basil, and parsley.
Source: Cookinglight.com
I also made some chili from an Everyday Food recipe...but to tell you the truth, I had to modify the recipe so much and add so many spices and things to make it flavorful, the recipe isn't really worth posting.
Another good frozen meal I'm looking forward to eating again are calzones!
Calzones are really easy to make and can be modified with a whole variety of ingredients to fit your particular palate. I usually make homemade pizza dough and stuff them with all kinds of yummies, but this time I was just too pooped to knead the dough, so I just got the canned pizza dough. This wasn't the greatest idea. They still tasted good, but the dough really makes a huge difference. But if your goal is quick and simple, the pre-made dough will do just fine.
Here is what I used for our calzones:
Spinach, Mushroom and Sausage Calzones
Ingredients:
olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb fresh or frozen spinach ( if frozen, thaw and squeeze out excess water)
1 package sliced mushrooms
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage
1/2 jar pizza sauce
8 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed
1 package pizza dough, or fresh or frozen pizza dough
salt and pepper
oregano, to taste
Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Cook sausage in sauce pan until no longer pink, breaking up into chunks. Set aside.
Heat oil in saucepan over med high heat. Add garlic, cook 3o sec. Add mushroom, cook until softened and browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Fresh basil would also be delicious. Add spinach, cook until just wilted. Add sausage, cook until warmed through. Remove from heat. Stir in pizza sauce and cheese.
Roll out pizza dough, divide into four sections, cut into rectangles. Spoon topping onto half of each rectangle. Fold other half up and pinch edges to seal.
Cook at 450 degrees (Or as directed by pizza dough package) for about 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned.
I just kind of made this recipe up. You could easily swap out ingredients. Get creative! It makes 4 calzones, and I froze two. To freeze, let calzone reach room temperature and then wrap tightly with aluminum foil. To reheat, place directly from frozen into a preheated oven and cook about 20- 30 minutes until warmed through.
Next up: Pastas!
Pasta is a really freezer friendly dish. I do believe my sister has shared some tasty baked pasta dishes. I made the Tomato Sausage Lasagna recipe she shared with us. It will feed us for a few days!
I also made some homemade ravioli from scratch with my pasta machine that my husband gave me for Christmas! It was a lot of fun, but A TON of work for an 8 month pregnant girl and I was seriously pooped the rest of the day after making them. I made two kinds, spinach and butternut squash and they were both delicious. I won't post the recipe at this point because you need special equipment and like I said, it was an all day affair. I think I might have to wait a few months to make more homemade pasta! But nevertheless, we have a few days of good eating to come from my labors.
I made two baked pasta casseroles that I got from the Martha Stewart/Everyday Food website.
The first is called Pastitsio, and is a lovely Greek pasta bake made with lamb and penne. The husband and I both enjoyed the unique flavor of the lamb and the creamy topping. It's a nice mix up from your traditional Italian baked pastas.


Pastitsio
Serves 8
Ingredients:
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound penne, cooked and drained
2 pounds ground lamb
2 medium onions, diced
1/2 cup red wine
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
3 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta, and drain; reserve. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, over medium heat, cook lamb, breaking apart pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 6-8 minutes. Add onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Transfer to a colander; drain fat, and discard. Return lamb to pan; add wine. Cook over medium heat until almost all liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste, cinnamon, and 2 cups water; simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Make Parmesan Cheese Sauce while mixture is simmering: In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; whisk in flour until incorporated, about 30 seconds. In a slow steady stream, whisk in milk until there are no lumps.

Cook, whisking often, until mixture is thick and bubbly and coats the back of a wooden spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in cayenne, if desired, and Parmesan.

Add pasta to lamb mixture; transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour sauce over the top, smoothing with the back of a spoon until level. Bake until browned in spots, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool 15 minutes before serving.



Read more at Marthastewart.com: Pastitsio - Martha Stewart Recipes
The next recipe I tried was Mediterranean Tuna Casserole. Now, I can honestly say I don't think I have ever had tuna casserole before. So I thought, what the hay! Why not try it? It was pretty good. It's definitely a comfort food dish. I don't think it will become part of our regular repertoire, but it is worth trying for sure. I added some sliced olives just for the heck of it.
Mediterranean Tuna Noodle Casserole
Serves 8
Ingredients:
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for baking dishes
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound wide egg noodles
2 red bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk
4 cans (6 ounces each) tuna in olive oil, drained
1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and thickly sliced
5 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil two 8-inch square (or other shallow 2-quart) baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles until 2 minutes short of al dente; drain, and return to pot.

Meanwhile, in a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium. Add bell peppers; season with salt and pepper. Cook until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Gradually add milk, stirring until smooth. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer.

To Freeze: Prepare through step 3; cool to room temperature. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, and freeze up to three months.

To Bake from Frozen: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake, covered with foil, until center is warm, about 2 hours. Uncover, and bake until top is browned, about 20 minutes more.

To Bake from Thawed: Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake, covered with foil, until center is warm, about 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake until top is browned, about 20 minutes more.

Remove from heat; add mixture to noodles in pot, along with tuna, artichoke hearts, and scallions. Season with salt and pepper, and toss. Divide between prepared baking dishes, and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until golden and bubbling, about 20 minutes.

Read more at Marthastewart.com: Mediterranean Tuna-Noodle Casserole - Martha Stewart Recipes
So speaking of casseroles, I also made the tasty Chicken Tamale Casserole previously posted on the blog.

I also tried one more new casserole, that I got from Martha's website. This was a tasty casserole, and it's a little different then your typical casserole so I thought I'd give it a try. I think it would be even better with a pound of sliced mushrooms added to it. And maybe some walnuts. I wish I would have thought of that! But even without, it's a very nice, savory dish.

Chicken-Sausage and Bean Casserole with Sage
Serves 8
Ingredients:
1/2 baguette (about 4 ounces), torn into pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/3 cup fresh sage leaves (about 25)
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound fresh chicken sausage, casings removed
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
3 cans (19 ounces each) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse bread until very coarse crumbs form (you should have about 3 cups). Add 2 tablespoons oil; pulse briefly to moisten. Season with salt and pepper; set breadcrumbs aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add sage; cook until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sage to a paper-towel-lined plate; set aside (reserve pan with oil).

Add onion and garlic to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add sausage and wine; cook, breaking sausage up with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in beans; cook until beans are tender and creamy, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer sausage-and-bean mixture to a shallow 4-quart baking dish; scatter breadcrumbs over top. Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until topping is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Serve casserole topped with fried sage leaves.

Read more at Marthastewart.com: Chicken-Sausage and Bean Casserole with Sage - Martha Stewart Recipes

And lastly......I also made a nice quiche. I was making quiche for dinner and it dawned on me...hey this would be a pretty easy thing to double...I wonder if you can freeze it? So I did a Google search and according to the internet, quiche is easily frozen! I'll have to let you know how it turns out. According to the internet, you just place from frozen and bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes until warmed. I'll let you know how it turns out.

I had a favorite quiche recipe that I would use and then I lost it when my computer crashed, so I did my best to recreate it. And here is what I came up with. Again, like the calzones, feel free to mix in whatever veggies or cheeses you would like.

Laurie's Favorite Quiche

Ingredients:

4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon oregano
salt & pepper
veggies of your liking. I have done spinach and frozen veggies mixtures. This time I used halved cherry tomatoes and frozen corn
1 pie crust

Directions:

Prepare pie pan with refrigerated pie crust. Set aside.

Add eggs, cheeses, mustard, and spices. Mix in veggies. Pour into pie shell, cover with foil. Bake at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until set. Cool for about 10 minutes.

Phew! That is about it for the contents of my freezer. I'm exhausted now just thinking about it! ha ha! I'm sure glad I made all those meals while I had the energy, because this week I am totally just relying on my crockpot!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cookie Dough...Not Just for Cookies Anymore!



I know what you're thinking...cookie dough and ice cream, right? Yes, it's true that cookie dough and ice cream are fantastic, but that's not what I'm talking about...this time, at least.

My youngest sister adores certain treats, so I keep an eye open for fun recipes for her. She's probably so sick of creme brulee and eggnog recipes from me. But another one of her favorites is cookie dough. So I make sure to pass on any fun recipes that incorporate cookie dough.

A few years ago, I found a recipe which incorporated cookie dough into cupcakes. It was a huge hit and it quickly became one of my sister's personal favorites. Not only that, but it has also become one of my sister's signature treats to bring to potluck-style get-togethers. She's always very popular when she brings these cupcakes!

More recently, I discovered a recipe that combined cookie dough and brownies. The great thing about this recipe is that it isn't super involved because it calls for refrigerated/or packaged cookie dough and a brownie mix. I'm actually including two recipes for cookie dough brownies because they are both found on the Betty Crocker website and they are almost identical...but slightly different. I'm sharing both recipes because it provides hints as to what kinds of alterations you can make on your own. You can switch up the type of brownie mix you use...or you can even change the type of cookie dough you use. It's up to you! Be creative and have fun with it. The same holds true for the cookie dough cupcakes. You could use different kinds of cake mixes--or your favorite cupcake mix recipe.

We enjoyed these two treats for dessert on Super Bowl Sunday last week. It was the perfect casual dessert for the event. They are fun, whimsical, and above all very tasty.



Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough + Cupcake = The BEST Cupcake. Ever.
Ingredients:

Cookie Dough:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/ teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Cupcakes:

1 (18.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix
1 1/3 cups water
1/3 cup canola oil
3 eggs

Frosting:

Use your favorite frosting (we always use a buttercream frosting...the recipe is below)

Directions:

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and sea salt; set aside. Beat the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Add 1 egg and the vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips; mixing just enough to evenly combine. Form the dough into tablespoon-sized balls; place onto a baking sheet, and freeze until solid, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper/foil liners.

Beat 3 eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer to break up. Add the cake mix, water, and canola oil; continue beating for 2 minutes on medium speed. Spoon into the prepared cupcake liners, filling each 2/3 full. Place a frozen cookie dough ball on the top center of each cupcake.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the cake portion of the cupcake (not the cookie dough ball) comes clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing them to cool completely on a wire rack.

Frost with your favorite frosting.

Nutrition information: 24 servings. 221 calories, 10.4 g fat, 46 mg cholesterol, 214 mg sodium, 29.5 g carbs, 0.4 g fiber, 2.8 g protein.

Source: Allrecipes.com, submitted by lovestohost.

Notes: It is very important to freeze the cookie dough...otherwise, it cooks up into a cookie underneath the cupcakes! Freezing allows the cookie dough to remain, well, cookie dough in the final product!

Buttercream Frosting

Note: This recipe makes 2 1/2 cups frosting. It is enough for a good dollop of frosting on each cupcake. However, if you want to blanket the cupcake with frosting, prepare 1 1/2-2 recipes.

Ingredients:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3-4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoons of the milk, and the vanilla. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more. Add up to 1 tablespoon more milk if the frosting seems too stiff.

Use this frosting to frost the cupcakes of your choice.

For different flavors of buttercream...

Add 1 teaspoon pure almond extract instead of the vanilla, or...
1-2 teaspoons coconut flavoring instead of vanilla.

For lower fat, use 4 tablespoons butter and increase the milk by 1-2 tablespoons.

Source: Cupcake Doctor cookbook.



Cookie Dough Brownies

Ingredients:

1 box (1 lb. 4.75 oz) Betty Crocker Supreme turtle brownie mix
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated chocolate chip cookies
1 container (1 lb) Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy chocolate frosting

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of 13x9 inch pan with shortening or cooking spray. Set caramel pouch from brownie mix aside. In large bowl, stir brownie mix, water, oil, and eggs with spoon until well blended. Spread half of batter in pan.

Break cookie dough into small pieces. Sprinkle pieces evenly over brownie batter in pan; lightly press into batter. Open pouch of caramel from brownie mix; squeeze caramel between pieces of cookie dough, using entire pouch. Spoon remaining brownie batter over caramel and cookie dough.

Bake 28-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Frost with chocolate frosting. For brownies, cut into 8 rows by 6 rows.

High Altitude (3500-6500 ft); increase water to 1/3 cup; decrease oil to 1/4 cup. Bake 35-42 minutes.

Hint: Brownies can be frozen up to 6 months. Just wrap them tightly and label.

Nutrition information: 1 brownie is 150 calories; 7 g fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 100 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 1 g protein.

Source: Betty Crocker website (if you didn't already guess from all of the Betty Crocker products used in the recipe!)



Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies


Ingredients:

1 box Betty Crocker Original Supreme brownie mix (with chocolate syrup pouch)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1 pouch (1 lb. 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
1 container Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy chocolate frosting

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom only of 13x9 inch pan with cooking spray, or grease with shortening. Make brownie mix as directed on box, using oil, water, and 2 eggs. Spread in pan.

Make cookie mix as directed on pouch, using butter and 1 egg. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls evenly onto brownie batter; press down lightly.

bake 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out almost clean. Cool on cooling rack 30 minutes. Frost with frosting. For brownies, cut into 8 rows by 6 rows.

Nutrition information: 1 brownie is 170 calories, 8 g fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 24 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 1 g protein.

Source: Betty Crocker website.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Broccoli? Yes. Broccoli.



Broccoli is one of those great vegetables that sadly, I don't really think about unless I have to.

I've mentioned before that I do the cooking and grocery shopping for my in-laws while my family is living with them. Every now and then, my mother-in-law will go to Costco to stock up on some things. When she does, she always comes back with a huge amount of produce (I mean, who could resist? The produce at Costco is always so great and well-priced). After a few of these trips, she has brought home some very large bags of fresh broccoli florets originally intended for snacking purposes. The problem with that is that my in-laws really don't eat raw broccoli (and they don't usually have the time to cook it for a snack either). The first few times they bought broccoli, I left it alone because I didn't know if they had any plans for it...but nobody touched it and it simply went bad after sitting in the vegetable crisper for a couple of months.

After that, I decided to give my in-laws a little time to eat the broccoli as a snack (as they intended when they purchased it), but after a little grace period, I started building meals and side dishes around the broccoli to use it up before it went bad. I've made some really good recipe discoveries as a result!

One of them, I've already posted on this blog. It is a super easy recipe that features couscous, broccoli, and chicken with lemon as the main flavor. You can check out that recipe here. (I need to make it again so that I can take a picture of it...and eat it again, of course!)

The majority of the recipes are Asian-influenced. Broccoli just soaks up Asian marinades so well!

First, I am sharing a very easy recipe for sesame noodles. Next up is an easy crustless quiche that features a surprise spice--nutmeg. The nutmeg adds such a subtle and savory punch to this dish. Then, I'm sharing two versions for beef and broccoli. Finally, I'm adding a simple Chinese broccoli side dish that is really flavorful.

I used fresh broccoli in all of these recipes, but frozen broccoli will work just as well. We should all think about broccoli more than we do!


Lighter Sesame Noodles


Serves 4

Whole-wheat spaghetti complements the zesty sauce while adding fiber. A little less peanut butter plus a lot more vegetables make this a no-guilt meal.

Ingredients:

Coarse salt
12 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets, stalks peeled and thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions:

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti 3 minutes less than al dente. Add broccoli, bell peppers, and onion. Cook until pasta is al dente and vegetables are tender, 3 minutes more. reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, drain pasta and vegetables.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together peanut butter, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Add hot pasta and vegetables; toss to coat, thinning sauce with a little pasta water, if necessary. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Source: Martha Stewart website.

Notes: I didn't make any changes to this. I thought it was a great and easy recipe.



Crustless Broccoli-Cheddar Quiches


Serves 4

Breakfast (or brunch or a light dinner) for one? In these individual quiches, broccoli gives the creamy cheddar and egg a nice crunch; eliminating the crust cuts down on baking time.

Ingredients:

Butter, for ramekins (see notes)
Coarse salt
1 package (10 ounces) frozen broccoli florets
6 large eggs
1/2 cup half-and-half
Ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (3 ounces)
Crusty bread and mixed salad (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter four 8-ounce ramekins (or a 9 inch pie dish); set aside. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli; cook 1 minute. Drain well; transfer to a cutting board, and blot dry with paper towels. Chop coarsely.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in broccoli and cheese.

Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Ladle broccoli mixture into ramekins, dividing evenly. Bake until golden brown, 35-40 minutes. Serve with crusty bread and a mixed green salad, if desired.

Source: Martha Stewart Everyday Food recipe, found on the Martha Stewart website.

Notes: The cheddar cheese called for in the recipe tends to make the eggs take a little longer to set up. I would suggest testing the quiche with a toothpick or a knife (like you would a cake) to make sure that the eggs in the center have completely set up. I made some of this in 4 ounce ramekins (since I didn't have 8 ounce ramekins) and I made the rest in a 9 inch pie plate. The ramekins were perfectly set up...the 9 inch pie plate needed more time than 40 minutes to be completely done in the middle. Also, I used whole milk rather than half and half because that's what I had on hand. If you wanted to lighten up this recipe, you could use 3 large whole eggs and 3-5 egg whites, or the equivalent amount of egg substitute (1/4 cup of of egg substitute is the equivalent to one egg). Also, you could even get away with using skim milk. It would still taste great. Finally, I used cooking spray instead of butter for the ramekins and pie plates. It worked great and saved calories.

Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons apple juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
Ground pepper
1 1/4 pounds flank steak, cut diagonally across the grain into 1/2 inch by 3 inch strips
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 head broccoli, stems trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/4 inch rounds, florets separated into bite-size pieces
Coarse salt

Directions:

In a large, shallow bowl, mix soy sauce, apple juice, vinegar, sugar, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add meat; toss to coat. Let marinate 15 minutes. Transfer meat to a plate; reserve marinade.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12 inch nonstick skillet over high heat. In two batches, cook meat until lightly browned, turning once, about 2 minutes per batch. Remove meat. Add 1/2 cup water to pan; stir up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Pour into marinade; whisk in cornstarch.

In same skillet, fry broccoli in remaining teaspoon oil over high heat until bright green and crisp, tossing often, 2 minutes. Add 1 cup water; cook until broccoli is tender, 6-8 minutes.

Stir marinade, add to pan, and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until thickened, 30 seconds. Return meat to pan; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Source: Martha Stewart website.

Notes: I LOVED the flavor of this beef and broccoli stir fry. It tasted just like what you can get at a great Chinese restaurant. However, it didn't have nearly enough sauce for my tastes. I made this awhile ago, but if I remember correctly, I actually tripled the sauce/marinade for the original recipe. This can be served over Chinese noodles, or white or brown rice. Also, if the flank steak is still slightly frozen, it is much easier to slice thinly.


Slow Cooker Easy Beef and Broccoli

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 pound beef boneless top round steak, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 jar (4.5 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
1/2 cup condensed beef broth (from 10 1/2 ounce can)
3 tablespoons teriyaki baste and glaze (from 12 ounce bottle)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil, if desired
2/3 cup uncooked regular long-grain rice
1 1/3 cups water
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 cups frozen broccoli florets
(1-2 teaspoons Ground Ginger, optional, see notes)

Directions:

Mix beef, mushrooms, onion, broth, teriyaki baste and glaze, sesame seeds, and sesame oil in a slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low heat setting for 8-10 hours.

About 35 minutes before serving, cook rice as directed on package. Meanwhile, mix 2 tablespoons water and cornstarch in small bowl. Stir cornstarch mixture and broccoli into beef mixture. Cover and cook on low heat setting 30 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender. Serve over rice.

Nutrition information: 335 calories, 5 g fat, 60 mg cholesterol, 880 mg sodium, 40 g carbohydrate, 5 g dietary fiber, 32 g protein.

Source: Betty Crocker website.

Notes: After tasting this prior to serving, I felt like something was missing flavor-wise. I added some more teriyaki baste and glaze which helped, but it still wasn't quite right. That's when I realized that I was missing the taste of ginger. So, I added some ground ginger, to taste. I would suggest at least 1-2 teaspoons of ground ginger--though I added more than that because I really like ginger (or you can add fresh, minced ginger, if you have it). Also, I thought it would be more authentic to have sliced beef rather than cubed--however this was a mistake. The beef gets so tender in the slow cooker that when it was sliced, it pretty much just broke apart when I stirred the mixture together. Cubed beef would have held it's shape a lot better. While I prefer this recipe in a stir-fry form, it is nice to have this really quick and easy version to throw together on nights when you just don't have the time to whip up a stir fry.




Stir-Fried Broccoli


Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium heads of broccoli, cut into florets
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp superfine sugar
1 tsp grated fresh ginger root
1 garlic clove, crushed
Pinch of hot chile flakes
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

Directions:

In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil until almost smoking. Stir-fry the broccoli for 4-5 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar, ginger root, garlic, and hot chile flakes. Add the mixture to the broccoli. Cook over gentle heat, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.

Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with the sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Source: Perfect Chinese cookbook, published 2007. ISBN 978 1-4054-7365-1

Notes: This was soooo good. I was really surprised at how tasty and authentic this tasted for how simple it was.


Above: Stir Fried Broccoli served with General Tsao's Chicken over rice.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Comfort Food Side Dishes

I'm not going to lie...when it comes to weeknight meals, side dishes are usually an afterthought for me. Some nights, it's enough work to get the main dish on the table...let alone worrying about throwing together some elaborate side dishes. My weeknight side dishes are usually very, very simple (consisting of staples like the following: salad, some kind of quick bread, and simple veggies--frozen, fresh, or canned).

But the side dish should not be overlooked. Sometimes the side dish ends up outshining the main dish! I'm going to share some very old family favorite side dishes (that fall into the comfort food category).

The first few recipes are pretty basic to LDS culture. In fact, I'm going to share two versions of the "Funeral Potatoes" since it's so common (a rich version and a lightened up version). Why are they called "Funeral Potatoes," you ask? I think it has to do with the fact that they are so easy to make, plus you can make them ahead of time and bake them just before they are needed. Because of those two factors, they tend to make an appearance at a lot of luncheons following LDS funerals. Or maybe it's just because when it comes to comfort food, they're to die for! (Please excuse the pun).

I'm sharing quite a few potato side dishes because, for me at least, potatoes are the ultimate comfort food. I LOVE them! I hope you like these recipes too.


Baked Beans

Ingredients:

2 (29 oz) cans pork and beans
2 chopped onions
1 diced green pepper
1 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup ketchup
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Pepper, to taste

Directions:

Combine all ingredients well. Can be mixed ahead and stored in the refrigerator overnight. Bake covered for 3 hours at 300 degrees. Top with additional bacon, if desired.

8-10 servings.

Source: My Mom has been making this for years. I'm not sure where she got it from.

Notes: These baked beans are the perfect balance of sweet and savory.


Cottage Cheese Jello Salad

Ingredients:

1 (16 oz) container cottage cheese
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 (3 oz) pkg. Jello, any flavor
1 (8 oz) container Cool Whip

Directions:

Mix pineapple and Jello. Add cottage cheese and Cool Whip. Chill until set. Serve chilled.

Source: This is one of those LDS culture recipes that so many people make. I'm not sure where the original recipe came from.

Notes: For those of you who haven't had this, I know it might sound weird to combine cottage cheese, pineapple, Jello, and Cool Whip...but trust me, this stuff is addicting. I've also mentioned that I really don't like Jello in its jiggly form, but I love the flavor that it imparts to things when it doesn't become gelatin! The salad above is orange flavored with mandarin orange segments placed on top just for the heck of it.


Au Gratin Potatoes (aka Funeral Potatoes)

Ingredients:

6 medium potatoes (you can also use the equivalent amount of frozen, thawed, hash browns to speed up and simplify things)
1/4 cup butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup chopped green onions (you can also use white or yellow onions, if you prefer)
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup crushed cornflakes or potato chips
2 tbsp melted butter

Directions:

Bake or boil potatoes, then peel and shred or grate them.

Heat 1/4 cup butter with soup. Add sour cream, onion, and cheese. Mix well. Pour into 9x13 pan or casserole dish. Sprinkle with cornflake/potato chip and butter mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Source: Probably just about every ward cookbook that has ever been printed.

  
Lightened Cheesy Potatoes (Funeral Potatoes)

Ingredients:

1 (10 3/4 oz) can reduced-fat, reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese (4 oz)
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1/2 cup light dairy sour cream
1/3 cup finely chopped onion (green, white, or yellow), or 2 tablespoons dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (30 or 32 oz) package frozen shredded or diced hash brown potatoes, thawed
1/2 cup crushed cornflakes or potato chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 2 quart rectangular baking dish; set aside. In an extra-large bowl, combine soup, cheese, milk, and sour cream, onion, and pepper. Stir in potatoes. Spread mixture evenly in prepared baking dish.

Cover and bake for 45 minutes; stir potatoes. Sprinkle with cornflakes/potato chips. Bake uncovered, for 20-25 minutes more or until heated through and bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

12 servings.

Nutrition Information: 129 calories, 3 g fat, 11 mg cholesterol, 236 mg sodium, 20 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber.

Source: This lightened version came as a loose mini booklet with one of my Taste of Home magazines.

Notes: I like that it adds the bit about allowing it to stand 10 minutes before serving because these potatoes get hotter than the blazes of the sun! Watch out or you could seriously burn your tongue.



Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Cheese

Ingredients:

6 large potatoes, cleaned and quartered (not peeled)
2 large cloves garlic, quartered
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup half and half
Cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

Put potatoes and garlic in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 40 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. When potatoes are done, melt butter in a separate saucepan, then add half & half. Warm for 2-3 minutes on low. Drain potatoes and garlic. Mash together, then add butter, salt, and half & half. Mash to desired consistency (smoothly mashed or lumpily smashed...it's up to you). Top with shredded Cheddar cheese.

Serves 6.

Source: Again, with some of these recipes that my Mom has been making for years, I have no idea where she got this from.



Notes: We now usually double or triple this since our family has grown.



Above: Add a little bacon too, if you like!



Mr. Wendel's Potato Salad

Ingredients:

7 lbs. potatoes
1 jar Best Foods Mayonnaise (regular size--larger jar)
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp prepared yellow mustard
1 1/2 tbsp dry mustard
1/ tsp (heaping) pepper
2 tsp salt
3-4 medium dill pickles, diced
1 medium onion, chopped very fine
Large handful of fresh parsley, minced
12 eggs, hard boiled, peeled, and quartered

Directions:

Boil potatoes in a large pot of salted water with the skins on. The skins will peel off easily after they have cooked (so you can save yourself the step of having to peel the potatoes prior to cooking them).

Slice the potatoes lengthwise only (they break up further when you stir all of the ingredients together). Then stir in mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, prepared mustard, dry mustard, pepper, salt, diced dill pickles, chopped onion, and minced parsley. Mix well.

Once everything else is mixed, stir in the eggs (adding them too early will break them apart too much). Chill until ready to serve.

Source: I had the most awesome choir teacher (Mr. Norman Wendel, as evidenced by the title of this recipe) when I was in high school. I was always very self-conscious about my singing voice, but he gave me the confidence to get out there and perform. Honestly, if it weren't for him, I don't think I would have had the guts to audition for the music program at BYU. Largely because of him, I graduated as a Vocal Pedagogy major. I wish all music teachers could be like him. He buoyed me up and taught me so much about music (technical music theory as well as how to just plain love and enjoy music). I tried out for his Madrigal group while I was in high school and got put on the party planning committee. For one of our parties, we had a potluck and Mr. Wendel brought this fantastic potato salad (I made sukiyaki...a recipe to share another day!). I craved this potato salad for years afterward and begged for the recipe. The problem was that he was one of those cooks who creates a recipe in their mind, but never writes it down. Luckily for me, his daughter (who I was in Madrigals with) finally pinned him down and watched him make it while she wrote down the methods, measurements, and equivalents for this recipe. She then shared this recipe with me. Yum! I'm sooooo grateful!

Notes: This is definitely a savory potato salad with some bite to it. I love the addition of dill pickles and hard boiled eggs. If you like a wussy, bland, or sweet tasting potato salad, this one isn't for you. Coincidentally, this potato salad is very similar to the potato salad that my in-laws have been making for years too (a recipe that THEY made up too. Though I'm not sure if they wrote theirs down or not). Destiny or coincidence? You decide!

Also, the picture I took doesn't do it justice.  This is a fantastic potato salad.  Here's what I did this time around: I made the whole batch, but I divided it into two bowls.  One bowl had pickles and eggs, the other bowl didn't.  All of the other ingredients stayed the same.