Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Deals to Meals

I just wanted to tell all of you about a great online service that can help you with your shopping, food storage and saving money. The site is called Deals to Meals.
They tell you how to find the good deals.
They tell you good prices, where to shop, and when to do it.
They are now in twelve different states, including Texas, Washington, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah.
They give you great menu ideas and fantastic recipes.
I'm a huge fan of their recipes.
I especially love that they tell you how to use all that food storage so it doesn't just sit there.
Love that!

Go check it out!
PS - if you go check it out soon {aka-today!}, you can find out how to enter a L'Equip Hand Blender.
Or don't.
If you don't, I have a better chance of winning! ;)
Okay, just kidding! Really, go see what they've got!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

I really love good mashed potatoes. But I really hate not-so-good mashed potatoes. I personally love creamy, whipped, homemade mashed potatoes. One thing I hate: lumps in my mashed potatoes. If your definition of good potatoes doesn’t fit into that description, perhaps you should stop reading this post! 

Perfect Mashed Potatoes
Time: 1 hour
Makes: 4-6 servings

2 large potatoes
1/8-1/4 cup milk, cream or half-and-half {using cream or half-and-half will give you thicker, slightly more flavorful potatoes} 
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt

First you must boil the potatoes. Scrub or peel them {I like some peel on my potatoes but it’s whatever you like} and cut them into small cubes. The smaller your cubes, the faster your potatoes will cook. Put the potatoes in a sauce pan and cover with an inch of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 30-40 minutes or until a fork inserted into a potato goes through easily. You want ‘em nice and soft. Drain the water off {you can save the water if you like to make pancakes or something with the potato water}. 
Mash the potatoes using some kind of masher. Mash ‘em up about as good as you can with that. 
Yes, I am aware that my "masher" isn't really a potato masher. Actually, to be honest, I don't know what it is really for.
Add the milk, sour cream, butter and salt and stir it around until well incorporated and the butter is melted. 
Use less milk if you prefer a stickier, stiffer mashed potato and more milk if you like them thinner.
Now use a hand mixer and whip the potatoes up for 3-4 minutes or until they are nice and fluffy. 
Voila! Perfect, non-lumpy mashed potatoes!

Lemon Cookies with White Chocolate

Here is another super-duper easy cookie recipe that you will love - especially if you like lemon! I really loved these cookies. This is the first recipe I'm going to be sharing from one of my favorite cooking blogs, Jamie Cooks it Up!, and I've made them a couple times. I did slightly adapt the recipe for my own purposes so I'll share here the way I did it but know that you can go to Jamie's site {see link to the recipe below} to find the original recipe and proportions to make more cookies. My sister thought these cookies tasted a bit like lemon bars in cookie form, which is a good way to describe them!

Lemon Cookies with White Chocolate
Slightly adapted from: Jamie Cooks it Up!
Time: 1 hour
Makes: approx. 2 1/2 dozen cookies
1 box Lemon cake mix
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 egg
2 tsp. lemon juice {fresh or from the baking section}
1/2 cup white chocolate chips + additional 1/2 chips for melting
Melt butter and add to the cake mix. Mix around for a little bit then add the egg.
Squeeze a fresh lemon and add to the mix.
Mix with a spoon or in a mixer until just combined.
Add 1/2 cup white chocolate chips and mix until incorporated evenly. Note: at this point the dough can be refrigerated for up to 48 hours. Just cover well and put in the fridge, then pull out and allow to sit for about 5 minutes before finishing.
Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes or until bottoms are begin to turn golden brown. Do not over bake. Take the cookies out of the oven when they have cracked on top. Then let them finish baking on the sheets for about 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack or tea towel to finish cooling.
Melt the remaining 1/2 cup white chocolate chips in the microwave for 30-second intervals. You can add 1/2 tsp. shortening to help with this. Don't over-melt your chips because they will just harden and make drizzling pretty much impossible. Melt just until you see some of the shapes of the original chips left and then stir it around until it's all melted.
Drizzle the white chocolate over the tops of the cookies. Or do like me and put the chocolate into a plastic baggie, snip off the corner and squeeze it onto the cookies. I like this method better because I can control where and how much chocolate ends up on each cookie. I also put my chocolate on while the cookies were sitting on wax paper.

Sprinkle the cookies with a bit of powdered sugar. Let the cookies rest of a wire rack until the white chocolate has set up. Mmmm . . . delicious Lemon Cookies!

Mile High Chocolate Cream Pie

Disclaimer: I didn't actually taste this pie. I know it's abominable to even post a recipe that I myself did not try. But in my defense, when I made this pie I wasn't really feeling very well so I made it and sent it away. However, I was told that it was really yummy!
This is called "mile high" for a very good reason - this pie is soooo tall!! You will not believe how much pie you will get when you make this. But it is easy which can be super nice with all the holiday hubaloo that keeps you so busy!

Mile High Chocolate Cream Pie
Recipe found at Instructables
Time: 20 minutes + at least 6 hours refrigeration
Makes: 1 pie or 8 servings

1 Graham Cracker Crust {use the good kind so your pie doesn't fall apart}
2 3/4 cups Milk, separated
2 envelopes Dream Whip {there are four envelopes in one box, which you can find next to the pudding in your grocery store}
1 small box instant chocolate pudding
1 small box instant butterscotch pudding
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 8oz tub cool whip
-You'll also want an electric mixer unless you can hand mix something for about 8 minutes!

Put one cup cold milk, 1 tsp. vanilla extract and two envelopes dream whip in a large bowl. Mix on high for about 6 minutes or until you get stiff peaks. I stopped the mixer every two minutes to scrape the bowl.

Now add the two boxes of pudding mix and 1 3/4 cups milk to the mixture. Mix on slow for one minute until combined. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Then mix on high for two minutes, scraping the bowl once more half-way through. When finished, the mixture should be stiff.

Pour the mixture into your graham cracker crust and put in the fridge. The longer it is there, the more set-up it will be. I would say that you could probably get away with 4 hours though more is certainly good.
Once pie is completely set-up, spread the cool whip on the top.
You can add sprinkles, chocolate syrup, crushed chocolate cookies or chocolate curls to the top.
You can also do like we did and just add the cool whip to the top of each individual piece rather than spread all the cool whip on top. I just couldn't handle the idea of that much cool whip on the top of one pie, plus the fact that you would have a hard time getting your pie out of the pan if it were that high!

Variation: you could use the sugar-free forms of pudding and skim milk to make this a relatively low-fat, low-sugar dessert.

Chicken Corn Chowder

I love this soup! It is definitely one of my favorites. I can't even begin to tell you how delicious this soup is. One of the things I love about it is that there is no pasta and no potatoes. Don't get me wrong - I love pasta and potatoes but if you are trying to watch carb intake, those are not exactly great things to have in your kitchen! So if you want a super easy and absolutely delicious soup, this is the one for you! Serve this soup with the Holiday Crescent Rolls for a really yummy combo.

Chicken Corn Chowder
Slightly adapted from The Sister's Cafe
Time: approx 1 to 1 1/2 hours
Makes: approx. 9-10 good-sized servings


2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 medium bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely shredded
1 jalapeno, finely chopped, seeds and membrane removed (do not omit)
1/4 Cup thinly sliced or chopped ham or canadian bacon
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 14 oz cans or 1 28 oz carton chicken stock
3 Tablespoons flour
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese

Place olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
Saute celery, bell pepper, onion and jalapeno until softened {if you are like me and are scared of jalapeno peppers, use disposable latex gloves to cut, remove the seeds and membrane (which is the white part on the inside of the pepper that the seeds are attached to), and chop. I promise this works really well for keeping all the spice off your hands and out of the soup but still keeping that indispensable flavor the pepper gives}.
Stir in garlic and ham; cook for another 3 minutes.
Whisk the broth with the flour in a large bowl then stir into soup.
Stir in corn and chicken. Bring to a low boil and reduce heat. {If you get the soup to this point but don't want to serve it for a while, you can transfer the soup to a crock pot and cook it on low until you are closer to being ready to serve. Then, about 5 minutes before serving, complete the last step so everything is warm.}
Whisk together the sour cream and milk in a large bowl until smooth. Stir into soup along with the salt, pepper and cheddar cheese.
Simmer until ready to serve.

Holiday Crescent Rolls

I found this recipe at one of my favorite cooking blogs, Jamie Cooks it Up! Jamie is so fresh and honest - you can really tell she is herself. And her recipes are fabulous! I have two recipes I'm sharing in this little mini-series from her and you'll love them both, I promise! Now, this recipe is purely from Jamie, however, in this post I'm going to share with you exactly how I made them. I cut the recipe in half because I didn't need 48 rolls so I'll just tell you how I did it. These are quite possibly some of the best rolls I've ever had so you won't regret making these . . . except for the not-good-for-your-hips part {but hey, that's what the holidays are all about, right? Right??........okay, maybe not}!

Holiday Crescent Rolls
Recipe from: Jamie Cooks it Up!
Time: 3 hours
Makes: 24 rolls

1 cup scalded milk {put it in a bowl and microwave for 2 minutes}
1 Tbsp. yeast + pinch of sugar
1/2 Tbsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup {1/2 stick} butter, softened
1 1/2 eggs {I use egg beaters or other type of egg substitute, so you would use 1/4 + 1/8 cup}
5-6 cups flour
1/4 cup {1/2 stick} butter, melted {for shaping the dough}


Place the warm water, yeast and dash of sugar in the bottom of your mixer. Stir it around and let it proof {get all bubbly} for 5 minutes.
Add 3 cups of the flour and mix for 30 seconds. You want to add this much flour, before you add the scalded milk and eggs because the hot temperature of the milk would be too much for the yeast, and you don't want to "cook" your eggs.
At this point, drop your sugar container on the floor and spill all the sugar. 
And yes, that really is my beautiful kitchen floor.
Okay, I kid! I kid! This was just my clumsy self making a huge mess. . . .

Add the scalded milk, sugar, salt, softened butter (not the melted butter) and the eggs. Mix for 1 minute.

When you turn on your mixer, be careful not to turn it on too high. I'm just sayin'. Your kitchen could end up looking like this. Not that I would really know anything about that . . . 

The stuff was all over my floor too . . . but you saw enough of that already {besides the fact that you couldn't really see it because everything just blends into the lovely design}

Add the flour 1 C at a time, until the dough scrapes the side of your mixer clean.
Mix on high for 8 minutes. This much mixing really improves the texture and elasticity of the dough. I have also noticed, if I don't mix it long enough the dough doesn't rise as nicely.
Let the dough rise, in the mixer for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Punch the dough down (I just turn the mixer on for about 5 seconds) and divide it into 6 equal parts. Shape each part into a nice round ball and let them rest on the counter top. I always spread a little of the melted butter on the counter top, before I set the dough on it. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Letting dough rest for just a bit before it's shaped makes a HUGE difference when you are trying to shape it. Let's just say it cooperates better.
With a rolling pin, roll each ball into a nice round circle. You want the dough to be about 1/2-3/4 of an inch thick after rolling it out. Pour a bit of butter in the center....I said it was no dieters delight...you see now what I mean.
With a pizza cutter, cut the circle into 8 equal triangles. Start from the fat end and roll each triangle up. Place on a large, sprayed cookie sheet.
It works best to place them in 3 rows, 8 rolls deep. They like to be about this close together.
Place them in a warm 170 degree oven, and let them rise for about 20 minutes. Don't let them get too tall. Once they start to touch each other, they have risen enough. I have a convection oven, so I can cook both pans at the same time. If yours is a conventional oven (this means it does not have a fan in the back), you will definitely want to cook one pan at a time. Just set one pan on the counter to rise. It will rise more slowly than the pan in the oven, but it will be just the right amount of time to get the other pan cooked and your oven empty and ready for the second pan.
Turn your oven up to 350. Leave the rolls in while the oven increases in temperature. (I have had people tell me who own gas ovens that they are better off taking the pans out of the oven while the temp. rises) Bake for about 15 minutes. After about 7 minutes (or when the top pan has gotten a bit golden on the top) I switch the bottom pan to the top, and the top to the bottom.
When the rolls are still hot, I brush them all over with more of the melted butter. Delightful!

Butterfinger Cookies

These may be some of my most favorite cookies of all time. I'm actually not a huge cookie fan. Maybe it's just "regular" cookies I don't love. You know, like chocolate chip. Maybe that's because I don't really love chocolate. Maybe it's 'cuz I'm crazy. However crazy I be, though, I love these! They are cake mix cookies so they are super easy and I really love the Butterfinger addition. Just a couple things to keep in mind: 1) more butterfinger candy bar can be used - actually, I think more is better in this case; and 2) when you crush your candy bar, be careful not to crush it too much. If the butterfinger bar gets too fine, they will actually be absorbed into the mix and you won't hardly taste the butterfinger at all. This proves to be a very tragic cookie.

One day I'll take a pretty picture of cookies. I'm determined that it will happen!

Butterfinger Cookies

1 yellow or chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 Butterfinger candy bar

Preheat oven to 350. Mix cake, eggs and oil until powder is completely dissolved in dough. Cop candy into tiny pieces and mix into dough. Drop dough in small balls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 min. or until lightly golden. Do not over bake.

Apple Butterscotch Cookies

These cookies were so yummy! I'll admit I'm not really a cookie person {I know, I know - not liking chocolate and cookies just makes me super weird!} but I really liked how these turned out. This is another recipe I created and I really liked how "cake-y" they were. We also took these to our nieces and nephew and they loved them as well. In fact, a couple of them said they were some of the best cookies they'd ever had!

Apple Butterscotch Cookies
Created by: Cucina di Harwood
Time: 45 minutes
Makes: 2 1/2 dozen cookies

1 white cake mix
1 egg
6 Tbsp. applesauce {1/4 + 1/8 cup}
1/4 cup {be super generous with it!} grated apple
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2-1 cup butterscotch chips

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a well-greased baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees on the middle for 8 minutes. Then move to the top rack and bake for an additional 2 minutes. Take the cookie sheet out of the oven and leave the cookies on the sheet to finish baking for 2 more minutes.
Transfer cookies to a wire rack or tea towel to complete cooling. Or enjoy warm! Either way, they are good!

Note: The cinnamon in these cookies provides a rather subtle spice flavor. I prefer it this way. But if you want a little more spice, add 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg to the dough.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cherry Cookies

I'm going to be doing a mini-series of posts of some recipes that could be deemed appropriate to grace your holiday tables this year! Yes, I know, it's kind of late. But I really wanted to share a few recipes anyway so I'm gonna. I hope you enjoy them!

This is a recipe I recently created {don't applaud yet - you'll soon see that this is so easy anyone could have created it!}. My husband really enjoyed them and I liked them quite a lot. If you like cherries, you'll probably really like these cookies!

Cherry Cookies
Recipe created by Cucina di Harwood
Time: 45 minutes
Makes: 2 1/2 dozen cookies

1 box Cherry Chip cake mix {see, I told ya!}
1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries
1 egg
4 Tbsp. melted butter
3 Tbsp. water or cherry juice
1  tsp. almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Chop your maraschino cherries. I used most of a jar of cherries to get 1/2 cup. I saved a few to put on top of some of my cookies but you don't have to do that. If you want, you could chop up all the cherries and put all of 'em in the cookies. It just depends on how many cherries you want. I found the perfect size was to chop the cherry in half, then each half into four pieces. You can do it however you'd like, I just found that to be the perfect size. Warning: cherry juice stains clothing and counter tops. Just be aware!
Put the cake mix, egg, water/juice and almond extract in a medium sized bowl. Stir just until the cake mix is all mixed in. You don't want to over-mix as the cherry chips in the cake mix will disintigrate if you mix it too much and you'll lose some of the flavor - you don't wanna do that! Note: if you want a little more cherry flavor, use the cherry juice from the bottle of maraschino cherries instead of water. I just used water and it turned out great - a nice cherry flavor without being too much; it just depends on what you're going for. 
Add the chopped cherries and fold in. Your dough will be very stiff and sticky. This is okay.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes or until the bottom edges are slightly golden. Don't over-bake. Take the cookies out of the oven and leave them on the cookie sheet for another 2-3 minutes to finish baking - and because if you try immediately to take them off the sheet, your cookies will be in nice little pieces when you're done. Trust me
At this point, if you want to add a cherry to the top, you can put half a cherry in the center of the cookie and press lightly until slightly depressed into the cookie. Doing this while they are still warm will make the cherries stay put when they are cool. You don't have to do this. It does make them a little prettier and gives an extra cherry flavor, which I really liked, but it isn't necessary. 
Transfer the cookies to a rack or tea towel and allow to finish cooling.

Note: for an added measure of pretty and sweet, drizzle melted milk-chocolate over the cookies before serving. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sour Cream Waffles

I do love me some waffles! These are delicious waffles that you can't go wrong with. Honestly, I just can't say anything more about them. Easy, delicious, waffles. :D

Sour Cream Waffles

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbsp butter (1 cube) butter, melted
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream (I used light and they were fantastic!)
3 large eggs

Heat waffle iron. Lightly oil grids. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl to combine and make a well in the center. Whisk the melted butter, milk and sour cream, and eggs in a medium bowl until well combined and pour into well. Whisk until smooth, do not over mix.
Spoon about 1/4 cup of the batter into the center of each quadrant of the waffle iron and close the iron. Cook until the waffle is golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Serve the waffles hot, with the syrup passed on the side.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Potato Soup

I have had this recipe forever and don't remember where it came from. I make it a habit to make it every year when the weather turns colder and soup can return to the table without being ridiculed. And potato soup is one of my all time favorite soups!! I am a big soup lover and I love potatoes equally as much as I love soup so this is a fantastic combo for me! In addition to tasting wonderful, this is pretty quick and easy - another plus.

Potato Soup
Makes: 8-10 servings
6 cups peeled and diced potatoes (smaller than 1”)
½ cup each celery, carrots, and onions, finely chopped
2-4 bay leaves
Chicken broth (or water)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (10-1/2oz) can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
Chives, finely shopped (optional)

Put celery, carrot, onion, bay leaves, salt and pepper in a stockpot and cover with broth. Cook until soft. Add potatoes and more broth to cover. Boil until potatoes are soft, but not mushy (approx. 25 minutes).
Whisk soup and sour cream in a bowl until smooth. Add to potatoes. Add milk until desired consistency. Stir lightly so as not to break up potatoes much. Garnish with chives.
Variations: links of cooked sausage, cooked ham, bacon, paprika
Substitute: sour cream based ranch or onion dip for sour cream.
Note: This soup also freezes pretty well. Just make it up as the directions state and put into a freezer safe container or baggie after completely cooled. Thaw in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hot Hoagies

When I was pregnant, I had a hard time with sandwiches. I'm not a big fan of peanut butter {and it was even more unbearable when I was pregnant} so I usually eat meat sandwiches for lunches. But when you're pregnant you're supposed to stay away from deli meats. Unless you heat them up. But then you have a funny tasting sandwich - hot meat, cool mayo and mustard and pickles and tomato . . . too weird. So I just didn't really eat many sandwiches. And I was sad about that. Because I actually do love a good meat sandwich. Mmm. Anyway, then this recipe fairly fell in my lap and I was a happy camper once again. At least, this was the closest I was going to get to a meat sandwich that wasn't weird for a while.
And you know what? It isn't weird.
It's so tasty that I still keep making it even though I can eat meat sandwiches again.

Now that's saying somethin'.

Hot Hoagies
Recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

1 loaf french bread, cut lengthwise
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (in a pinch, you can use two large cans chicken breast)
1/2 cup light mayo
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 green onions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or 2 tablespoons dried)
2 cups shredded cheese
Olives, chopped (0ptional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place french bread on large baking sheet. Mix all topping ingredients together in a bowl. Spread topping evenly on top of both lengths of french bread. Bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbly and edges are lightly browned. Slice into pieces and serve immediately. Mmm, mmm, tasty!


Related Posts with Thumbnails