Monday, December 22, 2008

Pecan Pralines Cookies

2 cups pecans (chopped)
1/2 pound butter/margarine (2 sticks)
4 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cup flour

Mix the butter/margarine, powdered sugar, and vanilla together. Then add the flour, a little bit at a time, and the pecans. Roll into 1/4 - 1/2 inch balls then cover with powdered sugar. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. Cover with sugar again after they are baked, and then again when they are cool. Makes about 30-50 depending on size.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sugar Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
granulated sugar, colored sugar, or cinnamon sugar
icing, optional

Preparation:Beat butter and shortening together with an electric mixer. Add sugar, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Beat until well combined, scraping bowl. Beat in egg and vanilla then as much flour as you can with the electric mixer. Stir in the remaining flour. Cover and chill for 1 to 3 hours; working with 1/2 of the dough at a time, cut into desired shapes. If desired, sprinkle with colored sugar, granulated sugar, or cinnamon sugar before baking. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets at 350° for about 8 to 10 minutes, or just until edges are firm and bottoms are lightly browned. Ice when cooled, if desired. Makes about 36 cookies.

Pecan Pralines (Candy version)

4 tablespoons butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
dash salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups pecan halves, lightly toasted*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
butter for baking sheet

Preparation:In a heavy saucepan over low heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Stir in the granulated and brown sugars, dash salt, and heavy cream. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove the lid and boil until temperature reaches 242° on the candy thermometer, or almost firm ball stage. A small amount of the mixture, when added to cold water, will form a soft ball which will hold its shape and not flatten. Stir in the toasted pecans. Remove from heat and beat in flavoring. Continue beating until the candy loses its glossiness, becomes creamy in appearance, and begins to thicken. Have a buttered baking sheet or waxed paper lined baking sheet ready. Quickly drop the candy mixture by tablespoons onto the greased cookie sheet. Wrap pralines individually in plastic wrap to store.

*To toast nuts, spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in a 350° oven, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes. Or, toast in an ungreased skillet over medium heat, stirring, until light golden brown and aromatic.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

One 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
3 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1 Tbsp vanilla
6 eggs

Preheat over to 300
Mix cream cheese and butter until creamy
Add sugar, and mix well
Add vanilla
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition
Slowly mix in flour

Flour and grease a bundt cake pan.

Bake at 300 for 1 hour 45 minutes (Time will vary. It only took 1 hour 30 minutes in my oven.)
Let cool for 15 minutes in pan before removing.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Chicken Parm

This recipe isn't exact. I usually just make it up as I go. It's pretty hard to ruin. This "recipe" feeds 2.

For the chicken:
1/2 cup of Panko Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup of Parmesan Cheese
2 tsp. of dried Parsley
2 T. of butter
1 clove of garlic
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in thirds

Mix the breadcrumbs, cheese and parsely together in a bowl. Sautee the garlic in the butter. Dip your chicken pieces in the butter then roll them around in the bread crumb mixture. Make sure to get as many crumbs onthe chicken as possible.

For the Marinara Sauce:
1 small can of petite diced tomatoes
1 8oz can of tomato sauce
a few dashes of dried oregano
a few dashes of dried basil
1 tsp. of sugar
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 an onion
salt and pepper

Sautee the garlic and onion in butter or olive oil. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer.

I usually top the chicken with provolone or swiss cheese, but I forgot to this last time. It makes it much prettier! My husband thinks I slaved over this meal, but I never tell him how easy it really is. Serve it with some tasty homemade garlic bread and your fave vegetable. Delish!

Potato Cheese Soup

1 cup of finely chopped onion
1 cup of finely chopped celery
2-3 cups of potatoes

1 pint of half and half
1 pint of milk (2 cups)
1/2 T sugar
1/2 tsp. of salt
pepper to taste

1/2 cup of butter
3/4 cup of flour

8oz. of Velveeta cheese

Shredded carrots
dried parslsey

*Put the potatoes, celery and onions in a large pot. Cover with water (don't put too much water, just enough to cover the potatoes) and cook until potatoes are done - but not mushy. Don't drain the water.

*While the potatoes are cooking, mix the half and half, milk, sugar, salt and pepepr in a bowl. Set aside.

*Melt the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat. Slowly add the flour (I usually use a whisk). After the butter and flour are mixed together, slowly pour in the milk mixture. Continue stirring until the mixture is very warm and getting thick. Add the velveeta cheese and continue stirring until the cheese has completely melted.

*Add your cheese mixture directly to the large pot of potatoes, onion, celery and water. Mix all together and you have the yummiest soup ever!

Slow-Cooker Recipe: Vegetable Stew

This stick-to-your-ribs vegetarian dish can be served over barley, couscous, or millet. Cook whichever grain you choose separately, according to the label directions, and spoon the colorful stew over it just before serving.

4 large carrots, diagonally sliced into 2-inch pieces (about 5 cups)
2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 16-ounce can chickpeas, drained

Combine the carrots, turnips, onion, garlic, tomatoes (with their liquid), broth, salt, cumin, and pepper flakes in a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Cook on low heat for 6 hours, or on high for 3 hours. Add the zucchini and chickpeas and cook 1 hour longer on low.

Yield: Makes 6 servings

Meatless Crockpot Enchiladas

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups frozen ground beef substitute crumbles
10 oz. can condensed cream of mushroom soup with roasted garlic
4 oz. can chopped green chilies, undrained
10 oz. can enchilada sauce
10 (6") corn tortillas
3 cups shredded Cojack cheese

Preparation:In large skillet, heat olive oil and saute onion and garlic until tender. Add beef substitute crumbles, soup and chilies. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes.

Spray 3-4 quart crockpot with nonstick cooking spray. Layer ingredients: first, 1/4 cup enchilada sauce, then 4 corn tortillas (overlapping and tearing in half as needed for an even layer), 1/3 of 'beef" mixture, 1/4 cup enchilada sauce and 1 cup cheese. Repeat layering twice, using 3 corn tortillas and half of remaining 'beef' mixture, enchilada sauce and cheese in each layer. Cover crockpot and cook on low for 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 hours. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. 6 servings

Note: These are soooo good! You can use beef if you wish also, or if you don't have beef crumbles I used veggie burgers. I also substituted flour tortillas for corn, since I couldn't find any.

Survival Cookies

Ingredients: (easy to mix in a KitchenAid mixer)
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

Combine and mix

2 cups flour
1 cup oats (optional)
1 bag of chocolate chips (12 oz)

Roll into balls and bake at about 350 F for 12 minutes. Chef's note: The dough will seem very gooey at first, but this is normal.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pizza Bread

Use the "Easy Two Hour Rolls" recipe from above. After dough rises for an hour, roll out dough (divide dough into thirds, makes 2-3 loaves) & spread on pizza sauce (or spaghetti sauce), add pepperoni & mozzarella. Roll into loaves and let rise for an hour. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Slice and eat while it is still warm!

Easy Two Hour Rolls

Cream together:

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. butter

Add 1 cup boiling water.

Beat & add 2 eggs.

Dissolve 2 pkgs. yeast in 1 cup warm water.

Mix 6 cups flour & 1 tsp.salt. Mix all together. Let rise 1 hour in a towel covered, well-greased bowl.

Shape into rolls & let rise 1 hour in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 for 15 min. or until lightly brown.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pumpkin Muffins


1.5 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 tsp pumpkin-pie spice (or just cinnamon, which is what I did)

1.25 cups plus 1 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda1

1 tsp cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put liners in muffin cups, or spray muffin tin.
Mix flour and baking powder in a small bowl.
Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin-pie spice, 1.25 cups sugar, baking soda in a large bowl until smooth, then mix in flour mixture until just combined.
Stir together cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in another bowl.
Divide batter among muffin cups (each should be about 3/4 full), then spinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Bake until puffed and golden brown and a wodden pick or skewer inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

I made these for the first time this morning and I could not believe how easy and delicious they were!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Double Soy Ginger Tofu

Here's an easy recipe for tofu! We do a lot of Asian cooking so we always have all of these ingredients.

2 T. seasoned rice vinegar
1T. ginger, fresh minced (I've used the dried powdered ginger on occasion)
3 T. orange juice
3 T. soy sauce
1 t. sesame oil (make sure this is 1 teaspoon, NOT tablespoon!!)
2 T. water
14 oz tofu, extra firm, drained

In a small saucepan combine vinegar and ginger. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in orange juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, and water.

Cut tofu crosswise into 12 slices and arrange in a single layer in a 13 x 9 glass baking dish. Pour ginger mixture over tofu; tilt dish so all of tofu is coated.

Bake until liquid evaporates completely and tofu is deep brown, about 45 minutes. (The pan will look burned around the edges.) Let cool at least 15 minutes.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins

1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Mix dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mix egg, water, and oil. Add to the dry mix. Stir until moistened and add blueberries (I like the frozen ones!). Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Taco Soup

This recipe is easy and cheap! It's a favorite of ours, especially when it's cold out.


1 lb of ground beef or ground turkey
1 package of Taco Seasoning
1 package of dry Ranch Dressing Mix
1 can of corn
1 can of black beans
1 can of kidney beans
2 cans of Rotel (if you want it to be less spicy, use 1 can of Rotel and one can of diced tomatoes).

Brown your beef or turkey and add the taco seasoning as directed on the package. Then, throw all of the ingredients into the crockpot and cook it until it is warm throughout. Don't drain your beans or your corn - use all of the juice!
I usually top my soup with a plop of sour cream and some shredded cheese and I eat with chips.
If you aren't familiar with Rotel, it is usually found in the same aisle that you get your canned tomatoes in. It is diced tomatoes and green chilies.

French Bread Pizza


1 loaf of fresh French bread cut in half down the middle

1 pound ground meat

1/2 jar spaghetti sauce (I use Hunt's Garlic and Herb)

1 package pizza blend cheese

*You can also add fresh mushrooms, a can of diced tomatoes, spinach, or any other pizza topping.


Line a cookie sheet with tin foil. Cut your French bread into two pieces and lay it on the foil face up. Brown your ground meat, drain, and add 1/2 jar of spaghetti sauce and any other toppings that you choose. Mix. Spoon on French bread and cover with cheese. Bake at 350 until the cheese is melted. So easy and so good! This makes two French bread pizzas. They are delicious reheated!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Apple Spicy Pie

apple pie

We have been making a lot of apple pies and here's the recipe I've been using. I tend to prefer a spice-rich pie.


Crust (this makes a full top and bottom crust):
* 2.5 cups flour.
* 1 teaspoon salt.
* 2-3 tablespoons sugar.
* 1/4 teaspoon mace.
* 2 sticks butter.
* Ice water (some) [*or 1/4 c ice water, 1/4 c VODKA]

Cut the butter into the flour mix (quickly), add just enough water to stick it all together, ball into two blobs and wrap them as flattened discs (quick! quick!) and get them into the refrigerator for an hour. Once I was lax on the speed and only refrigerated them for maybe 4 or 5 minutes. I was not in a pie waiting mood. The pie was good but the crust was a little tougher than usual.

[* Another recipe I have used for crust calls for vodka to be used in place of some of the water. You add water first, then vodka (preferably directly out of the freezer) and you end up with a dough that is extraordinarily easy to press together with a wooden spoon. Ball, divide, flatten, and refrigerate the dough as usual. Supposedly, the vodka cooks off faster when baking and you end up with a crust that was easier to put together (easier to glob together, easier to roll out, etc.) yet that cooks into a very light flaky crust as if you used very little water. I'm not a crust expert but I am fan of vodka so I suppose for that reason alone, I heartily recommend trying it sometime.]

* Lot of apples. Enough for a pie.
* 1/2 cup sugar--half white, half brown (the recipe I looked at originally said one full cup, which seemed excessive and I made the first pie with maybe 3/4 cup total. It was too sweet and even 1/2 cup is maybe excessive depending upon how tart your apples are).
* 1/4 cup flour
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon each: allspice, cloves, and mace
* 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
* 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Mix it all together until apples are coated. Some prefer to precook the apples first in order to avoid the gap under the top pie shell and to make the pectin do something to the apple which helps it hold its shape when baking (I read something somewhere once... yawn...). Whatev. Doesn't matter if you do or don't. Note: If you DO precook the apples, do not add the flour to the mix just yet. Cook the apples on the stovetop on med. heat until the apples are tender and letting off liquid but not soft or breaking up. When finished, then add the flour.

Has it been an hour yet? Get one of the pie crusts out of the fridge! Roll it out and plop it into the bottom of the pie pan, load with the apples and stick back in the fridge. Now roll out the top part of the crust and stick it over the pie. Crimp edges decoratively, cut holes in the top, decorate as usual, brush with milk or egg whites, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, etc. Do what you gotta do.

Bake in the oven at 400 for 1/2 hour, then turn it down to 350 for an additional 40 minutes. My oven is tweaky--as a matter of fact, I've NEVER had an oven that worked properly--and so I have to do a lot of checking toward the end. When the crust is golden (but not burned fer crying out loud) and the filling is bubbling, it is ready!

[Perhaps a little overdone; crust starting to burn on edges--whoops! I did not precook the filling in this one and had a gap under the crust. I stuffed the gap with whipped cream before I ate it though and so you know, it worked for me.]

apple pie

[More pie! This one possibly a tad underdone but no less tasty.]

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Homemade White Bread

This is Craig's (my husband) grandma's recipe for bread. It is soo delicious and really easy to make. You don't need a kitchen aid or bread maker, it's all done the old fashioned way - by hand!

2 T. Salt
4 T. Shortening
8 T. Sugar
4 c. Water
4 - 41/2 tsp. Active dry yeast
12 c. Flour
melted shortening (or vegetable oil) - to oil the baking tins

- Combine the salt and sugar in 1 cup of water then microwave until the water is realllly hot. Then, add the 4 T. of shortening to the hot water. Stir it all together.

- Pour the hot water mixture into the largest bowl you have. Then, add the remaining 3 cups of water. Make sure the water is at room temperature now. If you have to add cold water that's fine, just make sure the water mixture is at room temp.

- Add 2 cups of flour and stir together. Then add the yeast and stir it in with another 2-3 cups of flour. It should be the consistency of thick, goopy pancake batter. Cover with a dish towel and let rise for 1+ hour, until the dough has doubled in size.

- After the dough has risen to double in size, stir the mixture with a large spoon so it returns to a goopy mixture. Then, add the remaining 7 cups of flour. When the mixture gets too hard to stir with a spoon, knead it with your hands. Once it has been all kneaded together (it should still be a little sticky) put it back in the bowl and cover with a dish towel and let it rise for another 1+ hour, until it has doubled in size.

- Once it has doubled in size again, take it out of the bowl and knead it some more. You can add a little more flour to help it knead better. Cut it into quarters and knead a little more. Each quarter should be the perfect size for a bread pan. Place the dough in an oiled bread pan and cover and let rise for 1+ hours, until the bread has doubled in size.

Bake at 350 for 23 minutes.

You can bake all 4 loaves at the same time.