Saturday, December 22, 2012

Baked Sweet Potatoes

I was in the produce section and I had the desire to experiment with some things that I hadn't cooked with before. I picked up some yams and sweet potatoes. If you are interested in the difference between yams and  sweet potatoes click here. I didn't know the difference but it seems like what everyone calls sweet potatoes is really yams. Correct me if I'm wrong. Regardless, I picked up both, but this recipe really is for yams. I haven't tried it with my sweet potatoes.
So this is a simple "recipe" that my sister shared with me that she learned from Rachel Ray. If you're tired of baked potatoes this is a great way to change it up. I'm pretty sure it's healthier for you too. We ate these with a side salad and it filled us up completely.

Baked Sweet Potatoes

Several whole raw yams
Olive Oil
Coarse sea salt

Scrub potatoes until completely clean. Poke with fork several times and every side of potato. Place on baking sheet and baste each potato with olive oil. Top generously with coarse sea salt. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes at 425 degrees.

Texas Road House Style Cinnamon Butter

1 cube of butter (at room temperature)
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Beat together and mash into your baked potatoes for a delicious meal.

My favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe

I think I've mentioned my neighbor Martha. She is the one that taught me to make cookies. My cookie mentor if you will. This is her sugar cookie recipe and I just don't think there is one out there that is better. These turn out semi thin but still super soft. That's how I like them. I guess with sugar cookies it's really just a matter of preference. I have seen so many recipes floating around pinterest and other places saying that their's is "the BEST sugar cookie recipe," but I'm not convinced there is a "best" when it comes to sugar cookie recipes. So if your interested, this is the one I like most of all.

Martha's Soft Sugar Cookies

Mix together:
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup shortening
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
3 tsp vanilla
Sift together and add to above mixture:
8 to 10 cups flour
3 tsp soda
6 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt

Roll and Cut then bake on greased baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees

Butter Cream Frosting

1/4 cup butter
3 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp Milk
1 capful of Almond Extract

Peppermint Brownies

WARNING: Do NOT make these if you are trying to lose weight. They are SOOOO good and SOOO bad for you, but I promise you will not be able to eat just one.
We were given a plate of these by some friends in the ward. They were so yummy, I decided I wanted to make some and share with others too. I found the recipe through pinterest and made some.... but forgot to share them.... OOPS! Like I said before, my pants are definitely feeling tighter and I know these are to blame. Totally worth making if you are aiming to impress. 
My favorite part of this recipe was the brownie, because with the altered ingredients it did not taste like a boxed brownie mix. Naturally that is probably because of the added calories, but regardless,... delicious!
This recipe is best the next day too. I didn't think the frosting tasted quite right when I made it, but the next day it had set a little bit and it was so much better. 

Peppermint Brownies

1(18.3 oz) box Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie Mix
2/3 cup butter, melted (10 2/3 Tbsp)
1/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 recipe fluffy peppermint Buttercream Frosting (recipe below)
1/3 cup crushed peppermint candy canes, for topping

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a mixing bowl combine brownie mix, melted butter, milk, eggs, and peppermint extract and using a wooden spoon, stir until combined. Pour mixture into a greased 8x8 inch (I think mine was 9x9 inch) glass baking dish and bake for 50-55 minutes. Allow to cool completely then frost and sprinkle with crushed candy cane. 

Fluffy Peppermint Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp heavy cream (I used milk... tasted great)
1/2 tsp peppermint
I also added one drop of red food coloring to make it just a little bit more festive.

Using an electric mixer, whip butter on medium high until very pale and fluffy, about 6-8 minutes, occasionally scrapping down the sides of the bowl. Add rest of the ingredients and continue to whip for about 3-4 minutes until fluffy, again scrapping sides of the bowl. 

Holiday Treats

I love Christmas because I can share everything that I bake. Not that I can't on any other day, it's just with Christmas I have an excuse to bake so much more! But the honest truth is I haven't done near as much baking as I wanted to do. And really I haven't done near as much sharing as I should've done either. Perhaps that's why my pants are feeling much tighter. I did try a couple of new recipes that I loved.
I wish I would have taken a picture of this first cookie that I made because they looked a lot different than these. They were bigger and a lot lighter than the picture shows. I also added green and red sprinkles at the end which made them super festive. The cookie turns out really chewy not like the ginger snaps you buy at the store, but they were so good. I especially liked the added touch of the white chocolate. If you are going to make and share these cookies, I suggest making them a day ahead of time. They were much better the second day when the chocolate was a little bit more set. I also saved some of the dough in the fridge and they cooked up better after the dough had been refrigerated a day or two.

Vanilla Dipped Ginger Snaps

2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups canola oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
Additional sugar for rolling
2 packages (10 to 12 ounces each) white baking chips
1/4 cup shortening
In a large bowl, combine sugar and oil. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in molasses. Combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
Shape into 3/4-in. balls and roll in sugar. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until cookie springs back when touched lightly. Remove to wire racks to cool.
In a microwave, melt chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Dip cookies halfway into the melted chips; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper; let stand until set.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Better than... Pumpkin Cake

I made this purely to fulfill a pregnant craving that I have had for awhile. I am not usually a huge fan of pumpkin anything. I like it okay, but its never my first choice. Well, if you ever get on pinterest there are about a million pumpkin recipes on there and I guess I had just been looking at all of them for too long, because I desired more than anything to make something with pumpkin. This is the recipe I chose and although it does not taste very strongly of pumpkin, I really enjoyed it, and the craving is gone.
It really is no different than the original "Better than... cake," made with chocolate cake. The only difference is they use a pumpkin/yellow cake for the base and everything else is exactly the same. So it's pretty safe that it is going to be delicious.

Better than... Pumpkin Cake

1 box yellow cake mix
1 small can pumpkin
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 8 oz tub cool whip
1/2 bag Heath Bits
Carmel Sundae Sauce

1. In a large bowl, mix together cake mix and pumpkin until smooth batter forms.
2. Pour batter into a well greased 9x13 baking dish. Bake 350 degrees according to the directions on box.
3. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Using bottom of a wooden spoon, poke holes all over the top of the cake.
4. Pour sweetened condensed milk over the cake, filling the holes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5. Spread cool whip over top of cake. Sprinkle on Heath bits, and drizzle caramel over top. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight (best).

Cafe Rio Tortilla Soup (copy cat)

I made two great new recipes yesterday. This is the first. I found this recipe on pinterest awhile back and I was so excited. My sister and I LOVE Cafe Rio's tortilla soup. I have often craved it and wish instead of eating out I could just make it at home. It just didn't seem like it would be so hard, but never looked much further into it. When I saw this, I knew I had to try it out and see if it really was a good replica of the original. I bought some costco Avacodos with this purpose in mind. They ripened faster than I expected so even though Mexican was on the menu the night before we had Mexican again last night. And you know what??! It was DELICIOUS! I dare say better than the original.
It isn't a difficult recipe but it does take a little bit of planning ahead because there are few different elements that go into it. Overall, it was a success, and you can bet I will be making it again and again.
Click HERE to visit the actual website where I found the recipe. In case you need any clarifications. I will include the changes I made here. Also if you haven't tried this item at Cafe Rio, I encourage you to try it the next time you visit so you can see better how the layering of the ingredients really puts it over the top.

Sorry I didn't take my own photo
Cafe Rio Tortilla Soup

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • a dash (or two) cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 5 c. chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime (I used a full lime, because I like it!)
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsp. taco seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika (I didn't have this in my pantry, and didn't miss it.)
  • vegetable oil (to taste)
  • pico de gallo (Click HERE for this recipe, Note: I always use more lime than called for, and if you don't have the dash of hot sauce, it isn't necessary: Tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lime, and salt are the main ingredients you need for a good basic pico de gallo)
  • 2-3 avocados, diced
  • 2 c. pepper jack cheese (I used Monteray Jack cheese and it was delicious as well)
  • tortilla strips (They make their own just by cutting and frying corn tortillas, I used tortilla chips)
  • cilantro (for garnish)
  • lime wedges (for garnish)
  • In a small skillet, saute onion in 1 Tbsp. oil until onions become slightly soft. Stir in cumin, cayenne, and chili powder and saute an additional minute or two.
  • Transfer seasoned onions to a small crock pot (or medium-sized saucepan). Add chicken broth, cliantro, lime juice, pepper and pinto beans to onions and simmer on low-heat for at least 2-3 hours.
  • In the meantime (when you are close to serving), combine taco seasoning and paprika. Brush chicken with oil and rub with taco seasoning/paprika mixture. Grill chicken over medium-heat until cooked through (try to turn only once during the grilling process). Remove from grill and shred. (I don't have a grill, I just marinated the chicken in the taco seasoning and oil, and baked it in the oven and shredded after)
  • In individual bowls layer chicken, about 1/3 c. pico de gallo, 1/3 c. diced avocado, and 1/3 c. pepper jack cheese. Ladle about 1 cup of chicken broth directly over the layers. Top with tortilla strips and garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Slow Cooker Chocolate Cake

I got this recipe from a Relief Society activity and have wanted to try it for awhile. I made it just the other day and it is SOOOOO good. I would recommend making this cake when you are expecting company but know you won't have time make dessert later. It is so good, but it is very rich and you don't have to serve a lot of it, so it turns out to be WAY too much for a family of 3 to eat. It is really really good the second and third day as long as you heat it up in the microwave and serve with icecream. YUM!
It really turns out to be like a molten lava cake with the chocolate sauce at the bottom and the cake on top.

Slow Cooker Chocolate Cake
1-3/4 cups packed brown sugar, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 TBsp baking cocoa, divided
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 2% milk
2 TBsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla 
1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1-3/4 cups boiling water
Vanilla ice cream

1. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup brown sugar, flour, 3 Tbsp cocoa, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, combine the milk, butter and vanilla; stir into dry ingredients just until combined. Spread evenly into a 3 qt slow cooker coated with cooking spray.
2. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of cake batter.
3. In another small bowl, combine the remaining brown sugar and cocoa; stir in boiling water. Pour over batter (do not stir).
4. Cover and cook on high for 4 to 4 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. Serve warm with ice cream. (Necessary!)

Tuscan Pasta with Tomato-Basil Cream

Awhile back we bought a big bag of 4-cheese ravioli from Costco that we haven't really loved. I think it tastes fine, but I guess James has had better (in Uruguay) so he wasn't a fan. However, I was determined to finish off the bag and tried this recipe to do so. It really did make the ravioli taste great. I found it on pinterest so you may recognize it, but this is me recommending it as a good eat. I would make it again, but maybe use a different ravioli or tortellini.

Tuscan Pasta with Tomato-Basil Cream

1 20 oz package refrigerated four cheese ravioli
1 16oz jar sun dried tomato Alfredo sauce (I couldn't find this sauce anywhere so I just bought a Classico jar of Alfredo and cut up about 1/2 a cup of sun-dried tomatoes and added it to the Alfredo sauce)
2 Tbsp white wine (I didn't have it so I didn't add it. It didn't seem to make a difference)
2 medium size fresh tomatoes chopped (I substituted with a can of diced tomatoes, drained.)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Garnish: fresh basil

1. Prepare pasta according to directions.
2. Pour Alfredo sauce into a medium saucepan. Pour wine into sauce jar, cover tightly, and shake well. Add to saucepan. (Again, I didn't do this). Stir in tomatoes and basil and cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes until heated through. Toss with pasta and top evenly with Parmesan Cheese. Garnish if desired.

This sauce I would make again, maybe with a different cheese pasta or even regular pasta with some Italian sausages.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Brunch Berry Pizza (Fruit Pizza)

My sister-in-law made this fruit pizza for dessert for one of the meals at the Stewart family reunion. I loved it so much that I requested she make it again for my Birthday when I found out she was going to be here. She offered several times to make me a cake, but I knew what I wanted. It turned out even more delicious the second time because I had all of the proper kitchen appliances that she needed. Oh were my expectations exceeded with this one. Technically I haven't made it myself, but it was made in my kitchen with my supplies so I am going to consider that a close enough success and am going to take liberty to share it with you this day. Anna wanted to add that this is not a recipe that you can take lightly. Just meaning that you can't throw it together last minute, you will need some time and preparation to put it together the way it is meant to be put together. I will add, IT'S WORTH IT!!! Best fruit pizza HANDS DOWN I have ever eaten!

Brunch Berry Pizza

1 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup cold butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups frozen mixed berries, thawed (Anna used fresh berries)
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water
A variety of your favorite fresh fruit sliced

1. In a bowl, combine flour and powdered sugar. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in pecans. Press into an ungreased 12 in pizza pan (or any flat pan). Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until crust is set and edges are lightly browned.
2. Beat cream cheese, egg and sugar until smooth. Spread over crust. Bake 8-10 minutes longer or until set. Cool to room temperature.
3. Topping: process berries and sugar in a blender or food processor until blended. Ina saucepan, combine cornstarch and water until smooth. Add berry mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Set saucepan in ice water 15 minutes stirring several times.
4. Spread berry mixture over the cream cheese layer. Arrange fresh fruit on top. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Fried Rice

Oh my goodness!... I made this tonight and had to blog about it immediately. It was soooo good. The truth is I have made fried rice and sweet and sour chicken dozens of times but the truth is I don't have a recipe for either. So it always turns out a little different each time, and it was never anything I had enough confidence in to share. I found this recipe for fried rice on pinterest and as I looked at it, it was really close to what I usually do when I make fried rice. The biggest difference and the ingredient that made all the difference was sesame oil that it was all fried in. Oh it was so good and so easy to make.
The Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe was included with the fried rice, and I figured I may as well make it to go along with the rice. It was so good and the sauce was so much more simple than the sweet and sour sauce that I usually mix up, I loved it. The chicken was easy to cook as well, but after you do the initial browning it takes an hour to bake, which was my only to complaint. But it really needs to bake that long and was perfection.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

chicken coating:
3-4 boneless chicken breasts (I used the same recipe with two large breasts and it was perfect)
salt + pepper
3/4 cup corn starch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

sweet and sour sauce:
3/4 cup sugar
4 Tbs ketchup
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar, turned out great)
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp garlic salt

       Start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees. Rinse your chicken breasts in water and then cut into cubes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Dip chicken into cornstarch to coat then dip into the eggs. Heat your 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet and cook chicken until browned but not cooked through. Place the chicken in a 9x13 greased baking dixh. Mix all of your sauce ingredients in a bowl and pour even over the chicken. Bake for one hour and during the baking process you will need to turn the chicken ever 15 minutes. When you serve, make sure and smother chicken with extra sauce. It is so good. and thickens up just perfectly when cooled just a little.

Fried Rice

3 cups cooked white rice (day old or leftover rice works best! I keep left over white rice in the freezer for just such an occasion)
3 Tbs sesame oil (do not replace this ingredient, it is important)
1 cup frozen peas and carrots (thawed)
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup soy sauce

      On medium high heat, heat the oil in a large skillet or wok. Add the veggies, onion and garlic. Stir fry until tender. Lower heat to medium low and push mixture of to one side, then pour eggs on the other side of the skillet and stir fry until scrambled. Now add the rice and soy sauce and blend all together well. Stir fry until thoroughly heated. (You could add ham or any other veggies to this rice and it would be delicious as well).

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Creamy Fresh Fruit

Again sorry for the lack of picture. I will add one the next time I make it. The title of this dessert is deceiving because while it is creamy, it does not actually contain fresh fruit. It is a cream pie that is drizzled with canned pie filling. I suppose you could top with fresh fruit and it would be delicious but that's not what the recipe calls for.
This is about the most simple and delicious pie you could ever think to make. It is best the second day, but it is a crowd pleaser either way. We got this recipe from my sister-in-law Mandy and her days working at Pasta Factory. It is a dessert they still serve there today. But you can enjoy it in the comfort of your own home or take it to your neighbors house when you are invited over for dinner, because it is so easy to make if you have the ingredients you can throw it together as quick as it can can be consumed.

Creamy Fresh Fruit Pie

8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. heavy whipping cream
9 inch Oreo cookie crust

1. In a small bowl cream together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla.
2. Whip the whipping cream until stands up in the middle. Fold in the cream cheese mixture with whipped cream until completely mixed.
3. Pour and spread into Oreo cookie crust.
4. Let Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours (or a day)
5. Serve in slices topped with your favorite canned fruit pie filling. (I like tart berries best, raspberry or black berry pie filling)

Crunchy Chicken Casserole

I apologize in advance for the lack of picture on this post, but it is one that we make a lot. I have never noticed but James actually requests it a lot too, and he just mentioned, this last week after eating it, that it is one of his favorite meals that I make. I had no idea. I do know that it is one of my mom's favorites because it is in her recipe book three different times with slight variations and different names, but essentially all the same casserole. Plus she did make it for us as children quite frequently as well. I have added my own little touches but for the most part this is a recipe I grew up with and it is still a crowd pleaser.

Crunchy Chicken Casserole

2 c cooked chicken, diced
1/2-3/4 c mayo
1 can cream of chicken soup
3 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 c slivered almonds
2 c diced celery
1-2 Tbs onion, thinly diced
1 can sliced water chestnuts (I dice them even smaller for this recipe so they go further)

Grated Cheese
Crushed ritz crackers
1 Tbs butter, melted
dash garlic salt

Preheat oven 350 degrees
Mix mayo, cream of chicken soup, and lemon juice. Set aside.
Mix together all other casserole ingredients and then add sauce and mix well. Spread out in casserole dish.
Top with shredded cheddar cheese. Mix crackers, butter and garlic in zip lock bag and add on top of cheese.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and casserole is heated through.

*All of the ingredients above are really very subjective to your liking. Sometimes I like to add more chicken and sometimes I like more crunch, so I add more of the other ingredients. What ever you choose its a winning combination.

Product Post: And "Perfect" food

I don't know what addictive substance Guerrero has added to this "improved formula" of tortillas but I can not stop eating them. Actually they were my favorite before, but I really wish I knew who was responsible for the improved formula because I would write them a letter and say thank you for kicking it up at least 7 notches. James can vouch for my addiction too, because I am sure we have never eaten so much Mexican food since I discovered them. Bean and cheese tortillas with Valentina sauce has always been a quick favorite of mine, but with this "new formula" Guerrero tortillas it is on my "perfect" food list. (I will reveal this list in a future post. It's not ready yet, but be for warned that there is a good deal of Mexican food on this list).  It is the recipe I share with you today, as ridiculous as it seems to share such a simple recipe, I can't express in words how much I love it. I must have some Mexican in me somewhere.

PS. In case you can't read the small yellow writing "formula mejorada" means "improved formula" and that is what I am talking about in this blog. 

Bean and Cheese Tortillas

Two large scoops of canned re-fried beans
Two spoonfuls of shredded cheddar cheese
1 Guerrero new formula tortilla
Valentina sauce to taste

1. Lay tortilla flat on microwavable plate.
2. Spread beans on middle of tortilla, sprinkle cheese on top of beans.
3. Microwave for 1 minute
4. Smother or sprinkle with Valentina sauce and fold tortilla flaps over top of beans. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

It's so nice living close to James' school. He is able to come home for lunch anytime, even if he only has an hour break. I have been trying to come up with more creative lunches, even though he would be happy with a ham sandwich everyday. I have also been trying to be better about using leftovers whenever possible. From last nights meal, I had a piece of BBQ chicken and one corn on the cob. I looked up recipes and this is the one that looked most appetizing. I had most of the ingredients for it already, but had to make a quick trip to the store for some of the ingredients included in the dressing. Oh... but the dressing turned out so good. I loved that you could taste avocado in every bite. So if you find yourself with some leftover chicken from the night before, here's a fantastic way to use it. We don't have a grill but grilled chicken would be delicious as well.

BBQ Chicken Salad

Fully Cooked BBQ Chicken (Shredded or cubed) I added a little more sauce to the chicken the next day
Romaine Lettuce (chopped)
Tomatoes (diced)
Corn (canned, or fresh)
1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
Bacon strips (previously cooked, and shredded)
Creamy avocado dressing

1. I diced and tossed all the vegetables with the dressing.
2. Then I shredded my chicken with a little more BBQ sauce and heated it up in the Microwave
3. I topped the tossed greens and veggies with bacon bits and warm chicken, and served.

Creamy Avocado Dressing

1 medium avocado
1 small jalapeno*
1/4 cup cilantro
1 lime, juice
1 green onion
1 clove garlic
3/4 cup buttermilk*
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground (I just used a couple of dashes of cumin powder)
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Puree everything in a blender until smooth. Store in fridge and finish with in a few days.

*Those of you who are afraid of spice, don't worry about this jalapeno. It adds a lot of flavor and is not too bad as long as you clean out all the seeds. If you like spice, leave the seeds and you won't be disappointed.
*The dressing turns out quite thick, if you like it a little bit thinner, just add a little more buttermilk.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


My college roommate used to make crepes for us all the time. This is actually her recipe and it is so good and easy to work with once you get the hang of it. It took me awhile to master the art of making crepes but I decided my real confidence came with finally having a gas stove. Now that I do, I think it will be difficult to go back to electric. Regardless, here is the recipe and I will try and explain the procedure as best I can, but I think you will have to figure out a method that works best for you.


1 1/2 c flour
2/3 c sugar
2 big spoonfulls of oil
4 eggs

Mix all of this together then add +

2 c milk a little at a time

I use a fry pan and keep it about medium low heat. I spray a little bit of cooking spray before every other crepe. I use about 1/3 to 1/2 c of batter for each crepe, pouring in the middle and then out to the edges then holding the pan up let the extra batter fall to the outer edges. (Does this make any sense??) Here is a youtube video that shows what I am trying to say. Good luck.

As for toppings, I like to mix cream cheese with a little bit of sugar and vanilla, and put it with strawberries and top with cool whip or any whipped topping. Bananas and Nutella, or ham and cheese are always good as well. But I know JoEllen's family gets way more creative than that.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Recipes that didn't make the cut

It is my pledge and promise that all recipes are tried and tested before they are posted on this blog. That being said for as many new recipes that are posted there seem to be that many more that don't make the cut. I was thinking about this and thought it might be helpful to post these as well. I won't post the full recipes but at least the links and pictures of where I found them. I have learned a few things from making some of these recipes and I will include those lessons here as well. Let it also be known, that these are not failed attempts. Most of them turned out just the way they were supposed to, but they were not to my liking for whatever reason. Honestly most of them come from pinterest. That is why I do not like searching recipes on-line because they are not always made by reliable sources. Sure those pictures make them look irresistible, but in the end I like my reliable sources (cookbooks, friends, etc.) So here you go, the first five recipes that did not make the cut.

The Cinnamon Roll Cake

We've all seen this one on pinterest. And boy does it look delicious. It is actually very easy to make but it has so much butter I was sick after just a couple of bites and we ended up throwing it away. I know I have added recipes to this blog that call for lots of butter, but the truth is I think there is a limit and this seemed to have the focus of butter more than the cake or the cinnamon roll flavor. The author of the blog talks about how moist the cake turns out. Yes it is moist but it's moist with butter. I will stop now. Feel free to try it, but as for me, not my favorite. 

Mexican Stuffed Shells

This is another pinterest recipe. I am always drawn to Mexican food. No matter the form. This recipe didn't taste bad, but honestly, I couldn't get over the Mexican stuffed noodle part of the dish. Mexican flavored ground beef belongs in a tortilla, not a noodle, just like Italian flavored ground beef or sauce belongs in a or on a noodle not a tortilla. So for this one it was just a personally accepted food stereo type for why it did not make the cut. But if you are a more open-minded foodie then this may be a dish for you. 

Chicken Ranch Lasagna

Before I write about this recipe, I need to confess something. I have never made a homemade traditional lasagna. I grew up on Stauffer's and so did James. It is plenty good, and I have never felt cheated in anyway and so I have yet to see the need to try and make one. 
When I set out to make this recipe, it was the difficulty of the recipe that kind of turned me off. There are lots of steps, and I hated boiling those long fat lasagna noodles. It was the biggest pain and most of them were torn by the time they made it to the casserole dish anyway. I also didn't think there was enough content to the recipe. Just lots of cheese chicken and sauce. So when I made it, I also threw in some sauteed peppers and zuccinni's but even with the veggies it was just a little to fatty for my tastes. 
One good thing came from this recipe however, and that is the sauce. I throw this sauce in with any combination of noodles, cooked veggies and meat and it makes a wonderful dish. It reminds me a lot of those frozen meals you can buy for 5 bucks but it is homemade and much more fresh. Literally, you can throw in whatever you have in your pantry and freezer and it is good.

2 cans of evaporated milk 
1 package of Ranch dressing mix

Combine together in a sauce pan heat over low, stirring frequently for 25 minutes until sauce thickens. 

Quinoa Burger

I don't know if it is fair to add this recipe to this list, because the truth is I left out an ingredient when i made it and I am sure that is the reason why it never got made again. Plus, James doesn't like quinoa, so when I make these kind of recipes, I am usually the only one that eats them. Which is too bad because I really love the flavors of this kind of cooking. Sometimes I cook it for myself anyway. In a world where James ate quinoa, I would make this recipe again, but as far as quinoa recipes go it is not my most favorite. Quinoa and black beans listed previously is my favorite and I still make it often, for myself and Lucy. 

Taco Bell Quesadillas

 We had some friends over for dinner and were talking about recipes that we had tried. My friend apparently is addicted to Taco Bell Quesadillas, so finding this recipe was a bit of a treasure for her. I have never even tried a real Taco Bell Quesadilla, but tried this recipe purely out of curiousity because she raved so much about the Quesadillas. I mentioned before that I am naturally drawn to all mexican recipes. It was not bad, in fact I am sure it is a perfect replica because it tasted like it came from taco bell. Even though I have yet to go back and try the original. If you like Taco Bell Quesadillas, than this is for you. Don't let my distaste turn you away. 

There you go. There are lots more, but I think this post is long enough and I have more great recipes to add that I do like enough to share. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Buttermilk Syrup

Okay, so this has got to be the most unhealthy stuff on the face of this earth, but it is SO delicious. I got this recipe from my cousin Meika. We were having waffles at their home one Sunday, and there was no butter on the table but there was this delicious syrup. When I learned the recipe, I quickly realized no butter is needed when this syrup is served, because all butter is included in the syrup. Convenient right?
Mine turned out a little bit darker color than Meika's, I think because I cooked it just a little longer than I was supposed to, but it tastes just as wonderful. You can use it like regular syrup but it would also be delicious on ice cream. Enjoy!

Buttermilk Syrup

1 cup buttermilk
1 cup butter (yup! 2 cubes)
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups white sugar
2 Tbsp corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients except vanilla in medium large pot over medium heat. Don't curdle milk. Once boiling stir continuously for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Mix. Let cool. Store in fridge for weeks. Makes about 3 cups.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lazy Day Stew-SUCCESS!! (with a minor adjustment)

I am sorry I don't have a picture, but yesterday we tried the Lazy Day Stew crockpot freezer meal. I was skeptical of this one only because there was not really any seasoning included in the recipe except 1/2 can of tomato sauce and salt and pepper. It actually was quite delicious. I am going to make one adjustment to the recipe and change it on the original post listed below as well. Lets exchange the water for 1 can of beef broth or if you want to include the water, throw in a cube or two of beef bouillon. Half in each freezer bag. I think that would make a big difference. Also, I love barley but rarely cook with it. I LOVED the barley in this stew. It added a lot. I didn't miss the tapioca stuff, which was added to thicken it, I guess.
One note: I bought my stew meat at Costco. It was sooooo good and tender. I have purchased stew meat before at other grocery stores, and found it to be tough and dry. Costco's stew meat comes in large chunks, but I just threw them in as is. Really, It was so good.
The blog said that these recipes are supposed to feed two adults and a child, but I have thrown a little extra meat into each one, and I think they would easily feed at least a couple more kids or another adult. We have had plenty of left overs each time.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sausage and Peppers= SUCCESS!!!

We tried our first freezer meal yesterday. Sausage and Peppers. We put it on a day old baggett that I toasted with some butter, little bit of garlic salt, and Swiss cheese. It was DELICIOUS! We used Mild Italian sausages in this one but I put Hot sausages in the other that we made and both of us agree that we would love a little more heat. If you are making this for kids, I think they would even eat it. It had such a good flavor. I cut the sausages in half long ways and stuffed the sandwich with lots of peppers and onions. Also the recipe only calls for 3 sausages in each bag. Most Italian sausages come in packages of five. If you have a bigger family you can easily throw in some more sausages and peppers into each bag. I put four in each, and it was perfect to fill us up and have a few leftovers for lunch the next day.
One thing they don't mention on the blog was how to get it from the freezer bag to the crockpot. I guess you could pull it out the night before you want to cook it and leave it in the fridge. I just put it in a sink of cold water for 20 minutes. I was able to break it up small enough to throw it in the crockpot and walk away. I can tell I am going to love this already!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Freezer Meals (for the slow cooker)

I've seen countless pins and blogs about buying all the vegetables and meats and preparing several freezer meals at once. I have seen it and always been a little over-whelmed at the task. Like I said in the last post, I am not sure what got into me today, but I really wanted to try this. We really don't have a very big freezer, so I settled on just three recipes that I found on the this page that was pinned on pinterest. She prepared six different recipes (which by the way each recipe makes two complete meals for at least 3 adults). I picked the three that looked the most interesting and picked up all the ingredients and prepared them in a little less than 2 hours with James' help. She has more specific instructions on preparing them which you should read but I will just list the recipes here to prepare the meals. As we cook them I will update you all on how they turned out. But they all look delicious and they are so lovely stacked in my freezer I just can not tell you how pleased I am about this project.

Teriyaki Chicken

Medium- Large bag of carrots
Red Onion cut into large chunks (I used a sweet onion, because James and I HATE red onions)
2 large cans pineapple
4 garlic cloves (I used minced from a jar)
4 chicken breasts
1 cup teriyaki sauce

Split everything into two 2 gallon freezer bags. Shake them up, seal and label with the following instructions: Add 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce to crock pot, cook on low 8 hours. Serve over rice.

Lazy Day Stew

4 lbs cubed stewing beef
4 cups baby carrots
4 cups baby red potatoes cut in half
2 medium onions, chopped
10 oz package of dried lima beans (optional.... I threw in some barley instead)
2 cups celery, chopped
4 tsp quck- cooking tapioca (I didn't know what this was and didn't know the point of it, so I omitted it from the recipe... let you know if it is important later)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 15 oz can tomato sauce (1/2 in each bag)
2 cups of beef broth (Or beef bouillon with respective amounts of water)
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Split everything into to two one gallon freezer bags, shake it up and seal, label and put in freezer.
Instructions for bag: Cook on low 8 hours. Eat as soup or serve over noodles or rice.

Sausage and Peppers

6 Italian Sausages
2 green peppers
1 red pepper
1 large red onion (again we used a sweet onion)
4 cloves of garlic, minced (again I use the minced garlic in a jar)
2 cans italian diced tomatoes
drizzle olive oil
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning

Split everything into two one gallon freezer bags, shake it up, seal, label and put in the freezer.
Instructions for bag: Cook on low for 8 hours or grill. After cooking serve over pasta or on buttered crusty bread.

Apple Butter (for the Slow Cooker)

James, Lucy, and I have been away visiting my in-laws in NM and then some friends in Tucson for the last week. We got home yesterday an hour before my Relief Society activity was to begin. It was all about cooking... I wasn't going to miss it. I guess I was inspired because on my way home I bought the ingredients for this Slow Cooker recipe and the next day decided I wanted to try making some pre-made frozen meals for the slow cooker as well. A lot of times when I am inspired if I don't get right on it, I lose motivation. A good nights sleep sometimes is enough to kill it, but it wasn't today. I started the Apple Butter this morning and James helped me put 6 freezer meals together while we watched SYTYCD. They all look and smell so good, but I have no idea of knowing how they taste until we actually get to cooking them. I will include them today anyway, because I am so pleased with a fridge full of fresh freezer meals that I put together.

Back to the Apple Butter. I tried this at the Relief Society activity last night, and loved it! I just finished blending it tonight and I am so pleased with how it turned out. It is so easy... with the right tools, I guess. When my sister moved to NC she gave me all her kitchen supplies including her apple peeler. I am not sure what she is going to do, but Sis, if you wanna make this one, your gonna need it. Enjoy!

Apple Butter (for the Slow Cooker)

6 1/2 lbs apples- peeled, cored, and sliced (the tool pictured above does all three in one shot)
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla

Place apples in a slow cooker. In a medium bowl, combine sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Pour mixture over the apples and mix well. Cook in slow cooker on low for about 10 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and dark brown. Uncover, stir in vanilla and continue cooking uncovered on low for 2 hours. Use blender to puree the apple butter until smooth. Spoon the mixture into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks or freeze. Serve on breads, muffins or pork chops.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Christmas Crack

I don't actually know the name of this cereal treat, but for the sake of this post and I am going to call it Christmas Crack! Only because my Aunt Joice makes a huge bowl of it for our Christmas Eve party at my Grandma's house every year and it is impossible to stop picking and eating it all night long.
I hunted down this recipe from her because I needed to make a treat for our CubScout pinewood derby. I was a CubScout den leader in my last ward and I got out of attending lots of activities by volunteering to bring the refreshments. I would drop off the treats and go home to put my baby to bed. (Confession: Most of these activities took place on Tuesday evenings... I really just needed to be home so I could watch the Biggest Looser) I knew this would be a hit, and it was! I made a HUGE batch and thought for sure there would be leftovers sent home. There was not even one piece of cereal left at the bottom of that bowl. Big disappointment. I was looking forward to eating a fatty, sugary, snack while watching my Biggest Looser.

Christmas Crack

3 cubes butter
2 cups Sugar
2 cups Karo Syrup

Boil 3 minutes remove from stove and add 1-2 tsp vanilla.

1 big box Rice Chex
1 big box Golden Grahms
1 bag coconut
1 bag slivered almonds

Mix Cereals in a very large bowl, and pour hot sugar mixture over the cereal mixture.
Stir gently until all cereal is coated.
Lay out on cookie sheets and let cool uncovered. Put back in the bowl and serve.

Chile Relleno Casserole- Revisited

About a year ago, I added this recipe for Chile Relleno Casserole. I am not sure I gave it enough credit. And also, there was a side note at the end of the recipe saying, "Replace hamburger with sausage to make breakfast casserole." I would replace this side note and make it manditory. Sausage really makes the difference. It is all we use now. This stuff is so stinking good and if you are a fan of green chilies at all you MUST try this recipe. SOOO GOOD!
PS. Most of you are not as lucky as I to have a New Mexico connection to supply your roasted green chilies, but I have tried the ones in a can and they are pretty dang good as well. Just saying.

Chile Relleno Casserole

1 lb breakfast sausage
1/2 tsp salt
2 small cans green chile
1 1/2 cup milk
4 beaten eggs
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup grated cheese (I use way more)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt and dash pepper
I add Corn tortillas (4-5 cut in strips)

1. Brown meat and onion. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Beat milk, flour, eggs, salt and pepper together.
3. Put 1/2 chile on bottom of casserole dish, layer with 1/2 tortillas, meat and cheese. Pour 1/2 egg mixture over top of bottom layer.
4. Layer the rest of the green chilies, tortillas, meat and cheese and pour remaining egg mixture over top.
5. Bake 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Verde Chicken Mexican Lasagna

It's June! As promised here are some recipes that we have been enjoying over the last few months that I have yet to blog about.
This first one has become one of my favorites. It's Mexican, and it's a casserole. What can I say,... two of my favorite things. There are lots of skeptics when it comes to casseroles, but I am not one. They are usually filled with calories but they are always tasty and so easy to serve up. So when I saw that there was a contest in the LDS Living magazine for best casseroles and this was 1st place winner, I had to try it. The 2nd and 3rd place winners looked good too, but I have yet to try them. I will post as soon as I do.

Confession: The first thing I ever do when I open any magazine is flip to the recipe section. Food is my favorite thing to look at and although I rarely get to making all of the tasty looking dishes I do get a lot of good ideas from looking at all that food. Same thing applies to pinterest.

Verde Chicken Mexican Lasagna

1 lb chicken, cooked and shredded
1 16 oz container sour cream (I always use light)
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups green salsa (I usually do half green and half regular)
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup chopped cilantro (plus additional for garnishing)
12 soft taco flour tortillas
8 oz package shredded Mexican blend cheese (I don't think that this is enough. I usually add more)

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees
2. Mix chicken, sour cream, black beans, salsa, corn, cilantro and spices in a large bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference. Cut tortillas in strips.
3. In a 9x13 dish, scoop 1/3 of the chicken mixture into bottom of pan. Spread evenly. Place one layer of cut tortillas on chicken mixture to cover. Top with 1/3 of the shredded cheese. Repeat with chicken mixture tortillas and shredded cheese two more times.
4. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and casserole is wormed through. Delisioso!

Friday, April 27, 2012

New Recipes Coming your way June 2012

So all of you faithful followers, I personally apologize for not updating this blog. The truth is I have lots of really great and new recipes that I want to add and share, but have not had internet at home, or time really to share them properly. Soon two big changes will be made in the Stewart family to make it possible for me to start keeping this blog updated again. First, I am retiring. I am no longer going to be a working mother. I am going to be a home-working mother, and I couldn't be more excited. Second, we are moving, and we will have internet in our new apartment which is also just exciting. So please be patient and wait just one more month. Then I will feed you with all sorts of yummy and simple recipes that you will not want to miss out on. Thank you. And I look forward to sharing recipes again.