Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hot Artichoke and Crab Dip

This recipe is perfect if you are looking for an appetizer for New Year's which is just around the corner.  It is my grandmother's recipe, and we have this every year when my family gets together during the holidays.  We didn't visit my family this year, but I still made it because its one of my favorites and feels like home to me. 

8 oz. crab meat
8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup mayonaise
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 14 oz can artichoke hearts drained and chopped
3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

*I just use imitation crab meat because that's what my grandmother uses, but I'm sure you could use the lump crab meat also. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a bowl, blend cream cheese and mayo together until smooth.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and place into glass pie plate.  I save a little cheese to sprinkle on top too. 
Bake uncovered 15-18 minutes, until heated through and lightly browned.  Let cool 15- 20 minutes before serving. 
Serve with crackers.  Ritz are my favorite with this or you could try any others you like. 

*I mixed mine the day before and then baked it right before I was serving it and that worked really well.  You will just need to bake it a little longer to heat it through. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Easy Pretzel Turtles

These are a super easy and yummy treat that I love year round, especially at Christmas time.  They don't take long to make and they pack well if you need something quick and easy to give to your neighbors.  

1 Bag of Rolos

Optional- Red and green m&m's for Christmas

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.   Unwrap all the rolos.  Line baking sheet with foil.  Place pretzels in a single layer on foil and one rolo on top of each.
Bake in oven for 3-4 minutes until they get shiny and start melting.  Take them out of the oven and gently press your nuts onto the melted rolo. 

Allow to cool, and then they come off the foil easily.  And Enjoy!!

I added some m&m's for the kids, but the nuts are my favorite.  You can add your favorite nut or just leave them plain too. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cookie Monster

When my husband and I were newly married we used to eat pizza a lot.  And at one of our favorite pizza places we fell in love with one of their desserts called a Cookie Monster.  We would often just go there to get this dessert.  They place it in the middle of your table, everyone grabs a spoon and digs in.  Great for date nights with other couples or to share with the whole family!!
If you like the combination of hot chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven and vanilla ice cream just as its beginning to melt, then you are in luck.  Here is what you will need. 

Chocolate chip cookie dough
vanilla ice cream (softened a little)
can of whipped cream
hot fudge

I had some pre-made cookie dough and there was just under a pound of it.  It was perfect to press into my 8 pan about 1/4 inch thick.   Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes until cookie is done. 
After it is done let it set for a few minutes, so its not piping hot when you spread the ice cream on it.  Don't wait too long because you do want it hot.  
You have to work fast once you put the ice cream on it so I didn't get a picture, but you want the next layer to be about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick of ice cream.  I prefer vanilla ice cream for this, but use your favorite if you want. 

Then quickly spray some dollops of whipped cream on it all over and drizzle with hot fudge and caramel.  Be sure to have the spoons and everyone else waiting for you because you will want to eat this immediately.  And be warned it WILL make a mess.  There will be a soupy mess of melted ice cream in the bottom as you eat, but it is definitely worth it. 

*If you have small pans you could do individual size ones if you want.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Layered Pumpkin Pie Toffee Cheesecake

I know the holidays aren't usually a time for trying new recipes, but I have to admit it was one of the best decisions I have made.  I love cheesecake and I eat pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and Christmas just because its always available.  Put them together though and magical things happen, and the toffee just makes it extra yummy.  I got the recipe from one of my favorite food blogs found here but these are my photos.

If you are looking for a great recipe for Christmas try this or anytime before then too!!  As you can see its about 50/50 pumpkin pie and cheesecake, and don't forget the whipped cream and toffee bits for the top. 
Our Thanksgiving was so wonderful this year.  Our week was filled with fun, family, football and of course a lot of yummy FOOD!  We made it really easy by baking all day on Wednesday so we could enjoy a nice easy day on Thursday.  We made three pies, rolls and candy turkeys for our table decor the day before.
My life was also easier because my husband volunteered to deep fry our turkey again this year.  I love it because it is one less thing I have to cook, but it also leaves my oven free to cook and heat up the side dishes. 

I know the skin looks dark, but I promise the turkey isn't burnt.  The skin protects the meat on the turkey so well and keeps it nice and moist inside. 
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Feel free to share anything exciting from your holiday!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Snickers Salad

This is one of my favorite recipes that I got from one of my cooking classes in college.  I haven't ever had anything like it.  It's not a jello salad and its not a typical fruit salad. Its just different and I love it!!

It's great in the fall when apples are in season and great for the Christmas because you use red and green apples. 

2 granny smith apples
2 red apples (I used Fuji because I already had them)
1/2 cup whipping cream (whipped stiff with powdered sugar)
4 tsp powdered sugar
1 6oz container strawberry yogurt
2 king size snickers bars

First, whip cream with powdered sugar until it has stiff peaks.  Then gently fold in yogurt.  You want this ready so you can add your apples when they are cut up.  You don't want your apples getting brown while you are whipping your cream. 
Cut your apples and snickers into bite size pieces.  Then gently fold them into the whipped cream and yogurt mixture.  Serve immediately.  You can chill it before serving but not for more than a couple of hours.  You want your whipped cream to stay fluffy. 
Enjoy!!  If you make this let me know what you think!!

Monday, November 7, 2011


I had never tasted wassail until I married my husband.  Until a couple of years ago it was just something you sing about in Christmas carols.  He on the other hand grew up drinking it every holiday season.  And for our family now it is always the first thing we do to kick off the holidays, make wassail and listen to holiday music.  My husband loves to make this so he gets all the credit for this recipe, and thanks for the pictures!!

Beware this makes A LOT so pull out your biggest stock pot for this.

1 gallon apple cider
1 lg can pineapple juice
2 -12 oz cans frozen orange juice
2 -12 oz cans frozen lemonade
2 quarts water
2 cups sugar (add more for sweetness)
3 cinnamon sticks
1 Tbs whole cloves

Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the flavors come together.  Do not leave on high heat and walk away because it will boil over easily and then you have a huge sticky mess all over your stove. 
The water, sugar, cinnamon sticks and cloves can all be adapted to your liking.  The recipe I shared is the measurements that we used in this batch.  If you like it sweeter add more sugar.  If you get it too sweet add more water.  If you like it spicier add more cinnamon sticks and cloves. 

*Put the cloves in something like cheese cloth that you can fish out later.  You can poke them into an orange rind also and pull out later. 

This is great for large gatherings, or to sip on all through the holiday season or you can freeze it in jugs and reheat it as needed. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cordon Bleu Burgers

I get excited for the big Thanksgiving meal the whole month of November, especially the turkey.  Then I thought of these burgers that I make year round.  Yes, they are that good!!  Most recipes call for ground chicken, but I can more easily find ground turkey in the store. 

I love these because they satisfy my need for a burger, but I don't feel horrible and have a stomach ache after I eat these like a greasy beef burger. 

1 lb. ground turkey (or chicken)
4 whole wheat buns
4 slices of ham
4 slices swiss cheese
tomato slices
1/2 cup mayonaise
1 Tbs dijon mustard

Divide the meat into 4 equal portions and form into patties.  Salt and pepper the patties and then cook in a large skillet.  After I turn them over I put the swiss cheese on to melt.  They will feel firm to the touch when they are cooked through. 

Mix the mayo and mustard and slather on both sides of the bun.  Then build your burgers.  I start with the bottom bun, ham , then burgers with melted cheese, lettuce and tomato and top bun. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Beef Stroganoff

This recipe I adapted from one of Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals.  I make this anytime I have left over steak.  It doesn't have to be sirloin.  You could use a strip steak also or any cut of meat you can cut really thin.   Here is what you will need.  

1 lb beef sirloin (sliced really thin 1/8 -1/4 inch thick)
1 cup beef broth
1/4 small onion
1/2 cup sour cream
1-2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. dill
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Begin by slicing your meat. 

*Put the meat in the freezer for 20-30 minutes before you are ready to slice it.  It will be easier to slice really thin.

Salt and pepper your meat and then coat with flour.  Place in your skillet once the oil is hot.  Grate the onion into the skillet with the meat. 
Once your meat is browned, add beef broth.  Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to pick up all the drippings.  This will help thicken your sauce.  Simmer for a few minutes until it thickens. 

Turn your heat to low and stir in the sour cream until smooth.  Add lemon juice and dill at the end right before you serve. 

I like to serve over egg noodles with a vegetable. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats

Halloween is a time for fun treats and I wanted to share this.  My brother made these when we were young and I thought he was the coolest brother ever!!!  We would pour them onto a plate to cool and devour them.  They are even more fun to make fun shapes with like black cats, bats or witches hats.  Be creative and have fun!!

I just used the original Rice Krispie Treat recipe from the box.

3 Tbs butter
1 pkg fresh marshmallows (about 40 or 4 cups mini marshmallows)
6 cups Cocoa Rice Krispies

Butter a 13 X 9 inch pan.

Melt butter in large pot then add marshmallows and stir.  When they are completely melted remove from heat and add cocoa rice kirspies.  Stir until they are coated and then press into pan with a buttered spatula or wax paper. 

Let cool and then cut out your favorite shapes.  (Shape witches hats while they are warm and then let cool)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Taco Soup

This time of year I love sitting down with a bowl of warm soup.  I always try to keep everything on hand to make this for dinner because its so easy and comes together very quickly.  It's always a crowd favorite for pot lucks too.  I adapted this from a recipe I collected from one of my cooking classes in college. 

 I am making this ahead to put in my freezer for next week.  We will be traveling and some big adjustments at our house, so I don't want to be stressed out about what to make for dinner.  

1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion chopped
1 cup beef broth
1 can kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can corn (drained)
1 can diced tomatoes (I prefer petite diced but use what you have)
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 pkg. taco seasoning

In a large pot cook the meat and onion.  Drain fat.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Give it a good stir to combine the spices and then simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes. 

At this point it is ready to serve with your favorite toppings: Sour cream, grated cheese, avocado slices, tortilla chips.

* I will be cooling it completely before storing it in an air tight container in the freezer.  All you have to do is thaw it and reheat it in a stock pot before serving. 

* You can also add diced celery and carrots to the soup to add some vegetables.  Cook them with the meat and onion so they get tender. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Creepy Crawly Dirt Pudding

With Halloween just around the corner I wanted to do something fun that my son would enjoy.  When I went to the grocery store I found some fun gummy worms and I knew exactly what to make.  I have had "dirt cake" several different ways, but I kept mine simple with what I knew my boys would like. 

1 box chocolate pudding
1 3/4 - 2 cup milk 
8-10 oreos (remove filling and crush)
gummy worms

I mixed the pudding according to the instructions on the box (regular or pie recipe will work).  Then I poured it into 2 separate containers for my husband and son.  Feel free to use one large bowl if you desire.

Let the pudding set up in the frige for a few minutes, and then top with your crushed oreos. 
 And decorate with gummy worms.  I found the Halloween colored ones, but you could use the bright colored ones too. 
Your kids will love these!! 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Asparagus- Grilled and Roasted

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables.  It's so easy to make, delicious and healthy.  I usually roast it in the oven or if my husband is cooking we like to grill it with the steaks.  I used to eat it steamed, but after grilling and roasting it I haven't gone back to steaming it. I simply prefer the flavor.   

Olive oil

The preparation for roasting and grilling is the same.  Just drizzle with some olive oil, salt and pepper.  Then toss them around to make sure all spears are coated. 

Put them on a baking sheet to roast them at 375.  The time you cook them will depend on how thick your asparagus is.  If they are thin maybe 6-7 minutes.  Thicker maybe 10-12 minutes.  When they are bright green and slightly browning on the edges they are done. 

For grilling look for the same thing.  Bright green color and slightly charred on edges.  You can poke them with a fork to see if they are tender also. 

This was our date night dinner, so we served it with rib eye steaks and mashed potatoes.  Asparagus is such an easy and simple side dish to prepare for almost any meal. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Apple Dip

I always loved fall growing up especially all the beautiful trees covered in red, yellow and orange leaves.  Then I moved to Idaho and I always dreaded it.  It always seemed to go from summer to winter in the blink of an eye.  This year for the first time in a long time I am enjoying the fall weather (because we finally have a fall).  I'm excited to pull out all my sweaters and enjoy some fall food.  Of course apples came to mind, and I remembered a recipe I got from one of my roommates in college.

8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Blend cream cheese, sugars and vanilla with electric mixer until smooth.  Add nuts. 

My favorite apples to serve a fruit dip with are granny smith because they are tart, but you can use your favorite.  I also like a crisp Fuji apple too.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Kick Off Post- Lasagna

I've been wanting to start a food blog for a couple years now and just haven't done it.  There have been other important things in my life like being a wife and mother that have come first.  Now, I feel like I have some time to put into this blog. 

I plan on posting recipes and other cooking or kitchen tips and tricks that I use or have learned.  To be honest I don't always cook with a recipe.  Sometimes I will refer to a recipe and change it to my liking or sometimes I just use them for inspiration, and other times I cook simply by what I have on hand.  I will try my best to measure along the way and provide as many recipes as I can for those who like to replicate the same dish over and over. 

My husband's favorite food is lasagna, and we have eaten it twice in the past week.  I have been trying for that last four years to make lasagna to his liking.  He likes it meaty and cheesy of course.  He always eats my lasagna, but he just told me that he LOVES my lasagna. 

9 lasagna noodles
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 small onion
1-2 gloves of garlic
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese to
1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese  (I like to grate my own)
8 oz. cottage cheese
1 1/2 - 2 cups marinara sauce (jar or homemade)

Prep time 45 min.  Cook time 1 hour.

Start by boiling your pasta noodles.  I use 9 for 3 layers of 3 noodles because it fits nicely in a 13 X 9 pan.  Feel free to make 12 noodles for 4 layers if you wish.  Just make sure you have enough sauce and cheese for another layer. 

*I don't cook my noodles all the way.  I drain them before they get to al dente.  This way they continue to soak up the red sauce when they cook in the oven and your lasagna won't by all runny. 

Then cook the ground beef, onion and garlic in a skillet.  When the beef is all brown and the onion is softened, drain the fat. 

 Add your desired red sauce.  I just use my favorite from a jar to cut down on time.  Every brand has a different spice blend, so just use what you know you already like whether its from scratch or a jar. 

 Then I begin layering starting with a little sauce in the bottom of the pan. 3 Noodles, 1/3 of sauce, sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, dollops of 1/2 cottage cheese, 1/3 of mozzarella cheese.  Repeat again and for the last layer just cover the noodles with the last of the sauce and mozzarella cheese. 

Cover with foil and cook at 300 degrees for 45 minutes.  Then I remove the foil and cook at 350 for the last 15 minutes until hot and bubbly. 

 *Let it cool for 15-20 minutes before you cut into it.  This helps get out nice pieces and it won't fall over when its on the plate. 
Serve with garlic bread or a Caesar salad.