Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve

I'll be slipping into pjs shortly.  Sushi is ready.  Sparkling red grape is chillin' in the fridge and pizza will be cooking on the stone soon.  Snacks and games and the new iCarly top the list of fun for the evening.   I know you're jealous.  Don't hate. 

Going out with a bang?  Need some last minute snackers and eats?
Try these out for a tasty New Year's Eve!

Cheesy Potato Dippers

1 package (24 oz) frozen potato wedges with skins
1/2 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
8 oz Velveeta cheese, cut into chunks
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chiles, drained
Heat oven to 450°F. Bake potato wedges as directed on package.

Meanwhile, in large saucepan, cook ground beef and onion over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in cheese, tomato sauce and chiles. Cook over low heat until cheese is melted and mixture is hot, stirring frequently.

Serve hot potato wedges with cheese dip.

Pepperoni Crescents
1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls (or my roll dough)
32 Pepperoni slices
4 cheese sticks (sliced in half to total 8)
Prepared marinara sauce

Slice each cheese stick in half. Unroll crescent rolls.

Place 4 slices of pepperoni on each crescent and then 1 cheese stick.

Roll up, starting with large end first, like a crescent, and bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Serve with marinara.

Cake Batter Dip

1 box of cake mix (any flavor) (Funfetti mix is really cute for a party)
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
2 cups cool whip
Animal crackers, graham crackers, Nilla Wafers or fresh fruit

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight. Serve with your favorite crackers.

Smores pockets

1 box refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (8 graham cracker squares, finely crushed)
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted


1/2 cup marshmallow creme
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened (1 oz)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 425°F. Line cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper.

Unroll pie crusts. With 3-inch round cutter, cut 10 rounds from each crust. In small shallow bowl, mix cracker crumbs and 1/4 cup sugar. Brush both sides of pie crust rounds with butter; dip into crumb mixture to coat.

Place 10 coated pie crust rounds on cookie sheet. Stir together filling ingredients. Spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon filling in center of each of the 10 rounds. Place remaining pie crust rounds on top of the filling on each. Pinch edges to seal.

Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store covered in refrigerator.

Spinach and Bacon dip
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained
1 lb. Velveeta cheese cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 oz. Cream Cheese, cubed
1 can (10 oz.) Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, undrained
8 slices Bacon, cooked, crumbled

MICROWAVE ingredients in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 5 min. or until VELVEETA is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring after 3 min.

Great with Tortilla chips

Savory Parmesan Bites
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
2 cans (8 oz. each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1 red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

HEAT oven to 350°F.
BEAT cream cheese and 3/4 cup Parmesan with mixer until well blended.
SEPARATE dough into 8 rectangles; seal seams. Spread with cream cheese mixture; top with peppers and parsley. Fold each rectangle lengthwise into thirds to enclose filling; cut into 4 squares. Place, seam-sides down, on baking sheet; top with remaining Parmesan.
BAKE 13 to 15 min. or until golden brown.

1 loaf of French bread
1/2 pound sliced ham
1/2 pound sliced hard salami
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup jarred marinara sauce

Roll each loaf of dough into a rectangle about 8 inches by 12 inches.
Layer ham and salami down the center of each rolled loaf lengthwise.
Top meats with 1 cup shredded mozzarella for each roll.
Fold short ends of each loaf in about 1/2 inch and seal. Roll from the long sides and pinch well to seal the entire loaf. You should have 2 long rolls.
Bake, seam side down on a greased baking sheet in a 375 degree F oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Cut each roll into 8 slices and serve with marinara for dipping.

(These could be done with cheese only if you like Ricotta and Garlic, mozzarella mixed together as the filling.)

Chicken Salad Curry Cups
1 can (12.5 oz) white chicken breast, drained
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/4 cup chopped cashews
1 tablespoon mild curry paste
24 frozen mini fillo shells (from two 2.1-oz packages)
24 fresh parsley leaves

In medium bowl, stir together all ingredients except fillo shells and parsley.
2 Just before serving, spoon about 1 tablespoon chicken mixture into each fillo shell. Garnish with parsley.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Ho ho ho....oh wait that was last week?

I hope you and your family enjoyed a wonderful holiday and that you are ready to welcome 2012 with open arms!!
As for my family, we enjoyed a great Christmas with some good old fashioned family time!

We were fortunate to have our boys over on Christmas Eve and we enjoyed munchies and movies. Food on a stick is worth every second of time. And I have learned the secret to munchie making. Stick with easy traditional stuff. For example, pigs in a blanket. a package of dogs and a tube of crescents. Nothing to it and they were all eaten within minutes. However, the lovely buffalo chicken ring which took a few time to prepare and bake was semi-untouched. Seriously?

But whatever, the food was delicious and the presents were fun to open and who doesn't love to watch Elf on the eve of Christmas?

We ended our evening with our annual reading of "Twas the night before Christmas" and my little girl angels were tucked in bed by 9 pm. No lie. It was a Christmas miracle.The sunshine greeted us early on Christmas morning and the living room became a heaping trash pile within minutes. Santa clearly left his mark. And I must've been a very good girl because I got a Keurig (which I had politely begged for while sitting on Santa's lap at the mall, did you know security frowns on adults sitting on Santa's lap?). Oh Mr. Keurig how I love you!

Scott wasn't feeling well enough to make the trek over the river and through the woods to see the parents, so I prepared a nice Grinchy meal with a Roast Beast, Who Hash(brown casserole), and some other green extras! My lovely friend E joined us for dinner and we enjoyed the entire weekend (...pretty much until Tuesday) in our pajamas.

And now that we are on the tail end of the year and a bright new one is about to begin I get to reflect on all of the many blessings and wonderful (and sometimes NOT so wonderful) things we've endured and enjoyed!

I have a few resolutions for the New Year and a list of things I wish to accomplish. What about you?

Now back to that Buffalo Chicken Ring. I'm going to make this easy for you.

1 can of white meat chicken (drained really well, although you can cook your own chicken and shred it...canned is just super easy)
1/2 cup Buffalo Wing Sauce (heat depends on your preference)
1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls
Ranch Dressing for dipping (optional)

In a small bowl mix together chicken and 1/2 cup of wing sauce set aside. We always have wing sauce leftover from Buffalo chicken soup, so it's a great way to use it up!

Open crescents and arrange on a pizza stone or you could use a pizza pan, in the shape of a sun with the smaller points pointing outward, overlapping the larger triange portion into a circle. (Like the recipe for the Pampered chef taco ring)

Spoon chicken mixture onto the large part of the crescents, then fold over the small point of the crescent toward the middle of the circle.

Bake at 350 degrees until the crescent is golden brown. Serve with Ranch dressing.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tis the season for Baking!

Don't you love the way your house smells when you've been baking? The scent of sugar and cinnamon and flour wafting through the air, the bowls and pans and rolls of parchment paper stacked to the ceiling, and the delicious end it, cookies, cakes, or bread.

After I made my Santa Bread I popped a few loaves of my Honey Wheat Bread into the oven. This is one recipe that is in the cookbook and is so easy and delicious! Pair it with some fresh jam and butter and you've got yourself a real winner!! This is a great "gift" for neighbors and friends. Wrap it in some parchment and tie with ribbon and you've got yourself a great treat!

Honey Wheat Loaf

3 cups warm water (110 degrees)
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
5 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon salt
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.

Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.

Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Santa Bread

Okay, so i saw some "Santa Bread" on Taste of Home and really wanted to try my hand at creating my own version. Let me tell ya one thing. It's not as easy as it might seem, on the first go around.

Here's a fact you may or may not know. I can be extremely impatient when cooking or creating a new craft. Well, maybe not necessarily impatient, but I like instant gratification which sometimes results in me appearing impatient. Making this Santa Bread could be considered one of those times.

I decided to use the frozen bread dough, although if you have time and patience then use your favorite bread recipe.

Brigford frozen dough comes 3 loaves to a tray, so I thawed it and began to make Santa man. I used one loaf for the Santa.

Using one loaf, cut 1/3 of the bread off of the end. (This we will save for the beard, nose and hat ball.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to make a candy corn kind of shape. A rounded triangle.

(This will take you back to playdoh days....)
Using the reserved dough, pinch and roll 2 small balls to form the hat ball and the nose. Use a small amount of dough to form the Fold the top of the "triangle" over to one side, to form the hat. Using another small piece of dough, make the hat trim. The rest of the dough, roll out and using scissors, pizza cutter or knife, cut into strips within 1" of the top of the dough to form the beard.

Carefully fold the top of the "triangle" over to one side to form the hat. Trim with one piece of dough and add the ball for the hat and the nose.

Carefully position the beard on the bottom of the "face" curling or twisting as desired. (I also used a small piece of dough to form a mustache.)

Using one beaten egg yolk, brush over the beard. Add red food coloring to the beaten egg yolk and carefully brush the tinted red yolk over the hat, nose and cheeks. (Using the egg wash really makes him shiny and golden, just as bread should be.)

Bake according to the package directions for rolls, pizza dough, etc. My Santa baked at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes. You can add raisins for the eyes....and since I couldn't find the little box of raisins right away, I used chocolate chips.

Next time I think I'll make the beard strips a little smaller so it will "fluff" a little differently and make his nose a little smaller so he doesn't look like a bearded Jimmy Durante. Just sayin'.

Merry Christmas!

"His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!"

Monday, December 12, 2011

Honey Cajun Pork Tenderloin

Between wrapping presents and crafting gifts I have hardly had time to blog about our food happenings.

Each holiday season gets busier and busier. I have so many things I want to accomplish each day, but my checklist doesn't seem to get crossed off. Do you have those days too? Please tell me I'm not alone.

Oh well. Life happens.

The weekend was probably the most wonderful of all.

Just look at this adorable pillowcase dress and matching fabric flower headband I made for the sweetest little baby Londyn! Cute right??

Friday night was fantastic with a delicious dinner and wonderful time I got to spend with my girls. Saturday I spent time creating gifts and watching a plethora of Christmas movies and made a huge pot of chili. And sometime Sunday I received the gift of a stomach virus. Bleck!

I'm hoping it's all behind me now and I can move into the rest of this week with a positive attitude, because there is still so much to do!! And people wonder why I put my Christmas decorations up in November?

Well, this Honey Cajun Pork Tenderloin is so delicious and an easy fix for any weekend. Pork tenderloin is so easy to prepare. It's a special treat for a dinner throughout the week and as you know I think ALL dinners should be special.

Try it and let me know what you think!

4 tbs butter
2 tbs honey
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper
3/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In an ovenproof pot, heat butter and honey over medium heat until melted. Sprinkle pork tenderloin with Cajun seasoning and black pepper. Brown each side for 5 minutes.

Place pot in oven and roast for 7 - 10 minutes. Transfer the pork to a plate covered with foil to rest. Add water to pan and stir over medium heat. Simmer until sauce is reduced to about 1/2 cup. Slice pork on the diagonal and drizzle sauce over top to serve.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Easy Breakfast Casserole

"Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring ting tingling too.....come on it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you...."

Today when I walked out of the office for lunch, standing in front of our building, there was a quartet of musical instruments playing the most festive of Christmas music spreading their holiday cheer in red vests over crisp white shirts and black pants. With the sun peeking through the hazy overcast skies, the music, and the city decked out in festive garland and bows, it was the perfect day! They definitely put a smile on my face! Maybe I'll see them again tomorrow!

Until then I've decided that breakfast casseroles are right up my alley and are perfect for office potlucks, Sunday school, and just to enjoy on a lazy weekend! This one is so good and easy!

1 package (12 oz) bulk pork sausage
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
10 eggs
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
1 can "Grands" Layers refrigerated original biscuits

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In 10-inch skillet, brown sausage, onion and bell peppers; drain well. 2 In large bowl, beat eggs.
Stir in cheese and sausage mixture. Separate dough into 8 biscuits. Press biscuits into bottom of baking dish.
Pour sausage mixture over biscuit crust. 3 Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until egg mixture is set and crust is deep golden brown.
Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Toffee Crack-ers

These treats are totally perfect for sharing and are so easy the cat could do it. Unfortunately, my cat is napping. So, I guess I'm on my own. Lazy feline.

Toffee Crackers

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (no margarine allowed)
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
40 saltine crackers

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
Lay a flat layer of crackers out on the foil. Melt the sugar and butter until a boil is reached. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes or until mixture is thickened and sugar is completely dissolved.
Pour this mixture over the crackers and spread to coat evenly. Bake for 5-8 minutes, or until the toffee becomes bubbly.
After removing the pan from the oven, let it sit for 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips, let them soften and melt, and then spread them into an even layer.
(You can add nuts, cracker crumbs, sprinkles now....if it flips your switch)
Let cool and, if desired for expediting purposes, refrigerate until hardened.

Break into pieces the size of your choice, who doesn't like a hand sized chunk?