Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Edible Veggie Bouquets

I’m also loving the idea of doing “mini versions” of edible bouquets for guests in lieu of individual salads – and serving them in small terracotta pots with a side of veggie dip. I’m definitely going to play around with that idea soon… =)

Beef Stew with Potatoes and Carrots

Yield: Makes 12 servings

This full-bodied stew will bring the crowd running when you lift the lid. First, pieces of chuck are browned to develop their flavor, then they're braised in a red-wine beef broth. Adding the potatoes and carrots toward the end of cooking keeps their character and color bright.

For Braised Beef:

• 5 pounds boneless beef chuck (not lean), cut into 2-inch pieces
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 3 carrots, quartered
• 3 celery ribs, quartered
• 2 medium onions, quartered
• 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
• 3 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
• 1 (750-ml) bottle dry red wine (about 3 3/4 cups)
• 2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
• 2 thyme sprigs
• 3 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
• 3 cups water

For Potatoes and Carrots:

• 2 1/2 pounds small white boiling potatoes
• 1 1/2 pounds carrots

• Equipment: a wide 6-to 8-quart heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid


Mango And Orange Popsicles


2 Cups of Chopped Mango (Fresh or Frozen)
1 Cup Orange Juice
2 Tbsp Honey


Combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth.  Spoon equal amount of the popsicle puree into each mold. Freeze until solid, about 4 hours or overnight.

Strawberry/Mango ~ Popsicles or Icepops

2 mangoes - peeled, cut and seed removed, finely cubed
15 to 20 strawberries - stems removed and cut into half
Sugar to taste
2 tablespoons of limejuice
Popsicle mold with sticks or popsicle sticks and small cups
1 Prepare Mango Juice: Take mango cubes in a blender. Add a tablespoon of sugar (adjust depending on the sweetness of mangoes) and a tablespoon of limejuice and blend into smooth puree.

2 Prepare Strawberry Juice: Take strawberries in a blender. Add a tablespoon of sugar (adjust depending on the sweetness of strawberries) and a tablespoon of limejuice and blend into smooth puree.

3 Making Popsicles: Pour the juice into popsicles mold or small cups in a tray. You can prepare at least 4 different types of ice pops with these two juices. Plain strawberry, plain mango, mango (bottom half)-strawberry (top half) and strawberry (bottom half)-mango (top half) combinations. If you are using the cups, then place popsicle sticks into cups. Freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.

4 Popsicle time: Place the tray in hot water for few seconds and pull out the pops from the molds or cups. Enjoy!

Rocky Road Fudge Pops

From Taste of Home

1 package (3.4 oz) cook-and-serve chocolate pudding mix
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup marshmallow creme
12 popsicle sticks
12 disposable plastic cups (3 oz each)
optional mix-ins: chopped walnuts, chopped peanuts, mini marshmallows, mini m&ms, miniature semisweet chocolate chips

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine pudding mix and milk. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 4-6 minutes or until bubbly and slightly thickened, stirring every 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap (make sure plastic wrap rests directly on the pudding to prevent skin from forming) and cool for 20 minutes, stirring a few times.

Stir marshmallow creme into pudding and set aside. Set out the mix-ins in small bowls.

Let each kid place 2 Tbsp of their choice of mix-ins into their little cups. Then pour in the pudding mixture and have the kids insert the popsicle sticks. (When I make mine I like to put a layer of mix-ins in the bottom, then a layer of pudding, then a few nuts and marshmallows, then fill to the top with pudding.)

Place cups on a tray and freeze. (Our fudge pops weren't ready to eat for about 4 hours.)

Strawberry-Yogurt Popsicles

makes 4-6, depending on the size of your molds

1 pint strawberries, cored and quartered
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup Greek style yogurt*

Bring the strawberries, water, and sugar to a simmer in a medium sauce pan. Simmer for five minutes, or until strawberries are very soft. Pour into a food processor, add the lemon juice, and pulse a few times, until fruit is almost pureed but not liquified. Chill in the refrigerator until cool.

Stir the yogurt into the strawberry mixture until combined. Pour into molds and freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight. To remove, run some warm water over the outside of the mold until you can gently pull the popsicle out.

*We used a 7-ounce container of Total brand yogurt, which is slightly less than 1 cup, and it worked just fine.

Chicken and Rice Soup


  • 2 boxes of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of uncooked brown rice
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1 1/2-2 cups of vegetables (I used celery, carrots, brocolli, cauliflower, a red bell pepper, and green onion)
  • 1 t herbs de provence (sounds fancy)
  • salt and pepper to taste after cooking
using a food processer, blender or hand chopper, chop up all the vegetables into whatever sized pieces your family likes.

Dump all ingredients into your crockpot stoneware insert cook on low for as long as you can--the longer the better.

Hearty Pizza!

Cookie Cutters are not just for Cookies

Pizzas are a perfect cooking activity for young kids, they don’t require to be near a hot stove and they are practically a shoe in even for picky eaters. Blend carrots and peppers into the sauce, and they get their veggies! Also using tortillas makes it easy to shape the crust into a heart.

1. Gather your materials. You will need a pan, oven , tortillas, pizza sauce, pepperoni , mozzarella , kitchen sheers and a heart shaped cookie cutter.

2. Start by folding your tortilla in half and cutting it into a heart.

3. Next using the cookie cutter make your heart shaped pepperoni, you could do this with a host of other toppings as well.

4. Time to gather the kiddos!

5. Spread the sauce on

6. Add the cheese, I am not sure if he is putting it on or taking it off in this picture. Shred much more than you need if your little chef is a fan of cheese!

7. Add the pepperoni! My son insisted the hearts were eyes, so we made a mouth too.

8. Bake- I baked ours at 400* for about 10 minutes, checking on it often.

Miso Pickles

For those who can’t even think about waiting weeks or months before eating their pickles, this speedy version is for you. Admittedly best after at least a day or two, they’re technically ready to eat after only a few hours. Flavors of all sorts are possible, limited only by the cook’s imagination, this is a Asian-inspired. Miso, ginger, and scallions combine to create a tangy and unusual pickled cucumber, flavorful enough to stand as a condiment to just about anything. 

Although they may not technically be pickles without being properly fermented, I’m willing to bet that they’re tastier by a landslide in comparison to 90% of those corn syrup-imbued, grey slivers of limp cucumbers you’ll find at the local mega mart.

1/4 Cup Barley Miso Paste
1/2 Cup Rice Vinegar
2 Scallions, Thinly Sliced
1/2 Inch Fresh Ginger, Grated
1 Cup Water
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Pound Pickling Cucumbers, Sliced

Place your miso paste in the bottom of a 1-quart jar or container with an air-tight lid, and add in half of the rice vinegar. Stir to loosen up the miso, until it’s completely dissolved in the liquid, and add the remaining ingredients. Throw on the lid, give it a good shake, and stash it in your fridge for at least 6 hours before eating, and up to 2 weeks.

Paula Deen Fried Chicken


Paula Deen House Seasoning
2 1/2 lb chicken, cut into pieces
2 cup self-rising flour
1 cup hot red pepper sauce
3 eggs


Heat the oil to 350 degrees F in a deep pot. Do not fill the pot more than 1/2 full with oil.

In a medium size bowl, beat the eggs. Add enough hot sauce so the egg mixture is bright orange (about 1 cup). Season the chicken with the House Seasoning. Dip the seasoned chicken in the egg, and then coat well in the flour. Place the chicken in the preheated oil and fry the chicken in the oil until brown and crisp. Dark meat takes longer than white meat. Approximate cooking time is 13 to 14 minutes for dark meat and 8 to 10 minutes for white meat.

Servings: 6-8 servings

Friday, February 19, 2010

Perfect Potatoes au Gratin

From: Ree Drummond "The Pioneer Woman"

Is there even such a thing as “bad” potatoes au gratin? I really don’t think there is. And that makes the title of this recipe even more weighty.

This is a very basic, but exceedingly delicious, version of the much-beloved side dish.

russet potatoes
heavy cream
whole milk, flour
softened butter
sharp cheddar.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, then scrub the potatoes so they’re very clean. We’re going to include the peel in this dish.

Slice the potatoes—not too thick, not too thin.
Stack ‘em up as you go…

And cut the stacks into fourths.

Soon you’ll have a positively prodigious pile of potato pieces. 

Now, in a bowl mix together the cream… The milk…
And the flour. This will add just a little bit of body and thickness to the creamy sauce. 

Now peel some cloves of garlic. You can use as few as two…but I’m a maniac and use four.

Just be aware that four cloves in this recipe will result in a really garlicky flavor. I happen to love this, but it might be a little strong for some.  Add the garlic to the bowl…

Followed by the salt and the pepper. Don’t skimp on the pepper! You’ll regret it if you do.

Whisk it all together until it’s totally combined.

Now smear softened butter all over a baking dish.  Meantime, grate a good cup of cheddar cheese. Grate it yourself! It’s cheaper that way, and much, much more delicious than the pre-grated stuff.

To assemble the dish, add 1/3 of the potatoes to the buttered dish.

Pour in 1/3 of the cream mixture, stirring right before you pour to make sure the ingredients are totally mixed up.

Now repeat with another layer of potatoes…

Another third of the cream mixture…

And ending with the rest of the potatoes…

And the rest of the cream mixture.

Cover the dish with foil. Bake it for a good 30 minutes to get the potatoes started. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking for 20 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbly.

This looks about right! The top is golden brown, and the dish is bubbling all over. (If the 20 minutes doesn’t do the trick, just up this stage by 5 or 10 minutes. You want to make sure the whole dish is very hot and bubbly—this means the potatoes are really getting the chance to get done.)

Grab the grated cheddar and sprinkle it all over the top.

Return it to the oven for about five more minutes, or until the cheese is totally melted and starting to bubble.
Perfect! And you can’t believe how my kitchen smells right now. The garlic is just intoxicating.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls


  •  2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast 
  • 1/3 cup white sugar 
  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C) (or milk)
  • 1 tablespoon salt 
  • 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided 
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t. vanilla 
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil 
  • 1/2 cup white sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and 1/3 cup sugar in warm water. Stir in salt and 2 cups flour. Beat mixture for 2 minutes. Beat in eggs and oil. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.

2. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon; set aside.

3. Divide the dough into twelve equal pieces. Take each piece of dough, roll into a log and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. Place the knots in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover the rolls with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until golden

TIPS: 1.) Roll out one big log and cut it into individual rolls; It's much easier.
2.) I always use a pizza cutter (the wheeled tool) to slice the dough strips.
3.) I got 12 huge rolls out of the recipe this way, using a 9 x 13" pan. Your quantity will vary depending on how thin you roll out the dough, how many strips/rolls you cut out of the dough, and what size pan you use. 4.) The filling listed is not nearly enough to flavor all of this dough! For the filling, I mixed together 1 cup white granulated sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, about 3 tablespoons of cinnamon, and some chopped nuts, and added that to the buttered dough, then rolled up the strips to form rolls.

**I did these as a big rolled out "sheet" and smeared soft butter before my cinnamon/sugar. I keep a tub of sugar/cinnamon/flour that I use for my cinnamon rolls and fruit pies.(1/2 C. brown sugar, 3/4 C. white sugar, 1/4 C. flour, and 4 TBS. cinnamon...the flour helps keep your filling inside the cinn. rolls, and works to thicken the juice in your fruit pie) These are also great if you spread diced apples on the dough before you roll it up...YUM!!

***Also, a GREAT drizzling glaze that adds a little more flavor is a mix of 1 Cup Confectioner's sugar, 1 Tablespoon margarine or butter (softened), and 1 Tbsp milk, stirred together then just drizzled over rolls after taking them out of the oven.

Snow Ice Cream


• 6 c. clean snow (Or use shaved ice from a snow cone maker)
• 1/2 cup of whipping cream
• 2-4T Sugar
• 1 t. vanilla

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and serve immediately.

** Daddy made it for us when we were kids and he made it with milk, sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Yep! Raw eggs mixed right in! Didn’t think a thing about it back then….I think today I would cook a bit to make a custard, cool then add to snow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


• 1 1/2 pounds ground beef

• 2 eggs
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
• 3/4 cup crushed crackers
• 1 cup crushed potato chips
• 3/4 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
• 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1 pinch cayenne pepper
• 6 slices bacon

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

2. In a large bowl, combine the beef, eggs, onion, barbecue sauce, cracker crumbs, potato chips, liquid smoke, ground black pepper, salt, garlic powder and cayenne pepper and mix well.

3. On a lightly greased cookie sheet, shape the mixture into a loaf. Lay the bacon slices across the width of the loaf so that the entire surface is covered. Cover the loaf loosely with foil.

4. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 1 1/2 hours.

I used the last part of a bag of Cape Cod Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper flavored chips. It was awesome!