Thursday, June 30, 2011

chinese beef with broccoli

I'm back to cooking in my own kitchen and it feels so good! I'm still learning my way around which slows me down a bit but I'm having a good time. I wish I had doubled this recipe because my kids went crazy for it. My 1 1/2 year old kept shouting out, "more meat!". I wonder where he gets that. This is a repeater for sure.

chinese beef with broccoli (Food Network Magazine, June 2011)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
5 tablespoons peanut oil (I got away with using half)
1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 thin slices peeled ginger
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 large onion, halved and sliced 1/2 inch thick
3 plum tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
2 cloves garlic, minced
cooked jasmine rice, for serving

Whisk 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 tablespoon peanut oil in a large bowl. Add the steak and toss to coat; refrigerate until ready to cook.
Whisk the remaining 1 tablespoon each cornstarch and soy sauce, the oyster sauce and chicken broth in a small bowl; set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in large skillet over high heat. Add the ginger, broccoli and the remaining 1 teaspoon sugar and stir-fry 3 to 4 minutes; transfer to a plate. Heat 1 more tablespoon peanut oil in the skillet, add the onion and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, turning gently, 2 minutes. Transfer the onion and tomatoes to the plate with the broccoli.
Reduce the heat to medium high; add the remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil to the skillet. Add the garlic and steak and stir-fry 1 minute. Whisk the sauce mixture, then add to the skillet and simmer 1 minute. Return the vegetables to the skillet; cook until the meat is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve with rice, if desired.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

homemade butter pecan ice cream

This is the homemade butter pecan ice cream my mom made tonight. Divine! I'm telling you, I've got to get one of these Cuisinart Automatic Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Makers at Costco! P.S. If the ice cream looks awfully soft, it is. I took the photo in 105 degree heat!

homemade butter pecan ice cream (my mom played around with this recipe)

1 1/2 cups light cream

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Over low heat, mix together light cream, sugar and butter. Stir until it starts to bubble then remove from heat and let cool. When the mixture is cold transfer it to an ice cream maker and stir in the heavy cream and vanilla extract. Freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Add pecans when the ice cream starts to harden.

homemade fresh strawberry ice cream

My mom tried out her new Cuisinart ice cream maker (from Costco) the other night. Delicious! She made homemade butter pecan ice cream tonight. I'll post that one too! I'm going to have to get one of these appliances. No rock salt, no hassle. You just freeze a part for 24 hours and within 30 minutes (plus prep time) you can have homemade ice cream!

homemade fresh strawberry ice cream (recipe came with Cuisinart ice cream maker)

1 pint fresgh ripe strawberries, stemmed and sliced

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup sugar, divided

1 cup whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a small bowl, combine the strawberries with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup of the sugar; stir gently and allow the strawberries to macerate in the juices for 2 hours. In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer or a whisk to combine the milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes on low speed. Stir in the heavy cream plus any accumulated juices from the strawberries and vanilla. Turn the Cuisinart Automatic Frozen Yogurt Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker on, pour mixture into freezer bowl through ingredient spout and let mix until thickened, about 25 to 30 minutes. Add the sliced strawberries during the last 5 minutes of freezing. Note: this ice cream will have a "natural" appearance of very pale pink; if a deeper pink is desire, sparingly add drops of red food coloring until desired color is achieved. Optional: 2 hours to "ripen" in freezer.

drop biscuits and gravy

I had to make biscuits and gravy for my dad and sister before leaving town because they love biscuits and gravy.  My grandpa has always loved them to so we dropped some off at his house. This was a great recipe. Tasted just like good 'ol biscuits and gravy. We'd never dream of making them without the HOT sausage. Hooray for drop biscuits; they're so much easier than having to roll them out.

drop biscuits and gravy (
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon butter, melted

1/2 pound Jimmy Dean's Hot pork sausage
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 3/4 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Combine milk and butter; stir into dry ingredients just until blended. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, cook the sausage over medium heat until no longer pink. Stir in butter until melted. Sprinkle with flour. Gradually stir in milk, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Serve over biscuits.

crunchy-topped cocoa cake

We celebrated my mom's birthday early since my kids and I are flying out tomorrow. My mom's favorite has always been German chocolate cake so I decided on this version. I'll never try another. This was a great recipe. Everyone licked thier plates clean and my mom (who is always on a diet) grabbed another slice since it was her birthday. I can't remember when my mom wasn't on a diet while growing up. I always knew she was being silly even as a really little girl. I still think she's being silly.

crunchy-topped cocoa cake (cookbook: Easy Baking Hershey's Cocoa)

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup Hershey's cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup water

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

broiled topping, below

Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour 8-inch square pan (I used round). Stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add water, oil, vinear and vanilla; beat with spoon or whisk until batter is smooth and well blended (I used a hand mixer). Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare broiled topping; spread on warm cake. Set oven to broil, place pan about 4 inches from heat. Broil 3 minutes or until top is bubbly and golden brown. Remove from oven. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

broiled topping
Combine 1/4 c up softened butter, 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans), 1/2 cup MOUNDS sweetened coconut flakes and 3 tablespoons light cream or evaporated milk (I used heavy whipping cream) in small bown until well blended.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

red lobster cheddar bay biscuits- top secret version

My sister saw a Red Lobster ad on television which prompted an immediate craving for these biscuits. The only major problem with making this recipe is that I didn't double or triple it. My grandmother came to dinner last night and said, "These taste just like the biscuits at Red Lobster and I love their biscuits" not knowing I had a copycat recipe up my sleeve. Outstanding!! My family declared this Hall of Fame!

red lobster cheddar bay biscuits- top secret version (

2 1/2 cups Bisquick baking mix

4 tablespoons cold butter

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, grated

3/4 cup cold milk

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

brush on top:

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

1 pinch salt

Preheat oven to 400. Combine Bisquick and cold butter. Don't combine too thoroughly. There should be small chunks of butter about the size of peas. Add cheddar, milk and 1/4 teaspoon garlic. Mix by hand until combined, but don't overmix. Drop 9 equal portions onto greased cookie sheet (I made 11). Bake for 15-17 minutes or until tops are light brown. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a bowl. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and parsley flakes. Use a pastry brush to spread garlic butter over tops of biscuits.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

molten chocolate cake

My sister made this delicious molten chocolate cake the other night. It wasn't as oozy as it should have been because it was slightly overbaked but the inside was pudding-like, rich and delicious. I can't wait to make it again and get the ooze factor.

molton chocolate cake (my sister found this recipe at

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for muffin tins

1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for muffin tins

3 large eggs

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

confectioners' sugar for dusting

whipped cream, for serivng

raspberries, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400. Generously butter 6 cups of a standard muffin tin. Dust with granulated sugar and tap out excess. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, beat in flour and salt until just combined. Beat in chocolate until just combined. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Place muffin tin on a baking sheet; bake just until tops of the cakes no longer jiggle when the pan is lightly shaken, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes. To serve, turn out cakes and place on serving plates bottom side up. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve with whipped cream if desired.

macaroni and cheese

I had this dish at my friend Annie's home. I can't remember the occasion but I never need a reason or a special occasion to get together with a friend and eat well. On Father's Day we had BBQ ribs (Tony Roma's from Costco, they were great!), blue cheese salad, macaroni and cheese, garlic bread and chocolate molten cake with raspberries for dessert.
macaroni and cheese (my friend Annie found this recipe from The Barefoot Contessa)
kosher salt
vegetable oil
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup flour
12 ounces Greyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
Preheat oven to 375. Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6-8 minutes. Drain well. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large 4-quart pot and add the flour. Cook over low for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the cheeses, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish. Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on top.
What I have to say- There was a little bit left in my pan after pouring it into the baking dish so the kids and I had some that was pre-baked. It was delicous! Next time I might skip the breadcrumbs and baking and go straight to the eating. I really liked the saucy, cheesy pasta.

blue cheese wedge salad

If one thing is for sure, my parents keep things simple in the kitchen. That is, if they ever use their kitchen. It's a shame because it's gorgeous. I would want to spend every minute of my day in it. This salad is simple and it's delicious!! We enjoyed it on Father's Day (my dad is a huge fan of blue cheese).

blue cheese wedge salad

head of iceberg lettuce, halved then cut into wedges (about 6-8 per head)

bottle of Marie's or Lighthouse blue cheese dressing

blue cheese, crumbled

Simply place a wedge on your plate. Drizzle with dressing and top with blue cheese crumbles.

Monday, June 20, 2011

mom's spicy spaghetti

I have a favorite out of this world marinara sauce recipe that I like to make but this is a great one if I'm in a hurry. Nothing to chop! We all enjoy my mom's spaghetti. Here it is:

mom's spicy spaghetti (my mom)

2 pounds lean ground beef

1 can Hunt's Zesty & Spicy spaghetti sauce

1 packet McCormick Spicy Spaghetti mix

1 can Ro-tel tomaoes

1 cup water

Brown and crumble ground beef in a large pot. Drain. Add the rest of the ingredients and either put in a crockpot for many hours or cook on the stove on low for a couple hours so the meat gets nice and tender.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

chocolate chip cheesecake cookie bars

My pregnant sister was looking over my shoulder at this recipe online and said, "We have to make those." So we did. These are pretty great. We highly recommend them!! Mmmm....

chocolate chip cheesecake cookie bars (blog: Dinners, Dishes and Desserts)
cookie layer:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 bag chocolate chips

cookie layer
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together the butter, shortening and sugar. Add in eggs and vanilla. Mix in flour, salt and baking soda. Stir in chocolate chips. Transfer this to another bowl. In mixer beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, egg and vanilla. Mix until just combined. Using a 13x9 pan, spread 1/2 of the cookie dough over the bottom of the pan. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the dough. With the remaining dough, drop chunks of it over the cream cheese. Bake for 35-45 minutes at 350. The top will be lightly browned and if you insert a toothpick it will come out clean. Allow to cool before slicing. Store in the refrigerator.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

The pumpkin I used for our pumpkin struesel rolls needed to be used so of course we had to make a triple batch of these little goodies. The combination of pumpkin and chocolate is oh so yummy and these cookies stay moist on the counter for days. I especially like how the chocolate chips somehow stay soft.

pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

Combine pumpkin, sugar, oil and egg. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and stir in. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and stir well. Add vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts. Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.

Friday, June 17, 2011

stuffed zucchini with tomatoes and mozzarella

These were super delicious. I was able to get non-vegetable eating family members to enjoy them. We used both zucchini and summer squash and either way they are delicious. The summer squash was definitely sweeter. I added some jarred roasted red peppers and I'll definitely do that again. I'm still thinking about them.

stuffed zucchini with tomatoes and mozzarella (Everyday Food Magazine, July/August 2011)

2 medium zucchini,halved, sliced lengthwise and seeded

coarse salt and black pepper

2 plum tomatoes, halved, seeded and diced

1/4 teaspoon both oregano and white vinegar

5 ounces fresh Mozarella

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Place zucchini cut side up on sheet and season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl combine tomatoes, oregano and vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Top zucchini with tomato mixture. Bake until zucchini is tender, about 20 minutes. Heat broiler, with rack in top position. Top zucchini with 5 ounces fresh mozarella, torn into 1-inch pieces. Broil until cheese is brown and bubbling, 1 to 2 minutes; serve immediately. Serves 4 (I ate a whole zucchini so it may serve fewer because they're so good!)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

potato dill chicken

I've been wanting to try this recipe for weeks now and tonight was the perfect night. My family is a meat and potatoes kind of family and this was a HIT! It's so simple to prepare and so good. The sauce is thick and flavorful. It got rave reviews tonight. I made one casserole with the onions and one without for the picky eaters. It's fantastic either way.

potato dill casserole (blog: A for Effort)
3 chicken breasts, cubed
6 medium potatoes, cubed
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (10 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon beef bouillon powder
1/2 teaspoon dill
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken, potatoes and onions in the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Spread the soup mixture over the potatoes and chicken. Bake for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours or until the potato is tender and the chicken is cooked through.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

stuffed mushrooms

My sister made these stuffed mushrooms to go with our pesto meatballs the other night. They were delicious! My dad is not a fan of mushrooms so called them toadstools and I like that name even better. Toadstools it is. My sister has three little boys (5 and under) and announced that she's pregnant with her 4th! She had her first ultrasound today. Hooray!

stuffed mushrooms (my baby sister)

1 (16 ounce) carton fresh mushrooms

8 ounces cream cheese

a little more than a half pound of Jimmy Dean's HOT breakfast sausage

1 egg

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup grated Mozarella cheese plus more for topping



Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop up the stems. In a skillet cook the sausage and break it into pieces. Drain and set aside. Mix the cream cheese, sausage, egg and cheeses with a hand mixer. Add oregano and garlic to taste- my sister usually adds 1/2 teaspoon of each. Allow mixture to sit in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Stuff mushrooms then sprinkle extra mozarella on top. Broil for 5-7 minutes until the tops are brown.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

classic pesto meatballs

We really enjoyed these meatballs! They are great with marinara and/or alfredo sauce. My 3-year old nephew said, "I could eat these all day long!". Next time I'll put them into a hoagie with marinara and mozzarella and top with a few pepperoncini.

classic pesto meatballs (Ladies Home Journal, March 2011)
2 pounds ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, finely diced
1/3 cup prepared pesto
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta or cottage cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Roll meatballs and freeze or cook. To cook, bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes for small meatballs. Makes about 4 dozen.

Monday, June 13, 2011

olive cheese bread

This bread is incredible.  Hall of Fame!  I've made this bread twice.  Once with Cheddar cheese and this time with Jalapeno Jack cheese.  I have to say the Jalapeno Jack cheese definitely won me over.

olive cheese bread (The Pioneer Woman)
1 loaf of Italian bread, sliced in half legnthwise
6 ounces chopped green olives
6 ounces chopped black olives
2 green onions, sliced
1 stick butter
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, grated (I used Cheddar cheese)

Comine butter, mayonnaise, cheese, olives and green onions. Spread onto bread. Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

mini kisses praline bars

My mom said to quit baking treats because she can't stop eating them but I just cannot stop. I found a Hershey's cookbook she picked up in Hershey a while back on a trip to visit my family so of course I had to break it in. These are excellent.

mini kisses praline bars (cookbook: Easy Baking Hershey's Cocoa)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar, divided

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2/3 cup butter, divided

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1 3/4 cups (10-ounce) package Hershey's Mini Kisses Brand Milk Chocolates (I used milk chocolate chips)

Heat oven to 350. Stir together flour and 1 cup brown sugar in large bowl; cut into 1/2 cup butter with pastry blender until fine crumbs form. Press mixture into 13x9x2 inch baking pan; sprinkle with pecans. Place remaining 2/3 cup butter and remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar in small saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 30 seconds, until sugar dissolves. Drizzle evenly over pecans and crust. Bake 18 to 22 minutes until topping is bubbly and golden; remove from oven. Immediatley sprinkle Mini Kisses over top. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes about 36 bars.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

ranch burgers

All the beautiful red rock surrounding us here in Southern Utah makes me feel like I'm "home, home on the range" which inspired these burgers. Tonight we had these delicious ranch burgers, which were a big hit, baked beans, rosemary potato wedges, corn on the cob, watermelon and homemade strawberry ice cream. Not your typical Sunday dinner but the family I grew up in is anything but typical.

ranch burgers (
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 (1 ounce) package spicy ranch dressing mix
1 onion, minced
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup crushed saltine crackers (I used Triscuits)
Combine all ingredients and shape into patties. Grill. Place on fresh hamburger buns and top with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickles.

Friday, June 10, 2011

streusel pumpkin sweet rolls

When I saw a can of pumpkin in my mom's pantry I knew I had to find a way to use it. We found the perfect recipe and here it is. This recipe received 5 star ratings and we know why! These rolls are sensational and everyone in this house agrees.

streusel pumpkin cinnamon rolls (Taste of Home)
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm 2% milk
1 cup solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
4 3/4 to 5 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 cup cold butter, cubed

1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add the pumpkin, sugar, butter, salt and flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky). Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 to minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down; divide in half. Roll each portion into a 12x10 inch rectangle. Combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and allspice. Cut in butter until crumbly. Set aside 1 cup. Sprinkle remaining struesel over dough to within 1/2 inch of edges; press down lightly. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with long side; pinch seams to seal. Cut each into 12 slices. Place cut side down in two greased 13x9-inch baking pans. Sprinkle with reserved streusel. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 375 for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, combine the confectioner's sugar, vanilla and enougn milk to achieve desired connsistency; drizzle over rolls. Serve warm. Makes 2 dozen.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

homemade twix bars

These were a very big hit today. My sisters agreed that these are better than the real thing and one said she wanted to hide a secret stash. I have to admit they're pretty good.

homemade twix bars (blog: Cucina di Harwood)
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 teaspoon shortening

Crumble crust ingredients together and be sure it is mixed very well. Pack into a 9x9 inch pan that has been sprayed, lined with foil and sprayed again. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Put the butter for the caramel filling in a heavy saucepan and melt. Combine remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat. As soon as it starts to boil start a timer and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir with a spoon slowly until it shows signs of thickening, a few minutes. Pour over crust and let cool a little. For the chocolate layer, melt the chocolate chips and shortening in the microwave. Pour over caramel layer and spread carefully. Cut into bars. Enjoy!

berry jam rounds with lemon icing

We made it to my parent's house! It's so fun being here with my parents and extended family. I thought we should get right to work in the kitchen and we had a good time. I had lots of good helpers! My grandma who is no longer with us used to make "jammers" so this recipe reminded me of her. When my grandpa came to dinner and saw them he said, "Has Grandma been here?" These are great cookies and my dad couldn't keep away from them! He said, "You can't just eat one so I'm trying to eat two small ones at a time."
berry jam rounds with lemon icing (blog: or so she says)
1 1/2 cups butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 3/4 teaspoons flour
homemade jam- we used strawberry and blackberry
3 1/2 to 4 cups powdered sugar
12 teaspoons lemon juice
Heat oven to 350. Cream the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a mixer. Slowly add the flour and mix well. Roll the dough into small balls and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Press your finger, gently, in the middle of the ball to flatten and leave an indentation in the middle, to be a "pocket" for the jam. Fill each pocket with a dollop of jam. Bake for about 15-18 minutes, or until you see a slight hint of a golden color on the cookie. Remove from oven and let cool. Meanwhile, mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice to make the icing. Squiggle the icing across the tops of the cookies (I used a zip-lock baggie).

Sunday, June 5, 2011

grilled soy ginger marinated steaks


I love a good marinade- it's nice to have several great marinades to choose from because grilling makes dinner so easy!

grilled soy ginger marinated steaks (blog: Can You Stay For Dinner?)
makes 2/3 cup
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons brown sugar (I used half)
3 garlic cloves, minced

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Use as a marinade for chicken, pork or beef and let soak for at least 2 hours and up to 24.

Friday, June 3, 2011

grilled bbq chicken pizza

I had a few friends offer to make meals for my family before our move across the country, just several days away. At first I resisted. Then I realized I was CRAZY to resist and accepted. As our move approaches I feel more and more grateful to my friends knowing I can count on their meals which will enable me to accomplish as much as I can and put my focus where it should be and it's so fun because they're all fabulous cooks so we're in for a real treat. Thank you friends!
This barbecue chicken pizza is terrific. Absolutely terrific. I had never had a homemade grilled pizza before. Please go and make one for yourself.

grilled bbq chicken pizza (my friend Laura)
1 package Pillsbury Pizza Crust Dough

1-2 grilled chicken breasts, diced and rubbed with Grill Mates Barbecue seasoning then baste with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce as it cooks
1 cup sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce
4 pepperoncini's, sliced
red onion, thinly sliced
fresh cilantro
mozzarella cheese
dash or oregano

Unroll onto cookie sheet. Brush one side with olive oil. Lay the oiled side directly onto hot grill. Brush top side with olive oil. Cook about 2 minutes, just long enough for crust to get hard on the bottom, then flip it over. Now add toppings and cook until cheese is melted, about 4 minutes.

herb-garlic grilled chicken

I've always enjoyed this marinade. It has a great, bold flavor and compliments just about every side you can think of.

herb-garlic marinade
1 medium-size onion, coarsely chopped (I used red this time)
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Combine ingredients and marinade chicken for several hours or overnight.

What I have to say- I marinaded this chicken for 48 hours. It was GREAT! It would be really great in a fresh roll with mozzarella, pepperoncini and red onion.

hershey's layer cookie bars

My friend Laura made our family a grilled barbecue chicken pizza and a grilled pepperoni pizza for dinner last night. I don't have the recipes yet but I'm working on it! You'll have to make those. But first, you'll want to stop what you're doing and make these layer cookie bars right now. They are incredible. I wasn't even sure what was in them when I first tried them but they are rich, rich, rich. Absolutely unreal. Hall of Fame for sure!!
P.S. I had another taste of my friend Morgane's ultimate chocolate brownies last night and was reminded of how sinful they are. You've got to try those too.

hershey's layer cookie bars (my neighbor friend Laura)
1 1/2 sticks butter
6 tablespoons Hershey's cocoa
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup Heath Bits o' Brickle toffee bits
1 3/4 cup crushed vanilla wafer crumbs (about 50 wafers, crushed)
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350. Melt butter in a 13x9x2-inch pan in oven. Combine crumbs, cocoa and sugar; sprinkle over butter.
Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly on top of crumb mixture. Top with chocolate chips and toffee bits, then nuts; press down firmly.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Chill, if desired. Cut into bars. Store covered at room temperature. About 36 bars.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

swiss steak

This is one of my favorites that my mom makes really well. Whenever I visit her or she visits me I ask her to make it so I can watch her and try to make it how she makes. She doesn't follow a recipe yet it tastes the same every time. It's hearty and flavorful and I'm sure I don't do it exactly how she does it but mine is still good!

swiss steak (my mom)
2 pound London Broil
1 (15 ounce) can diced petite tomatoes
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 cup water
1 teaspoon minced garlic
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil

Sprinkle both sides of London Broil with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add London Broil and brown on both sides. Add bouillon cubes, water and tomatoes. Put a lid over the skillet and reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 2 hours or until meat is tender and pulls apart easily with a fork.
Take meat out of the skillet and add a little Wondra to turn drippings into a nice gravy. Serve over hot mashed potatoes (my mom's favorite), pasta (I was using up what I had) or rice.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

mom's teriyaki sauce (grilled chicken)

This has been a favorite of mine since I was very young. My mom liked to marinate a London Broil and have my dad grill it (and he always liked to grill everything until it was "dead", and still does). This marinade is great for beef or chicken. I often requested mom's grilled teriyaki with double baked potatoes for my birthday dinners.

mom's teriyaki sauce (my mom)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup oil (I use half that)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients and marinate your favorite meat. For best results, marinate overnight then throw on the grill!

What I have to say- I remember my mom would often double the recipe. She would ask my dad to put the meat on the grill and as the meal grilled she'd boil the excess marinade in a saucepan over the stove so she could pour the marinade over the cooked meat. Delicious!

roasted chili-corn salsa


This is Food Network Magazine's imitation recipe for Chipotle's roasted chili-corn salsa. The first time I tried it I served it as a salsa and I didn't feel the flavors had settled well enough but it was delicious on my Cafe Rio style salad. The second day it was perfect served as a salsa so be sure to "marinate".

roasted chili-corn salsa (Food Network Magazine, June 2011)
1/2 small poblano chile pepper, seeded
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears) or 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Preheat a grill to medium high. Brush the poblano with 1 teaspoon olive oil and grill, skin-side down, until charred but still firm, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly; peel and finely chop.
If using fresh corn, bring a small pot of slated water to a boil. Ad the corn and cook until tender, 2 to 3 minutes; drain.
Mix the corn (if using frozen, add it here), poblano, jalapeno, cilantro and red onion in a bowl. Stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, the lime juice, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

What I have to say- be sure to refrigerate for several hours to overnight to let the flavors come together.

cilantro lime dressing

My friend Annie made this delicious dressing for our fiesta Monday night. A salad is a sum of all its parts and this is definitely a really good part. YUM!

cilantro lime dressing (my friend Annie)
1/2 to 3/4 bottle Ranch dressing
juice of two limes
large handful of cilantro
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 to 1 minced jalapeno

Blend together and serve on your Cafe Rio style salad or burrito!