Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cookie Exchange

I know this probably sounds strange, but I'm a cooker, not a baker.  Every time I get invited to a cookie exchange or cookie swap around the holidays, I just cringe and decline.  But a couple of weeks ago, I was invited to yet another, and for some reason it sounded fun and I accepted.  I'm not sure why, but I got in this freaky baking mood.  And I shall repeat....I DO NOT BAKE!  The party was last Thursday, so I spent all day Wednesday baking and having an amazingly good time doing so.  Below are the recipes and pictures of the cookies I took to the cookie swap.

Death by Chocolate Cookie

2 packages (16 squares) Baker's semi-sweet baking chocolate, divided
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coarsely chop 8 squares (1 package) of the chocolate; set aside.  Microwave remaining 8 squares of chocolate in a large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-2 minutes.  Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.  Stir in butter while chocolate is warm.  After butter is blended into chocolate, stir in sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Stir flour and baking powder into chocolate mixture.  Stir in reserved chocolate pieces.  Drop by 1/4 cupfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 12 to 13 minutes or until cookies are puffed and feel set to the touch.

Print Death By Chocolate Cookie Recipe

Mexican Wedding Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, plus more for coating cookies
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups flour, plus more for dusting hands
1 cup pecans, chopped into very small pieces

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar at low speed until smooth.  Beat in the vanilla.  Continue beating at low speed and gradually add the flour.  Mix in the pecans with a rubber spatula; do not over mix.  With floured hands, take out about 1 tablespoon of dough and shape into a ball.  Continue to dust hands with flour as you make more cookies.  Place onto prepared cookie sheets.  Bake for 40 minutes.  When cool enough to handle but still warm, roll in additional confectioner's sugar.  Cool on wire racks.

Print Mexican Wedding Cookies Recipe

White Chocolate Coconut Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup coconut, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  With electric beater in large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Let it mix about 3 minutes.  Add egg, milk, and vanilla and mix for 2 more minutes.  In a separate small mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar and mix for 1 minute.  Add the white chocolate chips and coconut and fold in with rubber spatula; mix just until combined.  Roll into 1-1/2 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Press the balls down just a bit and bake for about 10 minutes.  Watch the cookies.  When they start to crack, and are just slightly golden around the edges remove them from the oven.  These cookies are better chewy.  If you have a convection oven, try cooking them at 325 degrees for 7 minutes.  Once you pull them out of the oven, let them continue to cook on the hot cookie sheet for 3-4 minutes.

Print White Chocolate Coconut Cookies Recipe

Double Delicious Cookie Bars

1/2 cup butter
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
12 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for glass dish).  In 13x9-inch baking pan melt the butter in the oven.  Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs evenly over the melted butter.  Pour the condensed milk evenly over the crumbs.  Top with the chips; press down firmly.  Bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Do not over bake!  The edges will turn dark brown and harden.  Cool.  Cut into bars.  Store loosely covered at room temperature.

Print Double Delicious Cookie Bars Recipe

M&M Stuffers

Cookie Dough:
1-1/2 cups white sugar
1-1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1-1/2 cups shortening
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons hot water
5-1/4 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
12 ounce bag mini m&m's

Buttercream Frosting:
1/3 cup butter, softened
4-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup milk
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions for cookie dough:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream sugars and shortening together (with pastry blender); stir in eggs, vanilla, and hot water; add dry ingredients and stir until combined; gently stir in mini m&m's last.  Drop about a tablespoon of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 9 minutes or until light golden brown.  Cool cookies completely.  Directions for buttercream frosting:  With electric mixer, beat butter until fluffy.  Gradually add 2 cups of confectioner's sugar, beating well.  Slowly beat in the milk and vanilla.  Gradually beat in remaining confectioner's sugar.  Beat in additional milk, if necessary.  Once the cookies cool, spread the frosting on the bottom of one of the cookies.  Press the bottom of another cookie to the frosting to make a "sandwich".

Print M&M Stuffers Recipe

Happy Munching!

Collette :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Seven Layer Dip

I was invited to a cookie exchange Thursday night, and in addition to cookies, we were supposed to bring a snack food. Since I knew I was going to be baking cookies all day, I wanted something easy to make so I chose the trusty Seven Layer Dip. This is one of my favorite party foods and it is always a big hit. Just remember to bring a very large bag of chips!!

The secret to my seven layer dip is homemade guacamole.  Is there any other kind?

Choosing avocados is just something you have to learn...not too soft, not too hard.  I try to purchase them under ripe a few days ahead and let them ripen at home.

How do I make my guacamole?  This may seem like I'm explaining the process to a kindergartener, but I try to keep in mind that not everyone is at the same level in the kitchen, so if I make it as simple as possible, everyone is covered.  I use 4 avocados to make the guacamole.

Starting at the top of the avocado, cut into the avocado until you hit the seed, then basically follow the seed all the way around with your sharp knife.  If the avocado doesn't fall right apart, twist gently to separate the halves.  Repeat for all 4 avocados.

The way I remove the seed (there are other ways) is to hold the avocado firmly, stab it with the point of a sharp knife where the seed and the fruit meet (turn the blade away from your hand), then sort of gently twist the knife until the seed pops out.  You may have to jiggle the knife a little until it loosens.

Holding the avocado half firmly on the bottom, scoop out the fruit (yes, it is a fruit) and place it on a dinner plate.

If an avocado is ripe enough, it comes out of the skin a little mushier.  Unfortunately, I purchased mine way under ripe, so I had to do a little extra work.

This isn't even mashed yet.  My avocados were so stiff, I had to really work it over with a sharp knife before I could even take a masher to it.

I usually mash my avocado with a dinner fork, but I had to use a potato masher on these.  Now they're ready to add the other ingredients....garlic salt, lemon juice, and mayonnaise.

Sprinkle about a teaspoon of garlic salt on the avocado.

Drizzle the avocado with a tablespoon of lemon juice.

Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise.  Start with less...too much mayo takes away from the flavor of the avocado.  You can always add more.

This is the final product.  Yum!

Let's build the Seven Layer Dip...I want to start out by saying that this dip really only works loaded with full-fat products...none of the light or fat free stuff!
I usually make this in a 13x9-inch pan, but I was trying to be fancy, so I made it in a large plastic bowl.  First, spread a 30-ounce can of Rosarita refried beans on the bottom of the pan.  I use Rosarita refried beans, because I like their flavor the best and they spread easily.

Spread the homemade guacamole over the top of the beans.  If you don't use homemade, I don't even know where to purchase it already made, so you're on your own there.  :)  If you do find it, you probably need about 16 ounces.

Spread 16 ounces of sour cream over the guacamole.

Pour a 16-ounce jar of salsa over the sour cream.

Top with 16 ounces of Cheddar cheese, 1 small can of sliced black olives, and about a 1/4 cup chopped green onion.   Hope you enjoy!!

Print Seven Layer Dip Recipe

Happy Snacking!!
Collette :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

Cooking is one my very favorite things to do, but I'm not as consistent as I would like to be.  We've made a family pact to not eat out at least through the end of the year (barring any emergencies), so now my opportunities in the kitchen have definitely increased (except for the nights we grab frozen food).

Tonight I decided to take the opportunity to cook.  We had meatloaf, baked potato casserole, sauteed squash, bacon wrapped green beans, and Sister Schubert's rolls.  I meant to take pictures of the progress of the entire meal, but I didn't remember until my hands were buried in the squishy raw ground beef I was mixing for the meatloaf.  I will have to say that I think this was my best meatloaf yet.  I'll post the recipe for it one of these days....I need to sit and reconstruct the steps in writing since I changed it up.

The baked potato casserole wasn't a new recipe, but I did do something different.  I had some leftover homemade mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving lunch and about 2 cups of instant potato flakes.  I made the instant potatoes, then combined the leftover potatoes, mixed them up and added all of my baked potato casserole ingredients.  They were delicious.  I surprised myself. :)

I would like to make a commitment to try a new recipe at every meal, but I don't think I can actually follow through with that, so I'll toss one in when I can.  The bacon wrapped green beans were the new recipe I tried with this meal.  I found the idea on Pinterest, but I changed it up a little.

Wash and dry one pound of fresh green beans.

Snip the ends off of the green beans.  Just snip them off with your fingers...no need to cut them unless that's easier for you.  Leave them long...don't cut them down to smaller pieces. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cover a baking sheet with foil.  Place the green beans on the baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and garlic salt.  Mix the beans with your hands so all the pieces are coated with the oil, salts, and pepper.  Place the green beans in a separate bowl while making the bundles.

Open a 1-pound package of thick-cut bacon.  Leave the bacon intact in the package and slice it in half right down the middle.  This yielded 18 slices of bacon.

I wrapped 8 green beans in each piece of bacon. Lay seam side down on the foil-covered baking sheet.  Place a sheet of foil on top of the green bean bundles and roast for 35 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  Remove foil and roast another 10-15 minutes or until the bacon gets nice and crisp.

These are the final product.

The recipes I found on Pinterest called for butter, brown sugar, and minced garlic, but I didn't add this.  If I make these again, I will probably try the original recipe.  The bacon never really got crispy on top (it did on the bottom), and apparently I didn't salt them enough, because they were pretty bland.  I did find one recipe that called for cooking the bacon in the oven for a little while first to start the crisping process, but I couldn't find that one again.  They were everyone's least favorite item on the plate, including my husband's friend who came over for dinner.  I love bacon, I love roasted green beans....so they were fine to me. 

P.S.  My husband invited his friend over while I'm in the  midst of preparing dinner...thank goodness I tend to cook more food than necessary for our family.  My husband's not a heel....he did make sure we were going to have enough food before inviting his friend!

Happy Eating!
Collette :)
Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Salt
Wash and dry the green beans, then snip off then ends.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (I start it preheating here so it's not preheating too long, because it takes a little time to snip the ends off of a pound of green beans).  Cover a baking sheet with foil.  Place the green beans on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and garlic salt. Mix the beans with your hands so all the pieces are coated with the oil, salts, and pepper. Place the green beans in a separate bowl while making the bundles.  Open a 1-pound package of thick-cut bacon. Leave the bacon intact in the package and slice it in half right down the middle. This yielded 18 slices of bacon. 
I wrapped 8 green beans in each piece of bacon. Lay seam side down on the foil-covered baking sheet. Place a sheet of foil on top of the green bean bundles and roast for 35 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Remove foil and roast another 10-15 minutes or until the bacon gets nice and crisp.

Print Bacon Wrapped Green Beans Recipe

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese

I grew up with Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  Ed grew up with cheese slices, milk and butter melted into elbow macaroni.  When we married, I discovered that Ed didn't like the Kraft version, so I made his mom's version.  After doing this a few times, I decided to change it up. 

My current mac and cheese recipe:  melt Velveeta, butter and cheese in the microwave in a large glass bowl, add a handful of Cheddar cheese and microwave until that is melted, stir, then fold in the cooked macaroni.  It's pretty yummy, but for some reason I've been looking for a different recipe lately.  I've found some on Pinterest (possibly the most addicting site ever) and have recently tried two of those.  I made the recipe below on Thanksgiving Day this year.

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

2 cups large elbow macaroni, uncooked
2 cups milk (I would have used more)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon salt
Dash nutmeg
Black pepper, to taste (optional)
1 cup grated cheese (any one or combination of Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Swiss, mozzarella, gouda, parmesan*, asiago*, or pecorino*) *Hard cheeses are best combined with a secondary softer, better melting cheese.  I used Monterey Jack, Gruyere, and Cheddar.  I prefer a sharper taste to my mac and cheese, so if I make this again, I will change up the cheeses.
  1. Place raw macaroni in colander and quickly rinse under water; drain.
  2. In medium saucepan, add milk, raw macaroni, salt, butter, mustard powder, and nutmeg.
  3. Slowly bring the macaroni mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring the macaroni frequently as it comes to a simmer.  This will separate the macaroni and keep it from sticking together.  DO NOT LEAVE THE STOVE!!  The macaroni will come to a boil very quickly and leaving it unattended could leave a big mess on your stovetop.
  4. Once the mixture comes to a simmer, immediately turn heat to LOW.  The macaroni will slowly cook in the milk.  Having the heat too high will evaporate the milk too quickly.
  5. Continue to stir the mixture frequently so that the macaroni will cook evenly and absorb the milk evenly.  Stir the mixture frequently or a big clump of macaroni will form in the end.
  6. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until milk has been fully absorbed.  If macaroni is not fully cooked, add a little more milk (in small amounts) until macaroni is done.  This will take approximately 5 more minutes.  I preferred a little milk remaining in the pan...it helped blend the cheeses and macaroni more smoothly.
  7. When milk has evaporated, stir in grated cheese or cheeses of your choice.  Stir until cheese and macaroni are well blended and cheese is mostly melted.
  8. Turn off the heat.  Place a lid on top of the pan and cover for about 5 minutes.  This rest period will allow macaroni to plump up and absorb any excess milk.
  9. Take a final taste and add additional salt, if needed.  Before serving, stir one final time until everything is well blended.  Adding a 1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt gives this dish a lot of flavor.
Serve immediately.

Print Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese (recipe and photo borrowed from Pinterest)

As far as recommending this mac and cheese, it wasn't my family's favorite, but with a little tweaking, I think it has the potential to be very good.  If you try it, I hope you enjoy it!

Happy Eating!
Collette :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mother!!

Today is my mom's birthday, so I'm going to start out by saying how thankful I am for my precious mother (and happy birthday!).  As I was sitting here thinking about my post today, I realized that if it hadn't been for the freedom my mom allowed my brother and I to have in the kitchen, we probably wouldn't love cooking so much.  My brother and I are 17 months apart and were only one grade apart in school.  We stayed home by ourselves some growing up, since my parents worked full-time and I don't ever remember us having any reservations about experimenting in the kitchen by ourselves. 

I remember the first thing my mom ever had me do while she was cooking was stir the Kool-aid until the sugar dissolved.  I'm sure she had other little jobs for me to do, but my next "big" job was learning how to peel potatoes.  Have you ever given your 7 or 8 year old child a potato and potato peeler?  My kids want to peel potatoes all the time and I'm usually in such a hurry preparing a meal that I don't have the time to wait on them to peel (yes...shame on me).  I'm sure my mother started me out early enough in the preparation so she didn't have to wait.

How patient she must have been with us as we were learning in the kitchen.  I'm sure there were times she became extremely frustrated during the teaching process, but I don't remember that.  I just remember ALWAYS being in the kitchen and her ALWAYS having something for me to do.  I guess this should be the time I tell you about one specific time she did get pretty frustrated with me and my brother...

Growing up, we never owned a deep fryer.  My mother just filled up an iron skillet with oil if we ever wanted to deep fry something.  And to tell you the truth, the only thing I ever remember deep frying was frozen breaded shrimp (don't knock it until you try it).  Anyway, for years, I watched my mother place a funnel in the top of the empty oil container, scoop the oil out of the skillet with a ceramic coffee mug and pour it through the funnel back into the original container.  She did this to discard the oil.

So one time we were cleaning up the kitchen and my brother and I insisted on taking care of the oil for her.  I don't remember our exact ages, but we were at least young teenagers.  She agreed and went and sat down in the living room.  Now I'm sure she had all the confidence in the world that we knew what we were doing...we had watched her for years, right?  For those of you who are raising or who have raised teenagers, they know everything, right?

We started out with the funnel in the empty container and scooping the oil with the coffee mug.  I have to say that it was probably my brother's idea <grin>, because this way was taking forever, but we decided to nix the coffee mug.  He was going to pick up the iron skillet while I held the funnel and just slooooowly pooouuurrr the oil in.  My brother has never been tested, but I'm pretty sure he's near-genius; however, I'm not sure either one of us had ever taken Physics at that point or if we did, we didn't pay attention in class.  BUT!  my brother was a football player and one of the strongest guys I knew, so I had complete confidence that we could make this happen successfully.  Iron skillets are already VERY heavy, but loaded down with oil...why do you think my mom used her method?

He picked up the skillet, I had a death grip on the funnel....did you hear me say I had a death grip on the funnel?  NOT the funnel AND the oil container, but just the funnel.  He started to slooooowly pooouuurrr the oil into the funnel and this is where things get kinda fuzzy.  I'm not sure to this day exactly what happened.  I think he might have rested the skillet a little on the funnel and when he did, the funnel tilted one way and the bottle went the other...either way, the next thing we knew as the bottle and funnel shoot out from under us, we have just poured a crazy amount of fried shrimp oil all over the counter and floor of the kitchen (mostly the floor).  What does one typically do when something like this happens?  I'm not sure, but I know we both said aloud, "OH NO!!!"

I need to preface this next section by letting you know my mom is a klutz.  She knows she's a klutz.  She has been our entertainment for years.  Well, not my dad's...it frustrates him, but me and my brother think she's pretty funny.  Anyway, my mom came bee bopping into the kitchen like a goofy person and in a funny voice said, "What happened?"  It is difficult to describe her body motions, but she was kind of jogging in there with her feet going side to side (kind of in a rocking back and forth motion sideways).  As we see her enter the kitchen, we throw our hands up in the stopping motion, and yell, "Don't come in here!!!!"

Too late!  She got too close, hit that oil and went flying like a cartoon character.  I will just say while it wasn't funny then, we do laugh about it hysterically now.  On her way down, she caught her elbow on one of the ornate kitchen drawer handles that had pointed edges and when she finally landed, she hit her head pretty hard on the floor.  And she was lying there in the shrimp oil.  Oh...and did I forget to mention that through all this commotion, my dad was on the phone in the living room?

Our first instinct was to help her up, so we both reached down to grab an arm, but as we did, she yelled to the top of her lungs, "DOOOOOOON'T  TOOOOUUUUCCCCCHHHHHH MEEEEE!!!!" several times.  Our dad ended his phone call, made me and my brother go sit on the couch.  I don't remember exactly what happened from there, but after everything calmed down, we did go clean up the mess.  I'm surprised she ever let us back in the kitchen!

Mother, I love you so much!  I hope you have a wonderful day and thanks for being the best mom and providing not just the entertainment for me and Charles, but so much love as well!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

How About Them Caramel Apples?

Last week the boys and I stopped by the grocery store to pick up something for dinner. As we were passing the produce section, I saw packages of caramel candies, of course, by the apples. Knowing I had just bought a huge bag of apples earlier that week, I thought it would be fun to buy some caramels and make caramel apples....I don't know what came over me (maybe two boys begging and pleading with me).

So today was caramel apple making day. The boys were playing outside, so I tried to finish them before either of them came barreling through the house, because I wanted to surprise them. Yes, they knew I would be making them at some point, but they didn't know when. To tell you the truth, I think they had forgotten about them. Were they surprised? Jonathan was, but Benjamin caught me making them (he kept it a secret).

The recipe for the caramel apples is on the package of caramels, but I'll go ahead and walk through what I did in case you buy caramels out of a bin instead of a package.

5 medium apples, washed, well dried
14 oz. pkg. Kraft caramels (about 50 pieces)
2 tablespoons water
5 wooden popsicle sticks or lollipop sticks

Remove the stems from the apples (the stacked apples are just me being cute). These are McIntosh apples, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't really matter what kind of apples are used.

Insert the wooden popsicle sticks or lollipop sticks into the STEM of each apple.  I used lollipop sticks, because that's what I happened to have on hand.  I chose the longer ones, so I could work with the apples better when I had them in the caramel.

Cover a large plate with wax paper paper; grease with butter.  Set aside.  If greasing the wax paper with butter, use A LOT!!  My suggestion is to use non stick cooking spray.

Place caramels and water in large saucepan; cook on medium-low heat until caramels are completely melted, stirring occasionally.  I have a flat top electronic/digital stove (whatever it's called), and put the burner on 5 and it was perfect.

Caramels in the saucepan with 2 tablespoons water.

They're melting like the witch on The Wizard of Oz.  I know it looks gross, but now you know how it's supposed to look if you  make these.

Almost there.....

And we're there!!  Let's start dipping!

Of course I don't have a picture of the apple actually in the caramel, but here is the first caramel apple I've ever made!!  I've never even had one....I haven't even had one of these yet!  The kids wolfed them down.

And so on....

And here's my boys eating them!  They were so excited!

Jonathan was having trouble holding on, so he devised a new plan...I actually thought it was pretty innovative!

Soooo?  How about them caramel apples?  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pineapple Parfaits

My kids don't have much time in the mornings to eat breakfast...for that matter, they're really not interested in breakfast that early anyway.  What's the most important meal of the day?  Everyone together....BREAKFAST!  I have seen that the kids function better at school if they have eaten at least a little something, so this year I have implemented a rule that they HAVE to get out the door with food or milk in their tummies.

While I was perusing through my recipes not long ago, I found one for these Pineapple Parfaits.  Last night, I told the kids I was going to make them and they would enjoy them for breakfast....super quick and easy.  Jonathan said they sounded great.  Benjamin groaned and said he didn't want one.  Lindsay asked me if they were healthy.

I made them in the smallest Glad disposable plastic containers, so the kids could just grab one out of the fridge.  The recipe said to make them in parfait glasses and of course there would be a couple of layers of each item, but I knew the kids didn't want a lot for breakfast, so I just made them "single" parfaits.

The recipe:
20 ounce can chunk pineapple, drained
32 ounce container lowfat vanilla yogurt
1 cup granola (I used the oats and honey crispy granola bars and crunched them up in a storage baggie)
Set out 9 of the plastic Glad containers.  Divide the pineapple, yogurt, and granola (respectively) equally among the containers.  Place the lids on tip; store in the fridge.

Print Pineapple Parfaits Recipe

I got 6 thumbs up from my kids this morning!  Benjamin the Naysayer was licking his bowl clean!  The only suggestion was to add more granola.  Oh and they make a great after-school snack as well.  Hope your kids enjoy them as much as mine!

Love from the kitchen...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Appetizer Night

I am probably the world's worst about collecting recipes that sound good, but never trying them.  I currently have all of my recipes stored in Excel, but I recently purchased a new software (Living Cookbook 2011) and I'm working on getting them all transferred over.  This has inspired me to introduce many of these new recipes to my family. 

I wasn't quite sure how I was going to tackle the Appetizers/Snacks section of my recipes, so when I was planning our menu for this week I decided to have Appetizer Night for one of our dinners.  And I also planned it for just me and the kids since Ed's not usually into "light" eating.  So what did we have?

#1) Everyone's favorite...Meatball Appetizer
I guess I should ask people to help me rename this with something fancier, but meatball appetizer sounds better than meatballs and grape jelly, because that's all it is!  Don't knock it...they were awesome!

32 ounce package frozen homestyle meatballs
18 ounce jar grape jelly
1. Add meatballs and grape jelly to large pot.
2. Mix well to coat meatballs with jelly.
3. Cook on medium heat until jelly has melted down and meatballs are done.  If you have time, cook them in the crockpot on low for a couple of hours or until they're done.

Print Meatball Appetizer Recipe

#2) Puff Pastry with Cranberry Chicken Salad

1 sheet frozen ready-to-bake puff pastry, thawed (from 17 1/4 ounce package)
1 heaping cup chopped cooked chicken breasts
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons jellied cranberry sauce
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
Garnish: jellied cranberry sauce
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Place pastry sheet on lightly floured surface. 
3. Cut 12 (2-inch) rounds from pastry (I didn't have a round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter, so I used the rim of a glass, but it was larger than 2" in diameter, so I ended up using both pastry sheets.); place on ungreased baking sheet.
4. Bake for 15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown; remove from baking sheet; place on wire cooling rack.
5. While still warm, split each round into 2 layers to form 24 rounds; cool completely.
6. In small bowl, combine chicken, onions, mayonnaise, cranberry sauce, ginger, and dry mustard.
7. Mix all ingredients well and refrigerate until serving time.
8. To serve, spoon 1 teaspoon chicken salad on split side of each round puff pastry.
9. Garnish each with a small dot of cranberry sauce.
Yield: 24 appetizers

Print Puff Pastry with Cranberry Chicken Salad Recipe

#3) Veggie Bars

2 cans Pillsbury crescent rolls
1/4 cup milk, room temperature (this prevents the cream cheese from seizing up when combining the two)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 package buttermilk ranch dressing mix
1 teaspoon dill weed
3 stalks broccoli, chopped
4 cauliflower florets, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
6 green onions, chopped
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Unroll crescent dough and place flat on cookie sheet (I used a large baking sheet and had some crescent dough left over).
3. Bake dough for 15 minutes; let cool.
4. Combine milk, cream cheese, mayonnaise, dressing mix, and dill; blend until creamy.
5. Spread dressing mix on cooled bread.
6. Top with vegetables and grated cheese (I used a little more than 1 cup of cheese...I rarely measure cheese).
7. Chill 2 hours before serving.

Print Veggie Bars Recipe

The kids and I really enjoyed all of these.  I was surprised that the boys liked everything, but they gobbled it up and went back for seconds!  So if you try them, I hope you like them, too!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Is It The Memory or The Mind That's The First To Go?

I got up over an hour ago to let the dogs outside.  I took my glass with me so I could circle through the kitchen to refresh my ice water to take my meds.  While I was in the kitchen, I decided to check our supply of ice so I could set aside some for Hoover's water...he's our outside dog...to help him stay cool in this horrid heat.  Our ice maker only holds so much ice and I wanted to set aside some so the ice maker could continue to make more (in case you were wondering).  When I opened the freezer door, I realized I had frozen a water bottle earlier to take it out to Hoover.  I pulled out the frozen bottle, walked out back and threw it over to Hoover's side of the fence and then let the dogs in (who were now upset because Hoover got something and they didn't...well, except Angel...she can't see so she didn't realize what was going on).  I walked back in the living room, sat back down in my chair, got my computer comfy in my lap, Brutus curled up on my ottoman, and restarted my movie "When In Rome." 

It's now over an hour later, and I just realized I never refreshed my water much less brought it in here with me.  Normally, I could ask one of the boys to go do it for me, but I'M THE ONLY HUMAN IN THE HOUSE!!