Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Spring Garden Dip

If you're searching for a different dip recipe try this one. My sister gave me this recipe which goes well with fresh vegetables .

1/4 cup green onions
1/4 cup cucumber
1/4 cup radishes
1/4 cup green pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt (add more if you think you need it)

Grind all the vegetables up in blender or processor and drain well in small strainer or on a paper towel. They should resemble a course relish. In the mean time mix the sour cream , sugar, salt and mayo together in a container. Add the drained vegetables and mix. Chill to blend flavors. Serve with raw vegetables of your choice.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Carrot Raisin Muffins

I have to give credit to our daughter in law for this muffin recipe she gave me several years ago. What could be better than a warm buttered muffin with a cup of coffee or tea for breakfast ? Great way to start off your day in my opinion ! I like to double this recipe and share them with others. A good tip if you want nice rounded muffins is not to over beat them after you add wet ingredients or they will rise to a point. Hope you like them too.

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp.s baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup shredded carrots
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 8 oz. can un-drained crushed pineapple
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Mix all the dry ingredients together in mixing bowl. Stir in the carrots , nuts, and raisins . Combine pineapple and juice, eggs, butter and vanilla in small bowl. Stir this into dry ingredients just until blended. Spoon into 12 greased muffin cups. Bake in 375 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cabbage Soup

A neighbor gave me this recipe over 30 years ago and it's my husband favorite soup. There are several versions of this so called "Diet Soup" floating around but this is the one I use. We love to add lots of pepper to ours for spicy flavor !

3 thinly sliced carrots
3 thinly sliced stalks of celery
2 medium onions , diced
1 medium head cabbage, shredded
1 large can tomatoes, mashed
6 packets of instant beef broth
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
8 cups water

Pour tomatoes in 6 qt. saucepan and mash them up.
Add the remaining ingredients and simmer 2 hours or until tender.
Add salt and pepper and serve.

This soup is only 45 calories a cup for those who prefer to use it as a diet soup.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Artichoke Chicken Pasta

This is one of those meals that developed when I went to the cupboard and put everything I found in a pasta dish. It worked so well together that my husband has since requested this same combination.. which I admit was a struggle to recreate, but I eventually got it right again.

The ingredients are:

Farfalle (bow tie) pasta

Cooked boneless chicken breast, chunked

one can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped.

a cup of chopped fresh spinach

one clove of garlic, minced

1 stick of butter

1/2 cup of feta cheese

grated Parmesan cheese


Boil the pasta according to the directions on the box. While that's cooking saute the chicken, garlic and spinach in the butter until the spinach wilts. Add the chopped artichokes and cook through until it's all heated thoroughly.

Stir in the feta cheese and blend through, just to warm it. Drain the pasta and add it to the chicken mixture. Stir it through, and top it with parmesan, salt, pepper, and chopped chives.

And it's ready to eat. It's a really easy pasta that tastes great and goes great with a salad, like my mom's garlic salad.
Happy Eating!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Applesauce Drop Cookies

This is one of those cookie recipe from the old cook book I spoke about in a prior post. I made this cookie a lot when my daughter was growing up because they were a great afternoon snack. We were always on the go to picnics and week-end get-a-ways and they traveled so well and could be eaten on the run. And the fact that they are lower in fat because of the applesauce and that they have no eggs is an added bonus. I used to double the batch and keep them in a closed container.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 +1/2 cups sweetened applesauce
2 tsp. baking soda
2 +1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Beat shortening and sugar in bowl. Stir in the applesauce. Add the remaining ingredients and drop by heaping teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet and bake slowly for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

Fudge is my husband's favorite food group ! Well...... Okay it's not really classified as such but it would be if he had his way. And he likes both chocolate fudge and peanut butter fudge so I began combining the two 36 years ago. I like this recipe because it's basically fail - proof every time .

4 Tbls. Cocoa
3 cups sugar
1 cup milk
3 Tbls. corn syrup
pinch of salt
2 tsps pure vanilla
1/3 cup peanut butter (2 Tbls. of butter can be substituted for this)

Combine cocoa , sugar , milk, corn syrup , and salt in a heavy 6 qt. pan. Stir and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook to the soft boil stage ( until it forms a soft ball in cold water ) or about 236 degrees on a candy thermometer .

Beat in the peanut butter and vanilla by hand. Pour into a buttered pan and cool completely.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Buffalo Tater Skins

Don't these look delicious? I mean, mouth watering delicious? Our friend Rachel made these and posted about them on her blog. Being the nice friend that she is, she let me repost the recipe here. If you want to see all the pictures, then click the link and go read her original post..

As posted by Rachel:

For those of you who know of my addiction to practically anything with red hot sauce and blue cheese, I introduce to you another successful recipe including those two ingredients. When we went out to eat at Spragues, I got, as my main dish, a plate of buffalo potato skins. Now I know that that is a very healthy meal (introduce sarcasm at this point) but hey! they looked good! But of course, the fact of the matter is, anything good that I eat out is something I will try to replicate at home. So on with the experiment...
After checking the internet for ways to make potato skins,I settled on a method that didn't involvefrying in three cups of oil...

Start by baking the potatoes in the oven til tender.

Then when they have sufficiently cooled so that you cancut them in half and scoop out some of the insides,without burning yourself, do so...I scooped out enough potato to leave arounda quarter inch or so inside.That makes it so you're not eating justthe skin but some potato with it too.

Cut into wedges...I got about three wedges per half of potato...And then throw them back in the oven.I had mine set at 400 degrees.That will crunch them up for you.If you have a broiler handy, that would probablywork even better because it would crunch them up more.As it is, mine were ok, but I think the broiler wouldwork better.

When they're almost done baking,slather them with a melted butter/hot saucecombo and sprinkle with cheese.The cheese part is optional since you're gonna dunkthem in blue cheese anyway if you like it.But the restaurant had cheese sprinkled on theirsso I'm just takin' the idea and going with it.
All in all, I'd say they turned out pretty good! There weren't many left and they really aren't that hard to make. I took the potatoes that I scooped out of the inside and made mashed potato rolls with them for our hamburgers. So if you're creative, you won't waste any of the potato. That was one of my main concerns is that I'd make them but waste some part of the potato because you only use mainly the skins.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Truffle Berry Brownies

Personally I don't understand what all the fuss is about over chocolate but..... I know people who would seriously beg to differ with me on this including my daughter so I thought I better please the masses and post the best chocolate brownie I have ever made. I've seen people do strange things when it comes to these brownies like counting and announcing how many someone else eats(now that's just not right is it?), to sneaking and hoarding them away somewhere for later like squirrels.:) They say chocolate does that to you. lol I have been asked to make this one often too . I took a recipe that called for a box mix I found years ago and changed it up to suit me because I'm not too fond of the mixes and it seems silly not to throw them together from scratch since they're so easy to make and taste so much better. And when you throw cream cheese and raspberry over top it gets even better. Got to try them if your a chocoholic ! I have broken down the ingredients by each layer so be sure and scroll down through all layers first before you make them.

To make the brownies you will need:

4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
1+1/2 sticks butter
1/3 cup milk
3 beaten eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1+1/2 cups flour
2 tbls. strong black coffee

Melt the chocolate squares and butter in a large bowl in the microwave about 2 minutes or until butter is melted stirring in between. Remove the bowl and stir the chocolate until melted. Add sugar ,coffee, vanilla, and eggs. Stir in the flour and pour into a greased parchment or greased foil lined 9 x 13 pan making sure to hang it over the ends a little to make it easier to peel the paper away afterwards. Bake at 350 degrees about 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely. Lift out the whole thing from the pan by the paper before they are cut and peel the parchment or foil away completely from underneath the brownies. Set them back in pan.

Truffle Layer

1 cup melted semi-sweet chips chocolate chips
1 8oz. softened Phila. cream cheese
1/3 cup red raspberry preserves
1/4 cup confectionery sugar
1 tsp. strong black coffee
Beat the cream cheese,coffee and raspberry preserves together till smooth. Beat the melted chocolate in next. Add the sugar in and beat until fluffy. Spread this layer over top of the cooled brownies.

Melt 1/4 cup semi sweet chips
1 tsp Crisco
Melt chips and Crisco together and thinly drizzle this over the top of the truffle layer.
Chill the brownies for 4 hours or more.

Remove at serving time and cut them small. Place them on an attractive serving plate to impress everyone. Sit back and wait for the smiles !

Friday, September 11, 2009

Low Fat Pasta Salad

I decided I had better post a healthier recipe lest you think we don't have any ! :) We really don't eat that unhealthy for the most part. My cooking is a mix of everything and we are all big tossed salad eaters because we love most vegetables too. Also we do try to cut the fat down in our regular meals when we can and most of the time we choose to make desserts for activities so we can share them. This pasta salad is loaded with fresh veggies and uses Good Seasons salad dressing mix packets for the dressing but without oil. I usually use a whole wheat pasta, mini farfelle or tri-colored spirals but any fancy shaped pasta will work. Any low fat cheese can be substituted too. By cutting it into tiny bites you get flavor with every bite but are eating less calories and fat. Same with the olives. Add what you like to make it your own creation! With the protein that comes from the beans, pepperoni , and low fat cheese it's got most of your food groups covered so it's actually a meal in itself. Plus it's a large batch so you will have leftovers too !

Prepare the dressing and chill it.

Mix really well:
2 cups of cold water
2 packages of Good Seasoning dressing mix , Italian and-or cheese garlic
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbls paprika
1 tsp sugar
2/3 cup cider vinegar(more if you desire it)
1 tsp salt

Cook 1/2 box of pasta of your choice according to directions. Drain and rinse well.

Prepare the rest of the ingredients and put them in a large covered container with the pasta:

3 thinly sliced green onions
1/2 sliced , seedless cucumber
1/2 green pepper, slivered in thin short strips
1 cup rinsed , canned Garbanzo Beans (chick peas)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped broccoli
1 small can, sliced , drained black olives
1/2 container grape tomatoes, rinsed
1/2 chunk low fat Monterrey jack or pepper jack cheese cut into tiny chunks
1 package turkey pepperoni slices , low fat ham chunks or pepperoni crumbles , whatever you prefer

Pour the dressing over salad and stir it through. You can add more seasonings or vinegar to it if you think it needs it now. Refrigerate for several hours. Stir again before serving.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Make It From Scratch 9/08/09

This week's Make It From Scratch Carnival is hosted by Rina the Mama Bear at Gotta Little Space to fill. Our post this week was the blackberry pie , which by the way makes my mouth water just looking at it. My mama makes the best pie. Anyhoo, the other posts shared at the carnival this week were great too.

I was intrigued by Mr. Salsa's blog. The post that he shared was Red Hot Salsa and it sounded good, but I wandered through a couple of his other salsa's too while I was there and they all sounded good to me.

There was a great Quick Homemade Breadstick recipe posted by the Homemaker Helper this week. It's definitely quicker than other breadstick recipes I've tried. And they look delicious too...

I am thinking of trying these for my Prayer and Praise night snack, along with some dipping sauce. There's nothing like a bunch of garlic-breathed people making a joyful noise.

There are a bunch of other great recipes too, so be sure to stop by that link and check them out!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Easy Carrot Cake

I know there are lots of fancier carrot cake recipes out there but when any of the gals in the family have the desire to make one, this is the recipe we use. I found this in a weekly recipe insert in our local paper one day. I can't recall her name but the woman who shared this recipe said she had worked for a college I think and they made these cakes in huge sheets to serve to the students so I knew I had to give it a try ! And I'm so glad I did. And thankful to her for sharing. It was the cake my daughter wanted for her bridal shower party and it was the cake we served at her son's first birthday party. And every time we make it we get wonderful remarks like "It's the best cake I ever had!" or something to that effect. There is something better about this frosting than most cream cheese frosting too but I don't quite really know what unless it's the amount of butter.

The 2 most important things to remember if you make this is; 1. You really need to chill the cake several hours after you frost it to firm up the cream cheese and butter in the frosting and 2. Is that you of course have to share it with your friends !!!! lol

Mix in a large bowl:

3 cups shredded carrots(I like to use my food processor for this job, it's speedier)
1+1/2 cups canola oil
2 cups sugar
4 beaten eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp. b. soda
1/2 cup raisins and or 1/2 cup chopped walnuts if desired can be added although the recipe doesn't actually call for them if you chose to.

Blend well and pour into a greased 9x 13 pan and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely to frost.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8oz. softened Philadelphia cream cheese
1/2 stick softened butter
2 tsps. vanilla
3/4 cup confectionery sugar

Beat this on high speed till sugar is dissolved well. Frost cake and add any decorations. Chill several hours before serving.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Why I like booze...

..Did I get your attention? Ha! I thought so! This post is.. well, it's food-related. And it's about Vodka. And Beer. But mostly vodka.

What's hilarious is that somewhere out in blogworld there is a reader saying "I thought Traci was a Christian blogger!!" Well, I can assure you that while my days of drinking for recreation have basically fallen by the wayside, I am not afraid to use alcohol for food purposes. (Especially in methods that allow the alcohol to mostly cook itself off)

So this post is dedicated to how handy it has been for me to have vodka in my cupboard. It all started back at Christmas. I wanted to make some homemade gifts for people and I scoured my favorite blogs and sites for ideas. I stumbled upon Suzanne's recipe for homemade vanilla extract and it was obvious. I was going to make real vanilla extract. So off to the store I went. The liquor store that is. And home I came with a big bottle of vodka. (not the expensive brand either, because I just couldn't bring myself to spend that much.) **Disclaimer that to be perfectly honest I sent Michael to the liquor store..** Then on grocery night I splurged and bought vanilla beans from Wegmans. (I've since decided to order them from an online supplier)

I'm not going to reiterate the recipe here because that would be redundant. You can go visit The Farmhouse Table at Chickens in the Road to read it for yourselves. But just know that it's uber easy and the bottles make a good gift along with a jumbo muffin tin and some other baking gadgets. (Well at least I thought it was a good gift, but then again I was the giver)

Fast forward to this week. I'm STILL making my own vanilla extract. Did you know that the imitation vanilla is somehow made from waste product of paper mills? Is there anything more revolting than this idea? Here is my delicious cookie but it's made from the leftover gook that comes from processing paper. Yuck. Might as well be back in kindergarten eating paste. Not that I ever did that. Seriously, I didn't.

Back on track. I don't know if I'll ever not make my own vanilla extract again. The real extract in the store is really expensive, just as expensive if not more than the ingredients for the homemade stuff. And just knowing that I made it myself so I know exactly what's in it is wonderful in itself. In fact, I planted anise in my herb garden this year and I've been wondering if I could make anise extract. I should google it.

Another adventure with alcohol has been with my barbecue sauce recipe. I make a barbecue pulled pork that my husband goes wild for. And it calls for a bottle of beer. I have to say that I've tried to substitute other things to try and get the same flavor but I haven't found anything yet. (Mostly because I know how much people love the sauce but some are.. hesitant to accept the alcoholic ingredient, although it's boiled down mostly in the sauce.) All I know is the sauce is outstanding. (I'll be posting that recipe at some point in the future I'm sure.)

And then back to the vodka. Also from Suzanne at Chickens in the Road I've learned how to make my own Kahlua, which is a coffee liqueur. It's so easy. And although I don't have the want/need for a big jar of Kahlua in my house at all times, when I came across a Kahlua Brownie recipe that called for either the real Kahlua or coffee extract.. well I knew EXACTLY how to make them. I just could make a mini batch of Suzanne's Kahlua. And I know from experience that if something calls for a liqueur or an extract it's not always wise to substitute something else.. say perhaps some strong coffee instead. It may have a similar flavor but it can affect the consistency of the batter and the finished product may end up mush.

This may have been a random post, but it was indeed food related and since my mom has been posting recipes fast as fast can be.. well I felt like I should chime in with SOMETHING. So what better to post than the fun I've been having lately with alcohol.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Blackberry Pie

This recipe comes from an old cook booklet called "Pies Men Like" that I obtained a few years back through Ebay. I have always been intrigued with old fashioned cooking and it was a great price so I bid and won it. It says copyright 1953 and has an assortment of 20 pies along with hints and tips on pie making. I know many of you like to use butter in your crusts but I prefer to use Crisco myself. I just like the taste and texture better. I have tried all different recipes too in the past but I always revert back to this basic one. I was lucky enough to be blessed with enough blackberries yesterday from our daughter-In-law to make my husband his favorite pie. (She spoils him too.) :) I talk to a lot of young women out and about and there are so many who have never attempted to make pie it makes me sad. Because ................ As you can see girls by the name of this cook booklet, MEN LIKE PIES !!!!

Oh and by the way,if any of you ever have the opportunity to buy a large cloth board set called " No Mess Dough Disc " I recommend that you do. It saves on your clean up time. The covers can be washed over and over and the plastic board doubles as a serving platter if you want to use it that way. I have had mine for several years now and it's so handy for pies, cut out cookies, breads etc. Best of baking wishes to you all!

Double Crust Pastry

2 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

2/3 cup Crisco(divided)

6 tbls. ice cold water

Sift 2 cups of flour in a small bowl and add salt. Add 1/3 cup Crisco and cut this in using a pastry cutter till it becomes a fine meal. Next add the other 1/3 cup Crisco and cut this in until about the size of small peas. This will help to achieve a flaky crust. Spoon in the cold water slowly while stirring with a fork.

Shape the dough into a smooth ball with your hands and divide again into 2 balls and chill in a bowl until you prepare filling for your pie .

Blackberry Filling

1 qt. fresh blackberries(sorted ,washed and well drained)

2/3 cup sugar

2 tbls. quick cooking tapioca or 2 tblsp. flour ( I use tapioca)

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 tbls. butter (to dot the filling with.)

Gently mix the berries with all the ingredients except butter and let set for 15 minutes to soften the tapioca.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Roll out your bottom crust on a lightly floured board to generously fit an eight inch pie pan and gently fold into quarters. Unwrap and place evenly over the pie plate leaving it overhang. Roll out the top crust large enough to overlap also. Again folding it in quarters. Set it aside .

Pour the filling in the bottom crust and dot in several spots with the butter. Center your quartered crust in the middle of filling to make sure it covers completely when you unfold it.

Pinch the two crusts together and trim both evenly all the way around with scissors or knife. Next fold both crusts under and flute the edges. Make several slits in top crusts and bake on a piece of foil for 15 minutes at 400. Turn oven back to 350and bake another 40 to 45 minutes or until bubbly in the middle . Cool completely so tapioca sets up. Cover and refrigerate. (If you can keep it in the house long enough) :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Easy Peach Cobbler

I'm not sure where this recipe hails from but it's the best peach cobbler I have ever made. Until I found this one I was not a big fan of peach cobbler. It's true comfort food. The butter gives this a slightly crispy edge and great flavor. Follow the directions exactly like it says. It's great served warm with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

1/2 cup salted butter
1 16 oz. can sliced peaches in syrup(not lite)
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsps. b.powder
1/4 cup sugar to sprinkle on top

Set oven to 400 degrees. Heat the can of peaches and syrup to a boil in a small pan. Turn off heat. Melt the butter in a 2 qt. baking dish in the oven while you mix the batter. In a medium size bowl mix the sugar, salt, b. powder, and flour together. Stir in the milk and pour this batter into the butter in the baking dish and gently spread this without stirring. Pour the hot peaches and syrup evenly over the batter and do not stir. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar over this. Bake cobbler for 20 to 30 minutes. Cool 15 minutes and serve.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Broccoli Salad

Okay I know not everyone enjoys broccoli but if you do, this salad is very good. I like mine the consistency of a fine coleslaw while others prefer to leave it chunky. I do switch this up at times and use half cauliflower - half broccoli too.

2 bunches of broccoli
1 cup raisins
1/2 jar real bacon bits
1 small onion
2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tbls. cider vinegar
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
Dash salt
Dash pepper

Cut the onion in half and put it in the food processor. Cut the ends off the broccoli stems and add broccoli in and process until it's all finely chopped like coleslaw.

In a covered dish add the broccoli to the rest of the ingredients and blend well . Chill for several hours or overnight.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Make it From Scratch Carnival Sept 1

Good Morning to you, and Happy September! I don't have any school age kids but I know that September represents a busy time for many.. I hope that you'll take a moment to explore this week's Make It From Scratch Blog carnival, hosted by Simply Forties. There are some really great posts this week, including my Best Ever Peanut Butter Fudge.

There are so many great posts in this week's carnival that I'm not even sure which ones to highlight. I'll just pick a few.. but be sure to click over to the carnival to see them all, because I'm only highlighting the food-related posts and there are some great crafts too.

I don't know if anyone else has had them but Dunkin Donuts sells a lemonade coolatta that is oh-so-good but probably oh-so-not-good for me. I'm sure it's loaded with sugar. Well Funny about Money posted a recipe for her Fizzie Lemonade, which sounds very refreshing and easy to make at home. I think I'm going to try it because I imagine I could make a whole batch for the same cost as one of those DD drinks.

Rina the Mama Bear is always a favorite of mine and this week she submitted an Applesauce Cake with Caramel Whipped Cream on one of her blogs, Gotta Little Space.

It looks delicious, doesn't it? I'll definitely be trying this one, it's right up my alley. It just sounds like such a comfort food. And I bet my dad will love it.

And the third post that I'll mention is one for Creamed Corn and Basil Baked Pudding, shared by LJM's kitchen. I love corn pudding and I'm intrigued by the addition of Basil in the recipe, especially because I feel like I've not been getting the best use out of my herb garden this year. This recipe is a unique way to use Basil, that's for sure. I think I'll try it!

Those are just three of the interesting posts on Make it From Scratch this week. Be sure to swing by HERE to see the rest!

Happy Cooking!