My new kitchen toys

September 30, 2007 at 11:17 pm | Posted in kitchen utensils, new toys | 1 Comment

In honor of my new love for all things cooking, this weekend I purchased two new kitchen toys that I “needed”.

Saturday morning I attended a silent auction for a charity that I belong to. Many of the items were things I would never want in my house, can’t imagine using, etc. However, there was a Pampered Chef pie pan that I had my eye on. And I won it! 🙂 Now, I just have to find some great recipes to use it!

Also on a completely different spectrum, I bought a meat tenderizer. I am not a big meat eater at all. However, I am trying to broaden my horizons, so we’ll see how it goes. You know in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” when Tula tells her aunt that Ian doesn’t eat meat and the aunt says in disbelief, “What? You don’t eat no meat??”, I am pretty sure that is how a conversation with myself and that aunt would go. : ) Anyway, I used it tonight on chicken breasts and I liked it. I enjoyed the pounding. Something therapeutic about it. HA!

Cookie Pizza

September 28, 2007 at 2:06 am | Posted in Cookies | 2 Comments

I love, love cookie pizza. I love cookies, I love pizza – what better than mixing the two?! This is a great recipe to make for work events, family gatherings, etc. I made this last year to take to my in-laws for Christmas and it looked so pretty. : ) I made it, covered it in plastic wrap then tied red and green ribbon all around it. Wish I would have taken a picture now! I will this year. Anyway…on to the good stuff:

Ingredients

Cookie Pizza Crust
½ cup of hard margarine
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups of flour

Topping
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
½ finely chopped pecans (optional)
½ cup candy coated chocolate candies (I use M&M’s-it’s fun to use holiday ones!)

Directions

For the crust: cream margarine and brown sugar together. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour, stir, turn onto flour surface. Knead and put on a pizza pan as if you were rolling out a pizza crust.
Topping: Sprinkle onto “pizza” crust – chocolate chips, marshmallows, and pecans evenly. Pour condensed milk evenly over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until crust is golden. Immediately place candies on top while hot. Cool completely in pan. Cuts into about 16 “pizza” wedges.

Recipe from an awesome cookbook – Favorite Brand Name- Gifts From the Kitchen

Saturday morning family breakfast…

September 28, 2007 at 1:51 am | Posted in Breakfast, Fun | 1 Comment

Ignore my PJ’s and my horrible morning hair and no makeup…it’s breakfast time people! 🙂

We have our kids every other weekend and we love the time that we get to spend with them. One thing about me is that I hate getting up in the mornings. Hate it. However, on Saturday mornings when we have the kids, they come in, wake me up, and the three of us fix breakfast together. It has become a tradition and they absolutely love to help me cook. It’s what makes me get up with a smile at 7:30am on a Saturday morning. We all fix breakfast in our PJ’s – Sheridan has recently learned to crack the eggs, Will hands me the ham and puts the bread in the toaster, etc. We all have our roles. 🙂

If you have kids or plan to, I think doing things like this with them is absolutely fantastic. These are the types of things that will remember someday – not what kind of shirt you bought them, or what color their backpack is. I remember cooking with my grandma and I love those memories.

::insert cheesiness here:: : )

Cajun Style Blackened Catfish

September 28, 2007 at 1:29 am | Posted in Fish | Leave a comment

Unfortunately, I am allergic to seafood. I can cook it, be around it, love the smell of it, even tried to eat it a couple of times, but no dice. However, my husband likes fish from time to time and he also likes Cajun style food so this recipe was a must try. He really seemed to like this recipe (or he was just really hungry when I made it….hmmm….I keed, I keed!).

(Insert picture here)

1 lb. boneless catfish fillets 1 tsp. parsley flakes
1 tsp. black pepper 1 tsp. ground red pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder 1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. onion powder ½ tsp. oregano
1 tsp. paprika ½ tsp thyme
butter or oil (for cooking-margarine will NOT work)

A large cast iron skillet works best for this, but any large non stick skillet will work.
This recipe will also work with any type of boneless fish fillets, but catfish seems to be the best. This recipe might also produce some smoke, so do not be alarmed.
Mix all dry ingredients together. Coat fillets evenly with dry mixture.
Heat small amount of butter or oil in skillet until hot. Place fillets in skillet.
Cook 3-5 minutes on each side. Change butter or oil if it gets too black.

Recipe from http://www.allrecipes.com/

Better Than Sex (almost) Cake

September 28, 2007 at 1:13 am | Posted in Cakes, chocolate | Leave a comment

I am not a huge “sweets” person but I love them from time to time. One of my favorite cakes to make for work dinners, etc. is Better Than Sex Cake. I don’t know about better than sex, but this cake is pretty darn good. If you like really sweet, chocolately, rich things then you HAVE to try this cake. You will NOT be diappointed. I get asked to make this every time we have a work event. : )

Ingredients

1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix
1/2 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
6 ounces caramel ice cream topping
3 (1.4 ounce) bars chocolate covered toffee, chopped
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Directions

Bake cake according to package directions for a 9×13 inch pan; cool on wire rack for 5 minutes. Make slits across the top of the cake, making sure not to go through to the bottom.
In a saucepan over low heat, combine sweetened condensed milk and caramel topping, stirring until smooth and blended.

Slowly pour the warm topping mixture over the top of the warm cake, letting it sink into the slits; then sprinkle the crushed chocolate toffee bars liberally across the entire cake while still warm.
Let cake cool completely, then top with whipped topping. Decorate the top of the cake with some more chocolate toffee bar chunks and swirls of caramel topping. Refrigerate and serve right from the pan! Keep refrigerated until serving.

Recipe and photo found on http://www.allrecipes.com/

Easy Mashed Potatoes

September 28, 2007 at 1:07 am | Posted in potatoes, side dishes, Yummy Veggies | Leave a comment

I love mashed potatoes – I love any potatoes really, but mashed are so comforting and yummy. : ) Tonight I made mashed potatoes from an easy recipe that I found online and they turned out perfect!

(Insert Picture Here)

Ingredients

4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/3 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash pepper

Directions

Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil; cook for 20-25 minutes or until very tender. Drain well. Add milk, butter, salt and pepper; mash until light and fluffy. Finish up by mixing with a mixer on low if they are not creamy enough.

NOTE: You can add more butter and more milk if needed for your taste. I added 4 tablespoons of butter to mine. I like buttery goodness : )

Recipe from http://www.allrecipes.com/
Makes 4 servings.

Southern Style Green Beans

September 27, 2007 at 10:45 pm | Posted in side dishes, slow cooker, Yummy Veggies | Leave a comment

Tonight I am trying out a tradtional style dinner for my husband and I – baked ham (complete with pineapple slices!), mashed potatoes, and southern style slow cooker green beans. To us, this is the only way to cook green beans so it was only fitting that I find a good recipe to try them out. : ) It isn’t time for dinner yet but I have had a taste of the green beans and they are pretty good! Love the smell of food in a slow cooker when I get home from work….mmm….

Ingredients
4 cups water
2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 ham hock
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
Directions
Place the water in a large pot, and mix in the green beans, ham hock, onion, garlic, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and cook 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to low, and simmer 4 hours. Remove the ham hock, and slice the meat into small pieces. Return meat to the beans, and serve.
NOTE: I followed the recipe except that instead of cooking stovetop, I put all of the ingredients in the slow cooker on low for 7 hours. YUM! Also, I did NOT use a ham hock. Instead, I used some slices of ham from a ham that I baked and let that simmer in the crock pot all day. Much healthier than a ham hock. : )
Recipe from http://www.allrecipes.com/. Picture from my kitchen 🙂

My "Bad Day" Go-To Wine – Fetzer G

September 27, 2007 at 4:34 pm | Posted in wine | Leave a comment

As I mentioned, I love wine. Pretty much all of it – not so fond of merlot or chardonney, but I am willing to try any and all things wine before forming an opinion. Coming home after a hard day at work and having a glass (or two…or three…) of wine is a fabulous thing. My favorite go-to wine for this is Fetzer Gewurztraminer.

Gewurztraminer is kind of long name for a wine so a lot of people just refer to this one as “gevurtz” or I refer to it as “G”. This is a white, semi sweet wine. You can taste the honeyed apricot and peach flavors in the glass, and breathe deeply to capture the aromas of rose petals and honeysuckle. Mmmm….. The Fetzer vineyard is located in Hopland, Mendocino Co., CA. I love this wine because not only is it good, it is extremely reasonably priced. It is ~$10 a bottle. The bottle is usually gone before I know it because it is easy to drink. : )

You can check out the Fetzer website which has awesome recipe links for dishes that will go well with this particular wine if you want to pair it with dinner. I like to drink it alone typically but I am sure they know what they are talking about! Enjoy!

http://www.fetzer.com/

Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff

September 27, 2007 at 12:25 am | Posted in slow cooker | Leave a comment

I am going to try to have a closer relationship with my slow cooker than I currently do. We are in the beginning stages of our relationship with one another and I hope it progresses into something beautiful. For someone as busy as me, a slow cooker is a wonderful thing. I love coming home from work and the house smelling like someone has been cooking all day – only they haven’t really been! It’s great!

I tried this as my first slow cooker recipe a couple of weeks ago. My husband and I both liked it so I will likely make it again soon.
Recipe and photo from http://www.allrecipes.com/

Ingredients
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cubed
1/8 cup margarine
1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
Pasta/noodles of your choice (I used linguine noodles)

*I added a couple of tablespoons of light sour cream when adding the cream cheese, but that is optional.

Directions

Put chicken, margarine and dressing mix in slow cooker; mix together and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours. (I cooked this for about 7 hours on low and it was fine).
Add cream cheese and soup, mix together and cook on high for another 1/2 hour or until heated through and warm.

5-Minute Southwest Layered Salad

September 27, 2007 at 12:06 am | Posted in salads | Leave a comment
Recipe from http://www.kraftfoods.com

I like to make my own lunch on most days instead of going out to eat – much cheaper and much healthier. Right now I am craving my favorite salad that I found in Kraft Foods “Food & Family” magazine. This salad is super easy, super yummy, and has a touch of one of my fave things – Mexican food. Mmmm…..

Ingredients

6 cups torn romaine lettuce
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed, drained
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
3/4 cup salsa of your choice
1/2 cup Mexican Style Shredded Cheddar Jack Cheese
1/4 cup Ranch Dressing (I use light)
1 cup tortilla chips, broken (I use Baked Tostitos)

Directions

ARRANGE lettuce in bottom of glass serving bowl or on serving plate. (I just throw it all in a big bowl when I am at home by myself eating it 🙂

LAYER beans, corn, salsa and cheese evenly over top.

DRIZZLE with dressing; sprinkle with chips.

Makes 4 servings, 1 1/2 cups each

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