May 30, 2008

Easy Ratatouille

Easy Ratatouille © 2008

 This is a great vegetarian dish (minus the cheese).  The kids even liked it!  The recipe doesn't look like it makes much but it easily served the 5 of us with at least one dish-worth of leftovers.  I'd never cooked an eggplant before and had to Google how to prepare it.  It's EASY!  Just wash, cut off the top leafy part, cut in half then cut into desired size pieces.  Simple as that!

1 medium eggplant, cut into bite-size pieces

1/2 onion, cut in small bite size pieces

1 medium red pepper, cut into bite size pieces

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch slices

1/4 cup KRAFT Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette Dressing

1 (16 oz) can diced or stewed tomatoes, lightly drained (little bit of juice left)

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Mix eggplant, onion, red pepper, zucchini and dressing in a large skillet; cook and stir on medium heat for 6-8 minutes or until veggies are tender and lightly browned.

2.  Add tomatoes; cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Spoon into baking dish.  Top with cheeses.

3.  Bake 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and vegetable mixture is heated through.


May 26, 2008

Mandarin Orange Cake

Mandarin Orange Cake © 2008 

This was my first time with this recipe and I wondered, How can a cake this simple to make taste good? I was surprised at just HOW GOOD this was! Even the hubby liked it and he is hard to please when it comes to desserts!

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2 11 oz. cans mandarin oranges, drained

Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. It's going to be dry at first. Keep stirring! As the oranges break up, it will become more doughy. Pour into a lightly greased 9x13 cake pan.

Bake at 350* for 1 hour

WARNING: I put this cake in for the hour it called for and it wound up burning. Since I'd been dying to try it, I dumped the whole thing and made a second cake (so glad for it's simplicity!!). This time only putting it in for 37 minutes. I'd set the timer for 45 minutes but at 37 minutes my daughter told me it looked brown. So I took it out and it was golden perfect! (Test with toothpick or butter knife for doneness)

Frosting for Cake

1 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons skim milk

Mix brown sugar, butter and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let boil for 2 minutes then pour over cake*. Serve warm.

*This makes a ton! I didn't put it all on the cake to save it from being drown! However, I decided it was TOO GOOD to waste! So, I popped a bag of popcorn in the microwave and poured the remaining (about 1/4 cup or so) frosting over the popcorn, stirred and fell in love with brown sugar all over again!

May 13, 2008

White Chocolate Key Lime Pie!

refreshing...delicious...simple. i originally found this recipe on denise's blog (one of my daily visits for money saving ideas, coupons, and bargains!)...i tweaked it a wee bit to fit our tastes, and voila...with denise's permission, i pass it along to you. be sure to pop by and visit her site...i'm sure you will find something worthwhile!

White Chocolate Key Lime Pie

7 oz. Ghirardelli white chocolate chips
1 oreo or graham cracker crust
½ cup chilled whipping cream
8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp key lime juice (or plain lime juice)
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp finely grated lime peel
Lime slices for garnish, optional

Stir chopped white chocolate in a small metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water until the chocolate is smooth and melted (set aside). Remove the bowl from over the water. Then, beat whipping cream until peaks form (set aside). Beat cream cheese, sugar, lime juice, and lime peel in another bowl until smooth. Add the melted white chocolate. Fold in the whipped cream in 2 additions. Next, spread it into the pie crust and chill until the filling is slightly firm, at least 2 hours. Garnish (if you can keep from devouring it) with lime slices.

Taco Casserole

This one comes straight from the kitchen of my mom...yumm-o!
2 lbs. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 (10 oz) enchilada sauce
1 (4 1/2 oz.) can chopped green chilis
3/4 cup milk
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 cup or so of frozen whole kernel corn
taco chips
3/4 lb. sharp cheddar cheeseM
1. Brown beef and onion in large pan. Drain of grease and add soups, enchilada sauce, green chilis, milk, beans and corn. To assemble casserole, line 9x13 pan with taco chips. Layer with 1/2 beef mixture. Top that will half of the cheese. Then one more layer of taco chips, remaining beef and remaining cheese.
2. Bake one hour at 350. Serve with sour cream, chips, and salsa.

Make Ahead Chimichangas

Make Ahead Chimichangas
These are great to make and "feed your freezer" with...pull them out one at a time for a tasty lunch or grab as many as you need for a family dinner. You should be able to easily multiply the ingredients to make batches of 32 or more...depending on what you have room for in your freezer. (or e-mail me and i'll send you my "chart" for making larger batches)

1 lb cooked beef, pork, or chicken

16 oz salsa (as spicy as you like)

16 oz. can refried beans (fat-free work)

Taco seasoning
1t Minced onion
1t Chili powder
1/2 t Garlic powder
1/2 t Cumin
1/2 t Salt
1/2 cup Water

16-8 inch flour tortillas
1 lb. Monterrey Jack cheese or cheddar cheese, shredded

oil, for frying (optional)

Assembly and Baking Directions:
Shred chicken (or crumble ground beef). (You should have already cooked this.) You should have about 3 cups. In skillet combine chicken, salsa, beans, and seasoning. Cook and stir over medium heat until heated through. Fill tortilla with ½ cup of meat mixture and top with cheese. Fold in the ends and roll it up.

Freezing and cooking directions:
Wrap them individually in foil, freezer paper or plastic wrap and stick them in a freezer bag until you are ready to use them. Bake at 350 for about 30-40 minutes (straight from freezer—no need to thaw) OR heat them in ¼ in. deep oil in skillet for approx. 18 minutes over med-LOW heat (turn them once and watch them carefully). **We’ve also found they work well in the microwave…just unwrap, place on a plate and microwave for 1 minute…then 30 seconds at a time until warmed through. YUM!

May 7, 2008

Beer Can Chicken

1/2 c. paprika

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon dried thyme

2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp ground celery seed

2 tsp black pepper

Mix all above ingredients in a Tupperware container or Ziploc bag to keep. Makes about 1 cup.

1 can of beer

2 bay leaves

Open can of beer, pour (or drink!) enough to lower the level by about 1/4th. Break bay leaves in half and drop in beer can.

Take about 3 tablespoons of the rub and rub all over the outside of the chicken. Rub about 1 tablespoon on the inside of the chicken. Using your fingers, pull skin loose and away from the meat around the breast. Rub about 1-2 tablespoons under the skin, pat over the skin. For this step, I prefer to let my husband do the honors

Beer Can Chicken

Use a skewer and poke holes in the fatty places.

For BBQ with briquettes, heat about 60 pieces. Place a drip pan in the bottom of the BBQ, place burning briquettes on the outside edges for indirect heating. Place smoke chips in BBQ.

For gas BBQ, heat to desired temperature, with a drip pan in place, then place the chicken on top of the beer can and place above the drip pan.

Beer Can Chicken

Close lid, BBQ until done approximately 65-85 minutes; use meat thermometer in thigh, test for 170 - 175 degrees.

Beer Can Chicken

Why Beer?: So why does this work so well? First of all, you are adding a source of moisture to the chicken that keeps it from drying out. Second, you are adding beer. The yeast and malt in beer reacts with the chicken, particularly the skin, making it thin and crispy while the meat remains juicy.

May 2, 2008

Hawaiian Haystacks

Hawaiian Haystacks © 2008 

2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can chicken broth
chicken tenderloins (enough for your family)
4 c. cooked rice (more or less depending on how many you need to serve)
Chinese noodles (chow mein)
green onions , chopped
celery, chopped
tomatoes, chopped
pineapple tidbits
shredded Coconut
shredded cheese


Cook chicken till juices run clear.  Salt and pepper (I love to use onion salt) to taste. 
In the pan, chop into bite size pieces.  I do this with my spatula just as the chicken is done cooking because it's extra tender and cuts easily.  Once it's chopped I like to dump in the celery to add a little flavor.  I also like to dice up a small stalk or two of the celery leaves for even more flavor and color!
Pour the can of chicken broth and cream of chicken in the pan with the chicken.  Mix until smooth & warmed through.
Place each of the other ingredients in individual small bowls.  Spoon chicken onto rice then top with your favorite toppings!
My kids like to choose their toppings from the bowls to make each plate individual.