Friday, February 27, 2009

Thai Beef Stir-Fry

I found this recipe in my Simple and Delicious magazine. It was a fun new one to try. Doug really liked it- especially with the spice. Stir-Fry is always good!

Thai Beef Stir-Fry

2 T cornstarch
3/4 cup water
3 1/2 T chunky peanut butter (I seriously have at least 20 jars of peanut butter, but none were chunky! Unbelievable!!! I just used the creamy and threw in some nuts.)
4 T soy sauce, divided
1-1/2 lbs boneless beef top sirloin steak, thinly sliced (I actually used pork loins and they were really good!)
1-1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp pepper
2 T olive oil
1 each medium green, sweet red, and yellow peppers, julienned
1 can (8 oz) bamboo shoots, drained (unfortunately- this is not one of my "on-hand" staples. I ended up kind of subbing sliced celery- it worked pretty well.)
1/2 cup julienned carrots (I used about 4 peeled carrots)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (BOY HOWDY- I was way too liberal with those! I about killed myself off! Just go easy on it if you're not a big spicy person. My husband was thrilled, but I had to have a swig of milk between every bite. :)
Hot cooked rice

In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water until smooth. Stir in peanut bitter and 3 T soy sauce; set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, stir-fry the beef, garlic, pepper and remaining soy sauce in oil until meat is no longer pink; remove and keep warm. (I know it probably isn't the proper way, but I always just keep the meat in there with the veggies- sheer laziness I suppose.) Add the peppers, bamboo shoots, carrot and pepper flakes; stir-fry for 2-3 minutes or until tender.

Stir cornstarch mixture; add to the pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Returned beef mixture to the pan. Serve with rice.
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Slow Cooker Baked Potato

I'm such an Idaho girl! I love a good old fashioned baked potato! I was happy to find out I could throw them in the wonderful crockpot though- I wasn't having much success with the oven- I would forget to poke hole, or it just seemed like it took forever! They have always been really hard for me coming out of the oven, but I promise you will love this slick crockpot style- no mess and always a perfect potato! It is my favorite thing to throw in on a busy day, because I know I have at least something cooked to work with. (My husband always loves a baked potato, too.)

Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes
(Peggy Larsen- a potato farmer's wife, so she outta know! :)
Scrub potatoes (and you can poke them with a fork, but I usually don't and their fine). Wrap in foil. Fill slow cooker with potatoes. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours or on high for about 3-4 hours. Do not add water.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Let them eat cake...

We actually tried the "Guilt Free Chocolate Cake" last night, and it was really good. Especially a hit with the girls! :) I can't decide if they life the cake or the batter better. :) Just have to say it was a yummy easy cake!
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Monday, February 23, 2009

Guilt-Free Chocolate Cake

I saw this recipe on my friend Lisa's blog, and I just had to pass it on! I love simple recipes like this that you can whip up fast, but that taste great! Thanks Lisa!

Guilt-Free Chocolate Cake

1 box of Chocolate fudge cake mix (or any chocolate cake mix)
1 small can of pumpkin (you can't even taste it!)
1 cup of water

Put into a sprayed pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool completely and top with a low or nonfat cool whip or eat plain; it is so moist!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sweet Slivered Almond-Mozzarella Asparagas

Well Folks.... I found it! I discovered the new BEST WAY TO EAT ASPARAGUS!!! Mmmm... So good! I was looking for a good recipe in my good old Betty Crocker standby, but I didn't have most of the ingredients, so I made some changes, and I must have done something right! Doug said, "You can make this ANYTIME!"

Sweet Slivered Almond-Mozzarella Asparagus
2 cups water
2 pounds asparagus spears
2 T butter
1 can (8 oz) sliced mushrooms, drained
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh or 1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 c. shredded mozzarella (you could also use Parmesan)
1/4 cup slivered sugar coated almonds. (You could also use honey roasted peanuts, or some other nut with a tsp full or two of sugar).

1. Heat water to boiling in 12 inch skillet. Add asparagus. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook 4-6 minutes or until crisp and tender. (I didn't realize how important that is, but it really does make a difference!) Drain, set aside.
2. Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in mushrooms. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Stir asparagus, basil, salt and pepper into mushrooms until vegetables are coated with seasonings and asparagus is heated through. Sprinkle with cheese and nuts.

Peanut Butter Cornflake Bars

Warning: You have to be careful with this one, because before you know it, you will have eaten the whole pan. (Notice: just one left. :) I didn't eat them all, but... well, I was quite helpful. :) My friend Noelle gave me this recipe a while back, it is a great "no bake" quick one to whip up that is always yummy! It is also a great way to use up peanut butter if you have a lot on hand, too.

Peanut Butter Cornflake Bars
1 cube butter
3/4 c. corn syrup
3/4 c. sugar
*Stir and boil for 1 1/2 minutes

Add and stir in:
3/4 to 1 c. peanut butter

Then add about 8 cups cornflakes. (I didn't have enough cornflakes this last time, so I used rice crispies and they turned out great. It ended up being about half and half.)

Spread evenly in an ungreased 9x13 baking dish or a baking sheet. (You can also make them into drip cookies.) Wait about 15-20 minutes for them to set.
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Applesauce Wheat Muffins

Here is a healthy little muffin to start your day with. It makes just over a dozen. I so wish I had thrown in some frozen blueberries or raspberries- would have been perfect! But they were really tasty.

Applesauce Wheat Muffins
1/2 c butter or oil (I have substituted applesauce before and it still turns out)
1/2 c honey
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup applesauce
2 c whole-wheat flour
3 tsp baking powder
Nuts (optional)
I also throw in a small handful of cracked wheat.

Cream together shortening and honey. Add eggs and applesauce; mix. Add dry ingredients. Stir to moisten. Bake at 375 for 20 to 25 minutes.
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Slow Cooked Pork Roast with Vegetables

I love throwing all these things into a crockpot and opening it up a few hours later to find such tender meat and veggies! Here is how I usually do it...

Slow Cooked Pork Roast with Vegetables
2 1/2 to 3 lbs boneless pork loin roast (other cuts will work as well- you can also do this with a beef roast)
2 tsp minced garlic
5-6 potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
1 large onion, sliced
5-6 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 can cream of mushroom
1-2 T soy sauce
1 T Worsteshire sauce
Sprinkle of garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt, salt, and pepper

Sprinkle roast with salt and pepper and lay on the bottom of crockpot. Top with veggies. In a bowl, stir together remaining ingredients, and pour over the top. Cook on low for 6-7 hours. (Low makes the meat nice and tender.)

Brian Regan's Version of a Cooking Show

I mentioned Brian Regan in my last post. I like all his stuff, but this is a link to a funny clip about cooking shows. I can't find the one about "Manicotti" but I'll keep looking. Anyway- I just think he's funny because it is real life stuff and he's pretty clean- that is my kind of comedy. :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Manicotti with Red Sauce

Whenever I hear "Manicotti" now, I think of comedian, Brian Regan saying it with a funny Italian Accent. If you haven't seen that one- check it out on YouTube! Pretty funny. Anyway, after all these desserts, I figured it was probably about time I post a descent meal so you don't think I'm just living off of chocolate brownies and cheesecake. :) (Not that I would have a problem with that. :) We had this last night, and it took a little bit of preparation and baking time, but it was well worth it. It turned out great, and it was a wonderful way to get my spinach in- I don't think I would eat it otherwise. Delicious!


Red Sauce (below)
2 (10 oz) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 cups small curd cottage cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp pepper
14 uncooked manicotti shells
2 T grated Parmesan cheese

1. Make Red Sauce. Heat oven to 350.
2. Squeeze spinach to drain; spread on paper towels and pat dry. Mix spinach, cottage cheese, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, the nutmeg and pepper.
3. Spread about 1/3 of the red sauce mix in ungreased 9x13 baking dish. Fill uncooked manicotti shells with spinach mixture. Place shells in sauce in dish. Pour remaining sauce evenly over the shells, covering completely. Sprinkle with 2 T Parmesan cheese.
4. Cover and bake for about 1 1/2 hours or until shells are tender. (Mine was done after just one hour).

Red Sauce (Can also use for spaghetti)
1 lb lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cans (14 oz) whole or diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (8 oz) mushroom pieces and stems, drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (2 tsp dried)
1 T chopped fresh or 1 tsp dried basil
1 teaspoon salt

Cook beef, onion, garlic in skillet, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown. Add remaining ingredients and heat to boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes).
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Marble Squares

I love a good brownie, but with the creamy swirls and chocolate chips, this goes beyond good!!! These were AMAZING! Way to go Natalie!

Marble Squares

Combine, mix well and set aside:

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese (works best if it is softened before you mix it)
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg

In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil:
1/2 cup margarine
2 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup water

Sift together dry ingredients into a large bowl:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda

Add to the dry ingredients:
saucepan ingredients (margarine, chocolate, and water)
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream

Mix well and pour into a large cookie sheet with sides.

Drop spoonfuls of cream cheese mixture atop the brownie mix. Cut through with a knife to marble.

Top with chocolate chips (I prefer the Guittard brand)

Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

For a romantic twist, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

CREAMY Cream of Wheat with Strawberries...

Ok- so this isn't really a recipe, but I just thought I would share one of my ALL TIME favorite breakfasts with you. For as long as I can remember, I have loved starting my day with cream of wheat. I pretty much love any hot cereal, but I think this one takes the cake. I liked it so much as a child that I have a memory of begging my mom for it on a Sunday and we didn't have any. I remember kind of crying about it and throwing a fit. My grandparents were visiting, and I remember Grandpa Juan making a special try to the grocery store (breaking the Sabbath for me- we usually try to avoid shopping on Sunday :). I will NEVER forget how thrilled I was when he showed up at the front door with that lovely yellow box and that happy smiling black man- Grandpa truly won my heart that day!!! I love to put in a bit of half and half, a lot of sugar, and some sliced strawberries. SO GOOD! I always felt that if they were going to have some kind of food eating competition, and I were to have any chance at winning (I am generally a pretty slow eater... I love food so much I have to take the time to enjoy it- drives my husband crazy), I think I would do well with a cream of wheat eating competition or some kind of hot cereal. I don't imagine I will ever get the chance to test that one out though. :) (Maybe it goes back to childhood days and scarfing it down to catch the school bus.) Anyway, just wanted to share one of my favorites.
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Romantic Recipes...

No... I didn't make all of those WONDERFUL things you see, though I would happily claim any of them! I hosted this last months cooking group. I just love these gals... and not just because they can cook. :) They each brought such fun things. The theme was "Romantic Recipes" and I took a picture of a few of them that I could catch, and plan on posting some of the amazing recipes. We had a really fun time, and I got some great ideas. Hope you enjoy and wish you could have been there!

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German Chocolate Cake

This beauty was created by my friend Emily. WOW!!!! Need I say more? My hubby LOVES German Chocolate Cake (always his birthday request), so I was thrilled to find such a delicious recipe for it! It was incredible! Way to go Emily! (Emily suggested trying different nuts too- Walnuts are good, but she really likes almonds.)

German Chocolate Cake
3 cups Flour
2 cups Sugar
4 1/2 tablespoons Cocoa
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoon Vanilla
2 teaspoon Vinegar
2 cups Cold Water
3/4 cup Oil

Combine all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and mix. Pour in greased cake pan. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

1 cup Evaporated Milk
1 cup Sugar
3 Egg Yolks
1/2 cup Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla

Combine all ingredients. Mix well. Cook over medium heat on stovetop until thickened, about 12 minutes. Add 1/3 cup Coconut and 1 cup Chopped Nuts. Pour over cake.
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Cherry Cheesecake Cupcakes

My friend, Keri, made this and they were wonderful. My daughters felt like it was a very acceptable "breakfast" meal as well, and although I felt it was lacking in nutritional value, I let it pass. :) They were amazing!

Cherry Cheesecake Cupcakes
Vanilla wafers (about 18)
2 (8 oz.) cream cheese
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. lemon juice (optional)

Place 1 vanilla wafer in bottom of each cup cake liner. Beat cream cheese and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla and lemon juice. Fill cups 2/3 full. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Cool. Put cherry pie filling on top.
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!

Recipes are coming soon!!!! Just had to wish you a happy Valentine's Day and tempt you with all this goodness!!!!
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Jennifer's Amazing Muffins with Streusel

My friend Jennifer made the most AMAZING muffins! They were so delicious- I had way more then my fair share (but I don't regret that one bit!) Anyway- I begged her for the recipe (I even took a picture- they were that good!), and she posted it on her blog, so I thought I would pass it along to all of you since it was so good. Mostly I was amazed with her streusel- it was perfect! I think she added mashed banana to the ones that I had.

"I just LOVE muffins! So I thought I would share the best muffin recipe. It is the best because you can use whatever schtuff you have on had that needs to be used up. I've tried brown bananas, smashed sweet potato, chopped up apples with applesauce, grated carrots, overripe peaches...I've even tossed in some leftover oatmeal...and every single time I get a yummy moist muffin!
So go dig around in your fridge. Find something mushy. Make muffins!"

about 2 cups schtuff (see list above)
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)

STREUSEL: (optional, but really, really good)
1/4 cup sugar
3 TBSP flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 TBSP cold butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mash your schtuff. Add wet ingredients and blend. Gently add dry and mix until just moistened. (Overmixing will make rubbery muffins). Scoop into a greased 12 hole muffin pan.
To make the streusel, measure the sugar, flour and cinnamon into a small bowl. Cut the butter in with a fork until incorporated and crumbly. Sprinkle evenly atop muffin batter.
Bake at 375 degrees for 19 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
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Beef Stroganoff

Here is a REALLY easy recipe you can spice up with your homemade egg noodles. This was one of my college standby's-- basically a step up from "Hamburger Helper", but for some reason, it is always a hit and I love that it takes almost no time to prepare!

Beef Stroganoff
1/2 lb ground beef
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 can cream of mushroom
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 batch homemade egg noddles, or 1 bag store bought (any kind of noodle works.)

Boil noodles in a pot of water. Meanwhile, fry up meat and onion. Drain and add cream of mushroom, sour cream, and pepper. Stir together and heat through. Add and stir in cooked noodles.
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Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

There is nothing better than a nice big bowl of Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup! I love any soup! I think it is partly because that was something my mom was SO good at growing up- she could whip a good bowl of soup up in minutes and it always satisfied our big crew. Well, I have had to learn to be pretty quick on the draw as well, and I already shared my crockpot chicken trick as well as the homemade noodles, so I thought I better complete the job.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
2 chicken breast, cooked and shredded or cubed (If you cook it my way, add the drippings for flavor.)
1 1/2 quart chicken broth (I had some on hand, but I usually use chicken bullion and water and that works great as well.)
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp season salt
2 T fresh parsely (you can use dried, but I had the fresh and it was really good.)
1 tsp basil
pinch of cayenne pepper (if you were my mom you would probably use about 4-5 teaspoons- maybe even tablespoons. That is my only beef with her soup! :) She loves cayenne!)
Salt and pepper to taste
4 big carrots, peeled and sliced
4-5 celery stalks, sliced (the leafy heart pieces give it a good flavor and make it pretty)
1 onion, peeled and chopped
5 medium sized potatoes, peeled and sliced
Homemade egg noodles (half the batch), or a half a bag of store bought

In a big pot, pour in broth and add all ingredients but the noodles. Bring to a boil and then simmer on medium to medium-low heat for about 15-30 minutes. Add the noodles after about 15 minutes and continue to simmer until all the veggies are cooked. You might need to add a bit more water if you are using the homemade noodles, because they absorb a lot of water.
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Homemade Egg Noodles

I was really excited to find a great, easy Homemade Egg Noodle recipe. I feel very much like the Kungfu Panda with the secret ingredient to Noddle Soup. I found this on Melanie's amazing site: It must be a good recipe, because I have never been able to get mine this thin. :)

Homemade Egg Noodles
(great for Chicken Noodle Soup)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
2 eggs, beaten, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk, room temperature

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add eggs and milk. Knead dough until very smooth, about 5 minutes. Let rest in a covered bowl for 5 minutes - this is essential to help relax the dough.

On a lightly floured surface (too much flour and you won't be able to roll your noodles very thin), roll out dough to desired thickness (I tried for 1/8 inch). Cut into desired lengths and shapes. Allow to air dry before cooking.

*Also, I would let them dry on a cooling rack so that both sides dry at the same time. It usually takes a few hours for them to dry, so plan on making them in the morning if you want to use them that night. This made two big trays.
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Crockpot Chicken.... My Style

I think I have mentioned before what I usually do to cook my chicken, but I thought I would finally post it. I really don't enjoy handling raw chicken, so I've kind of discovered a way I can cook it and handle it as little as possible, but still have it taste flavorful and great. I have done this with just about any kind of chicken: boneless skinless or bone-in (like legs and thighs), even a whole chicken. The bone-in is probably the most flavorful and cheap to buy, but its pretty messy to pick through after it is cooked. Also, after I have my pile of bones and my pile of meat, I start wondering how much "bang I got for my buck." :) But it is a great way to use up either.

Chicken in the Crockpot, My Style
1. Throw your chicken into the crockpot (you can even drop it in straight from the back and avoid touching it all together. :)
2. Pour about a 1/2 cup of Italian Dressing over the top- make sure it is pretty well covered.
3. Add a little bit of water (depending on how much chicken you have in there).
4. Turn the crockpot on low for about 6-7 hours or high for 4-5.
5. Let the chicken cool (In or out of crockpot) and then shred.

Meal Ideas:
Cook up some veggies and make it a meal with just the chicken
Chicken Noodle Soup (I use the broth in the crockpot for the soup as well)
Chicken Salad
Chicken Enchiladas
Basically... any meal that calls for cooked chicken.
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