Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Creamy Watermelon Pie

Because it's been so hot, we've been eating a lot of watermelon. And I wanted to find something yummy and soothing on a hot day. So I came up with this Watermelon Pie... which is actually more like a glorified jello, but it looks so fancy, and hits the spot perfectly when it's hot and muggy out.

1 pkg (3oz) watermelon gelatin
1/4 c boiling water
1 carton whipped topping
2 c cubed seeded watermelon
1 graham cracker crust (9inches)
In a large bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Cool to room temp. Whisk in whipped topping; fold in watermelon. Spoon in crust. Refrigerate 2 hours, or stick in the freezer for a later date.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Strawberry Cupcakes

I love holidays because it gives me an excuse to bake up something special. I have been eyeing these cupcakes for awhile and because it was the 24th yesterday (our state's holiday), I decided it was high time to make them. And boy howdy! Am I glad I made them. The cupcake has more of a muffin feel, so you could easily leave off the frosting and use as strawberry muffins. And I absolutely LOVE strawberries. My kids certainly loved them too. I found this recipe on Genesis of A Cook. She has some great ideas.

For the Cupcakes

1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup strawberry sauce
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs

For the Strawberry Sauce

2 cups of fresh strawberries, stem removed
Sugar to taste

For Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
3 1/2 - 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup of strawberry sauce

1. For the Strawberry Sauce, macerate (for those inexperienced cooks like me, macerate is simply let sit and soak with the sugar. Don't you wish they would have just said that in the first place? But now you know a fancy new word to show off!) strawberries with about 1-2 tbs sugar for 15 minutes. Put strawberries in a small saucepan and heat under medium heat with lid on. Cook strawberries for approximately 15 minutes till strawberries cook down and become soft and saucy. Adjust sweetness with sugar until you get the desired sweetness. Using a hand blender, puree until you get the desired smoothness or chunkiness. Cool before using in recipe.

2. For the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grab a large bowl and beat the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Measure out milk and strawberry sauce together.

3. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter mixture and beat to combine. Add about one third the milk mixture and beat until combined. Repeat, alternating flour and milk and ending with the flour mixture. Scoop into cupcake papers about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes.

4. For Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting, bring cheese and butter to room temperature. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl. Beat butter and cheese at medium speed until creamy. Add half of the sugar, beat until combined. Add strawberry sauce until you achieve the right color and flavor but making sure not to add too much or the frosting will be too soft. Gradually add any remaining sugar until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like.
* Don't be like me, I saw all that succulent strawberry sauce and just had to add more. I couldn't stop myself. The frosting was very soft and practically dripped off the cupcakes. Not that I didn't lick every single strawberry drop from the counter! So be smart, don't use too much, save the extra and use it to top vanilla icecream. Now that would be heavenly!

Of course my girls NEEDED to put sprinkles on them.

Sweet Sauted Corn

I love finding side dishes to go with dinner. I used to be a one dish sort of gal, but now I love having a main dish, a side dish or two, and dessert. It makes dinner feel so much more homey and old fashioned. Now I just need to work on table display. I feel as if it's kind of haphazardly thrown together... maybe what I need is some nice dishes. hmmmm...
Okay on with this delectable side dish! I found this at Picky Palate and she has a whole dinner that goes with it thats really yummy. Definitely check it out.
It's my new favorite side. I just love the honey in it. Mmmm...

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, finely diced (I only had a yellow pepper, thats why everything is so yellow in my picture. A red pepper really brightens this dish up.)
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
½ Cup finely diced white onion
4 ears fresh corn, kernels removed
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons honey

1. Heat oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Saute red and green bell pepper with the onion for 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in corn, salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in the butter and honey until well combined and melted through. Serve warm.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Oreo Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found this recipe on Picky Palate, of course. All the good stuff comes from there. And since I love oreos and I love chocolate chip cookies, it seems the perfect match. When I told my hubby, he said, "Wait, you used cookies to make cookies?" Yep, that's what is going on here. And they are delightful! They are the perfect milk dunking cookie. Yum!

1 stick softened butter
6 Tablespoons sugar
6 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ Cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
8 broken pieces Oreo Cookies
1 Cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter, and sugars until well combined. Add egg and vanilla until mixed well.

2. Place flour, baking soda and salt into a large bowl, stir to combine. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients then stir in oreos and chocolate chips until just combined.

3. With a medium cookie scoop, scoop onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake for 7-9 minutes or until cooked, but still soft. Let cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dorito Salad

I love salads. But I especially love salads in the summer. I got this recipe from my good friend Jen, and modified only a tad. It has a delicious taste and flavor and I love the doritos in it.
I halved the recipe since it was only for my family, but if it would be perfect to take to a potluck using the full recipe.

Two bags of the 'just lettuce' salad mix
4 tomatoes cut up
One bunch green onions, chopped
8oz grated cheddar cheese, chopped
1 can dark red kidney beans(drained and rinsed)
1 large bag Nacho Cheese Doritos crunched up
2 bottles Onion and Chive Salad dressing (I could not find this salad dressing. I could not find a powdered packet. So I used Ken's Steakhouse Sweet Vidalia Onion dressing and chopped up some chives and put them in the bottle and let it sit in the fridge for a day.)

Add everything to LARGE salad bowl except for the Doritos and Salad dressing. Chill it an hour or so, and right before you serve add the crunched up doritos and the dressing. Mix it up and serve.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sweet Potato Fries

Both my hubby and I absolutely LOVE baked sweet potatoes. In fact, our favorite restaurant happens to be The Lonestar Steakhouse just because of their loaded sweet potato. Outrageously and absolutely delicious!
I make baked sweet potatoes at home as a side dish for quite a few of our meals and I decided for a change to make sweet potato fries the other night. And I'm so glad I did!
These were really delicious, healthy, and a nice change from the norm. My kids slicked them up too. It surprises some people that these are sweet fries, but we put cinnamon and sugar on our baked sweet potatoes so it only seemed natural to make the fries this way.

Sweet Potato Fries - Sadie Style

2 Large Sweet Potatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash, peel, and cut the sweet potatoes into french fry chunks. Drizzle with olive oil.
Mix sugars, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a sealable plastic bag. Add fries and shake to coat evenly.
Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray and lay out sweet potatos so that they aren't touching. Bake for 30 minutes turning every 10 minutes.
If you have leftover sugar mixture, you can sprinkle on the last 10 minutes of baking.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Spicy Mac & Cheese

I've been cooking A LOT of new things lately. I'm on a quest to try all the yumminess in all the foodblogs I visit... I've decided I need to stop visiting food blogs, because there is just no way I can try everything. BUT, I do have a lot of fun whipping up new things.

This recipe is a keeper. I ate the leftovers for lunch 4 days in a row and I still didn't get sick of it. It is absolutely delicious. I got it from The Pioneer Woman who calls it Not your Granny's Mac and Cheese.
I made a few changes here and there and next time I will add some grilled chicken because I think chicken would go really well here. The chicken also would make it into more of a main dish instead of a side dish... although we did eat it as the main dish.

4 cups cooked macaroni or cavatappi (I didn't have either so I used Wacky Mac)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 finely diced red onion
Equal amount diced red bell pepper (I used a whole red pepper)
1 finely diced jalapeno (I left this out, but will put it in next time)
1 4 oz can chopped green chilies
1 cup frozen corn (I used a little more than a cup)
2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup cream
1 generous cup grated Pepper Jack cheese (I used a lot more cheese and added some provolone as well)
2 tablespoons butter

Boil pasta until al dente. In a large skillet, add olive oil and saute garlic and vegetables over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add in canned chilies and stir around, then turn off heat. Drain pasta and add it to skillet. Pour on cream, add cheese, then add salt and pepper to taste and stir gently. At the end, add 2 tablespoons butter and stir again. Check seasonings and serve.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Chocolate Carmel Popcorn Brownies

I'm kinda a sucker for brownies... okay replace kinda with absolutely. When I saw these on Picky Palate, it was only a matter of time before I succumbed... and of course, I did. The original name of these is Peanut Butter Carmel Popcorn Brownies, but I'm changing it to Chocolate Carmel Popcorn Brownies, because instead of using Peanut Butter chips, I used Nestle Swirled Peanut Butter Chocolate chips.
So there is a hint of peanut butter, but definitely not as strong as I imagine it would be with the plain peanut butter chips. We aren't HUGE peanut butter fans and thats why I made the switch. Now, these are absolutely delectable. I made them, saved 2 for me, and gave the rest away because I knew that I would sit there and eat the whole pan.

1 box brownie mix 9x13 size
3 Cups mini marshmallows
½ stick butter
2/3 Cup corn syrup
10 oz bag peanut butter chips
4 Cups Kettle Corn popcorn, popped

½ Cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. (I lined the baking dish with foil that I sprayed with cooking spray first)

2. During the last 2 minutes of baking brownies, sprinkle marshmallows over top, bake for 2 minutes or until marshmallows just begin to puff. Remove from oven.

3. In a medium saucepan melt butter, corn syrup and peanut butter chips over medium heat until just melted. Pour mixture over popcorn and stir until coated. Place over marshmallow layer. In a microwave safe bowl melt chocolate chips in 30 second intervals or until melted smooth. Pour into the corner of a ziplock baggie and snip one corner. Drizzle chocolate back and forth over brownies. Let cool completely before slicing into squares!! ( I did it the lazy way and drizzled with a fork and it I got chunks of chocolate here and there so the top was really chocolatey.)

Here is a picture straight out of the oven.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chicken Italiano Skillet

Every so often, I'll get lost in the day and before I know it, dinner is upon me, and I have nothing prepared. It's then that I go to The recipes there are quick and easy and although I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of a lot of their recipes, some of them are not too bad. And most importantly, my kids usually eat all of the recipes that I've tried there.
Kraft saved me last week with this quick chicken dish. I had all the ingredients in my pantry and it took me less than 30 minutes to make.

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 green pepper, chopped
1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup water
1 pkg. (14 oz.) KRAFT Deluxe Macaroni & Cheese Dinner

SPRAY large skillet with cooking spray. Add chicken; cook and stir 5 min. on medium-high heat. Add green pepper and onion; cook 5 min. or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender.

STIR in tomatoes, water and Macaroni. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover.

SIMMER 10 min. or until macaroni is tender, stirring twice. Stir in Cheese Sauce until blended.

*You could easily substitute frozen vegetables for the pepper and onion.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Au Jus for French Dip Sandwhiches

One of my hubby's favorite meals is French Dip sandwhiches. When I was a newly married innocent and knew hardly anything about anything, I made Aus Jus from a packet that I found conveniently at the store. Even now, I cringe as I think about it. Au Jus from a packet is evil, people... It's practically a federal offense. Listen to me, homemade Au Jus is incredibly easy and simple to make and tastes about 10 gazillion times better than the evil packet. You will thank me and your husbands will thank me, I promise.

Okay, back onto pleasant topics. Sometimes, if I'm feeling fancy, I will saute onions and bell peppers to put on the Roast Beef sandwich. It's yummy. And most of the time, I buy Cajun Roast Beef from the Deli counter. We love Cajun roast beef round these parts. And I'm sure you all know this, but never, ever buy the prepackaged nasty stuff... from the Deli counter always. Say it with me, "Always from the Deli".
And occasionally if I'm feeling REALLY fancy, I will simmer a roast in the crockpot all day and use that for sandwiches... thats really the best way, but then you have all that leftover roast to deal with. It's a cruel world.

One tip before we start, REALLY watch the pepper and red pepper flakes. Even putting a smidgeon more or less drastically changes the taste. For awhile there, I was making it WAY too hot, even for my husbands taste and cut back a tad on just the black pepper and it really made a difference. Play with the pepper to get it to your family's taste. I have it down now so that even my kids look forward to Au Jus night... My little pardner practically drinks the stuff when we have it. And that's saying alot!

2 c water
1 TB beef bouillon granules
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 ts crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp garlic salt

In a large saucepan, combine the water, bouillon, pepper, garlic salt, and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 15 - 20 minutes.

See? Told you it was simple! ;)