Saturday, March 28, 2009

Smashed Potatoes with Peas and Red Pepper

This is a really simple twist on regular old mashed potatoes. We eat a lot of potatoes and I'm glad that my kids love them mashed, but sometimes that gets boring, and sometimes I just really don't wanna make gravy. Know what I mean?
So, the solution is simple enough, dress up your potatoes so they need no gravy and have fun fancying them up on the way.
They turned out delicious!! There is so much flavor and goodness! I have to say that I prefer them this way to the plain kind with gravy.

4 or 5 potatoes
1 can peas (or corn or mix of both)
1/4 cup milk
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced or chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 block of cream cheese
4 tbsp butter/divided
2 chicken bouillon cubes

Peel your potatoes and chop them into pieces. Put them all in a big pot and fill with water until potatoes are just covered. Add 2 bouillon cubes and start boiling.
While potatoes are boiling put about 2 tbsp butter (or olive oil if you prefer) in a frying pan on the stove on medium heat. When butter is melted add your chopped pepper, onion, and garlic. Saute until soft and onions are golden. (About 15 minutes)
Check your potatoes by poking them with a fork. When they are nice and tender, drain the water and move to a large bowl. Add 2 tbsp of butter and get a potato masher (or large fork) and start mashing away. You want the potaotes to be a bit lumpy so don't go trying to smooth them out. Add milk and cream cheese and keep mashing.When sufficiently mixed, add the pepper/garlic/onion mix and stir in gently.
Lastly add the peas (or corn) and salt and pepper to taste.
Then get ready to feast on deliciousness!

More options to add would be sour cream, parsley, chives, or heavy cream instead of milk. I liked this exactly as described above, but play around with the recipe to suit your families tastes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chocolate Mint Cookies

These cookies were surprisingly delicious! I'm not a huge mint fan, but I couldn't stop eating these! I wanted to make something fun for St. Patrick's Day and by combining a few different recipes, I came up with these soft, chewy, minty cookies. They taste almost exactly like the Girl Scout's Thin Mint cookies, but they are soft, which is pleasantly delicious. I found some really fun bright green Guittard Mint chips that were a lot of fun to use, but any mint chip/Andes mint/mint wafer would work.

Chocolate Mint Cookies

3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups Mint Chocolate Chips or Andes Mint Baking chips

In a large pan over low heat, cook butter, sugar and water until butter is melted. Add chocolate chips and stir until partially melted. Remove from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted. Pour into a large bowl and let stand 10 minutes to cool off slightly.
At high speed, beat in eggs, one at a time into chocolate mixture. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients, beating until blended. Chill dough about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll dough into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes.
When cookies are brought out of the oven, put 5 to 6 mint chips on top of each cookie. Let the mint chips sit for up to 5 minutes until melted, then spread the mint on top of the cookie. Eat and enjoy!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Slow Cooker Italian Beef

Yummmmm.... I love sandwiches, especially when the meat inside has been slowly marinated all day. I served these on my homemade Hoagie Rolls and didn't hear any complaints from anybody about dinner that night. The meat was very tender and flavorful. The provolone cheese is a definite must. My hubby likes to dip his sandwiches so he used the leftover marinating juice as an au jus. I found this keeper on My Kitchen Cafe.

Italian Beef Sandwiches

1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 bay leaf
1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix (such as Good Seasons brand)
1 (5 pound) chuck roast (I used a 3.5 pound roast and didn't change any of the amounts of ingredients.)

Combine water and beef broth with salt, ground black pepper, oregano, basil, onion salt, parsley, garlic powder, bay leaf, and salad dressing mix. Whisk to combine.

Place roast in slow cooker, and pour salad dressing mixture over the meat. Cover, and cook on Low for 10 to 12 hours, or on High for 4 to 5 hours. When done, remove bay leaf, and shred meat with a fork (I did this step about 45 minutes before eating so the shredded meat had time to absorb more of the juices in the crockpot). Serve on crusty rolls with provolone cheese.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hoagie Rolls

This was my first time making Hoagie Rolls and I was surprised just how easy it actually is. It made me realize how much money people pay bakeries for these simple items... Wait, maybe it's because their rolls are nice and even and shaped all the same... Mine are a bit haphazard, but I think it gives them character. ;) Look how cute they are.
I would say definitely halve the recipe unless you are feeding a lot of people. It makes 18 large hoagie rolls. They are PERFECT for sandwiches. Crisp and crunchy on the outside, soft and warm on the inside. Pure deliciousness!
I made an awesome Italian Shredded beef sandwich with these which I will be posting the recipe for soon!!

Simple Hoagie Rolls
  • 2 (1/4 ounce) packages (2 TBSP) active dry yeast
  • 3 cups warm water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8-8 1/2 cups all purpose flour


In a mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water add 1 T. sugar and then let stand about 5 minutes.
Add remaining water and sugar. Beat in oil, salt and 4 cups flour until smooth. Stir in enough flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic for about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl turning once to grease the top.
Cover and let rise 45 minutes. Punch dough down.
Turn onto a lightly floured board, divide into 18 pieces.
Shape pieces into ovals. Place 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheets. With scissors cut a 1/4-inch slash across the top of each.
Cover and let rise 20 minutes. Bake at 400° for 13-18 minutes until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ham Pasta Skillet

I found this on My Kitchen Cafe, and WOW was it yummy! My kids love ham dishes, so I'm always on the lookout for a good recipe. This recipe is so delicious! I was mad that my hubby took the leftovers to work for lunch because I wanted to eat the leftovers myself. ;)

Ham Pasta Skillet

1 pound small tube or shell pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups fully cooked ham, diced
1 large sweet red pepper, diced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 cups chicken broth (I used some leftover chicken stock)
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (I used a mozzerella/parmesan blend that was delicous!)

Cook pasta according to package directions - only cooking until al dente since pasta will continue to cook and soak up liquid when added to the skillet. While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat until butter is melted. Add pepper, onion, and garlic and cook until vegetables are tender, about 4-6 minutes. Add ham, basil and oregano and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 2-3 minutes. Stir in broth (or stock) and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half (at first it looks like it will be way to "brothy" but it will reduce.). Stir drained pasta into ham and vegetable mixture (I cooked a full pound of pasta but only added about 3/4 of the cooked pasta to the skillet so the other ingredients weren't lost). Add 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and toss. (Of course I added way more cheese, probably closer to a cup or more. It's always better with more cheese. Sprinkle parsley and remaining parmesan cheese over the top of the pasta. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mom's Cinnamon Rolls

I've always been a sucker for cinnamon rolls... especially if they taste anything like my moms. When my mom made cinnamon rolls all of us kids would line up and drool at the counter, then the oven, until they were done. And usually we'd only get one a piece because she would give the rest away... so cinnamon rolls were sacred in our house!! Now that I'm all grown up and have my very own Bosch mixer, I decided it was high time I attempted Mom's Cinnamon Rolls... and I'm so very glad I did. Because I can eat however many I want now. It's great being the mom. ;)

Mom's Cinnamon Rolls

1 Tbsp yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 tsp salt
2 c warm milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup melted shortening
1 tsp vanilla
6 cups flour (more or less)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup melted butter

Soak yeast into 1/2 cup warm (tepid) water. Add salt, milk, sugar, eggs, shortening, and vanilla. Mix together. Add flour a cup at a time until a soft dough forms.
If you are doing this in a mixer, mix for about 6 to 8 minutes. If you're doing it by hand, knead dough for about 8 minutes.
Move dough to a greased bowl. Let raise for 1 to 2 hours.
Punch down dough. Roll dough out in a rectangle on a floured counter to about 1 inch thickness.
This is where you can deviate from the recipe to suit your families tastes. If you don't like them so sweet use less sugar.
Melt butter and spread over dough. Sprinkle with brown sugar, white sugar, and cinnamon until you are satisfied with the sugariness. ;) I like my sweet rolls VERY sweet.
Roll up dough starting from one side. Cut into 2 inch slices. Put each slice in a greased cookie sheet side by side.
Let rise for 20 minutes.
Cook at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting for Cinnamon Rolls

1/2 cup butter
1/2 block cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
Powdered sugar
3 to 4 Tbsp evaporated milk (regular milk works too but the evap. milk makes the frosting smoother and creamier)

Soften butter and cream cheese. Mix together until smooth. Add vanilla. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time alternately with dashes of milk to get to the consistency you want. I like my a little runny so I can just pour it over the cinnamon rolls.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

I saw this recipe and new I had to try it. I love Reese's Pieces and anything with a twist like these cookies have give your tongue a nice surprise from the normal every day cookie. I changed it quite a bit from a recipe I found on All Recipes because they seemed to be very overbearing on the Peanut butter side. If you are a peanut butter lover, you might be interested in adding peanut butter chips and also 3/4 c peanut butter to the batter as the original calls for. For me and my family that would be way too overpowering. I loved how these turned out. Nice and chocolatey with surprises of peanut butter throughout.

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup Reese’s Pieces
1 package mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, cut into halves and frozen (Be very careful when cutting these in half as they tend to crumble. I started from the side rather than the top and it seemed to work well. Also mine were not completely frozen as I wanted the chocolate to spread a little on top.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, and baking soda; stir into the wet mixture. Mix in the chocolate chips and Reese’s Pieces.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets. Push one peanut butter cup half into the center of each ball of dough. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (I baked mine about 10 minutes). Let cool for 1 or 2 minutes on sheet before removing, or they will fall apart.

Makes about 36 cookies