Archive | September, 2013

Hawaiian Haystacks

30 Sep

My life has been all consumed lately by dragons. Three of them to be exact. And three little girls who so desperately want me to finish said dragons. Welcome, Halloween costume extravaganza! I was only going to make one – the other two were going to be hula girls…and then they saw the shiny fabric for the first dragon, and “I want to be a dragon too!!!” How do you say no to that? Well, you don’t. So, I have pictures and recipes stacking up, waiting to be blogged about, and instead I’ve been cutting, pinning, unpicking (a sad reality when I sew), and piecing together three dragons. They are going to be awesome!

All consuming sewing projects also call for relatively fast dinners. I love Hawaiian Haystacks because  everyone can tailor (haha…no pun intended) to their tastes. We call them ‘birdies nests’ at our house and the kids have fun stacking them up and arranging all their toppings.

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup flour

1 cup milk

2 cups chicken broth

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 tsp salt

2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced

Melt butter, and mix with flour until golden brown. Add milk and broth and stir until incorporated. Stir constantly until thickened. Add salt, cream of chicken, and diced chicken. Serve over rice with toppings.

Suggested toppings:

diced tomatoes

diced pineapple

coconut

chow mein noodles

shredded cheese

Marinara Sauce

25 Sep

Sometimes jarred spaghetti sauce is a little disappointing when it comes to flavor. If I wanted to eat straight tomato sauce, that’s what I’d buy. It’s great when homemade can taste so much better and not really take much more effort!

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Ingredients:

1 (15 oz) can of crushed tomatoes in puree

1/4 cup water

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp olive oil

1/4 tsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp oregano

1/8 tsp basil

1/8 tsp thyme

1/8 tsp garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Adapted from: http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2013/05/copycat-papa-johns-pizza-recipe.html

Deviled Hotdogs w/ BBQ Sauce

23 Sep

I bought a pack of cotton balls at the store the other day – ‘50% more in the bag,’ it said. Jackpot! I love a good deal. Well, now I know their secret…there are 50% more cotton balls in the bag because they cut all the cotton balls in half. So, next time you see that oh-so-alluring come on, turn around. Walk away. It is better to have bought a bag of 50% less cotton balls that are normal sized than to have had to suffer through 50% more teeny tiny cotton balls.

Deviled hotdogs – I grew up on these. I’ve never seen anyone else make them except my mom and grandma. But, for hot dogs, this is about as fancy as you’ll get! And I still love them just as much as I did when I was a kid.

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Ingredients:

3/4 cup catsup

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp mustard

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp salt

hot dogs

Combine all ingredients except hot dogs and mix thoroughly over medium heat. Slash hot dogs and add to sauce. Cover with a lid and cook on low, turing the hot dogs occasionally, until hot dogs are cooked through and browned. Serve over rice.

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Katie’s Sugar Cookies

20 Sep

I have no idea who ‘Katie’ is (that’s how they are listed in my mom’s recipe cards, and I have to give credit where credit is due!) – but she sure knew how to make sugar cookies! I prefer a little bit of ‘fluff’ to my sugar cookies. Soft and perfectly puffy. Try this recipe, and never again will you buy those pre-packaged cookies, with the inch of frosting and sprinkles, from the vending machine! You will be spoiled. And you will love it. I may or may not have eaten four in a row yesterday and called it lunch.

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Ingredients:

1 cup evaporated milk

1 Tbsp vinegar

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

5 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

In a separate, small bowl, add vinegar to evaporated milk and allow to sit. Blend butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla together until smooth. Add milk mixture to butter mixture and blend well. Add dry ingredients until blended. Make 2-4 large balls of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and place balls of dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour to make it firm. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4″ thickness and use cookie cutters to make shapes. Bake at 425^F for 7-8 minutes. Cookies will not brown – if they start browning too much you will loose the airiness and they will instead be crunchy. Top with Buttercream Frosting.

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Buttercream Frosting

19 Sep

I am not a frosting fan. I like the kinds made with whipping cream and pudding, but regular, sugary frosting makes me gag. Too sweet and the texture is too grainy. My four year old and I make the perfect team when it comes to frosting – she scrapes it all off and I eat what she left – basically everything but the frosting. 🙂 I made this recipe because I had to make something to decorate my cake with, and the whipping cream frosting doesn’t have enough structure to it to write words with – or should I say ‘intelligible’ words. “Happy Birthday” turns into “Blah blah blob blah,” in about two seconds flat. So, I did a little searching, and settled with this recipe, not thinking much about it; only, that it would suit my purposes and that was that. And then, I made the life changing gesture of licking my finger when a little of my frosting spilled. Oh. My. Heavenly. Frosting. It is good – really, really good. I am a frosting convert.

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Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened

3 cups powdered sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp vanilla

2 Tbsp heavy cream, or milk

food coloring of your choice

Beat butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar gradually until the sugar has been fully incorporated. Add vanilla, salt, and cream/milk and beat until smooth. Add food coloring if desired.

Original recipe found here: http://www.copykat.com/2012/02/11/cheesecakes-with-buttercream-frosting/

Strawberry-Lemon Butter Cookies

18 Sep

To me, these cookies scream bridal or baby shower – not sure why. They are pretty, they are small, and they are kind of fun to make. 🙂 And I can’t eat 37 of them. This is a good thing. I like them, but the buttery cookie is rich and so I am happy with just one or two.

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Ingredients:

Cookies-

1 cup butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1 lemon, zested and juiced

2 cups flour

1/2 cup strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 350^F. Cream together butter and sugar. Add lemon zest (about 1 Tbsp) and mix to combine. Slowly add flour and mix to combine. Roll dough into 1 inch balls (about 1/2 tbsp of dough). Place about 2 inches apart on an un-greased baking sheet. Use your pinkie finger to make an indention in the center of each cookie and fill with about 1/4 tsp jam. Bake 9-11 minutes.

Glaze-

1 1/3 cups powdered sugar

5-6 tsp fresh lemon juice

1-2 drops yellow food coloring

When cookies are completely cook, whisk glaze ingredients together and place in a small, zip-lock bag. Snip off a very small corner of the bag and drizzle glaze over cookies.

Cheeseburger Casserole

17 Sep

Sometimes, you just need a no-brainer recipe. I actually had to think hard about this one, because I don’t usually use a recipe! I’m not a dumper, typically – I like to be told exactly what to put in and when – but this one is really hard to mess up and it turns out pretty much the same every time, even if I don’t do it the same every time. This is second only to my Mac and Cheese when it comes to my kids’ favorite meals. Funny how they love the things that take no time and no effort, but if you spend hours and hours making the most fantabulous meal ever…no one will touch it. Alas.

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Ingredients:

Prepared elbow noodles

1 lb hamburger

1 can tomato soup (or equivalent measure of Roasted Tomato Soup)

1/4 cup milk

2 cups corn (frozen or 1 small can of corn)

1/4 lb grated cheddar cheese

Brown hamburger and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix together tomato soup and milk and combine with hamburger, noodles, and corn. Pour into 9×13 baking dish. Top with cheese and bake at 350^F for 20-25 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

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Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake

16 Sep

Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday. I’m no expert cake decorator, but I have a lot of fun doing my kids’ birthday cakes. I don’t do plain boxed cake mixes because birthdays are a special occasion! And when else do you have the excuse to make something fancy? But I don’t ever get too fancy – fondant scares me. I get creative and use cupcakes, rice crispies, twinkies, and my favorite – starbursts. 🙂

This year, my daughter wanted a cheesecake. I’ve never made a cheesecake before, and my favorite part of birthday cakes is coming up with a fun way to decorate – how do you decorate a cheesecake? “With a mouse,” she said. A mouse? Of course a mouse…it’s a ‘cheese’cake. 🙂 Love it.

So, I learned a few things with my first cheesecake: First, do not start making it at 10:30 pm. You won’t get to bed until 2 am. Second, after baking you have to prop open the oven and let the cheesecake cool inside – do a toothpick test to make sure it is cooked through before doing that. You may end up with an un-cooked center and not find out until your cheesecake is cooled and it’s too late to do anything about it. Third, make your cheesecake at least a day in advance. The flavor is better if you let it sit for a full 24 hours.

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Ingredients:

Crust:

1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
3/4 cup finely chopped vanilla wafers
2 tablespoons melted butter

Filling:

1 1/2 lbs cream cheese
1 1/3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
16 ounces sour cream
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Directions:

Crust Directions:

1. Mix all nuts and vanilla wafer crumbs with melted butter and press into a 9 inch buttered springform pan, trying to line the sides as much as possible about 1 1/2″ up the sides of the pan, set aside.

Cheesecake Directions:

1. All the filling ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. Beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy with an electric mixer set on low (keep the setting at low during the entire mixing process).

3. Add the sugar a little at a time and continue beating until creamy.

4. Add one egg at a time and beat after each egg.

5. Add flour, vanilla and lemon juice, mix well.

6. Add the sour cream and beat well.

7. Pour cream cheese mixture into the springform pan.

8. Place on the top rack in the middle of a 325 degree F preheated oven for one hour and 15 minutes.

9. When time is up turn oven off, prop open oven door and leave in oven for one hour.

10. Remove from oven and let cool then refrigerate for 24 hours.

Original recipe found here: http://www.momswhothink.com/cheesecake-recipes/cheesecake-factory-recipe.html

Here is my final product! I added yellow food coloring to make it look more ‘cheesy,’ and the mouse is make of starburst that I colored with food coloring and warmed to make it malleable. It turned out cute!

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**The crust recipe below is for those who prefer a crust without nuts**

 

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup melted margarine

Directions:

1. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Mix in melted margarine.

2. Press the crumb into a 9-inch spring form pan that has been lined on the bottom and side with parchment paper.

3. Use the bottom of a drinking glass to press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and about 2/3 the way up the side.

4. Put the crust in your freezer until the filling is done.

 

French Toast

12 Sep

I don’t usually use a recipe for french toast – it’s kind of crack a couple eggs, add a little milk, maybe a shake of cinnamon…but I decided to try this one out because it was labeled ‘Yummy French Toast.’ Maybe that’s a silly reason, but I guess the word ‘yummy’ spoke to me that day. And am I ever glad that it did! It is more than yummy – don’t skip the syrup because that’s what makes it really extraordinary.

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Ingredients:

8 pieces texas toast bread

3 eggs

3/4 cup milk

2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Mix eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Dip texas toast bread in mixture, both sides, and cook on griddle. Serve with Buttercream Syrup.

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Buttercream Syrup

12 Sep

This is my low-fat syrup (in case you haven’t read the ingredients yet – that was sarcasm). It is so perfectly indulgent and I never even feel guilty slathering it on.

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Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup butter

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling. Remove from heat and serve.