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Nacho Cheese

6 May

I have a great dislike for Velveeta. It has its place in the universe, just not in my kitchen. “But what about Nacho Cheese,” you ask? Behold, the answer. A very tasty one at that!

Two versions – one for the wimpy-s out there like me 🙂 and one for those who like a bit more kick. Easy as pie…except it’s cheese.

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MILD:

8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

1 Tbsp cornstarch

1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk, divided

2 tsp mild sauce, or salsa

pinch of salt

SPICY:

4 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded

4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

1 Tbsp corn starch

1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk, divided

2 tsp hot sauce

pinch of salt

Toss together cheese and cornstarch in a medium-sized saucepan, until evenly coated. Stir in 1 cup evaporated milk, the hot sauce, and salt. Cook, stirring ofter, over medium-low heat until thickened., smooth, and bubbly. Stir in additional evaporated milk, if needed, until desired consistency is reached.

Original recipe: www.kitchensimplicity.com

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Sweet and Sour Sauce

11 Nov

The perfect Sweet and Sour sauce that contains no ketchup! Dip for Wontons, or coat Homemade Chicken nuggets and bake @ 350^F for 30 min for sweet and sour chicken.

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup vinegar

1 cup water

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp soy sauce

Combine all ingredients in saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until thickened.

 

Orange Chicken

16 Oct

I think I’m getting old. My kids are famous for not sleeping through the night until I force them to at about 10-11 months – I’ve survived three of these. So how come I am withering away to a state of mental nothingness at only 4 months? Granted, the last few nights my little man has been up way more than usual, but still…I should be able to suck it up. I should be able to function. I should not have these giant holes in my face where my eyes used to be and I really shouldn’t be this crabby. I am forever grateful to the person who decided that makeup wasn’t just for prostitutes and for kids who don’t mind having a down day here and there. And for recipes that can fulfill that Chinese take-out craving without having to actually go out. I may be grateful for the makeup, but I don’t always want to bother putting it on. 🙂

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Ingredients:

Chicken (Homemade Chicken Nuggets):

4 chicken breast halves

1 beaten egg + 1 Tbsp water

1 1/2 cups flour

Sauce:

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cornstarch

Cut chicken into bite size pieces. Coat in egg wash. Put flour in a zip lock bag and season with salt and pepper or season-all salt to taste. Put chicken pieces in bag of flour and shake until coated. Fry chicken pieces in vegetable oil until cooked through and light brown. Combine last 6 ingredients in medium saucepan and simmer 1 minute until thickened. Place chicken in a shallow baking pan and pour sauce over pieces. Bake at 350^F for 45 min, stirring the chicken to coat occasionally. Serve over rice.

*I like mine more saucy, so I typically double the sauce

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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

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/

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.

 

Garlic Basil Pizza

25 Aug

My family and I just got back from an awesome weekend spent at the Rockin’ R Ranch. This was our third time visiting the secluded Antimony, UT dude ranch, and we’re already counting down the days until we can go again. My four year old worded it the best: “I don’t want to go, Mom! We’ve only been here a minute!” I whole-heartedly agree. Trail rides, canoeing, corral training, bucking barrels, tubing down the river, archery, treasure hunt and coloring for the kids, candy cannon, brand new baby donkey to ooh and ah at, ATV’s, no internet or TV…and the food. Oh, my friends…the food. Nothing at the Rockin’ R is gourmet – it is down home cookin’ and down right delicious. The best part? Someone else cooked it. 😉 We got home to the kitchen that I didn’t quite get all the way tidied before we left, and I looked at my husband and said, “Remember how we just spent two days in a beautiful place, riding beautiful horses, and had all our meals cooked for us? Let’s go back.” The smells that come out of that back kitchen are stomach-rumblimg good, regardless of the fact that you just ate three times more than you usually do and are stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey – you still would happily eat more as long as it tastes as good as it smells. The first night they had some sort of blueberry spice cake that I may have to try to steal the recipe for. Top that off with roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy…it was good stuff. Aren’t you all sad you didn’t come with us?

We got home (it’s a three hour drive for us) and of course the kids were starving, and I was still musing on the fact that small town living is starting to sound really good if I can have someone cook all of my meals…when “Pizza!” interrupted my day dream of rotisserie chicken and garlic toast. My kids always want pizza. The funny thing is that, I think I’ve mentioned the difficulty that my kids have with pizza – namely the sauce. They all hate marinara sauce! So their ‘pizza’ is really bread with cheese on it which I think is terribly boring. Unless its alfredo pizza. I like alfredo, but I also like to have a variation every now and again. I found this white pizza sauce recipe and it was a big hit. It’s also fast and easy (just how I like it) and helped me ease back into the fact that I am still the one responsible for cooking in my own home. Sigh.

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Crust:

4 cups flour

1 tsp salt

4 Tbsp oil

2 cups water

1 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp yeast

Mix sugar and 1 cup hot water; add yeast and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add yeast mixture to dry ingredients. Add final cup of water (you may not need the whole cup) and mix until dough forms a ball (should be sticky – not too dense). Cover and let dough rise until doubled in size. Punch down and let rise a second time. Roll out on floured surface, then form pizza rounds. Tip: cover baking surface with corn meal to prevent sticking. Cover with sauce and cheese (can add other toppings like grilled chicken, etc). Bake at 400^F for 20 min, or until cheese is melted and crust is cooked through. Yield: 2 pizzas

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Sauce:

2 Tbsp butter

3 Tbsp flour

1 cup milk

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

1 Tbsp basil, minced

1/2 cup pizza blend cheese (pre-grated mix)

Heat butter in a saucepan. Add flour and stir until thoroughly mixed. Slowly add milk. Stir in remaining ingredients, except cheese, and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted.

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Cream Cheese Spread

19 Aug

My kids just got a ‘Cooking for Kids’ cookbook. Some of the ‘recipes’ are things like a turkey sandwich (that’s not a recipe!), but there are some good ones in there too. My six year old and I made this cream cheese spread for a Sunday morning treat and I’m excited to stop buying all those expensive  schmear options and start getting creative with our own versions!

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Ingredients:

4 oz cream cheese

3 Tbsp jam (I used strawberry)

2 Tbsp powdered sugar

In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until smooth. Spread on bagel, toast or crepe – enjoy!

Lower-Fat Alfredo

8 Aug

I exercised tonight – sweated it out for a good half hour, drank tons of water…and then promptly ate some Oreos. So, in penance, I’m posting something low-fat. 🙂 Well, low-er fat! The funny thing is though, I really don’t like the full-fat version of this recipe. It’s too buttery for me. So, I only make the lower-fat version based on taste and not nutrition (Oreos people…after exercising…). It’s way better than the jarred version of Alfredo you can buy at the grocery store, it’s simple to make, and you can eat a few Oreos with it and not feel as guilty. Win – Win if you ask me!

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Ingredients:

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp flour

1 cup milk

1 cup cream

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

3/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated

Melt butter in medium saucepan. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Whisk in milk, cream, salt, and pepper. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes. Stir in Parmesan cheese and heat through – do not boil. Yield – 4 servings.

Homemade Barbecue Sauce

14 Jul

Way back when, in college, I took a cooking class. Mostly, because my boyfriend kept teasing me that he could cook better than me (and I still married him…aren’t I nice?). I really enjoyed the class, whatever my original motives for attending had been, and I came away with a book of recipes that my teacher swore were all fool proof. “You cannot mess them up,” she said – and so far I have only proven her wrong on one recipe and that was entirely my fault. Turns out, having a thermometer is pretty important when making candy – guessing really doesn’t produce the desired results. This sauce is one of her recipes and I find that it gives my meat so much more flavor than the bottled kinds. Another reason why I love it is because I have two sisters who have to eat gluten-free. Not the worst thing in the world, but after attending a gluten-free fair with one of them, I discovered how truly terrible some gluten-free things can taste (there are some equally tasty things too!) and that most BBQ sauces are off limits because they contain gluten. Since I’m not a gluten-free eater, when my sisters come over, it’s a little hard to make sure there are things they can eat just because I don’t typically stock the substitution ingredients that I would need to make recipes gluten-free. This is a very long way to tell you that this BBQ sauce is gluten-free and doesn’t require a trip to the store to make it that way. So, it’s a great dinner fix – whether you use it on chicken, pulled pork, ribs, or whatever.

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Ingredients:

2 Tbsp butter

1 medium onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

3/4 cup water

1 cup catsup

2 Tbsp vinegar

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp dry mustard

2 tsp Liquid Smoke (you can find this by BBQ sauces and other marinades at the grocery store)

Saute onion and garlic in melted butter. Add other ingredients and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Yield: 2 cups