Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Hearts

This recipe is from Mommy's Kitchen and oh how wonderful these little Reeses Peanut Butter Cup tasting hearts are! I made them to give to some friends for Valentines wishes and ended up sending all the rest to work with my husband for his co-workers - these were just to good to leave sitting around (I would have eaten them all and that would not have been good - well it would have been good just not good for my waistline). My kids of course absolutely loved these too.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Hearts

2 cups peanut butter (or a 16 oz jar)
1/2 cup butter, softened
3-5 cups powdered sugar
2, 12 oz bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons shortening

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the peanut butter and softened butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar by the cupful until dough resembles play-doh. It should not stick to your hands at all and you should be able to easily form a ball with the mixture. Sprinkle a flat surface with powder sugar and roll out peanut butter mixture to about a 1/2" thickness (if dough is too sticky to roll out put it back in the mixer and mix in more powdered sugar - I had to do this). Cut out heart shapes with a cookie cutter and place peanut butter hearts onto cookie sheets covered with wax paper. Freeze for 1 hour.

Place chocolate chips and shortening in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir. If needed microwave another 30 seconds until chocolate is completely melted and smooth and almost a runny consistency.

Remove 1 cookie sheet of peanut butter hearts at a time from freezer (it's best to dip them while they are good and frozen). With a large fork place hearts into the melted chocolate, turn over to coat and lift out tapping against side of bowl to shake off excess chocolate, slide chocolate covered hearts onto wax paper covered cookie sheets. Repeat this process until all the hearts are coated then place cookie sheets into the freezer to harden chocolate. Remove from freezer and cut excess chocolate away from the edges with a sharp knife and place hearts into candy boxes or an air tight container.

**I added the pink tinted white chocolate to the tops to make them festive. Just melt some white chocolate, add red food coloring until desired color is achieved, then scoop chocolate into a ziplock bag, snip corner with scissors and drizzle pink tinted chocolate over the hearts and let harden in the freezer before packaging.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken

This is another yummy yummy chicken recipe!! My husband really liked this one and so did I. The bacon wrapped around it helps keep the chicken nice and moist and give a great flavor. This is also a great recipe because I usually have these ingredients on hand and it was quick and easy to put together. We had it with spinach salad and homemade crescent rolls.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken

4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 strips of bacon for each chicken breast
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons chili powder
3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, basil, and salt. Coat chicken completely on both sides with mixture. Wrap 2 strips of bacon around each chicken breast and secure with a few toothpicks. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (I use a meat thermometer to make sure chicken is cooked through).

Crockpot Tangy Honey Chicken

This chicken was really good! The chicken, the sauce, everything. We had it over brown rice with roasted asparagus and everyone gobbled it up. So yay for a new chicken and crockpot recipe!

Crockpot Tangy Honey Chicken

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper, put into crockpot. In a small bowl combine remaining ingredients; pour over chicken. Cook on low for 3 hours. Remove chicken from crockpot, cut into bite-size pieces and return to crockpot tossing in sauce. Serve over rice.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Au Gratin Potatoes

I adapted this recipe from the "Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes" recipe on It turned out very tasty and I love the fact that it is a "from scratch" recipe without processed ingredients. Though it takes a little more time to make than a boxed au gratin potato mix, it is definitely worth it.

Au Gratin Potatoes

4 large russet potatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
fresh ground pepper
4 1/2 tablespoons butter
4 1/2 tablespoons flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk (whole milk is best for a creamy sauce)
2 1/4 cups shredded sharp white cheddar
3/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese (a little less than 1/2 cup)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 3 quart casserole dish or a 9x13 baking pan.

Peel potatoes and slice into 1/4" slices or cut the potatoes into quarters lengthwise then cut long potato quarters into 1/4" pieces so that you end up with triangular potato pieces (I like to cut it this way for texture, but the picture above is from a time that I just sliced the potatoes). Place the potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover and bring to a boil; boil for about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a skillet melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Add chopped onion and saute until soft. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Place onion/garlic mixture in a bowl to cool and set aside.

In a saucepan melt 4 1/2 tablespoons butter. Add flour, salt , and cayenne pepper; cook, whisking, for 1 minute. Whisk in milk slowly. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture has thickened and come to a boil. Add shredded cheese and parmesan and cook for about 30 to 60 seconds, stirring until cheese melts. Remove from heat.

Place half of the potato pieces on the bottom of the greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with half of the onion/garlic mixture and pour over a little less than half of the cheese sauce. Layer the remaining potatoes,then onions/garlic mixture and then top with the remaining cheese sauce, spreading cheese sauce so that it covers all of the potatoes. Cover with foil that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

While potato casserole is baking combine bread crumbs and 3 tablespoons butter and stir with a fork until well combined. After casserole has baked for 1 hour and 30 minutes remove and sprinkle bread crumbs evenly over casserole. Bake for 5 more minutes or until browned on top.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hungarian Goulash

This recipe is the real deal. Authentically goulashy with nary a elbow macaroni in sight nor does it have any ground beef in it. Real Hungarian goulash. Yum. I got this recipe from America's Test Kitchen. You can always trust an America's Test Kitchen recipe to turn out fabulous and this one is no exception. The beef is tender and the sauce is flavorful. I'm really glad I put the work in on this one, though man I burned my eyes out chopping all those onions!

Hungarian Goulash

3-4 lb beef roast (chuck or chuck-eye is good), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1/3 cup sweet paprika (really important to use sweet paprika for an authentic taste)
1, 12 oz jar roasted red peppers, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 large onions, finely chopped
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon crushed bay leaves
1 can beef broth
1/4 cup sour cream
black pepper to taste

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Place beef cubes in a bowl and sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile place drained red peppers, paprika, tomato paste, and 2 teaspoons vinegar into a food processor or blender and process until smooth, scraping sides to make sure all the paprika gets mixed in. Scrape this mixture into a bowl and set aside.

In an oven safe dutch oven (I use an enamel covered dutch oven) combine oil, onions, and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook over medium heat, stirring for about 8-10 minutes, or until onions are softened but not browned. Stir in paprika mixture and cook for about 2 minutes. Add beef, carrots, and bay leaves. Stir until beef is well coated. Using a rubber spatula scrape down the sides of the pot. Cover pot and transfer to the oven.

Cook for 2- 2 1/2 hours or until meat is almost tender, stirring every 30 minutes. Add enough beef broth so that the surface of the liquid is 1/4 inch from the top of the meat (don't stir the broth in). Return to oven and cook until a fork slips easily in and out of beef, about 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven. Stir in sour cream, season with black pepper and serve over buttered egg noodles.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

Ooh ooh! This hot fudge is so so good! We had it for dessert tonight on top of Costco's Kirkland vanilla ice cream (that stuff is the best!). Mmmmmm....

Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

1, 12 oz package chocolate chips, can use milk chocolate, semi-sweet or dark (about 2 cups)
1 , 12 oz can evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan combine chocolate chips, milk, butter, and powdered sugar. Bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes stirring constantly. Take off heat and allow to sit for 3 minutes. Stir in vanilla and allow to cool and thicken a few minutes before serving over ice cream.

*I stored my leftover sauce in a canning jar in the fridge. To reheat simpley remove lid and microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until sauce is hot.

Montly Menu Plan (Feb 1st - March 14th)

I'm finally getting around to doing another menu plan. As always my menu is very subject to change (sometimes I want to make something different or try a new recipe suddenly) but I like writing it out to have a blueprint to work from. "FFY" means fend for yourself night which means leftovers, breakfast, going out, whatever. Recipes I am looking forward to trying in the next six weeks are the Bacon Wrapped Chicken, Hungarian Goulash, and Pineapple Coleslaw. I'll keep you posted on all the good ones.

  1. Chicken Enchiladas (freezer meal), Refried Beans, and Corn; FHE Treat: Ginger Snaps
  2. Broccoli Cheese Soup and Potato Rolls
  3. Turkey Sloppy Joes on Potato Rolls, Red Potato Salad, and Grapes
  4. Beefy Macaroni and Broccoli
  5. FFY
  6. Pizza
  7. BBQ Meatballs (freezer meal), Parmesan Smashed Potatoes, and Roasted Asparagus
  8. Chili (freezer meal) over Baked Potatoes, and Caesar Salad; FHE Treat: Brownies
  9. Chicken Spaghetti and Green Beans
  10. Crockpot Ham and Navy Bean Soup and Cornbread
  11. Hungarian Goulash, Egg Noodles, and Buttered Peas
  12. Pizza
  13. FFY
  14. Valentines Day! Spaghetti and Meatballs, Caesar Salad, and Hot Fudge Pudding Cake with Ice Cream
  15. Lentil Stew and Bread Sticks; FHE Treat: Peach Cobbler
  16. Chicken a la King (freezer meal) and Quick Carrots
  17. Taco Night
  18. Crockpot Honey Sauced Chicken, Brown Rice, and Veggies
  19. Pizza
  20. FFY
  21. Bacon Wrapped Chicken, Spinach Salad, and Crescent Rolls
  22. Beef Enchiladas (freezer meal), Spanish Rice, and Corn; FHE Treat: Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
  23. Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup and Wheat Rolls
  24. L's Freezer Meal (from my freezer meal swap)
  25. Pistachio Pesto Penne, No-Knead Artisan Bread, and a Green Salad
  26. Pizza
  27. FFY
  28. Crockpot Russian Roast, Rice and Veggies
  1. Spaghetti and Meatsauce (freezer meal) and Salad; FHE Treat: Chocolate Bundt Cake with White Chocolate Frosting
  2. Chicken Cordon Blue (freezer meal), Wild Rice Pilaf, and Veggies
  3. Crockpot Pulled Pork on Wheat or Potato Rolls, Pineapple Coleslaw, and Potato Chips
  4. M's Freezer Meal
  5. Pizza
  6. FFY
  7. Oven Chicken and Quick Carrots
  8. Nachos (freezer meal) and Salad; FHE Treat: Scotcharoos
  9. Ritz Cracker Chicken Casserole or Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole, Rice and Veggies
  10. J's Freezer Meal
  11. BBQ Meatballs (freezer meal), Mashed Red Potatoes, and Veggies
  12. Pizza
  13. FFY
  14. Guy's Mac and Cheese, Homemade Applesauce, and Veggies

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Homemade Soft Pretzels

I am in love with this recipe. In love. I am a huge fan of Wetzel's Pretzels and I think this homemade version tastes so much like them! Sure mine weren't as pretty (I should have made my dough ropes longer) but dang they tasted SO good. Especially hot from the oven with the melted butter... I'm not sure knowing how to make these at home is the best thing for me. I will seriously have to limit how often I make them! But I did run the numbers and figured out that each pretzel has about 186 calories, so hey that's not so bad (of course that's all refined carbohydrates, but I'm not going to think about that right now). I got this recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

Homemade Soft Pretzels
-makes 8 pretzels

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (I used just under 1 tablespoon)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water

1 cup hot water
4 tablespoons baking soda
coarse salt (I used Kosher salt)
2 tablespoons melted butter

Combine ingredients for dough in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with a dough hook until well combined. Mix on medium speed with dough hook for 5 minutes, until dough is soft, and smooth (you can adjust flour added for your climate - dough should pull away from sides of bowl). Remove dough from mixer, form into a ball and lightly flour. Place dough into a gallon size ziplock bag leaving room for dough to expand. (Or place in a greased bowl covered with non-stick sprayed plastic wrap.) Let it rest and rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare 2 baking sheets by spraying with non-stick spray or lining with parchment paper.

Transfer dough to a lightly greased surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Allow pieces to rest uncovered for 5 minutes. While dough is resting combine 1 cup hot water and baking soda in a shallow bowl or pie plate, make sure baking soda is thoroughly dissolved.

Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin, rope (seriously, I didn't do them long enough - they need to be about 24-28 inches long or they will end up all pudgy like mine :)). Twist each rope into a pretzel. Dip each pretzel in the baking soda solution and place them on greased baking sheets (dab the underside with a paper towel quickly as you put them on baking sheets so baking soda solution doesn't puddle and burn). Sprinkle with coarse salt. Allow to rest uncovered for 10 minutes.

Bake pretzels for 7-9 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Remove pretzels from oven and brush each pretzel repeatedly with melted butter, that's what gives them their great mall pretzel taste. Eat pretzels warm or reheat in oven or microwave.

*Can also dip baked pretzels in cinnamon sugar after buttering. Yum.

Here's an updated picture of another time I made these pretzels and with the dough ropes much longer so they aren't so pudgy. I love this recipe so much!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Turkey Sloppy Joes

I adapted this recipe from Tyler Florence's "Ultimate Sloppy Joes". My whole family loved it and the sloppy joe meat was sweet and tangy and you wouldn't even guess it's ground turkey. We had it on the potato rolls that I made yesterday and it was a perfect pairing (IMHO :)).

Turkey Sloppy Joes

extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/3 cups)
1 lb ground turkey (I used 93/7 fat turkey)
kosher salt and pepper
1 1/3 cups ketchup (I used Sprouts "all natural" ketchup)
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on heat desired)
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Pour about 2 tablespoons (count to 3 while streaming oil into pan) into a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven and heat. Add chopped onion and cook for about 3 minutes until onions are tender. Add ground turkey and season well with salt and pepper. Brown turkey, breaking up with a wooden spoon or spatula, takes 7-10 minutes. Add ketchup, mustard, cayenne, brown sugar, and tomato paste. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add red wine vinegar and heat through. Serve in split rolls or hamburger buns.

Red Potato Salad

I'm reposting my red potato salad recipe because I finally measured out all the ingredients for reals and also got a much better picture of it. I love this potato salad and have been making it for about 10 years. It's tried and true!

Red Potato Salad

3 lbs red potatoes, washed and chopped in large chunks
2 eggs, boil and diced
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup dill pickle relish
3 tablespoon sliced green onions (or finely chopped onion)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile while potatoes are boiling, in a bowl combine: sour cream, mayonnaise, dill pickle relish, green onions, mustard, dried tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste.

Put hot, drained potatoes into a large bowl, add chopped eggs and pour dressing over. Gently fold the dressing into the potatoes and eggs with a spatula. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Potato Rolls

This recipe is from my friend Sadie and I'm SO glad she shared it with me! These rolls are great! I love the texture. They are very easy to make because they rise in the fridge so you can make the dough in the morning and then let it rise all day in the fridge and make them before dinner. The recipe makes 24 so we had them last night with broccoli cheese soup and will have them tonight with sloppy joes.

Potato Rolls

5 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup mashed potatoes (I used prepared instant mashed potatoes)
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a mixer combine 2 cups of flour and yeast. In a separate bowl combine: warm water, mashed potatoes, melted butter, sugar and salt. Add wet ingredients to the flour/yeast mixture in the mixer. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping sides of the bowl. Beat on high for 3 minutes. Add remaining 3 cups of flour and beat on high for about 2 minutes (you may need more or less flour to achieve a firm dough that pulls away from sides of bowl). Place dough in a large bowl that has been sprayed with non-stick spray, cover with non-stick sprayed plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-24 hours.

Punch down dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Grease a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan for pull-apart rolls or 2 cookie sheets for separated free form rolls. Shape dough into 24 equal rolls - rolls can be shaped by holding a ball of dough in your hand and gently smoothing by pushing the edges towards the back. Place rolls in the pan/pans: 6 rows of 4 rolls for pull-aparts or 12 rolls per cookie sheet for free form rolls. Cover with non-stick sprayed plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place* until doubled in size, about 40 minutes. Bake at 400 degrees for 16-18 minutes for pull-aparts, 12-14 minutes for free form rolls; rolls should be golden brown on top and bottom. Take out of oven and brush with melted butter if desired.

*I let the shaped rolls rise in a warm oven. I preheat my oven to 170 degrees, turn it off, put the covered rolls in the oven with the door left cracked opened and let rise till doubled in size.

Chicken Enchiladas (Freezer Meal)

I got this oh so good freezer meal last month at my freezer meal swap, L. made it and I think it was M. recipe. These enchiladas freeze and reheat so well. I did not thaw the casserole all the way before cooking and it took about 1 1/2 hours to cook it. This is a very kid-friendly meal.

Chicken Enchiladas (Freezer Meal)

2 can cream of chicken soup
1 small can diced green chilies
diced olives (optional)
shredded cheddar cheese
flour tortillas, torn into pieces
4 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed - about 4 cups

Cook chicken breasts, cool and tear into small pieces or chop. Mix together soups, chilies, and olives. In a 9x13 foil baking dish layer tortilla pieces, soup/chilies/olives mixture, chicken, and then shredded cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and then foil, label with cooking instructions and freeze.

Cooking Instructions:
Thaw in fridge for at least a day. Remove plastic wrap and foil and loosely recover with foil. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly (check the middle to make sure its heated all the way through). Uncover and bake for an additional 3-5 minutes.

Awesome Refried Beans

This recipe for jazzing up canned refried beans is from my friend Sara. She says the secret is in the El Pato tomato sauce. It may not look like anything special, but these refried beans were so good.

Awesome Refried Beans

2 cans Rosarita refried beans
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
1 - 2 tablespoons El Pato sauce (you can find it in the Mexican food section in a yellow can)

In a pan combine all ingredients and heat through.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sweet and Sour Pineapple Meatballs (Freezer Meal)

This recipe is from Put a Lyd On It and it was yummy! I liked the flavor of the meatballs a lot. The whole thing froze really well. How I love finding new freezer meals! I'll probably be posting another sweet and sour meatballs recipe sometime soon. I'm getting ready to make a huge batch for my freezer meal swap and I'm trying out a couple different ones to see which one I want to make in bulk.

Sweet and Sour Pineapple Meatballs (Freezer Meal)

1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb sausage
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
2/3 cup quick oats
1, 8 oz can crushed pineapple (drained, reserve juice)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt

Sweet and Sour Sauce:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 1/4 cups cold water
about 1/3 cup pineapple juice (juice from crushed pineapple)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoon vinegar

Directions for making right away
Combine meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl. Form mixture into balls. Place in a non-stick sprayed 9x13 baking pan and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

While meatballs are baking combine sweet and sour sauce ingredients, whisking well, in a saucepan and heat to boiling. Sauce will thicken. When meatballs are done baking, pour sweet and sour sauce over them and bake an additional 5 minutes. Serve over rice.

Freezer Meal Directions
Freezing Meatballs:
Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl. Form mixture into balls (I use a medium cookie scoop to make them all the same size). Place on a non-stick sprayed cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove meatballs from cookie sheet and put on a clean non-stick sprayed cookie sheet and freeze until meatballs are frozen solid. Package meatballs in a gallon size ziplock, squeezing out as much air as possible. Freeze.

Freezing Sweet and Sour Sauce:
Mix together brown sugar, salt, beef bouillon, and cornstarch. Whisk in the rest of the ingredients until well blended. Pour into a 3 1/2 cup tupperware container (I used a ziplock plastic storage container). Freeze.

Heating Instructions:
Thaw sweet and sour sauce in fridge overnight. When ready to bake, put frozen meatballs into a 9x13 baking dish and bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Mix sweet and sour sauce in container with a fork to blend everything well, then pour into a saucepan and heat to boiling stirring constantly - sauce will thicken. Pour sauce over meatballs and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Serve over rice.