Friday, April 27, 2012

PW Aunt Trish's Salad Dressing

This is Pioneer Woman's Aunt Trish's Salad Dressing. It is good. Really, I have yet to try a bad Pioneer Woman recipe. Ree is amazing. The dressing is kinda like Olive Garden's salad dressing, but a bit more tangy/lemony. It was a great dressing for a simple salad of mixed baby greens, sliced red onion, and grape tomatoes. I served it with spaghetti and meatballs tonight and though my kids would definitely prefer ranch dressing, they all ate it and I think my oldest even liked it. We're still working on my other 2 to like something other than ranch. Oh, and keep in mind, you have to start this dressing the day before you want to serve it.

PW Aunt Trish's Salad Dressing

3/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1 clove garlic, peeled and left whole

Place all ingredients in a jar. Shake it up and store in the fridge at least 24 hours before serving. Serve on your favorite green salad.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes & Ham Casserole

Wow, this is the best potato and ham casserole I've ever made. The recipe is from The Food Nanny cookbook - a fantastic cookbook full of so many great family-pleasing recipes. The cheese sauce is what really makes this casserole great and it's made from scratch without any cream soups, just yummy fresh ingredients. I served it with a green salad and whole wheat biscuits and it was a great comfort food dinner.

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes & Ham Casserole

2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
couple pinches black pepper
2 cups milk (skim works fine)
2 cups shredded cheddar (8 oz block grated)
1 lb precooked ham steak, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 baking dish.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour, salt, and pepper to taste and whisk until smooth. Add milk all at once, whisking constantly and cook until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat and add 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar (save 1/2 cup for later), stirring until combined and cheese is melted completely. Cover and set aside.

Thinly slice the potatoes and place in a large bowl. Add cheese sauce and ham and stir to combine. Pour into greased baking dish and press the potato mixture into an even layer. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes at 350. Remove foil and bake for 20 minutes more. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and bake a few more minutes until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

*You can also serve this as a side dish, just omit the ham.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

Who doesn't love a flaky biscuit with butter and jam?? The thing is biscuits are pretty horrible for your waistline (at least my normal buttermilk biscuits are :)). This recipe is made with whole wheat flour and almost half the butter. That's awesome. And they taste great and are flaky too. All my kids gobbled them down. And the great thing is that you can make them from scratch in about 25 minutes. Yay!

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup low fat buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silpat mat if you have one or parchment paper.

In a food processor * combine flours, baking powder, salt, and cold butter pieces. Pulse until the mixture resembles course corn meal and sticks together when pressed with your fingers. Put this flour mixture into a bowl and place in freezer. In a smaller bowl combine buttermilk and honey and whisk until mixed.

Remove flour mixture from freezer and pour buttermilk mixture into it. Stir with a wooden spoon just until mixed. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 4-5 times. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a 9x5 rectangle. Dust top with flour and fold the dough by thirds, like folding a letter to fit into an envelope. Re-roll the dough into a 9x5 rectangle, dust top with flour, and fold again like a letter. Gently roll the dough to a 3/4 inch thickness and cut with biscuit cutter to form biscuits. Press pieces of dough together gently and roll again to cut out more biscuits. In the end you get about 9 biscuits. Place biscuit dough rounds 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown on top and bottom. Cool on biscuits on a wire rack or serve hot with butter and jam. (Once cooled these are better heated up a little in the microwave.)

*You can make these with out a food processor by cutting the cold butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or a knife.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Snow White Sammies Bento

Have I ever mentioned that I bento? I love making fun lunches for my kids. Sometimes I make them cute and sometimes I don't, but I always try to make lunches that my kids will love to eat. I use the Easy Lunch Box system - their divided containers and lunch boxes - because I've found they are easy and economical. Someday I'd love to get my kids the Laptop Lunch bento system (a lot more pricey), but right now I'm fine with what we have. Anywho, I'm going to start posting some of my cuter bentos every once in a while on here for fun, even though they aren't really recipes. :)

My daughter is going to be in a ballet recital soon and her little dance is a Snow White dance. She is SO excited about it. So when I saw Snow White cookie cutters in Williams Sonoma I was sorely tempted, gave in, and bought them. Total splurge, but aren't the sandwiches cute!

Kindergartener Snow White Sammies Bento
Snow White and Dopey Ham & Cheese Sandwiches
Fun Size Snickers (I froze a bunch of chocolate Halloween candy and have used them for the last 5 months for lunch box treats)

Monday, April 23, 2012

German Sweet Chocolate Pie

This is a great creamy, chocolately, moussey, slightly cheesecakey pie. Super good! I love the light and fluffy texture. I reminds me a little of the Chocolate Bar Pie that I've made before, but creamier. Definitely sure to be a family favorite.

German Sweet Chocolate Pie

4 oz bar Baker's German Sweet Chocolate
5 tablespoons milk, divided
1/3 cup sugar
8 oz block cream cheese, softened
8 oz Cool Whip, thawed
1 Oreo or graham cracker pie crust

Combine broken up chocolate bar and 2 tablespoons of milk in a saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat.

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine cream cheese and sugar and beat until smooth. Add melted chocolate and mix. Add Cool Whip and mix until well combined and smooth. Spoon and spread pie filling into the pie crust. Cover and freeze until firm, about 4 hours. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving. Top slices with whipped cream. Refrigerate leftovers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Janet's Crockpot Enchilada Soup

This recipe is from my friend Janet and it is so good! I love the combination of flavors, it's a hearty healthy soup, and it's a crockpot recipe - the triple threat of recipes in my book! I used mostly dried ingredients because that's what I had on hand, but you could certainly use fresh cilantro and garlic and I'm sure it'd be wonderful. I also used frozen chicken breasts and they worked great - yay for not having to worry about thawing. I served it with these awesome bread-sticks (which taste so much like Olive Garden bread-sticks) and it was a lovely meal. Thanks Janet!

Janet's Crockpot Enchilada Soup

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 large), fresh or frozen
2 cups frozen corn
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
14.5 oz can chicken broth
10 oz can enchilada sauce
4 oz can diced green chilies
1 1/2 cups chopped onion (I use frozen because it's easy)
1 tablespoon dried cilantro or 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon granulated garlic or 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 - 1 teaspoon cumin (I used 1/2 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (a few good cranks of the pepper mill)
shredded cheese for topping, optional

Combine in crockpot: corn, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, enchilada sauce, green chilies, onion, cilantro, bay leaves, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Give it a good whisk to stir in the herbs. Add the chicken, cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Transfer chicken to a large plate or bowl and shred with two forks. Return shredded chicken to crockpot and continue cooking for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Remove bay leaves before serving. Top with individual servings with shredded cheese if desired (my kids liked it that way).

Monday, April 16, 2012

Slow Cooker Barbecued Ribs

These ribs are so good! They're fall off the bone tender and have great flavor. My whole family loved them, especially my husband. I'm so glad I found another great crockpot recipe. This one is from The Food Nanny Cookbook. I made a sauce/gravy from the drippings in the crockpot and it was so good served over the ribs. I highly recommend this recipe!

Slow Cooker Barbecued Ribs

4 lbs country-style pork ribs (you could probably use country style beef short ribs too)
1 can tomato soup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon chili powder

drippings from slow cooker
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Place ribs in slow cooker. In a bowl combine soup, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, celery salt, and chili powder. Pour over meat. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or high 3-4 hours. Remove ribs to a platter and cover tightly with foil to keep them hot while you make the sauce.

Strain juices from the slow cooker into a large measuring cup. Allow to sit for a minute and then spoon off as much of the fat as you can from the top. Pour juices into a saucepan. In a small bowl mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch with enough water to make it smooth and pourable.  Whisk this cornstarch mixture into the hot juices and bring to a boil. Boil until thickened. Serve over the ribs.

Frog Eye Salad

I actually call this Pineapple & Marshmallow Salad so my youngest two will eat it, but it is more widely known as Frog Eye Salad. A rose (pasta salad) by any other name in this case does not smell (taste) as sweet.:) Honestly, I can't believe I haven't made this salad in the last few years. I love it! It is sweet and fruity and I love the texture - I'm a huge tapioca pudding fan too. It makes tons so I usually only take it to church activities or barbecues, but I wanted a picnicy/summery sort of dinner tonight so I made it. And of course we have tons of leftovers so I'll be having it for lunch for a while. :) Oh, make sure you get this started the night before. It needs 8 hours to sit before adding the final ingredients.

Frog Eye Salad

2 cups or 16 oz package acini di pepe pasta
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 3/4 cups pineapple juice
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 oz container Cool Whip, thawed
14 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
20 oz can pineapple tidbits, drained
4-5 cups multi-colored mini marshmallows
2, 11 oz cans mandarin oranges, drained

Prep the Night Before:
Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks, pineapple juice, sugar, flour, and salt in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring/whisking constantly until thickened.

Drain pasta a put in a large bowl. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta and stir until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours.

Day of Serving:
Fold Cool Whip into the pasta loosening and mixing the chilled pasta mixture (I use my hands to bread up all the pasta - it's messy, but fast). Fold in pineapple tidbits, crushed pineapple, marshmallows and mandarin oranges. Cover and chill until serving.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats

Wow cake batter is all over the place on cooking blogs and Pinterest. I've seen cake batter shakes, cheesecake, pancakes, chex mix... All manner of wonderfully delicious sounding cake-battery treats. Well this is the rice krispie treat version and it is fun. The treats really do have a cake batter taste. Yum! I made it for my daughter to take to a church activity and it was a hit. I got the recipe from Six Sisters' Recipes and modified it slightly to my taste.

Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats

4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup dry funfetti or yellow cake mix
10 oz bag  + 1 cup mini marshmallows (about 13 oz - I like my treats more marshmallowy than the original recipe)
6 cups rice krispies
1.75 oz container of sprinkles (a little less than 1/3 cup)

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. In a saucepan melt 4 tablespoons butter, add mini marshmallows and as they melt add dry cake mix a little at a time to make sure it is evenly distributed. Once marshmallows have completely melted, remove from heat and mix in rice krispies and half of the sprinkles. Mix well and spread into the greased 9x13, pressing with greased hands to spread it out evenly. Top with remaining sprinkles and press into the rice krispie mixture. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before cutting into squares.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

I think these are my new favorite pumpkin muffins. They taste like big pumpkin cookies. YUM. I mixed in chocolate chips, but you could leave them plain or mix in raisins or craisins. My kids got a kick out of the Halloween muffin cups. Hey they need to get used sometime and they had pumpkins on them.:)

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter (I wonder if canola oil would work)
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (depending on how you like it)
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. Fit 2 muffin tins with paper liners (makes about 15 muffins).

In a large bowl whisk together pumpkin, brown sugar, and melted butter. Add eggs and mix well. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until just blended, making sure all the flour is worked in, but you don't want to over mix. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon batter or scoop with a large cookie scoop into lined muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes.

Super Easy Fruit and Yogurt Parfaits

My kids love fruit and yogurt parfaits from McDonalds, so I thought I'd try an at home version that I can make the night before and have ready in the fridge for breakfasts and packing lunches. They are made with frozen fruit, so as they sit overnight the fruit thaws and gets a little syrupy. Spoon a little granola on top in the morning and they are ready to go. I've found that the perfect containers are 8 ounce plastic freezer jam jars.

Super Easy Fruit and Yogurt Parfaits

large container vanilla yogurt
frozen blueberries, raspberries, or sliced strawberries (or a mixture)

Layer the yogurt and frozen fruit in the jars. Put lids on and refrigerate overnight. Top with granola to serve. Parfaits will keep for a few days in fridge.