cooking/recipes

Recipe Roundup – Snackalicious Super Dishes

Well, it’s that time of the year again…Superbowl 2008 is right around the corner. And even if your favorite team didn’t make it, you can still celebrate the event and cook up some tasty food! This month’s Recipe Round Up is hosted by Pensieve. Click on the graphic to learn more about it.

I’m including two of my all time favorite snacks and a bar cookie. I have baked and tried all three of these recipes and I promise you they are delicious! The Hot Artichoke and Spinach dip is really a crowd pleaser and any time I make it, I double the recipe because if I don’t…well, pandemonium would ensue. It’s that good.

Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip
Delicious and easy – serve with breads or crackers.
INGREDIENTS:
1 (10 ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
1 cup shredded parmesan-romano cheese mix
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
10 ounces prepared alfredo sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 ounces softened cream cheese
pepper (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
– Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
– Combine ingredients thoroughly in a bowl and spread mixture into a small baking dish – 8″ x 8″ works best.
– Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheeses are bubbling and melted.
– Serve with chips or bread and enjoy.

(if you don’t have jar alfredo sauce where you live or you want to use fresh ingredients – here is your substitute:
ALFREDO
Ingredients
4 Tb butter
1/2 C Heavy Cream
6 Tb Parmesan Cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
Melt butter on low. Take off heat and add in cream, parmesan, salt, and pepper. Replace the pan and stir until the sauce is smooth, without letting it come to a boil.

Armadillo Balls
Bite-sized balls of sausage and cheese flavored dough hiding a surprise slice of jalapeno pepper.

INGREDIENTS:1 pound Cheddar cheese, grated
1 pound good quality pork sausage
2 cups baking mix (like Bisquick®)
1 jar (10 oz) jalapeno pepper slices
1 envelope Shake-n-Bake for pork (original)

DIRECTIONS:
– Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl mix together the cheese and sausage until well blended.
– You really need to use your hands to do this well. Add the baking mix and mix well.
– Remove about 50 slices of jalapeno pepper from the jar, shake off the liquid and set on paper towels to absorb excess liquid.
– To form each Armadillo Ball, take a chunk of the dough mixture about the size of a whole walnut, maybe a little bigger.
– Pat it into a flat patty. Place a slice of jalapeno pepper in it.
– Fold up the edges around the pepper and seal well. Roll into a ball between your hands, pressing firmly.
– After all the balls have been formed, pour the Shake-n-Bake into a small bowl. Roll the balls in it and place on a cookie sheet, about 1 inch apart.
– Bake at 325 for 20 – 25 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown.
– Drain on paper towels. These are good served hot, warm or room temperature.

Yield: about 50 balls.

To freeze: Freeze before baking by placing them on a cookie sheet and place the cookie sheet in the freezer until the balls are solid. Then pour into freezer bags for storage. Bake them frozen (they may take an additional 5 minutes).

Chocolate Chip Popcorn Bars
These tempting bars are like a cookie bar and a popcorn ball all rolled into one.
Makes: 36 bars

INGREDIENTS:

1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury® Create ‘n Bake® refrigerated chocolate chip cookies
4 Nature Valley® oats ‘n honey crunchy granola bars (2 pouches from 8.9-oz box), crushed*
Topping
3 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 bag (3.5 oz) Pop•Secret® butter-flavor microwave popcorn, popped
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 bag (10 oz) peanut butter chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:
– Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, break up cookie dough. Stir in crushed granola bars. Press evenly in bottom of ungreased 13×9-inch pan to form crust. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until puffed and edges are golden brown.
– Remove from oven. Immediately sprinkle with marshmallows. Return to oven; bake 1 to 2 minutes longer or until marshmallows begin to puff.
– Remove and discard unpopped kernels from popped popcorn. In 3-quart saucepan, heat corn syrup, butter and peanut butter chips over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in popcorn (mixture will be thick). Spoon over marshmallows; spread evenly to just barely cover marshmallows. Cool 30 minutes.
– In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips on High 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until melted, stirring once halfway through microwaving. Pour melted chocolate into quart-size resealable food-storage plastic bag. Cut off tiny bottom corner of bag; drizzle chocolate over bars. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 6 rows.
*To easily crush granola bars, do not unwrap. Use rolling pin to crush bars.

For more Snackalicious Super Dishes and to see the rest of the participants for January’s Recipe Round Up, head on over and visit Robin at Pensieve.

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I’ve noticed a trend lately. People are visiting my blog — not to read anything I have to say, mind you – it’s all because of an entry I posted about Logan’s Calf a month ago. Fifty-five percent of my traffic is from that and the other forty-five is all about the sweets – and as Megan likes to say, I’m “bringing the haystack back” because it’s my second most searched item. I’m all about revival, folks.

I have one more little recipe to share with you before the brouhaha at my mother-in-law’s house Christmas eve. It’s something from my childhood…much like the haystacks. I like to have a handful of this while I vigorously clean the house from top to bottom sit on the couch and watch movies with my kids while we are out of school this week. I also like to have a cup nearby while I’m goofing off on the internet researching important topics and analyzing my blog statistics. It doesn’t hurt to have a cup of it when I leave the house to finish my last minute Christmas shopping go to our office. You get the idea…basically, as Martha would say, “it’s a good thing.” Plus, it’s easy – if you can boil water, you can make this. You don’t even need a candy thermometer.

Easy Caramel Corn
Makes 18 cups Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes Bake: 1 HR Cool: 20 minutes

1-1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 (3.3-oz) pkgs microwave popcorn, popped (16 cups)
1 (10-oz) can salted mixed nuts (optional)

-Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to a medium-low, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in baking soda.

-Combine popcorn and nuts in a lightly greased large mixing bowl. Pour sugar mixture evenly over popcorn. Using a lightly greased spatula, toss well to coat. Pour popcorn mixture into a lightly greased roasting pan.

-Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spreak on wax paper, and let cool 20 minutes, breaking apart large clumps as mixture cools. Store in airtight containers up to 1 week.

Speaking of things from my childhood, last night we all piled into the van and looked at Christmas lights. I remember sitting on my daddy’s lap when I was just 5 years old, pajama-clad and starry-eyed, steering the car as we drove around looking at Christmas lights. It was such a magical time — Christmas music playing on the radio, hot chocolate in the Thermos…ahhh…those were the days. —-Screeeeeech!—-(cue up circus music) It was not as fun as I remember. The kids were whining and complaining about their thermostatic differences, they were hungry (we had just eaten dinner), they had to go potty, they were thirsty…sigh. I’m not sure if it’s the age differences, or because there’s three, or both – but by the time we pulled into our driveway, I had a migraine. I know I’m not the only mother that experiences this, but there were definitely tears of frustration on my part. How did my parents do it with seven of us? I don’t remember acting this way — it wasn’t allowed and there were serious consequences if we did.

What I really want to know is how do I train these responses OUT of my children? They are so focused on self that they are barely able to see when a brother or sister is in need. Gah! Any ideas are welcome. Seriously.

I’m NOT taking a bloggy break, unlike many lovely ladies I read. So you can just feel free to return any old time and any given day during this holiday season and expect to see the same sporadic and spotty posting as you’d see any other time of the year. Only three days until Christmas eve!

Merry Christmas, y’all.

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Recipe Roundup – cookies, bars, candies


I have yet to begin my holiday baking (yes, I’m running a tad bit behind this year), but once I get going, there’s no stopping me. This year, I am making some of my husband’s favorites – peanut patties and orange cream candy (things his mama has made all of his life) for our Christmas Eve celebration at his mama’s house. Plus, I’m making some of my own favorites – peanut brittle, haystacks, and graham cracker cookies. If you have not ever tried graham cracker cookies…oh my stars…you HAVE to try this recipe! Mouth watering, flavorful, delicious…and easy!

Here are a few of our family’s favorites, try ’em!

Orange Cream Candy
2 c cugar
1/2 c coffee creamer
1/2 c Karo
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c chopped nuts
1 lg orange rind, grated

Cook sugar, creamer, Karo and orange rind until it form soft ball stage. Add vanilla and beat until thick, add nuts and beat until creamy. Pur into buttered pan and cut when completely cooled.

Microwave Peanut Patties
1-1/2 c sugar 2 cups raw peanuts
1/2 c water 2 T butter
dash salt 1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c Karo syrup 4-6 drops red (or green) food coloring

Combine sugar, water, salt and Karo in a 2 quart glass microwavable dish. Cook on high in microwave for 3 minutes. Stir in peanuts and cook on high for 9 minutes. Add last 3 ingredients (butter, vanilla and food coloring) and stir until mixture is creamy. Pour onto buttered foil and break apart when cooled.

Microwave Peanut Brittle
1 c peanuts 1 tsp butter
1 c sugar 1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c Karo syrup 1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt

Combine peanuts, sugar, Karo and salt in 2 quart glass microwavable dish. Cook 4 minutes on high. Stir, and then cook for another 4 minutes. Add butter and vanilla — cook 2 minutes more on high. Add baking soda and stir until foamy. Spread on buttered foil and break apart when cooled.

Butterscotch Haystacks
1 can Chun King noodles (chinese crispy noodles)
1 pkg Nestle’s butterscotch morsels
1 cup peanuts

Melt butterscotch morsels in a double broiler (do not overcook, as the mixture will become crumbly). Mix in noodles and nuts and spoon out little “stacks” onto foil.

Graham Cracker Squares
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
12 oz semi-sweet choc chips
1 c chopped walnuts
1 pkg graham crackers (one sleeve, not the whole box)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Break graham crackers into fourths and lay on cookie sheet. In heavy saucepan, melt butter and sugar together and cook until carmelized, stirring continuously. Pour mixture over graham crackers. Sprinkle nuts over top and place in oven until the carmel mixture is bubbly and frothy (about 3-5 minutes). Take pan out and sprinkle 12 oz of choc chips over top of cookies and let cool. Break apart before completely cooled and remove from pan. Enjoy!

So there you have it. A sampling of our favorite Christmas candies…and I’m telling you right now, if you don’t try the graham cracker bars, well…you just don’t know what you’re missing out on! They are slap yerself silly good. Truly. They are.

Head on over to Rebecca Writes for more delicious Holiday cookie, bar and candy recipes, or to add your own!

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Recipe Round Up – Freezer recipes

Country Chicken Pot Pies

Makes (4) 6 inch pies, one serving each
(these pies are absolutely delicious and freeze well)

Filling:

1 C chopped onion
1 C chopped celery
1 C chopped carrot
1/3 C butter or margarine, melted
1/2 C all-purpose flour
2 C chicken broth
1 C half-and-half
4 C chopped cooked chicken
1 C frozen peas, thawed
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Basic Pastry (or you can buy them premade)
4 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 C plus 1 Tblsp. shortening
1/3 to 1/2 C cold water

Saute first 3 ingredients in butter in a skillet over medium heat until tender. Add flour; stir until smooth. Cook 1 minute stirring constantly. Add chicken broth and half-and-half; cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Stir in chicken, peas, salt, and pepper.

To prepare pastry mix flour and salt. Cut shortening into flour till the size of peas. Add water 1T at a time and mix gently.

Divide Basic Pastry into 8 equal portions . Roll 4 portions of pastry to 10 inch circles on a floured surface. Place in four 6 inch disposable pie pans. Divide chicken mixture over pastry in pans. Roll remaining 4 portions of circles over filling; fold edges under and flute. Cut slits in tops to allow steam to escape.

To Freeze:
Cover tightly and freeze up to 1 month (I’ve made double batches at the same time and frozen them for a couple of months)

To Serve:
Bake, uncovered at 400F for 1 hour or until crust is brown

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Basic Meatballs: (I usually double this recipe)

2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 cup fine, dry bread or cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 small onion, chopped
2 eggs
2 tablespoons canola oil

In medium bowl, combine all ingredients except oil; mix well. Shape into 1 1/2 to 2 inch balls. In large skillet, brown meatballs in hot oil; drain. Add desired sauce to meatballs, cook as directed in recipe.

Tip: To brown in oven, arrange in un-greased shallow baking pan; bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until browned.

Cocktail Meatballs: Shape into 1 inch balls; continue as directed above. Makes 48 meatballs.

To Freeze… Flash Freeze and bag together.
To Serve… Just add to any sauce or recipe as needed.

edited to add:
~If you use crackers you don’t need to use salt & 1 sleeve of saltines is one cup of crumbs.

For more October Freeze Ahead recipes, head on over to Motherhood Apologia. If you have one, please feel free to share it by linking up to her Mr. Linky so we can find you!

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Reminder: Tomorrow is the Recipe Round Up!


Tomorrow is the link up day for the monthly recipe round up. This month’s round up is all about make-ahead freezer foods. If you have anything to share, post it on your blog and then head on over to Motherhood Apologia and link up tomorrow! Help us spread the word on your blog, too! The holidays are coming (and that means unexpected company) and it would be great to have a few items in the freezer just in case, don’t ya think?

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Winter Bazaar – Silly Popcorn Treats Recipe

I made these last year with my kids and were they ever a hit! I haven’t made them yet this year, so I don’t have a “real” photo…only the photo from the craft book I found the recipe in. Incidentally, I have all of these books and I wouldn’t want to be without them. If you are a crafty sort, get thee to a book store and check them out!

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Silly Popcorn Treats Recipe

18 cups popped popcorn
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup light-colored corn syrup
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
*gummy worms, candy corn, and other Halloween candies

Removed all unpopped kernals from popped popcorn. Put popcorn in a greased 17 x 12 x 2 inch baking or roasting dish (or whatever’s close). Keep popcorn warm in a 300 degree oven while making syrup.

For syrup mixture, butter the sides of a heavy 2 quart saucepan. In saucepan, combine sugar, water, corn syrup, vinegar, and salt. cok and stir over medium-high heat till mixture boils, stirring to dissolve sugar (about 6 minutes). Clip a candy thermometer to the side of pan. Reduce heat to medium; continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring occasionally, till thermometer registers 250 degrees, hard-ball stage (about 20 minutes).

Remove saucepan from heat; remove thermometer. Stir in vanilla. Pour syrup mixture over the hot popcorn and stir gently to coat, adding candies. (I divide mine up into thirds and use different candies for each batch). Cool until the popcorn mixture can be handled easily. WIth buttered hands, quickly shape the mixture into 2-1/2 inch diameter balls. Wrap each popcorn ball in plastic wrap. Makes about 20 popcorn balls.

It’s a great treat for a classroom or for your kids to hand out to their church buds.

Visit Scribbit’s page for more October themed Winter Bazaar ideas!

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