Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Eyeballs

This is an idea from the Family Fun web site. These were quite easy and fun to make. (I also tried the ghost cupcakes - WAY TOO MUCH WORK!) Stick with these. Happy Halloween!!
Halloween Eyeballs
12 donut holes
1 bag white chocolate chips
12 semi-sweet chocolate chips (with the points cut off)
red frosting or gel in a tube

Melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Poke the donut hole onto a plastic fork and dip in the chocolate, tapping it to remove excess chocolate. Insert one of the semi-sweet chips - cut end first into the donut hole, making the pupil. Wait for the chocolate to harden. I found that a bowl or small bucket fillet with rice was a perfect place to stick the ends of the forks, allowing the eyeballs to stand upright while the chocolate sets up. (You can put them in the refrigerator to speed up the process) After the chocolate sets up decorate with the frosting to make the blood shot veins.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Two Great Autumn Dips

These are two great fall dips. One is a toffee dip for apples from my friend Ilene, and the other is a pumpkin dip for gingersnap cookies from my friend Caroline. She made homemade gingersnaps, but I found some great ones at Costco that are thin and crispy and wonderful for dipping. (Of course, hers tasted better!) Toffee Dip
1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/3 pkg toffee bits

Soften cream cheese. Add sugar and brown sugar, mix well. Add toffee bits and mix well. It's best to mix this up and refrigerate overnight to soften the toffee bits. Serve with apples.

Pumpkin Dip
2 8-oz pkgs. cream cheese, softened (don't use the lower fat cream cheese - too runny!)
4 c. powdered sugar
1 c. complete pumpkin pie mix (in a can)

Mix cream cheese and powdered sugar, then add pumpkin. Serve with gingersnap cookies.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

My son and his wife gave us 4 of these Skookie Cast Iron Pans for Christmas last year. They are most commonly used for a cookie/ice cream dessert (Skookies), but it came with a recipe for little pizzas too. We have loved these and have them very often. The crust is extra good using these pans. It crisps up just right. They are 6 1/2 " in diameter, so they are the perfect individual pizza size. The recipe makes enough for 6 pizzas. This makes a great Christmas present idea (or you could ask for some for your self!). (You can find them on line or in stores)
If you don't have these little pans, I'm pretty sure it would work in a regular cast iron skillet.
Traditional Skookie Pizza Dough
1 packet yeast (2 ¼ tsp)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp kosher salt
3 c. all purpose flour
1 c. warm water
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

In a bowl, mix ¼ c. water, yeast and honey. Let proof for 5 minutes until it is bubbly. Add remaining water (3/4 cup), olive oil, 1 cup flour and whisk until smooth. Add salt and remaining flour and stir until soft dough forms. Knead for 2-3 minutes. Let dough rise in an oiled bowl for 30 minutes. Turn dough out on a flat surface and cut into 6 equal parts and roll into balls. Place on oiled cookie sheet, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

BBQ Chicken Pizza
Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees.
Spread dough ball to cover skillet. Spoon your favorite BBQ sauce to cover dough and spread evenly. Sprinkle grated Mozzarella cheese over dough. Add cooked chicken (once again, I use the Costco rotisserie chicken) and chopped red onion. Cook at 500 degrees for 10-12 minutes on a room temperature skillet, or 6-9 minutes in a pre-heated skillet.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I was looking through my recipes for a good soup to have at our family Halloween party, and came across this recipe from my niece Jessie. She had served it at a shower several years ago. I tried it for dinner tonight and LOVED it! Oh my goodness it is good! Very easy too. I will definitely be serving this at the party this weekend. Thanks Jessie!!
Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 c. frozen corn
1 c. diced red onion
1 - 14.5 oz can diced peeled tomatoes
2 c. cubed cooked chicken (I used a Costco rotisserie chicken )
1/8 c. diced fresh Anaheim chili pepper (about ½ of 1 chili)
2 quarts chicken broth ( I used 4 cans)

Simmer 20-40 minutes.

Right before serving, add:
The juice of 3 limes

Serve with avocados, tortilla chips and cheese

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cheesy Cauliflower (or as my grandkids call it "Cheesy Brain")

For me, this is a comfort food from my childhood. I can remember my grandma and my mom both making this for Sunday dinner. Whenever I got to choose my birthday dinner menu, it always included cheesy cauliflower. My kids and even their spouses and children like it! My grandkids call it "cheesy brain" because it looks like a brain. Trim and wash a head of cauliflower. Cook the cauliflower for about 20 minutes, or until it is tender when poked with a fork. I like to steam mine.

In a separate small pan, melt:
2 TBSP butter
add 2 TBSP flour and cook until bubbly.
Add 1 cup milk and stir until it comes to a boil and is thick.
Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of dry mustard or a squirt of yellow mustard
Add 4-5 slices of Velveeta (I use the 2% milk Velveeta)
Stir until melted and pour over the cooked cauliflower. My grandma always sprinkled a little paprika on top to make it look fancy - so I do it too!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


This is a REALLY fast dinner. It takes maybe 10-15 minutes from start to finish.

When we visited our friends the Welch's in Japan years ago, they fed us this for dinner one night and it has become a staple at our house ever since.

You can find the Yakisoba noodles in the refrigerated section near where the won ton wrappers are usually found.

1 pkg of Yakisoba noodles -teriyaki flavored (this has two servings in it, so add more as needed)
1/2 - 3/4 lb. beef or chicken thinly sliced
*1/3 of a bag of cole slaw (pre-cut cabbage with carrots)
*1 head of broccoli florets cut into small pieces
*You can use any combination of vegetables that your family likes.
Cook the meat in a large frying pan with a little oil. Remove the meat to a bowl and then add the broccoli and cole slaw mix to the frying pan and cook until barely tender. Warm the noodles for one minute in the microwave -as per directions on package. Add the noodles and the sauce packet with the water called for. Add the cooked meat back to the pan. Cook 1-2 minutes and you are ready to eat!

Check out this VERY cute idea!

I thought this was such a wonderful Halloween dinner idea. Kids will actually eat it! I wish I had done this when I had kids at home.
Candy Corn Pizza

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Crispy Potatoes

This is a nice variation on baked potatoes. We have this most Sundays because it is easy and doesn't require gravy! I have an oven that has a delay start setting on it, so I can prepare this before I go to church and put it in the oven and have the oven come on while we are gone so that when we get home, the potatoes are ready to eat! Our family all likes this and it is healthy because you don't need butter or sour cream on it. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Drizzle olive oil and spread it over the foil. Sprinkle kosher salt, pepper, and any seasoning you like (I really like Montreal Steak Seasoning). Cut washed Idaho russet potatoes in half lengthwise and lay them face down on the foil. Bake at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the bottoms turn crispy brown.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Five Hour Stew

This is a very easy Sunday dinner that has everything in one pot! It is easy to throw together early in the morning, then put in the refrigerator until you are ready to pop it in the oven. It cooks for 5 hours so it is a wonderful thing to have cooking while you are at church, then you come home to a WONDERFUL aroma when you open the door and dinner is ready. Just add some rolls and Jello and you have a complete meal.

This is the before picture. This was the after picture.
5 Hour Stew
2 lb. stew meat
4 c. sliced potatoes
3 c. sliced carrots
1 c. celery chopped (I do mine in the food processor so that it is finely chopped)
2 c. chopped onion (also done in the food processor)
2 cans cream of celery soup (I like the 98% fat free ones)
1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
1 small bay leaf (optional – I’m not a big fan!)
Dash of pepper
Put all ingredients into either a 9X13 pan or any large pan. Cover with either foil or a lid and bake for 5 hours at 275 degrees.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Helpful Tip

This is a hint for those who are lazy like me, or who don't want to take up as much space in the dishwasher whenever they use their food processor.

I cover the bowl with plastic wrap before I put the top on. This makes it so the only thing I have to wash afterwards is the bowl and the blade. YEA!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Panda Express Mandarin Chicken

This is one of the quickest and easiest dinners ever! I love Panda Express Mandarin Chicken, and so when I saw this sauce at the grocery store I bought it and it has become a regular at our house when we are in a hurry.

Buy a package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Lay them out flat and rub with a little olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the thighs on a BBQ, then slice and serve over rice (if you have it frozen, it is really fast!), then drizzle with warm Mandarin Sauce. Very good!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Skillet Pork, Rice & Beans

This is a very simple, healthy, delicious and satisfying meal. Very few ingredients!

My husband says that if he can't have grilled tri-tip with cherry pie for dinner, this is his next choice.

Skillet Pork, Rice & Beans (adapted from Land O' Lakes)
1 TBSP butter
½ tsp finely chopped fresh garlic
1 ½ c small broccoli florets
¾ lb pork cutlets or tenderloin, cut into ½-inch pieces
3 c cooked rice
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed, drained
3 TBSP soy sauce

Melt butter in 12-inch skillet until sizzling; add garlic. Cook over medium heat 1 minute. Add broccoli and pork pieces; continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until pork is tender and no longer pink. (8-10 minutes)

Stir in rice and beans. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until heated through (1 to 2 minutes). Stir in soy sauce.

A Helpful Tip

We eat a lot of rice at our house, and it takes 30-40 minutes to cook it in my rice cooker. I recently found out that you can freeze cooked rice! (You probably already knew that, but I didn't!) I cook quite a bit at one time, then cool and freeze extra rice in zip-loc freezer bags in portion sizes. When I need rice for a meal, I pull out one of the bags and stick it in the microwave and reheat it right in the bag. It comes out exactly like the freshly cooked rice! Yahoo! I love time saving things!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Skillet Penne with Chicken and Broccoli

This is another of our favorite dinners. It tastes like something you would have at Macaroni Grill. It is very quick to make (less than 30 minutes). I find that, because it goes together so quickly, it is better to prep all the ingredients before I start. (It also makes me feel like I am on a cooking show, where the little glass bowls have all the chopped items measured and ready to go!)

This comes from "The America'sTest Kitchen Family Cookbook". I HIGHLY recommend this book. It really spells things out clearly and all the recipes have been tested over and over to come up with the best possible way to do things.
Ingredients (if you make this often, I recommend buying the sun dried tomatoes at Costco in the big jar).

Yummy served with crusty sourdough bread and some fruit.

Skillet Penne with Chicken and Broccoli
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons butter
1 onion, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces penne pasta (2 ½ cups)
2 ½ cups chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream (I use whipping cream)
1 bunch broccoli (1 ½ pounds), stems discarded and florets cuts into 1-inch pieces
1 cup jarred sun-dried tomatoes in oil, rinsed and chopped
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I usually double this amount)

1. Pat the chicken dry, then season with salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until it is lightly browned but not fully cooked, about 4 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl.

2. Add 1 more tablespoon of the butter, onion, red pepper flakes, oregano, and ½ teaspoon salt to the skillet. (This part smells SO good!) Cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.

3. Sprinkle the penne evenly into the skillet. Pour the broth and the cream over the penne. Cover and bring to a boil, about 5 minutes.

4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes. Cover and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta begins to soften and the broccoli turns bright green, about 8 minutes.

5. Stir in the chicken and any accumulated juice. Cover and continue to simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes longer.

6. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, the Parmesan, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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