Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Beautiful Bountiful Basket

When our oldest daughter Jenny got married, her husband's family had a reception in Oregon at their home for the newlyweds.  Jake's aunts (called "the Sistahs") did all of the food.  It was amazing!  My favorite thing was the vegetable tray.  Oh my goodness!  It was SO beautiful!  It totally changed my way of looking at a vegetable platter.  I have made it for 4 or 5 parties and it is always has a big WOW factor.  The colors of these beautiful vegetables are so beautiful together.   

These two pictures are of the finished basket.   I took the lower picture before we took it to the gathering, so I hadn't put the dip in the cabbage yet, but the lighting was better.  You can see all of the different vegetables we put in: carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, yellow and red cherry tomatoes, english cucumbers, green onions, red/orange/yellow peppers, radishes, and a purple cabbage dip bowl - all on a bed of kale. (the "Sistahs" also put blanched asparagus on theirs and it was delicious - but it was a little expensive right now)

This picture shows the basket (I line it with plastic wrap first) with the kale arranged to cover the bottom.  It took about 3 bunches of kale to do this basket- which is a large basket.  In the center is a small purple cabbage that we scooped the center out of to make a bowl to put the dip in. (you can cut the bottom of it to make it sit flat if needed)
We found that an ice cream scoop works wells to scoop out the cabbage.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Easy Crock Pot Sunday Roast and Self-Making Gravy

My daughter-in-law Estee told me about this recipe for roast and self making gravy.  She said it is a combination of our family's tradition of using Lipton Onion Soup mix in the crock pot to cook our roast, and her family's use of Cream of Mushroom Soup to cook her roast in.  She combined them and voila! - perfect tender roast and delicious gravy without any work at all!  

Easy Crock Pot Sunday Roast and Self-Making Gravy
from Estee

3-4 lb beef chuck roast
1 pkg dry Lipton Onion Soup mix
2 cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 cup of water

Brown the roast in a very hot frying pan with a little olive oil.  Let cook until the meat forms a nice dark carmalization, then flip it over and do the same on the other side.  Place the meat in a crock pot. Combine the dry soup mix with 1 cup of water.  Add the two cans of cream of mushroom soup and stir to combine.  Pour over the top of the meat and turn crock pot to low and cook for 7-8 hours.  When finished, remove the meat to a serving plate, and pour the gravy into a gravy boat and it is ready to go!  (I like to put a little A-1 sauce in the gravy to give it a little more flavor)  How easy is that!!!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dutch Oven Chocolate Coconut Marshmallow Cake

We had our annual Dutch Oven Dessert party this past weekend.  We make the SAME dessert every year- but it is SO very easy and always turns out great and is very popular.  It is a nice variety to add to all the fruit cobbler desserts that dutch ovens seem to lend themselves to.  

This is what the finished product looks like - topped with yummy toasted marshmallows.

You can stack dutch ovens and share the coals.

Here is what it looks like after the chocolate chips and coconut are added, just prior to the marshmallows being sprinkled over the top - to toast and melt.  MMMMMMmmmmmm!

Dutch Oven Chocolate Coconut Marshmallow Cake

1 box of chocolate cake mix of your choice (I used triple chocolate) -mixed as directed on the box.
1 bag milk chocolate chips
1/2 bag sweetened flaked coconut
3/4-1 bag miniature marshmallows

Line a 14" dutch oven with heavy duty foil and spray with PAM.  Mix chocolate cake according to directions on the box.  (when doing this camping, I put all the ingredients together in a gallon zip-loc bag and smoosh them for 2 minutes)  Pour cake batter into the bottom of the dutch oven.  Put lid on and put 12 hot coals spread out under the dutch oven, and 16 coals on top.  Cook for about 20 minutes - checking after about 15 minutes.  The cake should bounce back in the center when done.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips and coconut over the top of the hot cake.  Now pour a layer of miniature marshmallows over the top of the chips and coconut.   Move the dutch oven off of the bottom coals, but leave the top coals on.  Keep an eye on the marshmallows - it is done when they are toasted to a beautiful golden brown.  Shake the top coals off and the cake will stay warm inside the hot dutch oven for quite a while.  It is definitely best when eaten warm!  The foil makes for a quick and easy clean-up!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bavarian Cream with Fruit

My wonderful friend Debbie has made this for many occasions that I have been to - and I can't get enough of it! It is the kind of thing that you want to lick the bowl when you are done because you want more!  We served this at a bridal shower at my house yesterday.  It is creamy and delicious and the fresh fruit is such a great compliment with the rich velvety cream.  You MUST try this one!  Thanks Debbie!

Bavarian Cream
from my friend-Debbie McAllister

1 cup sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
½ c hot water
Mix together and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.

2 c unwhipped  heavy cream
2 c sour cream
1 tsp vanilla

Refrigerate in a covered bowl for at least 6 hours and serve in individual cups with a sprinkle of brown sugar, strawberries, kiwi, and blueberries. (or other berries of your choice!)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon

We love grilling anything on a cedar plank!  The yummy smokey flavor is unbeatable and the meat cooks up so moist and juicy - without burning and without having to flip the meat over.  We wanted to cook some salmon for our Sunday dinner and I found a yummy rub that was delicious!! It has smoked paprika - which gives everything a smokey flavor.  This, added with the smoke of the cedar plank, makes it SOOO good and it was SO easy!!

The salmon was moist and flavorful

This is a picture of the salmon cooking on the plank.  You can see how the brown sugar melted into a yummy glaze

Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon
from Kristen at Simple Bites

one 2 lb salmon filet, skin removed (I bought mine from Costco - skin is already removed)
1 cedar plank, pre-soaked in water (about 4 hours) (I also buy these at Costco - they come in a pack of 6, but I have heard that you can also just go to a lumber yard and buy untreated cedar planks and cut them!)
1/2 c brown sugar
2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP dried Italian seasoning
1 Tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1.Preheat gas grill
2. Place the pre-soaked cedar plank on the grill grate for 5 minutes.
3. In the meantime, combine brown sugar, olive oil, Italian seasoning, smoked paprika and Kosher salt in a small bowl.
4. Rub the mixture over the top of the salmon filet (the side the skin was not on)
5. Place the prepared salmon onto the cedar plank, what would have been the skin side down.
6. Grill for 30 minutes, or until salmon turns light pink in color and is flaky.  (My salmon was thinner and cooked in about 8-10 minutes, so watch carefully - you don't want to overcook it)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Skinny Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

I have been trying new recipes, but haven't loved any of them enough to put them on my blog.  This one, my husband and I decided, was blog worthy!  It is a very healthy version of Chicken Alfredo - using Greek yogurt, chicken broth and skim milk to make the sauce.  I used the easy way and bought a deli chicken instead of grilling it, and I steamed my broccoli instead of roasting it.  It was very good, but now I want to try it her way - I'm sure it has a richer flavor.  Very yummy and easy!!  We will be having this again for sure!

Skinny Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo
from Courtney Horan

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, grilled and cut into chunks (about 2 cups)
2 cups roasted broccoli florets
8 oz. fettuccine
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
2 TBSP flour
1 cup fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
1/4 c plain 0% greek yogurt
1/4 c skim milk
1/4 tsp pepper
1 pinch ground nutmeg
3/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese


In a pot of boiling, slated water, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is golden, 1-2 minutes.

Whisk in the flour until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth, Greek yogurt, Milk, pepper and nutmeg. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring gently, until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup Parmesan. Add salt to taste.

Add cooked chicken and broccoli to sauce mixture, followed by the cooked pasta. Toss to combine and serve with more Parmesan, if desired.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mini Samoa Bundt Cakes

Our daughter-in-law Aubrey made these last night for our Sunday dinner dessert.  Oh my goodness!  These were some of the best things I have ever eaten!  They were heaven. Not overly sweet.  I loved the mix of chocolate, caramel and toasted coconut - mmmm!  I highly recommend these.  Thanks Aubrey!

This recipe uses a mini bundt cake pan (as seen on the right)and makes 2 dozen

Mini Samoa Bundt Cakes
from girlversusdough -Tablespoon

1 box Betty Crocker chocolate fudge cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3  eggs
1/4 cup caramel sauce
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup caramel sauce
4 cups powdered sugar
3 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup chocolate chips


Heat oven to 350 degrees F (325 for a dark or nonstick pan). Grease and flour bottom and sides of 2 6-cup mini Bundt pans; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together cake mix, water, oil and eggs on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.

Pour batter evenly into prepared Bundt pan cups. Bake cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Remove cakes from oven; cool 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack. Using the back of a spoon, poke a few holes in the top of each cake, being careful not to poke all the way through the bottom. Carefully pour about a teaspoon of caramel sauce over the top of each cake; let cakes cool completely and caramel soak in.

Meanwhile, make the frosting: In a large bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese. Add caramel sauce and powdered sugar; beat until smooth. You may need to add more powdered sugar to get the correct consistency for frosting.

Frost fully cooled cakes with frosting. Heat oven to 350 degrees F; place coconut flakes on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, stirring occasionally, until a deep caramel brown. Let cool completely, then use your hands to pat the coconut flakes onto each frost cake; cover completely.

Place chocolate chips in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 30 seconds, then stir; melt another 10 seconds at a time until chips are fully melted. Pipe melted chocolate onto cakes in lines so they look like Girl Scout Samoa cookies.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Coconut Crusted French Toast with Coconut Syrup (Easter Brunch)

I found these two recipes on Pinterest and combined them for our dinner last night.  It was heaven!  I think it would make a wonderful Easter Brunch item.  The mixture of toasted coconut, creamy coconut syrup and the contrast of the sliced fresh strawberries were SOOO good.  Loved it!

Coconut Crusted French Toast
From "Two Peas & Their Pod" {with my notes added in italics)

Serves 2-3

3 large eggs
3/4 c lite coconut milk
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 c shredded sweetened coconut
6 slices of french bread, cut into 1/2 inch slices (I just used Texas Toast)

1. In a shallow dish, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, coconut extract, vanilla extract, and salt.  Place the shredded coconut on a plate.  Dip both sides of each slice of bread into the egg mixture.  Dip both sides of the coated bread into the shredded coconut.  (I tried it this way and thought it was too much coconut ~I didn't think that was possible!~  I liked it better with only one side dipped in the coconut).Drizzle a little of the egg mixture on top of the coconut to make it stick to the bread.(I found this step is important because it protects the coconut from burning too easily)

2. Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick frying pan or a griddle to medium to medium-high heat.  Cook the slices of bread until golden brown on one side and then turn and cook the other side.  Serve immediately or keep French toast warm in a 250 degree oven.

3.  Serve with butter, pure maple syrup, and/or strawberries.  (I made the coconut syrup recipe below instead of the maple syrup - yummy!)

Coconut Syrup
from "Cooking a la mode"

1/2 c butter
3/4 c buttermilk
1 c sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp coconut extract

Place butter, buttermilk, and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil and boil one minute.

Remove from heat and add baking soda and extract, stirring constantly.  It will bubble up, so if your pot is small, hold it over the sink to avoid spillage.  Continue to stir syrup and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.  Serve over almost any breakfast food: waffles, pancakes, French toast, crepes,. etc.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Winter Sunshine Salad

This salad is SO easy to throw together and tastes great in the middle of a long winter without much fresh fruit around.  This is one that my husband requests quite often.  

Winter Sunshine Salad

1 large can of pineapple tidbits (with the juice)
1/2-3/4 of a small box of instant lemon pudding (depending on how thick you like it)
2 small cans of mandarin oranges - drained
1/3-1/2 bag miniature marshmallows (to your liking)
1/4 c coconut
2 bananas - sliced

Pour pineapple with the juice into a large bowl.  Stir in the dry instant lemon pudding and stir until pudding is dissolved and starts to thicken.  Stir in oranges, marshmallows and coconut.  Refrigerate for 1 hour or more. Stir in bananas right before serving.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Fun and Festive Drink Idea

My sister Barb served this fun drink at our family Christmas Progressive Dinner and also at a shower.  For Christmas she had red sugar around the cup with the lime drink, and today for the shower she used hot pink sugar.  The darling purple striped paper straw topped it all off.  SO CUTE!  

Fun and Festive Drink Idea

Corn Syrup
Colored Sugar
Lime Sherbet (or any flavor you like)

Dip just the rim of a clear plastic cup in corn syrup (pour some in a bowl), then dip in colored sugar.
Mix 1 quart sherbet with 1 2-liter bottle of 7-Up in a punch bowl, breaking the sherbet up into small pieces.
Serve and enjoy!
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