Saturday, December 31, 2011

Fluffy Blueberry Oat Pancakes

3 3/4 c. milk
5 1/4 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. baking powder
1 Tbsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
5 eggs
2/3 c. oil
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2/3 c. lemon juice
1 1/2 c. quick cooking oats
1 (48 oz) bag blueberries, thawed

In a large bowl whisk together the milk, eggs, and oil. Set aside

In a separate bowl mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Combine the two bowls and add the remaining ingredients. The lemon juice will make it foam a bit, thats supposed to happen, that reaction makes them light and fluffy. 

Cook in a no stick pan over medium on both sides until golden. 
I made mine kinds small and I got 6 dozen out of this recipe.

To freeze them lay them flat in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze until solid. When they are frozen solid put them in a freezer safe bag.  I like to re-heat mine in the toaster, otherwise they are kinda soggy.

Friday, December 30, 2011


The wrapping takes a little practice but after a few you will probably get the hang of it.
The hands above are my 5 year old, after her second one she was wrapping as well as I was.

1 1/2 lb ground beef (chicken or pork work great too)
1/2 tsp. McCormick Szechuan Pepper blend
1 c. beef broth
1/2 c. stir fry sauce

1 head cabbage
3 carrots, grated
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped

60 Egg roll wrappers 
(I used 3 packages I got in the produce section of Wal-mart)

Cook the ground beef with the pepper seasoning, crumbling really fine, until no longer pink. Add the broth and stir fry sauce and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Put in a really large bowl. 

Cut the cabbage into quarters, slice really fine, then cut across so you have small shreds. Toss with the cabbage. In a large pan cook the onions without water or oil, over medium heat, until starting to soften. Add the cabbage mixture and let cook, stirring every 5 minutes or so to avoid browning and to make sure it gets cooked all the way through. About halfway sprinkle the top with salt, stir and taste for seasoning, adding more salt if needed, making sure not to add too much or you wont be able to add soy sauce later. 

When the cabbage is softened but not too cooked down, remove from heat and toss with the cooked meat. 

Place one egg roll wrapper at an angle, top with a scant 1/4 c. of meat and cabbage mixture. Roll, still at an angle, about half way, tuck in the sides and finish rolling. Dip your finger in water and wet the end of the roll before wrapping to seal it closed. You don't want to get them too wet though or else the wrapper will turn into a soggy, doughy messy that wont hold the filling.

Freeze - place all on a tray and freeze until solid. Then put them in an air tight bag and seal.

Eat now - Fry in hot oil for 2 minutes on each side. 


Come see all the other great recipes at Cast Party Wednesday

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Chicken Cabbage Salad

1 medium head of cabbage, chopped
3/4 c. sunflower seeds
1/2 c. sliced almonds
2 pkg oriental ramen
2 cans mandarin oranges, drained (optional)
3 large chicken breasts

1 c. oil
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
Ramen noodle seasoning packet

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and set aside. 
Toss all the salad ingredients together and then toss with the dressing. 
This can be served immediately but is better after it has sat for a few hours.

Asian Sesame Chicken Salad

4 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded Or Leftover
1 head of romaine lettuce
1 c. bean sprouts
1 carrot, sliced with peeler so they're really thin
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
Crispy chow mein noodles 
Kraft Light Asian Sesame Dressin or your favorite Asian salad dressing

I put the chicken breasts in the crock pot in the morning,
let them cook for a couple of hours and put them in the fridge until dinner time. 

Toss together the romaine and bean sprouts. Top with the carrots.
Layer the cucumbers and mandarin oranges in a ring on the top. 
Shred the chicken and place in the middle, pour the noodles in a ring around the chicken.
Serve with the salad dressing.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cheesy Chicken Casserole

A one pot meal is always welcome in my kitchen, even after the holidays. Especially when my husband tell me he at four helpings. This can be assembled the night before or any time during the day, just cover with the tin foil and refrigerate, and then bake whenever you are ready.

3 - 4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup,
1 1/2 soup cans of milk
1 soup can full of rice
1 chicken bouillon cube, crushed OR 1 tsp granules
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 1/2c. shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 c. frozen green vegetables (Broccoli, peas, green beans, etc...optional)

Cut the chicken into small cubes, about 3/4 of an inch. 

Place everything in an ungreased 9x13 baking dish. 
Cover with tin foil and bake at 350 for 50 minutes,
remove the tin foil and bake an additional 15 - 20 minutes
or until the rice is tender, 
stirring once about halfway through cooking. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Crock-pot Stroganoff

I really like stroganoff, but I still haven't found the perfect recipe, so I have to keep playing with it.  This tasted great, and that this version is made in the crock pot makes it particularly nice, but it still doesn't taste quite like my moms.

2 lb cube steak, cut into small cubes
2 cans cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
2 low sodium beef bouillon cube
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp liquid browning
Dash freshly cracked black pepper 
4 - 8 oz sliced mushrooms (optional, I don't use)
1 1/4 c. sour cream

Hot cooked Pasta

Place the beef, both soups, bouillon, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, browning, black pepper, and mushrooms if using, in your crock pot. 

Cook on high for 3 - 4 hours. 

Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. Serve over hot pasta.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

White Chicken Chili

This is a hearty, and filling but still light. 
Great on a cold night and super fast to throw together.
The salsa verde doesn't make it spicy in the slightest,
that's where the can of jalapenos comes in. 

 3 chicken breast, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp oil
1 can (15 1/2 oz) white hominy, drained
2 cans (15 oz.) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. salsa verde
1 (4 oz) can green chilies OR chopped jalapenos
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 c. half-and-half cream
1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. sour cream

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the chicken and the onion and cook until the chicken is no longer pink. 

Add the hominy, beans, broth, salsa verde, chilies, garlic, basil, cumin, and pepper. 

Simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir the flour and half-an-half together until smooth. Whisk into the bubbling broth and stir until thick. Reduce the heat and stir in the sour cream. Stir until heated through and mixed in. 

Serve with corn chips

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sparkling Apple Cider

 Sparkling apple cider at a fraction of the cost of bottled. 
This has to be made ahead, but doesn't require much work. 
For hot cider mix the apple juice according to package directions and serve hot.

3 cartons of 100% juice apple juice concentrate
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
3 whole cloves
2 whole cinnamon sticks
Small end of a whole nutmeg
3 juice cartons of water

3 (2 liter) bottles Club Soda

Combine everything except the club soda in the crock pot. 
Cook on high for 6 hours. 
Remove the cloves, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg. 
Pour into a container and chill.

Combine apple syrup and club soda.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

English Toffee

This candy is not hard to make, just make sure you set all the ingredients out first and it goes smoother. A problem we have had is altitude, right at sea level we cook it until 285, higher up on the western side of Virginia we cooked it until 288, in Utah we couldn't make it at all without the butter separating, you can fix that with corn syrup but then that's what it tastes like and flavor wise it ruins the candy. 

1 lb salted butter, room temperature
2 c. white sugar
1 c. slivered almonds
1 c. chocolate chips
1 - 2 c. pecan meal

1 heavy, flat bottom pot
1 rubber spoon, that can withstand 500*
1 candy thermometer
1 large metal cookie sheet

In the large flat bottom pot, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sugar and stir to mix. Keep stirring over medium heat, making sure to scrape the bottom well. The mixture will bubble a lot but you don't want it to be a heavy boil. Keep boiling and stirring until the mixture reaches 285 on your candy thermometer. Dump in the nuts and remove from heat. Stir in the nuts and immediately pour onto your cookie sheet. Spread the candy to your desired thickness. When the candy is set a little bit but still hot, sprinkle with the chocolate chips and let sit a few minutes until they melt; when the chocolate is melted spread it on top to cover and sprinkle with the pecan meal. Let sit until the chocolate is set. Sprinkle off the extra pecans, break into pieces and enjoy.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chocolate Mint Cookies

A special thanks to "Two peas and Their Pod" for this tasty recipe. The only thing I changed was instead of the mint chips I used Andes red and white Peppermint crunch baking chips to make them more festive looking. The mint chips would also be good, as would regular chocolate, walnuts, or peanut butter chips. 

I was worried about several things with this recipe and they turned out just fine. 
First was no eggs. Don't worry about it, they turn out fine.  
Second I was worried about pulling them out of the oven before they looked done, but again don't worry, they set up just fine.

2 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/3 c. cocoa powder 
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2/3 c milk
2 bags Andes Peppermint Crunch baking chips

Beat the butter until light. Beat in both sugar until well mixed and add the vanilla. Beat in the baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Mix well and beat in the milk. Then mix in the flour, when well mixed add the baking chips.

Let the dough chill for 15 minutes before baking. Cover your baking sheet with parchment paper and shape into a 1 inch balls. Press flat a little bit so they aren't round, they don't spread.

Bake for 13 - 15 minutes at 325. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet. Remove to a cooling rack and enjoy. I baked my first batch for only 12 minutes and they didn't look done when they came out but once they cooled they where like brownies. 

Makes about 5 - 6 dozen fairly large cookies

Saturday, December 10, 2011

How to keep apples from turning brown

I have something going on tomorrow that I am bringing apples to, but I needed to cut them all today, and I didnt want them to go brown.

Here are my apples after 40 minutes. 

See? Not brown. 

Just cut in advance and pour clear (but not club) soda over them. 
I actually used ginger ale, but whatever works.
Let soak for 10 minutes and they wont turn brown on you. 

Just drain, cover, and place in the fridge until ready to use.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lasagna. That takes all day.

I had a little bit of sauce and ricotta leftover so I made a small individual size lasagna to eat while waiting for dinner :)  If my pan was deeper I would have added more layers. I cheated and used bottled sauce, make sure you like it as sauce though or you wont like it as lasagna either. I used Paul Newmans brand  (I think the garden) and it's decent. If you make your sauce from scratch feel free to use it here, just make sure it isnt too thin, you will need about 3 - 4 cups of sauce.

I rolled my pasta really thin, so I ended up only using about half of it. You can cut the recipe in half, make thicker noodles, or save what you have leftover for another meal. Homemade noodles freeze well.

Meat sauce
1 lb (90% lean) ground beef
1/2 lb Italian sausage
1 bottle spaghetti sauce
2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 low sodium beef bouillon cube

Cook the meat in separate pans until cooked through. Combine the causes and beef cube, reserving 3/4 cup of the sauce without meat in it. Combine the sauces, tomatoes, and meat; blend the sauce to crumble the meat really fine and crush the tomatoes. I used my immersion blender, if using a high powered blended, such as a vitamix, be really careful or you will end up with meat paste. I know this for a fact. Set aside. 

Cheese Layer
15 oz. Whole milk ricotta cheese
4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
2 c. half-an-half, at room temp
Salt to taste, I used 1/2 tsp
1 (8 oz) bag shredded Italian five cheese

Melt the butter in a saucepan until bubbly. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring until bubbly. Whisk in the milk and simmer until slightly thick, if the milk is cold when you add it to the roux it will seize up and be lumpy. Remove from the heat and stir in half the bag of cheese. Keep stirring until melted and really thick and stringy. Mix in the ricotta and salt to taste.

3 1/2 c. flour
6 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp water

Combine the salt and the flour, I did this with my hands to also remove and clumps in the flour. Whisk together the eggs and water. Add the eggs to the flour and mix until a dough forms, adding more water if needed. On a heavily floured surface, knead the dough until smooth. Cover with plastic and let rest for 30 minutes. I used my grandmothers hand crank pasta maker to roll it out pretty thin.

In the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish add enough tomato sauce to cover the bottom. Add noodles, sauce, noodles, ricotta, noodles, sauce, alternating layers until the pan is full. Make sure with the tomato sauce layer you add lots, more than you think you will want, it disappears when baking. Pour reserved tomato sauce over the top and sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese. Pre-heat oven to 375. Cover with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes; turn the oven off and leave the door shut for 40 minutes. Turn the oven back on and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the tin foil and bake until the cheese is golden.

Let rest 15 minutes before slicing.

Monday, December 5, 2011

SRC Gingerbread Cake

It's Secret Recipe Club Time again! This month I was awarded "The Novice Housewife" to peruse and test. The only problem I had with her blog was narrowing it down to ONE recipe. So while I may have only posted one, you can be sure there are several others bookmarked to be made later. 

Gingerbread cake seemed perfect for this time of year, though I did have to make a few changes to make it more kid friendly. And I used my vitamix on the wet ingredients so I wouldn't have to chop the ginger myself, being very fibrous I find it a time consuming step. If making without one, chop the ginger finely and mix the wet ingredients in a mixer or large bowl.

Next time I am adding chopped apple to the batter

Wet ingredients
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 c. sour cream (she calls for plain yogurt)
3/4 c. dark brown sugar
1 c. unsweetened applesauce (should have been 1/2 c. and I read it wrong)
1/4 c. molasses
1 egg
1 inch chunk of ginger, cut up a bit
1 tsp vanilla extract

Blend all on high until the ginger is chopped but not enough to cook the egg

Dry ingredients
2 1/4 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. allspice
dash black pepper
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. ground ginger

Stir together the dry ingredients in a bowl to mix. Mix in the wet ingredients and pour into a greased bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 70 minutes, I had to bake it longer due to the extra applesauce, her directions say 35 - 40 minutes, but the texture was perfect, it was super moist. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

I have been searching for a really long time for the perfect macaroni and cheese recipe. I'm talking years here, and either the texture was wrong, it wasn't cheesy enough, it was too stringy, it was bland, something was always wrong. 

I've tried flour thickened sauce, cornstarch, cream soups, cream cheese, baked, you name it, I've tried it. Ask Husband Man, he's had to live through them all.

In between looking everywhere for new ideas I have been trying some things on my own. And I have finally settled on something I consider the perfect macaroni and cheese, with a few weird things I am particular about. First off, use a good quality block of sharp cheddar cheese and secondly shred it yourself. Thirdly, this is not low fat, don't try and fix that or it wont be the same. I'm not a big mustard fan myself, so rest assured, this isn't a mustardy sauce, but it's not the same without it.

Now that I have the basics down I can't wait to start playing with other cheese and flavors.

1 1/2 lb elbow or corkscrew pasta
3 c. half-an-half
2 eggs
16 oz. good quality extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 stick butter
1/4 tsp. yellow mustard
1/8 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Generous dash freshly grated nutmeg
Same with freshly grated black pepper
dash Tabasco sauce
3 Tbsp. flour 

Cook the pasta in lightly salted water until desired tenderness, drain and set aside. 

Heat the half-an-half until small bubbles form. Slowly whisk the hot half-an-half into the eggs in a separate bowl. Add the egg and half-an-half mixture back to the pot on the stove and cook, over medium low heat, stirring constantly, for about 20 minutes until thick and coats the back of a spoon.  Stir in the butter

Pour into the vitamix along with the cheese. Run on high for 4 - 5 minutes until the cheese is mixed in. Add the mustard, Worcestershire, nutmeg, pepper, and Tabasco and blend until mixed. 

Combine the flour and enough water to form a pourable paste. Pour into the cheese sauce and blend on high until the sauce thickens a bit, about 10 - 15 minutes. Pour over pasta and let stand for 10 minutes and then enjoy!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Cranberry Orange Bread

I used two eggs in this but I think next I want to try it with three,
It didn't rise as much as I would have liked.
I also would have like the craisins in smaller pieces, 
so either chop them or drop them in the vitamix. 

 2 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. salt

1 c. craisins
1/2 c. sour cream
2 eggs
1 orange
4 Tbsp butter, softened
3/4 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Combine the craisins and 1 cup of water in a sauce pan. Simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed and the craisins are plump. Drain and set aside to cool. 

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. 

In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, sour cream, and butter. Add the zest of the orange. Juice the inside and add enough water to  make 1 1/2 c. liquid. Whisk into the sour cream mix.

Mix together the flour mix and the sour cream/ orange mix. Stir in the craisins, and nuts if using. 

Grease 4 mini loaf pans and fill halfway with batter. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until browned on top. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pizza Bread

Pizza Sauce (I used leftover spaghetti sauce this time)
8 - 12 oz. grated cheddar cheese
1 c. chopped pepperoni or turkey pastrami
Grated Parmesan cheese

Roll the dough out so it is long and thin, 
about 8 inches wide by about 18 inches long. 
Spread with the sauce, 
sprinkle with the cheddar and dust with the Parmesan, 
then sprinkle with the pepperoni or pastrami.  

Starting at one side roll the dough up like a cinnamon roll. 
Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 
anywhere between 30 - 45 minutes,  
until the top is darker than golden brown, but not charred. 

Let sit for 15 minutes before slicing.