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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Restaurant Style Salsa

I've had this salsa with 4-5 different meals in the last week. My mom made it for us while we were staying at my parents house. I wanted to eat the whole bowl, but thought I'd better not. I think I could eat it everyday though. After making two batches for a family party on Sunday, I was asked to post this recipe asap. So here it is for all to enjoy!

I've always loved salsa as long as I can remember. I used to hate homemade salsa as a kid, I liked the store bought bottled stuff. I despise that stuff now....really I do. I am all about homemade, canned or fresh it so much better than the store bought bottled kind. I like salsa with a little bit of chip.....I like to heap as much as I possible can and take a bite. I can't fit a whole chip in my mouth (very politely) so I like to dip the same chip again, getting another large helping of salsa. Ummmmm.
This salsa is my new favorite! I love the consistency of it as well as the flavor. It's made with canned whole tomatoes and Rotel tomatoes. All the other ingredients are fresh: garlic, onion (just a little onion-I hate when all you can taste is onion), cilantro (as much as you please), jalapeno, and lime juice. Obviously you can make it chunky or smooth. I chose to make this batch as smooth as possible. The smooth texture appeals to me more than I thought it would. I've always been a chunky salsa lover, but I think I really am just a salsa lover in general. I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. It's going to be appearing on our table for years to come.

Restaurant Style Salsa
Printable Version
Servings: 12+
Ready in: 10 minutes

1 can (28 Ounce) whole tomatoes with juice
2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (Diced Tomatoes & Green Chiles)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 whole jalapenos (seeds & membranes-unless you really hate spicy), quartered and sliced thin
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup cilantro (more to taste if you are a cilantro lover like me)
The juice from half of a lime

Note: This is a very large batch. Recommend using a 12-cup food processor, or you can process the ingredients in batches and then mix everything together in a large mixing bowl.

Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you'd like---chunky or smooth. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.
Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour, but it is good at room temperature too. Serve with tortilla chips or cheese nachos.

Recipe Source: The Pioneer Woman

Monday, August 22, 2011

Grilled Pepperoni & Cheese Sandwiches {with a simple how-to}

This simple recipe takes your ordinary grilled cheese to a whole new level. A level that will make your taste buds more than just ecstatic. These simple, tasty, pepperoni and cheese sandwiches become so exciting with a few sprinkles of oregano, Parmesan, and garlic salt. Who knew a few spices, cheese, and pepperoni could complete my world? And finally to make them complete, they are grilled until golden and the cheese is perfectly melted. These tasty guys are devoured at our house. This is one of our favorites for lunch or a simple quick dinner.


I also decided to include a tutorial on how to make a pepperoni and grilled cheese sandwich. It's not any more complicated that a traditional grilled cheese sandwich but my mom did it in this order, and I think it's genius. Does anyone else already do it exactly like this? I just wondered how peculiar I am (wink).

So, it all starts with a few basic ingredients:
mozzarella cheese, bread, oregano, Parmesan, garlic salt, pepperoni, and butter

You'll butter four pieces (if you are making 2 sandwiches that is....2 pieces of bread per sandwich) of bread on one side, then you stack each sandwich with the butter sides touching. Like so...
Then you'll top with cheese....grated or sliced works just the same.

Sprinkle the cheese with Parmesan, oregano and garlic salt (light on the salt).
Then you'll take the top slice of bread that is covered with cheese and seasonings and place it on the griddle which is preheated to just below medium heat (you don't want a burned sandwich), you'll be left with one piece of bread, butter side up. You'll spread 8-9 pepperoni's on top of the cheese and then top it with your last slice of bread, butter side on the outside. Isn't that slick? Then the butter never touches the cutting board. I know, it's genius....my mom is a genius.
I also like the cheese side on the bottom first so it gets the initial heat of the griddle to give the cheese a good melting start.
When the first side is grilled til golden flip over, and golden up the other side.

I like to stick a big lid over the sandwiches so that it creates a little extra heat pocket to finish melting the cheese. I really just hate a grilled cheese when the cheese is partially melted. It's so not satisfying that way. And when I don't put the lid on then I crispify the outside of the sandwich while trying to melt the cheese all the way....the lid is really the way to go.
So when side two is grilled and golden and the cheese is all melty and nice, it's ready to be devoured. Enjoy, enjoy!
Grilled Pepperoni & Cheese Sandwiches
Printable Version
Yield: 2 Sandwiches

4 slices bread
butter
16-18 slices pepperoni
4 slices mozzarella cheese (or ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese)
Oregano
Parmesan cheese
Garlic salt

Preheat griddle pan to just below medium heat (you don’t want to burn the sandwich).

Butter one side of each slice of bread and stack them butter sides together. Top the open side of the bread with cheese and sprinkle with oregano, Parmesan, and garlic salt (light on the salt).

Place cheese topped slice of bread on the griddle and the place 8-9 pepperoni slices on top of the cheese. Grab your second slice of bread and put the un-buttered side on top of the pepperoni, leaving the buttered side up.

Grill for a minute or two until the first side is nice and golden brown. Flip the sandwich over with a spatula and grill the second side until golden, I like to put a bit lid over the sandwich on the 2nd side to help the cheese get some extra heat for a completely melted cheese taste. Be careful not to over-brown the second side, you may turn the heating element down a bit.

Serve while it’s nice and warm! Enjoy!

Recipe Source: Diana K.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes {with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting}

My husband thinks it is an abomination to put vegetables in your dessert (yet he still had no problem eating these). I, however, think it is a fabulous way to get my 5-a-day. Heck, I'd even eat 15 of these in a day. Plus, if you use 1/3 the fat cream cheese in the frosting, that means you get to eat 3x as many, right? Ok, not really, but I'm just trying to make myself feel better about the 3 that I downed today...

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes (or sheet cake) {With Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting}
Printable version
*Makes 24 cupcakes, or 1 sheet cake

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
¾ cup milk
¾ cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups raw zucchini, grated fine
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup cocoa
2 cups flour (whole wheat works great)
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all wet ingredients. Sift dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix well. For cupcakes, pour batter (3/4 way full) into lined muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. For sheet cake, bake 40-45 minutes.

Recipe Source: Diana K.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup whipping cream
2 cups powdered sugar

Whip cream cheese until light and fluffy. Melt chocolate chips over double boiler. Add whipping cream and stir until smooth and shiny. Add chocolate mixture to whipped cream cheese. Mix until combined. Add powdered sugar (you can use less if you want it on the less sweet side). Refrigerate to achieve desired consistency and refrain from eating all of it before your cake is frosted.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Zucchini Sauté

I love summer! I love all the vegetables and fruits that are in season (peaches, corn on the cob, zucchini, green beans, strawberries, etc.) I usually use zucchini for two things: grated and put into brownies/cake or bread OR this zucchini sauté. This is one of our favorite summer side dishes.
The zucchini is tenderly sautéd with the perfect mixture of onions/garlic, seasonings, salt, and cheese. It is tempting to eat the whole skillet-full, and if you do, that's okay cause it's green! :)

Enjoy!
LinkLink
Zucchini Sauté
Printable Version
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 medium zucchini, yellow or green or a mixture of both
2 tablespoons yellow onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ teaspoon Mrs. Dash® seasoning blend
Garlic salt to taste
Grated cheese to taste

Cut zucchini lengthwise into quarters, and then cut each quartered section into ¼ inch increments from there.

In a medium size non-stick skillet melt butter over medium heat. When butter is melted add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until onion is slightly golden and tender, add garlic, zucchini, garlic salt, and Mrs. Dash®. Stir occasionally until zucchini has reached desired tenderness (I like mine to have just a little bit of a bite to it - which is 3-5 minutes). When it’s finished cooking sprinkle with grated cheese and let it melt. Serve immediately.

Recipe Source: Diana K.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bagels


My mom is a fabulous cook which has turned me into a snob about certain foods.  Bagels are one of them.  These put the store-bought babies to shame.  She didn't make homemade bagels super often, but when she did they were devoured in minutes.  I don't make them too often either, but that might be changing since I made them last week and rediscovered how much I love them.  They are perfect for both breakfasts and lunches and they freeze really well.  Also, I've made them using half whole wheat flour before and they turn out great, but need a few extra minutes of rising time.  






Bagels
Printable version

*Makes 12 medium or 24 mini bagels

1 ½ cups warm water
3 tablespoons sugar
1 package (scant tablespoon) yeast
1 teaspoon salt
4 ¼ to 4 ¾ cups flour (at least 2 cups should be bread flour)

3 quarts boiling water
2 tablespoons brown sugar or molasses

Put warm water in mixer bowl.  Add yeast and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar.  Add 2 cups bread flour and salt.  Mix on high speed for 3 minutes to develop the gluten.  Add options (blueberries, asiago cheese chunks, etc.) if desired before adding additional flour.  Add enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Knead on high for 6 minutes.  Cover and let rest 10 minutes to relax the dough.  

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide into 12 (or 24) portions.  Shape into smooth balls placing pinched sides up.  Poke a hole in the center of each ball and gently pull it, being careful to keep the dough smooth.  Flatten slightly and dust with flour or corn meal to prevent sticking to the working surface.  Cover and let rise for 20 minutes.  (Start the timer when the first bagel is shaped.)

Meanwhile, bring 3 quarts of water to boil in a deep 12 inch skillet.  (A large electric skillet works great too.)  Add brown sugar or molasses to the water.  (This will help the bagels brown with a glossy finish.)  Reduce heat.  Simmer bagels, uncovered 4 or 5 at a time, for 3 minutes, turning once.  Drain on paper towels.  Place drained bagels on parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.  (If you make mini bagels they will bake a bit faster--check them after 20 minutes.)

Recipe Source: Modified by Diana K. from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.  

Friday, August 12, 2011

Snickerdoodles

I have to "snicker" at how many snickerdoodles I can eat in one sitting. Seriously tasty! The buttery crisp base of this cookie is not the only thing that gets me, it's also the goodness of the cinnamon sugary outside. And when eaten warm with a glass of cold milk, I'm in heaven.


I think I love these cookies even more now, than I did when I was a kid. My mom is a true home cook and she definitely didn't deprive us kids of home baked cookies on a regular basis. Maybe another reason I love these so much is cause it brings me back to my childhood. And that reminds me of my mother. Awwwww! I love you mom! Thanks for "treating" us special!

Snickerdoodles
Printable Version
3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
--------------------------------
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.

In another mixing bowl beat butter for 30 seconds; add 2 cups sugar and beat until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add eggs, milk and vanilla; beat well. Add dry ingredient mixture to butter/sugar mixture and mix until well combined.

Mix 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl. Form dough into 1 inch balls and roll in cinnamon-sugar . Place balls of dough on a silicone-lined or un-greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart; flatten cookie dough ball with the bottom of a drinking glass. Bake for about 7-10 minutes (see note about bake time). Let cookies cool on baking sheet 1-2 minutes before removing to cooling rack to cool completely.

Note: Depending on how long you bake these, they will turn out slightly different in taste and texture. If you bake them on the shorter end of the bake time, they will be softer and chewier. If you bake them a bit longer, you'll get a crisp and slightly crunchy cookie. Remember that when you pull them out and let them set for one to two minutes they will still cook a bit more.

Recipe Source: Diana K.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Butter Chicken

This meal makes a regular appearance at our table. When I plan my menus and ask my hubby, Jeff, what he wants to eat, this is often one of his requests. This is an Indian dish, but don't let that scare you because to me the thought of Indian food is a little scary. I've never eaten at an Indian restaurant and I wouldn't normally try something like this. It was first introduced to me by my fabulous mother-in-law and we have made it many times since. Now I just need to learn how to make Naan bread so we can have an authentic side dish to go with this meal.

Lu took the photo for me. I always forget to take pictures of my food before I snarf it! :)

Butter Chicken
 
2 pounds chicken breasts (cut into bite-sized pieces)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoons black pepper
½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoons ground coriander
¼ teaspoons cumin
¼ teaspoons cardamom (I omitted this because it was too pricey for my pockets!)
1 lime, juiced
1 onion, diced
¼ cups butter
1 can (14.5 Oz. Can) tomato sauce
1 can (14.5 Oz. Can) petite diced tomatoes
1 pint Whipping Cream (half and half works great too!)
1/2 bunch chopped cilantro, to taste
2 cups Basmati rice (it’s great with Jasmine rice too)
Combine first 9 ingredients and marinate in the refrigerator overnight (or at least for most of the day).
Saute the onion in the butter until soft. Add marinated chicken and cook about 10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 30 minutes. While chicken is simmering, cook rice according to package directions. Remove chicken from heat. Stir in the whipping cream and cilantro. Serve over hot rice.
Recipe Source: Tasty Kitchen via Karen R.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mexican Creamed Corn

I've been on the hunt for some good Latin side dishes. When I make enchiladas, tacos, or fajitas I really never know what to serve with it. So usually we just don't have anything else with it. Well, I came across this recipe online a few weeks ago, and we are sold. It's a winner, and we'll be making it lots more.

The original recipe called for grilled corn, which I thought sounded like too much extra work for a side dish. I like a simple side dish that just adds to the meal. So I (meaning, Steven....he actually made this) used frozen corn, and we thought the results were fabulous. The flavors make you really want to rock-and-roll, jump and jive, and indulge more and more. The creamy base of the sauce has a hint of chili powder (doesn't make them hot - just adds flavor), and with fresh cilantro, fresh Parmesan, and a fresh squeeze of lime juice, I just couldn't contain myself.....forget the enchiladas, I just want corn! This side dish will definitely be appearing on our table again and again.


Mexican Creamed Corn
Printable Version
2 cups frozen sweet white corn
½ cups heavy cream or half and half
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoons salt, more to taste if desired
½ teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
¼ cups Cotija Cheese, or fresh Parmesan cheese (I’m sure Asiago would be good too)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
1 whole lime, cut into wedges

Cook frozen corn in a medium-size sauce pan over medium-low heat until cooked. Drain well, trying to get rid of as much water as possible.

Return corn back to sauce pan and add cream/half and half. Let the corn cook in the cream for about 5-10 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Add in the butter, sugar, salt, chili powder, and mayonnaise. Stir to mix well.

Next add in the cotija/Parmesan cheese. Stir until cheese is melted, and get ready to eat.
When you are ready to serve, put some corn into a small bowl, top with some chopped cilantro, a lime wedge, and some additional cotija/Parmesan cheese.

Squeeze the lime over the corn right before eating! This seriously has the best flavor!

Recipe Source: Slightly adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Friday, August 5, 2011

English Muffins

I've been wanting to try English Muffins for a while now, and finally got around to it yesterday with my friend, Christy.  They were definitely yummy enough to post.  Split a fresh one open, toast it, and slather it with lots of butter and you are in for a treat. Yesterday I ate 3.  And a half.  Oops.  They also freeze beautifully, and are perfect for make ahead McMuffin-style breakfast sammies (my all-time fav breakfast).  Cooked on a griddle instead of in the oven, these babies were a cinch to make!  
  


English Muffins

1 cup milk
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 scant tablespoon yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup vegetable oil (original recipe called for melted shortening)
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Let cool until lukewarm. In a large bowl or bowl of your mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.  Add 3 cups of flour, vegetable oil, and cooled milk.
Beat until smooth. Add salt and rest of flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Knead for 3 minutes. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled.
Punch down. Roll out to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut rounds with biscuit cutter, drinking glass, or empty tuna can. Sprinkle waxed paper with cornmeal and set the rounds on this to rise. Dust tops of muffins with cornmeal also. Cover and let rise 1/2 hour.
Heat griddle or electric skillet to low (250 degrees). Cook muffins on griddle about 10 minutes on each side.  Allow to cool.  Makes about 18 muffins.  


Recipe source: Allrecipes.com

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fresh Peach Pie

This past weekend my hubby came home with 1/2 bushel of peaches for me.  So, besides making and freezing lots of baby food, I wanted me a peach pie.  Now, I'm not a big pie lover, but this stuff is the exception.  With the high here in Tulsa forecasted at 113 today, the mere fact that I turned my oven on to make the crust is saying something.  This is unlike other fruit pies because it is not baked.  The filling is simply freshly sliced peaches in a glaze made of pureed peaches.  It is delicious served alone, or with (homemade) vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.  Simple.  Tasty.




Fresh Peach Pie
1 recipe your favorite pie crust  (mine follows)
5 cups sliced peaches (about 7 medium-sized peaches)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
Citric acid, or Fruit Fresh (to keep sliced peaches from browning)


Slice peaches and treat with Fruit Fresh as directed on package. In food processor or blender, puree enough peaches to measure 1 cup. In 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch. Gradually stir in 1/2 cup water and peach puree.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute; cool. 


Arrange remaining sliced peaches in bottom of baked pie crust.  Pour cooked peach mixture over top. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours. Store in refrigerator. 


Recipe Source: Adapted from Diana K. and Betty Crocker's Cookbook


Oil Pastry
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons ice water


Heat oven to 475.  Using a medium-sized bowl and pastry blender (or a food processor) mix flour, oil, and salt until you have pea-sized crumbles.  Sprinkle water 1 tablespoon at a time until mixture will lump together in a ball.  Between 2 sheets of wax paper, roll pastry into round 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Peel wax paper away.  Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side. Trim edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of pie plate. Fold and roll pastry under, even with plate; flute as desired. Prick bottom and side of pastry thoroughly with fork. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. Cool on cooling rack.


Recipe Source: Diana K.


I spy my little helper boy trying to get his fingers in this pie.


Me making peach pie with my momma.  Cute, huh?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Honey Oat Granola

Since my hubby has a great love for granola I asked him to write a little blurb about what he thinks about our homemade granola.........

"The other day I crashed for a few hours to take a nap. I was pretty bushed after waking up at 2 a.m. to catch a flight back home. When I got up, a delicious, mouth-watering, appetite whetting aroma greeted me. As usual, Lindsay had whipped up something yummy to eat, something we've both been craving for awhile. Have you ever smelled granola baking? Honey, oats, nuts, coconut, and butter all toasting in the oven.... I think I need some right now!"

It's me again! My hubby loves this stuff if you can't tell.

This recipe has roots from one of my mother-in-law's granola recipes. We made a few adaptations to it so that it is just the way we like it. It is one of our most favorite things to have for breakfast. We like it with fresh fruit and milk or coconut milk. It also makes a great ice cream topping (vanilla ice cream, blueberries, strawberries, and then sprinkled with granola). The honey, nut, and oat taste is a great way to start the day!

Honey Oat Granola
Printable Version
5 cups quick oats
1 cup regular oats
1 cup powdered milk
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup wheat germ
1 ½-2 cups coconut flakes (I use unsweetened)
1 cup sunflower seeds (or another nut if you don’t like these)
1 cup slivered almonds (more is good if you want more nuttiness)
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 ¼ cup honey
1 cup butter, melted (or vegetable oil/coconut oil, melted - we prefer butter, although I’ve never had it with coconut oil, it just sounded good)

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

In a very large mixing bowl mix to combine: oats, powdered milk, brown sugar, flour, wheat germ, coconut flakes, sunflower seeds, almonds, and pecans.

It will look like this

Drizzle melted butter/coconut oil, or vegetable oil over mixture, and mix to incorporate. I like to use a heavy duty wooden spoon for mixing. I also like to use a 2 cup liquid-measuring cup to drizzle the butter in. And since you use the measuring cup for the butter/oil first, when you pour in the honey it will slide out much nicer with a coating of grease. When butter/oil is mixed well, drizzle honey throughout mixture and mix well to incorporate. If you feel you've added lots of extra nuts and it's too dry, add 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup honey. It won't be really wet, just moist looking when mixed well (see picture below).

Moist granola mixture after butter and honey have been mixed in

Divide granola mixture between two 9x13 casserole dishes.

Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Take granola out every 15 minutes and stir it all around. Usually the edges brown first, so make sure to mix those around.

Beautifully, toasted golden brown granola

When finished baking, remove from oven and let cool. Stirring occasionally to help it cool faster. store in an air tight container or gallon-size ziploc bag.

Sever with fresh fruit, and milk/coconut milk. Or use as a ice cream topping (vanilla ice cream, fresh fruit, and topped with a few sprinkles of granola).

Recipe Source: Adapted from Maureen G.
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