Monday, May 30, 2011

Avocado Salsa Cups


These fun appetizers are always requested when I have get together's at my house.  They are light and fresh and absolutely wonderful.  

Tortilla Cups

6 flour tortillas
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Avocado Filling

2 small plum tomatoes
2 small avocados
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp lime juice
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
Additional chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. For cups, using Pizza Cutter, trim tortillas to form six 6-in. squares. Cut each square into quarters for a total of twenty-four 3-in. squares. Make a 1-in. cut from each corner toward the center of each square. Brush both sides of each square with oil using a basting brush. Press squares into bottom of a mini-muffin pan using a tart shaper. Bake 8-10 minutes or until crisp. Remove from oven.

For filling, core and seed tomatoes. Finely dice tomatoes and avocados. Chop cilantro. Combine tomatoes, avocados, cilantro, lime juice, minced garlic and salt in a bowl.

Fill cups with filling. Spoon sour cream into resealable plastic bag; trim corner. Pipe sour cream over avocado mixture. Garnish with additional chopped cilantro, if desired.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mom's Chocolate Chip Banana Bread


I grew up on this bread and it is a family favorite.  You can always omit the chocolate chips and add chopped walnuts if you want.  But, I always go for the chocolate! 

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter shortening 
(If you do not like using shortening you can substitute with butter).
4 eggs
4 ripe bananas
2 tsp soda
1 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 cups flour
2tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 bag chocolate chips

Mash bananas and combine with water and soda. Set aside.  Cream shortening and sugar together.  Add eggs 1 at a time.  Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.  Alternate dry mixture with the banana mixture into the sugar mixture.  Add vanilla and chocolate chips.  Grease bread pans.   This will make 4 regular size loaves or 8 mini loaves.  I really like the mini loaves the best.  Bake at 360 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown and center has cooked completely through.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


These are one of my favorite cookies and I don't feel as guilty giving them to my kids since they have oatmeal in them!

2 eggs
2 cubes butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBS vanilla
3 cups oats
1 3/4 C. flour
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped pecans

Cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar.  Then add the eggs and stir well.  Add the soda, salt and vanilla.  Cream together.  The add the oats, flour, chocolate chips and nuts.

Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10-13 minutes. Enjoy!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Homemade Wheat Bread


There is something about homemade bread that makes me feel young again.  It reminds me so much of my childhood.  I remember watching my mom bake early in the mornings.  She taught me almost everything I know about baking and cooking.    She is a wonderful teacher and has always been a great example to me!   

It has been about three months since I bought bread from a store.  I love knowing that I am getting all healthy ingredients with no preservatives.  I have tried several recipes and this is my favorite so far.  It is soft and holds together great.  I put some white flour in it but you can definitely do all wheat!  If you are scared to try it don't be, who can resist the smell of the house when fresh baked bread is in the oven. 

Whole Wheat Bread (Makes 5 loaves.  Bake 350 degrees for 30-35 min.)

Into your mixer, put :
5 cups warm water
1/2 cup honey
1 Tbls. liquid Lecithin (avoid getting on hands) You can just pour it from the bottle.  Lecithin can be found at your local health food store.
1 cup powdered milk
1/3 cup gluten 
Turn mixer on and off several times till mixed up a little 
Then add:
6 cups whole wheat flour 
2 Tbls. instant yeast 
Mix well
Let sit for 20-30 min. until a nice sponge has developed
Then, add:
1/2 cup oil
2 Tbls. salt
6 more cups of flour (4c. wheat and 2c. white)
Mix until mixture pulls away from bowl (about 7 min.).  It should
be slightly sticky
Grease large bowl and put dough into it, turning over once to coat.
Cover  with towel and let raise for 1-1 1/2 hrs.    Punch down and
divide into 5 loaves. 
To roll out bread: Lightly grease counter top. Stretch dough lightly
and roll out lengthwise.  Roll up tight, tuck ends under.  Place in
greased pan upside down, then turn right side up.  Cover with towel 
and raise for 1 to 1 1/2 hrs. (1" above pans) then bake until nicely
browned on middle rack.  Cool on racks (I butter the tops of bread
while hot.) 

Yogurt Parfait


There has finally been some great fruit showing up in the stores here.  These are one of my new favorites for breakfast or a bedtime snack. YUM.  

INGREDIENTS

1 CUP VANILLA YOGURT

1/2 CUP FRESH STRAWBERRIES 

1/2 PINT FRESH BLACKBERRIES, RASPBERRIES OR BLUEBERRIES

3/4 CUP GOOD QUALITY GRANOLA

DIRECTIONS

Layer 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt into the bottom pf a tall glass.  Combine strawberries berries.  Alternate layers of fruit and granola with yogurt until glass is filled to the top.  Serve parfait immediately to keep granola crunchy.

Easy Calzones


I know that there are nights that we are all looking for something super easy to make.  On those nights, this is the recipe for you.  The following recipe will make 2 large calzones.  Double if you have a large family.

4 oz. pepperoni, quartered
4 oz.  Canadian bacon, cubed
1 cup mozzarella cheese
5 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/4 yellow onion, dices
1 TBS. pizza seasoning or Italian seasoning
Frozen bread dough or rolls (I use rolls
Pizza Sauce (recipe follows or buy some pre-made)

In a large bowl combine the first eight ingredients and mix well.  I use 3 rolls per calzone if they are large rolls or 4 of the small rolls.  I usually do not have time to thaw the bread so I microwave the rolls in 20 second increments, turning after each 20 seconds until they are workable.  Then I roll them into a 10-12 inch circle, fill with half of the mixture, fold in half and seal the edges.  Make a couple slits in the top of the dough and place on a baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve with hot pizza sauce on the side!

Pizza Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (4-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

DIRECTIONS

Mix together the tomato paste, water, and olive oil. Mix well. Add garlic, salt and pepper, to taste, oregano, basil, and rosemary. Mix well and let stand several hours to let flavors blend. No cooking necessary.

Oven Steak Fries


  • These are a healthy alternative to French Fries.  They are roasted in the oven and are packed with flavor.

  • 2 russet potatoes, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, halves cut lengthwise into fourths to make 16 big, fat wedges
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Preheat a baking sheet in the hot oven for at least 5 minutes.
While the baking sheet is heating, toss the potatoes with the olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in a large bowl. Then dump the potatoes out onto a baking sheet, spreading to a single layer. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, shaking the pan every now and then, until the potatoes are cooked through, brown and crispy. During the last few minutes of roasting, sprinkle with parsley and cheese.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Homemade White Bread


This is by far the best white bread recipe I have tried.  It is super soft and stays that way a lot longer than other recipes!!  Have fun baking.

In your mixer put:

½ cup shortening
4 ¼ cups hot water
Pour hot water over shortening and let cool slightly.
Add the following and mix:    2 ¼ Tbls. salt, 2/3 cup sugar or honey (I use honey), 1 TBS lecithin, 1 cup powdered milk, 2 TBS dough enhancer and 3 cups flour.

Then add:

 2 ½ TBS yeast, mix slightly, let rest about 8 minutes until you can see yeast working good.
Add 7 cups flour all at once and mix well.  Add 3 ½ cups (or more) flour, one at a time and mix well after each until dough leaves the sides of mixer.  Mix about 3-4 min.   Dough should not be sticky to the touch.
Let rise until double.  Punch down form into 5 greased loaf pans.  Let rise until double.
Bake 10 min. at 375 degrees and then 30 min. at 325 degrees.  Take out of pans and grease tops with butter.

Lemon Blueberry Bread



I got this recipe from a friend and I absolutely love it!  It is so fresh and light.  You will love it!

1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsps. grated lemon rind
½ cup milk
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and drained
3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar 

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl. Set aside. Beat butter with 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy in second bowl. Add eggs one at a time; beat well after each one. Adlemon rind. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Fold in blueberries. (Sprinkle small amount of flour over blueberries to prevent sinking to the bottom of the bowl.) Spoon batter into a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Place on wire rack to cool slightly. Bring lemon juice and 1/3 cup sugar to a boil. Pierce loaf. Spoon mixture over loaf. Let stand in pan 1 hour to cool completely. Makes 1 loaf.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hershey's Chocolate Coconut Pie


I love chocolate and coconut together.  It is like the perfect marriage!  This pie is rich, smooth and 
absolutely divine!

Make Crust:
Combine 1/4 cup melted butter and 2 cups sweetened coconut.  Put in bottom of pie pan and up the sides.  DO NOT press firmly.  Pat just enough to have it stick.  Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Take out and cool completely.

Chocolate Mousse:
Cut up 5 Hershey's chocolate bars with almonds and set aside.  In a microwave safe bowl combine 16 large marshmallows and 1/2 cup canned milk.  Put in microwave for 1 minute.  Stir and repeat until marshmallows are melted.  Add Hershey bars and stir until completely melted.  Set aside and cool to room temperature.  Then fold in 1 cup whipped cream with no sugar added.  Refrigerate.  

When cool, top pie with 1 cup of whipped cream.  To this 1 cup of whipped cream add 1/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla and 1/4 tsp almond extract.  Top with chocolate shavings to serve.   

Friday, May 20, 2011

Baked Potato Soup


I think the rain and snow has finally stopped.  It will take a week before we get dried out here.  I am so glad I did not plant my garden last week!  I made this soup two nights ago when it was cold and dark out.  It was Perfect!

Ingredients

  • 10 slices bacon
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 5 cups milk
  • 4 large baked potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium heat until browned. Drain, crumble, and set aside.



Clean your potatoes with a vegetable brush.  Lightly coat them with olive oil, prick with a fork a few times and bake on 400 degrees for about 1 hour or until a fork can be inserted into the potato easily.  Cool slightly and then remove peal and cube.


In a stock pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat.  Then add the garlic and saute for about 2 minutes.  Whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in milk, whisking constantly until thickened. Stir in potatoes, celery and onions. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Mix in bacon, cheese, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted.



Serve with garlic bread.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Caramel Popcorn


For the last three days we have been getting snow!!  Although spring is right around the corner, I have been busy making comfort foods and caramel popcorn is one of those things for me.  There is something about warm caramel and popcorn that always hits the right spot!  I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.  I am afraid my pants may not fit tomorrow!

In a large bowl, pop two batches of air popped popcorn and set aside. 

In a large sauce pot combine 1 cube of butter, 2 cups of brown sugar (packed) and 1 cup of corn syrup.  Over medium heat, bring to a boil and then add 1 can of sweetened condensed milk.  Stirring constantly, cook until it is at a softball stage (about 240 degrees).  Pour over the popcorn and enjoy!!

Baked Tortellini


I first found a recipe for baked tortellini about three years ago.  Since then I have modified and changed the original into this one.  If you are in the mood for good old comfort food, this is one you need to try!  Don't let the many steps scare you off.  You won't regret it!

1 pounds chicken (cooked and shredded)
1 TBS beef bouillon
1 TBS chicken bouillon
1 tsp dried onion flakes
1 1/2 pounds cheese tortellini (dry or fresh)
1 quart Alfredo sauce (recipe below)
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
3 TBS melted butter

I start by cooking my chicken.  I like to boil my chicken for this recipe.  Place your chicken breast in a sauce pan and cover with water.  Let the water come to a boil and skim off the white foam from the top of the water.  Then add the beef bouillon, chicken bouillon and dried onion.  Cover, turn to low and simmer for about 30-40 minutes.  Once done remove form water, shred the chicken and set aside.

I have used several different types of tortellini.  My favorite is fresh, cheese filled, spinach tortellini.  Whatever you can find will be fine as long as it is cheese filled.  Cook the pasta according to the packaging.  30 second before it is done pour the frozen peas directly into the pasta water.  Then drain with the pasta.

ALFREDO 
1 quart heavy cream
1 cube of butter
1 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp pepper

About 10 minutes before the chicken is done start the Alfredo sauce.  In a saute pan melt the butter.  While continually stirring, slowly add the cream. (You will want to have your cream be room temperature or it will turn your butter hard and won't mix well)  Then add your Parmesan cheese and pepper.  Stir until the cheese is completely melted.  

In a small saute pan heat the olive oil,  add the onions and garlic and saute for about 3-5 minutes.  Add the sauteed onions and garlic into the Alfredo sauce.

In a large bowl combine the pasta, Alfredo mixture, chicken and peas.  Pour into a 9x13 pan.  

In a small microwaveable safe bowl melt 3 TBS of butter.  Add the bread crumbs and 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle over the top of the tortellini and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.        

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Navajo Tacos


When I make Navajo Tacos I use a scone dough instead of fry bread.  Fry bread can be tough and I like this dough a lot better.  You can use your favorite chili for this recipe.  I have a few different chili recipes that I have used but I will post my shortcuts.  I am a busy mom and sometimes I don't have time to make a time consuming chili. I hope you enjoy!

Chili
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 onion, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 chili seasoning packet
4 can's chili beans

In a large stockpot brown the hamburger and saute the diced onions.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Turn to low and simmer covered for 30 minutes.

Scones
3 TBS yeast, dissolve in 1/2 cup warm water
2 cups cold milk
1/2 cup shortening, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 rounded tsp salt
3 eggs
6 cups flour

Add all the above ingredients together.  The batter will be a little sticky.  Chill at least 30 minutes.  Roll out to 1/4 inch thick and cut into squares.  Fry in hot oil for about 1 minute on each side.  Drain on a paper towel.

Toppings
Diced tomatoes
Chopped lettuce
Diced Avocados
Diced Olives
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Sour Cream
Salsa

Top scone with chili and toppings of your choice.