Friday, December 23, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup with Cider Cream

Bon Appétit | November 1998

5 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
2 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only)
1/2 cup chopped peeled carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried sage leaves
5 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1 1/2 cups apple cider
2/3 cup sour cream

1/2 cup whipping cream
Chopped fresh chives

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add squash, leeks, carrot and celery; sauté until slightly softened, about 15 minutes. Mix in apples, thyme and sage. Add stock and 1 cup cider and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until apples are tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly.

Working in batches, purée soup in blender. Return soup to pan. Boil remaining 1/2 cup cider in heavy small saucepan until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Cool. Place sour cream in small bowl. Whisk in reduced cider. (Soup and cider cream can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate.)

Bring soup to simmer. Mix in whipping cream. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with cider cream. Top with chives.

Butter Finger Candies

These taste just like Butter Fingers!!

1 (10 oz.) box original Wheat Thins crackers
1 cup creamy peanut butter
16 ounces dipping chocolate or almond bark

Sandwich about 1/2 teaspoon peanut butter between two Wheat Thins crackers; repeat until all crackers have been used. Melt chocolate in microwave at 50 percent power for one minute; stir. Return to microwave at 30 second intervals until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Dip cracker "sandwiches" in chocolate to coat. Set on wax paper. Place in refrigerator or freezer for 10-15 minutes to set completely. Store in an airtight container.

Saltine Cracker Toffee


4 ounces saltine crackers
1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).
Line cookie sheet with saltine crackers in single layer.
In a saucepan combine the sugar and the butter. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Immediately pour over saltines and spread t cover crackers completely.
Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Return to oven for 2-3 minutes. Spread melted chocolate. Cool completely and break into pieces.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

S’mores Bars

½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
5 HERSHEY’s Milk Chocolate Bars (1.55oz each)
3 cups miniature marshmallows

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8-inch square baking pan.
2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until well blended. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Press half of dough into prepared pan. Bake 15 minutes.
3. Sprinkle mini chocolate bars over baked layer or arrange unwrapped chocolate bars over baked layer, breaking as needed to fit. Sprinkle with marshmallows; scatter bits of remaining dough over marshmallows, forming top layer. Bake 10-15 minutes or just until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.

Makes 16 bars

Here is a link for a picture of them. I couldn't figure out how to add the picture to this post. The recipe on the link is a little different than mine but the bars look the same.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mint Brownies

I made these for St. Patrick's Day and they were delicious! (Recipe from:


Here’s how I make them: (I am making 1 1/2 times the recipe in the pictures.)


1. Melt butter in the microwave. In a large bowl add melted butter and cocoa. Whisk together until smooth. (This is important as cocoa can be lumpy)


2. Add whisked eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt to the cocoa mixture. Whisk until smooth.


3. Measure flour and sift into brownie mixture. Stir in by hand. Do not over mix.


4. Spray 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. (Or Baker’s Half Sheet/large cookie sheet if making 1 1/2 times recipe.) Pour mixture into pan and smooth out.

5. Cook in a 350 degree oven for 25-28 minutes… depending on how you like your brownies.

6. Cool for a few minutes then place brownies into freezer for 20 minutes.

7. Make mint layer. Mix together all the ingredients using a mixer.


8. Frost smoothly and place in the freezer for 20 more minutes.


9. While brownies are in the freezer make the chocolate ganache. Place chocolate chips and butter in the microwave for 1 minute. The chips may not look melted, but whisk together well and usually they are. Don’t overcook in the microwave!


10. Pour melted chocolate ganache over the brownies and working quickly spread it evenly over the brownies. Don’t skimp on the freezer time. If the brownies are too warm, the ganache just melts the mint layer and you have a mess. If the brownies have been in the freezer for too long… the ganache sets up really quickly and it’s hard to get it smooth.

11. Place brownies in the freezer for another 20 minutes until ganache is set up. Cut up into bars.IMG_2524

As you can see, I usually make one and a half times the recipe and cook it in a baker’s half sheet (large cookie sheet.) It seems like I’m always making brownies for a crowd! The cookie sheet makes 4 dozen brownies. I always cut around the edge of the pan to keep all the brownies perfect and even. My kids wait for those edges like baby birds…. so they never go to waste!

One trick for cutting the brownies evenly is to cut down the middle first. Then I make marks on the edge before cutting across the pan. For the cookie sheet, I always cut six rows on the width and 8 rows on the length.

Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Mint Brownies – (Recipe for 1 1/2 times is in parenthesis)

Whisk together:
1 c. melted butter (1 ½ c.)
½ c. cocoa powder (3/4 c.)

And then add:
2 c. sugar (3 c.)
4 eggs beaten (6)
1 tsp. vanilla (1 ½ tsp.)
½ tsp. salt (3/4 tsp.)

Mix well and then add:

1 ½ c. sifted flour (2 ¼ c.)

Stir in by hand. Do not over mix.

Pour into 9×13 pan sprayed with cooking spray. If making 1 1/2 recipe pour into Baker’s Half Sheet (large cookie sheet.) Bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes. Cool for a few minutes and then place in freezer for 20 minutes.

While brownies are in the freezer make first layer of topping.

Mint frosting:
½ c. butter softened (3/4 c.)
2 Tbsp. milk (3 Tbsp.)
2 c. powdered sugar (3 c.)
1 tsp. peppermint extract ( 1 ½ tsp.)
green food coloring

Mix thoroughly. Evenly frost brownies and put back in freezer for 20 minutes. Make chocolate ganache top layer.

Chocolate Ganache Topping:
½ c. butter (3/4 c.)
1 ½ c. good semi sweet chocolate chips (2 ¼ c.)

Melt and whisk together. (I melt them together in a Pyrex measuring bowl in the microwave for one minute. Be careful not to overheat. It won’t look melted but once whisked it is.) Drizzle warm chocolate over brownies and spread smooth with a spatula. Put back in freezer for another 20 minutes.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

(Easy) Caribbean Steak with Coconut Rice

1/2 c fresh orange juice or pineapple juice
2 tbsp jerk seasoning
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
1.5 lbs steak

1 c canned coconut milk
1 cup long-grain white rice
1/2 txp salt
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro

1. For the steak, in a small bowl combine orange juice, jerk seasoning and cilantro. Transfer to a large resealable plastic back. Add steak; seal bag. Refrigerate 8-24 hours turning occasionally (ours marinated for about 2 hours and was great!).
2. For the rice, in a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups water, coconut milk, rice and salt; bring to boiling over medium-high heat; season with salt to taste.
3. Meanwhile, remove steak from marinade. Coat grill rack with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat grill to medium (300F to 350F). Place steak on grill and grill for 8-10 minutes for medium-rare (145 degrees) or to desired doneness.
4. Service with rice and sprinkle with cilantro (optional).

Serves 4

Buffalo Chicken Dip

  • 1 pkg. (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese or shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese salad dressing or ranch salad dressing
  • 2 cans (12.5 ounces each) Chicken Breast in Water, drained
  • 1/2 cup any flavor FRANK'S® RedHot® sauce (we prefer Frank's Buffalo sauce)
  • Assorted fresh vegetables, crackers or tortilla chips
  • Directions:
  1. Heat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Stir the cream cheese in a 9-inch deep dish pie plate with a fork or whisk until it's smooth.
    Stir in the dressing, pepper sauce and blue cheese. Stir in the chicken.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes or until the chicken mixture is hot and bubbling. (also works well in a crock pot)
    Stir before serving.
    Serve with the vegetables and crackers for dipping.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Super Easy Molten Chocolate Cakes


1 cup unsalted butter or unsalted margarine*
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, or bars, cut into bite-size chunks
5 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
4 teaspoons flour (or matzo meal, ground in a blender to a fine powder)
8 extra-large paper muffin cups (or use regular paper muffin cups, which will make 12 cakes)

1 (6 ounce) container raspberries, barely moistened and rolled in about
1/2 cup sugar right before serving

Melt butter and chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; remove from heat. Beat eggs, sugar and salt with a hand mixer in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Beat egg mixture into chocolate until smooth. Beat in flour or matzo meal until just combined. (Batter can be made a day ahead; return to room temperature an hour or so before baking.)
Before serving dinner, adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a standard-size muffin tin (1/2 cup capacity) with 8 extra-large muffin papers (papers should extend above cups to facilitate removal). Spray muffin papers with vegetable cooking spray. Divide batter among muffin cups.
Bake until batter puffs but center is not set, 8 to 10 minutes. Carefully lift cakes from tin and set on a work surface. Pull papers away from cakes and transfer cakes to dessert plates.
Top each with sugared raspberries and serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Whole Wheat Bread

Found this one on and tried it out yesterday - so delicious!

3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast

1/3 cup honey

5 cups bread flour

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1/3 cup honey

1 tablespoon salt

3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons butter, melted

I also added about 3 TB of flax seed meal and 2 TB of oat bran to my whole wheat flour


1.In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.

2.Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

3.Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.

4.Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely.

**I only baked one loaf. I shaped the other two on saran wrap, wrapped them tightly and then put them in a freezer bag to freeze for later. To use from frozen, just put a loaf in the fridge for 24 hours, then put it in greased loaf pan and allow to rise the second time (1 inch above pan) before baking as in recipe.

Monkey Bread

3 (12 ounce) packages refrigerated biscuit dough
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 package of Cook and Serve Butterscotch pudding mix
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I used pecans)
1/2 cup raisins (I omitted)

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 9 or 10 inch Bundt® pan (solid bottom).

2. Finely chop pecans/walnuts and sprinkle in bottom of Bundt pan. Shake half of a package of butterscotch pudding mix over the nuts.

3.Mix white sugar and cinnamon in a plastic bag. Cut biscuits into quarters. Shake 6 to 8 biscuit pieces in the sugar cinnamon mix. Arrange pieces in the bottom of the prepared pan. Continue until all biscuits are coated and placed in pan. If using raisins, arrange them in and among the biscuit pieces as you go along.

4.In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute. Pour over the biscuits.

5.Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 minutes. Let bread cool in pan for a few minutes, then turn out onto a plate.  The bread just pulls apart with the help of a fork (the nuts make it a bit messy but yummy!).

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

I love as a place to get yummy recipes:

Here is one of my favorites:

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos
Recipe by

1/3 C (3 oz) cream cheese
1/4 C green salsa

1T fresh lime juice
1/2 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/4 t granulated garlic
3 T chopped cilantro
2 T sliced green onions

2 C shredded cooked chicken
1 C grated pepperjack cheese (it is spicy, so you can use a mixed bag of cheese that has pepperjack cheese in it)

flour tortillas (you can also use corn)
kosher salt
cooking spray

Heat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.

Heat cream cheese in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds so it's soft and easy to stir. Add green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and granulated garlic. Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions. Add chicken and cheese and combine well.
You can prepare up to this step ahead of time. Just keep the mixture in the fridge. 

Work with a few tortillas at a time and heat in the microwave until they are soft enough to roll without cracking. It helps to place them between damp paper towels. Usually 20-30 seconds will do it. If you find yours are cracking when you roll them or come unrolled right away, just try heating them longer and try the paper towel thing.  (You won't need to do this with flour tortillas)

Place 2-3 T of chicken mixture on the lower third of a tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges.

Then roll it up as tight as you can.

Place seam side down on the baking sheet. Lay all of the taquitos on the baking sheet and make sure they are not touching each other. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray or an oil mister and sprinkle some kosher salt on top.

Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown.

Dip 'em in salsa, sour cream, or guacamole.

You can also freeze these and bake when you want

Friday, April 16, 2010


While I LOVE Kristen's Fudge recipe... one day I found myself without the correct ingredients. I scrounged around for a recipe with things I had and came up this this is SOOOO easy and has fantastic results


2 cups white sugar
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup butter
25 marshmallows, quartered
2 cups milk chocolate chips
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
(frankly just use whatever chocolate you have - I've made it with all milk, all semisweet, a mix - just depends on how you want it to taste and what's in the pantry!)
1 cup chopped pecans (optional_


Grease 1 - 11x16 inch jelly roll, or cake pan for thicker fudge. Set aside.
Combine sugar, milk, vanilla and butter in large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and add marshmallows, semi-sweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate. Stir until melted and smooth. Stir in nuts. Mix well.
Pour into prepared pan. Let fudge sit at least 24 hours before cutting into squares (let's be honest... I never do that). Refrigerate for easier cutting.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Easy (and really good!) Beef Stew

1-2 pounds stew beef
2-3 cans sliced potatoes
drained1 lb. bag of baby carrots
1 can green peas, drain and reserve the juice
1 onion, chopped
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can tomato soup

In a 9 x 13 baking pan, layer the above ingredients in the order listed. Combine reserved pea juice with the cream of celery and cream of tomato soup. Pour soup mixture over the layered ingredients. Cover with foil and bake at 275 for 5 hours or at 325 for 3 hours.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Jon's Peanut Butter Goodies

Our friends Jon and Angel came to visit and Jon brought these... I wouldn't let Jared touch them!

2 C. Graham cracker crumbs
2 C. creamy peanut butter
2 C. powder sugar
1/2 C. butter, melted.
1.5-2lbs chocolate

Blend all ingredients (except chocolate) until paste-like. Roll into balls and chill until hardened. Dip into melted chocolate.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Honey Glazed Chicken

Another new one we had tonight combined these two recipe instructions from here and here.  We all liked it.

Honey Glazed Chicken

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 cup butter

4 chicken breasts (I used the 5oz. frozen chicken breasts from Sams Club and cut into chicken tenders)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix flour, salt and cayenne pepper together in a large ziploc bag. Drop chicken in bag and shake to coat. Melt butter and place in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Place flour coated chicken in baking dish and turn to coat both sides with butter. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Honey Glaze Sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp curry powder

1/4 cup butter, melted (I actually forgot this and it was still good- but with butter sounds pretty yummy!)

Melt in a sauce pan until sugar dissolves. Pour over chicken pieces. Bake for an additional 30-45 minutes. Serve over rice.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Parmesan Ranch Chicken and Ranch Chicken Pizza

Here are two new recipes I tried this week.  Of course they are easy, but we liked them!  I found them both on this website:

Parmesan Ranch Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup crushed corn flakes

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp dry ranch dressing mix

2-3 Tbsp melted butter

Rinse chicken breasts and set aside. Combine corn flakes, cheese, and dressing mix in a shallow container. Dip chicken in butter, then in crumb mixture. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or till juices run clear. (Well, I baked mine a lot longer, but they were frozen to begin with, and I had party potatoes in the oven at the same time)
And this one:
Chicken Ranch Pizza
1 recipe for pizza crust (I used pillsbury)

2-3 chicken breasts

1/2-3/4 cup Ranch dressing

2 cups mozzarella cheese

1 1/2 cups chopped Roma tomatoes

1/4-1/3 cup green onions

1-2 cups cheddar cheese

Cook and shred chicken. Spread dressing over crust. Sprinkle mozzarella, then tomato, green onions, and chicken. Top with cheddar cheese. Bake until crust is lightly browned and cheese is melted (maybe like 15 min). 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I made this the other night, and it was so easy!

3 uncooked chicken breasts
3 (14.5 ounce) cans of tomatoes with liquid (I use the ones with green chilies mixed in)
10 ounce can enchilada sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
15 ounce can chicken broth
15 ounce can corn, undrained
10 ounce can cream of chicken soup concentrate
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf

Place all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low for 10 hours. You can also cook on high for 6 hours or some combination, just make sure the chicken breasts are cooked and can be shredded easily with a fork. You can add extra liquid if the soup is too thick and adjust the spices to your liking. The enchilada sauce tends to make it pretty tangy. Serve over tortilla chips and cheese! :)

Fancy Banana Cream Pie

This past New Year's Eve we went to the neighborhood party. I was in charge of a dessert. While I love to cook I can leave baking to a bakery any day so it was a challenge to think of what I wanted to make.

My mother has been raving about a Banana Cream Pie dessert at Chesters lately so I decided I would try to create a fancy martini glass version that I could serve up individually (because really what is more ugly than a gloppy scoop of banana cream pie at a fancy party?!)

So here's what I came up with (Cassi - this may seem like an intimidating amount of steps but they are all simple and SOOOO worth it!):

For the Filling:

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in heavy medium saucepan to blend. Gradually whisk in whipping cream and whole milk, then egg yolks. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add vanilla bean. Whisk over medium-high heat until custard thickens and boils, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in unsalted butter and vanilla extract. Discard vanilla bean. Transfer custard to large bowl; cool completely, whisking occasionally, about 1 hour.

For the Crumble:

3 cups walnuts (about 12 ounces)
1 cup whole almonds
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled

Preheat oven to 350°F. Finely chop all nuts with sugar in processor. Add butter and blend until well combined. Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet and cook until lightly browned

For the Chocolate Sauce (this is so good on icecream too!):
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons coffee-flavored liqueur (recommended: Kahlua) this can also be coffee if you don't want the alcohol or nothing at all for a basic chocolate fudge sauce

Place the chocolate in a mixing bowl.

Combine the milk and cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from stove and pour hot milk over chocolate. Allow mixture to sit for 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Add coffee liqueur and whisk to combine.

Caramel Sauce (also GREAT on icecream!):
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup whole milk

Place all of the ingredients into a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes then take it out and stir. Continue to microwave for 1 minute at a time until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce reaches your desired consistency(may take awhile).


Chop up a few bananas

Take your martini glass and spoon some of the crumble into the bottom, top with a scoop of filling some of each (warmed) sauce and some bananas. Repeat each layer one more time for a fantastic parfait!! (Sorry no pictures... we ate them all)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Grown Up Mac and Cheese

I made this tonight after Brandon's mom made it for him and it was delicious. I cooked the bacon in a microwave and didn't use bread crumbs...


  • 4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
  • Vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
  • 2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.

Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Neiman Marcus Cookies

Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe

(Recipe may be halved):
2 cups butter
4 cups flour
2 tsp. soda
2 cups sugar
5 cups blended oatmeal**
24 oz. chocolate chips
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 8 oz. Hershey Bar (grated)
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)

** Measure oatmeal and blend in a blender to a fine powder. Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey Bar and nuts. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 112 cookies.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tomato-Basil Crab Bisque

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
10 ounces fresh crabmeat
1 tomato, seeded, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups clam-tomato juice (such as Clamato)
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup bottled clam juice
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add 3/4 of crabmeat, tomato, 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil, and garlic. Sauté 2 minutes. Whisk in flour; stir 2 minutes. Whisk in clam-tomato juice and next 5 ingredients. Reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Cool soup slightly.

Puree soup in batches in blender until smooth. Return soup to pot. Stir in 3/4 cup water and lemon juice; bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to simmer before continuing.) Divide soup among 6 bowls. Sprinkle with remaining crab and 3 tablespoons basil and serve.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Spinach pasta chicken salad

12 oz box campanelle pasta (cooked) (you can also use bowtie pasta if you prefer)
1/4 cup sesame seeds (toasted)
1/4 cup sliced almonds (toasted)
6 cups shredded cooked white meat chicken (I usually just bake up a bunch of chicken breasts for this then cube them)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped green onions
8 cups torn fresh baby spinach

1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Spicy Shrimp and Fettucine (from Cooking Light)

Another one from Cooking Light that Brandon and I tried. Very good!

8 ounces uncooked fettuccine (I actually used whole wheat linguine)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups chopped Roma tomatoes (about 5)
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta. Drain.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add red pepper and garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add shrimp; sauté 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and next 4 ingredients (through salt); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in pasta; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.

Place pasta mixture on plates; top each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Caramel Sea Salt Icecream

We made this for Thanksgiving -it was delicious!!

For the caramel praline (mix-in)
½ cup (100 gr) sugar
¾ teaspoon sea salt, such as fleur de sel

For the ice cream custard
2 cups (500 ml) whole milk, divided
1½ cups (300 gr) sugar
4 tablespoons (60 gr) salted butter
scant ½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cups (250 ml) heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

1. To make the caramel praline, spread the ½ cup (100 gr) of sugar in an even layer in a medium-sized, unlined heavy duty saucepan: I use a 6 quart/liter pan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or brush it sparingly with unflavored oil.

2. Heat the sugar over moderate heat until the edges begin to melt. Use a heatproof utensil to gently stir the liquefied sugar from the bottom and edges towards the center, stirring, until all the sugar is dissolved. (Or most of it—there may be some lumps, which will melt later.)

Continue to cook stirring infrequently until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it's just about to burn. It won't take long.

3. Without hesitation, sprinkle in the ¾ teaspoon salt without stirring (don't even pause to scratch your nose), then pour the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet and lift up the baking sheet immediately, tilting and swirling it almost vertically to encourage the caramel to form as thin a layer as possible. Set aside to harden and cool.

4. To make the ice cream, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl about a third full with ice cubes and adding a cup or so of water so they're floating. Nest a smaller metal bowl (at least 2 quarts/liters) over the ice, pour 1 cup (250 ml) of the milk into the inner bowl, and rest a mesh strainer on top of it.

5. Spread 1½ cups (300 gr) sugar in the saucepan in an even layer. Cook over moderate heat, until caramelized, using the same method described in Step #2.

6. Once caramelized, remove from heat and stir in the butter and salt, until butter is melted, then gradually whisk in the cream, stirring as you go.

The caramel may harden and seize, but return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard caramel is melted. Stir in 1 cup (250 ml) of the milk.

7. Whisk the yolks in a small bowl and gradually pour some of the warm caramel mixture over the yolks, stirring constantly. Scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and cook the custard using a heatproof utensil, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture thickens. If using an instant-read thermometer, it should read 160-170 F (71-77 C).

8. Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk set over the ice bath, add the vanilla, then stir frequently until the mixture is cooled down. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or until thoroughly chilled.

9. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

10. While the ice cream is churning, crumble the hardened caramel praline into very little bits, about the size of very large confetti (about ½-inch, or 1 cm). I use a mortar and pestle, although you can make your own kind of music using your hands or a rolling pin.

11. Once your caramel ice cream is churned, quickly stir in the crushed caramel, then chill in the freezer until firm.

Note: As the ice cream sits, the little bits of caramel may liquefy and get runny and gooey, which is what they're intended to do.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fig and Goat Cheese Crostini

3 tablespoons minced shallot
2 (3-inch) fresh thyme sprigs plus 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/2 Turkish or 1/4 California bay leaf
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 lb dried Black Mission figs, finely chopped (3/4 cup)
3/4 cup Port
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
12 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonally cut baguette slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 oz soft mild honey goat cheese at room temperature
2 fresh ripe figs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Garnish: fresh thyme leaves

Make savory fig jam:
Cook shallot, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf in butter in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring, until shallot is softened, about 2 minutes. Add dried figs, Port, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, until figs are soft, about 10 minutes. If there is still liquid in saucepan, remove lid and simmer, stirring, until most of liquid is evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes more. Discard bay leaf and thyme sprigs and transfer jam to a bowl. Cool, then stir in minced thyme and salt and pepper to taste.

Make toasts while jam cools:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350°F.

Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush tops lightly with oil. Bake until lightly toasted, about 7 minutes. Cool on baking sheet on a rack.

Assemble crostini:
Spread each toast with 1 teaspoon fig jam and top with about 1 1/2 teaspoons goat cheese and 2 pieces fresh fig.

•Fig jam can be made 1 week ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before using.
•Toasts can be made 1 day ahead and cooled, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cheri's Layered Pumpkin Torte

Created by Cheri... discovered by my mom

Cheri’s Layered Pumpkin Torte

24 Graham Crackers crushed
3 Egg yolks, save egg whites
1/3 Cup Sugar
1 Can Pumpkin (approx 2 cups)(not pie filling)
½ Cup Butter, melted
½ Cup Sugar

½ Teaspoon salt
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
¾ Cup Sugar
1 Envelope unflavored gelatin
8 Ounces Cream Cheese
¼ Cup Cold water

¼ Cup Sugar

1 Pint Whipping Cream or Cool Whip


Crust: Finely crush graham crackers using a food processor or rolling pin.
Mix graham crackers with sugar and melted butter.

Press into a 9x13 pan.

Filling # 1 2 eggs
¾ cup sugar

8 oz. cream cheese

Beat ingredients together and spread over crust.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool.
Filling # 2 1 can (approx. 2 cups) pumpkin (not pie filling)
½ cup sugar

3 egg yolks, SAVE Egg Whites

½ cup milk

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
¼ cup cold water
Combine gelatin and cold water in small bowl and set aside.
Combine all other ingredients (not gelatin mix) in a 2 quart sauce pan
Boil/cook til thickened.
Remove from heat and add the gelatin mixture.
BEAT 3 EGG WHITES with ¼ cup sugar til stiff peaks form.

Fold egg whites into pumpkin mixture.
Spread pumpkin mixture over cream cheese layer.
Top with whipped cream, sweetened slightly with powdered sugar.
Can use Cool Whip in place of whipped cream – but it won’t be the same!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pizza Sauce

  • 1 (14-to 15-ounces) can whole tomatoes in juice
  • 5 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 basil leaves plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar

Pulse tomatoes with juice in a blender briefly to make a chunky purée.

Cook garlic in oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until fragrant and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Add tomato purée, basil, sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 40 minutes. Season with salt and cool.

Pizza Crust


  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups 00 flour, plus more for dusting


In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water; stir gently to dissolve. Let the mixture stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Turn the mixer on low and add the salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the flour, a little at a time, mixing at the lowest speed until all the flour has been incorporated. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium; stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Get a feel for the dough by squeezing a small amount together: if it's crumbly, add more water; if it's sticky, add more flour - 1 tablespoon at a time. Mix until the dough gathers into a ball, this should take about 5 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over itself a few times; kneading until it's smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a round and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turn it over to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot (i.e. over a gas pilot light) until doubled in size, about 1 hour. This is a good time to stick a pizza stone in the oven and preheat them to 500 degrees F.

Once the dough is domed and spongy, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter. Roll and stretch the dough into a cylinder and divide into 3 equal pieces. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes so it will be easier to roll out.

Roll or pat out a piece of dough into a 12 inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Dust a pizza paddle with flour and slide it under the pizza dough. Brush the crust with a thin layer of olive oil, and top with your favorite flavors. Slide the pizza onto the hot stone in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is golden and crisp. Repeat with the remaining dough.


Jared is not a breakfast eater, but he's a snacker. This creates a problem because he eats horribly during the day when he gets hungry from his lack of morning food.

I was determined to fix this... and the solution was granola! I don't love store bought granola so I decided to use a few recipes to fashion one that was the perfect blend for us.

Here's what I came up with:


  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup craisins
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300°F. Spray large baking sheet with nonstick spray. Mix next 6 ingredients in large bowl. Combine oil, honey, and sugar in small saucepan; bring to simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour hot liquid over oat mixture; stir well. Using hands, toss mixture until thoroughly mixed.

Spread granola on prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Transfer sheet to rack; cool granola completely.

My granola doesn't clump... it stays loose like a cereal. That's how Jared eats it - with milk and a banana sliced up. So, if you'd rather it clump add some more honey and don't toss it during the baking.

Chili Crab

Tonight Jared and I discovered a great deal on crab meat at Byerly's. I just knew it was time for some Chili Crab!

Chili Crab is a dish introduced to us by my aunt and uncle. They lived in Singapore for a while and brought this yumminess back with them. It's a fascinating meal because it's served over french bread - owed to the influence of the french over the colony. It's usually made with whole crabs, but then eating it is a lot of work. I'm looking more for the shovel it into my mouth (it's THAT delicious) method so having just the meat from the store was ideal.

Here's the recipe:

1 lb. crab meat
4 T vegetable oil
4 T garlic, minced
3 T ginger, grated
1 egg
3 T siracha (adjust this depending on how hot you like it)
1 cup ketchup
2 T sugar
2 T soy sauce
2 T sesame oil
1 T cornstarch
1 cup water

In a small bowl combine the ketchup, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch and water.

Heat oil in wok, then add the garlic, ginger and siracha. Stir-fry for 1 minute. Add contents of bowl and heat until boiling. Add crab meat and heat through. Beat egg in bowl then add to the wok. Heat through for 2-3 minutes

Serve with french bread.

Here are some pictures Jared took during the prep...

Grating ginger:

Our delicious crab:

Ginger, garlic and siracha:

Sauce added:

In goes the crab:

Then the egg:

Finished product!

Served up with some french bread:

And seriously, who could resist cannoli for desert?!?!?? (yes, I know cannoli and chili crab seem like an odd combination.. but two delicious things are always ok in my book)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Corn Dip

Not Healthy. AT ALL. But it's really, really, really good if you need another appetizer - particularly if you are making some Tex Mex food or something similar. I highly recommend it!

1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 16oz. bag of FROZEN corn
1 stick of butter
1 jar of jalapenos
Chips. I always use fritos, but all are good.

Using the microwave or the oven, melt the butter in a good size dish (I like to use my corningware.) Then, add the corn, jalapenos, and 1/2 of the jar of the jalapeno juice. You can add more or less, depending on how spicy you want it! Microwave or put in the oven until it's good and hot. You might have to stir and reheat so that it thoroughly heats. Serve! It's so good!

Fruit Salsa and Homemade Cinnamon Sugar Chips

Ok, Allison. I am putting this recipe up specifically with you in mind. You tirelessly provide me with food to feed my husband, so I owe you one great recipe at least!!! This is it. It's not hard AT ALL, but it's a pretty impressive little appetizer, and people RAVE about it!

2 kiwis- peeled and diced
2 Golden Delicious apples - peeled, cored and diced
8 ounces raspberries
1 pound strawberries
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tablespoons fruit preserves, any flavor

10 (10 inch) flour tortillas (these are the really small ones!)
butter flavored cooking spray
2 cups cinnamon sugar (you can make your 1 or 2 tbsp cinnamon to every cup of sugar or such. Just mix til it looks right!)

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix kiwis, Golden Delicious apples, raspberries, strawberries, white sugar, brown sugar and fruit preserves. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350.
Coat one side of each flour tortilla with butter flavored cooking spray. Cut into wedges and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. (I usually spray a tortilla, then lay another one on top and spray it, then another, until I reach about 4 or 5 layered tortillas. Then I cut with a pizza cutter. It saves time.) Sprinkle wedges thoroughly with cinnamon sugar, coating them as best as you can. Spray one more time with the butter cooking spray.

Bake in the preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes. Repeat with any remaining tortilla wedges. Allow to cool approximately 15 minutes. Serve with chilled fruit mixture. Great, great appetizer!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Parmesan Chicken


1 clove garlic, minced
1 stick unsalted butter melted
1 cup dried bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
A large pinch of Italian seasoning (herb mix)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 lbs of skinless, boneless, chicken meat, cut into pieces no larger than 2x2 inches


1 Preheat oven to 450°F.
2 In a bowl, combine the minced garlic with the melted butter. In another bowl mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan, parsley, salt, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, and pepper. Dip chicken pieces into garlic butter, then into crumb mixture to coat.
3 Place coated chicken pieces on to a 9x13 baking dish. Try to leave a little room between each piece. Drizzle with remaining garlic butter and bake uncovered 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear. Note that the chicken will get much more browned on the bottom side than on the top.

Serves 4-6. Got recipe here. I altered a few things a bit depending on what I had on hand, but it was still delicious!!

We served with Party Potatoes.

Spinach Topped Tomatoes

My Aunt Ellen served these last weekend... they were really wonderful!


  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • Salt
  • 3 large tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup soft bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese, optional


In a saucepan, cook spinach according to package directions with bouillon; drain well. Cool slightly; press out excess liquid.
Lightly salt tomato slices; place with cut side down on a paper towel for 15 minutes to absorb excess moisture.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine spinach with bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, onion, butter, egg, garlic, pepper and cayenne pepper. Mix well.
Place tomato slices in a shallow baking dish. Divide the spinach mixture over tomatoes. Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese if desired. Bake at 350° for about 15 minutes or until heated through.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Oreo Ice Cream Cake

1 box Oreo cookies
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
1/2 c. butter
8 oz. cool whip
1 can Kraft hot fudge topping

Crush 1 of box Oreos and mix half of them with 1/2 c. melted butter. Press into a 9x13 pan. Spread heated Kraft hot fudge topping on top of crust. Freeze until hardened. Layer on 1/2 gallon softened vanilla ice cream. Spread cool whip across the top and sprinkle as many oreos as you want. Easy and always good!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Chicken Ole

Got this recipe from my sister. Brandon loves it and it's super easy!

4-5 boneless chicken breasts
1 can condensed cream of chicken
3/4 cup chunky salsa or diced tomatoes with green chiles
4 cups corn chips
2 cups Monterey Jack or Mexican mixture cheese

Arrange chicken in 11x17 baking dish. Combine the soup with the salsa, pour over chicken breasts. Top with corn chips and shredded cheese. Cover and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until bubbly and chicken is completely cooked.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mango Bean Salsa

19 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed

14 ounces corn kernels, rinsed and drained

1.5 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

1 mango, diced

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon siracha (adjust to make it as hot as you'd like)

1/8 teaspoon cumin

Combine all ingredients, except avocado, in a large bowl and mix well. Chill.

Just before serving, peel and chop avocado. Combine and mix well.

Chicken Enchiladas

Made this for Jared to eat this week... he said it was a hit

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 can jalapenos (chopped up)
  • 2 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast meat
  • 3 cup shredded mexican blend cheese, divided
  • 10 flour tortillas
  • 1/4 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking dish.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and saute the onion until tender (about 3 to 4 minutes). Add jalapenos, cream of mushroom soup, taco seasoning and sour cream. Mix well. Reserve 1/2 of this sauce and set aside. To the remaining 1/4 of the sauce in the saucepan, add the chicken and 2 cups of shredded cheese. Stir together.
  3. Fill each flour tortilla with the chicken mixture and roll up. Place seam side down in the prepared baking dish.
  4. In a small bowl combine the reserved 3/4 of the sauce with the milk. Spoon this mixture over the rolled tortillas and top with the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.