Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I'll be back soon...

I apologize to the few readers I do have for taking some time off from blogging.  It's not as easy for me as it is for "normal" people to juggle cooking, blogging, and the holidays.  Actually I've even been slacking on the cooking end too (my husband pointed that out) but I'm having a minor outpatient procedure on Thursday so next week I plan on getting back to cooking and blogging as long as everything goes good!  So see you all soon and I hope you all have a good New Years! 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Green Bean Casserole

This isn't the traditional GB-Casserole with the canned soup and canned/frozen green beans, this is what I consider to be 100% homemade or as close to it as you can be.  I guess you could always make the fried onions yourself rather than out of a can.  But anyways this was delicious and while I was eating I heard a couple people ask who made them and comment about them.  And the best thing about them is they don't really take long to make. 

Green Bean Casserole
2 pounds Fresh Green Beans, Ends Cut Off
4 slices Bacon, Cut Into 1/4 Inch Pieces
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
½ whole Large Onion, Chopped
4 Tbsp. Butter
4 Tbsp. All-purpose Flour
2-½ cups Whole Milk
½ cups Half-and-half
1-½ tsp Salt, More To Taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
⅛ tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 cup Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 jar (4 Ounce) Sliced Pimentoes, Drained
Extra Milk For Thinning If Necessary
1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs or French's Fried Onions

Boil green beans and then drain them and set to the side.  Add bacon to a skillet and cook for a few minutes and then add the garlic and onion and cook until the bacon is done but not crisp. 

In a separate skillet or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle flour into the pan and whisk immediately to evenly mix it into the butter. Cook for a minute or two, then pour in milk and half and half. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, while sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne then add the grated cheddar. Stir while cheese melts. Turn off heat.

Add the onion mixture and the pimentos then pour over the green beans and stir gently. (you can do this is the dish you plan on baking it in or feel free to dirty another dish and do it in that.)  Sprinkle either the Panko bread crumbs or the onions over the green beans. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Adapted from Pioneer Woman.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Jalapeno Popper Dip

FYI-I doubled the recipe, so if you want this much then double the recipe!
A couple weeks ago or so we went to a friends house and she had made this dip and it was absolutely wonderful, between the four of us I think we ate the whole batch.  After having it there I knew I wanted to take it to Thanksgiving.  At my friend's house we ate it with baguette slices and so I served it with the same, only thing is when you toast them in the oven make sure you get them crispy enough, I thought I did but when I ate some they didn't taste that great because they needed to be toasted longer.  I took the leftover dip to my family's get together on Friday and they ate them with Ritz and said it tasted really good!  This would be a perfect dish to serve at any get together-large or small, football parties, Christmas name it, take it!

Lee was being my hand model!

Jalapeno Popper Dip
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chiles, drained
1 (4 oz.) can diced jalapeno peppers, drained
½ cup shredded Mexican style cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2-4 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix the panko and Parmesan in a small bowl and set to the side.  Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl till well blended, spread in a 9x9 baking dish.  Sprinkle the panko mixture over the cream cheese mixture and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until topping is golden and mixture is hot.  (If you had mine at Thanksgiving then you should know I forgot to spray mine with cooking spray therefore it wasn't golden.) 

Adapted from Annie's Eats & got the wonderful idea from my friend Kirbe to add BACON!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Basic Pie Dough

I made Annie's Basic Pie Dough a couple of weeks ago but I never took any pictures and so I decided just to provide you with links to Annie's recipe along with her tips and tricks.  Also here is a link to learn how to make a lattice pie crust.

I think this will be my shortest post ever!  Anyways Happy Thanksgiving, I will be making a few things today and tomorrow morning to take to my in laws house!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sopapilla Cheesecake

I've been wanting to make this for awhile now and I finally did!  I have a stack of recipes waiting to be posted but since Thanksgiving is this week I wanted to post this ASAP for those that are still looking for a dessert to make.  This was one of the easiest desserts I've ever made, I think I prepared it in 10 minutes.  And it was really good! 

Sopapilla Cheesecake
16 ounces cream cheese (2-bricks)
2 cans Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations refrigerated seamless dough sheet
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl mix together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla.  In a 9x13 dish lay out one can of the dough and spread the cream cheese mixture on top, then lay out another can of dough on top.  Melt the butter and pour on top followed by the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Bake for 30 minutes. 
Adapted from Pillsbury. 

Baby Shower Cake & Update

Well I had all intentions of posting Monday through Thursday last week but I didn't create my posts ahead of time (even though I have about 10 or more recipes/pictures to be posted) and I was so busy with making cookies and a cake for a shower plus getting ready to be out of town Thursday-Monday that keeping up with my blog was impossible.  But I'm so sorry and this week I will be posting Monday-Wednesday.  I'm kind of sad because I was wanting to have quite a bit of holiday recipes posted so you all might be able to try out some of my recipes for your Thanksgiving Dinner but that didn't happen, but tomorrow I will post a Pie Crust Recipe and after Thanksgiving I'll get some stuff posted that could be used for Christmas!  I'll go through my recipes and if I have any other thing ready to be posted that is Holiday Dinner food then I'll double post tomorrow, or later today. 

Anyways below is a picture of a cake I did for one of my best friends baby shower.  I learned to decorate cakes when I was 10 and I haven't done a cake since I was 19 or 20.  Lately I have been really wanting to get back into it, possibly even make some for money, but I need to update my portfolio and practice so I saw my friends shower the perfect opportunity.  I wanted to make the cake 100% fondant but since I hadn't ever made a fondant cake I was scared to start out on a cake that had a deadline so I decided to ice it with Buttercream and accent it with Fondant.  I think it turned out pretty good considering it's been 4-5 years.  Oh and case your wondering the bottom was chocolate cake and the top was white cake with strawberry filling. (I'll post the strawberry filling recipe soon!)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I was in the mood for Chili so I went to searching for a good recipe, until now I had only used the package spice stuff but I will never do that again.  It was so easy and tasted really good.  I ended up going with my friend Kirbe's recipe and I'm glad I did.  Now if you don't like spicy Chili or if children are going to be eating this then I'd play around with the Chili Powder, I used 5T. and Kirbe estimated she used 5-6 so I would think that maybe cutting it to 4 would be childproof but since I didn't try it that way then all I can say is to play around with it and maybe only add a tablespoon at a time. 

 *Gift Idea-You could combine all the spices and bottle/package it up and give it away and include directions with it.  I think this combo of spices is much better than buying one of those packages at the store.  I plan on making homemade taco seasoning and giving some away this Christmas so I don't know why you couldn't do this the same way. 

2lbs ground beef
1 large yellow sweet onion, diced
2 cans of beans, drained & rinsed (I used pinto & kidney but next time I'll only use pinto)
3 cans of tomatoes, with juice (I'd suggest using Chili Tomatoes or fire roasted tomatoes)
2 tbsp. oregano
2 tsp. ground cumin
3 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. chipotle chili powder
2-6 tbsp. Chili powder (depends on how spicy you want it, I used 5)
salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot combine your onions, beef, and seasonings and cook on medium high heat until your meat is browned.  Add your tomatoes and beans and bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. 

Adapted from my friend Kirbe and her blog, Mama's Kitchen

Monday, November 15, 2010

Beef Sandwich Spread

I have a stack of recipes to share with you guys but instead of choosing from that stack I decided to post the most recent new thing I have made because it was amazing!  This is pretty much the same thing as a Tuna Salad Sandwich but with beef.  And you can make it with leftover steak (that's what we did) or leftover roast.  Maybe you have ate it or heard of it but I'm 24 and my husband is 26 and neither of us ever had so I thought it deserved a post ASAP! 

*I'm not really going to put exact measurements because it all depends on how much beef you have and what you like but just imagine your making Tuna Salad. 

Beef Sandwich Spread
Steak or Roast, grind up in the food processor
boiled eggs
sweet pickle relish
white vinegar

Chop everything up and throw it together, mix & spread on bread!  As easy as that! 

*If you would like picture instructions or exact amounts please see my source, Pioneer Woman

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rich and Thick Hot Chocolate

When it's cold outside I have a SMALL obsession with homemade hot chocolate.  I haven't had hot chocolate in packets since I was probably 17 and even then I used to use milk instead of water.  My senior year in high school I lived with my grandparents and my grandfather would make a batch of hot chocolate made out of cocoa, the recipe that is on the side of the cocoa, and he would put it in a pitcher and I could heat me up a cup at a time whenever I wanted it.  I kept doing this for many years and last year I found this recipe, so this will be my 2nd winter with it.  Also I have substituted some of the milk for cream and it didn't really change the taste so I don't think it's worth the extra calories, do it if you wish but to  me it's not worth it.

Rich and Thick Hot Chocolate
1 cup water
2 squares  Baker's Unsweetened Chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups  milk
1 tsp. vanilla
In a medium saucepan cook water and chocolate on medium heat until melted.  Stir constantly.  Add sugar and bring to boil.  Add milk and continue stirring constantly.  Turn down heat and add vanilla, continue stirring until heated through.  *You can also pour the mixture in a pitcher and heat up one glass at a time and store in the refrigerator for a couple of days.  I don't have the patience to let the stove heat it so I always heat it in the microwave once I had the vanilla!
Adapted from Kraft Foods.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Baked Potato Soup

Potato Soup in a bread bowl from Panera Bread is my usual after surgery!  My hospital in Richardson has a Panera Bread on the way to the hospital from our old apartment so every morning Lee would bring me a smoothie, bagel, and cream cheese and after surgery he'd bring me potato soup in a bread bowl with a half of a turkey sandwich.  I'm not sure which turkey sandwich it is but I know it has Gouda cheese on it, still to this day that is the only thing I have ever ate with Gouda cheese and I love it!!!  Oh and a couple of times after surgery my dear friend Kourtney brought me my usual from Panera that way Lee could sleep.  Those were afternoon surgeries so Lee had to stay up all day and I wanted him to go home and get sleep.  I know that probably sounds odd to some of you that I stay at the hospital all by myself but I actually prefer it that way, most of the time.  But I'm lucky to have had my friend nearby that could help us out!  Anyways enough about the hospital, more about food!  This was really good but I was missing green onions because I forgot to buy them and a bread bowl because I didn't think about one till it was too late...actually scratch that I prolonged going to the store by making this because I had all the ingredients at home already so I figured I could go without green onions for the sake of staying at home in my PJ's!

Baked Potato Soup
2 tbsp butter
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup flour
4 1/2 cups milk
1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth
4 baked potatoes
1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
For garnishing
sour cream
green onions, chopped
bacon, cooked & crumbled

Bake the potatoes in the oven or the microwave before you get ready to make soup, this can even be done the day before if you don't have time to bake the potatoes the same day.

In a large pot melt butter and add garlic and saute for a minute.  Add the flour and mix together and then slowly add the milk and whisk together until smooth.  Once smooth add chicken broth and bring to boil and heat until the soup thickens. 

Turn it on low, scoop the potatoes out of skin and add to soup.  Mix it together until you get the desired consistency of soup.  I like mine completely mashed so I used a potato masher, but if you like chunks then a wooden spoon would work.  Turn the heat up if you need to warm the potatoes and cook for 5-10 minutes. 

Add 1 cup of the cheese, salt, and pepper.  Serve and add sour cream, bacon, green onions, and more cheese for garnish. 

Adapted from Recipe Indulgence.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pepper Steak

I had this meal years back when I was with my exes family and it was really delicious so I had to get the recipe.  Of course when I was at the store buying the things for it I went to get the Bell Pepper and Lee looks at me and says NO, he will not eat it if I put the pepper in it so I had to leave that out.  I don't always eat bell pepper's but I do like the flavor it leaves so I usually always add it if it's in the recipe but that day Lee caught me before I could.  But hopefully one day I will make this dish for company and Lee will have no choice in the matter.

Pepper Steak
1 pound of round steak-1/2 inch thick
1 tbsp paprika
salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp margarine or butter
2 cloves of garlic
1 can  or 1 1/2cups of beef broth
1 cup sliced green onions with tops
2 green (bell) peppers cut in strips
2 tbsp corn starch
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 large ripe tomatoes cut in wedges
3 cups already cooked rice

Pound steak to 1/4 thickness and then cut into 1/4 inch wide strips. Sprinkle meat with paprika, salt and pepper and allow to stand while preparing other ingredients.

In a large skillet, brown meat in butter. Add garlic and broth, cover and simmer 30 minutes.  Stir in onions and green peppers, cover and cook 5 more minutes.  Blend cornstarch with water and then blend it along with the soy sauce into the skillet with the meat.  Turn up the heat and stir until mixture is thick, then turn down the heat.  Add tomatoes and stir gently.  Serve over rice.

Adapted from The Brinegar Family. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Spinach Dip

I'm not sure if this even deserves a post because you can easily get this recipe on numerous packages of food, like a package of either Lipton or Knorr Vegetable Soup and and Dip Mix.  But it's really good so it does belong here because just in case you have never made it or you have had this dip at parties but never knew the recipe, well here it is.  Or I almost forgot about the people that have never tried it or think that they don't like spinach, I thought I didn't like spinach till I tried it and now I'm addicted and open to all kinds of recipes with spinach.  And it is VERY easy to make!  I chose the Lipton Mix because it was cheaper and the only difference I believe in the recipe was how much sour cream and of course the mix.  But if you choose the Knorr and the recipe isn't on the back of the package then go to Knorr's website and look it up.  Personally I can't tell the difference in taste so I say go for what's cheaper! 

Spinach Dip
1 envelope Lipton Recipe Secrets Vegetable Soup Mix
8oz. sour cream
1 Cup Real Mayonnaise
1 pkg. 10oz. frozen chopped spinach
1 can 8oz. water chestnuts, drained and chopped (optional)

Thaw the spinach and drain all the excess water out with your hands.  In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix.  Chill for 2 hours and then serve. 

I suggest serving them with something like this, I had it once at my Sister's with I believe this brand and it's the best thing I've ever had dipped in it.

Adapted from Lipton Recipe Secrets Vegetable Soup Mix.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I'm thankful for...

First I wanna say that I have planned on NOT posting on Friday's till after my 2 surgeries.  (I'm having 2 surgeries sometime before the end of the year, the dates isn't set yet)  I figured if I'm cooking like normal now and build up recipes and maybe skip posting on Friday's then while I'm out recovering I can still keep posting!  Ok enough about that...

So the reason in my post is I want to make a list of 40 things I'm thankful for.  Alot of people on Facebook are posting a status everyday of something new they are thankful for but I wanted to write it on my blog so I can always have it to read.  Sometimes I get down about my situation and I think it'd be a good idea to have a list where I can look back at it anytime I need cheering up and I can be reminded of good things in my life, if I posted it everyday as my status it'd be hard to look back at it.  Also November is a hard month for me, for some reason it seems like November is the month that my life is always turned upside parents split when I was 13 in November (which ended up being the best thing for all of us) and I was diagnosed with Pseudotumor Cerebri on November 29, 2008.  I gotta say though I rarely ever think about my parents divorce anymore as a bad thing because it did turn out to be better for everyone but as a kid I would say that was the most traumatic event and as an adult my diagnosis was.  Anyways enough about that I'm ready to list all the stuff I'm thankful for. 

1.  I'm thankful for God.  I've never been much of a religious person but in 2007 my life was saved twice, one time I should've died in a car wreck and another time I should've been diagnosed with a horrific disease but I was saved.  And then regardless of what anyone else thinks about mine and Lee's short engagement and dating time (married 7 weeks after our first date) I believe God brought Lee to me a little over a month after I was diagnosed with PTC because I needed someone to take care of me!  And I feel like it was God's plan for us to marry so quick.  But without God none of those things would've happened. 

2.  I am thankful for my husband, Lee.  He drives me crazy sometimes but at the end of each day he is the one I want by my side.  I love him so much it's unreal.  We have our ups and downs be we have an AMAZING relationship and knowing that he'll always be by my side makes life so much easier!

3.  I am thankful for my family!  My family has been by my side through alot in my life, I have made quite a few mistakes but they have always been there.  I would love to list all the wonderful things each of them have done for me in my life or tell you about each of them separately but you would be here forever reading.  But from my Great grandparents to my Aunt's and Uncle's...they have all played an important role in my life. 

4.  I am thankful for my Sister and her family!  Okay I know I just said I wasn't going to list them individually but I only have one sister so I can't hurt any one's feelings by listing her.  But I am so thankful for our relationship, she is and always will be my best friend.  And her husband is amazing as well!  Bart, my brother in law has been there for me since I was in high school.  He came into the family and saw me at my worst but I don't think he's ever really judged me.  And his family is awesome, his parents have always treated me as one of their own when I am around and when I got married they treated Lee like part of the family as well!  And then there is my nephews...I never cared much about having kids until Hayden was born.  The first time I held him I knew I couldn't go through life without being a mother! 

5.  I am thankful for my in-laws.  I am a little sad because I have not spent the amount of time I wish I could with them since getting married because of my illness but I love each and every one of them and look forward to getting to know them all better than I do now! 

6.  I am thankful for my friends.  I have 2 really close friends, Michelle and Kourtney.  Kourtney and I have been friends since we were little girls and we grew apart once I was in middle school and then reunited when I was 21.  We picked up right where we left off and I am so thankful to have her back in my life.  And Michelle and I have been running around in the same group of friends since 5th grade but didn't become best friends till 8th grade (I think, or 7th).  We we're always together in high school, we even both worked at the same place, they just couldn't separate us!  And I am so thankful to report we are still very close even though we rarely get to see each other.  Though I'm sure that's changing because she did live in Austin and I lived in the DFW area and now she lives in Whitney again.  Anyways so to these two wonderful ladies I am very thankful to call both of you my best friends, y'all both bring out the best in me and have always been there for me and I love both of y'all! 

7.  I am thankful for my doctors!  I have a opthamologist, neurologist, pain management, neuro surgeon, PCP, gastroenterologist, and physical therapists; I am very thankful for this team of doctors that have gotten me to where I am today and are not giving up on getting me pain free. 

8.  I am thankful for my PTC family!  I started off on a support group online in Jan. 09 and I have known some of these wonderful people since then.  And now there's a circle of people on Facebook that I am friends with.  I am lucky to have wonderful friends and family that understand my pain but I feel a special connection to all these wonderful people I have met, they truly know how I feel.  I have 2-3 really special friends but I want to say I am very thankful for Kirbe coming into my life.  She is a very close friend and I have so much in common with her, I couldn't decide to put her in this column or in my best friend column.  She doesn't live too far from me so we have met and I hope to be able to hang out with her more!

9.  I am thankful for my Health.  I know my health is bad but it could always be worse.  I never even thought about my health until I got sick.  I pray that one day my health is better but for now I'm just going to be thankful it's not worse.

10.  I am thankful for my disease.  As oddly as this may seem that I am thankful for this, it's true, I am thankful because I was a different person before.  I know I am not the greatest person now and I still have faults but I think I am a better person now!  I see so many people on facebook complaining about working and this and that and it's like REALLY?  Get over it!  Or they complain about their kids...GET OVER IT!  I wish I had a kid to cause me stress!  Yes I know everyone handles problems differently but so many things I see people complain about are a result of something they did.  Do something about it...change your life, get a different job, etc.  It's your life, your in control...if you don't like something about it change it.  You may be wondering why I'm writing all this in this spot but it's because I used to be one of those people that complained about stupid things that I could change.  So in the end I am thankful for my disease because I am now thankful for life in a totally different way!  And I know I still complain about stupid things like other people because this paragraph is proof I do cuz I'm complaining about the people that complain about stuff haha but I really do try not to and complaining about lil things that won't matter in a year really does push my buttons.  And I'm glad to now be aware of it all.

11.  I am thankful for my insurance!  I am so happy to have insurance and to be able to go to my doctors without having to worry about how I'm going to pay for this and that. 

12.  I am thankful for my dog.  If you don't have a dog or animal you might not understand this but there is a reason why hospitals have dog therapy, maybe the real reason is different than why I think it is but my dog cheers me up when I am down and makes me so happy!  He actually doesn't like me doesn't matter what he is doing or where he is at but if he hears me crying he runs to me and licks my tears away and gives me a hug!  Yes a HUG, he puts one paw on one shoulder and the other paw on the other side and puts his lil face right up next to mine!  It's so sweet! 

13.  I am thankful for the internet.  Oh my without the internet I would be so so bored!  It passes so much time by for me and it has so much valuable information! :)

14.  I am thankful for my cooking and blog!  I have been cooking since I was little and I am so glad to now have a husband to cook for.  And my blog is a way for me to make my contribution to society...and to give me something to do and be proud of!  I have lots of hopes and dreams for my blog!

15.  I am thankful for Mavis Beacon. I'm typing this thinking of things I'm thankful for I was thinking WOW I'm glad I can type fast and the correct way.  And well good ol' Mavis Beacon is how I learned how to type, would say Coach Wimberley but nope I learned how to type before then. 

16.  I am thankful for all my other friends and Facebook friends.  Don't think I forgot about you...I know I mentioned my PTC friends and my 2 best friends but I am so thankful for ALL of my friends!  Over the past 2 years yall have prayed for me and many of you have even had your churches praying for me and I cherish each and every one of yall's relationships.  I know alot of my friends on FB are people from high school that I didn't even talk to much but some of you have really turned into great friends! 

17.  I am thankful for other food blogs!  I pass so much time by--by looking at food blogs and finding recipes.  And then I get such wonderful recipes to add to my blog!!

18.  I am thankful for Hip2Save & my Mother in Law.  My mother in law told me about Hip2save and gave me a printout about couponing so I learned about a whole other world of couponing and blogs that taught you how and matched coupons with ads for you and saved you lots of time and money!

19.  I am thankful for my job.  Even though I no longer work I did have a wonderful job before I became sick and I am still considered an inactive employee so maybe one day I'll get to return. 

20.  I am thankful for medicine.  Even though there is no cure for PTC I have hope that one day there will be, hopefully in my lifetime, but I am thankful for inventions like Shunts & Ports....and also all the medicine in the world that helps cure people or take their pain away!

21.  I am thankful for my Port.  I have never had the greatest veins but since my veins have so much scaring now they are even worse.  And now with my port doctors and nurses can access it for either an IV or to get blood with only one stick! 

22.  I am thankful for my Iphone.  Best device ever invented!  Everyone should get one. 

23.  I am thankful for all of my kitchen appliances.  Okay so this is getting hard to think of things I'm thankful for, but really...I love my kitchen stuff.  When we moved we had more kitchen boxes than any other room and that was the first room that I unpacked.  I love my kitchen stuff and I am thankful to have all of it.

24.  The last one led me up to...I am thankful my Mom sales Pampered Chef.  I love all my Pampered Chef stuff.  I use atleast one PC item a day, if not more!

25.  I am thankful for the lack of money we have.  Yeah I know another strange one but I am thankful for it.  When I worked and even when I was single and working I had a very good job and pretty much bought whatever I wanted.  Yeah of course I couldn't go out and shop at Saks or things like that but if I wanted new clothes I would go, if I wanted a new appliance I'd go, if I wanted to go get my hair done, go get a pedicure, go buy someone a present, and the list goes on I would just go and do it without much thought into it.  Bottom line I was bad with money even though I had it.  I should've been saving money and had a set budget but I didn't.  So I am now thankful that we do have to have a budget and we do have to think about every dollar we spend because even though it really sucks right now it's teaching us a lesson and one day when we do have money again we will know how to set a budget and stick to it and not buy useless stuff!  And I'm glad to be learning this in my 20's rather than in my 40's. 

26.  I am thankful for all my husband's t-shirts!  haha!  So again the popular phrase..."before I got sick" all I pretty much wore was dress pants and semi dress shirts that I wore to work, I don't even think I owned jeans.  Ok I think I did own one pair.  So when I stopped working I wasn't going to dress up to go to the store so I started wearing all of Lee's shirts.  He gained weight after we got married so he had to go up a size so that left me with a bunch of shirts to myself.  And considering all I do is sit at home, cook, go to the store, and go to doctors offices/hospitals then all I need is t-shirts!

27.  I am thankful for my furniture!  The only furniture we have ever bought together was our couch/sectional.  Besides that Lee had bought a TV and a TV stand prior to me and I had bought a TV stand and side tables, other than that everything was given to us.  Of all the stuff I was given, furniture wise I am most proud of my great grandparents bedroom suite.  It was very well taken care of and very nice!  And not out of style.  I wish it was a bigger bed but hey it was free so it'll work for now!  I also have another bedroom suite that was my grandmother's and both of those bedroom suites I plan on keeping forever or passing down to my kids.  I like furniture that means something!  Anyways but bottom line I am thankful that my grandmother and mom gave me furniture when I was moving out!

28.  I am thankful for past relationships.  Rather if you realize it or not or want to acknowledge it or not we all learn something from our failed relationships.  Hopefully we take something good out of it rather than something bad.  But I am thankful to have had them, some of them I wish I would've been smarter and ended them sooner...but I wouldn't of learned the things I learned.

29.  I am thankful for my memories!  I think I would be a very sad person if my memories we're erased.  I have lots of good memories with lots of wonderful people. 

30.  I am thankful for pictures!  I love looking at pictures, some pictures when you look at them can take you back to that exact moment.  For one second you feel like you did when you  had the picture taken!  I am so thankful for pictures!  I wish I would start taking more of them! 

31.  I am thankful for my Nannie, Pappy, Meme, Mom, and Mema for teaching me how to cook/bake growing up.  And for my Mema teaching me how to decorate cakes!   

32.  I am thankful for my husband's job.  I am glad my husband has such a great job to support us! 

33.  I am thankful for my education.  Even though I chose not to continue my education past high school I am thankful for my high school education.  Now I just wish I would've listened a little more in English class because I'm sure there are so many errors on here and for all you people out there that are correcting me in your head and your reading, I'm Sorry!!!  But if you think this is bad you should hear me talk.  :) 

34.  I am thankful for hair.  Though it really wasn't that bad shaving my head and being bald.  I really enjoyed not having hair, considering what I went through it was much easier going without hair then.  But now that I have it back I am so thankful to have it a normal length again.  I no longer have to explain to people unless I want to that I had brain surgery.

35.  I am thankful for Redbox.  Even though we tend to get one and keep it for days and it costs us even more, it's nice to be able to go to a machine in numerous locations and be able to rent a movie for a dollar and even better be able to take it back to any location! 

36.  I am thankful for cars.  I was one of those brats that had a brand new car at 16, well actually I got one at 15 and then another new one at 16.  Then I had another new one at 20.  That's the one I wrecked and even though it was horrible it did have perfect timing because I was just promoted and got a company car.  Since I wrecked my car and got a company car I saw no reason to replace my car.   I was lucky and got to keep my company car while I was out on short term disability (for 6 months) but then when I went to long term disability they came and took my car.  There was no reason to replace it and buy me another one since I don't work, so me and Lee only have one car.  At first it was hard mentally because I have had a car since I was 15.  But now I don't care, no point in paying insurance for another or having a car payment!  Actually this is another one of those things I have learned a lesson on...if you can make it on one car them share a car and save money to pay cash for a 2nd car and new cars are over-rated, had 4 of them.  As soon as I'm able to work again that's what we have intentions of doing!  Why finance something when you can save and pay!  But I am very thankful for the car we do have! 

37.  I am thankful for my attitude.  It does suck sometimes and I do have an attitude and opinion on some things but overall I am thankful for my POSITIVE attitude!

38.  I am thankful for skillets, chicken, and sweet tea.  Three of my favorite things that involve a kitchen.  I have a bad sweet tea addiction but it's okay because it's cheaper and healthier than Dr. Pepper.  I love skillets...I'm not sure why but I get the urge to buy one every time I see one.  I have 5 skillets already but I would love more!  And chicken, well it's my favorite dish.  I always have some in my freezer and I am always on the look out for new chicken recipes. 

39.  I am thankful for coupons!  We kind of have a love/hate relationship though because I love to use them but I hate to cut them.  Right now my coupons are not organized in their binders like they should be, I am actually changing up the way I organize them but I just haven't done it yet!

40.  Last but not least, I am thankful for LIFE!  That explains itself! 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Crock Pot French Dip

Growing up one of my favorite things my Mom made was Au Jus sandwiches, she didn't make them much but when she did it was a big treat for me.  And I think when I was 17 or 18 I discovered Quizno's french dip type sub and I fell in love.  I used to eat one of those all the time, still when I go to Quizno's that is one of my top choices.  I always see those Au Jus packages and I don't know why I haven't ever made it before now but when I ran across this recipe I had to try it.  It was really good.  Lee just ate it as a sandwich without dipping it in the juice but I dipped it and it tasted really good. 

Crock Pot French Dip
1 2.5-3 lb. beef roast (you can use a frozen roast if you want)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
2 1-ounce packages dry onion soup mix
2 c. water
2 cans beef broth
6-8 large buns
Swiss, provolone, or mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced.

Heat the oil up in a skillet.  Salt and pepper the roast and sear all sides of the roast.  (your not cooking the meat you are just browning it to lock in the flavor)

Place roast in the crock pot and pour the soup mix, water, and broth into the crock pot and cook for 8-10 hours on low. 

When done shred the meat and place on your buns and top with your cheese.  You can stick in the oven and broil for a minute. 

Adapted from Our Best Bites.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Jiffy Corn Casserole

This might be what I consider a "classic" dish that you all have had, I'm really not to sure though because I hadn't had it till last year for Christmas and then I made it again a couple weeks ago.  It's very easy to make and really really good.  This is another dish that would be a good item to make for your upcoming Holiday dinner.

Jiffy Corn Casserole
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can creamed corn
2 eggs, beaten
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 stick butter, melted (or 1/2 c. oil)
1 c. sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all the ingredients together and pour into a 9x13 casserole dish.  Bake for 30-45 minutes or until done. 

Adapted from Cooks.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween Cupcakes

Well there's not really a recipe with this at the moment, later on I will give you the recipe for the icing but for now I just want to share with you the cupcakes!  So this was supposed to be my post on Friday and it was really long telling you all how awesome of a mother my sister is but then it got erased! 

Well I'll make this much shorter than what it was but I stayed the night with my Sister and every time it amazes me.  She is so patient with her children and to me she really is the best mother I have ever seen.  And after seeing my nephew at daycare interacting with other kids and being the most well behaved kid there I think my Sister's mothering skills are working.  I guess bottom line she spends time teaching them things and being with them and stays up late at night after they have gone to bed doing other things that she needs to get done instead of doing them while they are awake and abandoning them.  Oh and for the record she's NOT a stay at home mom, she is a high school math teacher and her husband is a high school head basketball coach/teacher so really as a friend recently put it, she's a single parent 9 months out of the year.  Anyways I'm going to stop going on and on about my Sister but I hope one day I am as good of a mother as she is.  I love her and her family so much!  Oh yeah her husband is a really good Dad as well and a terrific husband, me and my Sister hit the jackpot on husbands!

So here are some Halloween Cupcakes that we made together, I made the cupcakes and icing and iced them but she did the hard part and made the chocolate bats a couple of days before hand. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Maple Brown Sugar Ham

First I want to apologize for my lack of posting on Thursday and Friday, I had gone out of town to my Sister's house and I didn't have time to post Wednesday night or Thursday because I was packing and getting ready to be gone all weekend and then when I tried to post at my Sister's house on Friday my internet connection went crazy...I don't know what was wrong it would allow me on Facebook but not on here.  Anyways I'm back and I already have all my posts ready for the week.  :) 

I've been trying to come up with and post holiday recipes and I'm not about to cook a big Turkey before hand so I figured I'd do a Ham.  I really liked the flavor of this Ham I just made a mistake and bought the wrong cut of Ham so it had entirely too much fat for me.  I couldn't even tell you what kind I bought I just know it had a bone and next time I will buy one without a bone.  And next time I will be asking either my Dad, Mom, or Grandparents which cut they buy because I want one like I've had at their houses not like this one.  But regardless of the cut of Ham this recipe is wonderful and the flavor was really good!  Enough babbling here's the recipe...

Crock Pot-Maple Brown Sugar Ham
7-8lb. ham
2 cups pineapple juice
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup REAL maple syrup

Place your ham flat side down in the crock pot.  Rub the brown sugar on all sides of the ham.  Whisk together the maple syrup and the pineapple juice in a bowl and then pour over the ham.  Cook on low for 4-5 hours.  An hour before serving, baste ham with the collected juices from the bottom of the slow cooker. 

Let your ham rest 10 minutes on the carving board before you cut into it.

Adapted from This Mommy Cooks.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Crock Pot Bayou Gumbo

Lee asked for shrimp so I gave him gumbo, but then I couldn't find the shrimp in the freezer so I only put sausage into it, either way it was really good!  I had to add some broth to this recipe because it was way too thick.

6 tbsp all purpose flour
6 tbsp oil
1/2 lb smoked sausage, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 cups frozen cut okra
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp pepper
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (12 oz) package frozen shelled deveined cooked medium shrimp, rinsed
1 1/2 c uncooked regular long-grain white rice
3 c water
In small saucepan, combine the flour and oil; mix well.
Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes or until mixture turns reddish brown.
Place flour-oil mixture in 3 1/2 to 4 quart crock pot.
Combine all remaining ingredients in the crock pot except shrimp, rice and water.
Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours.
Add shrimp to gumbo mixture in the crock pot and mix well.
Cook on low setting for an additional 20 minutes.
Serve gumbo over cooked rice.

Adapted from The Crockpot Blog.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sweet & Spicy Cucumbers

I love cucumbers!  Back when I used to always go to the lake we would take cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions and cut them up and pour Italian dressing over them and refrigerate overnight and they tasted really good.  I haven't done that in years but when I ran across this recipe I knew I wanted to try it and it was really good.  I still have some in my refrigerator that I'm eating on.  Makes a good side or just something good to snack on. 

Sweet & Spicy Cucumbers
2-3 cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise & thinly sliced
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup rice vinegar, seasoned or regular
1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp minced red onion

Place cucumber slices in a colander sitting over a bowl, sprinkle with salt and toss well.  Let sit for 1 hour refrigerated.  Toss the cucumbers a few times while they drain as well.  While cucumber slices are draining, prepare marinade below.  (this is to remove some water from the cucumbers)

Combine vinegar, water, sugar, red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and cook for about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the onion.  Let mixture cool to room temperature. 

Pat cucumbers dry and place in a bowl(or airtight container) and pour the vinegar mixture over them.  You can serve immediately or refrigerate for a little bit.  I recommend letting them cool, I ate some immediately but they tasted better a couple hours later!

Adapted from Our Best Bites.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Island Chicken

If you only try one thing on my blog then try this...I promise you won't regret it!  The first time I saw this recipe I was hesitant but after we tried it, we loved it, and I've made it ALOT!  It's really rare for me to make anything more than once every couple of months or so but this I've probably made atleast once or twice a month for the last 4 months.  And the best thing about it is you take 5min. in the morning to put it together and then in the evening take a minute to throw it in a dish and into the oven.  And then throw a vegetable with it like green beans or broccoli and your good to go.  I don't know if you've ever used the Ziploc Zip and Steam but I'd suggest putting some broccoli in one of those and you heat it for less than 5 minutes (directions on bag) and then you have fresh steamed broccoli.  You will have spent about 10 minutes of actual labor in the kitchen for a meal that tastes so good.  By the way this is a good meal to recommend to your friends that say eating out is so much quicker/easier because once they try this meal then they'll hopefully realize you can eat at home for less money and it's usually healthier!  This meal is so easy your teenagers (or husbands...Lee has made this atleast a couple of times) can cook it.

Island Chicken

1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
1 lb. of chicken

Combine all the ingredients except chicken in either a Ziploc bag or a air tight container and shake/whisk ingredients together.  Add Chicken and make sure the marinade is covering the chicken, seal the bag or place the lid.  Refrigerate up to 10 hours. 

When ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 350° F.  Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish and pour the excess marinade over them.  Bake in the oven about 45 minutes. 

Adapted from one of my favorite blogs, Annie's Eats.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Embrace Photography

I am lucky to have 2 friends that do photography, I posted a picture earlier on of my other friend that had allowed me to use her picture for one of my posts.  Both of these ladies went to high school with my sister, sister in law, husband, and myself.  One of them was one of my close friends and the other was one of my sister's and Lee's close friends.  Anyways I was so So SO lucky to of had pictures done by Brittney Hejl last weekend and I would like to share some of the pictures.  For those of you that know me & Lee's story know that we got married after only 7 weeks of dating and we got married last year and it was quite a busy year with all my surgeries so we never had time to get engagement pictures done.  So I feel very happy & blessed to of gotten these pictures!  If you would like to check out her blog then click here.  If your in need of a photographer and you live in Texas I would suggest contacting her.

Lee & I have matching tattoos that represent our anniversary, March 13th.

My sister's family along with me & Lee.

My sister and her family!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Royal Icing

As promised I am posting today about Royal Icing.  I used a recipe that used egg whites instead of meringue powder because I didn't want to invest my money in meringue powder yet.  I'll be decorating cookies with my sister for Halloween and she has been using this recipe from Annie's Eats that does require meringue powder so I'll let you know in another week if it's better or the same.  I can tell you that as of right now I think this recipe is perfect the way it is and why buy a $4-$5 thing of meringue powder when egg whites do just fine.  Actually better than tastes great and it is very workable! 

2 large egg whites
2 tsp. lemon juice
3 cups powdered sugar

Place egg whites & lemon juice in mixer and mix until combined.  Add the powdered sugar and mix on low to medium speed till combined and smooth.  Transfer to airtight container or use immediately.  When using cover your bowl with plastic wrap and place your decorating bags in a small glass of water with your tip pointing down to keep from drying out.  Royal icing hardens when exposed to air.

*My instructions are great for experienced decorators or for those that are familiar with it but if you are new to it all I would suggest checking out Annie's "How to Decorate with Royal Icing" post.  Hopefully one day I will have my own step by step picture instructions but until then please check out her site.

To decorate I used Wilton disposable bags with couplers and tip #3, I also used Wilton colors.  To decorate the cookies outline the cookies first and then you will flood the cookies to "color" it in.  Before you flood it I would add a small amount of water to your icing, mix in 1 tsp. at a time until it's your desired consistency.  There is many methods to flood it, you can use a spoon to pour icing on the cookies and your finger to spread it, use a ketchup/mustard bottle you get at a dollar store/restaurant supply store, or squeeze bottles that you can buy in the cake decorating department.  And  then let dry and harden before you stack them or place them in bags. 

Adapted from Joy of Baking

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sugar Cookies

I made these sugar cookies along with the cake balls for a friend and I think they turned out much better than the cake balls, and they were ALOT of fun to make!  So much fun that at 3am I decided to make another batch!  The first recipe though had almond extract and I used my last drop of it so I decided to just try out another Sugar Cookie recipe, I planned to try to compare and see which was better but I couldn't decide.  I will be posting tomorrow about Royal Icing.  If you love to bake I strongly recommend baking some Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing...SOOOOO much fun!

Ella’s White Sugar Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ tsp. almond extract
1 t. vanilla
1 t. salt
2 ½ cup flour

Cream butter. Add powdered sugar. Blend in egg, almond extract, vanilla, salt and flour. Chill dough until firm. Roll to ¼” thickness on well-floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375° for 6-8 min. Cookies should not brown. Frost and decorate when cool. Yields ~40 cookies.

Adapted from Annie's Eats.

Alton Brown's Sugar Cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp. vanilla (optional, I added this just because I LOVE vanilla) 
Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough

In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl.  Chill dough until firm.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Roll out dough to 1/4" on surface covered in powdered sugar.  Cut into desired shape and place on baking sheet.  Bake for 5-7 minutes.  Let cool for a couple of minutes before removing.  Ice or serve plain, store in airtight container up to a week.

Adapted from the Food Network.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cake Balls

Please excuse the horrible picture, I had a huge mess and was super tired so I only have pictures from my Iphone!

(the green is Mike & Ike's, I would suggest this over the tic tac's that Bakerella suggests!)
I had never even heard of Cake Balls until my friend Kourtney had mentioned them last year for me to make for her family for Christmas.  They sounded interesting so I looked them up and that's when I found Bakerella's website which is awesome, I don't know how she does it.  When I was trying to decide something to make for another friend I really wanted to make some more Cake Balls because they tasted really awesome and I thought it would be a good little treat for kids and easy where you didn't have to deal with cutting a cake and serving on plates.  This was the 2nd time I made them and the first time actually trying to decorate them rather than just rolling them in chocolate so I've learned a few things that I'll share at the bottom.  Also if you have experience with cake balls I welcome any advice you can give me!

First off let's start off with explaining what Cake Balls are...All they are is a cake mix mixed with icing, then shaped in balls (or whatever shape) then rolled/dipped in chocolate!  easy Easy EASY!  For these I used just plain white cake mix with white icing, the last time I made them they were Strawberry with maybe cream cheese icing, I'm not sure I can't remember.  I've seen alot of people do Red Velvet and cream cheese icing!  You could always make a homemade cake and icing but I'd suggest taking the easy way with the boxed cake mix or you could actually buy a store bought already made cake and just crumble it all together in a bowl and mix!
Cake Balls

Cake Mix and the ingredients listed on the box
Tub of Icing
Almond Bark or Candy Melts
Muffin/mini cupcake liners

*If you want to decorate them all cute then I'd suggest going to Bakerella's site or buying her book, she has ideas for all holidays plus so much more.

Bake the cake as directed on the back of box.  After it's cooled to touch take the cake and crumble it in a bowl.  Mix in 3/4 of the icing, after it's mixed well then you need to decide if you want to use the whole tub, I used it all but I've read multiple sites saying they like to only use 3/4.  Roll into balls and place on wax paper.  Set in the freezer for at least 30minutes or longer. 

Melt your almond bark/candy melts.  Pull out the balls from freezer and coat them with the chocolate.  There are several techniques to coat the balls but you just have to play around with it until you find the perfect way for you.  You can place the balls in the chocolate and roll it, place the ball on a fork and pour chocolate over it, and I'm sure many other techniques.  I honestly can't tell you what's best because I don't have enough experience and I'm not the greatest at it. 

After you have coated them place back on wax paper and freeze till hard, then set in muffin/mini cupcake liners.  I store them in the refrigerator but I'd serve at room temperature.

Additional tips or things I've learned:

*I hated using the candy melts, I couldn't get it thin enough to work with and they did not turn out as pretty and smooth as I wanted.  You can add some shortening to them to thin it but it didn't thin it as much as I would've liked. 
*Almond bark is the way to go in my opinion, next time I'm going to use white almond bark and tint it whatever color I want it. 
*If you are wanting to do a white cake then add 1t. almond extract and 1t. vanilla to your batter, the cake will taste like it's homemade!
*Plan plenty of time to do these because coating the balls is not a quick task unless your a pro! 
*I started out using a medium size cookie dough scoop and that was entirely too big, the smaller the easier to coat with chocolate!
*Also if you plan on using a edible marker like I planned on doing then don't waste your money, they do not work well on chocolate, atleast not the Wilton Edible Marker's, I was really disappointed because I planned on making the pumpkins into Jack o Lanterns.  And it took me forever to do the ghosts face, should've used chocolate. 

Adapted from Bakeralla.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Smokey Spanish Chicken

Above is the chicken without the cream cheese, below is with the cream cheese!

Have I told you all how good of husband I have?  Well let me tell y'all he is amazing, last week he brought me home a cookbook and then we went to Williams Sonoma and I got another cookbook so be looking out for recipes from them.  This chicken recipe is from the cookbook he picked out, it's a Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese cookbook.  And I got lucky with this recipe because I was looking for something, anything to cook as long as we had all the ingredients already.  Oh yeah the very last step is to add the cream cheese and I forgot to add it but then I remembered before I ate so I scooped my food back into the skillet and added it then fixed my plate again!  I had already taken a picture for the blog before I added the cream cheese but then I snapped a quick picture again to show you what the color is suppose to look like. 

1 Tbsp. oil
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken
1 onion, slivered
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. flour
2 Tsp. paprika
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup Cream Cheese Spread
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Place half of the oil and the chicken in a skillet and brown chicken on both sides.  Remove chicken and set to side.  Use the other half of the oil and add the onions and garlic and cook on medium heat until the onions are crisp-tender.

Stir in flour and paprika, cook for one minute.  Add broth and tomatoes.  Return chicken to skillet and cover and let simmer for 15minutes or until chicken is done. 

Add cream cheese, stir frequently until melted.  Sprinkle parsley over chicken. 

Adapted from Spread a Little Joy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bacon & Onion Green Beans

This recipe and picture is from my Mom, I guess kind of like a guest blogger, I have made and had these green beans though plenty of time to be able to tell you they are AMAZING!  If you haven't ever had green beans like these then you need to try them and if you don't want to use fresh green beans then you could always use a can of green beans but I recommend fresh!  This would also make a good side dish for your Holiday dinner, we usually have this for Christmas with my Mom.

Bacon & Onion Green Beans
1 lb fresh Green Beans, snip ends but leave whole
1/2 cup chopped Bacon
1/2 cup chopped Onion
1 to 2 Tablespoon White Vinegar
Lawry's Season Salt
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
Lemon Pepper
Boil Green Beans until almost tender, still a little crisp, drain.  Fry bacon until almost crisp, add onion, fry until soft.   Drain all fat from Bacon and Onion mixture.  Add Green Beans.  Season to taste, with Lawry's Season Salt, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Lemon Pepper.  Toss till warm, remove from heat and sprinkle with Vinegar. 
Recipe came from my Mom, Sheri Klish. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Easy Cheese Sauce

Lee loves cheese fries so when I came across this recipe I knew I needed to add it to the list of recipes to try.  You can also eat this cheese sauce with chips/nachos, baked potato, burgers, and whatever else you think it sounds good on.  And it was really easy to make, took about 5-7 minutes. 
Easy Cheese Sauce

8oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 Tbsp. corn starch
1 can evaporated milk (12oz)
2 tsp. Frank's hot sauce

In a small saucepan place the cheese and corn starch in there and mix together, add the Frank's and then half of the evaporated milk.  Turn the  heat on medium.  Whisk the entire time, once the cheese has melted add more evaporated milk until you reach your desired consistency.  Serve immediately.

Adapted from Serious Eats.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Light Brioche Burger Buns

I never ever would've imagined making my own burger buns but when I saw this recipe I knew I had too!  My Mom tried it out first and said it was good so when I was planning to make Burgers with fries and homemade cheese sauce (I'm posting this recipe later on in the week) I figured I might as well go one step further and make my own buns!  And this recipe is wonderful, I've eaten one bun all by its self as breakfast even and it makes your burger 10x as good.

Light Brioche Burger Buns

3 Tbsp. warm milk (I heated mine for 30 seconds in the microwave)
1 cup warm water (I let my warm water run for a minute, it gets really hot)
2 tsp. instant yeast
2 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

For topping:
1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water, for egg wash
Sesame seeds (optional, I did not use them)

Add the milk, water, yeast, sugar, salt, and egg to your stand mix fitted with a paddle attachment and mix real quick till it's combined.  Add the flours and mix again till combined, then add the butter and mix.  Switch to a dough hook and then knead for 6-8 minutes.  The dough will be somewhat tacky but you want to avoid adding too much flour because it will make tough buns, I didn't add any extra flour.

Now you can either take your dough out and oil your mixer bowl or you can get another bowl and oil it and put your dough back in it to rise.  I always turn my oven on 200 degrees and crack it open and put my dough on the edge of the oven to rise.  You need to let it rise 1-2hrs, until doubled, doing it my way it only took a little over an hour. 

Now the original instructions say to line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat but I just oiled a baking sheet and mine turned out fine.  Divide your dough to 8 equal pieces, roll into a ball and place 2-3 inches apart.  Let rise again for 1-2hrs, until doubled.  For this I shut my oven door but I did keep my oven on and set my dough on top.  I could have let mine rise a little longer but I only let mine rise another hour. 

Set a large metal pan of water on the lowest rack of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 400˚ F with a rack in the center.  Brush the tops of the buns lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake the buns about 15 minutes rotating halfway through baking, until the tops are golden brown.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Adapted from Annie's Eats.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Snickerdoodle Blondies

I was up late one night, like I am most nights and I felt like baking something.  Well I hate having sweets in the house because I will eat them so I figured I'd make something for my Dad.  Once I decided who I was making something for I had to decide what next and my Dad had asked for Snickerdoodle cookies a couple of months ago and I hadn't made them yet for him so I thought of those.  I looked at a bunch of different Snickerdoodle recipes and I found out I couldn't make them because all the recipes called for Cream of Tarter and my Cream of Tarter got damaged during our move so I threw it out and haven't replaced it yet.  And then luckily I ran across this recipe and it sounded perfect and it tasted perfect too!  And if your like me then more than likely you'll have all the stuff to make them because most of the ingredients are all staple items! 

Snickerdoodle Blondies

2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 9x13 pan and set to the side.

In a small bowl mix together the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and flour.  (if you have a kitchen aid mixer or another stand mixer then you can do the next step first and do this step while the mixer is doing the work for you!)

Beat the butter and brown sugar at medium speed for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time and then add the vanilla.  Then beat in the dry mixture, a little at a time, until it's blended smooth. 

Mix together the sugar and cinnamon.  Spread the batter in the pan and then sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mixture over it.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the surface springs back when gently pressed. Cool completely before cutting. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin

(The darker color at the bottom is probably the reason why you should bake this on a wire rack on a baking sheet, doing it in a Pyrex dish did result in the meat baking in juices/leftover crumb mixture but it still tastes really good!)
So a couple weeks ago we went to a wedding and they had a Herb Crusted Pork Loin at the reception and it was wonderful so of coarse that made me go on a search for the perfect recipe to make it at home.  I probably looked at 15 recipes until I found one that looked good, and boy was it good.  It originally came from Cook's Illustrated so you know it has to be good coming from them!  Also after tasting it, it made me think of Thanksgiving.  When I told Lee that he looked at me and asked if I thought it tasted like Turkey and of coarse it doesn't but there's just something about it that reminded me of Thanksgiving.  With that being said I think this would be a great alternative to a Turkey at the holidays, or if your family makes more than a Turkey then I would suggest adding this to your menu!  But of coarse this would be a great meal just for the family, though this is being put on my list of meals to make when we're having company. 

Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin

3lb. Pork Tenderloin
Kosher Salt
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 medium shallot, minced
4 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. olive oil
Ground black pepper
1/3 cup packed fresh parsley or basil leaves, minced (I didn't use fresh)
2 tbsp. minced fresh thyme leaves (I used 1tsp Ground Thyme)
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary (I didn't use fresh)
1 large clove garlic, minced

The recipe says to score the meat but I did not do this and feel like it tasted fine w/o so do it either way you please.  Dissolve 1/4 cup kosher salt and 1/4 cup sugar in 2qt of water (I used a 2qt pitcher and the meat/water fit perfectly but I did have to put the meat in over the sink because water overflowed!) and put plastic wrap over the top.  Refrigerate for 1 hour. 

About 15-20 minutes before your 1hr is up start mixing the herb paste and bread crumb mixture together.

Place breadcrumbs, 2T. Parmesan, shallot (I gave my shallot a quick turn in my food processor), 1T oil, 1/8t of salt and 1/8t of pepper.  Using a fork, toss mixture until everything is coated with oil.

Put parsley, garlic, thyme, rosemary, 1/8t of salt, 1/8t of pepper, 6T of Parmesan, and 3T of oil in food processor and process until smooth. 

Move your rack to middle/lower position and preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Now take your meat out of the refrigerator and rinse meat with cold water and pat dry.  Heat 2t. oil in skillet and brown all sides of meat, takes about 10 minutes.  Then the recipe says to transfer meat to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil but I just used a Pyrex glass dish and it worked just fine!  (But look at what I wrote under the pic at the top)

Cut a pocket in the tenderloin and spread 1/4 of the herb paste in it.  Now close it and spread the remaining paste on the outside of it and top with bread crumb mixture.  Cover with foil and bake for 60-90 minutes.  (I baked mine for 90)

Remove from oven and cut in 1/2in. slices and serve. 

Adapted recipe from Sugar & Spice by Celeste.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cheesesteak Sub

I'm not sure if this deserves a post or not, it's not really a recipe it's more of things I threw together and I don't even have exact measurements on all of it but this is really one of those that is measured by taste not a measuring spoon.  This was really delicious...I was inspired to try to make this from listening to the TV when Lee was watching one of those shows on the Food network about Philly Cheesesteaks.  They looked so good and even though I doubt this is anywhere close to being as good as them it's still pretty darn good!  Oh and the plus side it's quick!

Cheesesteak Sub
*This makes about 3 subs.

2lbs-steaks of your choice
subs, rolls, or whatever your choice of bread is
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp.-A1 Steak Sauce
2 Tbsp.-Worcestershire Sauce
liquid smoke
salt & pepper
Cheese, I would suggest provolone or cheez whiz

Cut the steak in really thin strips and place in a skillet.  Mix the sauces and garlic with the steak.  Shake as much salt, pepper, and oregano as you choose.  I didn't put a whole lot of oregano, just a few shakes, but I did put quite a bit of salt and pepper.  Then add just a little splash of liquid smoke.  You could probably leave that out but I just love the flavor it adds so I wouldn't.  Cook until the meat is done.  Then place the meat and cheese on bread and if you want any other kind of topping add that as well...and there you go...a quick delicious Cheesesteak sub. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pancakes! Pancakes! Pancakes!

Yeah I know this pic. would look better with syrup and butter but I took this pic. while I was still making the rest so I wasn't ready to "doctor" it up
When I feel bad which is typically the majority of the time, I look at lots and I mean LOTS of other food blogs for inspiration or for new recipes.  And it seems like I typically see pancakes or waffles everywhere.  Usually they aren't plain pancakes...there's pumpkin, banana, chocolate chip, blueberry, red velvet and the list goes on but Lee just likes plain pancakes and I happened to come across this recipe and couldn't resist.  I also saw someone post on Facebook that they had breakfast for dinner and that sounded like a great idea for the next night.  And the BEST thing about this recipe is more than likely you have everything at home already!  (That was another reason why I made them, we haven't been REAL grocery shopping in weeks and pancakes enabled us to put shopping off one more day!)  For all of you out there with kids I would highly suggest trying this recipe, it's very easy and you can double the recipe and have enough for the freezer to heat up during the week. 

*I typically don't just copy and paste the recipes but I am going to for this because Lori at Culinary Cover's has great info on how to freeze or make with buttermilk or yogurt.  Also check out her blog, I just ran across it this last weekend and I love the idea of her blog and she has some awesome recipes and tips!

 Basic Pancakes
ingredients:1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
assorted toppings such as butter, maple syrup, confectioner’s sugar, honey, jams, preserves, sweetened whipped cream, or chocolate syrup
instructions:1.  Preheat oven to 200 degrees F; have baking sheet or heatproof platter ready to keep cooked pancakes warm in the oven.  In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, butter (or oil), and egg.  Add dry ingredients to milk mixture; whisk until just moistened (do not overmix; a few small lumps are just fine).
3.  Heat a large skillet (nonstick or cast-iron) or griddle over medium.  Fold a sheet of paper towel in half, and moisten with oil; carefully rub skillet with oiled paper towel.
4.  For each pancake, spoon 2 to 3 Tablespoons of batter onto skillet, using the back of the spoon to spread batter into around (you should be able to fit 2 to 3 in a large skillet).
5.  Cook until surface of pancakes have some bubbles and a few have burst, 1 to 2 minutes.  Flip carefully with a thin spatula, and cook until browned on the underside, 1 to 2 minutes more.  Transfer to a baking sheet or platter; cover loosely with aluminum foil, and keep warm in oven.  Continue with more oil and remaining batter.  (You’ll have 12 to 15 pancakes.)  Serve warm, with desired toppings.
Serves:  4
Make and store extra mix:
Whisk together 3 cups flour, 6 Tbsp. sugar, 2 Tbsp. baking powder and 1 1/2 tsp. salt; store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place (this makes enough for 12 servings of 3 to 4 pancakes per person).  To make 4 servings from this mix, place 1 1/4 cups mix in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup milk, 2 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter or oil, and 1 large egg; add to dry mix, and whisk just to combine.  Proceed to step 3 of the basic pancake recipe above.
How to freeze pancakes:Stack cooled pancakes between squares of waxed paper; place in a resealable plastic bag or airtight container.  Freeze up to 3 months.  Reheat on a baking sheet in a preheated 350 degree F. oven or toaster oven.  (Avoid reheating pancakes in a microwave as they tend to get rubbery.)
Pancake variations:
Buttermilk:  In step 1, add 1/2 tsp. baking soda to dry mixture.  In step 2, replace milk with low fat buttermilk.
Yogurt:  In step 1, add 1/2 tsp. baking soda to dry mixture.  In step 2, replace milk with 2/3 cup plain low fat yogurt and 1/3 cup milk.
Whole Grain with Yogurt:  In step 1, replace the flour with 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour, 1/4 cup each of cornmeal and wheat germ, and 1/2 tsp. baking soda.  In step 2, replace milk with 2/3 cup plain low fat yogurt and 1/3 cup milk

Source:  EveryDay Food, September 2006 (This was Lori's source but I got the recipe from her over here at her blog and I followed her recipe exactly!)