Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Samoa Cupcakes

I swear this isn't going to turn into a cupcake blog...although that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I've not had a lot of cooking time and it seems that having to take something to someone or to a function is the only thing that inspires me to actually do it of late.

You know the Samoa Girl Scout cookies? They are my favorite ones. I have been known to knock out a whole package in no time at all with little to no help. This is a sort of cupcake version. Well the batter tastes like Mounds if I'm entirely honest and it's too cakey to actually be a Samoa but the toasted coconut and caramel definitely give you that kind of feel. And really, how wrong can you go with chocolate, caramel and toasted coconut? I'm thinking you can't. Unless you burn the coconut, which is always a possibility at my house...The frosting has some salt in it to kind of cut the sweetness, I would start with 1/2 tsp and if you're going for the whole "salted caramel" thing increase it by taste from there.

Samoa Cupcakes
1 box dark chocolate fudge cake mix
1 cup coconut
2 tsp coconut flavoring

Prepare mix according to package directions. Stir in coconut flavoring and mix well. Fold in coconut. Fill cupcake liners and bake. I did mini cupcakes and they took 12 minutes. Adjust your bake time accordingly.

Caramel Buttercream Frosting
2 sticks butter; softened
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. caramel topping
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2-1 tsp salt

Cream butter until fluffy. Add vanilla and caramel. Mix well. Add powdered sugar and beat until fluffy and the right consistency. Add salt and mix well. Taste and adjust salt if needed.

After frosting the cupcakes top with drizzles of caramel and chocolate ice cream topping and a little toasted coconut. You could probably make the chocolate sauce from scratch if you prefer but Hershey's was pretty good in a time crunch!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tie Dye Cupcakes

Soooo, I'm not dead, just crazy busy. I got a new job at work and it's kicking my butt. If it doesn't look like a frozen pizza or corn dog it pretty much hasn't happened at our house this month. This is where B steps in and takes over in her alter ego as "The Jigglette".

We needed to take a treat to some neighbors but have been putting it off because I'm always running out of time so this morning B took pity on me and did it all by herself. She's kind of hooked on Pinterest (like mother like daughter) and decided to try a tie dye cupcake that she saw there.

These are a basic yellow cake mix. She divided it into 5 bowls and tinted them fun colors.Then she filled the muffin tin with spoonfuls of the different colors. She didn't swirl anything together, just dropped the different colors in and they came out awesome! The frosting is chocolate buttercream that I do actually have a recipe for! 

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks softened butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 c. special dark cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
4 T. heavy cream

Cream butter in mixer until fluffy. Sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa, mix with the butter on low speed until absorbed into the butter. Add salt, vanilla and cream and beat on med for approx. 3 min or until fluffy. Adjust thickness with either more sugar or more cream depending on how you prefer it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pot Roast Love

I think I've mentioned in the past that Sunday dinner at my house growing up was pot roast with carrots and potatoes nearly every Sunday. It still is, actually. It's one of my mom's best meals. Somehow that pot roast magic skill didn't managed to transfer into my brain before I left home. I know, SHOCKING! I had Mom write down what she did shortly after we got married and I followed her instructions to the letter only to discover that either I was roast challenged (very possibly) or that same level of goodness could only be achieved by my mom. I satisfied myself with inviting myself to dinner every week that we lived close enough and really enjoying the weeks we made the trek after we moved. I didn't really attempt it again until several years later...largely because we couldn't afford to actually purchase anything more expensive than ground beef but that's a tale for another day.

I'm a huge fan of putting roast in the crock pot and do that most often. It's pretty hard to mess things up in a crock pot because it does all the work for you. That said sometimes I am not a good enough planner and don't get it started in time. I have this lovely red Dutch oven that I got for my birthday a couple of years ago and although it's not Le Crueset it's pretty darned good. I did the research between Lodge and Le Crueset and decided that the end result was so close to the same that I couldn't justify $250-300 on one pan. Lodge has served me well with my other Dutch ovens so that's what I got and guess what....it makes a roast that is on a par with my mom's! Finally!

Depending on how much time I've got I like to brown the onions and carrots as well as the roast before I start them all together in the oven. It works without that step but the flavor it is a bit richer if you do it. Sometimes I cook the potatoes in the same pot but usually I do those separately on the stove. I just like the texture better with gravy. So, here's the secret so that you can have some pot roast love at your house too!

Pot Roast Love

1 large roast (we like chuck usually)
1 onion; cut into eighths or quarters
1 1/2 lbs baby carrots
Johnny's seasoned salt
black pepper
Herbs of your choice
olive oil
2 c. beef broth

Heat a couple of tablespoons olive oil in the Dutch oven over med high-high heat.

Quickly brown the onions in the olive oil and set aside. Brown the carrots until you start to see little brown marks and set them aside as well.

Season the meat with seasoning salt and pepper. Sear your roast on all sides until it's nice and brown. A good pair of tongs will help you get the sides without burning yourself. Set roast aside.

Deglaze your pan with 1 c. beef broth. Scrape the little bits off the bottom of the pan. Put the roast, carrots and onion (and potatoes if that's the way you are cooking them) back in the pan and add enough broth to cover the roast approx halfway. (you are braising the meat in case you are interested)

Add whatever herbs you like or just season well with salt and pepper. Rosemary and thyme are good as is a bay leaf or two. Cover.

Cook low and slow until the meat is falling apart. 275 degrees for 3 hours for a smaller roast (3 lbs.) add another hour for a 4-5 lb roast. You can do 350 for a little less time but it isn't as fall apart tender. It's all about time people.

Let meat rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spice Frosting

This is the second cupcake of the cupcake palooza I had the other day. Again I started with a spice cake mix and embellished it to suit my tastes. This version I liked better than the apple one and it was beautiful to decorate. The cupcakes were all pretty and rounded so they looked as yum as they tasted.

Again, the cake is merely the tool that allows me to have copious amounts of frosting without any weird looks. This frosting was seriously good. I wasn't expecting that level of yum when I was throwing things in the bowl and hoping that it would actually thicken up without 2 lbs of powdered sugar but holy cow it was good. I licked both beaters and won't even think about the amount I ate after the cupcakes were all frosted and there was a little left in the bowl....

The fam all liked this one and it made a great birthday cupcake for my cute adopted daughter. Considering I'm a slacker on the shopping front a cupcake had to be a birthday token today. I even found a candle!

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spice Frosting
2 doz cupcakes

 Cupcakes:
1 spice cake mix
4 eggs
1 c. pumpkin
1/4 c. oil
1 c. buttermilk
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Frosting:
1 c. butter
4 c. powdered sugar
4 T. buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
tiny dab orange food coloring (opt)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with 24 cupcake liners.
  2. In a large mixing bowl mix cake mix, oil, buttermilk, and pumpkin until well blended. Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each. Add pumpkin pie spice and stir until blended.
  3. Fill cupcake liners with 1/4 c. batter and bake 20 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove to a sheet pan and refrigerate 10-15 minutes until cool.
  4. Beat butter until fluffy. Add powdered sugar 1 c. at a  time with 1 T. buttermilk at a time until all sugar is added.
  5. Add vanilla and pumpkin pie spice and beat until fluffy. Add a bit more powdered sugar if needed. Color with orange food coloring if you choose.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Apple Cupcakes with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

I made cupcakes today to take to work as a bribe. Who knows if it will make any impact but if I were the one being bribed I would pretty much be a slave to this frosting. The cake was ok but compared to the frosting it was just cake. I feel like that much of the time however so I had to eat a cupcake plain to decide whether or not I actually liked them. I will definitely do apple chunks next time instead of shreds but over all it was a decent apple cake and considering that it started with a spice cake mix that makes me pretty happy. I have much better luck jazzing up a mix than I do from scratch. Maybe when I grow up I will figure out consistent results from scratch.

Apple Cupcakes with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
2 doz cupcakes

Cupcakes:
1 spice cake mix
1 cup applesauce
1/4 c. oil
1 c. buttermilk
2 tsp apple pie spice
2 apples; chopped

Frosting:
3 oz cream cheese
2-3 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. butter
1/3 c. caramel ice cream topping
1 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with 24 cupcake liners.
  2. In a large mixing bowl mix cake mix, oil, buttermilk, and applesauce until well blended. Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each. Add apples and apple pie spice and stir until blended.
  3. Fill cupcake liners with 1/4 c. batter and bake 20 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove to a sheet pan and refrigerate 10-15 minutes until cool.
  4. In large mixing bowl cream together butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and caramel until fluffy. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time until incorporated, well blended and the consistency you prefer. I like mine to hold peaks so that it doesn't slide off the cupcake when it's piped on.
Shared with:
Church Supper Sunday  Melt in Your Mouth Monday  Sweet Indulgences Sunday    Sweets on a Saturday Tasty Tuesday  Two Maid a Baking Foodie Wednesday  Cast Party Wednesday  Made it on Monday  These Chicks Cooked  Totally Tasty Tuesdays 

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Mac and Cheese

    We are kind of mac and cheese snobs at our house. Well....maybe the truth is I'M a mac and cheese snob. I just can't bring myself to get on board with the blue box of yellow death that is the staple of newlyweds and students everywhere. This tendency I blame squarely on my mother. I didn't ever have box mac and cheese until I was in high school...or maybe I was even married...at any rate I don't like it and avoid it at all costs.

    I've made many variations of mac and cheese over the years and haven't ever really found the perfect recipe. They are all good and most have been made more than once but I am still always looking for the perfect combination. This could be the one. It was good creamy, straight out of the pot and also after being baked. That is huge in my book. It was even pretty good reheated when most mac and cheeses are at their leftover worst.

    This is a Pioneer Woman recipe so I wasn't consumed with tweaking it to death. I haven't made anything from her book or blog that wasn't good. This recipe falls into that category as well. Yum. Try it, you may not eat yellow death voluntarily again either!

    Mac and Cheese
    The Pioneer Woman-Food Network 

    Ingredients
    • 4 cups dried macaroni
    • 1 whole egg
    • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
    • 2 heaping teaspoons dry mustard (more if desired)
    • 1 pound sharp Cheddar, grated (not pre-grated cheese), plus more for baking
    • Salt
    • Seasoned salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • Optional spices: cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme

    Directions 

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    Cook the macaroni until still slightly firm. Drain and set aside.

    In a small bowl, beat the egg. In a large pot, melt the butter and sprinkle in the flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook for a couple of minutes, whisking constantly. Don't let it burn. Pour in the milk, add the mustard and whisk until smooth. Cook until very thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low.

    Take 1/4 cup of the sauce and slowly pour it into the beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs. Whisk together until smooth. Pour the egg into the sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth. Add in the cheese and stir to melt. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt and the pepper. Add any additional spices if desired. Taste the sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt as needed! DO NOT UNDERSALT.

    Pour in the drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine. Serve immediately (while it's still very creamy) or pour into a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese and bake until bubbly and golden on top, 20 to 25 minutes.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Raspberry Peach Jam

    I have always loved raspberry jam. Strawberry is OK, but if I have a choice I will choose raspberry without hesitation. Peach has always been eh in my book so I've never actually made a whole batch of peach jam. I like it if someone else gives it to me, like my mother in law, but I never do it on my own.

    A few weeks ago I had a few peaches that weren't really enough to do much of anything else and I was completely peached out on the treat front so I decided to do a raspberry peach jam combo. I'd talked about it with my neighbor and hers turned out so good I needed some of my own. Of course, I made this decision late at night without any prior planning or actual fresh raspberries so I had to improvise a little. Necessity is the mother of invention and all that jazz...

    I couldn't find any pectin in my pantry, I had a bag of raspberries that was a little freezer burned and a few peaches. Throw in a some sugar, a box of raspberry Jello and see what happens! It was jam magic I tell ya. Seriously. Magic. Yum. Can I eat this stuff with a spoon...wait, I did that. It is good on toast, would make fabulous syrup or ice cream topping and is good just straight. :) An added bonus is the easy. I did it again the next week and used frozen peaches given to me by a friend and it worked like a charm. I may never make straight raspberry jam again. I have a bag of strawberries that are going to be the next peach ___ combination. Maybe this week. Or the next. Or sometime in December. You know, when I have a spare minute.

    Raspberry Peach Jam
    3 pints

    5 c. white sugar
    4 c. peaches; peeled and sliced
    1 10 oz pkg raspberries (fresh would also work)
    1 small box raspberry Jello

    Combine peaches and berries in food processor and pulse until chopped. (I like it fairly smooth but if you wanted chunks you could just put them in your pot and mash them with a potato masher while you cooked it.)

    In a large heavy pot combine fruit and sugar. Bring mixture to a steady boil. Stir constantly to avoid scorching and cook for 25 minutes until mixture is medium thick. Remove pan from heat and add Jello. Stir well until Jello dissolves. Pour into pint jars. Cover with parafin or process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    What I've been doing....

    I've been crazy busy at work and haven't seemed to find the time to cook anything blog worthy for weeks. You have to be able to give cooking longer than 15 minutes here and 15 minutes there for it to turn out. So...I've been crafting instead. I've made some infant hats that are pretty darned cute and finished this wreath for my office door this afternoon. It's a terrible picture but in real life it makes me happy. :)

    Maybe next week will be a better cooking week!

    I didn't take pictures of the process but here are the super easy instructions:

    Supplies:
    8" Foam wreath form
    3 spools of tulle from the wedding or floral department (I think they were 25' each)
    Flowers or whatever decorations you decide to use
    Feathers
    Hot glue gun
    Ultra fine glitter
    Elmer's glue
    Spray glitter (I used glitter hairspray because it was cheaper)

    Cut lengths of tulle 18" long. I cut everything and stacked it by color. I used 2 black spools and 1 purple but you can obviously do whatever color combination your heart desires.

    Visually divide your wreath into quarters. Take 2 lengths of tulle and stack them together. Tie them to your wreath form at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 positions. Depending on how you like the knots tie either a square knot (right over left, left over right) or 2 half squares (right over left, right over left). I tried both ways and ended up doing a square knot. Tie them tightly, so that the tulle doesn't slide all over.

    Now just start filling in the spaces with ties. I'm kind of OCD and counted how many ties I was doing in each section but you can slide them around if you just tie without counting. I did all the black and then added the purple at the end.

    Once you have all the ties tied, fluff it out and see if it's even. You can trim it up at this point pretty easily.

    Lay out your decorations and arrange them on your wreath. Once you have everything where you like it pull out your handy, dandy, glue gun and start gluing. For glue gun novices I would recommend looking for a low temp version, it will save your fingers from being permaburned. Not that I have experienced that or anything.

    If you can find pre glittered flowers you can skip this step but I couldn't find any so I carefully edged the petals with Elmer's and sprinkled ultra fine glitter over the glue. If you goof and it looks scary you can pull the flower off and wash the glue off under running water and start over. Or glitter before you glue it to the wreath. I wasn't sure how much I actually wanted so I did it after it was all glued.

    Fill in with feathers. Spray with glitter spray. Hang with a chunk of ribbon!

    Easy!

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    Mock KFC Potato Bowls

    I'm a big fan of replicating restaurant and fast food dishes at home for less money. This dinner is one of those kinds of recipes and it's waaay cheaper than if you were to buy them at KFC and honestly tastes very, very close to the same.  There's nothing super gourmet about this one, you probably have all the ingredients hanging out in your freezer and food storage. The kids love it and even the big kid likes it to eat as lunch the next day. If you wanted to be all super, Holly Homemaker you could absolutely make your mashed potatoes from scratch but to really duplicate the KFC experience you need to use instant. I admit that growing up in Idaho I had no idea that such a thing existed. Instant potatoes...what will they think of next?!? 

    This is seriously easy dinner. I can't even call it a recipe. Add the elements you like to your bowl and if you are B leave the corn out. Start with everything warm and just microwave for 20 seconds just before eating and you will be thinking you just left the KFC drive thru. An added bonus is your wallet won't be in sticker shock! Woo!

    Mock KFC Potato Bowls

    Popcorn chicken (we cook the whole bag)
    Enough mashed potatoes to feed your family
    Brown gravy; Cambell's tastes really close to KFC's but the kind in the packet works well too. 
    Corn
    Cheese

    1. Bake the chicken according to the package directions
    2. Prepare the mashed potatoes according to the package directions.
    3. Layer potatoes, gravy, chicken, corn, gravy and cheese.
    4. Zap the bowl in the microwave to melt the cheese a little bit before serving.

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    Game Day Chili

    Football season is upon us and I'm starting to feel like cooking for fall, even though the temperature outside is still hanging out in the upper 80's this week. Once fall hits I like to make lots of soups and chili's. I love the convenience of dumping stuff in my crock pot in the morning and coming home to a hot dish of whatever after work. This is good the first day but superb on the second day so I try to cook it on a day that I'm home and able to fix something else for dinner so that I can eat this the next day. Serve it with warm bread or cornbread and some Fritos. 

    You can mix up the bean to meat ratio to fit your family and I usually just use whatever I can dig out of the pantry. Don't feel locked into the chili beans if that isn't what you normally buy, it's fairly spicy even without the seasoned beans.  The ingredient list is kind of lengthy but everything is probably something that you already have in your kitchen. Don't be scared...it's worth it! I promise. :)

    Game Day Chili
    Serves 12

    2 lbs lean ground beef
    1 lb Italian sausage
    3 cans chili beans; drained
    1 can spicy chili beans
    2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes with juice
    1/3 c. ketchup
    1 large yellow onion; chopped
    3 stalks celery; chopped
    1 green bell pepper; chopped
    1 red bell pepper; chopped
    2 jalapeno peppers; chopped (seed them if you don't want the heat)
    1 T. bacon bits
    4 t. beef bouillon
    1/2 c. water
    1/4 c. chili powder
    1 T. Worcestershire sauce
    1 T. minced garlic
    1 T. dried oregano
    2 t. cumin
    2 t. Tabasco
    1 t. dried basil
    1 t. salt
    1 t. group black pepper
    1 t. cayenne pepper
    1 t. sugar

    1. Brown meat in a large skillet and drain off fat.
    2. Mix all ingredients in a large (6 qt) crock pot.
    3. Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 12 hours. (If you are around to stir you can do so but you don't need to watch it like carefully. Walk away people and enjoy your day. Or work. Bleh.)
    4. To serve ladle into bowls and top with grated cheese and sour cream. Serve chips on the side.

    Entered in The Texas Star Chili Cook Off 2011 Check it out!!

    Saturday, October 1, 2011

    Blackberry Peach Cobbler Bars

    I love the end of summer when the peaches and berries are all juicy and ripe. I used to pick raspberries to earn money for school clothes and there were lots of mornings that my sisters and I were guilty of standing in the patch and eating as many berries as we put into our buckets. I didn't have raspberries this morning but I did have some blackberries and thanks to my awesome neighbor I also had fresh peaches. I've eaten most of the peaches she brought over just by themselves so I thought it might be nice to make something that I could share out of some of them. These bars fit the bill perfectly. 

    The base was similar to shortbread and next time I am going to add some oatmeal to give it a little more texture but the flavor was awesome. The peaches and blackberries complemented each other perfectly and didn't make the crust too soggy. By the end of the day it was pretty soft but it still tasted good. I think this recipe is a definite keeper. I want to try it with raspberries next time and I would imagine that you could use frozen fruit as well and it would still be fine.

    Hurry and make this one before all the peaches are gone!!


    Blackberry Peach Cobbler Bars
    24 bars

    3 c. flour
    1 c. sugar
    1 t. baking powder
    1/2 t. cinnamon
    1/2 t. nutmeg
    1/4 t. ginger
    1/4 t. salt
    1 c. cold butter
    1 large egg
    2 t. pure vanilla extract
    3 peaches; pitted and thinly sliced
    2 c. blackberries
    Coarse sugar

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9x13 baking dish and set aside.
    2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and spices. Add the butter and cut into the flour mixture. You can use a couple of knives, a pastry blender thingy, your food processor or just your hands. Mix together until you have pea sized chunks of dough.
    3. Add the egg and vanilla. Stir to combine.
    4. Press 3/4 of the dough into the baking dish and set the remaining dough aside.
    5. Add the sliced peaches over the dough (if you are a little bit OCD line them up all nice and straight...cause I would never be so crazy). Sprinkle 2/3 of the berries over the top of the peaches.
    6. Mash the remaining berries in a bowl and drizzle evenly over the baking dish.
    7. Crumble the remaining dough over the top. Sprinkle top with coarse sugar.
    8. Bake for 35 minutes or until the top and sides are golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.

    Shared on:
    Church Supper Sunday    Sweet Indulgences Sunday  Sweets for a Saturday 

    Friday, September 30, 2011

    Cookies and Cream Brownies

    It's been at least a week since I added any Oreos to anything so I decided while making brownies that I should give them an Oreo infusion. I'm not sure if they were more brownies with Oreos or Oreos with a brownie binder but at any rate they were delicious. I topped them with some cream cheese frosting that I had sitting in the fridge but I think I would have liked a vanilla drizzle better. Or, maybe I should have just thinned the cream cheese down so it wasn't so thick....next time right?

    I just used a boxed mix because I've honestly not found a brownie recipe that can beat Betty Crocker. Add an extra egg and you're golden.

    Cookies and Cream Brownies

    1 box Betty Crocker brownie mix (13x9 recipe size)
    2 1/2 c. crushed Oreos
    frosting of your choice if desired.

    Mix the brownie mix together according to package directions using 3 eggs.

    Crush the Oreos and mix them into the batter well.

    Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 28 min at 350 degrees.

    Let cool completely. Add a frosting drizzle if you like. It's good both ways.

    Shared on:
    Turning the Table Thursday    Two Maids a Baking  Melt in Your Mouth Monday  Cast Party Wednesday  Full Plate Thursday Whisking Wednesdays  Totally Tasty Tuesdays 

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Dorm Room Fudge


    I have to be honest, I've never actually lived in a dorm. My sisters all did and from what I can remember, cause let's be real that was a long time ago, the amenities are pretty sparse as far as kitchens go. That said, most college students have access to a microwave so even they could make this fudge. And it really is that easy. I kid you not.

    Randy came home last week and out of the blue requested fudge. I looked at him and thought...."OK, random much?" but decided to humor him and throw some fudge together yesterday after work. This came together really easily, almost too easily if you are concerned about your weight. It was seriously a dump, microwave and stir kind of deal and it is YUM. Smooth and silky texture, rich flavor, no weird granulated sugar. Quite possibly the best basic fudge I've ever made. I can see this with nuts or marshmallows added, this is a great jumping off point to get creative. Or, it's good just like this, pure, chocolatey goodness. 

    Dorm Room Fudge
    1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
    1 can sweetened condensed milk
    1/2 c. milk chocolate chips
    1 T. Butter
    1 T. cream (I used milk)
    1. Place chips and milk in microwave safe bowl. (You can use just the one package of semisweet chocolate chips, or add the milk chocolate chips for a fudge that is slightly sweeter and creamier.) 
    2. Microwave on medium power for 2-3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Microwave, stirring at 1 minutes intervals, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth and thick. Stir in butter and cream until combined. 
    3. Pour into greased 8" square pan and cool. You can also melt the chips and milk in a heavy saucepan over low heat.  
    Linked to:
    Whisking Wednesdays  Sweet Indulgences Sunday  Foodie Wednesday  Cast Party Wednesday  Made It on Monday  Melt in Your Mouth Monday  Pot Luck Tuesdays  These Chicks Cooked  Two Maids a Baking  

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Meatloaf a'la Jiggle

    Everyone has a meatloaf recipe that is supposedly the best. Mom, Grandma, Aunt Louise, they all swear theirs in the best. I've tried many and am not convinced that any one is significantly better than another. It really all boils down to your own taste and that of your family. My family won't eat it if they can see oats in it and they don't like the texture of crumbled bread. If I add carrots in an effort to up the healthy it's just understood that I will be eating the whole thing by myself. Not always a bad solution but maybe more meatloaf than I really need...

    This version is super easy and tastes like steak. That probably has something to do with the generous amount of A1 that I dump in and I'm totally ok with that. My family likes it and that's the important part right?

    Meatloaf a'la Jiggle
    serves 6 (4 if you are feeding starving boys)

    1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
    1 large egg
    1/2 c. milk
    2/3 c. seasoned bread crumbs (crushed Ritz crackers would be good too)
    3 T. yellow mustard
    1/4 c. A1 steak sauce
    2 T (ish) Canadian Steak seasoning

    1. Mix all ingredients with ground beef in a large bowl. Don't over mix, just kind of smoosh it altogether until it's mixed.
    2. Turn into a 9x9 baking dish and loosely shape into a loaf.
    3. Bake uncovered at 350 for about 45 minutes. At this point you can add a ketchup or BBQ sauce to the top if you like. Bake another 15 minutes.
    4. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    Fan Cut Spuds

    With Mr. Jiggle in India we've kind of slacked on the cooking. I know I've said that in previous posts but seriously, we've all lost weight. Now why can't that happen and still eat good treats and dinner?? If someone knows the secret please let me know cause I'm still looking for the "silver bullet of weight loss".

    I saw these potatoes on Rachel Ray a while ago and just kind of stashed them in my "remember for someday in the future" section of my brain. Today in straightening up my kitchen I discovered a bag of forgotten russet potatoes (spuds if you grew up in Southeastern Idaho) that needed to be used immediately if not sooner but didn't want to do baked potatoes and I was too rushed to peel anything. So Fan Cut Potatoes here we come.

    Although these take a while to cook the prep is easy and fairly quick. We just cut them, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled them with seasoning salt and pepper. Add a little shredded cheese the last 10 minutes and they are yum. Crispy on the outside and steamy and soft on the inside with the deep flavor that roasting vegetables gives them.

    A nice change from baked potatoes!

    Fan Cut Spuds
    adapted from Rachel Ray

    1. Scrub potatoes well.
    2. With a sharp knife cut slices partway through the potato about 1/8 inch thick. Don't slice through the bottom.
    3. Drizzle with good olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. I used Johnny's seasoning salt instead. Sam's Club has a giant bottle and it's the best seasoned salt I've tried.
    4. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Sprinkle shredded cheese on the top and bake another 10-15 minutes.

    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    Cherry Tomato Orzo Salad

    I had a family reunion the other day and had every intention of baking some super cute cupcakes to take. Then I tried to chop my finger off with some sewing shears and had to have a tetanus shot. That really cramped my style with the whole fever, finger glued back together on the left side and crippled shot arm on the right side. Stupid scissors anyway! Maybe someday I will learn how to use big girl scissors but that's not any time soon apparently. :)

    I still needed something to take to the luncheon so I rummaged through the pantry in a panic. My mom would have frowned on showing up empty handed, a "gently smiled on the outside but you know she's rolling her eyes on the inside" kind of mom frown but the guilt would have killed me...I don't know how she does it. I've obviously not perfected that look because my kids would totally show up without the assigned dish and be alright with it. Maybe what I haven't perfected is that "Aw shucks mom I know I didn't do what you asked but I'm cute and so you love me anyway" look. I'm thinking if I haven't figured that out by now I should just stick with doing what I'm told.

    I found some Orzo pasta that I had bought one day thinking I was going to attempt something Greek, I don't even remember what, but it obviously never actually happened. That was intriguing and I had some grape tomatoes in the fridge. I ran out to my neighbor's garden (Hi Alice!!) and "helped" her pick some of her cute orange cherry tomatoes cause I know she likes to share and I was in business. This was a super easy salad. It had a really clean, not too fussy taste and for those at my house that don't care for Italian dressings this was a good alternative. B doctored hers up with Salad Seasoning when she ate it at home and it was good that way as well. Definitely a do again!!

    Cherry Tomato Orzo Salad
    Serves 10

    1/2 box Orzo pasta cooked to al dente.
    1 pt grape tomatoes, halved
    1 pt orange cherry tomatoes, halved
    1 large cucumber, diced
    2 T. chopped fresh oregano
    Juice of 1 lemon
    1/4 c. olive oil
    Black Pepper
    1 c. Feta cheese

    1. Cook pasta and drain well.
    2. Add tomatoes and cucumber and mix.
    3. In a small bowl mix together the lemon juice, oil and pepper to taste.
    4. Drizzle over the pasta and mix in gently.
    5. Just before serving fold the cheese into the salad.

    Monday, September 5, 2011

    Zesty Lemon Salad Dressing

    Have you ever eaten a particular food so often that you finally get to where you just can't make yourself gag it down any more? That's kind of where I'm at with salads. I did that diet a couple of years ago that you eat lettuce until you are sure you are going to sprout bunny ears and start to hop and I honestly can't force myself to eat green salad now. Part of that is I got used to having only vinegar on it instead of gloppy salad dressing but who am I kidding...I'm not going to only eat vinegar unless there's some kind of guaranteed, ginormous weight loss payoff involved and at the rate I consume treats weight loss is not anywhere on my horizon. So, I've kind of gotten into the habit of eating salads that are mainly spring greens or spinach and trying different combinations for homemade salad dressing. It just takes a minute to whip up and there is just no comparison to that goop in a bottle. I may never go back. Remind me to post the strawberry vinaigrette that I concocted a few weeks ago. Yum!

    This lemon based dressing came from thesisterscafe.com. I'm pretty sure that I'm their biggest fan, I've praised their blog several times before and I'm sure it will happen again. I didn't fiddle with their formula much at all and it was great. I would maybe double it if you are taking salad to a potluck or something that you needed a bigger version for. And, I'm not a big "dress the whole salad" fan as there are too many people in my family that don't like the same dressing so I just drizzled a little on after plating my salad. I'm sure the end result was the same.

    The salad was we ate it on was baby spinach, sliced strawberries, toasted almond slivers and a little bit of feta cheese. Again, we let everyone do their own here so that they can leave the undesired components off if they want. Cuz, you know, I'm a cool mom like that. :0)

    Zesty Lemon Salad Dressing
    adapted from www.thesisterscafe.com

    Juice of 1 lemon (about 3-4 T.)
    3 T. sugar
    1 T. Dijon mustard
    Zest of 1 lemon (about 1/2 Tish)
    Pepper to taste
    1/4 c. light olive oil

    In a blender mix all ingredients until well blended and sugar is dissolved. Drizzle onto salad just before serving.

    Saturday, August 27, 2011

    Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

    I have a confession. I have an unhealthy addiction to all things Oreo. I'm pretty sure that if I had purchased stock in Nabisco while I was a teenager I would be a millionaire now. I've eaten bags and bags of the chocolatey goodness; with milk and just straight out of the bag. I've added them to ice cream, pies and banana bread. Homemade versions are snarfed up as fast as I can put the filling in them. So, as I was pondering what treat to make and I realized that I had not only a bag of regular Oreos (I swear they are diet) but a bag of Double Stuff and a bag of Mini Oreos in my treat cupboard as well it was fairly obvious that they needed to be used. Sure I could just eat them but yum, there has to be another use for them right?

    As usual I was in a time crunch (work is really cramping my style) so I started with a boxed Devil's Food Cake mix and jazzed it up a bit. The really yum part is the frosting. You just can't go wrong with cream cheese anything. You could also do a straight up vanilla buttercream and that would be good too. The addition of whipping cream in place of the milk ups the richness factor in either version. Real butter and good vanilla and you are in business. These were pretty quick to finish and quick to disappear. I shared with the neighbors so that I didn't OD on them. Cause you know, I would NEVER do anything like that!!

    Cookies and Cream Cupcakes
    21 cupcakes


    Cupcakes
    1 Devil's Food Cake mix
    1 1/4 c. buttermilk
    1/2 c. oil (you could also use melted butter)
    3/4 c. sour cream
    3 eggs

    Frosting
    8 oz. cream cheese
    1 lb powdered sugar
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    3 T. butter
    6 Oreos smashed into bits

    1. Prepare cupcake batter and divide into 21 cups. Bake 18-22 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.
    2. Cream cream cheese and butter together. Add milk, vanilla and powdered sugar. Blend well adding sugar until spreading consistency. I like to make it a little bit stiffer if I'm piping it than if I'm just spreading it with a knife.
    3. Mix cookie crumbs into frosting and frost cupcakes. EASY!!

    Recipe shared with:
    Sweet Indulgences Sunday    Sweets for a Saturday  Melt in Your Mouth Monday  Church Supper Sunday Tasty Tuesdays   Whisking Wednesdays  Foodie Wednesday  Cast Party Wednesday    Made it on Monday  Totally Tasty Tuesdays   These Chicks Cooked  2 Maids a Baking 

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011

    Chicken Cordon Bleu Bake

    It's been a crazy couple of weeks at the Jiggle household and quite frankly cooking has fallen to the bottom of the priority ladder. Mr. Jiggle is off working overseas for a month, school started for the younger Jiggles and Jiggle herself had to give up the cushy, working from home in her jammies gig and go back to the office every day. That's really cutting into the meal/treat planning, like a lot. Anyway...

    Today I had to take dinner to a neighbor and was cruising The Sisters Cafe, as that is one of the very few websites that I can access at work stupid big brother anyway, and this casserole appealed on 2 levels. First it was easy to put together and all the ingredients were already happily residing in my panty and second it was touted as a good freezer meal. I used to be all kinds of organized and regularly did freezer meals for those days that my life was crazy or that I needed to run a dinner somewhere unexpectedly. I've kind of fallen off that wagon with WalMart moving in down the road and really need to get back on it. The planning wagon and the weight loss wagon have both left me laying in the road wondering what exactly happened. Maybe someday I will find the will power to flag them both down and haul myself back up on there. Maybe.

    I doubled what was listed and easily got 2 9x9 dishes and a very full 9x13 dish. This is an extremely generous recipe. I froze a small one, took the other small one to the neighbors and baked the bigger one for dinner and lunches. Other than the doubling of the recipe I followed it faithfully. I'm looking forward to lunch tomorrow!!

    Chicken Cordon Bleu Bake
    thesisterscafe.com
    servings 10-12

    2 generous cups cooked chicken; diced
    3/4 lb deli ham; sliced in strips
    1 can 98% fat free cream of chicken soup
    1 cup milk
    1 cup Swiss cheese; shredded
    2 cups Cheddar cheese; shredded and divided
    2 boxes chicken flavor stuffing mix; prepared

    1. Prepare baking dish with non stick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    2. Spread chicken in bottom of dish. Sprinkle with pepper (I just used Johnny's seasoning when I cooked the chicken so I skipped the pepper).
    3. Layer ham, Swiss cheese, and 1/2 of the Cheddar cheese over the chicken.
    4. In a small bowl mix soup and milk until blended. Pour over everything.
    5. Spread prepared stuffing over the top and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese over the top.
    6. Bake covered for 40-45 min; remove cover and bake an additional 10-15 min.

    Linked to:
    Tasty Tuesday   Whisking Wednesday  Sweet Indulgences Sunday   
    Foodie Wednesday Cast Party Wednesday  Made it on Monday    
    Totally Tasty Tuesdays  These Chicks Cooked  2 Maids a Baking   
    Melt in Your Mouth Monday  Turning the Table Thursday 

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin

    Still waiting on my camera to come home so this is just a quick, easy kind of dinner. I always have these grand plans when I wander through the meat department that rarely happen like I see them in my imagination when it is actually time to fix dinner. I bought a pork tenderloin last week and was going to do this great new thing with blackberries and jalenpenos but someone ate the blackberries and my jalenpeno was sketchy when I pulled it out of the fridge so I was forced to consider plan B...I didn't really have a plan B. Great. So, I stood in front of the fridge perusing all the contents and there was a little dribble of teriyaki sauce but not enough to actually do anything. Surely I can concoct something similar that will keep me away from Wal-Mart. I'm a smart, capable, innovative (sort of) kind of cook. Right?

    I put this all in the crock pot and walked away but I think the sauce would be good cooked on the stove until it's thick and used as a grilling sauce as well. It turned out pretty well for an experiment. Randy was firmly in the do it again camp so I'm sure we will see it again in the not too distant future.

    Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin

    2 lb pork tenderloin
    1/4 c. low sodium soy sauce
    1 c. water
    1 1/2 tsp grated ginger root
    1/4 tsp garlic powder
    1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
    1/4 c. + 2 T. brown sugar
    2 T. honey
    2 1/2 T. cornstarch mixed in 1/4 c. water

    Spray crock pot with non stick spray. Place pork in crock pot; salt and pepper to taste.

    Mix all sauce ingredients together and pour over pork. Cover and cook on high 4 hours or low 8 hours.

    Remove meat from crock pot and pour sauce into small saucepan. Bring sauce to a boil. Cook down until it reaches desired thickness (3-4 minutes). Shred pork. Mix it all together and serve it over rice.

    Post linked to:
    Melt in Your Mouth Monday;  Your Recipe My Kitchen; 

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    P-P-Potato Salad

    I'm back! I survived a week's worth of girls camp without any lasting ill effects! I am sunburned and stiff from all the hiking but it was totally worth it. Now I just need to figure out how to get myself invited again next year!

    It was my mom's birthday this week and we had a family birthday dinner in her honor. My assignment was salad but because I was gone all week the normal choices like pasta salad, fruit salad and spinach salad were already snapped up by my sister and sisters in law. That left me deciding on what to bring that didn't duplicate anyone else and would still be eaten. Bri suggested potato salad so that's what we decided to do. She actually did most of the work while I directed her like the good little sous chef she is. It turned out yum, no real surprise as this is a family recipe that my mom has made for years. There are so many versions of potato salad that I had to reign myself in from trying out something new and different...I got a 50 potato salad recipes insert in my Food Network magazine this month that is just begging to be tried but today it was the old standby.

    Everyone has a different twist on this salad. The way we like it uses green onions and pickle juice rather than actual pickles. No one in my family will eat dill pickles except for me so this way we get to have the flavor from the pickles without the little green chunks. I prefer the green onions over yellow or white onions simply because they are milder but you could certainly use whatever you have on hand.

    My camera is still in the shop...I'm beginning to think I may never see it again...so the picture was taken with B's point and shoot. It's better than nothing right?

    Potato Salad

    10-12 med red potatoes, halved and cooked
    3/4 tsp onion powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp garlic salt
    4 T. white wine vinegar
    1 1/2 c. Miracle Whip (I used light but will remember to do regular next time so it's gluten free) Sorry Dave!!
    1/4 c. dill pickle juice
    1/4 c. milk or cream
    2 tsp mustard (either prepared or dijon work)
    4-5 green onions chopped
    5 hard boiled eggs, chopped or smashed
    salt and pepper to taste
    paprika

    Peel and cube potatoes while still warm. Season with onion powder, salt, garlic salt and vinegar and set aside. Let rest for 30 minutes.

    Mix Miracle Whip, pickle juice, milk and mustard together until smooth. Stir chopped green onions into dressing and mix well. Add half the eggs to the potato mixture. Toss with dressing until well coated. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    Turn into serving bowl. Top salad with remaining eggs and a sprinkle of Paprika. Chill well before serving.

    Linked to:
    Melt in Your Mouth Mondays Totally Tasty Tuesdays Tasty Tuesday  Tasty Tuesdays 
    Foodie Wednesday  Cast Party Wednesday  Made it on Monday  These Chicks Cooked 

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    I haven't died...

    or anything dire like that. I'm getting ready for Girls Camp and it's consuming my life. Add that to the bug in my camera and the Geek Squad that is stymied on how to get him out of there and I've not done much cooking in the last week or two.

    Fear not (like anyone really cares!) I'll be back as soon as my life returns to it's regularly scheduled programming.