Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pizza Dip.

Recently there was a birthday celebration at work.  When I asked what I could bring, the response was: some kind of dip.  I took the opportunity to put my own twist on a recipe that I had recently spotted on pinterest.

Pizza Dip
(Recipe Adapted from What's Cooking Chicago)
1 package cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic
1 1/2 cups pizza sauce
1 cup mozarella cheese
1 cup garlic cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 pound italian sausage (prepared)
1/2 small can mushrooms
1/4 cup onions
1/4 cup diced tomatoes

Beat the cream cheese until smooth; add oregano, parsley, basil, and garlic.  Mix until well combined.  Spread cream cheese mixture on the bottom of a pie plate.  Sprinkle with a quarter of each of the cheeses.  Carefully spread pizza sauce on top of the cheese.  Layer with another quarter to half of the cheeses, sausage, mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes.  Top with remaining cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes (until cheese begins to brown).  Serve warm with crackers.  I used herb flavored Ritz and thought it was a perfect fit!  I think it would also taste good with some crusty french bread.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Menu Planning Monday.

Monday: I think we are having pizza with my husband's parents.  If that's the case, I intend to take a Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza.  Mmmm.
Tuesday: Grillin' Out.  Hubby's in charge.  With any luck he'll make me some Garlic Pepper Grilled Shrimp.
Wednesday: Skillet Lasagna.  I'm bringing this forward from last week as I did not have the opportunity to make it then.
Thursday: Leftovers.
Friday: Our weekly tradition of a fish fry continues.  We haven't eaten fish at home in quite awhile, so we'll probably be trying a recipe that my mom shared with me for Oven Fried Fish.

What's on your menu this week?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Homemade Granola Bars.

My husband loves granola bars.  I love to spend time cooking and baking in the kitchen.  Homemade Granola Bars - the perfect marriage!  And a homemade treat that is kind of healthy!

Homemade Granola Bars
(Recipe Adapted from Co-Worker)

2 cups oatmeal
3/4 wheat germ
1 cup peanuts (crushed)
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup honey

2/3 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoon butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
dash of salt
2 cups craisins

Combine dry ingredients (oatmeal, wheat germ, peanuts & sunflower seeds).  Spread out on a large baking sheet and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Once roasted, transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to light boil.   Pour syrup over the dry ingredients until combined.  Fold in craisins.  Transfer the mixture to a parchment covered 9x13 baking dish and press down.  Place in the refrigerator for several hours to allow the bars to firm up.  Remove, cut into desired size bars, and pack into individual bags for an easy treat.  Bars will keep well in the refrigerator.

Ever since I made these I have been dreaming of other variations.  

Here's what I've come up with:
Dried Apple & Mini Cinnamon Chips instead of the Craisins
Chocolate Chips instead of the Craisins
Banana Chips & Peanutbutter Chips
Dried Blueberries

And the list goes on and on!!  Try them!  You might even stop buying store-bought granola bars!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reuben Pizza.

First things first...if you don't like sauerkraut, you probably will not like this pizza.  Swiss Cheese?  Same story.  How about Thousand Island Dressing?  No?  Do you like Reuben sandwiches?  If not, you might scroll down and look for other recipes!!

But, if you are still with me I'm excited to share this pizza recipe with you.  I think you'll enjoy it!!  I find it a tasty alternative to tradition pizza and actually prefer it to the sandwich!  Although, to some extent it's kind of just like an open face Reuben...but without the crunchy toast that sometimes cuts up your mouth!!

Reuben Pizza
(Recipe Adapted from My Mother-in-Law)
1 pizza crust (I love making the Now & Later Crust from King Arthur Flour - if making your crust from scratch as I did - add some rye flour to your dough!)
1/2 bottle thousand island dressing
1-2 cups sauerkraut
1 package thin sliced corned beef or pastrami
2-3 cups shredded swiss cheese

Prepare pizza crust (from scratch or store bought).  Spread dressing evenly on top of the crust.  Then sauerkraut, meat, and cheese.  Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and beginning to brown along the edges.

I promise you will like this pizza if you like the ingredients.  If you don't, I really doubt it will work for you.  My husband was kind enough to try a bite, but his dislike for sauerkraut was too much and this just wouldn't work.  I'm happy to work on the leftovers and actually make my pizza smaller than normal knowing that I'd be the only one enjoying it!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Menu Planning Monday.

Due to extra leftovers, dinner with friends, a purse party life last week's menu plans ended with Roasted Tomato & Basil Soup with Cheese Tortellini.  The best part of all this is that even when my menu's don't pan out I'm still saving myself time and money at the grocery store by having a plan!

With that, here is another Menu Planning Monday!

Monday: Pizza!  Including the Reuben pizza that I've been thinking about for a couple weeks now!  I made the dough on Sunday so it'll be a clinch to throw this homemade pizza together on a week night.
Tuesday: Leftovers.  We are lucky to always have food on hand.  We never go hungry.
Wednesday:  Bowtie Lasagna.
Thursday:  Chicken Meatballs.  Mmm.  I'm excited to eat these again!!
Friday: Fish Fry with the Rendermans!  Can't wait to see them.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pretzel Rolls.

When I was in Chicago earlier this month we arrived to the conference dining room for a fancy lunch.  The center of the table was graced with an adorable bread bowl filled with a variety of breads - flat bread, soft & hard breadsticks, crackers, soft rolls, hard rolls, and a roll that somewhat resembled a pretzel.  I opted for the pretzel looking roll which turned out to taste much like a soft pretzel.  The second day I tried the same roll and decided it was for sure a pretzel roll.  I left Chicago with intentions of recreating this "new" type of roll.

When I set to the internet to see if pretzel rolls really existed I came across Stresscake who just so happened to have an image of pretzel rolls as her blog header...instant love!  I read about her experience with pretzel rolls and decided my research was done.  Stresscake had a similar experience where she came upon a pretzel roll which she had to recreate and she had already done the research.

These will take some time to make, but the end result is worth every minute spent making them. 

Pretzel Rolls
(Recipe from Stresscake - using my bread machine to make the dough)

1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
4 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons butter (softened)

2 quarts water
1/4 cup baking soda

1 egg (lightly beaten)
pretzel salt

Dump butter, sugar, salt, and butter into bread machine.  Top with flour and add yeast (while being sure to avoid letting the yeast touch any of the liquid).  Set machine to dough setting and walk away for an hour and a half!  (Or, as in my case, go out to breakfast while the machine does all the work!!)

Once the dough is done, form it into about 18 rolls.  Try to keep the top as smooth as possible forming a seam and seal along the bottom.  Place rolls on a piece of parchment paper that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Allow the rolls to rise for about 30 minutes.

While the rolls are rising, preheat your oven to 425 degrees and prepare your poaching solution.  Bring water to a boil, add baking soda, and maintain a simmer.

After rolls have risen, poach in the simmering water - 30 seconds on the top and 30 seconds on the bottom.  Remove from water with a slatted spoon and place on baking sheet.

Brush the egg glaze on the top and sides of each roll.  Sprinkle with pretzel salt and cut a slit along the top of each roll.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.  I needed to use 2 baking I switched the sheets half way through baking in order to maintain even browning.  Once baked, allow to cool and enjoy.

I definitely have some practice ahead of me in perfecting my rolls and my slits, but my first attempt was tastefully successful and I'm all for making these again!  They are perfect by themselves, but would also make a good home for a burger or other sandwich.  I can also see myself dipping them in cheese or honey mustard.  Mmmm...the possibilities are endless!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Great Grandma's Rice Krispie Treats.

When it comes to this recipe I'm sure you have done one of the following:
  1. Made these.
  2. Ate these.
  3. Made and ate them.

That being the case I must mention that these treats are a family favorite.  I know these were present at every family gathering when my Great Grandmother was alive and I'm pretty sure they have been present at every family gathering since she passed away.  

When Great Grandma made them they always came delivered wrapped in white paper.  (And if it wasn't these underneath the paper it was sweetrolls!).  Nowadays they usually come in a 9x13 pyrex baking dish although I recently starting using a 11.5x17.25 cookie sheet.  You get a thicker bar and more topping when using the 9x13 dish, but I almost prefer a little thiner bar and a tad less topping achieved with the cookie sheet.  Either one will give you a tasty treat that comes together in no time at all.

Great Grandma's Rice Krispie Treats
(Recipe from my Great Grandma Agnes)
1 cup sugar
1 cup light karol syrup
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups rice krispie cereal
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 bag butterscotch chips

Combine the sugar, syrup, and peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat for 1 minute and then stir.  Repeat 1-2 times until well combined and melted together.  Combine with rice krispie cereal.  Stirring until all the cereal is coated.  Press into the bottom of desired pan.  Melt the chips and spread evenly over the top.  Allow chocolate/butterscotch topping to harden and serve.

Simple.  Easy.  Fast.  And these are usually the first to go!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Magic Cookie Bars.

Today I bring you an easy dessert recipe: "Magic Cookie Bars." These have an uncanny resemblance to "7 Layer Bars."  The thing of it is...I don't like all of those seven layers.  So as not to confuse people I'll stick which the Magic Cookie Bar terminology.  I could also call them the Clean Up My Baking Chip Bin Bars since that is exactly what I do each and every time I make these.

Magic Cookie Bars.
(Recipe by Me...Adapted from SO MANY Sources)
1 stick butter
1 1/2 graham cracker crumbs
1 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
3 cups of baking chips (milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, butterscotch, white chocolate, vanilla, peanutbutter)

Turn oven to 350 degrees.  Place 9x13 baking pan with stick of butter in the oven as it is heating.  Check pan often and remove once butter is melted.  Evenly pour graham cracker crumbs over the butter.  Press the crumbs into the butter to form a crust.  Evenly pour sweetened condensed milk over the crust.  Top with the chips and carefully press them down into the milk.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool completely.  Cut and serve!

Go ahead and make these.  You'll feel good about yourself for cleaning up your baking cupboard!  Not to mention they are delicious with very little effort!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Menu Planning Monday.

This warm weather has me thinking about some fast and tasty meals.  I did freeze some meals over the winter..but this coming week I need to start doing some research!  :)

Here's this week's menu.

Monday: Leftovers.
Tuesday:: Roasted Tomato & Basil Soup with Cheese Tortellini.  I've yet to make this so far this winter and I can't let spring and summer come upon us without having it!  Hubby got excited when he saw me chopping veggies and told him what I was up to.
Wednesday: Grillin' Out!  The weatherman says 46 degrees - I say bring on the brats and burgers!
Thursday: Reuben Pizza to celebrate the Irish in me (even though I did some research on Reubens and they are not Irish...I'll still say it counts because of the corned beef and sauerkraut is made from cabbage!!).  Stay tuned for the recipe!
Friday: Fish Fry!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Tacos.

Living in a household where “spicy” and “hot” are frowned upon and my husband’s nose turns up I’ve steered away from most things that could possibly fit into that category.  Peppers – only allowed to use them for salsa and don’t ask my husband if he wants to try the salsa.  He doesn’t.  Tacos?  Better not.  Chili powder?  Just a sprinkle, please.  In his words: “make it blah.” 

While I don’t make it blah, I often add spice once the food is on my plate or take advantage of potlucks and bringing a dish to pass to dinner parties.  At the same time I’ve slowly been adding more heat to some of my “spicy” recipes.  First batch of Buffalo Chicken Dip – fairly tame.  The husband ate it.  The second batch.  Not so much.  Taco Chicken Chili?  Gets spicier each time!  The more spice I eat, the more I want to eat.  That being the case, I finally decided to try a recipe a friend had passed along several months ago: buffalo chicken tacos.

Too bad I didn’t know what I had been missing all this time.  These things are awesome!!  (And it case you were worried about said non-spice eating husband – he ate leftovers from the fridge and was just as pleased with his meal).

Buffalo Chicken Tacos.
(Recipe Adapted from Corey)
4 chicken breasts
½ cup hot sauce
2 tablespoons Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic (or other garlic powder)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons butter
Place all ingredients in a slower cooker.  Cook on low for 6-7 hours – shredding the chicken as it cooks.  Create tacos with chicken, lettuce, shredded cheddar, and a squirt of ranch.  Add any other taco toppings you desire and you’ll have yourself a tasty lunch or dinner!

Do not waste months keeping this recipe on the back burner.  It's worthy of today's lunch or supper.  Speaking of which...I think it's time for me to make it again...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cincinnati Chili.

I'm still keeping with my New Year's Resolution!  Even the bread one, although last month's bread was only so-so and I opted not to post.

My first cookbook recipe this month is from Taste of Home's Big Book of Soup and is for Cincinnati Chili. Have you ever had Cincinnati Chili?  We first had it at a friend's house.  I admit I was a little nervous...cocoa powder?...cinnamon? a chili?  But it works!!

Cincinnati Chili.
(adapted from Taste of Home's Big Book of Soup)
1 lb ground beef (browned)
1 lb ground pork (browned)
2 onions (chopped)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
1 can kidney beans
1 can white beans
1 quart crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 bay leaves
3 teaspoons sugar
salt & pepper to taste

hot cooked spaghetti
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours.  Discard bay leaves and serve over hot spaghetti.  Top with cheese, sour cream, and any other topping you desire.  

Pretty easy, huh?  It's tasty too.  I promise that the cocoa and cinnamon and sugar work for this dish!  

And because I was interested in the origin of this dish, here is what I found on Wikipedia:
Cincinnati chili (or "Cincinnati-style chili") is a regional style of chili characterized by the use of unusual ingredients such as cinnamonclovesallspice orchocolate. It is commonly served over spaghetti or as a hot dog sauce. While served in many regular restaurants, it is most often associated with severalfast-food restaurant chains, including Empress Chili, SkylineGold Star, and Dixie Chili. The chili is mostly served in restaurants in the greater Cincinnatiarea, with locations in OhioKentucky, and Indiana. This type of chili is also served in some restaurants in the ClevelandColumbus, Ohio, and Indianapolisareas as well as in Florida.
According to the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau, Cincinnatians consume more than two million pounds of chili each year, topped by 850,000 pounds of shredded cheddar cheese. Each September, the city celebrates "Chilifest" at Yeatman's Cove at the Ohio River, with food and entertainment.[1][edit]
Traditional dishes are served as follows:
  • two-way
  • : spaghetti and chili
  • three-way
  • : spaghetti, chili, and shredded cheese
  • four-way
  • : spaghetti, chili, shredded cheese, and either diced onions or beans
  • five-way
  • : spaghetti, chili, shredded cheese, diced onions, and beans
  • cheese coney
  • : hot dog topped with chili, shredded cheese, diced onions, and mustard
  • chili cheese fries
  • : French fries topped with chili and shredded cheese

Monday, March 7, 2011

Menu Planning Monday.

Welcome to another edition of Menu Planning Monday.  I'm glad to be back in the kitchen this week!

Monday: Cincinnati Chili.  Recipe adapted from an actual cookbook!
Tuesday: Dinner with Friends.  Including Banana Cream Pie!
Wednesday: Tuna Casserole.  I know people stand split on the whole tuna thing, but I have high hopes and am excited to try a new recipe.  Cross your fingers; if it's successful I'll be bringing you a new recipe!
Thursday: Leftovers.
Friday: Fish Fry @ our church!  This is something that is only done during Lent and something my husband and I look forward to each year!

What are you planning to make this week?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hot Cocoa Brownies.

One of my favorite food bloggers is Sugarplum.  I enjoy seeing what comes out of her kitchen and hearing her stories of food competitions and her desire to attend culinary school.  I even got to see her on TV a few times – thanks to the Food Network and my parents television!

Recently she posted a recipe for hot cocoa brownies.  How could I not re-create them – the name itself sounds delightful!  The recipe calls for an 8x8 pan which is perfect for a household of two!

Hot Cocoa Brownies
(Adapted from Sugarplum)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips, divided
1 cup mini marshmallows

In a large bowl, mix together butter, sugar and egg until well combined. Add dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Stir in white chocolate chips and 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips.  Place batter into an 8x8 baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray.  Top with remaining milk chocolate chips

Bake 20-25 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Top with marshmallows, flattening them with your fingertips as you place them on top of the brownies.  Sprinkle cocoa powder over the top.

We enjoyed these with some vanilla ice cream.  They were the perfect mix of chewy with a slightly crunchy top.  The mix of milk chocolate and white chocolate chips was also added to the tastiness of these treats.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cheesy Potatoes with Kielbasa.

There are few things better than comfort foods prepared in slow cookers on winter days in Wisconsin - and this is no exception!  I tossed this together in no time at all and didn't have to worry about it for several hours.  Perfect.

Cheesy Potatoes with Kielbasa.
(Recipe Adapted from Michelle)
1 package hashbrowns (the diced variety & if you like, the ones that are mixed with peppers & onions)
1/2 onion (diced)
2 rings kielbasa or similar sausage sliced 1/4-1/2 inch thick
1 small can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup water
2 cups shredded cheese

1/2 cup sour cream
Salt & pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low for 4-6 hours stirring occasionally if able.  

That's it!  Super easy and comforting.  My husband could not have been happier with this meal.  It's got "meat and potatoes" - perfect, right?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hot Crashed Potatoes.

Who doesn't love mashed potatoes.  Topped with butter.  With or without gravy.  I want some just thinking about them!  My husband on the other hand...does not love them.  He likes them, but they don't have the same power over him.

With that in mind I set out to find a different potato recipe for accompany the meatloaf I made over the weekend.  (Yes, I realize it was in my menu plans a week ago, but sometimes life happens and my menus do not become reality).  Back to the potatoes: I've been "cleaning out" my bookmarks (or favorites - what are they called these days?) and moving them to a new site full of pretty, tasty, and wonderful things:  I am excited to be able to access them on any computer and in the near future on my iPhone.  Awesome, right?  Again...the potatoes!  I found a recipe I had been saving for quite some crashed potatoes.  

Hot Crashed Potatoes.
(Recipe from Pioneer Woman.  Adapted slightly to what I had on hand/our tastes.)
A bunch of potatoes (baby reds or other small potato - preferably from your garden)
Olive Oil

Boil desired number of potatoes in water.  (Don't be shy.  I thought I was being generous when I made mine, but it turns out they were pretty popular and most of them went.)  Drizzle baking sheet with a fair amount of olive oil (for flavor and to keep the potatoes from sticking).  Using a potato masher, take each potato and press down twice - turning the masher 90 degrees for the second mash.  Do not mash the potatoes completely flat...they should be a little pillowy.  Brush with olive oil.  Top with salt and pepper to taste.  Add an herb - I used rosemary on half and garlic on the other half.  Fresh would be optimal, but dried works too!  Bake in a 450 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are beginning to crisp.  

These little guys are not too much work and are pretty darn tasty.  I'll definitely make these again...especially when my garden is in season.  I can only imagine how much more delightful these would be with fresh from the garden baby reds.  This just might become my "go to" potato for the upcoming grilling season.