Sunday, April 28, 2013

Individual No Bake Pineapple Cheesecakes

These were so fun a refreshing!  The pineapple flavor wasn't very strong, so I would maybe alter it if you want more.  Or just use fresh pineapple.  We loved it as is, though, and it was a major hit at a spring bridal shower.  We served them in plastic champagne glasses from Zurchers for a little extra presentation.

{What you need}
3/4 cup crushed Nilla wafer cookies
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

8 oz cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons sugar
12 oz pureed pineapple (we used canned)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 8 oz tub frozen whipped topping, thawed
whipped topping and extra cookies for garnish

Combine the crust ingredients and make sure the butter is evenly incorporated.  In each cup, press in about 3 tablespoons of the cookie crumbs to form a crust layer.  Combine all the filling ingredients and pour into a gallon freezer bag.  Seal bag shut.  Cut a little bit of the corner off and evenly pipe the filling into each cup. Top with whipped topping and a wafer cookie for garnish right before serving.

inspired by this recipe

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Honey Celery Seed Dressing

 This is a great variation on the beloved strawberry spinach salad, care of my darling MIL.  The dressing is a little earthier than the traditional poppy seed dressing and I think it's so unique and refreshing. 

{What you need}
¼ cup sugar
1 quart fresh strawberries, sliced
1 (10 oz) package baby spinach greens, washed
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 recipe Honey Celery Seed Dressing

¾ cup sugar
½ cup honey
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp finely grated onion
½ cup lemon juice
1 cup vegetable oil
½ tsp celery seed

Lightly sprinkle sugar over strawberries and toss with spinach and greens just before serving.  Top with desired amount of toasted almonds and dressing.

*For dressing: Mix all ingredients except oil and celery seed in a blender  Gradually add oil and celery seed and continue blending.  Best if served chilled over the salad.  Keeps up to three weeks.

Homemade soup noodles

I found this recipe online and am so grateful I did because this is literally comfort food at its best.  I've made them several times now and have finally perfected them.  I make my dad this chicken noodle soup (minus the actual chicken) with these noodles about once a month and this last batch was the best so far, so I really have figured out some tricks that I'll share with you as I go along:

{What you need}
4 eggs
6 Tablespoons melted butter, cooled
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt

In a countertop mixer (or you can do all of it by hand), whisk together eggs and butter.  In a separate bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together.  Gradually add in the flour mixture to the egg mixture and keep mixing with the dough hook until the dough becomes stiff and all the dry ingredients are incorporated from off the bottom of the bowl.  Mix together for a few more minutes to make sure everything is blended well.  Divide dough into three sections.  On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough out to about 1/16 of an inch thick (or however thick you would like).  Place each sheet of dough onto a cloth and set aside for 30-45 minutes to dry out partially.  Once they are dried a little, roll each sheet into a loose spiral and cut the noodles however thick you would like with a sharp knife.  You can also not roll them up and just eyeball cutting straight lines, as I find it takes a little while to unroll each noodle if you do roll the sheets up.  Totally your preference.  Once all your noodles are cut, place them in a single layer to dry out for one more hour.  Once they are dry, boil them in water that is separate from your soup for 7-10 minutes. I boiled them in my soup broth in the past and found that the melted butter dilutes the soup flavor and makes it taste weird.  Once they are boiled, then I add the cooked noodles to the soup as a last step in the soup prep.  This keeps the integrity of the flavor in both the soup broth and the noodles, and let me tell you, it is some awesome flavor!!

*These noodles would also be great with any type of stroganoff or creamy pasta recipe!

Saturday's Chicken

A darling friend from our neighborhood brought us dinner the other night since I'm on bed rest and am supposed to limit how much time I'm up and about.  The meal was delicious and she even included the recipe!  I am totally going to start doing that from now on when I take dinners to people.  She explained that it came from a ward cook book from years and years ago and that another neighbor had brought her this very same meal when she had given birth to her last child, some 20 years before.  So this is a tried and true/stand the tests of time sort of recipe and I'm so excited to have it now!

{What you need}
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup real cream (reeeeeaaaaal cream)
salt, pepper, and garlic salt
dried/chopped parsley

Shake salt, pepper, and garlic salt on chicken breasts.  Shake paprika on to cover generously.  Layer chicken in a shallow baking dish.  Mix soup and cream together and pour over chicken.  Sprinkle parsley on top.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 1 1/2 hours.  Serves great with rice or mashed potatoes.

Compliments of Connie Early

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Crusty Peasant Bread

This is could very well be my favorite recipe of all time.  I made dozens of these loaves over Christmas to give to neighbors as gifts and it was a major hit.  This bread recipe is soooooooo easy and fool proof, yet it turns out absolutely stunning!  It makes you look like a master, really.  You do have to raise the dough over night, so it takes a little forethought.  But seeing as it only takes literally five minutes to assemble, I say it makes up for it.  Plus you'll get fans everywhere you go, so totally worth starting it the night before.  This obviously goes great with any meal--breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack..... I love a fresh slice with avocado smeared on it with a little sea salt!

{What you need}
3 cups flour
1 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 cups water
*you will need a cast iron pot with a lid for this recipe

In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.  Gradually stir in the water with a rubber spatula until a shaggy-wet-ish dough forms (it won't be super wet).  Don't you love my imagery?  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise 12-18 hours, or over night for convenience.  When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450 and place the cast iron pot with the lid on it in the oven to preheat for 30 minutes.  Right after you put the pot in the oven, turn out the dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and let set while the pot is preheating.  After the 30 minutes, open the oven and remove the lid of the pot.  Drop the dough ball in and return the lid.  Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, and then take the (HOT) lid off and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on a rack.  If you can't serve it right away, reheat it in a hot oven for a few minutes and you will get the crustiness back to it.  

original recipe from Simply So Good

Monday, April 8, 2013

Lemon Parmesan Mac and Cheese

So this is excitin, folks.  I can follow a recipe with the best of them, but actually creating a delicious recipe is a huge accomplishment for me.  And I have birthed a winner!!!!  If there is one thing I would teach someone who wants to be better at cooking, I would say follow as many recipes as you can because you get so much inspiration from them.  You learn what types of herbs compliment what types of flavors and you can really make something of yourself.  So here it my gift to you, as a result of all the recipes I've followed for mac and cheese:

{What you need}
8 oz. fusilli pasta, cooked and drained
2 tb butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tb melted butter
1/4 tsp dry sage
1/4 tsp dry basil
1/4 tsp dry thyme
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

In a small sauce pan, melt the 1/4 cup butter.  Add the flour and stir for about a minute.  Add milk and stir until the mixture thickens.  Add the 1 cup parmesan cheese, lemon juice, dry mustard, salt and pepper and stir until everything is evenly incorporated.  Add the pasta to the cheese mixture and stir until evenly coated.  In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir until the bread crumbs are evenly moistened.  Pour the prepared pasta in a medium sized casserole dish.  Spread the bread crumb mixture evenly over the pasta.  Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.  Serves great with grilled chicken and a side of asparagus!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

My Homemade Lasagna

This was my first go at homemade lasagna, and if I do say so myself, it was the best lasagna I've ever had (toot! toot!).  Homemade lasagna always intimidated me, but it was way easier than I thought it would be.  This makes a great weeknight meal since it is pretty easy to throw together.

{What you need}

1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese

1 pound ground beef
1 large can crushed tomatoes
¼ teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
3 cloves garlic
2 ounces cream cheese

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

9 uncooked lasagna noodles (or more if needed)

1/4 cup water
Brown the beef in a large saucepan.  Set aside in a bowl.  In the same sauce pan combine crushed tomatoes, basil, onion, garlic, and garlic salt and heat until warm.  Add the cream cheese and stir until it is melted.  Add the beef and mix.  In the bottom of a medium casserole dish, add enough sauce to just cover the bottom.  Place three (or as many as needed to cover all the sauce) on the sauce.  Layer the ricotta cheese and some more sauce on the noodles, and repeat the layering until the casserole dish is full to the top.  Drizzle the water around the edge of the dish and cover with foil.  Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.  Take out and top with the mozzarella cheese and bake, uncovered, for ten more minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

Fast Clover Rolls

These are a great addition to any weeknight meal. They take less than an hour to make, start to finish, and taste fantastic.  They can be fancy, too, so you can make them for any reason. Makes 24.

{What you need}
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons butter
3 packages (or 6 3/4 tsps.) of dry active yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (105F – 115F)
5 – 6 cups all-purpose flour

Combine milk, sugar, and butter in a small sauce pan and heat on low until the butter is melted and sugar is dissolved, until lukewarm.  Dissolve the yeast in the warm water (not too warm or it will kill the yeast) and let rest for 5 minutes.  Add the warm milk mixture to the yeast mixture and about 2 cups of flour.  Once combined, mix on low with a bread hook for about 1 minute.  Add the rest of the flour ½ cup at a time until the dough starts to clean the sides of the bowl, then mix for 2 more minutes.  Cover the bowl and let rise for 20 minutes.  On a lightly floured surface, turn out the dough and form into an evenly thick “log.”  Divide the log into 24 equally sized pieces, then divide each of those pieces into three little pieces.  Roll each tiny piece into a ball and put three balls into one muffin well in a muffin tin.  Repeat until all muffin wells are full.  Cover and let rise for 20 more minutes.  Bake at 425 for about 12 minutes.  Best right out of the oven!

inspired by this recipe

Jillian's Soft Sugar Cookies

I will never make another recipe of sugar cookies!!  My friend, Jillian, was so sweet to share this recipe with me.  I made a few batches of these for my dad for his birthday, and I thought he was going to cry when he opened the box.  Soft sugar cookies with no frosting are his favorite cookies, but he is always disappointed when he thinks he has found a kind he'll like.  He literally ADORED these sugar cookies.  They are the cookies he has dreamed about for his whole life.  And he's quite the critic when it comes to sugar cookies, so you can totally trust this recipe!  They also freeze great if you want to make a bunch in advance or just to have them on hand.

{What you need}
1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup sour cream
4-6 cups flour 
(just until the texture is still just a bit sticky; it should be kind of a runny dough, though.)

Cream shortening, sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Add the eggs and beat well.  Alternately add the dry ingredients and sour cream.  I added about 4.5 cups.  Chill the dough for 3 hours or up to 2 days.  Roll out batches of the dough on an floured surface with a floured rolling pin until it is about 1/4 of an inch thick.  Cut into desired shapes and bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.  I actually took them out at 7 minutes 30 seconds so that they stay fluffy and soft.  Immediately remove from cookie sheet and cool them on a towel.  Repeat until the dough is gone.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mom's Funeral Potatoes

Are these called funeral potatoes across the board or just in Utah?  
These were the most delicious cheesy potatoes I have ever had, and it turns out my mom just kind of through them together.  I had her try to remember her recipe and this is what we came up with.  I had a pregnancy craving this morning and threw them together for lunch and plan to eat the whole pan.  By myself.  But over the course of a few days.  

{What you need}
1 large bag frozen hash brown potatoes
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. onion powder
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Lightly grease a large casserole dish.  Pour the frozen potatoes into it and spread in an even layer.  Cream together the soups, butter, sour cream, and onion powder until all incorporated.  Mix in the cheeses and spread the mixture evenly over the potatoes.  Dig holes and throughout the mixture so that the cheese melts down into the potatoes, sort of stirring chunks of potatoes in with the cheese mixture.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Overnight Blueberry Croissant French Toast Bake

We made this for Easter brunch this year and were speechless with how delicious it was.  Definitely a winner for entertaining and holidays.  It is so decadent and flavorful! Serves 10.

{What you need}
10 large croissants
2-8 oz. bricks of neufchatel or cream cheese
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
12 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 tablespoon butter

Lightly grease a large casserole dish.  Break up the croissants and place half of them in the bottom of the dish.  Chop up the cheese in small cubes and spread them around the top of the croissants.  Evenly spread 1 cup of the blueberries on top of that and cover with the rest of the croissants.  Mix the eggs, milk, syrup and vanilla together and pour over the croissant mixture.  Cover and refrigerate over night.  In the morning, remove dish from fridge 30 minutes before you put it in the oven.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes at 350, then uncover and bake 20-30 more minutes.

While it is baking, combine the water, sugar, and cornstarch in a small saucepan.  While continually stirring, bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the other cup of the blueberries and turn down to simmer.  Cook on low for 10 minutes or until the blueberries burst.  Remove from heat and add the tablespoon of butter, stirring until it is melted.  Serve over the french toast bake. 

inspired by this recipe
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