Archive for December, 2012


My sis sent this recipe recently. Sounds like a great snack for New Year’s Eve parties and football!!

Kitchen Kween's Ranch PretzelsI wanted to pass this recipe on — something for the guys. I tried this recipe for Jerry’s fishing trip last fall, and it was requested for Thanksgiving by the guys.

One my nephews calls these “crack” pretzels. We broke them open before dinner on Thanksgiving and everyone ate so many, they were almost not hungry for turkey! (And I say “almost” because all 4 of the “boys” are 6’2″ and larger — you can imagine how much they can put away!)

They have become a new family favorite. I always double the recipe when taking them somewhere. It’s really NOT too many!!

If you make these once, you’ll see why I recommend doubling this recipe. Great snack!!

~ Kitchen Kween (Munchie’s Sis)

Ranch Pretzels

Stuff you need:

1 package (16 oz) pretzel nubs (thick bite-sized pretzels) [See picture.]

1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix

2/3 cup vegetable oil

1-1/2 teaspoons dill weed

1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder (can reduce by 1/2 teaspoon if too strong)

Now what?

Mix salad dressing mix, vegetable oil, dill and garlic powder in a large bowl. Stir in pretzels to coat well.

Pour onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 200 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

I love macaroni and cheese, but had never made a good one from scratch. I know there are lots of recipes online, and several of them claim to be “the best” ever. I’m sure I’d enjoy trying some of them, but maybe another time. I love the classic macaroni and cheese and wanted a “tried and true” recipe.Classic Macaroni & Cheese

We were talking about food at work and somehow the subject landed on macaroni and cheese. My friend Stephanie said her Grandmother McNeil in Topeka makes great mac & cheese, and she offered to share the recipe. Well I jumped on that offer and I’m glad I did!

This is the classic macaroni and cheese. No foo-foo here. No bacon, peas, pickles, truffles or other creative ingredients. Just a basic white sauce, elbow macaroni, and lots of delicious, gooey, sharp cheddar cheese.

Bottom line: this is exactly what I was looking for!

I served this with a nice ham when all the kids and grandkids were home Thanksgiving weekend. I made a double-batch to make sure there was enough, and was very happy to find I had leftovers! Note: If you’re re-heating your leftovers, you might want to add a little milk before you heat it up so it’s still creamy.

A huge Thank You to Stephanie and Grandmother McNeil for sharing this recipe! It’s delicious and will be one of my favorites for years to come.

Grandmother McNeil’s Classic Macaroni & Cheese

Stuff you need:

2 cups uncooked macaroni (I used the classic elbow macaroni)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cups milk

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Now what?

Cook macaroni according to directions.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add flour, salt and pepper. Stir until the consistency is smooth.

Slowly pour the milk in while stirring. Continue to cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens, stirring frequently.

Once the milk mixture is thick enough (to your liking), add the shredded cheese and stir until fully melted.

Add the drained macaroni to the pan and stir until nicely coated.

Pour mac & cheese into greased casserole dish.

Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 30+ minutes until golden brown. Can take up to 45 minutes if you like it really brown on top.

Strawberry Confetti CookiesCookies so easy a 6-year-old can make them? You betcha!

My daughter, the grandkids and I had a cookie-making extravaganza this weekend. I cheated and made some of my cookies in advance, since my daughter had to take Cutie Patootie #1 to a dance recital and we were tight on time. I chose two cookies to make with the kids that I thought they would enjoy. One was this Strawberry Confetti Cookie, the other was the traditional Spritz recipe, which I’ll post later.

These are quick, have only a few ingredients, and they don’t even require a mixer! The munchkins will build up some bicep muscles with the stirring, since the dough gets thick, and you might have to help them out a little.

Strawberry Confetti Cookies

Cutie Patootie #1 adding lots of sprinkles to our cookies!

Choose whatever cake flavor / color you like, and then choose a contrasting color or mixture of sprinkles. We chose a strawberry cake mix because we thought the pink (red) color would be a nice addition to holiday cookie trays. If you want a darker color, add a couple drops of food coloring.

Make sure you’re using sprinkles and non-pareils, not anything that’s classified as sugar. Sugar will dissolve and you won’t get the effect you want. We used a combination of holiday-shaped sprinkles and teeny white non-pareils.

The cookies are cake-like and moist, and hold well so you can make them in advance. A co-worker and I think they’d be great using lemon cake mix or even pineapple. Make some with your Cutie Patooties and let me know what you think!

Strawberry Confetti Cookies

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Stuff you need:
1 box (18.25 oz) cake mix, any flavor [Strawberry, lemon, orange, white/yellow…]
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sprinkles

Now what?

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray pan or grease and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix and baking powder. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, and vanilla by hand.

Add the egg mixture to the cake mixture and stir well (by hand – no mixer needed) until all the dry ingredients have been moistened. Do not overmix – it’s OK if there are some small lumps in the batter, just not large lumps. This is where the munchkins will build their muscles, and may need your help!

Gently mix in the sprinkles until they are just distributed. Again, don’t overmix, so don’t add them in the previous step with the dry ingredients.

Use a cookie scoop or drop rounded 1-inch balls of dough onto prepared baking sheet. Ours did not spread, so they can be put fairly close together, but leave room for air to circulate between the cookies.

Bake for 9 minutes – do not let the cookies brown. If baking 2 pans at once, bake for 5 minutes then switch the racks and bake another 4 minutes.

Allow to cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes; they will  be very soft at first. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Rice Krispies CookiesI love Saucepan Peanut Butter Cookies! They’re one of my all-time favorite cookies, and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of them. I’d often wondered how they would be if rice krispies were substituted for the corn flakes, so of course I had to try this recipe.

These bars contain brown sugar and vanilla extract, which the corn flake cookies don’t, but the flavor is very similar. They’re a little harder to smoosh into the pan than they would be to drop as a cookie. Be sure to work quickly once you stir in the vanilla and rice krispies so they don’t set up before you get them in the pan.

I liked these and probably would have eaten the entire pan before the day was out — but I didn’t. Instead, I sent a good chunk of them to school with The Pretty One. See? Occasionally I can be a responsible adult!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Rice Krispies Cookies

from Mad Hungry, by Lucinda Scala Quinn

Stuff you need:

1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups salted peanut butter [Regular peanut butter, creamy or chunky – your preference]
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 cups Rice Krispies

Now what?

Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with wax paper or baking parchment.
Place the corn syrup and sugars in a large saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat.

Stir in the peanut butter and mix well to combine.
Quickly stir in the vanilla and Rice Krispies.
Working quickly, spread into the lined baking pan.
Cool and slice into squares.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers with QuinoaThis is my first try at making stuffed peppers, and if I do say so myself… I nailed it!!

I think I’ve only had them one time before today, and my impression was of a bunch of ground beef and rice stuffed into a pepper. I don’t remember much flavor, but I do remember I didn’t care to have them again.

The Pretty One’s friend made stuffed peppers for dinner one evening and he told me how good they were. I was surprised, and started thinking there must be more to them than beef and rice. When I found a couple of recipes this summer, I bookmarked them so I could try them when TPO went back to school.Mexican Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa

After looking at a few recipes, I chose a vegetarian quinoa and black bean stuffed pepper recipe for the base. We like a little heat in our food so I added a jalapeno and pepper jack cheese, and we eat meat so I added ground turkey.  Basically, I made a filling that I thought was tasty, filled the peppers, and voila! Delish Mexican Stuffed Peppers that are high in protein. I’d say they’re low fat, but that would just be wishful thinking because I used a lot of cheese. I love cheese!

If you want to cut the fat, use 2% cheese or a smaller quantity of cheese – or even eliminate it altogether. Skip the meat, add extra peppers, whatever sounds good to you. This is a very forgiving recipe, and doesn’t require you to make it exactly like I did. With some experimenting, you’ll find the perfect combination for your taste!

I made these up and put them in the frig for a couple of hours before I baked them. The only adjustment needed if you want to do that is to bake them longer since you’ll be starting with cold food in a chilled dish.

These stuffed peppers have rewritten what I thought I knew about the dish, and I know I’ll make them again!

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Stuff you need:

6 bell peppers [any color, but multi-colors are more fun!], sliced in half stem-to-tip, seeds removed
1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 pound ground turkey or beef
1 packet taco seasoning for 1# meat
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
1 (4oz) can diced green chiles (do not drain)
1/2 cup cilantro, minced
1 – 2 jalapeno peppers, minced [optional]
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup picante sauce – whatever heat level you prefer
6 ounces Pepper Jack cheese, grated or diced into small cubes
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated, divided
15 ounce can red enchilada sauce

Now what?

Add quinoa to a small saucepan with 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 5 minutes, cover, turn off heat and let steam 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

In the meantime, microwave pepper halves 2-3 minutes to soften slightly. Set aside. (Prepared this way, the peppers should come out crisp-tender. If you want them crisper, you can omit this step.)

In a skillet, brown ground turkey and diced onion. Add taco seasoning and cook as directed.

Add quinoa, black beans, tomato, green chiles and their juices, jalapeno, cilantro, 1/4 tsp pepper and picante sauce to the meat/onions in the skillet. Stir in pepper jack cheese and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese.

Pour enchilada sauce into a 9×13″ baking dish. [Depending on the size of your peppers, you may need an additional 8×8″ baking dish. If so, divide your enchilada sauce accordingly.]

Divide filling among peppers and set stuffed peppers into the enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheddar cheese.

Cover the pan with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and cook about 5 minutes longer. Serve peppers drizzled with enchilada sauce.

Note: If you want to make this vegetarian, use 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water. Cook the onion with the quinoa. Omit the meat. Follow the rest of the steps.