Pink (Strawberry) Cheesecake Pink (Strawberry) Cheesecake

Adapted from Junior’s Cheesecake Cookbook

Stuff you need:

Crust:
6 Tablespoons margarine or butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar

Cheesecake Filling:
10 ounces (about 1 cup) dry-pack unsweetened frozen whole strawberries [NOT in sugar or syrup]
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Three 8 – ounce packages cream cheese (use full fat), at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 large or extra-large eggs
2/3 cup heavy or whipping cream
3-4 drops red food coloring (optional)

Now what?

Preheat oven to 350F.
Generously butter bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan.

For the crust:

Melt the margarine in a microwave safe bowl.
Stir in graham cracker crumbs and sugar.
Press into bottom of 9″ springform pan.
Set aside. No need to pre-bake the crust.
**If you are going to set the cheesecake in a water bath, tightly wrap the pan in 2 layers of aluminum foil before adding the filling, making sure the foil covers the bottom and extends all the way up the sides.

For the cheesecake layer:
Pulse the thawed strawberries in food processor until smooth. You need 3/4 cup puree.
Stir in 1 teaspoon of cornstarch and set aside to thicken slightly.

Beat the cream cheese in bowl of an electric mixer until creamy, scraping down as needed.
Increase speed to medium and add the sugar and 1/3 cup cornstarch, mixing well.
Add the vanilla.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
On low speed, beat in the cream just until completely blended. Be careful not to overmix!
Fold in strawberry puree plus food coloring if using. Add enough coloring to make the batter light pink.
Gently spoon batter into springform.
**If using water bath, place springform pan in large, shallow pan containing hot water that comes up about 1″ up the sides of the springform.
Bake the cake in 350F oven until edges are light golden brown and top is set, about 1 1/4 hours.
Remove cake from oven and cool on wire rack, in the pan at room temperature, for 2 hours.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely cold, about 4 hours.

**I don’t use the water bath method because I think it’s a pain and I’m lazy.  🙂  Instead, I use the Wilton Bake Even Strips. You soak them for 15 minutes then pin one around your pan. It helps the cake bake more evenly and reduces or eliminates cracking. I use these when I bake large sheet cakes also.

Boliche: Stuffed Cuban Pork RoastBoliche! Stuffed Cuban Pork Roast

From Taste of Cuba

Stuff you need:

2 pounds roast [I used a 5 pound pork roast and doubled all the other ingredients.]
6 large garlic gloves, crushed well
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 pound ground or finely chopped ham
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, sliced
1″ slice of tomato, cut into quarters [Yes, 1 1″ slice, not 1 tomato!]
10 whole black peppers
2 bay leaves [Be sure to remove these after cooking! If ingested, they may require surgical removal and nobody will want to eat your cooking again.]
1 cup dry white cooking wine [I’ve used Chardonnay and Chablis, just the cheap house wines.]
1 cup water

Now what?

You’ll need a large pot with a lid. I used a cast iron dutch oven, but you can use a ceramic pot or other heavy pot with a well-fitting lid.

Using a long, sharp knife, cut an “X” through the center of the roast, length-wise, to make a cavity for the ham. Pack this cavity with the ground ham.
Mix garlic with the salt and ground pepper.
Pierce roast all around, with a thin sharp knife. Using half the garlic mixture, stuff holes.
Spread any leftover garlic mixture on the surface of the roast.

In a Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil. Brown the roast on all sides. [This will smell absolutely WONderful so inhale all the roasted garlic smell you can!!]
Add all the other ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and lower the heat to a slow simmer.
Cook for 2-1/2 hours, turning the roast every half hour or so.

Slice and garnish with the sauce. Makes 6-8 portions.

Son-In-Law Cake Son-In-Law Cake

Stuff you need:
1 package (3.4 ounces) Pumpkin Spice INSTANT pudding mix [Make sure to get instant, not the cook & serve kind.]
2 cups whole milk
1 package (18.25 ounces) yellow cake mix
1 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

Now what?

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Lightly spray a 13 x 9″ baking pan.
Put the pudding mix and milk in a large mixing bowl and blend according to the package directions.
Fold in the dry cake mix and stir with a wooden spoon until the batter is combined, although still a little lumpy. Mixture will be thick.
Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
Scatter the chips on top of the batter. [You need to put the chips on before the nuts in order for them to sink and create small holes.]
Scatter the pecans on top of the chips.
Bake 35-40 minutes until the cake springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and/or a toothpick comes out clean. [Make sure you’re checking the cake, not the gooey chips when testing with a toothpick so you don’t overbake.]
Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before serving.
The cake is very moist and will hold, covered, at room temperature, for about 1 week.

Mixed Nut PieMixed Nut Pie

From Food.com

Stuff you need:

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups corn syrup
4 eggs
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups mixed nuts
1 UNbaked 9-inch pie shell, homemade or store-bought

Now what?
In a saucepan boil the sugar and corn syrup together for 3 minutes to dissolve the sugar. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl beat eggs lightly and slowly pour the sugar/corn syrup mixture into the eggs, stirring constantly. [I did this in my stand mixer so I wouldn’t have to pour hot stuff and keep the mixer steady at the same time.]

Stir in the butter, vanilla and nuts and pour into crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes or until set in the middle. [I baked mine about 10 minutes longer because it wasn’t set up yet. Keep an eye how shaky the center is. If it’s sloshy, bake longer.]

If getting too brown cover with aluminum foil during last 15 minutes of cooking.

Chocolate Mint BrowniesChocolate Madness -- Chocolate Mint Brownies

From Betty Crocker

Stuff you need:

Brownie Base
1 box (1 lb 2.4 oz) brownie mix (for 9 x 13″ pan)
Water, oil and egg called for on brownie mix box

Filling
5 cups powdered sugar [No need to sift it.]
6 Tablespoons butter
6 Tablespoons whipping cream [You need a total of 1 cup, separated.]
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon mint extract [DON’T add it all at once!]
4+ drops green food color [Amount will depend on what type you use and how “green” you want the filling. I used a gel, so I couldn’t count drops.]

Ganache Topping
2/3 cup whipping cream
2 2/3 cups (16 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cups butter [Do NOT use margarine for this step.]

Now what?
Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Grease bottom only of 9 x 13″ pan. (For easier cutting, line pan with foil, then grease foil on bottom only of pan.)

Make and bake brownie mix as directed on box. Cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours or overnight.

In large bowl, beat filling ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread over cooled brownies. Refrigerate about 1 hour or until set.

In 2-quart saucepan, heat ganache topping ingredients over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth. Cool about 10 minutes or until lukewarm.

Pour ganache topping over filling; spread to cover. Refrigerate uncovered about 2 hours or until set.

Before cutting into bars, let stand 10 minutes at room temperature. [Cut them while still cold – once they warm up, the filling layer gets soft and they won’t cut nicely.] I let mine sit out on the desk about an hour before serving but you can serve them right after you cut them.

Store covered in refrigerator.

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Cookies Oatmeal Whole Wheat Cookies

Adapted from Hungry and Fit

Stuff you need:
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar [You can use white if you don’t have brown.]
1 egg
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon dried orange zest [Optional. I use dried that is purchased in the spice aisle.]
1 1/4 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup of honey
1/2 cup of craisins
1/2 cup semi-sweet, dark, or white chocolate chips

Now what?
Preheat oven to 350.
Grease 2 cookie sheets.

Mix butter, sugar and egg thoroughly.
Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Use an ice cream scoop to form cookies. I got 6 to a cookie sheet.
Flatten the cookies slightly with your hand. They should still be about 1/2 inch thick.
Bake 10-15 minutes. Check the cookies at 10 minutes. If you’re baking two sheets at a time, rotate the pans after 7 or 8 minutes. [Mine baked for about 12 minutes but ovens vary and so does the thickness of your cookies.]

Cool and store in air tight container if you don’t eat them all right away.

Twix Brownies Banzai Birthday Treats: Twix Brownies

from Jasey’s Crazy Daisy

Stuff you need:

Crust Layer
1 (12.8 oz.) package of Simply Sandies Shortbread Cookies
6 Tablespoons butter

Brownie Layer
1 box of brownie mix + ingredients called for in directions on back of box
1/4 cup hot fudge ice cream topping

Caramel Layer
1 (14 oz.) bag of caramels [Mine might have been short a couple of caramels.]
2 Tablespoons heavy cream

Chocolate Topping
1 (11.5 oz.) bag milk chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup heavy cream

*Note – If you don’t have any cream on hand, and don’t want to purchase for such a small amount, just use milk.

Now what?
Grease bottom of 9×13-inch baking pan. For easier cutting, line the pan with foil first. [This makes it easier to remove the entire batch from the pan at once. It’ll cut nicer this way!]
Using a food processor, pulse cookies until they resemble sand. [I was too lazy to wash the food processor so I put the cookies in a gallon-sized zip bag and used a rolling pin on them. Good therapy!]
In a medium bowl, melt 6 Tablespoons butter. Add cookie crumbs, stirring until all crumbs are moist.
Press into bottom of prepared pan.

Prepare brownie batter as directed on the back of the box, mixing 1/4 cup hot fudge ice cream topping into brownie batter (straight from the jar, unheated). [Make sure your brownie mix is for a 9×13 pan or you won’t have enough.]
Pour batter on top of cookie crust and bake as directed. If baking at a high altitude, don’t forget to follow special instructions.
Cool.

Place caramels and cream in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until caramels are melted smooth and creamy, stirring constantly.
Pour over cooled brownies. Try to spread the caramel evenly across the brownie surface while pouring to make spreading easier.  [Do not – I repeat – do NOT use your finger to clean the hot caramel off the spatula! It’ll stick to your finger and BURN!!]
Let cool until set. You can quicken this by sticking the brownies in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

Melt chocolate, butter, and cream together in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until melted and creamy.
Pour over cooled caramel layer. Again, cover as much of the brownies as possible while pouring to make spreading easier.
Cool. If you are in a hurry pop them in the fridge for a bit.
Cut and enjoy.

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

Stuff you need:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup yogurt [I used honey almond but plain or vanilla would be good too.]
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light OR dark brown sugar
1 large egg
2 apples – peeled, cored, chopped into small pieces
1 – 2 Tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger (optional)
1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar or coarse sugar for top

Now what?
Stir together all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour in medium bowl.
Sift in baking soda and baking powder and mix thoroughly.
Stir in salt and cinnamon.

In another bowl, mix oil, white sugar and brown sugar.
Mix in the egg and then the yogurt.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix just until flour is incorporated. [Note: Do not over-mix or the muffins will be tough!]

Peel, core and chop the apples into small pieces.
Stir the apples, walnuts and candied ginger into the muffin mixture. [Again, stir only until mixture is combined.]

Scoop batter into muffin tins that have either been greased OR have muffin cups in them.
Sprinkle some brown sugar or coarse sugar on top.

Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes. Start checking them at 15 minutes. Depending on the moisture of your apples, it may take a bit longer for them to be done.
Muffins are done when a toothpick comes out clean. You might need to check a couple of places in the muffins, due to all the apples.

Store in covered container. If these last more than a day or two, store them in the frig or wrap them tightly and freeze them to enjoy later.

White Bean Chicken Chili Sauteeing ingredients for the chili

Stuff you need:
3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (15 ounces each) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained, divided [I used 1 can navy beans + 1 can red kidney beans for color. Next time I will use all navy beans or navy + black beans because The Pretty One didn’t like the kidney beans. Use whatever kind you prefer.]
3 cups chicken broth, divided
1 cup cooked brown rice (optional)
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream and minced fresh cilantro, optional

Now what?
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the chicken, onion, jalapeno, oregano and cumin in oil for 3-4 minutes or until chicken is browned and vegetables are crisp-tender.
Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
Transfer to a 3-qt. slow cooker.
In a small bowl, mash 1 cup of beans; add 1/2 cup broth and stir until blended. Add to the slow cooker with the remaining beans and broth. [The mashed beans help thicken the chili, but just a bit.]
Cover and cook on low for 3 to 3-1/2 hours or until heated through.
Stir before serving, stirring in brown rice if using.
Sprinkle with cheese. Garnish with sour cream and cilantro if desired.
Yield: 6 servings.

Important Note: Wear disposable gloves when cutting hot peppers; the oils can burn skin. Avoid touching your face.

Snickerdoodle Bars Snickerdoodle Bars

from Grin and Bake It

Stuff you need:

2 1/3 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cinnamon-sugar filling:

1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Now what?
Heat oven to 350. Spray or grease the bottom only of a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine sugar and cinnamon for cinnamon-sugar filling in a small bowl and set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat butter on high speed until creamy. Beat in sugars.

Gradually beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined. [Batter will be very thick and sticky.]

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar filling evenly over batter. Dollop teaspoons of remaining batter evenly over cinnamon-sugar filling. [You won’t be able to spread it!] Gaps are okay. The filling can peek through.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

In a small bowl, stir glaze ingredients until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle over bars.

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

From Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor…

Stuff you need:

2 ripe bananas, sliced (about 3/4 cup)  [I didn’t measure – I just threw 2 in the bowl.]

1 package (18.25 ounces) devil’s food cake mix

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup vegetable oil  [I use canola oil.]

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Frosting of your choice (Suggestions: cream cheese, chocolate, peanut butter, banana, marshmallow…)

Now what?

Preheat oven to 350. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.

Place banana slices in large mixing bowl. Blend with electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds until they are mashed.

Add remaining ingredients (except frosting!) and blend with electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula.

Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed.

The batter should look thick and well-combined. Spoon [or scoop with ice cream scoop] batter into 24 lined muffin cups, filling each liner about 2/3 full.

Bake at 350 degrees until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool in pans on wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool on wire rack before frosting.

Frost with your choice of frosting. OR — don’t let them cool all the way, skip the frosting and put one in a bowl, top it with ice cream, hot fudge and bananas, and indulge!

Craggy-Topped Fudge Brownies Craggy-Topped Fudge Brownies

Stuff you need:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
3 eggs
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Now what?
Heat sugar and butter in medium saucepan over low heat, stirring until butter is melted.
Remove from heat.
Add 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips and stir until melted.
Stir in eggs.
Stir in flour, vanilla and baking soda until combined.
Spread into greased 9×13 inch baking pan.
Sprinkle 1/4 cup chocolate chips and 1/3 cup chopped walnuts on top. Press down lightly.
Bake in preheated 350F oven for 18-22 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky.
Cool and cut into bars.

Quinoa Brownies Chocolate Quinoa Brownies - ready for the oven!

From President’s Choice

Stuff you need:

1/2 cup quinoa

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup 2% milk

2 Tablespoons canola oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Optional: 1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped OR 1/4 cup powdered confectioner’s sugar

Now what?

In small saucepan, bring 1-1/2 cups water to a boil. Stir in quinoa. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Transfer to bowl; cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 8-inch square metal cake pan with cooking spray.

Place quinoa, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, milk, oil, eggs and vanilla in food processor. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. [I used the “puree” setting on my blender.]

Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle nuts on top, if using.

Bake in center of oven for 30 to 34 minutes or until tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pan on rack. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. Cut into 9 squares.

Blueberry Chia Coconut Pudding Blueberry Chia Coconut Pudding

Adapted from skinnytaste

Stuff you need:

1/2 cup lite coconut milk [The kind in the can, not the coconut milk in the refrigerated section.]

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk [You can also use coconut milk from the refrigerated section or another type of milk.]

3/4 cup blueberries [I used frozen. The original recipe called for fresh ripe champagne mango, diced.]

2 Tablespoons chia seeds

1 Tablespoon sweetened shredded coconut

Optional: 4-6 drops liquid stevia (or sugar/honey to taste)

Now what?

Combine all ingredients in a large container.

Mix well and close container.

Refrigerate overnight or at least 5-6 hours.

Divide into 2 bowls or glass dishes and serve.

Easy, right? Enjoy!

Chicago-Style Italian Beef Sandwiches Italian Beef Sandwiches

Stuff you need:

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons dried basil

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoons salt

1 small sirloin tip roast, about 2-1/2 lbs [I used eye of round roast because it was on sale. Be sure to use a tender roast for this, not one that requires long and slow cooking.]

1 can or 2 cups beef broth

8 Italian rolls, warmed and split [I used a loaf of French bread cut into sandwich sized portions and split.]

Giardiniera and / or sautéed green peppers, optional

8 slices Provolone or Mozzarella cheese, optional

Now what?

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place meat fat side up in a shallow pan that’s just large enough to hold the roast. Rub half of the seasoning mixture over the meat.

Roast for 15 minutes; reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue to cook 20 minutes longer.

Remove from oven; pour beef broth and remaining seasoning mixture into pan. Return to oven. Cook just until the meat registers about 135 degrees on a meat thermometer, about 20 – 25 minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK the meat!

Remove the meat from the pan and let rest / cool for 20 minutes. (Temp will continue to rise, reaching 145F – medium rare.) [This is an important step, so don’t skip it!]

Meanwhile, stir the juices in the pan to loosen the spices if necessary, and transfer them to a saucepan.  [There’s a lot of pepper in there, so if you want it really mild, don’t stir up all the spices!] Cook over medium heat until heated through – about 3 minutes.

Slice cooled meat paper-thin. For each sandwich, dip meat slices briefly into juice then layer meat and juices onto the warmed, split rolls. Serve immediately with giardiniera or peppers on top. (If using the cheese, put cheese on bottom of warmed roll before piling beef and juices on.)

The Best Blueberry Cheesecake

From Food.com

Stuff you need:

Crust

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon sugar

OR

24 cookies [Vanilla wafers, vanilla or lemon sandwich cookies are a good choice for these.]

Filling

3 (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

8 ounces sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon extract

2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen [I used frozen. If using frozen, do not thaw or the coloring will streak your cheesecake.]

Topping (Optional)

1 cup Cool Whip

1/4 cup sour cream

Now what?

Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with liners and drop in a cookie.

OR

Combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Press into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Beat softened cream cheese and add sugar, flour and salt until blended.

Add eggs one at a time and blend.

Add sour cream, vanilla and lemon extracts. Gently stir in blueberries. Pour mixture into cooled crust.

Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 30 minutes for minis or 50 minutes for the 9 inch. (Cheesecake will be done when it still jiggles slightly in the middle.)

Turn off oven and let remain in oven with door open for 20 minutes. Remove and let cool. For minis, remove from muffin tins and finish cooling on wire rack. Cover and chill cheesecake in refrigerator.

For topping, lightly mix Cool Whip and 1/4 cup of sour cream. Spread over cheesecake and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before cutting.

 

Easy Orange Stir-Fry Easy Orange Stir-Fry

Adapted from Clean Eating Magazine’s Beef & Broccoli Orange Stir-Fry (Original Recipe & Reviews)

Minutes to Prepare: 30

Minutes to Cook: 15

Number of Servings: 4

Stuff you need:

Olive oil cooking spray

1 pound pork steak or pork tenderloin, lean round steak, or boneless chicken, pounded to 1/4 inch thick and sliced thin in strips

1/2 cup white onion, diced

2 cups fresh green beans, broccoli florets, cauliflower, or a combination, separated/cut into bite size pieces

1/2 red bell pepper, julienne cut

¾ cup low sodium tamari soy sauce

3/4 cup orange juice or juice of 4 medium oranges

¼ cup dried orange zest or zest from 4 medium oranges. [If using dried zest, rub between hands while dropping it into the bowl to bring out the oils.]

8 cloves garlic, minced or 1 Tablespoon minced garlic from the jar [You can find this in the produce section.]

3 Tablespoons honey

3 Tablespoons whole wheat flour (optional) [Use some or all if you want a thicker sauce. You can use all purpose flour instead of whole wheat flour.]

1 fresh orange [Optional]

Prepared rice or noodles

Now what?

Heat large nonstick skillet over high heat for 1 min. Reduce heat to medium-high, mist pan with cooking spray and saute meat for about 2-3 minutes to desired doneness. Remove meat, leaving juices in the pan.

Mist same pan again with cooking spray. Add onion, green beans and pepper and sauté over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until cooked through. [Green beans may not take 5 minutes, so keep an eye on them.]

In a medium bowl whisk together soy sauce, orange juice, zest, garlic and honey.

Add meat back into vegetable mixture and pour in soy sauce mixture. Sauté over medium high heat for about 2 minutes then whisk in flour to thicken [if using], about 4-6 min. squeeze fresh orange over mixture, remove from heat and serve over rice or noodles.

Knock You REALLY Naked Brownies Knock You REALLY Naked Brownies

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Stuff you need:
1 box (18.5 Ounce) German Chocolate cake mix
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/3 cups evaporated milk
1/2 cups evaporated milk (additional)
1/2 cups butter, melted
59 whole caramels (about 1 bag), unwrapped [The original recipe called for 60, but 1 didn’t make it.]
1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cups powdered sugar

Now what?
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, chopped pecans, 1/3 cup evaporated milk, and melted butter. Stir together until totally combined. Mixture will be very thick.

Press half the mixture into a well-greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set aside.

In a double boiler (or a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of boiling water) melt caramels with additional 1/2 cup evaporated milk. When melted and combined, pour over brownie base. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the caramel.

Turn out remaining brownie dough on plastic wrap on work surface. Use your hands to press it into a large rectangle or 2 squares a little smaller than the pan. Carefully flip it over on top of the caramel and chocolate chips. [This is a bit of a challenge, so you may want to make 2 squares instead of 1 big piece. If it doesn’t flip over perfectly, you can adjust it before baking.]

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for several hours. When ready to serve, generously sift powdered sugar over the surface of the brownies.

Triple-Chocolate To-Live-For Muffins Triple-Chocolate To-Live-For Muffins

From Ann Byrn’s Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor

Stuff you need:

1 package (18.25 ounces) plain devil’s food cake mix [If you can’t find the plain mix, you can use the kind with the pudding in it. Your muffins will be denser and not rise as high, but the taste will still be fab!]
1 package (3.9 ounces) chocolate instant pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil [I use canola oil.]
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips [I used 1 c. peanut butter chips + 1/2 cup semi-sweet. Use any combination of chips you prefer – semisweet, milk chocolate, white, peanut butter, toffee, cherry…]
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting (optional)

Now what?

Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. Set pans aside.

Place cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, water, oil, and eggs in large mixing bowl. Blend with electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop machine and scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping sides down again if needed. Batter should look thick and well combined.

Fold in chips, making sure they are well distributed throughout the batter. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each liner three quarters of the way full. [I use an ice cream scoop. Each muffin will be 1 scoop + maybe 1-2 teaspoons more.]

Bake until the muffins spring back when lightly pressed with your finger and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 23 – 27 minutes. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and cool 15 minutes before serving. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

Note: Store muffins wrapped in foil, plastic wrap or a cake server at room temperature for up to 1 week. Freeze wrapped in foil or sealed in freezer bags for up to 6 months. Thaw muffins overnight on the counter before serving.

Polish Sausage Skillet Kitchen Kween Polish Sausage Skillet

Stuff you need:
5 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled – reserve drippings
1 pound red potatoes, cubed
3 Tablespoons water
1 pound smoked Polish sausage (Kielbasa), cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cups baby spinach (Seems like a lot, but it cooks down quite a bit!) [Munchie says Ick! and would leave it out. :)]

Now what?
Place potatoes and water in a microwave-safe dish.  Cover and microwave on high for 4 minutes or until tender;  drain.
In a large skillet, sauté kielbasa and onion in the bacon drippings until onion is tender (add a bit of olive oil if needed).
Add cooked potatoes and continue to sauté until potatoes and sausage are slightly browned.
Combine the brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, thyme and pepper and stir into the skillet.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 2-3 minutes, or until heated through.
Add the spinach and bacon crumbles and continue to cook, stirring until the spinach is wilted.

Yield – 4 servings

Note: You can make this without the spinach, but we prefer it with!

Maple Apple Strudel BarsMaple Apple Streudel Bars

Adapted from Our Best Bites

Stuff you need:

Sweet Pastry
2 cups flour
1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup real butter, softened [No margarine or other substitutions!]
1 egg, beaten
Apple Filling
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups (about 3 medium) sliced, peeled baking apples [Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji apples work. Use one type or a mixture.]
Maple Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
About 3 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon maple extract or flavoring – more if you want thinner glaze
Now what?
Preheat oven to 350.
To prepare crust, mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl.
Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until you have pea-sized crumbles.
Gently mix in beaten egg.
Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Gently pat about 2/3 of the crumb mixture onto the bottom of the dish and set aside.
To prepare apple filling, combine flour, sugar, and cinnamon and toss with apples.
Spread apples out on prepared crust. Sprinkle reserved crust mixture over apples evenly and bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.
When finished, allow to cool completely.
To prepare glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, maple flavoring, and enough milk to achieve desired consistency.
Use a fork to drizzle glaze over cooled pastry and allow to harden. You can place it in the freezer to hurry things along.
Cut into bars if you’re not taking it anywhere. If you do have to share it, don’t cut it until right before serving or you will eat half the pan before it’s time!

Lemon Brownies Lemon Brownies

Adapted from Rita’s Recipes
Stuff you need:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest

Now what?
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
Mix in the softened butter.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs with the lemon juice and zest.
Add to the larger bowl and mix well.

Pour into lightly greased 9 x 13″ pan.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Remove and let cool completely before adding glaze.

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
additional lemon zest
Stir together and spread over cooled brownies.

Key Lime Cream Cake Key Lime Cream Cake

Adapted from Pillsbury Best of the Bake-Off Cookbook, 1996

Stuff you need:

CAKE

1 (1 lb. 2.25 oz.) box pudding-included butter recipe cake mix

3 Tablespoons key lime juice plus water to equal 1 cup [Buy key lime juice in the juice section or squeeze fresh key limes.]

1 Tablespoon lime zest [You can use dried lemon zest, but rub between hands when adding to mixture to release oils.]

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

3 eggs

KEY LIME CREAM

1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)

1/2 cup key lime juice

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

GARNISH

Additional whipped cream if desired

Lime slices or Key Lime Zest

Now what?

Heat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 9×13 pan.

In large bowl, combine all cake ingredients at low speed until moistened; scrape down bowl and beat 2 minutes at high speed.

Pour batter in greased and floured pan.

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool completely.

For topping, in small bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk and 1/2 cup key lime juice; mix well and set aside while whipping cream.

In large bowl, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form.

Fold condensed milk mixture into remaining whipped cream just until blended.

Spread key lime cream over cooled cake. Sprinkle lime zest over top, if using.

Refrigerate 2-3 hours before serving. Store in refrigerator.

Peanut Butter BrowniesPeanut Butter Brownies

From Food.com

Stuff you need:

Brownies
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1 (19 1/2 ounce) box brownie mix

Peanut Butter Filling
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter [I think chunky peanut butter might be better.]
1/3 cup margarine or 1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 eggs

Now what?
Combine brownie mix, oil, water and eggs in large bowl; stir 50 strokes with spoon. Set aside.
In small bowl, combine peanut butter and margarine; beat until smooth. Add sugar and flour; mix well.
Add 2 eggs, blend well.
Spread 1/2 of brownie mix into greased 9×13 pan. Carefully spread peanut butter mixture evenly over chocolate mixture.
Spread remaining chocolate mixture over the peanut butter mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes.
Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled. Store loosely covered.

Raspberry Magic Bars Raspberry Magic Bars

From Get Off Your Butt and BAKE!

Stuff you need:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cups raspberry jam or preserves [Use whatever flavor you like best. Try different flavors with each batch!]
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans, almonds or walnuts

Now what?
In a small bowl combine crumbs and sugar. Add margarine or butter. Toss until combined.
Press onto bottom of 13x9x2 inch baking pan.
Evenly drizzle sweetened condensed milk over crumbs. [I used about 2/3 of the can at this point, then the rest after everything was layered in the pan.]
Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Spoon preserves over the top. [Stick a knife in the jar and stir it up so it’s easier to spread.]
Sprinkle with coconut and nuts.
Drizzle the remaining sweetened condensed milk over the top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. [Mine took longer. You can check for doneness by shaking the pan to see how jiggly it is. It’s OK for it to be somewhat jiggly, but not sloshy. Also, when it’s done it’ll look toasty like in the pictures.]
Once out of the oven, take a knife, or spatula, and slide it around the edges so the bars don’t stick to the sides of your pan!
Cool completely. Cut into bars. Store, loosely covered at room temperature.
Yield: 24 servings

Slow Cooker Cream Cheese Chicken Chili

From Stacy, who got it from PlainChicken.com

Stuff you need:
1 can black beans
1 can corn, UNdrained  [If you don’t like corn, sub another can of beans, rinsed, plus 1/2 cup water.]
1 can Rotel, UNdrained  [Use the hot version if you like more bite.]
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 8 oz package light cream cheese
2 chicken breasts  [This is 2 pieces, not 2 pounds.]

Now what?
Drain and rinse black beans. Place chicken at bottom of pot, then pour in whole can of corn (undrained), Rotel (undrained), and black beans.

Add seasonings and Ranch mix. Stir together.

Place cream cheese on top.

Cover with lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Stir cream cheese into chili. Use 2 forks to shred chicken. Stir together and serve.

Munchie’s Note: Keep in mind I made a double batch because I was feeding The Pretty One. If you want that big 5-qt. crock pot full, you’ll need to double the ingredients. Otherwise, this makes a nice quantity.

Nutter Butter Truffles

A recipe from Sean

Stuff you need:

1 (16 ounce) package Nutter Butter Cookies

12 ounces cream cheese, softened [I use the 8 oz. blocks.]

12-13 1-ounce squares semi-sweet chocolate OR 1 12-0unce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 teaspoons solid vegetable shortening [Optional]

Chopped peanuts or additional crushed cookies

Now what?

Crush cookies in food processor; the finer the better. [If you don’t have a large food processor bowl, divide the cookies and cream cheese evenly and do this in batches.]

Add in the cream cheese and mix until blended.

Put mixture in frig for about an hour.

Remove from frig, divide into balls, and place on wax-paper covered cookie sheet. [I use a cookie scoop but if you want smaller truffles, use teaspoons to portion them out.]

Put them on a cookie sheet and return to frig for 30 minutes or so.

Remove from frig.

Melt half of chocolate plus 1 teaspoon shortening, if using.

Dip each truffle and return to cookie sheet. Top with chopped peanuts or crushed cookies if desired.

Repeat with other half of chocolate.

Return truffles to frig until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover truffles, if there are any, covered in the frig.

NOTES: To easily dip truffles, place truffle ball in melted chocolate to coat; roll if necessary. Lift truffle from chocolate using 2 forks (this will allow excess chocolate to run off) and place on wax paper.

Variations
For Oreo Cream Cheese Chocolate Truffles, use the same method as the Nutter Butter Truffles, but substitute:

16 ounce package of Oreos, any flavor  (try the mint!)

8 ounce cream cheese block

Mama Love: Mexican Meatloaf

From Food.com

Stuff you need:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef [or any combination of ground meats. I used 1# ground beef + 1/2# ground pork.]
3/4 cup mild picante sauce [I used medium. Use whatever spiciness you prefer.]
1 (4 ounce) cans diced green chilies, drained [Next time I’ll use fresh jalapeno peppers for more heat.]
1/2 cup finely crushed tortilla chips
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 -2 teaspoons chili powder (to your preference)
1 teaspoon salt

Picante sauce [Whatever spice level you prefer.]
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese or 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese [I used a shredded Mexican blend]

Garnishes
Sour cream
Chopped cilantro
Additional picante sauce

Now what?
Combine first 9 ingredients and place in lightly greased loaf pan.
Bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until done.
During last 10 minutes of baking, spoon desired amount of picante sauce over loaf and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until meatloaf is done.
Garnish with sour cream, cilantro or picante sauce, if desired.

Chubby Hubby Bars

From Just a Pinch

Stuff you need:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 c unsalted butter or margarine (room temperature)

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

1 3/4 cups coarsely chopped pretzels, divided

1/4 cup peanut butter chips (for top)

1/4 cup chunky peanut butter (optional)

Now what?

1. Preheat oven to 350. Foil line and spray a 9X13″ pan. [I didn’t foil-line the pan, just sprayed it, and didn’t have any trouble getting the bars out.]

2. In a bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt. Using a mixer, beat butter and both sugars at medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla.

3. On low speed, beat in dry ingredients just until incorporated. I stirred in some chunky peanut butter eye balled about 1/4 cup or so, 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 1/2 cups pretzel pieces.

2. Spread batter evenly in pan. Sprinkle peanut butter chips, 1/4 chocolate chips and 1/4 cup chopped pretzels on top.

3. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.

Pasta E Fagioli

Adapted from CopyKat Recipes

Yield: About 6 servings

Stuff you need:

1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1/2 pound ground beef

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup slivered or diced carrots

1 cup sliced celery

24 ounces diced, canned tomatoes

2 cups cooked red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups canned navy beans, rinsed and drained

40 – 48 ounces beef stock

1 1/2 teaspoons oregano

1 1/2 teaspoons pepper

3 teaspoons fresh, chopped parsley

3/4 teaspoons Tabasco sauce

24 ounces marinara style spaghetti sauce

4-6 ounces dry whole grain small pasta shells or other small pasta

Now what?

Sauté beef in oil in large 6-qt. pot until beef starts to brown. Add onions, carrots, celery and tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse beans and add to the pot. Add beef stock, oregano, pepper, Tabasco, spaghetti sauce, and dry pasta. Add chopped parsley and simmer until celery, carrots and pasta are tender, about 45 minutes.

If you want to freeze this soup, don’t add the pasta; cooked pasta doesn’t freeze very well. If you freeze the soup, add some freshly cooked pasta to the reheated soup when you are ready to serve it.

Honey Peach Pecan Pork Roast

Adapted from CopyKat Recipes

Stuff you need:
1 medium to large pork roast or tenderloin [I used a 4 pound pork roast.]
4 C water (or enough to just cover meat) plus 1 chicken bouillon cube per cup of water OR 4 cups chicken broth
1/2 large onion (or 1 whole small onion)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp thyme
2 C peach preserves, divided
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. Real Lemon juice
1/2 C chopped pecans
1 Tablespoon chopped jalapenos (optional)

Now what?
Place pork roast in crock pot and add enough water + bouillon or chicken stock to just cover meat.

Peel and chop garlic and onion and add to broth. Add thyme.

Set crock pot to high and allow to cook for no less than 3 hours (longer if meat is still frozen).

Remove meat to appropriately-sized baking dish. Add approximately 1/4 inch of broth. Keep the rest to serve on the side and use a little to keep the leftovers moist in the frig. Mix the honey, 1 cup peach preserves and lemon juice and cover top of meat using a basting brush. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until glaze begins to crystallize, being careful not to overcook. Since the roast is fully cooked in the crock pot, only bake until the glaze begins to form a crust.

Remove from oven, let rest for 10-15 minutes, then slice. [My roast was so tender it shredded instead of sliced!]

Serve with Peach Jalapeno sauce or make gravy with the leftover broth.

Peach Jalapeno Sauce
Simmer 1 cup peach preserves with 1 Tablespoon chopped jalapenos. Stir often for 3-5 minutes. Taste and add more jalapenos for more heat. [I used jarred jalapenos but think fresh would have more of a kick.]

Freezer Cleaning // Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from http://www.recipegirl.com/2007/06/06/banana-walnut-chocolate-chip-cookies/

 

Stuff you need:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup butter or margarine at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 very ripe bananas, mashed

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats

1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Now what?

Preheat oven to 375F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray.

Whisk together flours, salt and baking soda.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with electric mixture on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add egg and vanilla; mix until combined. Mix in banana. Add flour mixture and mix just until combined. Stir in oats, chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoons (or use cookie scoop) onto prepared baking sheets spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies until golden brown and just set, about 12013 minutes. Cool on cookie sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 2 days. Or frozen.

Mama Love: Chicken Alfredo and Rice Casserole

Adapted from BH&G (http://www.bhg.com/recipe/chicken/chicken-alfredo-and-rice-casserole/)

Stuff you need:
10 oz. prepared Alfredo sauce (fresh, refrigerated or from a jar)
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1 cup crushed corn flakes
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1-3 teaspoons minced garlic [depends on how much you like garlic!]

Now what?
Preheat oven to 350F. In large bowl combine Alfredo sauce and milk. Stir in rice, chicken, peas and Italian seasoning. Transfer to 8″ x 8″ or 1-1/2 quart baking dish.

Bake, covered, 30 minutes. Uncover and stir. Combine crushed cornflakes and melted butter; scatter on top. Sprinkle garlic on top of corn flake mixture. Bake, uncovered, 20-25 minutes more until heated through and topping is golden brown.

Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4 regular people…or 1 hungry college student.

Saucepan Peanut Butter Cookies

Stuff you need:
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups peanut butter [Creamy or chunky – doesn’t matter.]
4 1/2 cups corn flakes

Now what?
Stir corn syrup and sugar over medium heat until sugar melts and mixture boils.

Turn off heat and stir in peanut butter. Quickly add the corn flakes.

Mix well and drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper.

Mixture will set quickly, so no dawdling! Get the corn flakes mixed in and the cookies dropped onto the paper as soon as possible.

Baked Sweet Potatoes & Apples

Stuff you need:
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 apples, chunked [I used Fuji apples and did not peel them.]
1/4 cup craisins
1 teaspoon shredded orange peel [I keep dried lemon and orange peel in the pantry for convenience. Pour it into your palm and rub palms together over the potato/apple mixture.]
1/4 cup dark brown sugar [Substitute light brown sugar if you prefer; the flavor won’t be as strong.]
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2-3 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Now what?
Spray 8″ x 8″ or 11″ x 7″ pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Toss sweet potatoes and apple chunks in pan.
Top with craisins, if using.
Sprinkle orange peel over all.
Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Cut butter into small pieces and place on top of mixture.

Cover tightly with foil.
Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Remove foil.
Add pecans, if using.
Return to oven for 10 more minutes.

Banana Coconut Muffins

Adapted from Sarah’s Place (www.sarahowens.wordpress.com)

Stuff you need:
1 cup whole wheat flour [Use all all-purpose flour if you don’t have whole wheat.]
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 very ripe bananas, mashed (1-1/2 cups)
2 sticks (1 cup) margarine, melted
1-1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, divided

Now what?
Put oven rack in center of oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Line 20-24 muffin cups with liners.
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in bowl.
Mix mashed bananas, melted margarine, sugar, eggs, vanilla and 1-1/2 cups coconut in bowl with electric mixer. Mix until combined well.
Fold in flour mixture until flour is just moistened. [Don’t overmix or the muffins will be tough!]
Divide batter among lined muffin cups and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup coconut. [I use an ice cream scoop to put batter into pans.]
Bake until muffins are puffed and golden, 20-25 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes then remove muffins from pan.

Strawberry Pretzel Jello Salad

Adapted from Cooks.com

Stuff you need:
2  cups crushed pretzels
3/4 cup melted butter or margarine
3 Tablespoons sugar
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
8 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
1 (6 oz.) package strawberry gelatin
2 cups boiling water
2 (10 oz) packages frozen strawberries, partially thawed [20 ounces total. I use sliced, frozen strawberries.]

Now what?
Mix first three ingredients and press into bottom of 9×13″ pan. [I lightly sprayed the bottom with cooking spray.]
Bake at 350F degrees (metal pan) or 325F degrees (glass pan) for 8 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.

Beat 1 cup sugar and cream cheese. Fold in thawed Cool Whip. Spread mixture over pretzel crust.

Mix gelatin and boiling water until dissolved. Add strawberries and stir well. Set aside for 10 minutes so mixture cools a bit.

Pour over cream cheese mixture. Put in frig to cool for a couple of hours or until strawberry layer is set.

Coconut Lemon Crescent Bars

from Pillsbury Best of the Bake-Off Cookbook, 1996

Stuff you need:
1 (8 oz.) can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1 cup sugar
1 cup flaked coconut
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
2 eggs, slightly beaten

Now what?
Heat oven to 375F. Unroll dough into 2 long rectangles. Place in ungreased 13×9-inch pan; press over bottom and 1/2 inch up sides to form crust. Frimly press perforations to seal. Bake at 375F for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, combine all other ingredients; mix well. Pour over partially baked crust. Return to oven; bake an additional 12 to 17 minutes or until light golden brown. [Ovens vary so use the time indicated as a guide. I baked mine a few minutes longer than the recipe called for – until the center didn’t wobble too much when I shook the pan.] Cool completely. Cut into bars.

Yield: 36 servings (1 bar per serving)
Nutrition Per Serving: Calories 70; Protein 1 g; Carbohydrate 9g: Fat 3g: Sodium 80 mg

Wheat Germ French Toast

Stuff you need:

4 slices of bread, about 1/2 inch thick [I used leftover Honey Oatmeal Bread.]

3 large eggs

2 Tablespoons water

1-2 teaspoons cinnamon

Wheat germ [I use toasted wheat germ.]

Now what?

Whip eggs with a fork or whisk. Add water and whip some more.

Mix in cinnamon – add more if you love cinnamon!

Dip bread in egg mixture. You need to swish it around a bit longer than regular bread, but don’t leave it sitting in the egg mixture.

Put on hot, buttered griddle.

Sprinkle top with wheat germ.

When bread is browned like you prefer, flip over and cook the other side to desired doneness.

Top with whatever toppings make you smile! I like peanut butter, banana, and bacon with a drizzle of maple syrup or peanut butter with fresh fruit.

Croutons

Stuff you need:

2-3 thick slices bread [I used leftover Honey Oatmeal Bread.]

2-3 teaspoons olive or canola oil

1 / 2 – 1 teaspoon sea salt

Now what?

Chunk up the bread into 1 inch pieces.

Drizzle with olive or canola oil.

Sprinkle with sea salt and toss.

Bake 5 minutes at 450 degrees. Stir well, then bake another 5 minutes.

If you can manage to not eat them all right out of the pan, they’ll be delish on salads or soup!

Honey Oatmeal Bread

From Can Cook, Will Travel

Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients:

4-½ teaspoons Active Dry Yeast (or 2 envelopes)

½ cup Honey

4 Tablespoons Butter

2-¼ cups Water

1 Tablespoon Salt

2-¾ cups All-purpose Flour

4 cups Whole Wheat Flour

1 cup Quick Cooking Oats

1 whole Egg

Preparation Instructions:

1. In a medium bowl (or in a saucepan), heat the butter and honey until the butter is melted. Remove from heat and add the water; the mixture should be warm (110-120 degrees). Stir in the yeast and let sit until bubbly, about 10 minutes (this is called making a sponge).

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine salt, yeast mixture, 2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour. With mixer on low, gradually blend liquid into dry ingredients until just blended. Increase the speed to medium, beat for two minutes, occasionally scraping bowl.

3. Gradually beat in the egg and one cup of whole wheat flour to make a thick batter. Continue beating for two minutes.

4. Stir in oats, 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup all purpose flour. Knead till smooth and elastic. Use more flour if dough is too sticky (I usually add about 2/3 cup more).

5. Place in a greased bowl and cover. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

6. Punch the dough down. Turn onto a floured surface; cover with the bowl and let rise for 15 minutes.

7. Shape into two loaves and let rise for 1 hour in greased 9 x 5 loaf pans.

8. Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 35 to 40 minutes.

(You can make the dough in a bread machine, using bread flour instead of all-purpose flour. Use the dough mode setting for the largest size loaf. Follow the recipe’s directions for the second rise and baking.)

Cinnamon Honey Butter

Stuff you need:

1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter

3-4 teaspoons Honey

1/2 – 1 teaspoon Cinnamon

Now what?

Make this to taste, but start with this:

Soften 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter.

Stir in 3 teaspoons of honey and about ½ teaspoon cinnamon.

Taste and adjust honey and cinnamon to your preference.

OREO-COCOA KRISPIES TREATS

From www.culinaryconcoctionsbypeabody.com

Stuff you need:

3 TBSP unsalted butter

10 ounces mini marshmallows (fresh, not the stale ones hiding in the back of your pantry that you forgot about)

4 cups Cocoa Krispies Cereal

3 cups roughly crushed but not pulverized Oreo cookies [any type – I used the Heads or Tails Oreos]

Now what?

Butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan. Or be lazy like me and spray it with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.

Over low heat melt 3 TBSP in a large pot (I like to use my stock pot because I am a messy person).

Once butter has melted, add marshmallows. Continue to cook over low heat while they melt. It may take a little time. Don’t turn up the heat to try and make it go quicker, you could end up with burned marshmallows or your treats could end up too hard once they firm up.

When most of the marshmallows have melted and they resemble marshmallow crème with a few lumps, remove from heat and add the cereal and cookies.

Using a wooden spoon, stir, stir, stir some more, until all the cereal is fully coated and other parts of the pot are not hogging all the marshmallows (so evenly coated).

Pour into prepared baking pan. Take a rubber spatula and either spray it with non-stick spray or simply get some water on it (I just put mine under the faucet real quick). Using the spatula, press the cereal/marshmallow mixture down into the pan, attempting to create a flat, even surface.

Cover with foil and let sit for a few hours to firm up. [I failed at this stage. I barely let them set up before I tried them. I challenge you to “let sit for a few hours” while you are home wondering how they taste. 🙂 ]

Take foil off. Place wax paper down that is a little bit longer than the baking pan. Flip the pan over onto the wax paper. Cut into squares. Some would say 2-inch. But whatever size you would like works. You can also use cookie cutters to make them fun shaped.

HOLIDAY EGGNOG CAKE with Apricot Filling 

Eggnog cake, blackberry-strawberry preserve filling, spiced cream cheese frosting.

Adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor Returns! Anne Byrn, Workman Publishing, 2009

Stuff you need:

For the cake…

1 package (18.25 oz.) yellow or vanilla cake mix, with or without pudding  [I used French Vanilla cake mix.]

1 1/4 cups eggnog

1/4 cup vegetable oil  [I always use canola oil.]

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

[Heaping] 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 large eggs

3 Tablespoons bourbon (optional), for brushing tops of cake layers  [I didn’t use this.]

For the filling…

1 jar (10 ounces) apricot all-fruit spread

1 Tablespoon bourbon or water

OR 1 jar (10 ounces) dark berry preserves

[We wanted a stronger flavor contrast to the eggnog, so I used Smuckers Strawberry-Blackberry Preserves. Don’t add the bourbon or water if you are using regular preserves.]

For the spiced cream cheese frosting…

4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature

4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature  [I used full-fat cream cheese. It’s a holiday dessert – calories don’t count!]

3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg  [I used 1/2 teaspoon.]

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

[1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or more as needed.]

Now what?

1. Make the cake: Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly mist three 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable oil spray, then dust them with flour. [This cake can also be baked as a two layer cake; slightly more baking time might be needed, but watch closely.] Shake out the excess flour and set the pans aside.

2. Place the cake mix, eggnog, vanilla, heaping 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and the eggs in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed. The batter should look well blended. Divide the cake batter evenly among the 3 prepared cake pans, about 1 1/2 cups of batter per pan, smoothing the tops with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven. If your oven is not large enough to hold 3 pans on the center rack, place 2 pans on that rack and one in the center of the rack above. [I baked 2 pans at once, then the third by itself.]

3. Bake the cake layers until they are golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 18 to 22 minutes. The cake layer on the higher rack may bake faster so test it for doneness first. Transfer the cake pans to wire racks and let the cake layers cool for 5 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of each cake layer and give the pans a good shake to loosen the cakes. Invert each layer onto a wire rack, then invert it again onto another rack so that the cakes are right side up. If desired, brush the cakes with the 3 Tablespoons of bourbon, using 1 Tablespoon for each; set aside to cool 15 minutes longer.

4. Meanwhile, make the filling: Place the fruit spread and 1 Tablespoon of bourbon or water in a small bowl and stir until well combined. [If using preserves, DON’T add water. Stir well before using.]

5. Make the spiced cream cheese frosting: Place the butter and cream cheese in a medium-size bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until well combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the confectioners’ sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon and beat with mixer on low speed until the ingredients are well incorporated and the frosting has a spreading consistency, 1 to 2 minutes. [I used full fat cream cheese, and added vanilla to make the frosting spreading consistency.]

6. To assemble the cake, transfer one layer to a cake plate. Spread half of the filling to the edge of the first layer, about 1/2 heaping cup. Place a second layer, upside down, on top of the first and spread the remaining filling over it. Place the third layer on top, right side up. Frost the top and side of the cake, working with smooth, clean stokes. To make slicing easier, place the uncovered cake in the refrigerator until frosting sets, 20 minutes.

Keep It Fresh! Store this cake, in a cake saver or with loosely covered waxed paper, in the refrigerator for up to one week. Freeze the cake, wrapped in aluminum foil, for up to six months. Let the cake thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

CRANBERRY-BLUEBERRY SAUCE / DIP

Stuff you need:

2 cups orange juice

2 cups sugar

3 – 8 Tablespoons chopped candied ginger (3T if you like it really mild, more if you like ginger. Don’t be shy – the ginger will give the berries a really nice pop!)

1 bag fresh cranberries

1 cup blueberries, frozen or fresh

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 Tablespoons cornstarch, stirred into just enough cold water to make a paste

If serving as a dip, you also need:

8 oz. blocks of cream cheese, softened (Buy whatever you need for your group.)

Crackers such as Wheat Thins, or whatever your favorite is. Make sure they’re sturdy enough to support a heavy dip.

Now what?

Bring the orange juice and sugar to a boil, stirring often.

Stir in the candied ginger and boil for another minute.

Add the cranberries and blueberries and stir, stir, stir while bringing to a boil.

Boil for 5 minutes, stirring often, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes until cranberries are tender.

Shake in the cinnamon and nutmeg, then stir in the cornstarch paste.

Stir well and often, simmering the mixture for another 5-10 minutes until it thickens.

Remove from heat, cover, and set out on the deck to cool. Be sure to use a pot holder or trivet to protect your deck, though!

Tip: I served this over softened cream cheese, accompanied by Wheat Thins. I recommend going with the spicy ginger version if you’re serving the sauce this way, as the cream cheese will cool down the spiciness.

APPLE CRISP

Stuff you need:

Filling

5 cups cored, thinly sliced apples. I leave the peel on and mix Granny Smith apples with a couple of sweeter, red apples.

1 Tablespoon pineapple juice (the acid keeps the apples from turning brown)

3 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground ginger

Topping:

1 ¼ cups oatmeal

2 Tablespoons ground flax seed

2 Tablespoons toasted wheat germ

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ cup butter or margarine

¼ cup chopped pecans

¼ cup flaked coconut

Now what?

Mix all filling ingredients together and pour into 2 quart baking dish.

Mix first 6 topping ingredients together. Cut in butter or margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts and coconut and distribute evenly on top of apple mixture.

Bake in 375 oven for 30-40 minutes until fruit is tender and topping is golden. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

MASHED CAULIFLOWER 

Stuff you need:

1 head cauliflower, florets cut off and rinsed

2 Tablespoons chicken base

2 Tablespoons butter

Seasoning Choices:

1 1/2 teaspoons Penzey’s Garden Salad Seasoning & 1 teaspoon Fox Point Seasoning

OR

1-2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese & 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder & 1/2 teaspoon pepper & 1/4 teaspoon salt

Now what?

Put the cauliflower in a pan and add just enough water to cover it. Add the chicken base.

Bring to a boil, and boil until the cauliflower is soft, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the cauliflower to the bowl of a mixer.

Add 1/4 cup cooking water and your choice of spices, and mix on low for 2-3 minutes. If you turn the mixer up too high, things will fly out of the bowl. Pretty cool to watch, but not much fun to clean up.

Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. Add the butter and mix another 2-3 minutes.

Eat up!

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