Monday, October 30, 2006

Ultimate Snickerdoodles

My eldest daughter has me thinking and scheming about Christmas cookies already, and it's not even Halloween yet! I our house, there are four cookies I ALWAYS make every year without fail. Chocolate Chip (that should go without saying in ANY home at the holidays), Peanut Butter Blossoms (you know, the peanut butter cookies with the Hershey's Kiss in the center of them), Seven Layer Bars (a decadent bar cookie with layers of choc chips, butterscotch, coconut, etc....mmmm) and last, but not least, Snickerdoodles.

A few years ago, I decided that Snickerdoodles needed a little extra kick of cinnamon, so I actually put cinnamon IN the batter as well as on the outside of the cookie.

I get RAVE reviews and numerous requests for these cookies. And they are my eldest daughter's favorites, she cannot wait until Christmas to make them! (don't tell her, but neither can I!)/

Ultimate Snickerdoodles

2 Sticks Butter (please, no substituting this!)
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Cream of Tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs PLUS 2 tsp Cinnamon (divided)
2 Tbs. Sugar

In a small bowl mix the 2 tsp Cinnamon and the 2 Tbs Sugar, set aside.

In a bowl, lined with a sifter or sieve, place flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and 2 Tbs Cinnamon. Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, continue to beat. Scrape sides as necessary. Add flour mixture - 1 cup at a time to the butter mixture until well blended.

Refridgerate dough for 30 minutes (or overnight works too).

Preheat oven to 375.

Form dough into walnut sized balls (I use a metal Tbs measuring spoon and scoop). Roll balls into sugar/cinnamon mixture, coating well. Place balls 2" apart on a cookie sheet. Bake about 10 mins until a golden brown. Remove and cool on rack.

Note: they will puff at first when cooking, then flatten - this is normal.

As the season approaches, I'll put up recipes for the other cookies I make!!!!

Happy Eating!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Taco Lasagna

A family favorite that was born out of desparation! A few years ago I was going to be hosting a lunch at my house for a playgroup - 5 moms and 8 kids (including my own). I awoke that morning saying, "We'll have tacos". BUT when I further inspected my cabinet, I did not have taco shells or soft taco shells either. I had tortilla chips, cheese and the taco seasoning mix. So...I decided to make a lasagna instead - Mexican Lasagna. It was a BIG hit with all the ladies who begged for the recipe. Well, I guess Toll House Cookies were a mistake too - so this one may one day go down in the history books! At least you'll all be able to say, "I knew you when".

Taco Lasagna

1 lb Ground Turkey
1 packet Taco seasoning mix (or 3 tablespoons of my Basic Taco/Fajita Seasoning Mix)
1 jar salsa
2 cups shredded monterey Jack cheese
6 oz corn tortilla chips

Prepare Taco meat as directed on package using Taco Seasoning and Ground Turkey. (or follow my instructions for tacos under my Basic Taco/Fajita Seasoning Mix).

Crush enough tortilla chips to cover the bottom of a 2 qt casserole dish.

Layer half of taco meat on top of crushed chipes.

Spread half of the jar of salsa on top of meat.

Sprinkle half of shredded cheese on top of salsa/meat.

Repeat layers starting at the tortilla chips.

Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes in a 350° oven.

Serve with sour cream, guacamole, sliced green onions - whatever you like on tacos!

NOTE: you can increase the nutritional value of this meal by including fat free refried beans as a layer, adds more protien and fiber.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sweet & Sour Chicken

This was dinner tonight. I just kind of "threw it together" but the plan worked! Typing out the recipe while it's still fresh in my mind.

1 lb chicken, sliced in strips then cut in half
16 oz package frozen stir fry vegetables (broccoli, red peppers, carrots, onions, water chestnuts)
1 small can pineapple, reserve juice, slice in chunks
1 can chicken broth
2 tbs corn starch
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs canola oil

Drain pineapple into a 2 cup measuring cup. Add chicken broth to equal 1 1/2 cups. Add soy sauce. Stir in corn starch. Set aside.

In a large saute pan heat the sesame and canola oils. Add chicken and cook until almost done. Add vegetables to the pan and cook for 5 minutes - covered. Remove cover and add pineapple chunks, and the reserved juice & chicken broth mix. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes (uncovered).

I served it over brown rice.

I asked hubby if I should include it in the blog - he said here you go!!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Tortellini in Spinach Cream Sauce

I have not had this in a REALLY long time - I am motivated, however to make it soon! Spinach is full of iron, protien and minerals. SO GOOD FOR YOU. Leave it to me to make it devoid of nutrition! Just kidding. This is a good way to get some good for you food. The last time I served this, I had a salad on the side and topped it with grilled chicken. BOY...I need to make it again, my mouth is just totally watering!

Tortellini in Spinach Cream Sauce

1 16 oz package cheese tortellini
1 10 box of frozen chopped spinach
1 tbs butter
1 tbs flour
1/2 tsp salt & dash pepper
dash red pepper
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmasean cheese

Cook tortellini according to package directions, drain and set aside.

Defrost, drain and squeeze all extra moisure out of the frozen spinach.

In medium sauce pan, melt butter. Stir in flour, salt and peppers and make a rioux. Whisk so that it doesn't get lumpy. Add 1 cup milk. Continue whisking. Bring to a boil and reduce heat - allow mixture to thicken (so it coats the back of a spoon). Remove from heat and add 1 cup of the parmesean cheese, continue whisking until very smooth. Add spinach. Stir well.

Pour sauce over tortellini and stir around - being careful not to break up the tortellini. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan and serve immediately.

A slight variation on this would be to just slightly undercook the tortellini, then, after mixing the sauce onto the tortellini, place in pan, sprinkle with parmesan and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. This makes it more casserole- and makes it travel well.

I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Chicken Green Bean Casserole this is not my recipe EXCEPT I took an old favorite and made it the whole meal vs. just a side dish! In our house, we LOVE Green Bean Casserole. Why is it that we only make that dish around the holidays? I don't know...but tonight for dinner we're having the traditional Green Bean Casserole with Chicken added, this will make it the whole meal! Can't wait to smell it baking!!!

Chicken Green Bean Casserole

1 lb. Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breast - cut into 1" chunks
1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
4 cups cooked green beans
1 1/3 cup dried onion rings (such as French's)
1 tsp soy sauce

Mix all ingredients (use only 2/3 cup of the onions) together in a large bowl. Pour into a 2 quart casserole. Place the rest of the fried onions on top. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes - until chicken is cooked thru.

:) Happy 22nd of October!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Saturday Morning Pancakes

Every Saturday morning, we make pancakes, eggs and sausage for breakfast. We got into this ritual after babysitting a friend of ours kids overnight (they were older - like 10 and 13). I always loved when they would come stay because our kids loved them so much. I would always do special stuff like bake cookies, do crafts, rent movies, play games and, of course, make pancakes the next morning. I kind of loved having them around to spoil. They live in Phoenix, and now we're back in PA and miss them! BUT the Saturday Morning Pancake tradition continues. It has been varied slightly as I used to make regular pancakes, but, being more health conscious now, we make Whole Wheat Pancakes. Either way you make them, they are delicious!

Saturday Morning Pancakes

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 Tbs. sugar
2 Tsp. baking powder (NOT baking soda!!!)
pinch of salt

1 egg
1 Cup milk
2 Tbs. oil

Sift together dry ingredients. Mix in the wet ingredients until combined - but do not overmix!

Put on hot pan or griddle...cook until bubbles come to the surface, flip and let rise and cook the rest of the way.

Serve, of course, with syrup.


Friday, October 20, 2006

Snack Mix

In honor of my eldest child's seventh birthday, I thought I'd share with all you the recipe for her favorite snack mix. It is the typical, of sorts, cereal and nuts and such mixed together. She loves to make it with me, she loves to eat it with me. Overall, we enjoy it together! I vary it a little bit because I like to put in ingredients we all like best. I hope you like it too!

Snack Mix

7 cups of "square" cereal (like Chex or Crispix)*see note
1 cup almonds (or your favorite nut)
1 cup pretzel fishies (or small pretzel bites)
1 cup soup crackers OR plain fishies (the soup crackers are the mini-bite sized saltines)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
4 tsp worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 250 (yes that is TWO not a THREE)

Combine cereals, nuts, pretzels and crackers in a large bowl. In a microwave safe bowl melt butter. To the melted butter, add the salt, garlic powder, onion powder and worcestershire sauce, whisk together well. Pour butter mixture over cereal mixture and stir to coat all the pieces. Pour into a 13 X 9" pan. Place in oven. Bake for 1 hour - stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in an airtight container after cool.

NOTE: I like to mix the corn, rice and wheat mix up that 7 cups. Currently, I've been going to Aldi alot - Aldi's Rice Squares and Corn Sqares are PERFECT for this recipe - as are their oyster crackers.

I can't say how long this lasts. It makes about 10 cups worth and it's usually gone in about two or three days in our house! Just about to go make some now for my daughter. It is afterall her birthday, and it is her favorite snack. :D

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bruschetta Chicken Bake

Hello all! I have been neglegent! We had company over the weekend and I am just now getting back into the swing of life. For those of you who don't know, I homeschool my two oldest children. By the time school is finished, it's time for chores or errands. Days go very fast and nights even faster!!!

Here's a recipe I found while looking thru one of my magazines. It is from the Kraft Food & Family Mailer. This looks so delicious, it will be on my menu next week! It boasts of being "company" friendly too! It sure looks easy!

Bruschetta Chicken Bake

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 6 oz. package Stovetop Stuffing Mix for Chicken
1/2 cup water
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 lb. boneless/skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Place tomatoes with their juice into a medium bowl. Add stuffing mix, water and garlic. Stir until just moistened. Set aside.

Place chicken in a 13 X 9 inch baking dish, sprinkle with basil and cheese. Top with stuffing mixture.

Bake 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through

Imagine the possibilities!!! For example - change the stuffing mix to Cornbread, the tomatoes to diced tomatoes with green chiles, the basil to dried cilantro and the cheese to Monterey Jack and VIOLA!!! MEXICAN stuffing bake!!!


Friday, October 13, 2006

Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

Just made these today, I cut the sugar in half and it did not suffer. Very yummy - even my kids liked it...I'm including it with MY variations to make it a little more healthy :D

Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

1 Cup AP Flour
1/2 Cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup brown sugar (can use up to 1 cup)
1 egg
3 med mashed bananas (overripe)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup raw quick cooking oats
3/4 cup chopped nuts, raisins, or dates (optional)

Preheat oven to 425. Grease & flour 13 X 9 inch baking pan. Sift together flour, salt, soda and spices, set aside. In large bowl, beat until light & fluffy: butter, sugar, egg. Add bananas and vanilla beat until smooth.

Gradually stir in flour mixture & oats until well combined. (if seems to be getting a little thick, slowly add 1/4 cup milk as needed). Stir in nuts.

Bake until golden (about 25 mins).

This was so good!!!


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Cranberry Chicken

I got this recipe from a good friend of mine who now lives in WI. We had a potluck dinner with a few couples and she was to bring the main dish. She got stuck at work, so her husband had to make it - but as he said "It was so easy even I could do it". It's a fast, easy, and absolutely delicious addition to any family table. (and oh - btw - don't forget to check the variation listed below, it's even yummier!!! :D)

Cranberry Chicken

6 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 8 oz jar french dressing (orange french, not red french)
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 can (14.5 oz) whole cranberry sauce

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray or lightly oil it (very lightly). Lay chicken breasts in dish. In a bowl mix together dressing, soup mix and cranberry sauce. Mix VERY well. Pour over chicken. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the chicken is done.

I usually serve this over brown rice with a side of broccoli.

This also cooks VERY well in a crockpot - 5to 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high. When I do it in the crockpot, I usually cut the chicken into cubes to make it easier to serve out of the crock.

OKAY - here's the variation - and it's for those who like a little spice with thier sweet - REPLACE cranberry sauce with 1 1/2 cups Fischer & Weiser Raspberry Chipotle Sauce and bake as listed. (the sauce is usually sold in gormet stores - but Costco carries it too). It's the yummiest stuff!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Fish Chowder

Dug out of my husband's family archives. My mother-in-law is a spectacular cook. Raised in the mid-west and taught to cook probably from the moment she could walk, she is a treasure trove of yummy recipes. When I first met my husband, she used to put out a monthly newsletter to update everyone on each other. My husband has 4 siblings - so there was a lot to keep up on!!! In each newsletter she would include some old family recipes, or recipes she found in magazines. Someday, I think we should compile it into a book because they are all just stunning and delicious. I will most likely post a recipe of hers every so often as they are, of course, among some of my husbands favorites. Here is one I am going to try to make this week. It looks simple, and I know it tastes fabulous as she used to make it every Christmas. I hope you enjoy it too! ( is NOT figure friendly!)

Fish Chowder (from Sunbonnet Sue - Carolyn Knowles)

2 sticks plus 2 Tbs. butter, divided
1/2 Cup onion, chopped
1 Cup celery, sliced thin
1 Cup carrots, small dice
1/2 Cup green or red pepper, small dice (optional)
1 Cup flour
1/2 gallon milk
1 to 1 1/2 lb. fish flakes (like Louis Kemp - sea legs!)

Melt 2 Tbs. butter in a saute pan. Saute vegetables and set aside.

In large stockpot, melt the 2 sticks of butter and add the flour...whisk together (making a rioux). Once smooth, mix for a minute or two to bring out the nuttiness of the flour. Pour in the milk - continue whisking. Cook until thick (coats the back of a spoon). Stir in the sauted vegetables. Add the fish flakes. Stir to combine and cook for about an hour to allow the flavors to blend very well.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Honey Lemon Vinegrette

As I cleaned out my frige this morning, I came across my favorite salad dressing. I am not sure if this is my SIL's recipe or the recipe from the Hoxsey Clinic in Mexico. My FIL recently went to be with the Lord after a year long battle with pancreatic cancer. One of the treatments was thru the clinic and they put him on a special diet. This dressing is fabulous and I will forever think of him when I make it.

1/4 cup Honey
1/4 cup freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar. Shake to combine and serve over your favorite salad.

NOW...for my favorite Green go with this awesome dressing...

1 Head Romaine Lettuce, sliced VERY thin
1 large carrot, cut in long julienne strips (I have a julienner which creates the large curly strips!)
3 scallions, thinly sliced
8 grape tomatoes, quarterd lengthwise

Combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl. Pour about 4 Tbs. of dressing over and toss well. Use more dressing if neccesary.

Happy Eating!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sour Cream Cheesecake

This recipe is from an old co-worker, Linda Fedek. I haven't seen her in over 9 years, but I think of her everytime I make this cheesecake. My husband would probably love for me to make it more often than I do. I don't because, well, it's cheesecake and I cannot control myself. It is a VERY easy recipe because everything is mixed in the blender and then poured into the crust. It takes MAYBE 15 minutes to get it prepared as long as your ingredients are room temperature. The hardest part of this recipe is waiting 4 hours for it in the fridge! What I like about it most is that, unlike dense, thick, heavy cheesecakes that are NY style, this one is light and fluffy and creamy and oh so delicious! I love to serve it with cherry pie filling spilling down all over the top of it! It also lends itself well to using lower fat ingredients like Neufachatel and light sour cream and egg substitute; doing so would probably make it the most figure friendly cheesecake on the planet! I hope you get a chance to make this someday! It's a yummy one!!!

Grahm Cracker Crust - use recipe on box of Grahm Crackers or crumbs - put in a Springform pan NOT a pie plate (note * if you choose to use the premade crusts, this will fill TWO of them, not one).

2 eggs, at room temp
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups sour cream, at room temp
2 8 oz blocks of cream cheese, at room temp
2 Tbs. melted butter (DO NOT use margarine)
1 strip orange zest (optional)
1 strip lemon zest (optional)

Put eggs, vanilla, sugar, sour cream and zest into a blender. Blend 8 to 10 seconds. While blender is running add cream cheese and butter. Blend until very smooth.

Pour mixture into graham cracker crust and bake in a preheated oven at 325 for 35 minutes (or until center is set). NOTE: I add a pan of water in the bottom rack of the oven as it's preheating, and leave it there during the baking process. This helps keep the cheesecake from drying out.

Turn off heat and leave in oven 15 minutes. Remove and cool on rack.

When cooled, place in refridgerator for AT LEAST 4 hours (overnight works best).

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Spaghetti Sauce

I LOVE spaghetti sauce. As a matter of fact, I love it so much, I could forgo the pasta and just eat the sauce. This is a simple marinara sauce with no meat. It does take a while, but it makes A LOT. I usually freeze in 1 qt containers so that I can use in recipes later. One thing I'd like to try next time I defrost a batch is to add 1 cup cream and puree to make a tomato soup and have with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. MMMMMMMMMMMMM...Winter is coming!!!

Spaghetti Sauce

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, small dice
1 medium green pepper, small dice
5 cloves of garlic, minced
salt & pepper
6 28 oz cans crushed or pureed tomatoes
1/4 Cup Italian seasoning blend
2 bay leaves
3 tbs spicy mustard
3 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs GOOD tomato paste

Sweat onion, green pepper and garlic in the 2 tbs of olive oil. When translucent, add the 6 cans of tomatoes. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat. Add italian seasoning, bay leaves, mustard, sugar and tomato paste. Incorporate well. Allow to simmer about 2 hours before tasting. Stir often to avoid scorching the bottom. At the 2 hour mark, taste it and adust seasons (salt, pepper, sugar, garlic, etc). If you add more spices or adjust, allow one more hour for cooking. If perfect, you can stop here!

At this point, I separate out into 6 1 qt containers for freezing.

When I thaw I use it the following ways:

1. Brown 1 lb. ground meat (beef, chicken, turkey) add thawed sauce and warm up. Serve over favorite pasta.

2. Brown 1 lb of chicken breast strips, add 1 green pepper, 1 onion (both sliced in strips), add sauce and simmer until peppers & onions are soft. YUMMY Chicken Cacciatore. Okay, i call it Chicken Kristadorey b/c that's my maiden name....but that's an aside! :D

3. Brown 1 lb. ground meat (see above). Add sauce, 1 can of drained beans (kidney, red, etc). Add 3 tbs chili powder. Bring to boil, reduce and simmer until well flavored. Serve over rice with cheese.

4. Tomato soup as stated above - I have NOT tried this one yet, but I think I will be giving it a try soon!!!