Sunday, December 25, 2011

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

Merry Christmas from  Memphis, TN. I made a batch of these White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies. Here is a trick: Beat two eggs, let the dry cherries or cranberries set in the egg mixture  for about 30 minutes (cover with plastic wrap) It will help "plump" the fruit up.

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies


White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

1 stick butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose  flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons milk
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a medium bowl, with electric mixer, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until just combined. Set aside.

Sift together flour, soda, and salt. Add milk to the butter mixture and then add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Batter should be stiff.

In another bowl, combine nuts, cranberries, and white chocolate. Then add to batter, stirring only to blend. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for approximately 11 to 13 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chocolate Fondue

I don't believe there is anything more satisfying in this world, food wise, other than chocolate. Dark brown, creamy goodness makes my day! I have a quick recipe for a milk chocolate fondue.

I usually don't make my own, since I do not have a fondue set, but I thought I could swing it in the microwave.

The story goes like this:
Sent husband out to buy groceries a few days ago and asked him for a bag of milk chocolate chips so I can make cookies.

Husband comes home with a bag of milk chocolate chips that look dry and off color and clumped together. (They obviously got too hot somewhere in transition)

I decide not to waste the "chips" and go for this very yummy fondue recipe. 

Let me know what you think......

Chocolate Fondue
Picture taken from: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/chocolate_fondue.html_0  
  • 1 bag of milk chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon creamy peanut butter
In a microwave safe bowl add chocolate, butter, vanilla and milk. Cook in microwave on medium heat for 4 minutes. Stir and add in peanut butter. Cook for one minute on medium high heat. Serve with your favorite fruits, cookies, brownies, donuts, nuts or whatever you can think of!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Ornament Chandelier

What will $2, thirty minutes of free time and the need to decorate get you? A nice ornament chandelier, that's what! I have to admit, I really like Pinterest and have found some really neat craft ideas on the website. One I saw, and thought was super pretty, was a silver ornament decoration hanging from dining room  lights. Now, in my dining room, I have a ceiling fan with lights, but it still works.

So after listening to Christmas music, drinking hot chocolate and watching my kittens roll around in the curling string for a while, I was able to hang my new and cheap decoration:

Nothing too fancy, just ornaments hanging out. :)









What you need: 

Pack or two of glass ball ornaments. I used various sizes for interest.
Curling String
Scissors
Hot Glue (optional)
A place to hang the decoration

The first step is to hot glue the ornament top (where the hook usually goes) to the ornament itself to make sure it is secure. You do not have to do this if you feel the ornament will hold.

Thread the curling ribbon through one of your ornaments and continue until you have about 8 or 9 ornaments in a single line on the ribbon. Make sure to leave a good 6 inches or so at the top.

Tie a knot at the bottom of the ribbon to prevent the ornaments from slipping or falling off.

Tie a loop at the top of the ribbon to hook around a nail or place a ornament hook to hang the decoration. I have two sets of ornaments hanging in the picture.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chicken and Rice Bake

I love comfort foods in the Fall and Winter months. I also love one dish recipes that help to cut down on cleanup. I must admit, cleaning is not my strongest asset. I was in the grocery store the other day thinking of simple ways to make chicken and this one popped into my head. I hope you all enjoy....

Chicken and Rice Bake
(Prep Time: 10 minutes; Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes)



2 Boxes Chicken and Broccoli Rice Mix, uncooked (I use Rice-A-Roni)
4 Large Chicken Breasts (uncooked and rinsed)
2 cups hot water
1 can Campbell's Broccoli and Cheese Soup
3 T olive oil (enough to coat chicken breasts)
Poultry Seasoning
Garlic Powder
Poppy Seeds

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. In dish add uncooked rice and seasoning packets. Add hot water to rice and stir until rice is completely coated. Add soup and stir completely.


Place chicken breasts on top of rice mixture. Sprinkle olive oil over chicken breast to coat. Sprinkle poultry seasoning, garlic powder and poppy seeds to taste. A little goes a long way! (Note: if you do not have these items in the pantry, don't worry. Simply use a bit of salt and pepper and this should do fine) Cover dish with foil and place in oven for 1 hour. Uncover and cook additional 15 minutes. 

Warning: Your house will smell yummy for a while. :D
(Per Serving: Serves 4)
Cals: 472   Fat: 10   Carbs: 65   Protein: 34   Sugar: 6

Saturday, November 26, 2011

White Chocolate Cherry Pie

I am always looking for yummy dessert recipes for my kitchen. I love sugar and everything that comes in that blissful world. Though I love sugar, it doesn't love me. It puts on the pounds faster than I can blink an eye. :D The holiday time of year is not the best time to diet or even "cut back" on certain foods. It is hard. With my email and blogger friends it is very tempting to recreate a delicious looking recipe or two. I found an email from Taste of Home for a White Chocolate Mousse Cherry Pie. Sounds super good, right? Super good and packs a whopping 556 cals per slice. OUCH! So I decided to get my tail into the kitchen and whip up a lower sugar/lower calorie version. 281 Calories per serving in my version. Much better.

White Chocolate Cherry Pie 
(Low Fat & Half of the Calories) 
For Filling: 
  • 1 can No Sugar Added Cherry Pie Filling 
  • 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch 
  • 2 Tablespoons Water 
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 
  • 1 Tablespoon Truvia 

For Topping: 
  • 2 packets (3 oz each) of Jello Instant Pudding White Chocolate 
  • 3 cups milk (not soy-Jello will not thicken) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 

1-Chocolate Pie Crust 

In a saucepan mix together cornstarch and water. Add pie filling and Truvia and bring to boil. Set aside and add extract. Let cool completely. 

Cherry Pie Filling


In a large bowl whisk together milk and Jello Pudding  mix. Add extract, stir completely. 




Gently pour cherry pie filling mixture into chocolate pie crust. Using a small spoon or spatula, spread pudding mix on top of pie filling. Coating evenly. Place in refrigerator at least one hour before serving. Serves 6-8



Nutrition: 281 Calories, 42 carbs, 6 Fat, 4 Protein, 22 Sugar

Original Recipe Nutrition: 556 calories, 40 g Fat, 46 carbs

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Creamy Chicken Spaghetti

I really do enjoy pasta. Especially when it is super simple to throw together. :D Now this recipe isn't "low fat" so you need to watch portion size to keep the calories in check. I will try to experiment with more natural ingredients in the future to see how it turns out.

Creamy Chicken Spaghetti

1 box of spaghetti noodles or pasta of your choice
1 tub of Philadelphia Cooking Cream-I used Italian Herb
1 zucchini chopped into bite size pieces
1 small-medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken or veggie stock
2 T olive oil
2 T butter (again, not low fat here but tasty!)
1 large can chicken, drained

In a large stock pot, bring water to boil for the pasta. Add pasta and a pinch of salt-boil for about 10 minutes. While pasta is cooking-in a large skillet, heat oil and butter until melted on medium/high heat. Add onion, peppers and zucchini for about 4-5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Add chicken and stock-cook for another 5 minutes.
Drain pasta and set aside.
In your large pan (if it is large enough-if not, mix together in your stock pot) add spaghetti noodles to chicken mixture and cook on low/medium heat for about 2 minutes. As the mixture continues to cook, add the cooking cream until well melted and mixed in pasta. Serve immediately.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sausage Jambalaya

One of my favorite go-to meals is Sausage jambalaya. It is a one skillet, minimum prep meal that hits the spot every time. I don't have pics on this one (sorry) but it is an easy enough to follow recipe.

Sausage Jambalaya

1 lb of smoked sausage (I use turkey sausage) cut into bite size discs
1 red bell pepper, chopped*
1 green bell pepper, chopped*
1 medium onion, chopped*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 box of Zatarain's Jambalaya mix
1 T olive oil
2 T butter

Heat oil and butter in saute pan until butter is melted (medium heat). Saute onion, bell pepper for three minutes then add garlic and sausage. Cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups water and rice packet; stir mixture. Bring to boil; then immediately lower temperature to low to simmer. Cover pan with lid (or foil if your pan does not have a lid). Cook for 20-25 minutes. (Check rice about half way through cooking time, you might have to add more water to prevent rice from burning)

I serve my rice with shredded cheddar cheese. Enjoy!

*Note: To make prep even easier, you can purchased the onion and pepper frozen mix in your grocer's freezer section.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Creamer Review

For those of you foodies that do not know me that well yet, I have a secret.....I am a huge coffee fan! Nothing sets off a great cup of coffee for me than a nice flavored creamer. Coffee Mate usually creates interesting seasonal flavors in addition to their standard French Vanilla, Hazelnut, Caramel, etc.
I saw the Pumpkin Spice flavor on the shelf at the store but was a bit hesitant to purchase. I usually get either my standard French Vanilla or Hazelnut in sugar free. But I decided to kick it up a notch and get my pumpkin on! :D
I first had to smell the creamer to see what I was getting myself and my coffee into. It smelled "spicy" and sweet so I thought, this isnt so bad. I was right! In fact my first sip was heavenly. The pumpkin is mellow and it seems to taste almost like liquid pumpkin pie. Can't ask  for much better than that! I give this fella 4 out  of  5 stars. Simply because I can't buy it year round!

Coffee Mate has created a few other seasonal flavors that I want to dive into such as gingerbread, peppermint mocha and cinnamon sugar cookie. Hmmm they all sound yummy!

SO what is your fave flavor for coffee creamers or coffee itself??

Check out Coffee Mate's website here: Coffee Mate Seasonal Flavors

Friday, November 11, 2011

Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole

Since my last post was all about Paula Deen, I want to continue on that path with a recipe I adapted from Ms. Paula's website. My husband is a huge seafood fan. So any recipe I make with seafood is always a hit with him. After visiting Paula Deen's Buffet in Tunica, MS a few weeks back, I was able to located a few specific recipes on Paula's website that I knew were tasty. I hope you enjoy!



Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole
Serves 6-8


2 lbs. medium shrimp (peeled and deveined)
1 cup frozen pepper and onion mix
2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 boxes of cooked wild rice, cooked

Directions

In a large skillet, saute olive oil, butter, garlic, bell pepper and onion until onion is translucent.  Add shrimp. When shrimp are done (pink), add cream of mushroom soup and 2/3 of the grated cheese until cheese is melted. Add cooked rice and pour entire mixture into 9x13 greased casserole. Top with remaining cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Level of Difficulty: Low-medium (the hardest part is sauteing the veggies and cooking the rice)
Cleanup: Medium (Skillet, rice pot and casserole dish cleanup)
Taste: Great! Very good flavor

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Paula Deen Buffet Review

I love me some Paula Deen Ya'll! For me she is fun to watch and reminds me of great times in the kitchen. I don't currently have The Food Network on cable so I can not watch her shows (which makes me sad) but I do catch her online from time to time if I need my Paula fix. I watch her more often during this time of year because I get bit by the cooking bug.
I have never been to any of her restaurants but heard they were pretty good. (Depending on what you ordered). My Aunt visited us recently and we took her to Tunica, MS, for a day to visit, play poker and eat at Paula Deen's Buffet. I decided to write a review of what I found.
Before we left on our mini roadtrip, I read several reviews, some good and some not so good about this buffet. My stance on buffets is this: You eat way too much, it is usually overpriced and the food is not as good.
I must say when I first walked up to the restaurant I was pleasantly surprised since they had already decorated for Christmas. It put me in a kid-like mood and I wanted to decorate a Christmas tree. :D
So many items to buy in the gift shop. I did end up purchasing a magnet. I collect magnets from all the places I visit simply because they are small, easy to carry and usually inexpensive. This particular magnet also featured a recipe from Paula for Gingerbread Cookies. Yum!
After the nice hostess seated us, we put in our drink order (sweet tea with a sprig of fresh mint-very classy) and it was off to the buffet.
So much food to choose from: Salad bar, seafood bar, home cookin' (ham, potatoes, veggies, cornbread, etc.), BBQ and meat station and of course a dessert station. There was no way I could try everything but I did get a nice sample.
I started with a small salad then headed over to the shrimp.  The shrimp was very tasty as were the onion rings and okra.
The next plate included baked ham, mashed potatoes with a mushroom cheese sauce (don't even get me started on how good this was), and green beans. All very tasty. One thing I did notice is how all of the food was seasoned very well. Most buffets do not salt or season food a lot due to the variety of clientele (many people can not have salt, etc.) but not Paula! She allows true seasoning of food. I guess if you are going to any restaurant featuring Paula's food you are taking your life into your own hands in regards to calories and salt consumption. :D

After this I had to roll myself to the dessert section and I chose a apple cake and another type of "gooey" cake that Paula is famous for. Both will knock you out with sugar content but they were both very tasty.

In all I give my visit an A on the score card or 4.5 out of 5. The atmosphere was pleasant  but buffets are buffets. You eat too much and have to roll yourself out of the door. :D This is why I don't eat at buffets often. You feel so full and bad at the end of the meal. Of course, I could simply not eat three plates of food, right? LOL!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Crock Pot Ham

I love slow cookers and use them often. I was able to purchase a new Crock Pot slow cooker at Target a few weeks back on sale. Got a great 7 qrt cooker for under $30. Great deal in my opinion. Crock Pot is a great brand so I felt comfortable knowing that this purchase will last a while. The pot was exactly what I wanted (the interior comes completely out of unit for easy cleaning and storage) and it also is large enough to hold large cuts of meat.
 The first meal made in my new cooker was a ham with cranberry and pineapple glaze. It was excellent. I am providing the recipe for all to enjoy.

Crock Pot Ham with Cranberry and Pineapple Glaze

1 Ham, 8-10 lbs
1 can pineapple chunks, large, undrained
1 can cranberry sauce with whole cranberries
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large orange, sliced into rings

Place ham face down in cooker. Add pineapple chunks and juice, cranberry sauce, and brown sugar. Place orange rings around the ham. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

Comes out fork tender, sweet and full of flavor. Definitely on my winter menu.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Day on Beale Street

It is hard to think about Memphis, TN, and not think about the famous Beale Street. From music to food, Beale offers a lot to tourists and locals alike. I had the pleasure of spending a sunny Sunday afternoon with my family on Beale. We had tickets to the musical Memphis and we were able to grab a quick bite to eat prior to the play. We decided to try Blues City Cafe.
Blues City Cafe
The first thing I noticed was all of the Elvis Presley paraphernalia hanging around the cafe. Of course this restaurant is known for Elvis's impromptu concert trying to persuade Sam Phillips to sign him to Sun Records.
The menu had a few selections to choose from. Most were from the fried side of life. I ordered the chicken tenders dinner while the hubs ordered The Best Meal on Beale (ribs, catfish beans and fries)
The Best Meal on Beale
Chicken Tenders Dinner
Both meals were good. My chicken was tender and served with a honey mustard sauce. The fries were hot and crispy so I was a happy camper. A few other items featured on this menu consisted of tamales, catfish, steaks and various apps.





Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review: YoLo Frozen Yogurt

YoLo Frozen Yogurt Review

A couple of weeks ago I was in Jackson, TN, visiting family and decided to swing by a local yogurt shop. I found on called YoLo. It looked great because it also specializes in gelato. (For those who do not know what gelato is, it is basically a creamy ice cream. Very thick like a frozen custard.) I approve 100%!
I walked into the store and the employees were excellent. Very nice, helpful and willing to give me the 411 on the store. One gentlemen had just made a batch of pumpkin spice gelato that he eagarly wanted me to sample. One bite and I was hooked. I ordered a large pumpkin spice gelato with a side of salted caramel gelato for a flavor rush. I also was looking to go into sugar shock.



Though the staff, gelato and surroundings were great, I did go into a sticker shock on the purchase price. $6.00 for this fun filled experience. So I would not go back again without a coupon backup but I will go back. We have several stores in Memphis so I will make my way back soon.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Goal List Update

I am still trying to complete my goal list. I was able to download and learn a new song for the piano. October done :D One of my favorite songs is by Enya: Flora's Secret. I walked down to it at my wedding. Or at least attempted to. The CD would not play the song correctly. However, it is a beautiful song and great for the piano. Enjoy...

Flora's Secret
Lyrics

Lovers in the long grass
Look above them
Only they can see
Where the clouds are going
Only to discover
Dust and sunlight
Ever make the sky so blue

Afternoon is hazy
River flowing
All around the sounds
Moving closer to them
Telling them the story
Told by Flora
Dreams they never knew

Silver willows
Tears from Persia
Those who come
>From a far-off island
Winter Chanterelle lies
under cover
Glory-of-the-sun in blue

Some they know as passion
Some as freedom
Some they know as love
And the way it leaves them
Summer brought snowflake
For a season
When the sky above is blue
When the sky above is blue

Lying in the long grass
Close beside her
Giving her the name
Of the one the moon loves
This will be the day she
Will remember
When she knew his heart
Was
Loving in the long grass
Close beside her
Whispering of love
And the way it leaves
Lying in the long grass
In the sunlight
They believe it's true love
And from all around them
Flora's secret
Telling them of love
And the way it breathes
And
Looking up from eyes of
Amaranthine
They can see the sky
Is blue
Knowing that their love
Is true
dreams they never knew
And the sky above is blue

Thursday, October 13, 2011

FoodBuzz Featured Publisher



Foodbuzz
I am very happy to say I am officially a FoodBuzz Featured Publisher. What is this you ask? I am apart of a blogger community that writes about food, reviews restaurants, etc. and I get to share my blog with others on FoodBuzz.com. I also get to participate in events, dinner parties (theme of my choice), and much more! I am very excited to get rolling. If you have not heard about FoodBuzz, please be sure to check them out and join the community! You do not have to host a blog in order to join. You can upload recipes and view recipes as well without creating a blog.

I will try and do better about posting recipes and pics soon. I have family coming into town Saturday and loads of school work this week so that has tied me up. Frozen pizzas, leftovers and quick dips have been our meals as of late. So not much cooking/baking going on in the Lee household. You should see something Sunday or Monday for sure. Thanks for following!

Coming Soon:
1. Thanksgiving Dinner Early (Ham with Pineapple/Cranberry Glaze, Vegetarian Dressing, Citrus Sweet Potato Casserole)
2. Cherry Creamscicle-My own take of "jello fluff" in a glass. Made with Rum, Amaretto, Grenadine, pineapple juice and whipped cream-of course a cherry on top :D
3. Autumn Wine-Red wine, apple cider, simple syrup with cinnamon and ginger, oranges and sliced apples
4. Restaurant Reviews-Paula Deen Buffet (Tunica); Rendezvous (Memphis)

XOXO
Crystal :D

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pumpkin Topiary

I love making each day "special" in its own way. The month of October, my favorite month of the year, has great meaning for me. Fall is officially here and making its presence known by giving us cooler weather and beautiful foliage.You see pumpkins in the stores and on the farms for sale. I feel "crafty" this time of year so I try to stay clear of Hobby Lobby (I spend way too much money there!) :D
One of my little quirks is keeping up with the special days in each  month. For example, today, Oct 6, is the day that Thomas Edison showed the first motion picture.
The month of October is also National Apple Month, National Dessert Month, and National Pizza Month. YUMMO to all!
Of course, let's not forget Halloween at the end of the month. I loved Halloween growing up. I had parties, wore crazy costumes (even sewed a few of my own costumes as a teen-told you I was crafty this time of year!)
Here is a pic from a few years ago when I worked at J State: :D I had spray in my hair, but at the rate of grey growing now a days, I might look like that sooner rather than later. :D



 There are also week long observances. This week we are in the middle of American Craft Week. So here is a craft made just for my Fall obsession.
Pumpkin Topiary

3 artificial pumpkins and color and arranging in size
1 wooden dowel (about 1/2" thick)
Self sticking sequins
Paint (if needed to change color of pumpkins)
Paint brushes (various sizes)
1 silver paint pen
Spanish Moss-any color
A cake plate or crystal bowl
Small handsaw or knife (to remove stems from pumpkins)


Quick Directions:
1. Cut off stems from the larger two pumpkins
2. On the large pumpkin, I painted a spider web with the silver paint pen.
3. I attached sequin spiders on top of the painted spiderweb (after it dried of course)
4. On the second pumpkin, using my silver paint pen, I drew a basic harlequin design then painted in using silver paint. Let dry.
5. Filled the bowl or cake plate will moss.
6. Sit the large pumpkin on bottom
7. Using wooden dowel, insert into large pumpkin the "skewer" all the way through (sometimes it is easier to start a hole in the pumpkin using a small knife or scissors.
8. Firmly place the second pumpkin on dowel and push all the way down, repeat for third and final pumpkin
9. Place moss around the attached pumpkins as shown.

ISIS is checking it out, not sure if she approves yet or not. :D

Friday, September 30, 2011

Top 20 Cookbooks


Happy Friday All!!! I have to share with all of you my love affair I have with cookbooks. I LOVE THEM. Though you can get almost any and all recipes online for free, there is something about a collection of recipes in a book. Especially one that has been used frequently in the kitchen. I know a cookbook rocks when it is stained and covered in food splatters. That means the owner uses this book often so the recipes must be good! (It also means the owner of the book needs to use lids on saucepans. :D ) I have a couple of these books in my kitchen. I have been collecting cookbooks since I was a teen. I used to grab those small cookbooks while standing in the grocery store line. Ahhhh memories.
I have started writing my own cookbook as well but it will not be available for a while. I am having fun and taking my time with it.
Here is my list and I hope you all enjoy. You can easily purchase any of these books using  my online store.

TOP 20 COOKBOOKS

1.Bob Warden's Slow Food Fast-This book is for the digital pressure cooker kitchen. All recipes in this book are strictly for the pressure cookers of America. :D Good recipes and I like how Bob features cooking times for rice, pasta, meats, etc. at the beginning of each chapter.



2. Gooseberry Patch-I have to warn you that I am a huge Gooseberry Patch fan. I get tinglees in my toes when I see a new cookbook from these fab ladies. The recipes are fun and yummy comfort food. These books make me want to throw on my apron and stay in the kitchen all day baking. :D



3. Paula Deen Cookbooks-Either you love her or hate her. I am on the side of love. She reminds me of my Mom folks...they could be sisters! Except for the cooking part LOL Paula always makes me smile and puts me in a good mood. Her obsession with butter is out of this world! I too like butter so we are kindred spirits. HA!




4. Slow Cooker Cookbooks-I have a ton of these babies in the kitchen. I use my slow cooker frequently. There is no better friend in the kitchen.




5. Dessert Cookbooks-My biggest weakness. Sweets. Love them! Enough said....



6. Entertaining and Parties-I want to do more entertaining this next year. I love having people over to my home and preparing fabulous food. The more "yummy" noises people create the better my night. :D

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Creamy Apple Cider

Twist on a classic. I had a craving for anything with Butterscotch Schnapps this weekend. I decided to buy a box of instant cider and make friends with my coffee mug. Quick, easy and full of love!


Creamy Apple Cider

1 package of instant cider mix
3/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup apple juice
2 Tablespoons of Butterscotch Schnapps
1 small scoop of vanilla ice cream (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy! That simple.....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sour Cream and Onion Muffins

I had a bag of cornbread mix, frozen green onions and a plan! I made a really yummy country dinner the other night that included baked apples, mac and cheese and corn on the cob. Comfort food city! I needed a bread to join the fun. I decided to experiment and try this dandy muffin. It was very moist rich and full of flavor. Enjoy!




Sour Cream and Onion Muffins
(Makes about 8 muffins)

Preheat oven to 350F

1 Package of Martha White Buttermilk Cornbread Mix
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup chopped green onion
3 Tablespoons of sour cream
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Prep Muffin pan by spraying with Pam cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together. Spoon into muffin pan-should make about 8 muffins filled 3/4 of the way. Bake at 350 for 17-20 minutes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vegetable Pot Pie

Comfort food of Fall. Boy oh boy I could write about different recipes all day. From Mac and Cheese to soups and stews. One quick and easy recipe I make is vegetable pot pie. Now, for all of my meat fans out there, you can easily add a can of chicken to this to make traditional chicken pot pie. It is that easy. I must say, I had no idea how many calories were in a premade pie crust. Holy Moly! Almost 900 calories in just one crust! So I opt to not put a crust on the bottom of the pan, that and I do not like "doughy" crust. Even if you
prebake the bottom shell, it will still come out doughy to me.



Vegetable Pot Pie

2 cans of Veg All diced vegetables (12-14oz cans), drained
1 can cream of potato soup
1 small can cream style corn
1 Tablespoon sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper (to taste)
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning or 1/2 teaspoon of sage
2 Tablespoons of milk
1 pre made pie shell (crust) such as pillsbury. Not frozen.

Preheat oven to 375F. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients(not pie shell of course). Prep Pie dish with butter or Pam spray. Pour combined ingredients into pie dish. Carefully cover with pie shell and form to edges to keep from running over. Either cut slots in pie shell at this time or cut out design in order to create a vent for pie. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until shell is golden brown.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Baked Apples

Today is Johnny Appleseed's Birthday. Born in 1774, John Chapman was a great example of charity. He loved apples and would randomly plant apple seeds in the Indiana, Ohio and Illinois area. He would plant nurseries and return every couple of years to tend these nurseries.
So on behalf of Mr. Johnny Appleseed, I am providing a great and yummy baked apples recipe for you all to enjoy. Remember, an apple a day keeps the doctor away! These apples, soaked in butterscotch and sugar will keep the blues away too! :D


Baked Apples
5-6 small apples cored and sliced (I use fugi or gala) (note: try to keep slices similar in size so they cook evenly)
1/2 stick of butter
1 Tablespoon of Truvia (or 3 Tablespoons brown sugar)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon is ok too)
2 Tablespoons butterscotch schnapps (optional)

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add remaining ingredients and cook on medium low heat for about 20-25 minutes or until the apples are brown and fork tender.
These beauties are best served as a side dish or as a dessert with vanilla ice cream on top. :D

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cheese Tortellini Soup

Autumn is approaching in TN and I love it! Fall is my favorite season so I have to celebrate. A few ways I celebrate this time is by decorating, cooking and cleaning. I know, I know, cleaning should be daily, but I mean deep cleaning. I love a clean house, smells of fall candles burning in each room and pumpkin spice in the oven.

I also really enjoy making my dollar go a long way by making meals that I can get several servings. One of these meals is a quick cheese tortellini soup. It is very simple to make, full of veggies and nutrients, and does not cost much to make.

Picture borrowed from http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/sun-dried-tomato-tortellini-soup-10000000689966/


Cheese Tortellini Soup
(Prepared in Pressure Cooker)

1 medium onion, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 box frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 can Italian style tomatoes, diced
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
1 cup vegetable broth
1 bag frozen cheese tortellini
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil

On "brown" mode on the pressure cooker, saute onions, garlic, mushrooms and zucchini in oil. Add salt and pepper. Add spinach and tomatoes and saute for about 4 minutes. Set pressure cooker for 8 minutes on high heat. Add remaining ingredients and set. That's all folks!

If you want to make on the stovetop, do the same steps as mentioned above on medium high heat for the saute. Turn down heat to medium low then let cook for at least 30-45 minutes. Stir on occasion.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Apple Dumplings

Happy Apple Dumpling Day! I have never made these before, nor have I yet. :D I am out of town this weekend but it doesnt mean I can not find a trusted recipe and repost it for you all, right? Celebrate the day with someone you love and eat an apple dumpling for me! :D

I have not tried this recipe but I will soon. This recipe is taken directly from Ree (The Pioneer Woman) so she gets 100% credit. Or should I say her Mom gets the credit? According to her blog, I think this one is from her Mom's collection. Now, what threw me is the use of Mountain Dew in this baby. I LOVE MD but in baked goods? I am willing to try if you are! :D Thanks ladies and I hope everyone has a great Apple Dumpling Day!!
Apple Dumpling Recipe

Friday, September 16, 2011

Happy Mayflower Day!

Mayflower Day celebrates the date the Mayflower sailed from Plymouth, England to America. On September 16, 1620, 102 men, women, and children set sail from Plymouth, England, headed to their new home in Virginia.
This is an important day for all of us in the states so enjoy Mayflower Day!
Here is a Mayflower coloring page for the kiddies to enjoy! 

And for all of you kiddies at heart (AKA: Adults) here is a good recipe from Sandra Lee from the Food Network to jump start your weekend called the Mayflower Martini. Enjoy!
Mayflower Martini

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Spinach and Mushroom Pizza

I am always looking for ways to make my cooking time shorter and a bit easier. I also like to try out new ideas that just "hit me". I was craving a spinach pizza the other day so I decided to make my own. I took a tip from Sandra Lee of the Food Network and made it "Semi-Homemade" style. It turned out very well and I wanted to eat the entire thing by myself. :D The hubs loved it too.

Note about cheese: I usually use block cheese that I hand grate because the pre-shredded cheeses have a powdery film and do not seem to melt as well. 

Spinach and Mushroom Pizza

1 Frozen Cheese Pizza of your choice-I used Tony's Four Cheese
1/2 block of shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
2 cups frozen chopped spinach (I like a lot of spinach)
1 cup sliced mushrooms-I used white button caps
1/2 white or red onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T Olive Oil
2 T Parmesan Cheese-shredded
1 t red pepper flakes
1 t salt
1/2 tub of Philadephia cooking creme-garlic  flavor

Preheat Oven as indicated on pizza box. In a saute pan caramelize onions in oil (about 3-4 minutes on medium high heat). Add garlic and mushrooms to the party and cook another 2 minutes. Add spinach (does not have to be thawed), salt and pepper flakes and cook until spinach is bright green and wilted. Remove from heat. Add cooking cream, stir and set aside.

Sprinkle half of the Monterey Cheese over frozen pizza and cook for 10 minutes. Take out pizza and place spinach mixture evenly over the pizza. Add remaining cheese and cook an additional 10-15 minutes. This is a really solid pizza that fills you up. If you like spinach dip or spinach and artichoke dip....you will love this pizza!

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hot Bean Dip

This makes a lot of dip so it is great for a large crowd. I made this last night for Nathan and me and it was very good. I have seen several "bean dip" recipes out there so I just combined several in my head to create this one. Hope you enjoy.

Hot Bean Dip


Ingredients
  • 1 (8 ounce) package low fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup low fat sour cream
  • 1 (31 ounce) can refried beans
  • 1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper blend seasoning, optional
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 (8 ounce) package shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 (8 ounce) package shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a medium bowl, blend the cream cheese and sour cream. Mix in the refried beans, taco seasoning, green onions, 1/2 the Cheddar cheese and 1/2 the Monterey Jack cheese. Transfer the mixture to an 8x8 inch baking dish. Top with remaining Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven 20 to 30 minutes, until cheese is slightly browned. NOTE: You might want to place a cookie sheet under dish, the mixture might spill over the edge if it gets too hot. 
Serve with Tortilla chips, corn chips, veggies, or your favorite tortillas to make a filling burrito. ________________________________________________________


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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Easy Drop Biscuits

These guys are super simple to make and  filling. My husband loves biscuits and gravy and I do not mind supporting his gravy habit on occasion. :D I first had these at my friend's home in Kentucky and they were great. She got the recipe from her Grandmother, who is having a birthday weekend this weekend! Happy Birthday Ma'maw!


Easy Drop Biscuits
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup cold milk
3 tbsp. oil
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp. sugar or ¼ teaspoon Truvia

Preheat oven to 450°F.
Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Measure dry ingredients into a medium bowl (sifting is not necessary). Add oil, butter and milk to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Immediately drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
Biscuits are done when golden brown on top and lightly browned on the bottom.

Serve with gravy or various fruit butters to please a crowd! These are also great with rich soups and stews.

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Chili Recipe

Chili Recipe...Who doesn't like a warm bowl of chili on a cool fall day? Of course it is not so cool outside but I always have room for chili in my kitchen! I make my chili in the pressure cooker but I will post alternate directions for those who use the stove top.

Classic Chili Recipe

1 large can of chili beans, undrained
1 small can of kidney beans, undrained
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 can  tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes, unsalted
1 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon of Pepper blend spice mix (if you do not have on hand, use a pinch of cayenne, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon paprika)
1 Tablespoon of Cumin
Olive oil

In a large pot, heat oil until hot and add onions. Saute for about 2 minutes on medium/high heat. Add garlic and mushrooms to the party and continue heating for another 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook on medium/low heat for about an hour. Stir on occasion.

If cooking in pressure cooker, saute your veggie in oil with "brown" mode. Turn off browning mode and then set cooker on high for 10 minutes.

For all of my meat loving fans, simply add 1 lb of ground beef to the party during the onion saute session. Make sure to drain the grease though. Too much can ruin the chili.

Serve with tortilla or corn chips, cheese, sour cream, salsa, cornbread, crackers...whew you name it! :D

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Words of Thought

This is simply a random post since I do not have a recipe to share today. Yesterday was a bit hectic for me because my computer decides to get "sick" and contract a nasty virus. Basically I watch as my software and files are permanently deleted from their happy homes on my computer. (Picture the classic movie scene where the actor, while in slow motion, yells out the word NOOOOOO) Yes that was me at 12:00 yesterday afternoon. Luckily, I don't trust any antivirus software and still back up all files to an online server.

Keep this story in mind as I tell you about my computer dying  in May. My desktop computer decides it wants to participate in the power-surge parade. Apparently the parade was awesome because a couple of days later, my desktop simply dies on me. Will not boot up at all. Unfortunately, at this time, I felt I was invincible and did not back up documents regularly. So I pretty much lost everyone on that computer. Oh and did I mention I just got through paying that computer off? Now I can not even use it. Ugh. LOL

So tips of the day are:
1. Get a good surge protector for all of your electronics. It will save you headache and loads of money,
2. Back up all files regularly. I use Dropbox. It is free and seems to work great.
3. Get the BEST antivirus software (mine was out of date so it was technically my fault)
4. Don't use the same passwords for all of your log ins. People are smart and they can hack into your accounts easily this way.

Okay, time for class...
Crystal :D

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Crock Pot Creamy Potatoes

I love Crock Pot Potatoes. Who is with me? I am always looking for new potato recipes. I need a few more "low fat" ones though. Hey if you have a good low fat recipe, please send my way so I can try! :D

Now, with this recipe I decided to take spin off of a family recipe I had that used processed American cheese. I am really trying to watch my "artificial" intake so I opted for real cheeses instead. Artificial=salt. Salt + Crystal=water retention. Ugh.On a natural medicine note: dandelion root really helps with water retention and detoxes the liver. You can search for dandelion root tea on Amazon. See link.  Dandelion Root Tea - 30 - Bag

Now onto the recipe:


Crock Pot Creamy Potatoes
Ingredients
  • 1 package (2 lbs) frozen cubed hash brown potatoes
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream mushroom soup
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tub PHILADELPHIA Cooking cream-garlic flavor-You can use the entire tub if you like garlic
  • 1/2cup diced scallions
Directions
  • Place potatoes in a lightly greased 5-qt. slow cooker. In a large bowl, combine the soup, cheese, milk, sour cream, scallions, pepper and salt. Pour over potatoes and mix well.
  • Cover and cook on low for 3-1/2 to 4 hours or until potatoes are tender. Stir in cream cheese. Cook another 10 minutes until cream cheese is thoroughly warm. Yield: 12-14 servings.
I served my dish with a side salad of mix greens, feta cheese, tomatoes and a chipotle ranch dressing. It was very good. :D
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    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Tilapia Po Boy Sandwiches

    I was telling you that all that I will still eat fish on occasion, though I am vegetarian. Tilapia is one of my favorite types of fish because of the mild fish flavor. I altered this recipe, just a bit, from the Salvo-lutions blog. Thanks for the inspiration!


    Tilapia Po Boy Sandwiches

    2  7 oz  Tilapia Fillets
    1 tomato
    1/2 red onion sliced 

    3 to 4 leaves of Romaine lettuce (I used mixed greens, I am a  spinach girl!)
    A good loaf of crusty bread like Italian
    1/2 cup of Mayo ( I used lite)
    3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
    juice of 1 lime

    salt/pepper to taste
    cajun seasoning for fish (one pinch on each side)

    For the Po'Boy. In a skillet with 2 tablespoons of oil, 1 tablespoon of butter, cook the fish. (about two minutes on each side on medium heat) Sprinkle cajun seasoning on fish while cooking. In a bowl mix the mayo, cilantro, salt/pepper, and lime juice together. Taste and season if necessary. Slice the bread and toast (optional) Spread the mayo on both sides of the bread. Next add a layer of lettuce, then tomato, onion and finally the fish. Top with the other side of the bread, cut in half and enjoy!

    Serving Options: This will go well with fries, sweet potato fries, fruit or a side salad. I served mine with diced cantaloupe and it was wonderful! 

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    Monday, September 5, 2011

    Bailey's Irish Cream Cake-Recipes for Baking

    Bailey's Irish Cream Cake
    Chocolate is one of my favorite flavors. I decided to try this very easy cake after sampling Bailey’s Irish Cream. This cake is as sinful as the name and adds a punch to any party!


    · 1 box chocolate cake mix

    · 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened

    · 1 T sugar

    · 1 T vanilla extract

    · 3 eggs

    · 1 1/3 c milk

    · 3 T sour cream

    · 1/4 c Ghirardelli's semi sweet chocolate chips, melted

    · 9 T Bailey’s Irish Cream liquor (separate 3 T and 6 T)

    · 1 tub Cool Whip Topping




    Directions:
    1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

    2. Using a stand or hand mixer, whip butter and sugar until fluffy; add vanilla.

    3. Add one egg at a time, mix on low speed.

    4. Alternate cake mix and milk until completely blended.

    5. Melt chocolate chips on medium heat for 2 minutes in microwave or use double boiler.

    6. Add sour cream, melted chocolate and 3 T Bailey’s Irish Cream until completely mixed. Do not over mix-this will cause your batter to be stiff and dry out.

    7. Spray 2- 9” round cake pans with cooking spray. Separate batter evenly between the two pans.

    8. Cook 27-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

    9. Let cool completely on cooling rack

    10. Using cake plate or  holder, place 1 cake on plate. Pour 3 T Bailey’s Irish Cream evenly over top of cake.

    11. Spread 1/2 Cool Whip Topping  over cake. Place second cake on top. Pour remaining 3T of Bailey's over cake. Add remaining Cool Whip.

    12. This cake must be refrigerated.


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