Friday, October 31, 2014

Bread Baking Tips

One of my favorite things in the whole world is the aroma of freshly baked bread!  I love it.  There is something so comforting about spreading butter on bread straight from the oven.  I do know though that for a new cook/baker making bread can be intimidating because there are a number of things that can go wrong, which is why I found this list to share with you.  The only thing I would add is that if you are making French bread you can splash a few table spoons of water in the bottom of the oven and it helps to make your loaf crispy.  I hope that this list will encourage you to go ahead and try making a loaf of homemade bread! 


Bread baking tips for the perfect loaf:

*For the best bread, use the freshest ingredients.
*Use room temperature ingredients for best results.
*Measure your ingredients correctly. Use a dry measuring cup to measure the dry ingredients and use a glass or plastic liquid measuring cup to measure the liquids.
*Do not scoop your flour with the measuring cup. You will end up using too much flour and the loaf will be heavy. Instead, use a spoon to lift the flour out of the container and into the measuring cup. Do not tap or shake the cup to put more flour into it. Simply level the top with a flat edge.
*Don't try to cut the loaf of bread right away, wait at least 15 minutes so that you don't tear the crust. *Quick breads will do better if you wait until the next day to cut them.

Bread baking tips for baking in the Oven:

*Follow precisely the recipe’s directions for preheating and baking.
*Use an oven thermometer for accuracy.
*Place the baking pans several inches apart on the center oven rack.
*Oven temperatures may vary, so check your loaves about 10 minutes before recipe says they should be done.
*If loaves are browning excessively, remove them from the oven and make an aluminum foil ‘tent’ to shield them, and then return them to the oven.
*Internal temperature should be between 190°F-205°F; baked loaves should be evenly browned. *After turning bread out of the pan, tap the bottom or side of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, the bread is done.

Bread baking tips to help you judge the condition of your dough:Conventional Method:

*To determine if yeast dough is kneaded enough, break off a small, walnut-sized ball of dough. Stretch the dough, much like stretching a balloon or a piece of bubble gum. If the dough is kneaded enough, it will not tear easily and a translucent membrane will be visible. This is known as a gluten window.
*Use the ripe test to determine rising times. Yeast dough is considered "ripe" when it has risen enough. Pushing two fingers into the dough up to the second knuckle can test dough. If the holes remain when taken out, it is "ripe" and ready to punch down. If not, cover and let rise longer.
*To determine if a risen loaf is ready for the oven, lightly touch the side of the loaf; if the imprint remains, it is ready to be baked. Expect a beautiful oven spring!
Bread Machine Method:       
*Humidity, the way flour is measured and the moisture content of the flour affects dough consistency. Open the bread machine’s lid after 5-10 minutes into the KNEAD cycle. By this time, the dough should be in a soft, tacky ball. If it is dry and stiff, add liquid , 1/2 to 1 tablespoon at a time; if too wet and sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time.
Bread baking tips for cooling bread:
*Cool bread on a wire rack to prevent it from getting soggy from steam accumulating on the bottom of the pan.

Bread baking tips for refrigerating or freezing dough:Now that you've learned how to make bread, here are some tips on how to freeze it and keep it fresh:

*Refrigerating dough slows down the yeast activity, but does not stop it completely. After the dough is kneaded, flatten into a one-inch thick disk and place in a plastic bag. The disk shape allows dough to chill evenly. The dough will need to be punched down in an hour and again in a couple more hours, but when completely cool, dough will rise very slowly. The refrigeration time is considered the first rise time.        
*The dough can also be shaped, tightly covered and refrigerated for several hours or even overnight. Remove from refrigerator, partially unwrap and let rise until ripe. Bake according to recipe directions.         
*Dough can also be frozen for later shaping and baking using the same processes as above.          *Dough can be kept in a freezer up to four weeks. To thaw, place covered dough in refrigerator overnight. Remove from refrigerator, partially unwrap and bring to room temperature.
*Keep in mind that homemade bread has no preservatives so it is best to freeze loaves within 3 days and use them within a few months of freezing.
*Freeze it in an airtight plastic bag or tin foil.
 Bread baking tips for reheating bread:*You can reheat bread in a 350°F oven. If you're reheating a whole loaf, it can be wrapped in aluminum foil or placed unwrapped in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. It is best to wrap sliced breads and rolls before reheating. *You can also use the microwave to reheat breads. Place the unwrapped loaf or slice of bread on a paper towel, then heat briefly (about 15 seconds) to warm it up. If you heat it too long in the microwave, it will be too tough and chewy.
Tips for using whole grains and flours:
*Store your whole-grain flours, wheat germ, bran, nuts, and seeds in the refrigerator or freezer.
*Whole-grain breads will not rise as high as breads made with all-white bread flour.
*Wheat germ increases the nutritional value of bread, but it also inhibits the gluten action. Do not use more than 2 tablespoons for every 2 cups of flour.
*To soften cracked wheat, simmer in hot water for 15 minutes, then drain and cool.
*You don't have to cook bulghur before using in a recipe, but you might want to soften it by soaking it in water.

Bread baking tips for using non-wheat flours:
*For the best flavor, look for fresh stone-ground corn meal and store it in the freezer.
*Include 1 to 2 tablespoons of millet in a multi-grain bread, or even in a simple basic white loaf.
*For bread making, use the old-fashioned rolled oats rather than the "quick oats".
*Rice flour is gluten-free so only use a small percentage of it with the bread flour.
*Baked products containing soy flour tend to brown more quickly, so it may be necessary to shorten baking time or lower the temperature just slightly.

Tips for using liquid ingredients:
*Tap water is chemically treated and may slow down the rising. Hard water is alkaline which weakens the gluten and makes a loaf with less volume. Soft water is slightly acid which makes the yeast more active. If your breads are not rising very well, boil the water and let it cool to room temperature or use bottled spring water.
*For yeast breads, only warm liquids should be added to dry ingredients in a recipe because a too-cool liquid will slow or stop yeast action and a too-hot liquid will destroy the yeast and prevent it from rising.
*Ideal temperature ranges are 100°F-110°F, when yeast is dissolved directly in water; 120°F-130°F when undissolved yeast is added to dry ingredients.
*If a dough ends up too dry, you can sprinkle it with water during the kneading.

Bread baking tips for using liquid sweeteners:
*Any liquid sweetening can be substituted for sugar, but it will need to be counted as part of the total liquid content of the bread.
*To substitute honey for granulated sugar, use 3/4 cup honey for each cup of sugar and reduce the total liquid used in the recipe by 1/4 cup. Also, keep in mind that honey is more concentrated in flavor than granulated sugar.
*Oil your measuring cup or spoon before measuring honey or barley malt syrup and it will slip right off.

Tips for using eggs in bread recipes:

*Use large eggs unless the recipe indicates otherwise.
*If you don't want to give up the flavor but are watching your fat and cholesterol intake, try Nature's Choice, EggBeaters®, or other substitutes.
*To reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol in breads, use two whites instead of one whole egg.

Tips for using herbs and spices:
*Dried herbs have a more concentrated flavor than fresh so use about a third of the quantity recommended for fresh.
*Cinnamon can break down the structure of the dough which affects the size and texture, and garlic will inhibit the activity of the yeast. So measure carefully when you use these.
 Tips for adding nuts and seeds to breads:
*Lightly toast pine nuts, hazelnuts and almonds to bring out the flavor before using in a recipe.

Tips for using fruits and vegetables:
*If you want to use juicy fruits, mix them with a little flour so that the dough doesn't become too gooey.
*Fresh vegetables are high in liquid. About half their weight will be water so adjust the liquid in the recipe accordingly.
*Frozen vegetables should be thawed completely before using and canned vegetables should be well drained.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chocolate Sunday Pie

This weekend while we were in the big city aka Dallas we hit up the Half Price Book Warehouse where I got a new Gooseberry Patch Cookbook.  This recipe was in it and I made it as soon as I stumbled across it.  It was GREAT!  Hubby loved it to and said it is even better than the local bakery.

1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
5 tb. baking cocoa
2 cup milk
3 egg yolks lightly beaten (Save the whites!!!)
1 tb. butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
9 inch pie crust (baked)

Combine sugar, flour and cocoa in a medium sauce pan.
Gradually add milk stirring well.
Slowly add egg yolks to the chocolate mixture and then add in butter.
Cook mixture over medium heat about 20 minutes or until thickened. (Mine didn't take that long)
Stir often!!!
Remove from heat and add in the vanilla.
Pour into pie crust and add the meringue on top.
Spread together and make sure to cover all the way to the pie crust. (This "seals" it)
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until meringue is golden. 
Cool completely!

3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (Lemon juice is a good substitute)
1/4 cup sugar

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed with mixer until foamy.
Beat in sugar 1 tb at a time until stiff peaks form... (It takes awhile)

Raegan Mirick's photo.
Raegan Mirick's photo.

Raegan Mirick's photo.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Italian Dressing Caramelized Chicken

This was great, slightly spicy but still very good.  We all enjoyed it and while it wasn't my favorite chicken ever we will make it again for sure.  The popovers were amazing in the juice from the chicken, I might have had more than I should...

2.5 lbs-3 lbs Chicken Breast
1 packet (.7 ounce) of dried italian dressing mix
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Line a 9×13 pan with a large piece of aluminum foil to prevent sticking.
Combine the packet of dried Italian dressing mix and 1/2 cup of brown sugar.
Any extra coating that remains can be sprinkled over.
Place chicken in oven for 20-25 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken breasts) and flip each piece over.
Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes.
Turn oven on broil for 2 minutes, flip chicken and broil for another 2 minutes.

Raegan Mirick's photo.
Raegan Mirick's photo.

Jamie Olivers Green Beans

These were good however my cheese didn't work out so well... it kind of became a knotted mess.  It tasted good but did not look pretty at all... hince no picture. ;-)

1 1/4 pounds of green beans
pinch of Kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, finely grated
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 of a lemon

Line up the green beans on a chopping board and cut off the stalks.
Put the beans in a sauce pan of boiling water with a dash of salt and cook for about six minutes. Drain, reserving some of the cooking water, and set them aside to steam dry.
Put the pan back on the heat, add the oil and the garlic.
When the garlic starts to turn golden, add the beans and shake them around in the pan to coat them in the garlic oil.
Add a small ladleful of the reserved cooking water, the parmesan cheese, and the lemon juice.
Stir and simmer until the water and cheese start to form an oozy, sticky sauce.
Remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Steak Marinade

This marinade was great.  The flavor was wonderful and topped with the parmesan crust these were over the top.  I didn't blend mine, I'm not sure why you would, I just mixed it all up in a bowl. 

1/3 cup soy sauce                                                                      
1/2 cup olive oil                                                    
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice                                                    
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

Monday, October 27, 2014

Great Wolf Lodge!

Wow this was an amazing "weekend".  As most of you know my husband has been working a crazy amount of hours lately... averaging 75+ hours every week going on about two months now without an end in sight.  So we were thrilled when he was able to get TWO days off in a row!  I can not remember the last time this happened.  As soon as we found out the days for sure I booked a room at Great Wolf Lodge and started planning a fun filled weekend with daddy.  The kids and I were so excited to have him with us for a few days and he was thrilled to not be at work.

We woke up Sunday (we skipped church, shh don't tell) and headed for Dallas.  Our first stop was Cheesecake Factory for a wonderful lunch!  Jacob wouldn't let me take his picture but these two goofballs did.

After lunch we hit up one of our favorite place in Dallas.  We went to the half price book warehouse, it is HUGE and the books are so cheap.  I took several books in to sell and got a whopping $4 but hey I guess it's better than nothing.  After we finished up at the bookstore, where I got a "few" new cookbooks, we set out to find our hotel.
Phillip and I are both really bad with directions but the Great Wolf Lodge is surprisingly easy to find and there were several signs showing us how to get there.  The kids were amazed when we pulled up and honestly so were we.  The building is gorgeous and you can tell that thought was put into ALL of the "small" details.  Plus since it is almost Halloween they had decorated it for the holiday.

Check in was very efficient and they had our room ready even though we had arrived early.  One of my favorite things about GWL was that you use your bracelet for EVERYTHING.  You use it as your room key and can even use it to pay.  It was so convenient!

After check in we went to see our room, it was a great size and the kids loved that they got to sleep in the wolf den.  They were in heaven in fact I am currently thinking we might need a wolf den in our home because they stayed in it the whole time we were in our room. ;-)



We didn't spend long in our room though because we were headed to the water park... which I didn't get any pictures of.  It was a great time and all the staff was so helpful.  There were 7 big slides, a wave pool, a smaller kid area with 2 more slides, a huge play area with all kinds of fun stuff, a lazy river and a hot tub for adults.
Once the kids were slightly worn out we went to the room changed clothes and ran to the mall because I wanted a new purse.  I am sort of a purse snob and got a gorgeous new MK purse which I forgot to take a picture of.  We only went to the one store at the mall so we were in and out quickly and decided to have Macaroni Grill for dinner.  Of course it was delicious... service wasn't so great. :-( The kids were entertained thought because they love that they can draw on the table.  I guess this is the only pic I took, to busy stuffing my face.

After we ate we ran back to GWL and went to do the trick or treating.  I love that they had this for the kiddos. They really focus on making sure there is a ton for the kids to do!  I love that they cater to famlies.

When trick or treating was over the kiddos got in their pajamas and we went down to watch the clock show and listen to a story.  After the story we went exploring and went to a movie (which was expensive and honestly not that amazing) the kids were worn out after that so we headed back to the wolf's den and they all fell asleep within five minutes.
The next morning the kiddos woke up and were ready to play again so we grabbed a quick breakfast at the buffet and headed back to the water park where we played for several more hours before heading home.  The kiddos were so sad to leave but the tears stopped as soon as we promised to come back again.




Saturday, October 25, 2014

Menu for 10-27 to 11-2

B- Dallas
L- Dallas
D- Potato Soup

B- Brown Sugar Pecan Muffins (NR)
L- Mini Pizzas
D- Steaks (NR for the marinade), Loaded Baked Potato Casserole,  and Green Beans (NR)

B- Cinnamon Rolls
L- Corndogs and Fruit
D- Italian Dressing Carmelized Chicken (Nr), Pea Salad, Popovers, and Rice Pilaf

B- Cinnamon Bread
L- Popcorn Chicken and French Fries
D- Balsamic Beef (NR), Carrots, and Macaroni and Cheese

Friday (Halloween)
B- Jack O Lantern Waffles (NR)
L- Grilled Cheese Quesadillas
D- Dinner with Friends

B- Cheesy Baked Egg Toast (NR)
L- ?
D- Cheesy Hamburger Casserole (NR), and Rolls

B- Cheese and Bacon Breakfast Muffins (NR)
L- Roast, Potatoes, Carrots
D- Out

Friday, October 24, 2014

Red Potato Salad

This recipe is loosely based on a recipe I found in my taste of home BBQ cook book.  It is so delicious, as you know I love balsamic vinegar so that makes this dish a favorite for me.  I hope you love this as much as everyone in our family did.  Don't worry about what to do with the leftovers because there won't be any!!!

2 1/2 pounds small red potatoes (cut in half)
1 medium onion (chopped)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tb balsamic vinegar
2 tb lemon juice
1 tb Dijon mustard
2 tsp sugar
2 garlic cloves minced

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat; cover and cook for 20 minutes.
Drain; cool slightly.                             
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the potatoes.
Add in potatoes and coat with the mix.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hot Chicken Salad

As you all know I am a HUGE Paula Deen fan, and today I was looking for a chicken salad recipe, so imagine how delighted I was to stumble across this one.  Everyone in our family loved it and it was gone very very quickly. 

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup slivered almonds (I used pecans)
1 cup celery, diced
2 cups cooked chicken breast, cubed
1 cup mayonnaise (I used ranch dressing)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2/3 cup crushed potato chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Spray a 13 by 9 inch baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray. ( You could do a smaller dish...)
In a large mixing bowl combine the chicken, celery, almonds, salt, pepper, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and cheese.
Place the mixture in the prepared baking dish.
Spread the crushed potato chips on top.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly.

Hot Chicken Salad

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Parmesan Slider Rolls

These were really good, as soon as my daughter took a bite she declared "these are delicious mommy".  Everyone in our family loved them and hubby and I decided these would go well with tomato basil soup, here are two of my favorite soup recipes. ( (  Like I said these were really good but next time I think I might add some garlic and onion powder to the dough...

Make sure to read my notes in ( ).

3 3/4 cups unbleached bread flour, plus more as needed
1 pkg active dry yeast
2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups warm water
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Olive oil, for brushing
1 egg yolk
In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer, add the warm water and sprinkle yeast over it.
Let sit for 10 minutes.
Add the flour and salt and mix on low.
Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese over the dough.
Knead on low until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl and then increase the mixer speed to medium and continue to knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 12 to 15 minutes, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky.
Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead by hand for 1 to 2 minutes.
Form the dough into a ball, brush it with a little olive oil and return it to the bowl.
Cover with a towel and let rest in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Use a greased/silpat-lined baking sheet (I needed two).
Place the remaining 1/4 cup cheese on a plate.
Punch down the dough.
Return it to the floured work surface and knead a few times.
Then, using your palms, roll the dough to form a log about 12 inches long.
Cut the log in half crosswise, then cut each half into 6 pieces.
Fold the dough under into into a ball, roll it in the cheese to coat lightly and evenly, shaking off any excess. (For me it was easier to flatten them THEN roll in the cheese).
As each ball is coated, place it in the pan/cookie sheet and press down slightly to form a 2-inch disk.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise again in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 30 to 40 minutes.
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 425.
Beat the egg yolk with a tablespoon of water and brush the tops of the rolls.
Sprinkle the top with the cheese remaining on the plate.
Using a razor blade or sharp knife, cut a shallow slash in the top of each ball.
Bake for 5 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375 and continue baking until brown and crusty, 10 minutes more.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the rolls rest in the pan for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove them from the pan.

Raegan Mirick's photo.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Chicken Spaghetti (Pioneer Woman Style)

This was good however I feel like cooking for 45 minutes is slightly too long.  I would do it for 30 minutes next time so that it doesn't dry out.

2 C cooked chicken or turkey
3 C dry spaghetti, broken Into Two
2 cans Cream of chicken Soup
1 C sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
¼ C yellow pepper, chopped
¼ C onion, finely diced (I use 1 tsp onion powder I also add 1 tsp garlic salt)
1/2 C finely sliced button mushrooms
1- 4oz jar diced pimentos, drained (or 1 roasted red pepper)(I leave this out)
1 C reserved pasta water
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1/8- 1/4 tsp thyme
Salt And Pepper, to taste

Cook up a fryer chicken and pick out the meat to make two cups (feel free to use leftover roast chicken, or turkey).
Cook spaghetti in a large pot of generously salted water, until al dente.
Do not overcook.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Add in the onion, yellow pepper and mushrooms.
Cook until mushrooms are browned and onions are translucent; about 5 minutes.
Add in chopped roast red pepper and turkey.
Cook until heated through; about 3 minutes.
Pour in cream of chicken soup and season with seasoned salt and thyme.
Cook for 5 minutes, to heat through.
Add drained pasta to the skillet and toss to coat, adding pasta water if sauce it too thick.
Place mixture in casserole pan and top with sharp cheddar.
Bake for 45 minutes until bubbly. (It doesn't say but I would assume on 350)

Mexican Chicken Spaghetti.....seriously sent from heaven.  <3

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Blueberry Vanilla Bread with Lemon Glaze

I made this for life group this morning and didn't get a chance to try it except for a little pinch.  The piece I had was tart but good.
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (I used 3 tb lemon juice)
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Lemon glaze:
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Butter an 8x4 inch loaf pan, line the bottom and two sides of the pan with the parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl, beat together butter, 1 cup sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk.
In the same bowl where you combined flour, add blueberries and toss them in 2 tablespoons of flour. This will help prevent blueberries from sinking.
Fold in lemon zest, and blueberries into the batter.
Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for about 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean.
Cool bread in pan for 40 minutes on a wire rack.
Release the bread from the pan.
Lemon glaze:
Combine freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a small bowl and beat, using electrical mixer, until smooth glaze forms.
Drizzle the top of the bread (after it's been completely cooled) with the glaze. Some of the glaze will go down the sides of the bread.
blueberry dessert, blueberry cake

Menu for 10-20 to 10-26

B- Pancakes and Bacon
L- Mini Pizzas
D- Chicken Spaghetti and Parm Slider Rolls (NR)

B- Doughnuts
L- Corn Dogs
D- Tomato Soup and Cheese Bombs

B- Cheesy Baked Egg Toast (NR)
L- Popcorn Chicken and Fruit
D- Hot Chicken Salad (NR), Balsamic Potatoes (NR), and That Corn

B- Muffins for Bible Study
L- Grilled Cheese Sandwich
D- Tacos and Mexican Rice

B- Cereal
L- Mc Donalds (watching my cute nieces)
D- Chick Fil A (didn't get home in time to cook)

Saturday Nathan is 7
B- Chocolate Swirl Buns (NR) Maybe I will actually make them this week ;-)
L- Chicken Bites and French Fries
D- Applebee's Nathans pick :-)

B- Out
L- Cheesecake Factory
D- Great Wolf Lodge

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Salted Cashew and Caramel Chews

My new Taste Of Home magazine came in yesterday so while I was waiting in the pick up line at the school I went through and marked the recipes I thought might be worth giving a try.  This one caught my eye immediately I loved the name and the picture was gorgeous.  As soon as these came out of the oven my kiddos were begging for one, which they eventually got after I put the chocolate and cashews on them.  They all complained that waiting was "too hard" but that they were delicious and worth the wait.

3/4 cup butter (softened)
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup plus 1/2 cup lightly salted cashew pieces

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
Gradually beat in eggs, caramel, and vanilla.
In another bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
Gradually beat into the creamed mixture.
Stir in 1 1/3 cups chocolate chips and 3/4 cup cashews.
Drop dough by rounded tbs. 2 in apart on greased or parchment lined baking sheets.
Bake 10-12 minutes. (10 is plenty)
Move to wire racks to cool completely.
Melt remaining chocolate chips and stir until smooth. ( I used some whipping cream in mine.)
Drizzle over cookies.
Sprinkle with remaining cashews. (I chopped these fairly small.)
Raegan Mirick's photo.
Raegan Mirick's photo.

Broccoli Souflee

I asked hubby to rate this dish on a scale of 1-10 ten being the best and he gave it an 8.  He really enjoyed it and said it was a nice addition to our broccoli dishes.  The kids did not enjoy it nearly as much... in fact I really couldn't even get them to try it. :-( 3 eggs4 tb butter
2 bunches broccoli (I just used one small bag)2 tablespoons all purpose flour1/4 tsp salt1/4 tsp pepper1 1/2 cups milk2 cups shredded cheddar cheese1 tsp Dijon mustard2 tb dry bread crumbs 
Separate eggs; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Grease a 2-1/2-qt. souffle dish with 1 tablespoon butter; set aside.
Cut broccoli into florets; peel and chop stems.
Place broccoli in a steamer basket; place in a Dutch oven over 1 in. of water.
Bring to a boil; cover and steam for 4-6 minutes or until crisp-tender.
In a large saucepan, melt remaining butter.
Stir in the flour, salt and pepper until smooth.
Gradually add milk.
Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Add 1-1/2 cups cheese and mustard; stir until cheese is melted.
Remove from the heat.
Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks; return all to the pan, stirring constantly.
Stir in broccoli.
Allow to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
With a spatula, stir a fourth of the egg whites into broccoli mixture until no white streaks remain. Fold in remaining egg whites until combined.
Transfer to prepared dish.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bread crumbs.                            
Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until the top is puffed and center appears set.
Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Read more:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Homemade Poptarts

The possibilities are endless with this recipe, you could use fruit, Nutella, ham and eggs, etc... We opted for Nutella this morning!  These were delicious and were very quick and easy to make. 
2 peaches
4 oz raspberries
1 T sugar (I used raw sugar)
1 t rice (or wheat) flour
1 box refrigerated pie crust
baking spray
Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
Peel the peaches and cut into small pieces.  
Add the raspberries, sugar, and flour. Mix well.
Open the pie crust and lay out on a flat surface.
Cut the rounded edges off, leaving a square in the middle.
Fold the square in half, marking the middle by creasing.
Open and cut along the crease.
Fold the square in half the other way, marking the middles one more time.
Open and cut along the crease, leaving 4 squares of pie crust.
Spoon a heaping tablespoon of filling into the middle of two of the squares.
Top with the remaining two squares and press the edges to seal.
Complete the seal by pressing firmly with the tines of a fork all the way around.
Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining pie crust.
Bake in heated oven for 15 minutes, until crust is golden brown.
Serve warm
Homemade Poptarts Recipe

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cheesy Bacon Chicken Casserole

This was really good, we all enjoyed it.  Even my dad who claimed he wasn't hungry ate a nice "little" helping.

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 strips of quality bacon – cooked and crumbled
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1 box (16 ounces) dried spiral pasta
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook and crumble bacon.
While bacon is cooking, cut chicken into bite-sized chunks.
Set cooked bacon aside for later use.
In the same pan, cook chicken in bacon drippings.
Add garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.
While chicken is cooking, prepare pasta according to directions.
Spray a 9×13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Drain pasta, return to pot.
Add chicken, both cans of cream of chicken soup, 1 cup of Monterrey Jack cheese – stir to mix well.
Pour into prepared baking dish.
Top with crumbled bacon.
Top with remaining cup of Monterrey Jack cheese.
Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes, just until cheese is melted and beginning to brown on top.

Cheesy Bacon Chicken Casserole

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Steak Sandwich

This was so good and easy, all you do is season your steak with salt and pepper, cook it in a skillet. Mix some butter with a little seasoning, pop some cheese on top, broil a couple minutes.  Throw the steak on top and you have an out of this world sandwich that is whipped up in less than ten minutes.

1 pound steak
1 large yellow onion
2 slices Havarti cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup butter
3 garlic cloves
1 tb dill (I didn't use)
1 baguette
Preheat skillet to a high heat.
During this time, rub both sides of the meat with salt, pepper and oil.
Place meat in a hot skillet, cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side.
During the process of cooking don't move or flip meat, let it sizzle on each side, trust me it will not burn. 
Slice cooked steak into thin long strips.
 Slice onion into half rings.
On a separate skillet, saute onions with a little bit of oil, until golden brown. 
To prepare butter spread, combine butter together with crushed garlic and diced dill, mix until you get the same consistency.
Slice baguette, spread herb butter over both sides of the bread. 
Form the sandwich in this order; parmesan cheese, steak, harvati cheese and caramelized onions, top with the other slice of bread.
It is best to serve the sandwich while hot and cheese is all melted.

*I pop mine under the broiler for a minute or two!

Steak Sandwich Recipe Recipe

Menu for 10-13 to 10-19

This week is one of my favorite weeks of the whole year.  We live in a very small town with about 5000 people and every year we have our local fair which brings in close to 100,000 people per day.  It is a BIG event in our town.  My kids will get out of school early on Wednesday and they are out the rest of the week. The Yamboree is filled with games, rides, exhibits, tons of booths, street music, two parades, pageant, Queens Ball (yes we have a Queen Yam), barndance, and lots of other great things. The only bad thing about Yamboree is that since we live so close to the town square our street is insane.  It is extremely busy, I love it though.  The food is wonderful and you can smell it all over town!

Also this week, on Saturday, we will be celebrating our oldest son's birthday.  He is turning 7 later this month and this was the best weekend for us to celebrate him.  He is a sweetheart and we are so glad that he is ours!

B- Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake
L- Mini Pizzas
D- Chicken Pot Pie and Salad

Tuesday (Getting a new Refrigerator!!!)
B- Doughnuts
L- Sandwich
D- Cheesy Bacon Chicken Casserole (NR), Broccoli Souffle (NR), and Biscuits

B- Homemade Pop Tarts (NR)
L- Cheese Quesadillas
D- Leftovers

B- Chocolate Swirl Buns (NR) Maybe I will actually make them this week ;-)
L- Corn Dogs
D- Chicken Spaghetti and Parm Slider Rolls (NR)

B- Cheesy Baked Egg Toast (NR)
L- Chinese Food (It is free)
D- Dinner at Yamboree

B- Apple Pie Rolls (NR)
L- Nathan's Birthday Party!!!
D- Leftovers

B- Lemon and Blueberry Bread (NR)
L- Italian Roast and Cornbread
D- Out

Friday, October 10, 2014

Apple Dumplings

I know that I have mentioned my husbands love for apple pie... I am always trying to find ways to change that up for him a bit.  So, I made these for him as a special treat when he got home from a VERY LONG day at work.

1 apple
1 8-count tube of crescent rolls (8 oz)
1 stick of butter, melted
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
6 oz Sprite

Core and peel apple into eight slices. (I used one of these handy little apple slicers and got the job done in one whack.)
Open can of crescent rolls and unroll.
Place one apple slice on the wide end of one crescent and roll it up in the crescent.
Place into a greased 8×8 (or 9×9) pan.
Continue with other rolls.
In a small bowl combine melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, and flour and mix until just combined.
Spoon over each crescent.
Pour Sprite into empty space in the middle of pan (NOT over the crescents).
Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes or until crescents are golden brown.
Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lemon Brown Sugar Chicken

Everyone in my family loved this except me, now don't get me wrong I thought it was ok but not amazing.  It had kind of a smoky flavor, I think that is because I did the chicken in bacon grease instead of the oil.  I would make this again but it might be a while.

2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
juice of 3 large lemons (I used 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 T lemon zest
1 cup flour
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp sea salt
1.5 T canola oil
6 T brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350.
Very carefully cut your chicken breasts in half to make two thin pieces of chicken.
Lay the pieces between two pieces of wax paper and pound with a meat mallet to make them about the same thickness all the way across. (Thin pieces of meat cook faster than thick pieces do).
Combine the flour, paprika and sea salt in a cake or pie pan.
Drop each chicken breast in the mixture and toss to coat completely.
Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large oven proof skillet.
Drop each chicken breast in the oil and brown on both sides (should take only about four minutes). Remove chicken breasts and keep warm on a plate.
Pour the lemon juice and chicken broth into the pan and stir to deglaze.
Place the chicken back into the pan and sprinkle with the brown sugar and lemon zest. (If your pan isn't oven proof, use a casserole dish to finish baking the dish.)
Bake for thirty minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165.


Cinnamon Crescent Rolls

I'm not really sure what I expected but this turned out better than I had hoped.  They were really good and tasted a lot like your typical cinnamon roll.  These were fast, easy and scrumpcious.
1 tube (8 count) Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
5 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 c. white sugar
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp milk
1/4 c. Tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Unroll the crescent rolls and place on rimmed cookie sheet.
In small bowl mix butter, sugar and cinnamon.
Spread mixture over Crescent rolls and roll them up.
Place tip side down on cookie sheet.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
For the glaze mix milk, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.
Drizzle over Crescent rolls.
Cinnamon Crescent Rolls ~ Easy treats for breakfast any day of the week!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Slow Cooker Garlic & Herb Cheesy Chicken Dumplings

This was so delicious that I forgot to take a picture!  It was wonderful, quick, easy, and the flavor was great.  We will for sure be making this again!!!
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans water
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 lbs garlic herb frozen, boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tubes Pillsbury Refrigerated Buttermilk Biscuits
1 cup grated parmesan
1 tablespoon garlic pepper (I used house seasoning)
1 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Put 2 cans of cream of chicken soup in the Crock Pot.
Fill both cans with water and dump them in the Crock Pot.
Add garlic salt and ground pepper and stir until combined.
Next, add the garlic and herb frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
Cook on high for 5-6 hours (8-9 on low) or until chicken is fully cooked.
About 1 1/2 hours before serving, cut or tear the chicken breast into bit size pieces and return to the slow cooker.
In a small bowl mix together grated parmesan cheese and garlic pepper.
Open 2 tubes of Pillsbury Refrigerated Buttermilk Biscuits.
Cut each biscuit into 4 pieces and roll it in the parmesan mixture before placing on the liquid in the Crock Pot.
Put the lid back on and continue cooking on high for another hour or until the center of the biscuits are cooked.
Then, sprinkle the top with finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese.
Replace the lid and allow the cheese to melt for 6-9 minutes.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Menu for 10-6 to 10-12

B- One Eyed Sailors
L- Popcorn Chicken
D- Slow Cooker Garlic and Herb Cheesy Chicken Dumplings (NR)

B- Chocolate Swirl Rolls (NR)
L- Pizza Bites
D- Taco Soup

B- Crescent Cinnamon Rolls (NR)
L- Grilled Cheese Sandwich
D- Lemon Brown Sugar Chicken (NR), Pea Salad, and Herb Roasted Potatoes

B- Cereal
L- P,B,J Sushi
D- Leftovers

B- Doughnuts
L- Lunch At School With The Boys
D- Date Night With Jacob, Belle at Mom's, Nathan at Cubscout Campout, Phillip at Work

B- Cheese & Bacon Breakfast Muffins (NR)
L- Leftovers
D- Steak Sandwich (NR) and Chips

B- Hashbrown Casserole
L- Out
D- Leftovers

Friday, October 3, 2014

Bake Sale Ideas

This morning/early afternoon I worked a bake sale for my little girl's dance school, every year we have a community project and this year we are buying gifts for the angel tree kids at Christmas.  For about a month we have been telling the moms that we are going to be doing it so that they could be prepared to make something.  We had a great time and made an AMAZING amount of money so I decided to compile a list of tips.

*Pretty packaging matters!!!  I can't stress this enough, things sell much better when you add a little ribbon or a pretty box.
*Clear packages are best so that people can see the item for sale.
*Individual items don't sell well (Cookies, candy, etc...)
*Cupcakes don't sell, you would think they do but they don't.  Trust me!
*If buying store bought items a little effort goes a long way.  Put it on a plate, add cellophane, and some ribbon.
*Group like items together so shopping is easier.
*Don't make things that need to be refrigerated!!!  (This should be a no brainer but trust me it apparently isn't)
*Make sure people know the cause for the bake sale... they tend to donate more this way. ;-)
*The first Friday of the month is the best time to do a bake sale.  Trust me!

A Few Things That Sell Really Well
*Marshmallow pops (Weird right???)
*Cookies (atleast 12 to a package)
*Breads!!!  These were our number one sellers!
Marshmallow Lollipops

Bake Sale Cookies + Free Printable Tags!  #cookies #printables

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Moist Pecan Almond Loaf Cake

I keep putting this on my menu and haven't had a chance to make it till now, I think I kept putting it off because it has to cook for so long.  Let me tell you though it is well worth the wait, it is light and moist and I adore the mix of almonds and pecans!  I will worn you it has a spongy texture so if you aren't into that then don't make this.

Making this dish made me think of my dad's mom.  I LOVE the smell of almond extract it is just heavenly, it reminds me of Jergen's hand lotion.  My grandmother uses Jergens all the time and it is one of the smells that I associate with her and her home.

I hope that you will enjoy this cake, and that it will make you think of something special from your childhood like it did for me.

3/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups regular sugar
3 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 cup Plain / All purpose flour (sieved)
1 1/2 Teaspoons baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
3/4 Cup chopped Pecans
1 cup Ground Almonds
Heat oven to 300 F.
Grease and line your baking tin.
Get all your ingredients ready, sieve the flour, and add the salt and baking powder to the flour and also the ground almonds.
Start with making the cake batter by creaming the butter and sugar until a pale light color.
Add the almond extract.
Slowly add the beaten eggs to the mixer, on a low speed setting, a bit at a time.
If the mixture starts to curdle or split, add a spoonful of your sieved flour, keep on adding the eggs, and a bit of flour if necessary, until all the eggs are added.
Add half the milk with half of the flour mixture, keeping the mixer on a slow speed.
Once combined, add the rest of the milk and flour.
Finally add the pecans and make sure they're all distributed.
Transfer the cake mixture to the greased and lined loaf tin then place in the oven for 1hr and 20 minutes.
Test after 1 hr 10 minutes if the cake is done by inserting a skewer into the thickest part. If it comes out clean, it's ready!
Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan then transfer to a cooling rack.
Moist Pecan Almond Loaf Cake

Balsamic Glazed Meatloaf

This was good everyone ate it and went back for more.  I am a huge fan of almost anything with balsamic vinegar, so of course I enjoyed it.  The topping was my favorite part of this dish, I feel it had the most flavor.  The meat itself was kind of bland however could be great with just a few more added spices. 

I would say though that my other meatloaf recipe is better, I find it slightly more flavorful.  You can find it here

1 pound 93% lean beef
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I use Italian)
1/2 cup 2% milk
4 tablespoons ketchup, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 large egg
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350° (for glass or dark roasting pan). 
Add 25° if you are using a light colored pan.
In a large bowl add beef, bread crumbs and milk. 
Pouring milk directly over bread crumbs. 
Add 2 tablespoons ketchup, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and your spices.
Set aside.
In a small bowl, crack egg and beat it slightly.  This helps prevent overworking the meat while combining, resulting in a tougher meatloaf. 
Add egg to large bowl with meat mixture. 
Combine well with hands, do not overwork the meat mixture.
Form meatloaf in bowl, into a loaf form and then transfer to a roasting pan (I use glass). 
Set meatloaf aside.
In a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons ketchup, 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar. 
Mix well with a fork.
Apply glaze evenly to the top of your meatloaf.
Cover pan with aluminum. 
Place meatloaf in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes.  Sides should be lightly browned when ready to uncover foil.
Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes. 
Remove from oven. 
Allow to rest uncovered for 10 minutes.

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