Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pasta with Three Cheeses

This is a nice change from macaroni and cheese. It isn't excellent, but it isn't bad either. A very easy recipe when you want to make something with stuff you have in the house!

Pasta with Three Cheeses
10 ounces packaged dried medium shell macaroni or rotini
2 cups frozen cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots or other vegetable blend
1 cup milk
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, cut up
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup shredded Gouda, Edam, Havarti, fontina, cheddar, or Swiss cheese (3 ounces) I used cheddar
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus more if you prefer)

In a large saucepan cook pasta according to package directions, adding the frozen vegetables for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain.

In the same saucepan combine milk, cream cheese, and pepper. Cook and stir over low heat until cheese is melted.

Return pasta mixture to saucepan. Toss to coat with cream cheese mixture. Gently stir in the shredded cheese and the 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. If desired, sprinkle individual servings with additional Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Veggie Pizza

This is from one of my aunts (actually a second cousin I believe, but who cares) and it is delicious!

Veggie Pizza
Refrigerated crescent roll
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3/4 teaspoon dry onion
1 teaspoon dill weed
Mozzarella cheese
Veggies of your choice on top (celery, broccoli, carrot, cucumber, cauliflower, etc)

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Open and unroll the crescent roll, but don't split into pieces! Place on cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes and let cool.  Mix the cream cheese, mayonnaise, dry onion, and dill weed; spread on top of cool crust.  Top with vegetables of your choice.  Place desired amount of mozzarella cheese over veggies!

Taco Dip

I'm raiding my mom's recipe box today.  Here is a taco dip that whenever she makes it for a party, I make her make extra for me to eat!

Taco Dip
16 ounces sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
Small package taco seasoning
Cheddar Cheese
Shredded lettuce
Diced tomatoes
Green peppers, diced
Black olives
Onions, diced
Tortilla Chips

Mix the sour cream, cream cheese and taco seasoning.  Spread on a 9x13" pan.  Top with lettuce, cheese, tomato, green pepper, black olives, onions (basically whatever you like on your tacos).  Enjoy with tortilla chips!

Ham Roll-ups

This is a very simple recipe that I'm pretty sure everyone knows how to make but I had to write it down anyway.  My aunt makes this for all occassions where we all bring food.  They always are the first thing to go!

Ham Roll-ups
Ham, sliced, patted dry
8 ounces Cream Cheese
Minced Onion
Garlic Powder
Pickles (if desired)

Mix the chives, cream cheese, minced onion, and garlic powder (to taste) together--I have actually used the chive and onion cream cheese tubs that are available instead and just add a little garlic powder.  Spread over the ham.  If you desire pickles, add one to each slice of ham.  Roll up and slice into bite size pieces


My mother also makes the best margaritas.

6 ounces frozen limeaid
6 ounces tequila
2 ounces triple sec

Fill blender with ice-blend and enjoy!

Vanilla Butter Frosting

This is the wonderful frosting for the amazing sugar cookies my mom makes every year.  It is from the same Betty Crocker Cookbook.

Vanilla Butter Frosting
1/3 cup soft butter or margarine
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
About 2 tablespoons milk

Blend butter and sugar. Stir in vanilla and milk; beat until frosting is smooth and of spreading consistency.

The Best Sugar Cookies of All Time

My mom makes these sugar cookies every single year for Christmas, and I have never found a recipe that beats it.  Later I will post the frosting for the cookies as well.  Seriously.  Try them.  It will be unlike anything you have ever tried before.  They are from a very old Betty Crocker's Cookbook.

Deluxe Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Granulated sugar

Mix thoroughly butter, confectioners' sugar, egg, vanilla and almond extract. Blend in flour soda and cream of tartar. Cover; chill 2 to 3 hours.

Heat over to 375 degrees. Divide dough in half. Roll each half 3/16 inch thick on lightly floured cloth covered board. Cut into desired shapes; sprinkle with granulated sugar. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until light brown on edge.

5 dozen 2 to 2 1/2-inch cookies

Friday, December 25, 2009

Pumpkin Bars

I had extra cream cheese frosting from the carrot cake I didn't want to put to waste, so I made pumpkin bars instead!!

Pumpkin Bars
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 eggs, beaten
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 cup cooking oil
1/2 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and cloves. Stir in the eggs, pumpkin and oil until combined. Spread batter into an ungreased 15x10x1-inch baking pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 2 hours. Spread with cream cheese frosting.  Cut into bars.

Applesauce Bars
Prepare as above, except omit pumpkin and use one 15-ounce jar applesauce.

Carrot Cake

My dad loves carrot cake and I decided to try out my baking skills for Christmas eve.  It turned out okay, but a little dry.  I made one cake, instead of a layered cake (for easier transportation), but I posted the directions for the layered cake for anyone that would like it!

Carrot Cake
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups finely shredded carrot (lightly packed)
3/4 cup cooking oil
1 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted (optional)

Allow eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, greast two 9x1 1/2 inch round cake pans (I used one 8x8 pan).  Line pans with waxed paper; grease the paper.  Set pans aside

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda; set aside.

In another bowl combine eggs, carrot, and oil.  Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Stir until combined. Pour batter into the prepared pan(s).

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cake layers from pans; cool thoroughly on wire racks.

Fill and frost with cream cheese frosting. If desired, sprinkle chopped pecans (we used walnuts) over frosting. Cover and store cake in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cream Cheese Frosting

I am making carrot cake and pumpkin bars for Christmas tomorrow.  I haven't yet tried either, but the frosting for them is AWESOME.  It is from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 1/2-6 cups powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Gradually beat in powdered sugar to reach spreading consistency.

This frosts tops and sides of two 8- or 9-inch layers (This is why I ended up making carrot cake and pumpkin bars!).  Halve this recipe to frost a 13x9x2 inch cake.  Cover and store the frosted cake in the refrigerator.

Coco-Cream Cheese Frosting
Prepare as above, except beat 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder into the cream cheese mixture and reduce powdered sugar to 5-5 1/2 cups.

Dad's Garlic Bread

Even though this is a suuuuuuper unhealthy recipe, it is absolutely AMAZING.  I don't know anyone that hasn't liked this wonderful garlic bread.

Dad's Garlic Bread
Loaf of French bread
4 sticks butter
onion salt
1/4-1/2 cup rose wine
parmesan cheese

Cut French bread into slices. Melt the butter.  Sprinkle in sugar, onion salt, cheese, and parsley to taste.  Add the wine. Brush onto both sides of the sliced French bread. Wrap in tin foil and bake in oven at 350 degrees for 1/2 hour.

The Changes/Lessons/Verdict 5/13/11
I still love this recipe, but I think I need to watch my dad make it because it did not turn out as good. I didn't use all the butter, which may have been my problem. I'll work on it though :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Steak & Potato Soup

I absolutely love slow-cooker recipes.  They are awesome when you know you have a busy day, but you want a home-cooked meal, you can usually put everything in the slow-cooker the night before, refrigerate it, and put it on the heat right away in the morning.  Most of the clean-up can be done the night before and you still get a great meal for a day or two!

For this recipe I would definitely make sure to heat the soup on low for the full 9 hours, and then another half hour on high.  The veggies weren't quite tender after only heating on low for 8 hours.  This is great for when you want meat and potatoes & a warm soup!

Also MAKE SURE you have a 5-quart slow-cooker.  The broth fills it COMPLETELY, so a 3-quart slow-cooker will not work.

Steak & Potato Soup
1 pound beef boneless round steak
1 pound small red potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 medium stalks celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon beef bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) beef broth
1 jar (6 ounces) sliced mushrooms, undrained
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup all-purpose flour.

Remove excess fat from beef.  Cut beef into 1x1/2-inch pieces.  Mix beef and remaining ingredients except water and flour in 5-quart slow-cooker.

Cover and cook on low heat setting 8-9 hours or until beef and vegetables are tender.

Mix water and flour; gradually stir into soup until blended. Cover and cook on high heat setting about 30 minutes or until slightly thickened.

9 Servings

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sloppy Joes!

Homemade sloppy joes, that taste just like they are from the can, but much better for you!  Awesome on a cold snowy day :)

Sloppy Joes
1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
2 celery ribs, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
6 hamburger buns

In a large, nonstick skillet, cook the beef, celery, and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.

Stir in the tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, barbecue sauce, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to blend.  Spoon 3/4 cup onto each bun.

6 Servings

Heat's Notes
I used two pounds of beef for a little extra leftovers and it worked just fine!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

GREAT brownie recipe with a little twist!  From Real Simple

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies
2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 large peanut butter cups, cut into pieces

Heat oven to 400° F.  Melt the butter and chocolate in a pan over low heat.  Using a mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy. Lower speed and pour in the melted chocolate and vanilla. Mix in the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Fold in the peanut butter cups. Scrape into a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake until the tip of a knife comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

Serves 24

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Favorite Website

I found a new favorite website!  All kinds of cooking substitutions that I never knew about!  So helpful!


Very simple halibut recipe, pictured below on my mom's Christmas plates!

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 (6-ounce) skinless halibut filets
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/3 teaspoon pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Season the halibut with the thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Cook until opaque throughout, 3-4 minutes per side.

Wild Rice Stuffed Squash

First time I tried squash!  Not my favorite thing in the world, but not bad either.  The rice was my mom's favorite.  I thought it was a little sweet, but it was good enough to put up here anyway.  From Kare11's cookbook.  Below is a picture of the rice we had left over!

Wild Rice Stuffed Squash
2 butternut squash
1/4 cup honey
4 teaspoons grated orange rind
2 tablespoons margarine
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice
3/4 cup chopped apple
1/2 cup dried cranberries (crasins)\
1 cup apple butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove seeds. Place squash on 15 x 10 x 1-inch jelly roll pan; drizzle each half with honey and orange rind. Set aside.

In medium frying pan heat margarine until hot over medium-high heat; add mushrooms, onion, and celery. Cook until onion is tender. In medium bowl combine cooked vegetables, rice, apple, dried cranberries, apple butter, salt and pepper; mix well. Place about 1 cup filling in each squash half. Cover; bake 1 hour or until fork-tender. Top each with caramelized pecans, if desired.

4 Servings

Heat's Notes
The rice for the stuffed squash is more than plenty, so we put the leftover rice in a casserole dish and put it in the oven with the squashes for about 30 minutes.  Turned out well!

Hot Cocoa Mix

A friend from middle school had a mom that made this hot cocoa mix.  She would mix it together and keep it in a cereal container (the airtight tupperware kind).  It would last for a winter or two.  Hands down best hot cocoa!!!

Hot Cocoa Mix
1 (8-quart) Instant milk
1 (8-ounce) jar Coffeemate
1 pound powdered sugar
1 pound Nestle's Quik

Mix all ingredients together in an airtight container.  Use about 1/3 cup mixture for much of hot chocolate.  Add more to taste.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chicken Salad with Peaches and Blue Cheese

EXCELLENT dressing, regardless of what kind of salad you make.

Chicken Salad with Peaches and Blue Cheese
2 heads romaine lettuce
1 store-bought rotisserie chicken, cut into bite size pieces
2 peaches, roughly chopped
3/4 cup (3 ounces) blue cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) almonds
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Arrange the lettuce, chicken, peaches, cheese, and almonds on a platter or individual plates.  Whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad.

Use pears or grapes instead of peaches
Replace romaine with arugula, watercress, or spinach
Swap goat cheese for blue
Use walnuts instead of almonds

Heat's Notes:
We used bagged lettuce and canned peaches and it turned out great!
Any kind of chicken would do, the store bought is because it is a "no cook" recipe from the book!

Scallop and Corn Chowder

One of my all-time favorite recipes!!!

Scallop and Corn Chowder
5 slices bacon
1 1/2 pounds sea scallops (about 16)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup corn kernels, frozen
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Fry the bacon in a large skillet or stockpot over medium heat until crisp.  Transfer to a paper towel lined plate; set aside. You should have about 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings remaining in the pan (if not, supplement with olive oil).

Rinse the scallops and pat them dry with paper towels. Season them with the salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium-high. Add some of the scallops to the pan, being careful not to crowd them. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining scallops.

Reduce heat to medium. Add the onion to the pan and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, wine, broth, and cream. Bring to a simmer. Cover partially and simmer gently until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the scallops and corn and cook for 4 minutes.

To serve, ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the parsley and crumbled bacon.
4 Servings

Crispy Taco Chicken

I got my super picky cousin to enjoy this chicken so it has to be good!!

Crispy Taco Chicken
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 1/4 ounce package taco seasoning mix
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Combine bread crumbs and taco seasoning; set aside. Spread chicken with mayonnaise; coat with bread crumb mixture. Arrange on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet; bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until juices run clear.
4 Servings

Heat's Note:
You don't need to start off with all of the bread crumb mixture, use about half and add more if needed.


Classic chili recipe

Chili-adapted from New Slow Cooker Recipes by Betty Crocker
Total Time: 8 hours
Serves 8
2 pounds ground beef (already cooked)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
1 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 can (15 or 16 ounces) chili beans, kidney, or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
Shredded cheddar cheese, if desired
Sour cream, if desired

Mix beef and remaining ingredients except beans in 3 1/2-6 quart slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low heat 6-8 hours (or high heat 3-4) or until onion is tender.

Stir in beans.  Cover and cook on high heat 15-20 minutes or until slightly thickened.
8 Servings

Extra Tip:
Substitute ground pork for the ground beef for richer flavor--I have not tried this but it was suggested along with the recipe!

Southwestern Pork Stew

Great fill-you-up, warm-you-up  in the fall recipe!  The cornmeal used in this recipe adds a unique flavor as well as acting as a thickener! The recipe says to serve with tortillas. We did this, but it is honestly good without! Or you could serve dinner rolls with it.

Southwestern Pork Stew-adapted from New Slow Cooker Meals Betty Crocker
Total Time: 8 Hours
Serves 8
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 pound pork boneless top loin, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 can (15 ounces) chili beans in sauce, undrained
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with mild chiles, undrained
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
Sour cream and cheddar cheese for topping

Place onion and garlic in 3 1/2-6 quart slow cooker.  Top with pork.  Mix cornmeal, cumin oregano, and salt; sprinkle over pork and mix well.  Add beans, tomatoes, and broth; mix well.

Cover and cook on low heat setting 8-10 hours or until pork is tender.

Stir in corn.  Cover and cook on low heat setting about 30 minutes or until corn is tender. Add sour cream and cheese as desired.

Orange-Onion Glazed Swordfish

I made this recipe for my brother and I while our parents were vacationing in Vegas.  They were actually jealous they didn't get to try it it was so good!!

Orange-Onion Glazed Swordfish
1 pound fresh or frozen swordfish steaks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon snipped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

Thaw & rinse fish; pat dry with paper towels.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Coat a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray.  Heat skillet over medium-high heat.  Add swordfish to skillet. Cook, covered, about 12 minutes or until fish begins to flake when tested with a fork, turning once.  Remove fish from skillet; cover to keep warm.

Add butter to hot skillet. Cook and stir onion in hot butter until tender. Carefully stir in orange juice and basil.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 1-2 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Spoon onion mixture over fish.
Serves 4

Apple-Dijon Chicken

I'm not a huge mustard fan and I even enjoyed this!

Apple-Dijon Chicken
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium tart cooking apple (Granny Smith) cut into wedges
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

Butterfly cut each chicken breast.  Sprinkle both sides with salt and black pepper.

In a large skillet melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat.  Add two of the chicken breasts; cook for 4-6 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, turning once.  Remove chicken from skillet, cover to keep warm; repeat with remaining chicken.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in skillet.  Add apple; cook and stir about 3 minutes or until tender.  Add whipping cream and mustard to skillet.  Cook and stir until heated through and slightly thickened.  Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.  Serve sauce and apples over chicken.
4 servings

Beef Tenderloin with Blue Cheese and Walnuts

My dad and I loved this because steak & blue cheese are two of our favorite things!!

Beef Tenderloin with Blue Cheese and Walnuts
4 beef tenderloin steaks
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 cup light sour cream
3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted

Sprinkle steaks with garlic salt.  Lightly coat an unheated large skillet with nonstick cooking spray.  Preheat skillet over medium-high heat.  Add steaks; reduce heat to medium.  Cook to desired doneness, turning once halfway through cooking. Transfer steaks to dinner plate.

Meanwhile, ina small bowl stir together sour cream and blue cheese.  Spoon mixture onto steak if desired (I serve it on the side).  Sprinkle with walnuts.

Quick Onion-and-Herb Pot Roast

This is awesome when you are in a hurry but want a homey meal.

Quick Onion-and-Herb Pot Roast
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 16 or 17 ounce package refrigerated cooked beef pot roast with juices
2 teaspoons snipped fresh basil, oregano and/or thyme
Salt and pepper

In a large skillet cook onion and garlic in hot butter over medium heat about 5 minutes until nearly tender.  Add pot roast with juices.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, about 10 minutes or until pot roast is heated through.

Transfer pot roast to a serving platter, preserving juices in skillet.  Stir basil into skillet; season to taste with salt and pepper.  To serve, pour juices over pot roast.

4 Servings

Smokey Chicken and Cheesy Potato Casserole

I believe this is one of the first dishes I made with a crock-pot and it didn't turn out half bad!

Smokey Chicken and Cheesy Potato Casserole
1 10.75-ounce can condensed cream of chicken with herbs soup
1 8-ounce carton light sour cream
6 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
1 28-ounce packaged frozen diced hash brown potatoes with onion and peppers, thawed
3 cups chopped smoked or roasted chicken or turkey

Lightly coat the inside of a 3 1/2 or  4 quart slow cooker with cooking spray.  In the cooker stir together all ingredients.

Cover and cook on low-heat for 5-6 hours.

Wild Rice and Barley Pilaf

Awesome side dish with pork or poultry-especially in the fall!

Wild Rice and Barley Pilaf
3/4 cup uncooked wild rice
12 cup regular barley
1 tablespoon butter
2 (14oz) cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dried cranberries, snipped dried apricots, dried tart cherries and/or currants
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Rinse wild rice with cold water; drain.  In a large saucepan cook and stir rice and barley in hot butter over medium heat for 3 minutes.  Carfully add broth.  Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 45-50 minutes or until rice and barley are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat.

Stir dried fruit into the rice mixture; cover and let stand 5 minutes.  Stir in the almonds before serving.

8 Servings

Dill Dip

Classic dill dip, pretty basic and easy to make!

Dill Dip
8 ounce package reduced fat cream cheese, softened
8 ounce carton light sour cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion (1)
2 tablespoons snipped fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dried dill
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
Milk (optional)

In a medium mixing bowl beat all ingredients on low speed until fluffy.  Cover and chill for 1-24 hours.  If dip thickens stir in 1-2 tablespoons milk.  Serve with vegetables
Makes about 2 cups

I have not yet tried this, but it sounds delicious:
Creamy Bleu Cheese Dip
Prepare as above except omit dill and seasoned salt.  Stir 1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese (2 ounces) and 1/3 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts into the beaten mixture.

Creamy Dip for Fruit

One of my all-time favorites from the summer birthday parties!

Creamy Dip for Fruit
8oz package reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
8oz carton light sour cream
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 3 teaspoons milk

In a small mixing bowl beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth.  Gradually add the sour cream, beating until combined.  Add the brown sugar and vanilla; beat just until combined.  Stir in enough milk to reach dipping consistency.  Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving.  Serve with assorted fruit.

Makes 2 cups

I have not tried these alternatives, but thought I would put them in here in case someone else wants to try & let me know how it goes!

Spice Dip
Add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

Creamy Marshmallow Dip
Prepare as above, except substitute one 7-ounce jar of marshmallow creme for brown sugar

Beef with Broccoli

Basically a beef & broccoli stir fry, once again from Taste of Home

Beef with Broccoli
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup reduced sodium beef broth
1/4 cup sherry or additional beef broth
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon minced gingerroot
1/2 pound lean boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into strips (you can buy stir fry steak, I suggest that)
3 teaspoons canola oil, divided
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
8 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients; set aside.  In a large nonstick skillet or wok, stir-fry beef in 1 teaspoon oil for 1-2 minutes or until no longer pink.  Remove and keep warm.

In the same pan, stir-fry broccoli in remaining oil for 4-5 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Add onions; stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.  Return beef to the pan.

Stir cornstarch mixture and gradually add to the pan.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.  Reduce heat to low; cover and cook for 5-6 minutes or until meat and vegetables are tender.

2 servings

Heat's additions
Some alternatives I thought of to add when you stir-fry the broccoli & onions:
Baby corn

I also like to serve it with white or brown rice and chow mein noodles!

Chicken Orzo Skillet

This recipe is from Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking Recipe Cards.  This was my first time working with orzo pasta and I was truly unsure of how it was going to turn out.  This was definitely a favorite for the family and made great leftovers!

Chicken Orzo Skillet
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (14 1/2 oz each) stewed tomatoes, cut up
1 can (15oz) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package (16oz)frozen broccoli florets

Cook orzo according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook chikcen in 2 teaspoons oil for 6-7 minutes or until no longer pink.  Remove and keep warm.

In the same skillet, cook garlic in remaining oil until tender.  Stir in the tomatoes, beans, Italian seasoning and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in broccoli and chicken; heat through.  Drain orzo; stir into chicken mixture.

6 Servings

My Additions
A few additions I made to the dish as I cooked:
Add shredded parmesan cheese on top.
Add onion salt and pepper to taste.

Dad's Chicken Wings

A staple at every summer party or poker night, these wings are too easy and too good to pass up!

Dad's Chicken Wings
6 pounds chicken wings
1 1/3 cup (10oz) soy sauce
1 cup white sugar
1 cup vinegar
4 tablespoons ginger
8 cloves garlic

Marinate for 1-2 nights.  Cook in sauce at 350 degrees.  Serve and keep warm in a crock-pot.

Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies

No idea where I got this recipe, but it was good!

Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies
2 1/2 cups walnut halves, chopped
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla

Position two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place walnuts on a work surface and finely chop.  Transfer to a separate large baking sheet and toast until fragrant, about 9 minutes.

Mix sugar, cocoa, and salt in a bowl.  Stir in walnuts.  Add egg whites and vanilla; beat until batter is just moistened (overbeating will stiffen).  Drop batter by the teaspoonful onto backing sheets in evenly spaced mounds.  Bake cookies until tops are lightly cracked and glossy, about 10 minutes.  Repeat with remaining batter.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to one week.

Beer Dip

This recipe I got from a friend at college.  I had never heard of beer dip before and it is just as unhealthy for you as it sounds.  But it is delicious!

Beer Dip
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese
1oz package dry ranch dressing
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup beer (I have found that light beers work best)

Combine cream cheese and ranch.  Add cheese, then beer.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Mediterranean Herb Chicken

This is from the Cooking With Kare cookbook from my hometown news station:

Mediterranean Herb Chicken
*8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
*3/4 cup roasted garlic olive oil (**my new favorite cooking oil**)
*2 cups bread crumbs
*1 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
*2 tablespoons chicken rub

*1 tablespoon roasted garlic olive oil
*8oz. sliced mushrooms
*1 (16oz) jar Mediterranean pasta sauce
*1/2 cup chicken broth
*4 Roma tomatoes, chopped

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Brush chicken generously with oil; season to taste with salt and pepper.  In flat dish mix bread crumbs, cheese, and rub; roll chicken in mixture to coat well.  Place in greased 13x9-inch baking pan; drizzle with 1/4 cup oil.  Bake 10-14 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center, turning once.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in large frying pan over high heat until hot; stir in mushrooms.  Cook until mushrooms are tender; stir in pasta sauce and chicken broth.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to low; simmer 6 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes; cook 2-3 minutes.  Spoon sauce over baked chicken.

8 Servings

Heat's How To: Poach Chicken

Before I made the Buffalo Chicken Dip, I needed to figure out how to poach chicken to be able to shred.  I found this technique and it has proved useful, I rewrote some of it below:

  • Place chicken breasts in a pot that's just about large enough to fit them in one layer. Two medium chicken breasts fit snugly in my 2 quart round oven.

  • Add poaching liquid (I just use water, but you can use chicken broth or seasoning) so that it completely covers the chicken by at least a half inch to an inch.

  • After bringing the liquid to a boil, reduce heat to a bare simmer so that only an occasional bubble breaks the surface. At this point, partly cover the pot, cook for about 10 minutes, then turn off the heat, leaving the chicken to finish cooking in the hot water for 10-15 more minutes.

  • Remove chicken, then enjoy it warm or refrigerate it for later use. Slice or shred your poached chicken depending on what you want to use it for.

Tuna Salad

This is an old recipe from my Gramma.  I think it is best in the summertime because it is a cold salad, but it is delicious anytime!

Tuna Salad
Small Box of Ring Pasta-cooked as directed
Can of Tuna Fish (in water)-drain as much water as possible
1 Cup Light Mayonnaise
1 Box Frozen Peas-rinsed
Seasoned Salt and Pepper to taste
Onion Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate in a covered tupperware container.
**Start light with the seasonings, and add more slowly--you don't want to over do it!

Leftover Chicken Casserole

This is a great recipe when you have leftover chicken from the night before!

Leftover Chicken Casserole
1/2 Bag Egg Noodles
Leftover chicken
1 (2 if it seems dry) Can Cream of Chicken (or Mushroom) Soup
Shredded Cheese--enough to your liking
Seasoned Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix items together and place in casserole dish.
Cook at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I got this recipe from my boyfriend's uncle's neighbor.  We go to his house every Fourth of July and Katie always makes this dip and it is AMAZING!!!

**UPDATE 12/25/2011**
I have made this dip multiple times now. It is definitely a crowd pleaser! With the exception of shredding the chicken, this is a very simple recipe. I think from now on, I'm going to use a food processor to shred the chicken. Go make this dip--everyone will love it. It has just enough heat to be interesting, but not enough where non-buffalo dip loving people won't eat it. I know--I normally hate buffalo sauce and I love this dip!

This is still a favorite! And I remembered to take a picture this time :)

I made this again, but this time, put everything together and heated in the slow cooker. I also used a food processor to shred the chicken which makes it so much better!

Thanksgiving 2014

Buffalo Chicken Dip
8oz. Cream Cheese, softened
3-4 Boneless Chicken Breasts, poached and shredded (I've started using my food processor to shred the chicken and it works great!)
1 Jar Chunky Bleu Cheese Dressing
1 Small Jar Franks Hot Sauce
8oz. Finely Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Cover bottom of 9x11 pan with cream cheese
Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl and spread over cream cheese, saving some of the mozzarella cheese for over the top, if desired
Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.
Serve with chips.

**Slow cooker version**
Combine all ingredients in a 3 quart slow cooker. Put on high until warm then set to low. Serve with chips.


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