Tuesday, December 29, 2009

PBB Muffins ('P'eanut 'B'utter 'B'anana)

Preheat oven to 375'. Spray muffin tins with non-stick spray or use liners.

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flouor
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbl. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Wet Ingredients:
3 mashed, ripe bananas
1 Egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
Mash bananas and beat in egg, milk, and butter, will still be slightly lumpy.

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to mix. Fold in 1 cup Peanut Butter Baking Chips. Batter should be slightly lumpy so don't overmix. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full, and set aside.

Topping Ingredients:
1/3 cup softened/room temp butter
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup crushed honey roasted peanuts

In a small mixing bowl cut the Topping ingredients together. Divide evenly and top the filled muffin cups. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

A Few Christmas Pics....

Well, it wasn't a white Christmas like we'd hoped for, but it was a beautiful day.

Christmas Eve

Youngest to Oldest down the stairs

Bella finally ran back up to go down with the kids

She knew exactly which stocking was hers!

No snow, but we were treated to a rainbow

We could see the entire rainbow from our porch

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Orange Dreamsicle Cookies

This is one of my new favorite cookies now!


Double Batch:
2 boxes Orange Supreme Cake Mix
3 Eggs slightly
1 stick of butter, melted and cooled
1/2 stick Butter flavored Crisco(1/2 cup)
2 tsp. vanilla
Zest of 1 large orange
Preheat oven to 350'. Combine all above ingredients in a mixer until smooth. If it is too dry, you can add a little canola oil. Use a cookie scoop to get even size cookies. On a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, plop cookies approx. 2" apart. Use a flat bottomed glass dipped in sugar to flatten to approx. 1/4" thick. Give a slight twist after pressing down if cookies stick. Back for 8-10 minutes, one sheet at a time. Let cool for 5 minutes and remove to cooling rack. Cookie sheet should be cool before preparing more cookies or they will be very flat and spread unevenly(as with all cookies).

1 lb. powdered sugar(approx. 1/2 bag)
2 Tbl. softened/room temp. butter
zest & juice of 1 large orange
Whisk frosting ingredients until smooth, may add milk if too thick. Add more sugar if too thin. Spread a small amount in center of cooled cookies, may need to spread a little if it doesn't pool to the edges.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

White Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 stick butter flavored Crisco shortening stick (Or ½ cup shortening, ½ cup Nucoa marg.)
1 C packed brown sugar
½ C sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp baking soda
2 ½ C all-purpose flour
1 package white chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts or dried cranberries(optional)

Preheat oven to 350’. Mix first 5 ingredients together. Add baking soda and flour, all at once and mix again. After ingredients are well mixed add white chocolate chips and nuts/cranberries if you want. Using a small cookie scoop place about 2 in. apart on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake 8-12 minutes, just until light golden edges. (If you double this recipe only use 3 eggs, instead of 4)

Brownie Cheesecake Bites

I used two tools for this that I believe are a must have in every kitchen: a cookie scoop(approx. 1 Tbl.) and a mini scoop(approx. 1 tsp.).

2 24 count mini muffin pans

1 pkg. Family Size Brownie Mix, mixed according to package directions, but do not pour into pan and cook, set aside
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, (not fat-free)
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup peanut butter chips, or any flavor

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix brownie mix according to package directions, but do not pour into pan. Set aside. Beat cream cheese, egg, sugar, vanilla thoroughly in mixer. Add peanut butter chips and mix again. Spray each muffin cup with non-stick spray, bottoms and sides. Or use mini muffin liners. Using the cookie scoop divide the brownie mix evenly into each muffin cup. Use the mini-scoop or a measuring tsp. to top each brownie bite with cream cheese mixture. Bake for approx. 28-32 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes and remove from cups. You may need to use a small knife to separate brownies from muffin cups. Makes 48 Brownie Bites.

**Alternative to peanut butter chips: mini semi sweet, mint, butterscotch, white, milk, semi-sweet, etc...... Try any variation!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cranberry Sauce

Growing up I always went to my Grandma Iva's house the night before Thanksgiving to "help her out". Grandma taught me over the years to cook many of her favorite recipes that were traditional as much as just plain delicious. One of my favorite smells from childhood is still cranberries simmering on the stove. That meant the holiday season had begun. I bought a 3lb. bag of cranberries the other day, I figured I'd get ahead of my holiday cooking as well as I needed extra to make a new recipe to take with me to a work Christmas party. I'll post my traditional recipe for cranberry sauce(which I also LOVE to play with and change up) and the Chipotle Cranberry Chutney I plan to put on top of a loaf of Brie in Puff Pastry crust for the party. My house smells amazing after making both of them.

Cranberry Sauce
2 12oz. bags fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
Zest of 2 oranges
Juice from 2 oranges, plus enough water to equal 2 cups

In a large saucepan, bring sugar, orange juice and water to a boil. Add cranberries and zest and stir. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes, until liquid is reduced and cranberries have all burst. The sound of simmering cranberries is so much fun, it's like bubble wrap in a pot. I've added things like rum flavoring, almond flavoring, vanilla, black pepper, ginger, etc... but my favorite add-in is the orange zest and juice.

Chipotle Cranberry Chutney
1 large purple onion diced
1 Tbl. Olive Oil
1 clove garlic minced
1 Tbl. Gourmet Garden Ginger(in tube), or fresh grated
1 12oz. bag fresh cranberries
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
zest of one orange
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. smokey chipotle chili powder
Rinse cranberries well. Saute purple onion in olive oil in saucepan on low heat until translucent. Add garlic and ginger and saute 1 more minute. Add remaining ingredients, bring to simmer and stir often to prevent burning. Simmer until all cranberries have burst and desired consistency. Should be slightly thick. Serve over meats, cream cheese with crackers, in Brie wheel, etc.... This is what turns a perfect turkey/swiss/avocado sandwich into a heavenly masterpiece.

The Cranberry Chipotle Sauce will go from bright red to a deep burgundy color.

Simmer uncovered until desired consistency, the balsamic reduces nicely.

Check out recipes and ideas at puffpastry.com.

Brie en Croute
There's a great video on puffpastry.com, explaining how to wrap a Brie en Croute and even how to make a fancy bow out of dough for on top. Because this Brie wheel was 1 lb., and their recipe calls for an 8 oz. size, I had to adjust the directions.

Lightly flour a clean surface. Lay out 1 sheet of puff dough. Divide the other sheet of puff dough into 4 equal lengths and pinch each side of the square piece with the lengths to seal. Put a dollop of about a 2/3 cup chutney, jam, or nuts and wrap(follow directions as in the video on wrapping). Seal all edges with egg wash. Cut shapes with leftover dough pieces and attach with egg wash and seal the tops. Bake on a cookie sheet with an edge(in case the cheese oozes out) on parchment paper at 350' for about 40 minutes or until golden brown and puffed up. Rest at least 20 minutes before moving it or cutting into it or the cheese will all ooze out. It's great simply by itself, on top of sliced baguettes or crackers. Also elegant served with grapes and nuts.


Just breathtaking. Just out of the shower and putting on my makeup and kept coming over and sitting next to my back door. Basking in the sun coming in through the windows and watching the amazing display mother nature was putting on for me. In the video, what looks like glitter falling from the trees, yes, that's exactly what it looked like. Glitter falling from the trees. It reminded me of the graceful display of ice falling in Alaska, I've only seen those displays on t.v. and in pictures. It's quiet and gentle, absolutely breathtaking. And I'm so grateful to live here. Now can you please do this again on Christmas Eve? Pretty please? I've been a good girl this year, really I have been.


School's Out Again Today....Why:

Ice Age: School's Out

White Christmas

Monday, December 7, 2009

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

This is by far the most I've ever seen here(in our short 2 1/2 years, lol). Right now I can't believe the SIZE of the snowflakes coming down, they're huge! It looks like someone is dropping the stuffing from the dog's bed out. So fun! These were taken this morning, about 3 hours ago, and it's STILL coming down, so I'll add more in a little while. Kids are heading out for Round 2 Sledding.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How'd I Do That Chicken?

Tonight I grabbed a jar with (*)spices in it, which I "think" came from this recipe: Rachael Ray's Devil Chicken. So that's why I call it, "How'd I Do That Chicken".

4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
olive oil
*spices(really, any spices would probably do)
2 cups white rice
4 cups chicken broth
4 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
2 Tbl. real bacon pieces

Place chicken breasts in a gallon size ziploc bag and seal. Flatten the breasts using a rolling pin or kitchen hammer. In a large non-stick skillet coat bottom of hot pan with approx. 1-2 tsp. olive oil. Add spices to deep plate and dredge each side of chicken with spices and place in pan evenly placed. DO not move chicken around, you're trying to get a good caramelization on each side. Cook on med to med-high for about 5 minutes, until browned. Turn over with tongs, and don't move again for another 5 minutes, or until deeply browned. Remove chicken pieces to a plate and set aside. Add rice to pan and about a cup of broth. Using a wooden spoon, scrape pan to get all the bits and yumminess loose. Add remaining broth and garlic and bring to boil. Return chicken to pan, sprinkle bacon pieces evenly, cover, and simmer on low 20-25 minutes, until rice is done, do not remove lid until ready to check doneness. I served this with carrots, the sweetness vs. savory was a great combination. Let chicken rest for 10 minutes and slice against the grain for very tender strips to serve over rice. Makes 6-8 servings.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Foolproof Family Sunday Menu....

This is by far my favorite Sunday night dinner, other than one I don't have to fix myself.

Peppercorn Pork Tenderloin(quick braised, and yes, this is FAST!)

Mashed potatoes


Green Beans

Hormel markets and packages these delicious tenderloins that just melt in your mouth. Even though they're fantastic BBQ'd, "quick braised" is my favorite way because the gravy you make from the drippings is just divine. They even claim on their website, "Foolproof, Flawlessly Seasoned Entrées – Always Juicy and Tender".

Heat oven to 400'. Drizzle a hot non-stick oven proof pot with olive oil, about 1 Tbl. and place two tenderloins. Brown the outside of the tenderloins for approx. 5-8 minutes each side, flipping only 4 times. When all 4 sides are browned add 4 cups vegetable stock/broth, bring up to boil and turn off heat. Cover, and place in hot oven for 1 hour. When thickest part of tenderloin reaches 180', it will be fork tender.

While tenderloin is cooking prepare mashed potatoes and vegetables.

My mashed potatoes:

8-10 large russet potatoes, peeled, rinsed, and cubed
Fat-free Half and Half
1 stick salted butter
salt & pepper to taste

Add potatoes to large pot and fill with enough water to cover all the potatoes. Cook on high until they begin to boil. Turn heat down to avoid overspill and cook on medium to medium-low for about 20 minutes until fork tender. Using a slotted spoon/wire bowl, remove potatoes to large bowl. Cut butter stick into cubes and add to potatoes. Add approx. 1/2 cup half and half to potatoes, salt, and pepper. Use a wire masher(not electric beaters, this releases too much starch and they become gummy) and smash until fluffy.

To make gravy:

Remove tenderloins and set aside and cover to "rest". Strain juice from pan through fine sieve colander to remove chunks. Return pan to stove top and melt 1/2 stick butter over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup flour to make roux. Gradually add vegetable broth/stock back to gravy, whisking constantly to keep smooth. You can also whisk a rounded Tbl. flour in with 1/2 cup potato water and add into gravy mixture whisking fast if the gravy is too thin. Add plenty of pepper. The juices from the pork will be remarkably lean, very little fat, because these pieces are very lean.

Pour gravy over pork and potatoes, and even tasty on green beans!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pumpkin Crunch

This was sent to me in an email for our Relief Society Enrichment Program. Tested and approved!

1(29 ounce) can Pumpkin
1 can (13 ounce) evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 ½ cups white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 tsp. clove
1/2 tsp. salt
1 box yellow cake mix
1 C chopped nuts
2 cubes butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Blend the pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, ginger and salt. Pour into a 9 x 13 pan.
Sprinkle the (dry) yellow cake mix over the pumpkin mixture and pat gently.
Sprinkle the chopped nuts over the dry cake mix. Melt the butter and drizzle over the nuts and cake mix. Bake for 1 hour.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Copycat Cafe Rio From Someone Who Has Never Eaten There

My recipe for the pork differs a little from some available on the internet because I have tried it before and found there to be WAY too much liquid even though I cooked up twice as much meat with it. So, I've adjusted the liquid. Also the bean recipe is different because I found the beans to be a little bland and decided to flavor it up a bit, so it's not the Cafe Rio copycat, but it's slightly sweet and goes perfect with the pork and rice.

Café Rio Sweet Pork

4 lbs pork roast or tri-tip
1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes in puree***
3 tsp pressed garlic
2 cups brown sugar
1 round Tbl. Cumin
3 C Dr. Pepper
4 Tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
Lg. pinch red pepper flakes

Place pork in crock-pot. Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl, and then pour over meat. Cook on high for 4 hours then switch to low for 4-6 more hours.

When done, remove meat from crock pot, reserving liquid. Shred meat with a forks in extra large bowl. Add 1-2 cups liquid into bowl with meat and mix. Allow to set a little to absorb sauce

***I found this recipe had entirely too much liquid in it.  I substituted 1 small can tomato paste, the Dr. Pepper provides A LOT of liquid, plus what the meat puts out itself.  You could even cut back on the Dr. Pepper to 1 1/2 -2 cups. 
Lime Rice
I prepared this in a rice cooker, if you cook on the stove, you will need a little additional liquid.

1/2 stick butter
2 1/2 C (uncooked) rice
3 1/2 C chicken broth
3/4 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
Zest and Juice 2 limes
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp cumin or a few drops of sriracha sauce

Rinse rice in colander until water runs clear and then put into bowl of rice cooker. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Set rice cooker on "white rice" setting. This takes approx. 30 minutes.

Creamy Cilantro Dressing

1 16 oz jar of green tomatillo based salsa or enchilada sauce
1 pkg buttermilk ranch dressing (dry)
1/2 C sour cream
1/2 C mayonnaise
1/2 C buttermilk(or milk mixed with 2 tsp. lime juice and "curdled")
1 C fresh cilantro
2 cloves pressed garlic
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 C sugar
A few drops of Sriracha
Blend all ingredients together in blender until smooth and creamy.

Black Beans

2 cloves pressed garlic
1 15 oz. can black beans rinsed and drained
1 22 oz. can Bush's Steakhouse Beans

Bring all ingredients in saucepan to a boil, cover and let simmer about 5 minutes. Mash with potato masher until desired consistency. Serve on tortillas with shredded pork and rice.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Cookie Bark

The original recipe for this inspired sweet treat came from HERE

Line a large cookie sheet with wax paper and spread evenly:
20 crumbled Double Stuff Oreos(works better if you chill them briefly)
2 cups stick pretzels, broken
1 cup candy corn

In a medium bowl, melt 2 10oz. bags of Wilton flavored wafers(I found this really cool green and had to use it!) by melting first for 60 seconds, stir, and melt in 30 second increments and stirring between until melted. Pour the melted chocolate over the cookie mixture and spread out. Before chocolate can set, drop 1/4 cup candy corn randomly and sprinkle with Halloween candy toppings. Put in refrigerator to chill for an hour. Remove and break into small bite size pieces.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Craft or Treat...

I love my Cricut! The witches came from a Silhouettes free font I downloaded. And the "Boo!" is in Sparkly I downloaded from fontdiner.com. Used the Sure Cuts a Lot program to cut these out on the Cricut. The glass boxes came from a Super Saturday craft I never got to even start. The good thing about this vinyl is, it comes right off with a warm blow dryer or Undo. So, next month I'm sure I'll change it from Halloween to Thanksgiving(ooohh, maybe some gorgeous leaves!), and then the day after Thanksgiving, onto the Christmas Nativity scenes.

I used some green feather trim I picked up a while ago to go around a small lampshade. I just pinned it snug under the glass block to keep it in place.

I also just pinned some sheer orange wired ribbon around the witch blocks, the lights helped reflect even more color behind them. The lights are small strands I picked up I think at the $ store, and they're just tucked in behind the blocks, no holes in the blocks.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hungry Girl Death by Chocolate Cupcakes....

Not mine, but definately worth passing on the low point delicious treat!

Here's the LINK

Friday, October 23, 2009

Breakfast Crunch Wrap (WW=4 pts)

These are SO tasty and fill the "fast food" spot. Great with Boca Burgers too.

1 Tbl. Reduced Fat Bacon Pieces
1/4 cup liquid egg whites or egg beaters
2 Tbl. Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
Salt & Pepper to taste
Chili Flakes(optional)
1 La Tortilla 100 Calorie tortilla
3 Tortilla chips
Taco Sauce
Butter Flavor Non-Stick Spray

I use two different sized non-stick pans, they're non-stick, easy clean up. I found this little pan at a dept. store going out of business, perfect size for Sandwich Thins by Orowheat/Arnold. A must have! And a large flat pan for the large tortilla.

Spray the little pan with some non-stick spray and cover with the bacon pieces, a Tablespoon goes a long way. It covers the entire pan! This is also a good time to add anything additional like diced onion, peppers, or some spinach leaves, yum!

When the bacon pieces are heated through add the 1/4 cup egg whites(Egg Beaters are just fine, but I don't like them). Add salt and pepper and pepper flakes if you like. Stir with a small, skinny spatula until almost set.

Give the top a squirt of non-stick spray and flip. The bacon and butter spray brown up a bit.

Heat up the large sautee pan and spray lightly with non-stick spray. Top with the tortilla and dump 2 Tbl. Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese in the center.

Top the cheese with the egg patty and hot sauce.

Place 3 tortilla chips over hot sauce. Begin folding in segments and press down.

Spray folded top with non-stick spray and flip, pressing down to help seal.

Flip back over after top is browned.

Serve with a nice portion of salsa, fat free sour cream if you like(be sure to count the points though). These would be great prepared the night before, warm in microwave in the morning and you can carry it with you in the morning to school or work.