Sunday, June 24, 2012

Thursday: Cheesy Sausage Stromboli & Strawberry Ice
This recipe takes just over two hours from start to finish, with that being said it is definitely worth the time!  Although it takes a total of two hours to complete, I was actually only “cooking” for probably about 30 minutes.  The rest of the time the dough is rising (for a total of 1 hour and 45 minutes) and then the final product is baking (for 20-25 minutes). 
It was so good, right away Dan said, “Well this definitely is a 5!  So there finally something gets a  5 out of 5!  Below you will find the recipe.  I did cut the recipe in half because it makes two loaves.  Even after cutting it in half, there was more than enough for two meals for Dan and myself.  Also, the recipe tells you to let the loaf rise for 45 minutes after it is all put together (and before baking it), but we didn’t want to wait so we took the chance of skipping that, and it was great!

Before baking...

After :)

Cheesy Sausage Stromboli:
5 cups flour
2 T. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 pks. Active dry yeast
1 ½ c. warm water (120-130 F)
½ c. warm milk (120-130 F)
2 T. butter, melted
2 lbs. pork sausage
4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
3 eggs
¼ tsp. dried basil
2 T. grated parmesan cheese

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast.  Add the water, milk and butter; beat on low until well combined. (I mixed by hand)
Turn onto a well-floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. (my 5 yr. old God-daughter did this J and had a blast doing it! ) Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain and cool.  Stir in the mozzarella, 2 eggs and basil; set aside.
Punch dough down; divide in half.  Roll one portion into a 15” x 10” rectangle on a greased baking sheet.  Spoon half of the sausage mixture lengthwise down one side of rectangle to within 1 inch of edges.  Fold dough over filling; pinch edges to seal.  Cut four diagonal slits on top of Stromboli.  Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Beat remaining egg; brush over loaves.  Sprinkle with parmesan.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Slice; serve warm. 
Yields: 2 loaves.

I also made Strawberry Ice for dessert.  We ended up not eating it for dessert Thursday night, but we ate it for lunch on Friday J.  I also cut this recipe in half because it makes six servings and I didn’t think we need that much, although it keeps very well in the freezer. 
If you have ever had the Lemon Ice at Culvers, this totally reminds me of that, only this tasted like Strawberry/Lemon ice.  (I forgot to cut the lemon juice in half, so our tasted more lemony than it should have-oops!)  This is a very refreshing treat!

Strawberry Ice:
5 c. fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed (I used frozen)
2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. water
¼ c. lemon juice

Place strawberries in a blender; cover and blend until smooth.  In a saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil.  Cook and stir until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes; cool slightly.  Add to blender along with the lemon juice; cover and process until combined.
Pour into a shallow freezer container; cover and freeze for 4-6 hours or until almost frozen.  Just before serving, whip mixture in a blender.

Friday: Easy Garlic-Cheese Biscuits, Spicy Chicken Linguine

Dan and I made supper together tonight and it was delicious!  The biscuits got a 4-they were similar to the biscuits at Red Lobster but not quite as flavorful.  Next time I might double the garlic powder, just to make them even tastier.  The Spicy Chicken Linguine was great.  I would not say it was spicy though (and I usually think everything is spicy), but it had a good zip to it.  The Spicy Chicken Linguine would get a 4.5, definitely something I will be making again!

Biscuits before...

Finished dinner!  So yummy!

Easy Garlic-Cheese Biscuits:
2 c. original Bisquick mix
2/3 c. milk
½ c. shredded cheddar cheese
¼ c. butter, melted
¼ tsp. garlic powder

1.       Heat oven to 450 degrees F
2.       In medium bowl, stir Bisquick mix, milk and cheese with wire whisk or fork until soft dough forms; beat vigorously 30 seconds.  On ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by 10-12 spoonfuls about 2 inches apart.
3.       Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.  In small bowl, stir butter and garlic powder until well mixed; brush on warm biscuits before removing from cookie sheet.  Serve warm.

Spicy Chicken Linguine:
¼ c. butter
3 T. flour
2 tsp. pepper
2 ½ c. milk
1 pk. (8oz.) cream cheese
1 c. shredded parmesan cheese
12 oz. uncooked linguine
2 c. cubed cooked chicken
1 can (4oz.) diced green chilies

In a saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in the flour, garlic powder and pepper until smooth; gradually add milk.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Reduce heat; add cream cheese and parmesan cheese.  Cook and stir for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Meanwhile, cook linguine according to package directions.  Add chicken and chilies to cheese to cheese sauce; cook 5 minutes longer or until heated through.  Drain linguine; top with chicken mixture.
Yield: 6 servings

Saturday: True Love Truffles <3

These sound fun and yummy, but they definitely weren’t fun.  They were supposed to sit in the refrigerator for 1 hour before they were rolled into balls.  I ended up keeping them in the freezer for a couple of hours, and they still were very sticky and really hard to roll.  I would never make them again even though they did taste really good.  They were just too much of a hassle considering they just tasted like Andes Mints.  I could have saved myself a lot of time and mess by simply eating the Andes Mints and skip making the truffles.  I would rank them 4 out of 5 based on taste, but like I said, I’ll never make them again and wouldn’t recommend anyone waste their time.  From the picture below, you can tell mine didn't even look like truffles L.
 My truffles :(

The cookbook's picture of how the truffles should have looked... 

True Love Truffles:
*I ended up cutting these in half since I didn’t want the temptation of 96 of these bad boys in my house!
1 T. plus ¾ c. butter, divided
1 ½ c. sugar
1 can (5oz.) evaporated milk
2 pks. (4.67oz each) mint Andes candies (56 pieces total)
1 jar (7oz.) marshmallow crème
1 tsp. vanilla extract
22 oz. white baking chocolate, divided
½ c. semisweet chocolate chips
Green food coloring, optional

Butter a 15” x 10” x 1” pan with 1 tablespoon butter; set aside.  In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, milk and remaining butter.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat; cook and stir until a candy thermometer reads 236 degrees F (soft-ball stage.)  Remove from the heat.  Stir in candies until melted and mixture is well blended.  Stir in marshmallow crème and vanilla until smooth.  Spread into prepared pan; cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Cut into 96 pieces; roll each into a ball (mixture will be soft).  Place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet.
In a heavy saucepan or microwave-safe bowl, melt 18 oz. of white chocolate and chocolate chips, stirring until smooth.  Dip balls in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper to set.  Melt the remaining white chocolate; add food coloring if desired.  Drizzle over truffles.  Store in an airtight container.
Yields 8 dozen

Sunday: Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza

Well here is another recipe that was a bit of a letdown.  Even though a bacon-cheeseburger is delicious, this pizza just wasn’t quite what I had hoped it would be.  I would give it a 3.5 if served with your favorite dipping sauce J Dan used BBQ sauce and I used ranch.  This is not something I will be making again.


Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza:
½ lb. ground beef (I used venison-it probably would have been better with ground beef)
1 small onion, chopped
1 prebaked Italian bread shell crust (I made my own J )
1 can (8 oz.) pizza sauce
6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
20 dill pickle coin slices
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp. pizza seasoning

In a skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain and set aside.
Place crust on an ungreased 12 inch pizza pan.  Spread with pizza sauce.  Top with beef mixture, bacon, pickles and cheeses.  Sprinkle with pizza seasoning.  Bake at 450 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted. 
Yield: 8 slices.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I’m back!.....
Last week I made a Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice Casserole and believe it or not, I am just letting you know about it now!  Dan and I both really liked this recipe, and we both thought a little sour cream made it even better.  We both agreed this recipe deserved a 4.5.  It was something a little spicy, but really tasty!  Below you will find the before picture.  I forgot to take the after picture until we had already devoured it, so I took a picture of the picture in the cookbook. :)


"After" from the cookbook...

Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice Casserole
½ c. chopped onion
1 T. olive oil
1 6.9 oz. pk. of chicken flavored rice
1 14 oz. can chicken broth (I made my own)
2 c. water
2 c. chopped cooked chicken
1 c. chopped tomato
3 T. canned diced green Chile peppers, drained.
1 ½ tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried basil
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
½ c. shredded cheddar cheese

1.       In a saucepan cook onion in hot oil over medium heat until tender.  Stir in rice (including seasoning packet); cook and stir for 2 minutes.  Stir in broth and water.  Bring to boil; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered for 20 minutes (liquid will not be fully absorbed).
2.       Transfer the rice mixture to a large bowl.  Stir in chicken, tomato, Chile peppers, chili powder, basil, cumin, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper.  Transfer to a 2-qt. casserole dish (greased).
3.       Bake, covered in a 425 degree F oven for 25 minutes.  Uncover and sprinkle with cheese.  Let stand about 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

Tonight I made Barley Beef Soup.  It was delicious!  Definitely a 4.5! (apparently I won’t give a 5 out of 5 for anything?!)  Last night as I was looking at the recipe, I saw the slow cooker version and since I happen to love cooking with the crock pot-I was sold!  It seriously couldn’t have been any easier!  I put everything in the crock pot this morning around 7:30, and then came home around 2, tasted it-thought it needed more flavor so I ended up adding an additional tablespoon of beef bouillon, along with an additional cup of beef broth.    Below you will find the recipe and see the colorful, yummy soup! (ps. I cut the recipe in half and we got 5 servings out of it)

Barley Beef Soup
12 oz. beef stew meat
4 14oz. cans of beef broth (I made my own)
1 c. chopped onion
½ c. chopped celery
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1 c. frozen mixed veggies (I used frozen corn and a can of green beans)
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 c. potato, cubed
2/3 c. barley

In a 6 qt. slow cooker combine meat and remaining ingredients.  Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 8-10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4-5 hours.

On Monday I started teaching summer school, I am teaching grades 2-3 and 6-8 Cooking Class!  It has been a blast so far!  I never imagined how fun it would be to work with younger students!  I always thought they would eat me alive!  I thought I would let you know about some of the fun things we have made so far! 

Day 2: Bubbly Cheese Toast (2nd -3rd grade)
This was really simple, but unique and tasty!  The students each got a slice of French bread, which they buttered one side of.  The buttered side goes down on a baking sheet.  Then, in a bowl, combine an egg and some shredded cheese, along with pepper and ground mustard.  Spread the egg/cheese mixture onto the French bread and bake for about 12-15 minutes and voila Bubbly Cheese Toast!

Day 3: Cheese Triangles:  (6th -8th grade)
This was my first introduction to phyllo dough.  If you haven’t used it before, it is really cool.  It is a very very thin and fragile type of dough.  It reminds me a little of an egg roll wrapper, but much thinner.  The students had to cut the phyllo dough sheets into 2 ½-3 inch strips that were about 12 inches long.  Then place a cheese/egg mixture on one end and fold it into a triangle.  I didn’t try one until it was cold, it wasn’t the best, but I really think it would have been better fresh out of the oven.  Anyways, I would definitely recommend experimenting with phyllo dough.  It is found in the freezer area right next to the frozen pies.

Other things the kids have done this week are a snack mix, quesadillas, smoothies, pudding pops, and they will do potato wedges tomorrow.  If they are as good as I think they’ll be, I’ll fill y’all in on them. :)

Tomorrow night I am planning on make a Cheesy Sausage Stromboli, with Strawberry Ice for dessert.  Friday will be Spicy Chicken Linguine and True Love Truffles for dessert (for my true love-Daniel!), so stay tuned!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Well it has been a while...

Things got busy with the last couple days of school last week.  Then on Friday, my first day of summer vacation I helped my mom bake and decorate cakes and cupcakes for my cousin's graduation party.  Today, my second day of summer vacay-I went downstairs to get some meat out of the freezer only to find that the freezer had lost it's power source-God only knows how long ago.  So with that being said, the meat had thawed out and was now starting to refreeze as the power source was restored yesterday.  There was blood everywhere in the freezer, and of course it had even leaked out onto the floor.  Needless to say it smelled terrible and I had quite the job ahead of me to get it cleaned up this morning.  But enough of my silly sob story!

So...last night I made the best meal of this experience yet!  I made Oven-Fried Chicken and Stuffed Macaroni and Cheese.  Dan and I both decided each recipe definitely deserved a 5 out of 5.  I would strongly recommend you all to make these.  My favorite was the chicken, it was incredibly flavorful and not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.  Dan's favorite was the mac and cheese.  

The chicken was super easy, however it did need to bake for 45-55 minutes, so that is something that would need to be planned for.  The mac and cheese had quite a few steps and overall was more time consuming, but still not bad.

Here are my before baking pictures:

and after:

Dan also made homemade beer bread which was awesome and super easy!  I didn't watch him, but it was under 5 minutes from the time he started measuring the ingredients to the time he was putting it into the oven.

Thus far, I haven't been posting the recipes, so if there has been a recipe you would like, please let me know and I will post it.  Below you will find the recipes from this delicious meal-including Dan's beer bread, which his grandpa taught him how to make :)  If you give any of the recipes a try, I'd love to hear what you thought about it as well!

Beer Bread:

3 cups self-rising flour
3 tablespoons sugar (Dan said he put extra in, but I'm not sure how much?)
1 can warm beer

Mix until it's sticky.  Grease bread pan and bake for 55 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Stuffed Macaroni and Cheese:

Prep: 25 min.     Bake 30 min.     Makes: 6 servings
2 cups dried macaroni (8oz.)
1 cup cottage cheese
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 Tbs. yellow mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (1 medium)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded cheddar
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine cottage cheese, cream cheese, mustard, salt, and black pepper; mix well.  Stir in onion.  Stir in mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup of the cheddar cheese.  Gently stir in cooked macaroni.  Transfer mixture to a greased 2-qt. baking dish.
3. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes.  Uncover; sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup cheddar cheese and the Parmesan cheese.  Bake, uncovered about 10 minutes or until cheese melts.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Oven-Fried Chicken:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. salt
2 Tbs. pepper
1 Tbs. dried thyme
1 Tbs. ground ginger
1 Tbs. ground mustard
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 eggs
1 broiler/fryer chicken (2 1/2-3 1/2 lbs.), cut up
Oil for frying

Combine the first nine ingredients; store in an airtight container.  In a shallow bowl, beat eggs and milk.  Place 3/4 cup coating mix in a large resealable plastic bag.  Store remaining mix in an airtight container for another use.  Dip chicken into egg mixture, then add to the bag, a few pieces at a time; shake to coat.
Heat 1/4 in. of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown chicken on all sides, transfer to an ungreased 15"x10: baking sheet.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 45-55 minutes or until juices run clear.

After just typing up the chicken recipe I realized something I did differently (or wrong...whichever way you want to look at it :) ).  I browned the chicken before I dipped it in the egg/breading mixture.  It still turned out great the way I did it, and I think it probably absorbed less oil the way I did.  However, if you follow the directions and fry it after you have the breading on, I'm sure the breading will be crunchier.  Our breading wasn't crunchy, but it tasted so good, I didn't even notice.  As my elementary Art teacher always said, it wasn't a mistake, it was a discovery!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Here we go again!

Tonight I came home from work, watered the flowers, cooled off for a bit in the pool, and then got busy in the kitchen!  I made a Taco Meatball Ring along with homemade Mozzarella Sticks.  

The taco meatball ring was good, not great, but definitely something different.  While eating it Dan and I kept say, "It isn't bad....", but we didn't love it.  I don't know that I would make it again?  I would rate this recipe a 3.5.  Essentially the recipe had me mix hamburger (I used venison since Dan killed so many deer last fall-a lot of times we substitute venison for hamburger) with cheese, and taco seasoning.  After I baked the meatballs for 15 minutes, I wrapped them each in a crescent roll (see picture).  After baking this for an additional 15 minutes, we garnished with our favorite taco fixings.

The second recipe I made was homemade Mozzarella Sticks.  This recipe had me dip string cheese in flour, then in an egg mixture, followed by a bread crumb mixture.  I then had to repeat the egg and bread crumb mixture and bake.  Dan and I both enjoyed the mozzarella sticks.  I would give them a rating of 4 and I would definitely make them again.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Well I decided to kick off my silly little idea a week early.  This morning I made a Ham and Cheese Pizza for brunch.   It was a pretty simple recipe.  There was a crescent roll crust, topped with ham, hash browns, and cheese, and then an egg mixture was poured on top.  The recipe said to bake it for 25-30 minutes.  I pulled it out after 25 minutes because the egg was set, however I should have kept it in for the additional 5 minutes because the inner pieces were a little doughy.  Also, the hash browns were just barely done.  The recipe made enough for Dan and I to have breakfast two times, with a little left over.

Overall I was pleased with how it turned out.  I decided Dan and I will rank each recipe on a scale of 1-5 (5 being amazing, 1 being terrible).  I would give this recipe a 4.5 because it had great flavor, was easy, and filling.

I have included a picture of the pizza before and after being baked...looks pretty good don't you think?

Well tomorrow night I am planning on making a Taco Meatball Ring and Mozzarella Sticks...wish me luck!