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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Frozen Grapes

It has been HOT and sticky here. I should also mention I bought grapes twice in one week because I refuse to shop from a list and apparently I was hungry for grapes on both occasions.

So, I washed them, picked them into a bowl and threw them into the freezer. Nice, cold treat that is low in calories and guess what?? My kids like them:)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Creamy Jalapeno Dip

I found this yummy dip on-line awhile back and have been wanting to give it a try. It was good as just a dip and also as a topping for fajitas. I think it would be awesome on a baked potato too.

2-4 fresh Jalapeno peppers chopped~I used 3 and left the seeds from half of one
16 oz Sour Cream~I used light
1 oz package of Ranch Salad Dressing mix
1 T Garlic Powder
2 T chopped Cilantro
1/2 can green chilis~I skipped these
Squeeze of Lime Juice~I used half a lime squeezed

Place all ingredients into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. I would recommend longer than 2 hours, it was still a bit runny.

Serve with Tortilla Chips, Vegetables or as a topping for tacos, burritos or fajitas.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Helmet Fries

Happy Father's Day!

My Mom is going to give me crap about giving another family recipe up. But this one was actually my Dad's and since it's Father's Day I thought it was appropriate. He claims that you could make these in your Army helmet and that's how they got their name. He didn't cook much but he would eat ANYthing and never complained. It was the family joke when something wasn't good, "Dad wouldn't even eat it". I further know that he would think this Blog was pretty cool and he'd tell everyone he knew about it.

When I was young, my Mom went out of town for a few days and by the time she came home we all claimed to have grease poisoning because he fried EVERYthing. He was born and raised in the South, we blame it on the South;) He would laugh everytime I told the story about grease poisoning. But Helmet Fries, we liked his fries.

He died unexpectedly on September 8, 2008 and my life will never be the same. I miss him EVERY single day. He was a loving husband, dedicated to his family and a wonderful Father, Papa and Uncle. He could fix anything, saved everything, told silly jokes and talked to absolutely everyone. His work started a yearly Customer Service Award in his name..the JAR award, his initials. He was the kind of man that you hope your children grow up to be. Truly there are not words to express how amazing he was or how much he is missed.

So I make these fries every once in awhile, my kids smile and remember their Papa and I remember grease poisoning:).

Wash your potatoes, slice.

And then cube.

Fry them in your favorite oil for about 5 minutes.

Season with salt or your favorite seasoning and enjoy!

Here is a photo of him with my kids and Mom heading to one of his favorite places...Disney World.

Happy Father's Day Dad..I love you!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Caramel Pecan Brownies

As you probably know by now, I am a firm believer in keeping things simple and easy. Simple and easy does NOT mean that it has to taste like you made no effort. I like brownies, I LOVE brownies that have a little extra effort. This effort is worth it, I promise. And, even though everyone has a different threshold for "simple and easy" if you can open a box and unwrap're in business here.

I went a bit crazy on these too. My kids don't like nuts~insert whiny voice. Nuts are protein for kids who don't get enough in my opinion. SO, I put nuts in the brownies. I chopped them up but didn't mince or leave the chunks big enough to pick out. If they want a brownie, they can eat a nut too. Guess what, they not only ate the brownie, they said, "hey, I guess I don't hate nuts";). Nuts wrapped in chocolate and caramel..what's not to love.

What you'll need
Brownie Mix prepared according to directions
1 C Pecans chopped~or whatever nut you want, Pecans is what I had
24 Caramel filled Dove Chocolates

Make your brownie mix, mix in 3/4 C chopped nuts and pour into 13x9 sprayed pan. Think of cutting the pan into 24 bars, stick a caramel so each brownie will have a caramel in the middle. 4 wide by 6 long and the photo will help. Bake brownies according to package directions. Cool. You can just top with the 1/4 C left over nuts.

NOTE...when I cook with nuts, I make sure they are visible. I don't need to send someone to the hospital who has a nut allergy. So, if it's a baked good, I top with nuts. Basically it's my "you've been warned" topping.

IF you want to push these brownies over the top. Make the cooked fudge frosting and then top with the nuts. Get a glass of milk and ENJOY!

Fudge Frosting

1/4 C Butter
4 T Milk
2 T Cocoa
Bring to a boil. Add
1 t Vanilla
1 3/4 C Powdered Sugar
Whisk until smooth and pour on top of brownies.

Get these but with caramel in the middle.

Space out the candy like this.

Out of the oven

Frosted and topped with nuts

See the caramel inside...YUMMY

Friday, June 18, 2010

Corn on the Cob

Easy Corn on the Cob

Preheat oven to 350

Toss in ears of corn, right on the rack. Don't take the husks or silk off, don't soak. Just pull them from the bag from the grocery store and toss in the oven. Cook for 35 minutes. Take out, pull off the husks and serve (the silks melt into the husks). EASY, YUMMY and makes the house smell great. I'll never make corn any other way.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tuna Salad

Tuna salad was on the table whenever we had a picnic or had hot dogs for dinner. I love a "good" tuna salad but I've had a LOT of bad ones over the years. Of course, I think my tuna salad is tasty and I hardly ever have left overs when I bring it somewhere so I thought I'd share "my" recipe. My kids don't eat it but we've already established that I'm not sure where they came from:)

You are going to need
1 lb Box of your favorite shaped pasta~I like skinny elbow, mini bow ties or small shells
2 cans Tuna drained~I prefer to use packed in oil because it has more tuna taste but typically have packed in water in the house
1 small onion minced
1 C Frozen Peas
2 stalks Celery chopped
Ranch Dressing
Miracle Whip

Cook your pasta according to directions in salted water. You want to make sure it is fully cooked, al dente has it's place and it's not in tuna salad. Put your frozen peas in the bottom of your strainer and when you drain your noodles, you will defrost the peas. Put both into a bowl. Add tuna, onions, celery and pepper. Give it a good stir. Cover and put in the fridge until just before serving or leaving. If you are going to serve right away, that works too. I personally like a tuna salad that is a bit warm.

The are going to use 3/4 Miracle Whip to 1/4 Ranch dressing. Start out with a total of a cup and add more Miracle Whip and a tiny bit more Ranch. Taste. I usually end up using more Miracle Whip because you don't want it to be too "ranchy" tasting but the Ranch adds a nice touch. Experiment, you'll get the flavor you like. Be careful NOT to put too much Miracle Whip, a wet salad can be a real day wrecker. You can always add more if it dries out, but you can't take it away.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Barbie Cake

My friend Shannon just celebrated her 40th Birthday and I thought it would be fun to give her a bit of her childhood back for the day. Claire has really been interested in decorating so I let her help with the Barbie Cake. It is one of the easiest cakes you'll ever make. Barbie cakes will cost you at least $30 at a bakery, this one...about $5.

I have a "dress" pan, but I also have a Batter Bowl from Pampered Chef so I decided to save myself some digging and just use the bowl that is in my cupboard.

Here is what the batter bowl looks like.

You are going to mix up a cake mix in another bowl according to directions. Spray your batter bowl well with cooking spray and dump cake mix in. Bake for about an hour at 350. Test with a skewer to make sure it comes out clean and the cake is ready. Cool 5 minutes and invert on a plate. Cool. After the cake is cool, trim the bottom with serrated knife so that the cake is level. (You can skip this step but the cake isn't as solid on the plate). Insert your doll head that you bought at Michael's.

You can also buy these doll picks on line and get any of the Disney Princesses.

We just used a simple star tip and butter cream frosting to decorate the entire thing. You can just frost it with a knife. Although, you are going to need some kind of a tip to cover up the body.

This is my recipe for Butter Cream frosting

1 stick soft Butter
4-5 C Powdered Sugar
2 t Vanilla
4-7 T Milk

Start out with 1 stick butter, 4 C powdered sugar, vanilla and 3 T milk. Mix it with your mixer. Keep adding milk by the T until it's the consistency you want, you are going to want this a bit stiffer so it doesn't slide off of the cake and holds the star shape. IF you add too much milk, add more powdered sugar. I've never used a true recipe for frosting, it was an add and adjust philosophy. When it's done, separate into different bowls and add food coloring. If you are using liquid food coloring remember it will thin the frosting a bit more.

Claire is doing an excellent job of keeping the top of the pastry bag twisted closed and applying steady, even pressure to make the stars.

I found this on the internet that "explains" how to make a star
To Make Stars
Use tip 16, 17 or 18 (you can purchase these at Michael's). Hold bag straight up and down with tip 1/8 in. above surface. Squeeze until a star is formed, then stop pressure and pull tip away. Your stars will be neatly formed only if you stop squeezing before you pull the tip away.

I already had it wrapped and ready for travel, so please disregard the Saran Wrap.
Happy Birthday Shannon!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Book Club

My life detours usually involve food or books. I've given you a bunch of my favorite recipes and have more to come. But, I thought I would also mention three books that I have recently read and enjoyed.

I won't give you a book report because "I" prefer for people to say, "I liked it" or "I didn't". BUT, you can tell me if I will need tissues. I don't like to be caught off guard at the pool or hockey rink bawling my eyes out.

I think when you read a book, it depends on your frame of mind whether or not you'll like it. There is the exception of the horribly written book that you should save a friend from purchasing but 99% of the time, I think people should form their own opinion as to if they like a book or not. With that said, here are a few of my recent favorites.

The first one is The Help by Kathryn Stockett

January's assigned book was The Help and I had absolutely NO idea what it was about when I picked it up. I wasn't expecting it to be a book that I would fly through. It is a book about the maids and their employers in the south in the 1960s. I laughed, I was horrified...I really enjoyed it.

The next one is The Art of Racing in The Rain by Garth Stein

This is June's book. I started it Friday night before bed and finished it Saturday afternoon. It is a dog telling the life story of his owner. The book kept my interest as I read it and I really liked the ending.

And, last is Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

This was my choice for August. A friend told me that she loved the book and we typically like the same type of books so I gave it a try. I really liked it but I would read the last 75 pages in the privacy of your own home. Lots of emotions going on and I was very glad I wasn't at the pool reading it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Striped Delight

I found this recipe on line, it's a Kraft recipe. My son loves French Silk pie and one of the reviews stated that it tasted like it. So, I decided to make it for dessert.

Well..I didn't think it tasted like French Silk Pie, it was a bit too Cool Whippy for me but my son, well he LOVED it. Safe to say he ate 3/4 of the pan by himself and asked when I'd be making it again. I put some fresh strawberries on top of my piece and I liked it better.

What You Need
35 OREO Cookies
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cold milk
1 tub (12 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed, divided
3-1/4 cups cold milk
2 pkg. (3.9 oz. each) JELL-O Chocolate Instant Pudding

PROCESS cookies in food processor until fine crumbs form. Transfer to medium bowl; mix in butter. Press onto bottom of 13x9-inch dish. Refrigerate until ready to use.

WHISK cream cheese, sugar and 2 Tbsp. milk in medium bowl until blended. Stir in 1-1/4 cups COOL WHIP; spread over crust.

BEAT pudding mixes and 3-1/4 cups milk with whisk 2 min.; pour over cream cheese layer. Let stand 5 min. or until thickened; cover with remaining COOL WHIP. Refrigerate 4 hours.
I didn't use my food processor, I used a gallon ziploc bag and used a rolling pin to crush the Oreos. You know me, not a fan of extra dishes;)

Roll over the Oreos until they are crushed.

Mix the Oreos with the melted butter and press into 13x9 pan

Spread the Cream Cheese layer on top of the Oreo crust.

Next comes the chocolate layer

Chill for at least 5 minutes or until thickened and then top with the rest of the Cool Whip.

Dessert is served.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Funnel Cakes

One of our favorite summer things is the State Fair. Love all the stuff to do and eat. We go at least 3 times if not more every year. We walk around and do tons of things and more importantly we also eat our way through.

My kids have developed a love of funnel cakes from our fair going. So, when I found this recipe, I knew that I'd be getting big smiles if they turned out. Well...LOTS of smiles came when these hit the table.

If you don't want to use a pastry bag because it is a little messy, I have also used a small pitcher.

3 C Flour
2 C Milk
1/2 t Salt
3 Eggs
1/4 C Sugar
1 t Vanilla
1 T Baking Powder

Mix all the ingredients well. Heat Crisco (I use half butter flavor/half regular. I think oil makes them greasy). I put the batter in a pastry bag that I've pinched the end off of, release pinch and drizzle the batter into the hot oil. Cook until puffed up and golden, give a flip and cook until other side is golden. Remove to paper towels to remove excess oil, then to plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 8-10 funnel cakes.
Drizzle into the hot oil.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010


As I've told you my Dad was from the South. He grew up in New Orleans actually. I spent Halloween on Bourbon Street in 1998 and I fell in LOVE with the city. All the music and culture. Palm readers, performers, street cars, people watching, food..the food was fabulous! I was very lucky to have my Dad as my tour guide. He showed me where his stompin grounds were growing up and told me the story behind lots of things. It was a wonderful vacation.

I don't pretend that this Jambalaya is anything close to what they make in New Orleans but it's pretty good and it is really quick to make. I made this the first time when I was doing Weight Watchers so that's why it isn't the normal ingredients. It is also fairly low in calories..until you add the rice. If you want to watch your calories, spoon over the rice instead of cooking the rice with it. Same taste, less calories.

Here's what you'll need
3-4 Chicken Breasts cubed
12 Shrimp~the cooked ones you use for Shrimp Cocktail, tails removed
1 C Turkey Sausage diced~optional
3 Zucchini cubed
1 Pepper diced~I used a combination of colors because that's what I had
1/2 Red Onion sliced
3 cloves Garlic minced
1 can Diced Tomatoes
2 C Chicken Broth
2 C Instant Brown Rice
1 t Cumin
2-3 t Cayenne Pepper
Soy Sauce
PickaPeppa Sauce
Few splashes of Hot Sauce

Cube your chicken and sausage and put in a pan with 2 cloves garlic and 2 T Soy Sauce. Saute until chicken is cooked through and sausage is browned, about 5 minutes depending on size of cubes. In a wok pan, throw all the vegetables and 1 clove garlic in the pan on high heat. You don't want these vegetables to sweat, you want to cook quick. Pour about 1/4 C Pik a Peppa sauce over the vegetables and 1 T Soy Sauce. Cook the vegetables for only about 2-3 minutes total. Add Chicken Broth, diced Tomatoes, chicken, cumin and cayenne pepper. Bring to boil. Stir in 2 C Instant Brown Rice, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir and add shrimp. Cover and cook another couple of minutes until the rice is cooked through. Splash with the hot sauce, give it a stir and serve.
Slice your zucchini in strips and then cube.

Here are all the vegetables diced, sliced and cubed.

Chicken in the pan with garlic and soy sauce. I did not use sausage this time because I didn't want the extra calories.

Vegetables in the pan with the PickaPeppa Sauce

Chicken done.

Looking good

Add the liquid and rice. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add shrimp, cover and cook a couple more minutes.


Enjoy your little taste of the South!