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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

French Silk Pie

My son LOVES French Silk Pie. When I told him that I was going to make one, he asked.."what's your back up plan"? A valid question since I've attempted other French Silk type pies in the past and although they tasted ok, they weren't really French Silk.

I found a recipe on allrecipes. I read the comments and adjusted the recipe accordingly and the result...YUMMY! Smooth, chocolately and EASY! Bakers Square will not be getting our business for this pie any longer.

What you'll need:

1 C softened Butter
1 1/2 C Sugar
4 (1 oz) squares unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
2 t Vanilla
4 Pasteurized Eggs
1 prepared Crust...I used an Oreo Crust

Melt chocolate in microwave or on the stove top. Cool for about 5 minutes. Cream your butter and sugar with an electric mixer for a couple of minutes. IF you have a Kitchen Aid, this is a recipe to use it on. Use the whisk attachment.

Add melted chocolate and vanilla and beat, you might want to scrape down the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to a 6 on your mixer and add an egg, beat for 3 minutes, keep adding eggs until all 4 are added, beating 3 minutes after each addition. Pour mixture into prepared crust, cover with some Saran Wrap and chill at least 2 hours before topping with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

To make the whipped cream

Small container of Whipping Cream
1 t Vanilla extract

Whip it until it's firming up. Add 3/4 Powdered Sugar and whip until stiff. Top pie.

To make Chocolate shavings, I just used a peeler and peel a Hershey's chocolate bar over the top.

After you've beaten your butter and sugar, add cooled melted chocolate
Ready to chill, I put some saran wrap on top just to be sure it wouldn't get chewy.
Top with Whipped Cream and chocolate shavings
No need for a back up with this pie

Monday, November 29, 2010

Greek Chili

Always looking for crock pot recipes as you know and this one didn't disappoint. It was a little more picky than I like my crock pot recipes but it was worth the trouble.

I copied this out of some magazine while at the Doctor's office...perhaps Family Circle?? I can't say this is the exact recipe, back of my checkbook was all I had to write on and poor penmanship play a role...but I liked the end result.

I ignored the "low sodium" chicken broth and that was a mistake. It was a little too salty with regular chicken broth. So do as I say and not as I did because this chili is worth trying. Everyone who tried it, LOVED it...salt and all.

What you'll need:

1 lb Skinless Chicken Breast
2 Cans Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
1 Can Fire Roasted Tomatoes
3 T Greek Seasoning
2 t Paprika
1 Can LOW sodium Chicken Broth~I think I might go 3 C next time
1 C Water
2 Zucchini~cut into pieces
1/2 Red Onion sliced
1 Fennel Bulb, trimmed and sliced
3 cloves Garlic minced
2 T Olive Oil
2 T Lemon Juice
1 t Oregano~called for 1 T of Fresh, I forgot to get it at the store

Mix tomatoes, chicken broth, water, 1 T Greek Seasoning and paprika. Add Beans and Chicken Breasts (I used frozen) and sprinkle with another Tablespoon of Greek seasoning. Cook on low for 6 hours. Remove chicken, shred and put back into chili.

I did this the last hour the chili was cooking but you could do this at any point. Mix sliced zucchini, onion, fennel and garlic with lemon juice, olive oil and 1 T Greek seasoning. Roast for about 30-40 minutes at 425. Add to chili. Heat through and serve with some Feta Cheese sprinkled on top.

Chop zucchini
This is what fennel looks like, lop off the top
Remove core
Slice the fennel
Slice half an onion
Remove the chicken from crock pot, let it cool and shred
Roasted and ready to go in the crock pot
Sprinkle with Feta Cheese and serve

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Muffin Top

Muffin Tops...I'm not talking about the yummy bread product. I am talking about what has been hanging over the top of my jeans because I like those bread products. What is making me uncomfortable in my own skin and really uncomfortable in my jeans. I decided to kick off get healthy before the New Year. Figured if I could even just maintain and not gain during the holidays it would be a success.

I'm going back to what I learned in Weight Watchers. I did WW in 2002 and lost 30 lbs. I've managed to keep 20 of those off until recently. I can admit that I got lazy. I stopped working out, I stopped watching what I was putting in my mouth. And, I'll blame age on it a bit too;) Enough crept back on that I'm not a happy girl.

I am counting my points and will include them in the recipes that I know. I'm also going to share what is getting me through those cravings and extra hungry days right now. Orville's 94% Fat Free Popcorn..One point per bag
Hostess mini cakes. Only 3 points because they are 100 calories with 5 grams of fiber! Yes, they are tiny but they serve the purpose when you want something sweet.
I'm not a diet soda fan but Diet Sierra Mist Cranberry is tasty. You can only get it around the holidays, so give it a try. If you want to add some Bacardi Limon for a tasty cocktail, I won't tell anyone but it adds about 3 points.

Images grabbed from various internet sites.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Keep your Feet WARM

Let's kick off my first hockey tournament of the season by telling you how I keep my feet warm. I have really cold feet. My feet are my temperature gauge for my entire body. If they are cold or hot, I am cold or hot. Sucks to be me.

I live in Minnesota and I am almost always freezing because my feet are usually cold. Up until recently, I had a lot of cute boots but none that kept my feet warm. The mere thought of hanging in a hockey rink for hours during a tournament would make me shiver. I tried Uggs and they didn't work. Some of the rinks around here have a colder temperature inside than outside and remember, I'm just sitting on my butt watching, of course I'm going to be cold.

So, last year, I did research. I asked questions, I checked facts and I bought my boots at Nordstroms because when the first pair didn't keep my feet warm like they promised, I returned them and even though I wore them, they took them back because they did not perform as they promised. When you are spending $170 on a pair of boots to keep your feet warm, you want them to KEEP YOUR FEET WARM!

I ended up finding a pair of boots that kept my feet warm and life is good. I can sit in a rink and not have cold feet. The bonus, they are kind of cute. Say it with me...NORTHFACE!! Northface rocks!!

Put a pair of these Smartwool babies on with the boots and life is even better.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Game Stop Giveaway

I'm kicking off the shopping season by trying to win a prize pack from TodaysMama since I can't go shopping today.

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

TodaysMama and GameStop are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this with you.

1. What is your holiday wish for your family? Healthy, happy kids.

2. What is your Christmas morning tradition? Cinnamon Rolls

3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be? A new winter wardrobe that included a few pair of cute boots.

4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money? We drive around and look at the lights, go to Macy's to see the Christmas display and make LOTS of cookies together.

5. What games did you play with your family growing up? Monopoly, Yatzee, Life

6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood? Stockings...they are my favorite part of Christmas morning

7. Where would you go for a Christmas-away-from-home trip? Mexico...I'd love for the kids to make angels in the sand:)

8. Check out GameStop and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year? Xbox 360 + Kinect Console, Sports games, Dance Party games

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Shortbread Dessert

I dug out one of my cookbooks that I kept in the purge from a few years back. Holidays with Taste of Home. I found this pumpkin dessert and since Pumpkin pie is not a "rule" at my house on Thanksgiving I am giving it a try. It was a HIT!

1 3/4 C Sugar
1 1/2 C Flour
1/2 C cold Butter chopped into pieces
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (29 ounces) Pumpkin
1 t Salt
1 t Cinnamon
1 t Ginger
1/2 t Cloves
2 cans Evaporated milk
Whipped cream and additional ground cinnamon, optional

In a bowl, combine 1/4 C sugar and flour; cut in butter (I chop the butter into small pieces and smash with a fork since I didn't have a pastry mixer) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan.

In a bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin, salt, spices and remaining sugar. Stir in milk. Pour over crust.

Bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°; bake 50-55 minutes longer or until filling is set. Cool on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate overnight

This is what "coarse" crumbles looks like
Pat down the crust in a sprayed 13x9 pan
Make sure you beat the eggs before you add the other ingredients
Mix the milk in.
Pour pumpkin mixture over crust and put in a 425° for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°; bake 50-55 minutes longer or until filling is set.

Out of the oven, I'm going to let it cool and serve tomorrow with whipped cream.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Almost No Knead Dinner Rolls

I got this recipe from the PioneerWomanCooks website. She calls them "No Knead Dinner Rolls". I had to knead them a little bit, but only a little. Maybe my bowl wasn't big enough??

Also, let me say...I'm scared of yeast. I've had BAD luck with yeast but this recipe is pretty fool proof in regard to the yeast. Give it a try because the rolls are really buttery (which is strange because they don't have any butter in them) and good. It's a nice addition to your Thanksgiving dinner table.

4 C Milk
1 C Sugar
1 C Vegetable Oil
9 C Flour
2 packages (4 1/2 Tsp.) Active Dry Yeast
1 t (heaping) Baking Powder
1 t (scant) Baking Soda
2 T Salt

Pour 4 C of milk into your soup pot. Add one cup of sugar and 1 cup of vegetable oil. Stir to combine. Now, turn the burner on medium to medium-low and “scald” (that means don't bring to a boil) the mixture/lukewarm.

Before the mixture boils, turn off the heat. Walk away and allow this mixture to cool to warm/lukewarm. The mixture will need to be warm enough to be a hospitable environment for the yeast, but not so hot that it kills the yeast and makes it inactive. I don’t usually use a thermometer, so I did what Pioneer Woman said and felt the side of the pan with the palm of my hand. If it’s hot at all, I wait another 20 minutes or so. The pan should feel comfortably warm.

When the mixture is the right temperature add in 4 C flour and 2 packages of (4-1/2 teaspoons) of active dry yeast. Give it a good mix, add another 4 cups of flour. Mix together and allow to sit, covered with a tea towel or lid, for an hour. After about an hour it should have almost doubled in size. If it hasn’t changed much, put it in a warm (but turned off ) oven for 45 minutes or so. When it had risen sufficiently add 1 more C of flour, 1 heaping t of baking powder, 1 scant t of baking soda and 2 T of salt. She said "stir", I needed to "knead" until combined.

Butter 2 muffin pans. Form the rolls by pinching off a walnut sized piece of dough and rolling it into a little ball. Repeat and tuck three balls of dough into each buttered muffin cup. Continue until pan is full. Cover and allow to rise for about 1 to 2 hours. I had enough dough to also roll a small ball and put in my deep dish pizza pan. I believe I got 48 rolls out of this recipe.

Bake in a 400-degree oven until golden brown, about 17 to 20 minutes. I ran a stick of butter over the top when they came out, just because;)

Remember flour first and then yeast and then mix
all mixed and ready to rest
risen and ready for the next step
This is what heaping looks like
I needed to "knead" to get all the flour incorporated. Perhaps a larger bowl would have alleviated that.
There we go, all ready to make our rolls
Ready for the oven after rising about an hour

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Creamy Whipped Potatoes

Growing up, I didn't know that mashed potatoes and whipped potatoes were different. I didn't realize that mashed potatoes came with lumps because my Mom is a Whipped Potato girl.

I have seen her gag when she has taken a bite of potatoes that had a little lump in them. Making whipped potatoes isn't really hard, it just takes a little extra attention. Making them to get my Mom's final approval did take me awhile but she is over the top fussy about her potatoes. I accepted that I couldn't make them the way she loved them and then a miracle happened and I started getting them right.

I will share with you a few things to remember about making Whipped Potatoes turn out:

First, this is the biggest one...your potato chunks need to be VERY similar in size. You want your potatoes to boil evenly.

Second, make sure there is enough room in the pan to have at least an inch of water over the top of the potatoes and make sure you have enough salt in the water.

Third, you want to drain them well.

Fourth, you'll be using a hand mixer. You will whip but not over whip.

If you boil too long or whip too long, you get a texture you will never forget. A texture that makes me gag.

I don't intend to scare you, I just want to point out that there are a few things to pay attention to. And, probably the worst thing that will happen is you'll have a few lumps and if you're not my'll be ok with that and get it next time.

Ok, so we're making 4 servings of potatoes and this is what you'll need:

5 potatoes peeled, washed and cut into equal size chunks

Put in a pot (I used my 4 qt sauce pot) big enough for you to have an inch of COLD water over the potatoes. Add 1 T table salt. Put the potatoes on the stove, high heat. Once the water starts to boil, it should take about 10-12 minutes.

Test with a fork. The fork should go in easily, if the potato falls apart, you've boiled too long (we'll address that later), if it offers resistance, meaning you have a hard time getting that potato off the fork, you need to boil another minute or two.

Drain your potatoes well. That means empty the pot into a strainer, make sure all the water is out of the pot and put the potatoes back in the pot.

Add 3 T Butter and whip your potatoes around the pan for about 30 to 45 seconds. You want to basically get all the lumps out at this stage of the game and if you've cooked them long enough, 45 seconds is plenty of time if you're moving your mixer around. If you've OVER cooked your potatoes you do NOT want to mix any longer than 30 seconds. The longer you whip the more gluten that comes out and you're gonna end up with a glue texture if you over whip.

"I" add about 1/3 C of Sour Cream and teaspoon of garlic powder (these two are optional, my Mom doesn't add these or you can also throw some cream cheese in here too) and about 1/4 C of milk and mix until just blended.

If you want them a bit creamier, add a little more milk but add a little at a time, you don't want soupy potatoes. If you've over cooked, you'll need less milk because the potatoes absorbed some of the water.

If you ended up with a couple of the size of your potatoes next time. Equal size pieces are the key or as close to equal as you can do. If the pieces aren't equal, the potatoes cook at differently and that's how you end up with lumps.

Equal size chunks are the key to creamy whipped potatoes
Make sure there is at least an inch of cold water above your potatoes. You also want to make sure that your water has enough salt. I used a T for this size pot
Nice and creamy
Best kind of left overs...I packaged up a meal for lunch..

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes

It was Native American Parent Involvement day at my kid's school. I was told to bring my favorite "Native" dish to share. We decided that everyone would like cupcakes instead of something that involved wild rice.

Being that I canNOT bring myself to spend at least $1 per cupcake, I made 24 for under $3 and everyone loved them.

What you'll need:

Cake Mix prepared
1/2 bag of Mini Chocolate Chips
Can of Frosting...yep you heard me, I didn't make homemade

Prepare cupcakes according to directions and add chocolate chips. Cool, frost and dip in sprinkles.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cheesy Hashbrown Potatoes

Some people call these company potatoes, some people put crushed Corn Flakes or Bread Crumbs on top. Me, I go for simple, straight forward...cheese, potatoes, sauce..enough said and YUM! You can also make these very easily in the crock pot. And, if I'm feeling fancy...I will top with more cheese just before serving so that it's melted all over the top.

What you'll need:

Bag of Ore Ida Hashbrowns~thawed
1 large Onion~chopped
1 stick of butter
2 cans Cream of Chicken Soup~98% fat free for me
8 oz Sour Cream~I use light
8 oz Cream Cheese~works best if it's cubed because it melts quicker
2 C Shredded Cheddar Cheese~I think I actually used a blend of Monterey Jack and Cheddar last time because it's what I had

Optional things to peppers, ham, jalapenos

Add your onions and butter to a pan and melt on low. Cook for a bit to soften the onions. Add soup, sour cream and cream cheese. Cook on low until blended.

Mix potatoes and cheese. Pour sauce on top and mix thoroughly. Pour into sprayed 13x9 pan and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or into your crock pot and cook on low for a few hours. Remember if you want, you can add some more cheese the last 5 minutes of cooking.

You can also make these ahead but might need to add 10-15 minutes of extra cooking time. Check the middle to make sure they are hot enough.

You can also use Potato O'Brien if you want, just a different shape of potato.
Give your onion a good chop
Butter and onions making magic
Potatoes and cheese waiting for the sauce
Mixed and ready for a sprayed 13x9 pan or the crock pot

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Banana Pudding

Don't get excited, I don't make it from scratch. It's actually a super easy thing that I made once, a long time ago and now it's looked for at holiday meals. Claire took over the preparation a couple of years ago so I stopped making the pudding on the stove and went for instant so she could do it completely by herself. this does need to be made the morning of or the bananas turn brown (yes, I know I could do something to the bananas so they wouldn't turn brown but no need, this is easy to make the day of) and the wafers get squishy.

What you'll need:

Box of Vanilla Wafers
2 Bananas sliced
2 small boxes Instant Banana Pudding prepared

Line your favorite dish with wafers. Top with banana slices. Top with pudding, push a few bananas randomly into pudding. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until dinner time. Don't forget the plastic wrap or you'll get a hard film on the top of the pudding that is not a tasty treat.
Layer your wafers
Slice the bananas as thick as you like
Top with Bananas
use your mixer to get that pudding thickened

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Grilled Turkey Sandwich

I was in the mood for a grown up sandwich and this absolutely hit the spot.

What you'll need:

Good bread, sandwich sliced..I used Vienna
Havarti cheese slice thin
Spinach leaves
Turkey breast
Avocado sliced thin

Butter your bread. Yes, you heard me, butter your bread. I typically use Spray Butter for grilled cheese but this sandwich is a grown up, yummy sandwich and in my opinion requires butter to soak into the bread as it cooks.

On the non buttered side, put some thinly sliced Havarti. I actually used Garlic Havarti...YUM!?!

Next comes Turkey,
Thinly sliced Avocado,
Spinach leaves,
another layer of Havarti

Now grill this like you would a grilled cheese over medium heat. It melts and all the flavors blend together. I would have added some grilled onions but I was too hungry to mess around. I wanted to get this party started and it was EXACTLY what I was looking for.

Slice your avocado in half and thinly slice within the skin. This avocado is perfectly ripe, if yours in not, you might have to work a bit and peel it first

See the butter...Butter your bread

Layer of Havarti and turkey next

Avocado next, you don't want this on top of the bread or it could get squishy

Spinach and another layer of cheese and grill on a medium heat pan