Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips!

This will quickly become one of your most requested recipes.. it is definitely one of mine!  

Fruit Salsa

1 lb. fresh strawberries
1 lg. apple or 2 small apples, peeled and cored
2 kiwis, peeled
1/2 can pineapple, drained or about 1/4 fresh pineapple
3 TBSP sugar
dash of lemon juice

Wash and prepare all fruit.  I like to chop my fruit separately, but you don't have to.. Put fruit in a food processor or "salsa maker" (as pictured) and chop thoroughly.  Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use!  Serve with cinnamon chips.

Salsa chopper makes it quick!

Stack the tortillas and cut a stack at a time

Cinnamon Chips

flour tortillas
1 stick butter or margarine
cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Melt butter or margarine.  Brush butter onto flour tortillas and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  I find it easiest to do one tortilla, stack another etc.. until I have 5 or 6 stacked up.  Then use either large knife or pizza cutter to cut into triangles.  If needed, sprinkle a little more cinnamon sugar before baking. Place on cookie sheet (one layer) and cook until brown and crispy- about 10-12 minutes.  Enjoy with the fruit salsa!

Here is a printable 4 x 6 recipe card for your files! (I have made a few changes since I made this, either one is great!) Enjoy

Monday, March 5, 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes filled with Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and topped with Peanut Butter Frosting! Yum!

Last night, we all decided this is about the most amazing cupcake recipe ever!! I say "about" because we eat a lot of dessert at our house. It's truly gonna be difficult to ever declare something the "BEST EVER".

I had some peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer that someone had given me. So, that is where I started. I will not pretend to post a recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookie dough that is the same as what I used last night. I'll just say that ANY cookie dough is good! Even that refrigerated rolled up stuff. And, get creative with it! I had fun with the peanut butter theme.

**Before you can do anything else, though, you need to make 24 tablespoon sized balls of cookie dough and freeze them for a couple of hours.

Besides that, for the cupcakes you will need:
1 cake mix (I used chocolate)
1/2 cup oil
1 1/3 cup water
3 eggs
Make according to box directions. In fact, if the box says 2 eggs and 2 cups of water, then go ahead and follow the box directions. There is certainly nothing magical about what I added to my cake mix!

Divide the batter into 24 paper lined cupcake tins. Place one frozen cookie dough ball in the middle of each tin. I pressed them in just a little, but it really wasn't necessary! The cupcake will "grow" around the cookie dough!
Bake this incredible yumminess at 350 for about 20 minutes. This pic is in the oven... Cool completely before frosting.
Since the dough was peanut butter based, I decided to make a Peanut Butter Frosting - which by the way was a great idea!!

Peanut Butter Frosting
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup cream or milk
First, cream the peanut butter and butter til smooth. Add about half of the powdered sugar and cream, then mix until smooth. Finish with the remaining amounts. You may have to adjust and add a little more milk or powdered sugar until it is the consistency you like....and soft enough to be spreadable.

I like piping the frosting on, because it looks like it came from a bakery! Obviously my decorating skills aren't all that fantastic, but I think these look much better than cupcakes that have frosting spread to the edges with a butter knife! This one is cut in half, so maybe it isn't as pretty now, but I wanted you to see the cookie dough in the middle! Yum!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Best (and easiest) Caesar Salad Ever!

Yes, I know...this may seem too easy and basic to even bother posting the recipe. However, this is probably my most requested recipe of ALL TIME!!

When my kids were little, and I was trying to get them to eat salad ("eat your veggies"), I found this combination - and it worked! They loved and devoured Caesar salad (as long as it was made with these ingredients), and so we had it for dinner quite often. The mistake I made was not trying other salad recipes - they ate this one, and I kept making it! So, while my kids ate MY salad, they usually wouldn't touch any other salad. :) I have long since decided to accept that as a compliment and move on. Now, they are teenagers, and will eat almost anything - so I guess it all works out in the end. And, they do eat their veggies - especially if they come in the form of Caesar Salad!!

Here's the recipe:
**chopped romaine lettuce
**grated parmesan cheese - the cheap kind in the plastic bottle, not the fancy shredded stuff.
**croutons - My family loves Chatham Village Garlic and Butter large cut croutons, but I recently learned that Marzetti's is the same company with the same recipes. A special treat is Olivia's Parmesan Pepper croutons.
**dressing - there is no other option but Cardini's Original Caesar Dressing!! If you don't do this right, then it's not my Caesar salad recipe!

Put it all in a bowl and toss - use amounts to your taste, but use more parmesan cheese than you might think. To serve 4, I probably use about 1/4 cup or maybe even more parmesan cheese. You want enough dressing that the lettuce isn't dry, but not so much that it's dripping! Next time I make it, I'll try to get some better measurements and post them so you won't have to guess.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Triple Cheesy Super Creamy Baked Ziti

Our family loves Italian food! This is definitely a family favorite - better than most Italian restaurant dishes! There is nothing else to say about it, except you have to try it! Oh, and did I mention that it's super easy to make...

1 pound dry ziti pasta
1 finely chopped onion
1 lb ground beef
2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce (my favorite is Ragu Parmesan Romano)
8 slices of provolone cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook about 8-9 minutes; drain.
2. In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, heat through, then remove from heat.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking oil spray.
4. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, 1/2 of the sauce, Provolone cheese, sour cream, remaining ziti, remaining sauce, mozzarella cheese. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
5. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted. I recommend that you cover with foil for the first 15-20 minutes of baking, then remove foil so the cheese will melt and the top will be perfectly browned!

*NOTE - this is a great dish to make ahead and bake when needed. From the refrigerator, it usually needs an additional 15 minutes of cooking time.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

International Fancy Food Show - Day 3

Whatever self-control I exhibited on day 1 and 2 were thrown out the window today! :) While I was not quite the "pig" that I normally am at the Fancy Food show, I did a lot more sampling on day 3. Here's todays favorites...
The French Patisserie's Macarons de Paris - I've seen pictures of these in gourmet magazines many times, and always wondered what they tasted like. WOW! They are so different from what I imagined! When I picked it up (I tried the Sea Salt Caramel flavor), it looked like a light brown whoopie pie, so I was thinking of a cakey treat with frosting in the middle. Well, it is hard to explain exactly how this is nothing like a whoopie pie. The best I can tell you is that the outside pieces are almost melt-in-your-mouth flaky. The inside is more like a thick saucey filling - not frostingish at all! I'm pretty cheap, and these taste expensive, but I might consider buying some if I ever find them in a store.

Helen Grace's Ultimate Truffles - Ultimate is a good word for these! They start with what they call a "meltaway" (I first misunderstood them and thought they said "Milky Way", which I thought was strange to use as the first layer of a fancy chocolate!). Well, the meltaway layer is the creamiest chocolate my mouth has ever had the opportunity to taste - think about the creamy inside of a truffle and you will be pretty close! It is aptly named "meltaway"! On top of the meltaway is a layer of perfect caramel - I say perfect because it is a smooth, melt in your mouth caramel, not the kind you have to bite into. Then, to top off the super yumminess is a "cap" of white chocolate. Truly amazing!! I think the best place to find these truffles is through a fundraising company called "Innisbrook". And, yes - I will spend the exorbitant fundraising prices to get another bite of these chocolates!

Agave Dream's Cinnamon Ice Cream - I love this ice cream! The cinnamon flavor is subtle, yet easy to imagine how perfect this would taste with a snickerdoodle cookie or apple pie. And, while taste is important - I love what the company has done. They have created an ice cream that uses Agave Nectar to sweeten it, so that those who are sugar sensitive or even diabetic can enjoy naturally sweetened ice cream. I found the ice cream to be "just sweet enough" which is a nice change from the corn syrup laden frozen treats at the local grocery story.

The Pasta Shoppe's Chicken Pasta Salad - This is one of my favorite items at the show! The Pasta Shoppe has a great line of shaped pasta, with everything from your favorite college team mascots to little hearts for Valentine's Day. They also make a few meal items, and the Chicken Pasta Salad is a family favorite! I had never thought of putting pasta in chicken salad, but it is absolutely delicious.

So, that wraps up my 3 day series on favorite tastes at the International Fancy Food Show. I guess I need to get back in my kitchen and start cooking again! Hmmmmm - what's for dinner???

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

International Fancy Food Show - Day 2

Day 1 was an exercise in will-power, but I found a few flaws with my plan. For one, too many of the samples were gone at the end of the day. Also, I thought I may need just a few more than 5 samples or "tastes" so that I will have 5 good ones to write about (because it's all about the blog and our 14 followers!). So, I tasted about 10 things today, but I'll highlight my favorite 5 for the day....

1. Oro Tempo Formaggio Piave - similar to eating a chunk of parmesean cheese, which I love! This is delicious cheese, but since they are from Italy, I'm not sure how easy it would be to find here in the US.

2. Fage 0% fat Greek Yogurt with Honey - my favorite of the Fage (pronounced fa-yee), flavors! If you like yogurt, but have never tasted this brand, you really should try it. If you don't like the tanginess of yogurt, then you definitely should try Fage. The flavor is mild but rich, the yogurt is smooth and creamy, and you'll never miss the fat and calories of the 2% or 4% versions! I promise!

3. Lucero Arbequina Olive Oil - my picture didn't work out, so I'll attach the link to their website Our family loves to dip french bread in olive oils, but we usually add pepper to the oil. This particular oil has so much flavor, and even a peppery taste, that you don't need to add anything at all! If you thought all olive oils are the same, then it's time for you to do some tasting - and I recommend you start with this one from Lucero! This is what I will be buying from now on!

4. Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt Caramel filling - It seems like every year at the show, they introduce a new flavor in their little square chocolates. I've been impressed with others, but they really did it right this time! This is worth trying!

5. Kara's Chocolates have always been a favorite of mine, but this time it's not about the chocolate. They are introducing these amazing buttery caramel waffle cookies (for which I can't remember the name). The packaging is still in the developmental phase, so I just took a picture of the cookie. Soon, we'll be seeing it on the market, and I'll be eating more of these delicious cookies!

Monday, January 23, 2012

International Fancy Food Show - tasting on Day 1

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to exhibit our gourmet cookie mixes at the International Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. Going to that show is one of my favorite things to do for the whole year! This picture is our booth on set-up day.

Well, normally, I'm a complete pig when I get to this show - there is no other way to put it! Imagine yourself confined to a convention center for 3 days where there are literally several miles of aisles of booths, all sampling gourmet and specialty food from around the world! It's hard to not eat your way through the show.

This year, I decided that I was going to approach my sampling habits at the show a little differently. On Day 1, my goal was to wait until the last hour of the show to start sampling, and then to only sample 5 items! Yes - sounds crazy for a pig like me, but I had to try. And, it was very interesting (to me, at least). As I walked through some of show booths, I would scan for something that looked "tasteworthy". There were many items that I would have eaten "just because it was there" if I had not made my 5 tastes goal. I saw a few things that I've had many times before and absoultely love, but I know where to get them after the show is over (one favorite was specificially those Guylian seashell chocolates), so I passed them by, too. As I talked to representatives from each of the companies listed below, I decided to document each "taste" with pictures of the product, too.

Now for the moment you have been waiting's what I tasted and my thoughts on each...

1. Jer's Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares - delicious peanut butter middle with krispy cereal pieces, all coated in milk chocolate. The company is from Salt Lake City, and they have a fabulous line of chocolates!

2. Three Twins Organic Lemon Cookie Ice Cream - super creamy ice cream with a great flavor! No weird aftertaste like you get with some fake lemony flavored desserts - all natural and delicious! I meant to go back the next day and taste their Cookies and Cream flavor, too, but forgot to - however, I'm sure it's delicious!

3. Braswells Balsamic Sweet Onion Jam - this won a Gold SOFI award last summer, so I had to taste this jam. I absoultely loved it! They were serving it over cream cheese with crackers. I'm sure there are a lot of more complicated things you can do with this, but why? It tastes so wonderful and this is so simple! The guys at Braswells have outdone themselves with this one!

4. Olympus Authentic Greek Feta Cheese - maybe this is a lame thing to taste, but honestly it was about time for the show to close and I was only on taste 4! I do love Feta cheese, and wondered what "authentic imported from Greece Feta" tasted like. Well, let me say that it's pretty much like what I get at the grocery store.

5. this is hardly worth mentioning and certainly not worth a photo, but......after taste #4, I looked around and realized that the booths were closing, and no one had samples out anymore. So, I just went back to the Olympus booth, where they had another cheese to sample. It was a semi-hard cheese, and it was just OK.

After my experiment in tasting, I decided that Day 2 would need a few more tastes, and it would have to start a little earlier in the day. More to come...

Sorry we are so lame!

Well, first I need to apologize to all 14 of our loyal followers! It's been a REALLY long time since either one of us posted anything. You would think that with all the cooking and baking we did during the holidays, we would have posted SOMETHING, but NO! Instead we just enjoyed each and every bite of it without sharing any recipes or ideas with you. :( Of course, we kept intending to post all of the yummy food, but it just didn't happen. We will try harder to be more consistent - in fact, as of right now, it's a New Year's Resolution!