Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from my little munchkins to yours!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Cake Pops

I did it! I finally did it! I made Cake Pops! I just love reading a food blog called Bakerella. She's the one that came up with cake pops and has made them for pretty much every holiday and carton character out there. They are just adorable! If you have never looked at her blog you should check it out. It's what inspired me to make these cake pops.

I'm pretty happy with how my cake pops turned out. It was a bit challenging to get the icing smooth but with practice, I kept getting better and better. My biggest disappointment was in the cool edible black pen that I bought from Michael's. I had all intentions of turning my pumpkins into jack o'lanterns but I could not get the pen to write on the orange chocolate melts. I barely got it to work on a couple of the white ghosts. Other than that I would call them a huge success though! I made them with chocolate cake and can of chocolate frosting.

Halloween Cake Pops
Source: Bakerella

1 box cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
1 can frosting (16 oz.)
Wax paper
Green Tic Tacs (pumpkin stems)
Orange candy melts (pumpkins)
White candy melts (ghosts)
Chocolate candy melts (plain cake pops)
Halloween sprinkles
Lollipop sticks
Edible ink pens

After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl. Mix thoroughly with 1 can frosting. (I use the back of a large spoon, but it may be easier to use fingers to mix together. But, be warned, it will get messy. Also, you may not need the entire can of frosting, so start out by using almost the entire can and add more if you need to.)

Roll mixture into quarter size balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50) Melt chocolate in the microwave per directions on package. (30 sec intervals, stirring in between.) Dip the tip of your lollipop stick in a little of the melted candy coating and insert into the cake balls. (Insert a little less than halfway.)

Place them in the freezer for a little while to firm up. Once firm, carefully insert the cake ball into the candy coating by holding the lollipop stick and rotating until covered. Once covered remove and softly tap and rotate until the excess chocolate falls off. Don’t tap too hard or the cake ball will fall off, too. Place in a styrofoam block to dry. Once dry, draw faces with an edible ink pen and allow ink to dry!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chicken Croquettes

In a hurry and need a meal fast? This recipe is for you! Buy the ingredients ahead of time (if you don’t already have them in your pantry) and keep this recipe handy for a night when you are in a rush to get dinner on the table.

My family gave this meal two thumbs up and it was the fastest meal I've ever made. Seriously, like super fast! It took me longer to wash the dishes than to cook that night!

Serve the chicken croquettes and rice with a fresh green salad (I used a ready made kit from Meijer) and you'll have your complete meal on the table in 20 minutes or less.

Chicken Croquettes
Source: Wholesome Mommy

1 large can of white meat chicken (the can that is a little larger than a can of tuna)
6 - 8 crackers (I used Ritz)
1 egg
Vegetable oil
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can of milk (use the soup can)
Salt, to taste

These patties are delicious served over rice. The chicken patties take about 20 minutes to make – from can to plate. So, you’ll want to start your rice before you start the chicken patties. Then, open your soup and dump into a saucepan with 1 can of milk. Don’t turn the saucepan on yet. Begin making your chicken patties. Having the soup ready to go on the stove will make it easy to flip the soup on so it can get hot while you are flipping the chicken patties.

On to the directions:
Drain chicken and dump into a bowl. Break up the chicken so that there aren’t any large chunks. Crush and add crackers. Add the egg. Stir. Heat oil in a large skillet. Take a small amount (a palm full) of the chicken mixture and pat it out into a patty. It mixture is too wet, add a few more crackers. Lay patty in the hot oil and continue to make more small chicken patties and add them to the oil. When all the patties are in the oil it is time to flip them one at a time. They should be golden brown. Lightly salt the patties while they are cooking. Allow the other side to brown up in the oil (it will only take a few minutes).

Drain patties on paper towels. Serve over white or brown rice with the chicken soup “gravy” over the top. DELICIOUS! This is a family favorite. Kids love it and you can have dinner on the table in 20 minutes!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Pudding

Oh goodness gracious...oh my! This recipe is to die for. I loved it! It tasted like eating a pumpkin pie without the crust but has a texture that resembles bread pudding. Mmmmm.... I think I'll have to make this for Thanksgiving this year!

I hear that the cold leftovers are really good too. I'll find out in the morning!!!! :)

Pumpkin Pie Pudding

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. biscuit/baking mix
2 eggs, beaten
2 T. butter or margarine, melted
2 1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
2 t. vanilla extract
whipped topping

In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. Transfer to a slow cooker coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cover and cook on low for 3 1/2 - 4 hours or until a thermometer reads 160 degrees F. Serve in bowls with whipped topping if desired.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Amish Baked Oatmeal

Here's what we ate for breakfast this weekend. It was a nice change from my normal bowl of Strawberry Special K! Next time I'd like to try adding some cinnamon to the recipe!

Amish Baked Oatmeal
Source: Taste of Home: Family Collection Cookbook

1 1/2 c. quick-cooking oats
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. butter, melted
1 egg
1 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
Warm milk
Fresh fruit and/or brown sugar, optional

Combine the first eight ingredients; mix well. Spread evenly in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Immediately spoon into bowls; add milk. Top with fruit and/or brown sugar if desired.

Makes 6 servings.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chicken Cordon Bleu Chowder

Now that Fall is here I am getting into the soup mood. This recipe was souper...I mean super good!!! I was also excited to use my fresh chives from the garden one more time before they start to wilt from the cooler weather.

This is one of those recipes that I tricked my husband into thinking I cooked over the stove for an hour or two making everything from scratch. But with only 4 ingredients, it just doesn't get any easier than this! Everybody needs a little break every once in awhile. :)

Chicken Cordon Bleu Chowder
Source: Betty Crocker 4 Ingredient Dinners

2 cans (19 oz each) ready-to-serve creamy potato with roasted garlic soup
1 c. cubed cooked chicken breast
1 c. diced fully cooked ham
1 c. shredded Swiss cheese (4 oz.)

Heat soup, chicken and ham in 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Slowly stir in cheese. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted.

Add color to this dish by sprinkling each serving with chopped fresh chives or dried dill weed.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Candy Corn Pudding

Halloween may just be my favorite holiday. If not my favorite, it definitely ranks pretty high up there! Making all of these fun Halloween recipes has made me want to host a Halloween party. I told my hubby we'll have to plan one next year for sure!

Here's another cute and simple candy corn recipe for you. It just takes 2 boxes of pudding, some milk, and Cool Whip. Don't you just love these?

Candy Corn Pudding

1 box instant vanilla pudding
1 box instant butterscotch pudding
4 c. milk
yellow food coloring
Cool Whip

Make each kind of pudding according to directions on package. Add some yellow food coloring to the vanilla pudding. Layer puddings and Cool Whip in a martini glass to resemble candy corn. Optional: Decorate with candy corns or pumpkins.

(Make this kid friendly by using clear plastic tumblers.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunshine Salad

I made this for dessert the other day. Very easy to throw together and my 3 year old loved it. I on the otherhand thought the lemon pudding was a little over-powering. Might have been better if I would have made the pudding with milk instead of the fruit juices, not sure. Give it a try, just because I don't give it two thumbs up doesn't mean you won't.

Sunshine Salad
Source: Taste of Home

1 can (20 oz) pineapple tidbits
1 can (11 oz) mandarin oranges
1 pkg (3.4 oz) instant lemon pudding
1 c. fresh strawberries, quartered
1 c. sliced bananas, sliced

Drain pineapple and oranges, reserving liquid. In a large bowl, combine pudding mix with reserved fruit juices. Fold in pineapple, oranges and strawberries; chill for at least 2 hours. Add bananas just before serving.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fried Round Steak

You would never get bored eating at my house. I am always making new recipes, leaving no time to fix the same thing over and over again. It's so fun trying new things and most of the time they end up being fabulous! This was the first time I've ever cooked cube steak. It did not disappoint! Very flavorful, crispy, and oh so good.

The leftovers were wonderful the following day too. Just reheat and make a sandwich out of it using Mayo or Miracle Whip - whatever floats your boat!

Fried Round Steak
Source: The Pioneer Woman

3 lbs Cube Steak (Round Steak That's Been Extra Tenderized)
1 c. Flour
1 t. Seasoned Salt
3 t. Ground Black Pepper
Salt, For Seasoning Meat
½ c. Canola Oil (more if needed)
2 T. Butter

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. (Make sure to add in enough canola oil to completely cover the surface of the pan.) Mix together flour, seasoned salt, and pepper. Season both sides of steaks with salt and pepper. Dredge each piece in flour mixture, pressing to coat with as much flour as possible. Add butter to pan right before frying. When butter is melted, fry pieces of steak in butter/oil mixture. Cook until the sides start to appear nice and golden. This’ll take about two or three minutes. Flip when sides are deep golden brown and cook about 1 minute on the other side. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Vaca Frita

Here I go on my Cuban kick again. I just love that Cuban food! As I mentioned in a previous post, my favorite restaurant in New Jersey was called Cuban Pete's. I would always either order Vaca Frita or their Churrasco Steak. EVERY time!!!

We went to the Ann Arbor library last weekend and I always find myself migrating straight back to the cookbook section. Imagine that, right?! Low and behold, this Cuban cookbook caught my eye.

So now I know how to make both of my favorite Cuban entrees! I have one more I want to try but I'll save that for another week. This recipe was very good and reminded me a lot of Cuban Pete's. It needed some extra salt and some extra squeezes of lime juice at the end to make it just perfect.

Vaca Frita
(Also known as Crispy Shredded Beef)
Source: In A Cuban Kitchen cookbook

3 lbs. flank steak
2 bay leaves
1 carrot, cut into 3 pieces
1 medium tomato, cut in half
1/2 T. cumin
1/2 T. dried oregano
1/4 c. olive oil
1 lg. Spanish onion, sliced fine
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to season

In a small stock pan, add the meat, bay leaves, carrot, tomato, cumin, and oregano and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 1 and a half hours until the meat becomes tender. Remove from the heat, drain, and shred meat.

Heat a skillet until it is very hot and add 1/8 c. of the olive oil. Add the shredded meat, being sure to spread it evenly over the pan. Flip the meat and cook until both sides become crispy.

In a separate pan, add the remaining olive oil and cook the onion until caramelized. Mix in the meat, cilantro, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with extra lime wedges.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

Here's another fun Halloween recipe for you! It's amazing that I don't weigh 400 pounds after all the Halloween goodies I've made this week. Luckily I am good about sending them off with my husband to take to work. The less I keep in the house - the less I can eat! :)

I do not like the taste of real candy corn but I find myself buying a package of them every year to use for decorating something with. These candy corn sugar cookies on the other hand are very good and have a hint of lemon to them! They were a blast to make and would be a wonderful treat to make if you are hosting a Halloween party this year.

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies
Source: Kaitlin in the Kitchen

2 Sticks Butter, softened
1 c. Sugar
1 Egg
2 T. Lemon Juice
2 t. Lemon Zest
1/8 t. Salt
3 c. Flour
1/2 t. Baking Soda
Red Food Dye
Yellow Food Dye
1/2 c. Granulated Sugar (for dusting)

Combine butter and sugar in a large bowl; beat at medium speed until creamy. Add egg, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt. Continue beating until well mixed. Add flour and baking soda, beat until well mixed. Divide dough into thirds. Press one-third of the white dough evenly into the bottom of a loaf pan that you have lined with foil, wax, or parchment paper. Place another one-third of the dough into a bowl and add yellow and red food dye to make orange (refer to the chart on the back of your box). Once it is mixed evenly, press orange dough evenly over white dough. In another bowl, add the final amount of dough and dye yellow. Press that evenly over the orange dough. Cover and refrigerate until firm (2 hours or overnight is best). Once chilled, invert your loaf pan and unwrap your dough. Flip it back over and place it on a cutting board. Cut loaf crosswise into 1/4-inch slices using a sharp knife, trimming edges to make even, if necessary. Cut each slice into 6 wedges.

Place 1-inch apart onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 7-10 minutes in a pre-heated 375 degree oven. Place cookies straight into a bowl with sugar and coat. Place coated cookies on a baking rack to cool.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Haystack Creatures

Here's yet another cute, tasty, and easy Halloween recipe. My 3 1/2 year old keeps asking me if he can eat another monster. These things are hilarious. I love them! You can make any size creatures you want.

Look! Here's a family of 5. A papa, mama, and 3 kiddos. They're a good lookin' family aren't they?

Haystack Creatures
Source: Woman's Day

8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used a partial bag of chocolate chips and a T. of shortening)
1 can (5 oz) thin chow mein noodles
1⁄2 c. vanilla frosting (I used some melted white candy melts)
18 green jelly beans (I used M&M's)
18 small purple sugar ball candies (You can use any color!)

Line a large baking sheet with waxed paper or nonstick foil.

Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and melt on high in microwave 1 to 2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Scrape chocolate into a large bowl; add noodles and gently toss with a rubber spatula until all the noodles are evenly covered in chocolate.

Drop heaping 1⁄4-cupfuls of noodle mixture into 9 haystacks on prepared cookie sheet. Let dry 1 hour at room temperature (or speed it up by refrigerating them 30 minutes until hard).

Put frosting into a small ziptop bag; snip off a tiny corner of the bag and pipe 2 dabs onto each creature and attach 2 jelly bean eyes. Pipe a dot in center of each eye and attach a candy ball in center. Let dry 1⁄2 hour.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Owl S'mores

Halloween is quickly approaching! I saw these adorable little owls while surfing the internet the other day and fell in love with them! They were super easy to make and my 3 year old loved helping make them. These would be great to make for a school Halloween party and are sure to make people smile.

Oh Look!!! There are even baby owls!!! :) I had so much fun making the big owls that I used miniature marshmallows and mini M&M's to make some babies. There are 8 babies in all. Perhaps I will call them John and Kate plus EIGHT!

Owl S'mores

Graham crackers
Chocolate chips
Yellow candy melts
Candy corn
Mini M&M's and miniature marshmallows (If you want babies too!)

For directions on how to make these adorable owls please visit the original post provided by Living Locurto by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Unstuffed Green Pepper Soup

I heard not one but two of my friends talk about eating this soup on two different occasions. Both Heather and Barbie went on and on about how good it was. My expectations were low. I've never even made stuffed green peppers before so I wasn't exactly sure what the soup would taste like. The outcome did not disappoint! This is a very flavorful soup and was very comforting on this chilly Fall evening. My hubby loved it too! I will definitely be making more of this during the upcoming cold months.

Next time I may even try to make it a little healthier by using 1/2 sausage and 1/2 ground turkey as well as substitue the white rice for brown.

Unstuffed Green Pepper Soup
Source: Barbie F.

1 1/2 lb sausage
1 onion, diced
2 cans tomato soup
2 cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
3 large green peppers, diced
2 (14 1/2 oz) cans beef broth
1 1/2 c. cooked rice

Brown sausage with onion and peppers. Stir everything together except rice. Simmer for 30 min. Add rice and heat through.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bruschette - Catalan Tomato Bread

I went to an Olive Oil Tasting this past August. It was one of the most unique and fun food events I have ever been too. Who knew there were so many different varieties of olive oils?!?! The tasting was at a famous deli in downtown Ann Arbor called Zingerman's. It's such a neat and unique place on its own. You could spend hours there just browsing and tasting all of their products from around the world.

That night we tasted olive oils on bread, drizzled over tomatoes, with goat cheese and bleu cheese and crackers, in a potato salad, as a dressing on a salad...we even had a cake that was made with olive oil (It was delicious!)!!! Not only did we sample olive oils on food, but we also taste-tested them by themselves. First swirling the olive oil container around in my hand, smelling it, slurping in a little bit, and then twirling it around in my mouth just as if I were at a wine taste-test.

If you ever have the opportunity to go to an olive oil tasting, I highly recommend it.

At the end of the tasting, they gave us a 20% off coupon so I bought one of my favorite extra virgin olive oils called Tibvrtini Olive Oil. A few days later, some friends from NJ came to visit and surprised me with my other favorite bottle called Roi Carte Noir.

Roi Carte Noir is now my all time favorite olive oil and it's all because of this recipe.

Bruschette - Catalan Tomato Bread
Source: Zingerman's

1/4 c. (2 oz.) delicate extra-virgin olive oil
8 slices grilled or toasted bread
2 vine-ripened juicy red tomatoes
Finely ground sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Brush or drizzle the olive oil onto the bread. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise. Rub the cut side of a tomato onto each bread slice until the bread is red and moist. Sprinkle with sea salt and a few grindings of pepper. Serve immediately.

*Bruschette requires high-quality, preferably artisanal bread.
*This recipe is best if you have very ripe tomatoes.

I will NEVER be able to buy a generic, on-sale bottle of extra virgin olive oil again! You really do get what you pay for.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Baby Foods

My Mommy fed me...


I've had so much fun going to the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market this summer. I've been cooking up a storm in my kitchen making lots of baby food! So far I've made:

Pumpkin w/Apples and Cinnamon
Sweet Potatoes
Broccoli with Apple Juice
Yellow Squash
and Beets!

This post won't pertain to many of my readers, but if you have a baby and are interested in making your own baby food, let me know. I'd love to share some easy recipes with you!

I choose to make homemade baby food mainly because I enjoy doing it, but here are some other good reasons to go the homemade route:

Making homemade baby food is significantly cheaper than buying baby food.

Homemade baby food is healthier for your baby. First of all, you are in control of what spices and sugar you put in your childs food, if any. That means you ensure the food is healthy for your infant and doesn't add extra calories from a lot of sugar. You also don't add preservatives, know where the vegetables and fruits came from, and how they were prepared. You can even alter ingredients to create specialized foods for your baby that you might not be able to find pre-packaged.

Tastes Better
Have you ever tasted the store-bought baby food? Some of them can taste pretty nasty. I'm never afraid to try a bite of the baby food I make. It tastes great! I was tempted to pour myself a bowl of the cooked apples after making them for my baby because they tasted that good! :)

Freezes Well
Homemade baby food may be made in one afternoon and then stored in the freezer in ice cube trays. It freezes well and you will find that you can spend a few hours making baby food and then have it for weeks on end. Most frozen baby food stays good in the freezer for up to 3 months.

*I am not against the store-bought baby food at all. It is perfectly healthy for your little ones. I still buy some to have on hand and it's much easier to use when traveling. However, if we are home, you can bet my little one is eating the homemade stuff made with love from her Momma!