Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fresh Green Beans

The final element of our main Christmas dinner - we also made John's Crab Stuffed Mushrooms to go along with the meal.

Fresh Green Beans
Courtesy of John (loosely adapted from some green beans we had at Luby's several years ago)

1 package fresh green beans (already washed and prepared - again we only needed enough for 2 - you might need more)
1 small yellow onion
3 slices bacon
1 teaspoon beef bullion (or 1 cube)
1 cup water
1 teaspoon minced garlic in the jar (or 1 clove fresh)
seasame seeds

Cut the bacon into small strips (sort of like a bacon bit) and brown in a sautee pan. Once the bacon is done, remove it from the pan. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and sautee on medium-high until they get soft. Add the green beans, salt and pepper and sautee on medium-high for 5 minutes or so. Mix the bullion with the water, and add to the green beans. Cover and cook on medium-high for about 10 minutes or until they are soft. Cook another couple of minutes without the cover to let some of the liquid evaporate. Just before serving sprinkle with seasame seeds to your taste.
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Roasted New Potatoes

Another element of our Christmas dinner...

Roasted New Potatoes
Courtesy of John

1/2 a bag of new potatoes
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic in the jar (or two cloves fresh)
1/2 sprig of rosemary
2 tablespoons of butter (at the end)

Cut the potatoes in half and place in an 8x8 baking dish. Cover potatoes with olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and salt & pepper to taste. Mix until potatoes are well coated. Place in oven at 425 degrees for 40 minutes. Stir potatoes twice during the 40 minute cooking time. After the potatoes are roasted, stir in the butter just for flavor at the end.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bacon Wrapped Tenderloin

This was the main dish for our Christmas dinner.

Bacon Wrapped Tenderloin
Courtesy of John

1/2 pound beef tenderloin (we didn't need much - you might need more)
4 slices of bacon
2 springs of rosemary
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
garlic powder

Season the meat with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan, and sear the meat for a minute or so on each side. Set on a plate. Place one sprig of rosemary on the top of the meat, and lay out the bacon. (check top picture) Wrap the tenderloin in the bacon, and place second sprig of rosemary on the bottom side of the tenderloin. You can secure the bacon with toothpicks for the next step. Sear the meat again one minute on each side to get the bacon browning. Place in the oven on 425 degrees until the center reaches 130 degrees. (This is medium)

Slice and enjoy!

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake

Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake
Courtesy of Yahoo Food & Splenda

3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1 1/3 cups SPLENDA(R) No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
1 egg
1/4 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups light sour cream
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 10-inch tube pan (angel food pan) or nonstick bundt pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Make cake. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and soda into a medium-sized mixing bowl. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add SPLENDA(R) Granulated Sweetener and egg. Beat until smooth. Add the egg substitute and vanilla. Beat briefly to incorporate. Add applesauce and half of the sour cream. Beat until smooth. Add the sifted flour mixture and beat at medium speed just until smooth. Add remaining sour cream and blend just until incorporated and batter is uniform. Set aside.

Make Filling. Place 1/4 of cake batter in a small bowl. Add brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir well.

Place 1/2 of the remaining cake batter into prepared pan. Top with filling. Swirl with knife. Top with remaining batter.

Bake in preheated 350 degrees F oven 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Yield: 16 servings

Nutritional Info: per serving
Calories: 188 kcal
Carbohydrates: 27 g
Dietary Fiber: 0 g
Fat: 6 g
Protein: 4 g
Sugars: 5 g
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Friday, December 12, 2008

Jamie's Chili

We served this at our small group meeting - it really was good! We served it over rice.

Jamie's Chili
Courtesy of Food Network

1.5 pound mixed ground beef, browned and drained
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper diced
2 cups chopped celery (we only used 2 stalks)
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can of whole tomatoes (we used a third can of the diced)
Ground cumin
Chili powder
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (we used two of these and none of the others)
1 package chili seasoning mix
Shredded cheddar, sour cream, chopped green onions, for garnish

In a skillet brown ground beef and sausage, drain and set aside.

Spray large pot with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the onion, green pepper, and celery and saute briefly. Stir in the diced and whole tomatoes. Add cumin and chili powder, to taste, and cook for about 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Add the beans, browned meat, and chili seasoning. Partially cover, and let simmer for 4 hours.

**We actually opted to do the first couple of steps - and put it in the crockpot all day on low... we added the beans to the crockpot about an hour before serving, and raised the setting to high for that hour. It was perfect!**

Serve with Cheddar cheese, sour cream, and green onions.
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kit Kat Cookie Bars

Another one that I shouldn't/can't eat after surgery... but I know it would be a HIT with my small group...

Kit Kat Cookie Bars
Courtesy of Life of GRITS
Yield: 2 dozen

81 Keebler club crackers
1 cup margarine (2 sticks)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
3/4 cup peanut butter

Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with no-stick cooking spray. Line with 27 crackers.

In a sauce pan, melt margarine and add both sugars, milk and graham cracker crumbs. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. This makes 3 cups of filling.

In microwave melt chocolate morsels and peanut butter. Pour half (1 1/2 cups) of filling on top of first row of crackers.

Line another layer of 27 crackers on top of this filling. Pour remaining half of filling on top of these crackers and top with remaining 27 crackers for third layer.

Pour chocolate and peanut butter mixture on top of this third layer of crackers and spread evenly.

Refrigerate until the chocolate-peanut butter layer is set. Cut into squares and serve. Makes about two dozen cookies.

Extra Special Touch: Sprinkle with chopped pecans and walnuts, because everything is better with nuts on it.
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Friday, December 5, 2008

White Chocolate Pretzels

Another care package favorite!

White Chocolate Pretzels
Courtesy of my own imagination

1 bag mini pretzels - shape of your choice
2-3 packages of white melting chocolate - sometimes called Almond Bark
Colored sugar or other decorating pieces of your choice

Lay out some long sheets of waxed paper in an area where the candy can cool for an hour or two. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. I usually do one package at a time and make more when I need it. If you melt it in the microwave - do it in one minute incriments and stir between each cycle... it will burn quickly - so don't stop watching it.

Take a few pretzels and drop them in the bowl with the melted chocolate, use a fork to take them out. Tap the fork on the side of your bowl and lay each pretzel on the wax paper to try. I usually coat 5 or so pretzels - then sprinkle them with colored sugar, candy sprinkles or any other confectionary decoration. As the white chocolate cools it will get harder and harder for the decorations to stick... so do this quickly.

Let them cool - then enjoy! Everyone will think you're a genius!
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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Peanut Butter Candy

These also went in my care packages at Christmas... and they might make a small appearance this year too.

Peanut Butter Candy
Courtesy of one of my old roommates, Jennifer K.

1 box Town House Crackers
1 large jar peanut butter, crunchy or smooth - your choice. Crunchy does cause a little more breakage with the crackers though.
2 packages chocolate bark - the melting kind found in the baking section

Spread peanut butter on one cracker, then stack another on top to make a "sandwich" - repeat until all of the crackers are used.

Melt chocolate bark - I usually melt half a package at a time in the microwave... then do more as I need it. When melting in the microwave... do about 1 minute at a time and stir until melted. It can easily burn so you have to watch it. You could do it in a double boiler for a more gentle way of melting.

Lay a long piece of waxed paper on a surface where the candy can cool for an hour or two. Take a "sandwich" place it on a fork for stability, dip in chocolate. Shake the extra chocolate off, we use the fork for this too - tap it on the side of the bowl that the melted chocolate is in, and then place on waxed paper to cool.

These turn out so well, people will think you're a genius... they won't believe you made them yourself!
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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cream Cheese Mints

I used to make big batches of holiday treats and make little care packages for the people at my office and John's every year... but I haven't done it the last couple of years because of my own dietary limitations. What I can do though is share it with my friends out there in blog land, and hope that they'll brighten up your family's holiday season!

Cream Cheese Mints
Courtesy of my friend Dara

1 (3 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp peppermint extract
food coloring (associate with the holiday)

In a large bowl combine cream cheese, butter, and confectioners' sugar. Mix in peppermint extract. Color as desired with food coloring, or leave white.

Roll mixture into small balls, and place on waxed paper. Flatten with form dipped in confectioners' sugar. Let dry for about 2 hours on waxed paper, then freeze or refrigerate.
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