Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cookies and Cream Cakeballs

This year at my kids' school - I've used cake pops as their incentive to be good and not cry at drop offs. Since it has been a big help for the teachers too - I thought I needed to make them a treat as well. 

Cookies & Cream Cakeballs

1 white cake mix
1 vanilla cake icing
1 package of Oreos
2 packages of dipping chocolate 

Make the cake according to the package instructions, bake, and cool completely. In gallon sized zip bag or good processor, crush 3/4 of the package I cookies. 

Add the cookie crumbs to a very large bowl, and crumble the cake into the same bowl. Mix the cookie and cake crumbs together. Add in the icing and mix until everything is combined. Refrigerate for 1 hour. 

Use a cookie scoop to measure out the cake mixture into balls - you could also do this by hand if you want. Place on a wax paper lined baking sheet, and freeze for 30 minutes to an hour. 

Melt your dipping chocolate: you can use the microwave, a double boiler, or a Velata warmer

Dip each ball into the chocolate using a fork or lollipop stick - you want the cake ball to be completely coated so that it I sealed and keeps the cake fresh. Place on wax paper to cool an harden. You can refrigerate the balls after they are cooled or they can be left at room temperature in a sealed container. 
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Monday, July 8, 2013

Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Pretzel Cookies

Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Pretzel Cookies

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. of salt
1/4 tsp. of baking soda
1/2 cup of butter at room temperature
1/2 cup of tightly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup of granulated sugar
1 egg (beaten)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup broken up pretzel pieces
Preztel Salt or Sea Salt (I didn't have this, but the cookies are great)

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a larger bowl, beat the butter and two types of sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy. On low speed, slowly add the beaten egg and vanilla extract. Beat to combine, scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and pretzels. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out well rounded tablespoonfuls of the dough and sprinkle with pretzel salt. The cookies don't spread much when baking, so I flattened the cookies with my hand before baking. Bake for about 12-14 minutes. Allow them to cool for a couple minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
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Sunday, July 7, 2013

TX Governor's Mansion Cookies

Texas Governor's Mansion Cookies
Originally: Laura Bush's recipe, but adapted slightly

3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 cups quick rolled oats
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
2 cups chopped pecans

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.  In a mixer bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy.  Gradually beat in the two types of sugar to combine.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each.  Beat in the vanilla.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the flour mixture until just combined.  Add the chocolate chips, oats, coconut, and pecans. I ended up transferring everything to the largest mixing bowl I have -- because this dough is packed with stuff and takes up some space when everything is combined.

Using an ice cream scoop -- I used a medium or large cookie scoop and still had good sized cookies, level off the dough and place onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 3 inches apart. Bake 13-15 minutes or until slightly underdone.  Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Rice Oriental

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This is a favorite from my childhood that is a homemade version since the Hamburger Helper folks stopped making it a few years ago... I'm shocked at how easy it was to make, but am thrilled to be able to make this for my family now!

Rice Oriental

1 lb ground beef
1 envelope of onion soup mix
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/4 cup rice
water (depending on the type of rice you use)

Brown the ground beef in a skillet. Add the onion soup mix, garlic powder, black pepper, soy sauce, rice, and water... cover it, let it cook, and you're done! I served it with green beans to my family, but it would easily go with a salad or our Crunchy Coleslaw too.

* I mixed my spices and soup mix into the water before adding it to the pan so that I made sure there wouldn't be any dry clumps of the soup mix.

** IF you use Minute Rice or any 5 minute cooking instance rice -- use 1 1/4 cup of water or maybe 1 1/2 because I added a little bit more -- and let it cook for 5 minutes covered.

*** IF you use a long grain rice or a 20 minute cooking rice -- you'll use 4 cups of water. Let it cook for 20-30 minutes covered over medium heat, and you're ready to eat!
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Monday, February 11, 2013

M&M Cookies

M&M Cookies
Courtesy of my Grandmother

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed firmly
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3/4 lb package) M&Ms

Cream butter and sugar together, add eggs and vanilla. Sift flour, soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to the wet, and mix well. Stir in 1/2 cup of the M&Ms.Reserve the rest for decorating. Drop by teaspoon on ungreased cookie sheet. Decorate the thop of each cookie with 2-3 M&Ms. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
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Grandmother's Sugar Cookies

Grandmother's Sugar Cookies

** This dough has to chill overnight

2 1/4 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon milk

Sift flour, salt, and baking powder. Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, vanilla, and milk. Add sifted dry ingredients a little bit at a time -- I added a 1/2 cup at a time. Beat well, and refrigerate overnight. Working in small batches, roll and cut into desired shapes on a lightly floured board. I put mine back in the refrigerator between rolling batches and while cookies were baking. Sprinkle with sugar if you aren't planning on frosting them. Bake at 375 for 12 minutes. If baking 2 sheets of cookies -- switch the baking position about 1/2 way through the cooking time. Cool on cooling racks until room temperature.

** I almost always double the recipes for the cookies and frosting


1 unbeaten egg white
7/8 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cook in a double boiler for 7 minutes. Beat constantly. It is best to have 2 people working to frost the cookies because the frosting gets harder to work with as it cools. It may take up to over night to have the frosting set -- we placed ours under a fan for 4 hours and they were ready to stack in a cookie tin.

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Ginger Soy Chicken

Ginger Soy Chicken
Adapted from: EMeals

2 chicken breasts (we split ours down the middle length wise so that they are more like cutlets)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon shredded ginger
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 cups prepared Mahatma Jasmine rice
4-6 stalks baby bok choy

** next time, I would use broccoli florets instead of the bok choy

Combine sesame oil, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice wine vinegar into a large saute pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Place the broccoli & chicken in the pan and cook 6-7 minutes on each side or until the juices run clear. Serve over the rice with the sauce from the pan.
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Carne Asada Tacos

 Carne Asada Tacos
Adapted from: EMeals

*** This needs 12-24 hours to marinate

2 lbs flat iron steak (flank steak or skirt steak would work too)
1/2 cup white vinegar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
5 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
3 limes
1/2 cup + 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into strips
2-3 avocados, diced
1-2 roma tomatoes, diced
corn tortillas
cilantro (optional)

Combine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic cloves, salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, oregano, cumin, paprika, juice of 2 limes, and 1/2 cup of olive oil in a gallon size plastic baggie. Add the meat to the marinade and then let it marinate for 12-24 hours.

Grill or broil for 5-7 minutes per side, and then let it rest. Heat a little bit of butter or oil in a pan and saute onion until it starts to caramelize. Mix avocados, tomatoes, juice of one lime, 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, and cilantro if desired in a bowl. Slice the steak against the grain.

Assemble the tacos by adding some onion, meat, and a bit of the avocado salad on your corn tortillas. Enjoy!
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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Homemade Cheez Its

Cheese Straws

1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and softened
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon half-and-half
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper (optional - I've had it both ways) 

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a food processor; pulse in 5-second intervals until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add half-and-half, and process 10 seconds or until dough forms a ball.

2. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface, and roll into a square or round shape. If you want squares like are pictured, I just rolled into a free form square and cut with a pizza cutter. I've also made them and used a small biscuit cutter as well. Use ungreased baking sheets to bake. They don't spread out much, so you can crowd a lot onto your pan. You could also use cookie cutters in various shapes to make your cheez its more festive!

3. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until ends are slightly browned. Cool on baking sheets on a wire rack 30 minutes.
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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Chocolate Chip Scones

Chocolate Chip Scones

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt, heaping
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pats
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (12 ounces) mini chocolate chips
Demerara (or other coarse) sugar, for topping (I left this off because I didn't have it)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Put the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder in your stand mixer -- stir to combine. Add in the small butter pieces, and give it a mix until combined. You won't see the butter much at this point - it will just mix and coat the flour. Put the chocolate chips in the mixer at this point. (I didn't do this until the end the first time, and I would have been happier with the way they mixed in if they had been put in at this point) In a small bowl: mix your heavy cream, eggs, and vanilla. Save 2 tablespoons of this mixture to use as an egg wash before baking. Add this to the mixer and mix until combined and it starts to be a dough.

Liberally flour your surface and press out the dough to about 3/4 inch thick -- I didn't really measure this - I just pressed the dough out in a circle until it was about as thick as I wanted the scones to be. They don't rise or spread much at all so what you see is what you're going to get. You can also crowd this recipe entirely on one pan -- I used a small round biscuit cutter for these, but you could use any shape you'd like.

Once you have all the dough cut, brush with the remaining egg & cream mixture. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned on the top. They are best served warm, but we ate on them for several days - I packed them for breakfasts "to go" and sent them off to work with John.

You could freeze the unbaked dough on a cookie sheet until they are firm, then pack them away for use as you need them. Just bake directly from the freezer and add about 5 minutes to the original baking time.

**These would be outstanding with cinnamon chips instead of chocolate... or any baking chip you'd like to use. It's a great basic scone dough that you can add in any flavor you'd like - dried fruit would be great too.
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Cheesy Broccoli Cups

Cheesy Broccoli Cups

1 cup quick-cooking rice (like Minute Rice)
1 cup chicken stock
1 10-oz. box frozen, chopped broccoli florets, thawed and excess water squeezed out
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup Homemade Ranch Dressing, or store bought
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Prepare your rice using chicken stock instead of the water. Once the rice is cooked, put it in a bowl to cool. Squeeze the water out of your broccoli, and add it to the bowl with the rice. Add 1/2 a cup of cheddar cheese, the ranch dressing, eggs, and salt & pepper to your bowl. Mix everything together, and spoon the mixture into a regular sized muffin pan -- top with the remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes or until the cheese on the top is browned.

You could steam fresh broccoli for this recipe as well, and it would be great! 

This was a toddler sensation, so we will be making them many times in the future! 
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Chocolate Pecan Granola

Chocolate Pecan Granola

4 cups rolled oats
4 TBSP sugar
3 TBSP vegetable oil
12 TBSP honey
12 oz bag mini chocolate chips
2 cups pecan pieces

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. In a large pot, melt your sugar, honey, and vegetable oil together until liquid and runny. Add in your rolled oats and pecans - coat in the honey mixture. Pour on a large jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with sides. Spread into an even layer and bake for 10-15 minutes. Mix the oats a bit, and then bake for another 10-15 minutes or until everything is a golden brown color. Leave on cookie sheet until cooled. Pour the chocolate chips over the top of the mixture once it is completely cooled, and then scoop into an air-tight container or baggie for storage. 

You can serve it over ice cream, with milk as a cereal, with yogurt, with fruit, or just eat handfuls of it as a snack. Enjoy!
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Cabbage Roll Soup

Cabbage Roll Soup
Adapted from: Hey That Tastes Good (I added some things)

1 pound ground beef (you could mix beef & pork)
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, cut into half moons
2 stalks of celery, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 quart chicken stock
1/2 head of cabbage, core removed and the rest sliced into thin strips
1/2 cup long grain rice
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon celery salt
We are moving to a clean eating household... but aren't there quite yet, so to make this as a true clean eating recipe - you might make your own stock, can your own tomatoes, and use brown rice instead of white.
I put the onion, carrots, celery, celery salt, and garlic in a large stock pot with the salt & pepper and let them start cooking for about 5 minutes... I then added the meat and let it brown while the vegetables continued to get soft. After the meat is browned, add the tomatoes, chicken stock, and cabbage. Let the soup come to a boil for about 5-10 minutes then add the rice. Let everything cook together for 20-30 minutes. At the very end, we added the vinegar.
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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pasta Fagoli Soup


Pasta Fagoli Soup
My version

1 lb ground sirloin -- the original recipe called for ground Italian sausage
4 large carrots, sliced or chopped
1 small/medium onion, chopped
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 can cannellini beans, drained
1 cup ditalini pasta or small pasta (like a small elbow noodle)
6 cups chicken stock
salt & pepper
2-3 tsp garlic powder (I didn't measure this -- I just added a liberal amount so I'm guessing)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Parmesan for the topping

I made this up to the last step during naptime, and then all I needed to do was add the pasta to finish it when it was dinner time. I love meals that can be prepped ahead and finished quickly. 

I started off browning my meat in a stock pot with a liberal coating of salt & pepper. Add in the carrots and onion - cook until they start to get soft. If there isn't enough grease in the pan from your meat, you may need to add a small amount of olive oil to keep the veggies from burning.

Stir in the diced tomatoes, drained cannellini beans, garlic powder, thyme, bay leaf, and 4 cups of the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, and let it sit in the pot covered until you're ready to finish it off.

Add in the remaining 2 cups of stock and the pasta, boil until the pasta is ready about 10 minutes or so. Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on the soup as you are serving it. I served ours with bread, but a good homemade Cesar salad would go nicely too.
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Monday, January 7, 2013

Prune Cake

Let me start off by saying that I know this sounds weird, but it's a childhood favorite of my mother's. You could easily leave the prunes out and have a nice spice cake... which is what I'd do if I made it for myself.

Prune Cake
Courtesy of: Meme

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
3 beaten eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp allspice
1 cup chopped prunes
1 cup chopped pecans

2 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup prune juice (you could sub in orange juice or something else in lieu of the prunes)
2 tbsp flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup pecans

Cream the butter and sugar together with a mixer, I used my stand mixer for this because the batter is a tad bit thick. Add the buttermilk and eggs and mix until smooth.

In another mixing bowl - combine the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, and allspice. Begin slowly mixing the dry ingredients in small amounts into the wet ingredients. Mix until combined. Add in the chopped prunes and pecans at the end.

You can bake this as a round cake, but for this time around my Mom was traveling with it to visit my Grandmother - so I baked it in a 13x9 pan so that it was easier to travel with and we didn't have to worry about the layers shifting.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour. There wasn't a baking time on the original recipe, so I wanted to make sure it wasn't overdone. Always easier to check on it and put it back in for a little longer than to over bake it.

Once it is done let it cool. It is a warm icing, so it doesn't have to be completely cooled before you finish it.

When you are ready to frost it -- mix all the icing ingredients together and boil on the stove until it thickens. It is pretty thick when it is done. I start mine slow and add more heat gradually to make sure that the eggs don't scramble.

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