Sunday, December 31, 2017

Texas Trash Dip

Texas Trash Dip

1 (8 oz) block of Cream Cheese (softened)
1 cup Sour Cream
2 cans Smooth Style Refried Beans
1 can Mild Rotel (if you want more spice - use any Rotel)
1 can chopped Green Chilis
2 cups Cheddar Jack Cheese (may need more)

I used my stand mixer to mix everything to make it easier -- but any sort of mixer would be fine.

Mix together all ingredients except for the cheese. Spread into a 13x9 inch pan, evenly. Cover with cheese. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and everything is warm.

Serve with Tortilla Chips or Frito Scoops.

We had this yesterday, and everything was gone except a few tortilla chips -- I was amazed!
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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Crockpot Christmas Candy

Crockpot Christmas Candy

16 ounces Salted Peanuts
16 ounces Unsalted Peanuts
16 ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
16 ounces Milk Chocolate Chips
(2) 10-ounce bags Peanut Butter Chips
(2) Packages of White Almond Bark

Place all in a crockpot on low for around 90 minutes -- but I'd check it after an hour, and then every 10 minutes or so until 90 minutes is up to make sure the chocolate doesn't burn.

Then use a medium cookie scoop to make clusters of uniform size. Place the mounds of candy on wax paper to cool until they are solid.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Fruit Salsa with Pie Crust Chips

Pie Chips with Fruit Salsa
• 1 package refrigerated pie crust (15 ounce with 2 ready-made pie doughs)
• 3 tablespoons butter, melted
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1 cup diced strawberries
• 1 cup diced pineapple
• 1 cup diced kiwi (about 3 kiwi, peeled)
• 1 cup diced peaches (about 1 large peach)
• 3 tablespoons honey
• 1 tablespoon lime juice
• Mint for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven according to pie crust package directions; line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Stir together sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside
Unroll pie dough and brush with melted butter. Cut 1 crust into 8 wedges, then cut each wedge into triangles like chips. Repeat with second crust. Transfer chips to prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle chips with the cinnamon-sugar mixture and bake until golden, about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
While chips are cooking, prepare your salsa. Dice all fruit and place in a medium serving bowl. Combine honey and lime juice in a small bowl and then pour over the fruit. Serve with the chips.
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Baked Brie Bites

Baked Brie Bites

Brown Sugar
Pecan Halves
Phyllo Shells (frozen food section)

Cut the Brie into bite sized pieces. I remove the rind from the cheese when I make them, but that's a personal preference. Add a dollop of honey (just a small squirt from the bottle), 1/4 tsp of brown sugar, and place a pecan half on top. Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes on 350, just until the cheese is melted and the shell starts to brown.

Remove from oven and serve - they are good warm or room temperature.

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Philly Cheesesteak Wontons

Philly Cheesesteak Wontons

1 lb Lean Ground Beef
1 small/medium onion
1 green bell pepper
1 package sliced provolone
1 package wonton wrappers
1 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef with onion and bell pepper. Top with provolone, and cover the pan with a lid just long enough for the cheese to melt. Stir all of the filling together and allow it to cool for a couple of minutes.

Keeping the wonton wrappers moist with a damp (just barely damp) cloth, begin putting a small amount of filling in the middle of the wrapper, then using your finger or a small brush - lightly put a coating of water around the outside edges of the entire square wrapper. Then bring one corner over to the other and press down to seal them into triangle shapes. Spray the tops with nonstick cooking spray to allow them to crisp up while baking.

Bake in the oven for about 5-10 minutes on 375 degrees. Serve warm and enjoy!
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Chicken & Dumplings

Chicken & Dumplings

12 cups of chicken broth
5 bay leaves
6 fresh thyme sprigs
4 garlic cloves peeled and crushed

1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 medium onion chopped
1 tbsp freshly minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup of whipping cream

2 cups all-purpose flour
           ½ tsp baking powder
           1 tbsp dried parsley
           1 tsp salt
           1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
           1 cup buttermilk
           3 tbsp butter cubed

Directions:  In a large saucepan, combine the broth, bay leaves, thyme and garlic cloves.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes.  Strain broth or use slotted spoon to remove bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and garlic cloves.  Thyme leaves are not necessary to remove.

In a saute pan, add the 3 tbsp olive oil and heat.  Add the chopped carrots and saute for 2 minutes to give them a head start.  Add the chopped celery and onion and cook until the onion is translucent.  Add the garlic and saute for one minute.  Then add the 2 tbsp of butter and allow it to melt into the veggies.  Then add the 3 tbsp of flour to the pan and coat the veggies.  Add this mixture to your broth/stock that has been strained.  Add the ¼ c. heavy cream to the stock and stir with a whisk to incorporate the flour and cream into the mixture.

In a medium bowl, combine 2 c. all-purpose flour, ½ tsp baking powder, salt, pepper and dried parsley.  Stir the mixture and then add cubes of butter and cut in with a fork or a pastry cutter.  Pour in the buttermilk and mix with a spoon until mixture becomes too thick to mix.  Abandon the spoon and use your hands to mix the dough the remainder of the way until it is a nice smooth ball.

Spread some flour onto a piece of butcher paper or wax paper and prepare to roll your dough.  Roll the dough to a thickness of 1/4”.   Make sure to keep flour on your surface and rolling pin and keep the dumplings floured well to alleviate sticking.  Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dumplings into the size you prefer.  I prefer 1 ½” wide X 2” long, but it’s whatever you want.  The smaller, the more dumplings you will have to deal with.

Bring your broth back up to a boil and once it is boiling, start adding your dumplings – one at a time to ensure they do not stick together.  Sometimes it helps to have someone helping you so that they can stir the dumplings are they added, so the new ones sink to the bottom.  Allow the dumplings to cook for 10-15 min.

Shred the rotisserie chicken and add the meat to the pot and allow it to cook for 15 min at medium heat to warm the chicken throughout.  Taste your broth and add salt and pepper to taste – enjoy!

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Rice Krispies Treat Cake

This is another crowd pleaser that can be adapted for all sorts of different holidays! In retrospect - I wish I hadn't done the white chocolate on the top, but it sure is pretty!

Adapted from a recipe I saw on the internet

12 cups of Rice Krispies
16 oz bag of mini marshmallows
1 stick of butter + butter for the pan
gel food color
white chocolate almond bark for the topping
Sprinkles or Candy for decorating if you do the topping

Generously butter your bundt pan - I used about 1 tablespoon or so off of a separate stick of butter -- and I'd recommend doing the same because mine slid right out of the pan easily. Make sure that all surfaces are completely buttered on the inside of the pan.

I split the stick of butter into 3rds --  measured 4 cups of Rice Krispies cereal -- and roughly 2 cups of mini marshmallows per "batch" -- I threw in an extra fist full of marshmallows to each of the batches.

Remember that when you invert the bundt "cake" the colors are going to come out in reverse -- so if you want a certain layer on the top -- make that color first and put it on the bottom of the bundt pan. 

Make each batch separately - in a large saucepan, melt the butter - add in the marshmallows until melted smooth - add in 2 drops of gel food color, and mix until the color is completely combined. Mix in the cereal, until combined - then spread it around the bundt pan. I used a 1/4 cup metal measuring cup and sprayed the bottom with butter flavored cooking spray -- then pressed the mixture firmly into the pan.

 Clean out the pan, and repeat for the next color. Repeat a third time. After the third color is pressed on top - set it to the side (away from any heat) for 30 minutes before turning it out onto a plate or glass cake holder.

If you choose to do the topping -- use about 1/2 of a package of white chocolate almond bark (it spreads a bit more easily than white chocolate chips) -- I had to help make the drips on the sides so that it looked a bit like a drip cake -- work quickly and add the candies or sprinkles while it is still warm enough for them to stick and adhere to the top. My son helped me with this -- we used M&M eggs for Easter -- and he followed a pattern.

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Individual No-Bake Cheesecakes

These were so wonderful that I've now decided we can make them for Easter as shown... but also you could do red, white and blue for Memorial Day, 4th of July, or Labor Day... red, white and green for Christmas... candy corn for Halloween... ombre red for Valentine's Day... whatever colors suit your fancy! The filling is white without the coloring added -- so it would really work! 

Adapted from Sugar Hero

6oz short bread cookies (I used a sleeve of Girl Scout Shortbreads)
2 TBS melted butter
1 packet unflavored gelatin
2 TBS cold water
1 lb (16 oz) cream cheese - at room temp
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/2 cup heavy cream - at room temp
1/2 cup International Delight Sweet Cream creamer - at room temp
gel food color - I used pastel for Easter
Whipped cream for garnish
Candy or sprinkles for garnish

Make sure that a couple hours before you want to start making these -- you've pulled out your cream cheese and both types of cream so they can get to room temperature.

Place a jumbo silicone muffin pan on a baking sheet. Pulse the shortbread cookies in a food processor until they are finely crumbled OR you can put them in a large baggie and use a rolling pin to crush them up finely. Mix them with your melted butter in a small bowl.

Using a cookie scoop or spoon divide the crumb mixture in the cavities of the muffin pan evenly. (it was about 2 scoops per cup for mine) Press firmly into the bottom of each portion of the pan to form your crust. I used a small medicine cup from a children's nyquil bottle -- it needs to be the hard plastic kind for it to work.

Place the cold water in a separate small bowl and pour the gelatin on top. Mix it together and then let it sit to the side until you're ready to use it.

Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer (a hand mixer could also be used) - using the paddle attachment - beat the cream cheese until it is smooth and creamy without any left over lumps. Make sure you scrape the bowl completely and mix again before adding anything else.

Add in the sugar, lemon juice, vanilla bean paste, and salt - mix well - scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl well.

With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the cream and creamer, mixing until everything is smooth. I put both of mine into the same measuring cup to come up to room temp - so I just poured in a 1/4 of the mixture at a time.

Finally, microwave the gelatin mixture for about 10-15 seconds until it is liquid again. Mix it for just a little bit, and then finish mixing it by hand to make sure you've scraped the sides and gotten everything mixed well.

Divide the cheesecake mixture by the number of colors you will be adding -- for Easter, I did 4 -- but for other holidays adjust accordingly. Stir in 1-2 drops of food coloring into each bowl and mix until the color is mixed in completely. (I used 2)

Using the same medium sized cookie scoop (again mine was 2 scoops per color) - you could also pipe in the colors if that make it easier for you. Place the scoops in the middle and spread outwardly with a spoon - I made sure that each color touched the sides of the pan all the way around each cup before adding in the next color.

Repeat with the remaining colors - layering until you've finished with all of the colors. Place the pan that is sitting on the sheet pan into the freezer for at least 2 hours. I did 2.5 to make sure that they were good and solid. They should feel solid to the touch before you try to unmold them.

To unmold - press up from the bottom of the pan, and turn it upside down - pushing the cake into your hand. We put ours in a rectangular 13x9 cake pan with a lid - and allowed them to sit in the refrigerator until time to be served the next day. You at least want them to have 30 minutes between the time you remove them from the molds and the time you're planning to serve them so that they aren't frozen. They can sit in the refrigerator for several days if you'd like to make them in advance.

To decorate - top with whipped cream (I used rediwhip so that it was fresh and looked pretty) & a pinch of sprinkles or candy. I used egg shaped M&Ms for our Easter version.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Bite-Sized S'Mores

Bite-Sized S'Mores

48 Pretzel Chips
2 Hershey's Bars (broken into 24 pieces)
96 mini marshmallows (4 per pretzel)

- Lay out 24 pretzel chips (I only used the whole ones, not broken pieces)

- Preheat broiler to high -- I moved my rack down a little bit because I burned my first attempt.

- Place 4 marshmallows on each pretzel, and stick it in the oven for 2-3 minutes (watch them because you want to make sure the marshmallows & pretzels don't burn -- ask me how I know.)

- Place a Hershey chocolate piece on each pretzel on top of the marshmallows. Place back in the oven for 1-2 minutes so the chocolate will melt. We turned off our broiler for this step and just used the residual heat.

- Place a second pretzel chip on top of the chocolate.

- Enjoy them all warm or put them in the fridge to chill.

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Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Dipping Sauce

Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Dipping Sauce


1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp sherry wine
2 tsp water
2 tsp soy sauce

1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, diced small
5 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
1 tsp minced or grated fresh ginger
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup green onions, minced
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, minced
1 (8 oz) can bamboo shoots, minced
1 (8 oz) can water chestnuts, diced (I found a can of them diced already)
1 (6 oz) package Chinese cellophane noodles, cooked to pkg directions (left these out)

Cooking Sauce
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sherry wine
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp water
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch

1 head of iceberg lettuce

Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp hot mustard
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp red chile paste

-- To make the dipping sauce, we put it all in a mason jar and shook it up.

-- Mix the cooking sauce and set it aside.

-- Mince your chicken into small pieces, and add a bit of salt & pepper... then pour on the marinade and let it sit for 15-20 minutes.

-- Heat wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 tbsp oil; add chicken and stir-fry for about 3-4 minutes. Set the chicken aside.

-- Add 2 tbsp oil to the pan. Add ginger, garlic, and onion - stir-fry for a minute or two.

-- Add mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts to the pan and stir-fry for an additional 2 minutes.

-- Return chicken to the pan. Add mixed cooking sauce to the pan. Cook until thickened and hot.

-- Break cooked cellophane noodles into small pieces to cover the bottom of a serving dish with them, then pour the chicken mixture on top of the noodles.

-- Serve along with lettuce leaves for everyone to serve themselves.

-- Spoon chicken mixture into the lettuce leaf and roll (like a burrito) individually. 
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Charleston Cheese Dip

Charleston Cheese Dip
Courtesy: Trisha Yearwood & Food Network

1/2 cup mayonnaise
8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 dash cayenne pepper (I leave this out)
8 Ritz crackers, crushed
8 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled (we used 4)
Corn Chips, Crackers, Bagel Chips, or Pretzel Chips for dipping

-- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

-- In a medium bowl; mix the mayonnaise, cream cheese, cheddar, monterey jack, green onions, and cayenne pepper.

-- Transfer mixture to a shallow baking dish, such as a 9 inch pie pan. Top with the cracker crumbs and bake until heated through - about 15 minutes.

-- Remove the pain from the oven, and top with the bacon. Serve immediately with the crackers, chips, or pretzels you've chosen.
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