Saturday, February 27, 2010

Biscuits and Gravy

I LOVE my new camera!! Doesn't this picture just make you want to eat it! Okay, so biscuits and gravy are my hubby's favorite but I don't like all the spicy-pepperyness of regular biscuits and gravy. So I came up with a recipe that pleases both of us! I love win-win situations!

Okay, so my big secret ingredient is.... maple flavored sausage! It's perfect. If you have never tried it - you MUST! And then totally tell me what you think.

For the BISCUITS:
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray two cookie sheets with non-stick spray.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut the butter in until crumbly. Stir in the milk and egg. Knead the dough, on a floured surface, until the dough is smooth. Roll out and cut in circles. I always use a glass but that is because I've never taken the time to buy a circle shaped cookie cutter!

Place the cut out circles on the prepared pans. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes.

For the GRAVY:
1 pound maple flavored sausage (trust me on this one)
6 Tablespoons flour
4 cups milk

Cook the sausage in a skillet until completely cooked through. Add the flour and stir until the sausage is covered. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes before serving over the biscuits.

If you have never made biscuits and gravy before - now do you wonder why restaurants charge so much for this simple meal?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Crunchy Chicken Fingers

These chicken fingers are CRUNCHY!! I guess you could take away some of the crunch by crushing the cornflakes more. However, I LOVE them crunchy! I serve them as a main dish, but next time, I'm going to try them on a yummy salad.

Whenever I need to coat meat I always put the ingredients into ziploc bags. It's SO much easier, quicker and faster. Once you try it, you'll never go back to dipping everything into bowls and getting it all over your fingers.

2 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons milk
1 Tablespoon basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups cornflakes cereal, crushed (measure first, then crush)
3 Tablespoons parsley
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray.

Mix together the melted butter, milk, basil, salt and garlic powder in a ziploc bag. I usually have to heat it together so the milk doesn't cool down the butter. Add the chicken, zip close and mash to coat the chicken.

Mix the crushed cornflakes, parsley, and chili powder in another ziploc. Add the liquid coated chicken. Shake until the chicken in evenly coated.

Empty the ziploc onto the prepared cookie sheet. Spread the chicken out evenly. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center. Serve with dipping sauce. In our house, we love to use plum sauce - a Canadian tradition.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blueberry Almond Brunch Bars

These bars have a great flavor! Then again, I am a fan of almond flavoring. If you aren't, just use vanilla extract instead. Plus, who doesn't LOVE blueberries! I would have to say these are a little much for a solo breakfast but are perfect for a late breakfast paired with eggs or for brunch. They are perfect for that next party you throw during a brunch time of day!

CRUST:
2 cups oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted

CENTER:
4 cups blueberries, frozen or fresh
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

TOPPING:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick spray.

Combine the first 6 ingredients. Add the melted butter and stir until combined. Press into prepared pan.

Toss the blueberries with the sugar, flour and almond extract. Spread onto the crust.

Combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut the butter in until crumbly. Sprinkle over the blueberries.

Bake for 25 minutes, or golden brown on the top.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cabbage Rolls


I have been making these forever and LOVE them. It may seem a strange combo, but they are so tasty. Plus, a great way to add a little extra veggie to your meal.

I find them very easy to make. The most difficult part is getting the cabbage leaves ready. For that, I put a head of cabbage into a pan full of water and bring it to a boil. Let the water and cabbage boil for about 3 - 5 minutes. You know it done, once the cabbage starts to change color. Then run the head of cabbage under cold water and pull the leaves apart. And wah-la, you're ready!

12 cabbage leaves
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup uncooked instant rice
15 oz. can of tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 oz. can of mushroom stems and pieces, undrained
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix turkey, rice, 1/2 cup of tomato sauce, salt, pepper, basil, onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Place 1/3 cup of the turkey mixture at the stem end of each leaf. Roll leaf around the turkey mixture, tucking in the sides as you roll. Place the cabbage rolls, seam side down, in an ungreased rectangular pan.

Mix remaining tomato sauce, sugar and lemon juice. Pour over the cabbage rolls.

Cover with tin foil and bake about 45 minutes. The turkey will be pink in color, even when fully cooked, due to the tomato sauce. But the turkey will crumble when fully cooked.

Pour the remaining liquid, after baking, into a saucepan. Mix the cornstarch and water; stir into the liquid. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Pour the sauce over the cabbage rolls. Enjoy!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mushroom Asparagus Pilaf

I have always wanted to make pilaf. For some reason, I never have. Okay, maybe it's because I totally suck at making rice in a saucepan. For me, it's always best to use a rice cooker. Success every time! Not so with rice in a saucepan. But I put my fears aside, and made a very yummy pilaf. The directions below are for brown rice, if you use white rice, adjust the cooking time to the amount of time it says on the packaging. White rice takes about 1/2 the time as brown rice.

2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 cup uncooked long grain brown rice
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 oz. can mushrooms, drained
1 cup asparagus, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion in the butter for 3 minutes, or until tender. Stir in the rice. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the broth and salt.

Heat to boiling, stirring once or twice, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes without lifting the cover or stirring. After 35 minutes, lift the cover and add the mushrooms and asparagus. Stir to combine and immediately cover again. Continue to simmer for another 5 minutes, or until the rice is cooked. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Caramel Sauce

I LOVE this caramel sauce for ice cream! It's so easy to make, although plan a little time to get it done. This sauce is something you could just eat by the spoonful. I promise, your guests will keep coming back for more! I never buy ice cream sauces at the store any more. Once you have homemade sauces, you will never go back. This recipe is something we use again and again.

I just recently served this over Cinnamon Peach Ice Cream. It was an amazing flavor combination! And I must say, the left overs were quite delicious on apple slices!

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup karo syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
2 cans evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the sugar, karo syrup, salt, butter and 1 can evaporated milk in a heavy saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil to 245 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Once reaching that temperature, slowly add the second can of evaporated milk and boil to 116 degrees.

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. (This step is really important and makes a big difference.) Pour the yumminess over ice cream. Keep any leftovers refrigerated.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cinnamon Peach Ice Cream

My hubbie surprised me with dinner the other night! And on the menu was ice cream. He had bought peaches for the ice cream and then I added cinnamon to it, topped it with caramel sauce (recipe coming in a couple of days) and WAH-LA, yumminess! Such a marvelous mixture of flavors.

This ice cream recipe is a basic vanilla ice cream recipe that doesn't require any cooking beforehand.

2 cups half n' half (I use fat free)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups peaches
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine the half n' half, whipping cream and sugar. Mix well. Start the ice cream maker and pour into your ice cream maker. Churn the ice cream according to ice cream maker directions. My ice cream maker starts making this particular sound when it's done mixing, so get to know your machine.

Add the peaches and cinnamon, mix until completely combined. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer safe container and freeze until completely set or ready to serve. Serve with caramel sauce (recipe coming in a few days!)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

White Chocolate Popcorn

This is a super easy and fun little treat to give away for Valentine's Day! I had to borrow a popcorn popper from friends because we don't own one. I went to go buy a popcorn popper, but they were $20! I couldn't justify that much money in my head. Thank goodness for good friends! It hardly took any time to make. While the popcorn was popping, I was also melting the chocolate. Super easy and very yummy. It would be perfect for any holiday or event.

8 cups of popped popcorn
1 cup white chocolate - melted
1 cup Mn'M's candy

Stir together and eat once the chocolate has set up a bit. The setting goes faster if you put it in the fridge. That way your hands don't get all chocolaty.

Then, if you want to do what I did...

put the popcorn in cute Valentine sacks and hand them out to your students for Valentine's Day! Aren't I the nicest teacher ever? (I can bring a homemade snack because I have a food handler's permit.)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chocolate Oatmeal Squares

These squares are so good! When the pan is finished, they will leave you wanting more. It's like an oatmeal cookie with melty chocolate inside. They are sure to disappear in your home, at the office, a potluck. Deliciousness guaranteed!

1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups oats
1 package chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick spray.

Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour, soda, salt and oats. Mix well.

Press 2/3 of the mixture into the prepared pan.

Melt the chocolate chips in a saucepan. Stir in the milk, butter, salt and vanilla. Pour over the oatmeal in the pan. Spread to even out the mixture. Dot the top with the remaining oatmeal mixture. I always have enough left to cover the entire top.

Bake for 25 minutes. Let it cool for 10 or more minutes before cutting. And then good luck only eating one!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chicken with Creamy Curry Sauce

You are going to have to trust me on this one. This meal is yummy! We love curry at our house, the smell that fills the air, the taste bud explosion in the mouth, mmmmmmm.... It's such a great twist on regular dinner. And you cannot have this meal without the coconut - it's the "icing on the cake" shall we say. Anyways, just give it a try!

4 chicken breasts, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1 cup sour cream
4 cups cooked rice
1 cup coconut (or more)
1 big can mandarin oranges (or 2 small)
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts

Brown the chicken cubes in a skillet. Once the edges are browned, but the chicken is not completely cooked, add the water and onion. Continue to cook until the onion is transparent and the chicken is cooked through.

Add the curry, ginger and cumin. Stir to combine. Add the sour cream and stir just until hot.

Pour over the rice and top with mandarin oranges, coconut and peanuts.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I am trying to find a super yummy homemade ice cream recipe. This one is really good but it's very custardy. I want something more like ice cream. However, it's still totally worth sharing because it's quite delicious. Remember, when making homemade ice cream, you need to make it hours ahead of when you'll be eating it. It needs time to cool, go through the ice cream maker and then freeze in the freezer.

1 1/2 cups half and half (I used fat free)
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean (you will need to open it and scrape out all the insides)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup cream

Heat together the half and half, sugar and vanilla bean insides. Heat until the sugar melts and then turn off.

Beat the eggs until pale and thick. Temper the eggs into the half and half mixture. You do this by adding 1 1/2 cups of the half and half mixture to the eggs, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir well between each addition. Then stir everything together and cook over medium heat until the mixture is quite thick, stirring constantly.

Add the mixture to the cream, stir well. Cool the mixture in the fridge until cold. Pour into your ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Then freeze in your freezer for several hours, until completely frozen.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Cake Balls


I have been seeing these everywhere and decided I had to try them out. I thought they were kind of labor intensive, but my hubby's co-workers raved about them. You can use any flavors together. I used chocolate, chocolate, peanut butter.

1 box cake mix
1 can frosting
1 bag chocolate chips

Bake the cake according to package directions. When it is still warm, crumble the cake using two forks. You want it as crumbled as possible.

Soften the can of frosting in the microwave for 20 seconds. Stir 3/4 of the can into the cake crumbles. You will not need the entire can or the cake balls turn out soggy. Shape into balls and freeze for 2 hours.

Using a double burner, melt the bag of chips. Dip the frozen cake balls into the melted chocolate. Return them to the freezer and freeze for 1 hour.

Keep any uneaten cake balls in the fridge.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Stuffed Shells with Sausage Tomato Sauce

This recipe for stuffed shells is so easy. It took me maybe 1/2 hour to make everything, stuff the shells and put it in the oven. I had the dishes done and my feet up by the time they were done cooking in the oven. And then it tasted amazing! They were even better as leftovers. Plus, with the spinach in the stuffing and the tomatoes in the sauce, it's a great way to eat lots of veggies in a meal.

1 box jumbo shells
1 Tablespoon water
4 cups fresh spinach, chopped
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup and 1 cup mozzarella cheese, separated
1 egg
1 pound sausage, any flavor
1 clove garlic, minced
2 regular size cans whole tomatoes (put them in the blender and mix until smooth)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the jumbo shells according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a skillet, add the water and spinach. Cook until wilted down. Add the spinach to the ricotta, parmesan, 1/2 cup mozzarella and egg. Mix well. Spoon about 2 Tablespoons into each jumbo shell.

Cook the sausage in a skillet until completely cooked. Stir in the garlic and blended tomatoes. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Put 1/2 cup of the sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Put the stuffed shells on top. Pour the remaining sauce on top, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 25 - 35 minutes, or until bubbly and hot.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Biscuits

I know you can buy biscuits at the grocery store and make them up real quick. But they are loaded with fat! And have you noticed how long it is until their expiration date? It always makes me wonder - what are they made of? Seriously, they are so easy to make yourself. Here is my recipe and they always turn out perfect.

2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray two cookie sheets with non-stick spray.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut the butter in until crumbly. Stir in the milk and egg. Knead the dough, on a floured surface, until the dough is smooth. Roll out and cut in circles. I always use a glass but that is because I've never taken the time to buy a circle shaped cookie cutter!

Place the cut out circles on the prepared pans. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes.